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Conference to explore Aristotle's influence

Friday, April 24, 2015

LAWRENCE — Today the ideas of Aristotle, perhaps the most influential philosopher in the Western tradition, is once again serving as a stimulus in almost every area of philosophy.

In ethics, in philosophy of science, in metaphysics, in philosophy of mind, contemporary philosophers have been turning to Aristotle, who lived 384– 22 B.C., for help in solving problems to which the resources of more modern philosophy seem to have proven inadequate. These various contemporary returns to Aristotle have in turn reinvigorated the study of Aristotle’s work by specialists in Greek philosophy.

A conference today and Saturday, April 24-25, at the University of Kansas will bring together both well-established and younger ancient philosophy specialists who will present their recent research on Aristotle.

"We’re fortunate to be able to bring some world-class Aristotle scholars to KU. There are people interested in Aristotle in schools and colleges across the region, and they’re excited to hear cutting-edge research at a conference here in Lawrence," said Tom Tuozzo, professor of philosophy.

Tuozzo's 2015 Morrison Teaching Award is providing some funding for the conference. Other sponsors include the Department of Philosophy, the Hall Center for the Humanities and KU's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences.

The conference begins at 1 p.m. Friday at the Hall Center for the Humanities.

The first day will feature a paper by Professor David Bronstein of Georgetown University on Aristotle’s critique of the Platonic theory that, for us to be able to attain knowledge through inquiry, it must somehow be already innate in us. There will also be a paper by Professor David Ebrey of Northwestern University on Aristotle’s invention of the philosophical conception of matter.

Saturday's program begins at 9:30 a.m. and will take place at the Max Kade Center for German-American Studies, 1134 W. 11th St. The day will be devoted to Aristotelian ethics and psychology.

The first paper, given by Professor Mitzi Lee of the University of Colorado-Boulder, is devoted to an analysis of Aristotle’s account of justice. Professor Victor Caston of the University of Michigan gives the second paper, demonstrating the way in which Aristotle constitutes the study of the soul as a unitary philosophical discipline, despite his recognition that no univocal account can be given of psychic activity as such. And in the final paper, Professor Sarah Broadie of the University of St. Andrews address an important question in Aristotle’s moral philosophy: the relation between virtue, or what might be called moral worth, and other kinds of value, such as that attaching to health, wealth, reputation.