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UCL Summer School in Ancient Philosophy 2022

Plato Aristotle by Raphael

University College London (Some courses are available in an online format)
Monday 11 July to Friday 15 July 2022

What are the origins of the world? How can we achieve happiness? What is the best form of government? Is democracy good? These are only some of the questions which ancient philosophers tried to answer more than 2,500 years ago. Their bold and unprecedented enterprise prompted an intellectual revolution, the relevance of which has not since faded. The Summer School in Ancient Philosophy aims to follow the steps of the ancient philosophers in their enquiries on the world and human life, and explore their continuing importance today.

The Summer School offers a five-day programme covering the major themes and thinkers of Ancient Philosophy. There will be four classes each day, between 10:30 am. and 3.30pm. Courses will be held in person unless otherwise specified. For more details, please see below. Students will have access to a variety of online material before and throughout the course. The fee is £130. The course is not residential. Bursaries may be available for certain categories of students.

Students will be assigned to teaching groups of normally not more than 15-20 people. Groups will comprise students with similar levels of knowledge of the subject. Classes will consist of lectures, close reading of texts, and debates and will touch on a variety of themes, including ethics, metaphysics, and theories of knowledge. Texts will be studied in translation, though some classes will be offered in the original language. The style of teaching is friendly, but demanding. Students are expected to actively participate in classes, and they will be invited to discuss and critically engage with texts along with other students and teachers. Our tutors include some of the most talented and passionate teachers of ancient philosophy in the London area and beyond.

Courses

INTRODUCTION TO ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY

NB: The course is available both in person and in online format.

How did philosophy start in Ancient Greece? What were the Ancients thinking about, 2,500 years ago? Is Ancient Philosophy still relevant today? These are all questions one may reasonably have when starting a course on Ancient Philosophy. The purpose of this course is to give an overview of the central figures and issues of Ancient Philosophy, to those with little familiarity of the subject. Following the Ancient way of doing philosophy, we shall not restrict ourselves to one specific area of study (like metaphysics or epistemology), but tackle philosophical problems in their complex nature, that is, by looking altogether at their ethical, metaphysical, epistemological and political dimensions. In doing this, we will spend Day One in discussing some of the theories held by the Pre-Socratic Philosophers. Days Two and Three will see us move on to Socrates and Plato, before spending Day 4 on Aristotle. We will conclude on Day 5 by learning about some of the theories held by the Ancient Stoics. Being an introductory module, the course is open to anyone with an interest in, but little familiarity of, Ancient Philosophy.

WORLD PHILOSOPHY: Early Indian Philosophy

NB: This course will be held online.

This course introduces students to the foundations of Early Indian Philosophy by examining the main systematic developments, root texts and core ideas in Hindu and Buddhist philosophy from around 300BCE to 500 CE. We will learn about the primary aphoristic texts (sūtras) and treatises (śāstras), covering the Hindu-oriented schools that adhered to the Vedas (Vaiśeṣika, Nyāya, Mīmāṃsā, Vedānta, Sāṃkhya and Yoga) as well as key Buddhist ideas in Abhidharma and Yogācāra. Students will gain a grasp of core concepts in metaphysics, ontology, ethics and logic through lectures and seminar discussions. We will read extracts of primary sources in translation as well as important secondary readings. This foundational course prepares students for further exploration of particular Indian philosophical traditions and approaches.

BEGINNER'S GREEK WITH PLATO

NB: This course will be held in person and online with hybrid teaching

This course has been designed to enable students without any knowledge of Greek to begin to read and write the language in the original using Plato's Meno. We will use Frank Beetham's book Learning Greek with Plato - A beginner's course in Classical Greek, Liverpool University Press, 2014 and we expect to cover at least up to section 12 (p. 147) of this book.

We will start with the alphabet and accentuation and move on to examine basic rules of grammar and syntax concerning cases, the declension of nouns and the fundamental system of verb endings as well as the content of some selected passages from Plato's Meno. In our classes we will also discuss new vocabulary and we will aim to practice through exercises.

By the end if the course the student will be able to:

- understand the main rules of Greek grammar and syntax

- appreciate Plato's style and language

- begin to read Classical philosophy in Greek

- relate a translation of the text and follow a commentary on the basic ideas

The course is open to anyone interested in Platonic ideas and ancient philosophy in the original Greek. No prior knowledge of Greek is required for this course.

