The Theory and Practice of Cosmic Ascent

The Theory and Practice of Cosmic Ascent: Comparative and Interdisciplinary Approaches
To be held online via Zoom
Date: 10-12 September 2021

Conference Sponsors: Irish Research council, Department of Classics, Trinity College Dublin, and the Trinity Plato Centre

One of the most striking tropes in the history of western thought is the account of cosmic ascent; we find narratives of humans ascending to the stars and beyond in a vast array of sources from among the earliest written accounts in western literature until the present day. How are we to interpret such accounts? Possibilities include reading them as tropological performances, as ritual prescriptions, as experiential accounts, as some combination of these, but this list does not exhaust the hermeneutic options. Even a selective list of ancient and more recent ascent-accounts is striking for the vast range and widely-varied nature of the evidence. From the Hellenistic period onward, Mediterranean religions and philosophies looked increasingly to a model of human ascent as a primary locus for spiritual achievement; however, the ways in which such ascent was conceptualised vary enormously from tradition to tradition. This conference brings together specialists from a number of fields and methodological approaches with a view to expanding understanding of the significance of cosmic-ascent accounts.

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Originally scheduled for June 2020, the conference has been rescheduled and brought online. If you wish to attend, please send a message to A Zoom link will be send out prior to the conference.