PHIL 610 - Seminar in History of Philosophy
Section: 001 Plato on Knowledge and the Good
Term: WN 2013
Subject: Philosophy (PHIL)
Department: LSA Philosophy
Waitlist Capacity:
Advisory Prerequisites:
Graduate standing.
May not be repeated for credit.
Primary Instructor:

In an especially famous section of Republic VI (504d-509c), Plato’s Socrates claims that the relation between knowledge and the good is analogous to the relation between sight and the sun. But in this passage, and in the passages that follow, he does relatively little to explain or defend this extraordinary claim. Our project in this seminar will be to see if we can do better (on his behalf) by extending our attention from the Republic to the Philebus, one of Plato’s most underappreciated and underexplored later works. Among the questions that guided him there, and will be guiding us here, are:

  • What is the difference between knowledge and correct belief? Is the former any more valuable than the latter?
  • Are there fundamentally different kinds of knowledge? If so, how are they related to each other?
  • Is it (a certain kind of) knowledge that makes a good human life good? Or is it something else — such as (a certain kind of) pleasure or honor?
  • Is there some sort of constitutive or essential connection between goodness, beauty, and truth? If so, what is it?
  • Do human beings, simply by virtue of having the sort of souls they have, aim to conform themselves psychologically to the basic structure of reality?

Primary readings will be drawn mostly from the Republic and the Philebus, but will include supplementary material from various other dialogues, such as the Gorgias, the Meno, the Phaedo, the Symposium, the Phaedrus, and the Theaetetus. Secondary readings will be drawn mostly from recent work in the Anglo-American tradition of analytic commentary.

Course Requirements:

No data submitted.

Intended Audience:

(All texts will be read in translation. No familiarity with ancient Greek will be required.)

Class Format:

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PHIL 610 - Seminar in History of Philosophy
Schedule Listing
001 (SEM)
8Graduate Standing
Tu 7:00PM - 9:30PM
NOTE: Data maintained by department in Wolverine Access. If no textbooks are listed below, check with the department.

ISBN: 0872203492
Complete works, Author: Plato. Ed., with introd. and notes, by John M. Cooper ..., Publisher: Hackett 5. pr. 2005
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