Greek philosophy: the Hellenistic period

Course Dates: 02/11/23 - 07/12/23
Time: 19:00 - 20:30
Location: Online
The pursuit of happiness is ongoing. In the ancient Greek world this gave rise to several ‘philosophies of life’ that remain the cornerstone of contemporary attitudes. Join this course to explore their key sources.
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Full fee £99.00 Senior fee £99.00 Concession £64.00

Course Code: HP125

Thu, eve, 02 Nov - 07 Dec '23

Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)

Please note: We offer a wide variety of financial support to make courses affordable. Just visit our online Help Center for more information on a range of topics including fees, online learning and FAQs.

What is the course about?

We owe to the 'Hellenistic' period of Greek philosophy (c. 300 BC — 200 AD) the roots of many of our contemporary ethical paths — or philosophies of living — such as Epicureanism (path of tranquillity and freedom from pain), Stoicism (path of virtue and will), Cynicism (path of voluntary simplicity) and Scepticism (path of intelligent non-judgement of good and bad).

The study of such philosophies helps us to recognize just how long-standing and familiar many of our contemporary concerns in life are. We will discuss whether the 'Hellenistic' philosophies are still useful in coping with life and whether following their paths would make us ‘happy’ in today's world.

This is a live online course. You will need:
- Internet connection. The classes work best with Chrome.
- A computer with microphone and camera is best (e.g. a PC/laptop/iMac/MacBook), or a tablet/iPad/smart phone/iPhone if you don't have a computer.
- Earphones/headphones/speakers.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.

What will we cover?

A basic outline of the relation of ‘Hellenistic’ to the other periods of Greek Philosophy (i.e., Pre-Socratic and Socratic philosophy).

Some of the key Hellenistic Schools of thought: Epicureanism, Stoicism, Cynicism, Scepticism (Pyrrhonism). Key concepts such as Ataraxia (tranquillity), Eudaimonia (well-being; flourishing), Arete (virtue, excellence).

Some of the major Hellenistic philosophers such as Epicurus (epicurean), Zeno of Citium (stoic), Pyrrho and Sextus Empiricus (Scepticism), and Diogenes of Sinope (Cynicism).

A broad evaluation of the contemporary relevance of these philosophies.

What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...

Discuss the contemporary relevance of some key ‘hellenistic’ ideas.

What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?

This is an introductory course that requires no previous knowledge of philosophy. However, you will need to be prepared to think through philosophical problems for yourself (with the help of the tutor). An open mind and a willingness to listen to and think about views with which you do not always agree are more important than specific levels of skills.

How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?

The sessions will follow a ‘seminar’ format with presentations from the tutor, Q&A and group discussion. There may be some brief readings from texts to consider and depending on the size of the group some small group activities. All course resources will be available on Google Classroom, it is recommended that you utilise this facility to get the full benefit from the course.

Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?

There are no other costs. If you want to take notes, remember to bring some paper and a pen (or mobile device).

When I've finished, what course can I do next?

You might be interested in the follow-on course HP117 Greek philosophy: the late ancient period, starting in February 2024.

John Goff Tutor Website

From reading Philosophy at a young age to the formal study of Cognitive Science, Philosophy & Psychology at the Universities of London and Sussex - after a prior career in video-arts - John Goff has been presenting philosophy courses to adults since the early 2000s. He uses a cross-disciplinary, seminar-based approach in his courses, drawing on Philosophy, Psychology and the wider Humanities & Social Sciences with an emphasis on the intersection of contemporary and classical European and Asian philosophical thought. He is the author of several works of philosophical fiction concerning artificial minds and organisms and alternative-human worlds including the novel 'The Last Days of the Most Hidden Man' and the novellas 'Eidopolis', 'Agents of Erasure', 'Jupiter|Saturn' and 'Sleep|Nothing|Asylum'. His academic writings can be found on his page at ''.

Please note: We reserve the right to change our tutors from those advertised. This happens rarely, but if it does, we are unable to refund fees due to this. Our tutors may have different teaching styles; however we guarantee a consistent quality of teaching in all our courses.