Ancient Philosophy at Yale

NEWS: Yale philosophers David Charles, Verity Harte, and Brad Inwood have forged a new venture: a five-year project, wholly Yale-based, bringing a group of faculty and graduate students together annually over five days to read works of Aristotle’s Parva Naturalia, a connected series of (mainly) short texts on topics in philosophical psychology widely recognized as essential complements to Aristotle’s more famous—and more widely read—work of psychology, De Anima. The seminar will meet for the first time this June (12 through 16) at the Whitney Humanities Center, to read De Sensu, with 13 faculty and 10 graduate students. This project, generously sponsored by the Provost’s Office, is a sequel to the extended seminar on Plato’s Republic held jointly with King’s College London over the past 10 years.


At Yale, we have a large and active research community in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, including three faculty specialists in the Philosophy and Classics departments and three faculty members in other departments with expertise on ancient philosophy and related areas of research. Taken together, these professors specialize in the following major periods of ancient philosophy: Archaic and Classical Philosophy (PreSocratics, Plato and Aristotle); Hellenistic and Post-Hellenistic Philosophy; and on diverse subjects within ancient philosophy, including metaphysics, epistemology, philosophy of mind, philosophy of science, ethics, philosophy of action, and political philosophy.

Yale’s Philosophy Department is known for its strength in the history of philosophy as well as for its long tradition of successful integration of history of philosophy and systematic philosophy. Such integration is exemplified by the fact that a large number of its faculty teach and pursue research in both areas. Graduate seminars regularly range over topics in the history of philosophy and in contemporary philosophy.

In any one year, Yale typically hosts several talks in ancient philosophy given by distinguished ancient philosophers from all over the world, sponsored by the Departments of Classics and Philosophy or by our very active Working Group in Ancient Philosophy. In addition, in recent years, a number of distinguished ancient philosophy specialists have visited at Yale for longer periods ranging from one week to a semester. Yale is also committed to a series of multi-year seminars on central works and problems in ancient philosophy, which draw distinguished faculty from universities in North America and abroad. After a ten-year study of Plato’s Republic (in conjunction with King’s College, London) Yale is now hosting a five-year seminar on Aristotle’s Parva Naturalia; it will meet annually at Yale for five days, in June.

The Classics and Philosophy Program is a combined PhD program, offered by the Departments of Philosophy and Classics at Yale, for students wishing to pursue graduate study in ancient philosophy. Suitably qualified students may apply for entry to the Program either through Philosophy, for the Philosophy Track of the Program, or through Classics, for the Classics Track of the Program. Details of the program may be found here.

Advanced seminars in ancient philosophy, suitable for graduate students, are a regular feature of the graduate programs in Philosophy and Classics. In particular, at least once per year, seminars are held which center on discussion of the work of an ancient philosopher read in the original language; such seminars are designed as a focal point for graduates working on ancient philosophy, whatever their stage in the program.