Medieval Philosophy

This working group in medieval philosophy engages with those texts of the Middle Ages that are most important for later thinkers.  It provides an outlet for exploration not only to those people in history, literature, and foreign languages to study the philosophical systems that engaged their own objects of study, but also provides valuable background for those people working with later thinkers across the social sciences and humanities.  Many of the twentieth century’s most important thinkers worked on medieval philosophy early in their careers: Martin Heidegger wrote his dissertation on Thomas of Erfurt and Hannah Arendt wrote hers on St. Augustine, while Georges Bataille and Pierre Bourdieu worked with aspects of medieval mysticism and monasticism respectively.  These earlier influences remained important for all of these thinkers as their work developed.  Conversely, other thinkers turned to medieval philosophy in their later works, and one might recall here the last volume of Foucault’s History of Sexuality or Jean-François Lyotard’s last work on Augustine.  In order to understand contemporary thought, then, it pays to know about medieval philosophy.

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