Myles Burnyeat

Myles Fredric Burnyeat[pronunciation?] CBE FBA (1 January 1939 – 20 September 2019) was an English scholar of ancient philosophy.

Myles Burnyeat

Myles Fredric Burnyeat.jpg
Myles Burnyeat (1987)
Myles Fredric Burnyeat

1 January 1939
Died20 September 2019 (aged 80)
Academic background
Alma mater
Academic advisorsBernard Williams
Academic work
Sub-disciplineAncient philosophy
Notable studentsAngie Hobbs

Early Life and EducationEdit

Myles Burnyeat was born on 1 January 1939 to Peter James Anthony Burnyeat and Cynthia Cherry Warburg.[1][2][3] He received his secondary school education at the Bryanston School.[4][3]

He completed his National Service (1957–1959) in the Royal Navy, during which time he qualified as Russian Interpreter.[5] The training for this he completed at the Joint Services School for Linguists at Crail.[6]

From 1959 to 1963, Burnyeat undertook undergraduate studies in Classics and Philosophy at King's College, Cambridge.[5]

Subsequently, between 1963 and 1964, he was a graduate student at University College London.[5] There he was a student under the supervision of Bernard Williams.[7]

Scientific CareerEdit

He became an assistant lecturer in philosophy at University College London in 1964,[5] and a lecturer in 1965.[3] In 1978, he was appointed a lecturer in classics at the University of Cambridge, and became a fellow of the new Robinson College, Cambridge, where he remained until 1996.[5]

In 1984, he was elected a Fellow of the British Academy[8] and appointed as the fifth Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy at Cambridge, a position he held until 1996.[9][3] Burnyeat served as President of the Mind Association in 1987.[10] In 1988 he became a member of the Institut International de Philosophie.[10] In 1992 he was elected as an Honorary Foreign Member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.[11]

From 1996 until 2006 he was Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy at All Souls College, Oxford.[5] From 2006 he was an Emeritus Fellow at All Souls.[5] From 2006, he would also hold the titles of Emeritus Professor of Ancient Philosophy and of Honorary Fellow at Robinson College.[12][5]

He was president of the Aristotelian Society from 2005 to 2006.[13]

In 2007, he was made CBE for his services to scholarship.[6] That same year saw the publication of a Festschrift in his honour: Maieusis: Essays in Ancient Philosophy in Honour of Myles Burnyeat.[14] The same included contributions from, amongst others, Mary Margaret McCabe[15] and David N. Sedley.[16]

In 2012 Burnyeat was awarded an Honorary Degree of Doctor of Letters by the University of St. Andrews.[6]

His first marriage, from 1971 to 1982, was to lecturer in education and Jungian psychoanalyst Jane Elizabeth Buckley, with whom he had a son and daughter.[1][2][3] From 1982 until 2000 he was married to the classicist and poet Ruth Padel, with whom he had a daughter Gwen in 1985.[17][18][3] Both marriages ended in divorce.

From the winter of 2002 until her death in the spring of 2003 he was married to the scholar of ancient philosophy Heda Segvic, whose essays he prepared for posthumous publication.[19][20] His partner in later life was the musicologist Margaret Bent.[1]

Myles Burnyeat died on 20 September 2019 at the age of 80.[1][21]

Concluding her 2012 laureation address, Professor Sarah Broadie noted of Burnyeat that:[6]

"Above all, he is a paradigm to philosophers and classicists for combining formidable learning with first hand engagement in philosophy’s own concerns: principally its concerns with ethics and epistemology. His writings on the ancients take issue with such moderns as Russell, Moore, Wittgenstein, Descartes, Berkeley, and for that matter Ronald Dworkin. The aim – in which he has set and achieved the highest standards – isn’t simply to compare different specimens of the genus ‘philosopher’, but to open us up to the transformative toing and froing of philosophy as an on-going enterprise."


