Thomas Aquinas: Metaphysics (Fall 2013)

Prof. Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University, Milwaukee

Prof. Andrea Robiglio, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium


Thomas Aquinas: Metaphysics (Fall 2013)

Auditors’ Page

Welcome to the Auditors’ Page.

First of all, please note that all auditors participate and have access to this course at the pleasure of the instructors. We are very pleased to have you. But this is our first time permitting auditors access to the course. So we reserve the right to terminate the auditor status of anyone for technical reasons or for reasons of good pedagogy. I am sure all auditors will understand that this course takes place thanks to the support of Marquette University and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven where two classes of graduate students are enrolled in the course. The instructors’ primary responsibility is to these students whose enrollments make the course possible. Our first and primary obligation is to provide quality instruction to these students.

All that said, we are delighted to have auditors from London, Ontario, Canada; Frankfurt and Munich, Germany; London, England; Mexico City, Mexico; Istanbul, Turkey; the Republic of Singapore; and elsewhere.

Technology required:

Windows or Mac computer with camera. Software will be provided. When you first connect to the Marquette MS Lync system, you will be instructed to download the software that allows you to participate in this course.

Introductory statement required of all auditors:

Auditors must supply their full names and a one-paragraph statement of philosophical interests, dissertation topic, et alia, as well in university affiliation and program status, scil. MA, PhD program, initial years, final years, ABD, and so forth. These will be posted on this “Auditors’ Page”.

Connection link: This is dynamic and changing for each class apparently. So contact me via email or watch for my email to you at 8:30 am for the precise link for each class meeting.

The rules for auditors are these:

  1. (i)Auditors may observe live course discussions but must refrain from participating with questions or responses to issues raised until the last 30 min. of class, scil. 10:30-11 am Milwaukee (US Central) time. I will simply place all auditors in "mute" status from 9:15 until 10:30 am.

  1. (ii)Auditors may also participate in D2L discussions but are asked to do so very modestly since this is a course primarily for students enrolled at Marquette University and the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven. Auditors are not to become dominant participants.

  1. (iii)Auditors will have access to video lectures and to the course syllabus and texts and other materials made available via the course website at

  1. (iv)Auditors may join the course either on Thursday 29 August as the course begins at Marquette or on Thursday 26 September when the KU Leuven students join the course.  Note: Auditors joining on 29 August are required to participate in the Tech Test on Monday 26 August at 8:30 am Milwaukee time. I will email you with an invitation to join online. Click on the URL I send you and follow the instructions to install the software and connect. You will first be put into a "waiting room" and I will then admit you to the live video connection. Auditors joining on 26 September are required to participate in the Tech Test on Monday 23 September at 8:30 am Milwaukee time. I will email you with an invitation to join online. Click on the URL I send you and follow the instructions to install the software and connect. You will first be put into a "waiting room" and I will then admit you to the live video connection.

  1. (v)Auditors must connect with the live Thursday course between 8:30 and 8:55 am. No connections will be accepted after 8:55 am. The connection will be available from 8:30 am until 8:55. Auditors are requested to connect by 8:45 am to avoid a rush of connections near the start of live class.


How To Ask Questions

To ask questions or make comments in the discussion period in the MS Lync system you must “raise your hand” by send me a Message via MS Lync. The button for messages is at the bottom left side of the page. I will moderate the discussion while participating as well.

If you have any questions, feel free to contact me via email at  or

Auditors joining 29 August 2013:

Prof. Rahim Acar, Istanbul

Jacob Andrews, Milwaukee

Attila Ataner, London, Ontario, Canada

Nesrin Bagci, Istanbul

Prof. Jude Chua (PLS) Soo Meng, Singapore

Jonathan De Haan, Milwaukee

Gabriel García Jolly, Mexico City

Ileana Garza, Mexico City

Dr. Ann Giletti, Rome

Paloma Hernández, Mexico City

Katja Krause, Munich

Andreas Lammer, Munich

Prof. Luis López-Farjeat, Mexico City

Prof. Sarah Pessin, Denver

Micah Saxton, Denver

Maricarmen Elvirra Torres, Mexico City

Prof. Mustafa Yildiz, Kayseri, Turkey

Joining 19 September:

Friederike Schmiga <> KU Leuven

Kajia Eidse-Rempel <> University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

Auditors joining 26 September 2013:

  1. C.S. Meijns, London, UK

Matthew Small, London, Ontario, Canada


Prof. Rahim Acar, associate professor of philosophy of religion, at Marmara University, Divinity School, Istanbul, Turkey.

