Moral Education in Early Plato

Written by Dr. Jason Rheins on November 13, 2021

The following passages come from several of Plato’s most important early dialogues and concern the topic of whether and by whom virtue can be taught. The Apology, Plato’s version of Socrates’ defense speech against charges such as corrupting the youth, is probably the earliest. Also early is the Protagoras. Sometime after the Protagoras came the Gorgias, and probably not too long after it the Meno, as a kind of sequel. The character of Socrates is clear that he cannot teach virtue because he does not know what it is, and that neither can the sophists unless, at minimum, they know what virtue is, but Plato allows Protagoras to have fairly powerful arguments for the possibility of teaching virtue. In the Meno, Socrates will claim that perhaps great law givers can give their subjects true opinions about what is good and bad, but not virtue if that requires knowledge. Yet, Plato never stops trying to theorize political systems that will do a better job of educating better citizens.

Plato’s Apology 24c-25c

"Come here, Meletus, tell me: don't you consider it of great importance that the youth be as good as possible? —“I do.”—Come now, tell these gentlemen who makes them better? For it is evident that you know, since you care about it. For you have found the one who corrupts them, as you say, and you bring me before these gentlemen and accuse me; and now, come, tell who makes them better and inform them who he is. Do you see, Meletus, that you are silent and cannot tell? And yet does it not seem to you disgraceful and a sufficient proof of what I say, that you have never cared about it? But tell, my good man, who makes them better? —“The laws.”—But that is not what I ask, most excellent one, but what man, who knows in the first place just this very thing, the laws.—“These men, Socrates, the judges.”—What are you saying, Meletus? Are these gentlemen able to instruct the youth, and do they make them better?—“Certainly.”—All, or some of them and others not?—“All.”—Well said, by Hera, and this is a great plenty of helpers you speak of. But how about this? Do these listeners make them better, or not?—“These also.”—And how about the senators?—“The senators also.”—But, Meletus, those in the assembly, the assemblymen, don't corrupt the youth, do they? or do they also all make them better?—“They also.”—All the Athenians, then, as it seems, make them excellent, except myself, and I alone corrupt them. Is this what you mean?—“Very decidedly, that is what I mean.”—You have condemned me to great unhappiness! But answer me; does it seem to you to be so in the case of horses, that those who make them better are all mankind, and he who injures them some one person? Or, quite the opposite of this, that he who is able to make them better is some one person, or very few, the horse-trainers, whereas most people, if they have to do with and use horses, injure them? Is it not so, Meletus, both in the case of horses and in that of all other animals? Certainly it is, whether you and Anytus deny it or agree; for it would be a great state of blessedness in the case of the youth if one alone corrupts them, and the others do them good. But, Meletus, you show clearly enough that you never thought about the youth, and you exhibit plainly your own carelessness, that you have not cared at all for the things about which you hale me into court."

In the Apology, Plato presents Socrates giving his defense speech when the city of Athens puts him on trial for his life. Meletus is one of Socrates’ accusers, and the philosopher faces three charges: corrupting the youth, not believing in the gods of the city, and introducing new spirits. Here, Socrates begins his defense against the charge that he corrupts the youth by showing that his accuser has indicted him frivolously, since Meletus does not understand who or what improves or corrupts the youth. Meletus claims that Socrates corrupts the youth, so Socrates asks him who improves them? Meletus says the youth are improved by the laws or customs (the Greek term, ‘nomos’/‘nomoi’, means both), and this echoes a common Greek view that good laws or customs are part of a citizen’s moral education. But Socrates presses Meletus to say who improves the youth by knowing the laws. Meletus indicates the many judges of the assembly, but gradually agrees that all the Athenians improve the youth (since, among other things, they presumably know and abide by Athenian law). This too reveals a popular Greek view: the city educates the youth. This is broader than education than laws, since laws and customs must be preserved, performed, and passed on by actual living persons. Socrates shows that Meletus’ words are ill-considered. He uses an inductive argument to show that in most fields and spheres of life a few people, the experts, know how to care for and improve a thing, while non-experts mishandle it and cause it harm. It would be an extraordinary exception if everyone knew how to care for and improve the youth, but only one or a few people corrupted them. So, Meletus has evidently not given much thought to the question of who can provide the youth with education and moral edification. Plato at least implicitly suggests that it would be a kind of expertise to know how to improve the youth, suggesting that special knowledge, perhaps ethical knowledge, is requisite for educators. 

