Encyclopedia of Medieval Philosophy

2011 Edition
| Editors: Henrik Lagerlund

Natural Philosophy

  • Johannes M. M. H Thijssen
Reference work entry
DOI: https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4020-9729-4_348


Before the publication of Newton’s Principia mathematica philosophiae naturalis (1689), Aristotle’s Physics was the most widely read and influential book of natural philosophy. After 1250, it constituted the core text of the discipline of natural philosophy and was, together with Aristotle’s other “natural books,” routinely studied at all European universities. Change and motion were the central topics in Aristotle’s “natural books,” and, as a consequence, came to be pivotal in medieval natural philosophy. For Aristotle, and the medievals in his wake, motion was not merely a starting point from everyday experience, but a phenomenon whose nature needed closer investigation. This article will pay attention to medieval studies of the nature of motion, but also to medieval dynamics and kinematics (gravity, accelerated free fall, projectile motion, and qualitative changes, such as heating). The medieval discussions raised interesting ontological, semantic, and mathematical issues. The focus will be on developments at the universities of Oxford and Paris.

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© Springer Science+Business Media B.V. 2011

Authors and Affiliations

  • Johannes M. M. H Thijssen
    • 1
  1. 1.Faculty of PhilosophyRadboud University NijmegenNijmegenThe Netherlands