Thirteenth Century Philosophy

In the thirteenth century, medieval philosophy reaches the highpoints of scholasticism with such famous names as Bonaventure, Thomas Aquinas, Henry of Ghent, and Duns Scotus. In Paris, debates rage over the newly rediscovered works of Aristotle, with reactions ranging from condemnation to enthusiasm. There are developments in science, notably with the pioneering empiricism of Roger Bacon, while philosophers outside the scholastic mainstream also make contributions (including female thinkers like Mechthild of Magdeburg). In addition to podcasts on specific thinkers, certain themes are covered, such as the transcendentals, magic, poverty, animals, just war theory, philosophy of language, and the eternity of the world. This series of episodes includes interviews with Charles Burnett, Therese Cory, Richard Cross, Catarina Ditulh-Novaes, Martin Pickavé, Georgio Pini, Scott MacDonald, and Juhana Toivanen.

Further Reading

In addition to the general bibliography on medieval philosophy provided here see:

• H. Holzhey (ed.), Grundriss der Geschichte der Philosophie: die Philosophie des Mittelalters, 13. Jahrhundert (Basel: 2017).

• N. Kretzmann, A. Kenny and J. Pinborg (eds), The Cambridge History of Later Medieval Philosophy (Cambridge: 1982).

• J. Marenbon, Later Medieval Philosophy (1150-1350) (London: 1987).

• S.P. Marrone, The Light of thy Countenance: Science and Knowledge of God in the Thirteenth Century, vol.1: a Doctrine of Divine Illumination (Leiden, 2001).

• R. Pasnau, Theories of Cognition in the Later Middle Ages (Cambridge: 1997).

• I.P. Wei, Intellectual Culture in Medieval Paris: Theologians and the University, c. 1100-1330 (Cambridge: 2012).

Episodes 225 - 264: Thirteenth Century

225. No Uncertain Terms: Thirteenth Century Logic

Posted on 24 May 2015

The terminist logicians William of Sherwood and Peter of Spain classify the various ways that language can relate to the world.

Thanks to Catarina Dutilh Novaes for help with this episode.

226. Full of Potential: Thirteenth Century Physics

Posted on 31 May 2015

Richard Rufus and anonymous commentators on Aristotle explore the nature of motion, time, infinity and space.

227. Stayin’ Alive: Thirteenth Century Psychology

Posted on 7 June 2015

John Blund and William of Auvergne draw on Aristotle and Avicenna to argue that the soul is immaterial and immortal.

228. It's All Good: The Transcendentals

Posted on 14 June 2015

Philip the Chancellor introduces the transcendentals, a key idea in medieval metaphysics and aesthetics.

229. Do the Right Thing: Thirteenth Century Ethics

Posted on 21 June 2015

The scholastics explore Aristotle’s ethical teaching and the concept of moral conscience.

230. A Light That Never Goes Out: Robert Grosseteste

Posted on 28 June 2015

Translator, scientist and theologian Robert Grosseteste sheds light on the cosmos, human understanding, and the rainbow.

231. Origin of Species: Roger Bacon

Posted on 5 July 2015

Roger Bacon extols the power of science based on experience and uses a general theory of "species" to explain light and vision.

232. Charles Burnett on Magic

Posted on 10 July 2015

Charles Burnett tells Peter about the role of magic in medieval intellectual life.

233. Stairway to Heaven: Bonaventure

Posted on 16 July 2015

Bonaventure argues that human knowledge depends on an illumination from God.

234. Your Attention Please: Peter Olivi

Posted on 26 July 2015

Peter Olivi proposes that awareness occurs not through passively being affected by things, but by actively paying attention to them.

235. Juhana Toivanen on Animals in Medieval Philosophy

Posted on 2 August 2015

Medieval ideas about what animals do and do not have in common with humans, and how we should treat them.

236. None for Me, Thanks: Franciscan Poverty

Posted on 9 August 2015

Bonaventure and Peter Olivi respond to critics of the Franciscan vow of poverty, in a debate which produced new ideas about economics and rights.

237. Begin the Beguine: Hadewijch and Mechthild of Magdeburg

Posted on 27 September 2015

Two Beguine authors, Hadewijch and Mechthild of Magdeburg, deploy the tropes of courtly love in vernacular writings about their mystical experiences.

238. Binding Arbitration: Robert Kilwardby

Posted on 11 October 2015

Robert Kilwardby is infamous for his ban on teaching certain philosophical ideas at Oxford, yet made contributions in logic and on the soul.

239. Catarina Dutilh Novaes on Medieval Logic

Posted on 25 October 2015

Was medieval logic "formal"? Peter finds out from Catarina Dutilh Novaes.

