[MUSIC] Hello, welcome to Plato and his predecessors, which is the first part of a two part course in the history of ancient philosophy. My name is Susan Sauvey Meyer. I'm a professor of philosophy at the University of Pennsylvania, where I teach this course the old-fashioned way, in a classroom. Let me tell you a little bit about what our course will be like. We're going to trace the origins of philosophy in the Western European tradition. Starting with a group of thinkers in ancient Greece, more than 2,500 years ago. Now many people today would classify these thinkers as scientists rather than philosophers. So I'd better start by saying something about what counts as philosophy for the purposes of this course. Now, philosophy is a term that gets used in lots of different ways. Sometimes, when people talk about their philosophy they have in mind their general outlook on life, a creed they live by, or a set of precepts that they appeal to for consolation or direction in times of need. In this sense of the term, philosophy has a lot in common with religion, which is why you often find the philosophy section of the bookstore right next to, or maybe even combined with the books on religion. There's also nothing distinctively western about it, but there is a different, more restricted way of using the term philosophy that does have its roots in the thinkers of ancient Greece, and that is in fact the source of our English term philosophy. That term comes from the ancient Greek term philosophia, which means literally love, philo, of wisdom, sophia. During the period we will be studying, it came to be employed to demarcate a distinctively rational kind of inquiry. On this way of conceiving a philosophy, it is not so much a body of doctrines. But a method of inquiry, investigation, and justification, argument, and reasoning are central to its methodology. We're going to be talking a lot about arguments in this course. Now a term that is going to come up frequently in our discussions, and is characteristic of philosophy is the Greek word logos, which can mean word, or speech, or argument, or account, or more generally, reason. It is the root for the names of many scientific disciplines today. Psychology, biology, cosmology, geology, anthropology, and so on. In fact, all of these disciplines were originally part of philosophy. In fact, what we call physics, chemistry, and biology today were classified as natural philosophy until about a century ago. Think of the name for the highest degree you can get in any academic discipline. The Ph.D, which is short for Doctor of Philosophy. Anyway, the moral of the story is that the origins of philosophy in the western tradition are also the origins of science, and of just about every other form of rational inquiry. Some of these disciplines have gone off on their own in subsequent centuries and are no longer under the umbrella term philosophy. But other questions still remain within the domain of philosophy. For example, questions about ethics, knowledge, and the nature of reality. Now some people today think that these sorts of questions, especially questions about ethics, are not really amenable to rational inquiry. But that's in fact to affirm a philosophical thesis. We'll be sampling plenty of disciplined attempts to make rational headway on these topics by philosophers in the Greek tradition. The two central figures in our study will be Plato in part one of the course, and Aristotle in part two. You might call them the two giants of Greek philosophy in the classical period, which is why they occupy the central position in the famous painting by Raphael, School of Athens, a fresco created over 500 years ago to celebrate the intellectual legacy of the ancients. That's Plato on the left pointing to the sky with Aristotle on the right. But note how many other figures there are in the painting. These depict many of Plato's predecessors, Anaximander, Anaxagoras, Heraclitus, and Parmenides as well as Plato's teacher, Socrates. Among the other figures in the painting, we can find some of Aristotle's successors, such as the cynic philosopher Diogenes, Zeno, the founder of Stoicism, Epicurus, who founded the Epicurean school of philosophy. And even Plotinus, who was part of a revival of Platonism about 600 years after the birth of Plato. In part one of the course, we will study Plato and his pre-Socratic predecessors. And in part two, we will study Aristotle, the Epicureans, and the Stoics. You might ask, why study these long dead philosophers today? It's not because we believe or would agree with everything they say. Far from it. We will find many points of disagreement with the ancients, and much that seems alien and strange. This is often because they are asking questions that we no longer ask, or they're offering answers that we no longer find acceptable. But coming to terms with the reasoning behind a position you disagree with, is one of the benefits of studying philosophy. It puts you in a position to articulate why you disagree. And we will also find much in the ancients that will sound surprisingly familiar. For in many cases, the questions they asked, and the answers they gave, have shaped intellectual traditions that are still very much alive today. So much for the course content. Now, a little about the online format. For each unit of the course, there will be a series of short recorded lectures by me, most of them under ten minutes long, which you can view at your own pace. There will also be assigned readings, which I highly recommend that you do. As you'll get a lot more out of the course and out of the lectures, if you read the works of the philosophers that I'm talking about. It also helps a lot when studying philosophy to be able to talk about the ideas and texts. So there will be discussion boards in which you can participate over the course of each unit. For those who wish to get a certificate of completion for the course, there will be multiple choice quizzes at the end of each unit as well as a brief writing assignment. This will be peer reviewed. If you stick around to the end of part two, there will also be a final project, also peer reviewed. All the lectures will have brief in-video quizzes, which you can skip if you want. You can find details of the course requirements, as well as the recommended readings and other details about the course units, on the course website. After you've reviewed that material, we'll be ready to begin.