Introduction to Greek Philosophy

Maynooth University

Course Description

  • Course Name

    Introduction to Greek Philosophy

  • Host University

    Maynooth University

  • Location

    Dublin, Ireland

  • Area of Study


  • Language Level

    Taught In English

  • Course Level Recommendations


    ISA offers course level recommendations in an effort to facilitate the determination of course levels by credential evaluators.We advice each institution to have their own credentials evaluator make the final decision regrading course levels.

    Hours & Credits

  • ECTS Credits

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

    The aim of this module is to give a general introduction to the first philosophers of Western civilization, roughly between the 6th century BCE and the 1st century CE. We shall proceed chronologically, from the Presocratic thinkers and their discussions of nature, to the Sophists and their focus on human concerns, and then to Plato and Aristotle, ending with the Hellenistic philosophical schools: the Stoics, the Skeptics, and the Epicureans. We shall also proceed philosophically, emphasizing philosophical themes, problems, possible solutions, and methods arising in this period.

    Learning Outcomes:
    On successful completion of the module, students should be able to:

    -Distinguish some basic historical periods in Greek philosophy (Presocratic, Classical, Hellenistic, Roman, Neoplatonic), while dealing with the questions why we need these divisions and what might be problematic in such divisions.

    -Identify some essential methodological problems we have today studying ancient Greek philosophy and relate those problems to some key philosophical issues.

    -Address pertinent questions in ancient Greek philosophy such as, for instance, what should we know in order to understand ancient Greek philosophy? What are the main difficulties modern readers of ancient Greek philosophers should be aware of? Have we ?lost? the Presocratics? Do we know how to deal with a Platonic dialogue?

    -Appreciate the philosophical speculations on nature by the Presocratic thinkers, paying particular attention to the development and changes between different philosophers.

    -Evaluate the advantages and disadvantages of a materialistic approach to the study of nature.

    -Discuss the progress and change in ancient Greek philosophy before and after Socrates, while analysing the philosophical importance of the Sophists and the main issues in Plato?s early dialogues.

    -Debate central questions such as whether the term ?Presocratics? refers to a chronological or a thematic change? what is the significance of the tension between nature and custom? how is rhetoric related to philosophy? what is virtue and how can one acquire it?

    -Elaborate on the significance of the concept of scientific knowledge in both Plato and Aristotle, noting the main differences between their notions of scientific knowledge, problems in the Platonic notion and how Aristotle deals with them, and how the Aristotelian division of sciences is related to his notion of scientific knowledge.

    Teaching & Learning methods:
    24 lecture hours (12 weeks x 2 lecture hours per week); 3 tutorial hours (x 6 tutorial groups); directed reading, reflection, discussion and writing.

    Continuous Assessment detail(s): 5% = Attendance at Tutorials. 15% = Presentation 20% = Tutorial Essay-Assignment (c. 1,000 words) 60% = Final Essay-Assignment (c. 2,000 words).

Course Disclaimer

Courses and course hours of instruction are subject to change.

Credits earned vary according to the policies of the students' home institutions. According to ISA policy and possible visa requirements, students must maintain full-time enrollment status, as determined by their home institutions, for the duration of the program.

ECTS (European Credit Transfer and Accumulation System) credits are converted to semester credits/quarter units differently among U.S. universities. Students should confirm the conversion scale used at their home university when determining credit transfer.

Please reference fall and spring course lists as not all courses are taught during both semesters.

Please note that some courses with locals have recommended prerequisite courses. It is the student's responsibility to consult any recommended prerequisites prior to enrolling in their course.


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