The Metaphysics of Relations in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

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About the Summer School

Understanding how the philosophers of classical antiquity have conceived of what we would call the metaphysics of relations has been a challenge for scholars. While the ancients acknowledge relational statements, as we do, there is a fundamental difference between us and them about the ontology of their truth-makers. Among the ancients, we shall explore how Plato and Aristotle thought about the issue. Aristotle introduced an influential approach to the ontology of relations, as (so-called) monadic properties (rather than as polyadic ones), which can each belong only to each of the individuals which are related. Just as this book has the particular qualitative accident of being black, which belongs to it alone, so it, alone, also has the particular relational qualification of being older than that book. In turn, that book, alone, will have its own particular relational qualification of being newer than this book. For the ancients, the difficult question about relations is whether they (e.g. x being equal to y) do anything more than simultaneously qualify each of their relata (e.g. as equal); we shall try to understand how the ancients dealt with what we can call the ‘relational’ metaphysical role of relations, over and above their role as qualifications.

According to a widely held view, medieval philosophers followed Aristotle and viewed relations as monadic properties. But recent work, especially but not exclusively on earlier medieval philosophy, shows that the range of views was far wider. We shall look both at authors who fit the traditional interpretation, such as Abelard and Aquinas, and those who do not, such as Boethius and Eriugena, continuing the discussion of the two metaphysical roles of relations: relational and as qualifications.

The teaching will be arranged into morning lectures, run jointly by Anna Marmodoro and John Marenbon, and texted based afternoon seminars run by two teaching assistants. The Summer School will end with a conference on Relations in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy, followed back-to-back by one on Relations in Contemporary Metaphysics.

Organizers:

John Marenbon (University of Cambridge)
Anna Marmodoro (University of Durham)
Rodrigo Ballon Villanueva (Università della Svizzera italiana)
Paolo Gigli (Università della Svizzera italiana)

 

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  • Schedule of the Summer School on Relations

    The following is a provisional schedule still subject to changes.

     

     

    MONDAY 6

    Introduction

    17.00-18.30 Introduction & group discussion

    TUESDAY 7

    Ancient Philosophy section

    09.30-11.00 Lecture
    11.00-11.30 Break time
    11.30-13.00 Lecture
       
    16.00-17.30 Paolo Gigli - Seminar on Plato Phaedo 102b-105b
    17.30-18.00 Break time
    18.00-19.00 Taylor Pincin - The Relations(?) of Sameness and Difference in Metaphysics Zeta 6

    WEDNESDAY 8

    Ancient Philosophy section

    09.30-11.00 Lecture
    11.00-11.30 Break time
    11.30-13.00 Lecture
       
    16.00-17.30 Paolo Gigli - Seminar on Plato Parmenides 133c-134e
    17.30-18.00 Break time
    18.00-19.00 Carla Peri - Stoic Relations: Blending and Colocation

    THURSDAY 9

    Medieval Philosophy section

    09.30-11.00 Lecture
    11.00-11.30 Break time
    11.30-13.00 Lecture
       
    16.00-17.30 Suf Amichay - Seminar on Avicenna Metaphysics of the Healing book 3, chapter 10
    17.30-18.00 Break time
    18.00-19.00 Andrea Lupo - Mereological Commitments of Stoic Metaphysics

    FRIDAY 10

    Medieval Philosophy section

    09.30-11.00 Lecture
    11.00-11.30 Break time
    11.30-12.15 Lecture
    12.15-13.00 Rodrigo Ballon Villanueva - Eriugena's theory of relations
    16.00-17.30 Suf Amichay - Seminar on Bacon Multiplication of Species, chapter 1
    17.30-18.00 Break time
    18.00-18.45 John Pemberton - Identity Relations
    18.45-19.30 Charlotte Erika Zito - Anaxagoras, Fundamental Particles and Dispositionalism: a new argument against the infinite regress objection
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