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Durham University

Institute of Advanced Study

Past Events

IAS Fellow's Public Lecture - Plato's Radical Enquiries

20th February 2018, 17:30 to 18:30, Fisher House, Ustinov College, Professor Vasilis Politis (Trinity College, Dublin)


Two features stand out in Plato's philosophy. First, the commitment to the pursuit of questions of the form 'What is X?', and the essences that such questions are asking for (e.g. 'What is justice?', 'What is a bee?', 'What is love?', 'What is being?'). Secondly, the commitment to certain supersensible, supernatural entities, called Forms. Both these commitments are puzzling: it is not clear what is behind them, or what their interest and significance is. Professor Vasilis Politis argues that both commitments are rooted in Plato's desire to articulate, and try to answer, certain distinctive questions that we can all---whether or not we are philosophically or scientifically inclined---recognize as of real, immediate and even vital significance. Professor Politis calls such questions 'radical aporiai': they are conflicts of reasons within a single person, with no familiar means of even trying to resolve them.

Examples include: whether it is better to be just or unjust; whether there is such a thing as the bee, over and above the many and many kinds of bees; whether love is irrational, and, if so, whether this is a reason against it; whether we can aspire to a theory of everything. Politis argues that, if we take such aporiai seriously and want to try to answer them, then we may well, as Plato thinks, be committed to: the pursuit of such 'What is X?' questions; the essences that such questions are asking for; and (perhaps) even such supersensible and supernatural entities as Forms.

This lecture is free and open to all.

Details about Professor Vasilis Politis

Directions to Fisher House, Ustinov College

Map - Ustinov College is denoted as building No. 52

Contact for more information about this event.