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  1. PY4640 Outline - Mark Thakkar

    Document Essential This document functions as a basic handbook for the module. Please make sure you're familiar with it.

  2. Background Reading 4 items
    It would be great if you could read one of the first three books before the course begins. The more usefully detailed ones are Marenbon (2007) and Grant (2001), which complement each other nicely.
    1. God and Reason in the Middle Ages - Edward Grant 2001

      Book Essential Grant's book takes a more historical approach, addresses the question of when and why medieval philosophy came to be sidelined, and says more about our first topic.

    2. Medieval Philosophy: An Historical and Philosophical Introduction - John Marenbon 2007

      Book Essential Marenbon's book takes a more analytical approach, has a broader chronological and geographical scope, and says more about our second topic.

    3. Medieval Philosophy - Anthony Kenny 2005

      Book Recommended Kenny's book gives a good basic overview of a lot of topics in medieval philosophy. It will give you the breadth that we're sacrificing for depth.

    4. Medieval Philosophy: A Very Short Introduction - John Marenbon 2016

      Book Suggested for student purchase This is worth buying for its sheer breadth, though of course it's very basic.

  3. Week 1: Introduction to Medieval Philosophy 6 items
    This week's readings provide vital background on our period (1250–1350) before zooming in on Bonaventure's rekindling of the debate on the eternity of the world.
    1. When was Medieval Philosophy? - John Marenbon 2011

      Document Essential This lecture by John Marenbon, Britain's foremost historian of medieval philosophy, asks not just the surprisingly difficult title question, but also the question of why we should bother with the period in the first place.

    2. Reason Takes Hold: Aristotle and the Medieval University - Edward Grant 2001

      Chapter Essential This chapter of Grant's book gives the essential historical background to 13th-century scholastic philosophy.

    3. St. Bonaventure and the Demonstrability of a Temporal Beginning - Steven Baldner 1997

      Article Essential Baldner's article offers a detailed interpretation of the passage from Bonaventure that we'll be reading in this week's workshop.

    4. The Schoolmen: From the Twelfth Century to the Renaissance - Anthony Kenny 2005

      Chapter Recommended Kenny's long survey chapter is worth reading in full, but for present purposes the important part is pp. 54–79.

    5. The Decade of the 1250s - Richard C. Dales 1990

      Chapter Optional Dales's book "Medieval Discussions of the Eternity of the World" provides a wealth of detail about our first topic. This chapter picks up the story with Bonaventure in 1250.

    6. Neverending Story: The Eternity of the World - Peter Adamson 2016

      Audio document Optional This is a podcast from Adamson's ongoing series "The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps".

  4. Week 2: Eternity and Infinity 6 items
    This week we look at an interesting set of arguments against the possibility of an infinite past. In the workshop we will read John Pecham, later Archbishop of Canterbury.
    1. Is the World Eternal, Without Beginning or End? - Edward Grant 1994

      Chapter Essential This chapter of Grant's massive book on medieval cosmology provides a useful overview of the debate.

    2. Infinity Arguments in Favour of a Beginning - Richard Sorabji 1983

      Chapter Essential Sorabji's chapter is a rich blend of history and philosophy, and provides a good follow-up to the more basic coverage in Grant 1994.

    3. The Development of the Controversy - Richard C. Dales 1990

      Chapter Essential This chapter of Dales's book follows the debate through the 1260s, culminating (pp. 123–28) in an analysis of the work by John Pecham that we'll be reading in this week's workshop.

    4. Infinity and the Past - Quentin Smith 1987

      Article Recommended This article gives you a window onto the (admittedly limited) modern continuation of the debate.

    5. Why We Shouldn't Study Aquinas - John Marenbon 2017

      Document Optional As promised, this is Marenbon's provocative Annual Aquinas Lecture, delivered in a town that's the academic headquarters of the Catholic Church in Ireland. Think of it as a companion piece to 'When Was Medieval Philosophy?' from last week.

    6. For a Limited Time Only: John Philoponus - Peter Adamson 2012

      Audio document Optional This is a podcast from Adamson's ongoing series "The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps".

