Jonathan Fine

Title | Organization: 
Job Candidate | Ph.D. program in Philosophy

I hail from Canada, where I earned a BA (Hons.) in Philosophy at McGill University before coming to Columbia. I have also been a Visiting Graduate Student in the Department of Classics at UC Berkeley. My studies at Columbia have been generously supported by a SSHRC Doctoral Fellowship and by two terms as a GSAS Teaching Fellow, for which I designed courses on beauty and love and on philosophy and tragedy. Besides philosophy, I have taught skiing and tennis for many years. I used to perform improv comedy as well, when I was funny.

Areas of Specialization: 

Ancient Greek and Roman Philosophy; Aesthetics (historical and contemporary); Philosophy of Art

Other Areas of Interest: 

Ethics and its History; Moral Psychology, especially the emotions; Medieval Philosophy; Philosophy of Action; Nietzsche and Heidegger; Social Philosophy


How can ancient aesthetics enrich our ethical reflection? My research focuses on ancient Greek aesthetics and ethics and what it reveals about the prominence of aesthetic values in our attempts to live well. My dissertation and first book project examines the concept of the kalon (beautiful, fine, admirable, noble), primarily in Plato, to recuperate ethical and social dimensions of beauty in agency. In addition to this project, The Virtues of Appearing Beautiful: Aesthetic Ethics in and After Plato, and papers in ancient philosophy, I am also pursuing a cluster of issues concerning the contested terms of modern aesthetics, the role of history in value theory, and the use of public art, such as memorials, in cultivating communal responses to suffering. Animated by the ancient philosophical question of how seriously to bear human life and loss, I hope eventually to bring these concerns together in a monograph, Grave Matter.

Articles / Publications: 

“Beauty Before the Eyes of Others” (2016) Proceedings of the European Society for Aesthetics, Dorsch, Fabian and Dan Eugen-Ratiu, eds. 8: 164–176.

“Laughing to Learn: Irony in the Republic as Pedagogy” (2011) Polis: The Journal for Ancient Greek Political Thought 28(2): 235–249.