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PL210: Ancient Greek Philosophy

(Offer Rotation: typically 2/semester; 1/summer.  Please note that the following course description and list of course requirements may not apply in cases where the course is taught by other faculty.)
 
 
This course focusses upon Plato's dialogues and Aristotle's lecture notes, to the near-exclusion of the pre-Socratics and the Hellenists.  More specifically, I focus upon many of Plato's early period ("Socratic") and middle period ("Platonic") dialogues (but only very rarely discuss the "late" Platonic dialogues), as well as a variety of passages from Aristotle, especially where he is critical of both Socratic and Platonic thought.
  
My focus in the classroom is to prepare the students for the written work in the course, all of which involve intensive study of Plato's and Aristotle's work.  Thus, classroom sessions frequently include close-reading of passages so that students may become familiar with unusual level of careful, philosophically-minded reading that these texts will require of them.  Classroom sessions also therefore focus upon digging out philosophical arguments from Plato's and Aristotle's prose so that we may see by what reasons they reach their often surprising conclusions about us and the world.  Ultimately, of course, the aim of PL210 is to help students develop their own interpretive and critical abilities, so that they may benefit from some of the greatest texts ever written; equally, the student is made to face challenges to his or her own, modern, preconceptions of how the world works--a sine qua non for a course in a liberal arts college.
 
Written work for this course--three "tutorial papers"--is based upon a quite specific set of questions that I will set for students at least 2 weeks in advance of each paper's due date.  The first two of these papers must be discussed with me and at least one (sometimes two) other students (who will also discuss their papers).  These "tutorial meetings" afford students the opportunity to develop their philosophical abilities in written form, and to talk about their ideas in a critical way with others.  (The constraints of the semester make a third tutorial meeting all-but out of the question.  Instead, then, the course's final exam period is set aside for a third round of tutorial meetings in cases where special needs arise.  Thus, there is no final exam for this course.)
 
A comprehensive list of all course requirements, and a sample Course Syllabus, may be found here.
 
PL210 satisfies 3 credits of Core Division V, philosophy requirement.