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Learner Reviews & Feedback for Ancient Philosophy: Plato & His Predecessors by University of Pennsylvania

1,480 ratings

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


Apr 18, 2020

Excellent course. This course has opened up ancient philosophy to me and made it accessible. I feel I have finished the course a good understanding of such keys texts as Plato's Republic and Timaeus.


Mar 8, 2016

Good intro to early Greek philosophy. Dr Meyer has a simple and subtly humorous approach to the material. Dr Meyer makes the subject approachable so that the student wants to do further reading.

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26 - 50 of 442 Reviews for Ancient Philosophy: Plato & His Predecessors

By Jaclyn

Nov 29, 2018

Fantastic course. I know the English translation of the text is hard to follow sometime, but Professor Meyer breaks it down wonderfully. The best part about this philosophy course is that it's strictly about the Plato, Socrates, and the written material. The past philosophy lectures I've heard from professors but their personal opinion and interpretation of the text. I don't care about your personal philosophy I care about Plato and Socrates! Again take this course, Professor Meyer is fantastic!

By Helena S

Jul 30, 2020

My first class on coursera and it was a perfect choice! I really benefited from the structured learning that the course has to offer. The combination effect of reading, receiving lectures, quizzes, peer reviews and essay writing made the learning of more abstract ancient philosophy more substantial and sustainable in my mind. This is best discovery during the pandemic. And since professor Meyer is such a knowledgeable, cool and brilliant lecturer on these topics, I’m taking her next class!

By Renee K

Jun 1, 2020

I've enjoyed this course thoroughly and learned much more about the ancient philosophers that lived decades ago and my reasoning skills have improved and furthermore the lecture reading and lessons were informational and the knowledge I've acquired from this lecture is quite much.

I would highly recommend this course to any particular individual interested in ancient philosophy. I wouldn't say I wasted my time on this course instead I would actually want more lessons and lecture readings.

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 Susan F

Aug 17, 2017

I found this course excellent, the lectures were interesting and inspiring and very helpful to get into the philosophy. The reading was challenging and thought provoking. The quizzes were very good and necessary in helping to absorb the knowledge. Long ago when I was a college student I studied languages, literature and history. I have had some very good professors and professor Mayer lives up to the excellence one hopes for in a course. Thank you. Sincerely, Susan Farranto

By Robin I

Sep 23, 2020

Even though I found the original readings hard, the instructor explained clearly what Plato's messages were and she delivered her lectures in an extremely interesting and lively manner. Her love for the subject she teaches comes through in all her lectures. Enjoyed the course immensely and recommend it highly to anyone interested in learning Ancient Greek Philosophy. Am now going to take the second part of this course which is also given by this Professor.

By Matthew V

Jul 26, 2020

This class was great! I wasn't sure how the online format would work, but I see now that the whole thing is catered so the learner won't fail. It is truly a course for learners to take for the sake of learning and I've done just that! I know so much about the perspectives and ideas of ancient philosophers. Grappling with some of their work was so difficult at times, I think I even argue better than I did going in! I will certainly be taking part 2.

By Angelina W

Feb 21, 2016

The professor clearly knows her stuff! Even though the lectures were mostly straight up lecture, I really enjoyed the teacher's passion on the subject. The lectures are short but detailed. Compared to another ancient philosophy course offered on Coursera, I couldn't help but wonder if some topics could have been more elaborated. Either way, interesting stuff. Even if you've studied this field before, you'll probably learn something new anyway.

By ana l n

Feb 22, 2023

Una maravillosa experiencia el encontrar este curso y tomarlo. Me dejó una enseñanza magnífica que cambió en muchos aspectos mis perspectivas para mirar y pensar con otras valiosas armas, como el razonamiento lógico, los interesantes debates que disfruté el La República entre los filósofos de aquellos lejanos siglos pero tan vigentes al día de hoy. La maestra extraordinaria en su manera de impartir las lecciones.

Gracias, gracias, gracias.

By Alberto T M

Aug 6, 2020

Great curse. I love it! I study philosophy but I didn’t obtain my grade because I also study law. Studying is a pleasure For me, and I learn new things I didn’t consider at my 20’s. Philosophy teaches us to think, when someone is lost, the new ideologies, the relativity on ethics or moral, is great to find our way at the beginning; that’s what this curse was to me, no matter I have the highest degree in law. Great teacher. Congratulations!

