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Sophia Connell


Sophia Connell is a Lecturer in the Philosophy Department. Before coming to Birkbeck in 2017, Sophia taught philosophy at the University of Cambridge for 15 years. She has been a Fellow and Arts Admissions Tutor at Selwyn College (2015-17), a Philosophy Lecturer at Newnham College (2002-17), a Teaching Associate (2010-11) and Lecturer (2008-9) in the Faculty of Philosophy and was a Research Fellow at both Churchill and St John’s Colleges (1997-2001). In 2016 she was awarded the prestigious Pilkington Prize for outstanding teaching in the University of Cambridge.

Research Activity

  • Sophia’s research centres on Aristotle’s biological works, particularly the Generation of Animals and the Historia Animalium.  Her work shows how serious engagement with these relatively neglected texts throws new light on Aristotle’s metaphysics, psychology and views on gender.  She also has research interests in contemporary ethics and feminist philosophy.
  • Sophia is currently working on a commentary on the Generation of Animals Books II and IV in the Clarendon Aristotle series for Oxford University Press and a selection, translation and introduction to the Historia Animalium (or Inquiry Into Animals) for Penguin Classics.  She is also editor of the forthcoming Cambridge Companion to Aristotle’s Biology (Cambridge University Press).
  • Another research project makes relevant connections between Aristotle’s biology and his ethical and political works.  For Aristotle each animal has a way of life that accords with its kind, and makes that animal able to flourish.  Although humans are also animals, limited by their embodied and mortal condition, they must uniquely fulfil their nature through thoughtful and rational engagement in the decisions that will shape their lives.  For Aristotle humans are social animals, which means they cannot do well unless they interact successfully with others. Sophia is working on a series of papers exploring these themes and a book entitled ‘Aristotle’s Woman: physiology, psychology and politics’.
  • Recently Sophia has undertaken a new research project on the role of women philosophers in the development of early analytic Philosophy, particularly in Cambridge. Female figures, such as Margaret Macdonald and Alice Ambrose, who worked on logic and metaphysics in the early part of the last century, have been unfairly marginalised. Extensive archival research reveals the impact of their thought in this period.  She has presented this research at several conferences, including the British Society for the History of Philosophy and the Cambridge Women in Philosophy Conference. She has co-edited a Special Issue of the British Journal for the History of Philosophy on 20th Century Women Philosophers.


  • Books
    • Aristotle on Female Animals: A Study of the Generation of Animals. Cambridge Classical Studies Series, Cambridge University Press, 2016.
    • Editor: The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle’s Biology, Cambridge University Press, forthcoming.
  • Book Chapters
    • ‘Aristotle’s Explanations of Monstrous Births and Deformities in Generation of Animals 4.4’ in A. Falcon and D. Lefebvre (eds.) The Generation of Animals: A Critical Guide, Cambridge University Press, 2017.
    • ‘Mothering and Intelligence in Aristotle’s Biology and Ethics’ in D. Sfendoni-Mentzou (ed.) Electronic Proceedings of Aristotle World Congress, 2017.
    • ‘Aristotle on Generation and Heredity’ in S. Connell (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle’s Biology, forthcoming.
    • ‘The Female Contribution as Nutritive Soul in Aristotle’s Embryology’ in R. Lo Presti and G. Korobili (eds.) Nutrition and the Nutritive Soul in Aristotle and Aristotelianism, De Gruyter Topics in Ancient Philosophy series, forthcoming.
    • 'How Does A Living Animal Come to be from Semen? A Discussion of Aristotle’s Generation of Animals II 1-3’ in D. Lefebvre (ed.) Life and the Science of Life in Aristotle and Aristotelianism (Leiden: Brill), forthcoming.
    • 'Aristotle on Hybrid Animals’ in S. Follinger (ed.) Aristotle’s Generation of Animals: A Comprehensive Approach (Stuttgart: Franz Steiner), forthcoming.
  • Journal Articles
    • 'Parallels Between Tyrant and Philosopher in Plato’s Republic’, Polis: Journal for Ancient Political Thought 35/2, pp.447-477, 2018
    • ‘An Integrated Approach to Aristotle as a Biological Philosopher’, Review of Metaphysics, vol.55, December 2001.
    • ‘Aristotle and Galen on Sex Difference and Reproduction: A New Approach to an Ancient Rivalry’, Studies in the History and Philosophy of Science, vol. 31, No. 3, pp.405-427, 2000.
  • Published On-line
  • Audio

Research Supervision

  • Sophia is willing to supervise research students in most areas of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy as well as contemporary feminist theory, biomedical ethics and virtue ethics.  She is happy to receive inquiries from potential research students.