List of Panels for the Cagliari Conference June, 20-24, 2012

1.      Vishwa Adluri (, Philosophy and Salvation in Greek Religion

This panel explores the tradition of soteriology in Greek philosophy. It especially welcomes papers on how Neoplatonic beliefs about the soul, its purification and ascent through philosophy are already prefigured not only in Plato and Aristotle, but in the archaic poets as well (including Homer, Hesiod, the Homeric Hymns, etc.). In what way do Neoplatonic thinkers represent a continuation of Pythagorean and Parmenidean philosophy? How do they conceive of the relationship between the soul and the body? How does philosophy relate to the task of purifying the soul? How does the soul ascend through philosophy, both in the form of knowledge and practical techniques? Possible areas of focus include the relationship of mortals and gods in Homer, Hesiod, and the tragic poets, Platonic and Aristotelian theology, and the notion of the soul’s ascent in Plotinus, Porphyry, and Iamblichus.

This panel is interested in looking more closely at the way salvific ideals inform Greek religion and philosophy.

Panel papers will be circulated beforehand. Each panelist will present a brief overview of their work (about 15 mins. each) allowing for a general discussion with audience questions.

2.     Robert Berchman (, Philosophy of Mind: Thinking on Thinking

Papers are invited on Intellect. Issues addressed include:

  1. The simplicity of Intellect (Nous);
  2. The relation of Intellect to Consciousness and Self-Consciousness;
  3. The relation of Intellect to the causal structure of reality.


3.      Luc Brisson ( and Francesco Fronterotta (, La conception du principe premier chez Plotin et dans le Néoplatonisme

La conception plotinienne et néoplatonicienne du principe premier n’a pas reçu, ces dernières années, une attention comparable à celle consacrée par exemple à la théorie de la connaissance et de la sensation, à la doctrine de l’âme, à la question de l’origine du mal, et, plus généralement, à l’archéologie du système ontologique et cosmologique néoplatonicien, et à son articulation chez les différents philosophes et doctrines de cette tradition intellectuelle. L’absence d’un discours rationnel direct sur la première hypostase est probablement l’une des raisons de cette carence: comme on le sait, Plotin explique à plusieurs reprises que l’Un n’est objet ni de pensée ni de discours, car il se situe au-delà de la pensée et du discours, de telle sorte que «l’Un est réellement ineffable, car quoi que l’on dise, on dira toujours quelque chose. Mais dire de lui qu’il est au-delà de toutes choses et au-delà de l’Intellect qui est le plus vénérable, c’est de tous les propos le seul qui soit vrai, parce que ce n’est pas là son nom mais une manière de dire qu’il n’est pas une chose parmi toutes, et qu’il n’a pas de nom dès lors que rien ne peut être dit qui lui convienne; nous nous efforçons ainsi de nous signifier les uns aux autres quelque chose de lui, dans la mesure du possible» (49 [V 3], 13, 1-5).

Ce panel se propose de répondre à un certain nombre de questions concernant le poion (en relation avec l’hoion) du principe premier: ce principe est-il “bon”, “un”, “cause”, “principe”, et en quel sens ? Exerce-t-il une libre volonté, possède-t-il la pensée, est-il un objet de désir, et dans quelles limites ? Chacune de ces notions pourra être examinée dans le cadre des traités plotiniens, et éventuellement de leurs sources, ou dans le cours de la tradition néoplatonicienne postérieure.

Dans son Commentaire sur le Parménide, Proclus retrace l’histoire de l’interprétation de la première hypothèse de la seconde partie du Parménide de Platon qui mène à ces conclusions sur l’Un qui, chez Jamblique et Damascius notamment, sera supplanté par l’Ineffable.


4.      Dylan Burns ( and Luciana Soares Santoprete (, Neoplatonism and Gnosticism

Any paper that deals with the relationship between Neoplatonic and Gnostic thought will be considered. Sample topics could include the influence of Neoplatonic ideas and terminology on Gnostic literature (or Gnostic influence on Neoplatonism), clash and controversy between Platonic and Gnostic thinkers, comparison of Neoplatonic theurgy and Gnostic divinization, comparison of Gnostic and Neoplatonic approaches to myth, etc. Papers on ‘Gnosis’ in its wider sense, covering a range of esoteric Platonism (e.g. Hermetica, Chaldaean Oracles, etc.), are also welcome.


