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Fundamental structures

This three-day international conference will explore

conceptualisations of ‘fundamental structures’ across a

range of disciplines. A unifying focus will be a thematically

interconnected set of presentations dealing with one of the

great foundational texts of Western philosophy, Plato’s



which presents an account of the formation of the universe as

the work of a


or ‘master craftsman’ who imposes

mathematical order on chaos to create a cosmos (



Plato’s poetic narrative proposes an underlying structural

congruence between all phenomena in the human and

natural realms, unifying such disparate fields as astronomy,

music, law, and architecture. It will consequently serve as an

excellent point of departure for thinking about the ways in which

fundamental ordering and structure-imparting agencies have

been envisioned in different domains across the humanities and

sciences (including music, history, architecture and the other

visual arts, psychology, political science, law, and theoretical

physics), and the ways in which these have changed over time

and manifest themselves differently in varying cultural contexts.

The conference will serve to facilitate interdisciplinary dialogue

on the following questions:

the commonalities that might exist between envisionings of

deep structures in different fields;

the current philosophical status and continuing relevance

of ideas of fundamental structure in different intellectual

domains, and of concepts of a fundamentally ordered


the relations between the fabric of physical structures,

including potentially Durham Cathedral itself, and

philosophical and theological ideas stemming from the

classical tradition.

Keynote speakers include Professor Nancy van Deusen

(Claremont Graduate University), an outstanding mediaevalist

whose recent research encompasses philosophy, the natural

sciences and musicology; and Professor John Hendrix (Roger

Williams University), an expert on the cosmological foundations

of medieval religious architecture and its dependence on the

ancient and medieval philosophical tradition.

The conference will take place between Wednesday 14 to Friday

16 March 2018 in the College of St Hild and St Bede. Contact

Dr Edmund Thomas

for further


Fundamental Structure

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