Friday, January 31, 2014

Épicurisme et scepticisme

I haven't seen a copy of this yet but I'm sure it's excellent...  (At least, I remember really enjoying the conference.)

Vient de paraître: Stéphane Marchand-Francesco Verde (éds.), Épicurisme et Scepticisme, Sapienza Università Editrice, Roma 2013, pp. 189, € 17.00

Table des matières

Préface: Pierre-Marie Morel, Emidio Spinelli

Introduction: Stéphane Marchand,  Francesco Verde


Tranquility: Democritus and Pyrrho: Svavar Svavarsson
Chain of Proof in Lucretius, Sextus, and Plato: Rhetorical Tradition and Philosophy: Michael Erler
Scepticisme et thérapeutique : le cas de conscience du dogmatisme épicurien: Julie Giovacchini
Le statut particulier de la philosophie épicurienne dans le néo-pyrrhonisme: Stéphane Marchand


Epicureans and Cyrenaics on Pleasure as a Pathos: James Warren
La critique du critère de vérité épicurien chez Sextus Empiricus: un scepticisme sur le monde extérieur ? Diego Machuca


Epicurean Attitudes toward Geometry: The Sceptical Account: Francesco Verde
Sextus Empiricus et le τέλoς épicurien : le plaisir est-il par nature digne d’être choisi?: Emidio Spinelli

Friday, January 24, 2014

It's lecture/supervision hand-gesture bingo!

See the full set here.

If you can tick off all of them in one hour's lecture or supervision then shout 'Bingo!' and leave the room triumphantly.


The Dialectic.
‘This is a dialectic and I’m going to explain it.’

Grip imaginary six centimetre object between thumb and forefinger. Rotate wrist ninety degrees, snapping into end position. Smoothly rotate back to start. Repeat up to three times depending on conviction. Use when expressing a shift from one thing to another. Highly infectious.

Wednesday, January 22, 2014


Now, this looks like it might be fun (tip from Carol, via PAC): Okhlos is a game about an angry mob in ancient Greece. You will have to travel all around Greece and assemble a huge group of angry people, to fight armies, mythological creatures and even gods! Here's a video of the first level. It has some very annoying music.  Find out more here.

And here is one of the bugs the developers have been dealing with: raining Greek philosophers!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Trigger's metaphysics

R.I.P. Roger Lloyd pack.

Here are some wonderful Trigger moments, during which he asserts the continuity thesis of broom-persistence based on a simple empirical method: 'Here's a picture of it.  What more bloody proof do you need?'

Monday, January 13, 2014

CFP: Philosophy of Death

Via Michael Cholbi and the IAPDD:

 We invite all interested scholars to contribute to the program of the inaugural conference of the International Association for the Philosophy of Death of Dying. The conference will be held 20-22 November 2014 on the campus of California State Polytechnic University, Pomona (east of Los Angeles, California).
Abstracts of 500-750 words should address philosophical questions related to death and dying, including but not limited to:

•  the metaphysics of death, including personal identity, criteria for declaring death, etc.
•  the possibility and/or desirability of immortality
•  death as a harm or benefit
•  death and life's meaning
•  reactions to death and dying (e.g., grief, ars moriendi and the 'good death')
•  philosophical implications of death-related technologies (e.g., life extension, cryonics)
•  ethical controversies related to death (suicide, organ donation, etc.)
•  clinical and biomedical issues related to death and dying


Amy Olberding, University of Oklahoma
John Martin Fischer, University of California- Riverside

Abstracts from scholars outside philosophy are welcome so long as they engage such philosophical issues. Abstracts are welcome from analytic, Continental, and other historical traditions. Abstracts should be submitted to Deadine for abstract submission: 31 March 2014.

