But if you go to the Routledge site you can get a peak of the contents. They will even let you browse the first thirty pages which includes such thrills as the list of abbreviations and my very brief introduction. You can also try out the 'widget' below.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
But if you go to the Routledge site you can get a peak of the contents. They will even let you browse the first thirty pages which includes such thrills as the list of abbreviations and my very brief introduction. You can also try out the 'widget' below.
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
Suppose you knew that, although you yourself would live a normal life span, the earth would be completely destroyed thirty days after your death in a collision with a giant asteroid. How would this knowledge affect your attitudes during the remainder of your life? (p.18) 
 I had a go at an asteroid-based thought experiment some time ago. That one was intended to think about whether it might be possible to complain that one was harmed by not being born earlier. Here it is.
Friday, December 06, 2013
There are competitions in Philosophy, Classics, History, and Computer Science and all the details you need for how to enter can be found here.
Sunday, December 01, 2013
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
He's right too. Here's the proof. A cucumber increases in value by 15 pence (just under a quarter of its original value) just by being divided in two.
Thinking about it made me wonder if there is a Zenonian axio-mereological paradox lurking here: If the value of a 'greenhouse-dwelling profusion' (another gem) increases the more the item is divided, then it should be possible to create a 'cylindrical garden favourite' (another - this reporter's on fire!) whose value tends to infinity just by continuing to divide each of the divisions.
And conversely, if each item in a multi-pack costs less the greater the number of such items in the multi-pack, then will the price of each item tend to zero as the number of items in the multi-pack increases? Should an infinity-pack therefore be free?
Thursday, November 21, 2013
My favourite bit:
Allen: Right right (Suddenly dropping all pretense of courage) Look, I'm going to level with you - I don't want to go! I'm too young!
Agathon: But this is your chance to die for truth!
Allen: Don't misunderstand me. I'm all for truth. On the other hand I have a lunch date in Sparta next week and I'd hate to miss it. It's my turn to buy. You know those Spartans, they fight so easily.
Simmias: Is our wisest philosopher a coward?
Allen: I'm not a coward, and I'm not a hero. I'm somewhere in the middle.
Simmias: A cringing vermin.
Allen: That's approximately the spot.
Agathon: But it was you who proved that death doesn't exist.
Allen: Hey, listen - I've proved a lot of things. That's how I pay my rent. Theories and little observations. A puckish remark now and then. Occasional maxims. It beats picking olives, but let's not get carried away.
Agathon: But you have proved many times that the soul is immortal.
Allen: And it is! On paper. See, that's the thing about philosophy - it's not all that functional once you get out of class.
Friday, November 15, 2013
Thursday, November 14, 2013
Mutya, Keisha and Siobhan (1998-2001)
Heidi, Mutya and Keisha (2001-2006)
Heidi, Amelle and Keisha (2006-2009)
Jade, Amelle and Heidi (2009-2013)
and now also: Mutya, Keisha and Siobhan (2012-??)
BTW, this site gets it right. This is their best line-up:
Tuesday, November 12, 2013
Well, it seems that it wasn’t always clear what a Platonist should say. I came across this interesting textual variant: Consider Phaedo 67b1, from part of Socrates’ early account of philosophy as a preparation for death and how it is in fact rather a good thing for the soul to be rid of the unfortunate effects of the body. Here Socrates is saying what the soul does once it is freed – indeed what we do once we are freed since as good philosophers we should come to identify ourselves with souls.
In the current OCT (and, for that matter, Burnett’s OCT and Rowe’s Green and Yellow) the line runs (a7–b1):
... ὡς τὸ εἰκὸς μετὰ τοιούτων τε ἐσόμεθα καὶ γνωσόμεθα δι' ἡμῶν αὐτῶν πᾶν τὸ εἰλικρινές, τοῦτο δ' ἐστὶν ἴσως τὸ ἀληθές.Grube (in Cooper 1997) translates:
‘... we shall likely be in the company of people of the same kind, and by our own efforts we shall know all that is pure, which is presumably the truth...’When Plutarch cites this section of the Phaedo at Cons. ad Apoll. 108D, however, he writes:
... ὡς τὸ εἰκός, μετὰ τοιούτων ἐσόμεθα, δι' ἡμῶν αὐτῶν πᾶν τὸ εἰλικρινὲς ὁρῶντες· τοῦτο δ' ἐστὶ τὸ ἀληθές.Babbitt’s Loeb translates:
‘... we shall, in all likelihood, be in the company of others in like state, and we shall behold with our own eyes the pure and absolute, which is the truth.’This includes an explicit reference to seeing all that is pure that the MSS of Plato omit. (And, as far as I can see, there is no sign in the app. crit. of ὁρῶντες.) The MSS of Plato, on the other hand do include a reference to knowing (γνωσόμεθα) rather than seeing what is pure. Plutarch’s reference to seeing, therefore, is something avoided in the MSS of Plato, perhaps because it sits uncomfortably with the general thrust of the passage and the liberation of the soul from the body. (I know, of course, that elsewhere Plato does use the language of sight to describe the way in which a soul is in cognitive contact with an intelligible Form. Consider Phaedrus 248a-c, for example. But there, Socrates is explaining the soul in terms of a charioteer and his horses.)
