Annual Aristotle and Aristotelianism Conference



Many thanks to our presenters and other attendees for another stimulating and pleasant Summer conference on Aristotle and the Aristotelian Tradition

Owen Goldin & Richard Taylor

“Soul and Nature in Aristotle and Aristotelianism”

This Conference is intended to provide a formal occasion and central location for philosophers and scholars of the Midwest region (and elsewhere) to present and discuss their current work on Aristotle and his interpreters in ancient and medieval philosophy.

Presented by the Midwest Seminar in Ancient and Medieval Philosophy with the support of the Helen Way Klingler College of Arts and Sciences at Marquette University

Twelfth Annual Marquette Summer Seminar on

Aristotle and the Aristotelian Tradition

26-28 June 2017

Beaumier Conference Center B-C

Raynor Memorial Library

Marquette University

Department of Philosophy

Marquette Hall

Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53201-1881

ATTENDING ONLY: Send Registration check with name, address, academic affiliation.



(fees cover breakfasts, refreshments, picnic dinner one night)

Advance Registration ($45 by check) Deadline: May 1.

NOTE => After May 1 Registration only at the door: $50 cash.

CHECKS SHOULD BE MADE OUT TO: Marquette University

(Fees are waived for Marquette students, faculty and staff for on campus events only.)


Registration Form.

=> ALL ATTENDEES (including the Marquette community) are asked to register.<=








(Registration fees are waived for members of the Marquette community.)


Print the Registration Form above and send your check made out to “Marquette University” to:

Owen Goldin

Philosophy Department

Marquette University

P.O. Box 1880

Milwaukee, WI 53201-1881

For housing options, see the bottom of this webpage.

Conference Schedule 2017

All sessions will be held in the Beaumier Conference Center in the lower level of Raynor Library at 1355 W. Wisconsin Ave. (See below for location link.)

MONDAY JUNE 26 :  Beaumier Conference Center, Raynor Library 

9-10:15 am [1]  Prof. Jean de Groot, Catholic University

Nature, Soul, and Solids in Aristotle’s De Caelo

10:20-11:35 am [2]  Prof. Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University

Avicenna and Intellectual Abstraction

11:40 am-1:00 pm Lunch: suggestions: Law School Cafe, AMU (Student Union), Subway, Jimmy John’s Subs, local Pizza restaurant, Qdoba, Miss Katie’s Diner, and more in the immediate area.

1:00-2:15 pm: [3]   Dirk Baltzly, University of Tasmania

De Anima A.3 and Phaedrus 245C–E – ‘natural motions’ and the soul

2:20-3:35 pm [4]  Fr. Ignacio de Ribera-Martin, Catholic University of America

Aristotle’s Four (or more) Efficient Causes of Generation

3:40-5:00 pm [5] Mr. Ricardo Gancz, Bar Ilan University

Aoristos, Aisthētikē and Boulētikē: A defense for a unified view of Phantasia

6:00 pm  Picnic (TBA)

Carpooling available.

TUESDAY JUNE 27: Beaumier Conference Center, Raynor Library

9-10:15 : [6]  Mr. Orrin Eaves, University of Oklahoma

The Z.13 Thesis and the Unity of Substance

10:20-11:35  [7]  Mr. Christopher Hauser, Rutgers University

Souls and Subjects in Aristotle

11:40 am-1:00 pm Lunch: suggestions: Law School Cafe, AMU (Student Union), Subway, Jimmy John’s Subs, local Pizza restaurant, Qdoba, Miss Katie’s Diner, and more in the immediate area.

1:00-2:15 pm: [8] Prof. Sara Brill, Fairfield University

Psychology, Zoology, and Politics in Aristotle’s History of Animals

2:20-3:35 pm [9]  Dr. Jason Carter, Exeter College, University of Oxford

Is the Attunement Theory of Soul Hylomorphic?

3:40-5:00 pm [10]  Mr. Nathaniel Taylor, Marquette University

How the Intellect Knows Natures: Essentialism and Scientific Necessity in Thomas Aquinas

Dinner suggestions will be provided at the meeting.

WEDNESDAY JUNE 28: Beaumier Conference Center, Raynor Library

9-10:15 : [11] 

Prof. Josep Puig-Mantada, Universidad Complutense de Madrid

Aristotle, his Course on Natural Philosophy and the Arabic Tradition

10:20-11:35  [12] Prof. Roberto Grasso, University of Campinas,

Aristotle’s Soul Powers: Vitalism vs. Emergence

11:40 am-1:00 pm Lunch: suggestions: Law School Cafe, AMU (Student Union), Subway, Jimmy John’s Subs, local Pizza restaurant, Qdoba, Miss Katie’s Diner, and more in the immediate area.

