The mission of the International Society for Neoplatonic Studies is to promote the study of the philosophy of Plato and its long tradition from all perspectives. Since its formation in 1973 the ISNS has grown in both size and influence, with members now in Europe, Australia, Asia, and the Americas. Its work is broadly focused on Plato's writings and their interpretation by his student Aristotle through to their continuing influence in the 21st century. This includes philosophical, historical, and literary perspectives on this tradition as well as Pagan, Christian, Jewish, Islamic and other religious interpretations. The Society organizes annual conferences in the summer, and supports national and international conferences and various panels throughout the year.
The Seventh Annual ISNS Conference, Krakow, Poland, 18-21 June 2009. Call for abstracts.
If you wish to submit an abstract (one-page maximum) for any of the panels, please send your abstract directly to the organizer(s) of the panel. We also welcome individual abstracts for papers that do not fall under any of the panels listed on the first attachment. Please send your abstract (again, one-page maximum) to the three conference organizers :
Marcin Podbielski (email@example.com)
Anna Zhyrkova (firstname.lastname@example.org)
John Finamore (email@example.com)
All abstracts, whether individual or for inclusion in the panels, are due by 23 February, 2009.
We will be awarding a $ 750 travel grant to the authors of three particularly good abstracts that have been properly submitted for the June 2009 ISNS Conference in Krakow.
For more information, see ISNS website.
Panels proposed :
1/ Luc Brisson (firstname.lastname@example.org) :
L'âme humaine : ses facultés chez Plotin (Human Soul : its faculties in Plotinus).
2/ Jean-Michel Charrue (email@example.com) :
Platonism : Freedom, Providence and Fate.
This panel will cover the relationships between freedom, providence and Fate in Neoplatonism Differences and similarities between fate or providence in Platonism and others schools, such as Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and Peripateticism.
The roles of divination and foreknowledge in Platonic philosophy.
Platonic theology of divine providence.
Treatment of human freedom in any particular Platonist.
Platonic fatalism or determinism and responses thereto.
The roles of the gods and daemons in Platonic fate and providence.
The panel will concern the entire Platonic tradition about Freedom, Providence, and Fate, including Middle Platonism (which contains multiple points of view and a rich tradition of studies), various Platonic dialogues such as the Laws, Timaeus, etc., and the confrontation between or agreement among schools such as Stoïcism, Gnosticism, Hermeticism, and Peripateticism.
Divination and foreknowledge are present in Platonic philosophy, even if their place must be evaluated in each author. There is also the Platonic theology of divine providence. Nonetheless human freedom subsists, in spite of Platonic fatalism or determinism. Thus, panelists may whish to address this fatalism or determinism. It is possible also to consider the role of gods and daemons in Platonic fate and Providence.
3/ John Finamore (firstname.lastname@example.org) :
Platonic and Other Psychologies.
This panel will explore the make-up, function, and essential nature of soul in Pre-Platonic, Platonic, and Post-Platonic philosophy. Possible areas of focus include the soul's nature, composition, simplicity/complexity, interaction with the body, and immortality.
4/ Leonard George (email@example.com) :
Ecstatic Experience in the Platonic Tradition.
"The greatest of blessings come to us through madness, when it is sent as a gift of the gods" (Phaedrus 244A). Plato's discussion of mania opened the door to a role for ecstatic experience in the Platonic quest for wisdom. Late Antiquity saw a rising emphasis on ecstatic experience, reflected in aspects of the "Platonic underworld" of Hermetism, Gnosticism, Magic and Theurgy. And in Ficino's Florence, mania was central to the praxis of the Platonic world view in Natural Magic. I invite papers on ecstatic experience within a broadly Platonic framework from a variety of angles, which might include : interpretations of Platonic mania ; ritual and contemplative inductions of ecstatic experience ; ancient terminologies for altered states of conciousness ; Neoplatonic epiphanies ; philosophical vision and ecstatic vision ; the fate and legacy of the 'shamanism' concept in classical studies ; initiatic and oracular experience in Platonism ; modern psychological perspectives on ancient ecstatic experience.
5/ Gary Gurtler (firstname.lastname@example.org) :
Plato's Use of Paradox and Parable.
A look at the unusual ways Plato constructs his philosophy, including myths and stories, but also the adaptation of methods from the plastic arts such as painting.
6/ Jolanta Jaskolowska (email@example.com) :
Aristotle's Poetics : Its Meaning and Reception in Antique, Neoplatonic and Medieval Thought.
Papers for the panel should focus on the epistemology or logic of poetic understanding, interpreted from the perspectives of its composition in Antiquity or in terms of its interpretation by the Neo-Platonic and Alexandrian Schools and its reception during the medieval period by Byzantine, Arabic or Latin thinkers. Examples of paper topics would include : analysis of the text in terms of Aristotle's work as a whole, the meaning of poiesis for Aristotle and/or its influence (and contrast with) the understanding of poiesis in Neo-Platonic and Arabic thought ; the logic of imaginative understanding as developed in Arabic thought on the basis of the poetics, etc.
