Penn State Penn State: College of the Liberal Arts

Christopher Moore

You are here:
Christopher Moore

Christopher Moore

Associate Professor of Philosophy and Classics
Director of Undergraduate Studies for Philosophy
Director of the Hellenic Studies Group
240E Sparks Building, University Park PA, 16802
(814) 863-5514


A.B., Dartmouth College (Hanover, NH), 2002
Ph.D., University of Minnesota (Minneapolis), 2008

Professional Bio

Last winter I published Calling Philosophers Names (Princeton UP), a study of the coinage and early use of the term philosophos ("philosopher"), especially the role it played in the constitution of the discipline we now call philosophy. The term has long erroneously been thought to have meant, at its start, "lover of wisdom"; I argue that it started instead as a pejorative name-calling name for those seeking the elite social status of sophoi, "sages," those personages deemed authoritative advice-givers in politics and life. While it eventually got glossed, retrospectively and redemptively, as "lover of wisdom," it probably began as "sage wannabe." This book includes discussion of all early uses of the term, from Heraclitus to Aristotle, and advances an institutional-conversational theory of what philosophy is. Reviews so far in Irish Times; Süddeutsch Zeitung, BMCR, Greece & Rome, Sehepunkte, Philosophie Antique, Choice, and Paradigm Explorer.

Currently with the press is The Virtue of Agency, a book on the classical history of sôphrosunê, the canonical virtue best translated "discipline." I argue that as the Greeks debated the value and scope of this virtue, they came to articulate a plausible conception of agency and selfhood. What has often seemed the virtue concerned with moderate drinking turns out to be the virtue of rational personhood.

With collaborators, several volumes on the sophistic movement and individual near-sophists are in the works. I propose to think of sophists and their philosophical or para-philosophical colleagues as "public intellectuals," or more tellingly, as the celebrated expressions of a burgeoning "public intellectual sphere."

Previous and ongoing large-scale efforts concern the reception of Socrates and of Plato in the history of philosophy up to the present day.

I have also written a number of papers on Platonic and Xenophontic dialogues.

In general: I am a historian of classical Greek philosophy and intellectual historian of classical Greek disciplinary development. The organizing concern is the life, context, and philosophical meaning of Socrates.

Areas of Specialization

  • Ancient Greek philosophy and intellectual history, esp. major and minor figures of the Classical period
  • Self-knowledge and practical rationality

Recent Courses

  • Socrates through the history of philosophy (a graduate seminar)
  • Early Greek philosophy (a graduate seminar)
  • Topics in philosophy of law (an advanced undergraduate seminar)
  • Ancient philosophy (a yearly intermediate undergraduate course)
  • How to Live (a "philosophy as a way of life" lower-level undergraduate course)
  • Greek language and literature

Recent Publications


  • Socrates and self-knowledge (Cambridge, 2015), pp. xvii + 275 [link]
  • Socrates and the Socratic dialogue, with A. Stavru, edd. (Brill, 2018), pp. ix + 931 [link]
  • Plato: Charmides. Translation, notes, introduction, and analysis, with C.C. Raymond (Hackett, 2019)
  • Calling philosophers names: on the origin of a discipline (Princeton, 2019)
  • Brill's companion to the reception of Socrates, sole editor (Brill, 2019)
  • The Cambridge companion to the Sophists, edited with J. Billings (Cambridge, expected 2021)

Recently published articles

  • "Indian ‘philosophers’ and the early Greek conception of a discipline,” in Metaphilosophy (2020)
  • "Aristotle's philosophêmata," in Aristotle's Fragments, Antonio Pedro Mesquita, ed. (De Gruyter, 2020)
  • "Promêtheia as rational agency in Plato," Apeiron (2019)
  • "Socrates in Aristotle's history of philosophy," in Brill's Companion to the Reception of Socrates (Brill, 2019)
  • "Aristotle and philosophia," Metaphilosophy (2019)
  • "Critias of Athens," Oxford Bibliographies, with C.C. Raymond (2019)