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 Rokas Š

Oct 18, 2019

The in-depth expertise here is for you so well and easy to understand, for that reason I'm super grateful for Coursera and the teacher on mine. Me! Imagine that, - the guy from Eastern Europe (me) got the same chance as a person who lives just a few blocks away from the actual building, the chance to grow and learn, learn from the top university lecturers, to go listen to the course. Happy to have this. Thank you.

By Joost v H

Feb 27, 2017

Very interesting course. The short video's are very well put together, complement the texts and become slightly more difficult overtime which allows to 'grow' into the course. I studied Latin and Greek during high school with a large focus on the translations rather than the underlying philosophy. Still, that helps me quite a bit in understanding (recollecting ;-) ) the translations.

By Rose S

Mar 13, 2016

This course is truly splendid. I don't know how I've ever called myself educated before encountering the work of Plato. So much of what I think I know has been informed by these ancient Greek philosophers.

I love that the course is also really hard - it has not been dumbed down for us. I feel I really need to do it a few times to grasp all that is being offered. That is a good thing.

By Serena S

Sep 30, 2016

I loved this course and am taking the next one in the series. I learned so much, I took so much more away from the readings than working on it on my own. I want to profoundly thank the people who took the time to put this course together, in particular the professor. Her cogent lectures and intermittent quizzes kept me paying attention and on my toes. Thank you!

By Craig Z

Sep 6, 2016

I found this course absolutely captivating. I have always though Philosophy to be a subject that was impossible to study, as I had no idea where to start. Susan Sauvé Meyer does a great job of setting the scene for further study and is conveys her enthusiasm for the subject as well as she conveys the subject itself.

I'd recommend this to anyone and everyone.

By Rebecca R

Apr 18, 2016

The videos were great! The professor was engaging and the content was thought-provoking. The quiz questions throughout the videos were also good to make sure you were capturing the main points. I am currently working on the second part of this course. I would love to see some additional philosophy courses by this professor. Maybe even a specialization... :)

By Cătălina F

May 18, 2020

This course is clear and structured. The videos come to clarify doubts that might arise during the reading time and are well-paced and thoughtfully arranged following the reading subjects. This is a particularly high-quality course that fulfills the purpose of immersing the student in the sea of ancient philosophy without letting them feel lost.

By Vatsal G

May 7, 2020

Perfect thing for lockdown. I wanted to skim through republic for quite long but didn't have time due to daily work. Lockdown gave an opportunity and the proefssor was damn good in laying the foundations for further self study. For anybody interested in philosophy it is a must that they know how it all started. This course enables you in that.

By Jacob N L V

Jul 1, 2023

This is an amazing course. I already miss the teacher. It is clear, precise, well summarized, and it clearly shows that the teacher enjoys what she does, and what she is speaking about; I am glad to remember with this course about my days in Philosophy School. And it includes important questions of the ancient Philosophy. Thank you.

By Fred S

Aug 31, 2020

These topics are ones that I have been wishing to pursue for over 60 years. This course gave me a wonderful basis from which I have been able to do so. I shall proceed with Part 2. Although I would not wish to say anything good about this pandemic, it certainly has provided me with the time to pursue such topics.

By Matthew W

May 20, 2020

This course was exactly what I needed to get into Plato's works. I'd tried to read some Socratic dialogues independently and been disinterested, but the lectures provided just enough guidance to spark my interest. I highly recommend this course to anyone who's trying to get into philosophy but needs a little push.

By Eleni K

Feb 12, 2021

Большое вам спасибо! Все, пройденные мною курсы- прекрасны. Очень повезло и с Пенсильванским! По всем параметрам- этот от Сюзан Мэйер не просто удивительный, но своего рода чемпион, что передалось, как хорошая авра и на мою успеваемость! Нет, всё же жизнь она- прекрасна! Вечная ваша должница, Элени Томасовна К.

By John W

Aug 3, 2020

The videos are short and to the point. I recommend this class to anyone interested in the roots of what's called western civilization. Having a background in history helped me relate to the material--I knew the times that produced them--so maybe knowing Greek history basics beforehand makes the class enjoyable.

By Ayyan R

Jan 11, 2024

The lecturer made it easy for us (specifically, for myself) to understand. The materials provided for each week was sufficient to get a greater understanding of the topic. It was nice to get to know what Plato, Socrates, Thales, Anaximenes and others were thinking about the nature of life during that century.