Gabriel Richardson Lear

Gabriel Richardson Lear
Professor
Foster Hall, Room 308
Office Hours: On leave 2024-25
773.702.5078
Princeton University PhD (2001) and AB Summa Cum Laude (1993)
Teaching at UChicago since 2003
Research Interests: Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy

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 PhD in Philosophy from Princeton University (2001).

Selected Publications

2022: “Beauty,” in G. Preus and M. Duque (eds), Bloomsbury Handbook to Plato.

2019: Plato's Philebus: A Philosophical DiscussionOxford University Press.

2019: “Plato on Why Human Beauty is Good for the Soul” in Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 57.

2019: “Revelations of Reason: An Orientation to Reading Plato’s Philebus” with S. Kelsey in Dimas, Jones, and Lear (eds.), Plato’s Philebus: A Philosophical Discussion (Oxford: Oxford University Press).

2015: “Aristotle on Happiness and Long Life,” Happiness in Antiquity, edd. Emilsson, Fossheim, Rabbas, and Tuominen, Oxford: Oxford University Press.

2014: “Approximation and Acting For an Ultimate End,” Theoria: Studies on the Status and Meaning of Contemplation in Aristotle’s Ethics, ed. Pierre Destrée and Marco Zingano, Peeters Publishers.

2013: “Plato’s Poetics,” Routledge Companion to Ancient Philosophy, eds. F. Sheffield and J. Warren, Routledge Publishing.

2013: “Aristotle,” International Encyclopedia of Ethics, ed. Hugh LaFollette, Wiley Blackwell Publishing.

2012: “Beauty (to kalon),” The Continuum Companion to Plato, ed. Gerald Press, Continuum International Publishing Group.

2011: “Mimesis and Psychological Change in Republic III,” Plato and the Poets, Mnemosyne supp. vol. 328, ed. Pierre Destrée and Fits-Gregor Herrmann,       195-216.

2009: “Happiness, the Good, and the Structure of Ends,” Blackwell’s Companion to Aristotle, ed. G. Anagnostopoulos, Blackwell Publishing.

2006: “Permanent Beauty and Becoming Happy in Plato’s Symposium,” Plato’s Symposium: Issues in Interpretation and Reception, ed. Jim Lesher, Debra Nails, and Frisbee Sheffield, Harvard University Center for Hellenic Studies Press.

2006: “Aristotle on Moral Virtue and the Fine,” Blackwell’s Companion to Aristotle’s Ethics, ed. R. Kraut.

2006: “Plato on Learning to Love Beauty,” Blackwell’s Companion to Plato’s Republic, ed. G. Santas.

2006: “Happiness by Way of Wisdom,” Harvard Divinity School Bulletin.

2004: Happy Lives and the Highest Good: An Essay on Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics, Princeton University Press. (Paperback 2005).

Media

Gabriel Richardson Lear on Elucidations (Dept of Philosophy podcast)

Recent Courses

PHIL 51711 Aristotle’s Politics

(SCTH 56702)

Aristotle’s Politics argues for and then elaborates the claim that human beings are by nature political animals.  This claim, if it is true, has profound implications not only for our understanding of politics (e.g., of political authority), but also for our self-understanding as the individual human beings we are.  We will read the text closely, giving particular attention to Aristotle’s views about what a specifically political community is, how it relates to other kinds of community, and how the political nature of human beings inflects the virtues and happiness of individuals and societies.  We will try to decide whether and to what extent the Politics is illuminating, including whether it can be disentangled from his commitment to natural slavery and the subordination of women. (III)

2023-2024 Winter

PHIL 21724/31724 Virtues of Citizenship

(SCTH 31724)

What are the qualities of character that enable us to be valuable members of our political communities, the institutions that employ us, and any other groups of which we are a part?  Do the right answers to these questions depend on where you are situated in the community or on the form of political constitution in question?  Do they harmonize with each other? And are these the same as the qualities that make us morally good human beings?  These are questions that the Ancient Greek philosophers thought hard about and we will take the works of those thinkers as our starting point and constant companions.  But we will consider some moderns as well, and our goal will be to enrich our reflection about the kinds of people we ourselves would like to be.  Virtues we may discuss include: civic friendship, justice, forthrightness in public speech (parrhesia), courage, and (for lack of a better term) effectiveness. (A)

2022-2023 Spring
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 56701 Plato’s Phaedrus

(SCTH 56701)

A close reading of this literary and philosophical masterpiece.  This dialogue addresses the nature of the soul, love, lust, political persuasion, philosophical dialectic, poetic myth, the forms, and the difference between written and spoken discourse.  What emerges in its dramatic action and explicit argumentation is a picture of human beings as speaking animals and of what a good life for animals like us might be. (III)

Permission of instructor required.

 

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 25819 Stoic and Epicurean Ethics

In this course we will devote roughly equal time to these profoundly influential, appealing, and often dueling, philosophical schools.  Our focus will be on their theories of nature, and especially of human nature; their views of pleasure, fear, and their role in human life; their accounts of virtue and of friendship; and, above all, their arguments for their differing conceptions of the human good: pleasure (according to the Epicureans) or “living in agreement with nature” (according to the Stoics).  Readings will include selections from Epicurus, Lucretius, Cicero, and Epictetus. (A)

Humanities Core.

2021-2022 Spring

PHIL 55701 The Ethics and Poetics of Mimesis

(SCTH 55701)

In this seminar we will examine the concept of mimesis as a way of thinking about poetry and the arts and also as a way of thinking about human life more generally.  Our focus will be Plato’s Republic and Aristotle’s Poetics, though we will consider relevant passages from other dialogues and treatises.  What should we make of the fact that Socrates figures both the unjust person and the philosopher-ruler as a mimetic artist? In what way is his critique of mimesis ontological, psychological, and political?  Are there differing explanations of the influence of mimetic speech, sound, and sights? Why do Plato and Aristotle believe that poetic mimesis is a necessary element of moral education?  How does Aristotle’s different, more dynamic account of poetic mimesis reflect a different understanding of the nature poetry and its place in human life?  If time permits, we will briefly consider Epictetus’s idea that we should think of ourselves as actors playing a role in the cosmic drama. (IV)

 

Preference will be given to PhD students.  MA students require permission of the instructor.

 

2021-2022 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy
Medieval Philosophy

PHIL 25000 History of Philosophy I: Ancient Philosophy

(CLCV 22700)

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.

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.

2020-2021 Spring
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 25000 History of Philosophy I: Ancient Philosophy

(CLCV 22700)

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.

Completion of the general education requirement in humanities.

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 51721 Topics in Aristotle: Nicomachean Ethics

(SCTH 51721)

A close reading of the Nicomachean Ethics, with particular emphasis on his theory of moral virtue, moral education. (I) (IV)

2020-2021 Autumn
Category
Ethics

For full list of Gabriel Lear's courses back to the 2012-13 academic year, see our searchable course database.