Panels for the 2015 ISNS conference in Buenos Aires

From John Finamore:

Below you find the complete and final list of the panels that have been proposed for the 2015 ISNS conference to be held in Buenos Aires, Argentina, June 15-19. If you wish to submit an abstract for any of the panels, please send your abstract (no more than a page in length) to the organizer(s) of the appropriate panel. Your abstracts must be submitted by February 27, 2015.

If you wish to submit an abstract that does not fit neatly into any of the panels listed in the attached document, please send that abstract to the conference organizers:

Claudia D’Amico

Natalia Strok

John Finamore, University of Iowa (

José M. Zamora

These abstracts are also due by February 27.

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).

The conference web site is now up and running, although it is still under construction: We hope to have information about conference fees and accommodations up in the coming weeks.

If you have any questions about the program or the conference generally, please email Claudia D’Amico at Questions about ISNS policies, should be addressed to me at

Panels at the 2015 ISNS Conference in Buenos Airs, June 15-19, 2015

Theurgy and Ritual Dynamics in Neoplatonism
Crystal Addey and Eleonora Zeper
Late Antiquity is an important and intriguing period for ritual dynamics, traditions and practices in the ancient world. Due to the growth and flourishing of several new types of religious forms and traditions, people of variant religious commitments and traditions often lived side by side, as neighbours, within the same cities and geographical regions from the second century CE onwards all over the Mediterranean region. This cultural and religious diversity and interaction is reflected in the wide range of so-called ‘ritual texts’ which survive from this time, as well as in the developments in ‘ritual theory’ which seem to emerge most explicitly during this period. The significant role which Neoplatonist philosophers played in these developments has recently received increased scholarly attention: the extensive links, interconnections and interactions between ritual dynamics and philosophy during Late Antiquity have begun to be explored in greater depth. Iamblichus’ De mysteriis is often seen as a key text for these developments, as one of the first, surviving texts from antiquity which explicitly includes ritual theory. However, Plotinus’ and Porphyry’s attitudes towards ritual and theurgy have also recently been further examined and re-assessed. Recent scholarly approaches (including the work of classicists, anthropologists, religious studies scholars and postcolonial theorists) towards ritual, both ancient and modern, have often challenged existing methodological and theoretical frameworks for examining ritual and have sought to re-configure the ways in which we examine ritual dynamics by introducing new methodologies. This panel aims to explore these links in more detail, inviting papers that examine topics such as the relationship between theurgy and philosophy, especially cosmology, metaphysics and ethics; links between theory and practice in theurgy; the relationship between theurgy and contemporary Late Antique ritual and religious developments; ritual practices important for Neoplatonism and theurgy such as divination, telestikē (statue animation and divination), sacrifice and prayer; the attitudes of individual philosophers (such as Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus and Proclus) towards ritual; the role of contemplation and meditation within theurgy and Neoplatonic ritual practice more broadly; comparative work on theurgy and ritual praxis prevalent in Eastern traditions (such as Tibetan, Tantric, Hindu and Sufi traditions) and the roles of important texts, such as the Chaldean Oracles, Iamblichus’ De mysteriis and Proclus’ On the Hieratic Art, in the formation of ritual practices within Neoplatonism. Other related topics are also encouraged and will be considered.

What is the living being, what is the animal, what is the human being. From Plotinus to Damascius
Luisa Barresi and Daniela P. Taormina
Late antiquity Platonic philosophers inherit from tradition the interconnection between the notions of soul and living being: the soul is the “principle of movement” that breathes life into the body; the living being is a body that owns a soul. However an articulate notion of life overlaps this simple frame. Life, together with being and intellect forms a triad, whose elements involve each other, that stands in the second hypostasis level, the Intellect (νοῦς). Thus life (ζωή) enlarges to a dynamic continuity from the principle of real being to the universe lower limits and in parallel the notion of living being similarly extends to each reality, from the first to the last step of being.
This ontological scheme makes the constitutive process of living being hard since the soul seems to give life to a body that already owns it because of the universal extension of life and soul.
The panel aims at investigating how this complex topic has been faced in the 3rd-6th centuries AD by both pagan and Christian authors. According to this problematic issue living being, animal, human being can be seen through multiple points of view: ontological, psychological, ethical and biological.

The Reception of Neoplatonism in Medieval Philosophy: From Albert the Great to Nicholas of Cusa
Alessandra Beccarisi and Oscar Federico Bauchwitz
The Panel focuses on the reception and development of Neoplatonism from Albert the Great to Nicholas of Cusa. Contributions are expected to explore and elucidate the various readings and interpretations of direct and indirect sources of Medieval Neoplatonism.
El Panel tiene como objetivo congregar investigadores en torno a la recepción y el desarrollo del neoplatonismo desde Alberto Magno hasta Nicolás de Cusa. Se esperan contribuciones que expongan y problematicen las diversas lecturas e interpretaciones que las fuentes directas e indirectas del neoplatonismo han recibido en ese periodo.

