University Homepage
DRPS Homepage
DRPS Search
DRPS Contact
DRPS : Course Catalogue : School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences : Philosophy

Postgraduate Course: Ancient Theories of Existence (MSc) (PHIL11054)

Course Outline
SchoolSchool of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences CollegeCollege of Humanities and Social Science
Credit level (Normal year taken)SCQF Level 11 (Postgraduate) AvailabilityNot available to visiting students
SCQF Credits20 ECTS Credits10
SummaryThis course studies the beginnings of cosmology, ontology, and metaphysics in the West. It studies the emergence of the fundamental concepts used then, of which many are still used in current metaphysics. It additionally studies the main theories of existence in the first three hundred years of rational explanation of the universe in Western culture.

Shared with UG Course - Ancient Theories of Existence PHIL10049

For courses co-taught with undergraduate students and with no remaining undergraduate spaces left, a maximum of 8 MSc students can join the course. Priority will be given to MSc students who wish to take the course for credit on a first come first served basis after matriculation.
Course description The course will be based on ancient sources. It will cover a number of authors and schools, selected to reveal a variety of approaches to existence and reality; these will include some or all of:
(1) Milesian School; Heracleitus; Parmenides; Empedocles; Anaxagoras; Atomism
(2) Plato's Theory of Forms
(3) Aristotle's theory of Substance
Entry Requirements (not applicable to Visiting Students)
Pre-requisites Co-requisites
Prohibited Combinations Other requirements None
Course Delivery Information
Academic year 2016/17, Not available to visiting students (SS1) Quota:  8
Course Start Semester 2
Timetable Timetable
Learning and Teaching activities (Further Info) Total Hours: 200 ( Lecture Hours 20, Summative Assessment Hours 2, Programme Level Learning and Teaching Hours 4, Directed Learning and Independent Learning Hours 174 )
Assessment (Further Info) Written Exam 0 %, Coursework 100 %, Practical Exam 0 %
Additional Information (Assessment) One 2500 word essay

Essay deadline: Monday 17th April 2017 by 12 noon
Word limit: 2500 words maximum (excluding references)
Return deadline: Tuesday 9th May 2017
Feedback - Students can present their arguments at meetings with the course organiser
- Students have the opportunity to submit a formative essay by week 6 deadline on Turnitin via Learn. The essay cannot be draft of summative essay but it can be on the same topic.

Formative essay deadline: Thursday 2nd March 2017 by 12 noon
Return deadline: Friday 24th March 2017
No Exam Information
Learning Outcomes
On completion of this course, the student will be able to:
  1. understand some major issues in ancient theories of existence and how these issues relate to continuing debates
  2. read closely, analyse and criticise ancient philosophical texts
  3. further develop written skills, take part in group discussion, present and defend arguments and understand and analyse arguments
Reading List
The primary readings are the metaphysical works of the philosophers under examination in the course, which are available in:

Waterfield, R., 2000, The First Philosophers, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Cooper (ed.), Plato: Complete Works, Hacket, 1997.
Barnes (ed.), The Complete Works of Aristotle, Princeton University Press 1984.
A. A. Long, D. N. Sedley, The Hellenistic Philosophers, Vol. 1: Translations of the Principal Sources, with Philosophical Commentary, Cambridge University Press.

Useful Discussion of the ancient metaphysical themes: Adamson History of Philosophy:

Further reading on the Presocratics from the following:
Barnes, J., 1982, The Presocratic Philosophers, 2nd edition, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Caston, V. and D. Graham (eds.), 2002, Presocratic Philosophy: Essays in Honor of A. P. D. Mourelatos, Aldershot: Ashgate Publishing Co.
Curd, P. and D. H. Graham (eds.), 2008, The Oxford Handbook of Presocratic Philosophy, New York: Oxford University Press.
Guthrie, W. K. C., 1962, 1965, 1969, A History of Greek Philosophy, Vols. I, II, and III Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1965.
Kirk, G. S., J. E. Raven, and M. Schofield, 1983, The Presocratic Philosophers, (Second Edition), Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
McKirachan R., Philosophy Before Socrates, 1994, Hackett Publishing Co.
Osborne C., Presocratic Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction, Oxford University Press
Warren, J., 2007, Presocratics, Tedington: Acumen.
Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy:

