Thursday, May 29, 2014


Here is MM's valedictory lecture given at KCL on 19 May, 'Talking together, talking to ourselves: Socrates and the crisis of the universities'

And tomorrow at 5pm David Sedley will give his valedictory in Cambridge (room G.19 in the Faculty of Classics): 'Godlikeness'.

Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Vacancy: Temporary Teaching Associate in Ancient Philosophy – maternity cover

The Faculty of Classics is seeking to appoint a Temporary Teaching Associate in Classics (Philosophy) from 01 October 2014 until 30 June 2015 or the return of the permanent postholder, whichever is the earlier. This post is open to those, at any stage in their career, with a primary research interest in ancient philosophy. The successful applicant will benefit from the world-class facilities offered by the University and the generous support of research and teaching provided by the Faculty.

More details on the Faculty's website here.

Wednesday, May 21, 2014


I know I shouldn't but in moments of weakness my mouse wanders over to second-hand book websites and I type in various titles in hope.  And sometimes there's a result and I find myself buying something I hadn't planned for.  That's how this cam to arrive in my pigeon hole this morning.  There's a copy in the Faculty and, to be honest, there is not a great deal of competition for me if I want to consult it.  But I also have a peculiar feeling that it ought to belong with my other books and it is just a shame for it to be sitting in a storeroom somewhere....

Now I need to be careful during the exam-marking season because book browsing is too easy a displacement activity.  I just wonder what might turn up if I type in a search for the second edition of Arrighetti's Epicuro: opere ...

Monday, May 12, 2014

The retiring Mr Cole

Ashley Cole has retired from international football after being left out of England’s World Cup squad. Is this some peculiar kind of Frankfurt case? In the classic case, we are supposed to agree that an agent is responsible for some action even though it was not possible for that agent to do otherwise. In this case, it was not possible for Ashley to play international football but nevertheless we are asked to believe that he is responsible for his not playing for England because he has retired.

I suppose the chronology is important here. Ashley made himself available for selection but was not selected. After he was not selected he retired.

It certainly can’t be the case, therefore, that he is himself responsible for not playing for England at the 2014 World Cup. But, you might say, the retirement is mean differently: Ashley is saying that he now chooses not to play for England at any point in the future after the World Cup. Surely he can be responsible for that since it is not yet the case that Mr Roy (or whoever takes over) has prevented him from playing for England in, say, the 2016 European championships. So Ashley can be said to be responsible for not playing in the 2016 European championships even if it is a bit odd to say he is responsible for not playing in the 2014 World Cup.

True. But there is an a fortiori argument here. Since Ashley was not selected for the 2014 World Cup a fortiori he will not be selected for the 2016 European championships. (The World Cup is the competition for which Mr Roy will select his preferred squad; Ashley is at a stage of his career when he is now less likely to be selected for each subsequent tournament.)

True, it may be that all other younger left-backs will be injured just before the 2016 tournament and Mr Roy (more likely someone else) will come begging for Ashley (who will then be 35) to play. But no, Ashely will not play because he has chosen to retire. Perhaps. But very very unlikely. And I suspect Ashely knows it.

 So, let’s see this as a bit of face-saving on the part of a player who has played more than a hundred times for his country and has now come to the end of his international career. Whether he chose to end it or not.

Tuesday, May 06, 2014

The joy of indexing

It's always nice to finish a book and have a publisher say they think it's ready to be published.  But there is a sting in the tail -- the indexing.  For the last few days I have been working through a typescript doing, first of all, an index locorum -- noting references to ancient works.  This is what doing an index locorum (I reckon it's about day 4) looks like:

I have made a list of the references (e.g. Arist. NE 10.5 1175b34–6) and put these in order in a Word document.  Then I highlight all the references in the printout and assign to each of them a code.  Then I enter that code number next to the appropriate reference in the list.  (So: I write 'L287' on the page next to the highlighted bit and then type 'L287' next to the reference in my Word document.)  I've got up to nearly 800 references now; it's enough to discourage you from referring to the texts when you're writing the thing in the first place.

I can see the point of this procedure -- it allows hyperlinks between the index and the main text and, if the page layout is changed, the links will adapt.  But it's a bit of a pain.  And I haven't even started on the 'Subject' index.  (On the whole, I think that's probably the less useful.  At least, I'm more likely to look up what's said about a particular passage than about a particular theme or idea and since most of the themes and ideas worth looking up work their way through the whole book then I'm trying to avoid including them at all.  The contents page is a better guide for the reader.)

But, in the end, there will be something to show for it all...

There's more info on the CUP website here.