That question, whether virtue could be taught, either as a subject of expertise or through a process of training or whether it was an innate gift, was already much and long debated among the Greeks as evidenced by the opening of the Meno, below. What is unique in Plato’s approach is his application to this problem the insight of Socratic Wisdom, i.e. Socrates’ claim that he only knows and he alone knows that of which he is ignorant. Socrates is free to admit that Greek society does not actually know how to make people good because it does not really understand what goodness is.

Plato’s Meno 70a, 71a-c

Meno: Can you tell me, Socrates, whether virtue can be taught, or is acquired by practice, not teaching? Or if neither by practice nor by learning, whether it comes to mankind by nature or in some other way?

Socrates: …You have only to ask one of our people a question such as that, and he will be sure to laugh and say: Stranger, you must think me a specially favored mortal, to be able to tell whether virtue can be taught, or in what way it comes to one: so far am I from knowing whether it can be taught or not, that I actually do not even know what the thing itself, virtue, is at all. And I myself, Meno, am in the same case; I share my townsmen's poverty in this matter: I have to reproach myself with an utter ignorance about virtue; and if I do not know what a thing is, how can I know what its nature may be? Or do you imagine it possible, if one has no cognizance at all of Meno, that one could know whether he is handsome or rich or noble, or the reverse of these? Do you suppose that one could?

Meno: Not I. But is it true, Socrates, that you do not even know what virtue is? Are we to return home with this report of you?

Socrates: Not only this, my friend, but also that I never yet came across anybody who did know, in my opinion.

Plato’s Protagoras 312a-e

"Yet after all, Hippocrates, perhaps it is not this sort of learning that you expect to get from Protagoras, but rather the sort you had from your language-master, your harp-teacher, and your sports-instructor; for when you took your lessons from each of these it was not in the technical way, with a view to becoming a professional, but for education, as befits a private gentleman. “I quite agree”, he said, “it is rather this kind of learning that one gets from Protagoras.” Then are you aware what you are now about to do, or is it not clear to you? I asked. “To what do you refer?” I mean your intention of submitting your soul to the treatment of a man who, as you say, is a sophist; and as to what a sophist really is, I shall be surprised if you can tell me. And yet, if you are ignorant of this, you cannot know to whom you are entrusting your soul,—whether it is to something good or to something evil. “I really think”, he said, “that I know.” Then tell me, please, what you consider a sophist to be. “I should say”, he replied, “from what the name implies, that he is one who has knowledge of wise matters.” Well, I went on, we are able to say this of painters also, and of carpenters, —that they are the persons who have knowledge of wise matters; and if someone asked us for what those matters are wise, of which painters have knowledge, I suppose we should tell him that they are wise for the production of likenesses, and similarly with the rest. But if he should ask for what the matters of the sophist are wise, how should we answer him? What sort of workmanship is he master of? “How should we describe him, Socrates,—as a master of making one a clever speaker?” Perhaps, I replied, we should be speaking the truth, but yet not all the truth; for our answer still calls for a question, as to the subject on which the sophist makes one a clever speaker: just as the harp player makes one clever, I presume, at speaking on the matter of which he gives one knowledge, namely harp-playing,—you agree to that? “Yes.” Well, about what does the sophist make one a clever speaker? “Clearly it must be the same thing as that of which he gives one knowledge.” So it would seem: now what is this thing, of which the sophist himself has knowledge and gives knowledge to his pupil? “Ah, there, in good faith”, he said, “I fail to find you an answer.”

Here, Socrates asks the young Hippocrates what he hopes to learn from studying with Protagoras. In the process he effectively distinguishes two models of Greek education: professional tutelage, where the teacher is an expert and he trains the student to become the same kind of expert, e.g. a musician training someone else to play music, and what we might call general education, where the teacher instructs the student in literacy, poetry, and/or physical education but does not train them to become a teacher or trainer. Sophistry, the art with which Protagoras is associated is unusual insofar as it is a specialty or expertise, but it does not seem to have a domain of specific knowledge or skill. Socrates ends by posing the question of what specific subject matter or domain sophistry or oratory can speak cleverly about. If all and none it seems suspect. This is not an indictment of content neutral or general cognitive training, but it does raise a question about what specific skills are being imparted in content-neutral, skill-focused learning.

