Ancient Philosophy: Plato & His Predecessors

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Ancient Philosophy: Plato & His Predecessors

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Beschrijving

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About this course: What is philosophy? How does it differ from science, religion, and other modes of human discourse? This course traces the origins of philosophy in the Western tradition in the thinkers of Ancient Greece. We begin with the Presocratic natural philosophers who were active in Ionia in the 6th century BCE and are also credited with being the first scientists. Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximines made bold proposals about the ultimate constituents of reality, while Heraclitus insisted that there is an underlying order to the changing world. Parmenides of Elea formulated a powerful objection to all these proposals, while later Greek theorists (such as Anaxagoras and the atom…

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When you enroll for courses through Coursera you get to choose for a paid plan or for a free plan

  • Free plan: No certicification and/or audit only. You will have access to all course materials except graded items.
  • Paid plan: Commit to earning a Certificate—it's a trusted, shareable way to showcase your new skills.

About this course: What is philosophy? How does it differ from science, religion, and other modes of human discourse? This course traces the origins of philosophy in the Western tradition in the thinkers of Ancient Greece. We begin with the Presocratic natural philosophers who were active in Ionia in the 6th century BCE and are also credited with being the first scientists. Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximines made bold proposals about the ultimate constituents of reality, while Heraclitus insisted that there is an underlying order to the changing world. Parmenides of Elea formulated a powerful objection to all these proposals, while later Greek theorists (such as Anaxagoras and the atomist Democritus) attempted to answer that objection. In fifth-century Athens, Socrates insisted on the importance of the fundamental ethical question—“How shall I live?”—and his pupil, Plato, and Plato’s pupil, Aristotle, developed elaborate philosophical systems to explain the nature of reality, knowledge, and human happiness. After the death of Aristotle, in the Hellenistic period, Epicureans and Stoics developed and transformed that earlier tradition. We will study the major doctrines of all these thinkers. Part I will cover Plato and his predecessors. Part II will cover Aristotle and his successors.

Created by:  University of Pennsylvania
  • Taught by:  Susan Sauvé Meyer, Professor

    Department of Philosophy
Language English How To Pass Pass all graded assignments to complete the course. User Ratings 4.7 stars Average User Rating 4.7See what learners said Coursework

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University of Pennsylvania The University of Pennsylvania (commonly referred to as Penn) is a private university, located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, United States. A member of the Ivy League, Penn is the fourth-oldest institution of higher education in the United States, and considers itself to be the first university in the United States with both undergraduate and graduate studies.

Syllabus


WEEK 1


The Milesians & Heraclitus
Thales, Anaximander, Anaximenes and Xenophanes seek the material principle of the cosmos, and arrive at a radical new conception of the gods. Heraclitus distills the essence of their “naturalism” in his riddling slogans.


8 videos, 2 readings expand


  1. Video: Introduction to Ancient Philosophy
  2. Reading: Milesians Readings
  3. Video: How We Study the Pre-Socratics
  4. Video: Fragments and Sources
  5. Video: Philosophers or scientists?
  6. Video: The Material Principle
  7. Video: God in Nature?
  8. Discussion Prompt: Discussion Questions: Milesians
  9. Reading: Heraclitus Readings
  10. Video: Heraclitus on the LOGOS
  11. Video: Heraclitus on Change
  12. Discussion Prompt: Discussion Questions: Heraclitus

Graded: Milesians
Graded: Heraclitus

WEEK 2


Parmenides to Plato



Parmenides poses a fundamental philosophical challenge to all naturalistic inquiry when he denies the intelligibility of change. Later naturalists (Empedocles, Anaxagoras, and Democritus) respond to his challenge. Plato’s portrait of Socrates raises questions about the nature of philosophy, its role in public life, and the relation between morality and religion.


8 videos, 3 readings expand


  1. Reading: Parmenides
  2. Video: Parmenides' Prohibition
  3. Video: Parmenides Against Change
  4. Video: Responses to Parmenides
  5. Video: Naturalism after Parmenides
  6. Discussion Prompt: Discussion Questions: Parmenides & his legacy
  7. Reading: Plato's Apology
  8. Reading: Plato's Euthyphro
  9. Video: Plato and Socrates
  10. Video: Socrates in the Apology
  11. Video: Piety in the Euthyphro
  12. Video: Morality and Religion
  13. Discussion Prompt: Discussion Questions: Plato's Apology and Euthyphro

Graded: Parmenides and His Legacy
Graded: Plato’s Apology and Euthyphro

WEEK 3


Plato on Virtue, Teaching, & Justice



What is virtue, and how can it be taught? What is teaching anyway, and how could we ever acquire knowledge? Socrates gives a geometry lesson purporting to show that learning is recollection. Why should we act justly? What’s in it for us? An elaborate analogy between a city and a human soul seeks to convince us that crime never pays, even if the criminal can escape detection.


10 videos, 4 readings expand


  1. Reading: Plato's Meno
  2. Video: Virtue in the Meno
  3. Video: Teachers of Virtue?
  4. Video: Theory of Recollection
  5. Video: Was Socrates Teaching?
  6. Video: Meno's Paradox
  7. Video: Knowledge vs. True Belief
  8. Discussion Prompt: Discussion Question: Plato's Meno
  9. Reading: Republic Book 1
  10. Reading: Republic Book 2
  11. Reading: Republic Book 4
  12. Video: Is Justice a Virtue?
  13. Video: The Just City
  14. Video: The Just Soul
  15. Video: Rational Injustice?
  16. Discussion Prompt: Discussion Questions: Plato's Republic 1-4

Graded: Plato's Meno
Graded: Plato's Republic

WEEK 4


Plato on Reality & Goodness



The ultimate realities are intelligible Forms, while the world of our experience is only an image of that reality. Goodness is a fundamental feature of the world. Plato’s cosmology: the creation of the universe (complete with a world soul) and the principles of mathematical perfection that structure it at every level.


6 videos, 4 readings expand


  1. Reading: Republic Book 5
  2. Reading: Republic Books 6-7
  3. Video: Plato's Theory of Forms
  4. Video: The Real and the Good
  5. Discussion Prompt: Discussion Question: Plato's Republic 5-7
  6. Reading: Plato's Timaeus
  7. Video: The Creation of the World
  8. Video: The World Soul
  9. Video: Plato's Mathematical Physics
  10. Video: Conclusion to Part 1
  11. Discussion Prompt: Discussion Question: Timaeus
  12. Reading: Credits

Graded: Republic Books 5-7
Graded: Plato's Timaeus
Graded: Plato & His Predecessors Final Project

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