Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin - Philosophy, Science and the Sciences

Giulia Clabassi

Photo:Giulia Clabassi
The Structure of Motion in Aristotle’s Physics

The purpose of this research is to study the structure of the concept of motion in Aristotle’s Physics and understand its complicated mechanism. The first part of the project aims to investigate what exactly motion is in Aristotle’s natural philosophy and compare the definition of motion found in the third book of Physics (201a10-11: ἡ τοῦ δυνάμει ὄντος ἐντελέχεια, ᾗ τοιοῦτον) to other sections of the Corpus where the concept is analysed. The main aspects explored in this first part are especially the principles of motion, Aristotle’s philosophical method and the theories of his precursors. The second part involves motion in its context and Phys. VIII represents the very heart of this section. The book VIII seems to depend on a fundamental question posed at the beginning of chapter 1, namely why should there be motion at all? This question is only the trigger of a longer reasoning that sees a series of ‘movers’ and ‘movables’ as protagonists of this book. This chain of dichotomies leads Aristotle to formulate the existence of an Umoved-mover (πρῶτον κινοῦν κίνητον) conceived as the first principle of a world constantly in motion. The first part of this second section is committed to understanding if this is an investigation on movers, on the things moved or, more precisely, an investigation of moving itself, which in turn may depend on the initial question of the book VIII. Having explored all the meanings of the Aristotelian puzzle on motion (namely what exactly means “to move” or “be moved” in contrast to what is called “unmoved”), this project aims eventually to emphasize Aristotle’s alternative and innovative answer to the problem of motion in general, in particular by stressing all the differences with Plato’s view (see especially Plato’s cosmology in the Timaeus, but also Phaedrus and Laws, X).


Research Interests

AOS Ancient Philosophy (Aristotle, Aristotle’s Natural Philosophy, Greek Science)
AOC Metaphysics; Medieval Philosophy; History of Science; Philosophy of Science



2019–current Ph.D student – RTG Philosophy, Science and the Sciences, Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin, Department of Philosophy
Supervisor: Prof. Jonathan Beere
2016–2018 Degree for Advanced Studies (M.A.). Humanities
ASTRE Roma Tre School of Advanced Studies – University of Roma Tre
Thesis: La spazialità urbana di Roma. Svuotamento di centro e trasformazione [The Urban Spatiality of Rome. Erosion and Transformation]
Supervisor: Prof. Giacomo Marramao
2016–2018 Laurea Magistrale (M.A.). Philosophy – University of Roma Tre
Thesis: Movimento e Continuo nella Fisica di Aristotele [Motion and the Continuum in Aristotle’s Physics]
Supervisor: Prof. Riccardo Chiaradonna; Prof. Mauro Dorato (Co-supervisor)
2014–2016 Laurea (B.A.) Philosophy – University of Roma Tre
Thesis: La freccia del tempo. L'entropia nell'universo e il secondo principio della Termodinamica [The Arrow of Time. The Entropy of the Universe and the Second
Law of Thermodynamics]
Supervisor: Prof. Mauro Dorato
2018–2013 High School Degree (Classical Studies)
Liceo Classico Statale “Ennio Quirino Visconti”, Rome
  Study Periods Abroad
2019 (Aug.) University of Oxford – workshop “Pushing the Boundaries. Kinēsis and Peras in Aristotle’s Physics”, Ryle Room, Philosophy Faculty, Oxford (UK), Oxford.
2017 (Nov.) Short period of residence for study purposes in Paris Université Paris Sorbonne (Paris IV)
2017 (Mar.-Apr.) University of Oxford – Eckersley School of English


Awards and Fellowships

2017 ASTRE award for best results (University of Roma Tre).
2016 ASTRE Roma Tre School for Advanced Studies – Annual Fellowship (2 years).
  Inclusion into the Albo Nazionale delle Eccellenze [National Directory of Excellence] Italian Ministry of Education, Universities and Research (MIUR)