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

Humboldt-Universität zu Berlin | Department of Philosophy | Philosophy, Science and the Sciences | Events | Conference: Nutrition and Nutritive Soul in Aristotle and Aristotelianism

Conference: Nutrition and Nutritive Soul in Aristotle and Aristotelianism

  • When Mar 22, 2017 06:00 to Mar 24, 2017 06:00
  • Where Unter den Linden 6, room 2249a (22 March) and Hannoversche Straße 6, room 1.03 (23-24 March)
  • iCal

Invited speakers:

James Lennox (University of Pittsburgh)
Mary-Louise Gill  (Brown University)
Richard King (University of Bern)
Andrea Libero Carbone (Independant Researcher)
David Lefebvre (Blaise Pascal University Clermont-Ferrand)
Hynek Bartoš (Charles University Prague)
Gweltaz Guyomarc'h (Lyon III University)
Tommaso Alpina (Scuola Normale Superiore di Pisa)
Bernd Roling (Freie University of Berlin)
Christoph Sander (Technical University of Berlin)
Andreas Blank (Paderborn University/Bard College Berlin)

Please find the abstracts here and download the poster with the program (or click image for enlargement).

Nutrition and Nutritive Soul in Aristotle and Aristotelianism - ImageAristotle’s concept of the nutritive capacity of the soul and its actual manifestation in living bodies is a major and influential chapter in the development of thinking about nutrition. It has laid the intellectual foundation for the increasing appreciation of nutrition as a prerequisite for the maintenance of life and health that can be observed in the history of Greek thought. Following and responding to a rich medical tradition, Aristotle’s philosophical analysis of nutrition explores the way in which the most basic type of soul operates in the body, how it interacts with the other parts of the soul and how it contributes to the proper growth, health and well being of the organism. After Aristotle, this philosophical concept of nutrition was further developed both by members of the Peripatetic school as well as by thinkers who engaged with Aristotelian ideas in a broader context, e.g. medical thinkers such as Erasistratus and Galen, Neoplatonist and Byzantine commentators on Aristotle, Christian theologians reflecting on the psycho-physiological nature of human beings and Arabic thinkers working in the Aristotelian tradition. And in the Early Modern period, commentators on Aristotle took on board developments in medicine and physiology in their exegesis of De Anima, Parva Naturalia and the zoological writings.

Nevertheless, the concept of nutrition as developed in Aristotle and the Aristotelian tradition, and its significance in the history of philosophical anthropology, biology and medicine, has received little attention in scholarship. This conference aims to address this gap.

The chief questions we would like to address include (but are not limited to):

  • In what way and to what extent is the soul’s nutritive capacity believed to be connected with life and health? How are the mechanical and the formal accounts of nutrition combined?  
  • Is the nutritive mechanism and generally the process of nutrition believed to be the same for all species or does it differ from species to species?
  • How is the nutritive part related to the other psychic parts? How do ‘higher’ parts of the soul affect the structure and workings of the nutritive soul in different kinds of living beings?
  • What were the major developments and changes in the history of thinking about nutrition in the Aristotelian tradition? And how can these changes be explained? What role did interaction with other intellectual disciplines (e.g. medicine, meteorology, biology, alchemy) play here?

Organizers: Roberto Lo Presti ( and Giouli Korobili (