Annual Aristotle and Aristotelianism Conference



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Plato and Platonism in

Aristotle and the Aristotelian Tradition

This Conference is intended to provide a formal occasion and central location for philosophers and scholars of the Midwest region (and elsewhere) to present and discuss their current work on Aristotle and his interpreters in ancient and medieval philosophy.

Presented by the Midwest Seminar in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy with the support of the Department of Philosophy at Marquette University

Fourteenth Annual Marquette Summer Seminar on

Aristotle and the Aristotelian Tradition

24-26 June 2019

Beaumier Conference Center B-C

Raynor Memorial Library

Marquette University

Department of Philosophy

Marquette Hall

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-1881

PRESENTERS: Established Scholars: send a title and tentative abstract; Graduate Students: send a title, abstract and have your faculty advisor or dissertation director email indicating that you are doing professional level work. (This need not be a full recommendation.)  Send applications to:


The Organizing Committee will select presenters on the basis of promise of quality of proposals (title and abstract) and scholarly record as the primary criteria.  Presenters selected will be asked to confirm their participation by registering and paying the conference fee ($45).


ATTENDING ONLY: Send Registration check with name, address, academic affiliation.



(fees cover breakfasts, refreshments, picnic dinner one night)

Advance Registration ($40 by check) Deadline: May 1, 2019.

NOTE => After May 1 Registration only at the door: $45 cash.

CHECKS SHOULD BE MADE OUT TO: Marquette University

(Fees are waived for Marquette students, faculty and staff for on campus events only.)


Registration Form.

=> ALL ATTENDEES (including the Marquette community) are asked to register.<=








(Registration fees are waived for members of the Marquette community.)


Print the Registration Form above and send your check made out to “Marquette University” to:

Owen Goldin

Philosophy Department

Marquette University

P.O. Box 1880

Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881

For housing options, see the bottom of this webpage.

Conference Schedule 2019 

All sessions will be held in the Beaumier Conference Center in the lower level of Raynor Library at 1355 W. Wisconsin Ave.

For a campus map, click

MONDAY JUNE 24 :  Beaumier Conference Center, Raynor Library 

9-10:15 am [1] Prof. Robert Bolton, Rutgers University  TBA

10:20-11:35 am [2]  Prof. Andrew Payne, St. Joseph’s University

Dialectic and Definition in Plato and Aristotle: Republic 7 and the Topics

11:40 am-1:00 pm Lunch: suggestions: Law School Cafe, AMU (Student Union), Subway, Jimmy John’s Subs, local Pizza restaurant, Qdoba, Miss Katie’s Diner, and more in the immediate area.

1:00-2:15 pm: [3]  Prof. Jason G. Rheins, Loyola University Chicago

Aristotle on Plato’s Noēton Zōon and the Object of Divine Contemplation

2:20-3:35 pm [4] Prof. Jerry Green, University of Central Oklahoma

The Platonic Soul of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

3:40-5:00 pm [5] Prof. Mor Segev, University of South Florida

Immortality in Aristotle’s Eudemus, Fr. 6, Ross

6:00 pm  Picnic (TBA)

Carpooling available.

TUESDAY JUNE 25: Beaumier Conference Center, Raynor Library 

9-10:15 : [6]  Dr. Greg Sadler, ReasonIO, Marquette University, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

The Significance of Thumos in Platonic and Aristotelian Moral Psychology

10:20-11:35  [7]  Mr. Rory Hanlon, University of Chicago

Aristotle’s Criticisms of Platonic Soul-Partition

11:40 am-1:00 pm Lunch: suggestions: Law School Cafe, AMU (Student Union), Subway, Jimmy John’s Subs, local Pizza restaurant, Qdoba, Miss Katie’s Diner, and more in the immediate area.

1:00-2:15 pm: [8]  Mr. Christopher Hauser, Rutgers University

Aquinas on the Separability of the Human Soul

2:20-3:35 pm [9]  Prof. Rosemary Twomey, Queens College CUNY

On the Structure of Aristotle’s Response to Plato’s Arguments for Rationalism

3:40-5:00 pm [10]  Dr. Daniele Manni, Triton College

Plato’s Ethos Theory of Music in the Peripatetic Tradition.

Dinner suggestions will be provided at the meeting.

WEDNESDAY JUNE 26: Beaumier Conference Center, Raynor Library 

9-10:15 : [11] Dr. Giulio Di Basilio, University College, Dublin

Aristotle’s on the Voluntariness of Self-Control and Lack of Self-Control (EE II 8)

10:20-11:35  [12] Prof. Ian McReady-Flora, University of Virginia

Persuaded Animals: Reason and Conviction in Aristotle contra Plato

11:40 am-1:00 pm Lunch: suggestions: Law School Cafe, AMU (Student Union), Subway, Jimmy John’s Subs, local Pizza restaurant, Qdoba, Miss Katie’s Diner, and more in the immediate area.

1:00-2:15 pm: [13]   ]  Fr. Ignacio De Ribera-Martin, The Catholic University of America

Aristotle’s Platonic and Natural Definitions of Death

2:20-3:35 pm [14]  Prof. Jonathan Buttaci, The Catholic University of America

οὐδὲν κωλύει: Socrates, Cebes, and Aristotle on the Incorruptibility of the Soul

3:40-5:00 pm [15]  Dr. Victor Saenz, Houston Institute and Rice University

Aristotle’s Platonic Ethics: Epithumia and the Scheme of the Character Virtues

Dinner suggestions will be provided at the meeting.


