Call for Papers: International Society of Neoplatonic Studies Conference 2013

John Finamore has issued the call for abstracts for the ISNS 2013 conference:

“We are attaching the list of panels for the 2013 ISNS conference to be held in Cardiff, Great Britain, hosted by the Cardiff University Centre for Late Antique Religion and Culture at the Conference Centre of St. Michael’s College, Llandaff on June 12-15.  We are pleased to be able to offer panels on so many diverse and important topics.

“If you wish to submit an abstract for any of the panels, please select the panel that is most appropriate for your abstract and send the abstract (no more than one single-spaced page) directly to the organizer(s) of that panel.  In your abstract, the first paragraph should clearly express the thesis that you are presenting.  If you have questions about whether your abstract is appropriate for a specific panel (or panels), please write directly to the organizer(s) and ask.  All abstracts are due to the panel organizers by February 25.

“If you have a topic that does not fit into any of the panels proposed for the conference, we may still be able to place you into an alternate session.  Please send your abstract (again, no more than a single page) to the four conference organizers (again, by February 25).

“We hope to see many of you in Cardiff in June.

Josef Lössl, Cardiff University (

Nicholas Baker-Brian, Cardiff University (

Crystal Addey (

John Finamore, University of Iowa (

Michael Wagner, University of San Diego (”

…and now the panels!:

Crystal Addey ( and Deepa Majumdar (, “The Afterlife, Reincarnation and Return to the Divine in Neoplatonism”

This panel welcomes papers on Neoplatonic eschatology, on views of the afterlife, as well as on related topics including (but not limited to) the themes of reward and punishment, judgement and purification, and the role of eschatology in the Orphic Gold Tablets and in Neoplatonic uses of Orphic material. We welcome papers on the nature, purpose and place of the doctrine of reincarnation, or rebirth, the transmigration of souls (especially the vexed question of whether human souls transmigrate into animal bodies), the difference between reincarnation and return (to the First Principle), and the relationship between reincarnation, self-knowledge, embodiment, becoming, and time. We also welcome papers on the nature of the respites (temporal and otherwise) from reincarnation, through death, forelife and afterlife, through the particular soul’s expiatory return to the World Soul, and through a rapturous awakening from the state of embodiment. The role played by reincarnation in bridging the immanent self to the transcendent self is another welcome topic. Yet another significant theme might be the possible relationship between the soul’s eschatological and spiritual journey(s). What is the relationship between reincarnation, and the central goal of Neoplatonic philosophy – namely, assimilation to the divine or becoming like a god?  What justifies the final exit from the otherwise endless temporal cycles of reincarnation? We particularly welcome papers which consider the possible implications of Neoplatonic views of the afterlife and reincarnation for metaphysics, psychology, ethics and ritual praxis, such as theurgy.

Vishwa Adluri (, “Neoplatonism and Indian Thought”

Papers are invited on any aspect of the relationship of Neoplatonic thought to Indian philosophy. We are especially interested in papers on purification, Platonic and Neoplatonic soteriology, the soul’s journey, the indefinite dyad, androgyny, and polytheism. Contributions will also be accepted on aspects of Indo-European religion, especially linguistic studies of the IE roots for “being.”

Florin Calian ( and Alexandru Pelin (, “Proclus and Damascius on Plato’s Parmenides

Plato’s Parmenides was a constant challenge for the Neoplatonists, in their endeavor to expand their doctrines, but also to criticize their predecessors within the Neoplatonic School. This panel is dedicated to the differences and similarities in Proclus’ and Damascius’ readings of Plato’s Parmenides, as paradigmatic for late Neoplatonic philosophy. Another aspect to be considered is how much of their enterprise was a dogmatic one and tributary to a Neoplatonic agenda, and the degree of innovation that their interpretation exemplified. Papers that deal with comparisons between Proclus and Damascius, separated features of their reading of Plato’s Parmenides, or traces of a critical attitude towards the Neoplatonic program in the writings of these two authors are welcome.

