Dhananjay Jagannathan
Dhananjay Jagannathan
photo: John Zich
Research Interests

My research interests span the major areas of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, including Plato, Aristotle, and Hellenistic philosophy, as well as contemporary ethics and political philosophy. I am also interested in and have published on philosophy and literature. I have three ongoing research projects, which in different ways explore how good and bad reasoning make a difference to ethical and political life.

Dissertation: The Labors of Wisdom

The first project concerns Aristotle’s moral epistemology and includes my dissertation on practical wisdom. In my dissertation, I defend a moderately intellectualist view on which ethical experience, the knowledge needed to exercise the virtues in ordinary circumstances, is distinguished from practical wisdom, which entails a further discursive grasp of the purpose of a virtuous life as a whole. My view explains both Aristotle’s emphasis on the need for sensitivity to particulars in making wise choices and his ambitions in ethical inquiry to outline a comprehensive account of the human good that would influence the deliberations of his fellow inquirers.

Moral Education

The second project is on moral education and has both a historical and systematic dimension. On the historical side, I show how the accounts of moral development in Plato’s Republic, Aristotle’s ethics, and the Stoics can be understood as successive responses to and refinements of the Socratic thesis that virtue is knowledge. In systematic work in virtue ethics, I develop an account of moral education that makes the most of the analogy between virtue and skill while staying true to both the affective and cognitive dimensions of virtue.

Pleasure and Rationality

The third project concerns pleasure and rationality in ancient philosophy. I am working on a paper that defends the Epicurean view that the best life is free of mental distress from the charge that it makes valuing temporally extended projects impossible. I also plan to write a paper on long-run versus presentist hedonism in the final argument of Plato’s Protagoras. I expect further work on pleasure to emerge from the course I recently taught on the topic to advanced undergraduates.

Translation

I am also interested in translating ancient philosophical works and making them available freely online. I was at work for some time on an online, collaborative translation of Plato's Protagoras, which is presently incomplete. Here is a complete translation of the Principal Doctrines of Epicurus. I welcome comments and suggestions on both.