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Professor Sir Geoffrey Lloyd


Throughout my University career I have been based chiefly at Cambridge, holding various University and College posts, first at King's and then at Darwin.  From 1983 onwards I held a personal Chair in Ancient Philosophy and Science and from 1989 to my retirement in 2000 I was Master of Darwin College.  I was Chairman of the East Asian History of  Science trust, which is the governing body directing the work of the Needham Research Institute from 1992 to 2002, and I am currently Senior Scholar in Residence at that Institute.

I have held visiting professorships and lectured across the world, in Europe (France, Italy, Spain, Germany, Portugal, Holland, Belgium, Greece) in the Far East (Fellow of the Japan society for the Promotion of Science in Tokyo in 1981, visiting professor at Beijing daxue in 1987, visiting professor at Sendai in 1991, and the first Zhu Kezhen Visiting Professor in the History of Science at the Institute for the History of  Natural Science, Beijing, in 2001) , in Australasia (Hood Professor at the Department of Philosophy at the University of Auckland, 2006) and in North America (Bonsall professor, Stanford in 1981, Sather professor Berkeley in 1984, AD White professor at large, Cornell from 1990 to 1996: I have also lectured at Harvard, Princeton, the Princeton Institute for Advanced Studies, Yale, Brown, University of Pennsylvania, Pittsburgh, UCLA, Austin, Chicago, Toronto and McGill, among other places).

I serve on the editorial committee of 10 journals, including Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, Journal of the History of Astronomy, Physis, History of the Human Sciences, Arabic Sciences and Philosophy, Endoxa and Antiquorum Philosophia.


I have written 22 books (listed below) and edited a further 4, and various of these books have been translated into French, Italian, Spanish, German, Greek, Rumanian, Polish, Slovenian, Turkish, Japanese, Korean and Chinese.  In addition I have published some 150 articles and about the same number of reviews.


I was elected a Fellow of the British Academy in 1983, I received the Sarton medal in 1987, I was elected to a Honorary Fellowship at Kings in 1991, to Honorary Foreign Membership of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1995, to the International Academy for the History of Science in 1997, to an Honorary Fellowship at Darwin in 2000, and to a Fellowship of the Learned Society of Wales in 2015. I was awarded an Honorary Litt. D. by the University of Athens in 2003, and an Honorary Litt. D. by the University of Oxford in 2010.  I received the Kenyon Medal for Classical Scholarship from the British Academy in 2007, the Dan David Prize for Classics in 2013, and the Fyssen Prize for Cognitive Science in 2014.  I was knighted for ‘services to the history of thought’ in 1997.


Current Projects

My recent work concerns various aspects of the problem of the psychic unity of humankind.  There has been extensive debate in recent years between universalists and relativists on topics such as the cognition of space, colour, causation, the emotions, personhood.  My own contribution aims (ambitiously) to take into account the most recent work in the domains (a) of the neuro-sciences and evolutionary biology, (b) in social and linguistic anthropology, and (c) philosophy, as well as adding a historical dimension from studies of ancient Greece and China, in order to clarify the key issues.  I do not side either with the universalists or with their opponents.  My aim is rather to show more clearly than has been done in most other studies the limits there must be to claims for the psychic unity of humans, and how differences are to be explained where they exist.  My 2007 book from Oxford University Press, Cognitive Variations; Reflections on the Unity and Diversity of the Human Mind was the subject of a special number of Interdisciplinary Science Reviews in 2010.

In 2009 Oxford University Press published my Disciplines in the Making: Cross-cultural perspectives on Elites, Learning and Innovation. This takes 8 areas of human experience and considers first the differences in the understanding of the core activities involved in different societies ancient and modern, and secondly the factors that encouraged or impeded their establishment as learned disciplines, in particular the roles, both positive and negative, of elites in those processes. The 8 in question are: philosophy, mathematics, history, medicine, art, law, religion and science.

In 2012 I published a further cross-disciplinary study using the evidence from ancient and modern societies to throw light on three major questions, namely Being (what there is, ontology or cosmology), Humanity (what makes a human being a human being and what repercussions this has on behaviour and morality) and Understanding (how are claims to know justified and communicated). This was the subject of a special number of HAU, The Journal for Ethnographic Theory in 2013.