Plato’s Protagoras 318a-319a

"My friend Hippocrates finds himself desirous of joining your classes; and therefore he says he would be glad to know what result he will get from joining them. That is all the speech we have to make. Then Protagoras answered at once, saying: “Young man, you will gain this by coming to my classes, that on the day when you join them you will go home a better man, and on the day after it will be the same; every day you will constantly improve more and more.” When I heard this I said: Protagoras, what you say is not at all surprising, but quite likely, since even you, though so old and so wise, would be made better if someone taught you what you happen not to know. But let me put it another way: suppose Hippocrates here should change his desire all at once, and become desirous of this young fellow's lessons who has just recently come to town, Zeuxippus of Heraclea, and should approach him, as he now does you, and should hear the very same thing from him as from you,—how on each day that he spent with him he would be better and make constant progress; and suppose he were to question him on this and ask: In what shall I become better as you say, and to what will my progress be? Zeuxippus’ reply would be, to painting. Then suppose he came to the lessons of Orthagoras the Theban, and heard the same thing from him as from you, and then inquired of him for what he would be better each day through attending his classes, the answer would be, for fluting. In the same way you also must satisfy this youth and me on this point, and tell us for what, Protagoras, and in what connection my friend Hippocrates, on any day of attendance at the classes of Protagoras, will go away a better man, and on each of the succeeding days will make a like advance. When Protagoras heard my words…“You do right”, he said, “to ask that, while I am only too glad to answer those who ask the right question. For Hippocrates, if he comes to me, will not be treated as he would have been if he had joined the classes of an ordinary sophist. The generality of them maltreat the young; for when they have escaped from the arts they bring them back against their will and force them into arts, teaching them arithmetic and astronomy and geometry and music (and here he glanced at Hippias); whereas, if he applies to me, he will learn precisely and solely that for which he has come. That learning consists of good judgement in his own affairs, showing how best to order his own home; and in the affairs of his city, showing how he may have most influence on public affairs both in speech and in action.” I wonder, I said, whether I follow what you are saying; for you appear to be speaking of the civic science, and undertaking to make men good citizens. “That, Socrates”, he replied, “is exactly the purport of what I profess.”

Socrates asks Protagoras what knowledge his young friend Hippocrates will gain by associating with him. Protagoras explains what he teaches and he distinguishes this from the subject matter taught by some other sophists. Some other sophists—general intellectuals—like Hippias teach their students the mathematical arts. Protagoras does not teach this. Instead, Protagoras claims to teach good judgment in private and public matters. As Greek and Roman education developed and formed a stable pattern, mathematical studies, beyond numeracy and basic arithmetic, became a very rare, advanced course of study. The higher education of those who went beyond literacy and grammar was almost always training in rhetoric, not mathematics or philosophy.

Plato’s Gorgias 449a-b

Socrates: Gorgias, tell us yourself in what art it is you are skilled and so what we ought to call you.

Gorgias: Rhetoric, Socrates.

Socrates: So we are to call you a rhetorician?

Gorgias: Yes, and a good one, if you would call me what “I vaunt myself to be,” as Homer says.

Socrates: Well, I shall be pleased to do so.

Gorgias: Then call me such.

Socrates: And are we to say that you are able to make others like yourself?

Gorgias: Yes, that is what I profess to do, not only here, but elsewhere also.

This passage and the one immediately above it concern Plato’s take on the claim that the sophists can teach excellence or virtue (aretē) and the alternative claim that they teach rhetoric. In Protagoras 381a-319a and Gorgias 449a-b, Socrates engages with the titular characters of the two respective dialogues. Protagoras and Gorgias were the two leading lights of the sophistic movement in the mid-late 5th c. BCE. They give different answers to the question of what they teach, and therefore whether their instruction was capable of making their pupils good or virtuous. Protagoras claims that every day a student spends with him will be a day that he returns home better, and ‘better’ means better able to manage both public and private affairs well. Gorgias, on the other hand, only claims to make his students good speakers.

