The Ontology of Platonic Forms

A Conference at Notre Dame’s Rome Global Gateway

3-4 June 2016

Central to Plato's mature metaphysics is his Theory of Forms, in which he embraces a class of abstract, mind- and language-independent entities held to be immutable paradigms capable of serving as stable objects of knowledge, in contrast to the shifting and variegated material objects in the world of sense particulars. Already in antiquity, Plato's student Aristotle decried the theory as fanciful, unacceptably metaphorical, and irredemiably vague. Aristotle also contended that Plato was liable to a devastating objection to the ontology of Forms, namely that Forms are both universals and particulars. One core question of this conference: is Aristotle right? One corollary question: what precisely are Forms? Another: do Plato's surviving texts provide any conclusive answer? 

The conference is open to all, but space is limited.  Please contact Christopher Shields ( if you wish to take part.  

Conference Participants and Schedule 

3 June

8.45: Welcome

9.00:  Christopher Shields (University of Notre Dame) 

  • ’Taking Paradeigmatism Seriously’

10.15: Dominic Bailey (University of Colorado at Boulder)

  • ‘Platonic Properties’

11.30 Coffee Pause

11.45: Gabriel Lear (University of Chicago)

  • ‘Forms and Appearances’ 

13.00 Lunch

14.30: Paolo Crivelli (Université de Genève)

  • 'The One-over-Many Argument and Ideas of Negations'

15.45: Coffee Pause

16.00: Tamsin De Waal (King’s College London)

  • 'Empty Phrases and Poetic Metaphor'

19.00:  Conference Dinner

4 June

9.00:   Naly Thaler (Hebrew University of Jerusalem)

  • 'Forms and Fire Sticks: Method and Ontology in the Republic'

10.15: Gail Fine (Cornell University/University of Oxford)

  • 'Difficulties with the Greatest Difficulty: Parmenides 133b4-135b4'

11.30:  Coffee Pause

11.45:  Lesley Brown (University of Oxford)

  • 'Forms and Language in Plato’s Sophist'

13.00  Lunch

14.30: Terence Irwin (University of Oxford)

  • 'Aristotle, the Magna Moralia, and the Idea of the Good'

15.45: Coffee Pause

16.00: Annamaria Schiaparelli (Université de Genève)

  • 'Aristotelian Criticisms to Plato's Ontology in the Topics

© Christopher Shields 2014