GK 390 • Pre-Socratics
7:00 PM-10:00 PM
After a rapid survey, during the first two weeks of the seminar, of the whole of pre-Socratic philosophy, we shall concentrate on five figures: Xenophanes, Parmenides, Melissus, Philolaus, and Democritus. As suggested by this selection, topics will be mainly in the areas of cosmology, metaphysics, and theory of knowledge. A unifying theme for the course will be "the discovery of Form in early Greek philosophy": how the pre-Socratics came to focus on concepts such as "shape," "structure," "order," kosmos as metaphysically significant. Primary texts will be discussed in translation. For students taking the class under the PHL 381 number, knowledge of Greek will not be presupposed. Both classics students and philosophy students in the seminar should have some prior familiarity with Greek intellectual history generally or with the history of ancient philosophy (especially Plato and Aristotle). A significant part of the course will involve use of the manuscript materials of the Gregory Vlastos Archive at the Harry Ransom Humanities Research Center (Vlastos' study notes, his lecture notes for classes on the pre-Socratics, manuscripts of his Oxford lectures, annotated articles and books, correspondence). Students will be evaluated on term paper, seminar reports, special projects, contributions to discussion, and attendance. Details and relative weights will be furnished in the course syllabus. There will be special reading assignments (and compensatory modifications in requirements) for students taking the class under the GK 390 number. BOOKS REQUIRED: Richard D. McKirahan, Jr. Philosophy Before Socrates: An Introduction with Texts and Commentary (Hackett). A. A. Long, ed., The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy (Cambridge).