Ancient Philosophy



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Ancient Philosophy

Fall 2015. EC 300. TR 10:30 – 11:45

Instructor: Chauncey Maher | maherc@dickinson.edu | East College 202

Office Hours: TW 3-4, or by appointment




Course Description

This course is an introduction to ancient philosophy, focusing on the work of Plato and Aristotle, probably the most influential philosophers in history. We will begin the course with Plato and finish it with Aristotle. We will be concerned with two big themes: the mind (or soul) and the state. Thus, on one hand, we will consider what it is for individual human beings to understand and affect the world; on the other hand, we will consider how humans ought to live with one another. We will see that Plato and Aristotle think these topics are deeply connected, mainly in their conceptions of human happiness (or eudaimonia).



Goals

-improve ability to read philosophical texts

-improve ability to identify, construct, clarify, and assess arguments in discussion and writing

-learn significant claims and arguments of ancient philosophers (esp. Plato and Aristotle)



Texts


Ackrill (ed.). A New Aristotle Reader. ISBN 978-0691020433

Aristotle. Nicomachean Ethics. ISBN 9780872204645

Aristotle. Politics. ISBN 9780872203884

Euripides. Iphigeneia at Aulis. ISBN 978-0195077094

Plato. Republic. Trans. Ferrari. ISBN 978-0521484435

Plato. Five Dialogues. Trans. Grube. 2nd edition. ISBN 978-0872206335

Plato. Theaetetus. Trans. Burnyeat. ISBN 978-0915144815

Sophocles, Antigone. Trans. Fitz & Fitzgerald. ISBN 015602764X

+ Photocopies on Moodle


Evaluation

Participation (20% of Final Grade)

Philosophical issues are often more easily grasped when discussed with others. Our meetings will be a mix of presentations by me and discussion. Each time you properly participate, you earn 1 point. You need 15 points to receive an ‘A’ for participation. I will track this on Moodle each week. You are responsible for checking regularly to be sure that this record is accurate. Please email me immediately if you notice a discrepancy.



What counts as proper participation?

A comment or question on a specific remark made by an author, or one of your peers, or me.

It can focus on meaning or interpretation. You should be prepared to explain what you think the person means.

Example: ‘What does Socrates mean when he says that it is always better to be just?’

Or it can focus on truth and rational support. You should be prepared to say why you think the person’s claim does not seem true or well supported.

Example: ‘Socrates claims that it is always better to be just rather than unjust, but he doesn’t seem to have a good reason for it.’



What does not count as proper participation?

-Simply attending class

-Asking what the reading is for next time

-Saying ‘Yea’ in response to someone else

-Saying needlessly obscure things, such as, ‘The central impediment to a transcendental deduction of the marginalization of the epistemic condition of the proletariat is what the post-structuralist movement has called ‘the malaise of language.’

Essays (80% of final grade)

Our discussions should help you write philosophical essays. Your performance on these essays will be worth 80% of your final grade. Detailed prompts for each essay will be distributed at least one week before they are due.

Essay 1: Plato 3 pages 20% Due 9/22

Essay 2: Plato 5 pages 30% Due 11/3

Essay 3: Aristotle 5 pages 30% Due 12/16 2pm

Schedule of Readings (tentative)

Date

Topic

Reading (for this day in class)

9/1

T

Introduction to the course

(None)

PLATO

9/3

R

What is the value of philosophy?

What is philosophy?



Apology (in Five Dialogues)

9/8

T

Should one obey the law?


Sophocles, Antigone

9/10

The Socratic Method

The Search for Definitions



Euthyphro (in Five Dialogues)

9/15

T

What is the value of reason?


Euripides, Iphigenia at Aulis


9/17

The Paradox of Inquiry

The Doctrine of Recollection



Meno (in Five Dialogues)

9/22

T

“Knowledge is perception”

What is perception?



1st Essay Due

Theaetetus

1st Essay Due

9/24

“Knowledge is true belief”

What is false belief?



Theaetetus


9/29

T

“Knowledge is true belief with an account”

What is an account?



Theaetetus

10/1

What is justice? Why be just?


Republic, I


10/6

T

Why be just?


Republic, I-II

10/8

The ideal state

Justice in the ideal state



Republic, III-IV


10/13

T

Who should rule?

Republic, VI [Skim V]

10/15

Who should rule?

The allegory of the cave



Republic, VII


10/20

T

Fall Pause

No Class

Fall Pause

No Class

10/22


What is wrong with democracy?

Republic, VIII-IX

10/27

T

Tyranny and Tyrants

Does Socrates meet Thrasymachus’s challenge?



Republic, VIII-IX

10/29

Peer Review

Peer Review

ARISTOTLE

11/3

T

What is the aim of a good human life?

2nd Essay Due

NE, Book I

2nd Essay Due

11/5

Change and persistence


Physics I: 7-9

Physics II
Parts of Animals I: 1, 5

11/10

T

Explaining change

Metaphysics VII: 1-4; VIII: 1-2; XII: 6-9

11/12

Hylomorphism and essence

De Anima II: 1-3

11/17

T

The Mind


De Anima II: 5, 12; III: 4-5
Posterior Analytics I-III

11/19

Reason and action

NE, Books II-III

11/24

T

Virtues


NE, Books IV-VI


11/26

Thanksgiving Break

No Class

Thanksgiving Break

No Class

12/1

T

Friendship

Contemplation



NE, Books VII-IX

NE, Book X

12/3


The State

Politics, I-III, VII

12/8

T

Justice

Politics, I-III, VII

12/10

Peer Review

Peer Review

12/16

W

3rd Essay Due

2pm, via email

3rd Essay Due

2pm, via email



Academic Honesty

Any case of suspected academic dishonesty must be reported. Note: “To plagiarize is to use without proper citation or acknowledgment the words, ideas, or work of another. Plagiarism is a form of cheating that refers to several types of unacknowledged borrowing.” When in doubt, cite it. For more information, please see the handbook on Community Standards here:

http://www.dickinson.edu/student/files/commstand0809.pdf

Disabilities

I will make reasonable academic accommodations for students with documented disabilities. If you think you are eligible for such accommodation, please first register with Disability Services in Biddle House, specifically Stephanie Anderberg (245-1080; disabilityservices@dickinson.edu). If you are eligible, Marni Jones, Director of Learning Skills and Disability Services, will provide you with a letter attesting to that. Once you have that letter, we can meet to discuss what we need to do. All of that must happen in the first three weeks of the semester.




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