Workshop in Ancient Philosophy (MT 2023)

For up-to-date information, see the invited speakers page.


  • Week 1 (12 October): Bridget Brasher (MIT): ''How Can Aristotle Prove Nonexistence? An Analysis of Physics IV 6-9'. Chair: Teddy Jennings
    • Abstract: I examine Aristotle’s inquiry on void in Physics IV 6-9 and find that Aristotle has a considered method for proving nonexistence claims. I find that this method for proving nonexistence is a counterpart of the method for proving existence that Aristotle outlines in An. Post. II 1-2. By analyzing the application of this counterpart method in Physics IV 6-9, I find that both (i) Aristotle has certain considered grounds for saying what a nonexistent thing like void is or would be in order to prove that such a thing does not exist, and (ii) Aristotle can demonstrate the nonexistence of something using his own logic without violating the e xistence entailments of that logic.

  • Week 2 (19 October): Daniel Ferguson (KCL): 'Plato’s Civic Tripartition and Its Psychological Implications.' Chair: Paolo Fait
    • Abstract: It is key to Plato’s account of justice in Republic IV that the city and soul have three elements of a similar character.  But the grounds for this isomorphism are unclear.  Regarding the city’s tripartition, it is unclear why Plato favors his particular tripartition over the many other possible ways he could divide the city.  In the case of the soul’s tripartition, he does at least provide an argument.  But this argument parochially focuses on conative attitudes and impulses, neglecting other psychological phenomena (e.g. perception, memory, growth and reproduction).  And later, in Republic X, Plato presents an alternative, bipartite soul division.  This again raises the question of why he favors his earlier tripartition in the city-soul analogy.

      I aim to resolve these issues.  I argue that in Republic IV Plato divides the city and the soul from a particular “point of view”: their elements emerge from considering both as bearers of cardinal virtue and vice.  This explains Plato’s favoritism for his civic tripartition and his exclusive focus on conative attitudes and impulses when dividing the soul.  Dividing in this manner, however, does not preclude him from hitting upon alternative divisions from different points of view.  This, I contend, accounts for his alternative soul division in Republic X.

  • [CANCELLED] Week 4 (2 November): Francesco Ademollo (Florence): 'A Fresh Look at Aristotle, De interpretatione 9'. Chair: Alexander Bown
    • Please note this workshop has been cancelled
  • [CANCELLED] Week 8 (30 November): Barnaby Taylor (Oxford): TBC. Chair: Simon Shogry
    • Please note this workshop has been cancelled