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

Stephen A White

Professor PhD, University of California, Berkeley

Professor of Classics and Philosophy; Director, Joint Graduate Program in Ancient Philosophy
Stephen A White

Contact

  • Phone: 512 475-7457
  • Office: WAG 117
  • Office Hours: W 12-2 and by appointment
  • Campus Mail Code: C3400

Biography

My interests range widely across ancient philosophy from Aristotle to Zeno (the Stoic from Cyprus more than the Eleatic), and I have side interests in Greek tragedy (especially Aeschylus) and Hellenistic literature. My teaching is concentrated in ancient philosophy and Greek language (both at all levels), and in Greek culture generally. From time to time I also teach Latin authors and Roman topics. My published work focuses on Aristotle and his associates, and mainly in the area of ethics. I’ve also published articles in various other areas, including early astronomy and Hellenistic poetry. Recent publications include “Milesian Measures: Time, Space, and Matter” in the Oxford Handbook to Presocratic Philosophy (2008); “Posidonius and Stoic Physics” in Greek and Roman Philosophy 100 BC to 200 AD (2007); and two volumes on the Hellenistic Lyceum (co-edited with W.W. Fortenbaugh): Lyco of Troas and Hieronymus of Rhodes (2004) and Aristo of Ceos (2006). My main current projects are a translation of Diogenes Laertius' Lives and Doctrines of the Ancient Philosophers (for CUP) and a book on Aristotle's theories of pleasure.

Interests

Ancient philosophy, Greek literature

C C 348 • Roman Philosophy And Science

32465 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 330pm-500pm WAG 308
(also listed as PHL 354 )
show description

This course examines the aims, methods, and achievements of philosophy and science in the ancient Roman world. We will focus on three interlocking questions: What did the Romans know about the natural world – or think they knew? How did they know it – or think they did? And why did they think any of this mattered – and did it?

It has four main goals: to gain a critical understanding of some key issues and ideas in Roman philosophy and science; to analyze and evaluate philosophical and scientific arguments in their cultural context; to develop tools for thinking critically about the relation between evidence and theory; and to improve critical writing and discussion skills.

Grades will be based on: writing assignments (40%), midterm exam (20%), research project (30%), class participation (10%). There is no final exam.

Cicero, Academic Scepticism (Hackett: 978-0-87220-774-5)

Cicero, The Nature of the Gods (Oxford UP: 9780199540068)

Lucretius, On the Nature of Things (Hackett: 978-0-87220-587-1)

Seneca, Natural Questions (U Chicago: 9780226748399)

D. Lehoux, What Did the Romans Know? An Inquiry into Science and Worldmaking (U Chicago: 9780226143217)

This course carries a Writing flag and emphasizes reading, writing, and discussion.

GK 365 • Wisdom Poetry

32595 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm WAG 208
(also listed as GK 385 )
show description

Wisdom poetry is a type of what we now call didactic poetry: the peculiar practice of transforming special cosmic or moral insights (hence wisdom) into epic verse. This course will examine the nature, origins, and impact of this distinctive form of classical literature. It has three main goals: to improve your facility in reading and understanding Greek; to refine your writing and presentation skills; and to develop a critical understanding of some profoundly influential Greek poetry. We will achieve those goals by reading, translating, analyzing, and discussing Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days, along with excerpts from philosophical poems by Parmenides and Empedocles, some remnants of Orphic verse, and some Archaic and Hellenistic poetry on related themes.

Grades will be based on class participation, written exercises, class presentations, translation tests, and a comprehensive final.

Students in GK 365 will have additional writing assignments, including a research paper.

Students in GK 385 will have additional reading assignments.

This course carries both Writing and Independent Inquiry Flags.

