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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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51 - 75 of 442 Reviews for Ancient Philosophy: Plato & His Predecessors

By Luiz D

Apr 15, 2019

Um curso introdutório ao tema e as problemáticas da filosofia antiga. Recomendo para aqueles que nunca tiveram contato com o assunto e também para aqueles que querem revisar o tema. A metodologia do curso é super didática, o uso das citações e indicações de bibliografia são o forte do curso. Enfim, recomendo!

By Kate N

Mar 17, 2021

I loved this course so much I have enrolled in part 2. I am enchanted by Professor Meyer's calm thoughtful teaching. She never assumes we will understand immediately, and patiently takes us step by step. In these troubled times, I found this course food for the soul. It's gentle in pace and rich in content.

By Ana P K C F

Jan 24, 2020

This was one of my favorite Coursera courses so far. I'm so grateful to professor Susan Meyer and the University of Pennsylvania for having made this knowledge available for free to us all. If you want to learn about the history of philosophy from a very competent professor, I recommend this course to you!

By Noel G

Jul 16, 2019

I found this course incredibly helpful! My only regret is that I couldn't actually talk to Professor Meyer in person, to ask her more specific question on some of the finer points of the material. I highly recommend to anyone who wants to begin a journey into philosophy, starting from the beginning.

By MG69

Mar 11, 2016

Brilliant! I loved it. Every statement is very clear.

Just a remark: the contrast between the level of the sound of the music at the beginning and that of the voice of the lecturer is too big, actually the voice level is not sufficient, I think.

I'm looking forward to attempting part 2 of the course.

By Alexandre N

Nov 20, 2020

Exceptional content, with a particular focus on the philosopher that are even quoted in the common education (French one, at least). Nevertheless, i takes far more than 15h if you choose to read and digest the whole suggested bibliography. Anyway, this course is a must and i am weighting my words.

By Pritha R

Jul 9, 2017

A very comprehensive and interactive course which is not only informative but also ensures that you question what you learn and encourages one to muse over the course content. I am thoroughly enjoying the course. The course instructor makes the material concise,easy to understand and interesting.

By crys l

Jul 29, 2017

I enjoyed everything about this class. It was well organized, the instructor was easy to understand and explained things clearly, and the discussion questions helped nudge students to talk about some of the main ideas in each section. I would definitely take more classes with this instructor.

By Sage F

Aug 18, 2018

Awesome course! One little notice though. I don't think the indicated time of the reading assignments are accurate. I am not good as skimming but I am confident that I read faster than average people. They definitely take longer than 10 min, so do consider that when making your schedule.

By James R

Jun 13, 2019

I really liked how this course provided me with plenty of reading and then lectures that supported that reading. It helped to make quite abstract ideas as easy to grasp as possible. It really did what I wanted, which was to provide me with a basic understanding of ancient philosophy.

By Miranda ( Y

Apr 25, 2020

Personally I really enjoyed this course, all the information was articulated very clearly and effectively, while many quotes and examples were used to enhance the analysis. Some parts did prove a little difficult to wrap my head around, but overall very enjoyable, well-paced course!

By Siddhant J

Mar 22, 2022

The School of Athens painting, accompanied by the background music, sets the mood and takes you back in time. Prof. Susan Meyer does a great job of keeping the topic engaging and thought-provoking. Highly recommend the course to anyone dipping their toes into Ancient Philosophy.

By Steven B

May 23, 2020

Dr. Meyer is excellent. If you take this course, you will begin at the beginning of philosophy/science. This course is a must for those studying the history of philosophy/science. I'm especially grateful to Dr. Meyer for helping me to approach the Timaeus for the first time.

By Nelly S

May 26, 2016

this course it's exactly what I needed. The teacher has a Great Talent to simplify otherwise difficult topics and you can see she knows what she's talking about and gives you perfectly coherent arguments to justify her interpretation of the Ancient Greeks' philosophy.

By Ed C

Nov 21, 2017

This course has broadened my knowledge in Philosophy and I have enjoyed studying it. It was interesting, intriguing and kept me motivated throughout. For my Cambridge application, this course has broadened my philosophical knowledge which shows my super curricular p

By D S

Sep 28, 2016

Curse was clear, and well presented via Coursera. Certain lecturers do great over the net, some not so ... this proessor was very well prepared for the course content, givne in shorter lectures with intermittant questions to keep you enageged. SImple, effective.

By Paul L

Feb 16, 2018

Thoroughly enjoyed all aspects of this course and also Plato and his Predecessors! They have inspired me to try & attain funding to study Philosophy at a higher academic level! Many thanks to the Professor whose teaching was both concise and enjoyable. Cheers, Paul

By Faiz A

Apr 28, 2017

This course was not only incredibly educational, but immensely fascinating at the same time. If you wish to know the origins of western philosophy, and also understand the idealogy behind a lot of the assumptions we take for granted today, this course is for you.

By Fran R

Aug 28, 2016

Although I'm very nervous about writing, I do intend to finish the course fully during a later session. I love this course! I like the emphasis on the readings compared to other courses offered on Coursera, and the lectures build off of the readings marvelously.

By Tamara G

Jul 27, 2021

I really loved this class. I was challenged to read material I would have otherwise overlooked. I honestly think it has sharpened my mental focus. The material was very interesting and the instructor was very logical (of course!) and explained things well.

By Val S

Feb 10, 2020

The course is wonderful. It brought me previously imperceptible visions. I recognized understandings that were previously intuitive and compilation, but now there is logic, learning and knowledg.

Philosophy is the path of my soul and the reason of my existence

By Richard H F

Mar 29, 2021

Enjoyed the course! As an introduction to philosophy it was interesting and informative. Perhaps at the beginning a vocabulary list of philosophical terms and their definitions might be of benefit to the new learner. Overall I would recommend this course!

By Antonia T B

Apr 15, 2019

This course is fascinating. The professor's lectures are very clear and the course is very well structured. It could be longer and it could go deeper, but still is a great course. Compulsory for all philosophy lovers. Thanks & greetings from Spain / Antonia

By Priscilla C

May 5, 2018

Professor Meyer explained the ideas of the ancient philosophers very clearly. I particularly enjoyed how she made their thoughts seem very relevant to today's preoccupations. I intend to read more about these philosophers... she made them come to life

By Edi d

Aug 28, 2016

I found this course to be both informative and interesting. It is extremely relevant to the issues that we are dealing with today. The issues today are complex and the lack of critical thinking that is evident make this a class that everyone should take.