1:00-2:15 pm: [13]  Ms. April Olsen, Tulane University

From Anger to Emulation

2:20-3:35 pm [14] Prof. Josh Hayes, Alvernia University

On the Nature of Inclination in De caelo III.2 and De anima II.4

3:40-5:00 pm [15]  Prof. Thomas Olshewsky, New College of Florida

Motives for Motion in Ensouled Beings


Prof. Dirk Baltzly

De Anima A.3 and Phaedrus 245C–E – ‘natural motions’ and the soul

It is well known that the Neoplatonic commentary tradition presents us with a highly Platonised Aristotle. For a long time this was regarded simply as a gross mis-reading of Aristotle – albeit one carried out with heroic effort and thoroughness. Richard Sorabji, who has done so much to redeem the value of the Neoplatonic commentary tradition, regarded the thesis of harmony between Plato and Aristotle as madness, but philosophically fruitful madness. More recently Lloyd Gerson has sought to show that the Platonist reading of Aristotle is not quite as mad as people have previously assumed. Yet even Gerson concedes that Plato and Aristotle disagree fundamentally on the question of the soul’s nature. Whatever their common ground elsewhere, Aristotle rejects the Platonic account of soul as a self-moving motion (cf. Gerson, Aristotle and other Platonists, 133).

In this paper I will examine three Neoplatonic texts on this question: Hermias’ Phaedrus Commentary and the De Anima commentaries of Philoponus (which is, of course, apo phonês from Ammonius, the son of Hermias) and Simplicius (or Priscian or whoever is the true author of the DA commentaries that appear under Simplicius’ name). The general diagnosis that all three sources offer is the same: the disagreement between Plato and Aristotle on this matter is merely verbal. Yet the manner in which this reconciliation is carried out in its specifics differs among the three authors in ways that are puzzling.

Hermias attributes the apparent disagreement to a verbal difference. Both Plato and Aristotle recognise that there must be an archê of motion that is not moved by another. While Plato calls it self-moving, Aristotle calls it unmoved. But by Aristotle’s own lights, Hermias argues, he should recognise that there is a self-mover that is the proximate source of corporeal motions. Hermias attributes to Aristotle a Neoplatonic doctrine of mean terms which Hermias claims is illustated in Aristotle’s treatment of Being, Life and Intellect. Accordingly, Aristotle should also accept the existence of a self-moving soul as an intermediary between heteromotive bodies and umoved intellect. This self-moving soul contains within its psychic motions paradigmatic causes of the eight corporeal motions mentioned in the Laws: generation & destruction, growth & diminution, straight & circular motion, combination & separation. Both Plato and Aristotle agree in denying these corporeal motions to soul.

In Philoponus’ DA commentary, Philoponus (Ammonius) argues that Plato and Aristotle agree that the soul, qua incorporeal, is not subject to ‘natural movements’ which seems to mean the kinds of motions associated with sensible natures such as growth and diminution, change of quality or place. (‘Natural motions’ here thus look superficially rather like Hermias’ ‘corporeal motions’.) Rather, Philoponus asserts, soul is subject only to intellectual and especially ‘vital motions’ (e.g. causing life). But while Plato terms every energeia a kinêsis, Aristotle describes only natural motions as motions. Hence each one speaks truly though Plato says that the soul is subject to motion and Aristotle says it is not (95.23–5). But even here, Philoponus insists, Aristotle is not quite right: if transitions involving dispositions and states count as alteration (and Philoponus / Ammonius seems to think that they should), then these will be natural motions even by Aristotle’s lights. The moral that Philoponus / Ammonius draws from this is that when Aristotle denies natural motion to soul, he is focusing not merely on natural motions (in his sense) but on the sub-class of natural motions that involve corporeality and thus place. In truth, Aristotle should recognise intellectual and vital motions as motions even in his more restricted sense.