Prof. Robert Bolton, Rutgers University  TBA

Prof. Jonathan Buttaci, The Catholic University of America 

οὐδὲν κωλύει: Socrates, Cebes, and Aristotle on the Incorruptibility of the Soul

A chief philosophical concern in Plato’s Phaedo is the incorruptibility of the soul. At several points both Simmias and Cebes appeal to the idea that “nothing prevents” (οὐδὲν κωλύει) the soul itself suffering corruption, seeking to cast doubt on Socrates’ arguments in favor of its incorruptibility. This idea is introduced as a vulgar or popular view that after death the soul dissolves “like breath or smoke” (70a). The position is later refined by Simmias, who becomes convinced that our souls must preexist our coming to be humans, but asks “What prevents (τί κωλύωι)…the soul, having departed from the body, itself dying and being destroyed?” (77b). Cebes later presents this thought in its most developed form in his Cloak-Weaver objection (88a), which Socrates summarizes at the beginning of his reply in this way: “you say that nothing prevents (οὐδὲν κωλύει)” proving all sorts of fine things about the soul, without thereby “indicating its immortality” (95c).

Unlike the popular conception of the separated soul as quickly dissipating smoke, Simmias’ and Cebes’ objections do not outright deny the incorruptibility of the soul, but rather ask on what grounds one can affirm it. Accordingly, in successive stages they place the argumentative burden on Socrates to explain why one should expect the soul to continue to exist. Now any argument with this structure—one that appeals to the idea that “nothing prevents” or “nothing stands in the way”—must presume some default expectation, a specification of what may ordinarily result. Here, the image of physical hindrance or impediment is helpful to illustrate the more metaphorical use of the verb: unless something hinders or prevents them, stones fall to the ground. To ask “What prevents this stone from falling?” or to assert “nothing prevents its falling” is to assume that stones, in general, fall. Although these assumptions may remain implicit in particular contexts, ordinarily context itself makes clear what is to be expected, especially in the case of physical impediments. Therefore, in our case, the implicit assumption driving Cebes’ final objection is that, unless something should intervene to prevent it, each soul will eventually itself perish and die. The first part of my paper, then, investigates the logic of prevention and hindrance, focusing on how to interpret claims that “nothing prevents” (οὐδὲν κωλύει) some result, both in general and as applied to the question of the soul’s incorruptibility in Plato’s Phaedo.

Against this Platonic background, Aristotle’s use of the same phrase in connection with the soul becomes very interesting. Two passages in particular make this evident. (1) At the end of de Anima II.1, having established that the soul and certain parts are inseparable from the body, since they are its principle and actuality, he issues one qualification: “But nothing prevents (οὐθὲν κωλύει) some parts from being separable, on account of not being the actuality of any body” (413a7-8). Moreover, (2) when discussing substantial forms in Metaphysics Λ.2, Aristotle comments: “It must be considered whether some form remains afterwards [i.e. after corruption of the composite], for in some cases nothing prevents this (οὐδὲν κωλύει). For example, if the soul is of such a sort, not all soul, but the intellect, for it is perhaps impossible for all soul” (1070a24-26).

In this second part of the paper, then, I argue that Aristotle’s account of soul as substantial form allows him to expect its survival rather than its corruption, an expectation that is implicitly invoked in the above two passages. By making use of “nothing prevents” (οὐδὲν κωλύει), Aristotle deliberately recalls the argumentative form from the Phaedo while reversing the argumentative burden. Rather than asking what prevents the soul from perishing, he asks what prevents its survival. Thus, Aristotle works within the program of the Phaedo while building upon the arguments both of Socrates and of his more skeptical interlocutors alike.

Consequently, when considering Aristotle as a critic of his teacher, we ought to take him at his word when he says, as he sometimes does (and, it is worth noting, on one occasion very near to a passage quoted above): “Plato was not far wrong” (Metaphysics Λ.2 1070a18, trans. Tredennick: οὐ κακῶς Πλάτων ἔφη).

Fr. Ignacio De Ribera-Martin, The Catholic University of America

Aristotle’s Platonic and Natural Definitions of Death

While death is a familiar and inexorable phenomenon in nature, it is both unnatural (cf. Aristotle, Physics II.2, 194a30-33) and obscure. As Hans Jonas puts it, life is the given, the problem is why death occurs. It is obscure because, on the one hand, death is a metaphysical phenomenon (not a natural process that is observable and takes time) and, at the same time, it is not a phenomenon unrelated to the course of nature on the other: we have some unequivocal signs of being-alive and of being-dead. Accordingly, philosophers, biologists, and physicians, albeit from different perspectives, approach the same phenomenon. What then is death? Why does it occur? What can the philosopher say about it and how is such account related to the biological and medical accounts?

In the Phaedo, Socrates defines death (hô thanatos) as “the separation/detachment (apallagê) of the soul from the body.” As a result, being dead (to tethnanai) is the coming to be of the body itself by itself, apart (chôris) and detached (apallagen) from the soul, and the being of the soul itself by itself apart (chôris) and detached (appalageisan) from the body (Plato, Phaedo 64c4-8). In the Gorgias, we find a similar definition: death is “the breakingup (dialusis) of two things, the soul and the body, from one another” (Plato, Gorgias 524b35). 

This Platonic definition of death, which has become standard in many trends of the history of philosophy and theology, appears to be endorsed by Aristotle in the De anima. For example, Aristotle uses the verbs chôrizomai, apoballô, and apoleipô to illustrate the phenomenon of death (cf. DA II.1, 412b12-26). And he famously says that only nous (poietikos) is separable (chôristheis) from the body (cf. DA III.5, 430a22-26; see also I.4 408b18-30 and II.1, 413a2-10). Aristotle’s endorsement of Plato’s definition of death raises important questions, for example, regarding its tension with Aristotle’s hylomorphic—and not dualist—account of the living body and this definition’s implicit commitment to some subsistence of the soul itself by itself. Indeed, such Platonic definition does not seem to describe the death of animals, which should be defined as the loss or destruction of the soul, rather as its separation. 

