Wednesday, December 19, 2012
Friday, December 07, 2012
This is not news. (Though I imagine it is not a coincidence that The Sutton Trust should be reminding us all of the obvious this week as we listen to the radio before heading off to do some more admissions interviews.) Nor is it something we don't bear in mind when we are reading these personal statements.
Here is a Grauniad article from 2009 (the URL unhelpfully suggests that we 'ignore' personal statements) that makes clear the general position. I had something to say about it at the time: here.
For what it is worth, here are some other relevant and perhaps interesting links.
The Sutton Trust report
The (brief) advice on personal statements provided by the University of Cambridge
and, something I found a bit surprising, a website to which students can upload their draft statements and then invite feedback from other people browsing away. Perhaps worth a few moments -- the 'advice' offered is sometimes quite an eye-opener. Here is the collection of 'Cambridge personal statements'. (Compare this site...)
But you can download the Word documents for the Advertisement, Further Particulars, and Cover Sheet required for applications by clicking on the links.
Here is the advertisement:
UNIVERSITY OF OXFORD SOMERVILLE COLLEGE IN ASSOCIATION WITH THE FACULTY OF PHILOSOPHY TUTORIAL FELLOWSHIP IN ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY IN ASSOCIATION WITH A COMMON UNIVERSITY FUND (CUF) UNIVERSITY LECTURERSHIP
The University of Oxford: Somerville College and the Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford, invite applications from suitably qualified candidates for the above post starting 1 October 2013.
This post is permanent, subject to the satisfactory completion of a review of the initial period of office by the College and the University. This review, which will take place no later than the fifth year of appointment, is intended to be constructive; it is non-competitive, and most postholders in Oxford complete it satisfactorily.
The area of specialization for this post is Ancient Philosophy. The successful candidate must be able to provide research-led teaching and supervision in Ancient Philosophy at all levels, undergraduate and graduate. Applications from candidates whose work complements the research and teaching of the Faculty, will be welcome; this includes especially candidates with expertise in Ancient Philosophy after Aristotle.
The successful candidate should normally be able to give undergraduate teaching (in the form of tutorials) in at least two of Logic, General Philosophy and Moral Philosophy from the first year course and a variety of core areas for more advanced papers. A wider teaching repertoire is an advantage. The salary will be on grade 10a (£42,883 to £57,581 per annum, as at 1 October 2012) of the University’s pay and grading structure. Additional College allowances are payable.
The Further Particulars, with details about the position and how to apply, are available from the College and Faculty websites (http://www.some.ox.ac.uk and http://www.philosophy.ox.ac.uk).
By 1 January 2013, the successful candidate must have received the degree of PhD (or equivalent), or attained a comparable level of publications.
The closing date for receipt of applications is Monday 14 January 2013.
Applications for this post are particularly welcome from women and black and ethnic minority candidates, who are under-represented in academic posts in Oxford. The University and the College are equal opportunities employers.
Thursday, December 06, 2012
Phew. Bit hectic at the moment, despite the sabbatical. Quick trip to Paris then admissions interviews and a PhD viva to do.
But... My printer today spewed out what might be a first draft of the book I'm supposed to be writing. It will be chopped and changed a lot, but somehow I find it easier to spot the typos and see what has to be altered on a page rather than a screen. And its a nice feeling to see a pile of bits of paper rather than a list of files in a drop box window.
But, before I get to wield the red pen, there are a few more interviews to do next week. The coffee shop owners of Cambridge must be doing well at the moment sheltering the helicopter parents who sit fretting while their young things head off into the colleges.
Thursday, November 29, 2012
Monday, November 26, 2012
The review makes a very important point that the Hadot-style concentration on philosopy as a way of life and a kind of spiritual exercise, while it has significant merits, risks overlooking some rather important aspects of ancient philosophy specifically and philosophy itself more generally. There was more to philosophy than working out a way of life and there still is more to philosophy than that.
Car il n'est nullement prouvé que la philosophie antique et ses multiples branches se réduisent aisément à la seule recherche de la sagesse et la sérénité de l'âme. Si cette tâche est importante, il'n'en reste pas moins que mathématiques, logique, physique ou politique ne lui sont pas nécessairement tout entières subordonnées... Si la philosophie est certes traversée de spiritualité, d'entraînement à la sagesse, de souci de soi, on ne saurait oublier qu'elle est aussi constituée de concepts, d'arguments, et même de pure théorie. La partie des exercises spirituels vaut certes d'être reconnue. Elle ne peut ni ne doit se prendre pour le tout.Well said.
Tuesday, November 20, 2012
Tuesday, November 06, 2012
2012-2013 SÉMINAIRE DE PHILOSOPHIE ANCIENNE PARIS I-CNRS-LILLE III
A. Jaulin, C. Cerami, M. Crubellier UMR 7219/UMR 8163
Le plaisir dans les traditions platoniciennes et aristotéliciennes
Première séance : Platon Vendredi 30 Novembre 14h-17h :
14h Charlotte Murgier : « Le plaisir dans le Timée de Platon ».
15h Karine Tordo-Rombaut : « Pourquoi Socrate conteste-t-il le choix du plaisir ? »
16h Olivier Renaut : « Éduquer et transformer les plaisirs dans la cité ».
La séance aura lieu en salle 1605, au centre Pierre Mendès-France, 90, rue de Tolbiac, 75013. (M° Olympiades (ligne 14), M° Place d'Italie, M° Tolbiac, Bus 62, 83).
Samedi 1er Décembre 10h-12h :
10h James Warren : « Pleasure and piety in Plato's Philebus ».
11h Sylvain Delcominette : « Plaisirs mélangés et plaisirs purs ».
