Article ID: CBB969393716

Physical Action, Species, and Matter: The Debate between Roger Bacon and Peter John Olivi (2020)


In QQ.23–31 of Olivi's Quaestiones in secundum librum Sententiarum (Summa II) and in Bacon's De multiplicatione specierum (DMS) 1.3, we find an intriguing discussion concerning the link between agent and patient in accounts of physical action in the Aristotelian tradition. Both thinkers hold that species were the link between agent and patient; they disagree, however, about the definition and function of species. The dispute leads the two thinkers to develop and clarify their accounts of physical action. They discuss temporality, secondary causality, active potentiality, and the distinction between virtual and substantial contact. This paper provides an account of Olivi's theory of species in medio and clarifies how it differs from Bacon's theory. It throws a spotlight on a significant episode in the history of philosophy, in which Aristotelian concepts were found unsuitable to account for action at a distance and in the interior of the patient, and hence new concepts of virtual action and species had to be devised.

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Authors & Contributors
Raizman-Kedar, Yael
Hackett, Jeremiah M. G.
Caroti, Stefano
Zambiasi, Roberto
Zhang, Butian
Trifogli, Cecilia
Early Science and Medicine: A Journal for the Study of Science, Technology and Medicine in the Pre-modern Period
Ziran Kexueshi Yanjiu (Studies in the History of Natural Sciences)
Vivarium: Journal for Mediaeval Philosophy and the Intellectual Life of the Middle Ages
Perspectives on Science
Journal of Medieval Latin
British Journal for the History of Science
University of Notre Dame Press
Motion (physical)
Natural philosophy
Bacon, Roger
Buridan, Jean
Albertus Magnus
Wylton, Thomas
Time Periods
13th century
14th century
Great Britain
Oxford University

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