Edward Grant (1926-2020)

Edward Grant, the distinguished historian of science and longtime professor at Indiana University, died earlier this week. Information about Professor Grant’s career, and a guide to the large archive of his papers at Indiana University, is available here. (Thanks to Rega Wood for announcing this information at today’s virtual colloquium.)

Virtual Colloquium 9, Scott MacDonald

The next Virtual Medieval Colloquium features Scott MacDonald (Cornell University).

When: Thursday, May 21, 12 noon in Brooklyn / 18h à Paris

A recording is available here.

The handout is available here.

Title: “Augustine’s Early, Abandoned Proof for the Immortality of the Soul”

Abstract: In three texts composed within a year of each other (386-87), Augustine presents several versions of an argument for the immortality of the soul. Despite his initial enthusiasm for it, Augustine abandons the argument almost immediately and without comment; after 387 we never see it again. The argument is deeply flawed in ways that make Augustine’s abandonment of it entirely understandable. But for all its difficulties, it provides an illuminating glimpse into Augustine’s early thinking about issues that will come, over the span of his career, to define his own philosophical system and his relation to his Platonist forebears. What must be the nature of mind, reality, and cognition if we are to know intelligible objects and truths? How are we to account for our cognitive contact with things eternal and immutable? Perhaps the mind must be immortal?

This talk, like previous ones, will be recorded. You can find a link to each recording on the original announcement page for each talk.

Sponsored by the Institut d’Etudes Avancées de Paris.


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.

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.

2018 Books

Here is my annual collection of new books in medieval philosophy, preceded by some 2017 books that I missed in last year’s inventory.

How many books do you think get published in medieval philosophy every year? Well, my list from 2018 contains 123 items.  As usual, the order in which they are listed is random.

Many thanks to Samuel Resz for help in hunting some of these down.

I. Grondeux and I. Rosier-Catach (eds.), Priscien lu par Guillaume de Champeaux et son école. Les Notae Dunelmenses (Durham, D.C.L., C. IV. 29) (Brepols, 2017)

Marika Räsänen, Thomas Aquinas’s Relics as Focus for Conflict and Cult in the Late Middle Ages: The Restless Corpse (Amsterdam University Press, 2017)

Dragos Calma and Zénon Kaluza (eds.), Regards sur les traditions philosophiques (XIIe-XVIe siècles) (Leuven, 2017).

Matthew Bryan Gillis, Heresy and Dissent in the Carolingian Empire: The Case of Gottschalk of Orbais (OUP, 2017)

Joachim von Fiore, Concordia Novi ac Veteris Testamenti, ed. Alexander Patschovsky, 4 vols.  (Harrassowitz Verlag, 2017)

Mark Scarlata, An Analysis of Maimonides’s The Guide of the Perplexed (Macat International, 2017)

Siegfried Wenzel, The Sermons of William Peraldus: An Appraisal (Brepols, 2017)

Harm Goris and Henk Schoot, The Virtuous Life : Thomas Aquinas on the Theological Nature of Moral Virtues (Peeters, 2017)

Pascale Bermon, La fondation de l’Université de Paris (1200-1260). Preface by Jacques Verger (Les Belles Lettres, 2017)

Ata Anzali & S.M. Hadi Gerami (ed.), Opposition to Philosophy in Safavid Iran : Mulla Muhammad-Tahir Qummi’s Hikmat al-‘Ârifîn (Brill, 2017) [includes edition of the text]

Saiyad Nizamuddin Ahmad & Sajjad H. Rizvi (ed.), Philosophy and the Intellectual Life in Shî’ah Islam (Shi’ah Institute, 2017)

Ata Anzali, ‘Mysticism’ in Iran : The Safavid Roots of a Modern Concept (University of South Carolina Press, 2017)

Moshe M. Pavlov, Abû’-Barakât al-Baghdâdî’s Scientific Philosophy: The Kitâb al-Mu’tabar (Routledge, 2017)

Mohammed Moussaid, Al-mustadrak ‘alâ al-Matn al-Rushdî (Marjane, 2017)

L. W. C. van Lit, The World of Image in Islamic Philosophy: Ibn Sînâ, Suhrawardî, Shahrazûrî, and Beyond (Edinburgh University Press, 2017)

Mohammed Nouciri, Le Burhân d’Avempace (SDINIPrint, 2017)

