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Andreas Lammer: Traditional and Non-Traditional Traditions of Matter, and Their Import for Arabic Philosophy

When:We 20-01-2021 15:15 - 17:00

Online Colloquium Lecture by Andreas Lammer (Trier), organized y the Department of the History of Philosophy

In this presentation, I shall investigate several accounts of matter around the third/ninth century. In particular, I am searching for the Arabic continuation of a Greek debate about whether or not matter is already corporeal.

In his late works, the sixth century Christian philosopher John Philoponus prominently argued that the Peripatetic conception of an incorporeal prime matter should be rejected on both epistemological and physical grounds. Avicenna will later adopt Aristotle’s position. Yet, Avicenna’s discussion could be regarded as a direct – or perhaps better mediated – engagement with Philoponus’ earlier position, especially if it could be shown that the latter’s critique was known by Arabic scholars of natural philosophy and metaphysics prior to Avicenna and that it itself had spurred a debate among them as to the nature of matter and body.

It is my sincere belief that traces of such a debate can be found and I will provide evidence of it. Moreover, I am convinced that same debate was continued even after Avicenna and that it can inform our understanding of the earliest criticisms of Avicenna’s philosophy in the sixth/twelfth century.


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