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Indian Tibetan and Platonist Philosophy

Sara Ahbel-Rappe <>

Papers invited on topics that bring together Indian philosophy and Platonism or Neoplatonism in a comparative, contrastive, or dialogic way.  Some examples of this work being explored at present are e.g. the logic of Nagarjuna’s Catuṣkoṭi in comparison to the Parmenidean hypotheses, eudaimonism and altruism in Plato’s Republic and Śantideva’s Bodhicaryavatara, Plotinus’ criticisms of essentialism and anti-essentialism in Buddhist epistemology, concentrative absorption in Indian Buddhist and Platonist texts, etc.

The possibilities are endless.

Please submit abstracts of no more than 600 words, with an additional brief bibliography, that treat any form of Indian philosophy, including but not limited to Buddhism, Trantrism, Advaita, forms of Bhakti, etc. in relationship to Platonist works. It is also possible to work on texts that no longer survive in Sanskrit, for example, but only exist in Tibetan or Chinese translation.

Platonisms of Late Antiquity: Philosophical and Religious Interactions

Dylan Burns ( and Luciana Soares Santoprete (

The working group “The Platonisms of Late Antiquity” solicits papers dealing with the interaction between Neoplatonism and Middle Platonism with Gnosticism, Hermetism, and Chaldean Oracles. For the 2023 Catania meeting, we are particularly interested in abstracts dealing with first principles, specifically with regards to questions of gender. What kind of first principles are proposed in Gnostic, Hermetic, and Neoplatonic works and what sort of models of causation, creation, and divine care do they explore? What is the significance of the various sorts of gendering of first principles in this literature, especially the denotation of feminine and androgyne principles? Papers could take up feminine or androgyne principles such as the Barbelo, Sophia, or Hecate, the masculine and female deities of Athenian Neoplatonism, as well as the relationship between masculinity, triplicity, and dunamis and perfection in the “Platonizing” Sethian corpus.  Another aspect we would like to explore in particular concerns the role of light among first principles.

Paper proposals should be emailed to Dylan Burns ( and Luciana Soares Santoprete ( 

Neoplatonic Aesthetics

Jean-Michel Charrue (

What is Aesthetics? Is there a Neoplatonic Aesthetics? If there is one, it will be the great Aesthetics that goes from Plotinus to Marsilio Ficino, through history. But are there one or more Neoplatonic Aesthetics?

Neoplatonism is rich in different contributions from its authors, such as Porphyry, Proclus, etc. and beyond, from its various sources, so that it may be interesting to confront the richness of everyone’s views.

Topics that one may consider might include but are not limited to:

-If Aesthetics is the science of Beauty according to their own theory, is there an Aesthetics of the sensible, spiritual, or divine world? Can we speak about one Neoplatonic Aesthetics expressed in the various Neoplatonists (such as Plotinus, Porphyry, Proclus, Ps-Dionysius, Boethius, Ficino).

-Is Beauty more in the things and beings or more in our souls?

-How can we link Music and Poetics to that Neoplatonic Aesthetics?

-May a theory of Neoplatonic aesthetics be found among their doctrine on the faculty for perceiving, understanding, judging?  Is that along the right lines?

Neoplatonic Commentators on Aristotle

Silvia Fazzo ( and Marco Ghione (

More than any other philosophical current of the Imperial period, Aristotelianism operated as a commentary tradition. Based on the texts of the Master – on their precise wording and terminology – Aristotelian philosophy found in the commentary format not only a means of transmission, but also a preferred tool for the development of doctrine. As a system, it evolved in internal consistency: the basic aim was, on the one hand, systematic coherence and didactical proficiency; on the other, fuller responsiveness to the various issues that emerged in the long span of time between Aristotle and the last traces of an Aristotelian school.

From the third through seventh centuries CE, Greek Neoplatonist commentators on Aristotle – e.g. Porphyry, Themistius, Syrianus, Ammonius, Asclepius, Philoponus, Simplicius – performed innovative exegesis of Aristotle’s works and this became their own way of making philosophy. Two main elements allowed the necessary context for this intellectual entreprise: first, the successful editorial work on the Aristotle’s texts accomplished by the peripatetic school of Aphrodisia in the beginning of third century CE; second, the very content of Aristotelian treatises, dedicated to specific areas of knowledge, but supported by a common theoretical and systematic framework. This rich tradition includes most of Aristotle’s commentators, most of which were largely interconnected to each other. The way they were so still deserves to be explored in relation to case studies and to be framed in more general reconstructions.