La séance aura lieu en salle Cavaillès, UFR de Philosophie, 17 rue de la Sorbonne, 75005.
Les séances suivantes auront lieu les 1 et 2 février 2013 (L’ancienne Académie et Aristote), les 15 et 16 Mars (Aristote et l’exégèse grecque), les 5 et 6 Avril (Traditions arabes et latines).
Friday, November 02, 2012
Saturday, October 27, 2012
The website for the conference with more details and information about submitting a proposal can be found here.
- Submission deadline: 13th January 2013
- Word limit: Abstract should be 500 words (max.)
- Please put ‘Conference Abstract Submission’ as the subject of your email.
- Please include your name, departmental affiliation, email address, and title of your paper in the body of the email.
- Abstracts should be prepared for blind review. · Please ensure your abstract is free from identifying personal details.
- Please submit abstracts as .doc or .pdf by email to email@example.com as an attachment.
Saturday, October 20, 2012
Monday, October 15, 2012
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
Here he is discussing the novel and the genesis of the ideas behind it.
Anyhow, it is worth mentioning here because there is a lot of philosophy in it and a lot of ancient philosophy in particular. There's certainly a lot of Plato there (and just why there might be philosophical ideas reminiscent of Platonism in this world turns out to be part of what the book is about.) There's an appendix that does a good job, for example, of offering an alternative dialogue that makes the same point as the slave experiment in Plato's Meno.
Tuesday, October 02, 2012
|The unexpected hits you between the eyes etc.|
Here is an interesting Epicurean argument against divination, found in a scholion to Aesh. Prometh. 624 (Us. 395):
᾿Επικούρειον ἐστι δόγμα ἀναιρῶν τὴν μαντικήν. «εἱμαρμένης γὰρ», φησί, «πάντων κρατούσης πρὸ καιροῦ λελύπηκας †εἰπὼν τὴν συμφορὰν ἢ χρηστόν† τι εἰπὼν τὴν ἡδονὴν ἐξέλυσας». λέγουσι δὲ καὶ τὸ «ἃ δεῖ γενέσθαι, ταῦτα καὶ γενήσεται»
There is an Epicurean doctrine that denies divination. Epicurus says: ‘If fate controls everything then when you declare the misfortune then you have
been pained before the right moment. Alternatively, if you declare something positive, then you have ruined the pleasure’. These people also say: ‘What has to be will be’. 
Monday, September 17, 2012
οὐδὲν οὖν ὁρῶ τὰς τοιαύτας ἡδονὰς ἴδιον ἐχούσας, ὅτι μόναι τῆς ψυχῆς εἰσιν, αἱ δ' ἄλλαι τοῦ σώματος καὶ περὶ τὸ σῶμα καταλήγουσιν· μέλος δὲ καὶ ῥυθμὸς καὶ ὄρχησις καὶ ᾠδὴ παραμειψάμεναι τὴν αἴσθησιν ἐν τῷ χαίροντι τῆς ψυχῆς ἀπερείδονται τὸ ἐπιτερπὲς καὶ γαργαλίζον. ὅθεν οὐδεμία τῶν τοιούτων ἡδονῶν ἀπόκρυφός ἐστιν οὐδὲ σκότους δεομένη καὶ τῶν τοίχων ‘περιθεόντων’, ὡς οἱ Κυρηναϊκοὶ λέγουσιν, ἀλλὰ καὶ στάδια ταύταις καὶ θέατρα ποιεῖται, καὶ τὸ μετὰ πολλῶν θεάσασθαί τι καὶ ἀκοῦσαι ἐπιτερπέστερόν ἐστι καὶ σεμνότερον, οὐκ ἀκρασίας δήπου καὶ ἡδυπαθείας ἀλλ' ἐλευθερίου διατριβῆς καὶ ἀστείας μάρτυρας ἡμῶν ὅτι πλείστους λαμβανόντων.’This is a modified version of the translation I found online here: 
Therefore I see nothing peculiar in those pleasures, that they should be thought to belong only to the soul, and all others to belong to the body, so far as to end there. But music, rhythm, dancing, song, passing through the sense, fix a pleasure and titillation  in the pleased part of the soul and therefore none of these pleasures is enjoyed in secret, nor wants darkness nor walls about it, according to the Cyrenaics' phrase; but circuses and theatres are built for them. And to frequent shows and music-meetings with company is both more delightful and more genteel; because we take a great many witnesses, not of a luxurious and intemperate, but of a pleasant and respectable manner of passing our time.The Quaestio here is 'That we ought to keep ourselves from pleasures from bad music and how this should be done'. Callistratus is trying to defend the idea that it would be wrong to think that the pleasures from theatre etc. are a cause of intemperance even if audiences occasionally get carried away. He doesn't think, with Aristoxenus, that only the pleasures of music should be called 'fine' but he also disagrees with Aristotle who thinks that the pleasures of music and dance belong only to rational human animals and not to non-rational animals. (Here Callistratus cites how some fish appear to take pleasure in rhythms and sounds.) Then he declares that the pleasures of dancing, songs, and the like generate pleasure in the soul such that they can (and indeed should) be enjoyed in public and in company. This, after all, is what theatres are built for. And there is nothing grubby or shameful in that.
