Syllabus & Schedule

Phil 20A – Fall 2021 – 40183 – BCC Online

Instructor: Eric Gerlach –

Please email me to ask questions or set up a Zoom appointment if you want to talk.

Course Description: Welcome to Greek Philosophy, where we will study many ancient thinkers and their connections to other cultures and modern times, including the Milesians, Pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, Skeptics, Epicurus & the Stoics.  We will learn many concepts basic to Greek philosophy, and cover several schools of thought, including a detailed discussion of Plato’s many dialogues.

Course Material: For each week of the class, do the readings, which are free, online primary source material, the original texts, watch the videos and read the lectures, which you can do while I go through the lectures in the videos.

Assignments: There are no weekly assignments.  There are three essays due by the end of the course, two four-page papers (25% of your grade) and one longer eight-page paper (50% of your grade), emailed to  Focus on an idea we cover, clearly state and argue for your position with evidence, empathy, and examples from your life, history or fiction.  Use standard sized fonts, and at least 1.5 spacing, with normal margins, such that it doesn’t look like you’re trying to fool me in a way I don’t like.  If you wish to cite works, cite them as you mention them as author (year), such as Smith (2021).

We won’t have mandatory meetings on Zoom, as the class is asynchronous.  Please email me with any questions, or if you want to discuss the class or ideas we study.  You should zoom or email me before each paper to touch base if you can.

Office Hours: I will be available on Zoom for individual chats with students who email me and make an appointments.

Aug 26 – Introduction to the Class: Please watch the videos about the class, the basics of my view on philosophy and Eurocentrism.

Sep 2 – Read this Lecture on Egyptian and Babylonian philosophy.

Sep 9 – Read this  Greek poetry, epics & tragedy, & Thales along with the other two Milesians,

Sep 16) Pythagoras, & Xenophanes,

Sep 23) Heraclitus,

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.  Address the thinker’s argument, present it point by point as best you can, and respond to 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?  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.  Please start your essay this week, and email it to me by the end of the semester, midnight, Sunday December 19th.

Sep 30) Parmenides & the Eleatics,

Oct 7) Anaxagoras,

Oct 14) Empedocles,

Oct 21) Democritus, & Diogenes,

Oct 28) Socrates, Plato, the Apology, & the Crito,

Oct 30) the Meno

Nov 4) the Symposium,

Nov 6) the Republic,

Nov 11) the Timaeus

Nov 13)  the Parmenides

Nov 18) the Theaetetus,

Nov 20) Second 4 page essay: Pick an idea we have studied from Parmenides to Plato, and take a position supporting or criticizing it.  Address the thinker’s argument, present it point by point as best you can, and respond to 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?

Nov 25 & 27) Aristotle,

Dec 2) Skepticism,

Dec 4) Epicurus,

Dec 9 Stoicism,

Dec 11) 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.  Address the thinker’s argument, present it point by point as best you can, and respond to it.  You can use the idea to respond to larger questions about culture, time, knowledge and perspective of the previous assignments. due: midnight, Sunday Dec 19th

Grading Rubric: 100 – This is outstanding work, 90 – This is good work that shows you put thought and time in, but more, 80 – This is on the right path, but clearly needs a bit more, 70 – This is somewhat wrong and off, and 0 – 60 – 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.