Plotinus, Neoplatonism and the Gnostics: Challenges caused by the Nag Hammadi Library
Francisco García Bazán
The philosophical doctrine expounded by Plotinus in Rome in 265-266 C.E. (Enn. III, 8 [30], V, 8 [31], V, 5 [32]) and II, 9 [33]), and reaffirmed thirty five years later with biographical data by Porphyry in his Life of Plotinus, Ch. XVI, has initiated much research about the intersection of the Platonic tradition with the Gnostics, taking into consideration in addition new points contained in the Nag Hammadi Library. From this intersection of philosophical and religious worlds, reflected in texts both known and unexplored, arises a new picture of late-antique thought that allows us to distinguish between dualistic, contemplative Neoplatonists (Numenius, Plotinus, Porphyry), Pythagorizing Gnostics (Sethians, Valentinians, Basilidians), and hieratic Neoplatonists (Iamblichus, Proclus, Damascius). From Plotinus’ treatise Against the Gnostics to Iamblichus’ De Anima, a dialogue will be opened with presentations on related and contrasting topics.
La doctrina plotiniana desarrollada en Roma durante el curso lectivo de los años 265-266 (En III, 8 [30], V, 8 [31], V, 5 [32] y II, 9 [33]) y confirmada unos treinta y cinco años más tarde con datos históricos por Porfirio en la Vida de Plotino, capítulo XVI, invita a investigar la complejidad que implica el contacto de la tradición platónica con los gnósticos, teniendo en cuenta, además, los nuevos materiales que encierra y aporta la Biblioteca de Nag Hammadi. Del nexo de ambos mundos filosófico-religiosos reflejados en escritos conocidos e inexplorados surge un cuadro inédito en el marco del pensamiento tardoantiguo que permite distinguir y perfilar identidades a primera vista entre neoplatónicos dualistas y contemplativos (Numenio de Apamea, Plotino y Porfirio), gnósticos pitagorizantes (setianos, valentinianos, basilidianos) y neoplatónicos hieráticos (Jámblico, Proclo, Damascio). A partir del alegato de Plotino contra los gnósticos al De anima de Jámblico de Calcis, se abrirá el diálogo con exposiciones sobre la temática, afines y contrastantes.

Neoplatonic Education
Jean-Michel Charrue
The question: why Simplicius, at the end of Neoplatonic age chose for a commentary Epictetus’ Handbook continues to challenge us; we answered before, by the model theory in education (our Néoplatonisme, p. 145-46). We can add, perhaps, that Simplicius was first interested by practical freedom which was more preponderant in stoicism.
But Neoplatonism had an educational purpose, rich and multifarious, which concerns both the theoretical and the practical views, the first with the knowledge transfer that culminates in wisdom and the second which is the moral education, by the virtues. For instance, we find the two in the Neoplatonic Schools.
Neoplatonic Education is then institutional and individual in the training of the self or person for the great philosophers who provided their teaching. So, it will be interesting to investigate the variations through the different aspects of their process.
Ammonius Saccas, Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, Emperor Julian, Hypatia, Synesius of Cyrene, Hierocles of Alexandria, Proclus, Damascius, Simplicius, Ammonius son of Hermias, and many others, and Latin Neoplatonists also had their thoughts about the question, and it is by the particular we can grasp better the general.

Neoplatonism and Contemporary Science
Michael Chase
Neoplatonism is often regarded as a subject that is of purely antiquarianism interest, outdated and irrelevant to contemporary life. The goal of this series of panels is to show that on the contrary, certain aspects of Neoplatonic thought exhibit interesting parallels with some of the most recent developments in contemporary scientific thought. The differences between Neoplatonism and contemporary science are of course vast, but investigating both similarities and differences by comparing and contrasting the structures and presuppositions of these two bodies of thought may enable new light to be shed on both.
Papers are welcomed on any aspect of the the interface between Neoplatonism and contemporary science, both broadly construed. Some possible topics might include, but are not limited to, Big-Bang cosmology and Neoplatonic emanation, current brain sciences and Neoplatonic psychology, Neoplatonic and contemporary theories of space and time, chemistry and alchemy, astronomy and astrology, etc.

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

La Contemplation : La Perspective des Traités 30-33 de Plotin et Au-delà
Simon Fortier and Jean-Marc Narbonne
Le thème de la contemplation est l’un des plus célèbres de la philosophie plotinienne, l’un des plus étranges aussi, comme l’avait noté jadis Émile Bréhier, qui parlait à son égard de « l’un des paradoxes les plus violents qu’ait jamais produit la philosophie ». Le panel proposé a pour but de remettre en question la place et l’importance, à la fois historique et philosophique, de ce concept au sein de la série plus ou moins homogène – Großschrift ou Großzyklus – des traités 30 à 33 de Plotin. L’éclairage de cette notion pourra notamment bénéficier des études gnostiques mais reste également ouvert à d’autres approches ainsi qu’à des thématiques associées, dont celle par exemple de la mystique.

Neoplatonic Epistemology
Gary Gabor , Gary Gurtler , and D. M. Hutchinson
The Neoplatonic philosophers continued the investigation of epistemological problems initiated by earlier Greco-Roman philosophers. Through reflection on and engagement with earlier philosophical traditions, they offered new solutions to traditional epistemological problems and formulated and supplied answers to new problems and topics. Epistemological topics explored by the Neoplatonists include issues related to the methodology, scope, objects, process, and reflexive nature of knowledge. These include the relation described by Neoplatonists between intellects and intelligible objects; the nature of self-knowledge; intellectual progression and development, especially through the positing and comparison of one’s intellectual state with that of an ideal or series of ideal knowers; the contribution of sense-perception and imagination to embodied cognition; the structure of intentionality with respect to the sensible and intelligible worlds; the achievement of intellectual virtues like wisdom and prudence; the relation between belief, knowledge, and truth; and responses to skepticism.
In light of the various ways epistemological topics and themes have exercised Neoplatonic thinkers, this panel welcomes papers that (i) analyze and explore Neoplatonic epistemological themes from the period beginning with Plotinus and ending with Simplicius, (ii) examine the relation of Neoplatonic epistemological doctrines to other philosophical or scientific schools of antiquity, or the historical contribution of Neoplatonism to the history of reflection on epistemological topics, and/or (iii) draw on Neoplatonic resources for engaging with contemporary epistemological issues and topics. Preference will be given to papers which most clearly address epistemological themes in Neoplatonic thinkers, although they need not be limited to the suggested range of topics described in the first paragraph. Please submit proposals to all three session organizer listed above.

Cambridge Platonism and the Enigma of Early Modern Neoplatonism (Platonismo de Cambridge y el enigma del neoplatonismo en la temprana Modernidad)
Douglas Hedley and Natalia Strok
The Cambridge Platonists form one of the most important schools in the history of Western Philosophy. They were consciously inheritors of an ancient tradition and yet they coined the word “Cartesianism” and influenced Newton. The school seems to present a Janus face- pointing both back to late Antiquity and forward to Modernity. We invite papers on this seminal period of Platonic thought and its impact in following developments.
Los Platónicos de Cambridge forman una de las más importantes escuelas en la historia de la filosofía occidental. Ellos fueron herederos conscientes de una tradición antigua y al mismo tiempo acuñaron el término “cartesianismo” e influenciaron en Newton. De esta manera, la escuela parece una especie de Jano, pues presenta dos caras: una que señala hacia la Antigüedad y simultáneamente otra que apunta a la Modernidad. Invitamos trabajos sobre este fecundo período del pensamiento platónico y sobre su impacto en desarrollos posteriores.

Dike, Cosmic order and Moral order
Hyun Höchsmann
The distinct perspectives on dike from epic poetry, the Pre-socratics, Plato and Aristotle to the Neoplatonic philosophers continue to have resonance in moral discourse and action.
This panel will explore various questions pertaining to dike:
• The varying conceptions of justice (Justice as order in the cosmos and in the soul, as harmony, reciprocity, rectification or benevolence.)
• The goals of justice
• The means of establishing justice
• Is there a hierarchy of virtues? (Is friendship a higher virtue than justice?)
• What is the connection between law (divine and human) and justice?
• Is there connection between cosmic order and moral order?
Other related topics and amplifications (nomos as music and law) will also be considered.

Kabbalah, Gnosticism and Neoplatonism: How Are they related? Or are they?
Emilie Kutash
Is the Kabbalah a form of esoteric mysticism that is derived from or related to Neoplatonism or Gnosticism? Gershom Scholem documents Graez and others who have asserted that Kabbalah is based in Neoplatonism. What is the relation of emanation and creationism in Jewish thought? Is there any connection between Neoplatonist emanation and hypostatic levels of being and the Kabbalist Sefirot? Is Gnosticism related to Kabbalist literature? Is Southern France where the Kabbalist literature originated, or is the voluminous kabalistic work of the thirteenth century related to any co-contemporaneous Neoplatonist or Gnostic literature? Are concepts like the Shekhinah of Kabbalah related to Sophia? Any exploration of these or other related questions are welcome on this panel.

