Reading Group on Theories of Matter

~ Summer Semester 2019 ~

Structures of Materiality: 
Roger Bacon and the Conundrum of Prime Matter

Contact: pollonin@hu-berlin.deHU Webpage

How does alteration happen? How can processes of alteration be supposed between entities which are not in contact? And what is that thing we call ‘matter’? The reading group will engage with theories of causation elaborated by one of the most original and curious medieval thinkers: Roger Bacon (ca. 1214-1292). The group will read Bacon’s On the Multiplication of Species (De multiplicatione specierum), a fascinating work in which Bacon discussed his theory of causal irradiation of essential contents by (almost) every corporeal and incorporeal being. In an intriguing intertwining of ontology, psychology and epistemology, Bacon’s doctrine of the multiplication of species attempts at providing a unitary theory mostly grounded on the interaction among physical entities. One pivotal aspect, though, appears to be crucially problematic on this regard: the exceptionality of prime matter. Examination and discussion of the theoretical implications of Bacon’s theory of matter and materiality will display both originality and ingenuity of Bacon’s attempt at establishing a positive ground in which natural processes can lay.

The reading group will be in English. The reading session will be regularly followed by a talk/lecture given by international guests. Due to unforeseen academic reasons, the reading group will not meet regularly. An updated version of the meeting calendar is available online. For any inquiry or question, students are encouraged to contact Dr Nicola Polloni.

ARTICULATION OF THE READING GROUP

The reading group will meet periodically on Friday at 11am, sine tempore. Throughout the semester, special lectures and talks from invited guests will take place after the reading group session, usually at 2.30pm. Schedule will be updated regularly in this webpage.

NB: Due to major academic reasons, the reading group will not follow a regular calendar! Further changes may be adopted in agreement with the participants.

Optical diagram from a manuscript of Roger Bacon’s works

MEETINGS CALENDAR

Friday, 12 April 2019, Room 231

11 am: Introduction to Roger Bacon’s ontology and epistemology.


Friday, 26 April 2019, Room 231

11 am: Reading of De multiplicatione specierum, pt. 1

2.30 pm: LYDIA SCHUMACHER (King’s College London), “The De anima tradition in Early Franciscan Thought: A Case Study in Avicenna’s Reception”

watch it on YouTube


Friday, 3 May 2019,Room 231

11 am: Reading of De multiplicatione specierum, pt. 1

2.30 pm: YAEL KEDAR (Tel Hai College), “Species and matter in De multiplicatione specierum

watch it on YouTube


Friday, 10 May 2019, Room 231

11 am: Reading of De multiplicatione specierum, pt. 1

2.30 pm: DAVID CORY (University of Notre Dame), “Matter and Body as Correlative Principles in Thomas Aquinas”

watch it on YouTube


Friday, 17 May 2019,  Room 231

11 am: Reading of De multiplicatione specierum, pt. 1

2.30 pm: THOMAS HARB (HU Berlin), “Seeing Dark Things: How the epistemology of matter differs from the epistemology of privation”

watch it on YouTube


Tuesday, 11 June 2019, Room 231

11 pm: Reading of De multiplicatione specierum, pt. 1

2.30 pm: GIOULI KOROBILI(HU Berlin), “Aristotle and Roger Bacon on Matters of Experimental Inquiry”


Friday, 14 June 2019, Room 231

11 am: Reading of De multiplicatione specierum, pt. 2

2.30 pm: MEAGAN ALLEN (Indiana University Bloomington), “The problem of attribution: Roger Bacon as the author of the later chapters of the Epistola de secretis operibus artis et naturae


Friday, 21 June 2019, Room 231

11 am: Reading of De multiplicatione specierum, pt. 2

2.30 pm: MATTIA CIPRIANI (FU Berlin), “From Theory to Practice in Medieval Science: the Case of Thomas of Cantimpré’s Liber de Natura Rerum


Tuesday, 5 July 2019, Room 231

11 am: Reading of De multiplicatione specierum, pt. 2

2.30 pm: ABEL ARAVENA ZAMORA (Universidad de Playa Ancha), “Teaching Philosophy in Colonial Chile: Jesuit Manuscripts of Colegio Máximo San Miguel (18th century)”


Friday, 12 July 2019, Room 231

11 am: Final remarks on Roger Bacon’s De multiplicatione specierum

2.30 pm: NICOLA POLLONI (HU Berlin), “Ontology and Epistemology of Matter: Roger Bacon and Beyond”


EDITIONS OF TEXTS

Roger Bacon, De multiplicatione specierum, ed. Lindberg, Roger Bacon’s Philosophy of Nature, Oxford 1983.

Additional material will be provided during the reading group.

A selected and updated bibliography on Roger Bacon can be found online at: https://rogeriusbacon.com/bibliography/studies/

VENUE

Institut für Philosophie, Humboldt Universität zu Berlin, Invalidenstrasse 110, Berlin – Room 231