PHIL 311: Spring 2016: CLB 104, 3:30-4:45


(Note that syllabus may need to be changed if we are confronted with a blizzard, or some such. Always check your e-mail for messages from me in reference to the class. If we do have to reschedule, I’ll let you know ASAP and I’ll try to put the new syllabus up on my web page. Guidelines for research papers are at the end of this syllabus.)


Prof. Katherin Rogers:


Office:  #204 in 24 Kent Way, 831-8480,


Office Hours: 3-4:30 MW and by appointment.


TA: Tom DePietro,




H= (Primary Sources) Philosophy in the Middle Ages, Third Edition, Hyman,Walsh, and Williams eds.


W= (Secondary Source) A Short History of Medieval Philosophy, Julius R. Weinberg. 


My notes are available on-line at  These are the notes from which I lecture.




Three essay tests will constitute 3/6 of the grade. (Tests will consist of 5 out of 6 relatively short essays.) 


Two 5-7 page research papers will constitute 2/6 of the grade. (By “research” I mean you will have to read at least two recent articles or parts of books about your subject in addition to some material by the original author himself. Deadlines for papers will be strictly enforced. You will have an option to rewrite.)


Quizzes on the readings will constitute the other 1/6 of the grade. (Quizzes will consist of one simple question on the assigned reading. You are allowed 4 “no shows” or “wrongs” without penalty.  The other quizzes will be computed on the basis of 100, so, for example, if you got 20% wrong, you’d get an 80 which is a B- in my book.)


Final grade will be determined by adding up your six scores/grades and then dividing by six. I will also consider improvement on test scores and participation in class. Such consideration usually consists in bumping up folks who are right on the borderline to the higher grade.


Grade equivalents: 93-100=A, 90-92=A-, 87-89=B+, 83-86=B, 80-82=B-, 77-79=C+, 73-76=C, 70-72=C-, 67-69=D+, 63-66=D, 55-62=D-.







9          Introduction to Late Classical and Early Medieval Philosophy; Introduction to God. (No readings.)


11        Introduction continued: W 3-9, H xi-4.


16        Background: Plato and Aristotle: W 9-20


18        Plotinus: W 20-24. 





23        Introduction to Augustine: W 30-45, H 5-8. Why Darwin isn’t a problem


25        Review with Tom. Come prepared to ask questions.




1          Knowledge: H 29-34 (Text begins, “Well, if we should consider…”)


3          The Proof for God from Reason: H pp.34-48. (Stop at “I am so overwhelmed with joy…”)


8          The Proof for God from Reason continued: H pp. 48-50. (Stop at 18).


10        Test #1


15        Introduction to Evil: Manicheanism and Free Will (Handout on free will for which you are responsible)


17        Free Will: H 50-56 (Stop at 3. “Surely this is the problem…”)


22        The Dilemma of Freedom and Divine Foreknowledge: H: 56-60.


24        Original sin, Pelagianism and Grace: H 61-63.






5          The Human Condition: (Ethics and how to get happy) H 81- 93; Political Philosophy: H 93-99.


7          Time: H 72-81.


Paper #1 due by midnight April 8th


12        Boethius on divine foreknowledge: H 135 (start at Prose 6) – 137.


14        Test #2       





19        Pseudo-Dionysius and Scotus Eriugena: W 46-57.


21        Scotus Eriugena continued: H 141-155.


IV.       ANSELM


26        Anselm of Canterbury: W 58-71; The ontological argument plus responses: H 156-157,161-164

(You can stop with the first two lines on 164. However, pages 164-173 give you a really nice introduction to the nature of God. It is basically what we did the first day of class. Pages 173-181 give you the text of criticisms of the argument by Gaunilo and Anselm’s response. We will cover this material briefly in class, but you don’t need to read it…unless you want to.)


28        The Necessity of the Incarnation (Reading: Handout for which you are responsible.)




3          Free will and grace, free will and foreknowledge (Reading: Handout for which you are responsible)





5          Peter Abelard: W 72-91, H 182 – 183 (Introduction to Universals)


10        Abelard’s own views on universals: H 191-202


12        Abelard’s  Ethics: H 202-214.  


17        Abelards Ethics continued and review (no reading).



Test #3 (which is just on the material we have covered since Test #2, not a cumulative final) during final exam period.


Paper #2 due during final exam period – Date to be determined.


