Spring 2020 - PHIL 357 D100

Topics in the History of Philosophy (3)

Medieval Philosophy

Class Number: 7806

Delivery Method: In Person


  • Course Times + Location:

    We 9:30 AM – 12:20 PM
    AQ 5030, Burnaby

  • Prerequisites:

    PHIL 150 or 151.



May be repeated for credit.


Selected Topics:  Medieval Philosophy

This course introduces students to major thinkers and themes of Medieval Europe, the Near East, and North Africa, spanning the time period from roughly 400 - 1400 A.D. (C.E.). We will focus primarily on philosophy in the Latin Christian tradition, but will also explore the Islamic and Jewish diaspora traditions, and the interplay between these three strands. Figures studied will include Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Abelard and Heloise, Hildegard of Bingen, Ibn Sina (Avicenna), Al-Ghazali, Ibn Rushd (Averroes), Maimonides, Aquinas, Scotus, Ockham, and Buridan. Themes discussed will include ethics and virtue, human nature, free will, divine will, the existence and nature of God, universals and particulars, causality, faith and reason, logic, modality, and epistemology. In addition to our primary text sources, we will from time to time discuss the reception and interpretation of these historical figures and their work among contemporary philosophers, who may include Marilyn McCord Adams, Calvin Normore, John Marenbon, Eleonore Stump, and/or Therese Scarpelli Cory.

In-class instruction will be lecture-based, with ample time given for discussion in both small and large groups. Class time may sometimes include other interactive or active learning activities, and audio and/or visual media may also be employed. Students are expected to attend weekly lectures having read and considered the material assigned for that week, and prepared to share their own reactions and actively listen to those of others. To facilitate this, students will submit a weekly question on the reading the day before class. Students should also be attentive to assignment expectations and due dates, and proactive in seeking assistance or accommodation as needed.


This course may be repeated for additional credit if the topic is different.


  • Weekly Reading Engagement 10%
  • First Abstract (150 - 200 words) 10%
  • First Essay (1500 - 1800 words) 30%
  • Second Abstract (150 - 200 words) 10%
  • Second Essay (1500 - 1800 words) 30%
  • Attendance 10%


There will be no final exam. 


Weekly Reading Engagement: Students will submit, on a weekly basis, a specific question arising from the assigned reading. The question may raise, e.g., a point for clarification, a criticism, or an area requiring further development. They shall be brief (no more than a paragraph), and should begin with a brief summary (in two or three sentences) of the relevant portion of the reading to provide context for the question. 1% will be awarded for completion of each question, assuming reasonable effort, to a maximum of 10%. 

Abstracts and Essays: Two essays (one in the middle of the term, and one toward the end of the term) will each be preceded three weeks in advance by an abstract outlining a proposed topic and thesis. The abstracts will be returned with feedback and constructive criticism two weeks in advance of the essay deadline, so that students will be able to integrate the feedback they receive into their essay.  In addition, you will be workshopping your abstract with others, and will be expected to provide others with feedback on their abstracts (this will be part of your abstract grade).

Policy on Extensions and Late Assignments: Extensions on assignments may be granted in extenuating circumstances, by explicit prior arrangement with the instructor; approval for such requests is evaluated on a case-by-case basis at the instructor’s discretion, and will ordinarily require documented evidence of medical or personal emergency. Essays received after the stated deadline without such an arrangement having been made will be subject to a late penalty of 5% per day, including weekends and holidays. Assignments worth 5% or less of the course grade (i.e., weekly questions and essay abstracts) will not be accepted after the stated deadline, because of their time-sensitive nature.



A. Hyman, J.J. Walsh, and T. Williams, Philosophy in the Middle Ages: The Christian, Islamic, and Jewish Traditions, 3rd ed. Hackett Publishing, 2010. 
ISBN: 978-1-60384-208-2

All supplemental readings will be supplied by the instructor.

Department Undergraduate Notes:

Thinking of a Philosophy Major or Minor? The Concentration in Law and Philosophy? The Certificate in Ethics? The Philosophy and Methodology of Science Certificate?
Contact the PHIL Advisor at philmgr@sfu.ca   More details on our website: SFU Philosophy

Registrar Notes:

SFU’s Academic Integrity web site http://www.sfu.ca/students/academicintegrity.html is filled with information on what is meant by academic dishonesty, where you can find resources to help with your studies and the consequences of cheating.  Check out the site for more information and videos that help explain the issues in plain English.

Each student is responsible for his or her conduct as it affects the University community.  Academic dishonesty, in whatever form, is ultimately destructive of the values of the University. Furthermore, it is unfair and discouraging to the majority of students who pursue their studies honestly. Scholarly integrity is required of all members of the University. http://www.sfu.ca/policies/gazette/student/s10-01.html