Language Study for Medievalists

This seems like a fine time to study languages, and so in this post I would like to see whether I can help organize our little community in this way. If any of what’s below interests you, please send me an email and I’ll include you in future organizational efforts.

As I have mentioned in other contexts, I have come to think that for scholars coming into the field of medieval philosophy today, both Latin and Arabic should be thought of as obligatory. Add to that English, and we have the three essential languages for aspiring medievalists.  Let me take them in turn:

Arabic

  • Tobias Hoffmann — who in fact inspired me to start thinking about this whole topic — reports that he has done some research on programs offering beginning online courses in modern standard Arabic, and is enthusiastic about The Moroccan Center for Arabic Studies, which is offering one-on-one online courses for $20 per class. Perhaps it would be possible, also, to join a group and save money (and make online friends)? No doubt there are other online opportunities of this sort, and if anyone can recommend something, please let me know.
  • MCAS teaches modern standard Arabic. That is not a bad starting point for classical Arabic philosophy, but one might instead prefer to begin (as I did back in 2010) with the study of classical Arabic itself. I found Thackston’s Introduction to be an excellent guide, but most people would want a tutor as well as just a textbook. MCAS says they are “not prepared” at the moment to offer such a course. Does anyone know of any such online opportunity? Is there anyone out there who would be interested in serving as a paid tutor for a group of medievalists interested in learning classical philosophical Arabic? Anyone interested in participating in such a group?
  • The difference between the two previous bulletpoints, to my mind, is not so much a difference in the language itself (Arabic has not changed so much), but rather a question of whether one wants to study Arabic as a living language, with a focus (at least in part) on conversation, or study it as a scholarly language, as one would study Latin or Greek. If readers have an opinion about this pedagogical question, I would be glad if they contributed a comment to this post.
  • The previous remarks have focused on those who have not yet studied Arabic. But what about those who have already acquired the fundamentals and need to improve? Given the specialized nature of what we do, the only way forward at this stage is probably informal reading groups. Is there anyone out there who would be interested in leading such a group? Or perhaps such a group already exists online? Anyone interested in participating?

Latin

  • I cannot see that there is much point in a specifically medieval introduction to Latin. So, if one is looking simply for an introduction to classical Latin, there are presumably many online opportunities. I happened to see, recently, an affordable online program based in Romania. Does anyone know of any other affordable options?
  • Again, for those who have had a first course in Latin and are looking to improve, the most sensible approach is simply to start reading the texts themselves, in a reading group. Is there anyone who would be interested in leading a medieval Latin reading group? Anyone interested in participating? Perhaps such a group already exists online?

English

  • Perhaps there won’t be any readers of this blog looking for an introductory course in English. But, just in case, does anyone know of any affordable programs?
  • There may well be readers who would like to improve their English. If you are interested in joining an online conversational group for non-fluent English speakers, let me know.

In sum, if any of these opportunities are of interest, send me an email. Let me know your name, where you live/work, what language you are interested in, and what your language level is. And if you have thoughts about language programs, or pedagogical matters, add a comment below.

Virtual Colloquium 6, Nadja Germann

This week’s Virtual Medieval Colloquium features Nadja Germann (Freiburg).

When: Thursday, April 30th, 18:00 in Freiburg / 10am in Boulder.

Recording: https://drive.google.com/open?id=1QdNlNzXFw8XpBbvgABTQ2vPcn9HvSHpf

Title: “The Speaking Animal: Philosophy of Language in the Age of al-Fārābī”

The handout is here.

Abstract: Experts of medieval philosophy are well acquainted with Arabic names like al-Fārābī, Avicenna, and Averroes. However, only few scholars are aware that at the same time as these ‘giants,’ a host of other thinkers were active, some of whom had, in fact, a tremendous impact on 12th/13th-century Islamic philosophy and beyond. And even fewer specialists have taken note of the specific prosperity and sophistication distinguishing a field we would nowadays classify as philosophy of language. In this talk, I will focus on core features of this ‘forgotten tradition’ and some of its major protagonists, particularly, al-Jāḥiẓ (d. 868) and Ibn Jinnī (d. 1002).

Please note that all colloquia are recorded, and a link to these recordings has been added to the original announcement page for each lecture.

