PHIL 2205:
Classical Philosophy

Philosophy is a universal phenomenon, which is to say that wherever you find human beings, you find some sort of philosophizing taking place. This is because human beings are naturally inquisitive, not only about practical concerns, but also about larger, more theoretical concerns. “Who are we?” “What are we doing here?” “How exactly should we live?” These philosophical questions have been asked by human beings throughout history and across cultures, and in this course we will consider some of the oldest approaches to them.

In the first part of this course, we will consider classical Chinese philosophy. We will discuss the development of ancient Chinese thought, and then we will focus on the Analects of Confucius, one of the most important philosophical texts of the ancient world. In the second part of this course, we will consider the development of ancient Greek philosophy, and then we will focus on the Republic of Plato, another profoundly important classical text.

To know who we are, we must understand who we were, and in this course we will explore the classical philosophical traditions of China and Greece. These are worth knowing because they are historically important, but they can also inform our present moment and offer insights into contemporary problems.

These are the materials that we will cover:


Introduction to Classical Chinese Philosophy by Bryan W. Van Norden;

Analects by Confucius;


Ancient Greek Philosophy: From the Presocratics to the Hellenistic Philosophers by Thomas A. Blackson;

Republic by Plato;

© Douglas Ficek