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Visiting philosophers argue over 'Ousia'


Brigid Veale
14 December 2006
If you come across of group of folk arguing in a mixture of Latin, Greek and Arabic in Byron Bay this weekend – don’t be surprised.

Leading scholars from Cambridge, Yale, Copenhagen, Western Ontario, Athens, Auckland, Newcastle and Macquarie Universities will join Professor Paul Thom, Southern Cross University's Executive Dean of Arts, this Sunday and Monday in a philosophy conference at the Byron Bay Community and Cultural Centre.

The conference is devoted to the study of the Aristotelian categories of being. The central question of that study is ‘What does it mean for something to exist in its own right [ousia], rather than existing only in relation to something else [pros ti]?’ This is one of the fundamental questions of Aristotelian philosophy.

Three main traditions of thought will be discussed – the Greek tradition that Plato and Aristotle founded, the Islamic tradition in which original thinkers such as Ibn Sina transfigured Aristotelian philosophy, and the Latin tradition ranging from the monks of the Dark Ages to protestant luminaries of the Reformation.

The conference will air new discoveries in each of these traditions, and the delegates will not be able to confine their discussions within the walls of the Community Centre.

The coffee shops and beaches will be alive with Ousia and pros ti, with Maqulat and secundum dici.

The conference is part of 'The Reception of Aristotle's Categories Project', which also includes workshops in Denmark and the United Kingdom.

For information visit