The interesting bit for me is the phrase: τῶν τοίχων ‘περιθεόντων’, ὡς οἱ Κυρηναϊκοὶ λέγουσιν. It's pretty obscure. First, is this really a reference to some Cyrenaic philosophical vocabulary? The context seems appropriate and appropriately philosophical to think that it is. Second, if that's right, then what does it mean? We're used to thinking of the Cyrenaics as envisaging each person as in receipt of various pathê which are in themselves veridical and reliable insofar as they relate incorrigibly how the person is affected. And they will, as pathê of pleasure and pain, give good recommendations of what affections to pursue and which to avoid. But they won't give any reliable information about the nature of the external objects by which they are caused. In terms of walls and the like, I've seen the Cyrenaics (or perhaps their critics) use walls (city walls) as a metaphor before in their epistemology. Plutarch Adversus Colotem 1120C-D has the Cyrenaics holed up within themselves 'as if in a siege' (cf. 1120F). So I wonder: perhaps here Plutarch is using again this metaphor to contrast the Cyrenaics' position in which every perceiver is isolated and walled off from others with the public and communal enjoyment of theatrical and musical performances.
The other possibility (see note below) is that Plutarch is again referring to something mentioned also at 1089A, namely the Epicurean and Cyrenaic disagreement over whether one ought to have sex with the lights off. There we are told that the Cyrenaics were rather more restrained than their Epicurean hedonist rivals because they recommended doing it in the dark so as not to over-inflame the desires (Cf. QC 654D and Cic. Tusc. 5.112.)
 That 1909 translation doesn't refer to 'Cyrenaics', instead reading 'according to the women's phrase'. οἱ Κυρ. is Doehner's emendation (in his Quaestiones Plutarcheae 4 vols., 1840-63) for the MSS αἱ γυναῖκες. (Perhaps the textual uncertainty is the reason why this is not in SSR.) Both Hubert's 1971 Teubner and Minar, Sandbach and Helmbold's Loeb (Moralia vol. 9) retain οἱ Κυρ. I haven't managed to read Doehner, but the Teubner note ad loc. suggests the emendation was supported by reference to Non Posse 1089A.
Sunday, September 16, 2012
The best thing about conferences, really, is catching up with friends and colleagues. So perhaps we should cut the reading-out time and increase the drinking coffee/gossiping/bitching time.
Monday, September 10, 2012
To illustrate, here is a bit of his recent 3 part BBC 4 series On France.
Friday, September 07, 2012
Here's an introduction to the project:
Thursday, September 06, 2012
This is from the local news report:
He [Judge Peter Bowers] said: "It takes a huge amount of courage as far as I can see for somebody to burgle somebody’s house. I wouldn’t have the nerve. Yet somehow, bolstered by drugs and desperation, you were prepared to do that."Needless to say, this didn't go down well with one of the people burgled and now 'Dave' Cameron has had to say something about it because the story has been picked up by the national media.
And now also by the satirists.
Wednesday, September 05, 2012
So, over to you: what do you wish you had been told (and/or took notice of) when you were a new undergraduate?
Tuesday, August 28, 2012
Well, perhaps ancient philosophy is a relatively small sub-discipline. But just 4 out of the 300 or so papers in the 30 volumes so far? True, things have looked better more recently. But I don't suppose that is because scholarship in ancient philosophy has got better only recently or that it has got better relative to scholarship in other areas of philosophy more recently. (There's a brief explanation of the process that generates the annual list here.)
Anyway, perhaps there's not quite enough published in ancient philosophy each year to put together a crop of ten papers for an Ancient Philosopher's Annual, but if we widen the search to include chapters in books, I think we could come up a few nominations. Any suggestions for 2011? Or even for 2012 so far?
Tuesday, August 21, 2012
Tuesday, August 07, 2012
When planning to give a talk, Fernyhough argues, we draw on relevant memories, including memories of previous talks. From them, we extract some general lessons to help us to plan our talk, such as how to engage the audience, how to keep to time, and how best to cope with the cramped room in which the talk is to be given. It is a mundane example, but deliberately so, because from it he extracts the general contention that memory enables us to imagine future events. If this is so, we might expect those who have serious memory problems, such as amnesia, to experience problems in imagining future scenarios. One might also expect overlap between the brain areas that are active when recalling past events and those active when imagining future ones. Both these predictions have recently received empirical support, and this has added weight to what medieval writers contended: that memory and imagination are intimately related. It also reminds us of one reason why we have such sophisticated memory abilities in the first place: remembering enhances our ability to deal with the present and to imagine different possible futures.
Thursday, August 02, 2012
Friday, July 20, 2012
I have resisted up until now but I have splurged some of my supervision money on a Nexus 7 tablet. I'm trying out its blogging app at the moment. So far, I'm impressed. I'm not a Mac person so this suits me fine. It syncs with my Google account, as does my phone. So that's easy. And for now it seems big enough without being too big. More updates if I can be bothered.
Monday, July 16, 2012
She likes Aristotle. This is a good thing, even if her chronology is a bit out. This is from an article in Sunday's Observer.
She also told me "Aristotle is my main man. Oh my God, it's definitely got to be old Aristotle. He had all these ideas before anyone really knew anything – a whole new way of thinking was based around his thoughts. And this was like millions of years ago! It's crazy!"
Thursday, July 12, 2012
Friday, July 06, 2012
Here is a related distinction between different kinds of people that may be familiar to those who work in institutions a bit like the ones I belong to.
Call this 'occupational direction of fit'.
In some cases the direction of fit is: job ---> behaviour (JtoB). That is: the job one has places certain constraints and obligations on how one acts and the job-holder's behaviour alters to fit.
But in come other cases the direction of fit is: behaviour ---> job (BtoJ). That is: the way a person behaves places certain constraints and requirements on the way that person's job is understood.
|(Cartoon from here.)|
Most organisations in which people have paid employment will, I think, assume a JtoB model. Someone employed as a X in the organisation, because of what is involved in being an X, will do what that role requires and not do what that role precludes. The payment is what compensates for the employee making the alterations to behaviour that are required to fit the role.