The author of the Simplicius DA commentary opens his discussion of chapter 3 of book I with a different account of the meanings that Plato and Aristotle each attach to the term kinêsis and, in particular, autokinêton. Plato calls the soul ‘self-moving’ in order to indicate its intermediate position between divisible and indivisible being. The term ‘self’ connotes its remaining indivisible, while ‘motion’ connotes its descent into divisible being. Aristotle, by contrast, is accustomed to call only the numerable motion that is continuous and divisible ‘motion’ and in this regard Aristotle follows common usage. The general characterisation of the situation with Plato and Aristotle is followed by much more down-to-earth comments on individual passages. In the course of his commentary on 406a3–22, Simplicius(?) responds to just the argument that Philoponus uses to show that Aristotle must allow that the soul is in motion when it passes from ignorance or vice to knowledge or virtue. Simplicius(?) observes that while the presence of the disposition in the soul occurs all at once, prior to this presence there is a transitive change in the composite. The change from ignorance to knowledge that occurs in the soul happens after affections occur – affections that do not belong to the soul but rather to the living being (in DA, 35.11–14;  cf. Simplic. in Phys. 1064.28–1067.2. ). Simplicius(?) in the DA commentary appears to refer to a commentary on the Physics. And in the commentary of the author who is undoubtedly Simplicius on Physics VII.3 we do find a discussion of Aristotle’s claim that the transition involved in learning or in becoming virtuous is not a situation in which the soul experiences a change of quality or alteration. If this is correct, then Philoponus / Ammonius’ argument that Aristotle must recognise that the soul undergoes motion in itself fails.

Can the obvious reply to Philoponus’ objection that we find in Simplicius(?) and Simplicius have escaped Ammonius / Philoponus? What is yet more puzzling is the content of the Arabic summary of Philoponus’ own commentary on Physics V–VIII. Here, in the remarks on Phys. VII.3, we find the very resources needed to undermine the argument in his DA commentary that Aristotle must accept that the soul is subject to alteration, and thus motion, when learning takes place.

One explanation of this puzzling state of affairs is that Philoponus / Ammonius is being disingenuous or incompetent in the DA commentary. The argument that Aristotle is forced to concede that the soul has motions is open to an easy reply and Philoponus / Ammonius either should have known this (incompetence) or did but failed to bring this consideration forward in the context of the discussion in DA (disingenuousness).

In the discussion I hope to have after I’ve set out the problem, I’d like to consider other options beyond these two. It occurs to me that the Aristotelian defence of the view that the soul does not undergo motion when it learns or becomes virtuous coheres more comfortably with the view that it is the person – and not the soul – who learns or becomes virtuous. Indeed, this is precisely the approach that Alexander Aphrodisias takes in his own De Anima when he seeks to defend the claim that the soul is moved only incidentally and not in itself. But because of their commitment to the Platonic authority of the Alcibiades, the Neoplatonists have a very different theory of agency. The person is the soul and it uses the body as an instrument. If this is right, then perhaps the limited success that Philoponus / Ammonius have in showing that Aristotle is obliged to acknowledge the soul’s motion is a symptom of a deeper, underlying disagreement about agency.

Sara Brill

Psychology, Zoology, and Politics in Aristotle’s History of Animals

Drawing upon recent scholarship on the relevance of Aristotle’s zoological work to his larger philosophical projects, this paper explores the relationship between psuchē, zōē, and bios in Aristotle’s account of animal bioi in books 7-8 (Balme’s ordering) of the History of Animals by examining what we know when we know an animal’s bios. Throughout Aristotle’s zoological works, the unity that is the living being is treated as depending upon its navigation of the fluidity and porosity of embodiment, which demands that the living being take in and expel what is outside of it. An animal’s character as a zōon emerges from its ability to hold itself together in the performance of these negotiations. Thus, its body is organized around the passageways and apertures that connect the internal with the external and zōon with topos. While a sophisticated account of the relation between parts, capacities, and ends is necessary to understanding animal life, these on the their own do not amount to an account of the living being without also a subtle account of the interaction between an animal and its habitat, which ‘houses’ its sustenance (Pol. 1256b9ff) and which consists of the same matter of which its body is made (Resp. 477b30). This is all to say that, for Aristotle, if one is to understand with any specificity the unity and diversity of living beings, one must develop as subtle a conceptual vocabulary as possible for the interaction between zōon and topos. It is in the context of this aspiration, I argue, that we should locate Aristotle’s analysis of animal bios. As James Lennox has shown, bios names the coordination of parts and capacities that permit an animal’s successful engagement with its environment. What we know when we know an animal’s bios is the manner in which its parts, actions, and character are integrated into a single way of taking up the task of living, a manner that is not reducible to the parts themselves nor their functions and which, rather, is what explains why the animal has the parts and functions it does. The intimacy between zōon and topos that is indicated by a study of an animal’s bios tells us that Aristotle’s account of bios, his bio-logy, is also, fundamentally, an ecology. Moreover, it is this object, bios, that serves as the primary means through which Aristotle investigates the living (to zēn) of living beings. This entails significant political implications. For if living being serves as a paradigm of substance (e.g. Meta. 1032a19, 1034a4), this must be understood in connection with its function as a paradigm of rule: soul is not only the form of a natural body having life as a potency (DA 412a19-20), it is also the ruler of this body (DA 410b10-15, Pol. 1254a34). I conclude, then, with a consideration how Aristotle’s account of animal bios affects our understanding of that most political of animals, the human, whose bioi are defined not only in terms of sustenance (e.g. the bios of the farmer or the pirate, Pol. 1256b1) but also in choice about ends (the political life, the contemplative life, etc. (e.g. EN 1095b14-19) and who lives simultaneously on the land and in the polis. For humans engage not only in living (to zēn) but also in living together (to suzēn), that is, in addition to performing the various actions that make up the complex act of living, they also share these activities with one another, and in this sharing produce the political communities without which a recognizably human life would be impossible. Contra one long-standing way of reading Aristotle’s political thought, Aristotle’s account of animal bios suggests that we should view human political life not as an ontological break with animality, but as an intensification of certain features of animal sociality, an intensification made possible by the possession of logos and the capacity for choice. Aristotle’s account of animal bios, then, allows us to better understand the zoological lens informing his political theory

