Sean Coughlin

Sean Coughlin

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Sean Coughlin is Junior Star Research Fellow at the Team for Ancient Philosophy and Principal Investigator of the GACR-funded research project, Alchemies of Scent. He holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario and a BA in philosophy and classics from McGill University in Canada. From 2014–2021, he worked research fellow at the Department of Classics, Humboldt University of Berlin. Dr. Coughlin’s research interests are in Greco-Roman science and medicine, particularly Aristotelian science and its reception; he is also interested in the application of empirical and experimental methods to the history of ancient science.

About

Sean Coughlin is Junior Star Research Fellow at the Team for Ancient Philosophy and Principal Investigator of the GACR-funded research project, Alchemies of Scent. He holds a PhD in philosophy from the University of Western Ontario and a BA in philosophy and classics from McGill University in Canada. From 2014–2021, he worked research fellow at the Department of Classics, Humboldt University of Berlin.

Research Interests

Dr. Coughlin’s research interests are in Greco-Roman science and medicine, particularly Aristotelian science and its reception; he is also interested in the application of empirical and experimental methods to the history of ancient science. Among other topics, he has written on the relationship between ancient philosophy and medicine, on the reception of ancient life sciences in late antiquity, on ancient pharmacology and botany, on the evolution of genres and literary techniques in medical and scientific writing, and on the transfer of knowledge among ancient Mediterranean people. He is currently working on an edition of the fragments of Athenaeus of Attalia, founder of the Pneumatist medical school; a translation and commentary of the pharmacology of Aetius of Amida; a translation of Michael of Ephesus’ commentary on Aristotle’s Generation of Animals; and an edited volume on Michael of Ephesus as commentator and philosopher.

Education

Ph.D. Philosophy, University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario, Canada), 2013

M.A. Philosophy, University of Western Ontario (London, Ontario, Canada), 2006

B.A. (hons.), Philosophy and Classics, McGill University (Montreal, Quebec), 2005

Employment and Affiliations

Jul. 2021 ­Junior Star Research Fellow, Institute of Philosophy, Czech Academy of Sciences

Jul. 2021 ­Associate Scientist, Institute of Organic Chemistry and Biochemistry, Czech Academy of Sciences

Sept. 2021 – Visiting Research Fellow, Department of Classics, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

2020 –2021 Research Fellow, SFB 980 Episteme in Motion and Department of Classics, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

2019 – 2020 Researcher, Corpus Medicorum Graecorum, Berlin Academy of Sciences

2014 – 2019 Research Fellow, Department of Classics, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

2006 – 2014 Teaching Assistant and Lecturer, Department of Philosophy, University of Western Ontario

1998 – 2007 Laboratory Assistant, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioural Neurosciences, McMaster University.

Awards and Fellowships

2019 Visiting Fellow, Einstein Centre Chronoi, Einstein Foundation, Berlin

2017 Visiting Fellow, Martin Buber Society, Hebrew University, Jerusalem

2013 Excellence Cluster Topoi Postdoctoral Fellowship, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin

2012 Award in Excellence in Teaching, University of Western Ontario Student’s Council

2011 Mary Routledge Fellowship, University of Western Ontario (held at University of Oxford, supervisor Christopher Shields)

2009 Ontario Graduate Scholarship (declined), Province of Ontario (Canada)

2008 Ontario Graduate Scholarship, Province of Ontario (Canada)

2007 Faculty of Arts and Humanities Scholarship, University of Western Ontario

2000 Canadian Millennium Scholarship Foundation
Excellence University Entrance Award

Grants

2021–2026 Junior Star Research Grant Recipient (“Alchemies of Scent”), 19,855,000 CZK, GA 21-30494M, Czech Science Foundation.

2012 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Conference Grant, 13 743 CAD, with Michael Griffin and Riin Sirkel and for the Canadian Colloquium for Ancient Philosophy.

2012 University of Alberta Faculty of Arts Conference Grant, 1 290 CAD, with Michael Griffin and Riin Sirkel and for the Canadian Colloquium for Ancient Philosophy.

2011 American Philosophical Association Conference Grant, 2 900 USD, with Michael Griffin and Riin Sirkel and for the Canadian Colloquium for Ancient Philosophy.

2009 – 2011 Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council Doctoral Fellowship, 40 000 CAD, Aristotle on cosmic order and natural teleology.

