More about Ashok

late summer 2022

Research

I'm interested in how the themes of political philosophy work for us. I learn a lot from my colleagues' debates, say, about the best regime or the precise beginning of modern thought. They thoroughly explore difficult books in order to reveal unseen questions. I follow their lead, but I focus on how established themes are used. For my dissertation, I examined how Xenophon and his Socrates used civic notions of nobility to point to a philosopher's singular virtue. This is relevant as it sees Socratic inquiry as absolutely necessary to the intellectual life of a people. The implication is that Athens could have done much worse without Socrates, as it abounded with charlatans who professed they could teach. When I wrote about Trump's character in the light of ancient thought, I noted that ancient authors presupposed the existence of shame in deep ways. A completely shameless person might merit a brief mention, but extended comment would be difficult. Shamelessness can be stretched to see what is possible, but someone utterly without shame cannot be considered relevant to political life.

I am currently writing about how Plato uses the concept of greed in the Hipparchus and thinking through what Nietzsche means by freedom early in the Second Essay of the Genealogy of Morals. I am planning to write a book on how the themes of political philosophy are engaged with respect to fine art.

Teaching

I do have some fairly specific views about how a collegiate environment works. See this post: How College Works

I like class to be centered around discussion. I like it when students make the central points, not me. It is much more memorable and powerful when one is learning from one's peers.

A few texts that I've found helpful for small reading groups follow. When I first started with these, I made the mistake of trying to teach them a bit too strictly. While many have a specific place in history which needs to be acknowledged, their real charm lies in how varied and rich a given discussion of them can be: