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Space and Movement in Medieval Thought: The Angelological Shift

  • Tiziana Suarez-NaniEmail author
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Part of the Studies in History and Philosophy of Science book series (AUST, volume 48)

Abstract

This paper explores the contribution of medieval metaphysics to the development of the theories of space and movement through an investigation of some metaphysical conceptions of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. If treatises on the philosophy of nature – especially the commentaries on Aristotle’s Physics and De caelo – generally provided the theoretical context for notions of place, location and space in medieval thought, medieval thinkers also examined these notions in a metaphysical context in order to explain the relationship between immaterial substances (souls, angels and God) on one hand, and the space of the physical World on the other. This paper outlines three different medieval modalities of location: the circumscription of bodies, divine ubiquity, and the delimitation of souls and angels. On the basis of these modalities, medieval thinkers developed two types of explanation for the location of created immaterial substances: firstly, location through operations, and secondly, location through the being. According to these models, space is an external (first model) or internal property of the being itself (second model). These conceptions bear important consequences on the theories of movement, especially those focusing on the movement of indivisibles (that is, non-extended substances like spirits) in the physical extended space. In this context medieval thinkers intensely discussed the possibility of instantaneous movement and elaborated a complex notion of resistance as crucial to each movement in the world.

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Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.University of FribourgFribourgSwitzerland

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