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Introduction to Greek Philosophy Guidebook 1
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Table of Contents,An Introduction to Greek Philosophy. Professor Biography 1,Course Scope 3, Lecture One A Dialectical Approach to Greek Philosophy 5. Lecture Two From Myth to Philosophy Hesiod and Thales 10. Lecture Three The Milesians and the Quest for Being 15. Lecture Four The Great Intrusion Heraclitus 21,Lecture Five Parmenides The Champion of Being 26. Lecture Six Reconciling Heraclitus and Parmenides 30. Lecture Seven The Sophists Protagoras the First Humanist 34. Lecture Eight Socrates 38, Lecture Nine An Introduction to Plato s Dialogues 42. Lecture Ten Plato versus the Sophists 1 45,Lecture Eleven Plato versus the Sophists II 49.
Lecture Twelve Plato s Forms I 53,Timeline 57,Glossary 58. Biographical Notes 60,Bibliography 62,2002 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 2. An Introduction to Greek Philosophy, This series of twenty four lectures will introduce the student to the first. philosophers in Western history the ancient Greeks The course will begin. approximately in the year 585 B C E with the work of Thales of Miletus and end. in 325 with the monumental achievements of Aristotle All dates used throughout. this course are B C E These lectures have two related goals 1 to explain the. historical influence of the Greeks on subsequent developments in Western. philosophy and 2 to examine the philosophical value of their work The Greeks. asked the most fundamental questions about human beings and their relationship to. the world and for the past 2 600 years philosophers have been trying to answer. them Furthermore many of the answers the Greeks themselves provided are still. viable today Indeed in some cases these ancient thinkers came up with answers. that are better than any offered by modern philosophers. The course is divided into four parts Lectures One through Eight are. devoted to the Presocratics those thinkers who lived before or during the life of. Socrates 469 399 Lecture Nine discusses Socrates himself Lectures Ten. through Seventeen concentrate on the works of Plato 429 347 Lectures Eighteen. through Twenty Four are devoted to Aristotle 384 322. These lectures take a dialectical approach to the history of Greek. philosophy meaning that they treat the various thinkers as if they were. participating in a conversation The word dialectical comes from the Greek. dialegesthai to converse Therefore for example Anaximander 610 546 who. also lived in Miletus will be conceived as directly responding to and specifically. criticizing his predecessor Thales Anaximander like any good thinker. acknowledged what was positive and valuable in his opponent but then. significantly disagreed and tried to improve upon him In a similar manner Plato. 2002 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 3, responded to his predecessors Protagoras and Gorgias and Aristotle despite the. fact that he studied with Plato for twenty years was a critic of his teacher The. purpose of this course is not only to inform students about the first great. conversation in Western thought but also to invite them to participate The. questions the Greeks struggled with are perennial ones that concern all of us As. far away in time as these ancient Greeks were they can nonetheless be brought. back to life and talk to us today, This course places two special demands on its students First there is the.
issue of the Greek language It is remarkably expressive and as a result it is often. very difficult to translate into English Therefore several crucial Greek words will. be left untranslated in the hope that they will become part of the students. vocabulary Those Greeks words that have been left untranslated as well as their. English derivatives can be found in the glossary, The second demand facing the student is the nature of the textual evidence. Hint remains from ancient Greece For the Presocratics the evidence IN. frtiKtncnlnry and very little of it remains This part of the course then must be. somewhat speculative When it comes to Plato and Aristotle the problem is the. opposite there is too much evidence Both wrote an extraordinary number of. works This part of the course must therefore be highly selective The selection of. material discussed in this course is based on one principle each thinker is treated. as responding to his predecessors Therefore for example the lectures on Plato. will concentrate on those of his works in which he criticized the Presocratics. Similarly the discussions of Aristotle will focus on his response to Plato. 2002 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 4,Lecture One. A Dialectical Approach to Greek Philosophy, Scope This first lecture introduces the two basic goals of this course 1 to. show the extraordinary impact of the ancient Greeks on the subsequent. development of Western philosophy and 2 to explain the enduring philosophical. value of these thinkers The Greeks asked fundamental questions and amazingly. some of their answers are as good as any that have ever been proposed. The course is divided into four parts Lectures One through Nine are devoted to the. Presocratic philosophers those thinkers who lived before or during the life of. Socrates 469 399 Lecture Ten discusses Socrates himself Lectures Eleven. through Seventeen concentrate on the works of Plato 429 347 Lectures Eighteen. through Twenty Four are devoted to Aristotle 384 322 Throughout the. approach of the course is dialectical It treats the development of Greek thought. as a conversation in which each thinker acknowledged what was positive in his. predecessor but then criticized and attempted to move beyond him. I This lecture will introduce the course by answering four questions. A What are we going to study In other words what exactly is ancient. Greek philosophy,B Why should we study ancient Greek philosophy. C How will we study it, II Ancient Greek philosophy can be divided into four basic periods.
