Like us, Plato lives and writes at a time when traditional views about the good, the gods, and the soul are increasingly called into question by a wide variety of progressive intellectuals — atheists, relativists, immoralists, materialists, and the like. Our aim in this course will be to examine and evaluate Plato’s critical response to these thinkers and their doctrines. We will begin by exploring Plato’s treatment of Thrasymachus in the Republic and Callicles in the Gorgias, each of whom raises a profound challenge to the authority of morality over our lives. Then we will turn our attention to the Theaetetus, where Plato develops and criticizes the views of the world’s first great relativists, Heraclitus and Protagoras. Finally we will look at some of Plato’s most influential arguments — in the Phaedo, the Philebus, the Laws, and elsewhere — for the immateriality of the human soul and the existence of an intelligent god. Our goal throughout will be to determine not only what Plato’s arguments were, but also whether we should accept those arguments as correct even now.
No data submitted
All the texts will be read in translation. No knowledge of Greek is required.
Three hrs lecture per week