The ancient world is the birthplace of philosophy and home to some of its most vibrant and revolutionary thinkers. To study ancient philosophy is to study the foundations of our culture: the roots of democracy, theology, and early advances in mathematics and science. But ancient philosophers also could be deeply counter-cultural and shocking: skeptics, totalitarians, and revolutionaries who argued against the corruption and banality of everyday life.
Philosophy 300, Greek and Roman Philosophy, introduces you to the greatest and most influential philosophers of the ancient world, beginning with Socrates. On trial for heresy and facing execution, Socrates defiantly declared that he would never cease philosophizing because "the unexamined life is not worth living." After Socrates was killed, his student Plato founded the first university in the West, the Academy, and produced a body of work unmatched since. It has been said that the entire history of Western Philosophy is nothing but a series of footnotes to Plato. That may be an exaggeration, but just barely. We focus each term on the philosophy of Plato and, from there, rotate through a legion of ancient philosophers who came after him, including his student Aristotle, the Stoics, Epicureans, and Skeptics.
Above all else, philosophers of the ancient world challenge us to examine our values, beliefs, and lives.
In Philosophy 300, our aim is to listen to what these philosophers have to say and decide for ourselves if they were right.