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Welcome to the


Power Structuralism in Ancient Ontologies Project


directed by Dr. Anna Marmodoro




UPCOMING EVENTS: Aristotelian Biology and Christian Theology in the Early Empire, Faculty of Philosophy, 11th-12th January 2019 ••

"What are
the building blocks
of reality?"

The driving research hypothesis of the project is that in the first millennium of ancient Western thought the constitution of all there is was accounted for with powers as the sole elementary building block in ontology.


Powers are properties which are directed towards an end (e.g. the power to heat).

They dispose their possessor to be or act in a certain way, which is manifested in appropriate circumstances (e.g. something with the power to heat is disposed to heat something cooler).

Reaching the end realises the power and changes the causal profile of the world into a different set of powers (e.g. the realisation of the power to heat results in a change of temperature of the object heated).

Fundamental powers are ‘directed’ at other, partner powers, with which they can co-manifest.  Their directedness reflects ontological dependencies between the partner powers.  These ontological dependencies comprise the structure of fundamental powers at the bedrock of reality; but there are no (polyadic) relations in this fundamental ontology. More

"The building blocks are powers.




At the bedrock of reality is structure"


"But what is the world like if all there is are powers?"

What variety of conceptions of power-composition do the ancient use when all entities derive from structure? Are there objects over and above the relations that relate them? If not, how are objects constituted of just relations? If there are objects, do they have natures over and above their intrinsic/extrinsic relations? If not, what grounds the distinctness and identity of objects in ancient ontologies?    More