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Suárez on the Epistemic Challenge of Conceiving Prime Matter

Culture and languages

Nicola Polloni, from KU Leuven, will give a talk at the History of Philosophy and Classical Philology Research Seminar on 25 November. The title is Suárez on the Epistemic Challenge of Conceiving Prime Matter. All interested are welcome!

25 Nov 2021
15:15 - 17:00
room J577, Humanisten, Renströmsgatan 6

Good to know
Please contact Christina Thomsen Thörnqvist if you want to join the seminar.
Department of Philosophy, Linguistics and Theory of Science

Nicola Polloni's words about the seminar:

"Among the most problematic items devised by medieval metaphysics, prime matter was a cornerstone of the Scholastic examination of the ontological structure of bodies and their constitutive processes of generation and corruption. Either considered as a complete potency (with Aquinas) or an entity provided with some entitative actuality (with the Scotists), prime matter was a peculiar yet central entity to be included in these philosophers’ ontological catalogues. An additional sign of such peculiarity was the restricted conditions by which prime matter was supposed to be conceivable.

My talk will expand on how these epistemological conditions were discussed by Francisco Suárez in his Metaphysical Disputations, focusing on the solution that the Spanish philosopher proposes to the problem of prime matter’s conceivability.

First, I will briefly discuss the main options elaborated in the central Middle Ages to justify an epistemic access to prime matter. Suárez was indeed well aware of the medieval discussion of this problem and his solution can be better appreciated by a broader consideration of alternative possibilities. 

Second, I will examine the doctrinal context of Suárez’s treatment of prime matter in his thirteenth metaphysical disputation, which offers the metaphysical context of Suárez’s treatment of the epistemological issue of prime matter’s conceivability.

Finally, I will analyse Suárez’s solution to the problem and his reinterpretation of the epistemic strategies elaborated in the Middle Ages.