Classical Philosophy Reading Group

Oct. 12, 2017

From June 19 to 23, the seventh annual Classical Philosophy Reading Group met on the island of Syros in the Cyclades to discuss Aristotle’s philosophy of nature. Together with their Greek counterparts, 10 Princeton graduate students and three Princeton faculty discussed and presented on this year’s text: Aristotle’s account of time in Physics, Book IV, Chapters 10-14.

“The Classical Philosophy Program has been doing summer reading groups in Greece every year since 2011,” said Benjamin Morison, professor of philosophy and organizer of the reading group. “Professors John Cooper and Christian Wildberg started us off, and I organized the sessions in 2015 and 2017, with plans to organize again in 2018.” So far, the group has met on the islands of Crete, Spetses, and Syros, with several meetings in Athens, as well.

The aim of this program is to give graduate students from different academic backgrounds the opportunity to collaborate closely and intensively with one another in an atmosphere that is more informal and relaxed than regular seminars during the academic year.

“It is a successful model, because the two groups of students end up spending a lot of time with each other, discussing the text we are reading,” Morison said. “It is always gratifying to see little groups of students in cafés and even on the beach discussing Aristotle together animatedly.”

The group has been reading texts in Aristotle’s philosophy of nature since the beginning of the summer reading groups, with a small hiatus in 2016, when the group opted for a timely reading of Aristotle’s Politics. “We chose Aristotle’s Philosophy of Nature because of its centrality for Aristotle: his views on nature affect his views on ethics and politics, as well as his views about metaphysics, science, and knowledge,” Morison said. “We thought that by choosing his philosophy of nature, we could ensure that everyone who is interested in Aristotle would be interested in the topic of the reading group.”

It certainly seems that the group is interested, as nearly all of the graduate students who attend return to the program each summer. The reading group is jointly supported by the Seeger Center for Hellenic Studies, the Department of Classics, and the Department of Philosophy. You can learn more about the Classical Philosophy Reading Group and its participants.