Collaboration

2020 – 2021 Co-organizer, with Peter Singer (Einstein Centre Chronoi), David Leith (Exeter), Orly Lewis (Hebrew University), Vivian Nutton (UCL), Ralph Rosen (UPenn) and John Wilkins (Exeter), Cambridge Galen Translations Reading Seminar (De sanitate tuenda and De simplicium medicamentorum facultatibus et temperamentis).

Reviewer For

Aestimatio, Ancient Philosophy Today; Isis; Journal of Late Antique, Islamic and Byzantine Studies; Studies in the History of Philosophy of Mind, Springer; Studies in History and Philosophy of Science Part C: Studies in History and Philosophy of Biological and Biomedical Sciences

Publications

Books

The Concept of Pneuma after Aristotle. Edited with Orly Lewis and David Leith. Berlin: Edition Topoi. 2020. https://doi.org/10.17171/3-61

Studies

“Galen’s Hippocratism”. In Julie Laskaris, Ralph Rosen, P. N. Singer, eds. The Oxford Handbook of Galen. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2022.

“Eau de Cleopatra: Mendesian Perfume and Tell Timai.” With Robert J. Littman, Jay Silverstein, Dora Goldsmith, and Hamedy Mashaly. Near Eastern Archaeology 84, no. 3 (September 1, 2021): 216–29. https://doi.org/10.1086/715345.

“Galen on bad style (kakozēlía): Hippocratic exegesis in Galen and some predecessors”. With Maria Börno. Technai, An International Journal for Ancient Science and Technology 11, 2020, 145–175. https://doi.org/10.19272/202010501011.

“Cohesive Causes in Ancient Greek Philosophy and Medicine”. In Chiara Thumiger, ed. Holism in Ancient Medicine and Its Reception. Leiden: Brill, 2020, 237–267. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004443143_012.

“Pneuma and the Pneumatist School of Medicine”. With Orly Lewis. In Coughlin, Leith and Lewis, eds., The Concept of Pneuma after Aristotle. Berlin: Edition Topoi, 2020, 201­–234. https://doi.org/10.17171/3-61

“Athenaeus of Attalia on the Psychological Causes of Bodily Health”. In Chiara Thumiger & Peter Singer eds., Mental Illness in Ancient Medicine. Leiden: Brill, 2018, 109–142. https://doi.org/10.1163/9789004362260_005.

Reviews

“Review of Simplicius: On Aristotle’s On the Heavens 3.1–7, Ian Mueller trans”. Aestimatio 8 (2011) pp. 34–40. https://doi.org/10.31826/9781463235024-007

Conferences & Workshops

16 – 18 June 2021 Co-organizer, with Christine Salazar (HU) and Elisaveta Sherbakova (HU), Traditions of Materia Medica, International Conference held at the Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin as part of SFB 980 Episteme in Bewegung.

21 – 23 November 2018 Co-organizer, with Peter Singer (Birkbeck) and Orly Lewis (Hebrew University) Galen Reading Workshop: The Pulse Treatises. Berlin, Excellence Cluster Topoi.

19 – 20 July 2018 Co-organizer, with Peter Singer (Birkbeck), Orly Lewis (Hebrew University) and Matyas Havrda (Czech Academy of Sciences). Galen Reading Workshop: The Pulse Treatises. Prague, Czech Academy of Sciences.

8 – 9 July 2018 Co-organizer, with Herner Máté (Munich). Blood: The Second Berlin / Munich Workshop on Aristotle’s Parts of Animals. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

5 – 6 July 2018 Co-organizer, with Christine Salazar (HU). Workshop: Aetius of Amida, Books on Medicine. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

13 – 15 September 2017 Co-organizer, with Peter Singer (Birkbeck) and Orly Lewis (Hebrew University). London Galen Reading Workshop: The Pulse Treatises and De propriis placitis. Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine / Birkbeck College, University of London.

14 – 16 October 2016 Co-organizer, with Mark Johnstone (McMaster), Riin Sirkel (UVM) and Michael Griffin (UBC): Third Canadian Colloquium for Ancient Philosophy, McMaster University Ontario.

2 – 4 July 2015 Co-organizer, with Orly Lewis and David Leith: The Concept of Pneuma after Aristotle, Excellence Cluster Topoi.

26 – 27 January 2015 Co-organizer, with Orly Lewis: The Pneumatist School: Doctrines and Representation, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

2 – 4 May 2014 Co-organizer, with Riin Sirkel (UVM) and Michael Griffin (UBC): Second Canadian Colloquium for Ancient Philosophy, University of British Columbia.

4 – 6 May 2012 Co-organizer, with Riin Sirkel (U of Alberta) and Michael Griffin (UBC): Canadian Colloquium for Ancient Philosophy, University of Alberta.

