Conference on Aristotle's concept of matter, 27-28 June 2016, Wadham College, Oxford

The conference aims to discuss Aristotle’s concept of matter in its different contexts and will shed new light on aspects not yet fully investigated. Specifically, we are interested in discussing the relation between (1) matter and the elements, (2) matter and change, (3) matter and definition, (4) matter and potentiality and (5) matter and ungenerated objects. Matter is together with form one of Aristotle’s key concepts in his metaphysics. Any thing is composed of matter and form, and while matter persists through change, form is required as the determining element of the two. Aristotle further associates matter with potentiality and form with actuality, another fundamental dichotomy in Aristotle’s philosophical thinking. Both concepts, matter and form, are required for a proper understanding of Aristotle’s metaphysics and yet matter has not been in the spotlight of discussions in the same way as form has. Aristotle is often credited with having introduced the concept of matter (gr. hylê) into philosophy, while remaining partly remarkably unclear what the concept actually contains. Aristotle’s definitions and specifications may even seem obscure and possibly inconsistent. Interpretations range from the view that Aristotelian matter is an abstract metaphysical principle to the position that it is the specific sensible stuff which constitutes individual substances, for example bronze or flesh and bone, from the view that it is a strictly relative term which designates whatever is subject to a certain change, to the view that it refers to an entity or a class of entities in the world, i.e. sensible stuff or the purely potential prime matter. We hope to re-ignite a new wave of discussions on this fundamental concept of matter.

Please see below for programme and abstracts.


Andreas Anagnostopoulos (LMU Munich)
David Charles (Yale)
David Ebrey (Northwestern)
Ana Laura Edelhoff (Humboldt Berlin)
Mary Louise Gill (Brown)
Wolfgang Sattler (St Andrews)
Anna Schriefl (Bonn)

Call for papers (closed now)

We warmly invite submissions of abstracts by graduate students and early career scholars for our conference on Aristotle's concept of matter to be held on 27-28 June, Wadham College, Oxford. Abstracts (500 words) can address any aspect of Aristotle's concept of matter but we encourage submissions that discuss matter in contexts that do not (exclusively) emphasise its relation to form. Please prepare your abstract for blind review (no identifying information on abstract) and submit it by Monday 6 June via Successful candidates will be contacted by the end of the same week. For any questions please contact Dr Janine Gühler ( but please DO NOT send abstracts to this address.


Knowles room, Wadham College, Parks Road, Oxford, map

Monday (27/06)
9.30                        Registration       
9.50                        Welcome and Introduction 
10.00-11.20           Mary-Louise Gill: Aristotle’s Hylomorphism in Metaphysics Theta, abstract   
11.25-12.45           Andreas Anagnostopoulos: Aristotle's introduction of the underlying principle in Physics I, abstract
2.00-3.15               Anna Schriefl: Matter and persistence, abstract 
Coffee break 
3.30-4.30               Wolfgang Sattler: Matter and Separation, abstract   
4.35-5.35               Ana Laura Edelhoff: Topical Matter in Metaphysics Theta 8, 1050b6-28, abstract

7.00      Conference dinner 

Tuesday (28/06) 
10.00-11.20             David Charles: The role of matter in form  
11.25-12.45             David Ebrey: Different kinds of matter in Aristotle’s Natural Science, abstract

Organised by Dr Anna Schriefl and Dr Janine Gühler. For any enquiries please contact Janine Gühler (

Supported by British Society for the History of Philosophy, Aristotelian Society and Lisa & Maury Friedman Foundation.