Jill P. Gordon

Charles A. Dana Professor of Philosophy

Box 4554

Phone: 207-859-4554
Fax: 207-859-4705
Mailing Address:
4554 Mayflower Hill
Waterville, Maine 04901-8845
Gordon, Jill P.

Education

Ph.D. in Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin
M.A. in Philosophy, Brown University
B.A. double major in Economics and Philosophy, Claremont McKenna College

Areas of Expertise

  • Plato
  • Ancient philosophy
  • Social and political philosophy
  • African-American philosophy

Courses Currently Teaching

CourseCourse Title
PL111 ACentral Philosophical Issues: Self and Society
PL213 APhilosophical Inquiries into Race
PL231 AHistory of Ancient Greek Philosophy
PL277 AReuman Reading Group
PL374 AExistentialism
PL401 APhilosophy Colloquium I
PL402 APhilosophy Colloquium II

Current Research

Works in Progress 1."Perception and Moral Responsibility." Rooted in activist work on gender salary equity, this paper looks to Aristotle's Ethics to understand the role that perception plays in virtue, and more specifically it makes the argument that we can be held morally accountable for our perceptions.

2."Eros in Plato's Republic." In this paper, I work through special issues presented by the Republic regarding erotic desire, issues not taken up in my recent monograph on the topic.

Publications



BOOKS


Plato's Erotic World: From Cosmic Origins to Human Death, Cambridge University Press, 2012



This book examines the fundamental importance of eros in Plato's writing, arguing that he sees the world as erotic from beginning to end, from cosmic origins to human death.


Plato's entire fictive world is permeated with philosophical concern for eros, well beyond the so-called erotic dialogues. Several metaphysical, epistemological, and cosmological conversations - Timaeus, Cratylus, Parmenides, Theaetetus, and Phaedo - demonstrate that eros lies at the root of the human condition and that properly guided eros is the essence of a life well lived. This book presents a holistic vision of eros, beginning with the presence of eros at the origin of the cosmos and the human soul, surveying four types of human self cultivation aimed at good guidance of eros, and concluding with human death as a return to our origins. The book challenges conventional wisdom regarding which are the "erotic dialogues" and demonstrates that Plato's world is erotic from beginning to end: the human soul is primordially erotic and the well cultivated erotic soul can best remember and return to its origins, its lifelong erotic desire.

Turning Toward Philosophy Literary Device and Dramatic Structure in Plato's Dialogues,
The Pennsylvania State University Press, University Park, Pa.,1999.

This monograph shows how the literary techniques Plato used function philosophically to engage readers in doing philosophy and attracting them toward the philosophical life. It is built on detailed analyses of specific literary devices in chapters on dramatic form, character development, irony, and image-making (which includes myth, metaphor, and analogy).

Plato is not at all the enemy of the poets and image-makers that previous interpreters have depicted. Rather, Plato understands the power of words and images quite well. They, and not logico-deductive argumentation alone, are appropriate means for engaging human beings. Plato uses them to great effect and with a sensitive understanding of human psychology, wary of their possible corrupting influences but ultimately willing to harness their power for philosophical ends.

 


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