Introduction to Ancient Philosophy
Full course description
Why would anyone choose to study philosophers who lived and wrote (more than) two millennia ago? One obvious answer is: to learn about one’s roots; to better understand Western culture and heritage. Up to this day, the ancient Greeks and Romans constitute a major influence on our ideas about critical thinking, about the fundamental character of Reality, about Science, Ethics, and Art, and last not least: about what it is to be human and about what it means for humans to flourish, to live truly good lives. Ancient philosophy provides an inexhaustible source of inspiration for contemporary philosophy. “The European philosophical tradition”, the philosopher Whitehead once remarked, “consists in a series of footnotes to Plato”. Slightly overstated, but not untrue.
In this course we will return to the sources and study the texts that helped us become who we are today. We will study a range of canonical philosophical texts from Antiquity, ranging from the Ionian Philosophers of Nature to Aristotle. Although we will attempt to position these treatises in their historical and geographic contexts, our main concern will be: what have these ancient thinkers still to say to us today?
One warning: even if you have some prior knowledge of ancient Greek philosophy, that doesn’t make this an easy course. Only choose this course if you are genuinely interested in reading ancient philosophical texts that do not always yield their secrets easily.
- To provide students with a basic introduction to ancient Greek philosophy;
- To teach students how to explore the meaning of philosophical texts by situating them in their historical contexts;
- To explore how our culture, and we as part of it, has been shaped by these ancient thinkers.
HUM1007 Introduction to Philosophy.
- Copleston, F.C. (1993 ). A History of Philosophy. Vol. I: Greece and Rome: From the Pre-Socratics to Plotinus (rev. ed.). New York, etc.: Image.
- Guthrie, W.K.C. (62013 ). The Greek Philosophers from Thales to Aristotle. Abingdon and New York, NY: Routledge Classics. (ISBN: 978-0-415-52228-1)
- Reeve, C.D.C. and P. Lee Miller (eds.) (2006). Introductory readings in Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy. Indianapolis / Cambridge: Hackett.
- Naerebout, Frederick G. & Singor, Henk W. (2014). Antiquity: Greeks and Romans in Context. Chichester, West Sussex / Malden, MA: Wiley-Blackwell.