Aliza Ashraf

Aliza Ashraf is a second-year masters candidate in Classical Studies at Columbia, where she focuses on ancient and modern philosophy. Her philosophical interests revolve largely around epistemology and metaphysics, and have been the foundation for her undergraduate and graduate research.

She discovered her passion for philosophy and the classical world during her undergraduate studies at Queens College, City University of New York. She graduated from there in 2019, earning her BA cum laude, with a triple-major in Philosophy, Classics, and Psychology, and a double-minor in Italian and the Honors in the Humanities Program.

During her undergraduate years, she focused primarily on Plato and Aristotle, which culminated in her BA thesis, where she defended Platonic erotics against complaints by scholars such as Gregory Vlastos and Martha Nussbaum concerning the intellectualization of the lover-beloved dynamic. Moreover, she focused on the erotic aspects of another (perhaps unexpected) Platonic dialogue, namely, the Protagoras, in her paper "Equality in Love: The Education of Lover and Beloved in Plato's Protagoras," which she presented at the 2019 West Coast Plato Conference, being the only undergraduate student to do so.

She further cultivated her philosophical interests through several study abroad programs, including Political Philosophy at Exeter College, Oxford, and the Philosophy, Politics, and Economics (PPE) Program at Oriel College, Oxford. She supplemented these with her interests in Classics, attending the Greek and Latin Summer School (GLSS) at Bologna University, Italy, as well as Greek philosophy & translation classes at the Paideia Institute.

In 2020, she graduated from Wolfson College, Cambridge, with an MPhil in Classics (specialization: Ancient Philosophy). Her MPhil thesis "Desire in Socratic Intellectualism: Moral motivation as dual belief-desire pairing" focused on Platonic epistemology, arguing that Platonic motivational psychology can be understood effectively through an intellectualist framework consisting of a dual-pair of belief-desire motivational aspects.

At Columbia, she delights in the interdisciplinary nature of the Classical Studies program, which allows her to pursue philosophy extensively. Her current philosophical interests are two-fold: the ancient tradition, specifically Stoic Philosophy, and the early modern tradition, particularly Hobbes, Descartes, and Spinoza. For her MA thesis in Classical Studies, her intended topic will explore the significant influence of Stoicism on Spinoza. She ultimately hopes to pursue a PhD in Philosophy and to further research the early modern tradition, delving into the metaphysics and epistemology of Spinoza.

Aside from her studies, Aliza works as a Supplemental Instructor in English Literature at Queens College, CUNY, as well as a Philosophy Tutor for the online tutoring platform Varsity Tutors. Email Aliza Ashraf.