B.A., University of Guelph; M.A., St. John's College; Ph.D., Boston College
Visiting Lecturer in Philosophy
An ancient philosopher working primarily on Aristotle’s ethics and moral psychology.
I am primarily an ancient philosopher, which means that I work to understand and interpret ancient Greek philosophy because I think that ancient works hold abidingly true and relevant insights worth taking seriously. I am especially interested in human nature, and I work specifically on understanding how Aristotle’s description of human life in his ethical works coheres with the account of natural life given in his natural works (especially the psychological writings). It is a funny thing about human beings that we are both natural creatures like all other living things and uniquely (in Aristotle’s thought) thinking, political, and ethical creatures. I am interested in seeing whether and how these two sides of human existence correlate. In my dissertation, I investigated why it is that what we think (our specifically human activity) can fail to inform the way we perceive (an activity common to all animals), and vice versa, and the consequences of this for how we act, for our character, and for our virtue. Why is it, for example, that people do things that they know are bad for them? Can one overcome such internal conflict, and if so, how? I continue to work on these and related questions in Aristotle’s account of human life, with a current focus is on his account of habituation in ethical development and on his account of the political character of virtue. I am the recipient of the 2013 Dissertation Essay Prize awarded annually by the Review of Metaphysics. My essay, "Aristotle on the Intelligibility of Perception," will appear in a forthcoming issue of the journal.
An inquiry into human life, in the context of ancient philosophy, naturally leads to questions of metaphysics and epistemology, and my Ancient Greek Philosophy class reflects this. The other classes I will teach this coming year focus more specifically on various aspects of human life. In Existentialist Ethics we will take as our starting point the idea that human beings are essentially free and self-determining, and trace out the ethical consequences of this idea. In Introduction to Moral Philosophy, we will adopt a broader scope and examine various answers to the question: what is it to be and to do good? In a seminar on Ancient Political Philosophy, we will examine political philosophy at the dawn of democracy, inquiring into the nature of justice and the best form of government, both ideally and practically.
When I’m not reading and talking about philosophy, you’ll likely find me reading and talking about fiction (I’m a bookworm at heart). I also like cooking (and eating) with friends, cats, cocktails, and cities with all they offer (I’m especially fond of Toronto and Boston).