  5. Week 3: Aquinas and the Condemnations of 1270 and 1277 6 items
    This week we look at Aquinas's important contribution to the debate and at the controversial topic of the theological condemnation of philosophical positions.
    1. Aquinas's Philosophy in its Historical Setting - Jan A. Aertsen 1993

      Chapter Essential Aertsen's chapter revolves around Aquinas, but it also provides some useful general background on 13th-century philosophy.

    2. Aquinas on the Past Possibility of the World's Having Existed Forever - Ian Wilks 1994

      Article Essential Wilks discusses in detail the text we'll be reading in this week's workshop. The first section is also relevant to the topic of future contingents.

    3. The Reception and Impact of Aristotelian Learning and the Reaction of the Church and its Theologians - Edward Grant 1996

      Chapter Essential Grant's chapter provides a clear presentation of the view that the 1277 condemnations were a turning-point in the history of philosophy.

    4. The Condemnation of 1270 and its Aftermath - Richard C. Dales 1990

      Chapter Recommended This chapter of Dales's book includes (pp. 132–40) a discussion of the text by Aquinas that we'll be reading in this week's workshop.

    5. Condemnation of 1277 - Hans Thijssen 2003/2013

      Article Optional Much has been written about the condemnation(s) of 1277. Thijssen's SEP article tries to wrestle all this material into shape.

    6. Paris When it Sizzles: The Condemnations - Peter Adamson 2016

      Audio document Optional This is a podcast from Adamson's ongoing series "The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps".

  6. Week 4: Infinity and Continuity 6 items
    This week we look at the extraordinary development of philosophy in the 14th century. If you've ever wondered how many angels can dance on the head of a pin...
    1. Medieval and Renaissance Thought - A. W. Moore 2001

      Chapter Essential This chapter of Moore's wonderfully wide-ranging book 'The Infinite' gives a basic overview of philosophical concerns about infinity from the 3rd century to the 16th. You may also find something useful in the previous chapter on Aristotle.

    2. Mathematics in Fourteenth-Century Theology - Mark Thakkar 2009

      Chapter Essential This chapter contains a discussion of this week's workshop text, embedded in a brief version of the story that Grant's chapter develops at greater length.

    3. Reason in Action: Theology in the Faculty of Theology - Edward Grant 2001

      Chapter Essential Grant's long and rich chapter is well worth reading in full, but the most relevant stretch for present purposes is on pp. 220–52.

    4. Infinity and Continuity - John Murdoch 1982

      Chapter Recommended Murdoch did most of the work of unearthing 14th-century discussions of infinity, and there is a lot of material compressed into this classic chapter of his.

    5. Swester Katrei and Gregory of Rimini: Angels, God, and Mathematics in the Fourteenth Century - Edith Sylla 2005

      Chapter Optional Sylla's chapter addresses the important question of how many angels can dance on the point of a needle.

    6. Quadrivial Pursuits: The Oxford Calculators - Peter Adamson 2017

      Audio document Optional This is a podcast from Adamson's ongoing series "The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps".

  7. ESSAY 1: Assess Henry of Harclay’s discussion of the past eternity of the world 5 items
    Apart from Harclay's own text, the following are suggestions for *additional* reading. You should find some of the earlier readings helpful as well.
    1. Henry of Harclay and the Infinite - John Murdoch 1981

      Chapter Recommended

    2. Henry of Harclay on the Infinite - Richard C. Dales 1984

      Article Recommended

  8. Week 5: The Problem of Future Contingents 6 items
    Our second topic centres on the question of whether predictions have truth-values. We begin, inevitably, with Aristotle, and in the workshop we will read him through the eyes of Thomas Aquinas.
    1. On Interpretation, chapter 9 - Aristotle

      Chapter Essential This is the chapter that got the whole debate going. It's notoriously difficult, but it's also short. You should find Ackrill's endnotes helpful.

    2. Aristotle and the Future Sea Battle: Introduction - Richard Gaskin 1995

      Chapter Essential Gaskin's chapter is a brief guide to the main interpretations of chapter 9 of Aristotle's 'On Interpretation'. It's rather acronym-heavy, but useful all the same.

    3. Chapter 9: The Third Exception to RCP; Future Singular Assertions - C. W. A. Whitaker 1996

      Chapter Essential Whitaker's book is a clear and patient guide to Aristotle's 'On Interpretation', which he sees as an extended study of contradictory pairs of propositions.

