cod. 1008004

Academic year 2023/24
2° year of course - First semester
Fabrizio AMERINI
Academic discipline
Storia della filosofia medievale (M-FIL/08)
Istituzioni di filosofia
Type of training activity
30 hours
of face-to-face activities
6 credits
hub: PARMA
course unit

Learning objectives

This course will reinforce the students' tools for critical, informed and
independent judgment, and their skills for communication and continuing
education. In particular, after this course, students will develop the
following abilities of acquiring knowledge and understanding (Dublin
Descriptor I): students will be made able to know the philosophical,
theological, and scientific thought of the Middle Ages; to read and
understand the classical texts of medieval philosophy; to acquire the
terminology of medieval philosophy and of the different philosophical
methods required for the discussion of topics and the interpretation of
medieval texts; to be acquainted with and assess the historiography of
medieval philosophy. After this course, students will also develop the
following abilities to apply the acquired knowledge and understanding
(Dublin Descriptor II): students will be made able to compose clear,
documented and argumentbased papers; to apply knowledge in
interdisciplinary fields; to reconstruct and follow the genesis and
development of a concept, a doctrine and/or a philosophical debate; to
explain the connection of ideas between the history of medieval
philosophy and other areas of science and philosophy, in particular
ancient, late-antique and early-modern philosophy as well as theology;
toreconstruct and assess a cultural and/or inter-cultural context, with
particular attention to the interplay of the different positions that are
involved. Finally, after this course, students will develop the following
communication and learning skills and abilities of making independent
judgments (Dublin Descriptors III - IV - V): students will be made able to
critically evaluate a philosophical text, both from a historical and a
philosophical, philological and/or textual point of view; to assess the
arguments used in a philosophical debate and/or text in order to decide a claim, to resolve a problem and/or to defend a thesis; to criticize a
philosophical position, an argument and/or a topic, by
correctly setting it in its proper historical and/or textual context; to assess
concepts as to their developments and their relations, also with regard to
other disciplinary areas; to know how reconstructing and following,
historically as well as philosophically, the genesis of a concept, a problem
and/or a philosophical debate; to communicate the acquired knowledge
and ablities of analysis and judgment in a clear, documented, complete
and logically consequential and well-organized way, both orally and
through written papers; to evaluate accurately and to reconstruct
completely their learning process and the skills, abilities and knowledge
they have acquired.


The course is open to all students, but since it is an advanced course, it may be helpful to have already acquired some skills and knowledge in medieval studies. Although the course uses texts in Italian translation, the knowledge of Latin and a good knowledge of the history of philosophy in general and of that ancient
and medieval in particular is recommended.

Course unit content

Title of the course: "Thomas Aquinas and Angels".

This course aimes to provide a reconstruction of the angeleological doctrine of Thomas Aquinas. Through the reading and commentary of Aquinas's main texts on the issue, the course will reconstruct Aquinas's answer to a series of questions concerning angelic natures: how angels know and how they communicate to each other and to humans, whether angels are made of matter and form, whether they can move in space and whether they can acquire bodily forms, whether they can sin, and whether they can foreknow the future.

Full programme

Angels are a theme in which medieval authors are particularly interested. The interest was mainly theological, related to the nature and function of angels as transmitters of divine knowledge. But angels also constitute an interesting theme for philosophical inquiry, as they serve the function of a sort of true mental experiment. As pure intelligences, medieval authors discuss how angels can know the things of the external world and how they communicate their knowledge to each other, whether angels can move in the space and whether they can acquire bodily forms, whether angels can sin and whether they can foreknow the future. The Course aims to read and comment on the main texts in which Thomas Aquinas, one of the leading theologians and philosophers of the XIIIth century, addressed and answered these and other questions.



1) Thomas de Aquino, "Summa theologiae", I, qq. L-LXIII, in Sancti Thomae Aquinatis Opera Omnia, t. V, cura et studio fratrum Praedicatorum, ex Typographia Polyglotta S.C. de propaganda fide, Roma 1888, pp. 3-138.

