HISTORY OF ANCIENT PHILOSOPHY
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course is addressed to students with no specific acquaintance with
ancient and medieval philosophy. It aims to provide students with tools for critical, informed and independent judgment, and to enhance their skills for communication and continuing education (Dublin Descriptors III, IV, V). In particular, the course aims to provide students with the following abilities of acquiring knowledge and understanding (Dublin Descriptor I): 1.1) knowledge of the philosophical, theological, and scientific thought in the Antiquity and in the Middle Ages; 1.2) abilities to read and understand the classics of ancient and medieval philosophy; 1.3) knowledge of the terminology of ancient and medieval philosophy and of the different philosophical methods required for the discussion of topics and the interpretation of texts; 1.4) knowledge of the historiography of ancient and medieval philosophy. The course also aims to provide students with the following abilities to apply the acquired knowledge and understanding (Dublin Descriptor II): 2.1) elaboration of clear, documented and argument-based papers; 2.2) application of the acquired knowledge in interdisciplinary fields; 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 early-modern philosophy and theology; 2.5) reconstruction of the cultural contexts, with particular attention paid to the interplay of the different positions that are involved.
No specific prerequisite. However, it is recommended a good knowledge
of the history of philosophy in general.
Course contents summary
Title of the course: "Aristotle and Medieval Aristotelianism". The course is
a general introduction to ancient philosophy and, more specifically, to the philosophy of Aristotle, and to the major authors, topics and philosophical and theological debates of the Middle Ages. The course will concern especially issues related to metaphysics (such as being and categories, substance and accidents, matter and form, actuality and potentiality, causality, and the like), but it will consider also aspects connected to Aristotle's theory of knowledge and philosophy of language.
The course is an introduction to the most significant topics and thinkers of the Antiquity and the Middle Ages. Classes will follow the historical development of ancient and medieval philosophy, from the pre-Socratic schools to William of Ockham, especially focusing on Aristotle and on the different forms of medieval Aristotelianism, by combining historical
reconstruction with the discussion of ancient and medieval philosophical and theological issues. Among the many topics addressed by ancient and medieval authors, the course will focus on problems concerning four basic fields of philosophy: metaphysics, theory of knowledge, philosophy of language, and philosophical theology. More specifically, the course proposes to illustrate the most important views of philosophy that have been elaborated during the Antiquity and the Middle Ages and to reconstruct the influence exerted by the ancient and late-antiquity thought (especially Aristotelianism) on medieval philosophy.
1) M. Bonazzi, R. L. Cardullo, G. Casertano, E. Spinelli, F. Trabattoni (a cura di), "Filosofia antica", Raffaello Cortina, Milano 2005.
2) M. Bettetini, L. Bianchi, C. Marmo, P. Porro (a cura di), "Filosofia
medievale", Raffaello Cortina, Milano 2004.
A University-level handbook of Ancient Philosophy and one of Medieval Philosophy. Suggested handbooks:
1) G. Cambiano, "Storia della filosofia antica", Laterza, Roma-Bari 2014;
2) E. Gilson, "La filosofia nel Medioevo. Dalle origini patristiche alla fine
del XIV secolo", Bompiani, Milano 2004.
1) Aristotle, "Metafisica", edited by G. Reale, Bompiani, Milano 2000 (together with P. Donini, "La Metafisica di Aristotele. Introduzione alla lettura", Carocci, Roma 1995). The parts of the "Metaphysics" to be prepared for the exam will be indicated during the first lessons.
Oral lessons. During the lessons the topics that will be discussed are those of the general contents of the course. Oral lessons will be complemented with seminars reserved to the reading and discussion of ancient and medieval texts and topics.
Assessment methods and criteria
Students' knowledge and understanding skills, and their abilities to apply
them, will be verified in two ways: 1) in itinere: a written paper in which students must measure themselves with the philosophical and historical analysis of a classical text or the examination of a philosophical topic. The written paper is intended to verify students' historical and philosophical knowledge, their 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 verify the degree of preparation, knowledge
and understanding skills reached by the students. Average duration of
the examination is about 30 min. In particular, the oral exam aims to verify: 1) students' degree of historical, philosophical and historiographic knowledge; 2) students' ability to follow the development of a concept or a doctrine in the same field and/or in related and interdisciplinary fields, and to reconstruct a cultural context, with particular attention to the interplay of the different positions that are involved; 3) students' acquaintance with the philosophical vocabulary and, specifically, with the terminology and concepts proper to the ancient and medieval philosophy; 4) students' ability to contextualize and analyze a philosophical text.
The final vote is the result of the written and the oral exam. In order to
obtain the sufficiency students must obtain the sufficiency in both proofs. As to the written exam, the sufficiency will be determined according to four criteria: 1) historical, philosophical, and historiographic knowledge reached by the students; 2) clearness of the paper; 3) logical accuracy and critical thinking; 4) ability to employ and assess philosophical arguments. As to the oral exam, the sufficiency will be determined according to five criteria: 1) speech clarity and accuracy; 2) reasoning skills; 3) ability to explain a concept or a doctrine, historically and philosophically; 4) ability to understand and analyze a philosophical text; 5) extent and degree of the historical and philosophical preparation, reached on the basis of the texts indicated in bibliography.