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Professor Vasilis Politis
Professor in, Philosophy


MY INTELLECTUAL FORMATION. Childhood. Born in Athens, Greece, in 1963, I was brought to Denmark by my father, the architect Yannos Politis, in 1970, where I went to school till 1981, before moving to Oxford in 1982. This meant growing up trilingual, in Greek, Danish and English. Languages (in addition to Ancient Greek). I have, since my schooldays, acquired a reasonable proficiency in the French language, and, since my days as graduate student in Oxford, a high proficiency in Italian, the intensive study of which I resumed some years ago. I am fluent in German. University education in Oxford. From 1982 till 1992 I was in Oxford (St. John's College and St. Anne's College), studying first for a BA (1986. First Class, following a Scholarship at the Preliminary Examinations); then for a BPhil (1989; Masters in Philosophy); finally for a DPhil (1994; PhD). MY CAREER AT TRINITY COLLEGE DUBLIN. In 1992 I came to TCD, where I have been since: first (1992-1997) in a fixed-term position; and since 1997 in a permanent position. Undergraduate teaching. TCD has afforded me the privilege of having been able largely to teach in the areas in which I am genuinely interested and seeking to publish. I have benefitted from the quality of the undergraduate students. I have taught undergraduate students Ancient Philosophy at every level of the four-year programme. I have also taught other subjects, such as, some time ago, Kierkegaard and, for the past years, Nietzsche. Graduate teaching. I have built up a very considerable track record in supervising PhD students: I have supervised to completion twelve (12) PhD students, a number of whom are now in academic positions. Initiative in PhD student recruitment. I have taken very seriously, and have acted upon very successfully, the College's exhortation and request that we, the staff at TCD, go out in the world and recruit excellent PhD students. In the summer and autumn of 2016, I was invited to Wuhan University as Guest Professor. In the winter of 2016, I was invited to Renmin University (Beijing) as Guest Professor. In the winter of 2016, I was invited to present seminars at Zhejiang University. All of these visits have resulted in students from these universities coming to TCD to undertake PhD studies with me. The Trinity Plato Centre, directed jointly by Prof. John Dillon and myself. I want to offer a brief account of what, undoubtedly, has made a very major difference to my academic formation, profile, and track-record. This is The Trinity Plato Centre, initially set up in the late 1990s by Dillon and operating initially from his small office in the Arts Building. Since 2004, and thanks to the generosity of the then Provost, John Hegarty, The Centre has been operating, under the joint direction of John Dillon and myself, from its premises in the basement of the 1937 Building. These include: a 3500 strong open-shelf library in Ancient Philosophy; eight desk-spaces for PhD students; two offices, one occupied by myself and the librarian. The Trinity Plato Centre has since 2004 provided the physical, intellectual and social environment that has supported my incentives and activities as individual researcher and working together with a wide variety of other people very closely and on a near daily basis. This has included: PhD students; Postdoctoral Fellows; staff at every stage of their career, from TCD, Dublin, and Ireland; international academic visitors visiting for one or more months; a regular weekly seminar during term, in which we alternate between reading Plato and another ancient philosopher, typically Plotinus or Aristotle; a regular weekly seminar, in which PhD students and Postdocs especially, and staff too, present their latest work in progress; regular visiting speakers; an annual or bi-annual workshop; a number of major conferences; and an annual lecture for the wider public, The Stephen MacKenna Lecture.

Publications and Further Research Outputs

Peer-Reviewed Publications

Vasilis Politis, Plato's Essentialism. Reinterpreting the Theory of Forms, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2021, 1 - 251pp Book, 2021

Vasilis Politis, Aristotle and the Metaphysics, London, Routledge, 2004 Book, 2004

Explanation and Essence in Plato's Phaedo in, editor(s)D. Charles , Definition in Greek Philosophy, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2010, pp62 - 114, [Vasilis Politis] Book Chapter, 2010

George Karamanolis and Vasilis Politis, The Aporetic Tradition in Ancient Philosophy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2018 Book, 2018 DOI URL

Vasilis Politis, What do the Arguments in the Protagoras Amount to?, Phronesis, 57, (3), 2012, p209 - 239 Journal Article, 2012

Vasilis Politis, Note on Plato's Statesman 275d8-e1, Classical Quarterly, 2021 Journal Article, 2021

What is behind the ti esti question? in, editor(s)J. L. Fink , The Development of Dialectic from Plato to Aristotle, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2012, pp232 - 260, [Vasilis Politis] Book Chapter, 2012

Vasilis POLITIS, 'Plato's Ontology', China Scholarship (中国学术), 38, 2016, p000 - 000 Journal Article, 2016

The concept of ousia in Metaphysics Alpha, Beta and Gamma in, editor(s)R. Polansky and W. Wians , Reading Aristotle. Argument and Exposition, Leiden, Brill, 2017, pp256 - 275, [Vasilis Politis and Jun Su] Book Chapter, 2017

