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Aristotle and the Ancient Origins of Our Contemporary Worldview

Dr. Sean Kirkland, Associate Professor in the Department of Philosophy at DePaul University, will speak on the topic, Aristotle and the Ancient Origins of Our Contemporary Worldview.  Given the dominance of modern science today, it might seem that our contemporary “worldview” is far from the teleological natural philosophy of Aristotle (c. 384-322 BCE). And yet, Kirkland suggests we begin with the recognition that, in a pre-reflective mode, we do not in fact experience the world according to the ontology of modern science—it is not a sum of molecules or atoms, much less quarks or strings that confronts us. No, the world presents itself initially very much as Aristotle described it, as a collection of ousiai or ‘substances, substantial individuals.’ We will discuss the implications of this substance ontology, try to imagine alternatives to it, and finally ask whether there are resources for thinking otherwise in Aristotle’s own thinking.

Dr. Kirkland did his doctoral work at Stony Brook University in New York and at the Bergische Universitaet, in Wuppertal, Germany.  His primary interest is in ancient Greek philosophy, but he also works in contemporary continental philosophy, specifically phenomenology.  His monograph, The Ontology of Socratic Questioning in Plato’s Early Dialogues, appeared in 2012 with SUNY Press.  It won the 2013 Book of the Year award from Symposium, the Journal of the Canadian Society for Continental Philosophy.  He is currently working on two other book-length projects. One, entitled, The Destruction of Aristotle: Historical Methodology in the Early Heidegger, is currently under review with Northwestern University Press. Another, tentatively titled Aristotle and Tragic Temporality, is near completion and undertakes a study of temporality (or the ontological structure of the present moment) as it appears in Aristotle's Poetics and Ethics.