PHIL 410: Classical Philosophy (Fall 2004)

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This course surveys the history of philosophy in ancient Greece during the classical period, from about 600 BCE through about 300 BCE. The first third of the course will concern the earliest Greek philosophers, usually called "Presocratics" (since many of them, though not all, lived before Socrates) and the thinkers of fifth-century Athens, including Socrates (469-399 BCE) and the Sophists. The next third will concentrate on Plato (428/7-348/7 BCE), and the last third on Plato's student Aristotle (384/3 BCE-322/21 BCE).


  1. To give you a basic knowledge of Ancient Greek philosophers, especially Plato and Aristotle, and an understanding of their importance to the later history of philosophy.
  2. To give you experience in reading and interpreting historical philosophical texts.
  3. To introduce you to the methods of research in the history of philosophy.
  4. To give you experience in writing a philosophical research paper.


Formal Work

Assignment Weight Date or Date Due
Exam 1 25% Sept. 28
Exam 2 25% Nov. 4
Exam 3 25% Dec. 13, 1:00 PM
Term paper (8-10 pages) 25% Due Dec. 15, 4:00 PM

Class Schedule and Readings

The schedule of readings and exams below is subject to revision, as necessary, to accommodate the pace of the class better or to accomplish any other really fine and appropriate end. However, I won't move the dates of exams up, and any change in the dates of exams will be announced (both in class and on this web site) at least a week in advance.

Date Subject Reading
Aug. 31 What's important about ancient Greek philosophy
Sept. 2 The origins of Greek philosophy McKirahan chs. 1-3
Sept. 7 Parmenides McKirahan Ch. 11
Sept. 9 Heraclitus McKirahan Ch. 10
Sept. 14 The Fifth Century; the Sophists McKirahan Chs. 18-19
Sept. 16 Socrates Plato, Apology
Sept. 21 Socrates' Method Plato, Crito, Euthyphro
Sept. 23 REVIEW: Presocratic Philosophers, the Fifth Century, Socrates
Sept. 28 EXAM 1 Here is a link to sample questions.
Sept. 30 Plato's Theory of Forms Plato, Meno
Oct. 5 Plato's Theory of Forms Plato, Phaedo
Oct. 7 The Soul and the State Plato, Republic I, II
Oct. 12 Justice Defined, in the state and in the soul Plato, Republic IV
Oct. 14 The Equality of Women Plato, Republic V
Oct. 19 Philosophers as Rulers Plato, Republic V
Oct. 21 The Forms and the Education of the Philosopher-Rulers Plato, Republic VI-VII
Oct. 26 Plato's "Late Dialogues" Plato, Sophist
Oct. 28 Plato, continued
Nov. 2 REVIEW: Plato
Nov. 4 EXAM 2 Here is a link to sample questions.
Nov. 9 Some Aristotelian Basics: Substance, Essence, Categories, Definitions Aristotle, Categories 1-5; Metaphysics I.1-2
Nov. 11 Causes and Nature Aristotle, Posterior Analytics II.11; Physics I.1-2, II
Nov. 16 Minds Aristotle, On the Soul I.1, I.4, II.1-4, III.3-8
Nov. 18 First Philosophy ("Metaphysics") Aristotle, Metaphysics I.1-2, IV.1-4, VI, VII.1
Nov. 23 Aristotle's conception of the divine Aristotle, Metaphysics VI.1, XII.1-7
Nov. 30 The Purpose of Being Human Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics I.1-7
Dec. 2 Virtue and Virtuous Action Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics I.13, II
Dec. 7 The Best Life Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics X.6-8
(This day is actually "redefined" as Thursday, so act accordingly)
Dec. 8-9 Dead days
Dec. 13 EXAM 3, 1-3 PM Here is a link to sample questions.
Dec. 15 FINAL PAPERS DUE at 4:00 PM

Academic Integrity Statement

The Aggie Honor Code:

"An Aggie does not lie, cheat, or steal or tolerate those who do."

Effective September 1, 2004, Texas A&M University has an Honor Code that defines campus policy on academic integrity and academic misconduct. The Aggie Honor System is charged with the enforcement of this Code. Students should be aware that the Aggie Honor System has the power to impose punishments for academic misconduct. For information on the Aggie Honor System, see; information of particular concern to students, including definitions of types of academic misconduct, may be found at

It will be my policy in this course to include the following statement on all examinations and request students to sign it:

 "On my honor, as an Aggie, I have neither given nor received unauthorized aid on this academic work."


Signature of student 

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