Fall 2008

Instructor: Prof. Nina Mikhalevsky

University of Mary Washington

Office: GW 303

Phone: (540) 654-1241

Email: nmik (at)

Office Hrs: Wednesday/Friday 1:00-2:30 pm and by appointment.

If the posted office hours conflict with your other classes, please note that I am on campus every day so do not hesitate to make an appointment to see me at another time.

Course Description:

This course covers the emergence of Ancient Greek philosophy from the 7th century BCE through its development in the work of Plato and Aristotle and concludes with some later ideas of the Hellenistic period. We start with a consideration of the presocratic thinkers and their formulation and development of the methods, questions, areas of study, and ways of life that came to be defined as “philosophia.” We then turn to an extended and more detailed consideration of the ideas of Plato and Aristotle, and a close study of several major works by each. We conclude the course with a discussion of several philosophical schools that developed through the 3rd century BCE. While we will cover a number of areas of inquiry, we will focus primarily on theories about the nature of reality, knowledge, the human being, and theories about how we ought to live or what constitutes the “good” life.

Course Objectives:

You will learn to recognize, understand, and explain philosophical questions as these were developed by the Greeks and you will construct your own answers to those questions. You will closely read, interpret, analyze, write about, and engage with philosophical texts; reconstruct and evaluate arguments; and understand and evaluate some major ideas and theories of the Ancient Greek philosophical tradition, particularly through the works of Plato and Aristotle. You will also consider the importance and relevance of the ideas and methods of Greek philosophy to your own thinking, your experience, and the specific ways you practice your life.

Required Texts:

A Presocratics Reader, edited by Curd and McKirahan (Hackett)

Hellenistic Philosophy, Introductory Readings, edited by Inwood and Gerson (Hackett)

The Dialogues of Plato, Vol. 1, translated by R.E. Allen (Yale)

The Dialogues of Plato, Vol. 2, translated by R.E. Allen (Yale)

Aristotle Selections, edited by Irvin and Fine (Hackett)

Additional readings on the web

Course website:

The course website is Please check the website frequently as this will be one of our environments for out of class communication, sharing documents and other materials, posting assignments, paper guidelines, etc.

Course Requirements:

Readings: You should complete the readings prior to class and come prepared to ask questions and discuss what you have read. You are encouraged to post comments or respond to questions on the course website and use the course blog to engage in discussions with each other. You are also welcome to post all or parts of drafts of your papers on the course blog for comments before you submit them.

Papers: Three short papers (3-5 pages) due: September 25, November 13, December 4.

Each paper will provide an exegesis of a particular textual passage, a reconstruction of the argument(s) embedded in that passage, and an evaluation of the argument(s). Papers must follow the paper guidelines (see course website) and be turned in at the beginning of the class in which they are due. Late papers will drop a letter grade for every day late. All papers must properly cite any sources used and any papers that do not properly cite sources will receive an F. We will review citation guidelines in class. If you need additional help understanding what constitutes appropriate research, what is acceptable assistance on your papers, or the correct way to cite your sources, please do not hesitate to ask me. Information is also available on the Simpson Library website:


Midterm Exam, October 9

Final Exam, Tuesday, December 9, 3:30-6:00 pm

Both exams will be essay exams

Grade for the Course:

Three short papers: 15% each

Midterm Exam: 25%

Final Exam: 30%

Please indicate that you have upheld the Honor Code on all submitted work.

The Office of Disability Services has been designated by the University as the primary office to guide, counsel, and assist students with disabilities. If you already receive services through the Office of Disability Services and require accommodations for this class, make an appointment with me as soon as possible to discuss your approved accommodation needs. Please bring your accommodation letter with you to the appointment. I will hold any information you share with me in the strictest confidence unless you give me permission to do otherwise. If you have not contacted the Office of Disability Services and need accommodations, (note taking assistance, extended time for tests, etc.), I will be happy to refer you. The office will require appropriate documentation of disability. The phone number is 540-654-1266.

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