Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi
PHIL 4321.001
Ancient Philosophy
Fall 2022
F 12:00 – 2:30


Don Berkich, Ph.D.

Office: FC-280
Hours: By appointment only, video remote or outside.
Office#: 3976 (do not leave a message, send email or text to mobile instead)
Mobile#: 361-944-2756 (never after 9:00 p.m., texts much preferred--be sure to identify yourself!)

Course Description:

This course is a reading and discussion seminar devoted to the two major figures of Ancient Western Philosophy, Plato and Aristotle. Our focus will be a close reading of their major texts.

Our emphasis will set the stage for the philosophical transition to the medievals and, eventually, the moderns. The course concludes with a discussion of the philosophical problems discovered by Ancient Western Philosophy. There are no prerequisites.

Student Learning Outcomes*

As demonstrated by pre and post-test, students will

1. Learn the names of at least two historically important philosophers--e.g., Plato and Aristotle.

2. Learn the names of at least three important texts written by these philosophers--e.g., The Symposium, The Republic, and The Metaphysics.

*Ignore this. It's just something we're required to have on our syllabi. Pointless drivel. A requirement of the University for accreditation purposes only. A result of the contemptible commodification of education and the corporatization of its institutions. Used as the basis for a pre- and post-test in a facile attempt to demonstrate quality in teaching and learning. Fails to reflect any grasp of the distinction between training and education by presupposing that understanding, discovery, and knowledge can be precisely measured, economized, and thereby controlled. An embarrassing academic fad and an affront to the towering intellects whose investigations we have the privilege of pursuing this semester. The very idea of student learning outcomes when we consider Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle is as preposterous as it is contemptible.**

**The professor whose course this is has been informed by the administration that the above statement repudiating Student Learning Outcomes is both 'uncivil' and 'sets a poor example for students'. The professor is deeply grateful to the administration for their protest and takes no small pride in their having echoed (albeit unwittingly and however distantly) Meletus' charges against Socrates. Frankly, there can be no greater honor for those who find inspiration in Socrates the gadfly, Socrates the midwife, and, above all, Socrates the self-stinging stingray.


Plato Complete Works, J. Cooper & D.S. Hutchinson, eds. New York: Hackett.
The Complete Works of Aristotle, Jonathan Barnes, ed. Princeton: Princeton University Press.

*Useful but not required--selections from these and other sources will be provided as necessary.


Reading Notes:

I will collect, review, and mark your reading notes over the texts we've covered exactly four times during the semester as indicated on the course schedule. These are not formal papers, but they must demonstrate that you have grappled earnestly with the texts.

Final Essay:

I hesitate to call it a term paper or research paper, but there will be an 8-10 page term paper assigned at the end of the semester. The topic will be guided by what I've gleaned from your reading notes, our class discussions, and my conversations with you.


You should be prepared to contribute to class discussion, constructively work with your classmates, and be actively engaged in wrestling with philosophical problems.

Grading Formula

There are 100 points possible as follows:

Reading Notes: 20 points each

Final Essay: 20 points

Total Points = sum of the reading notes and the final essay

Course Grade is determined by the following scale:

A 90-100
B 80 - 89
C 70 - 79
D 60 - 69
F 00 - 59


The professor assumes that students enrolled in this course are sincere student-scholars. That is, the professor shall treat students with the respect due scholars, and students shall do their best to live up to the standards of scholars. To wit,


Scholars carefully read assignments in advance of class, take notes on their reading, explore specific issues in discussion with fellow scholars, and follow-up class by re-reading portions of the required readings and exploring suggested readings.


Scholars are eager to respectfully, openly, and critically discuss arguments and issues raised by the readings. Scholars are adept at following a line of reasoning wherever it may lead. Most importantly, scholars welcome the insights and criticisms of their peers: A scholar understands that it is possible to entertain a proposition without believing it, just as it is possible to present an argument without personally endorsing the argument. Scholars enjoy vigorous deliberations and are always careful to treat fellow scholars with patience and good humor.


Scholars fully immerse themselves in assignments and never assume that an assignment is only legitimate if it will be covered on a test. Scholars are naturally curious and see every assignment as an opportunity to explore new issues, see old issues in new light, and hone their growing skills.


Scholars are very careful to give proper credit and maintain the highest standards of scholarly conduct. Scholars who fail to meet their responsibilities let themselves down, the professor, and, most importantly, their peers. In an effort to protect this community they will be prosecuted by the professor to the fullest extent allowable by university guidelines.

