History of medieval philosophy

A.Y. 2020/2021
Overall hours
Learning objectives
This course aims at providing students, through the study of relevant authors and problems, with 1) a thorough understanding of the history of medieval thought; 2) the essential critical tools that allow them to read autonomously and critically philosophical texts authored by medieval authors and to analyze their context, their sources, their argumentative forms.
Expected learning outcomes
Knowledge and understanding
At the end of the course, the student
- knows a decisive phase of the development of philosophical and scientific thought through the reading of primary and secondary sources
- understands how scientific traditions, ideas and argumentative forms changed between the Middle Ages and the Renaissance
- has an advanced knowledge of the bibliographical and methodological tools of research in the history of philosophy.

Ability to apply knowledge and understanding

At the end of the course, the student
- is able to philologically understand texts and essays examined in class
- is able to clearly and thoroughly expound the problems discussed in these texts and to critically evaluate their interpretations
- can apply the knowledge and reading methods learned in class to other philosophical and scientific texts and problems.
Course syllabus and organization

Single session

Lesson period
Second semester
The course will take place according to three different modalities: synchronous lessons (live via Microsoft Teams), asynchronous lessons (recorded in audio mode and audio-commented slides) and face-to-face Q&A (compatibly with the health situation). The meetings in attendance will take place according to University's instructions.
Course syllabus
The course is open to all students of the degree course in Philosophy (6 and 9 ECTS) and to all students of other courses of the University of Milan who are interested in medieval philosophy.
The course aims at:
1) Examining how arguments for God's existence were put forward and debated from eleventh to thirteenth century; in particular, a direct reading of texts by Anselm of Canterbury, Gaunilo of Marmoutier and Thomas Aquinas will allow to highlight some problems these authors had to deal with while making their attempts to prove God's existence - problems pertaining language, theory of cognition, epistemology, metaphysics.
2) Tracing the sources of Anselm, Gaunilo and Aquinas and evaluating the role they played in the formulation of their arguments for God's existence, with particular attention to the Platonic and Aristotelian traditions.
3) Reconstructing historiographical debates on the fortune of (and criticism towards) Anselm's so-called ontological argument.
Prerequisites for admission
Basic knowledge of medieval, renaissance and modern philosophy
Teaching methods
Lectures and debates
Teaching Resources
Readings and assignments for attending students

Assignments for both 6 and 9 ECTS exams:

1. Agostino d'Ippona, Il libero arbitrio, in Id., Tutti i dialoghi, a cura di G. Catapano, Bompiani, Milano 2006, II, i-iii, 8, pp. 963-975 [distribuito dal docente].
2. Anselmo d'Aosta, Monologio e Proslogio, a cura di I. Sciuto, Bompiani, Milano 2002 [con testo latino a fronte].
3. M. Parodi, Il conflitto dei pensieri, Lubrina, Bergamo 1988, pp. 89-187.
4. G. d'Onofrio, Leggere Anselmo, in Anselmo d'Aosta e il pensiero monastico medievale, a cura di L. Catalani e R. de Filippis, Brepols, Turnhout 2017, pp. 17-76.
5. E. Scribano, "Un argomento 'ontologico' aristotelico", in Ead., L'esistenza di Dio. Storia della prova ontologica da Descartes a Kant, Laterza, Roma-Bari 1994, pp. 3-26.

Additional assignments for 9 ECTS exams:

1. Tommaso d'Aquino, La somma teologica, a cura dei Frati Domenicani, ESD, Bologna 2014, I, qq. 2-3, pp. 41-63 [con testo latino a fronte].
2. Tommaso d'Aquino, Somma contro i gentili, a cura di T.S. Centi, UTET, Torino 1975, I, capp. 1-15, 21-22, pp. 59-94, 109-114 [per chi desiderasse il testo latino a fronte, Somma contro i gentili, a cura di T.S. Centi, EDS, Bologna 2002].
3. Tommaso d'Aquino, pagine scelte dal Commento alle Sentenze (I, d. 3), L'ente e l'essenza (cap. 4), Commento al De Trinitate di Boezio (q. 2, a. 3) [distribuite dal docente].
4. G. Zuanazzi, "Introduzione", in Tommaso d'Aquino, L'esistenza di Dio, a cura di G. Zuanazzi, La Scuola, Brescia 2003, pp. 7-65.

Additional readings and assignments for non-attending students

For both 6 and 9 ECTS

1. F. De Capitani, Il De libero arbitrio di S. Agostino, Vita e Pensiero, Milano 1994, pp. 118-136.
2. A.D. Conti, "L'argomento ontologico di Anselmo, la sua 'fortuna' presso Duns Scoto e le critiche di Ockham. Appunti per una storia della nozione di Dio nel Medioevo", in La filosofia medievale tra antichità ed età moderna: Saggi in memoria di Francesco Del Punta, a cura di A. Bertolacci e A. Paravicini Bagliani, Firenze 2017, pp. 411-430: pp. 411-422.

For 9 ECTS

1. P. Porro, Tommaso d'Aquino. Un profilo storico-filosofico, Carocci, Roma 2012, pp. 152-175, 265-276.
Assessment methods and Criteria
The final examination consists of an oral exam, whose purpose is to test the knowledge and skills acquired by students. The grading system for the final exam is based on a 0-30 scale, 18 being the lowest passing mark. Evaluation criteria:
- knowledge of texts and essays examined during the course (knowledge);
- ability to understand concepts and arguments (understanding)
- ability to critically evaluate different interpretations of texts and historical problems (development);
- use of language (exposition)
Unità didattica A
M-FIL/08 - HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unità didattica B
M-FIL/08 - HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Unità didattica C
M-FIL/08 - HISTORY OF MEDIEVAL PHILOSOPHY - University credits: 3
Lessons: 20 hours
Friday, 9:30-12:30 on Teams (and by appointment for special needs). Please, send an email to agree on the reception time
On Teams (please, send an email)