Newest research chair wants to move Aristotle into the digital age

- Patty Pitts

A philosopher who wants to explore the philosophical, historical and social significance of Aristotle’s logic in the Middle Ages and make it more accessible through digital technology is the University of Victoria’s newest Canada Research Chair, announced on Feb 23.

Dr. Margaret Cameron, currently a faculty member in UVic’s Department of Philosophy, is the Canada Research Chair in the Aristotelian Tradition. She joined the UVic faculty in July 2008 after positions at City University of New York’s Hunter College and Cambridge University.

The Canada Research Chairs program is designed to attract the best talent from Canada and around the world, helping universities achieve research excellence in natural sciences and engineering, health sciences, and social sciences and humanities.

“I really wanted to move back to Canada,” says Cameron, who attended public schools in Toronto and earned her PhD in philosophy from the University of Toronto. “I benefited from our education system and I wanted to be able to teach at a Canadian university. I’ve joined a young, vibrant, active department and I see myself doing really good work with them.”

While Cameron’s research focuses on a fifth-century-BCE philosopher and how his logical theory was the basis for all higher education—be it philosophy, theology, law or medicine—beginning from the turn of the 12th century, she envisions a thoroughly modern method for sharing these Aristotelian works.

“There are so many works out there but they are in the original languages of Greek and Latin and the translation process could take a lifetime, or several,” says Cameron. “I want to tap into digital technology to create a virtual workplace where historians of philosophy can work collaboratively to recover and translate Medieval literature from around the world.”

Cameron points out that Aristotelian logic factors strongly in how today’s philosophers wrestle with themes that still fascinate them, such as the philosophy of language, metaphysics and the nature of argument. While traditional academic publications dealing with this area of research can be very expensive to produce, Cameron points out that digital versions, open to scholars from around the world, would have a relatively low cost.

“This Canada Research Chair affords me the time and the funds to be able to put something of this scope on line,” she says.

Cameron’s five-year appointment is as a $500,000 tier 2 chair, recognizing exceptional emerging researchers acknowledged by their peers as having the potential to lead in their field. Cameron replaces Taneli Kukkonen whose Canada Research Chair in Aristotelian Tradition had expired. UVic currently has 34 Canada Research Chairs. Further info:


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Keywords: researcher, digitalize, aristotle

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