Ali Tekin, Varlik ve Akil: Aristoteles ve Fârâbî’de Burhan Teorisi (Klasik. 2017)

Ibn Bâjjah, Le sage et le vizir. Épîtres philosophiques attribuées à Ibn Bâjja. Étude et édition critique, edited by Jamal Rachak (el-Watanya, 2017)

Jamal Rachak, Ibn Bâjjah: Sira wa-bibliografîya (al-Rabîtah al-Muhammadiya li’l-‚ulama, 2017)

Abû Hayyân al-Tawhîdî & Abû Alî Miskawayh, Il libro dei cammelli errabondi e di quelli che li radunano, ed. & transl. by Lidia Bettini (Edizioni Ca‘ Foscari, 2017)

Hassan Ansari, L’imamat et l’Occultation selon l’imamisme. Étude bibliographique et histoire de textes (Brill, 2017)

Maryam Moazzen, Formation of a Religious Landscape: Shi’i Higher Learning in Safavid Iran (Brill, 2017)

Jonathan D. Teubner, Prayer after Augustine: A Study in the Development of the Latin Tradition (OUP)

Jonathan D. Teubner, Augustine of Hippo’s The City of God Against the Pagans (Routledge)

Avicenna (?), Epître sur les prophéties, introduction par O. L. Lizzini, traduction et notes par J.-B. Brenet (Vrin)

Henrici de Gandavo Summa (Quaestiones ordinariae) art. LX-LXII [De trinitate], ed. Gordon Wilson, Girard Etzkorn, Bernd Goehring (Leuven)

Henrici de Gandavo Summa (Quaestiones ordinariae) art. LIII-LV, ed. Gordon Wilson and Girard Etzkorn (Leuven)

Guideo Giglioni and Anna Corrias (eds.), Brill’s Companion to Medieval and Early Modern Platonism (Brill)

Alan Kim (ed.), Brill’s Companion to German Platonism (Brill)

Ali Gheissari, John Walbridge, and Ahmed Alwishah (eds.), Illuminationist Texts and Textual Studies: Essays in Memory of Hossein Ziai (Brill)

Hugh Feiss and Juliet Mousseau (eds.), A Companion to the Abbey of Saint Victor in Paris (Brill)

Gary A. Anderson and‎ Markus Bockmuehl (eds.), Creation “ex nihilo”: Origins, Development, Contemporary Challenges (University of Notre Dame Press)

Anselm Oelze, Animal Rationality: Later Medieval Theories 1250-1350 (Brill)

Antonie Vos, The Theology of John Duns Scotus (Brill)

Antoine Coté and Martin Pickavé (eds.), A Companion to James of Viterbo (Brill)

Basile Valuet, Dieu joueur d’échecs? vol. II:  Prédestination, grâce et libre arbiter. Relecture de saint Thomas d’Aquin (Éditions Sante-Madeleine)

Al-Ghazali on the Condemnation of Pride and Self-Admiration: Book XXIX of the Revival of the Religious Sciences (Ihya’ ‘Ulum al-Din), translated by Mohammed Rustom (Islamic Texts Society)

Gregory A. Lipton, Rethinking Ibn ‘Arabi (OUP)

Stephen Theron, Thomas Aquinas on virtue and human flourishing (Cambridge Scholars)

Anton ten Klooster, Thomas Aquinas on the Beatitudes: Reading Matthew, Disputing Grace and Virtue, Preaching Happiness (Peeters)

T. M. Rudavsky, Jewish Philosophy in the Middle Ages: Science, Rationalism, and Religion (OUP)

Roland Betancourt, Sight, touch, and imagination in Byzantium (Cambridge University Press)

Leo Elders, Thomas Aquinas and His Predecessors: The Philosophers and the Church Fathers in His Works (Catholic University of America)

Epistles of the Brethren of Purity, On composition and the arts : an Arabic critical edition and English translation of Epistles 6-8, edited and translated by Nader el-Bizri and Godefroid de Callataÿ ; foreword by Nader El-Bizri (OUP/Institute of Ismaili Studies)

Joel F. Harrington, Dangerous Mystic: Meister Eckhart’s Path to the God Within (Penguin)

John T. Slotemaker, Anselm of Canterbury and the search for God (Lexington)

Dov Schwartz, The many faces of Maimonides, translated by Batya Stein (Academic Studies)

Anna Marmodoro and Sophie Cartwright (eds.), A History of Mind and Body in Late Antiquity (Cambridge UP) [extensive coverage of early Christian material]

Steven J. Jensen, Sin: A Thomistic Psychology (Catholic University of America)

Steven J. Jensen, The human person: a beginner’s Thomistic psychology (Catholic University of America Press)

Stefan Schweighöfer, Die Begründung der normativen Kraft von Gesetzen bei Francisco Suárez (Aschendorff).

