Michael Griffin

  • Greek and Roman philosophy
  • Philosophical education in antiquity
  • Neoplatonism
  • Educational technology

I study the philosophers of the ancient Graeco-Roman world, especially the vibrant intellectual traditions that emerged around Plato and Aristotle during their lives and later, during the rise and fall of the Roman Empire. I am particularly interested in the practice of philosophical education (paideia) in late antiquity, and the role of philosophy in society. My recent books study the ancient reception of two classic “first books” in philosophy, Aristotle’s Categories and Plato’s Alcibiades, which respectively trained students in the rudiments of logic and virtue. My current projects include the Ancient Commentators series of translations, which I co-edit with Richard Sorabji, and a cross-disciplinary study of the cognitive and psychological effects of education in philosophy and the liberal arts.

  • Aristotle’s Categories in the Early Roman Empire. Oxford University Press, 2015.
    • "Griffin maps out this early exegetical tradition combining philological skills, historical caution and philosophical sensitivity, and succeeds in showing that there was a subtle and sophisticated philosophical controversy... [and] that exegetical debates in later ancient philosophy are not scholastic developments but philosophically and historically significant.... His book will remain a standard work of reference in the field of the exegetical tradition of the Categories." NDPR 
    • "A major work which will become an important reference-point in future research on the post-Hellenistic period." Phronesis
    • "This book offers a clear and compelling presentation of the surviving evidence. It fills a significant lacuna and marks a considerable step forward in scholarship. […] It is a must-read for scholars with an interest in post-Hellenistic philosophy." Sehepunkt
    • "[A]n excellent overview of the first generations of exegesis and commentary on the Categories, a period previously—despite the fine work of such figures as Paul Moraux and, more recently, Jonathan Barnes, Riccardo Chiaradonna, and Marwan Rashed—sunk in obscurity. Not all of the obscurity can be lifted, admittedly, by reason of the nature of the evidence, but for his fine effort to do so Michael Griffin has put all of ancient philosophy in his debt." BMCR
  • Olympiodorus: Life of Plato and On Plato First Alcibiades 1–9 and Olympiodorus: On Plato First Alcibiades 10–28. Translated with scholarly introduction and notes. Bloomsbury Academic, 2014 and 2016.
    • "Griffin's two volumes are a considerable scholarly achievement. They open up a window into a world in which philosophy had a very different role and self-conception... Griffin's introduction on the virtues and psychic transformation is particularly valuable." NDPR
    • "Griffin… is responsible for an elegant translation of the first nine of Olympiodorus’ lectures on the Alcibiades… Apart from dealing expertly with the social and intellectual context of Olympiodorus’ work… Griffin’s introduction also deals extensively with the ancient reception history of the Alcibiades itself." Phronesis
    • "[Griffin] has taken on the thankless task of the translator with commendable enthusiasm, thoroughness and accuracy […] G.’s account of this theory of a ‘scale of the virtues’… is one of the most philosophically sensitive and lucid treatments of the subject known to this reviewer." IJPT
    • "Olympiodorus’ Alcibiades commentary... has remained untranslated since the appearance of the critical edition nearly sixty years ago. The work... is thus a step toward filling a definite gap in the scholarship." (Topher Kurfess in BMCR 2015.10.30)
  • “Ammonius and His School.” Brill Handbook of the Ancient Reception of Aristotle. Ed. Andrea Falcon. Leiden: Brill, 2016: 394–414.
  • “Proclus on the Ethics of Self-Constitution.” Causation and Creation in Late Antiquity. Ed. Anna Marmodoro and Brian D. Prince. Cambridge University Press. 202-219.
  • “Universals, Education, and Philosophical Methodology in Later Neoplatonism”. Universals in Ancient Philosophy. Ed. Riccardo Chiaradonna and Gabriele Galluzzo. Pisa: Edizioni della Scuola Normale, 2014. 353-380.
  • “Pliable Platonism? Olympiodorus and the Profession of Philosophy in Sixth-Century Alexandria”. Plato in the Third Sophistic. Ed. Ryan C. Fowler. De Gruyter, 2014. 73-11.
  • “Which ‘Athenodorus’ Commented on Aristotle’s Categories?”. Classical Quarterly 63.1. 2013. 199-208.

Please see my personal faculty webpage for further detail.

  • “The Early Aristotelian Commentators on the Criterion of Truth,” invited lecture, Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy), Conference on Hellenistic and Late Antique Philosophy, June 2015.
  • “Themistius on Rhetoric, Philosophy, and Excellence,” invited lecture, University of Oxford, Philosophy and Late Antiquity Seminar, May 2015.
  • “Andronicus of Rhodes on Aristotle’s Categories”, invited lecture, Classical Philosophy Conference, Princeton University, December 2014.
  • “The Alexandrian Scale of Virtue”, invited lecture, “Aristotle Transferred” Conference, Berlin, October 2014.
  • “Aristotle & Alexander on Mental States”, invited symposium presenter, American Philosophical Association (Pacific), March 2013.

I was born and raised in Vancouver, and completed my undergraduate degree in Classics at UBC’s Department of Classical, Near Eastern & Religious Studies. I subsequently completed my master’s degree and doctorate at the University of Oxford, where my research focused on ancient (Greek and Roman) philosophy. After a postdoctoral year of research with the Ancient Commentators on Aristotle project, I joined UBC’s departments of Classical, Near Eastern, and Religious Studies and Philosophy. I am now joint general editor of the Ancient Commentators on Aristotle project with Prof. Richard Sorabji.

Courses Currently Taught

Winter 2017

CLST211 Greek Philosophy I Sections

The Pre-Socratics; Socrates; Sophists; Plato. Recommended as preparation for CLST/PHIL 212 and PHIL 310.

  • “The Early Aristotelian Commentators on the Criterion of Truth,” invited lecture, Università degli Studi di Milano (Italy), Conference on Hellenistic and Late Antique Philosophy, June 2015.
  • “Themistius on Rhetoric, Philosophy, and Excellence,” invited lecture, University of Oxford, Philosophy and Late Antiquity Seminar, May 2015.
  • “Andronicus of Rhodes on Aristotle’s Categories”, invited lecture, Classical Philosophy Conference, Princeton University, December 2014.
  • “The Alexandrian Scale of Virtue”, invited lecture, “Aristotle Transferred” Conference, Berlin, October 2014.
  • “Aristotle & Alexander on Mental States”, invited symposium presenter, American Philosophical Association (Pacific), March 2013.