7/ Deepa Majumdar (firstname.lastname@example.org) :
Mysticism, Metaphysics and Religion : The Experience of Neoplatonism.
The mystical experience is often supported by a metaphysical and religious scaffolding that provides technologies of ascent and philosophical acuity. Thus mysticism is intertwined with philosophy and religion, but in ways that can be complex and questionable. Should its degree of philosophical clarity determine the credibility of the mystical experience ? To the extent that it "explains" mysticism and religion, is philosophy the highest of the three ? Should philosophy limit itself to the discursive boundaries of "philosophical mysticism", avoiding the extremes of " the positivist-like rejections of such [mystical] experience as 'nonsense'" on the one hand, and "the position which rejects logic, criteria, and analysis on the dubious grounds that they are out of place in the discussion of mysticism", on the other ? (Mysticism and Philosophical Analysis, ed. S. T. Katz, New York : Oxford University Press, 1978). In this panel, we welcome any papers that explore the relationship between mysticism, religion and philosophy in Neoplatonism.
8/ Ben Schomakers (email@example.com) and Ernst - Otto Onnasch (firstname.lastname@example.org) :
Proclus' Elements of Theology in focus.
Recent years have seen a surge of philosophical interest in Proclus but not so much in the Elements of Theology, arguably Proclus' most influential and at any rate a philosophically pivotal work. We are therefore proposing a panel dedicated to this neglected work, which will coincide with the imminent publication of our new German translation. We plan also an accompagnying volume with interpretations. The session might serve as a first collection and inventory of contributions.
Possible themes are abundant.
1. its literary character (what are its pretensions and method, what is stoicheioosis, what is its position in the corpus of Proclus ?)
2. its philosophical content, which has
a. metaphisical aspects (causation, immanence/presence, the self-constituted, henads, the intellect, participation) ;
b. religious aspects (relation metaphysics and theology) ;
c. anthropological aspects (relevance of this metaphysics for human life) ;
3. its historical and historical-systematical position (froms its predecessors Plotinus and Porphyry to the 18th reception with Hegel and Creuzer).
The full text of our session description is retrievable both at the conference website and at www.onnasch.eu/proklos.htm
9/ Svetla Slaveva-Griffin (email@example.com) :
Medicine and Philosophy.
Medicine and Philosophy have been in constant dialogue from the Presocratics and Hippocrates to Nemesius of Emessa and the medical school at Salerno. In this long period, many philosophical schools used medicine to clarify or support their philosophical principles, while medicine used the help of philosophy to identify itself as a discipline, especially in the written medical literature as represented in some of the Hippocratic treatises. This panel invites papers which will explore the relationship between medicine and philosophy in Antiquity. Topics concerning the influence of medicine on Neoplatonic writers or the development of the genre of 'medical philosophical treatises" in Late Antiquity are particularly welcome.
10/ Suzanne Stern - Gillet (firstname.lastname@example.org) and Oiva Kuisma (email@example.com) :
Post-Platonic Poetics and Myth.
Plato's criticism of poetry and his reluctance to rely on allegorical and otherwise symbolic interpretations of myth presented problems for later Platonists. From Plotinus onwards, Neoplatonic philosophers evolved various strategies to explain - or to by pass - Plato's objections. So doing they hoped to be able to give poetry and myth a privileged place in their systems. This panel will explore how later Platonists reinterpreted Plato's stance against poetry and allegory. We particularly welcome papers on Plotinus, Proclus, and Hermias, as well as on the lesser known aspects of Platonic and Neoplatonic attitudes to allegorical interpretations.
11/ Michael F. Wagner (firstname.lastname@example.org) :
Moral and Aesthetic Value in the Platonic Tradition.
In the Platonic tradition 'good' and 'beauty' are entwined (at times, almost indistinguishable) concepts. Plotinus, for instance, even characterizes an individual soul's moral development or 'purification' as a sort of self-sculpturing. This panel invites papers addressing Platonic (including of course Neoplatonic) approaches to such normative topics as goodness, virtue, right action, art, beauty, purification, volition, and the like.
12/ Anna Zhyrkova (email@example.com) :
Patristic Re-interpretation of the Classical Ontological and Logical Notions.
As the Greek and Latin traditions sought an adequate expression and explanation for the content of the Christian theology, a process of transformation of classical philosophical notions took place over time. I invite papers analyzing the ways in which these notions were transformed, the reasons for the transformation and the consequences for philosophical discourse. Of particular interest is the comparison between the patristic notions and the notions that were in use in the Platonic tradition.