Another important question, which is the object of this paper, is how to reconcile this Platonic, metaphysical, definition of death with Aristotle’s own natural account of death in the Parva Naturalia. As we learn from On Length and Shortness of Life, and particularly from On Youth and Old Age; Of Life and Death and On Respiration, life coincides with the conservation of vital heat (On Youth IV, 469b7-9) and the death of a blooded animal consists in the loss or failure of such vital heat in the heart: “the so-called death is the corruption (phthora) of this [heat (thermou)]” (On Youth IV, 469b19-20; see also On Resp. XVII, 478b31-32). As Aristotle explains, fire is destroyed in two ways: either 1) by internal exhaustion/dying out (maransis) due to old age or 2) by external extinction/quenching (sbesis) due to lacking enough heat to counter the violent action of contraries such as cold (On Youth V, 469b21ff; see also On Resp. VIII, 474b13-24). The function of nourishment and of respiration, respectively, is precisely to fuel the heat (On Resp. XVI, 478b17-21) and to cool it down so as to prevent both its extinction and its exhaustion (On Resp. XVII, 479a79). Starvation (On Length V, 466b28-29) leads to death by extinction, while old age leads to death by exhaustion, by making the lungs dry and, at some point, finally unable to refrigerate (cf. On Resp. IX, 475a27-29; On Resp. XVII, 479a10-15; and On Resp. XVIII, 479b3-7). In this sense “inhalation and exhalation control life and death” (On Resp. V, 472b25-28).

The purpose of this paper is to explore whether, and if so how, the philosophical and the natural accounts of death can be reconciled, a question that has serious implications for contemporary moral debates on life and death. Aristotle, a natural scientist for whom there is no distinction between “philosophy of nature” and “science of nature,” and who provides both a philosophical and a natural account of death, promises to be a good place to turn to in order to look for an answer to this question. In particular, Aristotle’s account of hypothetical necessity in nature (Phys. II.9) and the existence of a primary (kurios) physical organ (the heart, for Aristotle) will reveal as key elements to addressing this problem.

Dr. Giulio Di Basilio, University College, Dublin

Aristotle’s on the Voluntariness of Self-Control and Lack of Self-Control (EE II 8)

In book II, chs. 7-9 of the Eudemian Ethics (EE) Aristotle discusses voluntariness. This is not a feature distinctive of the Eudemian treatise. Its better-known sibling, the Nicomachean Ethics (EN), devotes as much space to the same topic (EN III 1 & 5). However, only in the EE does one find a thorough discussion of the voluntariness of enkrateia and akrasia. This thesis is moreover crucial for Aristotle’s treatment of akrasia in EN VII (=EE VI), where it is simply assumed that akrasia is voluntary.

In this paper I examine Aristotle’s argument in EE II 8 in defence of the claim that enkrateia and akrasia are voluntary. My broad aim is to do justice to the significance of this section, which is usually dealt with cursorily (for instance, it receives only few pages in Woods’s and Dirlmeier’s commentaries). More specifically, I aim to do two things: first, to reconstruct in detail Aristotle’s argument to the effect that both enkrateia and akrasia are voluntary. Here I take issue with Müller (2015)–an otherwise compelling account of voluntariness in the EE–in that I argue that the impulse grounding voluntariness need not be acquired–the uncontrolled agent acts from appetite, which is not acquired. Rather, Aristotle emphasises the notion of ‘natural impulse’, and shows that nature is spoken of in two ways corresponding to the impulses the self-controlled and the un-self-controlled agents act on, respectively. Second, following Walzer (1929), I argue that the case of self-control and its lack is important for Aristotle’s agenda as it is part and parcel of Aristotle’s rejection of the Socratic/Platonic asymmetry thesis, i.e. the idea that while virtue is voluntary, vice is involuntary. According to the Socratic thesis, no-one does wrong voluntarily and bad action is always the result of ignorance of the good. Since the un-self-controlled agent does something wrong the supporter of the asymmetry thesis is committed to showing that lack of self-control is not voluntary.

Interestingly, Aristotle goes out of his way to explain the mistake made by his opponents, and points out that the Platonic understanding of the soul-partition provides one with a framework to conceive of lack of self-control as involuntary. If, indeed, the soul is partitioned into a rational and a non-rational part, akrasia and enkrateia can be conceived as episodes where one of the parts of the soul is compelled by the other–and compulsion causes involuntary behaviour. But, as is well-known, Aristotle has roundly rejected the idea that the human soul has parts as the Platonists conceive of them (1219b32-36). Nevertheless, Aristotle is still committed to giving a different understanding of force whereby virtue, vice, self-control, and lack thereof all come out as voluntary. This is what he does in EE II 8.

These considerations shed significant light on the milieu of Aristotle’s EE. Indeed, I conclude that Aristotle is engaging in a dialogue with the Academics–a sign that the EE is an early work. I end with some questions for Aristotle.

Prof. Jerry Green, University of Central Oklahoma

The Platonic Soul of Aristotle’s Nicomachean Ethics

It is commonly held that Aristotle disagrees with Plato about the parts and powers of the soul. When it comes to the Eudemian Ethics, this is certainly the case: Aristotle distinguishes theoretical from practical wisdom as faculties belonging to distinct parts of the soul in EE VIII.2 and VIII.3. NE VI famously endorses the same view. But, this is a “common book” which was originally written for the EE. If we look at the undisputed NE books (NE I-IV, VII-X), we see a different view: there are only three parts of the soul, and the rational soul is both theoretical and practical.

This observation tells us two important things. First, it is not obvious that the Common Books fit neatly in the NE as we have it. Second, the undisputed books are actually closer in content to Plato than the undisputed EE. In this paper I focus on this second conclusion, demonstrating just how close the undisputed NE’s view of the soul really is to Plato’s Republic, Phaedrus, and Timaeus, particularly when it comes to the dual-nature of rationality and the relationship between ruling and ruled parts of the soul.

Mr. Rory Hanlon, University of Chicago

Aristotle’s Criticisms of Platonic Soul-Partition

Although Plato and his Academic successors were not the first within Greek thought to describe the soul in terms of parts, it was a central achievement of Platonic psychology that it provided perhaps the first philosophical account of psychic parthood. It is not surprising, then, that Aristotle addresses this account within his own theory of soul in De Anima ( DA ). In this paper, I argue that Aristotle provides a substantial and compelling challenge in DA III.9-10 to

Platonic soul-partition, such as the kind we find in Republic, Phaedrus, Timaeus, and Laws . On my reading, this challenge comes in two parts. Aristotle initially argues that a criterion of psychic parthood is implicitly endorsed in traditional forms of psychic partition: bipartition (into rational and nonrational parts) and Platonic tripartition (into appetitive, spirited, and rational parts). This criterion is uniqueness or difference in account —that psychic parts are psychic capacities that conceptually or definitionally differ from all others. Such a criterion can be read into Platonic tripartition, in which psychic parts are chiefly individuated by conceptual differences in their characteristic activities and objects. Next, Aristotle argues that difference in account is fundamentally flawed as a criterion for psychic parthood. I identify three central shortcomings.

First, difference in account implies an indefinite number of psychic parts. Because every psychic capacity can be given a unique definition, difference in account effectively makes all of an

organism’s capacities into psychic parts, even those as trivial as the capacity to grow fingernails or to sneeze. This, in turn, undermines a distinction between basic psychic capacities (psychic parts) and the innumerably many non-basic psychic capacities, which is crucial to the very project of describing the structure of the soul. Second, difference in account breaks apart capacities that are naturally unified. Because some capacities, such as perception or desire, are active within all three Platonic soul parts, these capacities would then be inappropriately split into distinct parts (e.g., appetitive perception, spirited perception, etc.). Third, difference in account allows Platonic soul-partition to be overly narrow and parochial in its outlook, focusing exclusively on the human soul. Platonic partition thereby fails to account for the status of capacities shared with other organisms, such as nutritive and reproductive capacities. In sum, Aristotle convincingly argues that Platonic soul-partition fails as a theoretical account of the structure of the soul.

Mr. Christopher Hauser, Rutgers University

Aquinas on the Separability of the Human Soul

Thomas Aquinas’ discussion of the separability of the human soul has occasioned much debate amongst scholars.  It is clear that Aquinas maintains that a human soul can exist apart from (i.e., without enforming) a body and, in fact, does exist apart from a body during the interim state between a human person’s death and her bodily resurrection.  But does Aquinas think, as Plato thought, that a human person can exist without a body?  Does Aquinas think that human persons exist during the interim state between their death and bodily resurrection?  Survivalists defend the affirmative answer: these authors claim that Aquinas’ view is that human persons can exist without a body and in fact do exist without a body during the interim state between their death and resurrection.  Corruptionists deny this: these authors claim that Aquinas’ view is that only a human person’s soul can exist without a body and only a human person’s soul in fact does exist during the interim state; the person ceases to exist when she dies and comes to exist again only when the separated soul is reunited with a body.

In this paper, I offer a novel argument on behalf of the Survivalist interpretation.  The argument proceeds from three key premises: (i) Aquinas maintains that, when a human person dies, something continues to understand (intelligere) and hence to act/operate in the interim state; (ii) Aquinas maintains that, properly speaking, only supposits act/operate; and (iii) Aquinas denies that human souls, including separated human souls, are supposits.  In the course of doing so, I clarify Aquinas’ position on the relationship between human persons and their souls and show how Aquinas makes room for the possibility that a human person exists without a body without ending up with what he regards as the Platonic position, according to which a human person is not a compound of body and soul but rather a ‘soul using a body’.

Dr. Daniele Manni, Triton College

Plato’s Ethos Theory of Music in the Peripatetic Tradition

In my paper I will argue that it is possible to outline a genuine ethos theory of music in Plato’s last dialogue, the Laws, and that such theory is preserved in the peripatetic school, in the writings of Aristotle and Aristoxenos.

I will begin by distinguishing a genuine version of the ethos theory of music from a traditional version, in Plato’s dialogues. Simply stated, the ethos theory maintains that musical elements have moral values and affect the character of the spectator. In the Republic this theory is predicated mostly on the basis of traditional elements. Socrates1 relies on Damon of OA’s musical theory to make a case for moral education through music. However, as Robert Wallace remarks correctly, Damon’s theory must have fallen into the confines of the ancient Greek sensibility for music, one in which as “[t]he people sang, they became the poet and said his words as their own” (ivi 261). This uncritical reception of the ethos theory is revised in the Laws, where Plato combines a thesis about habit formation with a possible explanation of musical effects on the human psyche. The result is a genuine ethos theory of music. In the Laws the Athenian proposes to understand the psychological process of habituation by means of an analogy with the assimilation of food in the body, specifying that “in the same way one must consider that it [habituation] happens with regards to human intelligence and the natures of the souls” (Leg. 7.798a). From this analogy we can derive a four-step thesis about habit formation. This thesis about habituation can then be applied to music’s effects on the psyche. On the one hand, habitual participation in musical production reinforces some natural pleasures the human psyche finds in rational order and virtue.2 On the other hand, musical performances also reinforce the audience’s semi-rational expectations, which function as psychological motivations for some basic virtues. These semi-rational expectations hinge upon some basic psychological functions, memory and imagination.3 Habitual exposure to these performances will reinforce the audience’s semi-rational motivations when they are required to act virtuously.

