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Module GREEK PHILOSOPHY: SOCRATES, PLATO, ARISTOTLE.

Module code: GC218
Credits: 5
Semester: 2
Department: ANCIENT CLASSICS
International: Yes
Overview Overview
 

This module will survey how the culture of the Athenian democracy stimulated some of the central ideas of the Classical Greek philosophers, notably Socrates, Plato and Aristotle. These three are giants of western philosophy, some of the most influential for European culture from antiquity to the present, and their ideas (e.g. about education, citizenship, the state, human nature) still challenge and stimulate. The module will be divided into three main sections. In the first, we will look briefly at Sophists and so-called “Greek Enlightenment,” as background to the trial and final days of Socrates—as told in Plato’s Euthyphro, Apology, Crito and Phaedo. In the second section, we will turn to key aspects of Plato’s Republic, his single most important philosophical statement about the relation of justice and law, art and philosophy, ideal and actual cities, conceptions of the good and the nature of the soul. Aristotle’s Politics gives a more systematic treatment of many of these ethical and political themes, including a balanced criticism and praise of democratic constitutions. Plato and Aristotle were particularly influential on early modern republican thinking, and so we will end with a glance at the US “Founding Fathers” and their association of ancient Greek forms of direct democracy with faction and demagoguery.

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