A Companion to Angels in Medieval Philosophy


Humanist prejudice famously made medieval angelology the paradigm of ludicrous speculation with its caricature of “How many angels can dance on the head of a pin?” The truth is quite the opposite: many of medieval philosophy’s most original and ingenious contributions actually came to light in discussions of angelology. In fact, angelology provided an ideal context for discussing issues such as the structure of the universe, the metaphysical texture of creatures (e.g. esse-essentia composition and the principle of individuation), and theories of time, knowledge, freedom, and linguistics—issues which, for the most part, are still highly relevant for contemporary philosophy. Because this specifically philosophical interest in angels developed mainly during the course of the thirteenth and early fourteenth century, this volume centers on the period from Bonaventure to Ockham. It also, however, discusses some original positions by earlier thinkers such as Augustine and Anselm of Canterbury. Its nine thorough studies bring to light some neglected but highly fascinating aspects of medieval philosophy, thus filling an important gap in the literature.

Contributors include: Richard Cross, Gregory T. Doolan, H.J.M.J. Goris, Tobias Hoffmann, Peter King, Timothy B. Noone, Giorgio Pini, Bernd Roling, and John F. Wippel.

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Tobias Hoffmann, Ph.D. (1999) in Philosophy, University of Fribourg, Switzerland, is Associate Professor of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America. He has published extensively on practical philosophy and metaphysics, especially in Aquinas, Henry of Ghent, and Duns Scotus.

“The issue of the role of angels in the history of Christian medieval spirituality […] will greatly benefit from the intellectual rigour and clarity of the present volume”.
Isabel Iribarren, Université de Strasbourg. In: British Journal for the History of Philosophy, Vol. 21, No. 1 (2013), pp. 201-3.

“illuminating, well-informed and often at the cutting edge of scholarship”.
Wayne Hankey, Dalhousie University. In: The Journal of Ecclesiastical History, Vol. 65, No. 1 (January 2014), pp. 168-9.

"The volume is beautifully edited and tightly organized [...] there is no disputing the consistent quality and sophistication of these essays.
Byron Nelson (WVU), in The Sixteenth Century Journal, XLIV.3, pp. 825-6

"The fine essays in this volume provide not only a fascinating account of medieval angelology in its more philosophical aspects but engage in philosophical reflection on the various problems chosen for study in ways that can be important for contemporary philosophical insights every bit as much as during the medieval period."
Joseph W. Koterski, S.J. (Fordham University) in International Philosophical Quarterly, 54.1, pp. 110-2

I. Aquinas on the Demonstrability of Angels
Gregory T. Doolan
II. Metaphysical Composition of Angels in Bonaventure, Aquinas, and Godfrey of Fontaines
John F. Wippel
III. The Individuation of Angels from Bonaventure to Duns Scotus
Giorgio Pini
IV. Angelic Time and Motion: Bonaventure to Duns Scotus
Richard Cross
V. Angelic Knowledge in Aquinas and Bonaventure
Harm Goris
VI. Duns Scotus on Angelic Knowledge
Timothy B. Noone
VII. Angelic Language and Communication
Bernd Roling
VIII. Augustine and Anselm on Angelic Sin
Peter King
IX. Theories of Angelic Sin from Aquinas to Ockham
Tobias Hoffmann
Index of Manuscripts
Index of Names
All those interested in medieval philosophy and theology, intellectual history, metaphysics, philosophy of mind, and philosophy of language
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