Ancient Philosophy: Free Online Course from the University of Pennsylvania

This two part course from the Uni­ver­si­ty of Penn­syl­va­nia (Part 1 herePart 2 here) “traces the ori­gins of phi­los­o­phy in the West­ern tra­di­tion in the thinkers of Ancient Greece,” begin­ning with “the Pre­so­crat­ic nat­ur­al philoso­phers who were active in Ionia in the 6th cen­tu­ry BCE and are also cred­it­ed with being the first sci­en­tists.” The course descrip­tion con­tin­ues:

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.

Part I cov­ers Pla­to and his pre­de­ces­sors. Part II cov­ers Aris­to­tle and his suc­ces­sors. Both cours­es are taught by pro­fes­sor Susan Sauvé Mey­er.

You can take these cours­es for free by select­ing the audit option upon enrolling. If you want to take the cours­es for a cer­tifi­cate, you will need to pay a fee.

Both cours­es will be added to our list of Free Phi­los­o­phy Cours­es, a sub­set of our larg­er col­lec­tion, 1,700 Free Online Cours­es from Top Uni­ver­si­ties.

If you would like to sign up for Open Culture’s free email newslet­ter, please find it here. Or fol­low our posts on Threads, Face­book, BlueSky or Mastodon. If you would like to sup­port the mis­sion of Open Cul­ture, con­sid­er mak­ing a dona­tion to our site. It’s hard to rely 100% on ads, and your con­tri­bu­tions will help us con­tin­ue pro­vid­ing the best free cul­tur­al and edu­ca­tion­al mate­ri­als to learn­ers every­where. You can con­tribute through Pay­Pal, Patre­on, and Ven­mo (@openculture). Thanks!

Relat­ed Con­tent:

A His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy in 81 Video Lec­tures: A Free Course That Explores Phi­los­o­phy from Ancient Greece to Mod­ern

Free Clas­sics Cours­es

The His­to­ry of Phi­los­o­phy With­out Any Gaps Pod­cast, Now at 370 Episodes, Expands into East­ern Phi­los­o­phy


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