Wednesday, January 08, 2014

Conference: Authors and Authorities in Ancient Philosophy (Cambridge, 15-18 September)

Monday 15–Thursday 18 September 2014

Ancient Greek and Roman philosophy is often characterised in terms of competitive individuals debating orally with one another in public arenas.  But it also developed over its long history a sense in which philosophers might look to an authority and offer to that authority explicit intellectual allegiance.  This is most obvious in the development of the philosophical ‘schools’ with agreed founders and canonical founding texts.  There also developed a tradition of commentary, interpretation, and discussion of texts—composed by ‘authorities’—which often became the focus of disagreement between members of the same school or movement and also useful targets for critics interested in attacking a whole tradition.  Discussing the meaning, force, and even the authorship itself of these texts became a mode of philosophical debate.

This international conference will investigate the twin notions of ‘authorship’ and ‘authority’—the Latin word auctoritas combines these two—in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy.  Topics to be explored include: philosophical allegiance and schism, commentary and quotation, the treatment of anonymous texts or texts of disputed authorship, the collection of authorised corpora of texts and the rejection of spurious or non-canonical works.

The conference also marks the retirement of David Sedley as Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy.

Dr Jenny Bryan, Department of Greek and Latin, University College London, Gower Street, London, WC1E 6BT ()
Dr Robert Wardy, St Catharine’s College, Cambridge, CB2 1RL ()
Dr James Warren, Corpus Christi College, Cambridge, CB2 1RH ()

The organisers thank the following for their help and financial support: The Faculty of Classics, University of Cambridge; St Catharine's College, Cambridge; University College, London; The British Society for the History of Philosophy; The Mind Association; Cambridge University Press; Oxford University Press.


George Boys-Stones (Durham)
Jenny Bryan (UCL)
David Butterfield (Cambridge)
Nicholas Denyer (Cambridge)
Matt Duncombe (Gröningen)  
Myrto Hatzimichali (Cambridge)
Alex Long (St Andrews) 
A. A. Long (Berkeley)
Roberto Polito
Kelli Rudolph (Kent)
Malcolm Schofield (Cambridge) 
Georgia Tsouni (Bern)
Robert Wardy (Cambridge)
James Warren (Cambridge) 

More details will be posted on the Faculty of Classics website.

Bed and Breakfast accommodation for the nights of 15, 16, and 17 September is available at St Catharine's College. 

Details of costs of accommodation and registration are available here.  You can also use this page to register and pay online.

Rawls and Slote on the pleasures of memory

John Rawls wonders why it is that we might prefer a life in which, given a fixed amount of goods to be distributed over its duration, the goods occur later than a life in which they occur earlier. He wonders whether it has to do with the relatively greater pleasure to be had from increasing expectations.
Other things being equal, we should arrange things at the earlier stages so as to permit a happy life at the later ones. It would seem that for the most part rising expectations are to be preferred. If the value of an activity is assessed relative to its own period, assuming that this is possible, we might try to explain the preference by the relatively greater intensity of the pleasures of anticipation over those of memory. (A Theory of Justice, p. 421). 
Michael Slote (Goods and Virtues, p. 24) mentions Rawls’ suggestion, not to question the relative preference for pleasures of anticipation over those of memory but rather to wonder why Rawls does not think that remembering past goods might at least sometimes be a source of pain instead of pleasure. When we remember a past good, why does Rawls not think we do so with pain? After all, we are ipso facto reminded that the pleasure is past and gone.  This would be another reason why it is better for pleasures to be in the future rather than the past.

Well, it depends I suppose, particularly on the context in which one is doing the remembering and the kind of good that is being remembered. (Aristotle is quite sensible about this kind of thing. I’ve spent quite a lot of time thinking about his and the Epicureans’ differing approaches to the pleasures and pains of remembering and anticipating pleasures and pains. I think Aristotle is right to say that we can sometimes remember with pleasure even a past pain.) And Slote’s point might have a mirror image in anticipations too. Similarly, I suppose, when we anticipate a pleasure, might we not feel pain at the thought that the pleasure being anticipated is just not yet here? I think some young children anticipating a birthday or Christmas might find the thought of the pleasures to come not itself pleasant but perhaps rather painful. Looking forward to Christmas just reminds you that it’s not Christmas yet.