Thursday 28th May 10.15-12.00u
Reuvenplaats 3-4 room 1.01E
Aristotle on the causal efficacy of crafts and souls
Jorge Mittelmann & Patricio Fernández (Universidad de los Andes, Chile / Oxford)
Aristotle often assigns the role of efficient cause to a craft (technê) or to powers of the soul. How is it possible that such avowedly immaterial causes influence the material world? What causal role remains for the human being who possesses the craft, or the soul, and how do soul and body interact? Mittelmann and Fernández have developed an alternative interpretation of Aristotle’s psychology to answer these questions.
Jorge Mittelmann is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Universidad de los Andes (Chile). His work deals with Aristotle’s psychology and its reception by the Neoplatonic and Peripatetic traditions, with a particular focus on Aristotle’s conception of the soul as the ultimate efficient cause of biological processes and the way it fits within his broader account of physical causality. Mittelmann is currently engaged in a publicly-funded research project whose aim is to make sense of the way in which a plausible theory of the causal interaction between material and immaterial items may be construed, in order to improve upon the merely metaphorical explanations Aristotle discovers in Plato. The paper relates to this project.
Mittelmann has published an annotated Spanish translation of Aristotle’s Categories and De Interpretatione as well as some journal articles, including “Neoplatonic sailors and peripatetic ships: Aristotle, Alexander and Philoponus” (Journal of the History of Philosophy 51: 4, 2013, 545 – 566) and “¿Es un ergon aristotélico ‘múltiplemente realizable’? (Elenchos: Rivista di Studi sul Pensiero Antico 30: 2, 2009, 255 – 292).
Patricio A. Fernández, Phd Harvard in Philosophy & Economics is postdoc at the Universidad de los Andes, Chile, and associated with the Metaphysics of Entanglement project led by Anna Marmodoro at Oxford. His research interests include issues Ancient Philosophy, Moral Philosophy, and Philosophy of Action. His current work combines Aristotle’s psychology with contemporary debates about the connection between practical reasoning and action, and normative realism.
Among his publications are “A Realistic Practical Conclusion”, American Philosophical Quarterly (2015), “Reasoning and the Unity of Aristotle’s Account of Animal Motion”, Oxford Studies in Ancient Philosophy (2014), and “Stare Decisis: Rhetoric and Substance” (joint with Giacomo Ponzetto), The Journal of Law, Economics, & Organization (2012).