Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Texas at Austin, May 1999
M.A. Philosophy, New York University, February 1989
B.A. Biology; Philosophy, Colgate University, May 1986


Ancient Philosophy (Plato, Pre-Socratics)


Applied Ethics, Logic, History of Philosophy (Modern)


Visiting Instructor, Georgia State University.


Plato's Use of Eleusinian Mystery Motifs

Adviser: Paul Woodruff; Committee: A. Martinich, L. Mackey, P. Perlman

The Eleusinian Mysteries are religious rituals that include rites of initiation, purification, and revelation. The high point of these Mysteries is the moment when a priest reveals the secret of the Mysteries to the newly initiated. Plato frequently uses language and motifs from the Mysteries in his dialogues, yet Plato scholars have not paid much attention to this usage, and those who have done so have not found much philosophical significance in it. I argue that in explaining his epistemology in three middle and late period dialogues Plato consciously and systematically uses Eleusinian Mystery motifs to convey the idea of a unique kind of knowledge. This immediate, direct, and incorrigible knowledge bursts upon Plato's initiates after they undergo preparatory processes such as purification through elenchus. I examine the Eleusinian Mystery motifs that Plato employs in the Ladder of Eros at Symposium 209e-212a, in the middle books of the Republic, including the Myth of the Cave at Republic 509a-518d, and in the Myth of the Soul at Phaedrus 246a-253c, and I argue that Plato finds these Mystery elements useful for two reasons. First, in many cases before an individual can come to know a form he must go through certain conditioning and transformatory processes to prepare him for it, and motifs from the Mysteries help Plato to describe these processes. Second, knowledge of a form is different from other kinds of knowledge, and the motif of the visual revelation of the epopteia helps him to express the direct, unmediated contact that constitutes knowledge of a form.

The structure of the dissertation is as follows. In chapter one I present background information concerning the stages and events of the Mysteries. I consider the purpose and effects of initiation into the Eleusinian Mysteries, paying special attention to the preparatory rituals. In chapter two I present a general discussion of certain aspects of Plato's epistemology and show how Plato employs the five Mystery motifs of progressing through a sequence of stages, purification, being led by a mystagogos, experiencing the epopteia, and achieving eudaimonia in order to explicate these aspects. In chapter three I consider the specifics of Plato's use of Mystery terminology in the Symposium. And finally, in an Appendix, I argue that Plato has a model of knowledge by acquaintance, since I assert in chapters two and three that Plato uses the Mystery theme of an epopteia to express features of this model.


Review of The Religion of Socrates, by Mark McPherran, Religious Studies 36, 371-374 (2000).


"Purification and Revelation: Plato's Use of Eleusianian Mystery Motifs in the Phaedrus, Symposium and Republic," in Plato, Myth and Religion, ed. John Armstrong, in review by Kluwer Press.


"Orthomania: Beneficial Love as Divinely Inspired Madness in Plato's Phaedrus," 8th Annual Arizona Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, University of Arizona, February 2003.

"Orthomania: Beneficial Madness in Plato's Symposium and Phaedrus," New Mexico State University, October 2002.

"Eleusianian Mystery Motifs in Plato's Symposium and Phaedrus," 10th Annual Minnesota Ancient Philosophy Conference, Minneapolis, April 2002.

"Flourishing And Obligation: An Aristotelian Response To Criticisms Of Peter Singer's 'Famine, Affluence, And Morality' Argument," Minnesota Philosophical Society Annual Meeting, St. Paul, Minnesota, October 2000.


Commentary on "Plato's Appropriation of Motifs from Mystery Religion," presented by Paul Woodruff, at the 7th Annual Arizona Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, February 2002.

Commentary on "The Form of the Good and Rational Intuition," presented by Ellen Wagner, at the 22nd Annual Workshop in Ancient Philosophy, Trinity University, April 1999.

Commentary on "Aristotle's Account of the Virtue of Courage in Nichomachean Ethics III. 6-9" presented by Howard Curzer at the 19th Annual Workshop in Ancient Philosophy, Texas A&M University, March 1996.