He received his Ph.D. at Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations Department at Harvard University in 2002. His publications include Talking about God and Talking about Creation: Avicenna’s and Thomas Aquinas’ Positions (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2005); “Reconsidering Avicenna’s Position on God’s Knowledge of Particulars,” in Interpreting Avicenna: Science and Philosophy in Medieval Islam, ed. Jon McGinnis (Leiden & Boston: Brill, 2004); “Avicenna's Position Concerning the Basis of the Divine Creative Action,” The Muslim World, 94/1 (2004), pp. 65-79; “Avicenna,” in Routledge Companion to Philosophy of Religion, ed. Chad Meister & Paul Copan (London: Routledge, 2007); “Creation: Avicenna’s Metaphysical Account,” Creation and the God of Abraham içinde. Ed. David Burrell, Carlo Cogliati et alii. (Cambridge & New York: Cambridge University Press, 2010).

Jacob Andrews:

I find that scholastic thought resonates with me significantly, and I find much of its teachings, and many of Aquinas’ doctrines in particular, convincing or at least deeply insightful.  I admire both the logical rigor of scholastic thought and its openness to realms of thought and being beyond human reason.

I am similarly fascinated by Islamic philosophy, for its relevance to understanding Aquinas as well as on its own terms.  As a religious person I am intrigued by the interplay between Islam and philosophy in the Islamic world.

I am likewise impressed by the analytic tradition’s focus on rigor of thought, as well as the common sense approach of many analytic philosophers to most philosophical questions; and, at the hands of Christian analytic philosophers, its openness to religious experience and revealed truth.  I am also intrigued by the analytic tradition’s similarity to scholasticism.

At the level of systematics, my primary interests are in natural theology and philosophy of religion: on the rationality of religion; the validity of religious revelation as a form of knowledge; the relevance of theism and Christianity to ethics and metaphysics; and in the amenability of scholastic thought to modern philosophical discoveries and questions.

Atilla Ataner, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario:

I am starting my second year of PhD studies in philosophy at the University of Western Ontario. Prior to this, I obtained my MA in philosophy at McMaster University, my JD (law) at the University of Toronto and BA in philosophy at McGill University. My primary areas of interest are political, legal and environmental philosophy, but also moral and social philosophy generally; Kant and Hegel, and German philosophy generally. For my dissertation I hope to offer a possible philosophical justification for enforceable (i.e., coercible) environmental protections - and philosophical foundations for environmental law generally - based on the legal and political thought of the German idealists, namely Kant, Fichte and Hegel, especially their theories of property. My basic question is: how do we justify enforcing limits on human activities impacting the natural environment? Lastly, I note I have not had the opportunity to study Aquinas previously, and very much look forward to doing so in this course.

Nesrin Bagci, Marmara University, Istanbul, Turkey:

I received B.A. degree from Gazi University, Theology Faculty, “Philosophy and Religion” Department. I am enrolled in two MA programs, one of them is about “islamic philosophy” and the other is a program focusing on the western philosophy. I work as a research assistant at Marmara University, Department of Philosophy and Religious Studies, Philosophy of Religion (working together with professor Rahim Acar).

Jude Chua Soo Meng, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore:

Jude Chua Soo Meng PhD is an Associate Professor of philosophy at Policy and Leadership Studies, National Institute of Education, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore, and is on occasion Visiting Research Scholar at Blackfriars Hall, Oxford. He lectures for the Dual Award EdD offered with Institute of Education, London, where he is occasionally Visiting Academic. He was a president’s graduate fellow at the National University of Singapore, and won a visiting graduate fellowship at the Center for Philosophy of Religion, University of Notre Dame, Indiana USA (2003), and worked with the natural law theorist John Finnis. He won the Novak Award and serves on the editorial advisory board of the Journal of Markets and Morality. His work has appeared in Semiotica, Design Studies, London Review of Education, Angelicum and The Modern Schoolman, amongst others. He is a Fellow of the Royal Historical Society (FRHistS), an elected Fellow of the College of Teachers and holds its Fellowship qualification (FCOT FCollT).  His latest project involves being “new natural law theory”section editor for the Handbook of Virtue Ethics in Business and Management (Springer), edited by Alejo Sison. 

