PHIL 614: Medieval Philosophy, Spring ssemester 2004

Subject of this course

The focus of this course is the "problem of universals", that is, the question what sort of being universals have, and the approaches to that problem taken by various European philosophers from the eleventh to the fourteenth centuries. Although this is an issue in metaphysics, its history is closely connected to the history of logic. So, a fuller description of the subject of the course might be "The problem of universals in medieval logic and metaphysics". In addition, since one of the issues concerning universals in the Middle Ages was whether they exist in the mind only, and since this in turn has important connections with theories of the intellect, we will spend some time on Medieval views of the Intellect.

Who, When and Where

Class: 6:00-9:00 PM, Mondays, Bolton 213,

Instructor: Robin Smith


There are two collections of readings assigned as textbooks for this class:

  1. Arthur Hyman and James J. Walsh, eds., Philosophy in the Middle Ages (2 ed., Hackett 1983). Referred to below as HW
  2. Paul Vincent Spade, ed., Five Texts on the Mediaeval Problem of Universals (Hackett 1994). Referred to below as S

I will also be providing a few handouts of other medieval philosophical texts not included in these two volumes.

Required work and basis for grading

Grades in this course will be based on the following written work:

Assignment Weight Date Due
Short Exam 1 25% March 1
Short Exam 2 25% May 4
Term Paper (20 pages) 50% May 10

Policy Statements

Academic Dishonesty

Please see the Texas A&M University Student Rules, Section 20 for definitions of types of academic dishonesty and the penalties that can be imposed for them.

Students with Disabilities

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Class Schedule

This is intended as a guide to what we will be doing, and it is definitive when it comes to due dates for assigned work. However, readings and subjects are subject to change based on how the class actually goes.

Class Schedule
Date Subject Readings
Jan. 19 No Class
Jan. 26 The Late Ancient Background Augustine, Teacher (HW 20-33) Porphyry, Isagoge S 1-20; I will also discuss some works of Aristotle including Categories, On Interpretation,Topics I, De Anima III.3-5, Posterior Analytics II.19; Metaphysics Λ
Feb. 2 Porphyry's Introduction Porphyry, Isagoge; Boethius, extracts from Second Commentary on Porphyry's Isagoge (S 20-25).
Feb. 9 Islamic Neoplatonism Al-Farabi, Letter Concerning the Intellect (HW 215-221); Avicenna, (Handout); Averroes, Long Commentary on Aristotle's De Anima (HW 324-336)
Feb. 16 Peter Abelard Peter Abelard, from Logica 'ingredientibus' (S 26-56)
Feb. 23 Aquinas and Siger of Brabant Aquinas, De Ente et Essentia (HW 508-515); from Summa Theologiae I.I, Q. 84-86(HW 550-558); Siger of Brabant, Questions on the Eternity of the World(HW 499-502)
Mar. 1 John Duns Scotus Scotus, Ordinatio (S 57-73)
Mar. 8 Scotus, contd. Scotus, Ordinatio (S 74-93)
Mar. 22 Scotus, contd. Scotus, Ordinatio (S 93-113)
Mar. 29 Walter Burleigh (Handout)
Apr. 5 William of Ockham Ockham, Ordinatio (S 114-132)
Apr. 12 Ockham, contd. Ockham, Ordinatio (S 132-152 )
Apr. 19 Ockham, contd. Ockham, Ordinatio (S 153-190)
Apr. 26 Ockham, contd. Ockham, Ordinatio (S 190-231
May 3 Everyone Second exam distributed
May 4 (Redefined Day) Second exam due
May 10 Papers Due

Last modified: Mon Feb 2 14:24:26 CST 2004