Course overview (2015)
NB: this is not the 2016 version of the course, which may be found via the Philosophy website, but is currently maintained for archival purposes.
Plato’s dialogues embody a series of questions that have never lost their immediate vigour: how we should live, what there is, and how we can know. But it is the way that Plato posed those questions – his rigour, his artful use of dialogue to justify both sides of a question, and the inspired vitality of his central arguments – that renew the value of his original writing for each generation. In this course, we engage with a range of Plato’s richest and most challenging works, and explore the evolution of his central ideas and methods, including his attempt to differentiate the ideal philosopher from the student of language and persuasion or the natural scientist; his reinterpretation of the Socratic method as a sharp dialectical instrument for locating the truth; his development of a famous case for eternal mathematical and ethical patterns and his application of these Forms to questions in ontology and epistemology; his moral and political theory; and his most developed articulations of the philosopher’s function in society.
- Download Syllabus
- Bird’s Eye View of Plato’s Dialogues (note: the course does not include all of these dialogues. For our reading selection, see the syllabus).
- Resources & Bibliography for writing about Plato and Ancient Philosophy
Lecture Slides (PDF)
- Lecture 1: Introduction
- Lecture 2: Introducing Socratic & Platonic Philosophy
- Lecture 3: Socrates (1)
- Lecture 4: Socrates (2)
- Lecture 5-7: Socrates (3); Symposium introduction – Phaedrus, Pausanias, and Eryximachus
- Lecture 8: Plato on the First Speeches; Introducing Aristophanes & comedy
- Lecture 9: Agathon & tragedy
- Lecture 10: Socrates & Diotima (1)
- Lectures 11-12: Diotima (2); Introducing Forms
- Lecture 13: Forms (cont’d)
- Lecture 14: The Cave and the Line
- Lectures 16-18: The Phaedrus Speeches
- Lecture 20: Platonic Myths and Recollection
- Lecture 21: Phaedrus: Logos
- Lectures 22-23: Theaetetus
- Lectures on Republic (final week)
- Question Paper 1 (due Oct 2)
- New: Question Paper 2 (due Nov 13)
- Essay 1 (due Oct 16)
- Research Paper (due Dec 4). See Essay 1 assignment for description and topics.
Sign up for presentations & participation
- See the course resources page.
- If you do not yet have a TurnItIn account, please register:
- Visit www.turnitin.com.
- Click “Create account”, then click “Student”
- Enter your class ID. Please note: you’ll need to register for essays and question papers separately.
- For essays: 10782499
- For question papers: 10782467
- Enter the class enrolment password: eudaimonia
- FYI: TurnItIn.com is hosted in the United States. You are welcome to use an alias in place of your real name during registration, ensuring that your identifying details are not hosted in the USA. If you do, please email your alias to your instructor. (Note also that we will not store your essays on TurnItIn’s database after the course is complete). For full instructions, see: http:// elearning.ubc.ca/toolkit/turnitin/for-students
- If you already have a TurnItIn account: log in, click “enroll in a class”, and enter the appropriate class ID and class enrolment password above. Please note: you’ll need to register for essays and question papers separately.