Call for Papers: ISNS Conference in Los Angeles

Below is the list of eleven proposed panels for the 16th annual ISNS conference, to be held in Los Angeles on June 13-16, 2018, in conjunction with Loyola Marymount University.

  • If you wish to submit a one-page abstract for a panel, please send it to the panel organizer(s) for that specific panel. 
  • If you wish to submit an abstract for the conference that does not fit well into any of the proposed panels, please send that abstract to the four conference organizers:

          Eric Perl <>

          David Albertson <>

          Marilynn Lawrence <>

          John Finamore <>

All abstracts (whether for specific panels or not) are due by February 26, 2018.

Papers may be presented in English, Portuguese, French, German, Spanish, or Italian.  It is recommended that those delivering papers in languages other than English provide printed copies to their audience at the conference.

Please note that anyone giving a paper at the conference must be a member of the ISNS. You may sign up and pay dues on the web site of the Philosophy Documentation Center:

Dues are $60.00 per year ($20.00 for students and retirees).   

Participants may give only one paper at the conference and therefore should submit only one abstract.

If you have any questions, please email (

Call for abstracts for the 2018 ISNS Conference in Los Angeles

Renaissance and Early Modern Platonisms

Sara Itoku Ahbel-Rappe <>

Now that Ficino's Parmenides Commentary has been published, it might be time to think more systematically about the evolution of Ficino's thought as a whole, or indeed, about the intellectual and literary trajectories of Renaissance Platonism. Authors of interest include Ficino, naturally, but also other authors including Cusa, Kepler, Bruno and possibly extending to Cambridge Platonism. We also might think about the figures who made this Renaissance possible, such as Pletho.

Divine Power and Presence in Later Platonism:  Theurgy, Ritual, Epistemology, Aesthetics, and Metaphysics

Robert Berchman <>

It is well-known that for later Platonists, ‘becoming like a god’ was considered the central goal of philosophy, following Plato’s Theaetetus 176b-c.  This panel invites papers which consider the ways in which divine power and presence were conceived and conceptualised within Neoplatonism and Early Christianity in relation to first philosophy, theurgy, contemplation, contemplative prayer and ritual practices - but also in relation to metaphysics, ethics, ontology, epistemology, theology and cosmology. How was divine identity, divine assimilation or divinization conceived by Neoplatonic philosophers, such as Origen, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus and Proclus?  How were divine power and presence connected with metaphysical, ethical and ontological principles and notions within a variety of later Platonisms?  What relation was postulated between first principles, divine power or presence and cognitive states, rationality and epistemology?  Can we study first principles, divination and theurgy within the context of the history of the philosophy of mind and language?  From this perspective, is it possible and productive to focus on the non-propositional and non-discursive languages often employed by Neoplatonists and Christians for the purpose of effecting union with the divine?  Is it useful to focus on the aesthetic dimensions of later Platonic contemplative prayer, ritual and theurgic practices?  What is the significance and the possible implications of the doctrine of the henads, as seen in Proclus (and possibly also in Iamblichus’ philosophy)?  This panel invites papers that consider any of these issues or other topics relating to divine power and presence.  Papers on the reception of later Platonic conceptions of the divine, ritual texts and ideas within later historical, philosophical and cultural contexts are also encouraged, as are papers that utilise interdisciplinary approaches and cross-cultural perspectives

Platonising heresy in the early modern period: the case of Origen’s revival 

Andrea Bianchi, Giovanni Tortoriello

The early modern period marks arguably a new era in the history of the reception of Plato in the West. The rediscovery of one of the most controversial figures in the history of Christianity, namely Origen of Alexandria, meant at the same time the reappraisal of Plato and Platonism. As for Origen himself, he was both accused and defended by different sides and for the most varied reasons. Although in 1486 Giovanni Pico della Mirandola was accused of heresy for having claimed in his 900 Theses that Origen might be rather saved than damned, for example, at the beginning of the following century the “prince of humanists”, Erasmus of Rotterdam, set Origen at the cornerstone of his biblical exegesis. Origen and, in some occasions, his Platonic background became gradually a hotly debated topic. 

