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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Ancient Philosophy: Aristotle and His Successors by University of Pennsylvania

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About the Course

What is philosophy? How does it differ from science, religion, and other modes of human discourse? This course traces the origins of philosophy in the Western tradition in the thinkers of Ancient Greece. We begin with the Presocratic natural philosophers who were active in Ionia in the 6th century BCE and are also credited with being the first scientists. Thales, Anaximander, and Anaximines made bold proposals about the ultimate constituents of reality, while Heraclitus insisted that there is an underlying order to the changing world. Parmenides of Elea formulated a powerful objection to all these proposals, while later Greek theorists (such as Anaxagoras and the atomist Democritus) attempted to answer that objection. In fifth-century Athens, Socrates insisted on the importance of the fundamental ethical question—“How shall I live?”—and his pupil, Plato, and Plato’s pupil, Aristotle, developed elaborate philosophical systems to explain the nature of reality, knowledge, and human happiness. After the death of Aristotle, in the Hellenistic period, Epicureans and Stoics developed and transformed that earlier tradition. We will study the major doctrines of all these thinkers. Part I will cover Plato and his predecessors. Part II will cover Aristotle and his successors....

Top reviews


Jan 10, 2021

This is an excellent course. The lecturer presents the material very clearly, carefully bringing out what is at stake in the views and arguments of the Greek thinkers and schools she considers.


Apr 25, 2019

Excellent course, Pr. Sauvé-Meyer keeps the material very engaging, and makes it very clear and easily accessible. Knowing how difficult the original texts are sometimes, this is very valuable.

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1 - 25 of 200 Reviews for Ancient Philosophy: Aristotle and His Successors

By Jessica P

May 14, 2020

I took this course during covid. I am educated in civil engineering and have worked in the industry for almost 20 yrs. I took the free version of this course because I genuinely wanted to learn about philosophy when my background and course education has never given me options to. The course was wonderfully laid out and easy to understand coming from no background knowledge and it really opened my eyes. Thank you for making what seemed like it may be a difficult thing to learn late in life easy to understand and enjoyable. I am doing the free version so won’t be doing the final written assignments or peer reviews. Thank you again for making learning fun!!

By James R B

Feb 2, 2019

This is an excellent course! The professor is well-timed and the resource material well-selected. In-depth treatment of Aristotle, the Stoics, and the Epicureans. Highly recommended.

By Harry M

Jul 24, 2020

I really enjoyed this course for numerous reasons. As a retired educator, I appreciated Professor Meyer's teaching style. She explained complex philosophical ideas clearly and distinctly. I thought some of the quizzes were a bit too tricky (which is what my former students probably said about my quizzes). The peer review process, although not the best vehicle to test knowledge, worked well. I thought long and hard before submitting my final essay. I was really impressed with some of the responses that I had to review to complete the course. Some advice for the learner: take notes (obviously). I found that taking iphone pics. of some slides was a great way to capture the information without having to write everything down. Take time digesting the final topic/question before you answer it. Write, re-write and re-write. You may receive a 'satisfactory' from your first attempt but by re writing your final essay several times you get to know the topic in a more in depth way. I took both the Plato and the Aristotle courses and I must admit that I much preferred this course to the earlier one on Plato Not sure why.

By Vishwas G V

Jun 7, 2020

I have learned a lot through this course and Coursera is very high through online education. I would like to say that it has changed the online education system. Thank you.

By Deleted A

Oct 17, 2017

In ancient philosophy you will learn who asked the 'big' questions. Questions that are still being debated in our own times by the religious and philosophically minded as well as explored in the arts and sciences. Prof. Meyer's narrative is informative and probing while not being judgemental. Assessing the quality of the ideas and underlying logic is left up to the student. A first rate course by a top class teacher!

By Clare H

Mar 17, 2018

Really good overview. Information is presented in a very clearly and concisely. The pace is good, and the topics are all very interesting.

The only things I didn't like had to do with format issues: I did not find the periodic "quizzes" that interrupt the videos to be helpful. They were more frustrating than anything since they broke up the flow of the videos and didn't add anything to my understanding of the topics. And while the intro sequences to each video are high-quality, it's unnecessary to have 25 seconds dedicated to the into for *each* and *every* video. This was repetitive and frustrating, especially since the volume on the intro sequences was much louder than the rest of the video, meaning I had to either manually skip the into or adjust the volume each time. These are technical details, so I don't want them to reflect poorly on the content of the course, which is excellent. It's more a suggestion to re-edit the course videos at some point.

By Tatiana N

Mar 24, 2016

I am a mathematician, who is interested in learning and developing philosophical ideas concerning the origin of modern science. I am periodically taking philosophical courses here and there to be clear about basic notions of classical philosophical thought. I have never met such a strong qualified lecturer as Professor Susan Sauvé Meyer before. She managed to present the whole body of Aristotelian philosophy in a catchy scheme without any loss of his points. Her explanations are precise and clear. I am admired of her lectures and going to take as many of her courses as I can find.

By Tina S

May 20, 2020

Thank you ! It has been a wonderful learning experience for me. Although I understand that I have only touched some of the basic of Greek ancient philosophy , but this course have given me an informative overview of its topical issues and key analytical arguments . It surely help me to read more related books and literature in the future.

