Maria G. Miller

Visiting Researcher
STH 533


Staatsexamen (M.S.) in Biology, Chemistry, Social Geography, Univ. of Munich, Germany (1961)
for teaching at Junior College level

My program of study concentrated on the advances in molecular biology at that time, especially regarding genetic control and cellular metabolism. Explaining the functional structure of organisms at the molecular level seemed close, and I wanted to make this new knowledge accessible to students at the Junior College level. However, my beginning involvement with philosophers who also were leading scientists (C.F. von Weizsaecker and P. Jordan) raised questions about the significance of the new discoveries for the understanding of being-alive, issues that require going beyond the supporting molecular mechanisms. Pursuing better comprehension of these problems motivated my turning to research in neuroscience as it relates to animal behavior.

Research in Psychobiology, Univ.of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia (1970)
Ph.D. in Neurobiology and Animal Behavior, City Univ. of New York (1974)

My research focused on neuro-sensory mechanisms and their role in controlling adaptive behavior. I was surprised to find no direct correlation between specific mechanisms of the nervous system and brain and the behavioral control of food intake. The most stable (and therefore ultimately controlling) factor seemed to be maintaining the overall intake level appropriate for meeting varying physiological requirements. This is accomplished through adapting the behavior in multiple ways by making use of different neuro-sensory mechanisms, depending on the conditions. The findings suggested the importance of the dynamic-adaptive integrity (unity) of the organism as a whole for determining the role of specific neural mechanisms. This required an expansion of the more traditional conception that neural mechanisms are themselves the primary determinant of the organism’s adaptive functioning. — As I learned later, understanding the significance of this insight, is greatly helped by Aristotle’s conception of being-alive.

Audited seminars/courses in philosophy, GW Univ. and Georgetown Univ., by invitation (1984-87)
Independent research in philosophy, concentration on Aristotle and Heidegger (1985-2002)

Influenced by my scientific background, I was drawn to Aristotle’s metaphysical conception of organisms since it is centrally concerned with the causal account of their functional unity as stable entities. His path-breaking insight was recognizing that the unifying functional configuration of an entity (ousia) acts as the cause of its ongoing existing, not as efficient cause, however, but as the principle from which the specific efficient causal relations follow. Much of my philosophical work, therefore, is concerned with understanding how such holistic causation is to be conceived in detail and how it may qualify our modern causal understanding of the underlying mechanisms.

Currently our philosophical inquiry into Aristotle’s metaphysical foundations of organisms is focussed on the perceptual-cognitive functions as they enable the intentional relations to environmental factors, based on their meaningfulness for preserving the integrity of being-alive. Closely related to this, we explore Aristotle’s thesis of the interdependence of emotional dispositions and cognitive capabilities, thus drawing into question a one-sided emphasis on cognition with which the emotions are thought to be at loggerheads. The only modern thinker who recognized and championed Aristotle’s approach seems to be Martin Heidegger in the 1920s, work which is very stimulating for our current inquiry.


NIH Post-doctoral Fellowship (1974)
Declined in favor of Assistant Professorship at Barnard College/ Columbia University

National Research Council Associateship (1976-79)
Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, D.C.
Research on the neural and behavioral control of food intake


Boston University (2014)

Visiting Scholar (Fall 2014): (co-taught with Alfred Miller) Aristotle’s bio-psychology (De Anima) from a modern perspective.

Catholic University of America (2012),

Co-taught with Alfred Miller a graduate seminar on Aristotle’s De Anima

Boston University (2007-2009)

As visiting scholar in philosophy I co-taught with Alfred Miller philosophy of biology and Aristotle’s biology.

Research and presentations of Aristotle’s Metaphysics and De Anima

Catholic University of America (2000-present)

Faculty Associate & Lecturer in Philosophy (graduate teaching areas with Alfred Miller:
Aristotle, Heidegger). Focus is on Aristotle’s functional holistic approach to organismic life and
its possible relevance for contemporary issues in the life sciences.

Self-employed writer/researcher in philosophy (1985-present)

Concentration on Aristotle and Heidegger, Presentations at Philosophical Conferences

Assistant Prof. of Biology, Barnard College, Columbia University (1974-80)

Taught biology for pre-medical students and research courses in neurobiology and animal behavior

Research Biologist, U.S. Food and Drug Admin., Washington, D.C. (1979-85)

Design and execution of research program in neural and behavioral biology

Consultant in regard to food intake and human behavior

Studies in health policy and health promotional strategies

Research Biologist, Walter Reed Army Institute of Research, Washington, D.C., National Research Council Associate (1976-79)

Design and execution of research program in neural and behavioral biology

Studienrat at Wilhelm-Gymnasium, Hamburg, Germany (1962-68)

Taught biology, chemistry, social demography at Junior College level

Trained teacher-interns in biology (1965-68)


KANT’S THEORY OF NATURAL SCIENCE: Translation, Introduction and Commentary (160-page) to P. Plaass’s Kants Theorie der Naturwissenschaft (with Alfred E. Miller), Boston Studies in the Philosophy of Science #159, Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1994.