Bonaventure, Collations on the Hexaemeron, translated by Jay M. Hammond (Franciscan Institute)

Emmanuel Falque, Saint Bonaventure and the Entrance of God into Theology, translated by Brian Lapsa, revised by William C. Hackett (Franciscan Institute)

Luis Xavier López Farjeat, Razones, argumentos y creencias. Reflexiones a partir de la filosofía islámica clásica (EUNSA)

Roberto Hofmeister Pich and Andreas Speer (eds.), Contemplation and Philosophy: Scholastic and Mystical Modes of Medieval Philosophical Thought: A Tribute to Kent Emery, Jr. (Brill)

Raymond Lulle, Arbre de Science, Introduction, traduction  et notes de Constantin Teleanu (Schola Lvlliana)

Raymond Lulle, Arbre de Philosophie d’Amour, Introduction et traduction de Constantin Teleanu (Schola Lvlliana)

Raymond Lulle, Arbre de Philosophie, Introduction et traduction de Constantin Teleanu (Schola Lvlliana)

Ali Bonner, The Myth of Pelagianism (OUP)

Richard Rufus, Sententia cum quaestionibus in libros De anima Aristotelis, edited by Jennifer Ottman, Rega Wood, Neil Lewis, and Christopher J Martin (OUP/British Academy)

Thomas Aquinas, Basic Philosophical Writing, translated by Steven Baldner (Broadview)

Petri Thomae Quaestiones de ente, edited by Garrett Smith (Leuven)

Andrew Pinsent (ed.), The History of Evil in the Medieval Age: 450–1450 CE (Routledge)

Jennifer Otto, Philo of Alexandria and the construction of Jewishness in early Christian writings (Oxford)

Alex Dubilet, The self-emptying subject: kenosis and immanence, medieval to modern (Fordham)

Denis J.-J. Robichaud, Plato’s Persona: Marsilo Ficino, Renaissance Humanism, and Platonic Traditions (University of Pennsylvania Press)

Denis Searby (ed.), Never the twain shall meet? : Latins and Greeks learning from each other in Byzantium (De Gruyter)

Philip Knox, J. Morton, D. Reeve (eds.), Medieval Thought Experiments: Poetry, Hypothesis, and Experience in the European Middle Ages (Brepols)

Mary L. Hirschfeld, Aquinas and the Market: Toward a Humane Economy (Harvard)

Richard Campbell, Rethinking Anselm’s Arguments: a vindication of his proof of the existence of God (Brill)

Robert Pasnau (ed.), Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy, vol. 6 (OUP)

Dominik Perler, Feelings Transformed: Philosophical Theories of the Emotions, 1270-1670, translated by Tony Crawford (OUP)

Gyula Klima and Alex Hall (eds.), Consciousness and self-knowledge in medieval philosophy (Cambridge Scholars)

Andrew Pessin, The Jewish God question : what Jewish thinkers have said about God, the Book, the People, and the Land (Rowman & Littlefield)

John Meinert, The love of God poured out : grace and the gifts of the Holy Spirit in St. Thomas Aquinas (Emmaus Academic)

Roger Bacon, A Compendium of the Study of Philosophy, edition and translation by Thomas Maloney (OUP/British Academy)

J. Budziszewski, Commentary on Thomas Aquinas’s Virtue Ethics (Cambridge UP)

Henry Bates, The Astrological Autobiography of a Medieval Philosopher: Henry Bate’s Nativitas (1280-81), edited by Steven Vanden Broecke, Carlos Steel, David Juste, and Shlomo Sela (Leuven)

Flood, Anthony T. The metaphysical foundations of love : Aquinas on participation, unity, and union (Catholic University of America Press)

Olivier Boulnois et Isabelle Moulin (éd.), Le beau et la beauté au Moyen Âge (Vrin)

