James Lesher

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james lesher

112B Caldwell Hall
(919) 962-4570 (phone)


James Lesher received his Ph.D. from the University of Rochester and taught at the University of Maryland before joining the UNC department in the fall of 2007. He has held research fellowships at Harvard University (1971-72), Princeton University (1974-75), the Center for Hellenic Studies (1982-83), and the National Humanities Center (2004-2005).

Lesher has written or edited four books on ancient Greek philosophy:Xenophanes of Colophon (Toronto U. P., 1992); The Greek Philosophers: Greek Texts with Notes and Commentary (Duckworth/Bristol Classical Press, 1998); Plato’s Symposium: Issues in Interpretation and Reception, co-edited with Debra Nails and Frisbee Sheffield (Center for Hellenic Studies/Harvard U. P., 2006); and From Inquiry to Demonstrative Knowledge: New Essays on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics (2010). He is also the author of more than seventy articles on topics relating to ancient Greek philosophy; among them: ‘Gnôsis and Epistêmê in Socrates’ Dream in the Theaetetus,‘ The Journal of Hellenic Studies (l969); ‘Aristotle on Form, Substance, and Universals: A Dilemma,’ Phronesis (1971); ‘The Meaning ofNous in the Posterior Analytics,’ Phronesis (1973); ‘Perceiving and Knowing in the Iliad and Odyssey,’ Phronesis (1981); ‘Socrates’ Disavowal of Knowledge,’ Journal of the History of Philosophy (1987); ‘The Emergence of Philosophical Interest in Cognition,’ Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy (1994); ‘Mind’s Knowledge and Powers of Control in Anaxagoras DK B12,’ Phronesis (1995); ‘Early Interest in Knowledge’ in The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy (Cambridge, 1999); ‘The Humanizing of Knowledge’ in The Oxford Handbook of Presocratic Philosophy (Oxford U. P., 2008), and ‘Xenophanes of Colophon’ in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy. He is currently writing a paper on the meaning of the knowledge verbs in Heraclitus fragment DK22B57.

Published papers

On the Ancient Greek Concept of Knowledge

Introduction: ‘To the Presocratics and Back Again: Some Thoughts on the Study of Ancient Philosophy’

  1. Perceiving and Knowing in the Iliad and Odyssey,‘ Phronesis, Vol. 26 (l98l), 2-24.
  2. ‘Archaic Knowledge’ in William Wians, ed., Logos and Mythos (SUNY Press, 2009), 13-28.
  3. ‘Heraclitus’ Epistemological Vocabulary,’ Hermes, Vol. 111 (l983), 155-170.
  4. ‘Xenophanes’ Scepticism,’ Phronesis, Vol. 23 (l978), 1-21.
  5. ‘Xenophanes on Inquiry and Discovery: An Alternative to the “Hymn to Progress” Reading of Fr. 18,’ Ancient Philosophy, Vol. 11 (1991), 229-48.
  6. ‘A Systematic Xenophanes?’ in Studies in Philosophy and the History of Philosophy (CUA Press, forthcoming).
  7. ‘Parmenides’ Critique of Thinking: the poludêris elenchos of Fr. 7,’ Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Vol. 2 (l983), 1-30.
  8. ‘The Significance of kata pant’ ast<ê> in Parmenides Fr. 1.3,’ Ancient Philosophy, Vol. 14 (1994), 1-20.
  9. The Emergence of Philosophical Interest in Cognition,’ Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, Vol. 12 (1994), 1-34.
  10. Presocratic Contributions to the Theory of Knowledge’ (from http://faculty.washington.edu/smcohen/320/index.html)
  11. Early Interest in Knowledge’ in The Cambridge Companion to Early Greek Philosophy, ed. A.Long (Cambridge U.P., 1999), 225-49.
  12. ‘The Humanizing of Knowledge’ in Patricia Curd and Daniel Graham, eds, The Oxford Handbook of Presocratic Philosophy (Oxford U. P., 2008), 458-84.
  13. ‘Mind’s Knowledge and Powers of Control in Anaxagoras DK B12,’ Phronesis , Vol. 40 (1995), 125-42.
  14. Socrates’ Disavowal of Knowledge,’ Journal of the History of Philosophy, Vol. 25 (l987), 275-288.
  15. The Meaning of Saphêneia in Plato’s Divided Line’ in M. McPherran, ed., A Critical Guide to Plato’s Republic (Cambridge U. P., 2010).
  16. Gnôsis and Epistêmê in Socrates’ Dream in the Theaetetus,’ Journal of Hellenic Studies, Vol. 84 (l969), 72-78.
  17. ‘The Meaning of Nous in the Posterior Analytics,‘ Phronesis, Vol. 18 (l973), 44-68.
  18. ‘On Aristotelian epistêmê as “Understanding”’Ancient Philosophy, Vol. 21 (2001), 45-55.
  19. ‘Aristotle’s Considered View of the Path to Knowledge’  in M. Boeri, and N. Ooms, eds, El Espíritu y la Letra: A Festschrift for Alfonso Gomez-Lobo (2011), 127-45.
  20. ‘Just as in Battle: the Simile of the Rout in Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics II 19′ Ancient Philosophy, Vol. 30 (2010), 95-105.
  21. A Note on the Simile of the Rout in the Posterior Analytics II 19′Ancient Philosophy Vol. 31 (2011), 121-25.
  22. Saphêneia in Aristotle: “Clarity,” “Precision,” and “Knowledge,“‘Apeiron, Vol. 43 (2010), 143-56.

