Gabriel Richardson Lear (Professor of Philosophy) works on ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. Her book, Happy Lives and the Highest Good: An Essay on Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics (Princeton, 2004), is about the relationship between morally virtuous action and theoretical contemplation in the happiest life. She is currently writing about Plato's aesthetics and about the status of beauty as an ethical concept in the work of several philosophers. She received her Ph.D. in Philosophy from Princeton University (2001). Gabriel Richardson Lear is Department Chair.
Gabriel Richardson Lear on Elucidations (Dept of Philospohy podcast)
office: Stuart Hall, Room 222
office phone: 773/702-5078
Please see my CV (DOC) for a complete list of publications.
PHIL 55420. Plato’s Philebus. In this late Platonic dialogue, Socrates offers an extended argument against hedonism. Its fascinating discussions of metaphysics (causation, relations between parts and wholes, genus and species), philosophical method, the good, pleasure, and the distinction between pure and applied forms of knowledge all had a deep influence on Aristotle. We will read the dialogue slowly, using some of the latest scholarship as our guide. (IV) Winter 2016.
PHIL 25000. History of Philosophy I: Ancient Philosophy. (=CLCV 22700) Prerequisites: Completion of the general education requirement in humanities. An examination of ancient Greek philosophical texts that are foundational for Western philosophy, especially the work of Plato and Aristotle. Topics will include: the nature and possibility of knowledge and its role in human life; the nature of the soul; virtue; happiness and the human good. Autumn 2015.
25000. History of Ancient Philosophy I: Ancient Philosophy. PQ: Completion of the general education requirement in humanities. An examination of ancient Greek philosophical texts that are foundational for Western philosophy, especially the work of Plato and Aristotle. Topics will include: the nature and possibility of knowledge and its role in human life; the nature of the soul; virtue; happiness and the human good. Autumn 2013.
59950: Job Placement Workshop. Graduate students planning to go on the job market in the fall of 2012. Approval of dissertation committee is required. Course begins in late Spring quarter and continues in the Autumn quarter. Pass/Fail.
55911. Aristotle's Politics. A close reading of this important work of ethical and political theory. Among the topics we will discuss: the relation between the individual and the political community; the relation between private associations and the public, political community; civic virtue; the role of the political community in moral development; slaves and other marginal members of the political community; and the possibility of virtue and happiness in degenerate regimes. (IV) Spring 2014
55390. Plato on Technê: We’ll read various dialogues in whole or in part to understand what sort of capacity counts as a genuine craft for Plato and how (if it does) his view of craft changes over the dialogues; some topics: the relation between craft and practical wisdom/virtue; the distinction between theoretical and applied sciences; the repeated suggestion that sophists, orators, and poets “pretend” to be craftsmen.(IV) Winter 2012.
21001/31001. Aristotelian Ethics. (=CLCV 25006) A careful study of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics with particular emphasis on those aspects that have been most influential in contemporary virtue ethics. (A) Winter 2007. Autumn 2011.
25720/35720. Plotinus. We will read selections from the Enneads of Plotinus with an emphasis on the nature of beauty and its role in spiritual ascent. We will consider the relationship between spiritual vocation and the beauty of the world, the proper orientation to human embodiment as a condition for the successful pursuit of the contemplative life, and the power of language to communicate the ecstatic accomplishment of this life. (IV) with M. Payne. Spring 2012.
25000. History of Philosophy - I: Ancient Philosophy. Open to college students. Prerequisites: Completion of the general education requirement in humanities. An examination of ancient Greek philosophical texts that are foundational for Western philosophy, especially the work of Plato and Aristotle. Topics will include: the nature and possibility of knowledge and its role in human life; the nature of the soul; virtue; happiness and the human good. Autumn 2005, Autumn 2006, Autumn 2007.
29600. Junior Seminar: Hedonism. Open to college students. Prerequisites: Open only to third-year students who have been admitted to the intensive concentration program. Hedonism -- the view that pleasure is the human good -- is an extremely attractive theory. Plato offers some of the most nuanced arguments against hedonism and also, through Socrates' interlocutors, some of its most eloquent defenses. We will examine these arguments with the purpose of discovering the nature of pleasure and its role in a life worth choosing. We will end with an examination of Epicurean hedonism with a view to determining how well it accounts for the value of friendship and moral virtue. Autumn 2005.
26109/36109. Plato’s Aesthetics. The ideas that poetic creativity is inspired rather than grounded in technical knowledge, that it is mimetic, that the audience of poetry suspends ordinary rational evaluation, that poems should be evaluated in terms of their moral effect--the way Plato developed these thoughts proved to be enormously influential on the history of Western poetics. In this course we will examine Plato's fascinating discussions of poetry with an eye to understanding the nuances of his theory and in the hope of understanding why this great innovator in poetic theory was also one of poetry's greatest critics. Dialogues to be read in whole or in part include Ion, Republic, Gorgias, Protagoras, and Laws. (IV) (B). Autumn 2009.
50220. Plato's Philosophy of Art. Open to grad students. For Plato, the nature of poetry, music, and dance is primarily an ethical matter. Not only do the mimetic arts develop ethical character but also, interestingly, the activity of the poet (or performer) is itself a paradigmatic case of a certain form of life. In this seminar we will study the Ion and relevant selections from the Republic and Laws with a view to understanding these and other issues of concern to Plato (e.g., the ontological status of poetry; the criteria of poetic beauty) in his discussions of mimetic art. Autumn 2007.
51301. Nicomachean Ethics - I. Open to grad students. An examination of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics over two quarters. We will discuss the nature and development of moral virtue, practical and theoretical wisdom, friendship, pleasure, and the contribution they all make to the good life, among other topics. Winter 2004.
51302. Nicomachean Ethics - II. Open to grad students. This is the second quarter of an examination of Aristotle's Nicomachean Ethics We discuss the nature and development of moral virtue, practical and theoretical wisdom, friendship, pleasure, and the contribution they all make to the good life, among other topics. Spring 2004.
55909. Aristotle on Justice & Political Friendship. This course will examine some of Aristotle's ethical and political writings with a view to understanding his theory of justice and political friendship. As time permits we will consider Aristotle's distinction between general and particular justice, his distinction between distributive and rectificatory justice, his claim that man is a "political animal," his account of slavery and other forms of rule, the varieties of friendship, and his views about the best form of political constitution. Co-taught with A. Ford (IV) Spring 2010.
55400. Plato's Protagoras. Open to grad students. This dialogue contains important arguments about whether virtue can be taught, for the unity of the virtues, and against the possibility of weakness of will as well as a bizarre interlude of literary criticism. We will examine them all. This is one of Plato's liveliest dialogues, so we will need to discuss how to take account of the dramatic features of the dialogue in a philosophical interpretation. Autumn 2006.
55700. Aristotle's Poetics. Open to grad students. An examination of Aristotle's theory of tragedy. We will consider the Platonic background as well as passages from Aristotle's ethical and political works in order to understand the notions of mimesis, action, character, and catharsis. Knowledge of Greek appreciated but not required. Winter 2006.
59910. Workshop: Ancient Philosophy. Open to grad students. Autumn 2007, Winter 2008, Spring 2008.