This course will cover the history of the concept of body in Greek natural science and philosophy. The focus is not on the human body (although that will come in for some discussion) but rather on body in general. Themes include: the relationship between body and other concepts, such as perceptibility, extension, divisibility, resistance, boundary, and limit; the relationship between bodies in natural science and bodies in geometry; the kinds of bodies; the question whether everything is a body (or a property of a body) or whether there are incorporeal entities; the analysis of bodies into basic constituents (which themselves may or may not be bodies); and the connection, if any, between being a body and being a cause. We will discuss some pre-Socratic authors (such as Empedocles, Anaxagoras, and Melissus), Plato, Aristotle and Stoic and Epicurean writers. The discussions of these topics among Greek philosophers had a profound influence on early modern philosophers and scientists, who took up anew many of the same questions.
Visiting Professor Gabor Betegh (Laurence Professor of Ancient Philosophy at the University of Cambridge) will play a major role in the class.
Language of instruction: English.
Knowledge of Greek desirable but not necessary.