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

Christian Pfeiffer

Thesis: Aristotle Metaphysics of Bodies
Synopsis: My thesis centres on the notion of body as a three-dimensionally extended and continuous object. This concept has an important explanatory role within Aristotle's philosophy. It is, e.g., important for Aristotle's dispute with atomism.

pfeiffer.jpgAristotle believes that physical reality is at its fundamental level continuous. Important as this dispute is, it tended to obliterate other, and to my mind equally important, doctrines and results of Aristotle's philosophy. Thus, the connection between continuity and the unity of extended objects is little explored. Besides its importance for a theory of perceptible substances many central doctrines of Aristotle's Physics cannot be properly understood without this connection. The question when an object has a place or when there is a single motion all require a prior analysis whether there is a single continuous object involved. There is, however, yet another reason why a study of three-dimensionally and extended objects is particularly relevant in Aristotle's system. For extended objects cut across the boundaries of a single science. Both mathematics and physics study bodies. This is in need of an explanation.

Form a more systematic point of view my thesis discusses themes in Aristotle that are now labeled ‘mereotopology’. It studies the continuity and extension of bodies, their parts and the relation of the spatial parts to the whole, what it is to be connected, and what boundaries are. Many aspects of Aristotle's thought is, I believe, of interest for those working on these issues within contemporary metaphysics. Aristotle might provide a fresh stimulus, some alternative to current orthodoxy which can enlighten current debates. 


Christian Pfeiffer studied Philosophy and Ancient Greek at the Humboldt Universität, the Freie Universität in Berlin and the University of Edinburgh. He received his Magister Artium in 2008.  For his Ph.D he studied, as a fellow of TOPOI, at the Humboldt-University of Berlin and, as a visiting student, in Princeton. His Ph.D thesis "Aristotle's Theory of Bodies” (supervisors: Jonathan Beere, Benjamin Morison, Christof Rapp) was accepted in 2012 at the Humboldt University of Berlin. It is under contract with Oxford University Press. Currently he teaches at the Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität in Munich as a wissenschaftlicher Mitarbeiter.

His research interests are in ancient philosophy, in particular Aristotle. He is also interested in contemporary metaphysics and philosophy of language.

Current Research Projects include a monograph on Aristotle’s Metaphysics H as well as series of articles connected to topics in Aristotle’s Physics and Metaphysics. For more information (including recent and forthcoming publications) see his personal website.