Workshop in Ancient Philosophy (HT 2023)

For up-to-date information, see the invited speakers page.


  • Week 2 (Jan 26th): Cristiana Sessini (University of Oxford). 'The pessimism of Plato’s Cave'. Chair: Alesia Preite
    • Abstract: In this paper, I present a novel interpretation of the allegory of the Cave, based on an analysis of its Orphic subtext and its parallels with the eschatological myths of the Phaedo and Phaedrus. The result is a radical reassessment of the apparent epistemic optimism of the Cave allegory, with wide-ranging implications for Plato’s philosophy.
  • Week 4 (Feb 9th): Ricardo Salles (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México). 'Elements, sea and stars in Anaximander'. Chair: Marion Durand
    • Abstract: There is evidence that for Anaximander the sea level is decreasing under the action of the sun and that it will dry out one day. In a classic interpretation of his cosmology, put forward by Jaap Mansfeld in 2011 (‘Anaximander’s fragment: another attempt’, Phronesis 56: 1-32), this desiccation reflects an instability of the cosmos that will ultimately lead to its destruction. This global destruction, Mansfeld contends, is a material change where the basic substances that compose the cosmos — the four physical elements fire, air, water and earth —  destroy one another and, in particular, where fire destroys water. In this paper, I cast doubt on Mansfeld’s interpretation by arguing that for Anaximander the desiccation of the sea, and ultimately the destruction of the cosmos, cannot be accounted for in terms of an elemental conflict. My overall conclusion is that we need to reconsider the relation that the cosmology and meteorology of Anaximander bear to his elemental theory and discard the assumption that the former two are based on the latter.
  • Week 5 (Feb 16th): Annamaria Schiaparelli (Université de Genève). 'Parts and Whole in Aristotle's Categories'. Chair: Paolo Fait
  • Week 6 (Feb 23rd): Hermann Koerner (University of Oxford). 'Plato’s Phaedo: Phronēsis as the Soul’s Original and True Nature.' Chair: Simon Shogry
  • Week 8 (Mar 9th): Laura Castelli (University of Cambridge). 'Aristotle on the Opposites and Plato’s Sophist'. Chair: Chiara Martini