12191 - History of Medieval Philosophy (1)

Academic Year 2021/2022

  • Teaching Mode: Traditional lectures
  • Campus: Bologna
  • Corso: First cycle degree programme (L) in Philosophy (cod. 9216)

Learning outcomes

The course introduces to a rich and remarkable period in the history of philosophy, conventionally known as medieval thought.Striking feature is the continous coverage (through the analysis of the notion of translatio studii) of Islamic, Jewish and Christian material and texts.Starting in the late eight century, with renewal of learning, a sequence of themes will takes the students until the end of twelve century through the development in many varied fields of medieval thought including logic and language, natural philosophy, rethorics, ethics and theology. Close attemption is payed to the context of medieval philosophy with discussion of the rise of this particular cultural and theological phaenomenon generally resumed under the name of monastic spirituality and monastic conversational community.

Course contents

Intellectual legacies: Anselm of Canterbury's between logic, text and context.

The course introduces and delves into the reading of two classic texts for the philosophical literature of Western traditions and history of ideas: Anselm of Canterbury's Monologion and Proslogion. The course will be introduced by a series of lectures on philosophy as a necessary preliminary operation of ideological demystification in order to be able to exercise critical knowledge and research - in particular to free medieval thought from encrustations and ideological projections that are as much fideistic as rationalistic and in any case actualizing. Anselm of Aosta's thought will then be contextualised in relation to the Pauline tradition (Lanfranc of Pavia), to the tradition of the Logica Vetus and, above all, to Augustinian thought, with particular reference to the De Trinitate. A reading and commentary on Anselm's work, the subject of the course, will then be carried out with comparisons and a dialogue between the source, its interpretations (in particular Karl Barth) and its ideological uses. Particular care and seminar activity will be devoted to the relationship between text/source and explicit and implicit intratext (Monologion/De Trinitate and Proslogion/Pseudo Dionysius). In this case, the reading of the Anselmian text will also be an opportunity for more extensive metdological reflection in a history of ideas. The course will conclude with a series of reflections on the concept of false history with particular reference to the false attribution to Anselm of the concept of "ontological proof of the existence of God".


Primary sources:

Brian Davies and Gareth Evans (eds.), Anselm of Canterbury: the Major Works, Oxford. Oxford U. P., 1998. 

Brian Davies and Brian Leftow (eds.), The Cambridge Companion to Anselm, Cambridge: Cambridge U. P., 2004.

2) History of Early Medieval Thought/Histoire de la philosophie médiévale

J. Marenbon, Early Medieval Philosophy, Routledge, 1998

for french students - pour les étudiants français:

Alain de Libera, La philosophie médiévale, PUF, Paris, 2014 (XIII e XIV siècles compris).


Teaching methods

Frontal lessons, partecipate lessons, workshops, charts, use of visual references both papery and multimedia.

Assessment methods

The skill of students' knowledge will be tested with oral (or an agreed paper of 15 pp.) exams about the texts - sources and secondary literature - listed in bibliography or agreed after an interwiev with the professor.

Teaching tools

Primary sources, secondary literature, multimedia sources, online instruments, charts, reference to digital Archives, lectures given by scholars of XII century thought and/or historian of medieval theology. 

Office hours

See the website of Riccardo Fedriga


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