Medieval Philosophy

Course Formal Details and Information


Phil 3620 Medieval Philosophy

Spring 2017

Information & Formal Syllabus for Marquette students

Course Description


INSTRUCTOR: Prof. Richard C. Taylor

OFFICE: Marquette Hall 437

MAILBOX: Coughlin Hall Rm. 132

TELEPHONE: 288-6857; fax: 288-3010


OFFICE HRS: Wednesdays 1-4 pm and by appointment

This introduction to the philosophical thought  of  the Medieval  period  will  involve  the  examination  of the thought of a number of the major figures from the time  of  Augustine  through  the middle to Fourteenth century.  While two-thirds of our  time  will  be  devoted to philosophers and theologians of the Latin Medieval tradition, we will also  consider  the thought of selected thinkers of the classical Arabic tradition.  The first  third of the course will be devoted to the study of the thought of Augustine, Boethius, (ps-)Dionysius, Eriugena, Anselm and Abelard in their intellectual and historical context. The second third will involve study of the thought of philosophical thinkers of the classical rationalist tradition in Arabic and their reception and development of the Greek philosophical heritage. Among the figures whose thought we will examine are al-Kindi,  al-Farabi, Ibn Sina/Avicenna, al-Ghazali/Algazel,  and Ibn Rushd/Averroes. The final third of the course concerns philosophical thought in the Latin West following the translation movement of philosophical and scientific materials from Arabic and Greek into Latin in the Twelfth and Thirteenth centuries. After some discussion of the translations and translators, the intellectual climate, and the development of universities, we will focus our attention on later  philosophical and theological thought with special attention to the complex and comprehensive views and arguments of Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus and William of Ockham. The format will  generally  be  that  of  lecture  with  discussion and questions encouraged, although on occasion the  need  for  careful  examination  of difficult texts will require that a quasi-seminar format be adopted.

Required readings will include (1) selections from Philosophy in the Middle Ages,  ed.  Hyman  and Walsh; (2) e-texts of selections from important philosophical works translated  from  Arabic and  Latin;  (3) the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy ; (4) the Routledge Encyclopedia of Philosophy on-line; and (5) other secondary literature mentioned in lectures. Non-required readings from selected primary and secondary  sources  will  sometimes be suggested for better understanding.

Grading:   3 exams: 20% of course grade each; course paper: 20% of course grade; participation: 20% of course grade


Attendance Policy: Class attendance is mandatory for each class meeting. Excessive  absences will result in a lower final course grade at the discretion of the instructor. Normally four absences will lower a grade by one-half letter, six by one full letter, eight by one and a half letters, and so forth.   Students who leave class early will be marked absent for the entire class. Students attempting to sleep in class will be marked absent. It is not my job to entertain you. It is your job to demonstrate to me your intellectual abilities with the matters studied.  Tardiness of less than 10 minutes counts as 1/3 of an absence. Tardiness of more than 10 minutes counts as one absence.

Study Expectations: Students are expected to prepare for class in advance of classroom discussions by reading and studying assigned materials before class. Be prepared for oral discussion.

Papers:  For details regarding the course paper, see this webpage:


Course learning objectives and outcomes with assessment tools indicated:

By the end of the course,

1. The student will be able to expound the reasoning of key thinkers and key concepts and arguments in his chief sources. Assessment tools: student work in D2L on-line & classroom discussions; final course paper.

2. The student will be able to explain the metaphysics developed by thinkers including accounts of finite and infinite being together with the relevant technical terminology. Assessment tools: student work in D2L on-line & classroom discussions; final course paper.

3. The student will be able to give an account of the development of the metaphysical teachings of thinkers in relation to his major sources in the Latin, Greek and Arabic traditions. Assessment tools: student work in D2L on-line & classroom discussions; final course paper.

4. The student will be able to explain the ontological constitution of being in various thinkers, including how the doctrine applies to the human soul and person. Assessment tools: student work in D2L on-line & classroom discussions; final course paper.

5. The student will be able to demonstrate a basic familiarity with selected secondary literature on medieval philosophy. Assessment tools: student work in D2L on-line & classroom discussions; final course paper.

6. The student will develop his/her own critical interpretive account of an important teaching demonstrating familiarity with bibliographical resources, the texts of thinkers, their sources, and key secondary sources. Assessment tool: final course paper.


Academic Dishonesty Policy

Dishonesty in academic matters undermines student intellectual development and the goal of Marquette University to develop the whole person. Further, dishonesty undermines the foundations of the search for the true and the right in ethical matters. Cheating in such forms as copying, sharing answers or questions, plagiarism and the like certainly cannot be tolerated in any university course, and all the more so in philosophy which is discipline particularly concerned with truth and understanding.  Consequently, in this course I adhere fully with the Marquette University Academic Honest Policy as spelled out in the Graduate Bulletin.

Students who have any questions about just what constitutes academic dishonesty should study the Academic Honesty Policy and bring any questions to the instructor to forestall any problems.


Class Attendance and Absence Policy

For this course students are expected to attend each and every class meeting. For this course Attendance is included as a measure of academic performance.

Policy for Students with Disabilities or Special Needs

Please see me privately if you have any documented disabilities or special needs. I will be glad to work with you has necessary to make this a valuable learning experience. For the implementation accommodations, students must normally identify themselves to the instructor within the first week of classes as students with documented disability as certified by the Office of Disabilty Services (ODS).  I will work closely with the staff of the ODS in establishing reasonable accommodations as defined by University policy. Students seeking accommodations must register with ODS and receive appropriate certification.

For Part 2 of the Syllabus, see the Detailed Syllabus page of this website.