Fall 2015 - Undergraduate Course Descriptions
Description of Course:
In this undergraduate course we will engage the works of Plato, through a close, textually-focused style of reading that attempts a new way of approaching this ancient thinker. In the first half of the course we will spend time familiarizing ourselves with Plato's peculiar language and rhetorical techniques (dialogues/ speeches/ conversations) with an eye to both its literary and philosophical qualities. We will also come to situate his work within the political and religious strife that attends the Greek polis.
In the second part of the semester we will focus exclusively on the REPUBLIC, which is one of the most important philosophical texts in the tradition. We will focus on questions of justice and truth, language and beauty, ethics and political responsibility, as well as the role of philosophy in what Plato terms the "soul's conversation with itself." My aim in this course is to introduce students to a new style of reading that will affect the way they will read any text---esp. ancient texts, and esp. ones that engage the hidden meanings behind the rhetorical veneer of conventional language and discourse.
Plato seeks to make language come alive in our engagement with it and to make what Socrates calls the "elenchus" (a kind of philosophical Q & A) the basis for any possible relationship to our community, our tradition, our interlocutors in any situation---and ultimately, with ourselves. Hence our classroom will seek to be that space of interrogation in terms of which we begin our journey "downward" into the text and into what Plato calls our "soul" (Greek: "psyche").
Course Requirements/Evaluation Criteria:
Students will be expected to write three five-page essays, one short proposal and one in-class Protokoll delivered orally to the whole class.