Fall 2023

Ancient Greek Philosophy

Listed in: Philosophy, as PHIL-217


Jyl Gentzler (Section 01)


European and American philosophers trace their intellectual heritage to Ancient Greece.  Plato and Aristotle, in particular, have set standards for philosophical inquiry, by distinguishing it from other practices such as poetry, drama, and sophistry.  In this class, we will examine and critically assess their understanding of the nature of philosophical inquiry, by comparing the writing of those whom that they deemed to be philosophers to Homeric poetry, Sophoclean drama, and Protagorean sophistry. We will also examine and critically assess the arguments that Ancient Greek philosophers offered in support of their answers to questions about the nature, sources, and limits of human knowledge; about the merits of relativism, subjectivism, and objectivism in science and ethics; about the nature of the good life; about the relationship between obligations to others and self-interest; and about the connection between the body and the mind. Open to all students.

Limited to 25 students with 10 spots reserved for first-year students. Fall semester. Professor Gentzler. 

How to handle overenrollment: Priority to majors, then on the basis of seniority and enrollment at Amherst.

Students who enroll in this course will likely encounter and be expected to engage in the following intellectual skills, modes of learning, and assessment: emphasis on written work, readings, independent research, oral presentations, group work.

PHIL 217 - LEC

Section 01
M 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM OCTA 200
W 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM OCTA 200
F 11:00 AM - 11:50 AM OCTA 200


2024-25: Not offered
Other years: Offered in Fall 2011, Fall 2012, Fall 2023