Aristotle on Lesvos: Contemporary Understanding of Ancient Wisdom.

14-21 July

Aristotle on Lesvos: Contemporary Understanding of Ancient Wisdom

Presenter: Pieter Duvenage

Molyvos, Lesvos

Pieter D

This is a seven-day introdictory course on the fascinating thinking of the Greek philosopher Aristotle (384-322 BC) – one of pivotal figures of human civilisation. Aristotle has been described as one of the most intelligent and wise persons who have ever lived. His impact on culture, understanding and knowledge is difficult to match. Many of the ways in which we think can be traced back to him and his work. In particular, the rational, scientific and technological culture that pervades much of the Western world owes more to him than anyone else. He has also made major contributions to the development of ethics, psychology, biology, politics and our appreciation of literature.

It is well known that Aristotle spend two years of his life on Lesvos (around 345-343 BC), during which he undertook very important research in biology (plants and animals). This research, though, must always be seen within his broader project explaining and interpreting life in the widest sense of the word. Taking Aristotle’s biological research as starting point this course will examine his broader (ethical) project of trying to understand human life and its relationship with the world and the cosmos in its fullest.

The course is for all lovers of wisdom, whether schooled in philosophy or not. More advanced elements will be introduced in such a way as not to leave beginners behind. The emphasis will be on thinking with one another in a dialogue.


Day 1: Introduction and general outline of Aristotle’s thinking.

Day 2: Aristotle’s metaphysics and worldview. The the concepts of matter and form.

Day 3: Aristotle’s view of humans (anthropology and psychology).

Day 4: Aristotle science: biology. A visit to the Gulf of Kaloni where Aristotle did his biological research.

Day 5: Aristotle’s ethics. Aspects of Aristotle great work the Nicomachean ethics with special reference to the virtues of character and the intellectual virtues (Book 6) and the concepts of friendship and human happiness. Finally, we will consider the reception of Aristotle’s very influential virtue ethics up until our own time.

Day 6: Aristotle’s politics. Continuing our discussion of the previous day we will consider how Aristotle develops his special concept of politics and what lessons he has for our own time.

Day 7: Aristotle’s art. Aristotle’s view on the important role of rhetoric and art in society.

Pieter Duvenage, a specialist on Aristotle, studied philosophy at various universities in South Africa and Germany. He completed his doctorate in 1994 and since 1995 he has lectured at various South African universities (and two Australian Universities with campuses in South Africa). Since 2011 he has been Professor of Philosophy and Head of Department at the University of the Free State in Bloemfontein, South Africa. He is the author and co-author of 5 books and more than 40 accredited articles on philosophy in journal and books.

Tariffs include accommodation, two meals per day and course fee; travel excluded.
Single: €1 270
Sharing pp: €1 080