PHL200Y1 Ancient Philosophy
(section 0101, MWF 11-12)

Prof. D. S. Hutchinson -- Trinity College

office hours: Mondays, Thursdays, Fridays 12-1
(main building, Angels’ Roost 21)
 contact me at 978-8259 or at <dshutchinson@trinity.utoronto.ca>
the web site for the course will be at: http://www.chass.utoronto.ca/~dhutchin/
all updates to course information will be communicated via this web site

updates and announcements                            book list

course requirements                      scheme of evaluation

scribes and minutes                               position papers

final examinations                  optional research project

 

course outline, with students’ minutes of lectures delivered to date

The various philosophies developed in the ancient Mediterranean world had a profound influence on philosophy, science, religion, and other intellectual endeavours in the centuries between then and now. Even today, ancient philosophy remains the period in the history of European philosophy which is richest in insight and inspiration for those of us who seek wisdom and self-understanding.

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updates and announcements

28 May 2002.  – I received recently (finally) a reply to the letter I sent our Defence Minister, Mr. Eggleton, at the end of January, urging him to consider Cicero’s advice and re-consider our Canadian military involvement in the illegal military campaign being conducted by American and Canadian soldiers.  I also received a reply from the Prime Minister’s Office.  I made a reply to these letters today; for the text of these letters, click here.

30 April 2002. – I have finished posting the remaining two minutes of lectures on our web site, which completes our collection of minutes for the year.

I have also posted supplementary information about the upcoming exam, in response to several recent e-mail inquiries.  To see this new information, go to the section below about the final examinations, and scroll to the end of the section.

 

25 April 2002.  – I received today a reply of sorts to the letter I sent our Defence Minister, Mr. Eggleton, at the end of January, urging him to consider Cicero’s advice and re-consider our Canadian military involvement in the illegal military campaign being conducted by American and Canadian soldiers.  This letter from our Ministry of Defence finally acknowledges my letter, but promises no reply, still less action; and it appears to have been given a misleading date.  This and other recent communications on this subject make interesting reading; for the text of these letters, click here.

 

18 April 2002. – Yesterday American troops killed Canadian troops in Afghanistan, adding death and injury to the insult suffered by the Canadian military in having been roped in to this illegal military campaign.  I call it illegal because the treatment of captured combatants is contrary to international law, as many responsible voices have been arguing.  I wrote a letter (quoting Cicero for support) in late January, urging the disengagement of Canadian troops from the campaign.  Today I sent a fresh letter to the Prime Minister, demanding an immediate recall.  For the text of these letters, click here.

 

13 March 2002.  --  A minor furore has erupted in the pages of the electronic classics journal Bryn Mawr Classical Review concerning the merits of the translation of Lucretius that we used in our course this term.  First there was a sloppy and hostile review of the book, at

http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2002/2002-02-08.html;

and then there was a pair of energetic ripostes, by Martin Ferguson Smith and D. S. Hutchinson, at

http://ccat.sas.upenn.edu/bmcr/2002/2002-03-09.html.

 

22 November 2001.  --  I have posted a final schedule of scribes for the rest of the year.  If you anticipate serious problems with your assignment, please get in touch early, so that we may be able to make alternative arrangements.

10 October 2001. – I have posted a schedule of scribes for the first round.  Those who have not been scheduled for a turn at being a scribe and are still active in the class should get in touch with me as soon as possible.

10 October 2001. – I have decided to modify the rules governing the minutes produced by scribes, effective today.  In future, scribes should aim at a target of 1,200 words of text to be read out loud.  It is helpful to transcribe important quoted passages, so these can be present in the web version of the minutes; but it is not helpful to read them out loud the next class.  So your target is 1,200 words, i.e. your words, with any quoted words being additional to these 1,200.  The permissible zone is between 1,000 words and 1,400 words; if the length of your minutes falls outside these boundaries I will have to subtract a penalty of 1 point (of 10) for every 100 words (or part thereof).

14 September 2001. -- In light of today’s national act of mourning for the victims of the attacks on 11 September in the United States of America, I postponed our discussion of Heraclitus, and instead read out parts of Seneca’s Letter 91, his reflections on the total destruction of Lyons in 65 (CE = common era). This has resulted in a re-ordering of topics A3-A12, which is reflected in the course outline published on this web site.

