Ancient and Medieval Western Philosophy (PHIL 316)

Manchester College, Fall 2011    Instructor: Steve Naragon


Welcome to these online materials for the Fall 2011 course on Ancient and Medieval Western Philosophy (PHIL 316, Manchester College).

This course meets three times weekly for 50 minutes, and is devoted to reading and discussing selections from the writings of ancient Greek, Roman, and medieval Christian, Muslim, and Jewish philosophers. 

While these philosophers lived a long time ago, it is immediately apparent to anyone reading them that their concerns are often quite similar to our own —

• What does it mean to be human? 

• What is our proper place in the universe? 

• Does a reality exist separate from the appearances we experience? 

• Can I gain knowledge of this reality? 

• Can I know God? 

• What is the nature of knowledge, and how does it differ from true beliefs? 

• Is one form of social existence better than another? 

• Do I have obligations to others?

— and on and on.

Humans have not changed that much in the past three-thousand years, although our way of thinking about and viewing the world and ourselves has often changed dramatically.  Much of the value of studying the ideas of past philosophers is that it gives us a glimpse of another way of thinking, and in doing this, offers us a chance to reflect upon our own way of experiencing (and responding to) the world from the outside in, much as learning a second language gives one a heightened sense of one’s first language.

Contacting Me

Click on my name (above) to reach my home page with contact information and a link for my Fall schedule for 2011.

I will try to keep the office hours indicated on the weekly schedule, but I’m happy to meet at other times as well; just see me before or after class to arrange something.  Otherwise, I am best reached by email or voice-mail left at my office (982-5041).

Manchester College   //    Registrar   //    Department of Religion and Philosophy    //    Last updated: 3 Aug 2011