Thomas Davies
Thomas Davies

Thomas Davies

Profile

I grew up in Christchurch, New Zealand, and got a degree at the University of Otago (BA Hons, 2013) before beginning the PhD at Princeton in 2014. My principal interests are in ancient philosophy (Greco-Roman and Indian), Indo-European languages and cultures, and interactions betweeen Greece and the ancient Near East in the Bronze and Iron Ages.

I work across the history of ancient Greek and Roman philosophy and science, from the Milesian school of the 6th century B.C. to the Alexandrian school of the 6th century A.D. My studies in Indian philosophy are mainly concerned with the Vedic period. In both traditions, I’m most interested in natural philosophy (metaphysics, cosmology, biology, the theory of the soul).

My Indo-European and Near Eastern interests also run in this direction. My dissertation argues that Presocratic ideas about the formation of the cosmos, the basic material elements that make up the world, the workings of the human body, and the fate of the soul, draw on and respond to ideas already available in Greece at the beginning of the Archaic Period. Some of these ideas were absorbed from the cultural koinē of the Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean; some are Iron Age transmissions from societies in contact with Greece; and some are much older inheritances of Indo-European traditions. But all of them show that the earliest Greek philosophical writers were not rebelling against a monolithic and “mytho-poetic” worldview which saw natural phenomena as the inscrutable work of gods and demons—they were instead heirs to a rich and longstanding cultural tradition of explaining the world by appeal to naturalizing, generalizable, law-like claims.

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