PHIL 221(F) Greek Philosophy (Same as Classics 221) (W)

The roots of nearly every central issue in western philosophy can be traced back to a starting point in Ancient Greece, and yet even if we concede that (western) philosophy began in ancient Greece, it is no easy task to say just when it began and with whom. We will begin this course with just this question. Homer and Hesiod exerted an enormous influence on all later thinkers in the areas of ethics and theology; should they be considered the first philosophers? In what ways do the early efforts of the pre-Socratics such as Thales and Anaximander distinguish themselves from Homer and Hesiod? After surveying the major pre-Socratic thinkers, we will turn our attention to the three figures that tower above all of ancient philosophy: Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. Regarding the latter two, our focus will be on their metaphysics and epistemology, as well as on their theories of soul and God, and so this course should form a nice complement to Philosophy 101, 205 or 255 which give pride of place to their ethics. Finally, we will take a brief look at some later developments in Greek philosophy, notably Skepticism and Neo-Platonism. Format: lecture and discussion. Requirements: three short papers, attendance and active participation in class. No prerequisites. Enrollment limit: 19 (expected: 10-15).