    4. Truth and Contradiction in Aristotle’s De Interpretatione 6-9 - Russell E. Jones 2010

      Article Optional Jones's excellent article picks up where Whitaker left off, and is well worth reading if you want a clearer picture of Aristotle's own position.

    5. First Commentary on Aristotle 'On Interpretation' 9 - Boethius c514

      Chapter Optional The medievals owed their knowledge of Aristotle's 'On Interpretation' to Boethius. You may find it helpful to read his own commentary on chapter 9.

    6. The Philosopher’s Toolkit: Aristotle’s Logical Works - Peter Adamson 2011

      Audio document Optional This is a podcast from Adamson's ongoing series "The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps".

  9. Week 6: INDEPENDENT LEARNING WEEK 5 items
    This week's suggested readings are on the towering figure of Duns Scotus, thought by some people to have invented logical possibility and/or possible worlds.
    1. Duns Scotus - John Marenbon 2007

      Chapter Essential Marenbon's chapter gives a broad overview of Scotus's thought before narrowing the focus to modality.

    2. Duns Scotus’s Modal Theory - Calvin G. Normore 2003

      Chapter Recommended Normore's chapter goes into rather more detail on Scotus's contribution to scholastic theories of modality.

    3. Synchronic Contingency, Instants of Nature, and Libertarian Freedom: Comments on ‘The Background to Scotus’s Theory of Will’ - Scott MacDonald 1995

      Article Recommended MacDonald's short article makes some excellent points about Scotus on contingency.

    4. Did Duns Scotus Invent Possible Worlds Semantics? - Nicole Wyatt 2000

      Article Recommended Wyatt's article provides further discussion of modality in medieval philosophy. You may find it a useful follow-up to Normore 2003.

    5. To Will or Not to Will: Scotus on Freedom - Peter Adamson 2016

      Audio document Optional This is a podcast from Adamson's ongoing series "The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps".

  10. Week 7: Auriol's Elaboration of Aristotle’s Argument 5 items
    This week is devoted to the crucial task of understanding Aristotle's argument in detail in the clearer form articulated by Peter Auriol in the early 14th century.
    1. Neutral Propositions - Christopher Schabel 2000

      Chapter Essential Schabel's book on Auriol on future contingents is the most detailed treatment in print. This chapter deals with the text we'll be reading in this week's workshop.

    2. The Problem of Future Contingencies - Richard Taylor 1957

      Article Essential Taylor's article is part of a flurry of publications on future contingents from the 1950s. It's an exceptionally rich and clear contribution, but I've also singled it out because, like Auriol, Taylor thinks Aristotle was right.

    3. The Sentences, book I distinctions 38–39 - Peter Lombard c1155

      Chapter Essential Peter Lombard's text is very much in the background of Auriol's discussion, but it sets the scene for all scholastic discussions of future contingents.

    4. Peter Auriol - Russell L. Friedman 2002/2015

      Article Recommended Friedman's SEP article provides a survey of Auriol's wide-ranging contributions to philosophy.

    5. John Marenbon on Boethius - Peter Adamson 2013

      Audio document Optional This is a podcast from Adamson's ongoing series "The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps".

  11. Week 8: The Problem of Divine Foreknowledge 6 items
    This week we look at the effect of adding an omniscient God into the equation, and at Aquinas's solution to the resulting problems. In the workshop we will continue our close reading of Peter Auriol.
    1. Divine Foreknowledge and Human Freedom - Anthony Kenny 1969

      Chapter Essential Kenny's article gives a clear account of a standard interpretation of Aquinas, though he isn't up to speed on temporal necessity. If you want to really understand Aquinas, read Goris 1996.

    2. Aquinas on Eternity and Prescience - John Marenbon 2007

      Chapter Essential This section of Marenbon's chapter 'Philosophy in Paris and Oxford, 1200–77' gives his interpretation of Aquinas on foreknowledge and eternity.

    3. Indistant Knowledge of the Future - Christopher David Schabel 2000

      Chapter Essential This chapter of Schabel's book deals with Auriol's modification of Aquinas's view that all things are somehow present to God.

