Fordham University            The Jesuit University of New York

Ancient Psychology



PHIL 7018 Ancient Psychology

Spring Semester 2014

Tuesday 4-6


Prof. Dana Miller

135 Collins Hall

Ext. x-3292


Office hours: T 10:30-12:00, 2:30-3:30; F 11:00-12:30 and by appt. & chance (yes, chance exists).



            This course will examine ancient analyses of human psychology. There is a very large body of recent secondary literature on ancient psychology. Some relevant articles will be recommended for each class to further discussion. Students are invited to delve deeply into this literature to follow up their own special interests in the subject, e.g. rationality, weakness of will, partition of the soul, what we share with animals, desire for power, and so on.


TEXTS: there will be selected readings from Plato and Aristotle, also some readings in Epicureanism and Stoicism. Recommended: the Hackett Plato and the Oxford Aristotle and/or the Clarendon Aristotle Series from Oxford. For Lucretius there is the Rouse/Smith translation with Latin text in the Loeb series (Harvard 1982) and a new Penguin Classics translation (The Nature of Things) by Stallings (2007). I have not examined it closely, but contemporary standards would not permit it to be too bad. For the Stoics we will read selections from Long & Sedley (The Hellenistic Philosophers [Cambridge 1988]) and probably some sections of works by Cicero (e.g. De Finibus), depending on course time remaining. NOTE: The texts will be read as a study of psychology, not as a study of ethics (except coincidentally).


Various texts on E-Res (password: millerdr)


Some other material will be made available on handouts.


Recommended secondary literature: to follow



One class presentation. 20 pp. paper at the end of the term.



January 14: Introduction. Aristotle, De Anima bk. 1.

January 21: Plato. Nature of the soul. The immortality claim: Phaedo, Republic 10, Phaedrus 245c-246a, 279d ff, Laws 10. Sturcture: Timaeus,

January 28: Partition of the soul. Republic 4, 9, Phaedrus 246a-257d

February 4: The psychologically unhealthy soul: Republic 1 (Thrasymachus), 8-9; Gorgias (Polus, Callicles).

February 11: The psychologically healthy soul: Gorgias 504a ff, Republic 2, 4, 9; education: Republic 2-3, 7 and a bit in 10.

February 25: “Weakness of will”: Meno, Protagoras, Republic, Hippias Minor 371e-376b. Pleasure, Philebus.

March 4: Pleasure continued; rhetoric; political power: Philebus, Gorgias, Phaedrus.

March 11: Aristotle: Nature of the soul.

March 25: De motu, Parva Naturalia (=On the Senses, On Memory and Recollection, On Dreams, On Divination in in Sleep).

April 1: The day of the fool. Nature of the soul continued: Nicomachean Ethics (NE) 1, etc. The emotions: Rhetoric bk. 2.

April 8: The well functioning soul: NE 2-4, 6; Eudemian Ethics 2.

April 22: The not so well functioning soul: NE 2-4, 7; pleasure: NE 7, 10.

April 29: The Epicureans: Lucretius, De rerum natura: various passages.

May 6: The Stoics: selections from various sources.

May 13: Do Stoics have a psychology? Papers.



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