Workshop in Ancient Philosophy (TT 2023)

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


  • Week 1 (27 April): Ugo Zilioli (Oxford): 'On things. On the origin and genealogy of Pyrrho's metaphysics'. Chair: Alesia Preite
    • Abstract: This paper deals, once again, with the most troublesome, yet substantial source on Pyrrho, namely the Aristocles passage, to argue for a metaphysical reading of it. The proposed interpretation shows that Pyrrho held a radical metaphysical thesis about things, that is, that they are undifferentiated, unstable and indeterminate. It is also shown that Pyrrho’s radical views are not fully novel in ancient Greek philosophy, since a close parallelism between Pyrrho’s indeterminacy thesis and Protagoras’ Secret Doctrine (as this is illustrated in the Theaetetus) is drawn. This parallelism does not exclude the fact that Pyrrho’s views have also close analogies with similar doctrines held in early Buddhism (as recent studies have significantly shown). Instead of arguing for historical influence in way or another, I shall claim that in his encounter with Indian philosophy Pyrrho is likely to have been the actual witness of a similarity of views between Indian and Greek philosophy. These views are likely to have been first developed autonomously one from the other, to find later a common philosophical ground of interaction thanks to Pyrrho.
  • Week 4 (18 May): Rachana Kamtekar (Cornell): tbc
  • Week 5 (25 May): Demosthenes Patramanis (Oxford):'Theaetetus 202d-206c: Does Socrates Employ a Bad Argument?'. Chair: Andrea Buongiorno
    • Abstract: At Theaetetus 201d-202c, Socrates shares his famous Dream – a theory that aims to explain the definition ‘Knowledge is True Belief accompanied by Logos’ and claims that knowable compounds are made up of unknowable elements. The passage that follows (202d-206c) is often referred to as the Dream’s Refutation, where Socrates argues against the claim that elements cannot be known, and employs a Theoretical Argument and an Argument from ExperiencThere is broad consensus amongst scholars that the Theoretical Argument is faulty because it assumes a wrong mereological premise: either a whole is equal to the sum of its (elementary) parts, or it is itself an element. The option that a whole may be a unified sum of its parts but not equal to them is not considered. Some scholars further claim that the Argument from Experience assumes the same faulty premise. I support the view that the Theoretical Argument is not faulty; it is an ad hominem attack against the Dream, which allows only for the two mentioned options. Further, I claim that the Argument from Experience introduces the missing component that would allow for the third option: it mentions an element's position (thesis), thus introducing structure to the compound. Under this reading, we can understand 202d-206c as an Amendment of the Dream, not a Refutation, and this solves some unanswered questions in secondary literature.  
  • Week 6 (1 June): Takashi Oki (Oxford): 'Aristotle on the infinite'