Nicholas Gooding

Dissertation advisors: Klaus Corcilius, Kinch Hoekstra, and Niko Kolodny

My interests range across the history of philosophy, both ancient and modern. Most recently, I have been thinking a lot about the notion of “philia” (normally translated “friendship”) in ancient philosophy — the role it is thought to play in individual life and in the political community. I’ve been working, in particular, on Aristotle’s account of philia, trying to think it through both in relation to Aristotle’s philosophical views more generally (his account of justice; his view of human beings as part of the natural world and thus susceptible to the same kinds of inquiry as other living creatures) and in the context of philia’s role in 5th and 4th century moral and political thought, e.g., in tragedians, historians, and orators.

I have two ongoing interests in early modern philosophy: In the social contract tradition, including especially Hobbes, Spinoza and Rousseau; and in how changing conceptions of the natural world during the 17th century interacted with efforts to understand human beings as moral and political agents.

If there is anything that relates my somewhat varied interests, it is perhaps a general aspiration to better understand what is involved in seeing human beings as part of the natural world, and the implications of that way of viewing them for practical philosophy; and to try to do so by considering some of the diverse forms that philosophical naturalism (or realism, in the sense in which Thucydides and Hobbes are “realists”) has taken throughout the history of philosophy.