Reading the Ancients
The ancient philosophers are difficult, and there is a lot to read. A good strategy is first to read the relevant lectures on the website, parts of the review notes for the first and second half of the semester, and parts of Ancient Greek Philosophy: From the Presocratics to the Hellenistic Philosophers. After that, as time allows, read the ancient texts themselves. If you are still having problems understanding the material, be sure to ask questions.
Presocratics. The writings of the Presocratics have survived in fragments only, so most editions are scholarly. The quotations in Ancient Greek Philosophy are sufficient for the course, but it is worthwhile to read more generally. The fragments are endlessly fascinating, both historically and philosophically. Some but not all of the writings of the Presocratics are freely available at the Hanover Historical Texts Collection. ASU allows access (for those affiliated with ASU) to Early Greek Philosophy (in nine volumes) in the Loeb Classical Library. These translations are very good. For more print editions, consult the recommended supplemenary texts.
Socrates and Plato: Euthyphro, Apology, Laches, Protagoras, Gorgias, Meno, Phaedo, Republic, Parmenides, and Timaeus. These dialogues are well worth reading from start to finish, but this is not easily done in the time available in a semester long course. Focus your reading in terms of the passages mentioned or discussed in Ancient Greek Philosophy. Translations of Plato's dialogues are freely available in the Perseus Digital Library. ASU allows access (for those affiliated with ASU) to the Edith Hamilton/Huntington Cairns and the Benjamin Jowett translations of Plato. For print editions of Plato's works, consult the recommended supplemenary texts.
Aristotle: Posterior Analytics, Physics, On the Soul, Categories, Metaphysics, and Nicomachean Ethics. These works are well worth reading in their entirety, but, as with the reading from Plato, this is not easily done in a semester course. Focus your reading in terms of the passages mentioned or discussed in Ancient Greek Philosophy. Some but not all of Aristotle's works available in the Perseus Digital Library. Some works are also available in the MIT Classics Library. ASU allows access (for those affiliated with ASU) to the revised Oxford translation of Aristotle's works, edited by Jonathan Barnes. For print editions of Aristotle's works, consult the recommended supplemenary texts.
The Hellenistic Philosophers. Some but not all of the sources for the Hellenistic Philosophers are available in Perseus Digital Library. The quotations in Ancient Greek Philosophy and on the website are sufficient for the course. Still, it is worth while to read more the sources for Hellenistic philosophy. These philosophers are extremely interesting, both in their own right and for the light they shed on Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. For more complete sets of translations, consult the recommended supplemenary texts.
This schedule of topic and assignments is correct in outline, but the details are tentative and subject to change. Please check this page frequently.
Introduction (AGP, introduction)
• The major figures and lines of thought in the period of study
• Methodology in the History of Philosophy
The Presocratic Period (AGP, chapter 1)
• The social and political conditions in the Mediterranean Basin
• Enlightenment thinking, the Milesian Revolution, the beginnings of physics and philosophy
• Parmenides and the methods for knowledge, reason versus experience
• The inquiry into “nature” (φύσις), Democritus and ancient Atomism
• Quiz, Two Questions, Debriefing
Socrates, the historical figure and the character (AGP, chapters 2 and 3)
• The Age of Pericles
• The trial and execution of Socrates
• The Sophistical movement
• Socrates, “love of wisdom” (φιλοσοφία), the “soul” (ψυχή), and “happiness” (εὐδαιμονία)
• Socrates against the Sophists
• Quiz, One Question, Debriefing
Plato and the Academy (AGP, chapters 4 and 5)
• The Peloponnesian War and the end of the Golden Age
• Plato's interpretation of Socrates
• A new conception of the soul, its relation to the body, and the good life
• The theory of justice in the Republic
• The renewed interest in nature in the Timaeus, the teleological perspective
• Quiz, Three Questions, Debriefing
Aristotle and the Lyceum (AGP, chapters 6 - 9)
• The rise of Macedon, Alexander the Great, a new school is established in Athens
• The first great Platonist and the first great Platonic critic
• Physics is second philosophy, becoming like the unmovable first mover
• The soul is the form of the body
• Ethics and the good life in the Nicomachean Ethics
• • Quiz, Three Questions, Debriefing
The Hellenistic Philosophers (AGP, chapter 10)
• The ancient world after the death of Alexander in 323 BCE to the death of Cleopatra in 30 BCE
• Epicurus and the Epicureans
• The Stoics
• The Academic Skeptics
• Quiz, One Question, Debriefing