But there are occasions when it goes the other way. Imagine a person who simply cannot do A or cannot refrain from doing B. Sometimes what happens is that the job alters to fit the behaviour. (Sometimes it's by far the easier option than trying to get the person's behaviour to change.) 'Well, we can't ask Y to do this because, you know... so we'll have to do it for him/get someone else to do it' etc.
It seems to me that in messy practical contexts we often work with an amalgam of JtoB and BtoJ. And this mostly negotiates the demands that various jobs get done and respects the fact that people are different, sometimes malleable and sometimes not. Sometimes this is OK. But at other times it is annoying, particularly in cases in which it seems that two similarly placed people within an organisation are not respecting the same direction of fit...
|(Cartoon from here.)|
Monday, June 25, 2012
Here’s the first, Vatican Saying 27:
Ἐπὶ μὲν τῶν ἄλλων ἐπιτηδευμάτων μόλις τελειωθεῖσιν ὁ καρπὸς ἔρχεται, ἐπὶ δὲ φιλοσοφίας συντρέχει τῇ γνώσει τὸ τερπνόν· οὐ γὰρ μετὰ μάθησιν ἀπόλαυσις, ἀλλὰ ἅμα μάθησις καὶ ἀπόλαυσις.Bailey translates:
‘In all other occupations the fruit comes painfully after completion, but in philosophy pleasure goes hand in hand with knowledge; for enjoyment does not come after comprehension, but comprehension and enjoyment are simultaneous.’Compare Diogenes of Oinoanda fr. 33.VI.11–VII.10 Smith for the idea that the pleasure and the cause of the pleasure can be simultaneous: we do not eat and then afterwards experience pleasure because of eating nor do we ejaculate and then later experience pleasure because of that . In these cases what causes the pleasure and the pleasure itself are simultaneous.
This Saying is mostly concerned with pointing out that knowledge and pleasure come about simultaneously (at the moment I come to know something I simultaneously enjoy knowing that something). Knowing is just all by itself something pleasant. I don’t need to wait for that knowledge to be useful or to lead to some later pleasure; it’s pleasant all by itself and the pleasure occurs as soon as something is known. So, like the Diogenes of Oinoanda fragment, it might well be aimed at dispelling the idea that the Epicureans think that knowledge—like virtue—is good only in a crude way because of some later pleasure that it might produce. Instead, they want to say that knowledge is good because it is pleasant immediately and all by itself. The chronological claim is perhaps best understood as a claim about the nature of the value of knowledge. Knowledge is intrinsically pleasant and therefore valuable; knowledge does not have to wait to cause some later pleasure for it to be valuable.
The Epicureans clearly feel some pressure to recognise a value of knowledge that is not merely contingent on its producing some later pleasure while still holding firm to their hedonist axiology. Perhaps the idea is this: It is not pleasant to know some trigonometry just because it will allow me later on to build a house efficiently and live in a secure and water-tight dwelling. Yes, it will do that. But knowing that the square on the hypotenuse is equal to etc. etc. is just pleasant all by itself. Or, if we want a more specific example of some Epicurean ‘philosophy’, perhaps it is not pleasant to know that lightning is not caused by divine anger just because that will allow me to live a life free from superstitious anxieties. Yes, it will do that. But knowing that lightning is caused thus-and-so is just pleasant all by itself. (Compare Ep. Hdt. 78–9 and Ep. Pyth. 86 which also stress the necessity of a sufficient knowledge of such things for living a good life.)
It is still the case that the value of knowledge lies in its being pleasant, of course, but its pleasantness is intrinsic and inseperable. The Saying does not say whether it continues to be pleasant to know something. A lot would depend on the precise meaning of gnōsis and mathēsis. For example: if the latter means ‘learning’ in the sense of the event of coming to know something, then it will not follow that just because this is all by itself pleasant just when it happens, it will continue to be pleasant to have learned something. But the sense of the event of coming to know something makes best sense of the claim there need be no time-lag between the mathēsis and the pleasure. (This is not a common word in Epicurus. Nor is the cognate verb common. But compare SV 74: ‘In philosophical shared inquiry the one who is beaten gains more according to how much more he learns [prosemathen].’) The former, however, gnōsis, is more likely to mean an on-going state of knowing or understanding. (See, for example, its use in Ep. Hdt. 78–9). (It’s a familiar problem with ancient philosophical claims for the pleasantness of knowing that it is sometimes unclear whether they mean that it is pleasant to come-to-know or to continue-to-know, or both. And the reasons for making either claim or both claims might have to be different.)
 I’ve been thinking a bit about Epicureanism again lately because Pamela Gordon very kindly sent me a copy of her new book, The Invention and Gendering of Epicurus (Ann Arbor, 2012): very interesting it is too.
 For a recent discussion see D. N. Sedley, ‘Diogenes of Oenoanda on Cyrenaic hedonism’, PCPS 48 (2002), 159–74
Friday, June 15, 2012
And it's raining most of the time. Which at least washes away the smell of stale cava from the pavements when it has dripped off a pale undergraduate who has emerged blinking from an examination hall to find some 'hilarious' friends ready in ambush with poorly-aimed sticky fizzy wine.
I'm not in the best of moods.
On the other hand, the work I've read is pretty impressive given all that our students have to do and the slightly eccentric method by which we decide to grade their achievements. Some clever things, some hard work and only occasionally the feeling that what I'm reading is the complete and undigested contents of a rapidly-acquired superficial acquaintance with information that should have been thought about properly. So hooray for the students who work hard and are clever. Not that this means I won't curse them in the coming week as they roam the street in be-blazered and chino-shorted gangs, bumping into respectable civilians and imagining that they really are quite the most important people here. They will all leave soon.
