I study the history of philosophy in order to rethink our approaches to the explanation of human behaviour. My research interests include ancient philosophy, philosophy of mind and action, ethics, and the history of philosophy.
My current research project – “Desire for the Good in Aristotle’s Philosophy of Action” – aims to shed light on Aristotle’s conception of desire (orexis) and goodness.
According to Aristotle a power or capacity must be made active by a causal agent, something that (somehow) “has” the relevant ability to make its co-relative capacity active. The aim of the project is to understand to what extent this causal model applies to the desiderative capacity. Aristotle holds that an object of desire is some kind of good. However, it isn’t clear that goodness functions in an analogous fashion to other causal properties. Thus, in order to understand how the desiderative capacity functions we must understand kind of a property goodness is, and how do animals (including humans) cognize or discern it?
This research is sponsored by a post-doctoral grant from the Alfred Kordelin Foundation. I will expand on this research as a Visiting Scholar at the University of Pittsburgh by contrasting Aristotle’s approach to desire and goodness with contemporary philosophical views on desire. This visit is made possible grants from the Fulbright Foundation, and the Ella & Georg Ehrnrooth Foundation.
Aristotle on Action and Agency
Many consider Aristotle the father of philosophy of action. This sentiment is shared by contemporary philosophers with opposing views on action (Davidsonians and Anscombians alike). The guiding question of my thesis is to determine what philosophy of action might look like for Aristotle by considering the questions Aristotle investigates, the philosophical framework within which he develops his answers, and the basic assumptions he makes in answering his questions. This requires investigating Aristotle’s views on capacities, nature, activities, affections, the relation between agents and patients, desire, and goodness. I argue that Aristotle’s approach to action emerges as a unique approach of its own.
I am currently working on developing select chapters from my thesis into independent journal articles.
2018. “Davidson on Aristotle and Philosophy of Action”. Published in: Acta Philosophica Fennica 94:35-68.
2019. C. M. M. Olfert, Aristotle on Practical Truth, OUP, 2017. Published in: Ancient Philosophy Today 1 (1):133-141.