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Dr Sophia M. Connell

  • Overview



    Sophia M. Connell is Senior 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).


    • Melvyn Bragg and guests discuss Aristotle's method of biological investigation and the first systematic and thorough study of animals, which was unequalled for almost 2,000 years.


    • MPhil, University of Cambridge, 1994
    • PhD, University of Cambridge, 1997

    Web profiles

    Administrative responsibilities

    • Admissions Tutor for MA

    Visiting posts

    Professional activities

    Associate Editor (Ancient Philosophy), British Journal for the History of Philosophy.

    Professional memberships

    • Committee member, British Society for the History of Philosophy

    • Member, London Centre for Ancient Philosophy

    Honours and awards

  • Research


    Research interests

    • Ancient Greek Philosophy
    • Aristotle's Biology
    • Aristotle's Ethics
    • Aristotle's Psychology and Philosophy of Mind
    • Plato's Political Philosophy
    • Animal Cognition (especially in Aristotle)
    • History of Analytic Philosophy (especially female figures)
    • Mary Midgley
    • G.E.M. Anscombe
    • Alice Ambrose
    • Women in Ancient Science, Medicine and Philosophy

    Research overview

    Sophia works broadly to consolidate and improve philosophical engagement with Aristotle’s biological corpus, particularly the Generation of Animals, Parts of Animals and Historia Animalium. Her work shows how serious engagement with these relatively neglected texts throws new light on many aspects of Aristotle’s philosophy.  She is currently working on a commentary on the Generation of Animals in the Clarendon Aristotle series for Oxford University Press and translations and introductions to the Historia Animalium and Parts of Animals for Hackett.  She is also the editor of The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle’s Biology and The Critical Guide to Aristotle’s Parts of Animals (both forthcoming with Cambridge). In 2016, her book Aristotle on Female Animals was published with Cambridge University Press.

    Sophia has recently published work on Aristotle’s nutritive soul and is developing a series of papers on the bodily basis for intellect in Aristotle’s philosophy.  Another strand of her research 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 live well.  Although humans are also animals, limited by their embodied and mortal condition, they must 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. Although uniquely placed in the natural world, humans share many features with other animals including sociality, sentience, emotional responsiveness and even certain ways of thinking. These facts impact our responsibilities towards non-human animals. Sophia has published several papers exploring these themes in Aristotle and contemporary Aristotelianism. As well as this, Sophia is developing new research on the female body in ancient philosophical and medico-philosophical texts.

    With relation to more recent history, Sophia is looking into the role of women in early analytic Philosophy. Female figures, such as Margaret Macdonald and Alice Ambrose, who worked on logic and philosophy of language 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 is also working on the way in which G.E.M. Anscombe and Mary Midgley were inspired in their philosophical work by Aristotle, particularly his metaphysics and biology. She is currently co-editing a Special Issue of the British Journal for the History of Philosophy on ‘Lost Voices: Women in Philosophy 1880-1970’ with Frederique Janssen-Lauret.

    Research Centres and Institutes

  • Supervision and teaching

    Supervision and teaching


    I welcome enquiries from prospective PhD students who are interested in undertaking research in any of my areas of research interest

    Current doctoral researchers



    I regularly teach the following courses:

    Philosophy as the Art of Living: Ancient Views

    Ancient Philosophy

    Philosophy and Gender

    Aristotle's Biology and Ethics

    Teaching modules

    • Philosophy as the Art of Living: Ancient Views (SSPL015H4)
    • Philosophy and Gender (Level 6) (SSPL085H6)
    • Philosophy and Gender (Level 7) (SSPL125H7)
    • Research in Theoretical Philosophy (SSPL157S7)
    • Research in Practical Philosophy (SSPL158S7)
    • Ancient and Medieval Philosophy (Level 7) (SSPL170H7)
    • Philosophy and Gender (Level 5) (SSPL189H5)
  • Publications




    Book Section

    • Connell, Sophia M. (2021) Thinking bodies: Aristotle on the biological aspects of human cognition. In: Gregoric, P. and Jacob, F. (eds.) Encounters with Aristotelian Philosophy of Mind. London, UK: Routledge. ISBN 9780367439132. (In Press)
    • Connell, Sophia M. (2021) Animal cognition in Aristotle. In: Connell, Sophia M. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle's Biology. Cambridge Companions to Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107197732. (In Press)
    • Connell, Sophia M. (2021) Aristotle on generation and hereditary resemblance. In: Connell, Sophia M. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle's Biology. Cambridge Companions to Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107197732. (In Press)
    • Connell, Sophia M. (2021) Frauen. In: Corcilius, K. and Rapp, C. (eds.) Aristoteles-Handbuch: Leben — Werk — Wirkung. Stuttgart, Germany: J.B. Metzler. pp. 243-249. ISBN 9783476057419.
    • Connell, Sophia M. (2020) The female contribution to generation and the nutritive soul in Aristotle’s embryology. In: Korobili, G. and Lo Presti, R. (eds.) Nutrition and The Nutritive Soul in Aristotle and Aristotelianism. Topics in Ancient Philosophy. Berlin, Germany: De Gruyter. pp. 63-84. ISBN 9783110689792.
    • Connell, Sophia M. (2020) Introduction. In: Connell, Sophia M. (ed.) The Cambridge Companion to Aristotle's Biology. Cambridge Companions to Philosophy. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9781107197732. (In Press)
    • Connell, Sophia M. (2018) Aristotle’s explanations of monstrous births and deformities in generation of animals 4.4. In: Falcon, A. and Lefebvre, D. (eds.) Aristotle's Generation of Animals: A Critical Guide. Cambridge Critical Guides. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press. pp. 207-223. ISBN 9781107132931.

    Conference Item

  • Business and community

    Business and community


    I am happy to receive enquiries from the media on the following topics:

    • Aristotle's Philosophy
    • Alice Ambrose
    • Mary Midgley
    • History of Analytic Philosophy
    • Women in Ancient Greek Science, Medicine and Philosophy


      Speaker on BBC Radio 4’s In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg on ‘Aristotle’s Biology’ 7th February 2019

      Guest Speaker at the Forum for Philosophy, L.S.E., November 2019 on theme of ‘Aristotle Now’

      'Aristotle on Female Animals Etc.' Interviewed by Richard Marshall at 3.16 a.m.

      Keynote Address, 'Women Intellectuals in Antiquity' Conference, Keble College, Oxford: February 2020.