Some Things You Can Do from Home

  • The Schola Humanistica is advertising an online advanced medieval/Renaissance Latin seminar, focusing on Boccaccio’s De mulieribus claris. If you’ve been wanting to stretch your Latin beyond easy scholastic texts, this may be your moment (May 12 – June 4, 2020, with a nominal fee for participating).
  • The deadline is rapidly approaching — May 1, 2020 — for the annual Founder’s Prize at the Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy. The award goes to the best paper in medieval or Renaissance philosophy from a graduate students or recent PhD (within 5 years of degree). Details here.
    • Let me take this opportunity to congratulate Benjamin Block, who won last year’s Founder’s Award for his paper on “Thomas Aquinas on Knowing Essences and Substances.” Honorable mention last year went to Nicholas Faucher, Joseph Stenberg, and Milo Jon-Christopher Crimi.
  • Also rapidly approaching is the deadline to apply for an SIEPM one-to-one stipend, which funds junior scholars to visit and work with senior scholars. (At least the applying is something you can do from home!) Deadline is May 1, 2020.
  • The SIEPM also has a new best-paper-by-a-younger-scholar prize. Deadline is June 1, 2020. Details here.
  • Henrik Lagerlund is editing a special issue of Theoria on medieval skepticism. Submission deadline is August 31, 2020.
  • Finally, a reminder that Peter King will be joining the Virtual Colloquium tomorrow (April 23, 2020) to talk about Christine de Pizan.

Virtual Colloquium 5, featuring Peter King

This week’s Virtual Medieval Colloquium features Peter King (University of Toronto).

When: Thursday, April 23, at 12 noon in Toronto / 18h à Paris.

Recording: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1qvCoHtiVQxA1SrZtLl4tTMOJ873zkKQ5/view?usp=sharing

Title: “Christine de Pizan: The City of Ladies and The City of God”

Abstract: Christine de Pizan’s The City of Ladies has been considered a groundbreaking work of medieval history and a (proto-)feminist tract. Here I want to talk about it as a work of political philosophy, whose debt to Augustine, signaled in its title, seems largely to have been overlooked — a debt that sheds light on both its historical and its feminist credentials.

The handout is available here.

Medieval Books 2019

I am sorry to have to add to your confinement blues, but my annual list of books in medieval philosophy — below — comes with two pieces of bad news. First, this is not as comprehensive a list as in previous years. (For various reasons, I was unable to call on the research help that I have previously relied on.) Second, I have decided that this is the last such list I am going to generate. It turns out to be a tedious and unending process to hunt down new books published in the field. Having done it since 2012, I have decided to stop pushing this particular rock up this particular hill. (On to other rocks and other hills!)

If others are interested in taking over this public service, I would of course be delighted to share their work in this forum.

As ever, the list is randomly organized, and begins with some books from 2018 that were left off last year’s list.

* * *

Johannes Hiltalingen von Basel, Lectura super quattuor libros Sententiarum: Tomus III, super secundum librum, ed. Venício Marcolino, Monica Brînzei, Carolin Oser-Grote (Cassiciacum, 2018)

Irene O’Daly, John of Salisbury and the Medieval Roman Renaissance (Manchester University Press, 2018)

E. Göransson, G. Iversen, and B. Crostini, eds. The Arts of Editing Medieval Greek and Latin: A Casebook (Brepols, 2018)

Carlos Steel, Steven Vanden Broecke, David Juste & Shlomo Sela (eds.). The Astrological Autobiography of a Medieval Philosopher: Henry Bate’s Nativitas (1280-81) (Leuven, 2018).

Maria-Jesús Soto-Bruna (ed.), Causality and Resemblance: Medieval Approaches to the Explanation of Nature (Olms, 2018)

Alexander Key, Language between God and the Poets: Ma’na in the Eleventh Century (University of California Press, 2018)

Amador Vega, Peter Weibel, Siegfried Zielinski (eds), Dia-logos : Ramon Llull’s method of thought and artistic practice (University of Minnesota Press, 2018)

Peter Adamson and Matteo Di Giovanni (eds.), Interpreting Averroes:  Critical Essays (Cambridge UP)

Daniel Schwartz, The Political Morality of the Late Scholastics: Civic Life, War and Conscience (Cambridge UP)

Thomas Williams (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Medieval Ethics (Cambridge UP)

Charles H. Manekin and Daniel Davies (eds.), Interpreting Maimonides: Critical Essays (Cambridge UP)

Norman Russell, Gregory Palamas and the Making of Palamism in the Modern Age (OUP)

Robert Grosseteste, Compotus, edited by Alfred Lohr and C. Philipp E. Nothaft (OUP) [Latin edition with facing English translation]

Robert Grosseteste, The Scientific Works, volume 1, edited by Giles Gasper, Cecilia Panti, Tom McLeish, and Hannah Smithson (OUP). [Edits De artibus liberalibus and De generatione sonorum. First of 6 projected volumes, including edition, English translation, and commentaries.]