GK 385 • Wisdom Poetry

32620 • Spring 2015
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm WAG 208
(also listed as GK 365 )
show description

Wisdom poetry is a type of what we now call didactic poetry: the peculiar practice of transforming special cosmic or moral insights (hence wisdom) into epic verse. This course will examine the nature, origins, and impact of this distinctive form of classical literature. It has three main goals: to improve your facility in reading and understanding Greek; to refine your writing and presentation skills; and to develop a critical understanding of some profoundly influential Greek poetry. We will achieve those goals by reading, translating, analyzing, and discussing Hesiod’s Theogony and Works and Days, along with excerpts from philosophical poems by Parmenides and Empedocles, some remnants of Orphic verse, and some Archaic and Hellenistic poetry on related themes.

Grades will be based on class participation, written exercises, class presentations, translation tests, and a comprehensive final.

Students in GK 365 will have additional writing assignments, including a research paper.

Students in GK 385 will have additional reading assignments.

This course carries both Writing and Independent Inquiry Flags.

C C 348 • Hist Of Ancient Philosophy

33315-33325 • Fall 2014
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 420
(also listed as PHL 329K )
show description

This course examines some central issues and ideas in ancient Greek philosophy. To set the stage, we’ll first look at some pioneering figures known as Presocratics. For the rest of the semester, we’ll focus on three thinkers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle; and we’ll study their positions and arguments on some enduring questions about human conduct, the natural world, and our knowledge of each. The emphasis throughout is on analyzing what these thinkers say and their reasons for saying it. The main goal is to develop a critical understanding of some problems and arguments that remain very much alive today.

 

List of Proposed Texts /Readings:

Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy, S.M. Cohen, P. Curd, & C. D. C. Reeve


      (4th edition: 2011; Hackett pb: 978-1-60384-462-8)

Ancient Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction, C. Shields

      (2011; Routledge pb: 978-0-415-89660-3)

 

Proposed Grading Policy:

Weekly responses 15%, 2 midterms 25% each, final 30%, participation 5%

GK 506 • First-Year Greek I

33460 • Fall 2014
Meets MTWTHF 1100am-1200pm WAG 10
show description

This course is an introduction to reading ancient Greek - the language of some of the world’s oldest and best loved writings, including Homer, Herodotus, Plato, and the New Testament. We will cover enough basic grammar and vocabulary for you to begin reading short passages from a wide range of ancient Greek writers.

Greek 506 is the first half of a two-semester sequence that continues with Greek 507 and prepares students to advance to Intermediate Greek (GK 311 and 312), where students read selected works by authors like Plato and Homer.

Grades will be based on participation, homework, weekly quizzes, and four tests (three midterms and a final).

C C 348 • Hist Of Ancient Philosophy

33335-33345 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 200pm-330pm WAG 201
(also listed as PHL 329K )
show description

This course is an introduction to ancient Greek philosophy. It focuses on three major thinkers: Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. We’ll examine their views and arguments on some central questions about the natural world, how we should live, and how anyone knows anything at all. We’ll begin with a swift survey of some influential earlier figures known as Presocratics and Sophists, and we’ll end with a brief look at some enduring ideas of Epicurus. The emphasis throughout will be on analyzing what these thinkers say and their reasons for saying it. The main goal is to develop a critical understanding of some problems and arguments that remain very much alive today.

Grades: weekly responses 20%, 2 midterms 20% each, final 30%, participation 10%

Texts:

Readings in Ancient Greek Philosophy, S.M. Cohen, P. Curd, & C. D. C. Reeve    (4th edition 2011; Hackett pb: 978-1-60384-462-8; or e-book)

Ancient Philosophy: A Contemporary Introduction, C. Shields     (2011; Routledge pb: 978-0-415-89660-3)

GK 365 • Plato And Greek Prose

33510 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm WAG 112
(also listed as GK 385 )
show description

The main goal of this course is to improve your facility in reading and understanding Greek. We will achieve that goal by reading, translating, and analyzing a representative selection of classical prose: parts of Plato’s Republic and work by several contemporaries, including Antiphon, Isocrates, Lysias, and Thucydides. The innovations and influence of prominent sophists and rhetoricians will be a recurrent theme. Initial assignments will be limited to what we can translate in class; but the pace will pick up as we proceed. There will be written exercises and translation tests along the way, and a comprehensive final exam; all tests will include unseen passages, aka sight translation.

