After graduating from the Bachelor of Humanities program in 2007 with combined honours in the Humanities and Philosophy, I decided to do postgraduate work in classical Greek philosophy. I chose ancient philosophy because it enabled me to combine the study of history, philosophy, and languages, distinct interests that I had been able to cultivate thanks to the interdisciplinary character of the Humanities program.
Wishing to immerse myself in European intellectual traditions, I did an MA in Philosophy and Art History at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland, a bilingual French-German university with a distinguished tradition in ancient and medieval philosophy. I was subsequently awarded fellowships by the Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF) for doctoral work on Plato, including research stays at the TOPOI Center, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin and Christ’s College, University of Cambridge. A revised and expanded version of my dissertation is forthcoming with Cambridge University Press under the title The Embodied Soul in Plato’s Later Thought.
After completing my PhD in 2015, I began an SNSF-funded postdoctoral project at the Centre Léon Robin in Paris, before moving to the Istituto per il Lessico Intellettuale e Storia delle Idee (ILIESI) in Rome. The project focuses on the notions of causality, responsibility, and character in Stoicism, and in particular on how character is formed and how it determines our actions.
My career has been resolutely international and multilingual. Fribourg, with its rich linguistic heritage and close ties to the universities of France, Germany, and Italy, provided me with the opportunity to deepen my knowledge of European philosophical traditions, as well as to study a number of ancient and modern languages. I have taught in French and German, attended workshops and lectures in Italian and Spanish, and acquired advanced reading comprehension of Ancient Greek, Latin, and Classical Arabic. In recent years, I have given talks on Greek philosophy in Kyoto, Paris, Prague, Budapest, Pisa, São Paulo, and Brasilia.
Having worked and studied at seven very different universities in seven different countries, I have learned the value of small, student-oriented programs with a strong emphasis on community and accessible, engaged faculty. Through small discussion groups and targeted feedback, the Bachelor of Humanities program puts the students at center stage, providing excellent preparation for an academic career. The individual attention I received helped me to hone my analytical skills and to improve my writing, while the core curriculum gave me a broad intellectual framework within which to pursue more specialized research.
The importance placed on close readings of the primary sources under the supervision of specialists allows students to approach the texts on their own terms, rather than filtered through the secondary literature. At the same time, the wide range of subjects and disciplines covered encourages students to develop their existing interests and to discover entirely new ones. The year I spent in the B.Hum’s study abroad program at the Higher Institute for Philosophy at the University of Leuven (Belgium) proved to be a turning point, when my interests shifted decisively from political science to philosophy.
While good courses and professors are indispensable to a good education, the gold standard is the quality of your peers, who challenge and stimulate you outside of the classroom. During my time at the College, I was privileged to be introduced to a number of extraordinarily gifted and creative people, many of whom continue to be close friends. Although it has been nine years since I left Canada, I remain integrated in a global community of scholars, artists, and activists.
Chad Jorgenson is a postdoctoral researcher at ILIESI in Rome.