The focus of this conference is the concept of eternity and its development in the history of philosophy.

Since Antiquity eternity has been thought to describe a particular kind of existence that belongs exclusively to what truly exists.  Within the history of philosophy there have in general been two different major conceptions of eternity:  (1) eternity as timeless existence and (2) eternity as existence at all times.  Both conceptions are meant to contrast with the ordinary existence of everyday things, such as dogs and chairs, that come to be and pass away.

In contemporary philosophy the concept of eternity as such is no longer fashionable, but even here one might characterize the proponents of realism in the philosophy of mathematics and of timeless propositions in the philosophy of language (that is, that propositions are entities whose existence is independent of anyone’s thinking or uttering them) as defenders of some notion of eternity.  Moreover, the concept of eternity has a strong claim to being a point of interest that connects many fields outside of the traditional boundaries of philosophy, e.g., theology and biblical exegesis and literature (cf. J.L. Borges).

The aim of this conference is to elucidate and analyze the concept of eternity in its historical and philosophical dimensions.

The conference will be funded by the Deutsche Forschungsgesellschaft DFG.

In order to achieve an understanding of this concept that extends across traditional historical boundaries, each of the following areas will form the focus of an individual study, each presented by an internationally acclaimed expert in the field:

Antiquity and Late Antiquity: Prof. James Wilberding (Ruhr-Universität, Bochum, Deutschland)
Medieval Philosophy: Prof. Peter Adamson (King’s College, London, UK)
Early Modern Philosophy: Prof. Yitzhak Melamed (Johns Hopkins University, USA)
19th Century Philosopy: Prof. Alistair Welchman (University of Texas at San Antonio, USA)
20th Century Philosophy: Prof. Kris McDaniel (Syracuse University, USA)

In addition the following commentators will be invited to respond to each of these presentations, leading to an open discussion with participants in the audience:

Antiquity and Late Antiquity: Prof. Dr. Christoph Horn (Universität Bonn)
Medieval Philosophy: Prof. em. Dr. Hinrich Biesterfeldt (Ruhr-Universität Bochum)
Early Modern Philosophy: Dr. Stephan Schmid (Humboldt-Universität Berlin, Germany)
19th Century Philosopy: Prof. Judith Norman (Trinity University, Texas, USA)
20th Century Philosophy: Comments: Prof. Dr Dr Christian Tapp (Ruhr-Universität, Bochum)