Avicenna, Logica (Logique du Shifâ’), critical edition of the medieval Latin by Françoise Hudry (Vrin)

Éric Mangin, La nuit de l’âme (Vrin)

Gwenaëlle Aubry, Genèse du Dieu souverain (Vrin)

Édouard Wéber, Nature, singularité et devenir de la personne humaine chez Thomas d’Aquin (Vrin)

Nayla Tabbara, L’itinéraire spirituel d’après les commentaires soufis du Coran (Vrin)

Jean de Reading, Scriptum in primum librum sententiarum, ed. F. Fiorentino (Vrin) [dist. 1 qq. 1-6]

Georges Vajda, Introduction à la pensée juive du Moyen Âge (Vrin)

D. Stephen Long, Augustinian and ecclesial Christian ethics: On Loving Enemies (Lexington Books)

Racheli Haliva (ed.), Scepticism and anti-scepticism in Medieval Jewish Philosophy and thought (De Gruyter)

Andreas Hellerstedt (ed.), Virtue ethics and education from Late Antiquity to the eighteenth century (Amsterdam University Press)

Emily Corran, Lying and perjury in medieval practical thought : a study in the history of casuistry (OUP)

Mark Beaumont, Arab Christians and the Qur’an from the Origins of Islam to the Medieval Period (Brill)

Dag Nikolaus Hasse & Amos Bertolacci (ed.), The Arabic, Hebrew and Latin Reception of Avicenna’s Physics and Cosmology (De Gruyter)

Frédérique Woerther (ed.), Commenting on Aristotle’s Rhetoric from Antiquity to the Present / Commenter la Rhétorique d’Aristote, de l’Antiquité à la période contemporaine (Brill)

Sebastian Günther & Dorothee Pielow (ed.), Die Geheimnisse der oberen und der unteren Welt: Magie im Islam zwischen Glaube und Wissenschaft (Brill)

 Abdelkader Al Ghouz (ed.), Islamic Philosophy from the 12th to the 14th Century (V&R Unipress, Bonn University Press)

Lorenzo Bianchi & Antonella Sannino (ed.), La magia naturale tra Medioevo e prima età moderna (SISMEL)

Nader El-Bizri & Eva Orthmann (ed.), The Occult Sciences in Pre-modern Islamic Cultures (Ergon)

Börje Bydén & Filip Radovic (ed.), The Parva naturalia in Greek, Arabic and Latin Aristotelianism: Supplementing the Science of the Soul (Springer)

Günther Mensching & Alia Mensching-Estakhr, Die Seele im Mittelalter. Von der Substanz zum funktionalen System (Königshausen & Neumann)

Jean-Baptiste Brenet & Laurent Cesalli (ed.), Sujet libre. Pour Alain de Libera (Vrin)

Elisa Coda, Le forme degli elementi. Isaac Abravanel e la tradizione aristotelica medievale (Pisa University Press)

J.-P. Rothschild, Moïse b. Sabbataï, lecteur juif du ‘Livre des causes’ et adversaire de la kabbale, en Italie, vers 1340 (Brepols)

Ahmed H. al-Rahim, The Creation of Philosophical Tradition : Biography and the Reception of Avicenna’s Philosophy from the Eleventh to the Fourteenth Century A.D. (Harrassowitz)

S. Brentjes, Teaching and Learning the Sciences in Islamicate Societies (800-1700) (Brepols)

Marco Demichelis, Salvation and Hell in Classical Islamic Thought. Can Allah Save Us All? (Bloomsbury)

Muhammad Iqbal, Lo sviluppo della metafisica in Persia, transl. by Sabrina Lei (Tawasul Europe. Centro per la recerca ed il dialogo)

Georgio Rahal, Le corps dans la Falsafa, forward by Marie-Thérèse Urvoy (PUICT)

Mahshid Turner, The Muslim Theology of Huzn : Sorrow Unravelled (Gerlach Press)

Averroes, Le Plaisir, le bonheur et l’acquisition des vertus. Edition du livre X du Commentaire moyen d’Averroès à l’Éthique à Nicomaque d’Aristote, with an annotated French transl. and two studies by Frédérique Woerther (Brill)

Fedor Benevich, Essentialität und Notwendigkeit: Avicenna und die Aristotelische Tradition (Brill)

Andreas Lammer, The Elements of Avicenna’s Physics: Greek Sources and Arabic Innovations (De Gruyter)

