Speaker: Peter Struck, Professor of Classical Studies at the University of Pennsylvania
Title:"Porphyry on Reason: How an understanding of cultural difference shapes an understanding of cognition"
Abstract: In advocating for vegetarianism Porphyry claims that reason comes from nature. A claim like this is not just rare for a Platonist, it cuts against bedrock views of Plato himself. To understand how Porphyry got to this point, I will work through some aspects of his broader corpus and propose that the line of thinking that leads Porphyry to this conclusion crucially includes another well-understood component of his work. Porphyry displayed a rare attentiveness to cultural variances among what he construed as races in the 3rd century of the common era (understood under the rubrics of both ethnê and genê). I will claim that this facet of his thinking shaped how he understood reason to work.