Monographs (co-)authored

  • Notes on Book Zeta of Aristotle's Metaphysics being the record by Myles Burnyeat and others of a seminar held in London, 1975–1979, Oxford: Sub-faculty of Philosophy, 1979, ISBN 9780905740171[22]
  • Notes on Books Eta and Theta of Aristotle's Metaphysics, being the record by Myles Burnyeat and others of a seminar held in London, 1979–1982, Oxford: Sub-faculty of Philosophy, 1984, ISBN 0-905740-27-0
  • The Theaetetus of Plato Hackett 1990, ISBN 0-87220-159-7[23]
  • A Map of Metaphysics Zeta, Mathesis Publications, 2001, ISBN 0-935225-03-X[24][25]
  • Aristotle's Divine Intellect, Marquette University Press 2008, ISBN 0-87462-175-5
  • The Pseudo-Platonic Seventh Letter (Uehiro Series in Practical Ethics), (co-author with Michael Frede) Oxford University Press 2015, ISBN 9780198733652[26][27]

Essay collections

  • Explorations in Ancient and Modern Philosophy, Vol. 1, Cambridge University Press 2012, ISBN 0-521-75072-5[28][29]
  • Explorations in Ancient and Modern Philosophy, Vol. 2, Cambridge University Press 2012, ISBN 0-521-75073-3

