Colin Smith

Research Interests:
Grad Alum

Colin Smith successfully defended his dissertation, Being and Structure in Plato’s Sophist, on Thursday, August 15th, 2019.

Congratulations, Colin!


Ph.D., University of Kentucky, 2019 (Philosophy)

M.A., Boston College, 2013 (Philosophy)

B.A. summa cum laude, Temple University, 2011 (Philosophy and Classics)

Research and biography

I study ancient metaphysics, and my dissertation research is focused on Plato's conception of being in the Sophist.  While modern metaphysics primarily concerns existence, ancient metaphysics primarily concerns what grounds what, and through my dissertation I show how this is the case for the metaphysical inquiry in the Sophist.  I argue that Plato conceives of being in the fundamentally unified sense of participation, which is a self-and-other relation, as opposed to the (alleged) self-sufficiency of being in the sense of 'existence.'  Being furthermore must be understood in its context among the forms, or the network of mutually co-constitutive structures of determinacy that are the grounding stability necessary for the very possibility of becoming.  I argue that Plato inherits his view in large part from Parmenides and discuss the ways in which this account helps to show the connections between elements of the dialogue like its dramatic setting, the method of division, and the considerations regarding the great ontological kinds.  

I am furthermore interested in the implications of this conception for the methods of inquiry used by characters in Plato's dialogues and have published some research into methods of inquiry in the cluster of dialogues surrounding the Sophist.  I am currently working on a series of papers regarding being and inquiry in Parmenides' poem.  I am also in the early stages of researching issues regarding names and structure in the Cratylus.

In addition to ancient philosophy, I have further research and teaching interests elsewhere in the history of philosophy, including in medieval philosophy, German idealism, and phenomenology.  While at UK, I've taught classes on aesthetics (Philosophy of Film), religion (Introduction to Philosophy of Religion), logic (Introductory Logic and Symbolic Logic I), social and political philosophy (The Individual and Society), metaphysics and epistemology (Introduction to Philosophy: Knowledge and Reality), and applied ethics (Business Ethics and Death, Dying, and Quality of Life).

Selected Publications: 

Journal articles

  • "Toward a Two-Route Interpretation of Parmenidean Inquiry," Epoché: A Journal for the History of Philosophy (forthcoming, 2020)
  • "Dialectical Methods and the Stoicheia Paradigm in Plato's Trilogy and Philebus," Plato Journal: Journal of the International Plato Society 19 (2019), 9-29.
  • "The Groundwork for Dialectic in Statesman 277a - 287b," International Journal of the Platonic Tradition 12:2 (2018), 132-150.

Book reviews

  • "Thomas Bénatouïl and Katerina Ierodiakonou (ed.), Dialectic after Plato and Aristotle," Bryn Mawr Classical Review 30 (2019), 8.27.
  • "John V. Garner's The Emerging Good in Plato's Philebus," Ancient Philosophy 38:2 (2018), 451-454.

Under review

  • "Diairesis and Koinonia in Sophist 253d1-e3" (r+r)
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