Sari Nusseibeh, Avicenna’s Al-Shifâ’: Oriental Philosophy (Routledge)

Sevcan Ozturk, Becoming a Genuine Muslim: Kierkegaard and Muhammad Iqbal (Routledge)

Ufuk Topkara, Umrisse einer zeitgemässen philosophischen Theologie im Islam. Die Verfeinerung des Charakters (J.B. Metzler)

Elias Muhanna, The World in a Book: al-Nuwayri and the Islamic Encyclopedic Tradition (Princeton University Press)

Wilferd Madelung and Abdulrahman al-Salimi, Ibâdî Texts from the 2nd/8th Century (Brill)

Josef van Ess, Theology and Society in the Second and Third Centuries of the Hijra: A History of Religious Thought in Early Islam, Vol. IV, transl. by Gwendolin Goldbloom (Brill)

Abramo de Tiberiade, Dialogo con l’emiro ‘Abd al-Rahmân al-Hâshimî. Un dialogo islamo-cristiano ambientato a Gerusalemme agli inizi del IX secolo, critical ed. by Giacinto Boulos Marcuzzo, intor. and Italian transl. By Davide Righi (CreatSpace)

Markus Walther, Zeit- und Ewigkeitsvorstellungen zwischen Philosophie, Theologie und Mystik. Eine vergleichende Fallstudie zu Christentum und Islam anhand der Texte von Meister Eckhart und al-Gazali (Königshausen & Neumann)

Miriam Ovadia, Ibn Qayyim al-Jawziyya and the Divine Attributes: Rationalized Traditionalistic Theology (Brill)

Damaris Wilmers, Beyond Schools: Muhammad b. Ibrâhîm al-Wazîr’s (d. 840/1436) Epistemology of Ambiguity (Brill)

Nora Kalbarczyk, Sprachphilosophie in der islamischen Rechtstheorie. Zur avicennischen Klassifikation der Bezeichnung bei Fakhr ad-Dîn ar-Râzî (gest. 1210) (Brill)

Antoine Calvet, L’alchimie au Moyen Âge: XIIe-XVe siècles (Vrin)

Hasdai Crescas, Light of the Lord (Or Hashem), translated by Roslyn Weiss (OUP)

Maria De Cillis, Salvation and destiny in Islam : the Shiʻi Ismaili perspective of Ḥamīd al-Dīn al-Kirm̄anī (I.B. Tauris)

Enrique Corti, Estar en la Verdad: Anselmo de Canterbury sobre la libertad, la justicia y el mal (Buenos Aires)

L.S. Filius, The Arabic Version of Aristotle’s Historia Animalium: Book I-X of Kitāb al-Hayawān (Brill)

C. L. Barnes, Christ’s Two Wills in Scholastic Thought (Brepols)

Peter Adamson (ed.), Philosophy in the Islamic World (OUP)

Torstein Theodor Tollefsen, St. Theodore the Studites Defense of the Icons (OUP)

Jonathan Morton, The Roman de la Rose in its Philosophical Context (OUP)

Graham Oppy, Ontological Arguments (Cambridge UP) [chapters on Anselm and Aquinas]

Jeffrey Hause (ed.), Aquinas’s Summa Theologiae: A Critical Guide (Cambridge)

Massimo Campanini, Al-Ghazali and the Divine (Routledge)

L. Muehlethaler, G. Schwarb, & S. Schmidtke, Theological Rationalism in Medieval Islam: New Sources and Perspectives (Springer)

Bruce V. Foltz, Byzantine Incursions on the Borders of Philosophy (Springer)

Frederik A. Bakker, Delphine Bellis, & Carla Rita Palmerino (Eds.) Space, Imagination and the Cosmos from Antiquity to the Early Modern Period (Springer)

Nicolas Faucher & Magali Roques (Eds.), The Ontology, Psychology and Axiology of Habits (Habitus) in Medieval Philosophy (Springer)

Sayeh Meisami, Knowledge and Power in the Philosophies of amīd al-Dīn Kirmānī and Mullā adrā Shīrāzī (Springer)

Nathan Sidoli & Yoichi Isahaya, Thābit ibn Qurra’s Restoration of Euclid’s Data (Springer)

