HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL CHRISTIAN PHILOSOPHY
Learning outcomes of the course unit
This course will reinforce the students' tools for critical, informed and independent judgment, and their skills for communication and continuing education. In particular, after this course, students will develop the following abilities of acquiring knowledge and understanding (Dublin Descriptor I): students will be made able to know the philosophical, theological, and scientific thought of the Middle Ages; to read and understand the classical texts of medieval philosophy; to acquire the terminology of medieval philosophy and of the different philosophical methods required for the discussion of topics and the interpretation of medieval texts; to be acquainted with and assess the historiography of medieval philosophy. After this course, students will also develop the following abilities to apply the acquired knowledge and understanding (Dublin Descriptor II): students will be made able to compose clear, documented and argumentbased papers; to apply knowledge in interdisciplinary fields; to reconstruct and follow the genesis and development of a concept, a doctrine and/or a philosophical debate; to explain the connection of ideas between the history of medieval philosophy and other areas of science and philosophy, in particular ancient, late-antique and early-modern philosophy as well as theology; to reconstruct and assess a cultural and/or inter-cultural context, with particular attention to the interplay of the different positions that are involved. Finally, after this course, students will develop the following communication and learning skills and abilities of making independent judgments (Dublin Descriptors III - IV - V): students will be made able to critically evaluate a philosophical text, both from a historical and a philosophical, philological and/or textual point of view; to assess the arguments used in a philosophical debate and/or text in order to decide a claim, to resolve a problem and/or to defend a thesis; to criticize a philosophical position, an argument and/or a topic, by
correctly setting it in its proper historical and/or textual context; to assess concepts as to their developments and their relations, also with regard to other disciplinary areas; to know how reconstructing and following, historically as well as philosophically, the genesis of a concept, a problem and/or a philosophical debate; 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; to evaluate accurately and to reconstruct completely their learning process and the skills, abilities and knowledge they have acquired.
The course is addressed to students already acquainted with medieval philosophy. It is recommended, moreover, 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: "Medieval Arguments for demonstrating the Existence of God". The course aims to reconstruct and discuss some significant medieval arguments for demonstrating the existence of God, from Augustine to William of Ockham. The course will alternate lessons with seminars, which could be organized in collaboration with other colleagues.
Lessons could be given even online, in streaming.
What we can know about God is one of the most debated topics in the Middle Ages. This topic presupposes another one: how can we demonstrate the existence of God and what this means. In the courses we shall reconstruct and discuss some significant medieval arguments for demonstrating God's existence. We shall especially focus on Anselm of Aosta and Thomas Aquinas, because they are representatives of two fundamental and alternative strategies for proving the existence of God.
- Anselmo d'Aosta, "Monologio e Proslogio", ed. I. Sciuto, Bompiani, Milano 2002.
- Thomas Aquinas, "Summa theologiae", Ia, qq. 1-15, ed. San Paolo, Cinisello Balsamo (Milano) 1988 (trad. it. "La Somma teologica", traduzione e commento a cura dei domenicani italiani, ESD, Bologna 1969).
Recommended further readings for deepening:
- B. Leftow, "Arguments for God’s Existence", in R. Pasnau-C. van Dyke (eds.), "The Cambridge History of Medieval Philosophy", CUP, Cambridge 2009, vol. 2, pp. 735-748.
- G. Oppy, "Arguments for the Existence of God", in J. Marenbon (ed.), "The Oxford Handbook of Medieval Philosophy", OUP, Oxford 2012, pp. 687-704.
- L. Elders, "The Philosophical Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas", Brill, Leiden 1990.
Students who cannot attend regularly lessons are recommended to read the following texts:
- L. Vettorello, "L’unum argumentum di Sant’Anselmo. Alla ricerca dell’interpretazione autentica della prova anselmiana dell’esistenza di Dio", ETS, Pisa 2015.
- G. Barzaghi, "Dio e ragione. La teologia filosofica di s. Tommaso d'Aquino", EDS, Bologna 1996.
Oral lessons. During the classes the topics that will be discussed are those of the general contents of the course. Classes could be supplemented by seminars devoted to the reading and discussion of medieval texts, to which students are invited to participate actively. Seminars could be also in collaboration with external teachers.
Lessons will be in presence and in streaming (on Teams).
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 are requested to analyze (philosophically and historically) a text, a topic and/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.
The written paper will be evaluated 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) argumentation technique and philosophical reasoning.
2) Final exam: oral exam based on 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 exam is about 30 min.
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 score (on scale 0-30) is the result of the written paper and the oral exam.
The oral exam will be evaluated according to three criteria: 1) speech clearness and accuracy; 2) critical thinking and independent judgment; 3) ability to analyze and contextualize a philosophical text and/or a problem.
The exam is passed if the minimum grade of 18/30 is reached.
The final mark will be awarded according to the following scheme: 30 and praise: excellent; solid preparation and extensive knowledge of medieval philosophy, excellent expressive skills, capacity of comprehension and analysis of texts, concepts, topics and/or arguments of medieval philosophy complete and exhaustive; 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 structured expression;
24-26: good; good but not complete knowledge, satisfactory analysis skills and not always correct expression; 21-23: discrete; discrete knowledge although superficial, sometimes unsatisfactory analysis skills and sometimes inappropriate ability to express; 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 texts, concepts, topics and/or arguments of medieval philosophy.
DATES OF EXAMS
Two or three dates are scheduled for every session of exam, as indicated in the official calendar.