And a special thanks to Professor Susan Meyer ! She is a cool, clear minded and wonderful teacher ! I feel so fortunate to be able to learn from her !

By Alexandra T

Jan 11, 2021

This is an excellent course. The lecturer presents the material very clearly, carefully bringing out what is at stake in the views and arguments of the Greek thinkers and schools she considers.

By Laurent G

Apr 26, 2019

Excellent course, Pr. Sauvé-Meyer keeps the material very engaging, and makes it very clear and easily accessible. Knowing how difficult the original texts are sometimes, this is very valuable.

By Алексей К

Feb 28, 2018

Philosophy is the way to understand the world by using rational structures of mind. Taking it into account, it's really important to have deep understanding of philosophical concepts and theories. The course really helps you to grasp the understanding of such kind. The lecturer explains genius ideas of ancient greek philosophers in a clear logically sequential way using excellent language. Definitely recommend!

By Skye H

Mar 27, 2020

Lecturer is clear and organized. Material is interesting and enjoyable. I learned a lot and would recommend this course to anyone who is of a philosophical bent and wishes to know more about the foundations of Western philosophy.

By D.Scott V

Aug 18, 2016

Very much enjoyed this course. Some areas were a review but in others I was able to gain a great deal of new insight into the philosophies that were covered. Many Thanks!

By Benson H

Aug 9, 2018

Beautifully organized, this is a phenomenal tour through Aristotle's main ideas. Dr. Meyer is an expert on Aristotle, and this course is excellent for that reason!

By Eric N

Jan 28, 2019

Excellent lectures by Prof Susan Meyer. The only grouse I had was that no-one else seemed actively to be doing the course. And there were no replies by mentors.

By Antonia T B

May 18, 2019

The course is nice but it's a pity that the professor didn't start with Aristotle's ethics (which is the coolest part of his philosophy in my opinion). The first part of the course was extremely boring. The parts about Epicurus and Stoicism were very interesting. The final assignments are nor being reviewed. I finished the course and I'm still waiting to get my Certificate. That's very annoying. Also, there are no Mentors replying. That's a pity. Greetings / Antonia

By Eshana B

Jun 30, 2019

Not being a prior student of philosophy, or rather arts, I had a very different idea about this discipline. After taking the first week's course, I am pretty much enthusiastic about what is yet to come and look forward to learning more.

The course content seems good for me as an introduction.

Wish it included some more realistic examples from life which we can find witty and can relate to our lives.

By Santosh K

Sep 22, 2016

Beside the annoying loud music in the intro of each video it is Insightful.

By N.C.

Aug 30, 2017

This is an okay course. The information was good, but it was delivered in a very slow manner. Overall, I think this course could be half the time it is currently listed at.

By Felipe A

Sep 9, 2020

This course was a good experience. My activity and regular tasks are too far from the philosophical thoughts then the first weeks of sessions were difficult to understand. I think, I learned and some topics were awesome because I did the relation with our occidental culture those ideas are basics to understand the current world situations also I was able to close some personal ideas and questions with the readings. Aristotelian and Stoic ideas and their proposals are important and update. Thank you for the opportunity.

By yohana a

May 24, 2021

I learned a lot about Aristotle and his successors in this course. The information was well organized and helped me understand the different periods in which each philosopher lived and stated their ideas on the universe and the whole creation . I was not aware of the timelines on how the main philosophies were developed and how they complemented and/or contradicted each other. This course has also given me the appreciation for Philosophy and I have discovered a new passion in learning more about it.

Thank you!

By Alan A

Jul 6, 2020

I thoroughly enjoyed this course. I have long wanted to find out more about ancient philosophy but have found the original texts heavy-going and largely impenetrable, particularly those by Aristotle. Professor Sauvé Meyer provides a clear introduction to Aristotle's work and relates it to the ideas of other ancient philosophers: her video lectures are excellent. I have learnt a lot and, moreover, feel enthused by ancient philosophy. I will continue my studies of Plato and Aristotle with more confidence.

By Nicolas L C

Apr 11, 2017

This is a great introduction to Ancient philosophy for all of those who want to obtain more knowledge about the invaluable legacy of the Greek miracle !

I deeply recommend this course, which brought be excellent additional material in Ancient philosophy useful to every philosophy student but also to anyone who wants to acquire in depth general knowledge of the roots of our civilisation, the whole brilliantly taught in a rigorous and entertaining fashion !

Thank you Professor Meyer !

By Marco A d C S

Oct 9, 2016

I would like to thank the University faculty, especially professor Susan Meyer, for the excellent lessons offered to participants. I have learned a lot about Aristotle and the following schools. The video lessons contained a wealth of information on the subject. The participants also proved very interested in sharing their views and discussing some of the intriguing topics raised by the professor and by other participants. The course was truly outstanding.


Jun 21, 2018

I have been enriched with : Deeper comprehension of epicure’s doctrineClearer justification of “the goal of life”A better global vision of ancient Greek PhilosophyA knew view of the universe, conscience and identity BESIDESI learned a very brilliant way of teaching, high standards of didactic and pedagogic design of a syllabus and well done and attractive lectures. I also enjoyed professor grace and elegance of charming Susan S Mayer.