Concerns for a Distinguished Center for Medieval Philosophy

The Philosophy Department at the University of St. Thomas (Houston) seems to be at some risk of “reorganization and/or elimination.” See details at the Daily Nous. Would the school really have the nerve to eliminate the Philosophy Department and continue calling itself the University of Saint Thomas? Perhaps it might better, at that point, sell off the naming rights to the school to some more suitable benefactor.

Update as of May 19, 2017: The latest word is that the Department’s PhD program will be eliminated. This, which is of course bad enough in its own right, will have the further consequence of “allow[ing] the administration to change the terms of our contracts and increase course loads and remove tenure.” This from John Hittinger, department chair. See the detailed update at the Daily Nous.

Late Spring News

This will probably be my last post until August. First, some information about upcoming events:

  • The Collège de France is holding a two-day international colloquium, Philosopher au XIIe siècle, at the end of May (Paris, May 29-30, 2017).
  • There’s a conference on Knowledge as Assimilation, ranging over ancient and medieval material, co-sponsored by the Rationality in Perception group in Helsinki and the Representation and Reality group in Gothenberg (Helsinki, June 9-11, 2017).
  • The University of Bonn is holding a conference this summer, on “Time and Modality. Medieval and Contemporary Perspectives” (July 20-22, 2017). Immediately before the conference (July 17-19), they’re running a summer school in conjunction with themes from the conference. The application deadline for the summer school is May 31. Details on the summer school here.
  • The Thomas-Institut has sent out its call for papers for the 2018 Cologne Mediaevistentagung. The topic is The Library: Spaces of Thought and Knowledge Systems. The submission deadline is August 15, 2017. See details here.

Next, some information about people:

  • Nate Bulthius, a recent Cornell PhD, is interviewed at the APA blog, where he discusses in some detail his perspective on studying medieval philosophy.
  • Thomas Ward, currently at Loyola Marymount, is moving to Baylor University, starting this coming fall. With John Haldane already there, as well as Francis Beckwith, and with Tim O’Connor joining the department as well, this makes Baylor quite a prominent option for graduate study in medieval philosophy.

And then some links, both, as it happens, pertaining to Scotus:

  • Tobias Hoffmann’s very useful Scotus bibliography is now available here, where it continues to be updated.
  • Thomas Williams has just come out with an extensive collection of English translations of Scotus’s ethical work (OUP 2017). In addition to the book, there is a website, here. On the website, there are additional translations, links to some of Thomas’s papers, and a remarkable unpublished essay that makes the case for why the Vatican edition of Ordinatio III.26-40 is “so frequently bad that no responsible scholar can rely on it.”

Finally, jobs:

  • There’s a three-year postdoc position at the above-mentioned Helsinki project, Rationality in Perception: Transformations of Mind and Cognition 1250-1550. The application deadline is May 29, 2017. Details here.
  • There’s a two-year postdoc advertised in Munich, connected to the project Natur in politischen Ordnungsentwürfen: Antike, Mittelalter, Neuzeit. Quoting from the ad, “The central concern of the project is the medieval reaction to the ancient idea that God’s rulership to the universe is comparable to that between a political ruler and the state that s/he governs.” The application deadline is June 1, 2017. Details here.