But speakers good at speaking about what, exactly? Socrates goes on to question Gorgias along these lines, eventually pushing him to admit that he teaches his students to be persuasive in matters of justice. But they must have a sense of what justice is already. He does not propose that he teaches this and he cannot guarantee that his students will use the power of oratory for good, although he encourages this, and he further hopes that they will profit by his example. These two outcomes— general (moral) excellence (the standard goal of Greek education) and oratorical persuasiveness—were those most associated with the promises of an education from the sophists. However, in some cases, Sophists were thought to extend the general education in music and letters through additional mathematics and philosophy—as the Sophist and polymath Hippias seems to offer his students

But not everyone—not even all the sophists—agreed that they could deliver on the first, while many worried that the second reeked of demagoguery and moral relativism, i.e. "making the weaker argument defeat the stronger." Thus, in the passages from the Meno below, a dialogue investigating whether virtue can be taught, Socrates points out that when even the presumptive teachers of virtue cannot agree on whether they teach virtue and whether they succeed, it is doubtful that there are any teachers of virtue at all.

Meno 89d-e; 91a-92b; 96a-c

Socrates: I will tell you, Meno. I do not withdraw as incorrect the statement that it is taught, if it is knowledge; but as to its being knowledge, consider if you think I have grounds for misgiving. For tell me now: if anything at all, not merely virtue, is teachable, must there not be teachers and learners of it?

Meno: I think so.

Socrates: Then also conversely, if a thing had neither teachers nor learners, we should be right in surmising that it could not be taught?

Meno: That is so: but do you think there are no teachers of virtue? Socrates: I must say I have often inquired whether there were any, but for all my pains I cannot find one. And yet many have shared the search with me, and particularly those persons whom I regard as best qualified for the task. But look, Meno: here, at the very moment when he was wanted, we have Anytus sitting down beside us….

Socrates:….my friend Meno here. He has been declaring to me ever so long, Anytus, that he desires to have that wisdom and virtue whereby men keep their house or their city in good order, and honor their parents, and know when to welcome and when to speed citizens and strangers as befits a good man. Now tell me, to whom ought we properly to send him for lessons in this virtue? Or is it clear enough, from our argument just now, that he should go to these men who profess to be teachers of virtue and advertise themselves as the common teachers of the Greeks, and are ready to instruct anyone who chooses in return for fees charged on a fixed scale?

Anytus: To whom are you referring, Socrates?

Socrates: Surely you know as well as anyone; they are the men whom people call “sophists”.

Anytus: For heaven's sake hold your tongue, Socrates! May no kinsman or friend of mine, whether of this city or another, be seized with such madness as to let himself be infected with the company of those men; for they are a manifest plague and corruption to those who frequent them.

Socrates: What is this, Anytus? Of all the people who set up to understand how to do us good, do you mean to single out these as conveying not merely no benefit, such as the rest can give, but actually corruption to anyone placed in their hands? And is it for doing this that they openly claim the payment of fees? For my part I cannot bring myself to believe you; for I know of one man, Protagoras, who amassed more money by his craft than Pheidias—so famous for the noble works he produced—or any ten other sculptors. And yet how surprising that menders of old shoes and furbishers of clothes should not be able to go undetected thirty days if they should return the clothes or shoes in worse condition than they received them, and that such doings on their part would quickly starve them to death, while for more than forty years all Greece failed to notice that Protagoras was corrupting his classes and sending his pupils away in a worse state than when he took charge of them! For I believe he died about seventy years old, forty of which he spent in the practice of his art; and he retains undiminished to this day the high reputation he has enjoyed all that time—and not only Protagoras, but a multitude of others too: some who lived before him, and others still living. Now are we to take it, according to you, that they wittingly deceived and corrupted the youth, or that they were themselves unconscious of it? Are we to conclude those who are frequently termed the wisest of mankind to have been so demented as that?

Anytus: Demented! Not they, Socrates: far rather the young men who pay them money, and still more the relations who let the young men have their way; and most of all the cities that allow them to enter, and do not expel them, whether such attempt be made by stranger or citizen.

Socrates: Well, can you name any other subject in which the professing teachers are not only refused recognition as teachers of others, but regarded as not even understanding it themselves, and indeed as inferior in the very quality of which they claim to be teachers; while those who are themselves recognized as men of worth and honor say at one time that it is teachable, and at another that it is not? When people are so confused about this or that matter, can you say they are teachers in any proper sense of the word?

Meno: No, indeed, I cannot.

Socrates: Well, if neither the sophists nor the men who are themselves good and honorable are teachers of the subject, clearly no others can be?

Meno: I agree.

When Socrates challenges Protagoras’ claim that virtue can be taught, the great sophist an extensive speech defending the position, which, among other things, contains an elaborate myth about Prometheus and the creation of man and the only surviving, abstract defense of democratic government from this time. Near the end of the speech, Protagoras begins to give to point to ample evidence that the Greeks do believe that moral education is possible, and that praise and blame, reward and punishment are used in this connection.

