PHIL212-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018

Reason, Desire and Happiness: Hellenistic Philosophy

15 points
16 Jul 2018 - 18 Nov 2018


In ancient Greece and Rome, philosophy was thought to be more than simply a discipline of academic interest. Many philosophers saw themselves as being like physicians. If physicians treat and heal the body, the role of the philosopher is to provide comparable therapy for the soul so that we can live well and flourish. This view was common to Aristotle, the Epicureans, the Sceptics and the Stoics. This course introduces you to this philosophical tradition and to the work of its proponents. Topics covered include the relationship between emotion and reason, the value of true beliefs, the nature of erotic love, the fear of death, the basis of anger and aggression, the value of self-control, and the legitimate tasks and methods of philosophy.

Not only is philosophy one of the most interesting and challenging subjects, it teaches skills that employers want: thinking outside the box, logic, ethics, and excellent writing and communication skills. At UC you can do either a BA or a BSc in Philosophy, or combine a Philosophy major with the LLB, BCom, or another degree.

BA or BSc students who major in philosophy must normally take at least two 100-level PHIL courses, plus at least three 200-level PHIL courses (including PHIL233), plus at least 60-points from 300-level PHIL courses (including at least one course from this list: PHIL305; PHIL310; PHIL311; and PHIL317). For more information see the BA regulations and/or the BSc regulations.

Learning Outcomes

In this course you will learn:

  • An understanding of, and engagement with, central themes in Hellenistic Philosophy.
  • The ability to critically evaluate Epicurean, Sceptic and Stoic accounts of living well.
  • Awareness of an alternative model of philosophical activity.
  • Critical and interpretative skills of value in the academy, workplace and everyday life.
    • University Graduate Attributes

      This course will provide students with an opportunity to develop the Graduate Attributes specified below:

      Critically competent in a core academic discipline of their award

      Students know and can critically evaluate and, where applicable, apply this knowledge to topics/issues within their majoring subject.

      Employable, innovative and enterprising

      Students will develop key skills and attributes sought by employers that can be used in a range of applications.

      Globally aware

      Students will comprehend the influence of global conditions on their discipline and will be competent in engaging with global and multi-cultural contexts.


15 points in PHIL or CLAS or a B average in 60 points of appropriate courses with approval of the Programme Coordinator.


Timetable 2018

Students must attend one activity from each section.

Lecture A
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Thursday 09:00 - 11:00 F1 Lectorial 16 Jul - 26 Aug
10 Sep - 21 Oct
Lecture B
Activity Day Time Location Weeks
01 Friday 12:00 - 13:00 Link 309 Lecture Theatre 16 Jul - 26 Aug
10 Sep - 21 Oct

Course Coordinator / Lecturer

Michael-John Turp

Contact Michael-John for further information.


Assessment Due Date Percentage 
Essay 1 30%
Essay 2 30%
Final Exam 40%


Required Texts

Nussbaum, Martha Craven; The therapy of desire : theory and practice in Hellenistic ethics; 2009 ed; Princeton University Press, 2009.

(Image: “Rafael – Escola de Atenas”, licensed under public domain.)

Course links

Library portal
Philosophy Essay Writing Guide (available to all enrolled Philosophy students)

Indicative Fees

Domestic fee $746.00

International fee $3,038.00

* Fees include New Zealand GST and do not include any programme level discount or additional course related expenses.

For further information see Humanities and Creative Arts.

All PHIL212 Occurrences

  • PHIL212-18S2 (C) Semester Two 2018