Jason W Carter,

Is the Attunement Theory of Soul Hylomorphic?

In De Anima 1.4, Aristotle criticises a psychological theory which holds that soul is an attunement (ἁρμονία) of bodily opposites. However, scholars have often found it difficult to pinpoint precisely how different this harmonic theory really is from Aristotle’s hylomorphic view that the soul is the form of a potentially living body. Could not bodily opposites, or their mixtures, for instance, be viewed as bearing a potential for nutrition, perception, and thought? And could not the fulfilment of these potentials just be the mathematical structure that these elements come to be—such as an Empedoclean ratio (λόγος) —when living bodies are formed? In this paper, I shall argue that despite the prima facie resemblance of harmonic psychology to hylomorphic psychology, Aristotle’s answer to these questions is ‘no’. Aristotle’s criticisms of harmonic psychology in De anima 1.4, I claim, are meant to give substantial reasons for thinking that no attribute of the soul can be explained by, or reduced to, the attributes of inanimate natural bodies. His reasons for thinking so, however, have not been given a full hearing. I argue that Aristotle’s reasons are grounded in his theory of chemical mixture laid out in De generatione et corruptione, as well as the structure of his theory of scientific explanation sketched in the Posterior Analytics. To show this, I offer an analysis of each of the arguments that Aristotle raises against harmonic psychology. I claim that each one shows that one cannot demonstrate or explain any of the soul’s characteristic attributes in a scientific manner using standard notions of attunement. I go on to show why Aristotle thinks that Empedocles’ quasi-harmonic psychology, discussed in the same passage, cannot account for the constitution of the soul either. I conclude by arguing that, at the close of his criticisms of the harmonic theory, he highlights the only common feature that harmonic and hylomorphic psychology share, namely, their affirmation that the living body and (some parts of) soul are definitionally and ontologically inter-dependent.

Jean De Groot, Catholic University of America

Nature, Soul, and Solids in Aristotle’s De Caelo

Soul (ψυχή) is a term that hardly appears in De Caelo, even though Aristotle says more

than once the heaven is en-souled (ἐμψυχόν) because it has eternal life (ζῳή). Life and

living are implications for the heaven and heavenly bodies of their being in motion. Since

in the main what we know of these are their movements, nature (φύσις) as a principle of

motion is especially important for explanation of the heaven. Nature is also crucial,

however, to Aristotle’s assimilation into physical cosmology of both the Pythagorean

construction of magnitudes and Eudoxan astronomy. My paper traces Aristotle’s close

reasoning in De Caelo from the Pythagorean mathematical rationale for body, refuted

Aristotle believes by both the weight and movement of bodies, through to the role of

nature in his cosmology and the meaning of the heaven’s ensoulment.