Students in GK 365 will have additional writing assignments.

Students in GK 385 will have additional reading assignments.

Grades

for 365: class participation and exercises 20%, tests 30%, final exam 25%, term paper 25%.

for 385: class participation and exercises 20%, tests 40%, final exam 40%.

Texts:

Plato: Republic Book 1. ed. G. Rose (Hackett 1983)

H.W. Smyth, Greek Grammar (Harvard UP 1956)

Recommended: Platonis Respublica, ed. S. Slings (Oxford UP 2003)

GK 385 • Plato And Greek Prose

33540 • Fall 2013
Meets TTH 1100am-1230pm WAG 112
(also listed as GK 365 )
show description

The main goal of this course is to improve your facility in reading and understanding Greek. We will achieve that goal by reading, translating, and analyzing a representative selection of classical prose: parts of Plato’s Republic and work by several contemporaries, including Antiphon, Isocrates, Lysias, and Thucydides. The innovations and influence of prominent sophists and rhetoricians will be a recurrent theme. Initial assignments will be limited to what we can translate in class; but the pace will pick up as we proceed. There will be written exercises and translation tests along the way, and a comprehensive final exam; all tests will include unseen passages, aka sight translation.

Students in GK 365 will have additional writing assignments.

Students in GK 385 will have additional reading assignments.

Grades

for 365: class participation and exercises 20%, tests 30%, final exam 25%, term paper 25%.

for 385: class participation and exercises 20%, tests 40%, final exam 40%.

Texts:

Plato: Republic Book 1. ed. G. Rose (Hackett 1983)

H.W. Smyth, Greek Grammar (Harvard UP 1956)

Recommended: Platonis Respublica, ed. S. Slings (Oxford UP 2003)

GK 365 • Aristotle On Tragedy

33400 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm WAG 112
(also listed as GK 385 )
show description

Aristotle on TragedyThis course examines classical Athenian tragedy through the lens of Aristotle's Poetics. We will focus on the Poetics and Aristotle's methods of critical analysis. We will also look at related material in his work on rhetoric, along with other works of his and representative samples of tragedy and oratory. Our main texts will be the Poetics (ed. Lucas) and Rhetoric (OCT). Students in GK 385 will also have additional reading in Greek and scholarship.Grades for 365 will be based on class participation and preparation (10%), class presentations (15%), 2 midterms (30%), research paper (20%) comprehensive final (25%).Grades for 385 will be based on class participation and preparation (10%), class presentations (15%), 3 midterms (30%), research paper (20%) comprehensive final (25%).

GK 385 • Aristotle On Tragedy

33425 • Spring 2013
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm WAG 112
(also listed as GK 365 )
show description

Aristotle on TragedyThis course examines classical Athenian tragedy through the lens of Aristotle's Poetics. We will focus on the Poetics and Aristotle's methods of critical analysis. We will also look at related material in his work on rhetoric, along with other works of his and representative samples of tragedy and oratory. Our main texts will be the Poetics (ed. Lucas) and Rhetoric (OCT). Students in GK 385 will also have additional reading in Greek and scholarship.Grades for 365 will be based on class participation and preparation (10%), class presentations (15%), 2 midterms (30%), research paper (20%) comprehensive final (25%).Grades for 385 will be based on class participation and preparation (10%), class presentations (15%), 3 midterms (30%), research paper (20%) comprehensive final (25%).

GK 506 • First-Year Greek I

33220 • Fall 2012
Meets MTWTHF 1100am-1200pm WAG 10
show description

This course is an introduction to reading ancient Greek - the language of some of the world’s oldest and best loved writings, including Homer, Herodotus, Plato, and the New Testament. We will cover enough basic grammar and vocabulary for you to begin reading short passages from a wide range of ancient Greek writers. 

 

Greek 506 is the first half of a two-semester sequence that continues with Greek 507 and prepares students to advance to Intermediate Greek (GK 311 and 312), where students read selected works by authors like Plato and Homer.