Kajia Eidse-Rempel, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario, Canada

I am a new MA student at the University of Western Ontario. I completed my undergraduate degree in Philosophy at the University of Winnipeg and my Honours thesis was a general overview of the natural, ethical, and political philosophy of Aristotle in terms of its unity and then placed in contrast to the changes brought about in political thought by modern philosophers including Thomas Hobbes, John Locke and Adam Smith. In particular, my interests lie in Ancient Greek philosophy and the ways in which Aristotle and Plato’s presentation of the philosophic life can present valuable insight into many of the problems facing modern commercial societies. I have studied Thomas Aquinas before and am looking forward to delving deeper into the sources that helped develop his metaphysical thought.

Jon De Haan:

My interests lie with the Early Church Fathers and the Christological controversies. The motivation for this originally came from my dissatisfaction with my denomination as I was working on my bachelor in Biblical Studies. I had decided that if I was to find Orthodoxy, then I must see how the Holy Spirit has always guided the Church. This led me to the Fathers of the Church, and eventually to the early controversies surrounding Christ and the Trinity. Specifically, I study the Greek Fathers from St. Athanasius to St. Maximus the Confessor (c. 4th Century – c. 7th Century).

In order to fully delve into this area one cannot merely study Christology, but must also study the philosophical anthropology that begins with Evagrius Ponticus, and finds its fruition in St. Maximus the Confessor.  They, however, do not answer all of the problems that are raised and leave holes, specifically within man’s psychology, and for that reason I also have an interest in St. Thomas Aquinas and his more fully developed philosophical anthropology. My continuing motivations are both my faith, as well as wanting to bring St. Maximus to the fore of Patristic scholarship with translations of his entire corpus for the English reading community.

Gabriel García Jolly, BA (, Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City.

He considers himself more of a theologian and historian than a philosopher. His dissertation, called 'Orbitas entis. Poverty as hermeneutical key in the philosophy of friars Thomas Aquinas, OP and Bonaventure of Bagnorregio, OFM', centers around the neglected weight of religious spirituality (Dominican and Franciscan) and, specially, the metaphysical, epistemological and ethical consequences of radical poverty on both authors' oeuvre.

Ileana Garza Terán, Institut Catholique de Toulouse (presently in Mexico City):

I’m preparing a Master 2 one-year thesis on medieval philosophy, exploring the influences of the Arabic philosophy in the work of Maimonides, precisely on noetics. I take special attention of the Aristotelian tradition. My BA thesis was on Aristotelian philosophy of art and its contemporary actuality. I studied in École et Institut Privés de Philosophie et Théologie Saint Jean then headed by the French philosopher Marie-Dominique Philippe. I’m familiarized with Aquinas’ theology, vocabulary and his diverse works as I have studied and translated for long his Summae, several of his major commentaries, etc. I have dedicated special attention to ancient languages, and have studied a quite good number of them, mostly in France (ENSL) and in Switzerland (U. de Genève). I really like ancient and medieval philosophy but should I mention that German and French contemporary philosophers are included in my researches, mostly authors as Hegel, Husserl, Sartre and Maurice Merleau-Ponty. Metaphysics are my favourite, and if I study philosophical psychology, ethics, politics, arts, is because I really enjoy linking wisely their different itineraries to being (l’être en tant qu’être, το ον η ον). Listening the call of presenting a laconic and academical description, I should stop by now.

Paloma Hernández-Rubio, Universidad Nacional Autónoma de México, Mexico City:

I have just finished my M.Phil at UNAM with a thesis on Inner Sense Theory in Albertus Magnus' De homine and its relationship with its Greek and Arabic sources (mainly Aristotle and the Avicenna Latinus, but I also took a look at Nemesius of Emesa and Averroes). In that work I argue that while Albert uses the same architecture as Avicenna's theory of the inner senses, his own theory is quite different. I contend that the best way to understand that difference is considering the change of meaning of the term ‘intentio’ from Avicenna to Albert. Right now I’m preparing a PhD project on Albert. I would like to explore the relationship between Albert’s logic (its theory of proposition and its syllogistic), and his psychological theory (on humans and non-humans). My primary area of interest is Ancient and Medieval Psychology, but I’m also interested in contemporary Philosophy of Mind and in Ancient Cosmology.