Friday, November 08, 2013
Monday, October 28, 2013
Friday, October 25, 2013
Sunday, October 20, 2013
|The Smart TV...|
But then, when the call came in from Columbia, we found out that this TV, although it has a Skype application built-in, won't do video conference calls. Conference calls are OK; video calls are OK but not video conference calls. Drat. Another phone call and the Computer Officer rushes in to let us into another room and set up a camera and mic for a computer attached to a video projector. Now we could in principle do what was needed. (The TV will be fine, I think, for one-to-one Skype-ing. We have to do that a lot more now for e.g. interviews for graduate admissions. And it must be better not to have a couple of us peering down a tiny laptop webcam at a poor student.)
So, at last we had a functioning system. But then we discovered that Skype-ing like this is fine in principle but difficult in practice. Over the course of the afternoon and early evening, the service became more patchy. Perhaps as more people get up at the weekend and turn on their computers, the bandwidth gets clogged; perhaps if one of the participants is on WiFi rather than an Ethernet connection, things are delayed; perhaps the computers just get clogged up with long video calls. Anyway, there was a regular need to ask people to repeat points or questions, the picture froze every so often, and we ended up having to reboot all the systems every hour or so.
Fortunately, things got better later on. By 10.30pm, just when I was flagging, the connection seemed to improve.
What did I learn? When it works smoothly, this is an excellent means of talking to people around the world and not much worse than being in a room together. But it is not yet reliable or, at least, the connection it requires is not yet fast enough and reliable enough to make long conferences hassle-free. I did, all the same, enjoy the experiment and I am glad I'm not rushing back from NYC today to teach on Monday. I did, by the same token, miss out on a trip to NYC, but that's also rather better for my carbon footprint.
Give this a couple of years and I reckon it will be much better. You might think it a shame if it cuts down on global academic travel, but it will also mean we talk much more to more people in more places.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
Friday, October 11, 2013
Thursday, October 10, 2013
There are two weird things about lecturing this early in the term to students who have just started their courses. First of all, most of them turn up. There were 90-odd of them there today: not a big crowd compared with what they get in Law or in the Natural Sciences, but about as big as a standard lecture audience in Classics gets. Second, at the end of the hour, they clapped. They weren't sure whether they should but once a few decided to clap the others joined in. Not for long and not without any great enthusiasm, but politely enough. It was the kind you get at the end of a slightly ropey school assembly performance. Sort of like this, except it didn't last as long.
I wonder when they will decide not to bother any more?
Monday, October 07, 2013
Saturday, September 21, 2013
ICS Philosophy Seminar
Senate House South Block 243
All are most welcome.
Alternate Mondays throughout the year at 4.30 pm
Organizer: Shaul Tor (KCL)
IMAGE AND ARGUMENT IN ANCIENT THOUGHT
28 October James Warren (Cambridge) The bloom of youth
11 November Sean McConnell (UEA) Cicero’s cosmopolitanism: imagery and argument in the Dream of Scipio
25 November Anne Sheppard (RHUL) Images of drama and dance in Plotinus
9 December Jenny Bryan (UCL) The painter analogy in Empedocles
13 January Alex Long (St Andrews) Imagery and the criticism of Socratic argument in Plato’s Republic
27 January Thomas Johansen (Oxford) Aristotle on the difference between practical and productive reasoning
10 February Geoffrey Lloyd (Cambridge) Image and argument: some Greek and Chinese comparisons and contrasts
24 February Suzanne Stern-Gillet (Bolton) Images of poetic inspiration in Plato
10 March Robert Wardy (Cambridge) TBA
24 March Fiona Leigh (UCL) Image, appearance and logos in the Sophist
12 May Michael Trapp (KCL) and Claudio Garcia Ehrenfeld (KCL) Up the rocky road to nowhere? The imagery of sectarian choice in Lucian’s Hermotimus
19 May Giles Pearson (Bristol) TBA
Thursday, September 19, 2013
The authors cannot be held responsible for the comments they provoke. But, whatever one thinks of the pamphlet itself, some of the comment it has generated seems to me to be unhelpful. For example, here is Harry Mount in the Telegraph in an article entitled 'The tragic dumbing down of Latin in our schools'.
