CAC1015 : How Should I Live? An Introduction to Ancient Moral Philosophy
- Offered for Year: 2018/19
- Module Leader(s): Dr Athanassios Vergados
- Owning School: History, Classics and Archaeology
- Teaching Location: Newcastle City Campus
|Semester 2 Credit Value:||20|
The question about how people should live their lives vexed the ancients as much as it does people in the modern world. Such fundamental questions as ‘are the gods listening?’ and ‘am I really responsible for all my actions?’ sparked philosophical debates which were felt in wider society and reflected in plays and other arts.
In this module we shall consider the range of issues Greeks and Romans thought people should consider in trying to answer the question ‘how should I live?’. We shall examine the ancient arguments about whether human beings have a specific function, whether there is such a thing as justice and what it might be, what happiness is and how we can achieve it, and what role a ‘soul’ might play in the choices we make in our lives. We shall examine the conflicting positions on these subjects put forward by different philosophical schools, consider the historical background to the debates between them, explore some of the ways in which these debates had an impact on the wider intellectual culture of Greek and Roman antiquity, and evaluate the extent to which the views these thinkers advocated were normative or subversive, pragmatic or idealistic, a reflection of their society's conception of the good life or a radical criticism of it.
This module therefore aims to give students the opportunity to gain a solid introduction to the intellectual traditions of the Greeks and Romans in the field of ethics, with emphasis also on the connections between ancient discussions of moral philosophy and political theory, religion and psychology. Throughout the module students will address questions about life from both ancient and modern perspectives, and will be equipped with the historical background necessary to contextualise the debates and consider their relevance in both ancient and modern times. Students will be encouraged to read and engage with the arguments through the primary philosophical works and secondary literature on these works. The module will enable students to develop skills in critical reading, discussion and debate, and the construction and evaluation of arguments.
Outline Of Syllabus
The module will proceed chronologically, considering in turn the views of Hesiod and other early Greek poets, Plato, Aristotle and the Hellenistic and Roman philosophers on key themes in ancient moral philosophy (e.g. is morality teachable? what does it mean to do right by other people? what would a just society look like? how can we be happy? what is the point of love and sex? are there eternal consequences for wrongdoing? do the gods care how I live?).
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Lecture||22||1:00||22:00||N/A|
|Guided Independent Study||Assessment preparation and completion||74||1:00||74:00||45% of guided independent study|
|Guided Independent Study||Directed research and reading||74||1:00||74:00||45% of guided independent study|
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Small group teaching||10||1:00||10:00||Seminars|
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Workshops||2||1:00||2:00||N/A|
|Scheduled Learning And Teaching Activities||Drop-in/surgery||2||1:00||2:00||N/A|
|Guided Independent Study||Independent study||16||1:00||16:00||10% of guided independent study|
Teaching Rationale And Relationship
Lectures are used:
• to introduce ancient authors and key information about their approaches to the philosophical questions under discussion
• to encourage critical reading of the texts by means of close reading of selected passages
• to stimulate development of listening and note-taking skills
• to recommend secondary readings relevant to the interpretive problems raised, and highlight essential arguments and controversies in these readings
• to challenge students to reflect on the logical foundations of their own ethical ideas in the light of ancient arguments that may appear foreign to them
Seminars are used:
• to allow students to discuss a prescribed piece of secondary literature in a small group, in a conversation structured by seminar questions distributed in advance
• to give students the opportunity to articulate their own arguments about an aspect of ancient moral philosophy
Surgeries are used:
• to offer students the opportunity to consult teaching staff about preparing their coursework essay and revising for the exam, and to benefit from hearing the answers to others’ questions
The format of resits will be determined by the Board of Examiners
Assessment Rationale And Relationship
The examination is designed to test breadth of knowledge and reading. The essay is designed to assess students’ skills in critical reading and use of evidence, and their ability to construct coherent, logical and interesting arguments about a single topic in ancient ethics.
Submitted work tests intended knowledge and skills outcomes, develops key skills in research, reading and writing.
All Erasmus students at Newcastle University are expected to do the same assessment as students registered for a degree.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending semester 1 only are required to finish their assessment while in Newcastle. This will take the form of an alternative assessment, as outlined in the formats below:
Modules assessed by Coursework and Exam:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be one essay in addition to the other coursework assessment (the length of the essay should be adjusted in order to comply with the assessment tariff); to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.
Modules assessed by Exam only:
The normal alternative form of assessment for all semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be two 2,000 word written exercises; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.
Modules assessed by Coursework only:
All semester 1 non-EU study abroad students will be expected to complete the standard assessment for the module; to be submitted no later than 12pm Friday of week 12. The essays should be set so as to assure coverage of the course content to date.
Study-abroad, non-Erasmus exchange and Loyola students spending the whole academic year or semester 2 are required to complete the standard assessment as set out in the MOF under all circumstances.