The panel “Neoplatonic commentators of Aristotle” invites papers on any topic that relates the exegetical activity of Aristotle’s neoplatonic interprets, according to a range of different research perspectives, philosophical, historical-doxographical and philological, even in mutual relationship.

Soul, Intellect, and Afterlife

John F. Finamore <>, Ilaria Ramelli <>, and Svetla Slaveva-Griffin <>

Plato described the nature and function of the human soul in his dialogues.  Later Platonists adopted and adapted his doctrines.  This panel explores the ways that Platonists conceived the human soul as an Intelligible being housed in an earthly body, how they articulated the means of its salvation, and the manner in which they imagined its afterlife once freed from the body.  Possible topics include (but are not limited to) the relationship between soul and body, the ascent ritual and salvation of the soul, the soul’s union with Intellect, and the function of intermediary divinities in the soul’s salvation.

The concept of Time in the Neoplatonic Reception of Plato’s Timaeus

Laura Follesa <> and Laura Marongiu  <>

Abstract: The notion of time has been always prominent in the history of thought and played a crucial role in the works of many philosophers, from Plato and across the whole history of Neoplatonic tradition up to recent times. Nevertheless, its definition remains controversial and has been the subject of lively discussions and critiques among philosophers belonging to different traditions of thought. The relation between time and eternity, the notion of “atemporality”, the origins of time, the question about infiniteness and everlasting duration, the physical time or its understanding from a psychological perspective, its relation with space, its connection with motion, its role in the theories about the origins of the world, the link between time and the heavens: all these topics, as emerging from different interpretations of Plato’s Timaeus, cross the history of philosophy involving major and minor authors in different époques, from ancient times up to nowadays. We invite scholars to contribute with a paper focusing on the concept of time and the origins of the universe in the work of ancient and modern interpreters of Plato’s Timaeus, including but not limited to, Plutarch, Philo of Alexandria, Origen, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Augustine, Proclus, Damascius, Simplicius, Ficino, Nicholas of Cusa, Bruno, More, Cudworth, Conway, Leibniz, Schelling, Hegel, Taylor, Bergson.

Physics in Neoplatonism

Giovanna R. Giardina <>

Physics problems in Neoplatonism concern many texts: not only the commentaries on Aristotle and Plato, but also texts in which they are an important part of the theory either as a term of comparison (e.g. with Metaphysics) or as a cross-cutting objective, just as it is in some mathematical writings. Moreover, one of the Neoplatonic concepts that certainly deserves further exploration is that of Nature. Indeed, despite the fact that Neoplatonism is not commonly recognised as having a true autonomy in the field of Physics, which Neoplatonic philosophers would essentially derive from the Timaeus and the writings of Aristotle, it is relevant to investigate the question according to which Nature is the action exerted by the Soul of the world, whereby it happens that the sensible cosmos is a processive extension of the Plotinian third hypostasis, which is however a fully metaphysical reality.

This panel therefore promotes proposals on all physics issues from Neoplatonic texts, not only on various general physics concepts (matter, elements, nature, change, place, void, time, continuity, infinity, etc.), but also on particular physics issues, e.g. biological problems, and on Neoplatonic interpretation of Presocratics’ physical theories, especially in comparison with Plato or Aristotle.

Romanticism and the Platonic Tradition 

Douglas Hedley <> and Mateusz Stróżyński <>

Romanticism has been seen as both the reaction to and the child of the Enlightenment. The Romantic claims to originality and novelty as well as the embrace of the idea of progress and revolution almost inevitably tempt us to see the origins of this movement in terms of disruption rather than continual tradition. Charles Taylor, for example, seems to focus on those disruptive aspects in his famous analysis of the “expressivism” in his Sources of the Self (1989). However, the longing for the idealized past, be it the ancient Pagan Greece or the mediaeval Europe, is a well-recognized feature of Romanticism as well. In this panel, we would like to explore in particular the ways in which Romanticism entered into a dialogue with Platonism and the Platonic tradition. After all, it was the time when the, then pejorative, term “Neoplatonism” was coined and when the significant, new ways of reading Plato and Plotinus emerged.

The exegesis of poetic texts in the Platonic tradition: from Homer to the Song of Songs

Daniele Iozzia <>

In Plato’s dialogues the words of epic and lyric poets are often discussed and interpreted. In the later Platonic tradition, the texts of the ancient poets are revered as they express the wisdom of the past. However they often present the philosophers with the problem of how to interpret them, as they contain a vision of the divine that is not acceptable from a Platonic point of view. This challenge becomes an opportunity for some inventive solutions and for an exegetical approach that gives precedence to philosophical concepts. The poetic texts are therefore believed to be concealing a higher meaning, in an approach which, starting with Philo of Alexandria, is also adopted for the exegesis of Biblical texts. Plotinus references Homer in order to enhance the paraenetic appeal of his philosophy, Porphyry elaborates a distinguished theory of interpreting obscure passages of the epic poems in an allegorical way, Origen and Gregory of Nyssa adapt the erotic verses of the Song of Songs to the relationship between the soul and the divine realm and the Ps. Dionysus builds on Proclus’ literary theory.

