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Ancient World Seminar: Albert Joosse (Groningen/Utrecht)

Wanneer:ma 19-11-2018 16:15 - 17:30
Waar:Faculty of Theology and Religious Studies (Oude Boteringestraat 38), Court Room
Poster lecture Albert Joosse
Poster lecture Albert Joosse


A Platonic school of philosophy flourished in Alexandria well into the 6th century AD. This is remarkable if we consider that the surrounding community had become overwhelmingly Christian. There had in fact been tensions in earlier centuries and school’s sister institution, the Academy in Athens, had famously been closed in 529 (although the historical details of this event are obscure). The non-Christian Platonists of sixth-century Alexandria, however, were left in peace and could even offer an official education, recognised by the authorities, for the elite. One possible explanation that has been offered for this is that the accommodating philosophical views of the Alexandrian Neoplatonists themselves made a peaceful coexistence possible.

In this talk I will concentrate on Olympiodorus of Alexandria, who himself may have been the last non-Christian head of the Platonic school at Alexandria. I will sketch the Neoplatonic context in which he operated, introduce the content of his teaching, and review the references in his texts, more or less explicit, to the religious situation in his day. Analysis of his works suggests, I will argue, that Olympiodorus remained committed to philosophical positions that were unacceptable to Christians, even if he did not always confront his students with them.

About the speaker

Albert Joosse specialises in ancient philosophy, especially Plato, the Stoics and the Platonic tradition. After his PhD (Utrecht, 2011) he worked in Freiburg, Philadelphia (UPenn), and in Utrecht. He currently teaches at the universities of Groningen and Nijmegen. His research focuses on ancient views of self-knowledge, the role of form and content in philosophical texts and the interaction between ancient philosophical traditions.