Book chapter

Space and Movement in Medieval Thought: The Angelological Shift


  • 2018
Published in:
  • Space, Imagination and the Cosmos from Antiquity to the Early Modern Period. / Bakker, F. ; Bellis, D. ; Palmerino, C.. - 2018, p. 69-89
English This paper explores the contribution of medieval metaphysics to the
development of the theories of space and movement through an investigation of
some metaphysical conceptions of the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries.
If treatises on the philosophy of nature – especially the commentaries on Aristotle’s
Physics and De caelo – generally provided the theoretical context for notions of
place, location and space in medieval thought, medieval thinkers also examined
these notions in a metaphysical context in order to explain the relationship between
immaterial substances (souls, angels and God) on one hand, and the space of the
physical World on the other. This paper outlines three different medieval modalities
of location: the circumscription of bodies, divine ubiquity, and the delimitation of
souls and angels. On the basis of these modalities, medieval thinkers developed two
types of explanation for the location of created immaterial substances: firstly, location
through operations, and secondly, location through the being. According to
these models, space is an external (first model) or internal property of the being
itself (second model). These conceptions bear important consequences on the theories of movement, especially those focusing on the movement of indivisibles (that
is, non-extended substances like spirits) in the physical extended space. In this
medieval thinkers intensely discussed the possibility of instantaneous movement
and elaborated a complex notion of resistance as crucial to each movement in
the world.
Faculté des lettres
Département de Philosophie
  • English
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