Medieval Philosophy

Philosophy 304

Fall 2006

Instructor: Philip M. Mouch Where: Bridges 268
Office: Bridges 359c When: T 6:00-8:30pm
Office Phone: 477-2331 Office Hours: MWF 11-12; MT 1-4:30
E-Mail: and by appointment


Course Overview: We will be looking at some of the major figures from the Christian, Jewish, and Islamic traditions during the medieval period. Much of the period focuses on Platonic and Aristotelian views connecting, and conflicting, with various religious views. As a result, some of the questions that will come up include the existence and nature of God, universals, free will, and the nature of the mind, as well as the relationship between faith and reason. I expect the course to proceed in a seminar style, with students having some say in the direction we take.

Texts: There are two required texts for this course:

Evaluation: There will be a total of three papers due over the course of the semester. I will also expect each student to lead discussion at least once during the semester. (We will figure out who will lead discussion when at the first meeting.) Students will be expected to turn in two-page summaries of the material on which they are to lead discussion. These summaries must be handed in to me no later than two hours before class. Finally there is a Desire 2 Learn site set up for the course. You should log on to the site weekly to participate in the discussion and for information on the course. (See the handout on D2L for how to log on.) The papers are each worth 25% of your final grade. The discussion/summary is worth 15% of your final grade. Participating in the class discussion and online discussion makes up the last 10% of your final grade.


  1. You are responsible for all assignments to be handed in. Late assignments will be penalized. Excuses such as you handed in the paper to my mailbox, slid it under my door, or gave it to a friend to hand in are unacceptable. I will take such papers, but if the paper never showed up for whatever reason, it will count as late. You should be in class to hand in all assignments; otherwise you take the risk of not getting credit for your work.
  2. The final drafts of all the papers are to be typed and double-spaced. Margins of an inch on the top and bottom and an inch and a quarter on the left and right sides of the page are standard. Twelve point fonts are also standard. You should proofread your papers. If there are more than three typos or spelling errors per page, I will return the paper to you, and it must be handed in, cleaned up, at the next class meeting. Such papers will count as a day late. Papers are due at the beginning of class, so be sure to check your printer to make sure you have enough ink well before the paper is due. Furthermore, plagiarism will not be tolerated. Refer to the Student Handbook for more information on Academic Honesty.
  3. You are expected to be in class and have done the reading for the day. It is simple courtesy to be in class on time and in your seat. If you have to be late for some reason, please enter the room and take your seat quietly, so as not to disturb the class. PLEASE TURN OFF ALL ELECTRONIC EQUIPMENT (INCLUDING CELLPHONES, PAGERS, AND IPODS). Finally, do not stand up and walk out in the middle of the class period. This is distracting and rude to the other students and me. If you must leave early for some reason, please talk to me before class and sit near the door.

Readings: This is a likely reading assignment list. As we progress, we may make changes.

August 29 Introduction
September 5 Augustine: On Free Will, Retractions, On the Trinity
September 12 Augustine: The Confessions
September 19 Augustine: The City of God
September 26 Boethius & Anselm
October 3 Alfarabi: The Letter Concerning the Intellect & Avicenna
October 10 Algazali
October 17 Fall Breather – No Classes
October 24 Averroes
October 31 Maimonides: The Guide of the Perplexed (Book I)
November 7 Maimonides: The Guide of the Perplexed (Book II)
November 14 Aquinas: Summa Theologica, pp. 516-537
November 21 Thanksgiving Break - No Classes
November 28 Aquinas: Summa Theologica, pp. 537-558
December 5 Aquinas: Summa Theologica, pp. 558-579
December 12 Molina
December 19 Wrap-Up

Students with disabilities who believe they may need an accommodation in this class are encouraged to contact Greg Toutges, Coordinator of Disability Services at 477-5859 (voice) or 1-800-627-3529 (MRS/TTY), CMU 114 as soon as possible to ensure that accommodations are implemented in a timely fashion.

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