    4. Thomas Aquinas - Harm Goris 2017

      Chapter Recommended If it bothers you that we're steering clear of the topic of free will, this brand new chapter is for you.

    5. Free Creatures of an Eternal God: Thomas Aquinas on God's Foreknowledge and Irresistible Will - Harm Goris 1996

      Book Recommended Goris's book is the most accurate treatment of Aquinas's position that I know. Unfortunately, it's also rather long, and of course your time is limited. The most relevant sections are §3.1, §6.1, and §7.2.

    6. Back to the Future: Foreknowledge and Predestination - Peter Adamson 2017

      Audio document Optional This is a podcast from Adamson's ongoing series "The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps". This particular episode provides some background to next week's topic.

  12. Week 9: The Logical Status of Predictions 6 items
    This week we step back from the Middle Ages and consider the logical status of predictions from some modern philosophical perspectives. In the workshop, we replace Auriol with his fierce opponent Gregory of Rimini.
    1. A Popular Presumption Refuted - Vic Dudman 1992

      Article Essential Dudman's 2-page article rejects the popular presumption that predictions have the same semantics as propositions about the present and the past.

    2. Against the Indicative - Vic Dudman 1994

      Article Essential Dudman's longer article gives a more constructive refutation of the same presumption. You may find it particularly interesting if you have done some work on conditionals.

    3. The Metaphysics of Time - Michael Dummett 2004

      Chapter Essential Dummett's chapter examines various different metaphysical pictures of the past, the present and the future, paying particular attention to the logic of tensed statements.

    4. The Future and the Truth-Value Links: A Common Sense View - Jonathan Westphal 2006

      Article Essential Westphal's article uses Dummett's truth-value links to argue that there is no reason to treat predictions differently from propositions about the present and the past.

    5. Gregory of Rimini - Christopher David Schabel 2001/2015

      Article Recommended Schabel's SEP article focuses on Gregory of Rimini but also gives a useful picture of 14th-century philosophy in the wake of Auriol and Ockham.

    6. Is the Future Open? - Robert Lawrence Kuhn 2015

      Website Optional A collection of video interviews about divine foreknowledge. The big names in philosophy of religion here are Edward Wierenga and Gregory Ganssle.

  13. Week 10: Ockham and the Ockhamist Solution 5 items
    This week's readings concern a popular response to the argument from truth to necessity that Alvin Plantinga has called 'Ockham's way out'. In the workshop, we will continue our close reading of Gregory of Rimini.
    1. William of Ockham - John Marenbon 2006

      Chapter Essential This section of Marenbon's chapter 'Philosophy in the Universities, 1280–1400' concludes with a discussion of Ockham's take on divine foreknowledge.

    2. Introduction to Predestination, God's Foreknowledge, and Future Contingents - Marilyn McCord Adams 1983

      Chapter Essential Adams's introduction to the Adams-Kretzmann translation of Ockham's treatise is a key source for subsequent discussions of 'Ockhamism'.

    3. Freedom and Foreknowledge - John Martin Fischer 1983

      Article Essential A vast amount has been written on 'soft facts' over the past 50 years. I've chosen Fischer's article in particular as being both clear and influential.

    4. Prophecy, Freedom, and the Necessity of the Past - Edward Wierenga 1991

      Article Recommended Wierenga's article provides a useful overview of Ockhamism and the timeless eternity view before presenting the problem of prophecy and his Ockhamist solution.

    5. Predestination, God's Foreknowledge, and Future Contingents: Questions I, II, V - William of Ockham c1322

      Chapter Optional If our workshop readings had covered one 14th-century author besides Auriol and Rimini, it would have been Ockham, and this would have been the text.

  14. Week 11: The Necessity of the Past 5 items
    We conclude the module by questioning Auriol's assumption that the past is necessary. In doing so, we pay close attention to some medieval philosophers who apparently thought God could change the past.
    1. Real Possibility - Harry Deutsch 1990

      Article Essential Deutsch's short non-historical article usefully explicates 'real' possibility as 'a future-oriented modal-temporal notion'.

    2. Peter Damian on Divine Power and the Contingency of the Past - Richard Gaskin 1997

      Article Essential Gaskin's first article is mainly about how to interpret Peter Damian's position, but it also gives a useful overview of the relevant issues and of other medieval positions.

