Heavenly Stuff: Peter Auriol on the Materiality of Angels and Celestial Bodies

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Take three entities of three very different kinds: Sophie the cat, the planet Venus, and the archangel Gabriel. One might be tempted to picture Sophie and Venus as material things, and Gabriel as something immaterial. Peter Auriol, an early fourteenth-century Franciscan theologian, disagrees. He thinks that while Sophie and Gabriel possess matter, Venus does not. In this paper I trace what led Auriol to endorse these seemingly implausible claims: attributing matter to certain spiritual beings and denying it of certain physical ones. I also examine the view that emerges from the combination of these two positions, and show that, far from being irreconcilable, they point to a particular conception of matter according to which matter is not to be treated as the physical stuff that makes something a body, nor as a mere substrate of natural change, but as a subject in pure potency that can take on multiple forms.
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationOxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy
EditorsMartin Pickave
PublisherOxford University Press
Publication statusAccepted/In press - 29 Jan 2024

Publication series

NameOxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy


  • Auriol, hylomorphism, matter, angels, celestial bodies


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