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Topics in Medieval Philosophy


Time and Modality in Western Philosophy in the Long Middle Ages

Perhaps the central question in western philosophy (that is to say, philosophy in the Greek, Latin, Arabic and Jewish traditions) in the Long Middle Ages (from c. 200 to c. 1700), is about the relationship between God and the rest of the universe. One of the main ways it is articulated is in terms of the contrast between time and eternity, and possibility and necessity. My course will examine how these ideas about temporality and modality are developed, usually in close connection with one another, in the work of a series of philosophers. The fourteen sessions will, provisionally, look at the following figures: -

  1. Introduction
  2. Boethius
  3. al-Farabi
  4. Avicenna
  5. Abelard
  6. Maimonides
  7. Aquinas
  8. Duns Scotus
  9. Jean de Meun, Chaucer
  10. Ockham
  11. Gersonides
  12. Crescas
  13. Spinoza
  14. Leibniz

I shall distribute a short primary text in English translation (about 20 pages maximum) as the central, required reading for each session. I shall also indicate a wider range of optional reading, of primary and secondary texts, but the aim is that the course can be followed well by those who come to the sessions and read the required texts carefully.



Marenbon J. A.

Course director

Additional information

Academic year
Master of Arts in Philosophy, Elective course, Elective Courses, 1st year
Master of Arts in Philosophy, Elective course, Elective Courses, 2nd year