Institute of Philosophy

Staff A-Z

Dr. David Machek

Research fellow

SNF Project "The Art of Feeling: A Perspective on Emotions from ancient Chinese and Greco-Roman philosophy"

+41 31 631 35 69
Unitobler, B 201
Postal Address
University of Bern
Institute of Philosophy
Länggassstrasse 49a
3012 Bern

Academic Career

  • 2003-2008 Studium der Philosophie und Sinologie an der Karlsuniversität in Prag (Magister)
  • 2009-2015 University of Toronto, Ph.D. (East Asian Studies)
    Thesis: Virtuosos of the Ordinary: Comparative Interpretations of Stoic and Daoist Thought, supervised by Vincent Shen, Brad Inwood and Curie Virág
  • Since January 2016: Universität Bern, Institut für Philosophie. Post-Doc (Swiss National Science Foundation), supervised by Richard King

Most Recent Publications

  • “Carving, taming, or gardening? Plutarch on emotions, reason and virtue”. Forthcoming in British Journal for the History of Philosophy
  • “Did Seneca accede to metriopatheia in his consolatory texts?” Forthcoming in Ancient Philosophy. 
  • “Stoics and Daoists on Freedom As Doing Necessary Things.” Forthcoming in Philosophy East and West 68.1.
  • “Using our selves: An interpretation of the Stoic four-personae theory in Cicero’s De Officiis I.” Apeiron: A Journal of Ancient Philosophy and Science 49.2, 2016.
  • “Beyond sincerity and pretense: role-playing and unstructured self in the Zhuangzi.” Asian Philosophy 26.1, 52–65, 2016.

Research Fields

I am specializing in early Chinese and ancient Greek and Roman philosophy (particularly moral psychology and ethics), both in comparative and non-comparative perspective. I am dedicated to the view that working with texts from earlier historical periods, and engaging with them in their original languages and in their historical and cultural context, is one of the ways of doing philosophy proper – rather than doing merely history of philosophy or history of ideas. 

Currently, I am working on two larger projects. One entitled "The Art of Feeling" is seeking to interpret selected ancient theories of emotions (both Chinese and Greek), and on the basis of these interpretations develop foundations for a philosophical theory of emotions that would understand emotions in terms of skills, and the episodes of emotions as better or worse performances of skills. This project is fully funded by Swiss National Science Foundation (SNSF). The other project, which is at a more inchoate stage, is on role ethics and, more specifically, on the relationship in different ancient ethical theories between self and its different roles – such as that of a father, a citizen, a human being, or, even more generally, a living being. To what extent is the self defined by these roles, and how the compatibility or tension among different roles bear on the integrity of the self and its potential for acting well and living well?