    3. Peter of Ailly and other Fourteenth-Century Thinkers on Divine Power and the Necessity of the Past - Richard Gaskin 1997

      Article Essential Gaskin's second article looks at a number of 14th-century positions, focussing on Peter of Ailly but also including e.g. Gregory of Rimini.

    4. Peter Damian - Toivo J. Holopainen 2003/2016

      Article Recommended Holopainen's SEP article gives a fuller and mostly accurate presentation of Peter Damian's position. The paragraph about 'bewilderment' misses a crucial point, though, and by now you should be able to see what it is.

    5. Virgin Territory: Peter Damian on Changing the Past - Peter Adamson 2014

      Audio document Optional This is a podcast from Adamson's ongoing series "The History of Philosophy Without Any Gaps".

  15. ESSAY 2: Does any medieval philosopher give a satisfactory account of the logical status of predictions? 13 items
    Here are some suggestions for additional reading. Many of the previous readings should be helpful as well, especially Schabel's book 'Theology at Paris, 1316–1345' and Gaskin's more technical book 'The Sea Battle and the Master Argument'.
    1. Future Contingents - Calvin Normore 1982

      Chapter Essential Normore's chapter gives a useful survey, though it's outdated in some of the details. Beware the misstatement of the principle of bivalence in the second sentence.

    2. Divine Foreknowledge and Future Contingents. First Part: The Period 1250–1330 - M.J.F.M. Hoenen 1992

      Chapter Essential Hoenen's chapter gives a good overview, starting with the historical background before covering the period from Aquinas to Ockham (minus Auriol) in more detail.

    3. Medieval Theories of Future Contingents - Simo Knuuttila 2006/2015

      Article Recommended Knuuttila's SEP article is quite dense, but it has an up-to-date bibliography that you may find helpful if you want more detail on a given position.

    4. Medieval Commentators on Future Contingents in De Interpretatione 9 - Simo Knuuttila 2010

      Article Optional Knuuttila's other article is primarily about medieval interpretations of Aristotle's position, but you might find it a useful read all the same.

    5. Walter Chatton on Future Contingents: Between Formalism and Ontology - Jon Bornholdt 2017

      Book Optional Part 1 of Bornholdt's new book provides a detailed and up-to-date philosophical discussion of medieval treatments of future contingents. It's pitched at a high level, though, so I suggest you leave it until you know which thinker(s) you're interested in.

    6. On Conditionals - V. H. Dudman 1994

      Article Recommended Dudman's article on conditionals works as a companion piece to the two articles of his on the logical status of predictions that you'll have read in Week 9.

    7. Troubles with Ockhamism - David Widerker 1990

      Article Recommended If you'd like to read more on Ockhamism and the distinction between 'hard facts' and 'soft facts', Widerker's article is a good follow-up to Fischer 1983 (as seen in Week 10).

    8. The Formalities of Omniscience - Arthur Prior 1962

      Chapter Recommended This is the first of two classic papers on the subject by Arthur Prior, whose creation of tense logic in the 1950s was partly prompted by the medieval debate.

    9. Time and Determinism - Arthur Prior 1967

      Chapter Recommended This is the second of two classic papers on the subject by Arthur Prior, whose creation of tense logic in the 1950s was partly prompted by the medieval debate.

    10. Future Contingents - Peter Øhrstrøm, Per Hasle 2011/2015

      Article Optional Øhrstrøm and Hasle's SEP article covers a lot of ground and is quite heavy on logic.

    11. Combinations of Tense and Modality - Richmond H. Thomason 1984

      Chapter Optional Thomason's article provides a technical framework for temporal modality that allows (via 'supervaluations') for the truth of some predictions.

    12. Indeterminism and the Thin Red Line - Nuel Belnap, Mitchell Green 1994

      Article Optional Belnap & Green's article is useful as a more philosophical and less technical companion piece to Thomason 1984.

    13. The Open Future: Bivalence, Determinism and Ontology - Elizabeth Barnes, Ross Cameron 2009

      Article Optional Barnes and Cameron use some modern technical work on vagueness to develop a view on which bivalence for predictions is compatible with an open future.

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