Friday, December 19, 2014

Pleasures online

Well, I'm sure that are all sorts of interesting things you can find online.  But I've just spotted that the full text of my new book is available online if you or your institution has a subscription to the CUP 'Cambridge Books Online' site.  The direct link is here.  Of course, you should certainly buy a copy but this will no doubt be useful as a back-up...

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Funded doctoral research positions in Munich

The Munich School of Ancient Philosophy (MUSAΦ) invites applications for funded doctoral positions. Dissertation proposals are welcome in all areas of ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy, the medieval reception in Arabic and Latin, and textual criticism. See the flyer, available here:

MUSAΦ is a joint program of the Classics and Philosophy Departments at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität (LMU). It is directed by Professors Peter Adamson, Oliver Primavesi and Christof Rapp. In addition, it boasts a substantial number of junior faculty and postdocs. Graduate students and visiting fellows round out the exceptionally large and lively ancient philosophy community, which provides an ideal environment for graduate study.

Doctoral fellowships cover three years, the period of dissertation research and writing. Complementing their dissertation research, doctoral students in MUSAΦ participate in a wide array of advanced seminars, reading groups and workshops. Doctoral students may also avail themselves of the opportunity to teach if desired. Since the number of fellowships is limited, we encourage applicants to seek out external funding as well.

Although based in Germany, most of the advanced instruction takes place in English and there is no formal language requirement. Dissertations may be written in German or in English.We welcome applicants with a sufficient working knowledge of one of these languages and a willingness to attain basic skills in the other.

We strongly encourage interested students to apply by February 15th, 2015 for full consideration. We hope to make initial offers immediately afterwards. Applications will continue to be considered on a rolling basis as long as places remain.

Please visit our website ( for more information about the program and about how to apply. Inquiries about the program may be directed to: Students who are not yet prepared to begin dissertation research might be interested in the Masters Program in Ancient Philosophy at LMU.

Monday, December 08, 2014

CFP: War and strife in ancient philosophy

Our excellent graduates are organising another of their successful annual graduate conferences.  This year the theme is 'War and Strife in Ancient Philosophy', to be held in Cambridge on 27-28 March 2015 and you can find the website with details of how to submit abstracts, accommodation etc. here.

This is the fifth in a series of annual conferences, all completely organised by our graduate students.  They are always fun and intellectually stimulating occasions. 

Monday, December 01, 2014


1. This is the best online advent calendar.

2. There are lots of sentimental songs about being a parent.  I'm not sure this is very sentimental but I think it's lovely.

3.If you are looking for Xmas presents for the scientist/philosopher/academic in your life, you can do worse than browse what's available here.  The goodies include, for instance, a set of Rorschasch ink-blot test coasters.

4. Winter's evenings are good for ghost stories.  The BBC's Remember Me is unsettling but I'm not sure why. It's got Robert Baratheon out of off of GoT/Hercules out of off of Atlantis in it as a slightly rubbish police detective.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

PGR rankings for Ancient Philosophy

As detailed here.  Any thoughts?

The schools are ranked in peer groups by their rounded mean score to .5 intervals; after a school's name appears the median and mode scores.  Where the median and mode scores are higher than the rounded mean that usually indicates that a minority of evaluators scored the program a bit more lowly than others.

Group 1 (1-2) (rounded mean of 4.5)
Oxford University (5, 5)
Princeton University (4.5, 4.5)
Group 2 (3-6) (rounded mean of 4.0)
Cambridge University (4, 3)
Stanford University (4, 4 & 4.5)
University of Toronto (4, 4)
Yale University (4, 4)
Group 3 (7-10) (rounded mean of 3.5)
Cornell University (4, 4)
University of Arizona (3.5, 4)
University of Chicago (3.5, 2.5)
University of Texas, Austin (3.5, 2.5 & 4)

Evaluators:  Rachel Barney, Jessica Berry, Tad Brennan, Christopher Bobonich, Victor Caston, Dan Devereux, David Ebrey, Gail Fine, Brad Inwood, Terence Irwin, Thomas Johansen, Mohan Matthen, David Sedley, Christopher Shields, Allan Silverman, Nicholas Smith, Katja Vogt, Jiyuan Yu.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Keeling Scholarships in Ancient Philosophy (graduate) at UCL

UCL Philosophy is pleased to announce two Keeling scholarships for research in ancient philosophy for either the MPhil. Stud. or PhD, beginning in 2015. The Scholarships will fund tuition fees (UK/EU) and full AHRC-equivalent London maintenance for two years ( MPhil. Stud.), or for up to three years ( PhD).

MPhil Stud students awarded a Keeling Scholarship are required to specialise to some extent in ancient philosophy over the two year programme, by completing at least two half year modules in the area of ancient philosophy, and by writing their research thesis (30,000 words) on a topic in ancient philosophy. PhD students awarded a Keeling Scholarship will be pursuing a doctorate on a topic in ancient philosophy.

Those able to supervise graduate research in ancient philosophy at UCL include Fiona Leigh (Philosophy), M.M. McCabe (Philosophy), Mark Kalderon (Philosophy), Simona Aimar (Philosophy, from 2017), and, by arrangement, Jenny Bryan (Greek and Latin).

Details about our research programmes can be found here:

 London is a thriving centre for ancient philosophy. The Keeling Lecture and associated Graduate Masterclass is held annually at UCL, as is the biennial Keeling Colloquium. KCL and UCL co-convene a weekly ancient Greek reading group, and the Institute of Classical Studies hosts a fortnightly series of papers on a different theme each year, organised by academics from London working in ancient philosophy (UCL, KCL, Royal Holloway, Birkbeck, University of London).