The start of the Protestant Reformation sparked even more the debate on the figure of Origen. Martin Luther himself, for example, repeatedly stressed his belief in the damnation of Origen and Philipp Melanchthon, Luther’s closest collaborator, identified in Origen the first perverter of the doctrine of justification, and one that improperly mixed philosophy and theology, namely Platonism and Christianism. Plato and Platonism must have their own role in the history of philosophy, so Melanchthon, but they have not to be confused with the faith in Jesus Christ. 

In the following century, the dispute on the role of Origen and his Neoplatonic philosophy in the history of Christianity continued. Socinians accused the early Church, in particular Origen and Clemens of Alexandria, of having distorted Christianity through the use of Platonic concepts. An emblematic work in this direction was for example Souverain’s “Le Platonisme dévoilé”, published in 1700, which described the early years of Christianity as the “Platonic captivity”. Together with Origen’s thought, Platonism too became thus somewhat “heretic” over the centuries. 

In light of these historical developments, this panel welcomes contribution on the reception of Platonism in the early modern period broadly understood (roughly 1500- 1700), as mediated through Origen of Alexandria. Although there is a large bibliography on the history of the influence of Plato and Neoplatonic authors in the early modern period, it is not sufficiently examined how the reading of Origen influenced the understanding of Platonism and its relationship with Christian thought. Possible topics of enquiries could be, but are not limited to: 

- Origen’s theology and its relationship with Platonic philosophy; 

- Platonic, Origenist, and Christian metaphysics: 

- Origen’s influence on the relationship between Platonism and Christianity. 

Ex uno nihil fit nisi unum: Greek, Latin, Arabic, and Hebrew Perspectives.

Michael Chase <>

At the beginning of his Commentary on the Liber De Causis (lib. 1, tract. 1, cap. 16, p. 13, 69-71 Fauser), Albert the Great writes: “This proposition, that from what is one and simple, only what is one can result (ab uno simplici non est nisi unum) is written by Aristotle in a letter which is on the Principle of the Being of the Universe (qui est de principio universi esse), and it is taken up and explained by Al-Farabi, Avicenna and Averroes”.

The principle that from what is one only what is one can derive, lies at the basis of what is known as the Neoplatonic theory of emanation, and represents one answer to the age-old conundrum of how the Many can derive from the One. Its antecedents have been traced back to Alexander of Aphrodisias, Plotinus, and the pseudonymous Theology of Aristotle, while its influence has been discerned in Avicenna, Maimonides, and Thomas Aquinas, to name but a few. This panel solicits contributions on all aspects of this principle and the question it is intended to answer: from the Presocratics to the Middle Ages, in Greek, Latin, Arabic, or Hebrew. What are the origins of this principle? Is there any possibility that, as Albert maintains, could Aristotle have actually said such a thing? How is it supposed to solve the problem of the origin of multiplicity? What was its influence on medieval thought, in all the languages of the Abrahamic tradition?

Beauty and Pedagogy in Neoplatonic Thought

David Ellis <>, Gary Gurtler, S.J. <>, Santiago Ramos <>

This panel invites papers that explore the relationship between beauty and pedagogy in Neoplatonic thought, its sources and its influences.  Pedagogy includes multiple strategies, methods, and aims to acquire a knowledge, art, or practice that induces conversion of the soul.  Beauty signals a form that draws the soul upward; it begins with appearance, but compels a movement beyond appearances to their source.

The relationship between beauty and pedagogy surfaces a multitude of questions: What is a proper judgment about beauty? How does one discern the power of beauty? What types of beautiful things aid pedagogy – music, virtue, bodies? If the goal of pedagogy is directed to the best kind of life, how

Does beauty contribute to that goal? These and similar issues are invited for discussion.

Conceptions of the Soul in Plato, Aristotle, and the Platonic Tradition

John F. Finamore <> and Svetla Slaveva-Griffin <>

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.