When you're translating Latin into English, you can busk it: translate the words roughly and then cobble them together into goodish English. With the other way round – English into Latin – there's no busking. You're either right or you're wrong – there's no grey area. That's one of the joys of Latin; precisely because it's a dead language, there's no wriggle room, no negotiating over the correct answer, as there is with the shifting meanings of modern languages.Um. Well, it seems to me this is questionable on two counts. First, there are of course plenty of ways in which a translation from Latin into English can be just plain wrong. And even 'goodish' English is not what is being aimed at, at least in any of the examinations I'm familiar with. But there are, to be sure, various ways in which equally accurate translations may differ from one another. That, I've always thought, is at least part of what makes translating a language like Latin into English an interesting thing to do. So 'busking' is not a helpful way to put it; it's just that people whose first language is English tend not to make great grammatical howlers in the English of their translation. But they may of course misunderstand the Latin they are translating. Or they may understand it perfectly well, but choose to render it in various different ways.
And I really don't understand the contrast between the 'shifting meanings of modern languages' and their ancient counterparts. Is the implication that there can be no ambiguity (deliberate or otherwise), say, in Latin? No room for reasonable debate over what is meant?
Similarly, it is surely not the case that there is one and only one correct rendering into Latin of any given phrase in English. Again, there are various wrong ways to do it: ways of getting the syntax of the Latin wrong, getting the vocabulary wrong But there are usually a number of equally accurate but different ways of rendering a given English sentence into Latin (or, for that matter, most languages, I reckon). That's part of what is interesting about this kind of translation too.
So, this is a misleading way of putting things. Yes, translating from English into Latin is hard. It requires an active knowledge of Latin grammar and vocabulary. But translating from Latin into English is also hard, certainly if one is interested not merely in producing a bit of 'translationese' into 'goodish English'. ('Caesar, his legion having been arranged into a hollow square, fortified the ditch lest he be surrounded by the Gauls...'.)
There is a danger, it seems to me, that comments of this kind will lead to the impression that there is a 'two tier' approach to teaching and learning Latin in schools: the soft way, for the buskers, of translation into English, perhaps with a bit of ancient history and literary discussion thrown in, and the rigorous road, for those who want to tackle turning English into Latin.
Harry Mount begins his article with the exclamation: 'o tempora! o mores!' How would you translate that into English and retain the meaning and force and rhythm of the original? Try busking it.
Monday, September 16, 2013
Entries are invited from Year 12 (Lower Sixth) students for the following subjects.
For further information follow the links. Please note that each essay must be accompanied by the Cover Sheet.
Perceval Maitland Laurence Classics Essay Competition
History Essay Competition
Philosophy Essay Competition
Essay Cover Sheet
Computer Essay + Programming Competition and Cover Sheet
The main focus should not be on something that has been or is currently being studied in the classroom or offered as A level coursework.
The Admissions Office, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge CB2 1RH
to reach the College by 5pm on Friday 14 February 2014.
Regrettably, faxes and email attachments cannot be accepted. Please note that entries will not be returned and entrants may therefore wish to keep their own copy of the essay. Receipt of entries will be acknowledged by email. Winners and other particularly commended entrants will be notified by letter in March 2014 and will be invited to attend the College Open Day on Saturday 12 April 2014.
The College does not enter into correspondence about any aspect of the competition or the results. Feedback on the essays submitted is not provided.
Friday, September 13, 2013
Tuesday, September 03, 2013
ἐν μεγέθει γὰρ ἡ μεγαλοψυχία, ὥσπερ καὶ τὸ κάλλος ἐν μεγάλῳ σώματι, οἱ μικροὶ δ' ἀστεῖοι καὶ σύμμετροι, καλοὶ δ' οὔ.
