2021: Sir Richard Sorabji
Human Affiliation in a Season of Suffering
Richard Sorabji was born in Oxford on November 8, 1934. He attended the Dragon School (1943–1948) and Charterhouse (1948–1953), after which he served two years in the UK's compulsory military service. Having completed that service, he attended Pembroke College, Oxford from 1955 to 1959, where he studied philosophy and ancient history, completing his B.Phil. under the tutelage of John Ackrill and Gwil Owen.
Professor Sorabji's first academic post was at Cornell University, where he became associate professor in 1968 and worked as an editor of the Philosophical Review. Returning to the UK in 1970, he took a faculty position at King's College London, where in 1981 he was appointed Professor of Ancient Philosophy. His first book, Aristotle on Memory, was published in 1972, after which he wrote numerous important papers on Aristotle and, between 1975 and 1979, edited four volumes of essays on that same philosopher. The decade of the 1980s saw the publication of several major books: Necessity, Cause and Blame (1980), Time Creation and the Continuum (1983), Philoponus and the Rejection of Aristotle (1987) and Matter Space and Motion (1988).
In that same decade Sir Richard became President of the Aristotelian Society (1985–1986), fellow of the British Academy (1989), and founder of King's College Centre for Philosophical Studies (1989), while at the dawn of the 1990s he became Director of the Institute of Classical Studies (1991–96) and British Academy Research Professor (at Oxford, 1996–1999). Having delivered the prestigious Gifford Lectures (1996–97, published in 2000 under the title Emotion and Peace of Mind: From Stoic Agitation to Christian Temptation), he was appointed a foreign honorary member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1997. This decade saw, too, his writing and publication of Aristotle Transformed (1990), Animal Minds and Human Morals (1993), and Aristotle and After (1997).
In 2000 Sir Richard retired from King's College and has held teaching positions as Professor of Rhetoric at Gresham College, London; adjunct professor at the University of Texas at Austin; distinguished visiting scholar at New York University; and visiting professor at the City University of New York. Furthermore, he is a King's College Fellow, a Research Fellow of the Institute of Classical Studies and an Honorary Fellow of Wolfson College, Oxford. Additionally, he is the founding director of the International Ancient Commentators on Aristotle Project, which since 1987 has overseen the publication of translations of numerous philosophical texts from 200–600 A.D. Access to these texts in English fills an important gap in the history of Western thought. Over sixty volumes have already been published.
Professor Sorabji was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 1999 for his contributions to ancient philosophy, and Commander Sorabji was subsequently knighted in 2014 for a lifetime of service to his country through his philosophical studies. In addition to several co-authored books on topics ranging from King Khosroes of Persia to Iambilichus to Olympiadorus, Professor Sorabji's recent works include: Emotion and Peace of Mind, 2000, The Philosophy of Commentators 200–400 A.D. (2003–2005) and The Self: Insights from Different Times and Places (2005), The Ethics of War, ed. with D. Rodin (2006), Opening Doors: The Untold Story of Cornelia Sorabji (2010), Gandhi and the Stoics: Modern Experiments on Ancient Values (2012), Perception, Conscience and Will in Ancient Philosophy (2013), Moral Conscience through the Ages (2014), and most recently, Freedom of Speech and Expression: Its History, Its Value, Its Good Use and Its Misuse (2021).