Courses & Reading Groups

Humboldt-Universität

2018 Instructor, ÜWP 5270047: Forschungskolloquium “Antike Medizin”. (Ancient Medicine Research Colloquium–Graduate and Undergraduate)

2017 Instructor, ÜWP 5270042: Forschungskolloquium “Antike Medizin”. (Ancient Medicine Research Colloquium–Graduate and Undergraduate)

2017 Instructor, ÜWP 51018 (with Prof. Dr. Philip van der Eijk): Aristoteles über die Ursprünge des Lebens und die Entwicklung von Seele und Körper / Aristotle on the Origins of Life and the Development of Soul and Body

2016 Assistant Instructor, ÜWP 51043 (with Prof. Dr. Philip van der Eijk): Aristoteles’ Nikomachische Ethik: Moral, Natur, Medizin / Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics: Morality, Nature and Medicine

University of Western Ontario

2014 Instructor, PHIL 2006E: The Metaphysics & Epistemology of Witchcraft, undergraduate level.

2012 Philosophy 2200F: Ancient Philosophy, undergraduate level. (Huron University College.)

2011 – 12 Instructor, PHIL 2006E: The Metaphysics & Epistemology of Witchcraft, undergraduate level. (Full-year course.)

2008 – 09 Instructor, PHIL 1300E: Introduction to Philosophy, undergraduate level. (Full-year course.)

2007 – 08 Teaching Assistant, Philosophy 212: Introduction to Logic. (Full-year course.)

2007 Teaching Assistant, Philosophy 023G: Questions of the Day, undergraduate level. (Winter term.)

2006 Teaching Assistant, Philosophy 153F: Death. (Fall term.)

Talks

24 November 2021 “Alchemies of Scent: Reconstructing the Practices of Ancient Greco-Egyptian Perfumery.” History of Science, Medicine and Technology Group seminars. School of History, Classics and Archaeology. University of Edinburgh.

20 November 2021 “Recipes for Horrors.” Medical Knowledge and its ‘Sitz Im Leben’: Body and Horror in Antiquity. Roots Cluster of Excellence. University of Kiel.

12 November 2021 “Athenaeus of Attalia as a Reader of Hippocrates.” Physiologies impériales (Physiologies médicales et philosophiques, 2021). Initiative Sciences de l'Antiquité, Université Paris-Sorbonne.

16 September 2021 “Art and Nature in Aristotle's Physics: Some Antecedents.” Aristotle Reads Hippocrates. Faculty of Humanities and the Faculty of Arts, Charles University, Prague. 16–18 September 2021.

17 June 2021 “Alchemies of Scent”. Traditions of Materia Medica. SFB 980 Episteme in Bewegung, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

12 May 2021 “Greco-Roman Perfume and Aromatherapy Recipes.” Soothing Gardens: Ancient ideas and practices about plants, natural environments and well-being. Cluster of Excellence Roots, Christian-Albrechts-Universität zu Kiel.

19 April 2021 “Eggs and Invisible Ink”. L. Raggetti Seminar, University of Bologna.

15 April 2021 “Democritus’ Party Tricks.” Colloquium Cerenea III, University of Łódź.

18 December 2020 “Recreating Democritus’ Party Tricks.” Anneliese-Maier-Forschungspreis Kolloquium: Editions Practices (G. Most), Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin.

18 February 2020 “The Pneumatists on Time, Body, Vitality”. Workshop: Kairos, Krisis, Rhythmos: Time and Time Awareness in Ancient Medicine. Einstein Centre Chronoi, Berlin.

14 June 2019 “Notes for the Replication of Mendesian, Metopium and Susinum”. Anneliese-Maier-Forschungspreis Kolloquium: Editions Practices (G. Most). Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin.

1 March 2019 “Egyptian Ointments in the Athenian Marketplace”. Invited lecture for the AlchemEast Project. University of Bologna.

28 February 2019 “How many kinds of spontaneous generation are there in Ancient Greek philosophy?” Workshop on Spontaneous Generation. University of Bologna.

15 December 2018 “The Topics, Aristotle’s Biology and the Necessity of Settling”. Tartu Workshop in Ancient Philosophy. University of Tartu, Estonia.

25 October 2018 “Aristotle and the Manticore”. Foreign Influences: Philosophy and the Circulation of Knowledge in Antiquity. University of Montreal.

31 July 2018 “Writing about Plant Simples from Theophrastus to Aetius of Amida: Some Case Studies”. De materia medica: Herbals and Botanical Classification from Ancient to Early Modern Times in Cross-Cultural Perspective. Freie Universität Berlin.