Nicomachean Ethics 4.3, 1125b6-8
For greatness of soul depends on scale, just as a beautiful body must possess a certain scale, and small people are neat and well-proportioned, but not beautiful.How small is 'small' here? It's not clear. Perhaps it's like one of those signs at the fairground: 'You have to be this tall to be beautiful'. He's consistent, at least. I suppose this is a bit like him claiming elsewhere that some animals are too small to be beautiful because you see them all at once (and some are just too long to be beautiful). And I suppose it is true that some pieces of music or some plays might be too short to be properly beautiful since they cannot display the kind of organisation and structure that takes time to perceive (Poetics 7, 1450b35–1451a10 and 23, 1459a17–21).
It's a shame we don't know more about Aristotle's own appearance. Diogenes Laertius (5.1) says that Aristotle had slender calves ('so they say') and small eyes, wore lots of rings and a conspicuous hair-do.
Thursday, August 29, 2013
Here are the contents and the list of contributors:
Introduction James Warren
Part I: Before Plato 1. The World of Early Greek philosophy John Palmer 2. The Early Ionian philosophersDaniel Graham 3. Parmenides, Zeno and Melissus Steve Makin 4. Anaxagoras and Empedocles in the shadow of Elea John Sisko 5. Leucippus and DemocritusPieter Sjoerd Hasper 6. Pythagoreans and the Derveni author Gábor Betegh 7. Sophists Noburu Notomi 8. Socrates: sources and interpretations Jenny Bryan
Part II: Plato 9. Reading Plato Alex Long 10. Plato on philosophical method: enquiry and definition Raphael Woolf 11. Plato’s Epistemology David Wolfsdorf 12. Plato: Moral psychology James Doyle 13. Plato on virtue and the good life Frisbee C. C. Sheffield 14. Plato: Philosopher-rulers Rachana Kamtekar 15. Plato’s metaphysics Allan Silverman 16. Plato’s Cosmology Andrew S. Mason 17. Plato’s Poetics Gabriel Richardson Lear
Part III: Aristotle18. Reading Aristotle Michael Pakaluk 19. Aristotle: Logic Ermelinda Valentina Di Lascio 20. Understanding, knowledge, and inquiry in Aristotle Hendrik Lorenz 21. Aristotle: Psychology Giles Pearson 22. Aristotle’s philosophy of nature Andrea Falcon 23. First philosophy first: Aristotle and the practice of metaphysics Christopher Shields 24. Aristotle on the good life Dominic Scott 25. Aristotle on the political life Antony Hatzistavrou26. Aristotle’s aesthetics David K. O’Connor
Part IV: Hellenistic Philosophy 27. Hellenistic philosophy: places, institutions, characterJames Warren 28. Cynics Eric Brown 29. Cyrenaics James Warren 30. The Stoic system: ethics and nature Thomas Bénatouïl 31. The Stoic system: logic and knowledge Katerina Ierodiakonou 32. Epicurus’ garden: physics and epistemology Tim O’Keefe 33. Epicurus’ garden: ethics and politics Pierre-Marie Morel 34. The Hellenistic AcademyKatja Vogt 35. Early Pyrrhonism: Pyrrho to Aenesidemus Luca Castagnoli 36. The Peripatetics after Aristotle Han Baltussen 37. Philosophy comes to Rome Tobias Reinhardt
Part V: Philosophy in the Empire and Beyond 38. Roman Stoics Ricardo Salles 39. Middle Platonism Mauro Bonazzi 40. Galen James Allen 41. Sextus Empiricus Svavar Svavarsson 42. Plotinus Christoph Horn 43. Porphyry and Iamblichus George Karamanolis 44. Syrianus, Proclus, and Damascius Jan Opsomer 45. Commentators on Aristotle James Wilberding 46. Ancient Philosophy in Christian Sources Mark Edwards47. The Arabic reception of Greek Philosophy Peter Adamson
Tuesday, August 20, 2013
Applications are invited for one stipendiary Research Fellowship tenable for three years from 1 October 2014.
The Research Fellowship is open to graduates of any university who on 1 October 2014 will have completed not more than five years of research. Matriculated members of Corpus Christi College engaged in any area of research are eligible to apply. For those who are not already members of the College there is a restriction on the field of study. This year applications will be considered in the fields of Epidemiology, Materials Science, Classics and Enlightenment Studies.
