Aristotle on Grounding, Definition, Explanation, Essence

workshop in Ligerz, Wednesday, September 11 (evening) – Sunday, September 15 (noon)

As part of the Swiss Doctoral Programme in Philosophy, I am organising for ου̉σία, the Centre for the Philosophy and Theology of Being at the University of Lucerne, a small and informal workshop in beautiful Ligerz.

In his Posterior Analytics, Aristotle sketches a template that profoundly shaped what we today mean by "science". In this workshop, we will examine that template, question it and relate it to the contemporary concerns of metaphysicians interested in grounding and causation. Of particular importance will be the generally acknowledged, but misunderstood fact that Aristotle has not one concept of causation, but distinguishes between at least four. This opens up interesting avenues of research, in particular with respect to the nowadays very controversially discussed question whether grounding is causation (or whether perhaps causation is grounding). Similarly, while Aristotle's explanation-based notion of essence has received quite a lot of attention by neo-Aristotelians, the connection to the notion of definition is still undertheoretised, esp. in relation to recent attempts at defining real definitions.

If you are interested in participating, send a short abstract in pdf format to Philipp Blum. Participants will have costs of simple accommodation and of food covered, and may receive a travel stipend, depending on their needs.

Participation. Participants should arrive by Wednesday evening and stay at least until Sunday noon. They should commit to read at least some of the material in advance and to stay in Ligerz for the whole duration of the conference, except of course for the joint excursions to the regions' vineyards and the shores of the lake of Biel/Bienne.

Location. The conference takes place in the beautifully located bilingual village of Ligerz / Gléresse, on the shores of the lake of Biel/Bienne (also bilingual):

Talks and meals are at the Aarbergerhaus, where a beamer and facilities to print out handouts are available. Participants stay at the so-called "Louis Haus", where there's also a small bar for late-night drinks. When you get out of the train arriving either from Neuchâtel or from Biel/Bienne, and you face the mountain and the church (turning your back to the lake), the Aarbergerhaus is to your right (in the direction of Biel/Bienne), about 150 m along the main road. You reach it after passing by the hotel "Kreuz" and by going through a garden door located at your left (facing Biel/Bienne), just before there is a street for cars on your right going over a small bridge (in the direction of the lake). Please come there when you arrive. (The Louis-Haus, in contrast, is to your left, about 50m through the pedestrian street, on your right just before the fountain).

Reading material. It would be good if as much as possible of the reading material could be made available to participants in advance (via a dropbox folder, for which I will send participants an invitation). This includes (i) abstracts / drafts; (ii) background reading, e.g. articles by others specifically discussed or older texts not easily available.

Travel. Ligerz is mid-way between Biel/Bienne and Neuchâtel and reachable by train in 1h43 from Zurich Airport, in 1h50 from Geneva Airport and in 1h55 from Basel EuroAirport. Check the Swiss railways website for timetables.