A WEEK WITH PLATO

Is it Plato’s view that justice is more important than happiness? What is the source of evil in the world according to him? Does Plato believe in god(s) or is ‘god’ just another term for ‘reason’? What is his account of the physical world around us? Does Plato think that Forms are some sort of definitions?

We all know a little bit about Plato, but we seldom have the chance to study him thoroughly. This course is designed for students who are already familiar with Plato (ideally, students who have already attended an Introductory course to Ancient Philosophy or equivalent*) and who wish to acquire more in-depth knowledge of his philosophy by exploring new topics. Each day will be dedicated to a different topic and will alternate between reading and discussion.

Topics include (but are not limited to):

• Plato on happiness

• Plato on evil

• Forms, essences and definitions

• The nature of the sensible world

• Plato’s theology

Knowledge of Ancient Greek is not required; texts will be provided in translation.

* The course will assume a basic knowledge of Plato’s philosophy (e.g. familiarity with the theory of Forms; the tripartition of the soul; the philosopher king; the allegory of the cave; the analogy of the divided line). If you are unclear about the background for this course, or wish to prepare or refresh your mind by doing some preparatory reading, please do not hesitate to get in touch with us! We will be happy to advise you and provide you with some recommendations.

A WEEK WITH ARISTOTLE

Aristotle is famously a systematic thinker: in his Ethics, for instance, he informs us that the political scientist will require knowledge of the soul and human psychology, since ethics consists primarily in the study of the human good and of human virtue, and virtue is a state of the soul. His accounts of virtue acquisition or of psychology also appeal to fundamental notions in his metaphysics, and so on. In this course, we will cover topics from a range of areas in Aristotle’s thought – such as metaphysics, ethics, and moral psychology – and consider how these fit together. What is Aristotle’s distinction between actuality and potentiality, and how is this employed in his explanation of how moral virtue is acquired? What is the psychological capacity he calls ‘phantasia’— how is this distinguished from our capacities for perception or belief? – and how does this capacity shed light on Aristotle’s understanding of the emotions? What role do the emotions play in Aristotle’s account of moral virtue and moral habituation?
 
Classes will involve a range of activities, from lectures, to close reading of the texts, argument analysis, to group discussion. Some prior knowledge of ancient philosophy is advisable, though this need not be of Aristotle’s work.

LOVE AND FRIENDSHIP IN PLATO AND ARISTOTLE

NB: This course will be held online.

This course has been designed to enable students who have a basic knowledge of Greek to become more familiar with reading and writing Classical Greek using Plato's Meno, a typical Platonic dramatic dialogue. We will use Frank Beetham's book Learning Greek with Plato - A beginner's course in Classical Greek, Liverpool University Press, 2014 and we aim to cover Sections 13-25 (the second half of the book).

We will examine basic rules of grammar and syntax concerning the declension of nouns and verbs, some irregular verbs, and nouns as well as the translation and content of selected passages from Plato's Meno. In our classes, we will also discuss new vocabulary and philosophical terms. As a result, by the end of the course the student will be able to:

- understand a significant number of rules of Greek grammar and syntax

- appreciate Plato's style and language

- translate selected passages in Classical Greek

- follow a commentary on the basic Platonic ideas

The course is open to anyone interested in Platonic ideas and ancient philosophy in the original Greek. A beginner’s level knowledge of Greek is required for this course.

INTERMEDIATE GREEK WITH PLATO

NB: This course will be held online.

We will examine basic rules of grammar and syntax concerning the declension of nouns and verbs, some irregular verbs, and nouns as well as the translation and content of selected passages from Plato's Meno. In our classes, we will also discuss new vocabulary and philosophical terms. As a result, by the end of the course the student will be able to:

- understand a significant number of rules of Greek grammar and syntax

- appreciate Plato's style and language

- translate selected passages in Classical Greek

- follow a commentary on the basic Platonic ideas

The course is open to anyone interested in Platonic ideas and ancient philosophy in the original Greek. A beginner’s level knowledge of Greek is required for this course.

  • The full programme for the Summer School in Ancient Philosophy is currently under construction and will be available on this page as soon as possible
  • The cost of the Summer School is £130 and you can pay via UCL's online store. This includes all tuition, but not accommodation or travel expenses.

Enquiries

Please email the Summer School. Completed application forms should be emailed to the Director, Dr Nicolò Benzi.


Useful information

  • Regulatory Framework

The UCL regulatory framework for life learning applies to this Summer School.