This panel invites papers focused on the study of the way thinkers and writers within the Platonic tradition, pagan and Christian, have tackled earlier poetic texts, and on the exegetical methods that they developed.

Theandrites: Byzantine Philosophy and Christian Platonism (284-1453)

Frederick Lauritzen <> and Sarah Wear <>

This panel focuses on the reception of Platonism in the Christian philosophy of the Byzantine era (4th-15th centuries), an era marking the creation of a unique dialogue between Hellenic Platonism and the theology of the Church Fathers and Byzantine Christians.  The panel is open to all issues relating to Byzantine Platonism.  This includes: Christians in the Greek-speaking East and their relationship to the Latin tradition in the West, as well as the Christian Platonism found in contemporary church fathers, the Greek-speaking Christians in late antique Gaza, Athens, and Alexandria; the philosophical theology of Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus, and John Damascene; the later reception of Platonic theories on the soul, time, and eternity, and metaphysics, as well as ritual among Greek Christians and Hellenes.  We welcome papers that trace Platonic ideas, terminology, and methodology as they move throughout the Eastern Roman Empire and the Byzantine Orthodox world.

Plato Mousikos:  The Philosophical Significance of μουσική in Plato and the Platonic tradition

Tosca A.C. Lynch <> and François Renaud <>

The Greek concept of μουσική—the art of the Muses—did not denote only ‘music’ in the modern sense of the word, but embraced also many other aspects of Greek culture, including poetry, drama, and dance. Hence μουσική was the bedrock of traditional Greek culture and education, and the source of key cultural values.
But what role does it play in Plato’s works and in the Platonic tradition?

This panel will call into question a long-lasting, but ill-founded, scholarly approach that characterises Plato’s attitude to art/mimēsis in wholly negative terms. In contrast, we will show that Plato regarded μουσική as the foundation of education as a whole, including general education (Resp. 3.386a–403d; Leg. 2.672e) as well as the advanced intellectual education designed for the ideal philosopher-rulers (Resp. 7; Phaedo 61; Pheadrus 248d). This panel will also show that μουσική plays a central role in Plato’s own prose and philosophical projects, ranging from ethics and education to psychology, politics, mathematics and cosmology.

Building upon a wealth of ancient sources, we will explore a range of questions including, but not limited to the following. How does Plato exploit the psychagogic and educational effects of different kinds of music and dance, and what are his models? In what sense does Plato’s Socrates defend the priority of words, sung and spoken, over melodic modulations that went beyond the limits of traditional Greek harmonics? More broadly, does the protreptic function of Socratic dialectic, and of Plato’s dialogues, depend upon the ‘musicality’ of his writings?

Neoplatonism in late-modern and contemporary thought

Bruce MacLennan <> and Aron Reppmann <>

The influence and fruitfulness of Neoplatonic philosophy did not end with late antiquity; it has continued to be a source of insight and inspiration for philosophers, theologians, psychologists, artists, and other cultural contributors throughout history. This panel is devoted to exploring the role of Neoplatonic authors and ideas in the constructive (not merely historical) work of late-modern and contemporary thinkers. In what ways have identifiably Neoplatonic authors, concepts, or images been crucial to new movements of thought in the nineteenth, twentieth, and twenty-first centuries? In what ways have those newer movements appropriated and transformed the elements of Neoplatonic heritage that they have taken up? We invite papers that focus on any area of late-modern or contemporary cultural endeavor, but expect that the connection to Neoplatonism be traced in a specific way to particular texts from antiquity.

Divine Presence in Neoplatonism: Theories, Practices, Contexts

Ilinca Tanaseanu-Döbler <> and Benedetto Neola <>

In Neoplatonic thought, the possibility and modalities of divine presence constitute a crucial philosophical topos which links the domains of metaphysics and ritual. ‘Presence’ (parousia, pareinai) is a recurrent concept in reflections about the relationship of higher levels of reality with lower ones. Neoplatonists theorise about the ‘presence’ of incorporeal hypostases in the corporeal realm, distinguishing it from spatial correlation or mixing. Whether and how gods can be said to have been allotted particular cosmic regions is a topic discussed in philosophical commentaries as well as in the context of theories of ritual. From Porphyry to Proclus, practices claiming to achieve direct access to the divine in physical settings constitute a focus of reflection and controversy, and conceptions of ‘separated’ divine presence are used to integrate ritual into the philosophical sphere.

