This Week’s News

  • The Università della Svizzera Italiana (Lugano) is offering a new MA program, in English, focusing on a mix of analytic philosophy and the history of philosophy. Some quite distinguished scholars are involved, including, in our field, John Marenbon and Pasquale Porro. They expect to hold lectures on campus this fall. For application instructions go here. Some scholarship support is available and although some deadlines have passed, I am told interested students may be able to get an extension to that deadline.
  • I’ve recently discovered the website of the Red Latinoamericana de Filosofía Medieval, which contains a great deal of useful information about their activities, members, et cetera.
  • The University of South Bohemia, in beautiful České Budějovice, hopes to host a conference on February 11-13, 2021, on Cognitive Issues in the Long Scotist Tradition. The Cfp deadline is the end of July 2020. Let’s all hope the Scotists will be drinking their fill of Budweiser in February.
  • Peter Adamson’s latest column in Philosophy Now argues for the value of studying minor figures in the history of philosophy.

Virtual Colloquium 14: Graduate-Student Take Over

This Thursday will be the last virtual medieval colloquium of the summer. It seems fitting to turn things over to the virtual dissertation workshop group, which has been meeting in parallel for the last several months. So I have invited a couple of members of that group to make their presentation to the larger colloquium. Our speakers will be:

  • Dominic Dold (TU Berlin / Max Planck Institute), “Albert the Great on the Subject of Zoology.” The slides for this presentation are here.
  • Philip-Neri Reese (Notre Dame), “Aquinas on the Genus of Intellectual Virtue.” The handout for this presentation is here.

When: Thursday, July 2, 2020, 18:00 in Berlin, 12 noon in the eastern United States.

A recording is available here.

Sponsored by the Paris Institute of Advanced Studies.

This Week’s News

Virtual Colloquium 13: Matter: First and Final

This week’s virtual medieval colloquium will be a roundtable discussion on the history of metaphysics, focusing on theories of matter. The panelists will be Neil Lewis (Georgetown), Nicola Polloni (HU Berlin), and Rega Wood (Indiana), who has organized the session.

When: Thursday, June 25, 2020, 18:00 in Berlin, 12 noon in the eastern USA.

A recording of the talk is available here. A pdf of the slides is available here, and an additional handout with texts is here.

Sponsored, as always, by the Paris Institute of Advanced Studies.


Virtual Colloquium 12: Theories of Paradox in the Middle Ages

This week’s virtual medieval colloquium will be a roundtable discussion on the history of logic.

The panelists will be Sara Uckelman (Durham University), Stephen Read (University of St Andrews), and David Sanson (Illinois State University)

When: Thursday, June 18, 2020, 5pm in the UK; 11am in Illinois.

A recording of the event is available here. The slides are available here.

Abstract: The modern word ‘paradox’ covers many types of medieval logical puzzles, including two types that the medieval Latin logicians called “sophismata” and “insolubilia.”  Insolubilia are the logical paradoxes — semantic, such as the Liar (‘I am lying’ or ‘Every proposition is false’) and epistemic, such as the Knower (‘You do not know this proposition’) — while sophismata are ambiguous sentences where two seemingly equally good analyses can be provided leading to opposite conclusions about the truth of the original sentence.  We will rehearse the re-discovery of Aristotle’s Sophistical Refutations in the Latin West in the 12th century and consider how sophisms and insolubles were deployed in logical analysis. Solutions by restrictio and cassatio, popular up to the time of Burley and Ockham, were replaced by the radically new solution due to Bradwardine and the subsequent variants it inspired in the 14th century, and others opposed to its basic idea. Finally, we will look at the independent development of solutions to the Liar in the Arabic tradition, starting with fragmentary evidence of discussion of the paradox in the 5th/10th century, then looking at several solutions proposed in the 7th/13th century by figures broadly associated with Naṣīr al-Dīn al-Ṭūsī’s “Marāgha School”, and finally turning to the extended debate on the Liar at the end of the 9th/15th century, between Jalāl al-Dīn al-Dawānī and Ṣadr al-Dīn al-Dashtakī.

Sponsored by the Paris Institute of Advanced Studies.

Virtual Colloquium 11: The Influence of Alexander of Aphrodisias

This week’s virtual colloquium will be a roundtable discussion of the influence of Alexander of Aphrodisias on al-Farabi, Ibn Rushd (Averroes), and Aquinas.

The panelists (all members of the Aquinas and ‘the Arabs’ International Working Group (AAIWG)) will be:

When: Thursday, June 11, 2020, 11am in Milwaukee & Mexico City, 18:00 in Paris & Berlin

A recording of the event is available here.  The handouts and slides are available here.