And then. And then I have a year of sabbatical to do some proper reading and writing.
One last moan. CUP have at last produced Myles Burnyeat's collected papers. Two volumes. Nice paper and sturdy binding (certainly feels sturdier than some recent OUP things). But £75 per volume. £75, for pity's sake. That's £150 for about 740 pages of things. I'd been saving up credit from reading and refereeing work for the Press, but this has now blown a big hole in my account. £150. Really! (But, the good people at amazon will do you a deal on the two volume set -- see below -- and I am pleased to see that unlike some other volumes of this kind it has the handy marks that indicate the pagination in the original publication. That's a very good thing.)
Wednesday, June 06, 2012
Wednesday, May 30, 2012
Anyway, I think it was having to do this that made me feel anxious all morning and in fact I felt quite sick at lunchtime. As if it was an odd physiological memory of being a student taking the exam. I had taken nearly all my own exams in that same place and, 17 years or so ago, I was sitting the B2 Aristotle paper there. Anyway, the smell of the bins outside the Corn Exchange on a hot May day, the sounds of the desks and chairs scraping and clanking and, finally, the noise of two hundred question papers being turned over at exactly 1.30pm by the clock hung on a wooden post on the stage at the front of the hall... It all made me feel quite ill. After twenty minutes I escaped along with an examiner who will have to plough through what must be a huge pile of Shakespeare scripts, thankful that I didn't have to take the paper. But I will be back on Monday to begin the Part II Plato paper and will probably feel the same again. Horrible.
Wednesday, May 16, 2012
οἷον τῇ τῶν ἀφροδισίων· οὐδένα γὰρ ἂν δύνασθαι νοῆσαί τι ἐν αὐτῇ. (1152b17–18)
(… as with the pleasure of sex: no one could have any thoughts when enjoying that.) trans. C. Rowe.I like to imagine Theophrastus sitting in the audience and being a bit taken aback… (I don’t know why I think this might bother Theophrastus; he just seems like that kind of person. And I don't think I’d get away with a comment like this in a lecture. Just imagine the questionnaire returns.) It’s a reasonable point, I suppose, if you add some further thoughts. If sex is a natural human activity and sex is very pleasurable and it is impossible to think properly while having sex then perhaps there is a tension between at least some parts of our nature and our wonderful intellectual capacities.
Still, is it just me or does this conjure up all sorts of other images? Perhaps Aristotle had tried it out. (‘Hang on, darling, I’m just wondering about a first figure syllogism…’) And I suppose if you do manage to do a bit of demonstration while having sex, you perhaps are not really engaging properly in either activity. Anyway, it's a shame he doesn't come back to this in 10.5 when he explains how his account of the way in which activities each have a characteristic pleasure explains various phenomena like this.
Wednesday, May 09, 2012
Anyway, I'm more interested by the fact that the line also appears at Republic 568a-b. Coincidence? You decide! Let's see what the learned types make of this tomorrow but for now I'm wondering whether more than one of these short sometimes suspect dialogues have a similar connection to the more central works, particularly the Republic (e.g. Clitophon). Perhaps these are 'satellite' works that can stand alone but are knowingly put together with a view to a more well-know, demanding, and central work. They are intended to be read alongside that larger work. As far as authenticity goes, this can go either way: perhaps they are dialogues inspired by that large work, composed after Plato as 'spin-offs' from his original; or perhaps these are Plato's work too, like DVD extras.
Tuesday, May 08, 2012
Tuesday, May 01, 2012
Monday, April 30, 2012
Here's some more from Plato about foreign travel into and out of a good city, this time the Laws' Magnesia. (This is Jowett's translation of Laws 12 950b-953e):
And our Cretan colony ought also to acquire the fairest and noblest reputation for virtue from other men; and there is every reason to expect that, if the reality answers to the idea, she will before of the few well-ordered cities which the sun and the other Gods behold. Wherefore, in the matter of journeys to other countries and the reception of strangers, we enact as follows:-
In the first place, let no one be allowed to go anywhere at all into a foreign country who is less than forty years of age; and no one shall go in a private capacity, but only in some public one, as a herald, or on an embassy; or on a sacred mission. Going abroad on an expedition or in war, not to be included among travels of the class authorized by the state. To Apollo at Delphi and to Zeus at Olympia and to Nemea and to the Isthmus,-citizens should be sent to take part in the sacrifices and games there dedicated to the Gods; and they should send as many as possible, and the best and fairest that can be found, and they will make the city renowned at holy meetings in time of peace, procuring a glory which shall be the converse of that which is gained in war; and when they come home they shall teach the young that the institutions of other states are inferior to their own. And they shall send spectators of another sort, if they have the consent of the guardians, being such citizens as desire to look a little more at leisure at the doings of other men; and these no law shall hinder. For a city which has no experience of good and bad men or intercourse with them, can never be thoroughly, and perfectly civilized, nor, again, can the citizens of a city properly observe the laws by habit only, and without an intelligent understanding of them. And there always are in the world a few inspired men whose acquaintance is beyond price, and who spring up quite as much in ill-ordered as in well-ordered cities.
These are they whom the citizens of a well ordered city should be ever seeking out, going forth over sea and over land to find him who is incorruptible-that he may establish more firmly institutions in his own state which are good already; and amend what is deficient; for without this examination and enquiry a city will never continue perfect any more than if the examination is ill-conducted.
Cleinias. How can we have an examination and also a good one?