Further information can be found here:

Only applicants to UCL Philosophy research programmes can be considered for a Keeling Scholarship. Applicants should indicate on their application form that they wish to be considered for the Keeling Scholarship by writing 'Keeling Scholarship' in section §29 'Funding'. The deadline for applications to these programmes is 5 January 2015.

Guidance on the UCL application process is here:

Enquiries in the first instance should be directed to Dr. Fiona Leigh:

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Just an inkling

I'm looking at Republic VII and trying to think through that argument about fingers and 'summoners of thought'.  I've got as far as this passage:

Ἀλλ' ἐκ τῶν προειρημένων, ἔφην, ἀναλογίζου. εἰ μὲν γὰρ ἱκανῶς αὐτὸ καθ' αὑτὸ ὁρᾶται ἢ ἄλλῃ τινὶ αἰσθήσει λαμβάνεται τὸ ἕν, οὐκ ἂν ὁλκὸν εἴη ἐπὶ τὴν οὐσίαν, ὥσπερ ἐπὶ τοῦ δακτύλου ἐλέγομεν· εἰ δ' ἀεί τι αὐτῷ ἅμα ὁρᾶται ἐναντίωμα, ὥστε μηδὲν μᾶλλον ἓν ἢ καὶ τοὐναντίον φαίνεσθαι, τοῦ ἐπικρινοῦντος δὴ δέοι ἂν ἤδη καὶ ἀναγκάζοιτ' ἂν ἐν αὐτῷ ψυχὴ ἀπορεῖν καὶ ζητεῖν, κινοῦσα ἐν ἑαυτῇ τὴν ἔννοιαν, καὶ ἀνερωτᾶν τί ποτέ ἐστιν αὐτὸ τὸ ἕν, καὶ οὕτω τῶν ἀγωγῶν ἂν εἴη καὶ μεταστρεπτικῶν ἐπὶ τὴν τοῦ ὄντος θέαν ἡ περὶ τὸ ἓν μάθησις.
Here is the Grube translation:
Reason it out from what was said before. If the one is adequately seen itself by itself or is so perceived by any of the other senses, then, as we were saying in the case of fingers, it wouldn’t draw the soul towards being. But if something opposite to it is always seen at the same time, so that nothing is apparently any more one that the opposite of one, then something would be needed to judge the matter. The soul would then be puzzled, would look for an answer, would stir up its understanding (ennoia), and would ask what the one itself is. And so this would be among the subjects that led the soul and turn it around towards the study of that which is.
I'm puzzled about the phrase: κινοῦσα ἐν ἑαυτῇ τὴν ἔννοιαν at 524e5 (Slings).

As far as I can tell, it's the only use of the noun ἔννοια in the dialogue.  (The verb is quite common.  See e.g. 525c8.)  My first question is: is ἔννοια here a cognitive faculty or capacity?  Or is it some kind of cognitive content held in the soul?  If the former, then it is perhaps like the references to how various things summon dianoia or call upon and awaken noēsis (e.g. 523d8-9).  (This is how Griffith translates κινοῦσα ἐν ἑαυτῇ τὴν ἔννοιαν: 'It would arouse the capacity for reflection in itself...')  In effect, the point would be that the soul stirring up the ennoia in it just is the soul calling upon its intellectual abilities to puzzle over the question of what the one is.  If the latter, then perhaps the soul asking what the one is involves the soul stirring up from within itself its ennoia of just that; it involves the stirring up of some cognitive content that answers or will help to answer the question of what the one is.  Here the ennoia is the content of some kind of understanding and not the faculty by which we might hope to come to understand something.  Any help out there with this one?  I agree that the latter option would perhaps by the more surprising.  It might even be a hint of the idea of some kind of innate understanding in every human soul: not a particularly unPlatonic idea, of course, but not something much emphasised in the Republic. And for that reason the former option is probably right.  But it remains a little peculiar for Socrates to drop a new term in here when he has in the immediate context happily been using noēsis and sometimes logismos to do the same job.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

The memories of Eumaeus

Here is a podcast of the lecture I gave last week at the Festival of Ideas.  I can't vouch for the sound quality (nor for the quality of the ideas) but it might be interesting to a few people.

And here is the accompanying Powerpoint with the slides so the presentation will make a little more sense. You'll have to guess when it's time to move on to the next slide... What fun!

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A big week

Lots to do next week.  I have the usual lecturing and supervising (including one of the pair I am doing this year for the Classics Prelims people) but on Tuesday I'm also giving a talk for the university's Festival of Ideas before zooming over the Corn Exchange to see Johnny Marr (thanks, Sis, for the birthday present of the tickets).  Then I'm braving the bus to Oxford to give a paper and will be hoping to be back in time for the usual round of teaching on Friday afternoon.  Best part of the week will, of course, be the concert on Tuesday.  Here's Johnny:

Thursday, October 09, 2014


Look, term has just begun and I have no idea which way is up, let alone any interesting ideas about some bit of ancient philosophy.  Once the rush of meetings, arrangements, rearrangements of things that I thought had been arranged, last-minute changes of teaching or whatever, is over then we can get down to the proper business of teaching and thinking.  (And there's a lot of good stuff happening here in Cambridge this term.  I'm looking forward to working through PA 1 in the Thursday seminar, even though I have started to regret volunteering to introduce PA 1.3.  If I ever work out who the 'dichotomisers' are I'm pretty sure I'll want to dichotomise them.)  In the meantime, here's a shelfie: