Joseph Lemelin is a Ph.D. Candidate in Philosophy at The New School for Social Research developing a philosophical reconstruction of the origin of the categories of the natural and the artificial in the history of ancient philosophy.
JOSEPH LEMELIN is a Ph.D. Candidate in the Department of Philosophy at the New School for Social Research. His research interests include ancient philosophy, history and philosophy of science, and aesthetics. He teaches at Eugene Lang College and Parsons School of Design, and was formerly Senior Editor at the Graduate Faculty Philosophy Journal.
One of the first philosophers to have attempted a systematic ontology of the difference between natural and artificial things is the ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle. For nearly two millennia, Aristotle’s Physics served as the authoritative text for theories about how the natural world operates and for thinking about the human’s place within it.
In the sixth century CE, the two commentators Simplicius and Philoponus engaged in intertextual debates that were formative for the way that Aristotelian natural philosophy was retrospectively received in the medieval period and later rejected in the early modern era. The work of these philosophers has shaped the tradition of Aristotelianism as we now conceive it, yet they are themselves seldom read. The Transformation of Nature aims to demonstrate how their interpretation, appropriation, and transformation of the Aristotelian concepts of “nature” and “artifice” were of significant consequence for thinking about the proper objects of natural inquiry, the role of mechanical devices in physical explanation, and the place of living organisms within the natural world.