Center for Medieval Philosophy
The Mission of the Center
The mission of the Center is to promote the study of medieval and later scholastic philosophy at Georgetown University, as well as in the greater international academic community, and to engage in original research that expands the discipline. Because of the desire to focus more intensely on original research, we have decided to focus our efforts on the Graystanes Project and on our new initiative: investigating how 17th and 18th century scholastic thinkers received the Enlightenment.
The center was fortunate in the early 1980s to have a generous benefactor in Edward A. Martin who believed that the study of medieval philosophy was important for the continuing development of Western culture and for sustaining dialog between the medieval past, the Enlightenment and the present. He named the endowed chair after his parents, the Isabella A. and Henry D. Martin Chair of Scholastic Medieval Philosophy and Politics. (For more information please click on the Martin Chair tab above.) The current holder of the Chair, Professor Mark Henninger, S.J., directs the Center's activities.
Why Study Medieval Philosophy?
The Middle Ages contributed substantially to the formation of Western institutions, technologies, socio-cultural structures and intellectual thought. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that the discipline of philosophy flourished during the medieval period. Many of the great questions medieval philosophers wrestled with concerned the relation between faith and reason, ethics, the role of virtue in human natural and supernatural flourishing, our place in the cosmos as well as technical issues of philosophy such as the mind-body problem, cognitional theory, and the ontological status of relations and universals. Medieval Philosophy achieved a level of intensity and sophistication rarely rivaled before or since, and many of its issues and theories in metaphysics, epistemology, action theory and ethics are still debated by thinkers today. During the medieval period, the search for answers to these questions facilitated cross-cultural exchanges between Christians, Jews and Muslims. One aspect of the mission of the Center is to renew that tradition of continuous cross-cultural exchange and dialog among religion, science and culture.
Edward A. Martin Undergraduate Prize
In fall 2010, Prof. Mark Henninger, S.J., announced the establishment of the Edward A. Martin Prize for the Most Outstanding Undergraduate Paper in Medieval Philosophy. The purpose of this prize was to recognize the best work currently being done in undergraduate medieval philosophy as well as to foster potential undergraduate scholars in the discipline of medieval philosophy. A paper or honors thesis focused on Western medieval philosophy from Augustine to Suarez of between 3,000 – 5,000 words, double-spaced, exclusive of bibliography or endnotes.
For 2012, we have decided to move the prize application date so that students may submit their senior theses. The deadline for the Edward A. Martin Undergraduate Prize submission is May 15, 2012. Winners will be notified by June 30, 2012. For more details please click on the tab at the Undergrad Prize tab at the top of the page.
The winners of the 2012 Edward A. Martin Undergraduate Prize are :
Machessa Samz, Marquette University, “Aquinas’ Account of the Truth of a Proposition: Socrates est albus” -- Supervising Professor: Dr David B. Twetten, M.S.L, Ph.D.
Garrett D. Ahlers, University of St. Thomas, (MN), "Whether God is in All Things? A Defense of Aquinas on God as the Source of Being" -- Supervising Professor: Dr. Gloria Frost, Ph.D.
Seth Hendricks, Calvin College, "Extending Aquinas's Account: Providing a More Positive Role for Reason in the Assent of Faith" -- Supervising Professor: Dr. Rebecca De Young, Ph.D.
The 2011 the winners are:
Michael Fatigati, Biola University, " The Inconsistency of Henry of Ghent's Analogical Reasoning in The Doctrine of the Trinity" -- Supervising Professor: David Ciocchi, Ph.D.
Nicholas Hendricks, Seattle University, "Saint Anselm Argues About Nothing" -- Supervising Professor: Daniel A. Dombowski, Ph.D.
Post-Doctoral Fellows Program
Prior to our decision to focus on Graystanes and our new research initiative, the Center for Medieval Philosophy for the last three years has been sponsoring the scholarship of our post-doctoral Fellows. The 2008 - 2010 Fellows have written and published on a wide variety of topics including the metaphysics of the Trinity in Henry of Ghent, Duns Scotus and William of Ockham, Rodger Bacon and Species in Medio, Thomas Aquinas and the Problem of Self-Knowledge and Henry of Ghent's Theory of Cognition. The 2011 Fellows have written on John Duns Scotus's Formal Distinction and on Domingo Banez: Divine Causality and Human Free Choice. (For more information, please click on Fellowships tab at the top of the web page.)
Their research, commentary and writing can be found on:
Conferences and Workshops
The Center for Medieval Philosophy has sponsored conferences and workshops (2007, 2009, 2012) as well as having its Director, Professor Mark Henninger, S.J. and Fellows attend and present at other global conferences. For more information on conferences and workshops please click on the Conferences tab above.
Prof. Mark Henninger and Dr. Robert Andrews are collaborating on the editing of the medieval manuscript Westminster Abby MS 13 written by Oxford Benedictine Robert Graystanes around 1320. The goal of the project is to transcribe (not translate) the Latin abbreviated text as found in the actual manuscript into expanded clear Latin, inserting punctuation, normalizing spelling and breaking the text into paragraphs that correspond to the sense. What is wonderful and compelling about this manuscript is the prominence Graystanes gives to other lesser known contemporary Oxford philosophers and theologians. It is an invaluable source of hitherto unknown information of this period of philosophy and a 'window' in to the intellectual life and personalities at Oxford. To learn more about this project click on the Graystanes tab at the top of the web page.
A Note from the Director, Prof. Mark Henninger, S.J.
"Edward Martin wanted the permanence and durability of a chair, filled decade after decade . . . he wanted the chair tied to Georgetown's traditions . . . ." This is an excerpt from the speech on February 2, 1981 by President Timothy Healy, S.J., commemorating the inauguration of the Martin Chair. The Director of the Martin Chair, Prof. Mark Henninger, S.J., welcomes the opportunity to discuss the work of the Martin Chair. For more information please click on the Director's Note tab at the top of the web page.
Professor Mark Henninger, S.J. may be reached at MedPhilGU@gmail.com. Correspondence may addressed to: Prof. Mark Henninger, S.J., Center for Medieval Philosophy, Department of Philosophy, Georgetown University, Washington DC 20057.
Header: Images of founders and contributors to the medieval scholastic tradition, left to right: Albertus Magnus, Avincenna, Robert Grosseteste,William of Ockham, Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas. Over the many years the Martin Chair has supported inquiry in to the works of all of the above philosophers.
Page Images: top left, Albertus Magnus; bottom right, William of Ockham