Federal University of ABC, São Paulo
The limits of language in ancient philosophy: non-contradiction, identity and ineffability in Damascius
Luca Pitteloud is a professor for ancient philosophy at the Federal University of ABC in São Paulo, Brazil. He did is PhD at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland. Between 2013 and 2016, he was a postdoctoral researcher at the University of Brasília (UnB), at the Federal University of Pará (UFPA) in Belém (Amazonia) and at the Federal University of Rio de Janeiro (UFRJ). In 2019, he was a visiting professor at the CNRS in Paris. He works mainly on the history of ancient philosophy, metaphysics and cosmology. He is a member of the editorial team PLATO JOURNAL: The Journal of the International Plato Society.
Are there some things beyond language? Many religious traditions posit that some entities cannot be adequately described in human language and so cannot be grasped by human reason: God in the Abrahamic tradition; the Dao ancient Chinese Daoism; ultimate reality in Mahayana Buddhism. Often, the ‘mysticism’ of these traditions is set against the ‘cold rationality’ of Ancient Greek philosophy, with its firm commitment to logical principles and argument. This contrast may explain why Ancient Greek treatments of the limits of language have been neglected. In this project, I wish to trace the connections between the three laws of classical logic (the principle of non-contradiction, the law of excluded middle and the principled of identity) and ancient Greek ideas that there are some things that cannot be spoken of or thought about. The main philosopher under scrutiny will be Damascius. For him, in order to grasp the first principle of all things, what he calls the Ineffable, we must go beyond the three laws of logic and accept to step into the void.
2020. “Plato’s Atomism”, in Ugo Zilioli (eds), Atomism in Philosophy: A History from Antiquity to the Present, London, Bloomsbury Academic, pp. 136-155.
2019. Psychology and Ontology in Plato, Edited with Evan Keeling, Cham, Philosophical Studies, Springer.
2017. La séparation dans la métaphysique de Platon, Sankt Augustin, Plato International Studies, Academia Verlag.