The reading group will discuss a set of relevant texts on matter and materiality authored by some of the most original thinkers of the Middle Ages. Special attention will be paid to three main works presenting rather divergent “paradigms” of materiality. They are Calcidius’s Commentary on Plato’s Timaeus (Treatise “De silva”), Ibn Gabirol’s Font of Life (books 1 and 2), and Thomas Aquinas’s On the Principles of Nature. These writings elaborated and discussed some of the most successful theories of matter. Notwithstanding some theoretical tensions affecting them, the accounts of matter and materiality therein expounded would spread throughout the Middle Ages (and beyond).
Reading and discussion of these works will be accompanied by excursions on further medieval authors who have appropriated, problematised, or superseded some of the shared theories of matter of their time. Specifically, the reading group will engage with some peculiarities characterising the twelfth century (Chartrean masters, David of Dinant, Dominicus Gundissalinus), the phenomenon of philosophical cross-pollination (Avicenna, Averroes), and the thirteenth century (Robert Grosseteste, Albert the Great, Roger Bacon).