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book list


(all books are for sale at the U of T Bookstore, and also on reserve at Trinity College Library)

The First Philosophers, ed. and tr. Robin Waterfield (Oxford 2000)
Xenophon, Conversations of Socrates, tr. Tredennick/Waterfield (Penguin 1990)
Plato, Complete Works, ed. Cooper/Hutchinson (Hackett 1997)
Hellenistic Philosophy (2nd edition), ed./tr. Inwood/Gerson (Hackett 1997)
Lucretius, On the Nature of Things, tr. Smith (Hackett 2001)
Seneca, Letters from a Stoic, tr. Campbell (Penguin 1969)
Cicero, On the Good Life, tr. Grant (Penguin 1971)
Boethius, The Consolation of Philosophy, tr. Relihan (Hackett 2001)

(for Aristotle a reading package will be ready in December)

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course requirements

As a student you are expected to do the following: read the readings as laid out in the course outline; write a weekly philosophical position paper due each Monday morning; attend all the classes; take three turns being one of the class “scribes” and composing a set of class minutes; write the final examinations (in December 2 hours, 2 questions open book; in April/May 3 hours, 3 questions, open book). Students may also choose to do a research project under my supervision.

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scheme of evaluation

Each position paper, if successful, scores 1 -- 20 position papers = 20
each set of class minutes is graded out of 10 -- 3 sets of minutes = 30
each question on the final exams, out of 10 -- 5 exam questions = 50
total 100.

For students who choose to do a research project, the scheme of evaluation is revised:
20 position papers = 20; 3 sets of minutes = 30; 5 exam questions = 20; research project = 30.

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scribes and minutes

Three times in the course of the academic year you will be taking a turn at being a scribe for the class and recording the discussion that takes place in the class. As this is not a familiar exercise, I describe it below.

The first 2 times you serve as scribe, you will be working with a partner; the third time you will be on your own. For every lecture there will be a parallel set of minutes produced: one by “speaking scribes”, one of whom reads aloud at the next class the minutes of the previous class, the other by “silent scribes”, who do not read aloud their minutes.

Your job is to take notes during the class, not only my remarks, but also the questions and answers that arise in the course of the whole lecture. Very soon after the class you will get together with the other student who is serving as scribes on that day and together you will compare notes and correct and supplement each other’s records of the discussion. You put together, in electronic written form, a clear and accurate record of the discussion, using well-formed sentences and paragraphs, and supplying references where possible. A careful re-reading of the text for the day in advance of the lecture is a crucial preparation for a scribe,

If you are one of the speaking scribes one of you reads aloud your minutes at the start of the next lecture. This record is also to be submitted to me in electronic form, either before the class by e-mail or attachment, or at the class on a 3.5 inch diskette. If you are one of the “silent scribes” your minutes are due at 10:00 in the morning of the next class, in other words, they are due an hour before the class convenes. The minutes of the “silent scribes” are to be submitted only by e-mail or by attachment. I evaluate the minutes that your scribal group produces; both members of your group receive the same evaluation. I also will be posting both sets of minutes, from the speaking scribes and from the silent scribes, to the course web site.

Speaking scribes who fail to speak their minutes at the next lecture will get no credit for their work; the entire class expects your minutes at that time, and a late submission is not possible. I also expect prompt submission of their work by the silent scribes, who need to submit their work electronically (by e-mail or attachment) as soon as possible but in any case no later than 10 o’clock in the morning of the next lecture. Late submissions from silent scribes will be penalized at the rate of 1 point per hour; as the exercise is graded on a scale of 1-10, scribes who let just half a day slip by past their deadlines will end up getting no credit for their work.

10 October 2001. – I have decided to modify the rules governing the minutes produced by scribes, effective today.  In future, scribes should aim at a target of 1,200 words of text to be read out loud.  It is helpful to transcribe important quoted passages, so these can be present in the web version of the minutes; but it is not helpful to read them out loud the next class.  So your target is 1,200 words, i.e. your words, with any quoted words being additional to these 1,200.  The permissible zone is between 1,000 words and 1,400 words; if the length of your minutes falls outside these boundaries I will have to subtract a penalty of 1 point (of 10) for every 100 words (or part thereof).

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position papers

Every Monday morning you will be handing in a short written position paper in which you express your philosophical attitude to one of the three readings that we will be discussing in the course of the upcoming week. As this is a sort of assignment that will probably not be familiar to most of you, I describe some of the details here, with suggestions how to benefit the most from the activity.