 

Greek 506 can be counted as partially fulfilling the foreign language requirement, or the General Culture requirement, or as an elective. 

 

Grades will be based on participation, homework, weekly quizzes, and four tests (three midterms and a final).

Texts:

Texts:C. Luschnig, An Introduction to Ancient Greek (Hackett: 978-0-87220-889-N)

GK 507 • First-Year Greek II

33235 • Spring 2012
Meets MTWTHF 1100am-1200pm WAG 10
show description

This course continues the introduction to reading Ancient Greek begun in Greek 506. In the first ten weeks, we'll review and complete the study of basic grammar using Crosby and Schaeffer's Introduction to Greek. Then we'll spend the rest of the semester reading selections from Herodotus, Plato, and other authors. There will be daily assignments on grammar, vocabulary, and translation. Regular attendance and active participation are essential. Texts: An Introduction to Greek, H.L. Crosby & J.N. Schaeffer.A Greek Reader for Schools, C.E. Freeman & W.D. Lowe.  Grades will be based on homework, participation, and weekly quizzes (25%), three tests (45%), and a final exam (30%).

Prerequisite: Greek 506 or equivalent (i.e. one semester of Greek). This course can be counted for partial fulfillment of foreign language requirements.

GK 365 • Plato And Greek Prose

33128 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm WAG 112
(also listed as GK 385 )
show description

The main goal of this course is to improve your facility in reading Greek. We will achieve this goal by reading and translating a representative selection of classical prose: Plato’s Protagoras and work by several contemporaries, including Antiphon, Isocrates, Lysias, Thucydides, and Xenophon. The activities and influence of Protagoras and other “sophists” will be a recurrent theme. Initial assignments will be limited to what we can translate in class; but the pace will steadily increase as we proceed. There will be occasional exercises and two translation tests along the way, and a final exam (all tests will include unseen passages, aka sight translation), but no research paper. Grades: exercises and tests 55%, final exam 35%, and daily participation and progress 10%. Texts: Plato: Protagoras, ed. N. Denyer (Cambridge UP 2008).

Platonis Opera, vol. 3, ed. J. Burnet (Oxford UP 1903).  H.W. Smyth, Greek Grammar (Harvard UP 1956).

GK 385 • Plato And Greek Prose

33155 • Fall 2011
Meets TTH 1230pm-200pm WAG 112
(also listed as GK 365 )
show description

The main goal of this course is to improve your facility in reading Greek. We will achieve this goal by reading and translating a representative selection of classical prose: Plato’s Protagoras and work by several contemporaries, including Antiphon, Isocrates, Lysias, Thucydides, and Xenophon. The activities and influence of Protagoras and other “sophists” will be a recurrent theme. Initial assignments will be limited to what we can translate in class; but the pace will steadily increase as we proceed. There will be occasional exercises and two translation tests along the way, and a final exam (all tests will include unseen passages, aka sight translation), but no research paper. Grades: exercises and tests 55%, final exam 35%, and daily participation and progress 10%. Texts: Plato: Protagoras, ed. N. Denyer (Cambridge UP 2008).

Platonis Opera, vol. 3, ed. J. Burnet (Oxford UP 1903).  H.W. Smyth, Greek Grammar (Harvard UP 1956).

GK 390 • Plato's Symposium

33545 • Spring 2011
Meets W 200pm-500pm WAG 10
(also listed as PHL 381 )
show description

Prerequisites:

Graduate Standing and Consent of Graduate Advisor or instructor required.

 

The Symposium is one of Plato's most seductive dialogues - and one of his most perplexing. What to make of its extraordinary polyphony and generic diversity? Its elaborate dramatic occasion/s and multiple layers and reversals? Its widely divergent conceptions of eros? Its pervasive blending of sacred and profane, bawdy and transcendent? Or its relation to other Platonic dialogues, or to other writings, older, contemporary, and later?

