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.


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
PL374 AExistentialism
PL401 APhilosophy Colloquium I
PL402 APhilosophy Colloquium II

Current Research

Works in Progress
1."Black Bodies Matter: A Reading or Ta-Nahisi Coates's Between the World and Me." A reading of Coates’s work that reads the brutalized Black body as the origin of (white) racist ideation.

2."Hearing and Listening in the Seventh Letter." Relying on Foucault's work on truth and witnessing, I examine the particular role of hearing and listening in this text.



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.


"Power/Knowledge in Syracuse or Why the 'Digression' in the Seventh Letter is Not a Digression," (forthcoming), 2015

Interview with New Books Network about my monograph, Plato's Erotic World...

"Eros, Logos, and Ontos,"Perspectives in Political Science, Symposium Issue on Catherine Zuckert's Plato's Philosophers, 40:1-3, 2011

"Erotic Desire and Courage: Taking Another Look at Parmenides", Ancient Philosophy, 30:2,
Fall 2010.

Continuum Companion to Plato, entries: "Literary Composition" and "Socrates (Character),"
forthcoming, 2012.

Oxford Encyclopedia of Ancient Greece and Rome, entry: "Platonic Love." 2009.

"What Should White Faculty Do?" Journal of Higher Education, 12:3, June 2007, 337-347.

"In the Image of Plato," in Philosophy in Dialogue: Plato's Many Devices, ed. Gary Alan Scott,
(Northwestern University Press), 2007, 212-237.

"Eros in Plato's Timaeus," Epoche: A Journal for the History of Philosophy, 9:2, Spring
2005, 255-278.

"Self-Knowledge in 'Another Woman'," in Woody Allen and Philosophy, edited by Mark T. Conard and
Aeon J. Skoble, (Chicago: Open Court Press), 2004.

"Eros and Philosophical Seduction in the Alcibiades I," Ancient Philosophy, 23:1, Spring
2003, 11-30.

"Race, Speech, and a Hostile Educational Environment: What Color is Free Speech?," co-authored with
Markus Johnson, Journal of Social Philosophy, 34:3, Fall 2003, 414-436.


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