Once a genuine ethos theory of music in Plato’s Laws is defined, I will move on to present evidences of its preservation in the works of Aristotle and Aristoxenos. Despite his criticism of Plato’s Republic in the second book of the Politics, in book eight Aristotle agrees with some of Plato’s claims from Laws 2 and 7. Specifically he echoes Plato’s analysis of the role of music in moral development. For instance, while we can ascribe claims like the distaste for banuistic activities to Aristotle’s and Plato’s political conservatism,4 we must recognize that specific references to the limits of Spartan moral education,5 to the contribution of music to achieve the end of the state (virtue in the case of the Laws, and leisure in the case of the Politics)6 and to the necessity of investigating music as a plausible tool of moral education7 – just to mention few – paint Plato’s Laws and Aristotle’s Politics in a relation of continuity with regards to the genuine ethos theory of music.

Like Plato, Aristotle wonders if the value of music is to be found only in the performance of music or also in attending music performed by others.8 He maintains that, generally speaking, music pleases the psyche by means of melody and rhythm, but also that someone “who listens to imitations becomes affected by […] feelings, even apart from rhythm and melody themselves” (Pol. 8.1340a11). As result, certain types of music correspond to virtues and other states of character (ivi 18-21). One can received moral training in these states of character by means of “habituation in feeling pain and delight at representations of reality is close to feeling them towards actual reality” (ivi 24-25). Thus in the Politics Aristotle agrees with Plato that musical habituation reinforces psychological traits and it may result in moral training. However, it is yet unclear whether he thinks that music can affect semi-rational elements of the psyche.

In the Poetics 9 Aristotle makes the case for a specific enjoyment of imitations, separate from the pleasure that artistic materials might arouse. This enjoyment comes as consequence of the human ability to connect memories to the referent of imitation. In a passage concerning graphic depictions, he states that human beings “delight in seeing images for this reason: because of their understanding and reasoning out what each things is when they contemplate them, for instance “that’s who this is,” since if one happens not to have seen him before, the image will not produce pleasure in an imitation, but only on account of its workmanship or coloring of for some other reason” (1448b 15-20). In other words Aristotle states that our ability to appreciate imitations (and thus also the products of music) is dependent on our ability to reason and find referents in our memory of previous experiences.

From this perspective it seems that Plato and Aristotle agree on the effects that representations may exert on the psyche. And since they also agree that music may have a didactic function for moral and political goals, then it would seem that the genuine ethos theory of the Laws made its way into Aristotle’s works.10

The work of Aristoxenos presents a more speculative case for the survival of Plato’s genuine ethos theory of music in the peripatetic tradition,11 but one that it worth considering nonetheless. While in Aristotle’s case the similarities with Plato’s ethos theory rest on music’s psychological influence, with Aristoxenos we find similarities concerning the artistic features of musical production. Indeed Andrew Barker maintains that the ethos theory in the Laws may be better preserved in Aristoxenos than Aristotle’s works.12 Barker makes the point that while some passages from Republic 3 and Laws 213 indicate that some harmoniai express a definitive character (courage, moderation, etc.), Aristoxenos refers to the craft of the artist as the element that unifies all musical materials (rhythm, harmony, meter, etc.) and can grant a unified character to a composition.14 While Barker draws a distinction between Plato and Aristoxenos on these grounds, I argue that the emphasis on the unified representational force of the musical craft in Peri Mousikes is precisely what allows for a meaningful comparison with Plato’s genuine ethos theory of music. My argument against Baker rests on the distinction between the traditional ethos music theory of the Republic and the genuine ethos music theory of the Laws. In Laws only the good artist will be able to reinforce the audience’s semi-rational motivations for virtuous action by constructing a coherent and wholesome representation of moral excellence. In a similar fashion, for Aristoxenos only the good artist is able to craft the cohesiveness of artistic means which enable music to refer to a certain moral character. As Barker puts it “[t]he upshot is that ἦθος does not arise directly from formal structures as such, nor can we predict it immediately from knowledge about specified combinations or mixtures of rhythmic and melodic structures. Everything hangs on the way in which the composer has put them to use” (Laws and Aristoxenus 405).

From my perspective it seems that the artistic structure that enables the genuine ethos theory of music in the Laws is also preserved in the in the peripatetic school, through the works of Aristoxenos.

Prof. Ian McReady-Flora, University of Virginia

Persuaded Animals: Reason and Conviction in Aristotle contra Plato

Prof. Andrew Payne, St. Joseph’s University

Dialectic and Definition in Plato and Aristotle: Republic 7 and the Topics

This paper seeks to clarify the relation between Plato’s conception of dialectic in Republic and Aristotle’s presentation of dialectic in the Topics. For this purpose, the treatment of definitions in the two texts will be the main theme. The tasks of dialectic are first set out in Plato’s Republic: it must investigate the first principles of philosophic knowledge by inquiry into definitions. Dialectic in the Topics is a development of this conception, although Aristotle provides his own set of desiderata for an acceptable definition. The differences between Plato and Aristotle can be seen by considering their comments on definitions offered by the mathematician Archytas.

First, Plato’s conception of dialectic in Book 7 of the Republic is sketched. The practice of dialectic presupposes acquaintance with the mathematical sciences of arithmetic, geometry, stereometry, astronomy and harmonics. Dialecticians are capable of giving an account of the hypotheses employed in these mathematical sciences. Prominent among these hypotheses are the definitions used by mathematicians. The practice of dialectic involves “destroying the hypotheses,” that is, critiquing the definitions used by mathematicians in an elenctic process of examination. Dialecticians “ascend to problems” by examining definitions not simply as reports of empirical observations but as accounts of the essences of mathematical entities. Dialecticians attempt to formulate better definitions of these entities. The synoptic view of the properties shared by mathematical entities in different sciences will lead to a focus on the key properties of commensurability and proportionality. Archytas’ proposal to define consonant sounds as sounds whose speeds form commensurable ratios is criticized at Republic 531b-c; according to Socrates, Archytas’ approach fails to ascend to problems. That is, it remains governed by empirical observation and does not succeed in explaining why certain numbers or ratios are well-formed.

