John Palmer

John Palmer

Fellow: Awarded 2014

Field of Study: Classics

Competition: US & Canada

John Palmer is Professor of Philosophy at the University of Florida. He specializes in ancient Greek and Roman philosophy, particularly its earliest phase. After receiving his B.A as a Woodruff Scholar in 1987 from Emory University, where he graduated summa cum laude and Phi Beta Kappa, he received a B.A./M.A. from Cambridge University in 1989 as a Marshall Scholar at St. John’s College, where he was awarded several college and faculty prizes. He pursued graduate studies at Princeton University in Classics and the Program in Classical Philosophy with the support of a Mellon Fellowship in the Humanities and a Mellon Dissertation Year Fellowship. He was awarded the Ph.D. in 1996, by which time he had returned to Cambridge as a Research Fellow at Clare Hall from 1995 to 1998. During this time he also taught as an Affiliated Lecturer in the Faculty of Classics. His first book, Plato’s Reception of Parmenides (Oxford UP, 1999), explored the Eleatic underpinnings of Platonic metaphysics and epistemology. After joining the Florida Philosophy Department, he was awarded a Frederick Burkhardt Residential Fellowship for Recently Tenured Scholars by the American Council of Learned Societies in 2003 and spent his fellowship year at the National Humanities Center in Research Triangle Park, North Carolina. There Professor Palmer wrote his second book, Parmenides and Presocratic Philosophy (Oxford UP, 2009), in which he developed a modal interpretation of Parmenides that has prompted revision of our understanding of this seminal figure’s place in the development of early Greek thought. He has since held a National Endowment for the Humanities summer stipend in 2008 to support ongoing work on a new translation of Diogenes’ Laertius’s Lives of the Philosophers. He has also been appointed to a Waldo W. Neikirk Term Professorship at Florida in 2012–2013 in recognition of his scholarship and service to the university. He has recently written on the Pythagoreans and Plato for The Cambridge History of Pythagoreanism (Cambridge UP, forthcoming). As a Guggenheim Fellow, Professor Palmer will develop some of the ideas broached there in a book exploring more deeply how Plato, as he began to move beyond his Socratic inheritance, would have understood the Pythagoreans as advocating a conception of value, goodness, and well-being that he found highly amenable and adaptable to his own purposes. A broader aim of the project will be to argue that correct evaluative judgment is more fundamental than virtue in Platonic ethics and in ancient ethical theories more generally.