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Topics in Ancient Philosophy


Crivelli P.

Course director


The lectures will analyse, and assess from a modern philosophical perspective, Plato’s discussion of some possible answers to the question ‘What is knowledge?’ The course is organized in such a way that traditional lectures will alternate with presentations by students. Here is a list of the main topics covered: The structure of the Theaetetus; the answer to the question ‘What is knowledge?’ based on a list of kinds of knowledge; Theaetetus’ thesis that knowledge is perception (151d–e); uses of ‘to know’, ‘knowledge’, ‘to perceive’, and ‘perception’; Protagoras’ Man-Measure doctrine and its support for Theaetetus’ thesis (151e–152c); Protagoras’ ‘Secret Doctrine’ (152d–160d); the contradictory nature and the coming to be of perceptible particulars; the relativity of perceptible properties, the argument from conflicting appearances, and ‘mere Cambridge change’; the refined theory of perception; the Secret Doctrine’s support for Theaetetus’ thesis; the refutation of Theaetetus’ thesis (184b–187a) based on the view that perceptions are not true and therefore cannot be knowledge; the structure of the section dealing with the definition ‘Knowledge is true judgement’ (187a–201c); the justification of the view that knowledge should be true judgement (200e) and its refutation; the puzzles of false judgement, namely the argument from knowing and not knowing (187c–188c), the other-judgement analysis (189b–190e), the Waxen Block Analysis (190e–196d), and the Aviary Analysis (196d–200c); the structure of the section dealing with the definition ‘Knowledge is true judgement with an account’ (201c–210a); ‘Socrates’ Dream’ (201c–206c); the meanings of the word ‘account’ (‘logos’) (206c–210a); the similarity between the definition ‘Knowledge is true judgement accompanied by an account’ and modern epistemological views; the main interpretations of Socrates’ Dream.



Teaching mode

In presence

Learning methods


Examination information