Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

I.     Course Prefix/Number: PHL 230

       Course Name: Ancient and Medieval Philosophy

       Credits: 3 (3 lecture; 0 lab)

II.    Prerequisite


III.   Course (Catalog) Description

Course gives historical overview of philosophical inquiry from pre-Socratic philosophers, through classic works of Plato and Aristotle, and on to works of medieval philosophers such as Avicenna, Averroes, Maimonides, and Aquinas.  IAI H4 901

IV.   Learning Objectives

After completing this course, students will be able to do the following:

  1. Analyze and evaluate some core theories and arguments of key philosophers active during the ancient and medieval periods.
  2. Identify basic lines of influence between philosophers of subsequent historical periods.
  3. Explain how basic philosophical questions are asked and answered differently in distinct historical and cultural contexts.
  4. Explain the central role of Islamic and Jewish philosophy for the continuity of the Western tradition.
  5. Discuss and evaluate both orally and in writing the answers to the basic philosophical questions asked during this period.
  6. Discuss and evaluate both orally and in writing the implications of these philosophical positions to the enduring ethical questions of human life.
  7. Exhibit values related to teamwork and collaboration, fostered by the pedagogy of shared-inquiry and critical dialogue appropriate to the humanities and philosophy.

V.    Academic Integrity and Student Conduct

Students and employees at Oakton Community College are required to demonstrate academic integrity and follow Oakton's Code of Academic Conduct. This code prohibits:

• cheating,
• plagiarism (turning in work not written by you, or lacking proper citation),
• falsification and fabrication (lying or distorting the truth),
• helping others to cheat,
• unauthorized changes on official documents,
• pretending to be someone else or having someone else pretend to be you,
• making or accepting bribes, special favors, or threats, and
• any other behavior that violates academic integrity.

There are serious consequences to violations of the academic integrity policy. Oakton's policies and procedures provide students a fair hearing if a complaint is made against you. If you are found to have violated the policy, the minimum penalty is failure on the assignment and, a disciplinary record will be established and kept on file in the office of the Vice President for Student Affairs for a period of 3 years.

Please review the Code of Academic Conduct and the Code of Student Conduct, both located online at

VI.   Sequence of Topics

(This is a sample outline of topics which is not meant to be prescriptive. In your outline of topics, please specify the dates on which you will cover specific topics and other important dates such as exams and paper deadlines.)

  1. Pre-Socratic Philosophy (≈ pre-450 BCE)
    1. Linking Greek philosophy to intellectual currents in eastern Mediterranean (mathematical and astronomical traditions in Egypt and Mesopotamian civilizations; Persian influences and function as a connection between Greece and India).
    2. Parmenides
    3. Heraclitus
    4. Democritus
    5. Protagoras (or other Sophists)
  2. Classical Age of Greek Philosophy (450—300 BCE)
    1. Socrates
    2. Plato
    3. Aristotle
  3. Hellenistic Philosophy (300 BCE—200 CE)
    1. Epicurus
    2. Zeno of Citium
    3. Pyrrho of Elis & Sextus Empiricus
    4. Philo of Alexandria
  4. Philosophy in Late Antiquity (200—500 CE)
    1. Plotinus
    2. Clement of Alexandria
    3. Proclus
    4. Origen
    5. Celsus (Against the Christians)
    6. Augustine of Hippo
  5. Medieval Philosophy: Early Period (500—900 CE)
    1. Boethius
    2. Al Kindi
    3. Al Farabi
    4. Hildegard von Bingen
    5. Isaac Israeli
  6. Medieval Philosophy: Middle Period (900-1200 CE)
    1. Al Ghazali
    2. Solomon ibn Gabriol
    3. Anselm
    4. Abelard
    5. Ibn Rushd
    6. Moses ben Maimon
  7. Medieval Philosophy: Late Period (1200-1400 CE)
    1. Aquinas
    2. Bonaventure
    3. Robert Grosseteste
    4. Roger Bacon
    5. Levi ben Gershon
    6. Ibn Taymiyah
    7. Ibn Khaldun
    8. William of Ockham
    9. Catherine of Siena

VII.  Methods of Instruction

  • Lectures and discussion
  • Small group work
  • Films
  • Student presentations and debates
  • Guest speakers
  • Field trips may be required

Course may be taught as face-to-face, hybrid or online course.

VIII. Course Practices Required

(Please include information here about all expectations you have for your students regarding behavior, work, etc.  The following are sample topics you may wish to cover.  Please be aware that you must require students in this course to produce at least 15 pages of critical written assignments over the course of the semester.  These may be assigned in a variety of ways including journals, response papers, field trip projects, etc.)

  • Attendance
  • Standards for written work
  • Quizzes/Exams
  • Participation
  • Essays
  • Final Project
  • Special policies about make-up exams, late papers, or other matters of concern

IX.   Instructional Materials

Note: Current textbook information for each course and section is available on Oakton's Schedule of Classes.

  • A text such as Western Philosophy from Antiquity to the Middle Ages by James N. Jordan, Meno, Apology, Republic Bks I, VI, VI by Plato ,or Metaphysics, Ethics, or Politics by Aristotle
  • Various selections from Arab and Jewish medieval thinkers. (Many of the works of this period are available on the Web.)
  • Films

X.    Methods of Evaluating Student Progress

(In this section, please present the percentages or point breakdown of their final grade. The writing assignments should count for at least 40% of the final grade. An example follows.)

  1. Quizzes/Exams……40 points
  2. Essays……40 points
  3. Final project with oral presentation……10 points
  4. Attendance and participation………10 points
  5. Grading scale: 90-100, A…….80-89, B………70-79, C……….60-69……..D

XI.   Other Course Information

Instructor information
  • Office and office hours:
  • Phone:
  • Email and website:

If you have a documented learning, psychological, or physical disability you may be entitled to reasonable academic accommodations or services. To request accommodations or services, contact the Access and Disability Resource Center at the Des Plaines or Skokie campus. All students are expected to fulfill essential course requirements. The College will not waive any essential skill or requirement of a course or degree program.

Oakton Community College is committed to maintaining a campus environment emphasizing the dignity and worth of all members of the community, and complies with all federal and state Title IX requirements.

Resources and support for
  • pregnancy-related and parenting accommodations; and
  • victims of sexual misconduct
can be found at

Resources and support for LGBTQ+ students can be found at

Electronic video and/or audio recording is not permitted during class unless the student obtains written permission from the instructor. In cases where recordings are allowed, such content is restricted to personal use only. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited. Personal use is defined as use by an individual student for the purpose of studying or completing course assignments.

For students who have been approved for audio and/or video recording of lectures and other classroom activities as a reasonable accommodation by Oakton’s Access Disabilities Resource Center (ADRC), applicable federal law requires instructors to permit those recordings. Such recordings are also limited to personal use. Any distribution of such recordings is strictly prohibited.

Violation of this policy will result in disciplinary action through the Code of Student Conduct.