More specific:
Brunschwig, J. and G.E.R. Lloyd, 2000, Greek Thought: A Guide to Classical Knowledge, Cambridge, Mass.: The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
Curd, P., 2004, The Legacy of Parmenides: Eleatic Monism and Later Presocratic Thought, Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1998, rev. edn. Las Vegas: Parmenides Press.
Furley, D., 1967, Two Studies in the Greek Atomists, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Furley, D., 1987, The Greek Cosmologists, Vol. I: The Formation of the Atomic Theory and its Earliest Critics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Lee, Mi-Kyoung, 2005, Epistemology after Protagoras. Responses to Relativism in Plato, Aristotle, and Democritus, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Long, A. A. (ed.), 1999, The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Mourelatos, A. P. D., 2008, The Route of Parmenides, Las Vegas: Parmenides Publishing; revised and expanded edition of 1971, New Haven: Yale University Press.
Palmer, J., 2009, Parmenides and Presocratic Philosophy, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Schofield, M., 1980, An Essay on Anaxagoras, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Sedley, D., 2007, Creationism and its Critics in Antiquity, Berkeley: University of California Press.
Sorabji, R., 1988, Matter, Space, and Motion: Theories in Antiquity and their Sequel, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Stokes, M., 1971, One and Many in Presocratic Philosophy, Washington, DC: The Center for Hellenic Studies.
Trépanier, S., 2004, Empedocles: An Interpretation, New York: Routledge.
Vlastos, G, 1995, Studies in Greek Philosophy, Vol. I: The Presocratics, D. W. Graham (ed.), Princeton: Princeton University Press.

Further reading on Plato from the following:
Fine, G. , (ed.), 2008, Oxford Handbook of Plato, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Kraut, R., The Cambridge Companion to Plato, Cambridge University Press.
Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy:

More specific:
Annas, J., 1981, An Introduction to Plato's Republic, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Fine, G., 1993, On Ideas, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Gallop, D., 1975, Plato's Phaedo, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Malcolm, J., 1991, Plato on the Self Predication of Forms, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Mccabe, M., 1994, Plato's Individuals, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Ross, W.D. 1951, Plato's Theory of Ideas, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Silverman, A., 2002, The Dialectic of Essence, Princeton: Princeton University Press
Vlastos, G. 1981, Platonic Studies, 2nd edition, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Archelogos Argument-Base on Plato:

Further reading on Aristotle from the following:
Anagnostopoulos, G. (ed.), 2009, A Companion to Aristotle, Chichester: Wiley-Blackwell.
Bambrough, R. (ed.), 1965, New Essays on Plato and Aristotle, London: Routledge and Kegan Paul.
Barnes J., M. Schofield, and R. R. K. Sorabji (eds.), 1979, Articles on Aristotle, Vol 3. Metaphysics, London: Duckworth.
Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy:

More specific:
Bostock, D., 1994, Aristotle: Metaphysics Books Z and H, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Charles, David, Aristotle on Meaning and Essence, Oxford: Clarendon Press.
Frede, Michael, 1987, Essays in Ancient Philosophy, Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press.
Furth, Montgomery, Substance, Form and Psyche: an Aristotelian Metaphysics, Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
Gill, Mary Louise, 1989, Aristotle on Substance: The Paradox of Unity, Princeton: Princeton University Press.
Graham, D., Aristotle's Two Systems, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Loux, Michael J., Primary Ousia: An Essay on Aristotle's Metaphysics Z and H, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Scaltsas, T., 1994, Substances and Universals in Aristotle's Metaphysics, Ithaca: Cornell University Press.
Scaltsas, T., D. Charles, and M. L. Gill (eds.), 1994, Unity, Identity, and Explanation in Aristotle's Metaphysics, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
S. Waterlow, Nature, Change, and Agency in Aristotle's Physics, Oxford University Press, 1982.
Wedin, Michael V., 2000, Aristotle's Theory of Substance: The Categories and Metaphysics Zeta, Oxford: Oxford University Press.
Witt, Charlotte, 1989, Substance and Essence in Aristotle: an Interpretation of Metaphysics VII-IX, Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press.
Archelogos Argument-Base on Aristotle:
Additional Information
Course URL Please see Learn page
Graduate Attributes and Skills Analytical thinking; detailed reading of texts; capacity to evaluate exegetical controversies.
Additional Class Delivery Information Taught by Prof Dory Scaltsas
KeywordsCosmos,cosmological principles; infinite; indefinite; process; atom; matter; form; substance
Course organiserProf Theodore Scaltsas
Tel: (0131 6)50 3649
Course secretaryMiss Lynsey Buchanan
Tel: (0131 6)51 5002
Help & Information
Search DPTs and Courses
Degree Programmes
Browse DPTs
Humanities and Social Science
Science and Engineering
Medicine and Veterinary Medicine
Other Information
Combined Course Timetable
Important Information
© Copyright 2016 The University of Edinburgh - 3 February 2017 5:04 am