cod. 1008004

Academic year 2024/25
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 makes available 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: “To the Origins of the Modern Theories of the Intentionality of Mind: Thomas Aquinas and Hervé de Nédéllec.”

The course propose a backward journey from modern theories of the intentionality of mind to medieval treatments, in search of their historical origin. Starting from a reference to medievals made by Franz Brentano in “Psychology from an Empirical Standpoint,” the course aims to explore the theories of the intentionality of mind elaborated by two influential medieval authors, Thomas Aquinas and Hervé de Nédéllec (XIV century), a Dominican philosopher and theologian, disciple of Thomas, and author of the first extensive medieval treatise on intentionality (“Tractatus de secundis intentionibus”). Reconstructing their positions will allow us to assess whether Brentano really had knowledge of medieval theories.

Full programme

In the “Psychology from an Empirical StandPoint,” Franz Brentano states that “Every mental phenomenon is characterized by what the Scholastics of the Middle Ages called the intentional (or mental) inexistence of an object, and what we might call, though not wholly unambiguously, reference to a content, direction toward an object (which is not to be understood here as meaning a thing), or immanent objectivity.” The reference to the scholastics gives us the opportunity to embark on a backward journey in search of the possible medieval sources of the Brentanian doctrine of intentionality. We will thus arrive at two philosophers who may have influenced the author who initiated modern phenomenology, namely, Thomas Aquinas (1224/1225-1274) and Hervé de Nédellec (ca.1260-1323). We will reconstruct their doctrine of intentionality and their philosophy of mind in order to assess whether Brentano may have really had knowledge of their theories.



The texts by Thomas Aquinas and Hervé de Nédéllec that will be examined during the lessons will be distributed in class and uploaded to ELLY, on the page of the course.
There is no Italian translation of Hervé de Nédéllec's treatise on intentionality, but it is available the following English translation (including the Latin text):

- “A Treatise of Master Hervaeus Natalis (d.1323) The Doctor Perspicacissimus On Second Intentions,” ed. P. J. Doyle, Milwaukee, Marquette University Press, 2008.

To be introduced to the medieval discussions of intentionality, are recommended the following texts:

- F. Bottin, "Filosofia medievale della mente", Il Poligrafo, Padova, 2005.

- F. Amerini, "Tommaso d'Aquino e l'intenzionalità", ETS, Pisa 2013.

- L. M. de Rijk, “A Study on the Medieval Intentionality Debate up to ca. 1350,” in L. M. de Rijk (ed.), "Giraldus Odonis O. F. M. Opera Philosophica", vol. 2, Brill, Leiden 2005, pp. 19–372.

- D. Perler, "Théories de l'intentionnalité au Moyen Age", Vrin, Paris 2003 (soprattutto il primo capitolo).

For those who would like to deepen into the relationship between medieval doctrines and Brentano's account of intentionality, is recommended the following text:

- H. Taieb, “Relational Intentionality: Brentano and the Aristotelian Tradition,” Springer, Cham 2019.

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 in Italian or English, and developed in collaboration with external experts.
Lessons will be in presence but will be video-recorded. Links for the videos will be made available
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 examination.
Average duration of the examination 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 examination. The oral examination 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 examination 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: outstanding; 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
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 examination is oral. If the student wishes, however, she or he may replace the oral examination with a written examination. In that case, the student must send by email a written report to the lecturer a few days before the date chosen for examination. The examination will consist of the presentation of the written report by the student and of its discussion.