Where to begin? Approaches to philosophical thinking in Ancient Greece and today
Time: 14:45 - 16:45
This course will be delivered online. See the ‘What is the course about?’ section in course details for more information.
This course has now started
Course Code: HP204
Duration: 9 sessions (over 10 weeks)
What is the course about?
This is an introduction to ancient philosophy which connects the questions of some of the earliest philosophers to questions relevant to our own time.
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.
We will contact you with joining instructions before your course starts.
What will we cover?
We will look at what prompted, and still prompts, people to delve into deeper questions about:
- what we can know and how, (epistemology)
- what and who we should trust to impart that knowledge, (philosophical method)
- whether there are fundamental (unchanging) truths about reality (ontology)
- how we move from philosophical thought into action to live the good life (ethics)
- what foundations are needed for a just and peaceful society (politics).
Each class will involve time for discussion, to draw the connection between the thinking occurring in these ancient sources and the thinking relevant to our own lives.
Our core ancients texts will come from: the fragments of Heroclitus and the philosophical poem, ‘On Nature’ of Parmenides; extracts from Plato’s Apology for Socrates, Theaetetus, Meno and Republic; and extracts from Aristotle’s Physics, Metaphysics and, Nicomachean Ethics.
We will look at a range of contemporary resources, including: newspaper articles, interviews, texts from modern philosophers and political commentators.
What will I achieve?
By the end of this course you should be able to...
Narrate the origins of Ancient Greek philosophy and how it developed and changed over 200 years;
Identify central concerns shared by both ancient and modern philosophers;
Analyse and respond to philosophical questions brought up by the ancients with reference to your own thinking and life-experience;
Clearly and accurately outline multiple sides of an argument on each topic;
Pursue further in an informed way the particular questions that have interested you over the course.
What level is the course and do I need any particular skills?
This is a course for beginners. You do not need to have any prior familiarity with Greek philosophy. A basic prior interest in philosophical thinking will be a significant help on the course.
There will be some challenging primary texts to read each week (not more than a couple of pages long) for which help and extra resources will be provided. You will be given plenty of guidance on these texts and they can be adapted to accommodate special requirements.
How will I be taught, and will there be any work outside the class?
The classes will generally run as a mixture of tutor presentation and discussion, with plenty of time allowed for questions and checking understanding.
A short resource will be sent out in advance of each session. We will look over primary texts together in the classes. These will be made available in advance but there will be no obligation to have read them before the class.
Are there any other costs? Is there anything I need to bring?
Please make sure you have a pen or pencil and something to write on.