Aristotle, Movement, and the Ontology of Action – Graduate Seminar (TT 2024)

Mondays, 2pm–4pm, Radcliffe Humanities (Ryle Room)

Convened by Ursula Coope


In this seminar, we shall discuss Aristotle’s views about movement and activity, and ask about some of the consequences of those views for modern philosophy of action.

In the first four meetings, we’ll focus on certain key aspects of Aristotle’s view:

  • (i) His account of movement (kinêsis), and his claim that movement is distinctively incomplete.
  • (ii) His distinction between movement and activity (kinêsis and energeia)
  • (iii) His claim that nothing is moving in the now, and his response to Zeno’s moving arrow paradox.
  • (iv) His remarks about ‘primary time’.

In the fifth class (v), we’ll discuss Plotinus’s criticisms of Aristotle’s account of movement.

In the sixth and seventh sessions, we shall look at two modern types of account, both of which are inspired by Aristotle, but which are (I think) importantly different from Aristotle:

  • (vi) Crowther and Hornsby’s view that movement is constituted by activity
  • (vii) Remarks on the nature of process in Stout, Steward and Charles.

In the final session, (viii) we shall turn to a puzzle about contingency and the present, and ask whether Aristotle’s account of movement can help to answer it.