Works (co-)edited

Select articles


  1. ^ a b c d e Hobbs, Angie (8 October 2019). "Myles Burnyeat obituary". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  2. ^ a b "Burnyeat, Myles Fredric, (born 1 Jan. 1939), Senior Research Fellow in Philosophy, All Souls College, Oxford, 1996–2006, now Emeritus Fellow | WHO'S WHO & WHO WAS WHO". doi:10.1093/ww/9780199540884.013.u9542. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  3. ^ a b c d e f Who's Who 1994 : An Annual Biographical Dictionary. Internet Archive. New York : St. Martin's Press. 1994. pp. 278. ISBN 0312105819.CS1 maint: others (link)
  4. ^ Obituaries, Telegraph (7 October 2019). "Myles Burnyeat, classicist whose wit and imagination made him a leading scholar of Greek and Roman philosophy – obituary". The Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 9 October 2019.
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h "All Souls College Oxford - Myles Burnyeat". Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  6. ^ a b c d "Laureation address – Professor Myles Burnyeat". 28 November 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  7. ^ Williams, Bernard (2009). "Introduction". In Burnyeat, Myles (ed.). The Sense of the Past: Essays in the History of Philosophy. Princeton University Press. pp. xx. ISBN 9781400827107.
  8. ^ British Academy Fellowship entry Archived 6 June 2011 at the Wayback Machine
  9. ^ Cambridge University database Archived 14 June 2010 at the Wayback Machine
  10. ^ a b "Burnyeat | University Press | Marquette University". Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  11. ^ "Myles Fredric Burnyeat". American Academy of Arts & Sciences. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  12. ^ "Cambridge University Reporter Special No 2 (2018-19) - Fellows of the Colleges". Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  13. ^ "The Council". The Aristotelian Society. 5 October 2012. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  14. ^ Dillon, John (2009). "Review of: Maieusis: Essays in Ancient Philosophy in Honour of Myles Burnyeat". Bryn Mawr Classical Review. ISSN 1055-7660.
  15. ^ McCabe, Mary Margaret. "Looking inside Charmides' cloak: seeing oneself and others in Plato's Charmides". Maeiusis ed. Dominic Scott.
  16. ^ Sedley, David. "Equal Sticks and Stones*". Maieusis: 68–86.
  17. ^ Crown, Sarah (15 May 2009). "A life in poetry: Ruth Padel (interview)". The Guardian. ISSN 0261-3077. Retrieved 22 September 2019. she took a teaching post at Birkbeck and met and married Myles Burnyeat, professor of ancient philosophy at Cambridge. In 1985, their daughter, Gwen, was born ...As the writing took off, however, Padel returned to London with her daughter (then five). The family saw one another at weekends, but distance took its toll; Burnyeat and Padel eventually separated, "although we remain very good friends".
  18. ^ "Relative Values: Ruth Padel and Gwen Burnyeat". The Sunday Times. 8 March 2009. ISSN 0956-1382. Archived from the original on 15 June 2011. Retrieved 22 September 2019. When Gwen was born, in 1985, I'd just given up a good, solid lecturing job at Birkbeck College to move in with my husband, Miles [Burnyeat]...
  19. ^ Segvic, Heda; Brittain, Charles (2009). "Introduction" (PDF). From Protagoras to Aristotle : essays in ancient moral philosophy. Burnyeat, Myles. Princeton, NJ: Princeton University Press. pp. xi. ISBN 9781400835553. OCLC 828425151. Myles Burnyeat, whom she had come to know through his visiting appointments in the Pittsburgh department ... took her to England, cared for her through the extraordinary pain of her illness, and finally allowed her to find the happiness that had eluded her in America. (They were married in the winter of 2002.) She died in Cambridge in the early spring of 2003... The cause of her death was chronic inflammatory demyelinating polyneuropathy, a disease of the nervous system, compounded by undiagnosed multiple sclerosis.
  20. ^ "From Protagoras to Aristotle". Princeton University Press. Archived from the original on 22 June 2016. Retrieved 22 September 2019.
  21. ^ "Myles Burnyeat — Faculty of Classics". 23 September 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  22. ^ Irwin, T. H. (1983). Burnyeat, Myles (ed.). "Book Zeta of Aristotle's Metaphysics". The Classical Review. 33 (2): 234–236. doi:10.1017/S0009840X00111734. ISSN 0009-840X. JSTOR 3063960.
  23. ^ Bussanich, John (1992). "Review of The Theaetetus of Plato". The Classical World. 86 (1): 42–43. doi:10.2307/4351209. ISSN 0009-8418. JSTOR 4351209.
  24. ^ Menn, Stephen; Mathesis Publications, Inc. (2011). "On Myles Burnyeat's Map of Metaphysics Zeta" (PDF). Ancient Philosophy. 31 (1): 161–202. doi:10.5840/ancientphil20113119. ISSN 0740-2007.
  25. ^ Gill, Mary Louise (2005). Burnyeat, Myles (ed.). "Myles Burnyeat's Map of Metaphysics Zeta". The Philosophical Quarterly. 55 (218): 114–121. doi:10.1111/j.0031-8094.2005.00391.x. ISSN 0031-8094. JSTOR 3542775.
  26. ^ Price, A. W. (2016). "The Pseudo-Platonic Seventh Letter By Myles Burnyeat and Michael Frede (ed. Dominic Scott) Oxford University Press, 2015, pp. xv + 224, £30 ISBN 978-0-19-873365-2" (PDF). Philosophy. 91 (3): 450–453. doi:10.1017/S0031819116000188. ISSN 0031-8191.
  27. ^ Kahn, Charles H. (9 November 2015). "Review of The Pseudo-Platonic Seventh Letter". Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. ISSN 1538-1617.
  28. ^ Barney, Rachel (13 October 2013). "Review of Explorations in Ancient and Modern Philosophy, Volumes 1-2". Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews. ISSN 1538-1617.
  29. ^ Inwood, Brad (2013). "Review of: Explorations in Ancient and Modern Philosophy. (2 vols.)". Bryn Mawr Classical Review. ISSN 1055-7660.
  30. ^ Selected papers presented at a conference held at Oriel College in 1978. Included in the same is Burnyeat's "Can the Skeptic Live His Skepticism?"
  31. ^ Emlyn Jones, Chris (1984). "Science and Speculation: Studies in Hellenistic Theory and Practice. Edited by J. Barnes, J. Brunschwig, M. Burnyeat, and M. Schofield. Cambridge U.P. and Editions de la Maison des Sciences de l'Homme, Paris, 1982. Pp. xxvii + 351. £25.00". Greece and Rome. 31 (1): 83. doi:10.1017/S0017383500027959. ISSN 0017-3835.
  32. ^ To which Burnyeat contributed an introduction and "Can the skeptic live his skepticism?" [previously published in Doubt and Dogmatism: Studies in Hellenistic Epistemology(1980)]
  33. ^ Burnyeat also being the author of 2 of this works' 5 chapters: 2. "Can the Sceptic Live His Scepticism?" and 4. "The Sceptic in His Place and Time" [see Contents] each of which had been previously published [in, respectively, Doubt and Dogmatism: Studies in Hellenistic Epistemology (1980), and Philosophy in History: Essays in the Historiography of Philosophy (1984)] and can also be found in Explorations in Ancient and Modern Philosophy (v. 1) (2012)

Further readingEdit

  • Maieusis: Essays in Ancient Philosophy in Honour of Myles Burnyeat, edited by Dominic Scott, Oxford University Press 2007, ISBN 0-19-928997-2

External linksEdit

Academic offices
Preceded by
G. E. L. Owen
Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy
Succeeded by
Gisela Striker
Professional and academic associations
Preceded by
Timothy Williamson
President of the Aristotelian Society
Succeeded by
Thomas Baldwin