The panel proposes to explore the whole gamut of this discourse and the interconnections between its metaphysical and ritual aspects. We invite papers on concepts and theories of divine presence, e.g. on the use of parousia / pareinai and its relationship with related concepts such as participation, the imagery of presence, or the relationship of soul or souls with the cosmic realm and the sphere of human life, as well as explorations of rituals involving divine presence and of their metaphysical underpinnings. Last but not least, the intersections and interactions between Neoplatonism and Christian discourse will receive special attention.

Julian the Imperial Theurgist

Jeremy Swist <>

            The life and works of the Roman emperor Julian (r. 361-363) have offered scholars a fascinating case in which Neoplatonic theory, backed by imperial political power, was attempted to be put into practice. Converted to philosophical paganism by members of Iamblichus’ school, and trained in the rhetoric of Greek paideia, Julian produced a diversity of literary works advertising an idiosyncratic approach to Roman religion, political philosophy, and imperial ideology. An important element Julian inherits from Iamblichean Neoplatonism is the “priestly art” of theurgy, the ritual practices necessary to not only elevate the soul to the gods, but also share in the gods’ demiurgic activity for the benefit of the cosmos. The aim of this panel is to examine the role of theurgy in the emperor’s thought and action. Key questions include the following: how does Julian’s conception of theurgy stand in relation to that of Iamblichus and other Neoplatonists? In what ways is theurgy integral to Julian’s imperial program of “pagan revival”? Can theurgy be a hermeneutic for Julian’s interpretation and invention of mythical allegories? How does Julian’s wish for “perfection in theurgy” relate to his identity as a Roman emperor?

World Structure and Hierarchy 

Marilena Vlad <>

Neoplatonic thinkers – particularly Proclus and Damascius – are fascinated by the structure of the world and by the way reality unfolds in subsequent layers, starting from the first principle. This perspective is both challenged and completed once the Dionysian corpus comes to light. Pseudo-Dionysius brings in the concept that will henceforth describe any ordered structure: namely hierarchy. This new concept of order preserves the idea of a downward structure of subordinated layers. Yet, hierarchia is more than that, because it is an active order, defined as an activity and science of becoming similar to and unifying with the divine principle. It does not simply indicate the reality developing from its principle, but also the reality in its way towards the principle, determining itself while imitating, expressing and symbolizing the divine source of everything.

This panel welcomes papers that discuss one of these two perspectives on order – the traditionally Neoplatonic and the Dionysian one. Papers may tackle questions such as: Why and how did Neoplatonists picture reality as a layered structure? How does the interpretation of the structure of the world change within the Neoplatonic tradition itself? Does hierarchia match the traditional Neoplatonic view of reality as an ordered structure, or is it a radically different understanding of order? How does hierarchy function? How did the concept of hierarchia disseminate in the Byzantine theological tradition, in authors like Maximus the Confessor, John of Damascus, Theodore the Studite, and Niketas Stethatos?

Puzzles and paradoxes in the Platonic Tradition

Maxwell Wade <>, Brenton Smith <>, Daniel  Maryanovich <>, Marina Marren ( ), Kevin Marren (, Gary Gurtler, SJ <>

The organizers have several proposals, without broad thematic unity. They all involve aspects of the Platonic tradition that reveal the paradoxical nature of philosophy or puzzles that might not be solved but need to be addressed. By puzzles, we mean aspects of a philosopher’s work that may be in conflict, especially within a particular work, or over the corpus. We also mean later interpretations, however ancient, that seem at odds with the original text. By paradox, we include seemingly contradictory or conflicting elements that nonetheless are necessary parts of a philosopher’s view. We have identified a few puzzles, but welcome others. Religion is one area of puzzle. In Platonic philosophers, there is a tension between myth and ritual on the one hand and philosophical reflection on the other. Modern and contemporary scholars added to the puzzlement or paradox by excluding sympathetic readings of religion, with current efforts to retrieve this dimension. Causality likewise raises enduring paradoxes in the writings of key philosophers throughout the Platonic tradition. These paradoxes have puzzled interpreters over the centuries and continue to present significant problems for interpreters today. The panel pursues a conceptual trajectory of the philosophical-historical question of the relationship between mystery and causality, seeking to trace out the mutual belonging of the two, of the mysterious or paradoxical and the causal orders of the world. The organizers look forward to other areas that bring this mutual belonging to other philosophical issues.