Protagoras 325a-326e

[Protagoras speaking] “[I]f we should instruct and punish such as do not partake of virtue, whether child or husband or wife, until the punishment of such persons has made them better, and should cast forth from our cities or put to death as incurable whoever fails to respond to such punishment and instruction;—if it is like this, and yet, its nature being so, good men have their sons instructed in everything else but this, what very surprising folk the good are found to be! For we have proved that they regard this thing as teachable both in private and in public life, and then, though it may be taught and fostered, are we to say that they have their sons taught everything in which the penalty for ignorance is not death, but in a matter where the death-penalty or exile awaits their children if not instructed and cultivated in virtue—and not merely death, but confiscation of property and practically the entire subversion of their house—here they do not have them taught or take the utmost care of them? So at any rate we must conclude, Socrates. They teach and admonish them from earliest childhood till the last day of their lives. As soon as one of them grasps what is said to him, the nurse, the mother, the tutor, and the father himself strive hard that the child may excel, and as each act and word occurs they teach and impress upon him that this is just, and that unjust, one thing noble, another base, one holy, another unholy, and that he is to do this, and not do that. If he readily obeys,—so; but if not, they treat him as a bent and twisted piece of wood and straighten him with threats and blows. After this they send them to school and charge the master to take far more pains over their children's good behavior than over their letters and harp-playing. The masters take pains accordingly, and the children, when they have learnt their letters and are getting to understand the written word as before they did only the spoken, are furnished with works of good poets to read as they sit in class, and are made to learn them off by heart: here they meet with many admonitions, many descriptions and praises and eulogies of good men in times past, that the boy in envy may imitate them and yearn to become even as they. Then also the music-masters, in a similar sort, take pains for their self-restraint, and see that their young charges do not go wrong: moreover, when they learn to play the harp, they are taught the works of another set of good poets, the song-makers, while the master accompanies them on the harp; and they insist on familiarizing the boys' souls with the rhythms and scales, that they may gain in gentleness, and by advancing in rhythmic and harmonic grace may be efficient in speech and action; for the whole of man's life requires the graces of rhythm and harmony. Again, over and above all this, people send their sons to a trainer, that having improved their bodies they may perform the orders of their minds, which are now in fit condition, and that they may not be forced by bodily faults to play the coward in wars and other duties. This is what people do, who are most able; and the most able are the wealthiest. Their sons begin school at the earliest age, and are freed from it at the latest. And when they are released from their schooling the city next compels them to learn the laws and to live according to them as after a pattern, that their conduct may not be swayed by their own light fancies, but just as writing-masters first draw letters in faint outline with the pen for their less advanced pupils, and then give them the copy-book and make them write according to the guidance of their lines, so the city sketches out for them the laws devised by good lawgivers of yore, and constrains them to govern and be governed according to these. She punishes anyone who steps outside these borders, and this punishment among you and in many other cities, from the corrective purpose of the prosecution, is called a Correction. Seeing then that so much care is taken in the matter of both private and public virtue, do you wonder, Socrates, and make it a great difficulty, that virtue may be taught? Surely there is no reason to wonder at that: you would have far greater reason, if it were not so.”

Finally, Protagoras concludes by giving evidence that it is possible to have real moral education despite the counter-arguments (e.g. that such education is unreliable and the children of the virtuous are often bad).

