Introduction to Ancient Philosophy

This course runs during the first term. The course starts with a survey of the beginnings of Greek
philosophy, down to the time of Plato. In the second half of the course we shall study a short dialogue
of Plato, the Laches, and some related texts from Aristotle.
- To give students a grasp of the historical development of Greek philosophy down to the time of
- To introduce students to the methods and techniques of philosophical argument.
At the end of the course a student will be able to:
- Give an account of the views adopted by the philosophers considered in the course on a range of
topics, supporting it by textual evidence, and make informed comparisons between the views of
different philosophers indicating both similarities and differences.
- Demonstrate achievement of this objective by producing clear, well-focused written expositions.
There will be 12 lectures and 8 small-group seminars. The lectures will be the main vehicle for
achieving the first of the two aims listed above, backed up by your own reading. In order to achieve
the second of the two aims given, discussion in the seminars will focus on particular texts and
arguments. You will be told before each seminar how to prepare for it by studying and thinking about
the material to be discussed.
You will have to write two essays during the course. The first will be an essay of 1500 -2000 words
on one of the texts studied in the first few weeks of the course, and will be for formative assessment
only. The second will be an essay of 2500 - 3000 words, chosen from three titles to be made
available in the penultimate week of the course and considering themes discussed in the lectures and
seminars; this essay will count for 100% of the final mark for the course. Both essays must be
submitted. All essays should be accompanied by a departmental coversheet.
There is a course booklet available from the Departmental Office for £1.25.
Books to buy:
R. Waterfield, The First Philosophers: The Presocratics and the Sophists (Oxford World's Classics)
T. Saunders (ed.), Plato. Early Socratic Dialogues (Penguin)