Haverford College
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Semester/Topic Description::

Description:

We’ll be examining Plato’s attempt to distinguish his Socrates from some of the main representatives of the “Sophistic movement” of the 5th century BCE. Please note: this course demands a working knowledge of Ancient Greek. The course is open to Haverford and Bryn Mawr undergraduates (who may sign up through the Classics or Philosophy Departments) as well as to Bryn Mawr graduate students in Classics.


The main texts will be Plato’s Protagoras and Republic I, which students will read in Ancient Greek. Several other Platonic dialogues will be used as secondary texts; the students will study them in English. (Probable candidates are Theaetetus and Euthydemus, and perhaps Hippias Major and Hippias Minor.) In addition, the students will be expected to read a range of secondary material.


Bryn Mawr graduate students taking the course will also read Plato’s Gorgias (and perhaps Euthydemus) in Ancient Greek.




Additional information/Expanded description:

Philosophy/Greek 311: Socrates and the Sophists


Instructor: Ravi Sharma




Description:

We’ll be examining Plato’s attempt to distinguish his Socrates from some of the main representatives of the “Sophistic movement” of the 5th century BCE. Please note: this course demands a working knowledge of Ancient Greek. The course is open to Haverford and Bryn Mawr undergraduates (who may sign up through the Classics or Philosophy Departments) as well as to Bryn Mawr graduate students in Classics.


The main texts will be Plato’s Protagoras and Republic I, which students will read in Ancient Greek. Several other Platonic dialogues will be used as secondary texts; the students will study them in English. (Probable candidates are Theaetetus and Euthydemus, and perhaps Hippias Major and Hippias Minor.) In addition, the students will be expected to read a range of secondary material.


Bryn Mawr graduate students taking the course will also read Plato’s Gorgias (and perhaps Euthydemus) in Ancient Greek.











Required Texts:


•J. Adam & A.M. Adam, Platonis Protagoras


•Gilbert P. Rose, Plato’s Republic (Book I)


•E. R. Dodds, Plato: Gorgias [for graduate students only]


•Plato, Complete Works (ed. Cooper)


•George B. Kerferd, The Sophistic Movement





Weekly Assignments:


Our weekly meetings will be divided between reading relevant texts in Ancient Greek (approximately 7-8 pages a week for undergraduates, 15-17 for graduate students) and discussing philosophical, literary and cultural issues.


Some likely topics for discussion include: the conception of virtue in Protagoras’ “Great Speech”; the relation between Protagorean subjectivism (as presented in Plato’s Theaetetus) and Protagoras’ understanding of the role of the teacher; the unity of virtue; theories of the interpretation of poetry, as illustrated by the discussion of Simonides in the Protagoras; Socratic conversational methods and the question of Socrates’ honesty in argument; the treatment of hedonism in the Protagoras; the dramatic significance of the setting of Republic I; and evidence for the views of the historical Thrasymachus.





Course Requirements:


Several translation exams; several short papers, to be given as presentations in the seminar (for topics, see above), longer term paper





Prerequisite: Reading knowledge of Ancient Greek