HFIA03702U FILO, Module 1: Classical Philosophical Text: Plato´s Gorgias CANCELLED

Volume 2014/2015
Master in Philosophy

Plato’s Gorgias

The modern editor of this text, E. R. Dodds, wrote the following about it in 1959: “The Gorgias is the most ‘modern’ of Plato’s dialogues. The twin problems which it exposes — how to control the power of propaganda in a democracy, how to re-establish moral standards in a world whose traditional standards have disintegrated — these are also the central problems of the twentieth century.” When Plato wrote the dialogue, the only means of mass communication was the spoken word. Today, the means have increased in number and now include newspapers, television, blogs, online videos, podcasts and social media of all kinds. However, the fundamental problems addressed by Plato in this dialogue remain with us.

                      The subtitle of Plato’s Gorgias is ‘On Rhetoric’. Large parts of the dialogue strive to define the nature and purpose of rhetoric and the rhetorician, for which reasons it is a key work to anyone interested in the history of rhetoric. However, this theme is connected with another theme which gains momentum in the course of the dialogue, namely the question about the good life: The rhetoric taught by sophists goes hand in hand with certain ideas about the good life. Socrates subjects these ideas to critical examination.

                      The course will be conducted in English. Knowledge of Greek is not  necessary in order to follow the course and to pass the exam successfully, though it is at times advantageous to have some knowledge of Greek. The course targets MA students in philosophy, theology, rhetoric, classical studies and other areas concerned with classical Greek philosophy. The course is organized as a thorough reading of the dialogue from beginning to end, though passages expounding ideas about rhetoric and ethics will be read with greater attention. The dialogue has been studied intensively by Plato scholars over the last decades, and the main positions will be introduced and discussed in the course of our reading. Students are expected to participate actively.

                      We will use the following translation: Plato, Gorgias, English translation by Donlald J. Zeyl. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1987. This translation is included in Plato, Complete Works, ed. J. M. Cooper. Indianapolis: Hackett, 1997. References to secondary literature will be given at the beginning of the course. Please observe that the language used at the exam will be identical with the language used during the course, i.e. English. This means that you will need a reliable English translation of the text: Zeyl’s translation fulfils this requirement. For those wishing to consult the Greek text, please use the modern standard edition: Plato, Gorgias, Greek text, introduction and notes by E. R. Dodds. Clarendon: Oxford, 1959.

Learning Outcome

The Master’s Programme in Philosophy 2014:
Module 1, Classical Philosophical Text: HFIK03701E

The Master’s Programme in Philosophy 2008:
Module 2, Freely chosen topic A: HFIK03521E
Module 4, Freely chosen topic B: HFIK03541E
Module 5, Freely chosen topic C: HFIK03551E
Module 6, Freely chosen topic D: HFIK03561E
Module 7, Freely chosen topic E: HFIK03571E

The exam will be conducted in English
  • Category
  • Hours
  • Class Instruction
  • 42
  • Preparation
  • 367,5
  • Total
  • 409,5
Type of assessment
For details, see the curriculum
Criteria for exam assesment

Curriculum for the main subject at Master´s level in Philosophy , The 2014 Curriculum:

Curriculum for the Master’s Programme in Philosophy, The 2008 Curriculum: