Welcome to the

Power Structuralism in Ancient Ontologies Project

directed by Dr. Anna Marmodoro

NEWS: Summer School and Conference on Powers, Perception, and Agency, 21-27 September 2015, Rome -- Conference on The Metaphysics of the Stoics: Causes, Principles, and Mereology, 23-24 June 2015, Corpus Christi College, Oxford -- International conference on Essence, Power, and Activity in Classical and Late Antiquity, 8th-9th September 2015, Faculty of Philosophy, Oxford University

"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