Fall 2019 - PHIL 350 D100

Ancient Philosophy (3)

Class Number: 4813

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    Sep 3 – Dec 2, 2019: Tue, 4:30–7:20 p.m.

  • Exam Times + Location:

    Dec 10, 2019
    Tue, 7:00–10:00 p.m.

  • Prerequisites:

    PHIL 150 or 151.



Examines central philosophical themes and figures in ancient philosophy. Topics may include justice, knowledge, the good life, time, change, appearance and reality, the nature of God, and others. Historical readings will be the central focus and may include works by Plato, Aristotle, Thales, Anaximander, Pythagoras, Parmenides and others.


The philosophy of Ancient Greece is foundational for all subsequent Western philosophy, and its study is crucial to understanding the modes and questions of philosophical inquiry up to the present day. In this course, students will gain an introduction to major works and themes in Ancient Philosophy; because the subject matter is vast indeed, we will do so through a lens focused in particular on conceptions of the good life, or εὐδαιμονία, in Ancient philosophy. Through this lens, we will engage not only with questions of how we, as individuals, ought to live, but also how we, as a collective, should order society to the end of human flourishing. Obliquely, this will require us to also consider issues of metaphysics, epistemology, and natural philosophy. We will discuss the ideas of Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle through several dialogues and the major works Republic and Nicomachean Ethics, as well as consider the Hellenistic ethical schools of Epicureanism, Stoicism, and Cynicism through the works of figures such as Epicurus, Epictetus, and Diogenes. Throughout our course of study, we will turn regularly to the reception of these historical figures and discussions of their work among contemporary philosophers, such as Martha Nussbaum, Rosalind Hursthouse, Julia Annas, and Nancy Sherman.

In-class instruction will be lecture-based, with ample time given for discussion in both small and large groups. Class time may sometimes include other interactive or active learning activities, and audio and/or visual media may also be employed. Students are expected to attend weekly lectures having read and considered the material assigned for that week, and prepared to share their own reactions and actively listen to those of others. To facilitate this, students will submit a weekly question on the reading the day before class. Students should also be attentive to assignment expectations and due dates, and proactive in seeking assistance or accommodation as needed.


  • Weekly question on the reading (1% for completion in each of 10 weeks) 10%
  • First Abstract (150 - 200 words) 5%
  • First Essay (1500 - 1800 words) 20%
  • Second Abstract (150 - 200 words) 5%
  • Second Essay (1500 - 1800 words) 30%
  • Final Exam 30%


Weekly Question: Students will submit, on a weekly basis, a specific question arising from the assigned reading. The question may raise, e.g., a point for clarification, a criticism, or an area requiring further development. They shall be brief (no more than a paragraph), and should begin with a brief summary (in two or three sentences) of the relevant portion of the reading to provide context for the question. Each question is due the day before class. 1% will be awarded for completion of each question, assuming reasonable effort, AND attendance in class the following day, to a maximum of 10%.

Abstracts and Essays: Two essays (one in the middle of the term, and one toward the end of the term) will each be preceded three weeks in advance by an abstract outlining a proposed topic and thesis. The abstracts will be returned with feedback and constructive criticism two weeks in advance of the essay deadline, so that students will be able to integrate the feedback they receive into their essay.

Policy on Extensions and Late Assignments: Extensions on assignments may be granted in extenuating circumstances, by explicit prior arrangement with the instructor; approval for such requests is evaluated on a case-by-case basis at the instructor’s discretion, and will ordinarily require documented evidence of medical or personal emergency. Essays received after the stated deadline without such an arrangement having been made will be subject to a late penalty of 5% per day, including weekends and holidays. Assignments worth 5% or less of the course grade (i.e., weekly questions and essay abstracts) will not be accepted after the stated deadline, because of their time-sensitive nature.



Plato. Five Dialogues: Euthyphro, Apology, Crito, Meno, Phaedo, trans. G.M.A. Grube, 2nd edition. Hackett, 2002
ISBN: ISBN: 978-0-87220-63

Aristotle. The Nicomachean Ethics, trans. T. Irwin, 2nd edition. Hackett, 2000
ISBN: 978-0-87220-464-5

Plato. Republic, trans. G.M.A. Grube, 2nd edition. Hackett, 1992
ISBN: ISBN: 9780872201361

All other required readings will be posted as links or downloadable PDFs to the online course portal. A list of these additional works will be given at the beginning of the term, along with suggestions of inexpensive print editions, for any students who may prefer to obtain hard copies.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at philmgr@sfu.ca   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html