Individual Responsibility Post-Covid-19

Scholars recognize that their health is of paramount importance in pursuing their studies, which is a daunting proposition during a pandemic. Scholars rightly foresee that the decisions they make about their own protections from an airborne and highly infectious virus that causes a highly variable and potentially disastrous disease affect not only themselves but all with whom they interact: never has 'all for one, one for all' meant so much to scholars. Further, struggling to earn expertise themselves, scholars readily recognize the extraordinary value of hard-earned expertise and afford it the respect it merits. During a pandemic, then, scholars scrupulously defend their own health and the health of their community of scholars by 1) carefully monitoring their own health and their exposure to those who have had symptoms before allowing themselves to attend class and notifying the professor immediately upon discovering exposure, 2) wearing masks as appropriate, particularly indoors when engaging with those of unknown vaccination status, and, most importantly, 3) insisting on getting fully vaccinated at the earliest time possible.

Additional Notes

This syllabus is authoritative and tentative. That is, the syllabus as it appears on this page in its most recent form supersedes any other version with which it conflicts. At the same time, any change to the syllabus will be made here and announced in class. Further, no change will be made which would be detrimental to the student's grade. The professor and the students are only responsible for the syllabus as it appears in its entirety here, including particularly the schedule on the course home page, which should be considered part of this syllabus.

Any student missing a due date must provide a documented, acceptable reason according to university guidelines. Students with a proper excuse for missing a due date will be given a reasonable extension.

Subject to professor discretion, students without a proper excuse for missing a due date will lose 20 points per day after the due date.

Required University Note to Students with Disabilities: The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is a federal anti-discrimination statute that provides comprehensive civil rights protection for persons with disabilities. Among other things, this legislation requires that all students with disabilities be guaranteed a learning environment that provides for reasonable accommodation of their disabilities. If you believe you have a disability requiring an accommodation, please call or visit Disability Services at (361) 825-5816 in Corpus Christi Hall 116. If you are a returning veteran and are experiencing cognitive and/or physical access issues in the classroom or on campus, please contact the Disability Services office for assistance at (361) 825-5816.

Required College of Liberal Arts Note on the Student Grade Appeals: As stated in University Procedure 13.02.99.C0.03, Student Grade Appeal Procedures, a student who believes that he or she has not been held to appropriate academic standards as outlined in the class syllabus, equitable evaluation procedures, or appropriate grading, may appeal the final grade given in the course. The burden of proof is upon the student to demonstrate the appropriateness of the appeal. A student with a complaint about a grade is encouraged to first discuss the matter with the instructor. For complete details, including the responsibilities of the parties involved in the process and the number of days allowed for completing the steps in the process, see University Procedure 13.02.99.C0.03, Student Grade Appeal Procedures. These documents are accessible through the University Rules Web site at For assistance and/or guidance in the grade appeal process, students may contact the Dean’s office in the college in which the course is taught or the Office of the Provost.

Required College of Liberal Arts Note on Academic Advising: The College of Liberal Arts requires that students meet with an Academic Advisor as soon as they are ready to declare a major. Degree plans are prepared in the CLA Academic Advising Center using DegreeWorks. Any amendment must be approved by the Department Chair and the Office of the Dean. All courses and requirements specified in the final degree plan audit must be completed before a degree will be granted.

For all students with 0-45 hours earned you will be advised by the Islander Advising Center: University Services Center (1st Floor), 361-825-3453.
For CLA students with more than 45 hours earned you will be advised by the CLA Academic Advising Office: Faculty Center 148, 361-825-3466.

For all other colleges with more than 45 hours earned, you will be advised by the Advising Center that oversees your major:

College of Business: OCNR 120, 361-825-2653
College of Education and Human Development: FC 201, 361-825-2662
College of Nursing and Health Sciences: IH (3rd Floor), 361-825-2799
College of Science and Engineering: CI 350D, 361-825-3928

Required University Note on Dropping a Class:*I hope that you never find it necessary to drop this or any other class. However, events can sometimes occur that make dropping a course necessary or wise. Please consult with your academic advisor, the Financial Aid Office, and me, before you decide to drop this course. Should dropping the course be the best course of action, you must initiate the process to drop the course by going to University Center 324 and filling out a course drop form. Just stopping attendance and participation WILL NOT automatically result in your being dropped from the class. You may also submit a PowerFormSigner online. Wednesday, November 30th is the last day to drop a class with an automatic grade of “W” this term.