Jeremy D. Wilkins, Before Truth: Lonergan, Aquinas, and the Problem of Wisdom (Catholic University of America Press)

Stewart Umphrey, The Aristotelian Tradition of Natural Kinds and Its Demise (Catholic University of America)

Brian M. McCall, The Architecture of Law: Rebuilding Law in the Classical Tradition (University of Notre Dame Press)

Willemien Otten & Susan E. Schreiner (eds.), Augustine Our Contemporary: Examining the Self in Past and Present (University of Notre Dame Press)

The Medieval Survey Class pt. V: Beyond Christianity


There is a familiar older narrative of medieval philosophy as Christian philosophy. Viewed from that perspective, it is natural to think of the period as running back to its origins in Augustine and forward to its supposed acme in Thomas Aquinas. Although few scholars today conceive of the field that way, the effects of this approach linger in the way we hold onto Augustine (and Boethius) as medieval authors (rather than as figures from late antiquity), and in the way we are still struggling to arrive at a coherent narrative of medieval philosophy after Aquinas.

The effects also linger in the language training we insist on. Of course, there is Latin. But what (aside from English) comes after that? I still remember, as an undergraduate at Penn, holding in my hands for the first time a copy of the old printed Jobs for Philosophers. (Perhaps I should have inserted a trigger warning before now, to let folk know I would be mentioning this old source of so much trauma.) Having already formed the intention to study medieval philosophy, I looked to see what sort of jobs might be available, and found an ad from Catholic University of America, in which they specified that candidates were expected to know Latin, German, and French. This being my first acquaintance with the job market, it naturally imprinted itself upon me, and I have more or less ever since then regarded this as the ideal language training.

It is surely time to say, though, that this is no longer what graduate students in the field should be learning. Even if Latin, for most, is still the most important thing, I think it is now time to tell students that, if they have the ability to do anything beyond Latin, the next language should be Arabic. And I might go further and say that, for students who have not previously had the opportunity to study French or German, it is better not even to take those up, but to put their energies into better Latin and better Arabic. This is a departure from what I have always told my students, but I think it is time to recognize that this is what the current scholarly situation demands.

Back to the Curriculum

My sense of the growing centrality of Arabic corresponds to the broad consensus of scholars in the field that Arabic material belongs on the survey-course curriculum. Of the 30 syllabi we looked at, 24 included Islamic sources, and 15 included Jewish sources. Although I’ve got only my own changing perspective over the years to go on, I feel fairly sure that this reflects a dramatic change in the field’s orientation over the last few decades.  (For those who are shaky on the relation between Arabic and Jewish philosophy, the basic story is that most earlier medieval Jewish philosophy is in Arabic: Isaac Israeli, Ibn Gabirol, Sa‘adia Gaon, Ibn Daud, Ibn Kammūna, Maimonides. After Maimonides, Hebrew becomes the principal language.)

Of course, the challenge of learning Arabic makes it hard for most of us to work on this material at a high level. But it is quite easy to include Arabic (and, more broadly, non-Christian) material into the curriculum. I mentioned in my previous post that Ghazali’s Rescuer from Error is a great text to teach. I just finished a day on Maimonides, which was also great fun. If anything, I would say that there is more accessible material in the Jewish and Muslim traditions than there is in the Christian tradition. For an expert discussion of these issues, see Peter Adamson’s post from last month in the APA Blog. I also wrote a post on this topic a few years back, for this blog, and those old links (including a link to some useful syllabi) are still live.

On the Job Market

There are of course lots of good reasons to include Arabic (and other non-Christian) material in our classes, and you don’t need me to tell you what they are. But there’s one particular issue that might have escaped your attention, which is that the job market is dramatically changing with regard to these issues. Last year there were at least as many jobs focused on medieval Islamic philosophy as there were jobs in medieval Christian philosophy. And the ads that have come out this fall make it clear that this was no fluke. The job at Loyola Marymount, for instance, although it seems to be aimed at an AOS in late medieval Latin/Christian philosophy, explicitly REQUIRES an AOC in “Medieval Arabic Philosophy.” Or consider this AOS at San Jose State University: “History of Philosophy (any historical period). The department welcomes candidates who pursue cross-tradition engagement in doing history of philosophy.” Or this one, from the New College of Florida: “History of philosophy, with expertise in early modern European philosophy and at least one non-European philosophical tradition.” I think we can be fairly confident that, as philosophy departments slowly move to shed their traditionally Eurocentric focus, that we’ll see a lot more of this sort of thing. And that’s great news not just for philosophy in general, but for our field in particular, because it just so happens that we’re working on the one era in which “Western” philosophy was richly engaged with non-European traditions. We need to seize this opportunity with both hands.