Every weekend you should read the three texts which will be discussed in class in the week to come. Choose one of these texts to comment on, and write a short piece that expresses your philosophical response to an idea in the text. It is your choice which text to comment on, and you should choose to discuss the single idea which provokes the most interested and interesting response in you. The idea that you choose must be an idea which the author or speaker is promoting; in other words, it must be either an idea that the author is trying to urge on his readers for their acceptance, or else an idea that one of the characters in the author’s book is trying to urge on his listeners for their acceptance. You need to ask yourselves: do I in fact accept this idea, or not; and what are my reasons?

Sometimes in the class on Wednesday or Friday I will speak to the issues that you bring up in your position paper (if your paper discusses an idea in the reading for that day). I will respect your privacy and will not reveal who asked the questions or made the comments, but I will sometimes focus my comments on the issues that struck you in your position papers as being most worthy of comment. In other words, you can use the position papers to provoke me to make the comments that you would find most useful in coming to an understanding and appreciation of the text in question.

These position papers are to be short. Exactly how long or short is for you to determine, but the invariable rule is this: only one piece of standard size paper. You can use one or both sides of the piece of paper and you can write or type or use a word-processor, with large or small margins or large or small type sizes. Do your best to develop one interesting idea that arises from your attempt to come to an appreciation and understanding of the philosophical ideas in the text in question; just submit only one piece of paper.

Please observe the following standard format. Your first paragraph should be used to identify and express the idea in question. You will need to quote from the book in question at some point, or else use accurate paraphrase. Your account of what the idea is must be provided with a proper reference, so that the readers of your work can themselves turn to the very passage where you found the idea. Your second paragraph (and subsequent paragraphs if there are any) should be used to articulate your own reasoned and reflective position with respect to the idea in question.

Your position papers will be read by us and given brief comments, but will not be evaluated, except on a pass/fail basis. Although the assignment is not especially difficult, virtually all of you will at some point submit position papers that receive a failing evaluation. How can your philosophical position paper fail to be successful? In the following ways: a) it is not written in clear and correct English, or b) it does not give a correct reference to the source of the idea that you discuss, or c) the idea that you discuss is not an idea which is being promoted by the author or speaker, or d) it is not a response to the philosophical issues in the text, but to something else, for example its literary qualities, or its historical importance, or something else apart from the philosophical ideas in the text which the author or speaker is promoting, or e) it is not a philosophical response on your part to an idea in the text, but an emotional response, or an habitual response, or a mere expression of confusion. It is not easy to define in words what a philosophical response is, which is why I prefer to teach it to you by means of this weekly practical exercise; but every philosophical response will involve logical argumentation on your part, and the arguments will concern ideas that make a difference to your basic framework of ideas as a thinking and reflecting human being.

Monday morning position papers are due each and every Monday morning of the academic year, with three exceptions (10 September, 8 October, 25 March): your paper due on 1 October should address an idea in one of the 5 lecture readings during the next 2 weeks (excluding Thanksgiving); your paper due on 18 March should address an idea in one of the 4 or 5 lecture readings during the next 2 weeks (excluding Good Friday). Every successful position paper earns 1 point, up to a maximum of 20; so that students can achieve an excellent score on this component of their grade even if some of their position papers fail to be successful.

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final examinations

the final examination will be held on Friday morning 3 May, from 9-12, in Wetmore Dining Hall, New College

The final examinations will take place in both final exam periods and will be open-book exams. “Open book” in this case means that you can bring any documents or aids that you choose, including the minutes of the lectures composed by the class scribes. I will require you to make reference to the books that we will have studied, so you will need to bring into the exam your copy of the course books. The December exam will be two hours, with two questions to write, questions that address issues that arise in the readings of the first term of the course. In the April/May exam, which will be 3 hours, there will be a common general question for everyone to answer, and another section, with two questions to write, questions that address issues that arise in the readings of the second term of the course. The exam will ask serious questions that require essay-type answers, on topics that your work over the whole year will equip you to answer.

The best preparation for the final examination is regular reading before each class and regular participation in the discussion of the class. Before the exams you will also need a period to review the course books and your notes. The exam will test your familiarity with the books and your mastery of the concepts that arise in them, not your memory of any particular facts or data. It will also test your facility to express yourself in clear, concise, and correct English, even under time constraints and exam conditions.

Below I have posted the final exam for our course (minus the specific questions) so that students will be able to predict what sort of exam it will be.  I handed this out in March on several occasions, but several inquiries from students recently suggest to me that it would be useful to post this here as well.

This is what the April/May exam will look like:

*************************************

University of Toronto

Faculty of Arts and Science

Final Examinations  --  April/May 2002

PHL200Y  --  section L0101    Prof. Hutchinson

Aids: all books and papers are permitted.