Cristiano Casalini (ed.), Jesuit Psychology on the Eve of Modernity (Brill)

Bruce Foltz (ed.), Medieval Philosophy: A Multicultural Reader (Bloomsbury)

Stephen Boulter, Why Medieval Philosophy Matters (Bloomsbury)

Simon J.G. Burton, Joshua Hollmann, and Eric M. Parker, Nicholas of Cusa and the Making of the Early Modern World (Brill)

Thomas M. Izbicki, Jason Aleksander and Donald Duclow (eds.), Nicholas of Cusa and times of transition: essays in honor of Gerald Christianson (Brill)

Giannozzo Manetti, On human worth and excellence, edited and translated by Brian P. Copenhaver (Harvard University Press)

Michel Scot, Liber particularis. Liber physonomie, Édition critique, introduction et notes par Oleg Voskoboynikov (SISMEL)

Dominic D’Ettore, Analogy after Aquinas : logical problems, Thomistic answers (Catholic University of America Press)

Nicholas Kahm, Aquinas on emotion’s participation in reason (Catholic University of America Press)

Fabio Acerbi and Gudrun Vuillemin Diem, La transmission du savoir grec en Occident: Guillaume de Moerbeke, le Laur. Plut. 87.25 (Thémistius, in De an.) et la bibliothèque de Boniface VIII (Leuven)

Adelardo de Bath, Cuestiones naturales, Spanish tr. José L. Cantón Alonso (EUNSA)

Andrew Lazella, The Singular Voice of Being:  John Duns Scotus and Ultimate Difference (Fordham UP)

Lydia Schumacher, Early Franciscan Theology: Between Authority and Innovation (Cambridge UP)

Gaven Kerr, Aquinas and the Metaphysics of Creation (OUP)

Sophia Vasalou, Virtues of Greatness in the Arabic Tradition (OUP)

Claude Panaccio, Récit et reconstruction : Les fondements de la méthode en histoire de la philosophie (Vrin)

Manuel Lázaro Pulido, Francisco León Florido, Francisco Javier Rubio Hípola (eds.), Pensar la Edad Media Cristiana: San Buenaventura de Bagnoregio (1217-1274) (Sindéresis)

Ruedi Imbach, Minima mediaevalia. Saggi di filosofia medievale (Aracne)

James A. Diamond and Menachem Kellner, Reinventing Maimonides in contemporary Jewish thought (Littman Library Of Jewish Civilization)

Rudolf Schüssler, The Debate on Probable Opinions in the Scholastic Tradition (Brill)

Robert Pasnau, Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy volume 7 (OUP)

Zahra Ayubi, Gendered morality : classical Islamic ethics of the self, family, and society (Columbia University Press)

Bonaventure, Itinéraire de l’esprit jusqu’en Dieu, tr. L. Solignac (Vrin)

Jean-Baptiste Brenet et Olga Lizzini (eds.), La philosophie arabe à l’étude. Sens, limites et défis d’une discipline moderne (Vrin)

Antonia LoLordo (ed.), Persons (Oxford Philosophical Concepts) (OUP) [articles by Scott Williams, Anthony Shaker, Christina Van Dyke]

Etienne Gilson, Studies in medieval philosophy, translated by James G. Colbert (Cascade Books)

Jacob W. Wood, To stir a restless heart : Thomas Aquinas and Henri de Lubac on nature, grace, and the desire for God (Catholic University of America Press)

Taylor Patrick O’Neill, Grace, predestination, and the permission of sin : a Thomistic analysis (Catholic University of America Press)

Petrus Ioannis Olivi, Questions sur la foi, tr. Nicolas Faucher (Vrin)

Alfarabi, Book of Dialectic (Kitāb al-Jadal): On the Starting Point of Islamic Philosophy, translated by David M. DiPasquale (Cambridge UP)

James Carey, Natural reason and natural law : an assessment of the Straussian criticisms of Thomas Aquinas (Resource Publications)

Brian Donaghey, Noel Harold Kaylor, Jr., Philip Edward Phillips, Paul E. Szarmach ; with assistance from Kenneth C. Hawley. Remaking Boethius: the English language translation tradition of The consolation of philosophy (Arizona Center for Medieval & Renaissance Studies)

Epistles of the Brethern of Purity, On God and the world. An Arabic critical edition and English translation of Epistles 49-51, edited and translated by Wilferd Madelung, Cyril V. Uy, Carmela Baffioni, Nuha Alshaar ; foreword by Nader El-Bizri (OUP)

Joshua S. Nunziato, Augustine and the Economy of Sacrifice: Ancient and Modern Perspectives (Cambridge UP)

David C. Kraemer, A History of the Talmud (Cambridge UP)

