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Medieval Proofs for the Existence of God


Admission requirements

Admission to one of the following programmes is required:

  • MA Philosophy 60 EC: specialisation Global and Comparative Philosophy

  • MA Philosophy 120 EC: specialisation Philosophy in World Traditions


Can we be sure of God’s existence? This admittedly theological sounding question was enthusiastically addressed by philosophical means throughout the Middle Ages. The main interest seems to be God’s uniquely quirky nature: causing without being caused, knowing without being known, more powerful than anything else, and yet a necessity for nearly any world view. In other words, God is an interesting phenomenon to test your theories of physics and metaphysics on, a stress test if you will. We will study proofs for God’s existence among Christian, Muslim, and Jewish philosophers (two of each). We will penetrate classical texts which you might have read before, such as ‘the five ways’ of Thomas Aquinas. But we will go far beyond a superficial reading. Closely observing their argumentation, their explicit and implicit assumptions, we will get to the bottom of what these people considered a proof, what they considered to be God, and what to thought to be existence. By comparing their proofs piece by piece, we will highlight similarities and differences. You will be introduced to the modern scholarly debate on these texts, too, and you will learn how to take your own position within that debate. All readings will be in English as much as possible (with the exception of an odd German or French article). The source languages will be highlighted in class now and then and students who know Latin, Hebrew, or Arabic will have the possibility to use it in their final paper. Equally, it will be touched upon how the source material, being manuscripts, influences one’s work, but this will not be focus. This course is, essentially, about the argumentation and meaning of these brightest minds of mankind.

Course objectives

To be announced.


Visit MyTimetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Mid-term assignment and presentation (30%)

  • Final paper (70%)


The final mark for the course is established by determination of the weighted average of several subtests (see above).


To be announced.
Students who have obtained a satisfactory overall grade for the course cannot take the resit.

Inspection and feedback

How and when an exam review will take place will be disclosed together with the publication of the exam results at the latest. If a student requests a review within 30 days after publication of the exam results, an exam review will have to be organized.

Reading list

To be announced.


Enrolment through uSis is mandatory.
General information about uSis is available on the website

Students are strongly advised to register in uSis through the activity number, which can be found in the timetables for courses and exams.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


Dr. L.W.C. van Lit


Not applicable.