13 July 2018 “Galen on Bad Taste: Hippocratic Exegesis in Galen and his Predecessors”. With Maria Börno. Celtic Classics Conference, University of St. Andrews.

8 July 2018 “The Topics, Aristotle’s Biology, and the Necessity of Settling”. with David Merry (HU). Blood Workshop. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

5 July 2018 “Identifying of Plant Simples in Aetii Amideni Libri Medicinales I”. Workshop: Aetius of Amida, Books on Medicine. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

22 January 2018 “The Pneumatists on Pneuma”. Institut für Klassische Philologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

15 January 2018 “Galen on Bad Taste: Hippocratic Exegesis in Galen and his Predecessors”. With Maria Börno. Institut für Klassische Philologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

1 December 2017 “Athenaeus and Galen on Aristotle’s metaphor of the automata”. The Body as Machine in Antiquity: Towards an Early History of Iatromechanics. Department of Classics and Philosophy, University of Cyprus.

30 September 2017 “Oribasius and the Pneumatist School”. Internationale medizinhistorische Tagung: Sammlung und Fragmentierung: Medizinische Kompilationen des Morgen- und Abendlands und ihre Quellen. Charité Universitätsmedizin / Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

29 September 2017 “Theophrastus on plants that affect the soul”. Psychopharmaka in Ancient Greek Medicine and Thought. Excellence Cluster Topoi / Berlin Brandenburg Academy of Sciences, Berlin.

11 September 2017 “Two Models of Bodily Coherence and Incoherence in Aristotle’s Thought”. Ancient Holisms. Wellcome Institute for the History of Medicine. Senate House, University of London.

14 July 2017 “Aristotle on the method of διαίρεσις: Parts of Animals 1.2–4”. Parts of Animals Workshop, Munich School of Ancient Philosophy.

7 July 2017 “Topics III: Topoi of Comparison in Aristotle’s Natural Science” (with David Merry). The Central Books of Aristotle’s Topics. Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

7 June 2017 “The Concept of the “Mean-Time” in Aristotle’s Biology” (with Giouli Korobili). Somatic Times. Martin Buber Society, Hebrew University, Jerusalem.

26 May 2017 “Allusion and Attribution in the Fragments of Athenaeus of Attalia”. Anneliese-Maier-Forschungspreis Kolloquium: Editions Practices (G. Most Seminar). Max Planck Institute for the History of Science, Berlin.

4 May 2017 “Comments on Johansen on Generation of Animals 2.1–3”. Aristotle on Living Beings. The “Generation of Animals”. Excellence Initiative (ZUK 63), University of Tübingen, Germany.

22 April 2017 “The Discussion of Causes in Clement’s Eighth Stromateus: Medical Sources”. ‘Liber logicus’ (‘Stromata VIII’) by Clement of Alexandria: Proof, inquiry, scepticism, causation in an early Christian text. Czech Academy of Sciences, Institute of Philosophy, Prague.

28 January 2017 “On the Principle of Separation in Aristotle’s Biology”. (Invited Speaker.) 3rd Berlin-Munich Graduate Workshop. RTG: Philosophy, Science and the Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

14 November 2016 “Athenaeus on the Elements”. Institut für Klassische Philologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

16 October 2016 “On Michael Griffin’s Aristotle’s Categories in the Early Roman Empire”. The Third Canadian Colloquium for Ancient Philosophy. McMaster University, Hamilton, Canada.

29 September 2016 “The Physiology of Reason: Michael of Ephesus’ Engagement with Platonism and Medicine in his Biological Writings”. Michael of Ephesus–Philosopher and Commentator. Institut für Philosophie II, Ruhr-Universität Bochum, Bochum, Germany.

19 September 2016 “Athenaeus of Attalia, the Aristotelian”. Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, University of Utrecht, Netherlands.

9 May 2016 “Two Traditions of Materia Medica”. Institut für Klassische Philologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

29 April 2016 “Athenaeus, the Stoics, and Materia Medica”. American Association of the History of Medicine, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

23 April 2016 “Athenaeus of Attalia on the Psychological Causes of Bodily Health”. Department of Philosophy, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.

5 January 2016 “Athenaeus of Attalia on Reproduction”. Institut für Klassische Philologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

27 November 2015 “Aristotle on Metaphor in Science”. Topoi Lab D.

27 October 2015 “Stoic and Peripatetic Elements in Galen and the Nature of Bodies”. Galen’s Natural Philosophy. Institut für Klassische Philologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

24 April 2015 “What are good definitions for a doctor? What good are definitions for a doctor?”. Excellence Cluster Topoi LAB D. Berlin, Germany.

