RACHEL BARNEY

 

Professor

Departments of Classics and Philosophy

University of Toronto

Jackman Humanities Building

170 St. George St.

Toronto ON

M5S 2MR

CANADA

fax: 416-978-8307


rachel.barney@utoronto.ca

I teach in the Departments of Classics and Philosophy at the University of Toronto, and participate in our Collaborative Programme in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (CPAMP). My research is on ancient philosophy, for the most part on issues of ethics and moral psychology, epistemology, and philosophical method. I’m particularly interested in the questions that arise where several of these topics intersect – and, above all, their interplay in Plato. Thus I’ve written several articles related in various ways to Plato’s conception of the Good: one on its status as the object of our desire, one on the closely related concept of the kalon, one on Aristotle’s attacks on the Form of the Good, one (in progress) on the ranking of goods in the Philebus, and another on how Plato’s theory of the good seems to be intertwined with his critique of rhetoric. I’m also fascinated by the concept of technê, craft, in ancient ethics; in addition to a big-picture paper currently underway on the topic, I’ve written one working out the role of technê in Aristotle’s function argument, and another discussing the role of technê in the argument between Socrates and Thrasymachus.

Another ongoing interest is in ancient philosophy as a family of diverse literary genres. I have an ongoing concern with the ancient sophists (a general study is here), including Protagoras (a paper in progress is here) and Gorgias (likewise): both have been unfairly marginalized and deprecated by historians of ancient philosophy, I believe, not least because their philosophical and literary practices were so different from what later became standard. I also think it’s important to discuss Plato with due attention to his very complicated strategies as a writer: this was a focus of my thesis and my resultant papers and book on the Cratylus. More recently I’ve written on ring-composition in the Republic and ambiguity in the allegory of the Cave. I’m also intrigued by commentary, history, doxography and other interpretive forms as (under-appreciated) ways of doing philosophy: hence a paper on Aristotle's methods as a historian of philosophy and a somewhat boosterish paper on the Neoplatonist commentator Simplicius. (A translation of Simplicius in Phys. I.1-2 is also in the works, with co-translator Stephen Menn.) Some general (and far from finished) thoughts on the history of philosophy, and its uses for contemporary philosophy, are here; an even draftier draft on Platonic dialogue form, here.    

Current projects include the aforementioned papers on technê, the Philebus, Protagoras and Gorgas; a paper on the Presocratic Hippo; some work of as yet indeterminate scope on the virtue of courage; and a book project on Plato’s early dialogues, with an emphasis on sophistic influences and philosophical methodology. See the Works in Progress page for drafts of some of these, and much much more! Feel free to email me if you have comments on the work posted or are curious about the other projects.