This work examines how Kant’s basic ontology from the Kritik der Reinen Vernunft is
applied to establish a philosophical grounding of the fundamental principles of classical

OPTIONS FOR HEALTH AND HEALTH CARE: The Coming of Post-Clinical Medicine (with Alfred E. Miller), New York: Wiley, 1981.

This 478-page work explores the historical development of medical understanding and technology, its impact on the pattern of disease in societies and the consequences for providing health care in today’s societies.

TRIGEMINAL DEAFFERENTATION AND FEEDING BEHAVIOR PATTERNS IN THE PIGEON (Columba livia). Doctoral Dissertation, City University, New York. University of Michigan, 1974.


“Aristotle’s Dynamic Conception of the Psuchē as Being-Alive” (with Alfred E. Miller), in WAS IST ‘LEBEN’? Aristoteles’ Anschauungen zur Enstehung und Funktionsweise von Leben (Bamberg Conference on Aristotle’s Concept of Life, August, 2006), p. 55-88, ed.: Sabine Föllinger, Steiner Verlag, Stuttgart, 2010
“Aristotle’s Metaphysics as the Ontology of Being-Alive and its Relevance Today” (with Alfred E. Miller) in Proceedings of the Boston Area Colloquium in Ancient Philosophy, 20: 1-107, 2005
“Aristotle’s Entelecheia as a Paradigm for Today’s Health Problems” (with Alfred E. Miller) in Philosophy and Medicine, Proceedings of the 16th International Conference on Greek Philosophy and Culture, Cos, Greece, pg. 122-144, Athens, 1998
“Trigeminal Orosensation and Ingestive Behavior in the Rat” (with H.P. Zeigler and M.F. Jacquin) in Progress in Psychobiology and Physiological Psychology, 11: 65-196, 1985


“Acquisition of Dietary Self-selection in Rats with Normal and Impaired Oral Sensation” (with J.F. Teates). Physiology and Behavior, 34: 401-408, 1985
“Oral Somatosensory Factors in Dietary Self-selection in Rats”. Behavioral Neuroscience, 98: 416-423, 1984
“Oral Somatosensory Factors in Dietary Self-selection after Food Deprivation and Supplementation” (with J.F. Teates). Behavioral Neuroscience, 98: 424-434, 1984
“Trigeminal Sensorimotor Mechanisms and Ingestive Behavior” (with H.P. Zeigler and M.F. Jacquin). Neuroscience and Behavioral Reviews, 8: 415-423, 1984
“Trigeminal Deafferentation and Ingestive Behavior in the Rat”. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 95: 252-269. 1981
“Behavioral Parameters of BodyWeight Regulation in the Pigeon (Columba livia)”. Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 92: 1014-1024, 1978
“Trigeminal deafferentation and feeding behavior patterns in the pigeon (Columba livia)” (with H.P. Zeigler and A.E. Miller). Journal of Comparative and Physiological Psychology, 92: 1025-1040, 1978


“Reconstructing Aristotle’s ‘Lost’ Paradigm for Today’s Bio-Psychology” (with Alfred E. Miller), Maria Stata Fund workshop, Boston University, Apr. 15, 2014
“The Changing Paradigm of Today’s Biology and its Aristotlelian Foundation” (with Alfred E. Miller), Boston Colloquium for Philosophy of Science, March 31, 2008
“The Aporetic Approach of Metaphysics Zeta; How Everyday Experience Reveals the Fundamental Problems that Systematic Knowledge must Resolve” (with Alfred E. Miller), Boston University, Graduate Student Colloquium, Dec. 11, 2007
“An Aristotelian Analysis of Current Problems in the Foundations of Embryology” (with Alfred E. Miller), Boston Colloquium for Philosophy of Science, Jan. 22, 2007
“Aristotle’s Ontological Account of Human Existence and Understanding: Its Modern Relevance” (with Alfred E. Miller), Three invited seminars, Boston University, Oct. 2006
Seminar I: The Dynamic Nature of Being-alive
Seminar II: Holistic Modes of Causation in Embryological Development
Seminar III: The Representational Conception of Understanding Supplanted
“Why is there rather Movedness [Bewegtheit] and not simply Substance? A Response to Walter A. Brogan’s, Heidegger and Aristotle: The Twofoldness of Being (with Maria G. Miller), Heidegger Conference, Boston Univ., May 5, 2006
“Aristotle’s Dynamic Conception of Form: A New Philosophical Paradigm for Today” (with Alfred E. Miller), invited lecture at CUA, May 14, 1998
“Aristotle on Dunamis, Temporality and Time” (with Alfred E. Miller), Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy, Binghamton, Oct. 24, 1996
“Aristotle’s Ti Ēn Einai as Functionality: the Unity of Universal and Individual” (with Alfred E. Miller), American Philosophical Association, Seattle, April 4, 1996
“Orexis in Aristotle’s Theory of Perception” (with Alfred E. Miller), Society for Ancient Greek Philosophy, Binghamton, Oct. 21, 1995