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Dr. Albert Joosse (01.07.2011-31.05.2013)

The semantics of belonging: oikeios in ancient theories of friendship

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Lubbertus Adriaan Joosse

eMail: albert.joosse@grk-freundschaft.uni-freiburg.de



Ausbildung und akademischer Werdegang


PhD, 2011, Universität Utrecht, Niederlande

Dissertation: Why a philosopher needs others: Platonic and Stoic models of friendship and self-understanding


MA in Alte Geschichte, Universität Utrecht, Niederlande


MA in Philosophie, King’s College London, England





2011 Junior Assistant Professor, University College Utrecht, Niederlande


2007-10 Wissenschaftlicher Assistent (AiO), Philosophie der Antike und des Mittelalters, Universität Utrecht, Niederlande





  • (2010), ‘On Belonging in Plato’s Lysis’, in Valuing Others in Classical Antiquity, eds. Ralph Rosen and Ineke Sluiter (peer-reviewed), Leiden: Brill, 279-302.
  • (2010), ‘Shame and Conflict – Lysis’s philosophical akrasia’, Newsletter of the Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy 11.1: 45-51.
  • (2012), ‘Review of E. Heitsch, Platon: Größerer Hippias’, Bryn Mawr Classical Review 2012.03.56 <http://bmcr.brynmawr.edu/2012/2012-03- 56.html>





My research focuses on the semantics of the Greek word oikeios – ‘belonging’ – as it occurs in ancient philosophical texts. My research attempts to clarify the interaction between the semantics of key terms in discourse on friendship and the argumentative strategies and shape of philosophical reflection about friendship.

We may translate oikeios as ‘belonging’, or ‘your own’, but also as ‘intimate’ and ‘suitable’. In my research, I will study the semantics of oikeios and related words as they occur in ancient philosophical texts. In describing friends as people who belong to someone, one seems to conceptualise relationships primarily along possessive lines, rather than, for instance, along affective or cognitive ones – as one would if one called people ‘dear ones’ or ‘acquiantances’, respectively.

The distinctive possessive connotations of this terminology may have shaped ancient philosophical thinking about friendship and wider human bonds in particular ways. It is worth investigating, for instance, whether the widespread use of the phrase that a friend is another self, which from among all proverbial expressions about friendship is a special favourite in ancient philosophical texts, has anything to do with oikeios terminology. The duplication suggested in calling a friend ‘another self’ may be regarded as a border case of conceptually drawing other people towards you by speaking of them as belonging to, or even being part of, you. A further instance of the use of oikeios is the Stoic theory of what they call ‘appropriation’, ‘making something belong to you’ (oikeiosis in Greek). This is their account of the moral evolution of each individual. Despite its centrality in Stoic philosophy, fundamental questions about this theory have still not been satisfactorily answered, e.g. how can an individual develop moral concern for others, and, especially, for non-kin? It is to be hoped that a semantic analysis of the term oikeion itself will help to address such questions.

  • Postadresse:

    Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
    DFG-Graduiertenkolleg 1288
    c/o Historisches Seminar
    Rempartstr. 15 - KG IV
    79085 Freiburg 
  • Besuchsadresse:

    Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
    DFG-Graduiertenkolleg 1288
    Erbprinzenstraße 13
    79098 Freiburg
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