Title: Corps, matière et contact. La cohérence du sensible selon Alexandre d’Aphrodise
Authors: Cordonier, Valérie # ×
Issue Date: Nov-2008
Series Title: Etudes philosophiques vol:86 issue:3 pages:353-378
Abstract: This paper addresses Alexander’s theory of the sensible world, of both its essential structure and of the most important sorts of change within in, such as alteration and blending. First (i), I overview the minimal requirements for an item to be considered a "body" according to Alexander; then, the main part of the article(ii-iv)determines which factors explain the physical characteristics of the bodies and their mutual interactions (that is, their relations of activity and passivity with one another). In examining these questions, I ask why Alexander does not find the Stoic account of material bodies to be satisfactory and, simultaneously, I consider Alexander’s strange construal of the (pseudo-)Stoic definition of body as a "stuff" composed either of matter, or of matter and qualities (e.g. in the "De anima"): why does Alexander "need" this fictive theory? The following part of this article (v) shows, that the answer to this question lies in the "anti-materialist" and "anti-reductionist" orientation of Alexander’s physics: according to this option, neither the constitution nor operation of bodies can be reduced to their minimal and necessary conditions (that are, respectively, matter and contact). Thus, Alexander's physical ontology is the exact opposite of the Stoic view, and it has been developped in "reaction" to it: according to the Exegete, the essence of bodies and their changes can only be understood by reference to the incorporeal and intelligible principles that ultimately form the very factors responsible for what I call the specific "coherence" of the sensible world (that is, of both its polarity and selectivity). Finally (vi), I examine a specific problem Alexander solves by emphasizing the non-corporeal causes of the natural world; in this context, I suggest that his position leads him to a very special type of "naturalism", which was particularly exciting for the Neoplatonists and, later, highly consonant with the medieval approaches to accounting for the causes of sensible things. Because bodies are, for Alexander, more than mere bodies, his physics becomes not only the common point of reference for Plotinus and his followers in Late Antiquity and Middle Ages, but also an important point of departure for what we might call a metaphysical approach to the sensible world and phenomena.
ISSN: 0014-2166
Publication status: published
KU Leuven publication type: AT
Appears in Collections:De Wulf-Mansion Centre for Ancient, Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy
× corresponding author
# (joint) last author

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