(Note: by 'Classics' is meant the full range of disciplines relating to the study of the history, literature, material culture, philosophy and languages of the ancient Greek and Roman worlds.)
Research Fellows are full members of the College’s Governing Body. Stipendiary Research Fellows have access to a limited stock of College flats and sets. If available they are provided rent free or a living out allowance is offered. The estimated stipend will be in the region of £17,800. Research Fellows are allowed to teach up to six hours per week for additional remuneration, and are expected to participate in the intellectual life of Leckhampton, the College’s graduate centre. An annual allowance for research expenditure is available and privileges include free medical insurance, some meals, and a small entertainment allowance.
Applications may be made via https://app.casc.cam.ac.uk/fas_live/corpusjrf.aspx. You will need a c.v. together with a statement of not more than 1,000 words outlining your present and proposed research (pdf documents only), and the names and contact details of two referees familiar with your work. Applications must be submitted by midday Tuesday 15th October 2013 and the two references should be provided by the same date. It is suggested that you send the reference requests from the application system to your referees well in advance of the deadline.
More information is available here.
Any enquiries should be addressed to:
The Research Fellowship Competition
Corpus Christi College
Cambridge CB2 1RH.
Sunday, August 18, 2013
In the last week I have received two requests to include things I have published elsewhere in a forthcoming collection called Classical And Medieval Literary Criticism, a multi-volume thing. I'm not sure how to respond. On the one hand, I'd rather things I have written are read rather than not, so the more accessible they are the better. On the other, I wonder if the eventual publication will be like this one covering the nineteenth-century which apparently stretches to some 277 volumes, each of which costs more than $300. (I imagine these are mostly accessed via an online subscription.) I'm not sure the world needs this: the articles in question are not hard to access and were published in good journals which I would like people still to read and browse. But on the other hand, if this makes the pieces a little more accessible than otherwise, why not?
So, should I just tick the box and agree to the reprint? Given the apparent scale of this enterprise I imagine a lot of people have received similar requests. Is there a general consensus?
Well, there is potentially one kind of benefit I might receive. The permission form also includes a box where I can insert a request for a fee for them reprinting the piece. It seems that the publishers must be making something from the sales of these collections. So it seems odd to let them have the content for free. Yes, when I published these articles the first time I did not receive a fee. But then they were submitted to peer-reviewed specialist journals and I get something out of publishing in those. Not money, but something nevertheless. So charging is not something I usually do for this kind of publication, but in this case I wonder whether it would be appropriate.
Still, say I do agree to the reprint request. Should I specify a fee and, if so, what amount? Does anyone know the going rate for such things?
Wednesday, August 14, 2013
So I haven't turned my mind properly to much ancient philosophy recently. But I have just discovered that you can get pdfs of Long and Sedley's The Hellenistic Philosophers if you have access to CUP's online ebooks.
Here is the link to volume 1 (the translations and commentary).
Here is the link to volume 2 (the sources in the original Greek and Latin).
(There are, of course, lots of other things on the site too that you might be interested in, but it is useful to have these texts in a handy pdf format. It is certainly going to help me while I am writing some new lectures for next term.) Here is the link to all the ancient philosophy material.
Monday, July 22, 2013
Thursday, July 04, 2013
Click HERE to find out more:
Thursday, June 27, 2013
Interesting stuff. It's graduation day today at my college and there is an event listed for the afternoon in between tea in the Master's garden and a rehearsal for the graduation ceremony:
4.15pm - 4.50pm: Graduation Service with Master's Address in Chapel
While you are pondering that, here is some Cornford from 1911:
The University ought to stand absolutely clear of all dogmatic systems. The worst thing it can do is to endorse a particular sect, and so bias inquiry either for or against a certain set of beliefs. To do so is to poison and obscure the intellectual atmosphere, and to foster passion where there should be no passion but curiosity.
With regard to Ritual, the Colleges maintain Anglican chapels and officials whose duty it is to persuade or compel attendance at them. To this system all the same objections apply, as well as others peculiar to it. It is not the business of a University or of a College to maintain one form of creed. If they had an Anglican chapel, they ought also to have a mosque, a Hindu temple, a Baptist chapel and so on, with an official attached to each. Either that or none at all. It would be said that there were historical reasons : but there is no such thing. There are historical causes, but they are not reasons.
