“Thomas Aquinas and the Arabic Philosophical Tradition”

Prof. Richard C. Taylor, Marquette University,

at the Universidad Panamericana, Mexico City

26 September - 21 October 2011


“Thomas Aquinas and the Arabic Philosophical Tradition”

Course Days and Times:

M-Th 4-6 pm 26 September - 20 October 2011

Course description

    The Arabic philosophical tradition played an important role in the formation of theological, philosophical and scientific thought in medieval Europe subsequent to the translations from Arabic into Latin in the 12th and 13th centuries. The influence of that Arabic classical rationalist tradition in works by al-Farabi, Avicenna, Averroes and the Liber de causis is evident in the thought of Thomas Aquinas, though the breadth and depth of that influence is often insufficiently noted and explained by scholars of Aquinas.

This course is devoted to explicating the extraordinarily penetrating depth of the influence of the Arabic tradition on the theology and philosophy of Thomas Aquinas in four distinct parts:

Part 1: Natural Epistemology in the Arabic Tradition and Aquinas’s Supernatural Epistemology of Beatitude

Part 2: Natural Epistemology in Aquinas

Part 3: Metaphysics and Creation in the Arabic Tradition and Aquinas

Part 4: Divine Knowledge in the Arabic Tradition and Aquinas

For this we will study the writings of the philosophers of the Arabic tradition and then the use of ideas, analyses and insights from that tradition by Thomas Aquinas in his theology and philosophy in his first major work, his Commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard, and also in texts of other more mature works of Aquinas.

All texts will be made available in English translation. Students are welcome to study the texts in Latin, Arabic, Spanish or any other language, though classroom discussions will be in English.


(i) class attendance is required, not optional.

(ii) for each class students must send me one question on the readings no later than 4 hours before class.

Some of these questions will be discussed in class; others will be responded to via email.

(iii) Grading:

20% attendance and classroom discussion

20% for 1 reflection paper of 3 pp. on the presentation by Ms Krause & on our class discussion on 29 September  and 1 reflection paper of 4 pp. based on attendance at the Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’ Conference

20% for 1 short paper of 6 pp.

40% for 1 course paper of 10-12 pp. 30%.

This last paper is due 21 November sent to the instructor via email.

                al-Farabi        Avicenna    Averroes    Aquinas    Maimonides Ibn Gabirol