PHIL 311: Fall 2013:6-9 Monday Evenings, Robinson 203

Guidelines for Papers can be found at the end of the syllabus


(Note that syllabus may need to be changed if we are confronted with a hurricane, or some such. Always check your e-mail for notes from me in reference to the class. If we do have to reschedule, this version of the syllabus online on my web page will be the one to follow.)


Prof. Katherin Rogers:


Office:  #204 in 24 Kent Way, 831-8480,


Office Hours: Tuesday 3:30-5:30 and by appointment.




H= (Primary Sources) Philosophy in the Middle Ages, Third Edition, Hyman,Walsh, and Williams eds.


W= (Secondary Source) A Short History of Medieval Philosophy, Julius R. Weinberg. 


My notes are available on-line at  These are the notes from which I lecture.




Three essay tests will constitute 3/6 of the grade. (Tests will consist of 5 out of 6 relatively short essays.) 


Two 5-7 page research papers will constitute 2/6 of the grade. (Deadlines for papers will be strictly enforced. You will have an option to rewrite.)


Quizzes on the readings will constitute the other 1/6 of the grade. (Quizzes will consist of two simple questions on the assigned reading. You are allowed 4 “no shows” or “wrongs” without penalty.  The other quizzes will be computed on the basis of 100, so, for example, if you got 20% wrong, you’d get an 80 which is a B- in my book.)


Final grade will be determined by adding up your six scores/grades and then dividing by six. I will also consider improvement on test scores and participation in class. Such consideration usually consists in bumping up folks who are right on the borderline to the higher grade.


Grade equivalents: 93-100=A, 90-92=A-, 87-89=B+, 83-86=B, 80-82=B-, 77-79=C+, 73-76=C, 70-72=C-, 67-69=D+, 63-66=D, 55-62=D-.








9          Introduction to Late Classical and Early Medieval Philosophy; Introduction to God. (No readings.)


16        Introduction continued: W 3-9, H xi-4; Background, Plato, Aristotle, and Plotinus W 9-24.  






23        Introduction to Augustine: W 30-45, H 5-8. Why Darwin isn’t a problem and Knowledge: H 29-34 (Text begins, “Well, if we should consider…”)


30        The Proof for God from Reason: H pp.34-50. (Stop at 18 in column 2)





7          Test #1 from 6-7:15. At 7:25 Introduction to Evil: Manicheanism and Free Will. (No readings.)


14        Evil, Free Will, and Divine Foreknowledge: H 50-60.


21        Original sin, Pelagianism and Grace: H 61-63; The Human Condition: (Ethics and how to get happy) H 81- 93; Political Philosophy: H 93-99.


28        Time: H 72-81. (Plus some Boethius on divine foreknowledge: H 135 (start at Prose 6) – 137.





4          Test #2 from 6-7:15. At 7:25, Introduction to Pseudo-Dionysius and Scotus Eriugena. (No readings.)






11        Pseudo-Dionysius and Scotus Eriugena: W 46-57, H 141-155 and Introduction to Anselm (the infamous “ontological” argument)




IV.       ANSELM



18        Anselm of Canterbury: W 58-71, The ontological argument plus responses H 156-157,161-164 (You can stop with the first two lines on 164. However, pages 164-173 give you a really nice introduction to the nature of God. It is basically what we did the first day of class. Pages 173-181 give you the text of criticisms of the argument by Gaunilo and Anselm’s response. We will cover this material briefly in class, but you don’t need to read it…unless you want to.)


The Necessity of the Incarnation (Reading: Handout for which you are responsible.)



25        Free will and grace, free will and foreknowledge (Reading: Handout for which you are responsible) plus introduction to the problem of universals.


Happy Thanksgiving !!!






2          Peter Abelard: W 72-91, H 182 – 183, Abelard’s own views on universals 191-202; Ethics 202-214.  


Test #3 (which is just on the material we have covered since Test #2, not a cumulative final) during final exam period.


PHIL 311: Early Medieval Philosophy

Guidelines for research papers. Please read all of the guidelines very carefully, and comply!

Two 5-7 page research papers.

Paper requirements: 5-7 pages, double-spaced, reasonable margins. The topic (unless I have okay’ed it otherwise) will focus on what a philosopher’s view was on a given issue.

You must use at least one primary text – that is, writing by the philosopher himself. If you are doing a comparison between two philosophers or one philosopher in different works, you’ll have to use at least two primary texts. You can use your Hyman and Walsh book for the primary text if it suits your topic.

