(Duiker 104-107: Brians optional: 82-83; required: 72-81)

Questions about Duiker: Why were the skills taught by the Sophists especially valuable in Athens? What is the “Socratic method?” *What were Plato’s ideas of government? What are some of the subjects on which Aristotle wrote treatises?

Questions about the early Greek philosophers: What reason does Thales seem to have given for taking water to be the basic stuff of which everything is made? *In what ways are the speculations of the atomists similar to modern scientific beliefs? *What does Xenophanes think is the source of peoples’ ideas about the nature of the gods? What reasons does Socrates give for not fearing death? *What about the account of his death from Plato’s Phaedo indicates that he remained true to his beliefs on this point? *Judging by the “Allegory of the Cave” from Plato’s Republic, why do you think many people in the democracy of Athens, where all citizens were considered equal, might have been antagonistic to Plato’s ideas?

Lecture Topics:

The Pre-Socratics
What makes their ideas different from those of earlier peoples?
What major scientific findings did they anticipate?
The Atomists
In what ways were their theories like modern atomic theory, and in what ways unlike it?
The Sophists
Why did Socrates object to the sophists?
What distinguished him from the pre-Socratics?
What were his main beliefs?
What is his relationship to Socrates?
What were his major influences on Western Civilization?
What were his major influences on Western Civilization?

Supplementary materials:

Return to syllabus