5.      David Butorac (, Neoplatonism and Aristotle’s Organon

The Neoplatonists have always had a problematic relationship with Aristotle, which relationship has in general received significant attention. However, although there has been an increasing amount of interest in their usage of Aristotle’s Analytics, our understanding of the influence of Aristotle’s logic is still in its infancy. Papers on the influence of the Analytics or Categories on the Neoplatonic dialectic or on Neoplatonic interpretation of the Parmenides are especially welcome.


6.      Elisabetta Cattanei ( and Alessia Ferrari ( Platonic and Neo-platonic Conceptions of Number and Geometry

‘Platonism in mathematics’ has become a large and diverse historiographical category which often overlooks the special peculiarities of arguments developed by different Platonic and Neo-platonic texts. This panel will focus on the various ways of conceiving numbers, mathematical entities and sciences that are to be found in Plato’s dialogues and works belonging to ancient, medieval and modern Neo-platonism. Possible fields of investigation are:

  1. The nature of numbers and mathematika in relation to physical world, soul, metaphysical entities and principle(s);
  2. The epistemological status of arithmetics and geometry and their role in the process of acquiring and constructing knowledge;
  3. Numerical and geometrical aspects of the relationship between the metaphysical and the physical, the infinite and the finite (with particular regard to problems concerning the one and the many, the indivisible and the divisible, the discrete and the continuous).

Papers on individual authors/works/parts of works or groups of authors/works/parts of works (both Platonic and Neo-platonic; ancient, medieval, modern) linked up with the mentioned topics are welcome, as well as contributions on historiographical questions arisen by them.


7.      Jean-Michel Charrue (, Neoplatonism, Freedom, Providence and Fate

This panel continues the previous ones that I have chaired on this subject, and will probably close the series which began in 2007. The original intention was to explore the theme of providence and its connection with freedom in order to uncover a framework for the concepts in post-Plotinian Neoplatonism.

Contributions on all aspects of Neoplatonism are welcome, including the most important Platonic texts, the Timaeus and Laws, as well as the writings of Aristotle, the Stoics, and the late commentators, such as Simplicius; so too Hermetism, Gnosticism, the Platonism of the Church Fathers, and later or contemporary Neoplatonism, the theme of providence in connection with freedom. Thus, possible topics include Platonic theology of divine providence, treatment of human freedom in any form of Platonism, studies on fatalism and determinism, and the role of daimons in philosophy or religion.


8.      Pierpaolo Ciccarelli (, Platonic Influence on the Hermeneutical Critique of Modernity

The hermeneutical criticism of traditional philosophical categories – such as ‘truthfulness’, ‘subjectivity’, ‘representation’, ‘theory/practice’, ‘justice’ and ‘natural law’ – inaugurated by Martin Heidegger in his Being and Time (1927) referred, in different ways, to Plato’s thought. It also played a fundamental role in promoting a new reading of Platonic dialogues, which aimed at distinguishing between the original text and later interpretations of it and, in this way, avoided anachronistic overlapping of concepts and perspectives.

Proposals are invited on: Heidegger’s interpretation of Plato’s notions of truthfulness and falseness; Plato’s ‘dialectical ethics’ according to Hans Georg Gadamer’s phenomenological lecture of the Philebus; Leo Strauss’s reconstruction of the Platonic ideas of justice and law; the conflict between philosophy and politics in Plato’s political thought according to Hannah Arendt; the concept of simulacrum in Gilles Deleuze’s criticism of Plato’s dialectic; the Platonic origin of ‘logocentrism’ in Jacques Derrida’s ‘deconstruction’; the notion of epimeleia heautou (care of the self) in Michel Foucault’s interpretation of Plato’s Alcibiades I and Apology of Socrates.


9.      Sandra and Bernard Collette-Dučić ( and ), The Artists and Plato: A Study of Plato’s Reception in the Works of Poets and other Creators in Renaissance and Romanticism

Plato’s criticisms against poetry did not prevent artists from making him a genuine source of inspiration for their own creations. And this is especially true during the Renaissance and the Romantic era, periods of unequalled artistic creativity. Seemingly unbothered by Plato’s attacks against poets in the Ion and the Republic, the artists of that time appear to have seen in Plato primarily a lover of Beauty and even, sometimes, a poet himself.