Athenian Stranger. In this way: In the first place, our spectator shall be of not less than fifty years of age; he must be a man of reputation, especially in war, if he is to exhibit to other cities a model of the guardians of the law, but when he is more than sixty years of age he shall no longer continue in his office of spectator, And when he has carried on his inspection during as many out of the ten years of his office as he pleases, on his return home let him go to the assembly of those who review the laws. This shall be a mixed body of young and old men, who shall be required to meet daily between the hour of dawn and the rising of the sun. They shall consist, in the first place, of the priests who have obtained the rewards of virtue; and in the second place, of guardians of the law, the ten eldest being chosen; the general superintendent of education shall also be member, as well the last appointed as those who have been released from the office; and each of them shall take with him as his companion young man, whomsoever he chooses, between the ages of thirty and forty. These shall be always holding conversation and discourse about the laws of their own city or about any specially good ones which they may hear to be existing elsewhere; also about kinds of knowledge which may appear to be of use and will throw light upon the examination, or of which the want will make the subject of laws dark and uncertain to them. Any knowledge of this sort which the elders approve, the younger men shall learn with all diligence; and if any one of those who have been invited appear to be unworthy, the whole assembly shall blame him who invited him. The rest of the city shall watch over those among the young men who distinguish themselves, having an eye upon them, and especially honouring them if they succeed, but dishonouring them above the rest if they turn out to be inferior.
This is the assembly to which he who has visited the institutions of other men, on his return home shall straightway go, and if he have discovered any one who has anything to say about the enactment of laws or education or nurture, or if he have himself made any observations, let him communicate his discoveries to the whole assembly. And if he be seen to have come home neither better nor worse, let him be praised at any rate for his enthusiasm; and if he be much better, let him be praised so much the more; and not only while he lives but after his death let the assembly honour him with fitting honours. But if on his return home he appear to have been corrupted, pretending to be wise when he is not, let him hold no communication with any one, whether young or old; and if he will hearken to the rulers, then he shall be permitted to live as a private individual; but if he will not, let him die, if he be convicted in a court of law of interfering about education and the laws, And if he deserve to be indicted, and none of the magistrates indict him, let that be counted as a disgrace to them when the rewards of virtue are decided. Let such be the character of the person who goes abroad, and let him go abroad under these conditions.
In the next place, the stranger who comes from abroad should be received in a friendly spirit. Now there are four kinds of strangers, of whom we must make some mention-the first is he who comes and stays throughout the summer; this class are like birds of passage, taking wing in pursuit of commerce, and flying over the sea to other cities, while the season lasts; he shall be received in market-places and harbours and public buildings, near the city but outside, by those magistrates who are appointed to superintend these matters; and they shall take care that a stranger, whoever he be, duly receives justice; but he shall not be allowed to make any innovation. They shall hold the intercourse with him which is necessary, and this shall be as little as possible.
The second kind is just a spectator who comes to see with his eyes and hear with his ears the festivals of the Muses; such ought to have entertainment provided them at the temples by hospitable persons, and the priests and ministers of the temples should see and attend to them. But they should not remain more than a reasonable time; let them see and hear that for the sake of which they came, and then go away, neither having suffered nor done any harm. The priests shall be their judges, if any of them receive or do any wrong up to the sum of fifty drachmae, but if any greater charge be brought, in such cases the suit shall come before the wardens of the agora.
The third kind of stranger is he who comes on some public business from another land, and is to be received with public honours. He is to be received only by the generals and commanders of horse and foot, and the host by whom he is entertained, in conjunction with the Prytanes, shall have the sole charge of what concerns him.
There is a fourth class of persons answering to our spectators, who come from another land to look at ours. In the first place, such visits will be rare, and the visitor should be at least fifty years of age; he may possibly be wanting to see something that is rich and rare in other states, or himself to show something in like manner to another city. Let such an one, then, go unbidden to the doors of the wise and rich, being one of them himself: let him go, for example, to the house of the superintendent of education, confident that he is a fitting guest of such a host, or let him go to the house of some of those who have gained the prize of virtue and hold discourse with them, both learning from them, and also teaching them; and when he has seen and heard all, he shall depart, as a friend taking leave of friends, and be honoured by them with gifts and suitable tributes of respect.
These are the customs, according to which our city should receive all strangers of either sex who come from other countries, and should send forth her own citizens, showing respect to Zeus, the God of hospitality, not forbidding strangers at meals and sacrifices, as is the manner which prevails among the children of the Nile, nor driving them away by savage proclamations.
Wednesday, April 25, 2012
Sunday, April 22, 2012
Thursday, April 12, 2012
Wednesday, March 28, 2012
δοκεῖ γοῦν ἡ φιλοσοφία θαυμαστὰς ἡδονὰς ἔχειν καθαρειότητι καὶ τῷ βεβαίῳ, εὔλογον δὲ τοῖς εἰδόσι τῶν ζητούντων ἡδίω τὴν διαγωγὴν εἶναι.
At least, it is thought that philosophy contains pleasures that are astonishing in both purity and stability and it is reasonable to think that life is more pleasant for those who know than for those who are inquiring.It is unusual, it seems to me, for Aristotle to talk about the purity of a pleasure although it is of course a notion very familiar from Plato. Should we say that Aristotle did think that pleasures themselves varied in terms of purity or should we say instead that Aristotle is citing a reputable endoxon (a Platonic thought) that can be thought to support his general view that contemplative activity is the best activity available to humans and will therefore be accompanied by the best pleasure? 
It is not easy to find any other explicit reference to pleasures being more or less (let alone astonishingly) pure in Aristotle. True, he does say that god’s activity will be very pleasant because contemplation is most pleasant and best (Met. 1072b19–26) and there are similar claims in the NE about how pleasant intellectual activity is for us humans (e.g. 1174b20–23). But these do not make the case for the excellence of such pleasures in terms of the purity of the pleasure concerned.
