Thomas Aquinas: Metaphysics (Fall 2013)

Prof. Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University, Milwaukee

Prof. Andrea Robiglio, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium


Thomas Aquinas: Metaphysics (Fall 2013)

Prof. Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University, Milwaukee

(email: or

Prof. Andrea Robligio, Katholieke Universiteit Leuven, Belgium


Last website update 19 November 2013

Live Classroom Course Meeting Times*:

29 August - 19 September: Thursday 9:00 - 11:00 am U.S. Central Time

26 September - 19 December 9:00-11:00 am US Central Time / 16h-18h European Central Time

Course Description

         This course will focus on the metaphysical thought of Aquinas but will also include some consideration of his epistemology, psychology and other philosophical teachings.  (i) The first five (5) weeks will consist of a graduate level introduction to the thought of Aquinas. (ii) The course will then morph into an international seminar with intensive reading of one of Aquinas’s most metaphysical early works, his short Commentary on the De Hebdomadibus of Boethius (Latin text with tr., J. L. Schultz & E. A. Synan).  While using this as our primary text, we will draw on the corpus of Aquinas’s works for the earlier development of his teachings and for his later advancement of key metaphysical doctrines through the rest of his career. We will also consider development of his metaphysics from thinkers of the Arabic tradition. Topics will include the development of his understanding of essence-existence, his conception of God as ipsum esse per se subsistens or Self-subsistent Being, primary and secondary causality, the nature of creation, the ontological structure of created being, the metaphysics of the human person, the metaphysical principles of knowledge and related topics. The final weeks of the course will focus on four methods of interpretation of the metaphysical thought of Aquinas.

         For the international seminar we will work with graduate students from Marquette and with graduate students from around the world studying in the international program at the Katholieke Universiteit Leuven with Prof. Andrea Robiglio, Belgium. Technologies used will include D2L, Microsoft Lync with live video applications with a Polycom CX5000 Unified Conference Station, Dropbox, recorded video lectures, Google+Hangouts, and other collaborative tools. (Instructions in the use of technology along with the necessary software will be provided. Students and auditors only need a Windows or Mac browser.) After the first four weeks with students at Marquette and auditors, we will begin live weekly meetings with the KU Leuven class for discussions of the texts and thought of Aquinas.

         Marquette University grading will be based on class participation in various forms (50%) and a final course paper of ca. 20-25 pp. (50%).

         For KU Leuven grading, contact Dr. Robiglio.

Regular Class Structure:

          8:45: Set up of internet connection with MU, KUL & auditors.

          9-9:15 Discussion of issues from previous class meeting.

          9:15-10:30 Discussion, presentations, et alia,  for students at MU & KUL

(Auditors must remain silent observers in this time period.)

          10:30-11 am Open discussion of questions and comments from auditors*

*Note: Marquette students who have class elsewhere at 11 am are welcome to leave at 10:45 or 10:50 am, as suits their needs. Attendance at the discussions with international auditors may be a valuable experience but is optional without effect on grading.

For the 2012 course “Aquinas: Soul and Intellect” with MU, KULeuven and UP Mexico City, see and click on “Link to Full Text”.

For the 2011 KULeuven course, “Aquinas and the Arabic Philosophical Tradition on ‘Creation’”, see


This course is open to selected online auditors. Since this is a formal credit course at KU Leuven and Marquette University, some priority will be given to MU and KUL students but active participation in the live online discussions will be available also to auditors. Auditors will also have access to the listing of course readings and to the course video lectures.

Note: Some preference may be given to groups of auditors, that is, groups that will share one live video connection. Our current thinking is that we will likely devote the last half hour (10:30-11 am US Central Time) to questions and discussion with auditors.

Faculty and students at other institutions interested in auditor status should contract Prof. Taylor at or  or

For more information, see the Auditors’ Page. Click HERE.

For the 2012 course, Aquinas: Soul & Intellect and the 2011 course, Aquinas and the Arabic Philosophical Tradition on ‘Creation’ click HERE.

NOTE: This course is open to selected online auditors. See the bottom of this page for information.