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26 - 28 September 2018

Philosophers, Goddesses and Principles – Women and the Female in Neoplatonism

Conference | all-day | Jana Schultz (Ruhr-University, Bochum), James Wilberding (HU Berlin)

The purpose of this conference is to provide a forum for a broad discussion of women and the female in Neoplatonism in three main areas of interest: the historical status of Neoplatonic women in the real world, the status of women in Neoplatonic ethical and political theory and the understanding of women and femaleness in metaphysics and natural science.

The first concerns the extent to which and the ways in which women were associated with Neoplatonic philosophy and its school in late antiquity. The main focus is to be celebrated female teachers, such as the highly esteemed Hypatia of Alexandria who was active in mathematics and astronomy and who did exegetical work on Plato, Aristotle and other philosophers.

The second issue regards the question of what (male) Neoplatonists say about the role, status and abilities of women. Here, it is especially interesting how Neoplatonists judged women’s ability to become virtuous and to live philosophical lives, given the (apparent) tension between the Republic’s claim that talented women should become philosopher-queens since here women and men share the same natures and virtues, and the Timaeus’ claim that women are in fact ‘bad men’ who were punished with a female body in reincarnation.

Finally, the Neoplatonists of late antiquity developed a gendered metaphysics that distinguishes between male and female principles in a variety of contexts, including discussions of natural phenomena in the domains of astrology and biology. Thereby, maleness and femaleness are introduced into Neoplatonic metaphysics mainly through the reconceptualization of traditional gods and goddesses as metaphysical principles, which is in part due to the increased importance which the Chaldean Oracles and the Orphic tradition gained among later Neoplatonists.

Confirmed speakers

Peter Adamson (LMU Munich)

Crystal Addey (University of St. Andrews)

Dirk Baltzly (University of Tasmania)

Luc Brisson (CNRS Paris)

Christoph Helmig (University of Cologne)

Danielle A. Layne (Gonzaga University)

Marije Martijn (VU Amsterdam)

Dominic O’Meara (University of Fribourg)

Jan Opsomer (KU Leuven)

Jana Schultz (Ruhr-University Bochum)

Miira Tuominen (University of Jyväskyla)

Gyburg Uhlmann (FU Berlin)

James Wilberding (HU Berlin)

The conference is organized by Jana Schultz (Ruhr-University, Bochum) and James Wilberding (HU Berlin).

26 - 28 September 2018



Ruhr-Universität Bochum
Beckmanns Hof
Bochum, 44780 Germany
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