Hannah Laurens

Visiting Year: Spring 2023

Project Title: The Self in Aristotle's Conception of Life

Hannah Laurens is Postdoctoral Fellow of the British Society for the History of Philosophy and College Lecturer at Pembroke College, University of Oxford. Her work covers a wide range of topics and periods in the history of philosophy, from the relationship between nous and nature in Aristotle (doctoral thesis, University of St Andrews) to the salvation of the nonphilosopher in Spinoza (junior fellowship Descartes Centre, Utrecht University).

Hannah’s project at the History of Philosophy Forum Notre Dame will focus on the role of the self in Aristotle’s conception of life. For Aristotle, all living beings to some degree manifest a ‘self’: plants are ‘self-movers’ insofar as they nourish themselves and make themselves grow, and animals are ‘self-cognizers’ as via perception they do not only come to know their environment but also become aware of themselves. In Aristotle’s notion of the Prime Mover or God we find the ultimate formulation of being alive through expression of a self: the Prime Mover is nothing but a self, eternally thinking of nothing but its own being. This research shows that even though ‘life is said in many ways’ for Aristotle (Top. VI.10 148a30, DA II.2 413a22), all Aristotelian life-forms are connected through selfhood and striving for self-realization.

Host: Christopher Shields