Eros and Philosophy in Plato and the Neoplatonic Tradition

Elizabeth Hill <>

It is a fact generally known, though perhaps not fully acknowledged, that Plato's philosophy is deeply rooted in his ideas on Eros and its role in the cultivation of human knowledge. There are, therefore, important questions regarding the implications of eros in Plato that the Platonist and Neoplatonist need to ask. For example, what is the relationship between the so-called "erotic dialogues" and the later metaphysics of texts like the Timaeus? What does Plato's use of eros in his epistemology mean for understanding the relationship between the body and the soul? And what might Plato's treatment of eros as a ladder of ascent toward the Good mean for his views on interpersonal love and ethics? This panel will focus on highlighting the important questions relating to eros in Plato, as well as on possible responses to and developments of Plato's ideas found within the dialogues and within the Neoplatonic tradition more broadly.

Nature, Ecology, and Neoplatonism

Marilynn Lawrence <>

What would Plato say about the extinction of species? What would Plotinus and other neoplatonists say about climate change and plastic in the ocean? For all of our love of neoplatonism and for the nuances and surprises we find in neoplatonic writers, we shouldn’t lose sight that we are in an ecological crisis brought on by humanity’s effect on the environment.  Platonic and neoplatonic views of nature differ from the way we thinking about the natural world today.  For example, nature was an activity of the World Soul for Plotinus. Can we adapt ancient ways of thinking to create new ways of relating to nature? Can the work of neoplatonic writers be used in combination with other philosophies and disciplines to provide a better approach to the ecology crisis? This panel would like to explore these questions along with any topic that relates to neoplatonic understanding of nature, ecosystems, and the environment.

Neoplatonism in Comparative Light: The Search for a Transcendent-Immanent God

Deepa Majumdar <>

Given these times when a resurgent nationalism is pitted against cosmopolitanism, it may be important to foster harmony and dialogue among diverse cultural and religious traditions. One way is to engage in theological comparisons between different conceptions of the Divine.

In this panel, we reach beyond the west to seek harmony-amidst-differences or striking parallels between Neoplatonism and other traditions – whether western or not. We welcome papers that explore the similarities and differences between different conceptions of the Divine – especially those that examine the details of the structure of the eternally simultaneous transcendence and immanence of the First Principle

The One and the Dao

Christos Sideras <>

We welcome proposals for a panel on the relationships between Neoplatonism and Daoism. Bearing in mind the internal heterogeneities within the two traditions, this may include discussions around oneness, duality, and multiplicity, as well as the origin of multiplicity, principles of form and formlessness, the finite and infinite, determination and indetermination, temporal and atemporal, processes of separation, union, and transmutation. Discussions around the nature of the self in the two traditions, the ways that are of the good and virtuous living, how rituals and particular practices, including fasting, can serve to prepare the person for re-union with the prime divine origin, and the role of nature in all, are also welcomed. We note that though proposals may be informed by the above themes, they are, however, not restricted by them, and we would also value contributions outlining divergence as well convergence.


The Good and the Beautiful in the Platonic Tradition

Michael Wagner <>

Papers are invited on the concepts of good and beauty (and/or the beautiful), and their relationship to one another, in Platonic/Neoplatonic philosophies from all periods (classical, medieval, renaissance, and modern/contemporary) of Platonic thought.  Papers may also examine their place and role in such topic areas as aesthetics, ethics, psychology, and conceptions of eros.


(Photo: "Handwritten" by A. Birkan, licensed under CC BY 2.0)


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During the last century, liminality as a concept became a matter of interest to many fields: from Psychology to Anthropology, from Philosophy to Cultural and Literary Studies. Yet, the condition this word describes predates the term itself: one can, for instance, consider the classical binomial katabasis/ anabasis to fathom the historical roots of the reality the term encompasses.

