Loyola University Chicago

Department of Philosophy

PHIL 307: 13th and 14th Century Philosophy

PHIL 307: 13th and 14th Century Philosophy

The Generic Catalog Description

Modern thinkers of the 13th and 14th centuries, including at least some of the following: Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas, Dun Scotus, William of Ockham, Roger Bacon.

PHIL 307: 13th and 14th Century Philosophy

Blake Dutton

As its title suggests, this course is designed to introduce students to philosophy as it was practiced in the Latin West during the late Middle Ages.  This period – the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries – was one that many scholars consider to be the high point in the intellectual life of medieval Europe.  It was during these centuries that the great universities of Europe became fully established, that many of the most renowned philosophers of the Middle Ages lived and worked, and that much of the philosophical learning of the ancient world, especially the work of Aristotle, was finally assimilated and subjected to critical evaluation by Europeans.  It was also a period in which the study of philosophy became highly standardized, formalized and professionalized.  Appropriately, the philosophy of this period and the movement from which it arose has come to be known as scholasticism.

During the course of the semester we will read substantial selections from the writings of three of the most eminent scholastic philosophers of this period: Thomas Aquinas, John Duns Scotus, and William of Ockham.  In doing so we will try to get a sense of how they carried out the practice of philosophy, especially given the fact that each of them was a theologian by profession.  Thus, the main theme of the course will be the relation of philosophy to theology – more broadly, faith and reason – as it was understood in this period.  We will also look at a range of other issues that were of concern to the scholastics.  These fall roughly under two categories –  metaphysics and epistemology – and include the following: the existence and nature of God; the nature and possibility of knowledge; the nature of the soul and its relation to the body; the problem of universals; and the nature of demonstration.  In all of this students should gain an appreciation for the overall concerns and methods of late medieval philosophy as well as for the variety of philosophical problems that exercised the scholastic mind.