27 January 2015 “Athenaeus on Definition and Division”. The Pneumatist School: Doctrines and Representation. Excellence Cluster Topoi / Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

26 January 2015 “A ‘Pneumatist’ School?” (with Orly Lewis), The Pneumatist School: Doctrines and Representation. Excellence Cluster Topoi / Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

10 November 2014 “The Aristotelian Athenaeus”. Institut für Klassische Philologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

29 October 2014 “The Female in Aristotle’s Biology and its Byzantine Reception” (with Marzia Soardi). Gynäkologie, Frauenheilkunde und heilkundige Frauen in medizinischen, Diskursen und medizinischer Praxis der Spätantike. SFB 980: Episteme in Bewegung. Freie Universität und Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

8 October 2014 “Mental Disease According to the so-called ‘Pneumatist’ School” (with Orly Lewis). Mental Disease in Ancient Medicine. Alexander von Humboldt Professur, Institut für Klassische Philologie, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin.

14 August 2013 “Method and Metaphor in Aristotle’s Science of Nature”. Department of Philosophy, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.

24 October 2012 “The Authors of Evil: On Witches, Witchcraft and the Irrational”. Department of English, University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.

1 June 2011 “On Aristotle’s Argument for the Separation of the Sexes: GA II I 732a1–10”. Canadian Philosophical Association Congress. The University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada.

1 June 2011 “Comments on Professor Byrne, ‘Aristotle on the Dual Nature of Natural Substances’“. Canadian Philosophical Association Congress. The University of New Brunswick, Fredericton, Canada.

5 March 2011 “The Principle of Separation in Aristotle’s Biology”. 34th Annual Workshop in Ancient Philosophy. Washington University, St. Louis, USA.

2 June 2010 “Philoponus’ Bright Idea”. Canadian Philosophical Association Congress. Concordia University, Montreal, Canada.

25 May 2010 “Inferences from the Better and Aristotle’s Argument for the Separation of the Sexes”. Fifth Pittsburgh-London Workshop on Aristotle’s Generation of Animals. University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.

8 September 2009 “The Physiological Character of Aristotelian Psychological States”. Upper Canada Society for Ancient and Medieval Philosophy. London, Canada.

25 May 2009 “The Breath of Life in Aristotle”. Canadian Philosophical Association Congress. Carleton University, Ottawa, Canada.

27 April 2008 “Aristotle on the Mechanisms of Vision in GA 5.1–2”. Fourth Pittsburgh-London Workshop on Aristotle’s Generation of Animals. University of Pittsburgh, USA.

21 October 2007 “Reason from Without: Some Comments on De generatione animalium 2.3”. Second Ancient and Medieval Colloquium: The materiality and immateriality of Soul. University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.

27 May 2007 “Teleology in Theophrastus’ De causis plantarum I”. Canadian Philosophical Association Congress. University of Saskatchewan, Saskatoon, Canada.

28 October 2006 “Comments on Professor Nielsen’s ‘The Private Parts of Animals’”. First Ancient and Medieval Colloquium: Ancient Teleologies. University of Western Ontario, London, Canada.

Outreach

Exhibitions

2019 March 1 – September 15 Queens of Egypt. National Geographic Society, Washington DC, USA. App. 4 500 EUR, with Dora Goldsmith (Freie Universität Berlin), for Replication of “Mendesian” perfume from Egyptian and Greek sources for olfactory installation in the exhibition “Queens of Egypt” at National Geographic Society Headquarters, Washington DC.

2016 May 11 – September 11 The Soul is an Octopus: Ancient Ideas of Life and the Body. Curated by Uta Kornmeier. Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité, Berlin, Germany.

Exhibition Catalogues

“The Physiology of Perception”. In Uta Kornmeier, ed. The Soul is an Octopus: Ancient Ideas of Life and the Body (exhibition catalogue). Exhibition: 11 May – 11 September 2016, Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité, Berlin, Germany, pp. 52–61. Available online.

“Reproduction and the Soul”. In Uta Kornmeier, ed. The Soul is an Octopus: Ancient Ideas of Life and the Body (exhibition catalogue). Exhibition: 11 May – 11 September 2016, Medizinhistorisches Museum der Charité, Berlin, Germany, pp. 63–67. Available online.

Artistic Residencies

9 – 18 August 2019. “Ritual”. Globe Gallery. Grabowsee, Oranienburg.