PHIL 415

Action in Ancient Greek and Contemporary Analytic Philosophy

Major Discipline(s):
Fall Semester

What is the nature of action?
What sets it apart from a mere happening?

The aim of this course is twofold:

  1. to explore the fomulation of this question in the analytic philosophy of the 20th century; what has come to be called the philosophy of action, and
  2. to examine the roots of this question in ancient Greek philosophy.

In the first part of the course we will study the way Plato and Aristotle formulated the question. And we will read Plato’s Protagoras and the Republic and parts of Aristotle’s De Anima, the Metaphysics and the Nicomachean Ethics.

In the 2nd part of the course we will examine the passage to modernity which leads up to Hume’s and Kant’s conceptions of action.

In the 3rd part we will examine the way 20th century analytic philosophy formulated the question. To do so, we will read: Davidson, Anscombe, Hornsby, Bratman, Frankfurt, Korsgaard, McDowell, Thompson, Hyman, etc.