In this panel, we welcome all papers concerned with the reception of Plato by artists in Renaissance and Romanticism. We are particularly interested in papers that focus on the way Plato and his philosophy are portrayed by artists and on how artists made use of Plato’s philosophy both in general and, more specifically, to promote the arts.


10.  Anna Corrias ( and Guido Giglioni (, Renaissance Neoplatonism

This panel will explore the influence of Platonism and Neoplatonism in fifteenth- and sixteenth-century Europe and the role played by Renaissance Platonism in the history of Platonic thought. Possible areas of focus may include: the relationship between Platonism and Christianity – as evidenced in the writings of many Renaissance thinkers such as Nicholas of Cusa, Pico della Mirandola, Marsilio Ficino and Leo Haebreus; the role of Ficino’s translations of and commentaries on Plato, Plotinus and other Platonic philosophers; the influence of Renaissance interpretations of Neoplatonism on later thought as well as contributions of key early-modern Platonists.


11.  Kevin Corrigan ( and Jean-Marc Narbonne (, Plotinus and the Gnostics

This panel welcomes all contributions concerning the connection of the philosophy of Plotinus and Gnostic sources. We especially encourage any contributions that highlight the philosophical and textual aspects of this connection, with reference to particular passages and intellectual developments, but will also readily accept any broader perspective concerning its cultural or social dimensions.


12.  Francesca Maria Crasta ( and Laura Follesa ( Platonism and Neoplatonism in Early Modern Metaphysical Systems

This panel will focus on the influence of both Platonism and Neoplatonism upon metaphysical systems developed between the seventeenth century and the first half of the nineteenth century. Possible areas of investigation are:

  1. The formation of the material world from spiritual or metaphysical entities;
  2. The order and organization of the world (both inanimate and animate) according to an intelligent plan or project;
  3. The relationship between the infinite and the finite, the metaphysical and the physical, the supernatural and the natural.

We seek contributions that concern individual authors and specific topics related to the presence of the Platonic and Neoplatonic traditions at the late stages of early modern thought. Papers focusing on historiographical problems encountered in the discussions of the above-mentioned themes are especially welcome.


13.  Claudia D’Amico (, La recepción del Neoplatonismo en la Edad Media

La recepción de la filosofía neoplatónica en la Edad Media se dio por vías indirectas, como la de la fundante versión cristiana de Dionisio Areopagita, cuanto por vías directas a través de la traducción al latín o al árabe de muchos de los textos fundamentales de esta tradición. Así, gran parte de los desarrollos conceptuales del pensamiento cristiano y del pensamiento islámico medieval son tributarios de la filosofía neoplatónica de manera explícita o implícita.


14.  John F. Finamore (, Conceptions of the Soul in Plato, Aristotle, and the Platonic Tradition

In several dialogues, including the Phaedo, Republic, Phaedrus, and Timaeus, Plato investigated the nature and function of the soul. Aristotle criticized Plato and in his turn created his own theory of soul. Later Platonists used Plato and Aristotle’s as models for their own interpretations of the soul.

This panel will focus on this evolution of thought on the nature and function of the soul. Contributors may wish to consider such questions as how the doctrine of soul changed over time, how individual authors modified earlier views and their reasons for doing so, the problems raised by the soul’s immortality and transmigration, etc.


15.  Sarah Klitenic Wear (, Christina-Panagiota Manolea (, and Carl O’Brien (, The Phaedrus and Neoplatonic Psychology

Following on from a successful panel at last year’s ISNS focusing on Neoplatonic speculations on the Phaedrus, this panel will further explore the importance of the dialogue in the development of Neoplatonic speculations on the soul. The panel will be concerned with issues raised in Neoplatonic commentaries, including the much-ignored commentary of Syrianus’ student, Hermias, to the psychology of the Phaedrus.

Possible areas of interest include (but are not limited to): the relationship of the soul to cosmic principles, the relationship of the individual human soul to the World Soul, the influence of interpretations of the Phaedrus upon Neoplatonic psychology and elements of Syrianus psychology which can be gleaned from Hermias’ commentary. The Phaedrus is of major importance for the development of theories concerning the ‘fall’ of the soul, or more neutrally, the descent of the soul into the body, which raises interesting questions for Neoplatonic views on religious practice and their metaphysical speculations on the relationship of the soul to the material world.

