Philosophical Classics: Plato’s Republic and Descartes’ Meditations

Oriel College

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Philosophical Classics: Plato’s Republic and Descartes’ Meditations

  • Host University

    Oriel College

  • Location

    Oxford, England

  • Area of Study

    History, Philosophy

  • Language Level

    Taught In English

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

  • Recommended U.S. Semester Credits
  • Recommended U.S. Quarter Units
  • Overview

    This course will offer an introduction to two of the most influential works in history of philosophy: Plato’s Republic and Descartes’ Meditations.

    In the first week, we will lead you through the text of the Republic, Plato’s most famous and influential work. The dialogue is prompted by questions concerning the nature of justice, and the best kind of life we can live. These questions prompt wide-ranging discussions of the ideal state, the nature of knowledge, the nature of reality, the Theory of Forms, the structure and immortality of the soul, moral psychology, education, and the social role of arts. The study of the Republic will thus introduce you to many of Plato’s central ideas and arguments, and in fact to many of the central questions of philosophy.

    In the second week, we will present and discuss Descartes’ Meditations on First Philosophy. This is a short but foundational text of philosophy, written as a series of personal meditations in which Descartes seeks to establish a secure foundation for the whole edifice of knowledge. Some of the topics to be discussed will concern skepticism and our knowledge of the external world, the nature and existence of mind and body, the nature of judgement, and the existence of God. A true classic of Philosophy, the Meditations, written in 1641, set much of the agenda of later philosophy. 


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