Philosophy Jesters in the NYC area?

Not an opportunity that comes along just every day.  This via Stephen Grimm at Fordham:

From: Joseph Biehl <jsbiehl@philosophy.nyc>
Date: Thu, Aug 23, 2018 at 12:53 PM
Subject: Looking for medieval philosophers with a sense of humor
To: Stephen Grimm <sgrimm@fordham.edu>

Hi Stephen,

I hope this finds you well. I somehow managed to convince the organizers of the Fort Tryon Medieval Festival (Sunday, September 30th) that it would be a great idea to have a tent where philosophers could engage with festival goers on topics of interest to medieval philosophers. Since it is very likely that costumes would be required, it promises to be an entertaining event. I would appreciate it if you could send this along to your colleagues, or let me know who you think would be interested in that sort of thing.



Joseph S. Biehl, PhD

Founder & Executive Director

Gotham Philosophical Society and

Young Philosophers of New York


Collecting Syllabi!

Before going on my customary summer hiatus, let me make a final request to all of you.  I’ve been thinking about a survey of medieval philosophy that I’m teaching in the fall, and thinking about the canon in medieval philosophy. I’d like to investigate these matters by collecting syllabi from survey classes of medieval philosophy. If you have any such syllabi, I’d be grateful if you’d send them to my collaborator in this project, Mark Boespflug. Send us multiple versions, if you’ve got them. Send us anything that’s in the neighborhood of a “survey” of medieval philosophy. Bear in mind, we’re just interested in the readings that you’ve assigned. But even if you’ve just used a single textbook, send us that (along with which details about which chapters from the textbook you’ve assigned). Assuming we get enough of these to make it worthwhile, we’ll post a tally in the fall of which readings in the field have the greatest claim to being canonical, judged from how often they’re taught.

A great summer to all. I myself am headed down under, to where it’s winter, for a few months. Back in August.

Conferences, Fellowships, CfPs, etc.

Here’s a fairly random collection of information I’ve collected over recent weeks:

  • The Institute for Research in the Humanities at the University of Wisconsin – Madison is advertising fellowships for 2018-19. Particularly notable are the Solmsen Fellowships on pre-1700 Europe and the Kingdon Fellowship on Judeo-Christian religious traditions. Applications are due Nov. 2, 2017. Details here.
  • The a.r.t.e.s. Graduate School for the Humanities Cologne is advertising a large number of doctoral fellowships. The deadline is November 3, 2017. Details here.
  • The Journée thomiste 2017 is scheduled for November 25 (Paris).
  • The annual Charles Schmitt Prize is on again, in any area of intellectual history after 1500. Deadline is December 31.
  • Martin Klein, Naomi Osorio-Kupferblum, and Oliver Istvan Toth have put out a call for papers on consciousness in medieval and early modern philosophy of mind, to be published in a special issue of the Romanian journal Society and Politics. The deadline is March 31, 2018. Details here.
  • There’s a conference on the Calculatores tradition in Munich next spring (May 23-25, 2018). Details here.
  • Leuven is hosting a conference on Theories of Causal Powers in the Thirteenth and the Fourteenth Century (June 1-2, 2018). CfP deadline February 15, 2018.
  • Leuven is also hosting a conference next summer on Marsilius of Padua (July 6-7, 2018). Details here. CfP deadline December 31, 2017.
  • Groningen is hosting a conference on Substance in Early Modern Scholasticism (June 4-5, 2018).
  • The third Symposium Thomisticum will be held in Athens next summer on the theme Aquinas and the Greeks (June 7-9, 2018). CfP deadline December 1, 2017.
  • The Thomas Institute in Utrecht has announced a conference on Initiation and Mystagogy in Thomas Aquinas: Theological, Philosophical, Liturgical, and Pedagogical Perspectives (December 13-15, 2018). CfP deadline March 1, 2018.
  • The Society for Medieval and Renaissance Philosophy has a handsome new web page with much information about the Society.
  • There’s a wonderful interview with James South (Marquette) at the APA blog.