On the Afterlife of Plato’s Symposium

  1. ‘A Course on the Afterlife of Plato’s SymposiumClassical Journal, Vol. 100 (2004), 75-85.
  2. ‘The Afterlife of Plato’s Symposium’, Ordia Prima, Vol. 3 (2004), 75-85.
  3. Some Notable Afterimages of Plato’s Symposium in Lesher, Nails, and Sheffield, Plato’s SymposiumIssues in Interpretation and Reception(Harvard U. P., Center for Hellenic Studies, 2006 313-340.
  4. Later Views of the Socrates of Plato’s Symposium’, from M. Trapp, ed., Socrates in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Century(Ashgate/Centre for Hellenic Studies, 2007), 59-76.
  5. ‘Anselm Feuerbach’s Das Gastmahl des Platon and Plato’s Symposium’ in P. Castillo, S. Knippschild, M. G. Morcillo, and C. Herreros, eds., International Conference: Imagines: The reception of antiquity in performing and visual arts (Logroño: Universidad de La Rioja, 2008), 479-490.

Heraclitus and Modern Poetry

1. ‘Hopkins Creative Use of Heraclitean Materials’ International Journal for the Classical Tradition, Vol. 18 (2011), 262-69.

2. ‘The Self in Conflict: A Heraclitean Theme in Eliot’s Cocktail Party in S. Knippschild and M. B. Morcillo, eds, Seduction and Power: Antiquity in the visual and performing arts (London and New York: Bloomsbury Publishing, 2013, 121-32.

3. ‘Heraclitean Ideas in Stevens’ “This Solitude of Cataracts,‘ The Wallace Stevens Journal, Vol. 38. 1 (Spring, 2014), 21-34.

4. ‘Three Variations on Heraclitean Themes: MacNeice, Collier, and Pacheco,”, forthcoming in Classical and Modern Literature.


Essays on other topics

  1. Aristotle on Form, Substance, and Universals: A Dilemma,‘ Phronesis, Vol. 16 (l97l), 169-78.
  2. ‘The Flourishing of Ancient Philosophy in America: Some Causes and Concerns’ in L. Rossetti and J. Thorp, eds, Greek Philosophy in the New Millennium (Akademia Verlag, 2004), 89-98.
  3. Plato and the Presocratics’ in Gerald Press, ed., The Continuum Companion to Plato (Continuum Press, forthcoming).
  4. Analytic Approaches to Plato’ in Gerald Press, ed., The Continuum Companion to Plato (Continuum Press, forthcoming).
  5. Xenophanes of Colophon’ in G. Oppy and N. Trakasis, eds, The History of Western Philosophy of Religion, Vol. I (Acumen, 2009).
  6. ‘The Philosophical Aspects of Jean Delville’s L’Ecole de Platon,’Nineteenth-Century Art Worldwide, Vol. 12, No. 2 (Fall, 2013), http://www.19thc-artworldwide.org/index.php/autumn13/lesher-on-the-philosophical-aspects-of-jean-delville-s-l-ecole-de-platon.
  7. Latin and Greek for Philosophers
  8. ‘A Tribute to Arthur Danto’


Curriculum Vitae

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