The Presocratics; Socrates; Sophists.
“The unexamined life is not worth living”: this is how the seminal Athenian philosopher Socrates explained his way of life to the jury that sentenced him. How did this attitude – and with it the complex of Western philosophy, medicine and science – first emerge in ancient Greece? In this course, we will piece together fragmentary evidence for the birth of rational speculation between the poets Homer and Hesiod (8th century BC) and Plato and Aristotle (4th century BC). Through the origin story of Western philosophy, we will encounter the original articulations of Greece’s most enduring and provocative ideas, among them atomism, materialism, the dialogue of science and religion, the notion of a universe governed by regular mathematical laws, the possibility of knowledge, and the goals of human life.
Equivalent: PHIL 211A