A The Presocratics these were thinkers who lived before and during the life. of Socrates The first Presocratic was Thales of Miletus whose date is. traditionally given as 585 B C E All dates in this lecture series are. B Socrates the Athenian philosopher who lived from 469 399. 2002 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 5,C Plato 429 347. D Aristotle 384 322,III Why study these dead philosophers. A Their historical influence was monumental, 1 Alfred North Whitehead said The safest general characterization of. the European philosophical tradition is that it consists of a series of. footnotes to Plato In his view Plato asked all the fundamental. questions that philosophers can ask, 2 Aristotle was perhaps even more influential In he Middle Ages he. was simply known as the philosopher His writings became the. organizing principle of European universities and they still shape. these institutions today Jewish philosophers particularly. Maimonides Christian Thomas Aquinas and Muslim Avicenna. and Averroes tried to synthesize their religious views with Aristotle s. philosophical conception of the world, 3 Western philosophy indeed Western civilization as such was.
fundamentally shaped by the works of Plato and Aristotle To the. extent that world culture has become Westernized the entire world. is in debt to the Greeks, 4 However Plato and Aristotle themselves were influenced by and. were responding to earlier thinkers namely Socrates and the. Presocratics, 5 One purpose of this course is to chart this historical development. which begins in 585 with the work of Thales of Miletus and ends with. Aristotle The goal is to show how the Greeks asked the most basic. philosophical questions and thereby influenced all subsequent. developments in Western philosophy,2002 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 6. B In addition to its historical significance there is a deeper reason to study. Greek philosophy Even today the work of the Greeks is philosophically. interesting and valuable,1 Philosophy means love philia of wisdom sophia. 2 But what is wisdom A preliminary answer being able to answer. the perennial or fundamental questions Some examples. a Is anything stable and permanent or is reality always changing. b Are human beings capable of understanding reality as it is in itself. Or is reality always seen from a human perspective which distorts. it Must reality remain a mystery, c Are ethical values such as justice and courage relative Do they.
depend on the individual or group that holds them Or are there. some absolute values that are independent of who holds them ones. that are simply and forever right and true, d What sort of political community is most just Is any political. system better than democracy, e Is freedom the highest and most important political value or are. there higher ones, f What is the proper relationship between human beings and the. natural world Does the natural world exist for human. consumption Should it be revered Can it be understood Should. it be conquered, 3 It is possible that the answers to such questions offered by the ancient. Greeks are superior to the ones produced by modern thinkers. a Of course in the natural sciences the ancient Greeks were inferior. Aristotle for example believed that the sun revolved around the. 2002 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 7, b However concerning questions of the value and meaning of.
human life the answers of the ancient Greeks are legitimate. alternatives to any produced by the modern world, c This is especially true of Aristotle In this sense he will be the. hero of this course,IV How are we going to study Greek philosophy. A First and foremost these lectures will present an overview of ancient. Greek philosophy from approximately 585 325, B The course will be divided into the four distinct units mentioned above. the Presocratics Socrates Plato and Aristotle,C The course will be approached dialectically. 1 The history of Greek philosophy will be approached as a. conversation between thinkers who respond to each other. Dialectic comes from the Greek dialegesthai to converse. These thinkers acknowledge and are dependent on their. predecessors but criticize and move beyond them They engage in. a dialogue, 2 Dialogue plays a significant role in Socrates and Plato.
