Colloquium “Being before Aristotle”

January 26 and 27, 2023

We are pleased to invite you to the (in person) colloquium “Being before Aristotle”, to be held on January 26 and 27, 2023, in the Marietta-Blau-Saal (University of Vienna, Main Building).

Those interested in the historical origins of ontology should visit us, as we will have outstanding speakers. The attached poster shows the program.

Aristotle’s elaborate theory of the multiple senses of being did not come out of nowhere. It was the culmination of an epoch-making discussion on the logical and semantic function of the verb εἰμί ‘am’ (≈ to be), as well as on the relation of this verb to truth and reality. We are certainly capable of naming some of those who contributed directly or indirectly to the classical concept of being, but the details of each particular contribution are less well known than would be desirable. Parmenides and Plato are the most visible figures of this historical process, but other thinkers also influenced the philosophical concept of being as we find it in Aristotle. Mention should be made, for instance, of emblematic sophists, such as Gorgias and Protagoras, but also of lesser-known figures, such as Antisthenes. To shed light on the ancient Greek concept of being, the colloquium “Being before Aristotle” will bring together scholars working on this area. Each of them will focus on a single thinker and address at least one of the following questions: (1) Was there a theory of predication, definition, enunciation, proposition, or assertion before Aristotle? (2) Was there a logical or linguistic approach to the notion of being before Aristotle?