Aristotle’s Physiology of Animal Motion: On Neura and Muscles

Pavel Gregoric 1  and Martin Kuhar 2
  • 1 University of Zagreb – Centre for Croatian Studies, Department of Philosophy, Zagreb, Croatia
  • 2 Croatian Academy of Sciences and Arts – Department of the History of Medicine, Zagreb, Croatia


Aristotle had a developed theory of animal motion with an elaborate physiological component. In this paper we present the physiological component in which the main role is assigned to structures called neura that operate on the bones to which they are attached. We demonstrate that neura exclude muscles and we propose an explanation for Aristotle’s curious failure to observe the actual role of muscles in producing limb motion. Also, we try to identify the main neura specified by Aristotle, we show that he conceived of their operation on the bones in producing limb motion in much the same way as we conceive of the operation of muscles, and we point out the main difficulties for his account.

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Apeiron is dedicated to the study of ancient philosophy, ancient science, and problems that concern both fields. The journal publishes high-quality research papers in these areas of ancient Greco-Roman intellectual history; it also contains papers dealing with the reception of ancient philosophical and scientific ideas in the later western tradition. The articles meet the highest standards of scholarship and philosophical insight.