To Know ‘Everything’: Epistemological reflections on the concept of the totality in the Platonic and Peripatetic traditions

September 21, 2023 - September 22, 2023
De Wulf - Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy, KU Leuven, Belgium

PI 00.38
Andreas Vesaliusstraat 2
Leuven 3000

This event is available both online and in-person


  • Fonds Joseph Van De Viele
  • FWO
  • Doctoral Committee of the Institute of Philosophy
  • De Wulf - Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy

Topic areas

Talks at this conference

Add a talk



The knowability of the world as a whole has frustrated philosophers since long before Kant banished the universe to the epistemological category of the transcendentals. Already in Plato’s Statesman, the Eleatic Stranger warns Socrates of the difficulties involved in describing those things which transcend the realm of individual experiences (Statesman 285d-286b). A similar sentiment is encountered in the writings of Aristotle (e.g., Metaphysics A.2, 982a21-25). The difficulty of knowing all things generally is further compounded by the question of whether one knows the whole of something immediately upon grasping each of its parts, or whether there is some substantial nature unique to the whole. As Plato illustrates through the example of the syllable and its letters in his Theaetetus (203a-205a), any philosopher who wishes to know something is presented with a choice between two epistemological perspectives with which once may approach its nature, and the same applies to knowledge of the universe. Does one seek first to understand ‘all things’ (τὰ πάντα), i.e., the complete collection of the beings which make up the world? Or does one wish first to understand ‘the all’ (τὸ πᾶν), i.e., the one universe of which the things that exist are merely constituents?

For this conference, the organizing committee has drafted a programme which brings together not only some of the foremost experts in Platonic and Aristotelean philosophy, but also a number of highly promising young researchers, including both PhD students and postdoctoral researchers.

Supporting material

Add supporting material (slides, programs, etc.)




September 21, 2023, 8:00am CET

Who is attending?

No one has said they will attend yet.

Will you attend this event?

Let us know so we can notify you of any change of plan.

RSVPing on PhilEvents is not sufficient to register for this event.