philosophy exam

Medieval Philosophy, Spring 2022
First Examination


Please submit your exam no later than 5 pm on Thursday, February 24. 

If you quote material from the book, give a parenthetical reference to the page number and column. For example:

    Augustine says, blah, blah, blah (34b).

Note that the period (or comma) goes after the parenthetical reference. I do not know why I care about this.

You shouldnt need to use any outside sources, but if you do, you must give a full citation. Use of material without citation is plagiarism; use of material with proper citation is research. (Its a big difference.) All exams will be checked using Turnitin, and violations of academic honesty will be taken very seriously.

Part One: Commentary

Provide commentary on each of the following passages. Explain the content of the passage and relate it to broader themes in the authors philosophy, etc. You should try to write roughly 400500 words on each.

1.    Therefore, all things that have being are good, and that evil whose origin I was inquiring about is not a substance. For if it were a substance, it would be good, since it would be either an incorruptible substance, and thus of course a great good, or a corruptible substance, which would not be corruptible unless it were good. And so I saw, and it was made plain to me, that you made all things good and that there are no substances that you did not make. And it is because you did not make all things equal that all things exist: for individually they are good, and taken together they are very good, because our God made all things very good.

    Augustine, Confessions 7.12.18 (70b71a)

2.    What of that virtue which is called prudence? Does she not devote all her vigilance to the discrimination of good and evil, so that in pursuing the one and shunning the other no error may creep in? Thus she bears witness herself that we are among evils, that is, that evils are in us; for she teaches us herself that it is an evil to yield to a lust for sin, and a good not to yield to a lust for sin. But that evil to which prudence teaches and temperance causes us not to yield, is neither by prudence nor by temperance banished from this life. 

    Augustine, City of God 19.4 (84a)

3.    If the conclusions we reached a little while ago have not been torn to pieces but still hold, then, by the agency of that same creator of whose kingdom we now speak, you will come to see that good people are always powerful, while evil people are always disreputable and unable to sustain themselves; that vices are never without punishment, and virtues never without reward; that things worthy of rejoicing always happen to good people, and disasters always happen to the evil.

    Boethius, Consolation of Philosophy 4, pr. 1 (113a)

4.    Finally, if someone says that he thinks it does not exist, I say that when he thinks this, either he is thinking something than which a greater cannot be thought, or he is not. If he is not, then he is not thinking that it does not exist, since he is not thinking it at all. But if he is, he is surely thinking something that cannot be thought not to exist. For if it could be thought not to exist, it could be thought to have a beginning and end, which is impossible. Therefore, someone who is thinking it, is thinking something that cannot be thought not to exist. And of course someone who is thinking this does not think that that very thing does not exist. Otherwise he would be thinking something that cannot be thought. Therefore, that than which a greater cannot be thought cannot be thought not to exist.

    Anselm, Reply to Gaunilo 3 (177b)

5.    Therefore, any kind of carrying out of deeds is irrelevant to increasing a sin. Nothing taints the soul but what belongs to it, namely that consent that weve said is alone the sin, not the will preceding it or the subsequent doing of the deed. For even if we want or do what is improper, we dont thereby sin, since these things frequently occur without sin, just as, conversely, consent occurs without these things.

    Peter Abelard, Ethics, or Know Thyself 48 (208a)

Part Two: Essays

Here again, write about 400500 words on each.

6.    State and explain the argument for the incompatibility of divine foreknowledge and human free will given in Book V of The Consolation of Philosophy. Explain Lady Philosophy’s solution to the problem.

7.    Discuss the role that divine simplicity plays in Boethius and Anselm. Consider both their arguments for simplicity and the conclusions that they derive from simplicity.