History of Medieval Philosophy(p) (2018/2019)

Course code
Name of lecturer
Carlo Chiurco
Carlo Chiurco
Number of ECTS credits allocated
Academic sector
Language of instruction
Sem. 2B dal Apr 8, 2019 al Jun 1, 2019.

Lesson timetable

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Learning outcomes

The course provides students with a knowledge of the concepts, the schools, and the main thinkers of the philosophy of the Middle Ages, the latter always considered within the wider context of Western though. Students are expected:
1. To acquire knowledge of a given range of subjects, texts, and authors, belonging to me-dieval philosophy, the latter seen as part of the wider context of Western though.
2. By means of the knowledge acquired at point 1, to reach a wider knowledge of the main conceptual lines of Western philosophical tradition.
1. To approach medieval philosophical texts (read in translations, but always referring them to the original Latin versions) in a scientifically sound way, showing the ability to use a correct historical-critical and hermeneutical approach, and properly using a correct philo-sophical terminology;
2. To autonomously formulate critically-founded assessments on the subjects analyzed dur-ing the course.
3. To use present-day sources and research tools (paper-supported and/or online archives, data banks, online catalogues), also in view of learning how to properly write an academic-style essay and/or the final dissertation.


The course will deal with the following subjects:

The Return of the King. Philosophy, Theology and Politics in the Middle Ages.
The Middle Ages are an essentially monarchical period, which produced several, and often conflicting - but also encountering - visions of the kings’ role, meaning, and powers. Power, in particular, is not a single conception in the Middle Ages, being expressed by three different terms: imperium, potestas and potentia. The course will be a journey through medieval political theology of the body of power, from Augustine to the "rois thaumaturges", from Alan of Lille to Dante, from the theory of the King’s two bodies to Byzantium's divine dolls-Emperors, and to Marsilio of Padua’s "defensor pacis", without of course forgetting Tolkien and 20th-century fantasy imagery.

Beside usual class lessons, which may include the usage of slides, the course will rely on movie projections, and readings and discussions of texts of different authors and periods (always conducted in close reference with the Latin original texts), in order that students may learn:
- How to study one or more medieval authors through the historical-critical and hermeneutical analysis of their texts, the genealogy of the conceptions exposed in them, and the dialogue and/or conflict between different authors and/or schools through their respective positions;
- To make medieval philosophy (meaning with that, the authors and/or the subjects studied in the course) interact with the other historical phases of Western philosophy and civilization, in particular with our time. The movie projection is precisely intended to lay the ground not only for the main subjects that will later approached during the course, but also for the possible comparison between the medieval approach and our own.

Students who cannot attend the classes are not asked to follow a different program. It is always possible for all students to devise a customized program: in this case, students are requested to discuss it in advance.
Beside the program texts, it is compulsory to study the audio files of the classes found on the e-learning website of the university.

Reference books
Author Title Publisher Year ISBN Note
Ernst Kantorowicz I due corpi del Re Einaudi 1989 Testo complementare.
Marsilio da Padova Il difensore della pace Rizzoli 2001 Passi scelti.
Marc Bloch I Re taumaturghi. Studi sul carattere sovrannaturale attribuito alla potenza dei re particolarmente in Francia e in Inghilterra Einaudi 2016 Testo complementare.
Agostino La Città di Dio Rusconi 1998 Solo il libro IV.
Dante Alighieri Monarchia Salerno 2013 Passi scelti.
Alano di Lilla Viaggio della Saggezza. Anticlaudianus, Discorso sulla sfera intelligibile Bompiani 2004

Assessment methods and criteria

The examination test aims to ascertain that students meet the course targets as outlined above. It consists of an oral examination featuring at least two open questions concerning the subjects and the authors studied during the course.