PHIL 110:

Ancient Philosophy





This course will examine the ethics, political theory, and aesthetics of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle, as well as the metaphysics and theology of the Pre-Socratic philosophers. Topics include the origin and nature of the kosmos (ordered universe), the existence and nature of the gods, the polis (city-state) of Athens and the trial of Socrates, the nature of hosion (piety) and of aretē (virtue), law and conscientious objection, the nature of dikaiosune (justice) and its relation to sophia (wisdom), andreia (courage), and sōphrosunē (moderation), different types of government and tyranny, art and mimesis (imitation), the nature of eudaimonia (happiness), the nature of hekōn (intentional/voluntary) and akōn (unintentional/non-voluntary) action, the possibility of akrasia (weakness of the will), the different forms of philia (love/friendship), and the life of theōrein (study).


     Philosophy Resources in Leyburn Library for Papers



Raphael (Raffaello Sanzio), School of Athens, 1509

(Click on picture for identities of philosophers)


Maps and Time Lines

  • Map 1 (Greece and Western Asia Minor) (Early Greek Philosophy, ed. Jonathan Barnes)

  • Map 2 (Greece and Western Asia Minor) (Cohen, Curd and Reeve)

  • Map 3 (Atlas map of Greece, Italy and Western Asia Minor)

  • Map 4 (Sicily and Southern Italy) (Cohen, Curd and Reeve)

  • Map 5 (Eastern Mediterranean) (Cohen, Curd and Reeve)

  • Time Line 1

  • Time Line 2 (Cohen, Curd and Reeve)



  1. Overview: The Birth of Western Philosophy

  2. Presocratic Philosophy (Patricia Curd)

  3. Thales   See also Thales (Patricia O'Grady) Thales (Marc Cohen) Milesians (Barry Smith)

  4. Anaximander  See also Anaximander (Marc Cohen)

  5. Anaximenes  See also Anaximenes (Marc Cohen)

  6. Pythagoras  See also Pythagoras (Barry Smith)

  7. Xenophanes  See also Xenophanes (James Lesher) Xenophanes (Inter. Ency. Phil.) Xenophanes (Barry Smith)

  8. Heraclitus  See also Heraclitus (Daniel W. Graham) Heraclitus (Daniel Graham) Heraclitus (Marc Cohen) Heraclitus (Barry Smith)

  9. Parmenides  See also Parmenides (John Palmer) Parmenides (Inter. Ency. Phil.) Parmenides (Marc Cohen (two pages)) Parmenides (Barry Smith)

  10. Anaxagoras

  11. Empedocles

  12. Zeno of Elea  See also Zeno (Int. Ency. Phil.) Zeno (Marc Cohen)

  13. Leucippus and Democritus (the Atomists)

  14. Diogenes of Apollonia

  15. Melissus

  16. Protagoras

  17. Gorgias

  18. Antiphon

  19. Critias



  1. Euthyphro

  2. Apology of Socrates Part I, Part II     

  3. Crito     




Bk. I Definitions of Justice; Thrasymachus and 'Justice is the advantage of the stronger'; Justice is the good of another, Injustice the good of oneself

Bk. II Glaucon and Adeimantus; Division of Goods; Justice proposed again as the good of another; Injustice the good of oneself; Ring of Gyges; Paying off the gods; Comparison of Just-but-believed-Unjust person and Unjust-but-believed Just person; reply involves modeling the soul on the city; first kind of city (Producers only); second kind of city (Producers and Guardians only); education of the Guardians requires censorship of Homer (etc.) about the gods

Bk. III Education of the Guardians contd., censoring of Homer (etc.) about heroism and lack of excessive emotion; truth-telling emphasized; no theatrical acting practiced by the Guardians; loyalty to the city above all else; the 'Noble Lie' told to the Guardians about the 'Myth of Metals'; the communal living arrangements of the Guardians and their lack of personal property.

