The Nellie Wallace Lectures

The annual Nellie Wallace Lectures, which are shared between the Faculty of Classics and the Faculty of Philosophy, enable scholars from outside the University to visit Oxford in order to lecture and conduct seminars in a subject in the field of Literae Humaniores (that is, ancient philosophy, ancient history, and the Greek and Roman languages and literatures).

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Plato’s Timaeus (I)— Narratology.

I shall address some questions about narratology, which will help us to better understand some of the main aspects of Plato’s doctrine in the Timaeus. Of special interest will be for us the first lines of the dialogue (17A-B), the implicit presentation of Timaeus as a Pythagorean of the Archytas type (19E-20A) and Critias’ aporetical genealogy (20D sqq.). Some tentative conclusions will be drawn about the importance of the “genealogical” theme in the Timaeus.

Plato’s Timaeus (II) — Participation in the Timaeus.

I shall examine how Plato’s doctrine of participation is dealt with in the Timaeus. My main contention will be to show that it is presented in order to meet Plato’s own criticisms in the Parmenides. I shall envisage again, from this point of view, the relationship between Plato’s late ontology and Aristotle’s doxographical account of his thought, in Metaphysics A 6 in particular.

Plato’s Timaeus (III) — Why Possibly Five Worlds?

I shall focus on what appears to be the main enigma of the dialogue, the second proof for the unicity of the world (55C-D). I shall propose a new interpretation, not in terms of Plato’s elementary physics as commonly assumed since Plutarch, but against the background of Plato’s mathematical ontology.

Plato’s Timaeus (IV) — Fate and Biology.

This last lecture on the Timaeus will be devoted to the third part of the monologue, where Plato expounds his biology. I shall try to show that this part is less biological than metaphysical.  Plato’s develops a theodicy, aiming at showing that the Demiurge, even if he wished that the world be what it is, is not responsible for the evil occurring in it.

Boethus of Sido (I) — General Ontology.

Boethus of Sido (1st c. BC) is one of the first commentators on Aristotle, and one of the most interesting. He is a true philosopher, engaged in a lively debate with the Platonists and, most of all, the Stoics about what it is to be a real being. I shall envisage some aspects of his ontology, specifically his doctrine of relation.

Boethus of Sido (II) — Syllogistics and Ontology.

I shall dwell upon a text of Themistius transmitted only in Arabic, devoted to the question of the perfection of the syllogisms of the first figure, to show how Boethus understood Aristotle’s syllogistics in accordance with his ontological stance. 

Thinking with language: from grammar to free speech 

In this series of lectures and seminars, Ineke Sluiter will discuss different aspects of (ancient) linguistic thought, not primarily in its technical aspects, but with attention to the roles and functions of ideas about language in different genres. She will be paying particular attention to Plato’s Cratylus; to the different roles of ‘language talk’ in Greek drama, particularly in Sophocles; and to etymology, its link with genealogy, and its various discursive functions. The introductory lecture will focus on an icon of modern language ideology, free speech.

In the seminar sessions, she will introduce and discuss a number of passages from Plato’s Cratylus that illuminate Socratic rhetoric, and the interconnectedness of literary, rhetorical and philosophical issues.

Opening lecture: Free speech, political deliberation, and the marketplace of ideas

This lecture explores the metaphor of the “marketplace of ideas” in debates over freedom of speech and political deliberation. Starting from the legal case against controversial Dutch politician Geert Wilders, it takes a look at the archaeology of the concept in ancient Greece, fast-forwards to the United States at the beginning of the 20th century, analyses the nature of the frame of the “marketplace”, and studies three subsequent theories that take their lead from this metaphor: marketplace mechanisms as a way to elicit information from a group in order to make the deliberative process more effective (Sunstein); the analysis of the metaphor as a vehicle of social criticism (Ingber); and the consequences of more recent insights into the functioning of the actual economy for ideas about freedom of speech (Blocher). After a brief return to the Wilders case and the “rhetoric of free speech”, I will end with the briefest of suggestions for an alternative model for thinking about free speech: an evolutionary theory of rhetoric.

Seminars (both 5 p.m. in the Okinaga Room, Wadham College)

Tuesday, 11th May: Seminar 1: Socratic rhetoric in Plato’s Cratylus

Tuesday, 18th May: Seminar 2: ‘Language talk’ in Plato’s Cratylus: literary form, rhetorical function, philosophical content.

Aristotle's Rhetoric and Aristotelian Philosophy’

The dialectical approach to rhetoric [Handout]

Enthymemes and truncated syllogisms [Handout]

Topoi in dialectic and rhetoric [Handout]

Rhetoric and ethical theory [Handout]

A system of emotions [Handout]

The poet and the rhetorician [Handout]

Abstract: Aristotle’s art of rhetoric borrows from several areas of Aristotelian philosophy: Above all, the artful rhetoric requires the dialectician’s competence for valid arguments and acceptable opinions. Then the rhetorician benefits from the study of character and emotions as well as from political theory. This is why Aristotle himself describes the art of rhetoric as an offshoot of dialectic and political science. Furthermore there are certain poetical techniques that are apt to improve the persuasiveness of prosaic speeches. –The six lectures on ‘Aristotle’s Rhetoric and Aristotelian philosophy’ will pick out some of those philosophically salient issues that are distinctive of Aristotle’s art of rhetoric.

Sarah Broadie is a fellow of the British Academy, of the Royal Society of Edinburgh, and of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. In 2003 she gave the Nellie Wallace lectures in the University of Oxford, entitled Nature and Divinity in the philosophies of Plato and Aristotle.

Nellie Wallace Lectures
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