On the Liber de causis´ Presence and Vigour in the Second Half of the 13th Century
Jorge Machetta
We invite scholars to take part in this panel focused mainly on the the crisis caused by the emergence of Aristoteles´ texts and their relation to the Liber de causis and its axioms. Two interpretations are particularly outstanding, namely that of Albert the Great –who argues in favor of the peripatetic lineage of the Liber de causis– and Thomas Aquinas –who demonstrates its dependence on the platonic theology of Proclus–. Thus, we enter a decisive stage in the conception of the metaphysics of causality, one whose influence on the posterity of medieval and modern philosophy will proved determinant.
La convocatoria invita a estudiosos a participar en este panel que se concentra sobre todo en la crisis provocada con motivo de la irrupción de los textos de Aristóteles puestos en relación con los axiomas del Liber de causis. En ello se destacan las lecturas realizadas por Alberto Magno que sustenta la tesis de la índole aristotélica del libro y Tomás de Aquino que demuestra su dependencia de la teología platónica de Proclo. Se genera entonces una instancia decisiva en la concepción de la metafísica de la causalidad cuya influencia en la posteridad medieval y en la filosofía moderna será determinante.

Neoplatonic Demonologies – Pagan and Christian in Conversation
Seamus O’Neill
The study of demonology is connected to many aspects of philosophy, religion, and ritual practise in Late Antiquity. Aside from texts such as the De Deo Socratis of Apuleius and the De Mysteriis of Iamblichus, however, the extant treatises exclusively dedicated to the subject of demons in this period are few. Nevertheless, the topic of demonology arises within works dedicated to other topics written by many Neoplatonic thinkers including Plotinus, Porphyry, Iamblichus, and, of course, Plato himself. Belief in the existence and agency of demons underlies and permeates the thought of these figures; they are essential to the ontological makeup of the cosmos and have a vital role to play within the mediation
between human and divine. The demonological passages in Neoplatonic texts often leave us with scattered and fragmentary accounts, creating many difficulties for the scholar attempting to reconstruct the particular demonologies of their authors. This panel welcomes papers on all aspects of the reconstruction of Neoplatonic demonologies, and is
especially interested in comparisons and contrasting ideas and interactions between Hellenic/Pagan and Christian demonologies, and how their representative thinkers draw upon and critique the ideas and doctrines of their contemporaries.

Neoplatonism in the Islamic World: Jewish, Christian and Muslim
Daniel Regnier
This panel is devoted to Neoplatonism in the Islamic world (focusing on the period from the founding of the Ummayad Caliphate (661) to the end of the Safavid Dynasty (1736) in Persia and geographically by the rulers who identified themselves as Muslim during this period, i.e. from Andalusia to Northern India). The panel is interested in all aspects of Neoplatonic thought in the work of philosophers of the Islamic world, including metaphysics, ethics, psychology, etc. The panel solicits papers on philosophers of the three ‘peoples of the book’ working in the context of the Islamic world, i.e. Jews (e.g. Ibn Gabirol), Christians (e.g. Yahya Ibn Adi), and of course Muslims. In particular, we welcome papers on the reception of the Arabic Plotinus and the Arabic Proclus by thinkers of the Islamic world.

El tema neoplatónico de la audacia y la caída y sus proyecciones en el pensamiento patrístico y medieval. (The Neoplatonic subject of the audacity and fall and its impact in the Patristic and Medieval Thought.)
Rubén Peretó Rivas
La idea de que las almas de los hombres han “caído” del estado superior en el que habían sido creadas y, como resultado de esa caída, habitan los cuerpos, encuentra en Platón uno de sus principales exponentes, quien le da forma en su mito de las almas aladas (Fedro 246a-249d). Esta idea es retomada y mantenida por los autores neoplatónicos quienes, a su vez, la transmiten al pensamiento cristiano. En la Patrística, el concepto de “caída” del noûs resulta central en la obra de Orígenes y, a través de él, en otros autores de la Escuela Alejandrina y del cristianismo griego en general.
En este panel se propone discutir el hecho mismo de la caída, los motivos de la misma – se halla aquí de modo particular el concepto de audacia y sus diferentes interpretaciones – en los autores del neoplatonismo y el modo en el que esta doctrina influyó y se propagó en el cristianismo patrístico y medieval.
The idea that men´s souls have fallen from the greater state in which they were created and, as the result, they inhabit human bodies, is found in the Plato´s myth of the winged soul (Phaedrus 246a–249d). This idea is supported by Neoplatonic authors and, through them, by several Christian writers. In the Patristic thought, the concept of the fall of the noûs is central in Origen, the Alexandrian authors and, widely, in Greek Christianity.
In this panel we propose a discussion on the concept of the fall, its reason –particularly the concept of audacity and its interpretations- in the Neoplatonic authors and the way this doctrine influenced in the Patristic and Medieval Christianity.