Vasilis Politis, The Primacy of Self-Love in the Nicomachean Ethics, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy, 11, 1993, p153 - 174 Journal Article, 1993

Kant's Critique of Pure Reason, Vasilis Politis, Everyman, London:, J.M. Dent, 1993, - Critical Edition (Book), 1993

Vasilis Politis, The Apriority of the Starting-Point of Kant's Transcendental Epistemology, International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 5, (2), 1997, p255 - 284 Journal Article, 1997

Vasilis Politis, Reasons and Values, International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 5, (3), 1997, p425 - 448 Journal Article, 1997

Vasilis Politis, Aristotle's Advocacy of Non-Productive Action, Ancient Philosophy, 18, (2), 1998, p353 - 379 Journal Article, 1998

Vasilis Politis, Anti-Realist Interpretations of Plato: Paul Natorp, International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 9, (1), 2001, p47 - 62 Journal Article, 2001

Vasilis Politis, Aristotle's Account of the Intellect as Pure Capacity, Ancient Philosophy, 21, (2), 2001, p375 - 402 Journal Article, 2001

Vasilis Politis, Aristotle on Aporia and Searching in Metaphysics, Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, 18, (1), 2003, p145 - 182 Journal Article, 2003

Vasilis Politis, 'Paul Natorp. Plato's Theory of Ideas. An Introduction to Idealism', (International Plato Studies, Vol. 18), Sankt Augustin, Academia Verlag, 2004, - Translation, 2004

Vasilis Politis, What Enables Us to Search for the Essence of Things?, International Journal of Philosophical Studies, 13, (2), 2005, p245 - 269 Journal Article, 2005

The Argument for the Reality of Change and Changelessness in Plato's Sophist in, editor(s)F.-G. Herrmann , New Essays on Plato, Swansea, The Classical Press of Wales, 2006, pp149 - 175, [Vasilis Politis] Book Chapter, 2006

Is Socrates Paralyzed by his State of Aporia? (Meno 79e7-80d4) in, editor(s)M. Erler and L. Brisson , Plato. Gorgias-Meno, Sankt Augustin, Academia Verlag, 2006, pp268 - 272, [Vasilis Politis] Book Chapter, 2006

Aporia and Searching in the Early Plato in, editor(s)L. Judson and V. Karasmanis , Remembering Socrates, Oxford, Oxford University Press, 2006, pp88 - 109, [Vasilis Politis] Book Chapter, 2006

Non-Subjective Idealism in Plato (Sophist 248e-249d) in, editor(s)S. Gersh and D. Moran , Eriugena, Berkeley, and the Idealist Tradition, Notre Dame, IN, Notre Dame University Press, 2006, pp14 - 38, [Vasilis Politis] Book Chapter, 2006

The Aporia in the Charmides about Reflexive Knowledge and the Contribution to its Solution in the Sun Analogy of the Republic in, editor(s)D. Cairns, F.-G. Herrmann, and T. Penner , Pursuing the Good, Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2007, pp231 - 250, [Vasilis Politis] Book Chapter, 2007

Vasilis Politis, Invoking the Greeks on the Relation Between Thought and Reality: Trandelenburg's Aristotle-Natorp's Plato, The Philosophical Forum, 39, (2), 2008, p191 - 222 Journal Article, 2008

Vasilis Politis, The Place of Aporia in Plato's Charmides, Phronesis, 53, (1), 2008, p1 - 34 Journal Article, 2008

Vasilis Politis and Jun Su, Aristotle on being as activity, Metascience, 24, (2), 2015, p213 - 218 Journal Article, 2015

Vasilis Politis, How Good is that Thing Called Love? The Volatility of eros in Plato's Symposium, Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, 31, (1), 2016, p1 - 34 Journal Article, 2016

Vasilis Politis, The Structure of Enquiry in Plato's Early Dialogues, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2015 Book, 2015

The Ontology of Plato and Aristotle in, editor(s)G. Karamanolis , Companion to Ancient Philosophy, Heraklion, Panepistimiakes Ekdoseis Kritis, 2016, pp217 - 263, [Vasilis Politis] Book Chapter, 2016

Vasilis Politis and Philipp Steinkrüger, Aristotle's second problem about the possibility of a science of being qua being: a reconsideration of Metaphysics Gamma 2, Ancient Philosophy, 37, (1), 2017, p59 - 89 Journal Article, 2017 DOI

Aporia and Sceptical Argument in Plato's Early Dialogues in, editor(s)G. Karamanolis and V. Politis , The Aporetic Tradition in Ancient Philosophy, Cambridge, Cambridge University Press, 2018, pp48 - 66, [Vasilis Politis] Book Chapter, 2018

Vasilis Politis, Plato's Geach Talks to Socrates: Definition by Example-and-Exemplar in the Hippias Major, Phronesis, 63, (3), 2018, p223 - 228 Journal Article, 2018 DOI

