Classical and Medieval Philosophy to split


Financial District, NEW YORK— Classical and Medieval Philosophy (PHIL 213) will be split into two separate classes, Ancient Philosophy and Medieval Philosophy, effective fall 2013.

The school decided to divide the course in order to improve the depth and breadth covered in each philosophical era.

Covering both ancient and medieval sections of philosophy in a single class “can be done, but it will be done insufficiently,” Dr. Joshua Blander, current Classical and Medieval Philosophy professor, said.

Andrew Debter, former Bonhoeffer scholar, jibed with the decision. “Probably a good move,” he said via email. “I know in past years, the ‘Medieval’ part of Classical and Medieval hasn't really gotten its due because the course inevitably spends so much time on Plato and Aristotle.”

To avoid complicating the course schedules for the class of 2015, students who are taking PHIL 213 this year will not have to change, Registrar Sue Ho said.

Ethics, which until now has been required for PPE majors but not MCA majors, will move into the open slot of the common core left after Introduction to the City was cut. This shift means that the added philosophy class resulting from the split will not remove any elective slots.

Professor David Talcott will center his new Ancient Philosophy course on Plato and Aristotle but will spend a substantial amount of time on the pre-Socratics.

“Now, there’s not time to really appreciate and get thoroughly acquainted with those figures,” Talcott said.

Blander will teach the Medieval Philosophy class, delving deeper into the works of Augustine, Aquinas and Anselm touched on in Classical and Medieval Philosophy. He plans to incorporate some Islamic philosophers and may invite theology professor Dr. Robert Carle to guest lecture on Islamic philosophy.

Blander also wants to add selections from William of Ockham, John Duns Scotus and Henry of Ghent to the readings, but Aquinas and Augustine will remain the primary focus. The Augustine readings will still come mostly from On Free Choice of the Will, the book now used in Classical and Medieval Philosophy. Other readings will include portions of Aquinas’ Summa Theologica and Anselm’s dialogues.

Talcott said the next step for the philosophy department is to hire “as many people as we can” to teach for expanding class sizes and added sections. The department will begin an official search process for an ethicist to teach the Ethics course, now part of the common core.

In response to rumors that Dr. Peter Kreeft would teach a section of Ethics, Talcott said, “Right now he probably teaches too much for that to happen, but it is not beyond the realm of possibility that he will eventually teach other courses at King’s.”