Monday, December 11, 2006

On the killing of darlings

The hardest thing about writing a syllabus is the editing down. Last semester, I had the gall to actually edit the Iliad (and I questioned throughout the course whether I'd done the right thing, though I'm happy I included all the supporting texts I did).

But this time it's even worse. There are stacks of texts I consider essential to a course in Classical Philosophy, and only a finite number of classes in the semester. Must I sacrifice the pre-Socratics in order to include Seneca and Epicurus? But the pre-Socratics are so nutty and fun! And how can we read the Republic in its entirety if it means sacraficing either the Crito or the Apology? And what about the Phaedrus (my absolute favorite)? Aaaaugh!

So, brilliant readers: what texts do you think are absolutely essential readings in Classical philosophy? What shouldn't students be allowed to live without?


trixie said...

"The Complete Idiot's Guide" Series? For instance, I am reading a book my sister gave me called "Parenting for Idiots" and I really don't think I ever could have understood the Illiad without it...or, uh...sumpin'.

Ahhh, my brilliant friend, how I miss thee.


Anonymous said...

I'm having trouble posting, this is a test

Anonymous said...

arg! this is giving me trouble. What to do with 800 years of smart people>

Anonymous said...

okay, trying one more time. Classical philosophy covers at least 800 years, two cultures and at least 2 religions. They were all smart guys with fascenating and relavent points of view. You know its a survey, give them a taste of each, try to be fair and hope they keep reading. You can always assign Zen and the art of motorcycle maintenance for extra credit


seester said...

oh...did i have a great comment for you...all sorts of intelligent, i was...then, i couldn't post it.

this is a test

seester said...


ok...let's see if i can sum it up.

i said:

when i'm trying to narrow the scope of a rather broad topic in the curriculum, i focus on things that influence my own thinking. i also tend to include the sort of 'gateway ideas' that will get kids interested in learning more on their own.

that's why anthologies are good. which, in turn, is why you shouldn't feel bad about editing.

grr...much more eloquent it was the last time.

c-bear said...

Have you tried interpretive dance?
A non sequitur perhaps, but I came across perhaps the most hilarious use of interpretive dance in teaching the invaluable lessons of protein synthesis. If you have 13 minutes to spare and a burning desire to experience a joyful scientific romp then check this out:
or just go to you tube and search: protein synthesis, an epic at the cellular level.

That's about all the advice I can offer about a philosophy syllabus other than to make sure your don't overlook the Tao of Pooh.
Hope to see you over the holidays; come over for some Smoking Bishop!!

seester said...

wow...i had to check out the protein sythesis...and i'm left speechless.

i don't know what i liked more: the groovy soundtrack, or the excellent jaberwock references...

rarely have so many bio-chem majors and modern dance majors gathered together in such peace and harmony.

the 60s, they were a crazy time...

Nora said...

Ha! Phlogiston Productions! That's brilliant. And I might even understand protein synthesis now.