All students are to attempt  answers to part A (one question) and to two questions from Part B. 

All questions are of equal value, and each of your three answers should occupy you for about the same time, i.e. no more than an hour.

__________________________________________

Part A.  “ * * * .”  Comment, drawing parallels and making correct references to a wide variety of relevant passages in the books we have read in both terms of our course PHL200Y.  In this answer, stress width and coverage, rather than depth and focus.

______________________________________

Part B.  Choose two of the following questions to attempt.  In these two answers, stress depth and focus, rather than width and coverage.

1.   Provide a correct explanation of * * * .  Make correct references to the relevant passages in ancient sources.

2.   * * * ?  Make correct references to relevant passages, restricting yourself for the most part to the books we have been reading in the second term of our course PHL200Y.

3.   * * * ?  Make correct references to relevant passages, restricting yourself for the most part to the books we have been reading in the second term of our course PHL200Y.

4.   “ * * * .” -- attributed to D. H. Lawrence.  Comment,  making correct references to relevant passages, restricting yourself for the most part to the books we have been reading in the second term of our course PHL200Y.

5.   “ * * * .”  Comment, making clear both Seneca’s view on these ideas and also what some other philosopher (your choice) would say about these ideas. Make correct references to relevant passages, restricting yourself for the most part to the books we have been reading in the second term of our course PHL200Y.

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--  I have received a request for clarification about the final exam, and my answer to this student may be important for other students to read:

>Hello Professor Hutchinson, I was wondering as to the reference requirements for the exam.  That is, can references to the ancient texts be made in passing or are specific citations as in the first term exam required?  In the first term exam it is stated that correct and SPECIFIC references should be provided, while the sample outline for this exam simply states making correct references (to relevant passages, specific philosophers, or book and page # as in the 1st exam?).  I lost marks the first time around for my inadequate referencing and do not want to repeat the same.

--  Thank you, <a student>.

Greetings; I was hoping that by now you would have learned that 'correct' MEANS specific; i.e. the sort of reference that a reader could follow, and easily find that very passage.  Generally for ancient texts this means not using page numbers, but rather the indigenous reference system, e.g. Boethius, Cons. II.p.4 if you have the Penguin, or II.p.4.11-15 if you have the Hackett (which marks the subsections, whereas the Penguin does not), NOT p.31, though that is the correct page reference in the Hackett version.

In short, one of the things I am testing for in this exam, is the students' command of the principles of correct reference to texts.

-- DSH

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optional research project

You have the option to do a research project during 6 weeks of the academic year. This is to be a substantial project on a topic of your choice, a topic developed in consultation with me. Your written work is to be submitted to me in stages and versions, so you can get the benefit of my knowledge and advice.

You can start working on your research project once you have taken your second turn as a class scribe. The choice of topic is for you to develop, in consultation with me. This leaves considerable latitude for you to develop the approach that interests you most, and to track down the scholarly materials that will enable you to tackle the issues at a serious level. The only invariable constraint is that your project must address issues that arise in one or more readings in the course.

This research project is meant to be a substantial one, but “substance” is to be measured in terms of the topic and its appropriate treatment, not in terms of words and pages. The written report on your project should be as long as your subject needs, to be dealt with in a serious and substantial way. Your project will have the full apparatus of scholarship, in other words footnotes or endnotes and bibliography, with appropriate reference to recent scholarship.

Your work schedule, including the deadline for final submission, is something that you and I will decide together. You need to take the initiative, after you have done your second turn as a scribe, and decide whether you propose to undertake one; if so get in touch with me as soon as you can. We can discuss the various ideas that you are beginning to have, and I can help focus your thinking and narrow the topic.

The next step is to put in writing a preliminary description of your research area and your reseaarch question, and hand it in to me. The second step, in the light of my comments, is to revise that description, add a preliminary bibliography, and put in writing the work schedule that we have agreed on. The third step is to do the research and write the project up, to the best of your ability. This is not a ‘draft’; I am happy to see drafts at any time, but what you hand in at this third stage is written work finished to the best of your ability The fourth stage is to revise your written work, in the light of my comments on the previous version, doing new research if necessary. This is the product that I will be evaluating.

The general scheme of evaluation for all students is: 20% 20 position papers; 30% 3 turns as scribe; 50% 5 exam questions. For students who choose to do a research project, an alternative scheme of evaluation will be used if it makes a positive difference to the student’s grade: 20% 20 position papers; 30% 3 turns as scribe; 30% research project; 20% 5 exam questions.

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