This paper traces the reception of the Aristotelian definition of time from its earliest (Boethus of Sidon) to its most authoritative interpretations (Alexander of Aphrodisias), and describes how their readings pave the way for a sophisticated amalgamation of divergent Aristotelian and Platonic elements in the temporal theory of Avicenna. The focus of attention lies on specific perceptions of the relation between time and motion, more precisely on the contrary descriptions of time as the measure of motion and motion as the measure of time. The latter leads to a conception of time as a universal self-subsisting substance beyond all measure, and the former to an understanding of time as an accident providing all motion with its particular measure. It is the antagonism between these two conceptions, both inherent in the Arabic term miqdār (“measure, magnitude”) at the heart of Avicenna’s definition of time, which arguably informs the Latin tradition and thereby also shapes the early modern contrast between objective and subjective theories of time.
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