As stated by Mircea Eliade, in The Sacred and the Profane, the liminal space is a paradoxical place that connects the space it severs: under the sign of ritual though, the liminal not only allows passage, but almost demands it. As far as etymology is concerned, the term derives from the Latin word limen, which shares the same root as the latin word limes: limit, margin, border. On the one hand, limen constitutes the threshold of a building or a room; on the other hand, its relation to the act of passage is clearly antithetical to that of the limes, whose role is to assure the impermeability between spaces. If the orthographic similarity hints at a common thread – a rock or a piece of wood that is placed crosswise in order to signal the end/beginning of a place – the minor spelling difference reveals deep functional and ontological differences. 

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Thu, 09/20/2018 - 8:39am by Erik Shell.


The Career Enhancement Fellowship Program seeks to increase the presence of minority junior faculty members and other faculty members committed to eradicating racial disparities in core fields in the arts and humanities. The Fellowship, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, supports the Mellon Foundation's mission to strengthen, promote, and, where necessary, defend the contributions of the humanities and the arts to human flourishing and to the well-being of diverse and democratic societies.


The Fellowship, funded by the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation, provides each Fellow with a six-month or one-year sabbatical grant; a research, travel, or publication stipend; and participation in an annual conference/retreat. A total of 30 Fellowships are awarded each year.

View full article. | Posted in Awards and Fellowships on Wed, 09/19/2018 - 10:10am by Erik Shell.

Animal/Language: An Interdisciplinary Conference

In conjunction with the art exhibition “Assembling Animal Communication” Texas Tech University, Lubbock, TX
21-23 March 2019

Animals and language have a complicated relationship with one another in human understanding. Every period of history evinces a fascination with the diverse modes of communicative exchange and possibilities of linguistic community that exist both within and between species. Recent critics of anthropocentrism are far from the first to question the supposed muteness of the “dumb animal” and its ontological and ethical ramifications. Various cultures have historically attributed language to animals, and we have developed an increasingly sophisticated scientific understanding of the complex non-verbal communicative systems that animals use among themselves. New research complements millennia of human-animal communication in the contexts of work, play, and domestic life.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/17/2018 - 1:59pm by Erik Shell.

The presence of Plotinus: The self, contemplation, and spiritual exercise in the Enneads

Poznań, Poland, 9th-10th June 2020
An international conference organized by the Scientific Committee on Ancient Culture of the Polish Academy of Sciences and the Department of Classical Studies of  Adam Mickiewicz University in Poznań

In the center of “The School of Athens”, the famous fresco by Raphael, we can see Plato and Aristotle, the two philosophers who may indeed have been the greatest thinkers of antiquity. However, the scholarly endeavor of the last century has demonstrated with increasing consistency that Plotinus – although his name and legacy are not so popular – could well stand next to them, especially so because he attempted to synthetize the views of those great masters of the past. His presence in  Western philosophy was, perhaps a more silent one, but also very influential. Since Late Antiquity, Christian, Jewish and Muslim philosophers were inspired by him as well as Renaissance Platonists and German idealists. In year 2020, 1750 years will have passed by since his solitary death in a Campanian villa or, in his view, since his final ascent from “the divine in us to the divine in the All”. On this occasion, we want to celebrate Plotinus’ presence by organizing an international conference.

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/17/2018 - 9:48am by Erik Shell.
Rebecca Futo Kennedy teaching in Rome. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Futo Kennedy.

A Day in the Life of a Classicist is a monthly column on the SCS blog written by Prof. Ayelet Haimson Lushkov celebrating the working lives of classicists. If you’d like to share your day, let us know here.

Rebecca Futo Kennedy is Associate Professor of Classics and Administrative Director, Denison Museum

Since being tenured in 2015, I have actually held two separate positions at my university - professor of Classics and director of the Denison Museum. As a result, my time is now split between the department and the museum (and, if you have to ask - no, I had no experience running a museum before they asked me to do it, and, no, I don’t intend to do it forever; I’d like to go back to full-time teaching someday). So, my average day(s) look something like this:

Rebecca Futo Kennedy teaching students. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Futo Kennedy.
Rebecca Futo Kennedy with students. Photo courtesy of Rebecca Futo Kennedy.

