Panels proposed for the 2017 ISNS Conference in Olomouc
If you wish to present a paper at one of the panels, please send your abstract (no more than one page, single-spaced) to the panelorganizer(s) named on the list. If you wish to give a paper that does not fit into any of the listed panels, send your abstract to the organizing committee:
Tomáš Nejeschleba, Palacký University <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Jozef Matula, Palacký University <email@example.com>
Sara Itoku Ahbel-Rappe, University of Michigan <firstname.lastname@example.org>
John Finamore, University of Iowa <email@example.com>
All abstracts, whether individual or for inclusion in panels, are due by February 24, 2016. Papers may be presented in English, Portuguese, French, German, Spanish, or Italian. It is recommended that those delivering papers in languages other than English provide printed copies to their audience at the conference.
Please note that anyone giving a paper at the conference must be a member of the ISNS. You may sign up and pay dues on the web site of the Philosophy Documentation Center:
Dues are $60.00 per year ($20.00 for students and retirees).
Participants may give only one paper at the conference and therefore should submit only one abstract.
List of panels:
It is well-known that for later Platonists, ‘becoming like a god’ was considered the central goal of philosophy, following Plato’s Theaetetus 176b-c. This panel invites papers which consider the ways in which divine power and presence were conceived and conceptualised within Neoplatonism and Early Christianity in relation to theurgy, contemplation, contemplative prayer and ritual practices – but also in relation to metaphysics, ethics, ontology,epistemology, theology and cosmology. How was divine assimilation or divinization conceived by Neoplatonic philosophers, such as Origen, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus and Proclus? How were divine power and presence connected with metaphysical, ethical and ontological principles and notions within a variety of later Platonisms? What relation was postulated between divine power or presence and cognitive states, rationality and epistemology? Can we study divination and theurgy within the context of the history of the philosophy of mind and language? From this perspective, is it possible and productive to focus on the non-propositional and non-discursive languages often employed by Neoplatonists and Christians for the purpose of effecting union with the divine? Is it useful to focus on the aesthetic dimensions of later Platonic contemplative prayer, ritual and theurgic practices? What is the significance and the possible implications of the doctrine of the henads, as seen in Proclus (and possibly also in Iamblichus’ philosophy)? This panel invites papers that consider any of these issues or other topics relating to divine power and presence. Papers on the reception of later Platonic conceptions of the divine, ritual texts and ideas within later historical, philosophical and cultural contexts are also encouraged, as are papers that utilise interdisciplinary approaches and cross-cultural perspectives.
Neoplatonic philosophers, despite being prominently concerned with metaphysical issues, have set forth original and riveting investigations of the physical world, investigations which play an important role in their accounts of reality and of the relation between the sensible and intelligible domains. Thus, this panel seeks to explore Neoplatonic discussions on the physical aspect of reality by assembling specifically studies on time, space, and on subjects implied by them, such as eternity, memory and recollection, and movement. It also welcomes studies that compare Neoplatonism and contemporary science.
What is proposed here, by way of an exercise, is to consider that the higher experience that Neoplatonism seeks can be understood from an aesthetic perspective, without indicating with this term a branch of philosophy, much less a theory of taste. Such aesthetics corresponds to a particular metaphysical vision and is the summit of an itinerary that departs from sensible things, passes through Intelligible Beauty, and finally reaches „Beauty beyond the beautiful“, enjoying a new way of seeing, as Plotinus meant, with „another type of vision, an ecstasy, a simplification, an abandonment of one’s self, a desire for a contact“. Thus, it results that the ecstatic experience seems to be left to be understood, in a very persuasive way, as if it were an aesthetic experience. Moreover, aesthetics not only expresses the possibility of an ecstatic experience, but it also constitutes a way of expression, a „plastic expression“ of fundamental concepts of Neoplatonism. In what way this fundamental conception that relates metaphysics and aesthetics has developed, and which interpretations it has sparked, are issues that this panel aims to analyze. It is expected that researchers will analyze the relationship between Metaphysics and Aesthetics expressed by the ancient Platonic tradition and by its Medieval and Renaissance reception, as well as its contemporary repercussions.