Forthcoming articles

  • "Critias in Plato's Protagoras," in Gymnastics, Athletics, and Agôn in Plato, Heather Reid, Mark Ralkowski, and Coleen Zoller, edd., Sioux City: Parnassos Press.
  • "Aristotle's radical analysis of sôphrosunê," in Boston Area Colloquium of Ancient Philosophy.
  • “Xenophon and the Spartan education in sôphrosunê (Lac. Pol. 3),” in Xenophon Philosopher: Argumentation and Ethics, Claudia Mársico, ed., Baden Baden: Nomos Verlag.
  • "The origins of self-knowledge," in Self-Knowledge: An Engelsberg Seminar.
  • "Sôphrosunê and self-knowledge in Xenophon and the fourth century," in Xenophon's Virtues, Gabriel Danzig, ed.

Earlier articles

  • "Heraclitus and 'knowing yourself,'" Ancient Philosophy 38:1 (2018), 1–21
  • "Xenophon’s Socratic education in Memorabilia 4” in Socrates and the Socratic Dialogue (Brill, 2018), 500–520
  • "Xenophon, 'philosophy,' and Socrates" in Xenophon and Plato: Comparative Studies (Brill, 2018), 128–164
  • "Heracles the philosopher (Herodorus fr. 14)," Classical Quarterly 67:1 (2017), 27–48
  • "Narrative constitution of friendship," with S. Frederick, Dialogue: Canadian Philosophical Review 56:1 (2017), 111–130
  • "Plato and images of oneself," in Plato and the Power of Images (Brill, 2017), 88–106
  • "Anaxagoras, Socrates, and the History of 'Philosophia,'" CHS Research Bulletin (2016) [link]
  • "'Philosophy' in Plato’s Phaedrus," Plato Journal 15 (2016) [link]
  • "Spartan philosophy and Sage wisdom in Plato’s Protagoras," Epoché 23 (2016)
  • "Promêtheia ('forethought') until Plato,” American Journal of Philology 136 (2015)
  • "Socrates and self-knowledge in Aristophanes' Clouds," Classical Quarterly 65 (2015)
  • "Socratic self-knowledge in Xenophon Memorabilia 4.2," Classical Journal 110 (2015)
  • "How to 'Know Thyself' in Plato's Phaedrus," Apeiron 47 (2014)
  • "Arguing about the immortality of the soul in the palinode of Plato's Phaedrus," Philosophy & Rhetoric 47 (2014)
  • "Pindar’s charioteer in Plato’s Phaedrus," Classical Quarterly 62 (2014)
  • "Socrates Psychagogos (Birds 1555, Phaedrus 261a7)," in Socratica III (2013)
  • "Chaerephon the Socratic," Phoenix 67 (2013)
  • "Deception and knowledge in the Phaedrus," Ancient Philosophy 33 (2013)
  • "Socrates and Clitophon in the Platonic Clitophon," Ancient Philosophy 32 (2012)
  • "Chaerephon, Telephus, and cure in Plato’s Gorgias," Arethusa 45 (2012)
  • "The myth of Theuth in the Phaedrus," in Plato and Myth (2012)
  • "Appearance and reality," in Continuum Companion to Plato (2012)
  • "Socratic persuasion in the Crito," British Journal of the History of Philosophy 19 (2011)
  • "Between persuasion and coercion in Plato's Republic," Newsletter of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy (2007) [link]


  • Socratic persuasion (2008)

Current Projects

Books in progress

  • The Virtue of Agency: Sôphrosunê and the Idea of the Self
  • Critias of Athens: Texts, Translations, Commentary, Essays, with C.C. Raymond
  • Sears Jayne, Plato in Medieval England (posthumous edition)
  • An edition of the Minor Socratics, with A. Stavru
Christopher Moore