Tuesday, August 28, 2012

The Ancient Philosopher's Annual

The Philosopher's Annual for 2011 (volume 31) can be found here.  I've been looking back over the contents of past volumes (1-29; not sure where volume 30 went but there's a list on Brian Leiter's site here) and there is not very much in there about ancient philosophy.  In the new issue there is “The Concept of Unified Agency in Nietzsche, Plato, and Schiller” by Paul Katsafanas in Journal of the History of Philosophy 49. Before then, Jessica Moss' "Akrasia and perceptual illusion" from AGP was in volume 29 and Michael N. Forster's "Socrates' Profession of Ignorance" from Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy in volume 27.  Then (if I haven't missed something) you have to go all the way back to volume 12 for the next one: Jean Roberts' 'Political Animals in the Nicomachean Ethics' from Phronesis

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


We're just back from hols in Italy. We stayed in Ercolano, which tuned out to be very convenient for all the good sites, but also very quiet. This is a good thing, but the August holidays in fact ensured that most of the shops and restaurants were closed.  Still, we did find the excellent Tubba Catubba, though it kept to eccentric and unpredictable opening hours and, like most other places, would/could not take payment by card. Great food though. And we found a couple of good pizzerias (my favourite was Luna Caprese - a bit chaotic and lots of fun).

The hotel was good too and had an excellent pool. 

Some bits were less good. The Naples Archeological Museum was suffering from the familiar malaise of random gallery closures. Sara really wanted to see the stuff from the Greek colonies but that section was closed. Would it be open later in the week?  A shrug from the person at the info desk didn't help much. Maybe, maybe not.  Perhaps we should have rung ahead and arranged to see it.

Pompeii is amazing, of course, but for my money Herculaneum is better.

Tuesday, August 07, 2012

Credit where it's due

Here's an interesting bit of a review in the current Times Higher of Charles Fernyhough's Piece of Light: the new science of memory.
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. 
What medieval writers contended?  Huh.  They may well have done.  But they were by no means the first to have the idea.  Try Plato's Philebus -- which is where Aristotle also got the idea, I reckon.

Thursday, August 02, 2012

People to cheer for in the Olympics II

Chad Le Clos. Not so much for him as for his excellent Dad. 

And here he is charming Claire Balding: