People

Students

Graduate students in the Program for Ancient Philosophy belong to both Philosophy and Classical Studies, pursuing a PhD in the one they were originally admitted to and an MA in the other.

We also currently have one postdoctoral fellow, who also serves as a research assistant to the editor of Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy.

Justin Barney Fourth year
Classical Studies PhD, Philosophy MA
jabarney@umich.edu

Interests

  • Epicureanism
  • Presocratic philosophy
  • Ancient theories of perception
  • Poetry & philosophy

I am from Seattle, WA and received a B.A. in Classics and an M.A. in Comparative Studies from Brigham Young University.

My research centers on the relationship between traditional religion and Greco-Roman philosophy. My dissertation, for example, focuses on several ancient philosophers, asking why they endorsed traditional religious practices and how they incorporated those practices into their larger philosophical systems. Other research interests include the historical development of mythology, and how the educated elite variously accept, &dlquo;rationalize,&drquo; reinterpret and criticize religious narratives.

I am also interested in papyrology, particularly the work being done in Naples, Italy on the scrolls from Herculaneum. For my MA thesis, I re-edited a scroll of the 1st-century Epicurean philosopher Philodemus, which contains his treatise, entitled On Perception (PHerc. 19/698).

Andrew Mayo First year
Classical Studies PhD, Philosophy MA
acmayo@umich.edu

Interests

  • Presocratics & Greek poetry
  • History of allegorical interpretation
  • History of logic

I am from Toronto, where I did my BA (2017) and MA (2018) in Classics, where I worked the most on Greek poetry, and also dabbled in Medieval Studies. I am very interested in allegory, especially its obscure early development among the Presocratics. Recently, I have been increasingly interested in ancient medicine, the history of logic in antiquity, and classical understandings of analogy.

Matteo Milesi Third year
Classical Studies PhD, Philosophy MA
milesim@umich.edu

Interests

  • Neoplatonism
  • Ancient philosophical and scientific commentaries
  • Reception of Homer in the Platonist tradition
  • Allegory
  • Symbolism

I am from Milan, Italy, and I received a BA in Classics from the Università degli Studi di Milano in 2014 and an MA in Classics from the University of Durham (UK).

My main research interest lies in the study of ancient exegetical works. More specifically, I am interested in exploring issues concerning the establishment of intellectual authority and the relationship between commentators and “canonical” texts in Late Antiquity. So far, I have mostly worked on the pagan Neoplatonic tradition, especially on Porphyry and Proclus, but I would like to explore the Christian counterpart in order to gain a deeper understanding of the tension between the recognition of a revealed truth and the commentators’ attempt to carve out a place for their own voice.

I am also interested in ancient theories of language and symbols, and at the moment I am working on allegorical narratives in Latin Platonists.

Sherice Ngaserin Ng First year
Philosophy PhD, Greek MA
sherice@umich.edu

Interests

    • Plato
    • Ancient Greek Scepticism
    • Indian Buddhism
    • Metaphysics & epistemology of ethics

I received my B.A. (Hons.) from Yale-NUS College, Singapore, where I majored in Philosophy and minored in Global Antiquity (specifically, in Classical Indian and Ancient Greek thought). I am interested in the implications of philosophical inquiry on the ethical life, and believe that Plato and the Indian Buddhist philosophers’ systematic approaches to philosophy are well-suited to this project. My most recent work focuses on drawing comparisons between Platonic and Indian Buddhist philosophy, including a project on the moral value of knowing in Plato’s Theaetetus and Dignāga’s Pramāṇa-samuccaya (‘Compendium on the Means of Knowing’).

Umer Shaikh Eighth year
Philosophy PhD, Greek MA
umer@umich.edu

Interests

  • Aristotle’s metaphysics and philosophy of science
  • Plato’s middle dialogues
  • Ancient logic and mathematics

My primary interests are in Aristotelian metaphysics and philosophy of science; at the moment I am thinking about the relationships between scientific explanation and the classic concepts in Aristotelian metaphysics (substance, essence, form, matter, potentiality, actuality, etc.). Secondary interests are ancient metaphysics more generally and the development of logic and mathematics, including ancient philosophical reflection on them.

I believe that interaction between history of philosophy and contemporary philosophy is very fruitful for both fields; as such I hope to do theoretically sophisticated historical work and try to maintain some competence in the contemporary analogues of the historical areas I have listed.

Van Tu Sixth year
Philosophy PhD, Greek MA
thuyvan@umich.edu

Interests

  • Ancient Moral Psychology
  • Aristotelian Metaphysics and Natural Philosophy
  • Aristotelian Virtue Ethics

My primary research interest stands at the crossroads of ancient Greek ethics, moral psychology, and epistemology. While the various strands of ancient Greek ethics—including the hedonist brand of the Epicureans—recommend living in accordance with the guidance of reason, the particular details of this recommendation are nebulous. My research aims to reconstruct ancient Greek accounts of how we use reason to make decisions about what to do, what kind of person to be, and how to live well. In my dissertation, I investigate a cluster of questions concerning the norms of rationality, the role of reason in psychological processes that contribute to action (viz. deliberation and the ranking of preferences), as well as the use of reason as an instrument of political subordination in the Aristotelian tradition. In the future, I hope to work out accounts of deliberation and decision held by other Greek authors, including Plato and the Hellenistic philosophers.
For a complete dissertation abstract as well as descriptions of current and future research projects, visit my website: https://thuyvantu.wixsite.com/website.

Glenn Zhou First year
Philosophy PhD, Greek MA
glzhou@umich.edu

Interests

  • Ancient and Contemporary Metaphysics
  • Aristotle’s Philosophy of Mind & Natural Philosophy
  • Aristotelian Moral Psychology & Action Theory

While I keep delving in contemporary philosophy, I am in the process of developing my interests in ancient philosophy. When doing ancient philosophy, I particularly love studying difficult philosophical texts, aiming at finding puzzles and offering solutions to them. Most recently, I have been thinking about contrary properties, perception, desire, practical reasoning, among other topics.


Postdoctoral fellow

David Morphew Postdoctoral fellow in Philosophy morphewd@umich.edu

Interests

  • Ancient Moral Psychology
  • Plato and Platonic Traditions
  • Hellenistic and Late Antique Philosophy
  • The Active and Contemplative Life in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy
  • Philosophy and Rhetoric

While I have interests in all areas of ancient philosophy, from the Presocratics through Late Antique philosophy and Christian reception, I find myself particularly drawn to ethics and metaphysics in Plato and different Platonic traditions (which often appropriate and adapt aspects of Peripatetic philosophy). The questions I tend to focus on are theoretical in nature but concerned with the practical life, such as what is the best kind of life and how do we live it?

In my dissertation, I focused on the centrality of passions in Plutarch’s psychology and the role that passions play in moral progress, principally vis-à-vis Plato and Stoicism. Passions for Plutarch are not only ineradicable aspects of human nature that should be cultivated but can also enhance our actions and intensify our pursuit of the good life. I have two further projects on Plutarch that grew out of my dissertation: both a study of Plutarch’s defense of poetry for moral progress and a study on Plutarch’s animal psychology and how his arguments for animal rationality bear on animal ethics. In my next book-sized project, I address the overarching question of how ancient conceptions of self-interested and other-regarding motivations bear on the tension between the active life and contemplative life in Plato and Plutarch. In addition to my current projects, I have worked on problems in Plato’s moral psychology, the metaphysics of evil in Plotinus, Proclus, Augustine, and Gregory of Nyssa, and the problem of continued identity for Christian resurrection in Gregory of Nyssa. For more information on past conference presentations, current research projects, and my teaching portfolio, see my website.