John Philoponus: Closeted Christian or Radical Intellectual?

George Couvalis


The sixth century Alexandrian Christian philosopher John Philoponus is known today only to specialists. Yet scholars have recently shown that he is an enor - mously important figure in the history of science and philosophy. Philoponus produced a careful critique of Aristotelian science that laid seeds for much later developments. His critique was developed by Islamic philosophers and was then built on by western medieval scholars like the fourteenth century Parisian Jean Buridan (Grant, 1996: 93-98). Philoponus produced an early and quite sophis - ticated version of impetus theory, the ancestor of Newtonian inertia. He also produced a significant critique of Aristotle on falling bodies and made a signi - ficant attempt to unify celestial and terrestrial dynamics (Sorabji, 2010a; Wolff, 1987; Zimmerman, 1987).

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