The research group will deal with several forms of causal relationships between the incorporeal, immaterial, or spiritual realm and the physical world in classical antiquity and in late ancient writers, including both pagans and Christians. Research will concentrate on philosophical and theological theories of causal efficacy, the underlying conceptual frameworks, and their transformation in the subsequent tradition. The group picks up on the results of the research group (D-I-2) Anima Mundi (Topoi 1), which has reconstructed different conceptions of the world soul and its connection to physical space. This topic will now be seen in the broader context of immaterial causes in general, including Platonic Forms, forms in hylomorphic complexes, cosmic or divine intellects, angels, and souls. The corpus of source texts will be expanded to include the Arabic and Latin Middle Ages and the English Renaissance. The relationship between the immaterial and the physical realm is central to the understanding of space as a permeating principle that infuses the world with order. This relationship can be viewed from three perspectives: There is an ontological issue about how entities belonging to different categories can causally interact, an epistemological issue about the explanatory status of immaterial causal agents, and, a problem about the capacity of language to refer to and represent non-spatial entities.

Research Projects


Third-party Funded Project