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

Georgia-Maria Korobili

KorobiliThesis: Aristotle On Youth and Old Age, on Life and Death, on Respiration. Translation and Commentary

The study of the Parva Naturalia has attracted considerable scholarly interest in recent years and their importance as witnesses to Aristotle’s thought on central aspects of his psychology and physiology is now widely recognised. However, the section gathered under the titles On Youth and Old Age, on Life and Death, on Respiration is still neglected in scholarship, despite the fact that it deals with the important topics of life and death. It is concerned with the central biological functions of nutrition, sensation and respiration, and also with the role of vital heat. Aristotle provides lengthy descriptions of vital organs, such as the heart and the lungs; he refers to contemporary biological and medical theories and converses with some of the Pre-Socratics, Plato and several Hippocratic writings. Yet the real purpose of these texts, and their relationship to the discussion of the relevant topics in On the Parts of Animals, On the Soul and On the Motion of Animals, is still unclear and in need of further examination.

The aim of this project is to offer a full commentary on this section of the Parva Naturalia with a view not only to filling the gap left by previous scholarship, but also to answering some crucial questions with regard to the content, the structure, as well as the basic concepts and ideas governing the text.

The commentary will be developed on the basis of two focal axes, one relating to the structure of the text and one to its content:

  1. Is Aristotle’s On Youth and Old Age, on Life and Death, on Respiration one unified treatise? What textual references or indications testify to its unity? What are the consequences of this question for the determination of the text’s meaning and purpose, its underlying philosophical agenda and its argumentative strategy?
  2. What are the biological views and theories Aristotle sets out in this work, how are they related to the views he expresses in other works and how are they related to the ideas of earlier or contemporary medical and philosophical thinkers? There is no doubt that some Hippocratic texts, such as On Regimen, exerted an important influence on the Aristotelian work in question. However, in what respects does Aristotle depart from Hippocratic views and for what reason?



Georgia Korobili was born in Athens, where she graduated in Classical Philology at the National and Kapodistrian University of Athens (2008). After working as a high school teacher for three years, she continued her studies in the Department of Classics at the University of Ioannina (Greece) and received her Master of Arts in 2014 under the supervision of Professor Maria Liatsi. In October 2014 she started her dissertation project at the Graduate Programme of Ancient Philosophy under the supervision of Professor Philip van der Eijk.