The Feminine Symptom: Aleatory Matter in the Aristotelian Cosmos

By Emanuela Bianchi | Go to book overview

CHAPTER FIVE
Motion and Gender in
the Aristotelian Cosmos

While the ontological status of motion in Aristotle has been a matter of considerable debate, it is clear from even a cursory look at the Aristotelian corpus that the problem of motion takes center stage throughout. In Heidegger’s reading of Aristotle, the problem of motion (kinēsis) bears a profound ontological significance. Motion is after all the very way beings come to be, and therefore the investigation of motion in nature (phusis, from phuein, “to grow”) is absolutely primary. As Heidegger puts it in his essay on Aristotelian phusis, “being-moved is explicitly questioned and understood as the fundamental mode of being.”1 For Plato, as is well known, ontological status is indexed to stasis: the greater the capacity something has for resisting change, the closer to Being it is, and conversely the more subject to change something is, the more it diverges from what is truly real (though it is perhaps telling that the Platonic dialogue most relevant to this study, the Timaeus, begins with Socrates’s call for a depiction of the ideal city in motion).2 But Aristotle relentlessly thematizes change and motion in many different contexts: ontological, cosmological, biological, physical and ethical. When we think of motion we tend to think of movement through space, locomotion, but Aristotle uses “motion” to refer to all sorts of change—the ontological change of coming-to-be or passing away,3 a change in quality or quantity, as well as movement from place to place. Notably, it is first and foremost something that takes place in matter.4 His primary work dealing with motion is obviously the Physics, which Heidegger claims is therefore Western philosophy’s hidden foundational text; it is also a

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