Sponsored by the Paris Institute of Advanced Studies.

Various Online Opportunities

  • Jeffrey Brower (Purdue) is giving an online talk tomorrow (May 26, 2020) at 15:30 in Berlin, to the Max Planck Institute for the History of Science. For information about how to participate, contact
  • The Lumen Christi Institute is sponsoring an online panel discussion on Christians in Times of Catastrophe: Augustine’s City of God, featuring Jennifer Frey (Univ. South Carolina), Russell Hittinger (Lumen Christi Institute), and Michael Sherwin (Fribourg). That’s on June 9, 2020.
  • Lydia Schumacher‘s (King’s College London) conference on thirteenth-century Franciscans has moved online, and will run over a series of 4 Fridays in late July and early August. For details see here.
  • There’s a one-week online Latin paleography course being offered this July through the Central European University, for a reasonable tuition. It’s offered at both a beginning and an intermediate level, and there’s also two levels of Greek paleography available. July 6-10, 2020.
  • Scott Williams’ newly-published collection of papers on Disability in Medieval Christian Philosophy and Theology (Routledge, 2020), is available as a free ebook until June 11th, here.
  • There is — believe it or not — a Roger Bacon Research Society. Perhaps there has always been such a society, since 1292, and it has only recently emerged from its long occultation. At any rate, note that they sponsor an online reading group.
  • Definitely not in occultation is Christina Van Dyke (Calvin College), who has been making philosophical videos since March for her online courses. The chef d’oeuvre is perhaps part two of the Julian of Norwich series. Take-home quote: “She doesn’t need to be a Zombie queen to be interesting.”

Virtual Colloquium 10: Medieval Modal Spaces

Next week’s virtual colloquium features Simo Knuuttila (Helsinki), Damiano Costa (Lugano), and Robert Pasnau (University of Colorado / Paris Institute of Advanced Studies).

When: Thursday, May 28, 2020, 10am in Boulder, 6pm in Lugano, 7pm in Helsinki.

A recording of the talk is available here.

The slides to my (Bob’s) talk are available here.  The full paper, which I’ll be summarizing, is available here.

Topic: Theories of modality in the later Middle Ages.

Sponsored by the Paris Institute of Advanced Studies.

Virtual Colloquium 8, John Marenbon

The next Virtual Medieval Colloquium features John Marenbon (Cambridge University).

When: Thursday, May 14th, 5pm in England / 10am in Boulder.

A recording of the talk is here. The handout for the talk is here. (I am sorry to say that the first few minutes did not record, and further sorry that the recording shows all participants rather than showing a large image of John in “speaker view.”)

Title: “How to Write a History of Early Medieval Latin Philosophy?”

Abstract: Attenders of this splendid virtual seminar will already know, from Nadja Germann’s talk, of the book we are writing together about language and logic in early medieval philosophy. She provided a foretaste of her part, on the Arabic tradition. I shall be talking about mine, on the Latin tradition, but rather more broadly, since I also have looming before me another, vaster early medieval project: to write, in English, the 600-1100 Latin Philosophy volume for the new Ueberweg Grundriss.

In the first part of my talk, then, I want to think about some of the general questions raised by my title (and incidentally to explain why I shall not quite be able to follow my own prescriptions in either of these books!). What are the chronological limits of early Medieval Latin philosophy, and what is involved in carving up the history of philosophy into such periods? What material should count as philosophy, and what is the place of logic and language within it?

Some of the material about which I shall be writing will, like that discussed by Nadja, be rather unfamiliar to historians of philosophy. But, in the second part of my talk, I shall focus on three well-known writers, Augustine, Boethius and Anselm, looking at their treatments of language and how they relate to their views on attaining knowledge.

Sponsored by the Paris Institute of Advanced Studies.

Updates on Various Initiatives

Here’s what’s new:

  • First, don’t forget that Tianyue Wu’s talk tomorrow (Thursday, April 7, 2020) begins two hours earlier than usual.
  • Second, although I haven’t mentioned it in a while, the Virtual Dissertation Workshop is thriving. If you didn’t respond to my initial announcement, and would like to join, please contact Philip-Neri Reese, who is leading the group.
  • Third, I’ve gotten a great response to my post about language study. I’ve already got the makings of groups in
    • beginning Arabic;
    • an Arabic reading group;
    • a Latin reading group;
    • English conversation;
  • Plus I’ve gotten offers for two additional groups:
    • a Hebrew reading group;
    • introductory Latin paleography.
  • If you haven’t yet contacted me and you’re interested in any of the above, send me an email!