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Inaugural address
Ursula Coope (Oxford)

2023 Joint Session of the Aristotelian Society and the Mind Association

Birkbeck & The Institute of Philosophy, University of London

7–9 July 2023

Inaugural address


ursula coope


Aristotle on Movement, Incompleteness and the Now


According to Aristotle, the present is an indivisible instant, or now. Movements have earlier and later temporal parts, so no movement is wholly in the now. This raises a question about how to make sense of present-tense movement claims. Aristotle holds that present-tense movement claims are sometimes true, but he argues that nothing ‘kineitai’ (moves/is moving) in the now. My paper is an attempt to understand this combination of views, together with Aristotle’s characterization of movement as something that is incomplete while it is occurring. I draw a contrast between Aristotle’s position and an alternative view (defended by certain modern philosophers, but also by Plotinus), on which a present tense movement claim is made true by the existence of something that is wholly present in the now. And I give some reasons for preferring Aristotle’s position. 


Ursula Coope is Professor of Ancient Philosophy at Oxford University and a Professorial Fellow of Keble College. Before taking up her current position, she was a Tutorial Fellow at Corpus Christi College Oxford, a Lecturer at Birkbeck, and a Jacobsen Fellow at UCL. She is a Fellow of the British Academy, and she has held visiting positions at Princeton and NYU. She has worked on questions about time, change, the infinite, agency, practical wisdom, craft, responsibility and freedom. Her focus was initially on Aristotle, but more recently she has turned her attention also to later ancient philosophers, in particular, the Neoplatonists. She has published two monographs, Time for Aristotle: Physics IV.10-14 (OUP, 2005) and Freedom and Responsibility in Neoplatonist Thought (OUP, 2020). Together with Barbara Sattler, she co-edited the collection, Ancient Ethics and the Natural World (CUP 2021). She has been Co-Editor of the journal Phronesis (2016-22).  

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