Luke Lea

Luke is a first-year Ph.D. student in the Classical Studies Program. He holds a B.A. in Liberal Arts from St. John’s College in Santa Fe, New Mexico and an M.A. in Comparative Literature (Classics Concentration) from the University of New Mexico. The B.A. degree program, through its “great books” curriculum, led him to engage with many of the most influential works of philosophy and literature in the Western canon, and the M.A. program allowed him to deepen his knowledge of the languages and history of Greece and Rome.

Luke’s interests lie in Ancient Philosophy and Greek literature. While these interests are anchored in a long-standing regard for Plato’s dialogues, they have spun centrifugally into specific topics in both Classics and Philosophy that he plans to pursue at Columbia.

The first of these topics is philosophical relativism, especially the Protagorean strain of relativism against which Socrates argues in Plato’s Theaetetus. Luke’s M.A. thesis attempted to show that the arguments Socrates deploys against Protagoras in this dialogue are intensified by the dialogue’s concern with the philosophical status of writing, and that these arguments — although couched in general terms that suggest a scope comprehending all human perception and judgment — are often meant to apply specifically to textual interpretation. Luke presented a condensed version of this argument at CAMWS in 2018 (the Classical Association of the Middle West and South), where he had also given a presentation on plot structure in Aristophanes’ Lysistrata one year earlier. He intends to follow the question of philosophical relativism through its treatment in the Hellenistic period and into modern discussions, where positions akin to Protagorean relativism remain ripe for debate.

Through the Phaedrus and Seventh Letter, Plato has also inspired Luke to consider questions related to writing in antiquity, especially the question of its suitability as a medium for philosophical communication as opposed to its traditional rival, oral dialectic. At Columbia, He hopes to broaden this inquiry to include less explicitly philosophical perspectives on these issues, many of which circulated throughout the Greek world in the aftermath of the advent of alphabetic writing and literature to this area.

Luke has experience teaching both Latin and Greek to undergraduates, and has served as a Teaching Assistant for courses on Greek Mythology, Roman Civilization, and the reception of Rome in Hollywood. Email Luke Lea.