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Sylvia Berryman’s talk focuses on ancient Greek mechanics, which were so crucial to the emergence of the ‘mechanical world picture’ and the New Science in the seventeenth century. These same mechanics also provoked philosophical responses from the philosophers of late antiquity. By observing responses to Aristotle’s ‘ship hauler’ problem, Berryman will reveal a new picture of the reception of mechanics in ancient Greek natural philosophy.


Sylvia Berryman studied ancient Greek philosophy at the University of Texas at Austin. As a British Academy Postdoctoral Fellow in King’s College London, she worked as editorial assistant for the Ancient Commentators on Aristotle project. She joined the department at the University of British Columbia in 2004, following five years with the Department of Philosophy at Ohio State University.

Berryman has received fellowships and grants from the Center for Hellenic Studies, the National Humanities Center, the Institute for Advanced Study Princeton, the National Science Foundation and SSHRC. Her research interests centre on ancient Greek natural philosophy and the impact of Greek science on natural philosophy: published papers consider the philosophical reception of optics, mechanics, medicine, pneumatics, as well as theories of mixture, qualities, causation and teleology.

Besides ancient philosophy, Berryman has teaching interests in applied ethics and the challenge of extreme poverty. She has been integrating service learning experiences in ethics teaching, both in Vancouver-based courses and as directer of a new Global Citizenship Term Abroad to Guatemala in fall 2009. Her most recent book is The Mechanical Hypothesis in Ancient Greek Natural Philosophy (2009).

Read more about Sylvia Berryman.


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