Life and Mind. Aristotelian themes in contemporary philosophy

giovedì, 5 Settembre, 2019

Conference organized by Pia Campeggiani and Denis Walsh, 2018-19 Paris IAS fellows, with support from the University of Toronto.

Aristotle’s views on the nature of life and mind, and the relation between them, are taking on a renewed significance in contemporary philosophy. Increasingly, Aristotelian themes arise in a number of different fields, such as philosophy of mind and philosophical psychology, metaethics, and philosophy of biology. Central issues include whether Aristotle’s conception of human nature can usefully form the ground of a naturalized ethics, whether current discussions of the continuity between life and mind can benefit from Aristotle’s own version of the continuity thesis, whether evolutionary biology could benefit from a theory of the organism of the sort that Aristotle’s biological works offer.

Despite the interest in exploring Aristotelian themes in contemporary philosophy, there has been no coordinated attempt to survey or integrate the ways in which Aristotle’s approach to understanding life, mind, and the relation between them might inform and enrich our own. The objective of this workshop is to explore the way in which Aristotelian thought can brought to bear on contemporary research on the much-debated issue of the so-called mind-body problem and on its implications for the conceptualization of notions such as those of organism, animal and human perception and action, human moral agency, and the relation between mind and life. Such themes are of crucial importance for philosophical research and beyond.

Scholars working in ancient philosophy are paired with researchers in psychology and/or contemporary philosophy of biology. Each pair will discuss a common theme with a dual focus on the potential of Aristotle’s philosophy to contribute to the contemporary debate, on one side, and on the actual impact of such contributions for contemporary research, on the other. The workshop constitutes an explicit attempt to bridge the gap between classics and contemporary biological and psychological theory and, as such, it features an exploratory research design.





5 September

11:00 – welcome.

11:30-13:00 – Session 1: Keynote Address

James Lennox (Pittsburgh): Organisms, Agency and Aristotle

13:00-14:15 – lunch break.

14:15-15:45 – Session 2: Thinking, Sensing, Remembering

Sophia Connell (Birkbeck, London): Aristotle on Animal Cognition.

Véronique Decaix (Paris 1): What are memory traces? Aristotle De memoria under the lenses of contemporary philosophy

15:45 – 16:15 – coffee break.

16:15-17:45 – Session 3: neo-Aristotelian Metaethics

Denis Walsh (Toronto): Human Nature: the neo-Aristotelian evolutionary perspective

Pia Campeggiani (Bologna): ‘An unbroken series of successful gestures’: affective habituation and social affordances in Aristotle’s ethics.


6 September

9:30-11:00 – Session 4: Keynote Address

Victor Caston (Michigan): Aristotle on the Unity of Psychology

11:00-11:30 – coffee break.

11:30-13:00 – Session 5: The Theory of Organisms

Anna Marmodoro (Durham) and Christopher Austin (Oxford): Power Structuralism: An Ontology of Organisms.

Laura Nuño de la Rosa (Complutense, Madrid): From the Method of Division to the Theory of Transformations: Thompson after Aristotle, and Aristotle after Thompson

13:00-14:15 – lunch.

14:15-15:45 – Session 6: Life, Mind, Continuity

Klaus Corcilius (Tübingen): Talk of the Psychic and Talk of the Mental

Michael Wheeler (Stirling): Embodied Cognition and the Deep Continuity of Life and Mind: an Aristotelian Interrogation

15:45-16:15 – coffee break.

16:15-17:00 – closing remarks and general discussion.


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