The workshop addresses the question of what thinking is according to western medieval philosophers and theologians (12th -14th century) against the background of ancient Greek and medieval Muslim scholars. The issue at stake is the nature of thinking: How does thinking relate to and differ from other cognitive powers, such as memory, imagination, and sense, for example, and, most importantly, to what extent does it depend on the body?

These issues shall become accessible by scrutinising differences and similarities of cognition between animals, humans, and angels. Whereas animals were commonly considered to be purely material beings, angels were taken to be purely immaterial. Humans, on the other hand, are something in between, both corporal and immaterial. While this taxonomy seems to be clear it is less obvious if thinking is exclusively immaterial or whether, and if so, how it extends to the material realm.

The workshop aims to shed light on this issue with the following sections and speakers:

(1) What are thoughts? – John Marenbon (Cambridge) & Martin Pickavé (Toronto), Chair: Christian Barth (Berlin)

(2) Where are thoughts? – Dag Nikolaus Hasse (Würzburg) & Cecilia Trifogli (Oxford), Chair: Colin Guthrie King (Berlin)

(3) Who is a thinker? – Juhana Toivanen (Jyväskylä) & Bernd Roling (Berlin), Chair: Stephan Schmid (Berlin)

(4) How does thinking relate to immortality? – Russell Friedman (Leuven) & Florian Wöller (Basel), Chair: Sonja Schierbaum (Berlin)

Final discussion with Maarten J.F.M. Hoenen (Basel), Chair: Dominik Perler (Berlin)

In connection with the conference the undergraduate seminar “Was ist Denken?/What Is Thinking?” will be held on April 11-12 and 25-26, 2014.

→ You may download a collection of texts related to the conference [PDF | 13 MB]


Topoi Building Mitte
Raum 1.03
Sitz: Hannoversche Straße 6
10099 Berlin

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09:30 - 10:00
10:00 - 11:00
Some Thoughts about Thinking
Martin Klein
Anselm Oelze
11:15 - 12:45
What Are Thoughts? A First General Approach
John Marenbon
11:15 - 12:45
Peter Auriol and a Late-Medieval Debate on the Nature of Thought
Martin Pickavé
14:15 - 15:45
Avicenna and Averroes on Thinking
Dag Nikolaus Hasse
14:15 - 15:45
Thomas Aquinas and Giles of Rome on the Place of Thought
Cecilia Trifogli
16:15 - 17:45
Did Animals Think in the Middle Ages?
Juhana Toivanen
16:15 - 17:45
Postmortal Memories: Late Medieval Debates on the Epistemological Skills of the Anima Separata
Bernd Roling
09:00 - 09:30
09:30 - 11:00
Fourteenth-Century Views on Separate Souls and Their Cognitive Functioning
Russell Friedman
09:30 - 11:00
The Relation of Intellection and Intellect: Some Theological Aspects of Fourteenth-Century Debates
Florian Wöller
11:30 - 13:00
Rethinking Thinking in the Middle Ages
Maarten J.F.M Hoenen
13:00 - 14:00
Light Lunch and Farewell