Tuesday, June 18, 2013
You can read it here and share the pain. There is a general call for submissions, so this is an excellent way to vent your spleen against some classic work that you've had to wrestle with and interpret 'charitably' while your own work is being mauled by some anonymous reviewer who feels it is part of his/her job to take the most uncharitable view of everything you have said...
And then, of course, there is the excellent long-running Journal of Universal Rejection. It also has a blog.
Friday, June 14, 2013
Saturday 22nd June 2013
The aim of this ‘taster day’ is to give prospective applicants for a Classics Degree at the University of Cambridge the opportunity to experience teaching in a University environment and to decide whether learning Latin is something that they would enjoy.
The day is open to anyone who has never studied Latin at School or 6th Form College.
The day is FREE. At the moment we are placing no limit on numbers. (If a limit has to be imposed, we shall accept students in the order in which they book.)
Venue: Faculty of Classics, Sidgwick Avenue, Cambridge, CB3 9DA. Light refreshments will be provided. For lunch, the nearest shop is about seven minutes walk away; but students are welcome (and encouraged) to bring a packed lunch.
Up to 50 travel bursaries of up to £50.00 are available on a first come, first served basis. To apply, please provide details of the cost of your travel arrangements. For those travelling by car, bursaries will be provided only against the cost of petrol. All claims by recipients of bursaries will need to be accompanied by receipts.
10.15–10.45: Registration and coffee
10.45–11.40: Learning Latin I
12.00–1.00 Lecture: Preserving Herculaneum (Prof. Andrew Wallace-Hadrill)
1.45–2.45: Learning Latin II
3.00–4.00: Lecture: The Latin language (Dr James Clackson)
Mr Will Griffiths, Director, Cambridge Schools Classics Project
Dr Ailsa Hunt, Fellow of Fitzwilliam College, Cambridge
Dr Lyndsay Coo, Fellow of Trinity College, Cambridge
Professor Stephen Oakley, Kennedy Professor of Latin, University of Cambridge
If you would like to attend, please contact Professor Stephen Oakley on email@example.com If you would like to apply for a travel bursary, please send details of your travel arrangements by e-mail to Professor Stephen Oakley.
Other events for schools and potential applicants are listed here.
Friday, June 07, 2013
The Common Pain of Surrealism and Death: Acetaminophen Reduces Compensatory Affirmation Following Meaning Threats.
SourceUniversity of British Columbia.
Thursday, June 06, 2013
This is how he ends his Microcosmographia academica:
I have done what I could to warn you. When you become middle-aged -- on your five-and-thirtieth birthday -- glance through this book and judge between me and your present self.He is right at least in so far as I did recognise most everything he has to say about the grubby and silly bits of college and Faculty politicking as still holding true. And, sad to say, while I may at one time have been a Young Man in a Hurry, I have a horrible feeling I might be turining into a Non-Placet...
(You can read the Microcosmographia here. There is a nice edition with introduction by Gordon Johnson.)
Sunday, June 02, 2013
|Photo by Victor Caston|
And here is the list of contributions and authors:
Le Contre Colotès de Plutarque et son prologue
Pierre-Marie Morel et Francesco Verde
Democritus and Epicurus on Sensible Qualities in Plutarch’s Against Colotes 3-9
Plutarque contre Colotès contre Empédocle
Parmenide e Platone (e Aristotele) nel Contro Colote di Plutarco
The lives and opinions of Socrates and Stilpo as defended by Plutarch against the insidious yet ignorant attacks of Colotes
Plutarch’s Adversus Colotem and the Cyrenaics: 1120C-1121E
Plutarque juge et partie : à propos des débats entre l’Académie, le Jardin et le Portique
Plutarch’s polemic against Colotes’ view on legislation and politics. A reading of Adversus Colotem 30-34 (1124D-1127E)
Monday, May 20, 2013
However, the format of the MS is not at all what your readers would expect. There is no drama or characterisation; indeed, I had the impression at times that some kind of conversational or dialectical background was being assumed but this is not at all marked in the text. In short, the constant direct mode of address was a chore. No one will enjoy having this read to them. What is more, the style is woeful. I hear that A. is able to write fluid and engaging prose when he wishes, but that was sadly not in evidence here. Sentences are concise to the point of obscurity. Topics are introduced only to be sketchily addressed and then left aside with a careless, ‘Well, that’s enough about X’. Very few clear and novel conclusions are reached.
