Plato, Socrates, and the Birth of Western Philosophy (edX)

Plato, Socrates, and the Birth of Western Philosophy (edX)
Course Auditing

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Plato, Socrates, and the Birth of Western Philosophy (edX)
Explore the works of Plato, Aristotle, Heraclitus and other originators of Western philosophy in an immersive study of ancient Greek and Roman philosophers. This philosophy course explores the origins of Western philosophy – a rich tapestry of ideas that began with the most noted ancient Greek and Roman philosophers.

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By examining the work of these historic figures, students will attain a strong grasp of Western philosophy’s basic spirit. In doing so, they’ll cultivate deeper thinking abilities, explore noble values, and learn to contemplate the world around them in new ways.

What you'll learn:

- A basic understanding of ancient Greek and Roman philosophers’ rich thoughts and ideas

- Concepts, ethical foundations and allegories that were developed in support of these ideas

- Cultural and geographic influences that shaped ancient philosophies


Week 1: Introduction (Part I): Philosophy, Religion and Culture

1. Philosophy



The history of philosophy

2. Religion



The relationship with philosophy

3. Culture


Axial Period

The spirit of philosophy

Week 2: Introduction (Part II): A Sketch of Ancient Greek Philosophy

1. The setting of the birth of Greek Philosophy

Geography and history

Races and language

Religions and society

2. Periods and schools

The early period

The classical period

The late period

3. The termination of Ancient Greek Philosophy



Realistic significance

Week 3: Seeking “shi”(是)- The Sprout of Rationality

1. A transition to rational thinking

A primitive thinking

A child-state thinking

A poetic metaphysics

2. Heraclitus’ thinking

A dipolar thinking

The features of Heraclitus’ thinking

An analysis to the fragments of Heraclitus’ texts

3. Parmenides’ thinking

A long poem written by Parmenides(on being or “be”)

Rational argument

Evaluation criteria for the birth of philosophy

Week 4: Seeking “ben”(本)- Ontology & Metaphysics, Synopsis of Lecture IV

1. Seeking the origin: the early philosophers

A lexical meaning

An essential question

What is the essence

2. Seeking the essence: Plato’s theory of Form

The allegory of sun

The divided line

The allegory of the cave

3. Seeking to on: Aristotle’s ontology and metaphysics

A lexical meaning


The First Philosophy

Week 5: Seeking “zhi”(知)- The Ancient Epistemology

1. The lexical meaning

The connotation of Chinese character

A corresponding Greek word

Equivalent to wisdom

2. Epistemology




3. The features

The objectification of knowledge



Week 6: Seeking “zhen”(真)- Methodology & Logic

1. A lexical meaning

True and truth

Two types of reality

Truth and Logos

2. Plato’s Dialectics(authentic true)

The implication of epistemology

The implication of methodology

The implication of ontology

3. Aristotle’s Logics(judging true)


The name of logics

The Chinese translation

Week 7: Seeking “shi”(实)- Natural Sciences

1. A lexical meaning


Nature and knowledge

Natural sciences

2. The occurrence and development of the ancient Greek Science

The reason for occurrence


Practice and theory

3.The technicalization and application of ancient Greek Science

The Hellenization Period

The Roman Empire Period

Some reflections

Week 8: Seeking “mei”(美)- Odes to the Love

1. A Lexical meaning




2. Plato’s theory of Love

The essence and principle of love

A psychological view on love

Platonic Love

3. The high praise to the love god: A reading on Symposium

A brief introduction

Six viewpoints

Conclusion, philosophy of love

Week 9: Seeking “shan”(善)- An Ethical Thought

1. A lexical analysis


The ultimate goodness


2. The development of the Classic Greek Ethics

The early period

The middle period

The late period

3. From the ultimate goodness to the common goodness

To reach the ultimate goodness

To converge to the common goodness

Some reflection on the goodness

Week 10: Seeking “ren”(仁)- A Humanism

1. A lexical meaning

A man with benevolence is a true man


Humanistic spirit

2. Ancient humanistic trend of thoughts

Traditional viewpoints

Social setting

The sophistic movement

3. A theoretical summary

Week 11: Seeking “yi”(义)- On Justice

1. A lexical analysis

Justice and righteousness

Chinese words

Justice in Greek

2. The story of Gyges

A synopsis of the story

An explanation

A conclusion

3. The Ancient theory of justice

Plato’s essential justice

Cicero’s natural justice

Augustine’s justice in theodicy

Week 12: Seeking “li”(礼)- States and Legislation

1. An explanation to the related words.




2. A Platonic Republic

The influence from Socrates

Rule the state by virtues

Rule the state by law

3. Cicero’s people’s Republic

Being relevant to Plato’s thoughts

Definition of state

Natural law

Week 13: Seeking “fu”(福)——A Spirit of Religions

1. A lexical analysis



The true fortunate

2. The religious trends in the late period of ancient Greek philosophy

The fading of the traditional religions

The birth and development of Christianity

The rationalization of Christianity

3. The collision between faith and reason (Tertullian)

Week 14: Seeking “sheng”(圣) - Communion with gods

1. An explanation to the related words.




2. Communion with gods.

Communion with gods by rituals

Communion with gods by ration

Communion with gods by ecstasy

3. Plotinus’ mystical system of thoughts

Week 15: A General Summary - A Basic Spirit of the Ancient Greek Philosophy, Synopsis of Lecture XV.

1. The local characteristics of the ancient Greek Philosophy.

2. The progressive universalization of the ancient Greek Philosophy.

3. The basic spirits of the ancient Greek Philosophy.

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Course Auditing
123.00 EUR

MOOC List is learner-supported. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission.