Have you ever had that moment when something you’ve been trying to teach for years finally comes together because of one brief moment of pedagogic brilliance? I find these moments rare. But I just had one. I teach ancient Greek philosophy. One reason I like to teach this course is that it asks that students take seriously the question, why should we do philosophy rather than not? Ancient Greek thinkers remind us that the question of whether philosophy is worth studying is as old as philosophy itself and not something invented by the neoliberal university.
The difficulty in introducing this question is figuring out where to start. If you start with Plato, for whom this question is explicit in the Apology and the Republic and pretty much all over the corpus, you get the question pretty clearly, but you ignore the two hundred (at least) years of thinking in the Greek world that precede Plato, thinking which Plato himself explicitly references. So students walk away thinking Platonic, or at least, Socratic, thinking is the beginning of philosophy. So I push back and teach the pre-Socratics. But if you start with the pre-Socratics they seem like the primitive thinkers to Plato or Socrates’ developed thinking. So for years now, I’ve been trying to start with Hesiod’s Theogony. Read more
In Gender: Antiquity and Its Legacy, Brooke Holmes moves beyond anthropological or historical interest in ancient Greek and Roman conceptions of sex, gender, and sexuality to locate the roots of the gender/sex dyad and the concept of nature that underwrites that binary. In tracing the roots of this thinking, Holmes provides a history for concepts considered natural and finds resources in antiquity for reconsidering its “seamier legacies.” Read more here: review of Brooke Holmes’ new book, Gender: Antiquity and Its Legacy
On April 27, 2014, I will be commenting on Emanuela Bianchi’s essay, “The Aristotelian Organism and Aleatory Matter.” I’m posting my comments here for those of you who won’t be attending the Ancient Philosophy Society in Tampa, FL April 24-27. I’ll be live tweeting at #APS14, follow me @adrieltrott.
A note on the photograph: Emma took this photo of my husband and I in Città di Castello, Umbria, Italy in 2012. At the time, we’d only been married for three weeks. She later posted it with the caption, “Marriage: Italian Style.” I think this it’s particularly apropos given the dispute that she and I have over the role of the feminine in Aristotle’s work.
It is a pleasure for me to comment on Emma Bianchi’s work, not only in the spirit of friendship, but also in the spirit of true and earnest disagreement with a friend with whom I share many philosophical commitments. This project seems to be drawing together some elements of Bianchi’s previous work, and as such, I find her formulations and concerns to be helpful in my own thinking on Aristotle. So I’d like to express my gratitude to her for keeping these questions and concerns about Aristotle at the fore. These are questions and concerns that I share, questions that I thank Bianchi for forcing me to think about more carefully in Aristotle. They are important questions whose ramifications extend beyond the confines of Aristotle and Aristotle scholarship. Bianchi encourages us to critically consider the implications of the standard of substance as a unified and hegemonic totality. Read more