Metametaphysics in Plato and Aristotle in, editor(s)R. Bliss and J.T.M. Miller , Routledge Handbook of Metametaphysics, London, Routledge, 2020, pp13 - 22, [Vasilis Politis] Book Chapter, 2020

Epistemic Wonder and the Beginning of the Enquiry: Plato's Theaetetus (155d2-4) and Its Wider Significance in, editor(s)L. Candiotto and O. Renaut , Emotions in Plato, Leiden, Brill, 2020, pp17 - 38, [Laura Candiotto and Vasilis Politis] Book Chapter, 2020

Vasilis Politis, Knowledge and Inquiry in Plato, History of Philosophy and Logical Analysis, 23, (1), 2020 Journal Article, 2020

Is Plato's Theaetetus an exercise in epistemology? A granite epitaph erected also on the strength of the Parmenides in, editor(s)D. Zucca , New Explorations in Plato's Theaetetus, Leiden, Brill, 2020, [Vasilis Politis] Book Chapter, 2020

The Voices of Wittgenstein, Gordon Baker, London:, Routledge, 2003, - Critical Edition (Book), 2003

Vasilis Politis, Aristotle and the Metaphysics, Taiwan, Wu-Nan Book Co. Ltd., 2009 Book, 2009

Vasilis Politis, Aristotel in metafizika (Aristotle and the Metaphysics), Maribor, Zalo ba Aristej, 2013 Book, 2013

Vasilis Politis, The Structure of Enquiry in Plato's Early Dialogues, Beijing, Peking University Press, 2020 Book, 2020

Vasilis Politis, Plato's Ontology, China Scholarship (中国学术), 38, 2016 Journal Article, 2016

Vasilis Politis, Plato's Seventh Letter. A Close and Dispassionate Reading of the Philosophical Section, Classics Ireland, 27, 2021, p188 - 221 Journal Article, 2021

Research Expertise


Ancient Philosophy, especially Plato and Aristotle (all areas, esp. metaphysics, epistemology and ethics). Ancient Scepticism. Aporia and its place in inquiry, in Plato, Aristotle and ancient scepticism. Contemporary modern metaphysics: essence.


  • Title
    • POWER--REASON--LOVE: Crossroads in Plato's Ethics and Politics
  • Summary
    • My Third Major Research Project, which started six months ago (2020-2026), poses the question: What is the place of love-erōs¬-in life? It investigates this in regard to Plato, Aristotle, and later philosophers. It asks whether the way in which we are disposed to this question makes a significant difference to us today and how we shape ourselves and the world that we inhabit. This project is aligned with an ERC application, now under review.
  • Date From
    • 2020
  • Date To
    • 2026
  • Title
    • Plato's Essentialism
  • Summary
    • My Second Research Project (2015-2021) puts on the map of Ancient Philosophy the idea of Plato's essentialism, and sets this against Aristotle's essentialism. It builds on the previous project but introduces new questions and new hypotheses for investigation. This project has issued in a CUP monograph and several papers in top journal and top university presses.
  • Funding Agency
    • Durham Institute of Advanced Studies
  • Date From
    • 2015
  • Date To
    • 2021
  • Title
    • Aporia in Ancient Philosophy
  • Summary
    • My First Research Project (2003-2018) put on the map of Ancient Philosophy the idea of aporia and its role in philosophical enquiry. The 2018 CUP collection of papers, in which participated fourteen of the very best scholars worldwide, and the reception of this volume, is testament to the recognition of this project and its significance. This project has issued in a CUP monograph and several papers in top journal and top university presses.
  • Funding Agency
    • IRC, Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin
  • Date From
    • 2003
  • Date To
    • 2018


Ancient Philosophy, esp. Plato and Aristotle.; Ancient Scepticism.; Essence, explanation, and universals.



Head of Department, Philosophy.

Fellow of Trinity College Dublin.

Secretary to the Fellows.

Member of the Fellows Standing Committee.

Chair of the Committee for Philosophy, Royal Irish Academy.

Director of the Dublin Centre for the Study of the Platonic Tradition

Awards and Honours

Award from the College Arts and Social Sciences Benefactions Fund. 2006

Election to Fellow of Trinity College Dublin. 2005

Award from the College Arts and Social Sciences Benefactions Fund. 2004

Award from the College Arts and Social Sciences Benefactions Fund. 2003

Government of Ireland Fellowship 2007-08

Award from the College Association and Trust. 2003

Grant from the College Programme for Mediterranean and Near Eastern Studies. 2002

Award from the College Arts and Social Sciences Benefactions Fund. 2007

Fellow of the Wissenschaftskolleg zu Berlin 2009-10

Award from the College Arts and Social Sciences Benefactions Fund. 2014


Member of the International Plato Society.

Member of the European Society for Ancient Philosophy.

Member of the Irish Philosophical Club.

Member of the International Berkeley Society