Christopher Moore, “Sôphrosunê and Self-Knowledge: An Ancient Greek Virtue and the Modern Condition” | National Humanities Center


Christopher Moore, “Sôphrosunê and Self-Knowledge: An Ancient Greek Virtue and the Modern Condition”

June 8, 2021

Scholars have traditionally translated the ancient Greek virtue of Sôphrosunê as “temperance” or “chastity,” implicitly suggesting that it is concerned with forms of self-control in the face of desire or dramatic bodily sensations. As a result, this concept has often been downplayed and relegated to the forgotten corners of philosophical inquiry.

In this podcast, Christopher Moore, associate professor of philosophy and classics at The Pennsylvania State University, restores and explains the complexities of Sôphrosunê for a contemporary audience. Instead of understanding this virtue as a means of moderating and restraining our behavior, we can recognize and celebrate its power to catalyze self-interrogation through an embrace of discipline.

Christopher Moore
Christopher Moore, The Pennsylvania State University
Christopher Moore is a scholar of classical Greek philosophy and intellectual history, with a focus on Socrates, self-knowledge, and disciplinary origins. His first book, Socrates and Self-Knowledge, reconstructed classical reflections on the Delphic “Know Yourself” and used it to explain Socrates’ leading purpose, his pursuit of self-knowledge, and his encouragement of others to get it. Last year’s book, Calling Philosophers Names, gives a new etymology to philosophos and tells the early history of “philosophy” as a developing self-understanding of that very word. Ongoing projects include a history of the canonical Greek virtue, sôphrosunê, recognizing it as the virtue of agency; a jointly edited Cambridge Companion to the Sophists; a jointly edited edition of the texts and testimonia to Critias of Athens; the posthumous publication of the works of Sears Jayne; and a history of the first “public intellectuals” of ancient Greece.