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Avicenna and his Critics


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • BA students in Philosophy: Global and Comparative Perspectives, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including World Philosophies: Modern Europe, Concepts of Selfhood, Language and Thought, and at least one of the courses World Philosophies: China, World Philosophies: India, World Philosophies: Africa, World Philosophies: Middle East, OR including World Philosophies: Modern Europe, Logic, Epistemology or Philosophy of Science, Language of Thought.

  • BA students in Filosofie, who have successfully completed at least 70 ECTS credits of the mandatory components of the first and second year of their bachelor’s programme, including Griekse en Romeinse filosofie, History of Modern Philosophy, Comparative Philosophy, Analytische filosofie or Philosophy of Mind, OR including History of Modern Philosophy, Logica, Epistemologie or Wetenschapsfilosofie, Analytische filosofie.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement and who have to complete an advanced seminar, to be selected from package D.


Avicenna stands tall as one of most profound philosophical minds in medieval philosophy. Many centuries passed after the composition of Aristotle’s Metaphysics before metaphysical works of similar size and ambition were written in the Peripatetic tradition. In terms of comprehensiveness, systematic effort, and influence, Avicenna’s metaphysical writings are arguably more important than Aristotle. The present course explores in some detail the main contours of Avicennan metaphysics and its reception in three different culture: Arabic, Hebrew, and Latin.

Course objectives

Students who successfully complete the course will have a familiarity with:

  • some of the major philosophical-metaphysical traditions in the medieval period;

Students who successfully complete the course will be able to:

  • critically reflect on, distinguish between, and examine key varieties and aspects of philosophical argumentation;

  • exhibit the analytic skills necessary to comprehend the relevance of the past to their understanding of the present, while becoming more familiar with their own assumptions and values;

  • acquire a set of reading and discussion skills that allow them to engage texts and others in an informed and conscientious manner.


The timetables are available through My Timetable.

Mode of instruction

  • Seminars

Class attendance is required.

Assessment method


  • Midterm essay: 40%

  • Final essay: 40%

  • 12 weekly essays: 20%

Failure to submit weekly essays in class will disqualify students from the exams.


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


The resit consists of an essay (80%). The grade for the resit will replace the previously earned grades for midterm and final essays (80%). The grade for weekly essays remains in place. Students who have obtained a satisfactory grade for the first examinations 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

  • D. Gutas, Avicenna and the Aristotelian Tradition: Introduction to Reading Avicenna’s Philosophical Works (Leiden, 2014).

  • J. Janssens, and D. De Smet (eds.), Avicenna and His Heritage (Leuven, 2002).

  • J. McGinnis, Avicenna (Oxford, 2010).

  • R. Wisnovsky, Avicenna’s Metaphysics in Context (Ithaca, N. Y., 2003).

  • P. Adamson (ed.), Interpreting Avicenna: Critical Essays (Cambridge, 2013).


Enrolment through MyStudymap is not possible for this course. Students are requested to submit their preferences for the third-year electives by means of an online registration form. They will receive the instruction and online registration form by email (uMail account); in June for courses scheduled in semester 1, and in December for courses scheduled in semester 2. Registration in uSis will be taken care of by the Education Administration Office.


  • For substantive questions, contact the lecturer listed in the right information bar.

  • For questions about enrolment, admission, etc, contact the Education Administration Office: Huizinga


Not applicable.