The ancient Greeks and their knowledge

October 4, 2022 - October 5, 2022
Departamento de filosofia, Universidad de Guadalajara

Guanajuato #1045, Col. Alcalde Barranquitas
Guadalajara 44260

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  • Universidad de Guadalajara, CUCSH, Departamento de filosofia
  • UNAM, Instituto de Investigaciones Filologicas, Ciudad de México
  • Universidad de Puerto Rico, Departamento de Filosofia


Javier Aoiz
Universidad de Santiago de Chile
Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile
Universidade de Brasília
University of Ottawa
University of Puerto Rico
David Konstan
New York University
University of Guadalajara (UDG)
Pura Nieto Hernandez
Brown University


University of Guadalajara (UDG)

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Call for proposals (conference and book):

The ancient Greeks and their knowledge

What was the relationship between ancient Greek thinkers and knowledge? How was knowledge conceived of and delivered by those who claimed to possess it or, at least, were engaged in seeking it for the sake of themselves, the polis, their fellows, or humanity at large? Was knowledge something comparable to the way we seem normally to understand it today, namely, an empirically, possibly experimentally and logically justified belief? Was logic and analytic thinking so crucial in ancient paths to knowledge, as many past and present scholars seem to believe? 

Perhaps knowledge represented something very different for them, for instance, a kind of “wisdom”, whose final function was to reestablish human mind (soul) in some sort of contact with nature and the divine. In this case, knowledge might have had a performative, experiential character (“know how”) rather than an objective one (“know that”). Knowledge would be better thought of as a sort of poetic metaphor to signify either moral attunement to nature (φύσις), a strive for perfection (ὁμοίωσις to the divine), or the building of character through a continuous exercise of virtue (ἄσκησις). In such cases, knowledge would be hardly conceivable without the reference to a master (a guru), say, without highly symbolic figures who personalize both knowledge and our relationship with knowledge before the eyes of their fellows and companions. 

It has been often argued that Greek intellectuals were generally unable to divide between facts and value, Is and Ought. This affirmation is disputable, but perhaps we may restate the idea and ask whether they ever had a truly disenchanted, rationalized conception of knowledge and the method of attaining knowledge. As a matter of fact, knowledge was frequently associated with irrational practices and/or projections, such as inspiration (enthusiasm) and ignorance (e.g. the naïve state of mind, εὐήθεια, of primitive human communities). Also, it was deeply connected with pain, mortal condition and the indifference of the universe and the gods themselves towards our suffering and wishes. 

We would like to observe what the literary, philosophical, and scientific sources say or suggest on this topic. We propose to reason about the presence of different (implicit or explicit) meanings and practices of knowledge in ancient Greek thought. Above all, we propose to reflect upon how different pre-comprehensions of knowledge may have had an impact on the communication of its contents, that is, on the very expression and delivering of “science”. If every form of knowledge is supposed to have a content, even though an ineffable one, and if this content is to be delivered to (and shared with) a concrete audience, it is legitimate to ask whether and how that pre-comprehension affects the content of knowledge, the way intellectuals choose to transmit it and, consequently, the relationship between them and their public. 

Submission guidelines

We invite individual papers on the above-mentioned topic. The papers will be presented in October 4-5, 2022 at a virtual or hybrid conference organized by the Departments of philosophy of the University of Guadalajara (México) and the University of Puerto Rico. Scholars who might be interested in participating at the event are invited to send an abstract of no more than 450 words and a short biographical note by May 27, 2022.

They are expected to possess a PhD in the fields of Classics and/or Philosophy, but also proposals sent by qualified PhD candidates and ABD will be carefully considered. Each participant will have 40 minutes in length and 15 minutes will be dedicated to questions from the public. The languages of the conference will be Spanish and English. 

After the conference, the participants will be asked to review their contributions to have them published in a special issue of the Journal Diálogos. Revista del Departamento de Filosofía de la Universidad de Puerto Rico, directed by professor Etienne Helmer. The issue will be edited by Pietro Montanari, professor of Philosophy and Classical Studies at the University of Guadalajara (Mexico) and published by Summer 2023. Contributions will be accepted in four languages: Spanish, English, French and Italian. 

Conference and book are part of the project PAPIIT IN403622 “Formas del saber en el mundo antiguo y sus modos de transmisión y registro”, UNAM (Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México), run by professor Omar Álvarez Salas. 

Organizers especially encourage submissions from international scholars and members of marginalized groups. 

Submission deadline for abstracts (up to 450 words): May 27, 2022.

Please send your submission to:

Pietro Montanari

[email protected]

[email protected]

Pietro Montanari 

University of Guadalajara, UdG (Mexico)

Department of Philosophy 

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