Lo que se propone aquí, a modo de un ejercicio, es considerar que la experiencia más elevada que busca el neoplatonismo puede ser entendida desde una perspectiva estética, sin que con este término se indique un ramo de la Filosofía ni mucho menos una teoría del gusto. Una tal estética corresponde a una determinada visión metafísica y es la cumbre de un itinerario que parte de las cosas sensibles, pasa por la Belleza Inteligible, alcanzando finalmente “lo bello más allá de lo Bello”, disfrutando de una nueva forma de ver, como entiende Plotino, con “otro tipo de visión, un éxtasis, una simplificación, un abandono de sí, deseo de un contacto”. Así, resulta que la experiencia extática parece dejarse entender, de un modo muy persuasivo, como si de una experiencia estética se tratase. Por otra parte, la estética no sólo expresa la posibilidad de una experiencia extática, sino que también se constituye como medio de expresión, una “expresión plástica” de conceptos fundamentales del neoplatonismo. De qué modo esta concepción de fondo que relaciona metafísica y estética se ha desarrollado y qué interpretaciones ha suscitado, son cuestiones que el panel espera analizar. Esperase a investigadores que analicen la relación Metafísica e Estética expresa por la tradición neoplatónica antigua y su recepción medieval-renacentista, como también sus repercusiones contemporáneas.
The panel “Platonisms of the Imperial Age: Hermetism, Gnosticism, and the Chaldaean Oracles” calls for papers dealing with the relationship and/or interface of Platonic, Gnostic, Hermetic, and therugic sources. “Gnostic(ism)” is here to be understood in the broadest possible sense, encompassing Patristic evidence, the Nag Hammadi, Bruce, and Askew Codices, Manichaeanism, Hermetism, and magico-alchemical texts. Suggested topics relevant to current scholarly debate include the influence of Gnosticism on Neoplatonism (and vice-versa!), Plotinus’s dialogue and conflict with the Gnostics (particularly Valentinian documents), Gnosticism and the Chaldaean Oracles, theurgy and ritual in Platonic circles, Zosimus of Panopolis’s knowledge of Gnostic traditions, etc.
Early Modern Platonism
Anna Corrias <firstname.lastname@example.org>, Douglas Hedley <email@example.com>, and Valery Rees <firstname.lastname@example.org>
This panel will explore the role and influence of early modern Platonism in the history of Western philosophy. Possible areas of focus may include: the revival of Platonism in fifteenth century Italy; the relationship between Platonism and Christianity; the impact of Ficino’s translations of and commentaries on Plato, Plotinus and other Platonic philosophers; the philosophy of the Cambridge Platonists in its various aspects; the influence of early modern Platonism on later thought as well as contributions of key early modern Platonists.
Souls, Soteriology, and Eschatology in Platonism
John F. Finamore <email@example.com> and Ilaria Ramelli <firstname.lastname@example.org>,
This panel explores the ways that Platonists conceive the human soul as an Intelligible being housed in an earthly body, how they articulate the means of its salvation, and the manner in which they imagine its afterlife once freed from the body.
The notions of form and participation evolve both within Greek Neoplatonism and its Arabic expansion. In particular, the responses to an Aristotelian, hylomorphic notion of substance are varied, as are the accounts of the soul-body compound in relation to form and participation. Further points of interest are the separation of forms from instantiated particulars, the significance of enmattered forms, as well as the various layers of formal participation. This panel explores form and substance as originally discussed in Greek Neoplatonism and as transformed in the Arabic reception. This transhistorical debate includes, for example, figures such as Plotinus, Proclus, the so-called Arabic Plotinus, and Suhrawardi. We welcome papers that investigate the topic(s) of form, substance, and participation within this historical line of continuity.
The Cambridge Platonists exhibited a profound knowledge of late-Antique classical philosophy and a sense of the relevance of this thought to the modern world. Ralph Cudworth’s The True Intellectual System of the Universe is paradigmatic, in which the topic of Ancient Theology is employed in relation to the atheism of his time. We invite papers on the relationship of Ancient Theology and the Cambridge Platonists.
Philology and exegesis in the Platonist tradition
M. Johns <J.M.Johns@sms.ed.ac.uk>
Insofar as the philological aspect of exegesis can illumine the philosophical, this panel centres upon a single question—to what extent does philological analysis of the corpus Platonicum, especially in the case of passages featuring ambiguous language or difficult terminology, condition philosophical theory in the Platonist tradition?
