This book offers an original new account of one of Aristotle's central doctrines. Freudenthal He recreates from Aristotle's writings a more complete theory of material substance which is able to explain the problematical areas of the way matter organizes itself and the persistence of matter, to show that the hitherto ignored concept of vital heat is as central in explaining material substance as soul or form.
In May 1933 the historian of chemistry Hélène Metzger addressed a letter to the renowned historian and philosopher of science Émile Meyerson, a cri de coeur against Meyerson’s patronizing attitude toward her. This recently discovered letter is published and translated here because it is an exceptional human document reflecting the gender power structure of our discipline in interwar France. At the age of forty‐three, and with five books to her credit, Metzger was still a junior scholar in the exclusively male (...) community of French historians and philosophers of science. We sketch the institutional setting of higher learning in France at the time, noting the limited openings it offered to would‐be femmes savantes, and situate Metzger in this context. We also describe the philosophical differences between Metzger and Meyerson. Though Metzger never managed to obtain a post of her own, in her letter to Meyerson she forcefully lays claim, at least, to a mind of her own. (shrink)
How do the variegated forms of sublunar substances (the elements, homoeomerous substances, plants, animals) arise in prime matter? Averroes throughout his life believed that “a principle from without” was involved, but changed his mind over its identity. While in an early period of his life he maintained that all forms emanate from the active intellect, he later discarded that metaphysical notion and sought to develop a more naturalistic, astrologically inspired account, which identified the heavenly bodies as the source of sublunar (...) forms. Comparing different versions of Averroean texts, this paper seeks to spell out how, in Averroes' view, the heavenly bodies generate forms in matter. Averroes claims that this is brought about by means of their “heats,” an answer that is however problematic seeing that in the Aristotelian cosmology the celestial realm is quality-less. The paper examines Averroes' ideas on the relationship between light and heat, concluding that the Commentator was unable to integrate the postulate that the heavenly bodies inform matter within his Aristotelian theory of matter. (shrink)
The reception of Avicenna by medieval Jewish readers presents an underappreciated enigma. Despite the philosophical and scientific stature of Avicenna, his philosophical writings were relatively little studied in Jewish milieus, be it in Arabic or in Hebrew. In particular, Avicenna's philosophical writings are not among the ische complex attitude to Avicenna.
The classic Arabic bibliographies ascribe to al-Farabi a treatise entitled Fi mahiyyat al-nafs (“On the Essence of the Soul”), of which no Arabic manuscript is known to exist. There is however a Hebrew text, translated from the Arabic by Zera[hudot]iah ben She'altiel [Hudot]en of Rome in 1284, which is ascribed to al-Farabi in all the manuscripts and which carries the title Ma'amar be-mahut ha-nefesh (“Treatise on the Essence of the Soul”). Since Steinschneider, this text is taken to be the translation (...) of al-Farabi's treatise lost in the original. In this paper I argue that the Ma'amar be-mahut ha-nefesh is not by al-Farabi: it is in vain that one looks in it for ideas characteristic to the Second Master, while the ideas expressed therein are incompatible with those of al-Farabi. I offer a study of Ma'amar be-mahut ha-nefesh, followed by an annotated translation into French. This is a “popular” Neoplatonic text, whose ideas are mostly very ordinary, but in part uncommon. It notably explains the emergence of forms in matter by positing the existence of a pneuma that by circulating around the body “brings forth” the vegetative and animal souls. The author also draws on an unusual notion called hemshel in Hebrew (a term probably translating the Arabic mithal, rendered as exemplum in Latin): the exemplum is said to become visible as a result of the pneuma's circular motion. The paper is followed by a short Note by Rémi Brague looking into the sources of the treatise. Brague concludes that the text cannot be assigned to any specific tradition. (shrink)
R. Saadia Ga'on of Baghdad sought to avoid anthropomorphism by arguing that scriptural phrases which seem to ascribe materiality to the Deity in fact refer not to God Himself, but rather to a created entity, God's Glory, which he described as a very tenuous “air.” This paper argues that Saadia's conception of a quasi-divine “air” through which God accomplishes His acts in the material world is heavily indebted to the Stoic theory of pneuma. It follows that the immanentist theology of (...) Ḥasidey Ashkenaz, which is known to have been substantially influenced by Saadia, in fine is also indebted to Stoic philosophy and physics. R. Saadia Ga'on de Baghdad tâchait d'éviter l'anthropomorphisme en avançant que les versets bibliques qui semblent attribuer des traits matériels à Dieu portent non sur Dieu Lui-même, mais sur une entité créée, la Gloire de Dieu, que Saadia décrivait comme un “air” extrêmement subtil. Cet article s'efforce de montrer que la conception saadienne d'un air quasi divin, par lequel Dieu accomplit Ses actes dans le monde matériel, est redevable à la doctrine stoïcienne du pneuma. Il s'ensuit que la théologie immanentiste des Ḥasidey Ashkenaz, que l'on sait avoir été trés influencée par Saadia, est un prolongement lointain de la philosophic et de la physique stoïciennes. (shrink)