Junior Fellow: October 2015–March 2016 and October 2016–March 2017
Research Project: The Secret of the Sceptical Academy
Charles Snyder plans to write an article on the origin and development of the Sceptical Academy during the Hellenistic period. The article has three interconnected aims: to explain the emergence of the sceptical Academy in terms of an unprecedented and innovative reading of Plato; secondly, to re-cast the so-called rivalry between Academic sceptics and Stoic philosophers as a relation of mutual benevolence, not adversarial refutation; and, finally, to separate the sceptical Academy from the misleading and anachronistic definition of ‘sceptical’ developed by Sextus Empiricus. The evidence and source material for the understanding of the sceptical Academy is precarious. But unlike the misfortune of lost Stoic handbooks and treatises composed in the Hellenistic period, Academics of the Hellenistic period deliberately left posterity almost nothing to interpret. This deliberate refusal is a significant clue. Alongside secondary source reports from antiquity, this refusal helps us piece together an accurate understanding of the Academy after Plato and the importance of Socrates.
Charles Synder earned a PhD in philosophy at the New School for Social Research in New York City. In 2015–16, he was a postdoctoral research fellow at the Hannah Arendt Center, and a teaching fellow at the Bard Prison Initiative in New York.