Special Issue "Art vs Nature: The Ontology of Artifacts in the Long Middle Ages"

A special issue of Philosophies (ISSN 2409-9287).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: 30 June 2022.

Special Issue Editors

Prof. Dr. Henrik Lagerlund
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Interests: medieval philosophy; environmental philosophy; metaphysics of artifacts
Dr. Sylvain Roudaut
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Department of Philosophy, Stockholm University, 106 91 Stockholm, Sweden
Interests: medieval philosophy; environmental philosophy; metaphysics of artifacts
Dr. Erik Åkerlund
E-Mail Website
Guest Editor
Newman Institute, 753 09 Uppsala, Sweden
Interests: medieval philosophy; environmental philosophy; metaphysics of artifacts

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues, 

What is an artifact? What distinguishes artifacts from natural things? What is the difference between artifacts and social constructs? While the world we live in is increasingly artificial, such questions about the ontological status of artifacts have become hotly debated in contemporary philosophy. It is often claimed that the Modern era is inseparable from a new way of conceiving the physical universe and the place of human beings in nature. Prior to the modern ambition of “conquering nature” and the alliance between experimental science and technology, the Middle Ages witnessed technological inventions and social transformations that deeply influenced the divide between nature and culture. Although many studies have been devoted to the concept of nature in the Middle Ages, no comprehensive study has been dedicated to the medieval reflections on the status of artifacts. Yet, the status of artifacts is a frequently discussed theme in medieval philosophy. Being at the center of different related problems, it is of primary importance for understanding the new conception of the world that eventually arose at the dawn of the Modern period. Indeed, the case of artifacts was a topic classically discussed in relation to the definition of nature. Since an artifact is—by definition—a non-natural object, the medieval discussions around the status of artifacts reflect the evolution of the categories of motion, finality and intentionality that were part of the concept of “nature”. Usually defined as accidental wholes, artifacts were generally regarded as less fundamental than the substances from which they are made, on the basis that artifacts are mere reconfigurations of material substances arranged by human beings. However, a new tendency to consider “natural things” themselves as mere arrangements of material parts toward the end of the Middle Ages contributed to blur the distinction between artificial and natural things and entailed a new approach to these concepts. Due to the dominant religious framework of the Middle Ages and the familiar analogy of God as a craftsman, the status of artifacts also involved an analysis of the essence of creation and the different modes of producing something. Besides, the divide between artifacts and nature stimulated reflections on the role of culture and conventions in the production of artifacts. From this point of view, tools, works of arts but also more abstract social objects like money were part of the “construction of social reality” that underwent radical changes in the Middle Ages and that philosophers had to theorize. The aim of this Special Issue is dedicated to the ontology of artifacts in the long Middle Ages, which includes Arabic and Byzantine philosophy and stretches into early modern philosophy, is twofold: on the one hand, it will make possible a better appreciation of the rich discussions that led to a new way of conceiving the world; on the other hand, it is hoped that the studies presented here will contribute to the ongoing debates on artifacts by highlighting the original but yet poorly studied theories designed in the Middle Ages on this topic.

Prof. Dr. Henrik Lagerlund
Dr. Sylvain Roudaut
Dr. Erik Åkerlund
Guest Editors

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a double-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Philosophies is an international peer-reviewed open access semimonthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1200 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • artifacts
  • nature
  • final causes
  • god
  • design
  • metaphysics
  • medieval
  • modern
  • science

Published Papers

This special issue is now open for submission.
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