Second University of Florida Classics Graduate Student Symposium
NATURA/φύσις vs. ARS/τέχνη: Artificial vs. Natural, in the Ancient World and Beyond
The development of ancient civilizations, reflected today in their literary, artistic, and architectural artifacts, was made possible by several scientific and technological advances. Aimed at improving the human condition, and enhanced by the philosophical observation of the natural world, ancient technologies gradually allowed for human habitation and expansion, and opened new avenues to artistic creation. Whether in the form of grand irrigation systems, harbors and ships, road systems, or city walls, ancient societies dynamically manifested their will to control the natural environment. Viewed, in contrast, as a domain of the divine, nature held an ambiguous position in the imagination of ancient peoples: it could be both hostile and propitious. In the realms of artistic and scientific invention, human creations are in constant dialogue with nature, trying either to imitate it, with varying levels of success, or to surpass it in perfection.
The interaction between man and nature fostered the awareness of two main concepts, expressed by the philosophical juxtaposition of natura/φύσις and ars/τέχνη. Difficult to define, in opposition or in mutual cooperation, they have shaped the imagination and reflection of many ancient authors, as they awed at the heights of human achievement, despaired before its limitations and flaws, dreaded at the destructive and unpredictable power of nature and its obduracy, or marveled at its bounty and providence.
We invite speakers to join us in the conversation and offer their research for a better understanding of the importance of these two ideas in the development of societies in the ancient world and beyond. We welcome contributions that could expand on this discussion from all fields of Humanities as well as from the Social, Natural, and Applied Sciences.
Topics may include but are not limited to:
- Philosophical and linguistic discussions on natura/φύσις and ars/τέχνη
- Conceptualization of natura and ars and their political consequences (expansionism, colonialism, encounter with less-advanced ‘others’ etc.)
- The problem of imitation and style in any artistic creation (visual, musical, and literary)
- The artificial creation of natural spaces, in literature (e.g. Arcadia) and in the environment (e.g. gardens, villas, temples etc.)
- Development of technological innovation and their relationship with nature.
- Mythological accounts or interpretations that convey a reflection on the mutual relationship between nature and human intervention on it.
- Natural and artificial languages
- Moral implications of the concepts of natura and ars at a personal, societal, and political level.
Please submit abstracts of no more than 250 words by July 31st by emailing a pdf attachment to firstname.lastname@example.org. Please include your name, affiliation, and the title of your abstract in the body of your email. Papers should be no longer than 15 minutes.