HISTORY OF ANCIENT AND MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY
Learning outcomes of the course unit
The course will provide students with tools for critical, informed and independent judgment, and will reinforce their skills for communication and continuing education. In particular, through this course students will develop the following abilities of acquiring knowledge and understanding (Dublin Descriptor I): they will be acquainted with the philosophical, theological, and scientific thought in the Antiquity and in the Middle Ages; they will be able to read and understand the classical texts of ancient and medieval philosophy, know their specific terminology and the different philosophical methods required for the discussion of topics and the interpretation of texts; they will be acquainted with the historiography of ancient and medieval philosophy. Through this course students also will develop the following abilities to apply the acquired knowledge and understanding (Dublin Descriptor II): they will be educated to elaborate clear, documented and argument-based papers; they will be able to apply argumentative and conceptual tools, borrowed from ancient and medieval philosophy, in interdisciplinary fields, to solve philosophical as well as non-philosophical problems; they will be able to reconstruct the genesis and development of a concept, a doctrine and/or a philosophical debate; they will be able to reconstruct the cultural contexts, with particular attention to the interplay of the different positions that are involved; they will be able to identify the connection of ideas between the history of philosophy and other areas of science and philosophy, in particular early-modern philosophy and theology. Finally, through this course students will reinforce their communication and learning skills and abilities of making independent judgments (Dublin Descriptors III - IV - V). Specifically, they will be able to analyze in an independent way a philosophical text, both from a historical and a philosophical point of view; they will be able to assess, historically as well as philosophically, the arguments used in a philosophical debate in order to decide a sentence, resolve a problem and/or defend a thesis; they will be able to criticize a philosophical position and/or a topic; they will be able to examine concepts as to their evolution and their relations, also with respect to other disciplinary areas; they will be able to follow, historically as well as philosophically, the genesis of a concept, a problem and/or a philosophical debate; they will be able to communicate the acquired knowledge and ablities of analysis and judgment in a clear, documented, complete and logically consequential and well-organized way, both orally and through written papers; they will be able to evaluate and reconstruct their learning process and the skills, abilities and knowledge they have acquired.
No specific prerequisite. The course is addressed to students with no specific knowledge of the ancient and medieval philosophy. It is only required an elementary knowledge of the history of philosophy in general.
Course contents summary
Title of the course: "Introduction to Ancient and Medieval Philosophy". The course is intended to offer a general introduction to the major authors, topics and philosophical and theological debates of the Antiquity, Late Antiquity and the Middle Ages. In particular, the course will treat some major issues of ancient and medieval metaphysics, theories of knowledge, and philosophical anthropology.
The course is an introduction to the most important thinkers and topics of the Antiquity, Late Antiquity and Middle Ages. Classes will follow the historical development of the ancient, late-antique and medieval philosophy, from the pre-Socratic philosophers to William of Ockham, through discussing the most significant issues of ancient and medieval philosophy. Historical reconstruction and textual analysis will be alternated with the discussion of ancient and medieval philosophical and theological topics. Among the many topics addressed by ancient and medieval authors, the course will focus especially on problems concerning some fundamental areas of philosophy as methaphysics and ontology, epistemology and philosophy of language, philosophical anthropology, and philosophical theology. More specifically, the course proposes to illustrate the most important views of philosophy elaborated in the Antiquity, late Antiquity and Middle Ages, and to reconstruct the influence exerted by the ancient and late-antique philosophies (especially Platonic, Aristotelian and Neo-Platonic) on the medieval philosophy.
It is required the knowledge of a university-level handbook of the history of ancient philosophy and of one of the history of medieval philosophy. Recommended handbook:
- P. Porro and C. Esposito, "Filosofia. Vol. I: Filosofia antica e medievale", Laterza, Roma-Bari 2008.
Primary text on which students are required to compose a paper (at least 5 pages), to be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org some days before the exam:
- Plato, "La Repubblica", libri VI-VII, a cura di B. Centrone, Laterza, Roma-Bari 2006.
For an introduction to Plato's work, see M. Vegetti, "Guida alla lettura della Repubblica di Platone", Laterza, Roma-Bari 2007; F. Adorno, "Introduzione a Platone", Laterza, Roma-Bari 1997.
For the students who cannot attend regularly classes, in addition, it is required the reading of the following anthologies:
- M. Bonazzi, R. L. Cardullo, G. Casertano, E. Spinelli, F. Trabattoni (a cura di), "Filosofia antica", Raffaello Cortina, Milano 2005.
- M. Bettetini, L. Bianchi, C. Marmo, P. Porro (a cura di), "Filosofia medievale", Raffaello Cortina, Milano 2004.
Any other didactic material that could be given during the classes will be uploaded on the ELLY platform.
Oral lessons. During the classes the topics that will be discussed are those of the general contents of the course; they could be implemented by other didactic materials, in addition to those indicated in the bibliography, materials that will be however made available on the ELLY platform. Oral lessons could be complemented with seminars reserved to the reading of texts and/or discussion of ancient and medieval texts and topics, also in collaboration with external colleagues.
Assessment methods and criteria
Students' knowledge and understanding and learning 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 the classical text that is indicated in bibliography. 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. It will be evaluated 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. The written paper is a practical test; it is necessary for being admitted to the final exam.
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 exam 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 therein 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 score (on scale 0-30) is the result of the final exam and will be determinated by five criteria: 1) speech clarity and accuracy; 2) argumentative skills; 3) ability to explain a concept or a doctrine, historically and philosophically, and to make historical and philosophical connections; 4) ability to read, 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.
The exam is passed if the minimum grade of 18/30 is reached. The final mark will be awarded according to the following table:
30 and praise: excellent; extremely solid preparation and extensive knowledge of ancient and medieval philosophy, excellent expressive skills, complete and exhaustice ability of comprehension and analysis of concepts, topics and/or arguments of ancient and medieval philosophy;
30: excellent; complete and adequate knowledge, excellent analysis skills, correct and well articulated expression;
27-29: very good; more than satisfactory knowledge, adequate analysis skills and essentially correct and articulate expression;
24-26: good; good but not complete knowledge, satisfactory analysis skills and not always correct expression;
21-23: discrete; discrete albeit superficial knowledge, occasionally unsatisfactory analysis skills and inappropriate expression;
18-21: sufficient; acceptable but very superficial knowledge, unsatisfactory analysis skills, often inappropriate expression;
0-18: insufficient; the preparation has important gaps in terms of content, lack of clarity in exposition, inability to understand and analyze concepts, topics and/or arguments of ancient and medieval philosophy.
DATES OF EXAMS
Two or three dates are scheduled for every session of exam, as indicated in the official calendar.