The Ancient Philosopher's Toolkit

November 16, 2023 - November 17, 2023
Department of Philosophy II, Ruhr Universität Bochum; Technische Universität Dortmund


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Tel Aviv University
Providence College
King's College London


Humboldt-University, Berlin
Universität Köln
University of St. Andrews
Ruhr-Universität Bochum

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To reflect on the philosophical method is as old as the philosophical practice itself. While well-known methods such as the Socratic elenchus or dialectic have received a lot of attention in the history of philosophy, there is, however, a host of methodological patterns and strategies that have been relatively neglected. In order to explore such neglected tools, we are organizing The Ancient Philosopher’s Toolkit conference, to be held jointly at the Ruhr Universität Bochum and the Technische Universität Dortmund, on November 16-17, 2023.

We are inviting papers on the uses and role of strategies such as, but not restricted to, the following: anecdotes like Thales falling into the well; analogies such as the comparison between art and nature; metaphors as in the Pythagorean presentation of hedonists as leaky jars; etymologies, like the explanatory derivation of ethics from ethos in Aristotle; thought patterns based on symmetry, proportion and other structuring principles such as Heraclitus’ use of comparisons of type A is to B as B is to C; the use of counterexamples or hard-cases, as the just person that is happy to be seen as unjust in the Republic; the strategy of playing the role of your philosophical opponent, or strategic presentation of philosophical predecessors, as we may find it in Aristotle’s Metaphysics.

The conference will take place in person, one day at the Ruhr Universität Bochum and one day at the TU Dortmund.

For further inquiries, send an email to [email protected]

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