240. Animal, Vegetable, Mineral: Albert the Great’s Natural Philosophy

Posted on 8 November 2015

Albert the Great earns his nickname “universal doctor” by devoting himself to the whole of nature, from geology and botany to the study of human nature.

241. The Shadow Knows: Albert the Great's Metaphysics

Posted on 22 November 2015

Albert the Great’s theory of being and his attempt to explain what changes in the human mind when we come to see God in the afterlife.

242. Therese Cory on Self-Awareness in Albert and Aquinas

Posted on 6 December 2015

Therese Cory tells Peter what 13th century philosophers thought about self-awareness.

243. The Ox Heard Round the World: Thomas Aquinas

Posted on 20 December 2015

An introduction to Thomas Aquinas, his views on faith and reason, and his famous “five ways” of proving God’s existence.

244. Everybody Needs Some Body: Aquinas on Soul and Knowledge

Posted on 3 January 2016

Thomas Aquinas makes controversial claims concerning the unity of the soul and the empirical basis of human knowledge.

245. What Comes Naturally: Ethics in Albert and Aquinas

Posted on 17 January 2016

Natural and supernatural virtue and happiness in Thomas Aquinas and his teacher, Albert the Great.

246. What Pleases the Prince: The Rule of Law

Posted on 31 January 2016

Natural law and political legitimacy in thirteenth century thinkers up to and including Thomas Aquinas.

247. Onward, Christian Soldiers: Just War Theory

Posted on 14 February 2016

Aquinas follows medieval legal thinkers in defining the conditions under which war may be justified, and proposes his famous doctrine of double effect.

248. Scott MacDonald on Aquinas

Posted on 28 February 2016

Scott MacDonald joins Peter to discuss Thomas Aquinas' views on human knowledge.

249. Paris When it Sizzles: the Condemnations

Posted on 13 March 2016

Two rounds of condemnations at Paris declare certain philosophical teachings as heretical. But what were the long term effects?

250. Q&A

Posted on 27 March 2016

Peter answers listener questions on the nature of philosophy and the podcast series.

251. Masters of the University: "Latin Averroism"

Posted on 10 April 2016

Did Siger of Brabant and Boethius of Dacia, who have been called “Latin Averroists” and “radical Aristotelians,” really embrace a doctrine of “double truth”?

252. Neverending Story: the Eternity of the World

Posted on 24 April 2016

Aquinas, Bonaventure, and the so-called “Latin Averroists” take up the question of whether the universe has always existed, and settle once and for all which comes first, the chicken or the egg.

253. Let Me Count the Ways: Speculative Grammar

Posted on 8 May 2016

The modistae explore the links between language, the mind, and reality.

254. Love, Reign Over Me: The Romance of the Rose

Posted on 22 May 2016

Sex, reason, and religion in Jean de Meun’s completion of an allegory of courtly love, the Roman de la Rose.

255. Andreas Speer on Medieval Aesthetics

Posted on 5 June 2016

Does medieval art tell us anything about medieval theories of aesthetics? Peter finds out from Andreas Speer.

256. Frequently Asked Questions: Henry of Ghent

Posted on 19 June 2016

Henry of Ghent, now little known but a leading scholastic in the late 13th century, makes influential proposals on all the debates of his time.

257. Martin Pickavé on Henry of Ghent and Freedom

Posted on 3 July 2016

An interview with Martin Pickavé on voluntarism and the interaction of will and intellect, according to Henry of Ghent.

258. Here Comes the Son: The Trinity and the Eucharist

Posted on 17 July 2016

Philosophy is pushed to its limits to provide rational explanations of two Christian theological doctrines.

259. Richard Cross on Philosophy and the Trinity

Posted on 31 July 2016

Medieval discussions of the Trinity charted new metaphysical territory, as we see in this interview with Richard Cross.

260. Once and for All: Scotus on Being

Posted on 11 September 2016

Duns Scotus attacks the proposal of Aquinas and Henry of Ghent that being is subject to analogy.

261. To Will or Not to Will: Scotus on Freedom

Posted on 25 September 2016

Scotus develops a novel theory of free will and, along the way, rethinks the notions of necessity and possibility.

262. On Command: Scotus on Ethics

Posted on 9 October 2016

Scotus argues that morality is a matter of freely choosing to follow God’s freely issued commands.

263. One in a Million: Scotus on Universals and Individuals

Posted on 23 October 2016

Scotus explains how things can share a nature in common while being unique individuals.

264. Giorgio Pini on Scotus on Knowledge

Posted on 6 November 2016

Peter hears about Duns Scotus' epistemology from expert Giorgio Pini.