PHI 328: History of Ancient Philosophy

The Book and the Lecture Notes

Thomas A. Blackson
Philosophy Faculty
School of Historical, Philosophical, and Religious Studies
Arizona State University
Tempe, AZ. 85287-4302,

Book Cover
When I first started teaching this class, I got the strong impression that the students wanted to do something they were not equipped to do. They did not want to spend their time taking notes. They wanted to listen and think about the material, and they wanted to ask questions and take part in a discussion. The problem was that prior to the lecture, they did not have enough of an understanding of the material for this to be possible.

The standard scholarly works do not solve the problem. These works are very narrowly focused on a period within the history or on a specific text or texts. Beginning students find such detailed analysis and argument difficult to comprehend because so much of it presupposes a general understanding of the lines of thought that run through and define the Ancient philosophical tradition that these students themselves lacked.

The standard anthologies are the traditional alternative, but they do not provide enough explanation for beginning students. They provide brief introductory remarks, and these remarks are almost always too brief to provide the context beginning students need to understand what the Ancient philosophers are thinking.

To provide enough explanation of the right kind, I wrote Ancient Greek Philosophy.

I still think the book is a step in the right direction, but I knew when I published it that I could improve on its explanations if I were given more time. So almost immediately after the book went into print, I began to construct a set of online lecture notes (linked from the syllabus for the course) to supplement and sometimes correct the book. I intend these lectures notes to supersede the book. The book is frozen in time. The lecture notes are not. The cloud interface makes it possible for me to continue to revise the lectures notes to improve them, and it allows me to integrate links to the Greek and Latin texts and their translations that are freely available online.

The cloud interface also allows me to help make the history of Ancient philosophy more accessible. I learned how to buy a domain name and put these lecture notes on a server I rent from DigitalOcean.

Errata in the Book

Here are the typos I know in the book. Please report others, and I will add them to the list.

5: "In spite the" should be "In spite of the"

17, note h: "Anaxamander, for example" should be "Anaximander, for example"

22: "verymany" should be "very many"

23: "must either be competely or not all" should be "must either be completely or not at all"

23: "how could what is be in the future?" should be "how could what is not be in the future?"

25: "indivisible and indestuctible" should be "indivisible and indestructible"

27: "DK 78 B 11" should be "DK 68 B 11"

27: "in Pamenides" should be "in Parmenides"

40, note a: "the Athenians in the battle" should be "the Athenians in battle"

50: "what it not is impious" should be "what is not is impious"

55, note u: "has in him in" should be "has in mind in"

60: "fail do it" should be "fail to do it"

64: "as at least as" should be "at least as"

71, note a: "amazed if knew how much" should be "amazed if he knew how much"

74, note e: "rather than true statesman" should be "rather than true statesmen"

74, note e: "so-called 'statesman'" should be "so-called 'statesmen'"

111: "goes on to to tell" should be "goes on to tell"

207: "in its natural and incarnate state" should be "in its natural and disincarnate state"

229, note a: "In 322, Alexander" should be "In 332, Alexander"

go back go back