2023 Conference – Program

The conference will start at 10am on Friday 2 June, and will end on Saturday 3 June at 5pm. On Friday evening there will be a conference dinner for the speakers.

A detailed program can be found here.

Keynote Speakers

  • Anna Marmodoro (University of Durham / Oxford)
  • Anne Sauvagnargues (Université Paris Nanterre)
  • David Wong (Duke University)


Anna Marmodoro:
Parmenidean Essentialism

It is a (philosophical) commonplace to think that Parmenides’ philosophical influence on Western thought is all or mainly due to his ban of change, understood as the passage from being to non-being and vice versa. Here I argue that the most influential philosophical idea Parmenides bequeathed to us is a criterion for substancehood, according to which there is no division of any kind between a substance and what makes it what it is (its essence, in Aristotelian terms). This is a type of essentialism which denies ‘essential predication’ and all types of substance-making-relations. I call it Parmenidean Essentialism. I contend that it is different from today’s essentialism (wrongly, I contend, attributed to Aristotle), according to which substances are characterised by essential properties, whose loss they cannot survive. I show that Plato and Aristotle endorsed Parmenides’ criterion for substancehood, and in conceiving of their respective substances as kath’ auto beings, identified and responded to various ‘threats’ of division within a substance. Such ‘threats’ arise from a substance’s qualitative complexity, its mereological complexity, its hylomorphic complexity, and the complexity of property-instantiation. I examine the metaphysical ‘mechanisms’ Plato and Aristotle developed to address such ‘threats’ of division within a substance, such as the emergence of form, the descendance of form and the holism of the parts of a substance.

David B. Wong:
Zhuangzi on Not Following the Leader

I begin with identifying Confucian metaphors of leadership for the way the mind (or the heart-mind) should lead the whole person. I then discuss how the Daoist text Zhuangzi criticizes this conception of the mind’s leadership as too fixed and rigid–unresponsive to the fluidity and unpredictability of the world. The text suggests as an alternative a way that the whole embodied person can fluidly respond to the world. This alternative ties into some contemporary work, scientific and philosophical, of how the whole person and not just the deliberating mind processes information from the world. I end by discussing how the critique of the fixed and rigid mind can suggest alternative models of political governance that distribute and integrate guidance throughout the body politic.

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