SYLLABUS: Fall 2017


T/R 3:30-4:45     Smith 209



Professor K. Rogers: 831‑8480;

Office Hours: Room 204 in 24 Kent Way; MW 3 – 4:30 and by appointment.  


TA: Christian Mullins:             


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


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


(There are notes on my web page,  These are a sketchy outline of material presented in class and will by no stretch of the imagination take the place of good notes taken on your own.  However, they may help you organize your notes and make sure you have everything and in the right order. Chris will be taking notes, so if you have to miss a class you can contact him for notes.)


Requirements: Three essay tests each to count for roughly 1/6 of the grade. Two 5-7 page research papers, each to count for roughly 1/6 of the grade. Quizzes every day to count for roughly 1/6 of the grade.  These quizzes will be on the readings on days on which readings are assigned. (Note that handouts count as assigned reading.) For days on which there is no reading assigned the quiz will be on material from the previous class. Quizzes will consist of one very easy multiple choice question. You will be able to drop 5 quizzes with no penalty and your quiz grade will be based on the percentage right of the remaining quizzes, so if you have to miss a day or two you will not be penalized. I will be able to take improvement and participation into consideration when calculating your final grade. Please ask if you have any questions about the requirements.




29        Introduction and God


31        God continued (no reading…quiz for the day will be a practice quiz – i.e. it won’t count – on material from the previous class.)




5          Plato and Aristotle, Fluffy, etc.: W pp.3‑21 (read to "Plotinus developed...")


7          Universals and Aristotle’s universe (no reading).


12        Plotinus's universe: W pp.21‑29 and Introduction to Islamic philosophy

H pp. 215-219.


14        Avicenna: Being and Cosmology: W pp.92‑121, H pp. 239-243.


19        Avicenna continued: Proof for God and Knowledge : H pp.244-246 (stop at 13.)


21        Algazali: The Incoherence of the Philosophers: W pp.121‑125, H pp. 265-267, 278-284 .


 26      Algazali continued (no reading).


 28       TEST #1




3          Averroes: Philosophy and Revelation, the Eternity of the World : W pp.125‑139,  H  pp.285-288, 292 (start with section 2) - 299 (through section 52).


5          Averroes: Knowledge: H pp.304-307, through section 3


10        Maimonides: Talking about God: W pp.140‑156, Hpp.360-366 through section 52. (Plus Handout which continues the reading.)


12        Maimonides: Creation: H pp.371-375 (stop at Chap. 32) and Law: Handout




17        Aquinas: Introduction and Proving God: W pp.182‑212, H pp.447-450, 468 - 470 (Start at Article 3. Note that the numbered points with which he begins are the claims with which he is going to DISAGREE!!! He sets these out, then                       explains what his own view is, then responds to the points he disagrees with. Stop at top of first column on 470.)


19        Aquinas: Proving God continued.  (No reading)


24        Aquinas: Naming God H pp.472-476 (through AResponse to 3”).    


26        Aquinas: Soul, Universals: H pp.501 (Article 2) -504 (through Response to 6) and Knowledge


31        TEST #2




2          Introduction to the problem of free will (handout)


7          Aquinas: Will H pp.508 (Q.82) -511


9          Aquinas: Ethics: H pp.518-538. (With a word on politics)


14        The Condemnation of 1277: H pp.539-540, in PP. 541-548 you are responsible only for the introductory material on p.541, and #’s 13, 15, 22, 28, 33, 42, 43, 63, 85, 92, 117, 136, and 154-165. (You are, of course, most welcome to read the rest…just don’t let Bishop Tempier hear you defending them in public!)






28        Duns Scotus:: W pp.213‑234, H pp. 551-555; Proving God: H pp.559 (II.)-562 (Through              A...and thus that it does exist from itself.@) Naming God: pp.567-570


30        Duns Scotus: Universals: H pp.582-591 (skip q.4 586-589).





5          Duns Scotus: Voluntarism: H pp.601‑604. Intro to Ockham.


7          Ockham: Nominalism and Voluntarism: W pp.235‑265, H pp.605-607, 616-624.



Test #3 during finals period. It is not cumulative, and will take only an hour and 15 minutes.


Due date for Paper #2 TBA, but early in finals period.


Mid-term Paper


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.


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, recent 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. The two good sources cannot be off the internet – unless they are articles online from established and respectable journals which are in our library or books online from good publishers. 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! (For example, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy is very helpful for outlining an issue and providing bibliography, but it does not go into great depth on the topics, so I would not consider it a "good source" in this context..) 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. One place to look for sources is the Philosopher’s Index, found on the UD library page under Databases. If you have trouble finding sources I may be able to lend you some or otherwise help.

Citations must be complete!!! They may take the form of parentheses in the text with a full bibliography, or complete footnotes or endnotes. Citations should include full title of the work, the author’s name, the publisher or the name of the journal, the date, and 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. Think this way: What do I need to include so that my reader can assess the value of my source and can quickly look up exactly where I got my information or my quote?

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 deadline: You can bring your paper to class or e-mail it to me. 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+.)

Mid-term Paper Due: Midnight October 17th

Topics: 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).


I have listed some suggested topics based on issues I’d like to hear about which I haven’t researched myself. Most of these we have not discussed in class. 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.


Since I have not researched these topics myself, your first task, you will need to make sure you can find two, good secondary sources plus a primary source on the topic. 


What does Avicenna (or Algazali, or Averroes, or Maimonides) have to say about the existence of evil?

Does Avicenna hold that human beings have free will?

How does Avicenna argue that the human soul is immaterial (pp.256-258 in H)? That it does not preexist (258-259 in H)? That it is incorruptible (259-261 in H)?

Does Algazali hold that human beings have free will?

Algazali has a lot to say against “the philosopher” who claims that the world must be eternal (268-277 in H). Pick some aspect of his argument (you might want to start with secondary sources to help you narrow it down) and discuss it.

Does Averroes hold that human beings have free will?

Why does Averroes disagree with Avicenna’s proof for the existence of a being necessary through itself?

How does Averroes’ view of creation differ from Avicenna’s?

What does Averroes have to say about politics?

How does Averroes criticize Algazali’s arguments against the eternity of the world (324-353 in H)? (There’s a lot here, so job one is to narrow it down to a few arguments.)

Does Maimonides hold that human beings have free will?

How does Maimonides try to prove the existence of God?

How does Maimonides try to prove that God must be unified?

How does Maimonides try to prove that God must be incorporeal?

I believe that Maimonides may address various moral and political questions, so you might see if he has something useful to say on a moral or political issue that interests you.


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

After the middle of the semester I will hand out the guidelines again, with due date and suggested topics for the second paper.