•  102
    On making mistakes in Plato: Thaeatetus 187c-200d
    Topoi 31 (2): 151-166. 2012.
    In this paper I explore a famous part of Plato’s Theaetetus where Socrates develops various models of the mind (picturing it first as a wax tablet and then as an aviary full of specimen birds). These are to solve some puzzles about how it is possible to make a mistake. On my interpretation, defended here, the discussion of mistakes is no digression, but is part of the refutation of Theaetetus’s thesis that knowledge is “true doxa”. It reveals that false doxa is possible only if there is a certai…Read more
  •  27
    I explore the connections between love, resentment and anger, and challenge Nussbaum's assumption that love is self-seeking, leads to resentment when the benefits are withdrawn, and that anger is invariably a vicious response. I sketch an alternative view of genuine love, and of the importance of the anger that springs from seeing a loved one unjustly treated.
  •  2
    On Aristotle's Physics 1.4-6
    with John Philoponus
    Duckworth. 2009.
    Aristotle's Physics 1.4-9 explores a range of questions about the basic structure of reality, the nature of prime matter, the principles of change, the relation between form and matter, and the issue of whether things can come into being out of nothing, and if so, in what sense that is true. Philoponus' commentaries do not merely report and explain Aristotle and the other thinkers whom Aristotle is discussing. They are also the philosophical work of an independent thinker in the Neoplatonic trad…Read more
  • Topography in the Timaeus: Plato and Augustine on Mankind's Place in the Natural World
    Proceedings of the Cambridge Philological Society 34 104-111. 1988.
    I consider the relation between the shape or structure of the world and the moral position occupied by human beings, and show that a cosmology that places earth at the centre does not give the centre of the universe pride of place but the lowest place, so any reluctance to move the earth from the centre of the universe was not due to thinking that humans must be in the most important position. From Plato on, the surface of the earth is at the bottom and the outer heaven is the highest place. Thi…Read more
  •  32
    I start by asking what Aristotle knew (or thought) about Heraclitus: what were the key features of Heraclitus's philosophy as far as Aristotle was concerned? In this section of the paper I suggest that there are some patterns to Aristotle's references to Heraclitus: besides the classic doctrines (flux, ekpyrosis and the unity of opposites) on the one hand, and the opening of Heraclitus's book on the other, Aristotle knows and reports a few slightly less obvious sayings, one of which is in my tit…Read more
  •  35
    The Pythagorean Society and Politics
    In Carl Huffman (ed.), A History of Pythagoreanism, Cambridge University Press. pp. 112-130. 2014.
    Pythagoreans dominated the political scene in southern Italy for nearly a century in the late 6th to 5th century BC. What was the secret of their political success and can their political, social and economic policies be assessed in the customary terms with which historians try to analyse ancient societies? I argue that they cannot, and that the Pythagorean approach to politics was sui generis, and successful because it was based on ideas, not force or popular demagogy.
  •  88
    Perceiving Particulars and Recollecting the Forms in the 'Phaedo'
    Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society 95. 1995.
    I ask whether the Recollection argument commits Socrates to the view that our only source of knowledge of the Forms is sense perception. I argue that Socrates does not confine our presently available sources of knowledge to empirically based recollection, but that he does think that we can't begin to move towards a philosophical understanding of the Forms except as a result of puzzles prompted by the shortfall of particulars in relation to the Forms, and hence that our awareness of the Forms is …Read more
  •  31
    In this paper I review four texts in which Aristotle comments on Empedocles ' writing style. I show that Aristotle thought that Empedocles was a fine poet. That is fine, if a poet is what you want
  •  41
    I argue that philosophy was naturally conceived and written in verse, not prose, in the early years of philosophy, and that prose writing would be the exception not the norm. I argue that philosophers developed their ideas in verse and did not repackage ideas and thoughts first formulated in non-poetic genres, so there is no adaptation or modification involved in "putting it into poetry". This also means that the content and the form are interdependent, and the poetic details are part of the mes…Read more
  •  64
    The book is about three things. First, how Ancient thinkers perceived humans as like or unlike other animals; second about the justification for taking a humane attitude towards natural things; and third about how moral claims count as true, and how they can be discovered or acquired. Was Aristotle was right to see continuity in the psychological functions of animal and human souls? The question cannot be settled without taking a moral stance. As we can either focus on continuity or on discontin…Read more
  •  3
    Review of André Laks, Le vide et la haine: éléments pour une histoire archaïque de la négativité, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 2004 ; Introduction à la “philosophie présocratique”, Presses Universitaires de France, Paris, 2006