Bk. IV The 'complete Guardians' (out of whom will come the Philosopher-Kings); each person to do what his/her intellectual ability level dictates (i.e. enter one of the three classes); the 'kallipolis' or happy city will exhibit the virtues of wisdom, courage, moderation and justice; internal conflict and akrasia (weakness of will); tri-partite soul and justice in the soul

Bk. V Philosopher-Queens; eugenics and the communal raising of children as an extended family; exposure of children to battle at an early age; "Until philosophers rule as kings... cities will have no rest from evils"

Bk. VI The Nature of a Philosopher; The Divided Line; The Forms; The Form of the Good

Bk. VII The Allegory of the Cave; Education of the Philosopher-Kings

Bk. VIII Five Types of Constitutions for Cities: (a) Rule by Philosophers (Aristocracy); (b) Rule by Guardians (Timocracy); (c) Rule by Producers #1: the rich (Oligarchy); (d) Rule by Producers #2: everyone (Demoracy); (e) Rule by one (Tyranny); they correspond to four types of soul: (a) Rule by reason; (b) Rule by spirit; (c) Rule by necessary appetites; (d) Rule by necessary and unnecessary appetites; (e) Rule by lawless appetites

Bk. IX The Tyrant as the unhappiest soul; the three different types of pleasure: making a profit, being honored and learning; pleasure of reason the greatest, and truest, pleasure; final reply to Glaucon: the just person is the happiest person

Bk. X Art as mimesis; trompe-l'oeil; the Form, the particular (copy) and the image (copy of copy); poets have no knowledge, they only imitate; poets imitate the irrational; audience empathizes with characters in poetry; feeds the irrational part of the soul; poets must be banished from the happy city, unless an argument can be provided



Nicomachean Ethics


Bk. I The highest good; Happiness (Eudaimonia); not pleasure, wealth, honor, virtue; complete; self-sufficient; most choiceworthy; function (ergon) of a human being; soul; parts of the soul; complete life; external goods; must be active; must include pleasure; neither fortune nor virtue alone; activity of the soul expressing virtue with sufficient external goods; Priam


Bk. II virtues of thought (intellectual virtues) vs. virtues of character (ēthos) = ethical virtues; virtues of character result from habit (ethos), not from nature or from teaching alone; become virtuous by performing just actions; a virtue of character = a state of character; a mean state, i.e. between two excesses (both of which are vices); appropriate upbringing (moral luck); virtues are concerned with actions and feelings; actions expressing virtue: (a) know that the action is virtuous, (b) decide to perform action because it is virtuous, and (c) perform the action from a firm and unchanging state of character; virtues are not feelings, or capacities, but states of character; virtue is a state that decides, consisting in a mean, relative to the agent and his/her circumstances, which is defined by reason, as the practically wise person would decide it; some feelings (spite, shamelessness, envy) do not admit of a mean; some actions (adultery, theft, murder) do not admit of a mean; whenever we have these feelings or perform these actions, we are base


Bk. III We are held responsible for our actions; voluntary (willing/intended actions) vs. (a) involuntary actions (contrary to intention/unwilling) and (b) non-willing (unintended but not contrary to intention) actions; involuntary: (i) caused by force, or (ii) caused by ignorance of particulars; 'mixed' actions still voluntary; actions done "in ignorance" (drunkenness, great emotion) still voluntary; actions done "in ignorance" of the noble (ignorance of the universal) still voluntary; caused caused by ignorance of particulars -- six kinds of particulars.


Bk. V Justice


Bk. VI Correct Reason / capacities in the soul


Bk. VII Divine Virtue / Virtue / Continence / Incontinence / Vice / Bestiality


Bk. X Eudaimonia (Happiness) and Theoria (Contemplation)


Lecture Log

Lecture 1 Principle of Charity; Occam's Razor; Monistic Materialism; Panpsychism

Lecture 2 Cosmos; Archē; Principle of Sufficient Reason; Reasoning A Priori and A Posteriori; Quantitative Change vs. Qualitative Change

Lecture 3 Metempsychosis, Reincarnation, Speciesism, Anthropomorphism

Lecture 4 Rationalism, Empiricism, Iris, Dioscuri

Lecture 5 Law of Non-Contradiction; Law of Excluded Middle; Law of Bivalence; Ex Nihilo, Nihil Fit; Law of Parmenides

Lecture 6 Reductio ad absurdum; Modus Ponens; Modus Tollens

Lecture 7 Eidos (Form); Elenchus