John Proios

John Proios
Assistant Professor
Stuart Hall, Room 205
Office Hours: Spring Quarter: by appointment
PhD, Cornell University (2021); MA, University of Arizona (2017); BA, Swarthmore College (2015)
Teaching at UChicago since 2021
Research Interests: AOS: Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy; AOC: Philosophy of Life and Death, Buddhist Philosophy, Social and Political Philosophy (including Philosophy of Education, Race and Feminist Philosophy), Philosophy of Science

I joined the faculty in 2021 as an Assistant Professor. Most of my research is on ancient Greek metaphysics, science, and epistemology, especially as they are applied to moral and political theory. For instance, I think about Plato's ideas about the metaphysics of identity, difference, and similarity, and how this connects with his development of a special method for 'carving reality by the natural joints', which he applies in the context of political and moral questions about human beings. I am generally interested in ancient ideas about nature, fundamental reality, and the place of human beings in the universe. I am also interested in philosophical traditions of social critique, such as feminist and Marxist theory, both on their own and as a resource for understanding ancient thought. Some of my research is also concerned with education, such as the epistemic dimensions of social mobility.

 

Selected Publications

Recent Courses

PHIL 29912 Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy of Science and Religion

This is a survey of the philosophy of science and religion in ancient Greek and Roman texts. We start with early Greek religion and an emerging intellectual analysis of nature and divinity. Authors include Hesiod, Heraclitus, Parmenides, Hippocrates, and selected “Sophists” such as Critias and Antiphon. We then turn to Plato and Aristotle and the development of teleological natural science and theology—the idea that nature is an organized and craft-like system, which in some sense reflects divine intelligence. Texts include Plato’s Phaedo, Timaeus, and Republic, and Aristotle’s Physics, Metaphysics, and De Anima. In the final weeks of the course, we turn to later Greek and Roman cosmology—the study of the universe as such—in Stoic and Epicurean thinkers, such as Lucretius and Cicero, who extend and develop the previous tradition. (B)

Fulfillment of Core requirement.

2022-2023 Winter
Category
Ancient Philosophy
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of Science

PHIL 52503 Ideology, Knowledge, and Nature in Plato and Aristotle

Plato and Aristotle are paradigms of the intellectual attempt to know reality in some objective sense. They are also entangled in their social and material circumstances as historical individuals. The primary aim of this class is to survey a series of topics in which these two strands come together: how Plato and Aristotle’s pursuit of authoritative knowledge both challenges and reproduces their social and material circumstances. Topics include leisure and freedom in Plato’s epistemology; Plato’s philosophical engagement with sex and gender, and racial and ethnic difference; Aristotle’s application of natural teleology to social hierarchy, and his philosophical engagement with reproduction and sexual difference. We will also read from related Greek intellectual texts (such as the Hippocratic Airs, Waters, Places), social histories of ancient Greece, and contemporary epistemology. (IV)

2022-2023 Winter

PHIL 29110/39110 Plato on Knowledge

This course will examine Plato’s theory of knowledge in his “late” dialogues—especially Plato’s ideas about the philosopher’s pursuit of knowledge in the Sophist, Statesman, and Philebus. We will focus on the method of “dialectic” and its connection to the so-called method of “collection and division” as essential philosophical tools in Plato’s late writing. Topics will include natural kinds, the relationship between natural and social science, and the metaphysical views that form the backdrop of Plato’s methodological writings.  We will also spend some time discussing related dialogues, such as the Theaetetus, Phaedrus, and Timaeus, as well as contemporary work on natural kinds. (B) (IV)

Third-year undergraduates and above.

2022-2023 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 20216 Philosophy of Life and Death

The focus of this course will be how philosophy arises in response to problems in the conditions of human life, especially our mortality and the prevalence of social injustice. Every one of us will die one day; and every one of us suffers from and/or helps perpetuate some form of injustice. These can be sources of alienation, suffering, and bad choices; they can also be sources of conviction, bravery, and wisdom. We will aim to understand how philosophy fits into this picture, and especially how a person can use philosophy to find meaning for their life in relation to both death and injustice. Topics will include Plato’s Socrates, the Buddha, and social injustice in a US context. (A)

 

2021-2022 Winter

PHIL 55420 Plato’s Philebus

Often considered one of Plato’s most challenging dialogues, the Philebus records some of Plato’s most sophisticated writings on topics in ethics, metaphysics, and epistemology. This course will focus on close analysis of the dialogue and contextualizing it in related “late” Platonic dialogues. Topics will include Plato’s metaphysics and epistemology of craft, philosophical dialectic, Plato’s critique of hedonism, and the nature of the good. (IV)

 

2021-2022 Winter
Category
Ancient Philosophy

PHIL 29110/39110 Plato on Knowledge

This course will examine Plato’s theory of knowledge in his “late” dialogues—especially Plato’s ideas about the philosopher’s pursuit of knowledge in the Sophist, Statesman, and Philebus. We will focus on the method of “dialectic” and its connection to the so-called method of “collection and division” as essential philosophical tools in Plato’s late writing. Topics will include natural kinds, the relationship between natural and social science, and the metaphysical views that form the backdrop of Plato’s methodological writings.  We will also spend some time discussing related dialogues, such as the Theaetetus, Phaedrus, and Timaeus, as well as contemporary work on natural kinds. (B) (IV)

 

2021-2022 Autumn
Category
Ancient Philosophy