You must use at least two, good secondary sources – that is, writing about the philosopher’s views. (You can use both your text books, and you may also use internet sources, but you must find two good sources in addition to these. That means you cannot just use sources off the internet – unless it is articles online from established and respectable journals which are in our library. When in doubt, ask me.) The easiest way to know that you have a good source is to go to the library and get out a book from a good publisher (Oxford, Cambridge, and Brill are examples of good publishers, as are major American University presses), or get an article from a journal the library carries. (One of the jobs of librarians is to decide what to get for the library, so they’ve already done some of the job for you.) If you find a collection of papers, each paper counts as a separate secondary source. You should probably look at the secondary sources first, since they can tell you what primary text(s) will be of use to you. If you have trouble finding sources I may be able to lend you some. One place to look for sources is the Philosopher's Index, found on the UD library page under Databases. If you are working on Ausgustine, you might try browsing through Augustinian Studies, a journal our library carries.

Citations may take the form of parentheses in the text with a full bibliography, or complete footnotes or endnotes. Citations should include the specific page numbers where you found your information.

I do not absolutely require a philosophical evaluation of the view you discuss, but I admire philosophical creativity and am likely to look favorably on your paper if you include some interesting and plausible analysis of why you think the view you discuss could be right or wrong.

Helpful Hints: 1.) Focus your thesis on a narrow topic.  Saying just a little on a lot of different issues, even if they are related, does not make for a good paper. 2.) Start researching early to be sure you find two good secondary sources that really have something to say on your (narrowly focused!) topic. I will count off if you actually use only one secondary source and just mention or quote a sentence from another.

You will have the opportunity to rewrite your paper once I have returned it. Rewriting will be optional, and I will likely insist upon a quick turnaround time to facilitate my grading. If there is significant improvement, I will raise the paper grade. Tweaking a minor point or two, or just getting rid of the occasional offending sentence will probably not constitute significant improvement.

Paper deadlines and suggested topics: You can bring your paper to class or e-mail it to me. It would be a great help to me if you could get your paper in before the due date. If the time sent is later than midnight of the deadline date, and you have not already received an extension from me, I will count off a grade for each day late. (So, for example, if your paper would have been a B-, but is one day late, it’s a C+.)

I have listed some suggested topics based on issues I’d like to hear about which I haven’t researched myself. Some we discuss in class and some we don’t. I will mention others as they occur to me. You are welcome to write on a topic other than one among those I’ve suggested, but check with me first! And I’m quite happy to have a paper on some issue we spend time on in class, just so you go well beyond what we do in class.


Some suggested topics from the first half of the course: What is the nature of The Good in Plato? What is the nature of the Unmoved Mover in Aristotle (Does it really think only itself, or can a case be made that it thinks other things as well?) Compare Plotinus’ doctrine of emanation to Augustine’s doctrine of creation. According to Augustine, how do we recognize the forms of things – e.g. the catness of the cat (Do we need illumination? If so, how does that work?)? How does Augustine prove that we have an immaterial soul. Explain Manicheanism in detail (Are there different versions?). What does Manicheanism entail in practice (How did the Manichees live their daily lives?)?



Suggested topics from the second half of the course: Pick a topic in ethics, such as sex, marriage, self-defense, lying, or just war, and see what Augustine has to say about it.  Explain why Augustine is often credited as the inventor of “history” as we understand it today. What does Augustine have to say about the phenomenology of grace? (Do we feel it when we get it? Can we be sure we're saved?) Compare Eriugena to Augustine on the divine act of creation (e.g. does the former sound more like emanation?) Is Eriugena a subjective idealist (The universe is just ideas, and human ideas at that!)? What does Eriugena have to say about the pre-lapsarian vs. the post-lapsarian condition (i.e. before and after the fall)? Explain Anselm’s proof for God at the beginning of the Monologion (This is NOT the Proslogion proof that we looked at.). What does Anselm have to say about lying? Compare Anselm and Abelard on the distinction between desire and choice, or on what it is to sin (My suspicion is that Abelard is following Anselm, but I haven’t researched this. I don’t know that anyone has, so you’d have to do the comparing on your own. For this topic you might want to wait until after the last class and turn your paper in on 12/5, but if you do that – unless you want an incomplete – I won’t have time to grade the paper so that you can rewrite it). What does Abelard have to say about time; cognition (one might want to focus on one aspect of cognition, such as perception, imagination, or abstraction.)?

Feel free to ask if you have any questions on what’s expected or on sources.