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Reading Avicenna in Medieval Times


Admission requirements

Admission to this course is restricted to:

  • BA students in Philosophy: Global and Comparative Philosophy, who have successfully completed their first year, and at least 10 EC’s of the mandatory components of the second year, including Language of Thought, and Concepts of Selfhood.

  • BA students in Filosofie, who have successfully completed their first year, and at least 10 EC's of the mandatory components of the second year, including Comparative Philosophy, and Philosophy of Mind or Analytical Philosophy.

  • Pre-master’s students in Philosophy who are in possession of an admission statement, and for whom this course is part of their programme.


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


To be announced.


To be announced.


To be announced.

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 uSis for this course is not possible. 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.

Registration Studeren à la carte and Contractonderwijs

Not applicable.


  • 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.