V The study of Greek philosophy places three unique demands on its students. A Ancient Greek is a difficult language to translate adequately into English. Therefore several extremely important philosophical words will be left. untranslated All of these can be found in the Glossary. B Only fragments of Presocratic writing remain The lectures on these. philosophers will therefore have to be somewhat speculative. C When dealing with Plato and Aristotle the problem is exactly the. opposite Each produced a huge body of work only a tiny bit of which. can be discussed in the lectures Once again the guiding principle in. 2002 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 8, selecting material to be discussed will be that which generates a. conversation between the two greatest Greek philosophers. VI The ultimate purpose of this course is to invite the student to enter the. dialogue that the Greeks began and that continues to this very day. Essential Reading, Cohen Curd Reeve Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy pp viii ix. Supplementary Reading, Kirk Raven Schofield The Presocratic Philosophers pp 1 6. Questions to Consider, 1 What is your reason for studying Greek philosophy Are you willing to. consider the possibility that unlike science in philosophy there s nothing. new under the sun, 2 Such words as democracy psychology physics myth autonomy.
and political all have their etymological origins in Greek words You may. wish to look these words up in the dictionary and find out what their original. meanings were Also see if you can think of any other English words that. have Greek origins,2002 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 9. Lecture Two,From Myth to Philosophy Hesiod and Thales. Scope To understand what was revolutionary about the first philosopher in the. history of the West Thales of Miletus we must contrast him with his. predecessors Before philosophy appeared there were poets storytellers and. myth makers This lecture considers a pre philosophical poem Hesiod s Theogony. written in approximately 700 which is his story of how the gods nature and the. human world came into existence The lecture explains in what ways this Greek. myth was both similar to and different from a work of philosophy. The lecture turns next to Thales who is traditionally dated at 585 and generally. regarded as the first philosopher of the West Thales claimed to have rationally. discovered the origin arche of all things which he said was water With this. claim he offered a rational explanation logos of what came to be known as. Being itself As such he fundamentally broke with the myth makers of the past. I Before philosophy there was poetry especially the poems of Homer and. A Homer was the first and the greatest of the pre philosophical Greek. poets Nothing is known with certainty about him He probably lived. around 750 The Greeks believed that he composed the Odyssey and the. 1 Homer s poems tell the stories of the Trojan War and of. Odysseus s return from Troy The Greeks themselves as well as. modern archaeologists believe that the events inspiring the stories. of the Trojan War occurred around 1200, 2 Homeric poetry expresses and encapsulates much of Greek culture. especially the stories about the gods,2002 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 10. 3 In Greek muthos means myth or story and is the origin of our. B Hesiod lived around 700 in Boeotia He described himself as a. shepherd who while tending his sheep on Mount Helicon was visited. by the Muses the goddesses of inspiration who inspired him to. compose his poetry, 1 Hesiod s Theogony recounts the origin of the gods as well as the earth.
the sea the sky and the physical world His story is genealogical. Successive generations depicted in the Theogony form a gigantic family. 2 The first 11 5 lines of the poem are an invocation lo the Muses. Hesiod is utterly dependent on them Hence he begins his poem by. saying Tell me these things Olympian Muses From the. beginning and tell which of them came first 1 114 16. 3 Relying on the Muses implies that the human mind cannot do its. work alone It is too weak, 4 The Greek word logos has two meanings reason and speech It. could be translated as rational speech It is often found in the. suffixes of English words that name intellectual disciplines. Biology for example means the logos or rational account of. 5 The fact that Hesiod invokes the Muses before he tells his miithos. implies that for the poet human logos is incapable on its own of. understanding reality,C The first story Hesiod tells begins as follows. Tell me these things Olympian Muses, From the beginning and tell which of them came first. 2002 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 11,In the beginning there was only Chaos the Abyss. But then Gaia the Earth came into being,Her broad bosom the ever firm foundation of all.
