Greek philosophy: the late ancient period

Course Dates: 11/01/24 - 15/02/24
Time: 19:00 - 20:30
Location: Online
The ‘mystical’ philosophy of Plotinus was key to the transition from ancient Greek to early Christian thought. This period gave rise to both modern esotericism and Christian theology. What ideas connect them?
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
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Greek philosophy: the late ancient period
  • Course Code: HP117
  • Dates: 11/01/24 - 15/02/24
  • Time: 19:00 - 20:30
  • Taught: Thu, Evening
  • Duration: 6 sessions (over 6 weeks)
  • Location: Online
  • Tutor: John Goff

Course Code: HP117

Thu, eve, 11 Jan - 15 Feb '24

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?

Neoplatonism arose primarily from the work of Plotinus (204 – 270 AD) as an attempt to reveal the essence of Plato’s philosophy. We will outline the basic ideas of Plotinus and Neoplatonism and assess their ongoing significance. Might Neo-Platonism be regarded as the other great religious tradition of the West in distinction to Christianity?

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?

Plotinus’ philosophy will be outlined in general and examined more closely through selected portions of his work ‘The Enneads.’ The influence, development and ongoing significance of Neo-Platonism as a way of understanding the world will also be explored and discussed including a brief account of the history of Neo-Platonism.

Why ‘Neo’? What was Plotinus trying to achieve and why develop Plato’s philosophy?

Why ‘Platonism?’ The background in Plato’s thought such as his theory of eternal ‘ideas’ (or ‘forms’) and elements of his dialogue ‘Timaeus’ influential in the development of Neo-Platonism.

The impact of Neo-Platonism and its contemporary relevance to ‘esoteric’ and ‘religious’ thought.

Early Christian thinkers such as Origen and Pseudo-Dionysius the Aeropagite.

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

Discuss the contemporary relevance of Neo-Platonism such as its impact on ‘religious’ thought.

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 a tablet).

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

Please see City Lit's website for up-to-date information about forthcoming courses.

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.