Research Tools, and a few queries

  • A new database has been launched: Premodern Philosophical and Scientific Hebrew Terminology in Context, or “PESHAT in Context” for short. This is part of a long-term project, organized by the Institute for Jewish Philosophy and Religion at the University of Hamburg and by the Hebrew University in Jerusalem. Although it is not yet available for general access, the editors let me have an advance look, and it promises to be a remarkably useful tool for anyone interested either in Hebrew philosophy, or in the transmission of philosophical ideas across Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin. As part of the project, there will also be a regular series of colloquia etc., and a mailing list for those who want to stay abreast of the project. For more information, contact
  • The folk at the Aquinas Institute – the ones who keep publishing these big blue Latin-English volumes – are awfully excited about a new software system that has “revolutionized” their work: Trados Studio 2017. (See the breathless account here.) Really? Is this a big deal for folk like you and me? Does anyone know about this?
  • I happened to notice, over the summer, that the seventeenth and final volume has now appeared of the British Academy’s Dictionary of Medieval Latin from British Sources. See a review here. This made me wonder: is this huge project of any use to the study of medieval philosophy? More generally, are there any medieval Latin dictionaries that are of any help to our field (other, of course, than something like the Thomas-Lexikon)?
  • Speaking of useful lexicons, I recently had the occasion to want a digital copy of Cappelli’s great Lexicon abbreviaturarum, the essential guide to Latin manuscript abbreviations. Philip Choi hunted it down here. (This is a German version, but it doesn’t matter. I might add, as well, that this little book can still readily be purchased in print.) This too made me wonder: is there now anything better than Cappelli out there? I seem to recall talk, some years back, of a fully electronic version of something like Cappelli, but I don’t know what came of it.

Final Spring Post

Before shutting down for the summer, here are three more conference announcements and some art:

  • The annual Berlin-Groningen-Toronto Colloquium in Late Medieval and Early Modern Philosophy is on the topic of “Activity, Spontaneity, and Agency” (Toronto, June 11, 2016)
  • The Toronto Colloquium in Medieval Philosophy has been scheduled for 23-24 September 2016, although I think nothing is on the web yet.
  • SIEPM XIV is coming. It will be in Porto Alegre Brazil, on July 24-28, 2017, on the topic of “Homo – Natura – Mundus: Human Beings and their Relationships.” European scholars do not need to be told about the importance of these international congresses, which are scheduled only every five years. But perhaps I might suggest to my North American colleagues that we make a better showing this time around, particularly since the Congress is making a rare appearance on this side of the Atlantic. To get on the program, you must submit an abstract this fall — see details here. If you’re from North America, that’s the only way you’ll get on the program, because, amazingly, none of the ten distinguished plenary speakers at this international congress hail from North America.

Now for the art:

  • My colleague David Boonin alerted me to this curious bit of graphic art, with Thomas and Albert right at the center. He saw it this week in New York, at an exhibit at the Cooper Hewitt Museum, though it was commissioned originally for a 2013 exhibit at the Victoria and Albert Museum in London. The artist is Francesco Franchi.

That’s all until next fall, unless people send me queries for other scholars. I’ve advertised this service before, and in the past no one has sent me anything, so maybe I should just give up on the idea. But the few times I have posted a query myself, I have gotten such useful information that it seems a pity others aren’t taking advantage. Perhaps people are afraid of submitting a query that will seem too embarrassingly elementary for the rarefied audience of this blog? Well, send it to me anyway, and I won’t post it unless it strikes me as worthy.

Electronic Resources

I’m always running across useful resources on the internet. Here are some that seemed particularly notable:

  • The Logic Museum, as I’ve noted in an earlier post, has all sorts of useful material. Here’s an example: the tables of contents for all the issues of the Archives d’histoire doctrinale et littéraire du Moyen Âge, from volume 1 (1926) to volume 78 (2011). And then skip over to the BnF’s also very useful Gallica, for the full texts for vols. 1-14. (Thanks for the pointer to
  • What else is in the Logic Museum? Well, here’s something pretty cool: a hyper-linked version of Aquinas’s commentary on Metaphysics, which gives you the Latin in one column and Rowan’s translation in the other, and then offers thorough hyperlinks that go to a separate page that gives the Greek/Latin/English of the relevant text from Aristotle. And the whole of the Physics commentary is here too. And more. I could spend months in the Logic Museum!
  • Early volumes of the Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters (vols. 1-23) are inventoried and available electronically here.
  • The Albertus Magnus Institut has now produced an electronic edition of the Alberti Magni Opera omnia. Individuals can subscribe for a mere €298. Free trials available here.
  • The whole Commentaria in Aristotelem Graeca is available electronically. And there’s a useful concordance to the published English translations of these works here (though those translations are still under copyright, and so not freely available).