Conceptions of Nature from Ionian Thought to Contemporary Science


SAN SEBASTIÁN (7-10 October 2025) - SAINT JEAN DE LUZ (11 October 2025)

SAN SEBASTIÁN, Chillida-Leku Museum and UPV/EHU - SAINT JEAN DE LUZ, Salon d’actes de la Mairie

Special Session in A Coruña (TBA October 2025) 

A CORUÑA, Fundación Paideia-Galiza





Conceptions of Nature from Ionian Thought to Contemporary Science


The philosophical reflection about Nature, what was in other time known as Natural Philosophy, can’t be done “without the support of natural science of our times”, using Heisenberg’s words. The theoretical aim of the XVI edition of the International Ontology Congress is to take up again the old questions of Greek Ontology concerning Physis and confront them with contemporary discoveries. Indeed, the expression “the science being sought after”, by which the naturalist Aristotle characterized philosophy, is perfectly applicable to the situation in which we find ourselves in the light of scientific thought and the artistic work of our time.


1. Ionian thought and classic polarities concerning Physis.

This section will focus on the historical-philological reflection on the differences between the meaning of the word Physis in old Greek Texts and the meaning of the term in fragments of Ionian Physikoi. To this regard, we will remember how the Ionian conception of Physis is at once collected, reinterpreted, and archived by Aristotle. Certain essential polarities date from this Aristotelian concretization: natural versus ideal; natural versus inert; natural versus artificial. It is also worth mentioning polarities of determinism/ type that must be qualified, for example in the case of Epicurus

2. Scientific revolution and rationalist Philosophy.

In this section, we would like to recall in what sense the Aristotelian conception of Nature and Kosmos (somewhat artificially respected by Scholastic thinkers) is modified by the Scientific Revolution and the great rationalist philosophers (for example nothing is more foreign to Aristotelianism than Newtonian ontology, based on the idea of an empty and infinite space, idea in turn eliminated by the theory of relativity).

3. Evolutionary conceptions of nature.

By proposing a naturalistic explanation for the diversity and evolution of species, the Darwinian theory of evolution challenged traditional conceptions of a static and predictable universe, established by Newton's deterministic laws. In this section, we will focus on this paradigm shift, which led to a more dynamic and evolutionary understanding of nature, laying the groundwork for a more complex and contextualized approach to biological and physical phenomena.

4. From Schrödinger's vision to the second Quantum Revolution: the philosophical significance and technological impact of Entanglement.

In the first twenty-five years of the Twentieth Century, experimental facts showed that, for the microscopic realm, the classical picture of the nature was too limited and, to a certain extent, unjustified. In 1935 Schrödinger considered entanglement not just one, but rather the characteristic trait of quantum mechanics. Although initially abhorred as a physically and philosophically unacceptable feature of Physis, experimental facts showed that the classical picture of nature was too limited. Nowadays, entanglement is at the heart of the Second Quantum Revolution and routinely exploited in technologies such as quantum computation, cryptography, and communication. In this section, we will propose to explore the significance of entanglement for our understanding of the Physis and assess the impact of technologies that resort to entangled systems. 

5. Debates on artificial life and artificial intelligence.

In relation to the polarities Natural (in the sense of endowed with an internal principle of transformation) versus Inert and Natural versus Artificial, in this section we will discuss the enormous weight of the fact that we talk today about constructed systems that would represent a transition from non-living to living materials, systems that, among other features, would use external energy to overcome the mechanisms of corruption and disorder. This debate complements the one that has been going on for decades about artificial intelligence.

6. Artistic perspectives.

Linked to the Greek Nature/Techne polarity (as a particular case of reflection on the state of art), in this section we will discuss the idea of the naturalization of music, so present, implicitly at less in many of the canonical texts of musicology.