This was followed by the book stemming from my Tarner lectures, entitled The Ideals of Inquiry: An ancient history.  This tackles three interrelated questions to do with investigation, namely the different views that have been entertained on how inquiry is to be pursued, the assumptions that have been made about what there is ‘out there’ to be investigated, and what investigation was thought to be good for.  In each case I contrast what we hold today with what was believed in ancient societies, and I examine the roots and implications of such differences.

My most recent monograph is Analogical Investigations: historical and cross-cultural perpectives on human reasoning. This explores the origins of certain Western ideals for inquiry, such as the search for conclusive demonstrations, criticises some of the excesses that led to, and redresses the balance in favour of looser, admittedly non-demonstrative analogical reasoning, with examples drawn from both ancient Greek and Chinese thought.


Books authored
1966 Polarity and Analogy, Cambridge University Press (pp v + 503) (trans. Spanish, Italian, Korean)
1968 Aristotle, The Growth and Structure of his Thought, Cambridge University Press (pp xiii + 324) (trans. Japanese, Italian, Chinese, Spanish, Slovenian, Turkish)
1970 Early Greek Science, Thales to Aristotle, London, Chatto and Windus (pp xvi + 156) (trans. Spanish, French, Italian, Japanese, Korean, Chinese, Polish and Greek)
1973 Greek Science after Aristotle, London, Chatto and Windus (pp xiii + 189) (trans. Italian, French, Japanese, Polish and Greek)
1979 Magic, Reason and Experience, Cambridge University Press (pp xii + 335) (trans. Italian, French, Greek)
1983 Science, Folklore and Ideology, Cambridge University Press (pp xi + 260) (trans. Italian)
1987 The Revolutions of Wisdom, University of California Press (pp xii + 468)
1990 Demystifying mentalities, Cambridge University Press (pp viii + 174) (trans. Italian, French, Spanish)
1991 Methods and Problems in Greek Science, Cambridge University Press (pp xiv + 457) (trans. Italian, Rumanian, Greek)
1996 Adversaries and Authorities, Cambridge University Press (pp xvii + 250)
1996 Aristotelian Explorations, Cambridge University Press (pp ix +242)
2002 The Ambitions of Curiosity, Cambridge University Press (pp xxi + 175) (trans. Italian, Spanish)
2002 (with Nathan Sivin) The Way and the Word (pp xvii + 348), Yale University Press (trans. Italian, Greek, Chinese)
2003 In the Grip of Disease: Studies in the Greek Imagination, Oxford University Press (pp xxi + 258)
2004 Ancient Worlds, Modern Reflections: Philosophical Perspectives on Greek and Chinese Science and Culture, Oxford University Press (pp xi + 222) (trans. Italian and Japanese)
2005 The Delusions of Invulnerability: Wisdom and Morality in Ancient Greece, China and Today, London, Duckworth (pp 176)
2006 Principles and Practices in Ancient Greek and Chinese Science, Aldershot, Variorum (pp 302)
2007 Cognitive variations: reflections on the unity and diversity of the human mind, Oxford (pp 200) (trans. Chinese)
2009 Disciplines in the Making: Cross-cultural Perspectives on Elites, Learning and Innovation, Oxford (pp 215) (trans. Chinese, 2015)

2012 Being, Humanity and Understanding, Oxford (pp. 136)
2014 The Ideals of Inquiry, Oxford (pp 163)
2015 Analogical Investigations: historical and cross-cultural perspectives on human reasoning, Cambridge (pp 139).


Books edited
1978 Hippocratic Writings Penguin Classics (pp 380)
1978 (with G.E.L.Owen) Aristotle On Mind and the Senses, Cambridge University Press (pp 362)

1966 (with J. Brunschwig) Le Savoir Grec, Paris Flammarion (pp 1095), (2nd edition 2011) (trans English, Spanish, Italian, German). 

2001 (with G. Cambiano and M. Vegetti) Storia della scienza, vol 1 sez 4, La Scienza greco-romana, Rome, Enciclopedia Italiana (pp 537-1044)



Professor Sir Geoffrey Lloyd , Scholar in Residence

[put the "at" sign here]hermes.cam.ac.uk

Tel: 01223-311545            

Fax: 01223-362703