Sir Geoffrey Lloyd
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.
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
I have written 20 books (listed
below) and edited a
further 4, and various of these books have been
translated into French,
Italian, Spanish, German, Greek, Romanian, 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, and to an Honorary Fellowship at Darwin in 2000. 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 and the Dan David Prize for Classics in 2013. I was knighted for ‘services to the history of thought’ in 1997.
My most 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 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).
I am currently engaged in turning my Tarner lectures in the Philosophy of Science (2012) into a book to be 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.
2012 Being, Humanity and Understanding, Oxford (pp. 136).
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