The Topics contains Aristotle’s most extensive discussion of dialectic, which he understands as the ability to formulate deductive arguments based on reputable opinions (endoxa). One important use of dialectic is the examination of definitions, as in Books 6 and 7. For present purposes, Aristotelian dialectic is presented not as a general method of inquiry in philosophy but as a method of testing definitions. Besides the use of terminology similar to that used in Republic 7 (destroying candidate definitions, the examination of problems), Aristotle’s dialectic can be used to reject unsatisfactory definitions and to formulate better ones. Like Platonic dialectic in Republic 7, it performs this service for philosophy in part by reflecting on the definitions used in the special sciences, among which are the mathematical sciences.

Book 1, chapters 17 and 18 of the Topics provide an instructive point of comparison between Plato and Aristotle and their treatment of definitions. In these two chapters Aristotle addresses definitions achieved by drawing likenesses between items in different genera. In both cases a definition formulated by Archytas is put forward as a successful definition. Calm at sea and stillness in air are defined by treating both as levelness or smoothness in a medium. In Chapter 17 this Archytan definition is paired with the likeness “As sight is in the eye, so is mind [nous] in the soul”, which recalls the Platonic likeness between vision and understand present in Republic Books 6 and 7. In Chapter 18 the Archytan definition is cited as an example of success in giving definitions based on comparing things in different genera. This Archytan definition is taken up also in the Metaphysics (1043a14-26).

In considering this definition, Aristotle takes on one of the tasks which Plato assigns to dialectic, namely finding definitions for properties common to items in distinct genera and studied by distinct sciences. At the same time, Aristotle praises Archytas’ definitions for including mention of both matter and form in the account of the entity defined. In this respect, Aristotle sees Archytas’ definitions as improvements over Platonic definitions.

Prof. Jason G. Rheins, Loyola University Chicago

Aristotle on Plato’s Noēton Zōon and the Object of Divine Contemplation

In Metaphysics Λ Aristotle famously claims that God is “thinking thinking about thinking”. While the supposition of God’s ignorance or indifference to the rest of the universe troubled many (but not all !) Aristotelians in the Abrahamic faiths, Aristotle himself thinks that nothing less than God is a worthy object of God’s contemplation. Moreover, making the Unmoved mover the simultaneous subject, object, and activity of divine mind seems to be essential to Aristotle’s explanation of the possibility of an immaterial, purely active, and eternal substance.

Aristotle probably first thought about the objects of divine contemplation in regard to the Timaeus, and my paper’s topic would be a discussion about how one of Aristotle’s reports concerning the so-called “unwritten doctrine of principles” helps resolve a similar puzzle about the model contemplated and imitated by the Timaeus’ Demiurge in order to create the world.

Here is the puzzle: why is the Intelligible Animal a better Model than the Good? (Or why is Intellect good for things that are by nature visible.)

According to Timaeus, the Demiurge’s paradigm is the intelligible animal or organism (noēton zōon). But why is the Form of the Living Thing a good Form to be chosen as the model for the created world? Are there specific facts about the created world (e.g. that it is in space) that recommend this Form and not another to be the Demiurge’s model? Timaeus argues that the world had to be alive in order to have a soul, and it needed a soul so that it could have intellect. While giving intellect to the cosmos might make it better, wouldn’t the best model imply all the best features for the cosmos – and in that case, why isn’t the Form of the Good the best model.

The world will be most like the Good if it is most like the intelligible beings, i.e. as constant and self-same and real as possible (and as knowable as anything that has come-to-be could be ever could be). These were the features identified above. For instance, time is the moving image of eternity. You cannot make the created world sempiternal or “eternal” in the strong sense, but you can make it perpetual in time and in constant motion. That is what the Demiurge does— he makes the heavens with time, in order for the world to be the moving image of eternity.

What does this require? For Plato, the soul is the principle of self-motion. Only a self- mover could be an eternal mover (cf. Phdr. 245c6-246a2), and a rational or intelligent soul is the only kind of orderly self-mover, while only a body under the control or influence of a soul with intellect could be a rationally moved non-self-mover. Ergo, the created World needs rational soul(s) to keep it in perpetual, orderly motion. The created world would be best able to imitate the qualities of the Good (and derivatively of the other Forms) if it were a self-sufficient, whole living thing, moving regularly.

Let us recapitulate: Our world becomes the best that it can be by becoming the best imitation of the intelligibles that anything which is in the spatiotemporal realm of change and motion could ever be. That best imitation happens to be a maximally rational, perpetually and independently self-moving whole. (Rationality and independence are needed so that its motion can turn upon itself constantly without ever requiring lateral motion or a shift in operation). To be whole it must contain all within itself, and as a self-mover it must be alive. Hence for something that has come-to-be in a world of motion to be most like the Good, it must have intellect and a soul, so it must be most like intelligible Life. Let that be our argument showing the possibility that Plato could have reasonably held that a Form other than the Form of the Good, specifically the Form of the Living-Being, would serve best as the Demiurge’s model in order to make the created world as good as possible. But wouldn’t imitating the good guarantee the same things if they really are best? What relationship is there between the model, the Form of the Animal, and the Form of the Good? Is there any reason to believe that Plato actually had a worked out view on the relationship between the Form of the Living-Being and the Form of the Good? The answer, surprisingly, is yes.