Papers considering the influence of Neoplatonic psychology upon other traditions (such as Judaic, Christian or Islamic philosophy) are also welcome.


16.  Dmitri Nikulin (, Memory in Neoplatonism and its Predecessors

In recent decades, memory has become a major concept and dominant topic within the debates of many different areas of philosophy, including history of philosophy. The panel welcomes submissions on the topic of memory in Neoplatonism and other ancient thinkers who influenced the Neoplatonic understanding of memory, such as Plato, Aristotle, and the Stoics.


17.  Andrea Orsucci (, Platonism and Neoplatonism in Ninenteenth and Twentieth Century Philosophy

This panel will explore the presence of both Platonism and Neoplatonism in Nineteenth and Twentieth century philosophy, a topic which will be analysed mainly according to:

  1. The philosophical interpretation of myths;
  2. The problem of theogony from Hegel to Cassirer;
  3. Victor Cousin’s translation and interpretation of Platonic works and the way in which his philosophy related to both French and German contemporary thought;
  4. Nineteenth century argumenta to and commentaries on Platonic dialogues as an independent literary genre;
  5. The circulation of texts and the use of Platonic and Neoplatonic sources in Modern Europe.

We welcome contributions dealing with the problems indicated above.


18.  Suzanne Stern-Gillet ( and Gary Gurtler SJ (, The Moral Life, the Philosophical Life, and the Ideal Life of God-Likeness

In the Theaetetus, Plato wrote: ‘Theodorus, it isn’t possible that evils should be destroyed; because there must always be something opposite to the good […] they haunt our mortal nature, and this region here. That is why one ought to try to escape from here to there as quickly as one can. Now the way to try to escape is to become as nearly as possible like a god; and to become like a god is to become just and religious, with intelligence’ (176 a5-b1, tr. McDowell).

The panel will focus on the interpretation(s) that Plotinus and his successors put on this seminal passage. Contributions to the following questions will be especially welcome:

  1. How does a Neoplatonist become virtuous?
  2. How are purification and conversion related?
  3. How close to the life of the gods is the philosophical life, as Neoplatonically conceived?
  4. How did Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus and/or Proclus conceive of the scale of the virtues?
  5. In what circumstances, if any, should the soul that has ascended to Intellect deliberately return to the life in the world of sense?
  6. What role can theurgical practices play in the development of the moral and the philosophical life, as Neoplatonically conceived?


19.  Mostafa Younesie (, Neoplatonic Readings of Plato’s Laws

The focus of this panel will be on Neoplatonic interpretations of the development of Plato’s political thought from the Republic to the Laws. Although Neoplatonic philosophers proposed different interpretations of the relation between the two dialogues, they were mostly united in viewing the Laws, not indeed as the outcome of Plato’s progressive disenchantment with the ideal of Kallipolis, but as his realization that the ideal should be supplemented by a more workable, historically-based, ‘second-best’ model of political organization.

Contributions focusing on Neoplatonic readings of Plato’s Laws, from Plotinus to al-Farabi, will be especially welcome.


20.  José Zamora ( and Doris Meyer (, Allegory and Syncretism in Porphyry’s De antro nympharum

Porphyry’s De antro nympharum is an original allegorical exegesis, which presents a reading of the Odyssey 13.102-112, in particular the passage in which Homer describes the cave at the beach of Ithaca where Odysseus hid his treasures from the Phaeacians. These 11 verses serve as a pretext to frame the Neoplatonic conception of the coming of souls into the world. These topics will be addressed in this panel:

  1. The sources and the originality of De antro nympharum as well as its relationship to Neo-Pythagoreanism and Middle-Platonism;
  2. The literary genre, the functions of the commentary and of exegetical literature: a hieròs lógos without ritual?;
  3. Allegory and interpretation of Homer;
  4. The elements of syncretism;
  5. The representation of the different religions: Mithraism, mystery cults, Greco-Roman religion, Eastern religions;
  6. Neoplatonic theology in De antro nympharum and the conflict with Christianity (and the Gnosis?);
  7. Comparison with other texts of Porphyry.