The closest is at NE 1175b36–1176a3 but it is not easy to interpret:
διαφέρει δὲ ἡ ὄψις ἁφῆς καθαρειότητι, καὶ ἀκοὴ καὶ ὄσφρησις γεύσεως· ὁμοίως δὴ διαφέρουσι καὶ αἱ ἡδοναί, καὶ τούτων αἱ περὶ τὴν διάνοιαν, καὶ ἑκάτεραι ἀλλήλων.According to Bonitz’ Index these are the only two occurrences of the noun καθαρειότης in the corpus. And in fact, setting aside related terms such as katharsis, Aristotle appears not to use cognate terms for ‘purity’ much at all.  The first set of distinctions is between different sense modalities. The senses seem to differ in that the distance senses are purer than the contact senses, with perhaps sight as the purest of all.  Direct contact with the object of perception seems to be associated with impurity of some kind. Something then follows about the respective pleasures of the various senses and also about the pleasures of the senses generally compared with the pleasures of thinking. Provided the ‘similarly’ is thought to mean not just that the pleasures differ as the senses do but that they differ in purity as the senses do, then we have here another reference to pleasures differing in terms of purity (perhaps because their specific sense-objects differ in that regard) and the claim that the pleasures of thought are purer than the pleasures of perception.
Sight differs from touch in purity, as do hearing and smell differ from taste. Their pleasures differ similarly; not only do the pleasures of thinking differ from these but so does each from one another.
There are certainly texts that suggest that Aristotle, like Plato, was prepared to distinguish between different objects of perception in terms of their purity. For example, at De Sensu 439b31–440a6  he first claims that there are some colours that are more pleasant to look at than others because their components are in easily expressible ratios to one another. Here he is borrowing a thought from similar notions about pleasant and unpleasant notes and chords in audible harmonies. He then distinguishes between pure and impure colours. The implication is that the pure colours are the most pleasant to look at. And this is a thought that recurs in the NE in the claim that the activity of sight is engaged most fully when we look at a beautiful object (1174b14–20). All the same, the idea of pure pleasures is not something that Aristotle emphasises except when it comes to offering a rousing claim about the astonishingly pleasant nature of philosophy. The principal work is done by distinguishing between different activities in terms of their value and intensity and claims about different pleasures will follow from that.
 See e.g. G. Van Riel, Pleasure and the Good Life: Plato, Aristotle and the Neoplatonists (Leiden, 2000), 70–71. Cf. Broadie’s note ad loc. in S. Broadie and C. Rowe, Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics. Translation, introduction, and commentary (Oxford, 2002).
 The bee is the ‘purest’ animal (626a24); there is a reference to those who are ‘pure’ in appearance, dress and general conduct at Rhet. 1381b1.
 For the details of the distinctions between the contact senses and the other senses see T. Johansen, Aristotle on the Sense-Organs (Cambridge, 1997), 178–225.
 De sensu 439b31–440a6: τὰ μὲν γὰρ ἐν ἀριθμοῖς εὐλογίστοις χρώματα, καθάπερ ἐκεῖ τὰς συμφωνίας, τὰ ἥδιστα τῶν χρωμάτων εἶναι δοκοῦντα, οἷον τὸ ἁλουργὸν καὶ τὸ φοινικοῦν καὶ ὀλίγ' ἄττα τοιαῦτα (δι' ἥνπερ αἰτίαν καὶ αἱ συμφωνίαι ὀλίγαι), τὰ δὲ μὴ ἐν ἀριθμοῖς τἆλλα χρώματα· ἢ καὶ πάσας τὰς χρόας ἐν ἀριθμοῖς εἶναι, τὰς μὲν τεταγμένας τὰς δὲ ἀτάκτους, καὶ αὐτὰς ταύτας, ὅταν μὴ καθαραὶ ὦσι, διὰ τὸ μὴ ἐν ἀριθμοῖς εἶναι τοιαύτας γίγνεσθαι.
Monday, March 26, 2012
Thursday, March 22, 2012
Wednesday, March 14, 2012
Jonathan Barnes « Memories of Jacques », Les études philosophiques 4/2011 (n° 99), p. 595-601.
URL : www.cairn.info/revue-les-etudes-philosophiques-2011-4-page-595.htm.
DOI : 10.3917/leph.114.0595.
Wednesday, February 29, 2012
|Look through here to see things from a long time ago.|
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
These events will involve lectures and sessions by academics, including the subject Director of Studies, and are designed to:
• stimulate interest and thought
• give a sense of university-level study
• highlight the particular nature of the Cambridge course
• enrich students’ academic studies
The first session starts at 10.30 and the event ends at 15.15. Lunch and refreshments are included. The closing date for applications is 5th March 2012. Early booking is advised.
Applications must be made via your school. Please use the nomination form (link below) and return the completed form to the address shown. Schools can nominate a maximum of 2 students per taster event.
Closing date for Nominations 5th March 2012
For more information on studying as an undergraduate at Corpus click here.
Thursday, February 23, 2012
Thursday, February 16, 2012
It would indeed be hard to make sense of it if Socrates were claiming that pains seem lesser and less intense when compared with pleasures, when he is claiming that pleasures seem greater and more intense when compared with pain. It would also be inconsistent with what Plato says about the mutual intensification of juxtaposed pleasures and pains in Republic IX (at least as I understand it): 586c1-2, for instance, suggests that both pleasure and pain appear more intense when juxtaposed with one another. Moreover, 584a7-10 and 584e8-585a5 suggest that the effect of juxtaposition with a contrasting experience is symmetrical in the case of pleasure and pain.
