This module introduces some of the major works in ancient philosophy in relation to ethics, aesthetics, political theory, ontology and metaphysics. Students will study substantial portions of primary texts by the Presocratics, Plato, Aristotle the Epicureans, Stoics and/or the Skeptics. The emphasis throughout will be on the philosophical significance of the ideas studied. The module will concentrate on understanding key philosophical arguments and concepts within the context of the ancient intellectual tradition. This means that students will gain a critical distance from normative and modern definitions of philosophical terms in order to understand how ancient philosophy generally approached questions and problems with different suppositions and conceptions of reality, reason and the purpose of human existence.
Total Contact Hours: 40
Private Study Hours: 260
Total Study Hours: 300
Autumn or Spring
Method of assessment
• Essay (2,000 words) – 50%
• Exercises (2,000 words) – 40%
• Seminar Participation – 10%
Indicative Reading List
Aristotle. (2009). Nicomachean Ethics. Ed. Lesley Brown. Oxford: Oxford World's Classics.
Kirk. G.S., J.E. Raven & M. Schofield (eds) (1983). Presocratic Philosophers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Long, A.A. & D.N. Sedley (eds). (2008). The Hellenistic Philosophers. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Plato. (2002). Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo. Ed. J. Cooper. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.
Plato. (1992). Republic. Ed. C.D.C. Reeve. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.
Sophocles. (2001). Antigone. Ed. P. Woodruff. Indianapolis, IN: Hackett Publishing Company.
See the library reading list for this module (Canterbury)
By the end of the course students should be able to:
1. Articulate answers to key questions in ancient philosophy (e.g., what is virtue?, what is knowledge?, what are the first causes and principles of reality?; what is nature? what
is the nature of mimesis?);
2. Understand the importance and implications of central issues of ancient philosophy within their historical context, the field of philosophy, and modern scholarly literature;
3. Comprehend the conceptual nuances of key ancient Greek terms without relying on English translations and appreciate the ambiguity and limits of knowledge;
4. Demonstrate critical, specific and in-depth analyses of these issues;
5. Engage reflectively with other people's analyses and interpretations of primary and secondary sources.
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Credit level 5. Intermediate level module usually taken in Stage 2 of an undergraduate degree.
- ECTS credits are recognised throughout the EU and allow you to transfer credit easily from one university to another.
- The named convenor is the convenor for the current academic session.
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