Via the ISNS mailing list:
PROMETHEUS TRUST ELEVENTH ANNUAL CONFERENCE
TO BE HELD ON
24-26 JUNE 2016
AT PURLEY CHASE CENTRE, MANCETTER, WARWICKSHIRE CV9 2RQ
Will, freewill and freedom
Fundamental to our understanding of ourselves, and to the direction of our lives, is the question of freewill: what lies in our power, and what are the consequences of exercising that power? And what part does knowledge play in our possible possession of freewill? As our technology gives us a certain power to manipulate our world, are we increasingly empowered to do as we please, but, in reality, able to accomplish nothing that we truly wish to accomplish – the condition of the tyrant, according to Plato in the Gorgias?
These are questions which press upon humankind, both collectively and individually: they are, in the words of Proclus (5th century AD) “things which have been a thousand times investigated, and which in my opinion will never have any rest, because the soul is excited to the discussion of them . . .” Every school of philosophy, religion and psychology must grapple with the issue, and every story-teller weaves and reweaves the threads of fate and freewill as he or she attempts to say something about the human condition. Artist or scientist, thinker or actor – no one works in a vacuum as regards assumptions of freewill: and yet the answers to these questions remain, it seems, always just out of reach. But unless we address these questions, how can we play an intelligent part in the workings of the universe, with all its interactions?
This notice represents a call for papers and presentations on this theme from all those interested in the subject, from whatever background or discipline – academic and non-academic, specialist and non-specialist.
Abstracts should be no more than 300 words and should be with us at the latest by Thursday, 31 March 2016. Acceptance of these will be confirmed as quickly as possible.
Papers should be around 2500-3000 words or 20 minutes’ presentation (we usually allow a further 15-20 minutes for a question and answer session after each presentation).
Bookings should be received by us not later than Friday, 8 April 2016.
The Trustees are delighted to announce that the keynote speech will be given by Professor Kevin Corrigan; below is a synopsis of his proposed address:
The Will and Love of the Good: Plotinus on the source of our freedom (Ennead VI 8)
Is our freedom real or are we moved only by impulses, addictions, chance, or hidden deities? Are we related to God, how do we know, and is our free agency somehow discoverable in Divine Love?
Here I shall examine these questions in Plotinus’ major work “on the voluntary and the free will of the One” (Ennead VI 8) from four perspectives; first, the dynamic reality of human free agency based in self- and other-relatedness; second, the importance of the body and psycho-somatic being in free agency; third, the significance of what it means to will the good in co-creating our own being; and fourth, the remarkable significance of Plotinus’ statement that the Good loves itself.
Professor Corrigan gained his PhD in Classics and Philosophy in 1980 at Dalhousie University, Halifax, Nova Scotia (under A H Armstrong), and is currently working at Emory University as the Samuel Candler Dobbs Professor of Interdisciplinary Humanities in the Department of Middle Eastern and South Asian Studies. He has written several works on Plato, Aristotle and the later tradition, including most recently, Evagrius and Gregory: Mind, Soul, and Body in the 4th Century (2009), Plato’s Parmenides and its heritage, Volume I: History and Interpretation from the Old Academy to Later Platonism and Gnosticism; Volume II: Reception in Patristic, Gnostic, and Christian Neoplatonic Text (2011), and Reason, Faith and Otherness in Neoplatonic and Early Christian Thought (2013). He is currently finishing an introduction, translation and commentary on Plotinus’ Treatise 39 (on the free will of the One), a book on Ecology and Neoplatonism, and a collaborative venture on Plotinus’ Treatises 30-33 for Les Belles Lettres.
The Trustees are very pleased to announce that the Thomas Taylor Lecture will be given by Dr Brian M Stableford. Below is a synopsis of his lecture:
Technology and Liberty in French Utopian Fiction
As French utopian fiction evolved from the pre-Revolutionary period of Louis-Sébastien Mercier’s L’An deux mille quatre cent quarante (1771) pioneered euchronian optimism to the early twentieth century, when Marcel Rouff’s Voyage au monde à l’envers (1920) reflected the disenchantment engendered by the Great War, the authors of such texts were increasingly forced to address the questions of whether technological progress was likely advance or retard the cause of liberté, and how the political philosophy of Anarchism might be applied in practice. The paper presents a series of brief case studies, comparing and contrasting the opinions offered by the various writers.
Dr Stableford graduated from the University of York with a degree in biology and received his PhD in 1979 with a thesis on ‘The Sociology of Science Fiction’. He has been publishing fiction and non-fiction for fifty years. His fiction includes an eighteen-volume series of “tales of the biotech revolution” and a series of half a dozen metaphysical fantasies set in Paris in the 1840s, featuring Edgar Poe’s Auguste Dupin. His most recent non-fiction projects are New Atlantis: A Narrative History of British Scientific Romance (Wildside Press 2016) and The Plurality of Imaginary Worlds: The Evolution of French roman scientifique (Black Coat Press 2016); in association with the latter he has translated approximately a hundred and fifty volumes of texts not previously available in English, similarly issued by Black Coat Press.
* * * * * * * * * * *
The conference will take place at Purley Chase Centre, Mancetter, near Atherstone in Warwickshire, which is comfortable and well appointed. Residential prices are for full board for the weekend (from Friday supper to Sunday tea) and are £140 (single ensuite), £120 (twin ensuite) and £100 (dormitory); non-residential price to include all meals except breakfasts is £40. Participants are encouraged to attend for the whole weekend and there are no reductions for partial attendance. There is limited ensuite accommodation available and a few delegates may be asked to share. If you are a student or on a low income and cannot afford these charges, please contact the Treasurer in confidence (email@example.com) to apply for a bursary.
Conference fee: This charge is £40 and is payable with your booking. It is non-refundable in the event of cancellation. There are no concessions for this charge and is applicable to all delegates. Accommodation fees are payable by end of May.
Booking forms are available from the Conference Secretary at the above address or phone number or by email: firstname.lastname@example.org, and on the website (see conference page). Completed forms with your deposit of £40 should be returned by FRIDAY, 8 APRIL at the very latest, and before if possible as places are limited.