History of Ancient Philosophy (m) (2010/2011)

Course code
Name of lecturers
Linda Napolitano, Tommaso Tuppini
Linda Napolitano
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Secondo semestre dal Feb 28, 2011 al Jun 4, 2011.

Lesson timetable

Learning outcomes

We aim at teaching the use of the proper philosophical terminology (nearly all deriving from the ancient Greek) and the critical reading of original philosophical texts, in order to acquire basic philosophical matters and concepts. Also, through seminars and debates, we aim at making postgraduates to acquire a skill to cross-examination.


Prerequisites: A general knowledge of the history of ancient philosophy (from VIth Century b.C. to 529 a.D.) is presupposed. Surely s competence in ancient Greek and Latin languages makes it easier the work within this scientific field, however it is not compulsory. An attention to lexical research and an interest in a critical reading of philosophical texts and to arguments are very useful.

Programme: “Plato: the shadow and the image”
The Platonic concept of image has been meant mostly as negative (it is three steps far from true, false and fallacious). However, the iconoclasm and the radical critic to the art, traditionally ascribed to Plato, do not offer any explanation of the fact that he himself often uses images and myths. Truly the image (in its double version of eikòn and eidolon, and, again, of seen and spoken image) is, within the Platonic Dialogues, the centre of an interesting net of matters: it is true always in its reference to its model, which surpasses it (as the Sophist clearly claims); it can be wrongly used in a cognitive, social, moral field (as stated by the so-called myth of the cave). Nevertheless, when rightly used, it may became a particular way for acquiring the truth: we can ‘risk to believe to it’ (as the Phaedo claims) and we can be also ‘saved’ by it (as said at the end of the myth of Er, in the Republic). It allows to communicate the true also to someone who is not a philosopher: but it allows also the philosopher problematically to assume the true itself. Particular and new reflexions can be made on the building of the image we have of ourselves and, possibly, on the role of the image within a ‘pedagogy’ of suffering.

I MODULE (Introduction):
- lecture notes, placed at students’ disposal, as an introduction to the problem of the image in Plato;

II MODULE and III MODULE (basical texts):
-L.M. NAPOLITANO VALDITARA, Platone e le ‘ragioni’ dell’immagine. Percorsi filosofici e deviazioni tra metafore e miti, Milano, Vita § Pensiero 2007
- photocopies of original Platonic texts, placed at students’ disposal.

IV MODULE (critical in-depth studies) (possibly in cooperation with other teachers):
-the notion of the Platonic image within the Nineteenth Century.

Teaching methods: The course will be carried on by frontal lessons, with direct reading of the texts and following discussions. Therefore attendance at classes will be very useful and desirable, though obviously not compulsory.
The same program is valid for students who cannot attend lessons; nevertheless, they must get in touch with the teacher, in order to receive indications on adding texts, whose reading will compensate for lacking attendance: these texts will be agreed for every student, with regard to his previous knowledge, curriculum and interests.

Assessment methods and criteria

Some oral questions will be put to the student; he will be invited to read and comment some passages of the original texts already read together during classes. As to the basic texts of the course, the student can choose also to write a brief paper (5-10 pp., to be given at least one week before the exam) on some subjects discussed together, or on some passages read during classes: this relation will be orally discussed during the exam.