Protagoras 326e-328c

[Protagoras speaking] "Then why is it that many sons of good fathers turn out so meanly? Let me explain this also: it is no wonder, granted that I was right in stating just now that no one, if we are to have a city, must be a mere layman in this affair of virtue. For if what I say is the case—and it is supremely true—reflect on the nature of any other pursuit or study that you choose to mention. Suppose that there could be no state unless we were all flute-players, in such sort as each was able, and suppose that everyone were giving his neighbor both private and public lessons in the art, and rebuked him too, if he failed to do it well, without grudging him the trouble—even as no one now thinks of grudging or reserving his skill in what is just and lawful as he does in other expert knowledge; for our neighbors' justice and virtue, I take it, is to our advantage, and consequently we all tell and teach one another what is just and lawful—well, if we made the same zealous and ungrudging efforts to instruct each other in flute-playing, do you think, Socrates, that the good flute-players would be more likely than the bad to have sons who were good flute-players? I do not think they would: no, wherever the son had happened to be born with a nature most apt for flute-playing, he would be found to have advanced to distinction, and where unapt, to obscurity. Often the son of a good player would turn out a bad one, and often of a bad, a good. But, at any rate, all would be capable players as compared with ordinary persons who had no inkling of the art. Likewise in the present case you must regard any man who appears to you the most unjust person ever reared among human laws and society as a just man and a craftsman of justice, if he had to stand comparison with people who lacked education and law courts and laws and any constant compulsion to the pursuit of virtue, but were a kind of wild folk such as Pherecrates the poet brought on the scene at last year's Lenaeum. Sure enough, if you found yourself among such people, as did the misanthropes among his chorus, you would be very glad to meet with Eurybatus and Phrynondas, and would bewail yourself with longing for the wickedness of the people here. Instead of that you give yourself dainty airs, Socrates, because everyone is a teacher of virtue to the extent of his powers, and you think there is no teacher. Why, you might as well ask who is a teacher of Greek; you would find none anywhere; and I suppose you might ask, who can teach the sons of our artisans the very crafts which of course they have learnt from their fathers, as far as the father was competent in each case, and his friends who followed the same trade,—I say if you asked who is to give these further instruction, I imagine it would be hard, Socrates, to find them a teacher, but easy enough in the case of those starting with no skill at all. And so it must be with virtue and everything else; if there is somebody who excels us ever so little in showing the way to virtue, we must be thankful. Such an one I take myself to be, excelling all other men in the gift of assisting people to become good and true, and giving full value for the fee that I charge—nay, so much more than full, that the learner himself admits it. For this reason I have arranged my charges on a particular plan: when anyone has had lessons from me, if he likes he pays the sum that I ask; if not, he goes to a temple, states on oath the value he sets on what he has learnt, and disburses that amount. So now, Socrates, I have shown you by both fable and argument that virtue is teachable and is so deemed by the Athenians, and that it is no wonder that bad sons are born of good fathers and good of bad...."

In the final portion of Protagoras’ ‘great speech’ he addresses Socrates’ initial argument that virtue cannot be taught: namely, the fact that leading men esteemed for their virtue and wisdom pay for their sons' education in all useful things possible but nevertheless their sons do not turn out as well as their fathers. If anyone could teach virtue it would surely be these men, and if there were anyone they would try to teach, it would surely be their sons. Protagoras makes a thought experiment with an analogy between the political art and virtue on the one hand, and the skill of flute playing on the other. If flute playing were necessary to the survival of a city, then everyone would try to educate their sons in flute playing, but some renowned flute players would have sons who were poor or mediocre ones, while some poor or mediocre players would have sons who were prodigies.

This thought experiment also helps Protagoras explain the apparent lack of explicit teachers of virtue. In the city of flute players, every parent or adult would be teaching the young to play flute, even if only by example. This is analogous to asking who the teachers of the Greek language are? In Greek cities, everyone teaches the young Greek, but no one is a teacher of Greek per se. Likewise, everyone teaches the young how to behave in a civilized social manner. This also helps explain how Protagoras can claim that he teaches his students to be more virtuous even when his myth suggested that justice and piety were distributed to human beings in common and not as a specialized expertise known only to a few. Like flute playing in the city of flute players, justice and piety are held by all at least in some degree, but if there are expert flute players who can improve the playing of others even marginally, they would be of tremendous value. This is what Protagoras claims to do with respect to virtue. His benefit is marginal, although still invaluable. His benefit is marginal because his students are already civilized humans rather than savages. Having grown up in a city in which everyone is a teacher of virtue, they are already far more trained than a truly unvirtuous savage. That immense difference dwarfs anything teaching can accomplish. Nevertheless, even the small improvements in the character of his students that he can produce would be of immense value, so precious is virtue.

Dr. Jason Rheins

Dr. Jason G. Rheins is a scholar of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. In 2003 he received his BA with honors in Philosophy and Classical Studies from Stanford University. In 2010 he earned his PhD in Philosophy from the University of Pennsylvania. He has taught or held professorships at the University of Pennsylvania, Swarthmore College, UNC Chapel Hill, St. John’s University, and Loyola University Chicago. He has published articles and book chapters on the history of philosophy, the philosophy of science, and metaphysics. He is currently completing a monograph on Plato’s theology.