Edrisi Fernandes ( and Oscar Federico Bauchwitz (, “Modern and Contemporary Receptions of Neoplatonism”

The SIAEN panel centers on the modern and contemporary reception of Neoplatonism. Submitted contributions are expected to highlight direct or indirect repercussions of key concepts of Neoplatonism present in post-medieval or contemporary authors of any national backgrounds, who have expressed themselves not only in philosophy, but also in literature and in other forms of art, in environmental studies and in science, in ways that can be considered relevant to contemporary thought and life. Authors are advised to indicate possible or putative influences received from the Hellenistic or Medieval tradition; discussions between advocates of classical ontology, process philosophy and meontology are encouraged. Communications should be orally presented in Portuguese, Spanish or English; texts can be submitted in those languages and also in Galician, Catalan, French or Italian.

O painel da SIAEN tem como objetivo congregar pesquisadores em torno da recepção moderna e contemporânea do neoplatonismo. São esperadas contribuições que destaquem repercussões diretas ou indiretas de conceitos-chave do neoplatonismo, presentes em autores pós-medievais ou contemporaneos de qualquer background nacional, e que tenham se manifestado não apenas na filosofia, mas também na literatura e em outras formas de arte, em estudos ambientais e na ciência, na medida em que possam ser considerados relevantes para o pensamento e para a vida contemporâneos. Recomenda-se aos autores indicar as correntes de possíveis e supostas influências recebidas da tradição helenística ou medieval; discussões entre defensores da ontologia clássica, filosofia do processo e meontologia serão estimuladas. As comunicações devem ser oralmente apresentadas em português, espanhol ou inglês; os textos podem ser escritos nessas línguas e também em galego, catalão, francês ou italiano.

Liana De Girolami Cheney ( and John Hendrix (, “Neoplatonism and the Arts”

This session aims to show the cultural influence of Neoplatonic ideas – of beauty, hypostases of being, and workings of phantasia and nous, for example, as they are represented in the visual arts-architecture, painting and sculpture and drawing.  The presences of Neoplatonic structures in the arts reveal emblematic, theological and social traditions.

Jean-Michel Charrue (, “Neoplatonism, Freedom, Providence, and Fate”

This panel continues the previous ones which began in 2007. The original intention was to explore the theme of providence and connection with freedom in order to uncover a  framework for the concepts post-Plotinian Neoplatonism; other aspects, or other authors worth studying, once more.

Contributions on all aspects of Neoplatonism are welcome including the most important Platonic texts, the Timaeus, and the Laws, as well as the writings of Aristotle, the Stoïcs, and the late commentators, such as Simplicius, so too Hermeticism, 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.

John Dillon ( and Andrei Timotin (, “Neoplatonic Theories of Prayer”

Philosophy for the later Platonists is also a religious way of life, and an important aspect of their daily activity was the practice of prayer, sacrifice and meditation. The goal of this round table is to explore the role of prayer in the Platonic tradition (e.g., Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Proclus, but also Pseudo-Dionysius and Psellos), also in relation with the religious practices of the Graeco-Roman world, a topic understudied in the field of Neoplatonic studies.The starting point of this reflection could be two passages of Plato’s work which will have a significant influence in the later period, that with which Timaeus begins his cosmological exposition in the Timaeus (27 c), and the prescriptions on prayer made by the Athenian Stranger in Laws VII, 801 a-b.We intend to analyze, for example, the Neoplatonic prayer as form of meditation/ contemplation (theôria) and as spiritual exercise. Papers on the relation between prayer and theurgy, possibly in relation with the formulae prescribed in the magical papyri, are equally welcome. Other suitable topics would be the Neoplatonic classifications of prayers or the relation between prayer and the mystic union (henôsis) with the divine. The final purpose of this reflection should be a better understanding of the spiritual life and religious experience of the later Platonists.

John F. Finamore (, Ilaria Ramelli (, and Svetla Slaveva-Griffin (, “Lovers of the Soul, Lovers of the Body: Platonists on the Soul and the Body.”

