HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course is addressed to students with no specific acquaintance with 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 Middle Ages; 1.2) abilities to read and understand the classics of medieval philosophy, both in Latin and in Italian translation; 1.3) knowledge of the terminology of 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 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 ancient and 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 and of the history of ancient philosophy in particular.
Course contents summary
Title of the course: “Philosophy in the Middle Ages”. The course configures itself as a general presentation of the principal thinkers and topics of medieval philosophy and theology. Lessons will follow the historical development of medieval philosophy. They will begin with Augustine and Boethius (IV-VI centuries) and end with William of Ockham and John Buridan (XIV century). The course will present and discuss issues of metaphysics, theory of knowledge, philosophy of language and philosophical theology.
The course is intended to be an introduction to the most significant topics and thinkers of the Middle Ages (IV-XIV century). The lessons will follow the historical development of medieval philosophy, from Augustine and Boethius to William of Ockham and John Buridan, combining historical reconstruction with the philosophical discussion of medieval issues. Among the many topics addressed by 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 Middle Ages and to reconstruct the influence exerted by the Ancient and Late-Antiquity thought (Aristotelianism, Neo-Platonism) on medieval philosophy.
1) M. Bettetini-L. Bianchi-C. Marmo-P. Porro (eds.), "Filosofia medievale", Milano 2004.
2) E. Gilson, "La filosofia nel Medioevo. Dalle origini patristiche alla fine del XIV secolo", Milano 2004 (or an equipollent advanced textbook).
3) Tommaso d'Aquino, "L'ente e l'essenza", ed. by P. Porro, Milano 2002.
In addition to the texts contained in the anthology (1), other texts of medieval authors, both in Latin and in Italian translation, will be distributed during the course.
Other web resources: http://www3.unisi.it/ricerca/prog/fil-med-online/index.htm.
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 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 multiple-choice questionnaire and a written paper in which students must measure themselves with the philosophical and historical analysis of a text or a topic.
The questionnaire and the written paper are 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 ascertain the degree of preparation, knowledge and understanding skills reached by the students. Average duration of the examination is about 30 min. The types of questions are determined by the aspects of students' formation and preparation that need to be verified. In particular, the oral exam aims to verify: 1) the degree of historical, philosophical and historiographic knowledge reached by the students; 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) the acquaintance with the philosophical vocabulary and, specifically, with the terminology and concepts proper to medieval philosophy; 4) the 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 examine 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.