Academic Year 2022/2023 - Teacher: CHIARA MILITELLO

Expected Learning Outcomes

After attending the class on Education and Philosophy in the Ancient World, the student will understand how philosophy was born, will know the fundamental aspects of ancient philosophical thought, with particular attention to the theme of education (paideia), will grasp the elements of continuity and rupture between contemporary and ancient thought, and will assimilate the differences between the different types of educational relationships and between the different intellectual and ethical models that can be found in Greek history. This will accustom the student to confronting an “other” that is distant in time, which will in turn be useful for understanding the people who come from a different culture. From a more specifically methodological point of view, the student will be equipped with the hermeneutical tools necessary to recognize the origin and initial development of the main philosophical questions, to understand the ancient philosophical texts and grasp the main theories exposed in them, to understand which are the roots of “Western” civilization, and to apply the methods of philosophy to education. In general, the student will have a clear picture of the theoretical and methodological tools used in the study of philosophy and ancient educational processes.
The student will also be able to personally evaluate the different current theories on ancient thought, and to apply the lessons of ancient philosophers to modern educational problems with a critical spirit. The student will master the ancient philosophical vocabulary, but, above all, he will be aware of the importance of using a precise technical vocabulary. Finally, the student will cultivate their learning skills, including the (particularly important but not always practiced) skill of understanding a written text that does not have the form of a treatise, and will be used to consulting experts in the crucial moments of their learning-by-oneself path.

Course Structure

The teaching will be carried out through lectures, a method that will ensure the transmission of contents and methods. In order to achieve the objectives relating to learning and communication skills, questions for clarification and deepening by the students will be encouraged during the lessons. Lessons will include guided reading of passages from classical texts, in order to develop the ability to read various types of philosophical works.

Required Prerequisites

No prior knowledge is required.

Attendance of Lessons

Class attendance is strongly recommended, because the exposition of ancient philosophical and educational theories and the explanation of classical texts by the professor greatly facilitates the acquisition of the contents by the students.

Detailed Course Content

The importance of passions in ancient Greece. Passions in the epic poems and tragedies. Wrath, love, hatred, fear, desire. Achilles. Medea. Passions in the Greek lyric poems. The ambivalence of the passions. Pity and terror experienced by the spectators of tragedies. Passions as forces that take possession of the soul. The passions endured by the heroes. Passions as an effect of divine intervention, as a symptom of the individual’s inner conflict, as an obstacle to the dominance of reason over irrationality. The meaning of passions in ancient Greece and today. The psychoanalytic reinterpretation of Oedipus’ passion. The deceptive clarity of Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations. The reasons and intentions behind Marcus Aurelius writing the Meditations. The literary genre of the Meditations. The relationship of the Meditations to the philosophical system that inspired them. The image of Marcus Aurelius that shines through his work. The indignation and melancholy of Marcus Aurelius. Enlightened monarchy. Civil and political liberties. Reason, virtue, beauty, pietas.

Textbook Information

1. Giulio Guidorizzi, I colori dell’anima. I Greci e le passioni, Raffaello Cortina 2017, ISBN 9788860309471, 189 pages.
2. Pierre Hadot, The Inner Citadel: The Meditations of Marcus Aurelius, Harvard University Press, ISBN 0674007077, 368 pages.
3. Marcus Aurelius, Meditations, transl. Martin Hammond, Penguin Classics 2006, ISBN 0140449337, 304 pages.

Giulio GuidorizziI colori dell’anima. I Greci e le passioniRaffaello Cortina20179788860309471
Pierre HadotLa cittadella interiore. Introduzione ai Pensieri di Marco AurelioVita & Pensiero20069788834308080
Marco Aurelio, trad. Cesare CassanmagnagoGli uomini sono nati gli uni per gli altri. PensieriBompiani20229788830106031

Course Planning

 SubjectsText References
1The choleric self: the epic passions1 (chapter 1)
2Familiar passions1 (appendix I)
3 The divided ego: the tragic passions 1 (chapter 2)
4The secret desires of Pentheus1 (appendix II)
5Myth and passions: the story of Oedipus1 (chapter 3)
6Antigone’s passion: courting death1 (appendix III)
7The passion of passions1 (chapter 4)
8The androgyne (Plato, Symposium, 189c-193a)1 (appendix IV)
9The end of the passions1 (epilogue)
10The Emperor-Philosopher2 (chapter 1)
11A First Glimpse of the Meditations2 (chapter 2)
12The Meditations as Spiritual Exercises2 (chapter 3)
13The Philosopher-Slave and the Emperor-Philosopher2 (chapter 4)
14The Stoicism of Epictetus2 (chapter 5)
15The Inner Citadel, or the Discipline of Assent2 (chapter 6)
16The Discipline of Desire, or Amor Fati2 (chapter 7)
17The Discipline of Action, or Action in the Service of Mankind2 (chapter 8)
18Virtue and Joy2 (chapter 9)
19Marcus Aurelius in His Meditations2 (chapter 10)
20Marcus Aurelius’ Meditations3

Learning Assessment

Learning Assessment Procedures

Oral examination, assessed on the basis of the following elements: relevance of the answers to the questions asked (necessary to pass the exam); content quality, ability to connect the various parts of the course, proper philosophical language, overall expressive skills (all these elements contribute to the final evaluation, provided that the answers are relevant).

Examples of frequently asked questions and / or exercises

What passions does Achilles experience and why?
In what sense were passions experienced by the Greeks as an obstacle to the dominance of reason?
Why did Marcus Aurelius write the Meditations?
What image of Marcus Aurelius shines through the Meditations?
For what aspects of his world was Marcus Aurelius indignant?
What was pietas, and how is it expressed in the Meditations?