Course Content (Syllabus)
The purpose of this course is to introduce the problematic of the metaphilosophical question about the nature and character of philosophy, as a practical activity (besides its academic feature). Philosophers have tried to answer some of the fundamental questions about the world and its knowledge, but at the same time they believed that the answer we give to these questions (even the effort we make to answer them) determines our own. course towards the purpose of life, our relationship with other people and our participation in social and political life. Thus philosophy is on the one hand the theoretical questioning of man and the formation of valid tools of thought and on the other hand a special attitude of life.
This alternative conception of philosophy will be examined first through the ancient Greek example: Greek philosophers perceive and practice philosophy as a way of life, which people consciously chose and which tended to eliminate the divergence of theory and practice and promised fulfilling the purpose of life after the proper exercises. We will see these multiple versions of philosophical life (exemplified in Socrates) and the concept of philosophy in antiquity through selected texts of Plato, Aristotle, the Cynics, Epicurus, the latter Stoic (Seneca, Epictetus, Marcus Aurelius,) and the Neoplatonists (Plotinus, Proclus).
We will then examine how the form of philosophical life is transformed into Christian thought and the practice of Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages, through texts by Origen, Gregory of Nyssa, and Augustine. The concept of the Christian philosopher, although it seems contradictory, raises again the question of the demarcation of philosophy itself from other areas of thought and action.
Although the modern and contemporary philosophy often emphasizes the primacy of its cognitive dimension and its academic character, we will examine the different image of philosophy and the philosopher that emerges in texts of M. Montaigne, D. Hume, Fr. Nietzsche, and L. Wittgenstein. Finally, the contemporary discussion on the subject will be presented through the contributions of Pierre Hadot (who restored and launched the ancient Greek art of life and spiritual exercises as an ever-present demand), M. Foucault, and A. Nehamas.