I am afraid that I cannot recommend publication.
Some specific grumbles.
I am concerned that on the very first page A. presents a school-boy howler of a fallacy. A. infers from the claim that ‘All Xs aim at some Y’ that ‘There is some Y at which all Xs aim’. A. is, I am told, thought to be something of a logician. Oh dear.
The central sections of the MS seem to have been recycled from a previous project. (At least, they are very familiar and I think I may have refereed an earlier submission in which they appear.) This is not necessarily a bad thing, but I did not think they were well integrated into the new work. There are some infrequent references to previous scholars’ work (Solon, Socrates, Speusippus, Eudoxus) but the treatment offered is both at times overly generous (Is it really necessary to try to find some truth in Socrates’ outrageous denial of akrasia? Since the discovering of parts of the soul we have been able to move on from such silliness) and also excessively critical at others.
A. seems to be preoccupied with various topics without making clear their position in the whole project. Some 20% of the work is devoted to the analysis of friendship. This is a worthwhile topic but the coverage seemed rather disproportionate to me. What is more, the central notion of justice does appear but seems to me not to fit A.’s own preferred analysis of a character virtue.
Only at the very end does A. turn to address the essential topic of becoming like the divine. I had almost given up on this being mentioned at all and I think many readers will have given up long before the final pages. What is there is not particularly novel and I cannot shake the suspicion that A. recognises the importance of this topic but hasn’t succeeded in integrating it into his central analysis. So much worse for the preceding account of the good life, it seems to me. A major rethink is clearly in order.
In brief, this may well be a promising young scholar but he seems to have lost his way a little. Perhaps less time dissecting insects would have helped him to cultivate a proper understanding of the central ethical importance of intelligible reality.
Thursday, May 16, 2013
Friday, May 10, 2013
Wednesday, May 08, 2013
It is a really big Subbuteo referee standing on a circle on which the rules will be inscribed. Oh yes it is.
Here is the press release, if you can bear it.
And I don't know about you, but when I had a Subbuteo set within days all the players (including my prized England team in their 1982 Admiral kit) looked like this:
Tuesday, April 30, 2013
Friday, April 19, 2013
The work is offered in the form of a dialogue—in that respect, at least, it is not ‘‘trendy’’—between Socrates and an interlocutor called Protarchus. The latter defends a position attributed to one Philebus, a curiously ghostly character who unaccountably ‘‘leaves the field’’ on the first page, intervening again only three or our times to reiterate a simple-minded praise of pleasure as the supreme good. That is not the only one of this work’s quirks of style. Its organization is somewhat confusing. Its central pages contain an analysis and classification of pleasures, in the course of which Socrates attempts to persuade his interlocutor that some pleasures are false, but little is done in the dialogue to relate this claim to the work’s announced topic. One is left to assume, I suppose, that falsity might detract from the claim of any conditions to be life’s chief good. In this review, I shall not attempt to deal with the somewhat messy structure of the whole; neither shall I attempt to canvas all the topics that come up only to be desultorily dropped. I shall concentrate instead on the arguments adduced for the claim that pleasures can be false.There untimely reviews are an interesting idea. You can read the editorial here.
Tuesday, April 16, 2013
I've ended up this afternoon going back to and fiddling with something I wrote quite a while ago. To be honest, I was looking for another file on my computer and saw this one as I was scrolling down. I remembered spending some time on it and so I opened it up to have a look. I had more or less abandoned it because it was, I came to see, a bit flabby in places and half-baked in others. But I have now spent the afternoon thinking that maybe, just maybe, with a tweak here and a trim there, there might be something worth salvaging. Surely it can't all be hopeless?
Oh dear. I'm not very good at just writing off the work and chalking it up to experience. After all, it would be odd if a significant proportion of what I type out were not in fact pretty useless. But arrogance or sheer bloody-mindedness tells me otherwise.
Sunday, April 14, 2013
Here's a link to order it from amazon.it.
Thursday, March 28, 2013
Here are some bright young chaps leaving (I think) one of Corpus' staircases in the morning:
And here is a chap off for a bath:
And here is Will Spens, Master of Corpus:
There are also some interesting scenes of the undergraduate ARP services practising out in Trinity's Great Court. And of the Provost of King's, John Tressider Sheppard, lecturing on Homer, the poetry 'of friendship and freedom'.