The seminar will explore the dialogue from multiple angles: literary and historical as well as philosophical. Topics on the agenda are likely to include: dialogue form/s, prosopography, rival disciplines and genres, Socratic method, Platonic theories of desire, philosophical accounts of eros, the symposium as a site for cultural criticism, Plato's use of myth and rhetoric, and ancient reception, including contemporary reactions.

Although much of our material will be accessible to all, readings and discussion will make frequent use of Greek, and some material will require analysis of Plato's own language. Some facility with Greek is therefore strongly recommended; anyone unfamiliar with Greek should see me before registering.

Format will be mainly presentations and discussion. Course grades will be based on active participation, including seminar presentations (number and scope depending on our size), some shorter written work, and a seminar paper (at least some for presentation to the seminar). Within those general parameters, requirements will vary according to registration: some oral and written translation for GRK 390, critical responses for PHL 381.

Everyone should have a personal copy of the dialogue and familiarize themselves with it before we begin. Burnet's OCT vol. 2 is still the standard Greek text; and good translations by Allen, Gill, Griffith, Howatson, Nehamas and Woodruff, and Rowe are widely available. Helpful background reading includes other dialogues, especially Lysis, Phaedrus, and Republic 4.

This course satisfies the History Requirement.

GK 506 • First-Year Greek I

32380 • Fall 2010
Meets MTWTHF 1100am-1200pm WAG 10
show description

This course is an introduction to reading ancient Greek - the language of some of the world’s oldest and best loved writings, including Homer, Herodotus, Plato, and the New Testament. We will cover enough basic grammar and vocabulary for you to begin reading short passages from a wide range of ancient Greek writers. 

Greek 506 is the first half of a two-semester sequence that continues with Greek 507 and prepares students to advance to Intermediate Greek (GK 311 and 312), where students read selected works by authors like Plato and Homer.

Greek 506 can be counted as partially fulfilling the foreign language requirement, or the General Culture requirement, or as an elective. 

Grades will be based on participation, homework, weekly quizzes, and four tests (three midterms and a final).

Texts: Crosby and Schaeffer, An Introduction to Greek (Dover 2009)

GK 507 • First-Year Greek II

32700 • Spring 2010
Meets MTWTHF 1100-1200 WAG 10
show description

This course continues the introduction to reading Ancient Greek begun in Greek 506. We'll review and complete the study of basic grammar using Crosby and Schaeffer's Introduction to Greek; and we'll also read selections from Herodotus, Plato, and other authors. There will be daily assignments covering grammar, vocabulary, composition, and translation. Regular attendance and active participation are essential.

Texts: 1)  An Introduction to Greek, H.L. Crosby & J.N. Schaeffer (1928 etc.).
2) A Greek Reader for Schools, C.E. Freeman & W.D. Lowe (1917 etc.).
OPTIONAL: Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon, H.G. Liddell & R. Scott (1889 etc.)

Grades will be based on homework, participation, and weekly quizzes (25%), three tests (45%), and a final exam (30%).

Prerequisite: Greek 506 or equivalent (i.e. one semester of Greek).

This course can be used to meet elective or Area D requirements, or in partial fulfillment of the foreign language requirement.

GK 390 • Aristotle's Ethics

32900 • Fall 2009
Meets TH 330pm-630pm WAG 10
(also listed as PHL 381 )
show description

GK 390 Seminar in Classical Studies:

Selected topics in Greek studies. Topics given in recent years include Mycenaean documents, Aristotle's ethics, Archaic poetry, and Plato's Symposium.

C C 348 • Hist Of Ancient Philosophy

32070-32075 • Spring 2009
Meets TTH 1100-1230pm WAG 302
show description

C C 348 Topics in Ancient Civilization:

The development and progress of ancient civilization, including history, philosophy, literature, and culture. No knowledge of Greek or Latin is required.

 

Publications

White, S.A. (2010) Stoic Selection: Objects, Actions, and Agents. In A. Nightingale and D. Sedley (Eds.), Ancient Models of Mind: Studies in Human and Divine Rationality, pp. 110-29. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

White, S.A. (2010) Philosophy After Aristotle. In J. Clauss and M. Cuypers (Eds.), Blackwell Companion to Hellenistic Literature, pp. 366-83. Oxford: Blackwell.

