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5th Interdisciplinary Conference 
at The Polis Institute

From Logos to Person 

October 5th-7th 2021



For any enquires, please contact: [email protected]

The conference is co-organized by:

Dr. Mercedes Rubio (Polis – The Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities)
Prof. Yitzhak Melamed (Johns Hopkins University) 
Prof. Giuseppe Veltri (University of Hamburg)
Prof. Hildegund Müller (University of Notre Dame) 

Aristotle defined man as a rational animal. The early modern definition of human being as res cogitans (Descartes) cut human beings off from their animal dimension and the physical world, while a deeply modern philosophical school such as phenomenology stressed the role of the body in the constitution of the human person. More recently, John Deely proposed a definition of man as a semiotic animal. This definition underlines a missing link in the history of philosophy, as it showcases man’s communicative nature, which is intrinsic to his social ethos. Modern and contemporary personalist philosophies have also pointed in this direction. Derrida’s deconstructionism, a philosophical development that has permeated much of the contemporary mindset, argues instead that language and extra-mental reality are cut off from each other.

Whether language is perceived as an instrument of communication or as a human activity devoid of real meaning, the acquisition and ongoing use of speech shapes our identity and our attitude towards individuals and human communities, communicating key attitudes such as self-acceptance and openness to others, tolerance and intolerance, belief and skepticism. Language is central to shaping man’s position in the world and in society.

Human being’s communicative ability can be particularly illustrated by the rich history of the Greek notions of λόγος and πρόσωπον, and of the traditional (according to context) Latin versions verbum and persona. Early Christian writers used both terms when discussing the revelation of a Trinity of Persons in God. Arabic translators chose the words كلمة and أقنوم to translate the Greek original The Hebrew Bible uses the words דבר and פנים to refer to God’s act of creation and when interacting with human beings. The Bible portrays a personal God who speaks and who dialogues with his creatures.

The Interdisciplinary Conference From Logos to Person aims at gathering scholars from the fields of philosophy, linguistics, philology, literature, anthropology and theology to examine the notions of logos and person and their rich interactions throughout history. Contributions emphasizing the place and role of each or any of the four linguistic traditions mentioned in forging this notion will be particularly welcome.

1.      From logos to person: The intellectual history of these notions from antiquity to nowadays, particularly (though not exclusively) in the Greek, Hebrew, Arabic and Latin traditions.

2.      Languages and personal identity: Learning to speak as a key element in personal development. To what extent shapes a specific language the way of thinking?

3.       Self-identity and inter-relations. Memory and verbal expression as a key factor in shaping individual and collective identity. Does learning a new language have a bearing on an adult as a person?

4.      Are words vehicles of thoughts? Does being a person imply being-in-relation? Are there non-human persons? Is personal growth possible?

5.      The Word of God. The role of words in the act of creation. Person & Sacred Scripture: Implies divine Revelation a personal God? Prayer as monologue, formula, invocation, or dialogue in the three monotheistic traditions.

Λόγος – person – πρόσωπον – persona – דבר – פנים  الأقنوم – الشخص  – كلمة  – personality – identity (self) – archetype – reason – memory  – expression (self) – relation – word – speech – discourse – monologue – dialogue – revelation – prayer

Confirmed Keynote speakers

Mustafa ABU SWAY – Al-Quds University 
Mauricio BEUCHOT – Universidad Autónoma Nacional de México
Juan Manuel BURGOS – Asociación Española de Personalismo; Universidad CEU San Pablo
Ruth KARA-IVANOV – Haifa University
Taneli KUKKONEN – NYU Abu Dhabi
José Ángel LOMBO – Pontificia Università della Santa Croce
Yitzhak MELAMED – Johns Hopkins University
Hildegund MÜLLER – University of Notre Dame
Christophe RICO – Polis – The Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities
Mercedes RUBIO – Polis – The Jerusalem Institute of Languages and Humanities
Giuseppe VELTRI – Universität Hamburg (Maimonides Centre for Advanced Studies)


February 15th, 2021  -  Registration opens

March 19th, 2021  -  Deadline for submission of abstracts (250 words)

June 30th, 2021  -  Deadline for registration for in-person participants and audience

September 30th, 2021  -  Deadline for registration for the online audience

October 5th-7th, 2021  -  Conference dates (3 full days)

January 15th, 2022  -  Deadline for final article submission

Format of the Conference

The organizers envision the conference as a ground for fruitful exchange of ideas. We aim at gathering scholars, each covering one major aspect of this complex topic during the 3 days of the conference.[1] After each presentation there will be a debate session that will be recorded and transcribed.

Participants will be invited to submit their papers for publication. An Editorial Board will be created for the selection of final contributions, which will be published in a peer-reviewed monograph, also containing an edited version of the discussions at the end of each chapter. The goal is to publish a veritable status quaestionis and a real contribution to the topic under discussion.

It will be possible to register for live streaming of the sessions and a 12-months access to the recordings. 

[1] In the unlikely event that current travel restrictions are still in place by the time of the Conference, we would adapt the format to the circumstances.

Organizing committee

Co-organizers: Dr. Mercedes Rubio (Chair), Prof. Yitzhak Melamed, Prof. Giuseppe Veltri, Prof. Hildegund Müller.

Secretary: Dr. Joaquin Paniello



 Previous Conferences organized by the Polis Institute

2018 Transmitting a Heritage. The Teaching of Ancient Languages from Antiquity to the 21st Century (to be published in 2021)
2016 The Cours de Linguistique Générale Revisited: 1916-2016 (published 2018)
2015 The Library of Alexandria. A Cultural Crossroads of the Ancient World (published 2017)
2013 Origins of the Alphabet. Proceedings of the First Polis Institute Interdisciplinary Conference (published 2015)