The Quarrel between Ancients and Moderns


    Our group aims to investigate the relationship between ancient and modern ways of thinking. In the history of thought modern authors have often drawn upon typical ancient philosophical terms and arguments, while misunderstanding, reconfiguring or adapting them to the scientific and cultural needs of their time. Does the inescapable historicity of any philosophical perspective prevent a thinker from defining himself as a Platonic, an Aristotelian, a Plotinian, etc.? And if so, is it inevitable to conclude that the history of philosophical thought follows a progressive, teleologically oriented path?

    The quarrel between Ancients and Moderns has its roots first in the Italian Renaissance, the in the debate that took place with the French Academy at the end of the 17th century. Our group strives to retrace these experiences, but also to reflect upon the 20th century rediscovery of ancient motives and interpretative solutions as opposed to the crisis of modern thought. By examining the works of relevant authors (mostly with Jewish origins) such as Strauss, Eric Weil, Arendt and Jonas, we intend to assess whether, what and to what extent Ancients still have to teach to contemporary philosophy.