PI107B History of Philosophy I
- Contact Hours: 11 hours of lectures and 5 hours of tutorials per term
- Lecturers: Prof. Vasilis Politis, Prof. Paul O'Grady
- ECTS: 5
- Semester 1
Module Outline for Semester 1
Component 1: Anicent Philosophy (Prof. Vasilis Politis)
The aim of these lectures is to study and critically discuss a selection of texts from Plato and Aristotle, and to concentrate on three central topics in the two philosophers:
- The ‘What is it?’ question
- The idea of aporia (puzzlement, philosophical puzzles and problems)
- Human desire and its objects.
TOPICS AND QUESTIONS
We shall concentrate on the following topics and questions:
TOPIC 1. THE ‘WHAT IS IT?’ QUESTION
- Is the ‘What is it?’ question about words? Things? Or both words and things?
- Do we, in general, need to ask this question? Do we need standards for using and applying words?
- What is it to answer the ‘What is it?’ question by example-and-exemplar?
- Can the question ‘What is red?’ be answered by example-and-exemplar? Can the question ‘What is beauty?’ be answered by example-and-exemplar?
- If a ‘What is it?’ question cannot be answered by example-and-exemplar, how can it be answered?
TOPIC 2. THE IDEA OF APORIA
- What is the general structure of an aporia?
- What are examples of such aporiai, from Plato, or from Aristotle, or from your experience?
- Why are aporiai so important for philosophical enquiry?
- What is the relation between thinking that philosophical enquiry is rooted in aporiai and being a sceptic about philosophical enquiry?
- Is there any general reason for thinking that no philosophical aporiai can be answered by us?
TOPIC 3. HUMAN DESIRE AND ITS OBJECTS
- Is there an important distinction between doing what one desires and doing what seems best to one?
- Do we desire what really is good or only what appears good to us?
- Can I be seriously mistaken about what is good for me?
- Can I be seriously mistaken about what I desire?
- Is there a single ultimate object of human desire?
- Is this object happiness?
Component 2: Medieval Philosophy (Prof. Paul O'Grady)
The time scale of medieval philosophy is very long, from Augustine (354-430) to William of Ockham (d.1347). The philosophers of this period built on and developed ancient philosophy, especially the thought of Plato and Aristotle, mediated though later Greek schools, such as Neoplatonism. Many of the major philosophers of the period were concerned with relating philosophy to the Abrahamic religious traditions of Judaism, Christianity and Islam. Given the diversity of strands and figures in this period, the course will begin and end with a survey of main figures and historical movements, but will focus on two key figures of the period. We will begin with Augustine, examining how he brought Greek philosophy into dialogue with Christianity and looking specifically at his rejection of skepticism and his positive account of knowledge. Then we will move on to Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) and explore his general metaphysical system, as well as his account of mind. Hence this course will examine an influential epistemological position, an influential metaphysical position and an influential account of mind from the medieval period.
At the end of this course students will be able to:
- Characterize the main figures and movements of medieval philosophy
- Critically evaluate Augustine’s epistemology
- Criticlly evaluate Aquinas’s metaphysics