A Patristic Philosophy? - Christian Theologians and Aristotelian Logic in Late Antiquity

12 April 2008

CRASSH, 17 Mill Lane

Convener: Dr Christophe Erismann (CRASSH)

During late Antiquity, an interesting doctrinal shift can be observed: Aristotelian logic and its Neoplatonic complements, in particular the teachings of Aristotle's Categories and Porphyry'sIsagoge, was progressively accepted as a tool in Christian theology. Various authors - Basil of Caesarea, Gregory of Nyssa, Cyril of Alexandria, John Philoponus, Leontius of Byzantium, Maximus the Confessor, Theodore of Raithu, John of Damascus and Boethius can be mentioned on different accounts - used concepts which originated in logic in order to support their theological thinking.


This conference, which proposes to consider first and foremost Greek Patristics, brought together historians of philosophy and logic as well as theologians and specialists of Patristic thought. It aimed at analysing both how philosophical concepts - like essence (ousia), genus, species, nature, individual and hypostasis - were integrated into Christian thought after the Councils of Nicaea and Chalcedon and how their 'Christian' use is the occasion of interesting philosophical considerations on their definition and interrelations. This should contribute to emphasise in what way Patristics constitutes an important chapter of the history of philosophy.

For administrative enquiries contact apm50@cam.ac.uk

12 April


9.30 - 10.00


10.00 - 12.15

Session 1
Chair: DAVID SEDLEY (University of Cambridge)

10.00 RICCARDO CHIARADONNA (University of Rome III)
Logic and ontology in Porphyry, Isagoge, ch. 1

11.00 JOHANNES ZACHHUBER (University of Oxford)
Individuals in Gregory of Nyssa


Lunch Break

13.30 - 15.45

Session 2
Chair: DOUGLAS HEDLEY (University of Cambridge)

Semantical Aspects of Basil’s Trinitarian Discussion

The Reception of Aristotle in the Controversies after Chalcedon: John Philoponus on Christology and the Trinity

15.45 - 16 .15 

Coffee Break 

16.15 - 18.30

 Session 3
Chair: JOHN MARENBON (University of Cambridge)

16.15 RICHARD CROSS (University of Notre Dame)
Boethius on Universals and the Trinity

17.15 CHRISTOPHE ERISMANN (University of Cambridge)
John of Damascus’s rethinking of Aristotelian categorical ontology