Orrin T. Eaves, University of Oklahoma

The Z.13 Thesis and the Unity of Substance

There is a tension between physis and psyche in the philosophy of Aristotle. The tension arises from the identification of nature (physis) with substance (more specifically, the nature of a thing with the substance of a thing) and the identification of the soul (psyche) with substance (or, the substance of a thing). These identifications suggest that, for Aristotle, soul and nature are identical. But this is troubling because natures seem to be things that are eminently definable and knowable, and for Aristotle that means that they are universals. Yet, souls appear to be things eminently particular. The psyche of Socrates is distinct from the psyche of Callias. So, if both the physis of a thing and the psyche of a thing are identified with the substance (ousia) of a thing, it appears that Aristotle is inconsistent regarding the nature of these substances. This tension is very consciously brought to the fore in the midst of Aristotle’s investigation of substance in the central books of the Metaphysics; in particular, Z.13 raises the question of this tension. Thus, we see that there are deep tensions in the metaphysics of Aristotle that even he was aware of. But how exactly he solved those tensions (if he did at all) is a matter of fierce scholarly debate.

This paper will examine this tension between substances as universals and substances as particulars. It will first focus on the arguments of Z.13 in particular and show that the arguments there do not point to the strong conclusion they are often taken to point to—that substances (i.e., forms) are particulars. In fact, the conclusions which Aristotle draws from Z.13 are quite in keeping with the thread of argumentation running through Zeta. However, showing that Aristotle has not contradicted himself in Z.13 is far from resolving the tension between the universality and particularity of substance. To show Aristotle’s ultimate resolution of this tension, we will need to turn to his investigation into the unity of sensible substances. It is Aristotle’s resolution of that paradox—how a sensible substance, like Socrates, is unified both diachronically (i.e., through change) and synchronically (i.e., how he is unified even though he is a metaphysical complex of form and matter)—that will help us understand how he resolves the tension between the universality and particularity of substance. Our investigation into the resolution of this paradox will principally be concerned with H.6.

Ricardo Grancz, Bar Ilan Univerity

Aoristos, Aisthetike and Bouletike: A defense for a unified view of Phantasia

Aristotle’s concept of phantasia has been a big source of debate amongst scholars for three reasons: First, there is not one but three kinds of phantasia: aoristos, aisthetike and bouletike. Second, Aristotle is not clear regarding whether phantasia is a capacity on its own or a species of aisthesis. Third, Aristotle is not clear regarding its precise role. This has led many scholars to understand phantasia as a loose concept or even to claim that it is impossible to find a unified view. With those questions in mind, my paper will explore Aristotle’s concept of phantasia and argue for a unified view. First, by considering the different ways Aristotle used the term phantasia both generally and specifically. Second, by taking on account what Aristotle attributed to the different kinds of phantasia and exploring the necessary elements he must have held in order to do so. This should allow me to present a logical explanation of phantasia. Finally, based on my logical explanation of phantasia, I will suggest a phenomenological reading of phantasia in order to put the logical explanation into test and to deepen its understanding.

Roberto Grasso, University of Campinas,

Aristotle’s Soul Powers: Vitalism vs. Emergence

Caston (1998, 2006) has convincingly showed that the activities of Aristotle’s soul are not due to powers reducible to the physical level, but he also argued that soul powers are emergent rather than basic. In this paper, I shall cast some doubt on the supposed evidence for the latter claim. I shall emphasize that the physical conditions for the implementation of soul powers Aristotle describes seem incompatible with the idea of physical ‘structures’ such powers would be emergent on. The simplicity of organs embodying soul powers is especially significant in comparison to the complex physical structures Aristotle theorizes with regard to some ‘chemical’ powers: in GC, he explains the cohesion of mixtures in virtue of the balance of opposite properties in the elements, and he similarly theorizes microscopic physical structures to explain a series of ‘higher-level’ chemical properties in Meteor. IV. Comparable explanations invoking physically describable structures to claim the ‘emergence’ of biological and mental powers are absent, and the lack of physical complexity in bodily organs suggests that physical powers are not a sufficient condition for soul powers. Thus, Aristotle’s position is best described as a vitalistic conception in which the soul is a set of basic causal powers supplementing the physical ones. More precisely, soul powers oppose some of the body’s physical powers - i.e., powers belonging to the body in virtue of its material composition - to postpone the ultimately unavoidable decay of the organism (LBV, JSVM), while using some others to perform vital functions (cf. for instance PA 652b7-16). On such a view, the endorsement of a supervenience relation between types of souls and types of bodies is obviously not problematic. As mere co-variance, supervenience does not entail the ontological dependence of certain properties on others (McLaughin-Bennet 2014): Aristotelian supervenience may thus be due to the fact that physical powers are instrumentally necessary conditions for the actual possession of soul powers.

