Homepage Of Wayne A. Borody
Department of Religions and Cultures and Philosophy

Origins of Western Philosophy
Phil 2305
Fall/Winter 2008-2009

When Thales was asked, "What is difficult," he replied: "To know oneself."
When asked, "What is easy," he replied: "To give advice to others."

Lives of the Eminent Philosophers ,
Diogenes Laertius (circa 200 A.D.)


INSTRUCTOR: Wayne Borody
Tuesday, 3:30-6:30  


This course explores the origins of Western philosophy through a study of some of the main figures in the early Greek philosophical tradition. The course will begin with a discussion of the Spartan way of life, in order to contrast it with the Athenian, which celebrated the Dionysian theatre as a popular form of moral philosophy—or “demosophy.” Hence, the course will begin with a discussion of Oedipus the King, an example of the tragic view of life, and the Clouds, an example of the comedic. The early Greek "discipline" of philosophy will then be explored through the writings of the Presocratics (specifically Thales, Anaximander, Heraclitus, Pythagoras, Parmenides, and Democritus). The rest of the course will be devoted to a close and critical reading of Plato’s Republic as well as selections from Aristotle’s Metaphysics (to be provided in class), concluding with a short summary of the “schools” of Stoicism, Epicureanism and Scepticism. Students will be expected to learn the script of classical Greek, and identify (transliterate and translate) approximately 50 different Greek philosophical terms.

Required Books

  1. Sophocles, Oedipus the King. ( Oxford University Press, New York, 1988. ISBN: 0-19-505493-8]
  2. Aristophanes, Clouds, Wasps, Loeb Classical Library, Vol. II, ISBN 0-674-99537-6 (Series No. L488)
  3. Kirk, G. S. and Raven, J. E., Presocratic Philosophers ( Cambridge University Press, ISBN 0521091691.
  4. Plato, Republic, trans. Paul Shorey. Loeb Edition ( Harvard University Press),Vol. V (Books I-V: ISBN-99262-8) and Vol. VI (Books VI-X).

[Books are to be purchased from Gulliver’s Quality Books, 157 Main Street West; phone 474-7335; http://www.gulliversbookstore.com]

Course Requirements


Participation [10%]  
Test [10%] Oct. 24, 2006
Essay (approx. 10 pages) [20%] Nov. 14, 2006


Participation [10%]  
Essay (approx. 10 pages) [20%] March 13, 2007
Final Exam [30%] TBA