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Module

PHI1013 : Ancient Philosophy II: Aristotle and Beyond

  • Offered for Year: 2020/21
  • Module Leader(s): Professor David Rose
  • Lecturer: Dr Peter Wolfendale
  • Owning School: Philosophical Studies & Combined Honours
  • Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
Semesters
Semester 2 Credit Value: 10
ECTS Credits: 5.0

Aims

To introduce further elements of the philosophy of classical antiquity from Aristotle onwards. Depending on staff interests, this module could also include Non-Western Philosophy from an analogous period, but also could cover material from later Classical and Hellenistic Philosophy, up to but not including the beginning of the middle ages with St. Augustine (which is taught quite regularly on the Philosophy and Religion module, which Ancient Philosophy is an essential complement with regard to). Potentially this could include the Stoics, Epicureans, Sceptics, Cynics, and later Neo-Platonic Philosophy (Plotinus, Porphyry, Proclus, and others). Potentially, Jewish and Islamic thought of a similar period could also be introduced here, to further broaden the curriculum.

The module could involve a focus on questions of metaphysics, ethics, politics, or aesthetics, and would prolong the work its companion-module (Ancient Philosophy I) in continuing the story of how Philosophy grew more determinate and established as a discipline, in terms of the formation of its sub-disciplines, as occurred most impressively in the preserved works of Aristotle.

The module is intended as an optional and more challenging extension of Ancient Philosophy I, which it would include as a pre-requisite, and is modelled very closely on that module in terms of its style of teaching and assessment. Depending on staff interests, this module — envisaged at least in the first instance as a team-taught module, the second of two 10 credit optional Level 1 modules to address Ancient Philosophy — could also include Non-Western Philosophy from an analogous period. But in the first place, this module is intended to introduce the very foundations of Western Philosophy as it emerged in the ancient world, around the Mediterranean sea, and in particular to lead the student through the pre-history of philosophy’s formation as a discipline, up to the moment at which it is first properly established in all its subdisciplines in a corpus that has been handed down to us, with Aristotle’s writings.

A foundation in Ancient Greek thought is essential for almost all of the philosophy that will come later, and hence must take place at the earliest possible moment in the course.

The module could involve a focus on questions of metaphysics, ethics, politics, or aesthetics, provided this did not cause conflicts with other Level 1 modules, and in such a way as to prepare for the rest of the curriculum in later years, as it develops. Hence flexibility must always be maintained, as must coordination with other Level 1 and later modules.

Outline Of Syllabus

Flexible with respect to the faculty who teach the course, but as an indicative suggestion one could say that the course will approach the logical, metaphysical and physical aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy, particularly with regard to causation, potentiality, substance, and the nature of the proposition/judgement. This will be done in such a way and to such an extent that will set up the rest of the curriculum, which is built upon certain concepts and distinctions, even if often in a critical way, made by Aristotle. The rest of the syllabus will depend upon staff interest, but is likely to include a reference to the later Hellenic schools of Cynicism, Stoicism, Epicureanism, and Scepticism, as well as an account of the later moments of classical philosophy in the Neo-Platonist school, that will take us right up to the mediaeval thought that is frequently covered by the Philosophy and Religion module.

Teaching Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

Teaching Activities
Category Activity Number Length Student Hours Comment
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesLecture111:0011:00N/A
Guided Independent StudyAssessment preparation and completion130:0030:00Essay research and writing up
Guided Independent StudyDirected research and reading148:0048:00Weekly reading and duties associated with lectures and seminars, including emails and preparation
Scheduled Learning And Teaching ActivitiesSmall group teaching111:0011:00N/A
Total100:00
Teaching Rationale And Relationship

Traditional lectures and seminars, together with independent reading are the only serious way to become acquainted with ancient (as well as modern) texts, and to develop the writing and reading skills necessary to become acquainted with classical texts and to discuss them in an appropriate manner.

The content of the course will be supported by a wide variety of extracts from original texts, and perhaps relevant historical and geographical material, concerning the nature of the ancient world.

Seminars will involve structured discussions that will allow the student the opportunity to interrogate the lectures, reading, and ideas present therein, and to develop a dialectical ability, in discussion with others, and thus bolster the understanding they will already have gained from lecture and reading, while also allowing them to challenge the interpretation given in the lecture, and to offer their own, while also partaking personally in the dialogue and philosophical conversation that became so important in antiquity, particularly in Plato.

Assessment Methods

Please note that module leaders are reviewing the module teaching and assessment methods for Semester 2 modules, in light of the Covid-19 restrictions. There may also be a few further changes to Semester 1 modules. Final information will be available by the end of August 2020 in for Semester 1 modules and the end of October 2020 for Semester 2 modules.

The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners

Other Assessment
Description Semester When Set Percentage Comment
Essay2A100End of semester essay of 2000 words
Assessment Rationale And Relationship

The students will choose their own question, on a topic that most interested or challenged them, allowing them to investigate in more depth a foundational moment of philosophy, in their own time, and with the support of their tutors, so as to gain a greater awareness of an aspect of the discipline crucial to their later education. Essays allow the student to practise formal expression, a longer form of dissertation on a certain central philosophical topic, while demonstrating their ability to analyse abstract concepts and problems, organise material, to write well.

An essay will encourage independent research, using the lecture content as a foundation and makes it possible to assess knowledge acquisition, interpretive skill and theoretical understanding as well as the analytical, creative and critical potential of students. The essay tests the ability to think creatively, self-critically and independently, as well as the capacity to manage one’s own work and time.

Reading Lists

Timetable