Should one turn to the text of the Timaeus, for instance, one will meet with more than a few passages where philosophical theories are contingent upon philological choices. Hence the text of Timaeus 27c 5, where the phrase η γέγονεν η καὶ ἀγενές ἐστιν may be read in more ways than one, with each reading having substantial effects upon any exegesis of the cosmogony. Arguably, it would be best to follow after John Whittaker (‘Textual Comments on Timaeus 27c–d’ Phoenix 27:4 (1973), pp. 388-391), who opines that the first η stands for εἰ (‘if’) and not for ᾗ (‘how’, if not ‘whether’), as Burnet and Rivaud thought. For indeed, so long as one understands the second η in the phrase η γέγονεν η καὶ ἀγενές ἐστιν to be disjunctive (that is, ἢ καὶ), one finds that the reading ᾗ γέγονεν ἢ καὶ ἀγενές ἐστιν is attested neither in the extant manuscripts (not even the earliest of them, Parisinus graecus 1807 (MS A), where the first η is represented by ἢι, with a punctual notation over the ι, showing that it was ‘hesitatingly corrected to ἢ’) nor in the ancient commentaries on the Timaeus, whilst the reading εἰ γέγονεν ἢ καὶ ἀγενές ἐστιν is attested in those commentaries. Nevertheless, one may contend that the second η is not disjunctive but rather concessive, so that one would read not ἢ καὶ (‘or even’) but εἰ καὶ (‘if indeed’), which appears to give far greater weight to a metaphorical exegesis of the cosmogony. So too, some exegetes even emend ἀγενές (‘ungenerated’) to ἀειγενές (‘always generated’), with similar results (as is shown in fascinating detail by K. Verrycken, ‘Philoponus’ Interpretation of Plato’s Cosmogony’ Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale 8 (1997), pp. 306-310). If one turns to the cosmogony, one meets with yet another philological issue regarding the status of the soul. For at Timaeus 36e 5-37a 2, the syntax of the phrase ψυχή, τῶν νοητῶν ἀεί τε ὄντων ὑπὸ τοῦ ἀρίστου ἀρίστη γενομένη τῶν γεννηθέντων allows for different readings of the text, and thus divergent ideas of soul. One need only dwell upon the relevant commentary of Proclus to see how this goes, in that his philological analysis of the phrase just happens to suit his philosophical presuppositions.
Obviously, there are many more such passages throughout the corpus Platonicum, and these enable one to consider how Platonists employ philological analysis as a means of establishing their views on matters of metaphysics and psychology or cosmology and creation. However, which of them is first in the exegetical order, the philological analysis or the philosophical theory to which it may apply? Hence the theme of this panel, where relevant papers on any aspect of Platonism will be welcome.
Nature and substance in the late Antiquity
Karolina Kochanczyk – Boninska <email@example.com>, Marta Przyszychowska <firstname.lastname@example.org>, and Tomasz Stepien <email@example.com>
The understanding of substance in the late Antiquity had its roots in the Ancient authors, such as Plato and Aristotle, but it seems that Neoplatonic redefinitions played a crucial role in the way those notions were used by subsequent authors, not only pagan but also Christian. The notions of substance and nature became a basis for Christian theology, especially anthropology and teaching on Trinity. Papers based on both pagan and Christian sources are welcome.
Neoplatonism in Central Europe between the 15th and 17th century
Tomáš Nejeschleba <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The panel will focus on dissemination of Neoplatonic philosophy in the Central European region in the period between the 15th and 17th century. Papers will analyze traces of Neoplatonism in philosophical thought and the attempts of the restoration of Platonic philosophy as well in given period and region. Papers on Neoplatonism in the late scholasticism, the influence of Renaissance Platonism, Neoplatonism in Reformation and in the early modern philosophical systems are welcomed. The attention will be paid to both philosophy at Central European universities and to that of independent thinkers. The aim of the panel is to explore the specificity of the reception of Neoplatonism in the region and its independence or dependence on philosophy in Western and Southern Europe of the period.
Warring Philosophies behind Christological Controversies
Marcin Podbielski <email@example.com> and Anna Zhyrkova <firstname.lastname@example.org>
The standard historical approach to Christological controversies of early Christianity consists in emphasizing their theological element. They are shown through the Hegelian dialectical opposition of Nestorianism and Miaphysistism, usually presented as a long contentious debate between the stances of Antiochean and Alexandrian theological schools. In this theoretical framework, imposed onto a complex theological debate, the role of philosophical assumptions adopted by various theologians is usually overlooked. Usually, some attention is given only to identification of the philosophical origin of various concepts employed by the participants of those debates. The intention of the proponents of the panel is not to question the accuracy and cognitive value of the dialectical framework used to describe the Christological controversies, but rather to go beyond this framework by presenting analyses of philosophical arguments that were employed in order to clarify, or at least give an acceptable account of, the mystery of Christ’s incarnation. We will ask, therefore, why some theologians considered it appropriate to employ the Stoic views on the krasis that permeates the material world in order to explain the union of immaterial God with the human nature, what role played the Neoplatonic interpretation of Aristotelian theory of first and secondary substances in the account of the union proposed by some other theologians, and how a Gnostic principle of Medioplatonic origin was used in the explanation of this union but a prominent Christian figure. The question that we want to ask, alongside, is one that leads beyond the standard theoretical framework mentioned above. It is the question of whether, or at least to what extent, the Christological controversies can be explained by difference of philosophical stances assumed by theologians who proposed divergent Christologies and to what extent Christological controversies were also wars of different philosophical worldviews.