The times have passed when the scholarly discussion of the relation between soul and body in ancient philosophy resembled one concerning positive and negative images in photography. Intrigued and inspired by the dialectics of the ancient philosophers’ famous analogy of the relation between soul and body as “mixing between wine and water,” we would like to invite papers investigating this relationship in the Platonic tradition, including Middle and Neoplatonism, ‘pagan,’ Jewish, and Christian alike. Papers presenting the Peripatetic and Islamic views on the topic are equally welcomed. A tentative but not exclusive list of topics includes the nature, composition, origin of the soul and the body, the relation of soul to matter, and the relation of the body to eternal destiny.

Gary Gabor, Hamline University ( D.M. Hutchinson, St Olaf College (, “Philosophy as a Way of Life in Late Antiquity”

A unique feature of ancient philosophy that sets it apart from modern and contemporary philosophy is the emphasis it places on philosophy as a way of life. Pierre Hadot (Philosophy as a Way of Life (1995), What is Ancient Philosophy (2002) et al.) has introduced the framework for understanding how ancient philosophers conceived of philosophy as a way of life, and John Cooper (Pursuits of Wisdom: Six Ways of Life in Ancient philosophy (2012)) has elevated the rigor by which reason could be understood as providing the intellectual basis and motivating force for living a good life; however their work has by no means exhausted the topic.

The aim of this panel is to continue the discussion began by Hadot and Cooper, with particular historical attention to late antiquity. We invite submissions on individual philosophers, groups of philosophers, or schools ranging from Epictetus (1st century CE) to Simplicius (6th century CE), which deal with themes related to how philosophy provides a complete way of life for its adherents.

Please send submissions to both panel organizers with the subject heading “Philosophy as a Way of Life ISNS 2013.”

Stephen Gersh ( Andrea Le Moli (, “Latin Neoplatonism”

This panel will emphasize the importance of Neoplatonic (and Middle Platonic) authors, both pagan and Christian, of late antiquity who wrote in Latin, not only because of their intrinsic importance within the history of late ancient philosophy but because of their enormous influence upon the western Middle Ages, during which time they were often the primary transmitters of ancient Greek philosophy to later generations. We invite the submission of paper proposals dealing with any aspect, philosophical, literary, or historical,  of either late ancient or western Medieval authors (IXth to XVth Century)

AUTHORS (just suggestions)

Cicero, Seneca, Gellius, Apuleius, Calcidius, Macrobius, Martianus Capella, Boethius, Censorinus, Marius Victorinus, Augustine, Firmicus Maternus, Favonius Eulogius, Servius, Fulgentius, Priscianus Lydus, Varro.

Gary Gurtler S.J.( and Suzanne Stern-Gillet (, “Plotinus and Aristotle: Critical Engagement”

This panel seeks to investigate Plotinus’ engagement with Aristotle, covering areas of agreement and points of conflict.  Logic (especially the categories), metaphysics (primary and secondary activity), and epistemology (sensation and imagination) provide topics of convergence, but not without difficulties from both sides.  The soul as entelechy, the conflict between civic and purificatory virtues, the nature of eudaimonia, by contrast, present neuralgic points, especially for Plotinus.  Papers will be welcome in these and other areas where the thought of Aristotle and Plotinus engage one another.

Marilynn Lawrence ( or, “Platonic Appropriations”

This panel covers issues related to how Platonic authors (including the early academy, Middle Platonism, later Academies, and Neoplatonism) used ideas from other schools of thought as a part of a Platonic worldview. Were such importations successful? Can we say they naturally follow from Plato’s writings, or are they interjections that contradict other concerns and doctrines within the body of Platonic thought? Can we find appropriated philosophies that are implicit in the writings of Platonists, though not attributed to the originating school? Some schools that have been or may have been appropriated include the Pythagoreans, Sophists, various religious cults, Stoics, Epicureans (yes? maybe?), Skeptics, Hermeticists, Gnostics, and Peripatetics.