Aristotle, in the De Anima, says that in his “work about philosophy” (meaning, Simplicius tells us, his (in)famous lecture ‘On the Good’ [Simp. In DA. 28,5ff]) Plato presented the intelligible Living Thing as the Good/the One with three dimensions (DA 404b19ff). “[T]he Animal (ζῶον) itself was composed of the Idea of the One, together with primary length, breadth, and depth (In DA. 28,10ff.).”

As we discussed above, the world can be made a moving image of eternity if it is made in the likeness of a complete Living-Being. Imitating this model makes the world a living thing, and an intelligent living thing. This is the best that can be done to bring a world of motion into resemblance with the intelligible world. Motion cannot be eliminated, but a self-consist and unchanging kind of motion can be brought about.

Since this world was made when the pre-existing chaos of the receptacle was brought to order, it is, by necessity, a spatiotemporal realm. Space and change are inherent to the sensible world, just as being unmoving, unchanging, timeless, and non-spatial are the eternal and inherent conditions of the intelligible realm. Now, if the Form of the Good, with three dimensions added to it, is the Form of the Living Thing, and if the receptacle is three- dimensional space, then the Form of the Living Thing would be the appropriate spatial schematism through which to apply the Good to the receptacle. The Demiurge can make the created, spatiotemporal world as much like the Good as possible by making it as much as possible like the Good under the conditions of being in three dimensions. Thus, by making the world in the image of the intelligible Living Thing, which is, Aristotle tells us, what Plato thought the Form of the Good + three dimensions is, the Demiurge makes this world as much like the Good as it is possible for a spatial world to be.

If this analysis is correct, then DA 404b19 is an important example of how Aristotle’s reports concerning the Unwritten Doctrines are not always or necessarily the hostile fabrications and misrepresentations that Cherniss took them to be. In fact, in this case, they might even represent a helpful interpretive contribution to Platonism.

Dr. Greg Sadler

The Significance of Thumos in Platonic and Aristotelian Moral Psychology

ReasonIO, Marquette University, Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design

An important difference between the Platonist tradition and the Aristotelian is the status accorded to thumos in their respective moral psychologies.  In very broad strokes, the Platonic tradition consistently follows and reinterprets Plato’s tripartite conception of the soul, maintaining thumos one of three main parts of the soul, distinct from, in between, and interacting a rational part and the appetites.  Thumos has a clear scope and proper function in Plato’s texts and those of later Platonists.  In Aristotle’s moral psychology, thumos has a more restricted status, for the most part reinterpreted as one main mode of desire or affectivity (orexis).  By contrast to other moral psychologies, e.g. that of the Stoics who treat thumos as just one emotion or passion among others, thumos in Aristotle and the Aristotelian tradition retains a distinctiveness from other, lower forms of affectivity, evidenced by discussions like that of akrasia due to thumos in N.E. 7 or that of thumos as one of the main causes for human actions in Rhet. 1.  The status, function, and proper education of thumos remained a matter of contention and reinterpretation through antiquity, evidenced by discussions bearing upon thumos, for example in Plutarch, Galen, Philo, among others.

My paper first outlines Plato’s treatment of thumos, drawing primarily upon Republic and Timaeus.  It then sets out an Aristotelian account of thumos reinterpreted as a main mode of orexis, central to anger (orge), friendship, and other affective states, drawing mainly upon the two Ethics, the Politics, and the Rhetoric.  Similarities and continuities between Plato’s and Aristotle’s positions are stressed, particularly the need to understand, orient, and educate thumos. Both positions are briefly contrasted against other interpretations which do not accord thumos a distinctive status, including Stoic thought.  The paper also briefly discusses selected later reinterpretations of and controversies about thumos in the ongoing Platonic and Aristotelian traditions.

Dr. Victor Saenz, Houston Institute and Rice University

Aristotle’s Platonic Ethics: Epithumia and the Scheme of the Character Virtues

Various scholars have recognized that, for Aristotle, appetitive desire (epithumia) can be a pleasure-based desire for two different types of objects: (i) food, drink, and sex as replenishments of bodily lack, and (ii) things like health, honor, learning, and seemingly indefinitely many things. However, scholars have neglected to explain what the relations between these different types of appetitive desire might be. So much so that Giles Pearson (2012) has argued that Aristotle holds two different notions of appetite, corresponding to each of these types of object. In this paper, I argue for a fresh alternative: Aristotle holds not two notions, but a single notion with three-layers and principled relations between each later. As we will see, this notion helps us recast a standard reading of the EN in Platonic light.  

According to this standard reading, Aristotle does not offer us principles that guide his selection of the list of moral virtues in Books III-IV. The list is merely the result of the “evaluative intuitions current in [Aristotle’s] social milieu” and is not grounded on “any fundamental rational principle or principles” (Taylor, 2006, xv). Many commentators echo such a view. As I will suggest, part of what is guiding Aristotle’s selection of the virtues is his account of appetite, so that the standard reading is false.   

I proceed as follows. First, I present an account of appetitive desire as not just for food, drink, and sex, but also for wealth and property as means of self-preservation (section 1). Second, I sketch how appetite works in concert with rational desire and spirited desires: appetitive desires are the least cognitively sophisticated, but get ‘stretched’ by Aristotle’s two other desire-types: spirit (thumos) and rational desire (boulêsis). In so doing, I show that Giles Pearson’s (2012) analysis of appetite is importantly mistaken: insofar as he and ignores the inherent connection Aristotle sees between appetite, self-preservation, and wealth, insofar as he does not account for how appetite is able to aim at seemingly indefinitely many objects (section 2). This account of appetite should lead us to expect that Aristotle selects not just temperance, but generosity and magnificence as virtues because their objects—what they are about (‘peri’)— are inherently attractive to appetite, given its nature. I show that the text of EN IV.1, read in conjunction with passages in the Rhetoric, confirms this view (section 3). My analysis also shows how this relation holds for magnificence (section 4). I after introducing features distinctive to the ‘homiletic virtues,’ friendliness, truthfulness, and wit (section 5), I proceed to show the relation between appetitive desire and friendliness and wit (sections 6 and 7). I finish by considering what this analysis, and—what we know about both spirited and appetitive desire—tells us about the structure of books III and IV more generally (section 8). 

