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November 11, 2002

UMBC's New Faculty

David Johnson Teaches the Ancients in Modern Day

Professor David Johnson is new not only to the Catonsville area, but also to UMBC's philosophy department, having lived the majority of his years on the West Coast. Growing up in Los Angeles, Johnson went to nearby UC Berkeley majoring in philosophy and history. It was in these halls that Johnson found his true passion -- ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. "I had a professor who showed me how interesting studying ancient culture is," Johnson says.

Jumping across the Atlantic Ocean, Johnson traveled to England's famed Cambridge University, where he completed his M. Phil., studying the classics in a program that specialized in philosophy. "By this time I knew I wanted to study philosophy seriously." Which is exactly the path he took. After taking a year off to work and study Greek and Latin, Johnson enrolled in Stanford's Ph.D. program. Johnson's dissertation focused on Plato and Aristotle and the development of practical reason and moral theory. "My first professor was the one who convinced me that this is a wonderful field," Johnson relates, adding, "and he was on the board that reviewed my dissertation."

Johnson's role in the department is two fold. First, he teaches ancient Greek and Roman philosophy. Also, he works a great deal with contemporary ethics and the philosophy of action. Although he taught classes at Stanford while completing his Ph.D., this is Johnson's first full-time academic position. This semester he is teaching History of Ancient Philosophy and Introduction to Moral Theory, two subjects that Johnson is extremely well versed in.

Next semester in addition to Introduction to Moral Theory, Johnson will be teaching a seminar, which will focus on Plato and Aristotle. "Although the seminar will be focused on ancient philosophy, we'll be reading a lot of contemporary articles that use Aristotle as a resource," he says. "Studying ancient philosophy, we'll have one foot in the contemporary debates about ethics," Johnson states, elaborating, "One reason why I'm in ancient philosophy is because I think it has a lot to say, especially about ethics."

- Jennifer Leigh Gibson

Posted by dwinds1 at November 11, 2002 12:00 AM