HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course is addressed to students with no specific expertise in the medieval field. It aims to provide students with critical, informed and independent judgment, and to enhance their skills for communication and continue learning (Descriptors III-V of Dublin). In particular, the course aims to provide students with the following abilities of acquiring knowledge and understanding (Descriptor I of Dublin): 1.1) knowledge of the philosophical, theological, and scientific thought during the Middle Ages; 1.2) abilities to read and understand the classics of medieval philosophy, both in the original Latin and in Italian translation; 1.3) knowledge of the medieval philosophical vocabulary and the different philosophical methods required for the discussion of topics and the interpretation of texts; 1.4) knowledge of the historiographical methodology of medieval philosophy. The course also aims to provide students with the following abilities to apply the acquired knowledge and understanding (Descriptor II of Dublin): 2.1) writing clear, documented and argument-based papers, by a proper use of the texts of secondary literature and primary sources; 2.2) application of the acquired knowledge in interdisciplinary areas; 2.3) reconstruction of the genesis and development of a concept or a doctrine; 2.4) identification of the connection of ideas between the history of philosophy and other areas of science and philosophy, in particular ancient philosophy and theology; 2.5) reconstruction of cultural contexts with particular attention to the interplay of the different positions that are involved.
None, except for a knowledge of the history of philosophy in general and of the history of ancient philosophy in particular.
Course contents summary
The course is intended to be an introduction to the most significant topics, debates and thinkers of the Middle Ages (IV-XIV century). The lessons follow the historical development of medieval philosophy, from Augustine to William of Ockham and John Buridan, and combine historical reconstruction with discussion of philosophical issues. Among the many topics addressed and discussed by medieval authors, the course focuses on problems and themes pertaining fundamentally to three areas of philosophy: metaphysics, philosophy of language, and theory of knowledge. More specifically, the course proposes to illustrate the most important views of philosophy that were elaborated in the Middle Ages and their interaction with theology.
1) M. Bettetini-L. Bianchi-C. Marmo-P. Porro (eds.), "Filosofia medievale", Raffaello Cortina, Milano 2004.
2) G. D’Onofrio, "Storia del pensiero medievale", Città Nuova, Roma 2011.
3) G. Briguglia (a cura di), "Medioevo in discussione. Temi, problemi, interpretazioni del pensiero medievale", Unicopli, Milano 2001.
In addition to the texts collected in the anthology (1), other texts of medieval authors, in Latin and in Italian translation, will be distributed during the course.
Other web resources:
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 of medieval texts and discussion, and seminars of research, conducted in collaboration with Italian and foreign colleagues. The course also includes a guided visit to the manuscripts collection of the Biblioteca Palatina of Parma.
Assessment methods and criteria
Students' knowledge and understanding skills, and their abilities to apply them, will be verified in two ways:
1) in itinere: compilation of a written paper in which students will have to measure themselves with the philosophical and historical analysis of a text or a topic, at their choice.
The written test is intended to test students' ability to apply the acquired knowledge and understanding skills, and to write a paper in a clear and documented way, logically rigorous and philosophically argument-based.
2) Final exam: oral examination based upon the texts of the bibliography, and with the reading and the analysis of a philosophical text.
The final exam aims to test the degree of preparation, knowledge and understanding skills reached by the students. Average duration of the examination is about one hour. The types of questions are determined by the features of students' training and preparation that are intended to be verified. In particular, the oral exam aims to verify: 1) the degree of historical and philosophical knowledge reached by the students, both with respect to the primary sources and to the historiography of medieval philosophy; 2) students' ability to follow the development of a concept or a doctrine in the same field and in related fields, and to reconstruct a cultural context, with particular attention to the interplay of the different positions that are involved; 3) the acquaintance with the philosophical vocabulary and, specifically, with the terminology of medieval philosophy; 4) the ability to set into context and analyze a philosophical text.
The final grade is the result of the written paper and the oral exam. In order to achieve the passing grade it is required to get sufficiency in both tests. As to the written paper, the passing grade will be determined according to four parameters: 1) clearness of the exposition; 2) textual, historical, and philosophical documentation; 3) logical accuracy and critical thinking; 4) ability to employ and examine philosophical arguments. As to the oral examination, the passing grade will be determined according to five parameters: 1) clarity and accuracy of speech; 2) reasoning skills; 3) ability to explain a concept or a doctrine, historically and philosophically; 4) ability to read and analyze a philosophical text; 5) extent and level of the historical and philosophical preparation reached on the basis of the texts indicated in the bibliography.