The Virtual Dissertation Workshop

You’ve read about the Virtual Colloquium, but now here’s something more: I’d like to see whether I can help create a virtual medieval dissertation workshop.

The prime focus is people who are writing PhD dissertations in medieval philosophy. But in principle these groups might include a slightly larger group: people writing MA theses; people doing graduate-level work but not yet writing a dissertation; people who have recently completed a dissertation but would still value being part of this kind of community; people writing dissertations not quite in medieval philosophy, but whose interests are close enough to want to be involved.

My role in this is simply to use this blog to connect interested parties. So, if you’d like to be involved, send me the following information:

Academic Institution
Stage of Career
Dissertation Topic
Preferred Language(s)

I will put all of this information into a spreadsheet and circulate it.



Virtual Colloquium 2, featuring Peter Adamson

This week’s Virtual Colloquium features Peter Adamson (LMU Munich):

Time: Thursday, April 2, 18:00 Munich / 10am Boulder

Watch the recorded talk here.

Title: ‘Averroes’ “Decisive Treatise” as a Dialectical Work.’


Perhaps the most famous text from the Islamic world that combines the themes of philosophy and law is the Decisive Treatise (Faṣl al-Maqāl) by Averroes (Ibn Rushd, d. 1198). As is routinely noted by scholars, the Treatise is a legal determination of the role of philosophy within Islam: it argues that Muslims are enjoined to do philosophy insofar as they are capable of doing so. In making this case, Averroes sets out a famous distinction between three levels of discourse, inspired by Aristotle’s logical corpus: demonstration, dialectic, and rhetoric. The central question of my paper is what sort of discourse is being used in the Treatise itself. Discussing this work alongside the closely related Kashf (Exposition), I argue that Averroes is consciously adopting a dialectical mode of argumentation. This may seem strange, since Averroes often seems to use “dialectic” as a term of abuse, as when he convicts the mutakallimūn of engaging in dialectical argumentation. I argue however that he sees an important positive role for dialectic in clearing the ground for proper, demonstrative, philosophical discourse, and that techniques recommended in Aristotle’s Topics are being put to good use in both the Treatise and the Exposition.

Virtual Colloquium Update

A request about this week:  The first virtual colloquium is this Thursday, with Eleonore Stump.  See the previous post for details and the Zoom link.  Although it’s hard to say how many will turn up to watch live, I am concerned that the number may be large. So I would like to ask that, if you have invited your undergraduate students to join us, you ask them to wait and watch the recorded video. Perhaps this precaution will prove unnecessary, but if 10 professors ask their classes to watch live — and of course we are all searching for online content! — then we might quickly find ourselves with not enough virtual space.

An announcement about next week: I’m very pleased to report that Professor Peter Adamson (LMU Munich) will be our next speaker, on Thursday, April 2, 18:00 Munich, 10am Boulder. His topic will be ‘Averroes’ “Decisive Treatise” as a Dialectical Work.’

The Virtual Medieval Colloquium, featuring Eleonore Stump

In lieu of my usual conference announcements, I am writing to announce a very special virtual colloquium — an opportunity to connect across the globe at a time at which many of us are feeling disconnected and disconcerted.

So, I am hereby announcing — beginning this Thursday — the Virtual Medieval Colloquium.

The inaugural speaker in what I hope will be a weekly series will be Eleonore Stump, the Robert J. Henle Professor of Philosophy at St. Louis University.

Her topic will be “Aquinas on the image of God in human nature and its perfection in the afterlife.”

A recording of the talk is available here.

Thanks to the Institut d’Etudes Avancées de Paris for providing the infrastructure to make this event possible.