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Comparative Philosophy Colloquium by Mohammad J. Esmaeili "Reading Aristotle's Physics Today."

11 February 2019
P.J. Veth
Nonnensteeg 1-3
2311 VJ Leiden

"Reading Aristotle's Physics Today: The Commentary Tradition as a Source of Translations in our Time."


The Institute for Philosophy and The Centre for Intercultural Philosophy are pleased to announce a lecture by

Mohammad J. Esmaeili, Senior Researcher, Iranian Institute of Philosophy, University of Tehran


Aristotle's Physics is a philosophical approach to nature. This approach did not come from nowhere. Before Aristotle, thinkers like Anaxagoras, Parmenides, Heraclitus, Empedocles, Democritus and Plato all had given their views on nature; and poets like Homer and Hesiod, too, had spoken out on it. And each of them inspired Aristotle in one way or another to raise objections to the accepted opinions in the realm of natural philosophy (which he did in the form of aporiai or ‘doubts’), out of which his own system of natural philosophy then arose. Over the centuries, Aristotle’s Physics has been translated into many languages, from Syrian, Arabic and Latin to English, French, German, Italian and more. In Persian there were three translations and a new one is in at present under way. Among all these translations, the old Arabic version is crucially important for our understanding of Aristotle's natural philosophy. It contains a whole series of glosses and notes which are useful both philosophically and historically. This talk will focus on two aspects: the general importance of the Physics as a document in our own time and more specifically, the importance of the Arabic version of the Physics and its marginalia in solving some issues regarding the text and/or the meaning of the Physics.


Mohammad J. Esmaeili obtained his doctorate in philosophy at the Iranian Institute of Philosophy in Tehran in 2011 with a dissertation on Aristotle’s dynamics in the Greek, Arabic and Latin commentary traditions. At present he is a senior researcher at the Institute. His research focuses on Aristotelian philosophy and science and their impact on the Islamic world, roughly until the end of the seventeenth century CE. Apart from the articles that he published so far on this subject, he also edited a number of books on Islamic philosophy. These days he is finalizing his editio princeps of the natural philosophy section of Abu ʼl-ʿAbbās al-Lawkarī’s (fl. ca. 500/1106) comprehensive philosophical encyclopaedia Bayān al-ḥaqq bi-ḍamān al-ṣidq, in eight books: 1) Lectures on physics, 2) de Caelo et Mundo, 3) de Generatione et Corruptione, 4) de Mineralibus, 5) Meteorologica, 6) de Anima, 7) de Plantis, and 8) de Animalibus.

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