Department of Philosophy Research Seminar, 14.5.08-15.5.08, Helsinki

Dear All,

There has been an addition to the department research seminar and we will
exceptionally meet twice during next week: on wednesday 14.5 at 16-18 and
thursday 15.5 at 16-18 (Siltavuorenpenger 20 A, room sh 222):

Wednesday 14.5 at 16-18:

George Arabatzis
(Research Centre on Greek Philosophy, Academy of Athens / University of

"Michael of Ephesus and the Philosophy of Living Things in Byzantium."


Like in other scientific branches, Byzantium was largely depending on
Hellenistic science for Biological knowledge; under the appellation
'Biology', we must understand the sciences that had to do with Medicine,
Pharmacology, Veterinary medicine, Zoology, Botany. Concerning the
knowledge of the living things (animals and plants), Byzantium carried a
tradition that synthesized elements from the Ancient Greek Science and
Philosophy and the Christian religion and philosophy. The crucial
difference is the introduction by Christianity of the theory of the
historical Creation of the world from its initial elements to the
formation of man that is seen as the crowning of the universe. Yet, for
a traditional civilization like the Byzantine, the proximity to the
world of plants and animals produced folk literary works that played
around the idea of human primacy over the rest of the living things,
mainly the animals. The Aristotelian reflection on biological phenomena,
his biological epistemology in other words, had been, since the
Greco-roman times, neglected. What remained from his contribution to
Biology was his collection of natural data and curiosities that gave,
together with other sources, the material for late ancient compilations.
We had to wait for the 11th/12th Century in order to see, in the person
of Michael of Ephesus, a commentator of Aristotle's philosophy of
biology. Notably, in Parts of Animals I there is a fragment that W.
Jaeger thought was an Encomium of natural science composed by Aristotle
in order to praise the empirical scientific method, in opposition to his
idealist youth when he was under the influence of his master Plato; it
is, Jaeger says, an almost confessional text about his progress.
Jaeger's overall position about Aristotle's philosophical evolution has
been often criticized. Michael of Ephesus commented Aristotle's passage
and we will try to see what the Byzantine commentator perceived in the
Aristotelian exhortation to the study of living things.

Thursday 15.5 at 16-18:

Krista Johansson (University of Helsinki):

"Turning the Tables - Reconsidering Schopenhauer as Educator"