History of philosophy 2: History of medieval Philosophy

lfilo1281  2017-2018  Louvain-la-Neuve

History of philosophy 2: History of medieval Philosophy
3 credits
30.0 h

This biannual learning unit is being organized in 2017-2018
Counet Jean-Michel;

The prerequisite(s) for this Teaching Unit (Unité d’enseignement – UE) for the programmes/courses that offer this Teaching Unit are specified at the end of this sheet.
Main themes
The course will carefully examine the genesis of philosophy in the Middle Ages. The links to doctrines from Antiquity are very strong. However, we notice also that an interiority characteristic of Augustinian Christianity begins to gain ground, as does a type of rational questioning based on faith. Authors such as Augustine, Boethius, and Pseudo-Dionysius are revealing in this respect. Having examined the links to Antiquity, we shall move on to an examination of the impact that Arab thought had on Medieval thinking: the rediscovery of Aristotle through Arabic and Greek translations; the emergence of the University as an institution devoted to philosophical reflection. Finally, we shall examine the impact of the condemnations of 1277: these dealt a fatal blow to radical Averroism and, in the end, gave birth to a class of intellectuals who thought outside of a direct reference to the Church.

At the end of this learning unit, the student is able to :


By the end of the course, the student should be able to give an account of the main problems Medieval philosophers confronted (the problem of universals, reason and faith, logic and the knowledge of God, Aristotelianism and Neo-Platonism, transitions-from antiquity and into the Renaissance, etc.). The student should also be able to grasp the originality of method displayed in these texts, the institutional framework within which it took place, and its posterity in Modern thought. The student should likewise be able to use the working tools learnt in the course to undertake an assignment about a topic discussed in the lectures and thus deepen his/her knowledge of it.


The contribution of this Teaching Unit to the development and command of the skills and learning outcomes of the programme(s) can be accessed at the end of this sheet, in the section entitled “Programmes/courses offering this Teaching Unit”.
The course proposes a careful examination of Medieval noetics through some of its upholders: what is thinking? or conscience of the self? What is the status of concepts and their relation to empirical reality (problem of universals)? This approach will lead us to study several authors that are linked historically and doctrinally: Augustine, Boethius, Pseudo-Dionysius, Abelard, Albert the Great, St. Thomas Aquinas, Duns Scotus, Master Eckhart, Dante, Ockham, and Nicolas of Cusa will be the figures requiring our attention for bringing to light the historical and thematic issues mentioned above.
Teaching methods
Lectures by the professor
Evaluation methods
Written examination on the whole matter
Bibliographie de base:
Etienne Gilson,La Philosophie au Moyen Age. Des origines patristiques à la fin du XIVème siècle, Paris,Payot, 1944.
Frederic Coppleston, A History of Philosophy, vol. II et III
Anthonu Kenny, Medieval Philosophy ( A new History of Western Philosophy Volume 2), Clarendon Press- Oxford, 2005.
Kurt Flasch, Introduction à la Philosophie Médiévale, (Vestigia), 2èmeéd., Paris-Fribourg, Cerf-Editions Universitaires, 2011.
Faculty or entity

Programmes / formations proposant cette unité d'enseignement (UE)

Title of the programme
Bachelor in History

Bachelor in Ancient Languages and Literatures: Oriental Studies

Bachelor in Philosophy

Minor in Medieval Studies