My suggestion is to understand 'the opposite' differently: we are to understand that the intensity of pleasure and pain can be placed on a continuum, such that maximally intense pleasure and maximally intense pain are at the opposite ends of this continuum, with the neutral state in the middle. On this understanding, pain appearing more painful and intense could be understood as the opposite of pleasure appearing more pleasant and intense. This use of 'the opposite' would be like its use in saying that on certain economic policies, the rich get richer and the opposite happens to the poor, meaning that the poor get poorer - each becoming more of its kind.This would get Socrates to say something sensible, I suppose. Nearer pains might appear more intense and nearer pains might do the opposite, by appearing more intense too.
Wednesday, February 15, 2012
Νῦν δέ γε αὐταὶ διὰ τὸ πόρρωθέν τε καὶ ἐγγύθεν ἑκάστοτε μεταβαλλόμεναι θεωρεῖσθαι, καὶ ἅμα τιθέμεναι παρ' ἀλλήλας, αἱ μὲν ἡδοναὶ παρὰ τὸ λυπηρὸν μείζους φαίνονται καὶ σφοδρότεραι, λῦπαι δ' αὖ διὰ τὸ παρ' ἡδονὰς τοὐναντίον ἐκείναις.Which I think means something like:
But now, because of the fact of being seen from nearby and then far away in turn and, at that same time, being set against one another, the pleasures appear greater and more intense when compared with pain, while the pains seem the opposite when compared with pleasures.I'm a bit confused by this. On the face of it, Socrates seems to say that pleasures seem greater and more intense when compared with pain and that pains seem lesser and less intense when compared with pleasures. But why should that be so? I might think that what he ought to say is something about us being biased to the near, whether what is nearer is a pleasure or a pain: the nearer pleasure seems greater and more intense than it ought in comparison with a further pain and a nearer pain seems greater and more intense than it ought in comparison with a further pleasure. But he doesn't, or at least I don't think he does. (Damascius thinks he does: In Phileb. §187.) Socrates does not say that nearer pains appear greater and more intense than they ought in comparison with later pleasures. But such a claim about nearer pains seems at least as plausible as the claim he certainly does make about nearer pleasures.
Is it because Socrates thinks we are biased not to the near but to the pleasant? This might be what be he is interested in rather than a bias to the near; the analogy with nearer and further objects of sight would on this account be rather misleading. Or could it be that he somehow combines the two thoughts? He thinks we are biased so as to tend to overvalue mistakenly only the nearer pleasure (but that we do not equally tend mistakenly to overvalue the nearer pain). Or is Socrates simply not at all interested about mistakes concerning pains, only those that concern pleasures and therefore is not very careful to spell out the possibility of doloric mistakes?
 : Ὅτι ὡς ἐπὶ τῶν αἰσθητῶν τὰ μὲν ἐγγύθεν ὁρᾶται μείζω, τὰ δὲ πόρρωθεν ἐλάττω, τὰ αὐτὰ ὄντα, οὕτω καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν ἡδέων καὶ ἐπὶ τῶν λυπηρῶν· τὸ γὰρ παρὸν ἀεὶ μεῖζον εἶναι δοκεῖ τοῦ ἀπόντος, καὶ <λυπηρὸν> λυπηροῦ καὶ ἡδὺ ἡδέος καὶ ἡδὺ λυπηροῦ καὶ λυπηρὸν ἡδέος.
Tuesday, February 07, 2012
ξένων δέ ποτε θεάσασθαι θελόντων Δημοσθένην, τὸν μέσον δάκτυλον ἐκτείνας, “οὗτος ὑμῖν,” ἔφη,“ἐστὶν ὁ Ἀθηναίων δημαγωγός.
When some friends from out of town wanted to do and see Demosthenes, he stretched out his middle finger and said, "This is the Athenians' demagogue".
οὐκ οἶδας, ὅτι Διογένης τῶν σοφιστῶν τινα οὕτως ἔδειξεν ἐκτείνας τὸν μέσον δάκτυλον, εἶτα ἐκμανέντος αὐτοῦ ‘Οὗτός ἐστιν’, ἔφη, ‘ὁ δεῖνα· ἔδειξα ὑμῖν αὐτόν’;
τῷ μέσῳ δακτύλῳ συναρμόσας τὸν μέγαν καὶ πλήξας ἐφυβρίζει. ἢ ἀντὶ τοῦ κατεδακτύλισε· σκιμαλίσαι γάρ ἐστι κυρίως τὸ μέσον τὸν δάκτυλον εἰς τὸν πρωκτὸν τοῦ ὀρνέου ἐμβαλεῖν. οὐ μόνον δὲ τοῦτο, ἀλλὰ καὶ ὅταν βουλόμενοι ἐνυβρίσαι τινά, τὸν μέσον δάκτυλον ἐντείνοντες καὶ τοὺς λοιποὺς συνάγοντες δείξωσιν αὐτῷ. Ἀριστοφάνης· καὶ τὸν δορυξὸν οἷον ἐσκιμάλισεν.
Thursday, February 02, 2012
Saturday, January 28, 2012
Friday, January 27, 2012
Sunday, January 22, 2012
But I think I have discovered the problem. It's wikipedia. The relevant bit of the page http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fellow reads as follows:
Oxford, Cambridge and Dublin...
- At Cambridge, teaching officers (lecturers, readers, and professors) are entitled to a college fellowship. For lecturers and readers, the process is competitive – generally the most able academics get fellowships at the richest and most prestigious colleges. Professors are allocated to colleges by a centralised process to ensure fairness. These fellows may or may not provide small-group teaching to undergraduates in the college, for which they would be paid by the hour. College fellows at Cambridge (except for research fellows) have no duties as such and are not paid. They will typically have a salaried post either with their college or the university.