Our project in this course is to undertake careful readings of literary texts with recognized philosophic contents, and/or philosophic texts presented in a literary format. Such texts are usually of special interest, for they tent to bring philosophic concepts and issued closer to human life and to add deeper dimensions of meaning to literature. Thus, they often spur people to reflect on their own life assumptions and goals.
This spring we will probably examine some literary philosophic texts of three eras: Greek pre-Socratic, Roman Hellenistic, and chinese Taoist. Among the pre-Socratic texts, I am particularly interested in reading the poetic writings of Heraclitus and Parmenides. Among the Hellenistic thinkers, we will concentrate on Lucretius’ poem, On the Nature of Things and Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. Finally, time permitting, I would like to cover some chapters from the Lao Tzu and selections from the Chuang Tzu.
This semester I shall have to have the class materials prepared from a variety of sources.
A take-home exam will be given on each of the three areas under study. The final grade will be based on these three tests, plus class participation.