Debates in Medieval Philosophy: Essential Readings and Contemporary Responses, 1st Edition (Hardback) book cover

Debates in Medieval Philosophy

Essential Readings and Contemporary Responses, 1st Edition

Edited by Jeffrey Hause


422 pages

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Debates in Medieval Philosophy: Essential Readings and Contemporary Responses aims to de-mystify medieval works by offering an illuminating, engaging introduction to the problems that medieval philosophers from Augustine through Ockham wrestled with. Each of the volume’s 11 units presents a debate that will enable students to return to the primary texts prepared to think critically and imaginatively about them. Debates include:

  • Does Anselm have a hierarchical or a flat conception of free will?
  • Is Abelard’s ethics conceptually impoverished?
  • Does Avicenna teach that we acquire concepts through abstraction or emanation?
  • What is Aquinas’s purpose in writing the Summa contra gentiles?
  • How sound are Ockham’s criticisms of Scotus’s theory of universals and individuation?

The 10 essays newly commissioned for this volume will advance scholarship in medieval metaphysics, ethics, epistemology, logic, and philosophical theology, and in particular they will showcase what is philosophically distinctive and original in medieval philosophy. Students without experience in the history of philosophy will benefit from each unit’s clear, sharply written introductions that supply the necessary background to approach the debates intelligently.  In addition, the volume’s general introduction elucidates the value of studying the history of philosophy through debate, in particular the history of medieval philosophy.

Students will find in these debates models that will train them to formulate their own critical evaluations of a wide range of philosophical texts by thinkers with diverse philosophical commitments.


A well-chosen collection of outstanding papers on a wide range of issues that figure prominently in medieval philosophy. This, together with the complementary primary sources, would provide a superb introduction to the field.

Sydney Penner, Ohio State University

Table of Contents

Chapter 1. Augustine: The Theft of the Pears Scott Macdonald and Gareth Matthews Chapter 2. Boethius on Determinism and Free Choice Christophe Erismann and Norman Kretzmann Chapter 3. Anselm's Ontological Argument William Rowe and Cora Diamond Chapter 4. Anselm on Free Choice and Moral Responsibility Thomas Williams and Katherine Rogers Chapter 5. Abelard's Internalist Ethics Ian Wilks and Robert Sokolowski Chapter 6. Abstraction and Emanation in Avicenna Deborah Black and Dag Hasse Chapter 7. Creation and Cosmology in Maimonides' Guide for the Perplexed T. M. Rudavsky and W. Harvey Chapter 8. Bonaventure's Epistemology Timothy Noone Chapter 10. Aquinas and Aristotelian Naturalism Bonnie Kent and Terrence Irwin Chapter 11. Aquinas on Analogy E. Jennifer Ashworth and Ralph McInerny Chapter 12. Scotus and Ockham on Intuitive and Abstractive Cognition Giorgio Pini and Douglas C. Langston Chapter 13. Scotus and Ockham on Universals and Individuation JT Paasch

About the Editor

Jeffrey Hause is Associate Professor of Philosophy at Creighton University.

About the Series

Key Debates in the History of Philosophy

New students to the history of philosophy face a serious risk when first encountering the classic texts of the canon.  They often may equate a summary of an important philosopher as the final word on that thinker.  Lost in the introductions and primers to the great philosophers are the complexities and range of competing interpretations that result from close readings of the primary texts.  Unlike any other undergraduate introduction in this field, Key Debates in the History of Philosophy are designed to lead students back to the classic works so that they may better understand what's at stake in these competing viewpoints.

Each volume in the series contains 10 to 15 interpretive issues, or sections, with two chapters included in each section.  The first chapter is a re-printed well known journal article or book chapter.  The second chapter either takes to task or build upon the argument in the first article and is written by a different scholar especially for the volume.  The result is a new kind of introduction–one that enables students to understand philosophy's history as a still-living debate, rather than a string of unearthed truths from the past.  A volume introduction and an introduction to each section enable the student to enter the debates more fully informed.  The section introductions will explain how the interpretive problem arises and why it matters and provide a short range of possible solutions.  They also will offer information on important political and social contexts, explain any technical terms, and unpack references to larger arguments.  An annotated Suggested Reading List at the end of each section will point the new student to additional scholarship on each debate.  Each volume concludes with a glossary of terms germane to both the period and the history of philosophy in general.

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Subject Categories

BISAC Subject Codes/Headings:
PHILOSOPHY / History & Surveys / Medieval