Christopher Hauser, Rutgers University

Souls and Subjects in Aristotle

In his commentary on Aristotle’s De Anima, D.W. Hamlyn famously claims that “the concept of a person or subject is generally missing from Aristotle’s discussions of the problems in the philosophy of mind” (1968: 81). Hamlyn’s remark is occasioned by the “celebrated Rylean passage” in DA I.4 where Aristotle observes that “it is perhaps better not to say that the soul pities or learns or thinks, but that the human being does these things with the soul [tē psuchē]” (DA I.1, 408b13-15).1 As Hamlyn notes, Aristotle “does not often live up to this remark” since “he speaks repeatedly of the senses judging, e.g. 418a14, and also of the soul doing so, e.g., 427a20” (Ibid). The clear response to this observation is to maintain that Aristotle speaks loosely in these passages in precisely the way discussed in DA I.4 and really means that the animal judges with its senses or with its soul. In any case, Hamlyn’s remark raises to salience the question of in what sense, if any, the soul is a subject of vital activities and affections. It is this question which this paper aims to address. Christopher Shields (1988; 1995) disagrees with Hamlyn’s assessment about the absence of a concept of person or subject in Aristotle’s treatment of these issues (1988: 141). Shields draws attention to a pair of claims which seem to commit Aristotle to thinking that the soul is a subject (hupokeimenon): (1) if x is an ousia (substance), then x is a hupokeimenon (Met. Ζ.3, 1029a1-2) and (2) the soul is an ousia (DA II.1, 412a19-20; Met. Z.11, 1037a5) (1988: 140). The apparent conflict between this result and the celebrated Rylean passage in DA I.4 can be avoided, Shields argues, once we realize that Aristotle distinguishes between two types of hupokeimena: one type of hupokeimenon (call it hupokeimenon1) is so called insofar as it underlies form, whereas the other type of hupokeimenon (call it hupokeimenon2) is so called insofar as it underlies properties and persists as the proper and nonderivative subject of change (1988: 143; see Met. Ζ.13, 1038b1-6). On Shields’ reading, Aristotle’s view is that matter is a hupokeimenon1 but not a hupokeimenon2, whereas souls and composites are hupokeimena1 but not hupokeimena2. In short, Shields affirms that “souls can be the subjects of properties in the same way that compounds are subjects, namely as the bearers of non-relational or non-derivative properties,” including mental states (1988: 145). Shields’ interpretation has been criticized on textual grounds by Herbert Granger (Granger 1995a; 1995b). Apart from Granger’s criticisms, however, Shields’ view faces an important philosophical problem unnoticed by both Granger and Shields. The problem is this: Aristotle’s denial that animals are identical to their souls implies that souls cannot be conscious subjects of mental activities or affections; otherwise, Aristotle would face the absurd result that there are two non-identical conscious subjects for every animal (viz., the animal and its soul). Shields cannot avoid this problem by claiming that the animal is a conscious subject of mental states in virtue of having a soul which is a conscious subject of mental states (in the way, e.g., a table might be said to be white in virtue of having a white surface). Such a strategy either reduces to the absurd claim that the animal is not really a conscious subject at all but only called ‘a conscious subject’ or still requires a commitment to the absurd presence of two conscious subjects, albeit one derivative and the other primary. In short, it follows that souls cannot be conscious subjects of mental states and that in this respect souls cannot be subjects of properties “in the same way that compounds are subjects,” contrary to what Shields suggests. 1 Jonathan Barnes first referred to this passage as Aristotle’s “celebrated Rylean passage” in Barnes 1971/2: 103.

