Medieval Philosophy


In this course, we look at philosophy from around the 4th to the 14th centuries. Although this is a broad time-period that resists general claims about its philosophical tendencies, most authors we will consider were primarily concerned with the question how to fit Christianity into a broadly speaking Aristotelian, scientific world-view (or on the converse, how to fit a scientific world-view into a broadly speaking theological framework). Topics of discussion will include, among others, questions concerning faith and reason, knowledge and skepticism, causation, and human nature. Representative figures include Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Avicenna, Al-Ghazali, Aquinas, Henry of Ghent, Duns Scotus, Ockham, Nicholas of Autrecourt, and John Buridan.

2020 Spring syllabus
2019 Spring syllabus
2018 Spring syllabus

Assignments, 2020 Spring

Argument reconstruction paper, Due Jan 30
Response paper, Due Feb 27

Class Schedule, 2020 Spring

(updated: 1/2/2020)

Date Topic Text
Jan 14 Introduction Lewis, Discarded Image
Jan 16 Augustine on Christian Doctrine De doctrina Christiana I--II
Jan 21 Al-Ghazali against the philosophers The Rescuer from Error (sel.)
Jan 23 The Parisian Condemnations selections
Jan 28 Aquinas on Faith and Reason ST I, q. 1.
Jan 30 Writing class DUE: first short paper
Feb 4 Avicenna's Flying Man The Soul (sel.)
Feb 6 Aquinas on the soul ST I, q. 75
Feb 11 Aquinas on the intellect ST I, q. 76
Feb 13 Aquinas on abstraction ST I, q. 84
Feb 18 Henry of Ghent on illumination (sel.)
Feb 20 Ockham on intuitive cognition (sel.)
Feb 25 Autrecourt and Buridan on skepticism Letters to Bernard (sel.)
Feb 27 Writing class DUE: second short paper
Mar 3 Augustine on free will De lib. arb. (sel.)
Mar 5 Boethius on Foreknowledge Consolations V
Mar 17 Gersonides on Foreknowledge The Wars of the Lord III
Mar 19 Crescas on Foreknowledge The Light of the Lord II
Mar 24 Scotus on Foreknowledge Reportatio I, dd. 39--40, qq. 1--3
Mar 26 Writing class
Mar 31 Essence and existence are distinct Aquinas, De ente et essentia
Apr 2 Essence and existence are the same Buridan (sel.)
Apr 7 Anselm on God's existence Proslogion
Apr 9 Aquinas on God's existence ST I, q. 2
Apr 14 Maimonides's negative theology Guide of the Perplexed I.51
Apr 16 Aquinas on talking about God ST I, q. 13
Apr 21 Scotus on talking about God Ordinatio I.31
Apr 23 Writing class DUE: final paper
Apr 28 The Continuity question Lindberg (sel.)
May 4 Final exam