Neoplatonism in the Islamic World: Jewish, Christian and Muslim
Daniel Regnier <email@example.com>
This panel is devoted to Neoplatonism in the Islamic world (focusing on the period from the founding of the Ummayad Caliphate (661) to the end of the Safavid Dynasty (1736) in Persia and the geographical area governed by rulers who identified themselves as Muslim during this period, i.e. from Andalusia to Northern India). The panel is interested in all aspects of Neoplatonic thought in the work of philosophers of the Islamic world, including metaphysics, ethics, psychology, etc. The panel solicits papers on philosophers of the three ‚peoples of the book‘ working in the context of the Islamic world, i.e. Jews (e.g. Ibn Gabirol), Christians (e.g. Yahya Ibn Adi), and of course Muslims. In particular, we welcome papers on the reception of the Arabic Plotinus and the Arabic Proclus by thinkers of the Islamic world.
Women and the Female in Neoplatonism
Jana Schultz <Jana.Schultz@rub.de>
In studying Neoplatonism we are consistently confronted with questions regarding various conceptions of what it is to be female – be it in the context of the metaphysical principles structuring reality, in the context of theurgy and other religious practices, or with regard to women’s role in society and especially in the Neoplatonic schools. Considerations about women and the female are connected to different areas of Neoplatonic thought, including theology, metaphysics, psychology and ethics, and arise within the works of different Neoplatonic thinkers, including both pagan philosophers (e.g., Porphyrius, Iamblichus and Proclus) and Christian philosophers (e.g., Philoponus and Augustine).
This panel welcomes contributions focusing on all aspects of Neoplatonic theories of femaleness, including but not limited to themes such as female causes in Neoplatonic metaphysics; the interpretation of goddesses of the Greek mythological tradition or of female figures in biblical sources; femaleness on the level of soul; Neoplatonic positions concerning the sociopolitical role of women; women’s contribution to reproduction; the influence of earlier schools including the Peripatetics and the Stoics on Neoplatonic conceptions of femaleness; and the significance of female philosophers, e.g., Hypathia of Alexandria.
Self-constitution and self-knowledge in the Neoplatonic tradition
Marilena Vlad <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Self-constitution is a central idea in the Neoplatonic world-view. Yet, not all the Neoplatonists use it in the same manner, or at the same level of reality. For Plotinus, self-constitution was proper to the first principle, which could not have any other cause prior to it, and thus, could not be generated by anything else. Porphyry refers to the intellect as generating itself from the One. For Proclus, the One is beyond self-constitution, which would imply a certain duality, unacceptable for the principle of all things. Yet, self-constitution is a necessary feature in Proclus’ perspective, since without it, there would be no self-sufficiency in the realm of being (see for instance Elements of Theology, 40-51). Self-constitution – which is linked with self-knowledge, self-reversion, and self-causation – characterizes the level of the intellect and that of the soul. As self-constituted (αὐθυπόστατον), intellect generates its own manners of being, reflecting itself and determining itself as an intelligible world and as a real being. We welcome papers clarifying any aspect of the problem, such as: How does self-constitution work? How does self-knowledge work? How do self-constitution and self-knowledge connect with each other (and with any of the related notions)? Do they appear differently in the intellect and in the soul? How can we distinguish self-constitution from the manner in which the One constitutes all things? How do these issues evolve from Plotinus to Damascius and beyond?
Myth, Mystery, and Exegetical Practice in the Neoplatonic Tradition
José M. Zamora (Universidad Autónoma de Madrid) email@example.com
This panel explores the differences between Platonic and Neo-platonic uses of myth. Neoplatonists use Platonic and Classical myths in their discourses about divine nature, demons, divination, astronomy and astrology, the destiny of the soul, Hades, etc. But these texts express certain truths about the gods and the demons cryptically, through enigmas and symbols; myths are linked to mysteries. Thus, their interpretation raises problems and can not be carried out literally.
Possible areas of focus include the distinction between the apparent and the hidden sense, between truth and non-verifiable discourse, between philosophical myths and poetical myths, as well as the connection of mythical tales with psychology, mystery initiation, cosmology, aesthetic, allegory and theurgy, or the harmony between Plato and theologians.
The panel will explore the renewal of open admiration for Plato, one of the important features of philosophical learning during the scholarly Byzantine Renaissance after 1250. One of the consequences of this admiration was the reappearance of exploring some writings of the late antiquity Neoplatonists, who tried to deduce a coherent system of philosophical doctrines from Plato’s dialogues. The main emphasis will be given on the rehabilitation of Plato as an acceptable philosopher among Byzantine intellectuals, the ideas of Middle Platonism and Academic Skepticism that appear in the philosophy of late Byzantium, the dispute between the partisans of Plato and those of Aristotle, the influence of Byzantine Plato among Byzantine emigres in the West.