Prof. Sarah Pessin

I am associate professor of philosophy at University of Denver where I am joint-appointed in the Department of Philosophy and in the Center for Judaic Studies. I work on medieval philosophy with a focus on Greek, Jewish, Islamic, and Christian Neoplatonisms.

Some of the key theses, themes, and questions that have animated my recent work include:

•I have argued, against much extant scholarship, for reading Jewish Neoplatonic conceptions of “creation” and of “Divine Will” as referring to Plotinian emanation (as is the case for Islamic Neoplatonic conceptions of “creation”)

•I have argued that Ibn Gabirol has been unfairly calcified into the history of philosophy in terms of a “Doctrine of Divine Will” that fails to do justice to Ibn Gabirol’s view of an emanating God

•I have argued that the standard depiction of Ibn Gabirol in terms of a “Doctrine of Universal Hylomorphism” (and a concomitant notion of “prime matter”) fail to do justice to (1) Ibn Gabirol’s Ps. Empedoclean-inspired sense of “al-‘unsur al-awwal” (which I translate as “Grounding Element”) and (2) Ibn Gabirol’s Ps. Empedoclean-inspired variety of Neoplatonic emanation

•I am very interested in the theme of “lights and shadows” (as well as illuminating shadow and shadowed light) as they appear in the Jewish Ps. Empedoclean traditions of Isaac Israeli and Solomon Ibn Gabirol.

Friederike Schmiga, KU Leuven

I received an MA degree in English and Philosophy at the university of Freiburg (i. Br.) and I am currently enrolled as a PhD student (2nd year) in History of Philosophy at the university of Bari in co-tutela with the K.U. Leuven. I wrote my master thesis on three selected tragedies that were produced in early 17th century England. The topic of my PhD project, however, is intellectual curiosity in the Middle Ages and I will be looking specifically at the scenario of the 13th century when two very different models of human knowledge came into contact and often into conflict with each other, especially within the institutional context of the university: on the one hand, the philosophical model as encapsulated by the Aristotelian conception of the natural human desire for knowledge and as institutionalized to some extent in the Arts Faculty; on the other hand, the theological model as represented in an exemplary fashion by Augustine’s conception of Christian education, which must always be subordinated to the end of salvation and which must be protected from the sin of curiosity.

As a student I had the opportunity to study some passages from Avicenna’s Metaphysics of the Healing and I am looking forward to learning more about the metaphysical thought of Aquinas.

Matthew Small, University of Western Ontario, London, Ontario

I received my BA at the University of Alberta in 2009, as well as my MA in 2012.  I’m currently in the first year of the PhD program at the University of Western Ontario.  I’ve not yet settled on a dissertation topic, but I’m interested primarily in Ancient philosophy, and in particular, book three of Aristotle’s De Anima.  So I’m very excited to be a part of this course, and learning more about the interpretive history surrounding this text.  I also have more casual interests in early Christian thought (St. Augustine, in particular) as well as Neoplatonism.

Prof. Mustafa Yildiz, Erciyes University, Kayseri, Turkey:

I have obtained my bachelor’s degree calaureate from Istanbul University and Ph.D. degree from Erciyes University, Turkey. Currently I am working at the Erciyes University as a lecturer at Philosophy department (Associate Prof. Dr.) I am working on classical age of Islamic philosophy. My philosophical interests include religious studies (Judaism, Christianity, Islam) and ancient and medieval metaphysics and philosophical psychology as well as issues of the relation and interaction of philosophical and religious thought in the medieval period with special emphasis on Islamic/Arabic philosophy, its sources and its influence. I have taught graduate courses on Aristotle, Ancient and Medieval Philosophy of Mind, Philosophy and Religion in the Middle Ages, Arabic/Islamic Philosophy, al-Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes, and after. Undergraduate course I regularly teach include Theory of Ethics, Philosophy of History and courses in the History of Ancient and Medieval Philosophy.