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Ancient Philosophy


Module Code: PI8002

  • ECTS Weighting: 10
  • Lecturer: Prof. Vasilis Politis
  • Contact Hours: 22

GENERAL
The aim of these seminars is to study and critically discuss Plato’s theory of Forms, understood as a theory of essence. The seminar will be conducted as a combination of a close reading of a selection of texts from Plato (especially the Phaedo and the Republic, but also other dialogues) and a close reading of my manuscript Plato’s Essentialism. I hope students will help me in improving this manuscript one last time before I submit it for publication, through their critical comments and questions and in general their suggestions.

TOPICS AND QUESTIONS
We shall concentrate on the following issues and questions:

  • What is Plato’s theory of Forms a theory of?
  • Is Plato’s theory of Forms a coherent and well-defended theory?
  • What reasons are there to suppose that Plato’s Forms are, basically, essences?
  • What is meant by an essence here?
  • Through what several characteristics does Plato characterize the Forms?
  • What is his motivation and justification for each of these characteristics? (Concentrating on one or two characteristics at a time.)
  • Is there any characteristics that Plato definitely fails to justify and defend?
  • How (if at all) can Plato’s Forms/essences be both theoretical entities and really real?
  • Is Plato’s essentialism worth taking seriously today?

PhD students will be required to write one substantial essay (3,000-4,000 words). Students should confirm the essay title with their lecturer.