Masterclass with Prof. Dr. Anna Marmodoro: "Essentialism: Ancient and Contemporary"

24 – 26 February 2025, Munich School of Philosophy in Cooperation with Catholic Academy in Bavaria

Catholic Academy in Bavaria


General Information

The Munich School of Philosophy organizes a masterclass focusing on essentialism in ancient and contemporary metaphysics to be held from 24 – 26 February 2025 in Munich, for advanced graduate students in philosophy and early career researchers who have completed their PhD not earlier than in 2021.

The masterclass will be taught by Prof. Dr. Anna Marmodoro (Durham University/Oxford University). Texts and discussion at the masterclass will evolve around parts of Prof Marmodoro’s forthcoming book titled Parmenidean Essentialism.

Marmodoro takes Parmenides to be the first to formulate the view that she calls Parmenidean Essentialism (PE), namely the position that a thing is its essence. According to PE, there is no divide between, and no relation connecting a thing to what it is, its essence, because a thing is its essence. This is an important point of contrast, she claims, between ancient and contemporary essentialism, as well as with the received interpretation of Aristotle’s essentialism today, according to which objects have (rather than are) their essential properties, which they could not lack, because it is such essential properties that ‘make’ each object be what it is.

The overall goal of Marmodoro’s book is to identify PE as a philosophical position and trace its metaphysical evolution from Parmenides to Aristotle. Parmenides advocates PE but builds an (unconvincing) ontology to match it, allowing for only one kind, the kind Being; Plato improves on PE, by showing that there are many different kinds, not just one, where each Platonic Form is a kind of being; and Aristotle, who discovers that there is also matter in substances, develops PE fully by showing that, each material substance is its essence.

Marmodoro argues that understanding PE requires not only a re-conception of the metaphysics of Plato and of Aristotle, but also a re-conception of the reception of Aristotle’s metaphysics today, as the contemporary essentialist metaphysics. The book concludes with some considerations that commend PE to contemporary philosophers today.

No specific pre-reading required, but students would be selected on the basis on their qualifications and thus will join the masterclass with the appropriate background. They will be asked only to refresh their acquaintance with some key texts in Plato and Aristotle in advance of the masterclass.

In the morning hours, Prof. Marmodoro will give lectures in which she presents and defends her thesis on ancient essentialism and its difference to contemporary essentialism. In the afternoon, students are invited to make short presentations, either on their own research if directly related to the masterclass themes, or a presentation of an interpretation of some of the key ancient texts relevant to the masterclass (e.g. Plato’s TMA, Aristotle’s Metaphysics Z.3, etc.). There are six slots available for a 15 minutes presentation of one’s own research in connection to ancient or contemporary essentialism, followed by a 10 minutes Q&A. The selection of the presenters will be based on the quality of the paper proposal and the suitability of the topic.

Prof. Marmodoro will give a public lecture on the 25 February 2025, 7 pm at the Catholic Academy in Bavaria on the topic “What’s Ancient about Ancient Philosophy?”.


Prof. Dr. Godehard Brüntrup SJ, Munich School of Philosophy

Prof. Dr. Patrick Zoll SJ, Munich School of Philosophy

Dr. Johannes Schiessl, Catholic Academy in Bavaria

Dominik Fröhlich, Catholic Academy in Bavaria

Assistant: Vincent Schäfer (

Participant’s Profile

  • Graduate students in philosophy who have completed at least their first year with a study/research focus on topics related to the general theme of the masterclass
  • Postdocs in philosophy who have completed their PhD in philosophy not earlier than in 2021
  • the ability to discuss in English is required

Dates, Costs, and Possible Accomodation

Monday, 24 February, 9 am till Wednesday, 26 February 2025, 5 pm.

The participation fee is 135 euros, including lunch and dinner on Monday 24 and Tuesday 25 February, lunch on Wednesday 26 February and refreshments during breaks. Vegetarian food is provided. There is an additional reduced rate of 77 euros per night for accommodation including breakfast, and 50 euros per person for a double room. Please also let us know in your application whether and how many nights you would like to stay at the academy.


Please apply by sending the following items to till latest 15 November 2024:

  • CV
  • letter of motivation (max. two pages) indicating why you are interested in participation and how participation would further you research/study-agenda
  • name a professor and his or her email address who is able and willing to provide a reference on your behalf in case of need
  • desired but not necessary: abstract of a 15 min paper proposal on a topic related the masterclass (up to 500 words) which – if accepted – will be presented at the masterclass in one of the six available slots

Applicants will be informed about the decision on their application by 1 December 2024.


Catholic Academy in Bavaria

Mandlstraße 23
80802 Munich