Department of Philosophy

Honors Humanities 101A: Ancient World

Semester: Fall, 2011
When:  Wed. 11:00; Fri. 2:00
Office Hours: T & F: 11-12, or by appointment
Instructor: Dr. Christopher Perricone
Office: Spellman Hall
Phone: 914-637 2765

Course Objectives and Description
Required Text
Grading Criteria
Course Outline

Course Objectives and Description

The Honors Humanities Seminar is part of the Honors Program's core curriculum. It is an interdisciplinary program which is designed to introduce students to the central concepts of philosophy, literature, history, and religious studies. The purpose of the course is to develop critical skills and qualities of mind necessary to a liberal education. This is done by introducing students to major writings in the humanities and by encouraging them to think about, write about, and discuss the ideas addressed in these works.

Required Texts:

The Bhagavad Gita, trans. Zaehner, Oxford University Press
Tao Te Ching, trans. Addis and Lombardo, Hackett
The New American Bible, Catholic Bible Press
Aristotle, Nicomachean Ethics, trans. Irwin, Hackett
Confucius, The Analects, Hackett
Homer, The Odyssey, trans. Lombardo, Hackett
Plato, The Republic, trans. Grube, Hackett
Sophocles, The Oedipus Cycle, trans. Fitts and Fitzgerald, Harcourt, Brace, and World
Thucydides, On Justice, Power, and Human Nature, trans. Woodruff,  Hackett Publishing
Virgil, The Aeneid, trans. Mandelbaum, Bantam

Grading Criteria, etc.

Unless told otherwise, students are required to read the pages designated for each assignment prior to the first meeting of the week. It is essential that each reading assignment be carefully completed. All lectures, discussions and supplementary reading presuppose each student's completion of the reading assignments.

20% of the grade will be based on attendance oral participation, which includes critical responses to the lectures, class discussions, and class presentations.
40% of the grade will be based on three 4 page papers. Generally, these papers will not require outside research; rather they will be critical pieces in which a student will be asked to explicate selected ideas and then either support or refute those ideas with good reason. It should be emphasized that these papers are not to be thought of as book reports in the worst sense of those terms.
15% of the grade will be based on a final paper (app. 10 pages) that will discuss an issue or theme covered in the course readings. The paper will be submitted during the final examination week.
 25% of the grade will be based on an oral presentation to the class, the length of which should be at least 20 minutes. This presentation will require outside research. On the day of the presentation, the student will submit an outline of the presentation and a list of the sources consulted. The presentation should be thoughtful and thought provoking, not merely a report or cut and past job of quotations from primary and secondary sources, The point, here, is that the student adopt a thesis and then with evidence and argument examine it. The two hour period is reserved for oral presentations.

Both plagiarism and cheating in any form are unconditionally unacceptable. Anyone who plagiarizes or cheats in any way will fail this course and will be reported to the dean.

You are expected to fulfill all assignments on time.You are expected to attend all classes. If you cannot attend class for some reason, you must let me know. If you exceed the number of cuts allowed to you by the college, you will fail this course.

Discussed in class

Course Outline

Week 1 - Introduction to Humanities
Week 2 - Bible - Genesis, Exodus,
Week 3 - Job
Week 4 - Odyssey, in toto
Week 5 - Bhagavad Gita, in toto
Week 6 - On Justice, Power, and Human Nature (Thucydides),
                Pericles funeral oration, the plague, the Mytilenean debate.
Week 7 - The Republic, pp. 1-40; 119-143
Week 8 - The Republic, cont'd
Week 9 - Nicomachean Ethics, Books, 1, 2, 10.
Week 10 - Nicomachean Ethics, cont'd
Week 11 - "Oedipus Rex", in toto
Week 12 - Analects, in toto
Week 13 - Tao Te Ching, in toto
Week 14 - The Aeneid, in toto
Week 15 - Summing up

Suggested topics for final paper:

Any topic you choose should adhere to the following format: approximately one half of your essay should be the exposition of the subject matter; the other half should be either a defense or critique of a thesis.

1. In Politics, Aristotle defends the notion of slavery. Explain what Aristotle means by slavery, and then either support or refute what he says.

2. In the Republic, Plato argues that poets should be ostracized from a good society. Explain Plato's position, and then either support or refute what he says.

3. In the Apology, Plato presents Socrates on trial for his life as the model of the wise man. How does Plato characterize Socrates? Is Socrates a wise man? Why? Is Socrates a fool? Why?

4. a) Explain the moral theory implicit in the Ten Commandants. b) Explain the moral theory implicit in either Plato's Republic
or Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics, but not both.  Which moral theory best suits your sensibilities and why?

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