Marie Curie fellowship holder believes Estonia could have a research centre for ancient philosophy | University of Tartu
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Contacts of UT units

Faculty of Arts and Humanities
Faculty phone: 
(+372) 737 5341
Faculty address: 
Jakobi 2 - 116-121, 51014, Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    + 372 737 5341
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, rooms 116 - 121, 51014, Tartu
  • Institute of History and Archaeology
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5651
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, 51003, Tartu
  • Institute of Estonian and General Linguistics
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5221
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, 51014, Tartu
  • Institute of Philosophy and Semiotics
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5314
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 2, III, rooms 309-352, 51014, Tartu
  • Institute of Cultural Research
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5223
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 16, 51003, Tartu
  • School of Theology and Religious Studies
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5301
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18-310, 50090, Tartu
  • College of Foreign Languages and Cultures
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 3, 51003, Tartu
  • Viljandi Culture Academy
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 435 5232
    Faculty address: 
    Posti 1, 71004, Viljandi
Faculty of Social Sciences
Faculty phone: 
(+372) 737 5957
Faculty address: 
Lossi 36, 51003, Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    + 372 737 5900
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36, 51003, Tartu
  • Institute of Education
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 6440
    Faculty address: 
    Salme 1a, room 29, 50103, Tartu
  • Johan Skytte Institute of Political Studies
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5582
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36, roomm 301, 51003, Tartu
  • School of Economics and Business Administration
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 6310
    Faculty address: 
    J. Liivi 4, 50409, Tartu
  • Institute of Psychology
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5902
    Faculty address: 
    Näituse 2, 50409, Tartu
  • School of Law
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5390
    Faculty address: 
    Näituse 20, 50409, Tartu
  • Institute of Social Studies
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    (+372) 737 5188
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 36, 51003, Tartu
  • Narva College
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    Faculty address: 
    Raekoja plats 2, 20307, Narva
  • Pärnu College
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    Faculty address: 
    Ringi 35, 80012, Pärnu
Faculty of Medicine
Faculty phone: 
(+372) 737 5326
Faculty address: 
Ravila 19, 50411, Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5326
    Faculty address: 
    Ravila 19, 50411, Tartu
  • Institute of Biomedicine and Translational Medicine
    Faculty phone: 
    +(372) 737 4210
    Faculty address: 
    Biomeedikum, Ravila 19, 50411, Tartu
  • Institute of Pharmacy
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    (+372) 737 5286
    Faculty address: 
    Nooruse 1, 50411, Tartu
  • Institute of Dentistry
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    Faculty address: 
    Raekoja plats 6, 51003, Tartu
  • Institute of Clinical Medicine
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    (+372) 737 5323
    Faculty address: 
    L. Puusepa 8, 51014, Tartu, Eesti
  • Institute of Family Medicine and Public Health
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 4190
    Faculty address: 
    Ravila 19, 50411 Tartu
  • Institute of Sport Sciences and Physiotherapy
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5360
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 5-205, 51014, Tartu
Faculty of Science and Technology
Faculty phone: 
(+372) 737 5820
Faculty address: 
Vanemuise 46-208, 51014, Tartu
  • Dean's Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5820
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46 - 208, 51014, Tartu
  • Institute of Computer Science
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5445
    Faculty address: 
    J. Liivi 2, 50409, Tartu
  • Estonian Marine Institute
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 671 8902
    Faculty address: 
    Mäealuse 14, 12618, Tallinn
  • Institute of Physics
    Faculty address: 
    W. Ostwaldi Str 1, 50411, Tartu
  • Institute of Chemistry
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5261
    Faculty address: 
    Ravila 14a, 50411, Tartu
  • Institute of Mathematics and Statistics
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5860
    Faculty address: 
    J. Liivi 2, 50409, Tartu
  • Institute of Molecular and Cell Biology
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5011
    Faculty address: 
    Riia 23, 23b-134, 51010, Tartu
  • Institute of Technology
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 4800
    Faculty address: 
    Nooruse 1, 50411, Tartu
  • Institute of Ecology and Earth Sciences
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5835
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46, 51014, Tartu
Institutions
  • Library
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5702
    Faculty address: 
    W.Struve 1, 50091, Tartu
  • Youth Academy
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5581
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 38, 51003, Tartu
  • Estonian Genome Center
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 4000
    Faculty address: 
    Riia 23b, 51010, Tartu
  • Museum
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5674
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 25, 51014, Tartu
  • University of Tartu Natural History Museum and Botanical Garden
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 6076
    Faculty address: 
    Vanemuise 46, 51014, Tartu
Support Units
  • Administrative Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5606
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51014, Tartu
  • University Office in Tallinn
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 6600
    Faculty address: 
    Teatri väljak 3, 10143 Tallinn
  • Estates Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5137
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51014, Tartu
  • Finance Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5125
    Faculty address: 
    Jakobi 4, 51014, Tartu
  • Information Technology Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 6000, arvutiabi: 737 5500
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18a, 51014, Tartu
  • Internal Audit Office
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    Ülikooli 17-114, 51014, Tartu
  • Marketing and Communication Office
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 5687
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, ruum 210, 50090, Tartu
  • Office of Academic Affairs
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    (+372) 737 6215
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, 50090, Tartu
  • Office of Research and Development
    Faculty phone: 
    (+372) 737 6192
    Faculty address: 
    Lossi 3, III korrus, 51003, Tartu
  • Human Resources Office
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    (+372) 737 5145
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, rooms 302 and 304, 50090, Tartu
  • Rector's Strategy Office
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    (+372) 737 5600
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, 51014, Tartu
  • Student Council
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    (+372) 737 5400
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    Ülikooli 18b, 51014, Tartu
Other Units
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    +372 737 5371
    Faculty address: 
    Ujula 4, 51008 Tartu
  • Tartu Student Village
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    Faculty address: 
    Narva mnt 25, 51013 Tartu
  • Tartu Students’ Club
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    +372 730 2400
    Faculty address: 
    Kalevi 24, 51010 Tartu
  • University of Tartu Press
    Faculty phone: 
    +372 737 5945
    Faculty address: 
    W. Struve 1, 50091 Tartu
  • Tartu University Hospital
    Faculty address: 
    L. Puusepa 1a, 50406 Tartu
  • University of Tartu Foundation
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    +372 737 5852
    Faculty address: 
    Ülikooli 18, 50090 Tartu
  • View all other units

