by Aria Socratous.
The Department of Philosophy and the Duke University Global Education Office for Undergraduates offers an integrated course of study combining in-depth tours of the important sites and museums in various regions of Greece, with close reading and discussion of key ancient philosophical texts. The program director is Professor Michael Ferejohn of the Duke Department of Philosophy, who is a Greek descent, his grandfather emigrated to the US in 1916. Professor Ferejohn is a specialist in the history of ancient greek philosophy, science and mathematics, he works with ancient Greek texts, and he is also conversant in modern Greek. The principal course objective is to give the student a thorough understanding of the classical Greeks’ emphasis on the rational aspect of human nature, the intellectual foundations for subsequent western civilization.
The program begins with twelve days in Aegean islands, where the students will consider how the ancient rationalistic movement first came to life with the mechanistic science of the Milesians, and the theoretical mathematics and metaphysics of the Pythagoreans and then shifts to Peloponesos, and then on to Athens, where the dramatic rise and fall of the Athenian Empire serves as a backdrop to Socrates’ revolutionary denunciation of the “Unexamined Life”, and the great philosophical system of Plato’s Republic.
The program then travels northward to Thessaloniki, making stops at Delphi and the tomb of Philip of Macedonia in Vergina along the way, until finally arriving on the very slopes of Mt. Olympus. During this segment, the class will study the great ancient ethical systems of Aristotle, Epicurus, and the Stoic philosophers. In the final week of the program, the group will board a spacious chartered yacht to sail the waters of the Western Aegean while students complete individual course projects designed to put the themes and issues encountered during the entire course in broad perspective.