Aristotelica Portugalensia


Research into the dissemination of Aristotle's works and its influence in Portugal is inseparable from the history of the Aristotelianism's reception in the rest of Europe. By that reason the RG will not isolate Portugal from the remainder of the Western reception of Aristotle. Of equal philosophical importance are the Arabic commentaries translated into Latin, the transformation of the Aristotelian corpus in the main textbook of the Medieval University, the condemnations of some parts of Aristotelianism, as well as the history of medieval averroisms.

The RG is organized to achieve a multioriented array of activities. The core team is composed by specialists in Medieval Philosophy, with PhD students preparing theses on related topics, and some external collaborators. 

Structure & Objectives

Aristotelica Portugalensia. The Reception of Aristotle in Portugal until the 18th Century
Ref. FCT: RG-502-1599 
PI: Paula Oliveira e Silva

Though there are good studies available on the most important Scholastic authors, there is a lack of studies that allow the understanding of the doctrinal changes occurred in Early Modern thought, in the Iberian Peninsula, and highlight the contribution of Iberian thinkers to the constitution of Modern Philosophy (namely the influence on, or the polemical discussion by, authors such as Grotius, Hobbes, Descartes, Spinoza, Leibniz, etc.). And the Portuguese or Iberian scholastics, even if considered as minor authors, deserve attention on their own.

The setting of thematic study areas inside the RG is intended both to increase the philosophical content of the RG, to render the management easier, to integrate the resources, and to further broadening the diffusion of the results.

As the study of the manuscript tradition of the works and the publication of sources are key characteristics of the research done and to undertake, this RG assembles in an integrated way:

1) Resources for research (library, equipment, textual databases),

2) Organization of discussion meetings (informal seminaries, colloquia)

3) Production of research tools (data bases, catalogues of manuscripts, dictionaries)

4) Diffusion of research (journal, publications, website).

5) Post-graduation formation (Master and doctoral program). The RG has as concomitant aims:

a) To make available to researchers the necessary resources for the accomplishment both of their own projects and the projects of the RG

b) To observe high standards of quality and permanent updating of the research methodologies, submitting them to discussion

c) To render the RG as a center of attraction to foreign graduated students d) to collaborate with similar projects, both nationally and internationally

e) To engage in the discussion of recent research on Ancient Philosophy and Modern Philosophy.

The RG has been working on these questions and grasping innovative results, recognized at an international level, so continuity will be given to the ongoing research, and other research fields will be opened.


Objectives of the Research Group

The RG intends to do systematic research exploring four thematic fields, which were pivotal in philosophy from the 13th to 17th Century. Expected results of this research are mainly critical editions, studies and papers, translations, cataloguing and description of sources, materials and tools for research (with in situ research of manuscripts or acquisition of reproductions). 3 to 6 seminars will be organised, with the publication of papers and 5 books, alongside with the translation and publication of 3 or 4 Suárez’s disputations on Methaphysics, Molina’s Questions on the Organon, and the tentative study of the unexplored commentary on the corpus aristotelicum by Marcus Jorge.


1. Metaphysics

The reception of Aristotle's Metaphysics in the West led to a debate on both the nature and object of a science of being qua being, and the place of this science. This debate took on particular characteristics between the 13th and 15th centuries due to the divergent positions of the Schools. In the 16th and 17th centuries, it was rekindled in the particular context of the university teaching of the Reform. The RG wants to contribute to overcome the lack of in-depth study revealing the way in which the core questions of metaphysics were seen over the five centuries of medieval Aristotelianism.


2. Logic

A large set of commentaries on Aristotle's works on Logic subsist as a result of the teaching of Philosophy in 16th century Portuguese and Spanish universities, produced by famous authors such as Pedro da Fonseca, Luis de Molina or John Poinsot. Continuing with ongoing research, the group will be particularly focused on Molina's unpublished commentaries on the "Organon".

The study of the influence and a translation with en face Latin revised text of the "Tractatus" or "Summulae logicales" by Petrus Hispanus is being prepared.


3. Nature and knowledge

A comprehensive study is needed on the intersection between physics, cosmology and epistemology. It will be based on the Commentaries on Aristotle's De Anima, De generatione et corruptione, Physica and Parva naturalia, De caelo et mundo. Particular emphasis will be placed on questions of knowledge (theories of the soul, sensation, abstraction, intelligibility, natural thinking) and of nature (mater, life, movement, light, cosmos). The study of the doctrines on the body-soul-mind relationship, explained by the 16th century Iberian academics, contributes to a better understanding of the transformations of Late medieval Aristotelian epistemology that are at the origin of Modern theories of knowledge, the will and the self. These issues determine the concept of human nature which has an impact on the prominent ethical and political debates about human dignity and the conquest of the New World, and were crucial to the formation of the Modern European frame of mind. The group will be particularly focused on: 1) the analysis of the psychological works by Petrus Hispanus, preparing their critical edition; 2) Portuguese manuscript commentaries on Aristotle's De anima and De generatione, by prominent teachers of Coimbra and Évora; 3) the vernacular literature in Portuguese.


4. Ethics and Politics

The concept of Law both in the commentary traditions on Book V of Aristotle's Ethica Nichomachea and on Aquina's Summa Theologiae Ia-IIae, qq. 90-97 (De legibus treatise) and II-IIae (De iustitia et iure treatise) will be the main focus in this area.. Apart from the studies on the quaestiones of the "Coimbra commentary", analysis of the reception of the EN is yet to be carried out. The section of Aquinas' Summa Theologiae, De legibus (I-II, qq. 90-97), is one of the most influential contributions to medieval political thought. Despite their attested influence on later authors, such as Arnisaeus, Grotius and Puffendorf, modern scholastic commentaries have, for the most part, hardly ever been studied. There is a large corpus extant in manuscript form and remaining in Portuguese libraries, containing commentaries on Aquinas' Summa Theologiae De legibus and De iustitia et iure.

Related project with external funding

  1. Petrus Hispanus: Critical Edition and Study of the Works - 1 (2016-2019) - FCT
  2. Animal rationale mortale
  3. Iberian Scholastic Philosophy at the Crossroads of Western Reason: The Reception of Aristotle and the Transition to Modernity

Internal project

  1. Sephardic Portuguese Authors