Marie Curie fellowship holder believes Estonia could have a research centre for ancient philosophy

UT Research Fellow in History of Philosophy Toomas Lott received the Marie Curie fellowship that takes him to New York University to study the treatment of intellectual authority in ancient philosophy. Lott decided to go to New York University, as its Department of Philosophy is considered one of the strongest in the world and it is currently developing a research centre for ancient philosophy. Lott believes that the University of Tartu could also have such a centre.

Lott’s wider field of research is ancient philosophy, more specifically Plato’s and Socrates’ theory of knowledge. Thanks to the Marie Curie fellowship, he will study the treatment of intellectual authority in the antiquity. People grant intellectual authority to a person they consider more reliable than themselves in a particular field, if they form their own beliefs on the basis of someone else’s.

Most typical intellectual authorities are experts. “If a doctor tells me that a procedure is necessary, then on the basis of that I will also start to believe that this procedure is necessary. That kind of intellectual trust is inevitable, as nobody can know everything,” illustrated Lott.

However, according to Lott, many philosophers have claimed that at least in moral questions, each person should make up his own mind and be intellectually autonomous, have an answer to the question “how should I live my life?”. In his project, Lott tries to show that for Socrates and Plato, the question is not about how to avoid relying on moral authority, but rather about how to recognise legitimate intellectual authority.

The philosophical problem is that it is difficult for non-experts to recognise experts, as non‑experts are not able to assess the truthfulness of the experts’ statements – this can only be done by other experts of the same field. Non-experts must rely on the experts’ reputation or the efficiency of their practice, for instance. But what happens if potential experts disagree? Or if we do not have any means to assess the efficiency of the art of the experts? This bundle of questions has a rather prominent place in modern epistemology and Socrates and Plato were the first to tackle these problems, proposing interesting solutions to them.

Lott will in engage in the project more closely at New York University, which is planning to open a research centre for ancient philosophy and has lately attracted a number of top-level specialists in ancient philosophy. Next semester, New York University will open a doctoral study programme focussing on ancient philosophy.

“In addition to actual research work, staying at New York University will give me an opportunity to learn how a research centre for ancient philosophy is established. I believe the University of Tartu could also have something similar in the future, especially considering that in fact there are already many people with UT background who deal with ancient philosophy in various places around the world,“ said Lott, and added: “It would be nice to continue the tradition that has been rather strong at the University of Tartu in the past.”

Lott believes that modern-level research of ancient philosophy could also bring many benefits outside the narrow academic context. Although the number of Estonian translations of ancient Greek texts is slowly increasing, there is actually also a dire need for good philosophical commentaries of these texts.

“The problem is that ancient texts often seem simple and accessible at first, but are in fact philosophically very demanding. On the other hand, some texts may seem distant and incomprehensible and not communicate to the modern reader. To achieve that Greek way of thinking really reaches the Estonian cultural space, it needs philosophical intermediation that would allow seeing its philosophically meaningful ways of interpretation.”

Individual Fellowships of Marie Skłodowska-Curie actions support the mobility of researchers within and beyond Europe and help to attract the best foreign researchers to work in the European Union.

Additional information: Toomas Lott, UT Research Fellow in History of Philosophy, email: toomas.lott [ät] ut.ee.

Virge Tamme
Press Officer of the UT
Phone: +372 737 5683
Mobile: +372 5815 5392
E-mail: virge.tamme [ät] ut.ee
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