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CL2302 Socrates and Plato


Module Organiser: Dr. Ashley Clements
Duration:One term (Jan-Apr)
Contact Hours: 19 (16 lectures and 3 seminars)
Weighting: 5 ECTS
Assessment: 20% continuous assessment (one written assignment), 80% end-of-year examination (or equivalent depending on the chosen combination of modules)

Overviews and Aims

This course focuses on the revolution in philosophical thinking initiated in Athens by Socrates (469-399 BC) in the latter half of the fifth century BC, and its further development by his creative disciple Plato (427-347 BC) during the first half of the fourth century BC. In weekly lectures, the course explores the intellectual context, central preoccupations, and defining features of Platonic philosophy through close readings of a selection of Plato's writings (Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo, Protagoras, Symposium and Phaedrus). Topics include: Plato's Socrates and the Socratic 'method'; Platonic epistemology; Plato and erôs; Platonic ethics; theories of education and the Arts; dialectic and the literary form of Plato's dialogues; modern approaches to understanding Plato's writings.

Introductory Reading

  • Benson, H. H. (2009) (ed.) A Companion to Plato. London.
  • Fine, G. (2008) (ed.) The Oxford Handbook of Plato. Oxford.
  • Rowe, C.J. (2007) Plato and the Art of Philosophical Writing. Cambridge.
  • Guthrie, W.K.C. (1971) A History of Greek Philosophy, Vol. 3. Socrates. Cambridge.
  • Guthrie, W.K.C. (1975) A History of Greek Philosophy, Vol. 4. Plato: The Man and his Dialogues: The Earlier Period. Cambridge.
  • Dialogues: The Earlier Period. Cambridge.

Required Texts

  • Tredennick, H. (ed.) (1961) Plato: The Last Days of Socrates. London. (Includes: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Phaedo).
  • Jowett, B. (ed.) (2000) Selected Dialogues of Plato. New York. (Includes: Ion, Protagoras, Phaedrus, Symposium).

Learning Outcomes:

Upon the successful completion of this module students should be able to demonstrate:

  • An understanding of Plato’s dialogues in their historical, dramatic/literary and philosophical context as literary, philosophical and political works
  • Familiarity with the key intellectual influences on Plato’s thought, an understanding of Plato’s conceptions of philosophical method, and his uses of the dialogue form
  • Development of critical close-reading skills, and powers of verbal and written analysis and argument

Last updated 18 August 2016