Greek Philosophy

Greek Philosophy Syllabus

Phil 20A – Fall 2019 – 40269 – Mon/Wed 9:30 – 10:45 am – BCC Room 216

Instructor: Eric Gerlach –

Course Description: Introduction to ancient Greek philosophy, including the Milesians, Pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, Skeptics, Epicurus & the Stoics.

Office Hours: Friday 11:30 – 1:15 pm @ K’s Coffee, next to BCC

Texts: The readings are posted at the top of each set of lecture notes.

Lectures: Aug 19) Intro, Aug 21 & 26) Egyptian and Babylonian philosophy, Aug 28) Greek poetry, epics & tragedy, Sep 2) NO CLASS, Sep 9 & 11) the Milesians, Sep 16) Pythagoras, Sep 18) Xenophanes, Sep 23 & 25) Heraclitus, Sep 30 & Oct 2) No Class – Work on 1st essay, due by midnight, Oct 9, Oct 7 & 9) Parmenides & the Eleatics, Oct 14) Anaxagoras, Oct 16) Empedocles, Oct 21) Democritus, Oct 23) Diogenes, Oct 28) Socrates, Plato, the Apology, & the Crito, Oct 30) the Meno & Nov 4) the Symposium, Nov 6) the Republic, Nov 11) No Class, Nov 13) the Timaeus Nov 18) the Parmenides & the Theaetetus, Nov 20) No Class – Work on 2nd essay, due midnight, Nov 25, Nov 25 & 27) Aristotle, Dec 2) Skepticism, Dec 4) Epicurus,  Dec 9 Stoicism, 11) No Class – Work on 3rd essay, due: midnight, Dec 15th


Two 4 page essays (2 x 25%) & a final 8 page paper (50%), typed, double-spaced and emailed to  Focus on an issue we cover, clearly state and argue for your position with evidence, empathy, and examples from your life, history or fiction.

All work for the course is due by MIDNIGHT, SUNDAY DECEMBER 15th.

To pass the class you must write three pieces, two 4 page essays and an 8 page essay (25% + 25% + 50% of your final grade) typed and emailed to to me ( by the end of the semester.  Focus on a single idea or issue we cover, clearly state your position and use evidence and reasoning to support your position while thinking about what others would say in response.  You can use examples from your life, culture, history, or fiction.  Write about whatever means the most to you, but you can also follow the prompts for each assignment if you have trouble thinking of something you want to say.

For the first 4 page essay, pick an idea we have studied with Egyptian, Babylonian, or Greek thought so far, up through Pythagoras and Heraclitus, and take a position supporting or criticizing it.  You can use the idea to respond to a larger question about culture and time:  Does human perspective evolve and change, or is it largely the same as in the past?

For the second 4 page essay, pick an idea we have studied from Parmenides to Plato, and take a position supporting or criticizing it.  You can use the idea to respond to the larger question about relative and absolute truth:  Is there true objective knowledge, or is everything relative perspective?

For the third and final 8 page essay, pick an idea we have studied with Plato, Aristotle, Skeptics and Stoics, and take a position supporting or criticizing it.  You can use the idea to respond to larger questions about culture, time, knowledge and perspective of the previous assignments.

Grading Rubric: 10 – This is outstanding work, 9 – This is good work that shows you put thought and time in, but more, 8 – This is on the right path, but clearly needs a bit more, 7 – This is somewhat wrong and off, and 0 – 6 – You are clearly phoning it in before the telegraph.

Student Learning Outcomes:  Upon completion of this class, students will be able to do the following:

  1. Demonstrate an understanding of the concepts of major Greek philosophers.
  2. Analyze & evaluate philosophical positions through argument that displays individual perspective.

This class is acceptable for credit at UC and CSU. It counts towards GE AA/AS area 3; CSU area C2; and IGETC area 3. It can be used as an elective for the Liberal Arts with an Emphasis in Arts and Humanities, Associate in Arts Degree Program and the Liberal Arts: Intersegmental General Education Transfer (IGETC) Certificate of Achievement and the Global Studies AA Degree.

General Student Requirements:  Students are expected to come to class prepared to ask questions and participate in discussions. All readings and assignments should be completed by the beginning of class on the day they are listed here. This class is run as a lecture/discussion course.  Students are responsible for all class material (even if they miss class). If you miss class, it is strongly advised that you ask a classmate for notes. It is your responsibility to ask if you missed something; it is not the instructor’s responsibility to remind you. Please read through the syllabus and plan ahead.

Plagiarism will not be tolerated. Plagiarists, intentional or inadvertent, will receive a zero on the assignment in question; repeat offenders will get an F for the course and will be subject to college disciplinary action. Students are encouraged to review plagiarism policies in the current Vista College catalog.  Attendance is mandatory. If you miss more than five classes, you will receive an F in the course. (Note: I do not distinguish between “excused” and “unexcused” absences; if you miss more than five classes, for any reason, you cannot pass the class.)

Disabled Student Program and Services (DSPS) are provided for any enrolled student who has a verified disability that creates an educational limitation that prevents the student from fully benefiting from classes without additional support services or instruction. Please let the instructor know if you require any support services or would like more information about DSPS.

This syllabus is subject to change at the discretion of the instructor. Any changes will be announced in class. Additional handouts of required readings may also be added.

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