HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course is addressed to students who already have some acquaintance with medieval philosophy. It aims to enhance students' capacity of developing critical, informed and independent judgment especially in the field of medieval philosophy, their communication skills and continuing education (Dublin Descriptors III, IV, and V). In particular, the course aims to provide students with the following knowledge and understanding skills (Dublin Descriptor I): 1.1) detailed knowledge of the medieval philosophy, theology and science; 1.2) reading skills and in-depth understanding and comparison of the classics of medieval philosophy, both in Latin and in Italian translation; 1.3) critical assessment of the different interpretations of medieval texts and topics, and of their significance for the historiography of medieval philosophy. The course also aims to provide students with the following abilities to apply the acquired knowledge and understanding skills (Dublin Descriptor II): 2.1) composition of documented and argument-based papers, practice of oral exposition; 2.2) application of the methodology, knowledge, and argumentative techniques developed in the historico-philosophical tradition to contemporary issues and debates.
No specific prerequisite. However, it is warmly recommended the knowledge of Latin and a good acquaintance with the history of philosophy in general and with the history of ancient and medieval philosophy in particular.
Course contents summary
Title of the course: "The Problem of Universals in Medieval Philosophy". The first part of the course is characterized by lessons devoted to the reconstruction of the genesis of the Problem of Universals and to the most significant medieval solutions to it. The second part instead develops through seminars, reserved to specific authors and aspects of the Problem of Universals. Seminars require the active attendance of students and are conducted in collaboration with external colleagues.
The Problem of Universals has been traditionally considered as the key topic of medieval philosophy. It concerns different fields of philosophy, from metaphysics to epistemology and semantics, and involves various issues. It has also given rise to many historiographical debates about the subject-matter and the distinguishing features of medieval philosophy. The course proposes reconsidering this problem and its historiographical and philosophical implications by a close analysis of some fundamental Aristotelian texts and some significant medieval commentaries on them. This problem will be considered especially with respect to the so-called 'golden age' of medieval philosophy, from Thomas Aquinas to William of Ockham.
1) A. de Libera, "La querelle des universaux: de Platon a la fin du Moyen Age", Paris 1996 (It. transl. by R. Chiaradonna, "Il problema degli universali: da Platone alla fine del Medioevo", Scandicci 1999).
2) B. Maioli, "Gli universali. Alle origini del problema", Roma 1973.
3) B. Maioli, "Gli universali. Storia antologica del problema, da Socrate al XII secolo", Roma 1974.
4) "Documenti e Studi sulla Tradizione Filosofica Medievale", voll. XVIII-XIX (2007-2008).
Other bibliographical references and the Latin texts will be indicated and distributed during the lessons.
Oral lessons. During the lessons the topics that will be discussed are those that fix the general contents of the course. Oral lessons will be supplemented by seminars reserved to the reading and discussion of medieval texts, and research seminars, in which students are demanded to attend actively.
Assessment methods and criteria
Students' knowledge and understanding skills, and their abilities to apply them, will be verified in two ways:
1) in itinere: elaboration of a written paper in which students are demanded to analyze (philosophically and historically) a text, a topic or an article of secondary literature.
The written paper aims to verify students’ ability to apply the acquired knowledge and understanding skills by elaborating a paper according to international scientific standards.
Student must present and discuss their papers orally.
2) Final examination: oral exam based upon the texts of the bibliography, and with the discussion of the written paper.
The final exam aims to verify the degree of advancement of students’ knowledge and understanding skills. Average duration of the examination is about one hour. The types of questions are determined by the features of students’ education and learning that need to be verified. In particular, the oral exam aims to verify: 1) the degree of students’ historical and philosophical formation and preparation, both with respect to the primary sources and the secondary literature; 2) students’ ability to assess and compare texts, interpretations of texts, and historiographical theses; 3) the ability to understand, analyze, and contextualize philosophical texts.
The final vote is the result of the written paper and the oral exam. In order to obtain the sufficiency students must obtain the sufficiency in both proofs. As to the written paper, the sufficiency will be determined according to four criteria: 1) clearness and accuracy of the paper; 2) the degree of textual, historical, philosophical, and historiographical documentation; 3) logical precision; 4) argumentative technique and philosophical reasoning. As to the oral exam, the sufficiency will be determined according to three criteria: 1) speech clearness and accuracy; 2) critical thinking and independent judgment; 3) ability to analyze and contextualize a philosophical text.