Angela Longo (, “Pagan-Platonic Anti-Christian Polemic”

In Ennead II 9 [33], which Porphyry entitled “Against the Gnostics” or “Against those who say that the Demiurge of the world is evil and that the world is evil,” Plotinus mentions various polemical themes against his opponents, who appear to be Christian and Gnostic, although he never calls them such.
Plotinus presents four main areas of criticism against his polemical target, not so much to attack them as to defend their influence on his students:

1) their theology and physics;

2) their ethics;

3) their attitude towards society;

4) their attitude towards culture, science, and philosophy (especially with regard to the doctrine of Plato).

In light of these, the principal theme of the panel would be to consider the precedents and effects of these Plotinian themes in Platonically-inspired authors before and after Plotinus.
Moreover, attention can usefully be paid also to the forms and styles of this controversy, as well as to its purpose. These sorts of argument can be multiplied and used to convince Christians to desist from their positions so that they will be reabsorbed into the customary beliefs of the Roman Empire, or—without aspiring to dislodge them from their positions–at least to try to defend other pagans so they do not fall into the Christian “trap” or so that they will simply survive as pagans in a world subject to profound cultural, political, and religious change.

Sergei Mariev (, “Byzantine Perspectives on Neoplatonism”

One of the differences between the intellectual history of the Latin West and that of the Byzantine East stems from the fact that the Byzantine intellectual elite not only had direct access to the Neoplatonic sources in the original language but also, at times, showed a particular interest in them.

The present panel welcomes contributions that focus on the “Byzantine side” of the reception process of Neoplatonic authors from Late Antiquity (= Early Byzantine Period) through to the Late Byzantine Period (15th century and beyond). In particular, contributions should aim to identify some specific questions and concerns that drew the interest of Byzantine scholars from different periods towards Neoplatonic sources.

Which aspects of the Neoplatonic doctrine provoked responses from Christian scholars during the Early Byzantine Period? Which questions attracted the attention of a Byzantine polymath such as Michael Psellos and his student John Italos in the 11th C..? What role did Neoplatonic Philosophy play in the context of “Byzantine Humanism” in the 14th C. (Nikephoros Gregoras and his circle)? Why would Georgios Gemistos (alias Pletho) want to turn to Neoplatonic doctrines in the 15th C.?

Donka Markus (, “The experience of philosophical discipleship in Late Antiquity”

The focus of this panel is on the individual and subjective experience of discipleship rather than on the relations between city and school as in E. Watts (2006)Epictetus charted two approaches to discipleship: one of surrender for the purpose of spiritual growth and the other – conceptual for the display of learning:

Do I go to my teacher, like one who goes to consult an oracle, prepared to obey? Or do I too, like a sniffling child, go to school to learn only the history of philosophy and to understand the books which I did not understand before, and, if chance offers, to explain them to others?” (Epictetus, Discourses 2.21.10, tr. W. A. Oldfather)

Did these two paths mutually exclude each other or were they integrated into a unified experience? Socrates consulted the Delphic oracle: did the philosopher in late antiquity become an oracular figure himself? Are there aspects of discipleship that were unique to late antiquity? Are there traits that pervaded the tradition from the beginning to its end? How were master-disciple relationships articulated? What were the fissures between ideal and reality? What were the overlaps and differences between the Christian monastic ideal and the ideal of philosophical discipleship? Are there any useful ways to compare the late antique experience of discipleship with master-disciple relations in other times and cultures?

This panel seeks to build upon the already rich scholarship on this topic and to deepen our understanding of the dynamics of teacher-disciple relations in the philosophical schools of Late Antiquity.

Harold Tarrant (, “Later Platonist Interpretation of the Republic

This panel covers any readings from the time of Cicero until the end of antiquity. The topic could include readings of the mathematics (e.g. Theon of Smyrna), the tripartite psychology, educational theory,  political implications, the critique of drama and other poetry, and the Myth of Er. the Republics place in the curriculum, and its wider influence on Neoplatonism.

John Turner ( and Kevin Corrigan (, “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.