Josh Hayes, Alvernia University

On the Nature of Inclination in De caelo III.2 and De anima II.4

At the outset of Physics II.1, Aristotle argues that things that come-to-be “by nature” (φύσει) have within themselves a principle of motion and rest (ἀρχὴν ἔχει κινήσεως καὶ στάσεως) “in that to which it belongs primarily, by itself and not by accident” (ἐν ᾧ ὑπάρχει πρώτως καθ’ αὑτὸ καὶ μὴ κατὰ συμβεβηκός) (192b20-23). Hence, nature operates as an internal and active principle of motion. However, in Physics VIII.4, Aristotle claims that nature is said to be a principle “not of moving something or of producing [motion], but of suffering it” (οὐ τοῦ κινεῖν οὐδὲ τοῦ ποιεῖν, ἀλλὰ τοῦ πάσχειν) (255b29-30). Here, Aristotle defines nature as a passive principle of “being moved” by demonstrating the existence of two external efficient causes-either that which created the natural thing in the first place (γεννήσαντος καὶ ποιήσαντος) or that which removed the obstacle which had previously prevented its natural motion (τὰ ἐμποδίζοντα καὶ κωλύοντα λύσαντος) (256a1-3). In this paper, I shall defend Aristotle’s account of nature as an active principle of motion against those contemporary interpreters (Broadie, Lang) who assume the passive reading. Beginning with Aristotle’s explanation of the internal principle of inclination in natural bodies (φυσικὴ ῥοπή) in De caelo III.2, I shall argue that the principle of natural inclination throughout his physical writings can be comparatively applied to his definition of various capacities of the soul-especially his accounts on nutrition and reproduction in De anima II.4. Whereas Aristotle’s definition of natural inclination demonstrates the “activity of nature” (τῆς ἐνεργείας τῆς φύσεως), his definition of the various capacities of the soul demonstrates “what nature is” (τί ἐστιν ἡ φύσις).

April Olsen, Tulane University

From Anger to Emulation

Abstract: When Aristotle turns to the analysis of the passions in Book Two of the Rhetoric, he leaves out passions that are included in other treatises. Whereas the Nichomachean Ethics mentions desire, joy, and yearning (1105b23), all such erotic passions are conspicuously absent from the Rhetoric. Beginning with anger (orgē), Aristotle enumerates fourteen passions that are useful in persuading a crowd, based on their conventional opinions. Only the final passion of emulation (zēlos) is given some natural basis, since it depends upon the listeners believing that they are like someone else by nature. Ultimately, emulation requires the overcoming of all feelings of anger when perceiving the goods possessed by another. An emulous person (zēlōtikous) recognizes himself as having the power to acquire such goods, but he somehow avoids becoming angry at the fact that he does not already have what appears to be deserved by nature; instead, he seeks to make himself truly worthy of them. This paper will argue that emulation is the closest a public speaker can get to inducing an erotic passion, and as such it indicates both the limitations of public rhetoric and the possibility of a private or educative rhetoric.

Fr. Ignacio de Ribera-Martin, Catholic University of America

Aristotle’s four (or more) efficient causes of generation

Aristotle begins the Generation of Animals by recalling his doctrine of the four causes. He takes stock of what has already been accomplished in previous treatises and considers what still needs to be done: all causes except the efficient cause have been dealt with. Besides an account of the efficient cause of generation, Aristotle acknowledges, the description of the generative material parts is also pending. These two tasks are undertaken in the Gen. of an., but it is the efficient cause that becomes the central issue of the treatise. As Aristotle himself puts it, the study of generation and the investigation into the efficient cause come to be somehow the same inquiry (cf. GA I.1., 715a1-17). What then is the efficient cause of the generation of a living substance? Aristotle’s answer to this simple question turns out to be very complex and haunted by many aporiae. The main problem regarding the efficient cause that I will discuss in this paper is that we appear to have many efficient causes, and not just one. Both in the Gen. of an. and in other Aristotelian treatises, we find textual evidence that supports different candidates as the efficient cause of the generation of a living substance, in particular the sun, the male progenitor, the seminal fluid, and the soul of the substance that is generated. And there are other candidates supported by other passages, for example, vital heat, pneuma, form, and the heart; all of these play some role as efficient causes in the generation of a living substance. As a result, scholars defend different views as to what the efficient cause of generation is according to Aristotle. For example, while Scharle explains that the efficient cause of generation is the male progenitor, Code has argued that the soul of the substance that is being generated must be the efficient cause if generation is a natural change, that is, a change caused by an internal principle. The purpose of this paper is to make sense of the multiplicity of efficient causes in the generation of a living substance and to clarify how they are related to one another. In order to do so, I will discuss some principles and distinctions of Aristotle’s natural philosophy (as they are at work in the Generation of animals) that can help us elucidate which candidate is the efficient cause in the primary sense and which are efficient causes in a related but secondary sense. In particular, I will discuss the distinction between generation (gennaô) and what we may call ‘generative growth’ (gignomai); the distinction between a source (hothen), an instrument (dia + genitive), matter (ek), and the active principle (hupo); and the role of ‘moved movers’ as instruments (organa).

Nathaniel Taylor, Marquette University

Abstract: How the Intellect Knows Natures: Essentialism and Scientific Necessity in Thomas Aquinas.

