History of Philosophy (2019/2020)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Laura Anna Macor
Laura Anna Macor
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
II semestre (Lingue e letterature straniere) dal Feb 17, 2020 al May 30, 2020.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The purpose of the course is to introduce the students to some essential concepts of the modern historical-philosophical thinking, the meaning of philosophical terminology, the critical approach to literary text.
At the end of the course students will be able to:
- deal fluently with philosophical history
- understand the philosophical texts studied during the course
- use in an actual contest the themes debated
- express an independent opinion on the critical matter in the text
- communicate with enough clarity the studied topics.



COURSE CONTENT: Philosophy and Literature in Dialogue: Ancient Greek Thought and Classical German Philosophy.

The course aims to provide an introduction to the history of philosophy and its terminology, whereas special attention will be paid to its relation with literature. To this end, the main focus will be on two moments in Western thought, in which the interaction between philosophy and literature plays a crucial role, i.e., ancient Greek thought and German philosophy from the Enlightenment to the Idealism. The interdisciplinary nature of the course will lead to address issues regarding rhetorical strategies, linguistic choices and literary genres, and will enable us to compare works, which are traditionally considered as belonging to different canons.

The course will be structured as follows:

1) Introduction to philosophy: etymology and meaning of the expression, historical genesis and periodization, main definitions delivered in the Western tradition;

2) Ancient Greek thought: poetry at the origin of philosophy (Homer, Hesiod, archaic Lyric poets, Presocratics), the ambivalent contribution of Plato (criticism of poetry and parallel usage of literary devices such as dialogue and myth), theatre as a special medium of philosophy (Tragedians, Aristotle);

3) Classical German philosophy: Friedrich Schiller (1759-1805) as a prominent example of both theoretical reflection and concrete practice at the convergence of philosophy and literature (education, main interests, literary and philosophical works, rhetorical strategies).

TEACHING METHODS: The course will consist of both lectures and discussions guided by the professor with a view to enabling students to attain all learning outcomes outlined above as well as making a choral reflection on the relation between philosophy and literature possible. Furthermore, there is the opportunity to prepare short papers on a topic previously agreed on and to present them in class. The plurality of teaching methods is conceived of as a way of helping students, who will be offered as wide a range of learning paths as possible.


1) Learning materials published on e-learning;

2) Two texts to be chosen among the following ones:

a) F. Schiller, I masnadieri, ed. by M. D. Ponti, transl. by B. Allason, Einaudi, Torino 1969 (or other reprint) or in F. Schiller, I Masnadieri Don Carlos Maria Stuarda, ed. by E. Groppali, Garzanti, Milano 2000 (1991), pp. 1-167;
b) F. Schiller, Intrigo e amore, ed. by A. Busi, BUR, Milano 2002 (1994);
c) F. Schiller, Don Carlos, ed. by M. C. Foi, Marsilio, Venezia 2004, or in F. Schiller, I Masnadieri Don Carlos Maria Stuarda, ed. by E. Groppali, Garzanti, Milano 2000 (1991), pp. 169-365.

3) L. A. Macor, Il giro fangoso dell’umana destinazione. Friedrich Schiller dall’illuminismo al criticismo, ETS, Pisa 2008.


1) E. Berti, Che effetto fa la poesia?, in E. Berti, In principio era la meraviglia. Le grandi questioni della filosofia antica, Laterza, Roma – Bari 2007, pp. 217-240 (or other reprint);

2) G. Pinna, Introduzione a Schiller, Laterza, Roma – Bari 2012;

3) L. A. Macor, The Bankruptcy of Love: Schiller’s Early Ethics, in Publications of the English Goethe Society 86 (2017), 1, pp. 29-41.

LEARNING MATERIALS: Additional learning materials, which will form part of the mandatory reading, will be published on e-learning.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
F. Schiller Don Carlos Marsilio 2004
L. A. Macor Il giro fangoso dell'umana destinazione. Friedrich Schiller dall'illuminismo al criticismo ETS 2008
F. Schiller I masnadieri Einaudi 1969
F. Schiller I Masnadieri Don Carlos Maria Stuarda Garzanti 2000
F. Schiller Intrigo e amore BUR 2002

Assessment methods and criteria

Oral exam + optional presentation in class.

The exam aims to assess the attainment of the course’s learning outcomes, and this will be addressed as follows:

1) presentation of one or more topics dealt with in the first two parts of the course (Introduction to philosophy and Ancient Greek thought): students will have to demonstrate possession of basic facts and notions, showing ability to explain them in a systematic manner and follow their diachronic development–this will be achieved by either replying to an open question or commenting on a text figuring among those read and discussed in class (and published online on e-learning, cf. 1 of the Mandatory reading);

2) presentation of one or more philosophical issues arising in the two works of Schiller chosen (cf. 2 of the Mandatory reading), possibly profiting from the book indicated in 3 of the Mandatory reading: students will have to demonstrate understanding of the relevant philosophical theses, knowledge of the historical context and, lastly, awareness of the philosophical implications of the literary medium.

Each part of the exam has equal weighting, i.e., 1/2 of the final mark. Students who will have presented an optional short paper will be exempt from the part of the exam corresponding to the nature of the work already done (depending on whether it addressed topics of the first two parts or the third part of the course). The paper’s assessment will contribute a half of the final total.

No distinction will be made between attending and non-attending students.