The Metaphysics of the Soul-Body relation underpinning Gregory of Nyssa's Anthropology and Political Thought

Saturday, 10th December 2016

Ryle Room, 1st Floor, Faculty of Philosophy

Radcliffe Humanities, Woodstock Road, OX2 6GG, Oxford


Gregory's anthropology both has a strong metaphysical basis and feeds directly and explicitly into his political thought (for example, consider his idea that slavery is unnatural because humans are created as self-directing creatures). This one-day workshop will focus on Gregory’s metaphysical views on the relationship between soul and body, and will explore how they shape his conception of human nature and human life in a social/political context. The working hypothesis that will be tested at the workshop is that Gregory thinks of the boys soul relation in hylomorphic terms, by tailor-fitting Aristotle’s original account to new philosophical and theological concerns. To test this hypothesis, we will bring historians, philosophers, and historical theologians together, to consider Gregory’s anthropology and political thought in this fresh metaphysical light. The workshop aims to ground its exploration in Gregory’s intellectual context – exploring hylomorphic strands in Origen and Plotinus as they feed into Gregory; and his historical context – considering how metaphysics and anthropology relate to his concrete social and political context, not just to supposedly abstract political ideas.



Neil McLynn (University of Oxford)

Gregory of Nyssa and the City.

Commentator: Sophy Tuck (University of Oxford)


Ilaria Ramelli (Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, Milan)

Hylomorphism a Background to Gregory's Anthropology.

Commentator: Sophie Cartwright (Univeristy of Oxford)


Mark Edwards (University of Oxford)

Gregory of Nyssa and Aristotle

Commentator: Anna Marmodoro (Univeristy of Oxford)


Morwenna Ludlow (University of Exeter)

Spiritual Formation and the Body-Soul relation in Gregory of Nyssa.

Commentator: Jonathan Hill (University of Exeter)


Sophie Cartwright (Univeristy of Oxford)

Vulnerability as the Secret of Self-determanation in Gregory of Nyssa

Commentator: Vito Limone (Vita-Salute San Raffaele Univeristy)


Complete conference programme is available here.

Podcasts from this conference will also be available on this site.

The workshop is financially supported by the John Fell Fund and the Oxford Centre for Late Antiquity.