A major conclusion that emerges from this study is that, much more than commentators tend to stress, Aristotle’s account of virtue in the EN has important affinities with that of the Plato of the Republic: both in its account of appetite, and in the general role that the tripartite soul plays in his understanding of virtue.

Prof. Mor Segev, University of South Florida

Immortality in Aristotle’s Eudemus, Fr. 6, Ross

In a fragment of his lost dialogue Eudemus (Fr. 6, Ross=Plutarch, Consolatio ad Apoll. 115b-e), Aristotle relates a story in which the satyr Silenus tells King Midas that the best thing for humans is never to have been born, and the next best thing for them is to die soon. It is often assumed that Aristotle himself endorses Silenus’ statement, which in turn expresses either (1) a popular pessimistic approach glorifying death as an escape from life’s toils or (2) a Platonic stance viewing death as freeing the immortal human soul by enabling it to contemplate the eternal Forms uninterruptedly. Elements of both of these approaches do exist in Aristotle's formulation of Silenus’ dictum. However, I argue, Aristotle engages with the dictum and with these approaches critically. Aristotle is committed to the claim, familiar from De anima and the Metaphysics, that the intellect is immortal and that its disembodied contemplative activity, unlike individual humans and their life activities, survives death. However, though he thinks that the posthumous activity of the intellect is superior to anything done in a human life, Aristotle consciously avoids subscribing to Silenus’ idea that humans are better off not being born or dying quickly. I argue that Aristotle rejects that idea because he thinks that human life, which Silenus disparages, is an indispensable feature of the world as a whole, and that the world is perfectly good as is and is thus worth preserving in all its details.

Prof. Rosemary Twomey, Queens College CUNY

On the Structure of Aristotle’s Response to Plato’s Arguments for Rationalism

Aristotle opens De Anima III.1 by arguing not only that there are no other actual senses or sense organs beyond the familiar five, but also that there are no other possible ones either. This seems odd: why would Aristotle think such a thing could be demonstrated, and why would he bother to provide that demonstration? In this presentation, I argue that Aristotle is responding to the argument at Theaetetus 184-6, which purports to show we do not actually perceive the common-objects, i.e. objects that otherwise seem to be perceptible by multiple senses (Plato’s examples include sameness, number, beauty, and goodness). First I review the passage from Theaetetus. I show that Socrates and Theaetetus there infer that the common-objects are not perceived from the fact that there is no one organ for them. Proper attention to that discussion shows, contrary to interpretations like those that rely on an implicit reference to the metaphysics of Forms, that Socrates does not deny that there could be an organ for the common-objects; nor, by extension, does he deny that those objects could be perceptible. Instead, he simply gets Theaetetus to agree to the empirical claim that we as a matter of fact don’t have a special organ for them, from which he concludes that we must grasp them in a non-perceptual manner. But because of his commitments to naturalism and empiricism, Aristotle cannot accept that conclusion; indeed, the argument that opens De Anima III.1 comes just before his discussion of the perception of the common-objects. I contend, then, that Aristotle here means to show that if the common-objects could in principle be perceived, they must actually be perceptible, at least for creatures with the full range of senses. If, as I argue, both Plato and Aristotle agree that the common-objects are possible objects of perception, Aristotle then takes himself to have shown that the common-objects are also actual objects of perception. He thus cuts off Plato’s argument for rationalism, and so can contend, as he does in Posterior Analytics ii.19 and Metaphysics i.1, that the particular objects of perception give us access to the universals that come to be known.

Housing Options

Among the most convenient local hotels are the four star Ambassador Hotel and the less expensive three star Ambassador Inn across the street.

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Housing available at Marquette University

Room Block Dates: June 23, 2019 departing on June 27, 2019

Sleeping Room Summary

Nights of June 23, 2019 – June 27, 2019 - 16 single rooms

Nightly Room Rates
Straz Tower
Single Occupancy       $56.75       

Triple Occupancy       $91.50
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Cut-Off Date

Cut-off date: May 23, 2019. Rooms requested after the cut-off date are subject to availability.
Check in time: After 3 p.m.*
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*These times are based upon Central Standard Time.

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Method of reservation is Individual/Direct. Individuals are requested to call 414-288-4737 to secure a room reservation. Individuals should let the reservations assistant know they are associated with the Aristotle Conference. 

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All reservations must be guaranteed with a valid credit card number. MasterCard or Visa are accepted.  Failure to check-in as scheduled without canceling the reservation at least 48 hours prior to the date of arrival will result in the guest being charged one night’s room. Failure to check-out at the posted time on the date of departure will also result in a penalty fee. There are no refunds for early departures.

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Rooms reserved under room blocks are not guaranteed to be located in the same area of the residence hall. It is our policy to try to keep all groups together, but special requests at times prohibit this from happening.

There is a $5 lockout policy to any guest who is locked out of his/her room.  There is a $75 key replacement fee that is billed to the guest for any key that is lost or not returned upon checkout.  Rooms are re-keyed immediately for security reasons; therefore, we cannot issue refunds for guests who send in or return keys after checkout time. 

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The Aristotle Conference members whose actions violate applicable State law with respect to the possession of weapons on University property may be subject to criminal prosecution.  The Aristotle Conference members whose actions violate this provision will be asked to leave University property immediately and may be subject to no-trespassing directives in the future.  UNIVERSITY reserves the right to terminate this Rooms Agreement for one or more violations of this provision.

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