Four of the most important philosophers of the Middle Ages were Avicenna (980-1037), Averroes (1126-1198), Maimonides (1135-1204), and Aquinas (1225-1274). Two of these philosophers were Islamic, one Jewish, and one Christian; one was born in Persia and died in Baghdad; two were born in Spain and died in North Africa, and one of them lived in Italy and Paris. But despite these differences among them, these four philosophers were part of the same philosophical tradition (the Aristotelian tradition) and were concerned with many of the same questions and arguments. We will study the work of these philosophers in a way that will reveal that a thousand years ago the Mediterranean world was intellectually integrated, perhaps even more than it is today. While not absolutely necessary, it will be useful for students in this course to have had a previous philosophy course.
Field WorkCountry: Greece
Our whole class will tour the ruins of Apollo's Temple at Delphi. Students will be asked to write a brief essay discussing the ways in which medieval philosophy as studied in the course differs from, and is similar to, Socrates's understanding of his mission as a philosopher-which began as a result of the oracle at Delphi saying that Socrates was the wisest of men, and Socrates coming to believe that this was true only because philosophical questioning revealed the ignorance of others, of which they were unaware. Socrates himself was aware of his own ignorance-hence is his comparative wisdom.