Damian Caluori (2010 Conington Prize)

Senior Lecturer in Ancient Philosophy

  • Philosophy
  • School of Philosophy, Psychology and Language Sciences

Contact details

Address

Street

Room 6.07, Dugald Stewart Building

City
3 Charles Street, Edinburgh
Post code
EH8 9AD

Background

I joined the department in 2019. Before that, I taught at Trinity University, San Antonio, TX, for ten years, first as Assistant Professor, then as Associate Professor. I received my DPhil  in 2008 from the University of Oxford, where I was fortunate enough to be taught by Michael Frede. I was born and raised in Switzerland.

CV

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Responsibilities & affiliations

Student Exchange Coordinator

Undergraduate teaching

I am teaching various courses in ancient philosophy, such as the ancient part of Greats and the third year course Ancient Philosophy.

Open to PhD supervision enquiries?

Yes

Research summary

I am interested in all aspects of ancient philosophy, in particular in theories of the soul and in metaphysics more generally. I am mostly focused on late ancient Platonism, in particular Plotinus. But I read Plotinus against the background of his honourable predecessors, in particular Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics. Reading Plotinus in this way makes it clear how Plotinus attempts to solve problems that all ancient philosophers were concerned with and how he attempts to give Platonist answers to these problems that are no less sophisticated than the answers of the competing schools.

Another Platonist I work on is Damascius, last head of the Platonist school in Athens when it was closed as a consequence of an anti-pagan edict by the Roman Emperor Justinian in the early 6th century. I am particularly interested in his use of dialectic and in his epistemology.  Almost anticipating Kant, Damascius is intrigued by the problem of how it is possible for a subject to grasp an object as it is in itself.

 

Current research interests

I am currently working on a translation of, and commentary on, Enneads VI.1 and VI.2, the first two parts of his grand treatise 'On the Genera of Being'. This will be the first substantial commentary on these treatises. Plotinus critically discusses the Peripatetic tradition that is based on Aristotle's 'Categories' and the Stoic so-called categories before turning to Plato. Developping ideas and arguments found in Plato's 'Sophist', 'Parmenides' and other late dialogues, Plotinus develops his own theory of the genera of being.

Past research interests

My monograph 'Plotinus on the Soul' attempts to give a systematic account of, well, Plotinus' theory of the soul. I do not focus exclusively on the human soul because I think that the human soul can only be properly understood against the background of his theory of the soul quite generally. Hence, I also discuss such unusual entities as the souls of the stars and an entity that Plotinus was the first to introduce into philosophy, namely the so-called hypostasis Soul. Another interest of mine is the philosophy of friendship, which was central to ancient ethics but seems to have lost this central position later. I have edited a collection of essays on this topic, organised along the major philosophical issues that relate to friendship: what it is, what its unity is, whether friendship can be rationally and morally justified (given that it gives preference to some people simply based on our relation to them) and what its role in a good life is. I co-edited and co-translated 'That Nothing is Known' by the Renaissance sceptic Francisco Sanchez. Sanchez is interesting, it seems to me, for at least two reasons: 1. He used the methods of ancient Pyrrhonism against the dogmatists of his day, the Aristotelians of the schools. 2. As in ancient Pyrrhonism, there is an interesting connection to medicine. Not only did Sanchez teach and practice medicine, he was also familiar with, and influenced by, the ancient medical school of empiricism.

Affiliated research centres