The Aristotelian Society was founded in the spring of 1880 by a group of young, unaffiliated philosophy enthusiasts based in London. The founders resolved to meet fortnightly throughout the academic year to debate current and pressing issues in philosophy. The Society did not name itself after Aristotle because it wanted to focus squarely on his work or on Aristotelianism more generally. Instead, the name was adopted so as to signify that the group advocates, as Aristotle once did, the broad and systematic pursuit of philosophy, unhindered by established schools of thought.
Eight years after its founding, the decision was made to publish the London sessions in a bound, hardcover volume that was titled the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society for the Systematic Study of Philosophy.
philosophy in london
During its earliest years, the Aristotelian Society met at 20 John Street in an area of London known as the ‘Adelphi’, a small district located in the borough of Westminster. Relocation after that time to rented rooms in the Royal Asiatic Society on Albemarle Street was necessitated by a somewhat dramatic episode in the Society’s young life: an attempted coup by some of its members, prompted largely in reaction to the domineering style of the Society’s first president, Shadworth Hodgson, saw the loss of the Society’s original meeting place. In 1920, members returned to Bloomsbury and rented rooms on Gower Street. Since then, the Society relocated to a number of different areas and institutions including Birkbeck - University of London.
Since 1995, the Society has enjoyed a close partnership with the Institute of Philosophy - School of Advanced Study. Whilst the Society's operations are currently based in Stewart House, its talks for the Proceedings take place in the Woburn Suite of Senate House - University of London.
Senate House is the administrative nerve centre of the University of London, situated between the School of Oriental and African Studies and the British Museum. Amongst other bodies, the Senate House contains the entire collection of the Senate House Library - one of the world's most significant collections in the arts, humanities and social sciences. It is also home of eight of the ten research institutes of the School of Advanced Study. Constructed in the Art Deco style, the Senate House was built between 1932 and 1937 as the first phase of a large uncompleted scheme designed for the University by Charles Holden. It consists of 19 floors and is 210 feet (64 m) high, making it the second tallest building in London (after St Paul's Cathedral) when it was completed.
Senate House - University of London
The Woburn Suite
London WC1E 5DN
All of the Society’s events are catered with fairtrade teas, coffees, and biscuits.
The Society’s talks take place every fortnight throughout the academic year and typically fall on a Monday. Each talk starts at 17.30 and lasts for about an hour. The talk is then followed by Q&A, which ends at 19.15.
In line with the Society’s mission to make philosophy readily available to the general public, all talks are free and membership is not required.
Contributors to the Proceedings are nominated by the Society’s Executive Committee and selected by the Editor. The President of the Aristotelian Society is chosen by the Council and is charged with - amongst other duties - delivering the inaugural address of the session.
Each session is chaired by the President and features 15 philosophers representing a wide variety of philosophical backgrounds. Whilst the Society is proud to showcase the best of British philosophy, each programme features speakers invited from abroad.
The topics covered for the 2018-19 programme include: ancient philosophy, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, philosophy of language, Kantian philosophy, philosophy of action, political philosophy, continental philosophy, ethics, the philosophy of sex and gender, history of philosophy, and epistemology.
draft papers & podcasts
Following 137 years of tradition, draft papers of all the talks are available in advance. Whilst the Society had experimented with dozens of methods for sending draft papers out to its members, the growing ubiquity of the web has allowed draft papers to be readily available for the general public.
The draft paper for a talk is available approximately one week prior to its schedule delivery.
The Aristotelian Society Philosophy Podcast Series contains free audio recordings of the talks delivered for the Proceedings. The Series was launched for the 2011/12 academic year and is produced by Backdoor Broadcasting Company in conjunction with the Institute of Philosophy.
The podcast for a talk is available approximately one week after its scheduled delivery.
digital issues & archive
For the past 131 years, the Proceedings has featured widely respected papers delivered by a range of prominent philosophers, such as Alfred North Whitehead, Ludwig Wittgenstein, Bertrand Russell, A.J. Ayer, P.F. Strawson, Karl Popper, Elizabeth Anscombe, Bernard Williams, Hubert Dreyfus, Alexander Nehamas, and Onora O’Neill.
Final drafts of the papers - including discussion notes and exemplary graduate papers - are published in the Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society.
The Proceedings is published online via Oxford University Press every April (Issue No. 1), June (Issue No. 2), and October (Issue No. 3). Oxford University Press houses the Society’s digital back catalogue dating from 2000 to 2014.
The Society’s archive dating from 1888 to 1999 can be accessed online via JSTOR.
In keeping with a tradition, the Proceedings is published as a bound, hardcover volume which is released every October.
Subscribing members receive online access to the Proceedings from 2000 to the most current issue.
Subscribing members also receive the bound, hardcover volume of the latest Proceedings through the post.