Assistant Professor
Department of Philosophy


Brief Biography

John Robert Mahlan is an assistant professor of philosophy at The American University in Cairo. He earned his PhD in philosophy from the University of Virginia, where he wrote his dissertation on Aristotle’s Categories, with a special focus on questions in metaphysics like the nature of substance and ontological priority. His research more broadly is at the intersection of ancient philosophy and contemporary analytic metaphysics, and is especially interested in fundamental metaphysical topics like parts, wholes, particulars and universals. He believes that historical and contemporary research into these questions can be mutually illuminating. In addition to these research interests, he has strong teaching interests in medieval and early modern philosophy, as well as some contemporary topics in ethics, such as the nature of well-being.


  • PhD in philosophy from the University of Virginia – 2017
  • MA in philosophy from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee – 2010
  • BA in philosophy from Colgate University – 2008

Research/Teaching Interests

  • Ancient Greek Philosophy, especially pre-Socratic natural philosophy, Plato’s late dialogues, and Aristotle’s metaphysics
  • Contemporary analytic metaphysics, especially mereology and the problem of universals
  • Early Modern Philosophy, especially Descartes, Leibniz, and Spinoza
  • Ethics, especially the nature of well-being and the meaning of life