In this seminar we will carefully work through Plato’s Phaedo, which discusses ethical, epistemological, and metaphysical ideas at the heart of Plato’s philosophy. Topics covered include: causation, the nature of the soul, the problems caused by bodily pleasure and pain, how inquiry is possible, the proper attitude and methodology for inquiry, why (and in what sense) the forms are distinct from sensible things, and why the best life is spent contemplating the forms. We will also discuss how the literary elements of the dialogue are related to its philosophical ideas. Each week we will work through the instructor’s draft manuscript on the dialogue alongside the primary text.
The seminar will be in English and will assume basic familiarity with Plato’s works. Knowledge of Greek is not required, but we will occasionally discuss the Greek, as needed.