Nicolas Faucher, La volonté de croire au Moyen Âge: les théories de la foi dans la pensée scolastique du XIIIème siècle (Brepols)

Christopher Cullen & Franklin Harkins (eds.), The discovery of being & Thomas Aquinas : philosophical and theological perspectives (Catholic University of America Press)

William of Ockham, Dialogus Part 3, Tract 2, edited by Semih Heinen and Karl Ubl (British Academy)

Tom Angier (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to Natural Law Ethics (Cambridge UP)

Elena Băltuță, Medieval Perceptual Puzzles: Theories of Sense Perception in the 13th and 14th Centuries (Brill)

José Maria Silva Rosa & Álvaro Balsas (eds.), Teorias Políticas Medievais (Revista Portuguesa de Filosofia vol. 75.3)

Ibn Ṭumlūs, Compendium on Logic, Arabic text edited by Fouad Ben Ahmed (Brill)

Joël Biard and Aurélien Robert (eds.), La philosophie de Blaise de Parme: physique, psychologie, éthique (SISMEL)

Matthew Levering, Aquinas’s eschatological ethics and the virtue of temperance (University of Notre Dame Press)

John Peter Radez, Ibn Miskawayh, the soul, and the pursuit of happiness: the truly happy sage (Lexington Books)

Peter Adamson, Medieval PhilosophyA History of Philosophy without any Gaps, Volume 4 (Oxford UP)

Virtual Colloquium 4, featuring Irène Rosier-Catach

Next week’s Virtual Medieval Colloquium features Irène Rosier-Catach (CNRS/EPHE-Paris).

When: Thursday, April 16, 2020, at what has become the usual time: 18h Paris, 10am Boulder.

Recording: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1QRm82eQGbkT2u6Rkl7jSMWnvi0JMJyJb/view?usp=sharing

Handout: https://www.dropbox.com/s/g35z8r6mevnj7ec/rosier_linguistic.turn.pdf?dl=0

Title: The ‘linguistic turn’ of medieval logic in the early 12th century

Abstract: This paper aims at discussing two claims of a general nature, based on recent studies, which brought to light new texts hitherto unedited, on logic and grammar at the turn of the 11th/12th century. The first one is what I call the “linguistic turn” of medieval logic. The origin of this “linguistic turn” can be explained by systematic interactions between grammar and logic, more precisely between Priscian and the Boethian Aristotle, achieved by William of Champeaux and his school. They give rise to new analyses that will play a central role in logic (the distinction between signification and reference, inherence and identity theory of predication, syncategoremata, substantive verb etc.), and to a focus on language that will from then on be a characteristic feature of medieval logic. To be clear: I do not want to restrict medieval logic to the analysis of language. I shall here only consider this part of logic, which will be given a very wide attention throughout the Middle Ages, both in the development of terminist logic, with its analysis of the semantic properties of terms and propositions, and in the development of speculative grammar. This focus on language will also be present in theology – giving rise to sophisticated logico-linguistic analyses of various theological problems, with the addition of other sources (Augustine and Boethius’ Opuscula sacra in particular). The second claim, which follows, is the reassessment of some of Abelard’s conceptions in the light of these interactions. The constant and numerous discussions Abelard has with his master can no longer be considered only as “sources” or as an incentive for the elaboration of his own conceptions. These discussions, now that we can read them for themselves and not rely on Abelard’s own limited reports, should be considered to reevaluate their stakes, purposes and consequences, as much as their evolution.

Virtual Colloquium 3, featuring Dominik Perler

I am pleased to announce that Dominik Perler (HU Berlin) will be the speaker at the next virtual colloquium.

Title: “Olivi on Personhood.”

Abstract: Following Boethius, most medieval philosophers defined a person as an individual substance of a rational nature. However, in the late thirteenth century Peter John Olivi presented a new definition, characterizing a person as an entity that “fully returns to itself and abides in itself or that perfectly reflects upon itself.” In my paper I intend to shed light on this new definition. I will first examine Olivi’s account of reflection, analyzing it against the background of his general theory of cognition. I will then look at the role he assigns to the will in the process of reflection, paying particular attention to the function of the will as a self-moving power. My aim is to show that Olivi did not simply give up the Boethian definition. He rather reinterpreted it by giving a new account of rationality: a person is an individual substance of a volitional nature.

Time: Thursday, April 9, 18:00 in Berlin (10am in Boulder).

Recording: https://drive.google.com/file/d/18sZNw8lCVMe3pMWDuAHBB7l2iWHWZOau/view?usp=sharing

I am sorry to say that the recording did not capture the first minute or two of the talk. The handout, available here, sets out the key idea missed in the recording.