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Doctoral dissertation project of Marina Schwark

Simplicius on Enmattered Forms (working title)

Aristotle’s criticism of the Ideas and his own conception of enmattered forms greatly challenged the Platonic tradition. However, while Neoplatonic theories of transcendent forms have been extensively discussed in recent secondary literature, very little attention has been paid to the reception of Aristotle’s own theory of enmattered forms. This project aims at filling the gap, and mainly concentrates on Simplicius as the author with the strongest tendency to harmonize Plato and Aristotle. His commentaries on Categories 5 and Physics I-II serve as a basis on which to examine his interpretation of enmattered forms. Moreover, the corpus supplies sufficient material to analyze Simplicius’ attempt to reconcile his own interpretation of enmattered forms with the doctrine of Ideas.

Some questions deserve close investigation in this regard. How, for instance, does Simplicius bring Aristotle’s hylomorphism as found in Metaphysics VII, VIII and Physics I, II into accordance with the framework of the Categories? Does he hold that form is universal or particular? What does he think makes particular substance particular? How should the natural scientist explain change with respect to form? Which previous philosophers influenced Simplicius’ thesis that enmattered forms participate in transcendent forms? Answering these questions will enrich our knowledge of Simplicius’ Neoplatonic metaphysics and its relation to the Aristotelian tradition.


Short biography

Marina Schwark studied philosophy, Indo-European linguistics, and German linguistics and literature at the universities of Bonn, Heidelberg, and Cologne. In her M.A. she focused on ancient philosophy, especially on metaphysics and epistemology. Her master’s thesis, submitted in 2015, already addressed enmattered forms: more precisely the question of whether enmattered forms as presented in Aristotle’s Metaphysics Ζ can be understood as being particular, and Alexander of Aphrodisias’ arguments that seem to speak in favor of such an interpretation. After receiving a pre-doctoral stipend from the a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School in 2015, Marina Schwark was granted a doctoral scholarship, beginning in April 2016. Her supervisors are Prof. C. Helmig (University of Cologne) and Prof. J. Opsomer (K.U. Leuven). In addition to her research, Marina Schwark taught Ancient Greek at the Philosophy Department for two semesters.

Contact: mschwark(at)smail.uni-koeln.de



Simplicius on the Individuation of Material Substances, in: Elenchos 40/2, 2019, pp. 401-429.

Simplicius and Iamblichus on Shape (μορφή), in: Documenti e studi sulla tradizione filosofica medievale 29, 2018, pp. 59–87.



2019, September 26: Simplicius on Individual Forms, presentation given at the GANPH doctoral colloquium, VI. Internationaler Kongress der Gesellschaft für antike Philosophie, Frankfurt am Main.

2018, March 2: Simplicius and Iamblichus on Shape (μορφή), lecture given at the conference OIKOS antieke filosofiedag, Utrecht, Netherlands.

2016, October 19: What is a παράδειγμα? Alexander and Simplicius on Aristotle’s Physics II 3, lecture given at the conference Anima, vita e movimento prima e durante la generazione dell'universo: cosmologia, fisica e biologia nel pensiero antico, Villa Vigoni, Menaggio, Italy.

2016, May 9: Das Objekt der Definition bei Aristoteles, Alexander von Aphrodisias und Simplikios, lecture given in Prof. J. Halfwassen’s seminar for advanced and doctoral students, Heidelberg.



2015: The University of Cologne’s Faculty of Arts and Humanities Prize for the M.A. thesis Die individuelle Form. Aristoteles, Frede/Patzig, Alexander von Aphrodisias.


Cover photo: Paul Le Goff: La Forme se dégageant de la Matière, 1914 (https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Paul_Le_Goff_statue.JPG) // Portrait photo: Patric Fouad