Ph.D., Philosophy, 2001, The Ohio State University,
BA, Philosophy (Magna Cum Laude), 1995, Yale University
My research focuses on Plato's philosophical method, dialectic, and its relation to his metaphysics. Currently, I am working on a project on investigation from hypothesis, a method that appears in Plato's Meno, Phaedo, and Republic.
PHI210: History of Ancient Philosophy: Ancient Greek Philosophy occupies a unique place in the history of western philosophy as the origin of the questions and methods that define the tradition. At the same time, the Ancient Greek tradition is distinguished from later periods by the central place it assigns to the question, “How should one live?” This semester we will explore both aspects of the tradition in the three most important Greek philosophers, Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle. Among the questions we will explore are: What is the good life for human beings? What is most real? What is knowledge and how do we go about getting it? Why should I care about other people?
PHI212: Medieval Philosophy: Medieval Philosophy roughly covers the philosophy done in Europe, Northern Africa and Asia-Minor from the end of late antiquity – the fall of the Roman Empire in the 4th century C.E. – to the intellectual and cultural flourishing of the European Renaissance in the 15th and 16th centuries. Beyond these chronological endpoints, what more can be said about this period to represent it as a coherent philosophical tradition? Traditionally, two factors have been predominant. The first is that medieval philosophy is an outgrowth and a response to the philosophical tradition of Ancient Greece. The second is that medieval philosophy is performed predominantly by individuals of deep religious faith, and thus shaped by religious concerns. Consequently, much medieval philosophy is understood as a merging of Ancient Philosophical questions, doctrines, and methods with the developing major religions: Christianity, Islam, and Judaism. There is certainly a good deal of truth to this overview, but there is also much in Medieval philosophy that goes beyond religious concerns, and contributes to the core discussions that define the philosophical tradition up to the current day. This semester, we will survey the rich and diverse philosophy of the medieval period, with an eye to both its distinctiveness and its commonality with the philosophy of earlier and later periods.
PHI381: Plato: An intensive treatment of some of the major philosophical themes in selected dialogues of Plato.
PHI382: Aristotle: A comprehensive study of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics. Besides presenting a virtue-based moral theory—the inspiration for contemporary virtue ethics—the Ethics offers accounts of eudaimonia, happiness or flourishing, the structure of human character, the structure of deliberation, decision and voluntary action, intellectual virtues and practical wisdom, akrasia or weakness of will, friendship, pleasure, and the role of theoretical contemplation in a happy human life. In sum, it is a treatise on what it is to be human, and how to live a flourishing human life, through the exercise of reason.
FYS/PHI175: The Emergence of Philosophy in Ancient Greece: Philosophy as we know it developed into a distinct discipline at a specific time, in a specific place: Ancient Greece, and more specifically Athens, 5th Century B.C.E. In this class, we explore the questions and conversations that contributed to this remarkable moment, focusing in particular on the conversation between Philosophy and Poetry. Reading a selection of some of the most important works, we will ask: How do Poetry and Philosophy differ in their representations of human affairs? Do the disciplines give systematically different accounts of human motivations and happiness? How might these differences be related to the different ways the disciplines conduct their discourse, and reach their audiences? Finally, do poetry and philosophy differ in their understanding of how poetry works, that is, of what enables poets and poetic performers to succeed, and of how poetry affects its audience? How do poetry and philosophy differ about the value of poetry to human life: is it a medium for the expression and transmission of knowledge or wisdom? Does it ennoble, or otherwise help us? Is it dangerous?