2) Tommaso d'Aquino, "Lo somma teologica", traduzione e commento a cura dei Domenicani italiani, vol. IV, Edizioni Studio Domenicano, Bologna 1984, pp. 147-411

(the Latin text of Thomas Aquinas's "Summa theologiae" and its Italian translation will be made available at the beginning of the course on ELLY platform).

3) T. Suarez-Nani, "Connaissance et langage des anges selon Thomas d'Aquin et Gille de Rome", Vrin, Paris 2002, I, cap. 1, e II, cap. 1;

4) T. Suarez-Nani, "Il linguaggio e la comunicazione degli
angeli nel pensiero medievale:
la concezione di Tommaso d’Aquino", in "Didaskalia" 47 (2017): 79-97

(the article will be made available at the beginning of the course on ELLY platform).

For those interested in learning more about medieval angelology, the following readings are recommended:

1) G. Agamben e E. Coccia (a cura di), "Angeli: ebraismo cristianesimo islam",
Neri Pozza, Vicenza 2009;

2) T. Hoffmann (ed.), "A Companion to Angels in Medieval Philosophy", Brill, Leiden-Boston 2012.

For a.y. 2023/2024, the course "Ancient and Medieval Logic and Semantics" will borrow from this teaching. Students interested in taking Prof. Binini's course are asked to contact me to finalize the examination program.

Teaching methods

Oral lessons. During the lessons the topics that will be discussed are
those of the general contents of the course. Lessons can be
supplemented by seminars devoted to the reading and discussion of
medieval texts, to which students are invited to attend actively.
Seminars may be developed in collaboration with external professors.
Lessons will be in presence and will be video recorded. Links for the videos will be indicated
on the ELLY platform.

Assessment methods and criteria

Students' knowledge and understanding skills, and their abilities to apply
them, will be verified through a final oral exam.
Average duration of the exam is about 30 min.
The types of questions are determined by the features of students’ education and learning that need to be verified.
In particular, the oral exam aims to verify: 1) the degree of students’
historical and philosophical formation and preparation, both with respect
to the primary sources and the secondary literature; 2) students’ ability
to assess and compare texts, interpretations of texts, and
historiographical theses; 3) the ability to understand, analyze, and
contextualize philosophical texts.
If students wish, they may submit a written paper on the text indicated in
the bibliography for discussion in the final exam.
The final score (on scale 0-30) is the result of the written paper and the
oral exam.
The oral exam will be evaluated according to three criteria: 1) speech
clearness and accuracy; 2) critical thinking and independent judgment; 3)
ability to analyze and contextualize a philosophical text and/or a problem.
The exam is passed if the minimum grade of 18/30 is reached.The final
mark will be awarded according to the following scheme: 30 and
praise: excellent; solid preparation and extensive knowledge of medieval
philosophy, excellent expressive skills, capacity of comprehension and
analysis of texts, concepts, topics and/or arguments of medieval
philosophy complete and exhaustive; 30: excellent; complete and
adequate knowledge, excellent analysis skills, correct and well articulated expression; 27-29: very good; more than satisfactory knowledge, adequate analysis skills and essentially correct and structured
expression; 24-26: good; good but not complete knowledge, satisfactory analysis skills and not always correct expression; 21-23: discrete; discrete
knowledge although superficial, sometimes unsatisfactory analysis skills and inappropriate ability to express; 18-20: sufficient;
acceptable but very superficial knowledge, unsatisfactory analysis skills, often inappropriate expression;
0-17: insufficient; the preparation shows important gaps in terms of knowledge of the content, lack of clarity in exposition, inability
to understand and analyze texts, concepts, topics and/or arguments of
medieval philosophy.

Other information

Two or three dates are scheduled for every session of exams, as
indicated in the public calendar.

The final exam is oral. If the student wishes, she/he may send by email to the teacher, some days before the date chosen for the exam, also a written report that she/he can illustrate and discuss during the exam.