PHI217 - Plato
The Philosopher and Mathematician A N Whitehead once characterized western thought as a "series of footnotes to Plato". The thought of Plato and his teacher Socrates, who both lived in Greece around 400 years before the start of the Christian era, set the agenda for much subsequent philosophy and did much to define our ideas of what philosophy is. This course will introduce students to the study of the philosophy of Plato through a close and critical study of some of the most important dialogues in English translation.
In this course we will study the following dialogue of Plato:
It is available in numerous translations. The best is perhaps that of M. J. Levett. It is published by Hackett in an edition that also contains a long commentary by Miles Burnyeat. This is probably the most useful book for this course. I recommend buying it.
There is another excellent translation in the OUP’s Clarendon Plato Series by John McDowell which contains a very useful detailed commentary. (McDowell’s translation is also used in the Oxford World’s Classics.
If you are interested in the historical background you could try:
J. W Roberts: City of Sokrates; An Introduction to Classical Athens
Most useful of all by way of background is to read other texts from classical Greece, such as the plays of Sophocles and Euripides or the historical writings of Thucydides and Xenophon. Especially useful – and entertaining - would be to read the plays of Aristophanes and especially his Clouds.
As more specific and philosophical background reading to the Theaetetus I strongly recommend you read these two earlier works by Plato
Assessment2 mini essays (500 words) [10%], one essay [30%], one exam [2 questions - 30% each]