View full article. | Posted in on Thu, 09/13/2018 - 10:40am by Ayelet Haimson Lushkov.

The Institute for the Study of the Ancient World will hold a conference, co-hosted by the SCS, on digital pedagogy:

"Digital resources have become an essential part of studying the languages, history, and material culture of the Ancient Mediterranean. This one-day conference looks at how this disciplinary turn is being integrated into both undergraduate and graduate courses. There will be sustained attention during the day on current practice in recent courses, and the speakers all have considerable teaching experience. Speakers will also address the goals of using digital methods, tools and resources in a wide range of pedagogic and institutional settings. Digital approaches to teaching do not merely replicate earlier methods so that new possibilities for the expanding the scope of curricula will be an important topic. The day will end with a panel discussion and we will welcome input from all who are in attendance."

The conference will take place at their New York headquarters on October 26th, 2018 beginning at 9:15am. To see the full schedule and RSVP you can visit the conference webpage here.


View full article. | Posted in Conferences, Lectures, and Meetings on Wed, 09/12/2018 - 11:08am by Erik Shell.
CFP: Failure and Flaws in Classical Antiquity
January 25-26, 2019, UCLA
In the poem “Failing and Flying”, Jack Gilbert appeals to classical imagery to reconfigure the notion of failure: “Icarus was not failing as he fell,” the poem concludes, “but only coming to the end of his triumph.” Throughout antiquity, numerous forms of literary and material culture, as well as forms of reception, have grappled with real or imagined failure and flaws. The concept of failure is especially pressing because modern society persistently looks back to antiquity’s failures in order to understand its own. By interrogating the use and meaning of failure both within classical works and in discussions about canon, genre, and reception, we aim to explore the interpretive value of failure for our understanding of the classical world.
View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Tue, 09/11/2018 - 2:29pm by Erik Shell.
"Empty Theatre (almost)"by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0

Oedipus: A Greek Tragedy by Sophocles

Director: Donna L. Clevinger
Date: 6:00pm on Tuesday, September 25 & Wednesday, September 26
Location: Griffis Hall Courtyard in Zacharias Village



(Photo: "Empty Theatre (almost)" by Kevin Jaako, licensed under CC BY 2.0)

View full article. | Posted in Performances on Tue, 09/11/2018 - 12:02pm by Erik Shell.
Header Image: Detail of a fresco from the Temple of Isis, representing a sea dragon and a dolphin, 1st century AD (Fourth Style), Museu Nacional, Brazil (Image via Wikimedia under a CC-BY-SA 4.0).

Last Thursday, I began class with a caveat, “The class today will be really tough to deliver...” And it was. It was the first time I had taught after the fire and destruction of Brazil’s National Museum, and it was a particularly hard and ironic moment.

I’m teaching a topic on Pompeii, so when classes started, a month ago, I mentioned to my students that there were some frescoes and items from Pompeii at the National Museum, located in a park in central Rio de Janeiro which used to be the imperial family’s property in the nineteenth century. The collection was part of the dowry from empress Teresa Cristina of Bourbon, daughter of the king of the Two Sicilies, a gift that was particularly in tune with the interest that emperor Dom Pedro II had in history and sciences.

Together with objects such as Greek and Etruscan pottery and terracottas, and some Egyptian mummies (including a rare unopened one), the collection was the biggest for Antiquity in Latin America, but not many people were aware of it. The museum, home also to extensive collections in ethnography, paleontology, zoology and geology, happened to have less visitors last year than the number of privileged Brazilians who visited the Louvre. When I asked my History undergrads in our first class whether they had ever visited the National Museum, they all said “no”.

View full article. | Posted in on Mon, 09/10/2018 - 3:54pm by Juliana Bastos Marques.

Poetics and politics. New approaches to Euripides

View full article. | Posted in Calls for Papers on Mon, 09/10/2018 - 1:43pm by Erik Shell.


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