Encounters with Animals in Graeco-Roman Antiquity:
The Historicity of Experience
A Multidisciplinary Symposium
Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, Fabianinkatu 24, Seminar Room 136, 1st floor
9 Dec. 2013 – Open to all. Welcome!
Organisers: Research Project Empathising with the Non-Human Other in Ancient Greek Literature, the SHC Research Community (Subjectivity, Historicity and Communality: Studies in Philosophy and Political Sciences), the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies and the Department of World Cultures.
This interdisciplinary symposium brings together researchers from the fields of classical studies and philosophy, highlighting intercorporeal and interspecies relationships in Graeco-Roman antiquity, especially as they appear in ancient literature. While introducing a phenomenological reading of this literature, the symposium also offers space for other approaches and analyses of the ancient philosophers’ views on animals. In particular, however, we wish to question the historicity of human experience of animals, the more common emphasis being the historicity of our attitudes and views on animals. The point is thus not only to place the ancient attitudes and views of animals in their historical context, but to discuss our fundamental ability to encounter past attitudes and experiences, including the various ways of seeing the difference between the human and the non-human.
Ancient philosophers certainly acknowledged differences, but prior to Aristotle, they did not see the reasoning faculty as the essential distinction between human and non-humans. Moreover, they included in their discussions continuities and affinities between humans and animals, and thus saw human beings as a more or less privileged class or caste among other living beings – not different in kind, but in degree. The symposium invites all participants to look critically not only into past interpretations of ancient thought, but also into our current preferences which may contribute to the formation of bias.
10.00–10.15 Opening by Tua Korhonen and Erika Ruonakoski
10.15–11.45 Keynote: Professor Ingvild Gilhus (University of Bergen): Christianity and the Changing Experiences of Animals in Late Antiquity
11.45–12.30 Maijastina Kahlos (University of Helsinki): Beyond the Bounds of Humanity – Animal Imagery in Late Antique Invective Rhetoric
13.30–14.15 Miira Tuominen (University of Jyväskylä): Why Justice Must Be Extended to Animals? Poprhyry’s On Abstinence
14.15–15.00 Jussi Backman (University of Jyväskylä): Philosophical Hermeneutics and the Historicity of Understanding
15.20–16.05 Sari Kivistö (University of Helsinki): Birds and Utopia
16.05–16.50 Erika Ruonakoski (University of Helsinki): What Do Greek Depictions of Animals Communicate to Us? A Phenomenological Analysis of Temporal Distance
16.50–17.35 Tua Korhonen (University of Helsinki): No Fear of Metamorphosis? “[…] most ancient Greeks were not seriously worried that they would suddenly become animals” (Forbes Irving 1990, 60)
17.35–17.45 Closing of the Symposium
Ingvild Saelid Gilhus is a Professor of Religious Studies at the University of Bergen, Norway. Her seminal book Animal, Gods, and Humans: Changing Attitudes to Animals in Greek, Roman and Early Christian Thought (Routledge 2006) has ensured her a firm place in all discussions of animality in antiquity. She is a contributor to the forthcoming The Oxford Handbook of Animals in Classical Thought and Life (Oxford University Press).
Jussi Backman is a Docent of Philosophy and a University Lecturer at the University of Jyväskylä, and a Docent of Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Helsinki.
Maijastina Kahlos is a Docent of Latin Language and Roman Literature, and a Fellow of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki.
Sari Kivistö is a Docent of Comparative Literature and a Deputy Director of the Helsinki Collegium for Advanced Studies, University of Helsinki.
Tua Korhonen is a Docent of Greek Literature at the University of Helsinki and works currently in the project Empathising with the Non-Human Other in Ancient Greek Literature.
Erika Ruonakoski is a post-doctoral researcher in Theoretical Philosophy at the University of Helsinki and works currently in the project Empathising with the Non-Human Other in Ancient Greek Literature.
Miira Tuominen is a Docent of Philosophy and an Academy Research Fellow at the University of Jyväskylä.
Sponsors: The SHC Research Community (Subjectivity, Historicity and Communality: Studies in Philosophy and Political Sciences) and the AMNE (Ancient Mediterranean and the Near East) Research Community
Organizing committee: Tua Korhonen and Erika Ruonakoski (University of Helsinki)
Contact: tua.korhonen (at) helsinki.fi and erika.ruonakoski (at) helsinki.fi