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


academic webpage:
history webpage:
old academic webpage:

Book Cover
When I first started teaching this class, I got the strong impression that the students did not want to spend their time in class taking notes. They wanted to ask questions and take part in a discussion of the reading. The problem was that prior to the lecture, they did not have enough of an understanding of what is going on in the reading for this to be possible.

The 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 Ancient philosophy that these students themselves lacked.

The anthologies are the traditional alternative, but the explanations in these anthologies are too brief to help students understand what the Ancient philosophers were 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 I released the book to the publisher, I began to construct a set of online lecture notes (linked from the syllabus for the course) to supplement and sometimes correct the book.

These lectures notes are part of the new publishing model. 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 texts and their translations that are freely available online. It also helps me make Ancient philosophy more accessible. I host the 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"

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