Commentary on "Plato and the Arrow of Time" presented by Owen Goldin at the 18th Annual Workshop in Ancient Philosophy, University of Colorado at Boulder, March 1995.


University of Minnesota-Morris
Spring 2003, Metaphysics
Fall 2002, First-Year Seminar: Rights, Relativism and Responsibility (2 sections)
Spring 2002, Introduction to Philosophy, Dewey's Philosophy of Education (directed study)
Fall 2001, First-Year Seminar: Rights, Relativism and Responsibility(2 sections), Crossroads of the Enlightenment
Fall 2000, First-Year Seminar: Cultural Differences: Understanding and Obligations (2 sections)
Spring 2000, Ethics: Theory and Application
Spring 1999, Logic II, Problems of Philosophy
Winter 1999, Metaphysics, Problems of Philosophy
Fall 1998, Epistemology, Logic

Allentown College
Spring 1998, Introduction to Philosophy (3 sections), The Age of Reason
Fall 1997, Introduction to Philosophy (3 sections), Logic and Argument

Southern Methodist University
Summer 1997, Introduction to Philosophy (Talented and Gifted Students Program)
Spring 1997, Modern Philosophy, Contemporary Moral Problems (2 sections)
Fall 1996, Ancient Philosophy, Contemporary Moral Problems (2 sections)

Trinity University
Spring 1996, Introduction to Philosophy (3 sections)
Fall 1995, Introduction to Philosophy (2 sections), Introduction to Ethics

University of Texas
Spring 1995 Contemporary Moral Problems (2 sections)
Teaching Assistant
Fall 1990-Spring 1994. Assisted in Problems of Knowledge and Valuation (Honors class), Introduction to Philosophy, Contemporary Moral Problems, and Introduction to Ethics.

New York University
Teaching Assistant
Spring 1988, Ethics and Society
Fall 1987, Logic


In addition to the classes I have already taught, I am prepared to teach classes in:

Ancient Philosophy
The Pre-Socratics
Plato's Epistemology
Theories of Perception
Philosophy of Religion
Philosophy of Mathematics


Ancient Greek, reading knowledge of French, German


Bush Foundation Faculty Development Grant, "Enhancing Student Learning Through Innovative Teaching and Technology Strategies" Campus Principal Investigator, $990,000 University-wide; $40,000 UMM, March 2001

Learn and Serve America Grant: "At the Crossroads of the Classroom and the Community in Rural Minnesota," to develop a more robust service-learning program at UMM, $217,500, August 2000

Learn and Serve America Mini-grant to develop a Service Learning component for my Contemporary Moral Problems Course, Southern Methodist University, $1050, Fall 1996

David L. Miller Fellowship, University of Texas at Austin, Fall, 1991

Joint Program in Ancient Philosophy Summer Fellowship for Language Study, University of Texas at Austin, 1990

Bowne University Fellowship, New York University, Fall, 1986, Spring 1987


Ancient Philosophy: Plato's Later Dialogues, Plato and the Use of Texts, Aristotle's De Anima, The Pre-Socratics, Greek Skepticism.

Metaphysics: Universals, Metaphysics, Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy of Time.

Language: First Year Greek, Intensive Summer Greek, Plato's Symposium, Plato's Protagoras (Audited), Intensive German for Reading Knowledge.

Other: Religions of Ancient Greece and Italy, Epistemology, Philosophy of Religion, Greek Mythology, Studies in Political Theory, Life and Death, Nietzsche, Wittgenstein, Mathematical Logic, Game Theory (audited)


Paul Woodruff, Department of Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-1180; (512) 471-1442

A.P.D. Mourelatos, Department of Philosophy, The University of Texas at Austin, Austin, TX 78712-1180; (512) 471-6749

Curtis Brown, Department of Philosophy, Trinity University San Antonio, TX 78212; (210) 736-8306

Copies of my dossier can be obtained from:
Career Center Credentials Service
The University of Texas at Austin: (512)471-1217; Fax: (512) 471-8494

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