Currently I am most interested in how ancient thinkers from the Presocratics to Aristotle sought to explain (what we'd now think of as) the structure and composition of ordinary objects. I am especially interested in clarifying how Plato fits into this tradition, and showing how his conception of Forms was developed against this background. In particular, I believe that this perspective can help explain the way in which Forms are causes (as they are said to be in the Phaedo), which in turn helps us see that this sort of causality is fundamental to what Forms are.
I began this research in my doctoral thesis, completed in the spring of 2015 at the University of Toronto, under the supervision of Rachel Barney, as part of Toronto's Collaborative Program in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy. I am now developing this work into a monograph, titled The causal origins of Plato's Forms: The natural philosophy of the Phaedo and its context.
In addition to my work on Plato's metaphysics, I am also interested in (and have papers in progress on) issues in Plato's philosophical methodology, ethics, and philosophy of perception; the concept of beauty (to kalon) in ancient Greek philosophy; and aesthetics and the philosophy of literature.
In my spare time, I enjoy hiking, gardening, rock climbing, wine tasting, and baking bread – all hobbies which I've been into, remarkably, since before moving California.
A quick personal history: I grew up in upstate New York, about thirty minutes south of the state capital of Albany in the small village of Valatie, which is located within the nearly equally small town of Kinderhook, which just so happens to be the birthplace and long-time home of America's eighth President, Martin Van Buren, who was also small, both in overall historical importance and in stature (he was only 5'6", tying with Benjamin Harrison for second shortest President; James Madison takes the crown at 5'4"). I completed my undergraduate degree at the University of Pittsburgh, earning a BA in philosophy and linguistics (in which I maintain an avid, though now avocational, interest). I also spent some nine months in Kobe, Japan when I was twenty.
If you have further questions about Martin Van Buren, I can be contacted at williecostello AT gmail DOT com. More pertinent inquiries are also welcome.
Finally, if you've come here looking for my LaTeX guide for ancient philosophers, it's here. Alternatively, did you know that I've written a LaTeX guide for ancient philosophers? For more information, go here!