It is well known that Thomas Aquinas follows Aristotle’s Posterior Analytics in suggesting that to know scientifically is to have knowledge that a predicate P is attributed universally, per se, and katholou to any subject S as an element of x’s essence. However, it is equally well documented that Aquinas is pessimistic about our capacity to know the essences of things. Therefore, how is it that one may come to know that y is attributed necessarily to x as an element of x’s essence when one is ignorant of that very essence? In this study, I discuss these two conflicting claims, the various ways Thomas formulates them, and the doctrinal sources of his various formulations. I describe how Aquinas, influenced by Grosseteste, Philoponus, and Avicenna, attempts to hold these two disparate propositions together. Contra Kahn 1978, I suggest that in Aquinas’s scientific method, abstraction is not the process by which one establishes definitions that are suitable for a demonstrative science. Rather, abstraction only accounts for a confused (though universal and per se) grasp of a thing’s essence. In order to formulate definitions that are universal, per se, and katholou, Aquinas suggests that one must reason from the proper accidents of a thing to the substantial differences. In this way, according to Aquinas, one must formulate proper scientific definitions without ever fully grasping the essences of things. I conclude by giving a short evaluation of this solution and suggest some further questions. 

Housing Options

Among the most convenient local hotels are the four star Ambassador Hotel and the less expensive three star Ambassador Inn across the street.

See  and respectively.

Housing available at Marquette University

Sleeping Room Summary

June 25, 2017 -- 10 single rooms
June 26, 2017 -- 10 single rooms
June 27, 2017  -- 10 single rooms
June 28, 2017 -- 10 single rooms

Nightly Room Rates
Straz Tower
Single Occupancy        $54.00       

Triple Occupancy$87.00
Quad Occupancy$97.00

Reservation Procedures

Cut-Off Date

Cut-off date: May 25, 2017. Rooms requested after the cut-off date are subject to availability.
Check in time: After 3 p.m.*
Checkout time: Prior to 10 a.m.*
*These times are based upon Central Standard Time.

Reservation Procedures

Method of reservation is Individual/Direct. Individuals are requested to call 414-288-7887 for reservations after January 1st. Individuals should let the reservations assistant know they are associated with the Aristotle and Aristotelian Traditions Conference. 


There is an estimated charge of $7 per night per vehicle for parking in a Marquette University lot.

Check in time: After 3 p.m.*
Checkout time: Prior to 10 a.m.*
* These times are based upon Central Standard Time.

Reservation Procedures

Method of reservation is Individual/Direct. Individuals are requested to call 414-288-7887 for reservations. Individuals should let the reservations assistant know they are associated with the Aristotle Conference. 

Guaranteed Reservations

All reservations must be guaranteed with a valid credit card number. MasterCard or Visa are accepted.  Failure to check-in as scheduled without canceling the reservation at least 48 hours prior to the date of arrival will result in the guest being charged one night’s room. Failure to check-out at the posted time on the date of departure will also result in a penalty fee. There are no refunds for early departures.

Additional Policies

Rooms reserved under room blocks are not guaranteed to be located in the same area of the residence hall. It is our policy to try to keep all groups together, but special requests at times prohibit this from happening.

There is a $5 lockout policy to any guest who is locked out of his/her room.  There is a $75 key replacement fee that is billed to the guest for any key that is lost or not returned upon checkout.  Rooms are re-keyed immediately for security reasons; therefore, we cannot issue refunds for guests who send in or return keys after checkout time. 

Each guest is expected to leave his/her guest room in the same condition in which it was found at check-in.  Any damages sustained to the room during the guest’s stay will be billed directly to the guest.  Any damages noticed by a guest should be brought to the immediate attention of the desk staff.

Force Majeure

Neither party shall be considered in default in the performance of its obligations under this Agreement if such performance is prevented or delayed by Force Majeure. "Force Majeure" shall be understood to be any cause which is beyond the reasonable control of the party affected and which is forthwith, by notice from the party affected, brought to the attention of the other party, including but not limited to, severe weather, war, hostilities, revolution, civil commotion, strike, lockout, epidemic, accident, fire, wind or flood or because of any law, order, proclamation, ruling, regulation or ordinance of any government or subdivision of government or because of any act of God.

For information on the “Aquinas and the Arabs International Working Group,” click HERE.

Marquette Hall

Alumni Memorial Union,

Marquette University

Philosophy in the Abrahamic Traditions :

al-Ghazali July 2016

For information, visit