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Lesley Dean-Jones, Chair 2210 Speedway, Mail Code C3400, Austin, TX 78712-1738 • 512-471-5742

Fall 2007

GK 390 • Ancient Philosophy

Unique Days Time Location Instructor
33390 TH
4:00 PM-7:00 PM
WAG 210
White, S

Course Description

Diogenes Laertius (200s CE) was a learned scholar and industrious compiler, but an amateur philosopher at best: he's been called "a nitwit" in print, and elsewhere worse. But his Lives and Doctrines of the Famous Philosophers is a major resource for the study of ancient philosophy from its origins down to its authors own era. Organized in 10 books, the work begins with a brief sketch of the origins of philosophy (spanning both Greek and foreign traditions), then discusses, serially, Thales and the sages; Ionian Presocratics; Socrates and the Socratics; Plato and the Academic sceptics; Aristotle and his followers; Cynics; Stoics; Pythagoreans; Italian Presocratics; Pyrrhonian sceptics; and finally Epicurus. The entire scheme is woven out of biographical lore (from precisely dated facts to impossible anecdotes), bibliographical data, abysmal doggerel on many a philosophical hero, and summary accounts of theories, observations, arguments, and various other innovations or discoveries of over 100 ancient philosophers. The result is the single most comprehensive ancient survey of Greek philosophy, an essential source for Presocratic and Hellenistic thought that even offers insight into the canonical trio of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle - and a generally lively read. The seminar will examine Diogenes work in tandem with related ancient work. It has three main goals: 1) to analyze the methods and resources utilized by Diogenes; 2) to develop a working knowledge of modern methods and resources for the study of ancient philosophical texts; and in the end 3) to form a synoptic picture of the overall course of ancient philosophy in its first five centuries. Our study of Diogenes will be selective but representative, and participants will have opportunities to explore areas of their own special interest or expertise. The primary texts will be two: the 1925 Loeb edition of the Greek text with facing translation (the only complete English version now in print), and a draft translation Im currently preparing. Some knowledge of Greek will be a distinct advantage (and the more the merrier); but efforts (like mistakes) will be made to make the seminar accessible to others as well, and all interested students are welcome to consult with me further in advance. A satellite group will meet weekly to read passages in Greek. Requirements: 3 short papers and/or translations, 2 presentations, research paper Texts R.D. Hicks, Diogenes Laertius: Lives of Eminent Philosophers, vol. 1 and 2 (Loeb hb) S. White, Diogenes Laertius: Lives of the Ancient Philosophers (draft)


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