PHIL 311: Early Medieval Philosophy: Paper #1


Guidelines for research papers. Please read all of the guidelines very carefully, and comply! I will be counting off for failure to follow the instructions.

Requirements are Two 5-7 page research papers; one due at mid-term, one due at the end.

Paper requirements: 5-7 pages, double-spaced, reasonable margins. (See below for suggested topics) The topic (unless I have okay’ed it otherwise) will focus on what a philosopher’s view was on a given issue. I do not absolutely require a philosophical evaluation of the view you discuss, but I admire philosophical creativity and am likely to look favorably on your paper if you include some original comments, such as interesting and plausible analysis of why you think the view you discuss could be right or wrong, or why it might or might not fit with the philosopher’s overall view.

Sources. You must use at least one primary text – that is, writing by the philosopher himself. If you are doing a comparison between two philosophers or one philosopher in different works, you’ll have to use at least two primary texts. You can use your Hyman and Walsh book for the primary text if it suits your topic.

You must use at least two, good secondary sources – that is, writing about the philosopher’s views. (You can use both of your text books, and you may also use internet sources, but you must find two good sources in addition to these. That means you cannot just use sources off the internet – unless it is articles online from established and respectable journals which are in our library. You may use dictionaries and encyclopedias, but I do not consider these GOOD sources, so if you use these, you need TWO GOOD SOURCES in addition! When in doubt, ask me.) The easiest way to know that you have a good source is to go to the library and get out a book from a good publisher (Oxford, Cambridge, and Brill are examples of good publishers, as are major American University presses), or get an article from a journal the library carries. (One of the jobs of librarians is to decide what to get for the library, so they’ve already done some of the job for you.) If you find a collection of papers, each paper counts as a separate secondary source. You should probably look at the secondary sources first, since they can tell you what primary text(s) will be of use to you. If you have trouble finding sources I may be able to lend you some.

Citations may take the form of parentheses in the text with a full bibliography, or complete footnotes or endnotes. Citations should include the specific page numbers where you found your information. I will count off if you do not include full and correct citations. If you have any doubt at all about what constitutes a full and correct citation, go online under “Chicago Manual of Style Citations”. The first thing that pops up is examples of all the different sorts of sources you might need to cite and how to do citations. When I do this, the Chicago Manual of Style includes page numbers for books and articles. Do be sure to include those. The thought is that you want your reader to be able to look up your exact source easily.

Helpful Hints: 1.) Focus your thesis on a narrow topic.  Saying just a little on a lot of different issues, even if they are related, does not make for a good paper. 2.) Start researching early to be sure you find two good secondary sources that really have something to say on your (narrowly focused!) topic. I will count off if you actually use only one secondary source and just mention or quote a sentence from another.

You will have the opportunity to rewrite your paper once I have returned it. Rewriting will be optional, and I will likely insist upon a quick turnaround time to facilitate my grading. If there is significant improvement, I will raise the paper grade. Tweaking a minor point or two, or just getting rid of the occasional offending sentence will probably not constitute significant improvement.

Paper deadlines and suggested topics: You should e-mail your paper to me in Word. It would be a great help to me if you could get your paper in before the due date. If the time sent is later than midnight of the deadline date, and you have not already received an extension from me (I don’t mind giving extensions for any reasonable reason), I will count off a grade for each day late. (So, for example, if your paper would have been a B-, but is one day late, it’s a C+.)

I have listed some suggested topics based on issues I’d like to hear about. I will mention others as they occur to me. You are welcome to write on a topic other than one among those I’ve suggested, but check with me first! And I’m quite happy to have a paper on some issue we spend time on in class, just so you go well beyond what we do in class.

Paper #1 due – Midnight April 8th.

Some suggestions for topics (feel free to think of other topics, but check with me if you decide to do a topic not on this list).

These are topics which I find interesting, but which I have not researched myself, so, as your first task, you will need to make sure you can find two, good secondary sources plus a primary source on the topic.  There will be disputes about these issues, and you are welcome to just note the dispute, or to take a side.

Plotinus on – matter; evil; sense knowledge; the nature of the human soul; human free will.

Augustine on – how illumination works; sense knowledge; the nature of the human soul; nature of divine creation; some moral question, e.g. conduct in war, lying. (With Augustine be careful to be sensitive to the fact that he changes his views over time.)

(You could also compare Plotinus and Augustine on an issue. For example, how different is divine creation from emanation, really?)


Feel free to ask if you have any questions on what’s expected or on sources.