our research in ancient philosophy our research in ancient philosophy

Ancient epistemology, ancient philosophy of mind, Plato’s political philosophy, methods and themes in the study of Presocratic philosophy, love and the value of emotion, vegetarianism in antiquity, late antique reception of Presocratic philosophy, Augustine and the rest of Early Christian Philosophy: these are some of the main areas in which our work on Ancient Philosophy is in dialogue with the mainstream traditions of current interpretation in the field.

In addition, we are uniquely prolific in work on the relation between Wittgenstein and the Ancient Philosophers (both Plato and other thinkers), and in this field we publish work both on Wittgenstein (reflecting on the ways in which his work is best understood when placed in comparison with some of the ancient thinkers, including Socrates, Plato and Augustine) and on the ancient thinkers (such as Heraclitus, Plato and Augustine) where we show that approaching these thinkers with Wittgenstein’s insights in mind can yield new and fruitful understandings of ancient philosophy.

Ancient Philosophy should not be seen as a primitive attempt to be like current mainstream Anglophone philosophy. Instead, by seeing it as alien from current orthodoxy, we find in it a wonderful resource for escaping from that. Ancient thinkers can provide the reminders we need to break free of the existing trammels that constrain philosophical understanding.

In Ancient Philosophy our small research team is focused on Catherine Rowett and her current research students. Recent and current research students have been working on the idea of justice in Plato’s Republic and on non-assertion in Plato, Sextus Empiricus and Wittgenstein.

Ancient Philosophy’s connections with Wittgenstein are variously investigated by Oskari Kuusela, Rupert Read, Mark Rowe and Catherine Rowett. We have been looking at connections with Socrates, Plato, Sextus Empiricus, Epictetus and Seneca. Both Oskari Kuusela and Catherine Rowett are currently working on issues relating to Socrates’ search for definitions, and on Plato’s response to that project.


Ancient Philosophy

- Catherine Rowett (2018). Plato on Knowledge and Truth: stepping past the shadow of Socrates, in press, OUP. Forthcoming

- Catherine Rowett (2016). ‘Why the Philosopher Kings will believe the Noble Lie’ Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy 50, 67-100.

- Catherine Rowett (2015). ‘Factual Mistakes, epistemological virtues and moral errors: a study in Augustine’s Confessions’ in Sophie Grace Chappell (ed.) Intuition, theory and anti-theory in ethics, Oxford University Press.

Wittgenstein and Ancient Philosophy

- O. Kuusela (forthcoming) ‘Wittgenstein and Socrates: The Method of the Use of Definitions’, in Moore, C. ed., Brill Companion to the Reception of Socrates. Leiden: Brill.

- M.W. Rowe (2013). ‘Knowing where to turn: Analogy, method and literary form in Plato and Wittgenstein’ in Luigi Perissinotto and Begoña Ramón Cámara (ed.) Wittgenstein and Plato: connections, comparisons and contrasts, Palgrave Macmillan.

- Rupert Read (2013). ‘On Philosophy’s (Lack of) Progress: From Plato to Wittgenstein (and Rawls)’ in Luigi Perissinotto and Begoña Ramón Cámara (ed.) Wittgenstein and Plato: connections, comparisons and contrasts, Palgrave Macmillan.

- Catherine Rowett (2013). 'Plato, Wittgenstein and the definition of games' in Luigi Perissinotto and Begoña Ramón Cámara (ed.) Wittgenstein and Plato: connections, comparisons and contrasts, Palgrave Macmillan.


Our approach to Ancient Philosophy is distinctive and seeks to challenge, not follow, the trends that dominate. We welcome work that crosses the boundaries of ancient philosophy and literature, and between ancient philosophy and Patristic theology. Our work in political philosophy and ancient economic thought is not done in the abstract, but is always politically engaged; so we particularly welcome those who find that Ancient Philosophy has something to say to the current world in its current crises.

We welcome applications from Early Career researchers seeking Leverhulme or Marie Curie fellowships to join this team, and from potential PhD students.

Students interested in taking the MRes to work on ancient philosophy in the context of a philosophy department, in preparation for a PhD, are also encouraged to apply.