And Tartaros dim in the underground depths, And Eros loveliest of all the Immortals Theogony 114 120. 1 The meaning of Chaos is not the same as it is in English In Greek it. means abyss gap or emptiness, 2 Notice that Hesiod offers no explanation of why earth came to be from. the abyss It just did, 3 Eros can be translated as love but its more primary meaning is sexual. desire Hesiod s world takes place through sexual reproduction Earth. and sky mate and produce offspring The world is born then continues to. grow The result is like a family tree Therefore Eros must be introduced. right at the beginning of the myth as the primal force responsible for all. future generations, 4 But the question arises How ultimately can something come of nothing. as in Hesiod s story of creation Later philosophers such as Parmenides. will consider this very point, D Hesiod s muthos implies that human beings cannot comprehend the.
world Logos working on its own cannot dissolve its mysteries. II Thales lived in Miletus a city on the west coast of Asia Minor now the west. coast of Turkey The Greeks had expanded into this region which became. known as Ionia some time before 1000 Legend has it that Thales predicted a. solar eclipse that we now know occurred in 585 Therefore this is the date. traditionally attributed to his work,2002 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 12. A According to Aristotle Thales was the founder of what came to be. called natural philosophy which is the rational attempt to explain to. give a logos of nature The Greek word phusis which is the origin of. physics means nature The first Greek philosophers were. phusiologoi those who offered a logos ofphusis, B Thales believed that the origin arche of all things is water. 1 There are several ways to translate arche beginning origin. source first principle ruling principle The English words. archaic and archaeology are derived from it, 2 According to Aristotle Thales s arche is the source of all things It. is that from which all things come into being and into which they. 3 For Thales all things come from water and return to water But. water itself endures, C Aristotle speculates that Thales got this idea from seeing that the. nourishment of all things is moist and water is the principle of the. nature of moist things Metaphysics 983b 18 27, 1 Thales determined what the arche is by means of empirical.
observation and rational thought He needed no Muse and. composed no muthos His is a work of logos alone, 2 The arche for Hesiod is Chaos It cannot be explained rationally. Hence he must invoke the Muse and tell a muthos, 3 Therefore Thales has been traditionally deemed the first. philosopher and the year 585 is among the most important in all of. human history Thales in other words was the first Western. thinker to offer that reality could be conceived,2002 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 13. 4 The arche for Thales endures It is It is the realm of Being. what is permanent stable and ultimate It is the unifying principle. of reality And for Thales the arche is water, D All the many various things of the world are in the realm of Becoming. They come into Being then they pass away They suffer generation and. destruction, 1 These terms Being and Becoming the One and the Many are.
fundamental in understanding all of Western philosophy Indeed. philosophy may be conceived as the quest to comprehend the. relationship between the two,2 For Hesiod Being is incomprehensible. 3 For Thales on the other hand it is conceivable For Thales in fact. the many can be unified in the one in water,Essential Reading. Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy pp 1 9,Supplementary Reading. Cornford E From Religion to Philosophy preface and chapter 1. Hyland D The Origins of Philosophy chapter 1, Kirk Raven and Schofield The Presocratic Philosophers chapter 1. Questions to Consider, 1 What do you think a myth is What myths do you live by Do you think it is.
possible to live without myths, 2 Is the myth of creation in Genesis similar or dissimilar to what we read in. the Theogony, 3 In what ways is Thales s thinking similar to modern physics. 2002 The Teaching Company Limited Partnership 14,Lecture Three. The Milesians and the Quest for Being, Scope This lecture examines the debate between three philosophers from. Miletus Thales Anaximander and Anaximenes Anaximander 610 540 agreed. with Thales that the world has an origin arche that can be comprehended by. rational thought logos But he disagreed on what the arche was For Thales it. was water a determinate substance that can easily be distinguished from other. substances such as fire earth and air For Anaximander the arche was the. indefinite to apeiron It was infinite or indeterminate and it had no limits. Anaximenes approximately 550 agreed with Anaximander that there must be an. arche and that Thales s choice of water was a bad one But he disagreed that the. arche was indeterminate Instead he claimed it was air For Anaximenes as for. Thales the arche was a determinate substance The first debate in Western. philosophy was held on the question Is Being itself determinate or. indeterminate Xenophanes and Pythagoras two other sixth century thinkers are. also discussed in this lecture, I The philosophers of Miletus Thales Anaximander Anaximenes.
A Thales was the founder of the Milesian school, B Anaximander wrote the first surviving philosophical work in. approximately 550 Nothing remains of Thales s actual writings It is. possible that he studied with Thales, C Anaximenes was younger than Anaximander and may have been his. student He probably wrote his work around 545, II For Thales the arche was water an ordinary determinate element.

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