Philosophy's Cleary to Research Under
N.E.H. Fellowship

By Sandra Howe
Staff Writer

Assoc. Prof. John Cleary (Philosophy) will pursue research on the theology of the Greek philosopher Proclus under a National Endowment for the Humanities University Teachers Fellowship during the 1996-97 academic year.

The $30,000 award will enable Cleary to make contacts and conduct research with leading scholars at the Centre Nationale de Recherche Scientifique in Paris, the University of Leuven in Louvain, Belgium, and Trinity College in Dublin.

"This grant testifies to the high esteem that John Cleary enjoys among scholars in the field of ancient Greek philosophy," said Prof. Richard Cobb-Stevens, chairman of the Philosophy Department.

"The award is a tremendous boost for my confidence," said Cleary, "It supports my hope that I am pursuing a creative and original approach to ancient Greek philosophy."

Proclus was the last head of the Athenian Academy - a renowned center for philosophical and theological study in ancient Greece - before it was closed in 529 A.D., according to Cleary. Although Proclus opposed Christianity and passionately defended paganism, Cleary said, his writings significantly influenced subsequent Christian theology. Cleary's project will focus on the role of mathematical reasoning in Proclus' theological method.

"This was the last attempt by a pagan thinker to systematize the whole tradition of thinking about the divine, which had begun with pre-Socratic thinkers like Xenophanes," he said.

Cleary has published extensively on the relationship between philosophy, mathematics and physics in the works of Plato and Aristotle. This project continues his interest in the relationship between mathematics and Greek philosophy, reflected in his recent book, Aristotle and Mathematics: Aporetic Method in Cosmology and Metaphysics .

Cleary, who joined the University in 1982, is the founder and a major contributor to a series of lectures and discussions sponsored by the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, which regularly draws faculty and students from philosophy and classics departments at local colleges and universities. Also, he is the general editor of the Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy .

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