Ancient Egyptian Philosophy
Dr. Patrick Goodin
What was the character of ancient Egyptian thought? How did Egyptian though influence the development of Greek thought? How did the ancient Greeks view the ancient Egyptians? How do modern scholars view the Egyptians? These are some of the questions that will determine the shape of this course.
In order to address these questions, the curse is divided into three parts. In part one, we will take up the general question of the nature of philosophical thought and its origins. Did philosophy first emerge in Greece or in Egypt? We will concentrate on the works of important Greek authors and Herodotus (5thC, B.C.) in particular whose “book [on Egypt} was still the standard travel guide [to Egypt} in the nineteenth century.” In part two, we examine translations of some of the important works of the ancient Egyptians themselves. We shall try to determine what the Egyptians themselves thought on the basis of the written texts they have left behind. In the third part of the course, we turn to modern views of Egyptian thought. These views are based on both the legacy of the Greeks and the deciphering of the texts written in hieroglyphic. In this final part of the course, we will compare ancient views of the Egyptians with these modern views and consider in what ways they impact our understanding of the ancient Egyptian texts we have studied.