*Please note that the professor whose course this is did not write this note, despite its having been written in the first-person. Whoever it was meant well, no doubt.

Required University Note on Civil Rights Reporting:* Texas A&M University-Corpus Christi is committed to fostering a culture of caring and respect that is free from discrimination, relationship violence and sexual misconduct, and ensuring that all affected students have access to services. For information on reporting Civil Rights complaints, options and support resources (including pregnancy support accommodations) or university policies and procedures, please contact the University Title IX Coordinator, Sam Ramirez at or Deputy Title IX Coordinator, Rosie Ruiz at ext. 5826, or visit website at Title IX/Sexual Assault/Pregnancy. Limits to confidentiality. Essays, journals, and other materials submitted for this class are generally considered confidential pursuant to the University's student record policies. However, students should be aware that University employees, including instructors, are not able to maintain confidentiality when it conflicts with their responsibility to report alleged or suspected civil rights discrimination that is observed by or made known to an employee in the course and scope of their employment. As the instructor, I must report allegations of civil rights discrimination, including sexual assault, relationship violence, stalking, or sexual harassment to the Title IX Coordinator if you share it with me. These reports will trigger contact with you from the Civil Rights/Title IX Compliance office who will inform you of your options and resources regarding the incident that you have shared. If you would like to talk about these incidents in a confidential setting, you are encouraged to make an appointment with counselors in the University Counseling Center.

*Please note that the professor whose course this is did not write this note, despite its having been written in the first-person. Whoever it was meant well, no doubt.

Required University Note on Campus Emergencies: At TAMU-CC, your safety is a top concern. We actively prepare for natural disasters or human-caused incidents with the ultimate goal of maintaining a safe and secure campus.

  • For any emergency, dial the University Police Department (UPD) at 361-825-4444 or dial 911. It’s a good idea to have the UPD emergency number (and non-emergency number 361-825-4242) saved in your cell phone.
  • There are nearly 200 classroom telephones throughout campus. If you feel threatened or need help and don’t have a cell phone, dial 4444 (emergency) or 4242 (non-emergency) to be connected to UPD.
  • If we hear a fire alarm, we will immediately evacuate the building and proceed to the nearest safe location.
    • Proceed to the nearest building exit or evacuation stairway. Do not use the elevator. Persons who need help navigating stairs should proceed to a marked Area of Rescue Assistance, if possible.
    • Persons with disabilities should speak with their faculty about how to best assist them in case of an emergency.
    • Review the evacuation route (see specific Building Emergency Plan).
  • TAMU-CC employs the Code Blue Emergency Notification System, an alert system which connects the campus community during emergency situations.
    • The notifications include emails, text and pre-recorded messages, as appropriate.
    • Code Blue emergencies may include severe weather warnings, threats, school closures, delays, evacuations and other incidents which disrupt regular campus activities.
    • Students can update personal contact information anytime at
  • Shelter in Place via Code Blue.
    • "Shelter-in-place" means to take immediate shelter where you are and may be implemented for severe weather, hazardous material spills, active shooters or other dangerous situations.
    • If there is a shelter in place for a tornado warning, our preferred location is the bottom floor of this building, away from windows and doors.
    • Active Threat Protocol. There are three things you could do that make a difference if there is an active threat: Run, Hide, and/or Fight. For more information about the Run, Hide, Fight protocol, including what to do when law enforcement arrives, visit

For the Quick Campus Guide to Campus Emergencies (including a list of Areas of Rescue Assistance and additional protocols on assisting persons with physical disabilities, hurricanes, bomb threats, animal bites, crime reporting, elevator entrapment, etc.), visit

Required University Statement of Academic Continuity: In the event of an unforeseen adverse event, such as a major hurricane and classes could not be held on the campus of Texas A&M University–Corpus Christi; this course would continue through the use of Blackboard and/or email. In addition, the syllabus and class activities may be modified to allow continuation of the course. Ideally, University facilities (i.e., emails, web sites, and Blackboard) will be operational within two days of the closing of the physical campus. However, students need to make certain that the course instructor has a primary and a secondary means of contacting each student.

*Please note that in the event of a hurricane or other catastrophe, this website, suitably supplemented with video lectures, video chat, asynchronous discussion boards, and synchronous chat facilities, would be used instead of the inelegant abomination known as 'Blackboard'.

By accepting this excessively long and tedious syllabus, the student indicates that the syllabus has been read, all requirements are understood, and all policies are acknowledged.