Ursula Coope

ursula coope cropped
Area of Specialisation:
Membership Type:
2017 - present Professor of Ancient Philosophy, University of Oxford
2008 - 2017 Professor of Ancient Philosophy and Tutorial Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford
2009 - 2011 Global Distinguished Professor, NYU
2006 - 2008 University Lecturer and Tutorial Fellow at Corpus Christi College, Oxford
2003 (Spring) Visiting Assistant Professor, Princeton
2001 - 2006  Lecturer, Birkbeck College, London
2000 - 2001 Jacobsen Fellow, University College, London
1995 - 1996, 1997 - 1999 Visiting Student, Princeton
1999 Ph.D. U.C. Berkeley (Philosophy)
1992 BA University of Oxford (PPE)



Freedom and Responsibility in Neoplatonist Thought. Oxford University Press, 2020. 
Time for Aristotle: Physics IV.11-14. Oxford University Press, 2005 (paperback, 2008)

Articles and chapters

‘Aristotle on productive understanding and completeness’ in T. J. Johansen (ed) Productive Knowledge in Ancient Philosophy (CUP 2020, forthcoming)
‘Animal and celestial motion: the role of an external springboard: DM 2 and 3’, Proceedings of the Symposium Aristotelicum, ed O. Primavesi and C. Rapp (OUP, 2020, forthcoming)
‘Free to think? Epistemic Authority and Thinking for Oneself’ Journal of the British Academy, 7 (2019)
‘Rational assent and self-reversion: a Neoplatonist Response to the Stoics, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy (Summer, 2016)
‘Self-motion as other-motion in Aristotle’s Physics’ in Aristotle’s Physics: a critical guide ed M. Leunissen, CUP (2015)
‘Aquinas on judgment and the active power of reason’ Philosophers Imprint (2013) 
‘Why does Aristotle think that Ethical Virtue is Required for Practical Wisdom?’ Phronesis, 57, (2012).

‘Aristotle on the infinite’ in Oxford Handbook of Aristotle, ed. C Shields (2012)

‘Aristotle on action’ Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, Supplementary Volume CVI (2007).
‘Aristotle's account of agency in Physics III.3'  Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, (2004).


My research focuses mainly on two related areas: Aristotle (especially Aristotle's Physics and his philosophy of action), and late antique philosophy (especially Neoplatonist accounts of freedom and responsibility). My first book examines Aristotle’s account of time, an account that raises questions about temporal order, the role of the present, and the relation between time and the mind. I have also worked on Aristotle’s views on change, agency and the infinite. My interest in Aristotle’s philosophy of action is partly in metaphysical questions (in particular, how the views he adopts in the Physics affect his account of action), but also in questions of psychology. (What is the relation between desiring something and thinking it good? What is distinctive about human, as opposed to animal, action? What is the nature of technical expertise and how does it differ from theoretical knowledge?) My second book discusses Neoplatonist accounts of freedom and responsibility. The Neoplatonists think that to become free is to become perfect. This book asks about the notion of freedom that underlies this claim. (Why do the Neoplatonists think that only something nonbodily can be free? How is freedom related to self-causation?) The book also takes up questions about responsibility. (If those who act badly fail to achieve freedom, then how it be right to blame them for acting badly? What justifies the claim that human beings are responsible for what they do in a way that animals are not?) Currently, I am thinking about (i) the relation between happiness and time (e.g. why do certain ancient philosophers, such as Plotinus, deny that happiness increases with increase in time?), and (ii) ancient discussions of the nature of processes (in particular, Aristotle's account of kinêsis, and Plotinus's and Simplicius's responses to this account).

I supervise graduate students (for the Ancient MSt, the BPhil, or the DPhil). I give lectures and graduate seminars in philosophy.