Richard D. McKirahan

Edwin Clarence Norton Professor of Classics and Professor of Philosophy; On leave Spring 2024
With Pomona Since: 1987
  • Expertise


    Since its publication in 1994, Richard McKirahan's Philosophy Before Socrates has become the standard sourcebook in Pre-Socratic philosophy. The work provides a wide survey of Greek science, metaphysics and moral and political philosophy, from their roots in myth to the philosophers and Sophists of the fifth century. McKirahan is also the author of A PreSocratics Reader (1996) and Principles and Proofs: Aristotle's Theory of Demonstrative Species (1992).

    Research Interests

    • Ancient Philosophy
    • Science and Mathematics
    • Greek Intellectual History

    Areas of Expertise


    • Ancient Philosophy


    • Greek Language
    • Latin Language
    • Greek Literature
  • Work


    Principles and Proofs: Aristotle's Theory of Demonstrative Science (Princeton University Press, 1992)

    Philosophy Before Socrates, Indianapolis (Hackett 1994; second edition, 2011)

    Simplicius, Commentary on Aristotle's Physics, book 8, chapters 6-10, translation and notes, in the series Ancient Commentators on Aristotle (Cornell University Press 2001)

    Philoponus, Commentary on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics, book 1, chapters 1-8 in the series Ancient Commentators on Aristotle (Duckworth Publ. 2008)

    The Milesians: Thales (with G.Wöhrle) in the series Traditio Praesocratica (De Gruyter 2014)

    "Anaximander's Apeiroi Kosmoi" in Essays in Ancient Greek Philosophy VI. Philosophy Before Socrates (A. Preus, ed., State University of New York Press, 2001)

    "Zeno," in Cambridge Companion to the Early Greek Philosophers, (Cambridge University Press, 1999)

    “Philoponus Account of Scientific Principles in his Commentary on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics,” Documenti e Studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale 20 (2009)

    “The Place of the Posterior Analytics in Aristotle’s Thought, with Particular Reference to the Poetics,” in From Inquiry to Demonstrative Knowledge: New Essays on Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics (2010)

    “Parmenides B38 and Cornford’s Fragment,” Ancient Philosophy 30 (2010)

    “Philolaus on Number,” Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy 27 (2011)

    “The Cosmogonic Moment in the Derveni Papyrus,” in Presocratics and Plato: Festschrift at Delphi in Honor of Charles Kahn, Las Vegas: Parmenides Press (2013)

  • Education


    Harvard University

    Master of Arts
    University of Oxford

    Bachelor of Arts
    University of Oxford

    Bachelor of Arts
    University of California, Berkeley

    Recent Courses Taught

    • Advanced Greek Readings: Euripedes and Aristophanes
    • Intermediate Greek
    • New Testament Greek
    • Senior Thesis in Classics
    • Ancient Philosophy
    • Gods, Humans and Justice in Ancient Greece
    • Socrates
    • Tutorial in Ancient Philosophy
    • Science and Technology in the Ancient and Medieval Worlds
  • Awards & Honors

    Awards & Honors

    President, Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy, 2012-present

    International Association for Presocratic Studies, Executive Council member since 2008

    Overseas Visiting Scholar at St. John’s College, Cambridge 1999

    Distinguished Visiting Scholar at Christ’s College, Cambridge 2016

    Elizabeth A. Whitehead Visiting Professor at the American School of Classical Studies at Athens, 2015

    A.H. Coxon’s The Fragments of Parmenides (Parmenides Publishing, 2009), with new translations by Richard McKirahan, won ForeWord Reviews’ 2009 Book of the Year Award in Philosophy.

    National Endowment for the Humanities Fellowship 1998-99

    Fulbright Senior Scholar 1998-1999

    National Endowment for the Humanities awards 1975, 1985, 1990, 1999, 2003

    Marshall Scholar at Oxford University 1966-69