Philosophy 301:
The History of Philosophy

Getting Started


  • Instructor: Graham Leach-Krouse

  • Location: Kedzie 214

  • Website:

  • Textbook: A New History of Western Philosophy, Kenny

What Will We Be Studying?

History of Philosophy?

History of Western Philosophy?

History of Western Philosophy...
From Greece to the Enlightenment

Leaving out

  • Kant, and subsequent Romantic Idealism.
  • Most of what counts as "continental philosophy".
  • Most of what counts as "analytic philosophy".
  • The twentieth century's revolution in logic and methodology.


  • The basic figures of western philosophy
  • The main contributions of philosophy to:
    • the scientific revolution,
    • western democracy,
    • western monotheism---esp. Christianity and Islam.


To Steal All The Good Ideas

True, we've learned a lot since Plato.

But there are some things Plato (and others) said that haven't yet been said better.

To Learn From the Masters

You might have a good friend, who you disagree with about many things.

You might still learn from this friend---not by believing what she believes, but by watching how she thinks.

To Better Understand Ourselves

Even the most practical man of affairs is usually in the thrall of some long dead economist

---John Maynard Keynes,
long-dead economist

This is doubly true if you substitute "philosopher" for "economist".


Epistemology (Broadly Construed)

  • The study of knowledge
  • Includes (for our purposes) logic, and scientific method

Ethics (Broadly Construed)

  • The study of right action
  • Includes (for our purposes) the theory of political justice

Philosophy of Religion

  • The study of religious belief
  • Includes (for our purposes) basic doctrines about the nature, existence, or non-existence of the divine.


Course Website

Presentation Assignments

  • Two presentations. Each should be a short informative video, about ten minutes long.

  • You can work with a group, or by yourself, on a topic of your choosing, or on a topic I suggest for you.

  • There will four main due dates. You'll find out which due dates you need to pay attention to by next week.


  • There will be two exams: a midterm and a final.

  • You'll need to be able to answer questions about the views of different figures, explain important concepts, and reconstruct the main arguments we've discussed.


  • discussion in class

  • discussion outside of class

  • other signs of engagement


Grades will be calculated as follows

Participation 30% Presentations 40%
Final Exam 20% Midterm 10%

Electronics Policy

I think it's usually a bad idea.

Do what you will.



Greek Politics

War, Democracy, Justice

Greek Science

Geometry, Logic, Cosmology


Where these things all come together.

Reading: introductions to Kenny and to Kenny part 1. Optional: Appiah on Western culture.