White, S.A. (2008) Milesian Measures: Time, Space, and Matter. In P. Curd and D. Graham (Eds.), Oxford Handbook to Presocratic Philosophy, pp. 89-133. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

White, S.A. (2007) Theophrastus and Callisthenes. In D. Mirhady (Ed.), Influences on Peripatetic Rhetoric: Studies in Honor of William W. Fortenbaugh, pp. 211-230. Leiden: Brill.

White, S.A. (2007) Posidonius and Stoic Physics. In R. Sorabji and R.W. Sharples (Eds.), Greek and Roman Philosophy 100 BC to 200 AD (Bulletin of the Institute for Classical Studies, Suppl. vol. 94), pp. 35-76.

White, S.A. (2006) Aristo of Ceos: Text, Translation, and Discussion. Co-edited with W.W. Fortenbaugh. New Brunswick: Transaction.

White, S.A. (2004) Lyco of Troas and Hieronymus of Rhodes: Text, Translation, and Discussion. Co-edited with W.W. Fortenbaugh. New Brunswick: Transaction.

White, S.A. (2004) Hieronymus of Rhodes: The Sources, Text and Translation. In W. Fortenbaugh & S. White (Eds.), Lyco of Troas and Hieronymus of Rhodes, pp. 79-276. New Brunswick: Transaction.

White, S.A. (2004) Lyco and Hieronymus on the Good Life. In W. Fortenbaugh & S. White (Eds.), Lyco of Troas and Hieronymus of Rhodes, pp. 389-409. New Brunswick: Transaction.

White, S.A. (2002) Happiness in the Hellenistic Lyceum. In L. Jost & R. Shiner (Eds.), Eudaimonia and Well-Being (Apeiron, Suppl. vol. 35), pp. 69-93.

White, S.A. (2002) Thales and the Stars. In V. Caston & D. Graham (Eds.), Presocratic Philosophy: Essays in Honor of Alexander Mourelatos, pp. 3-18. Aldershot: Ashgate.

White, S.A. (2002) Eudemus the Naturalist. In I. Bodnar & W. Fortenbaugh (Eds.), Eudemus of Rhodes, pp. 207-241. New Brunswick: Transaction.

White, S.A. (2002) Opuscula and Opera in the Catalogue of Theophrastus' Works. In W. Fortenbaugh & G. Wohrle (Eds.), On the Opuscula of Theophrastus, pp. 9-38. Stuttgart: Steiner.

White, S.A. (2001) Io's World: Intimations of Theodicy in Prometheus Bound. Journal of Hellenic Studies 121: 107-140.

White, S.A. (2001) Principes Sapientiae: Dicaearchus' Biography of Philosophy. In W. Fortenbaugh & E. Schutrumpf (Eds.), Dicaearchus of Messene, pp. 195-236. New Brunswick: Transaction.

White, S.A. (2000) Socrates at Colonus: A Hero for the Academy. In N. Smith & P. Woodruff (Eds.), Socrates on Reason and Religion, pp. 151-175. Oxford: Oxford University Press.

White, S.A. (1999) Callimachus Battiades (Epigr. 35). Classical Philology 94: 151-175.

White, S.A. (1995) Thrasymachus the Diplomat. Classical Philology 90: 307-327.

White, S.A. (1994) Callimachus on Plato and Cleombrotus. Transactions of the American Philological Association 124: 135-161.

White, S.A. (1992) Sovereign Virtue: Aristotle on the Relation Between Prosperity and Happiness. Stanford: Stanford University Press.

White, S.A. (1992) Natural Virtue and Perfect Virtue in Aristotle. Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy 8: 135-68.

White, S.A. (1992) Aristotle's Favorite Tragedies. In A.O. Rorty (Ed.), Essays on Aristotle's 'Poetics', pp. 221-240. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

White, S.A. (1990) Is Aristotelian Happiness a Good Life or the Best Life? Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 8: 97-137.

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