1. Recapitulate as carefully as you can Augustine's arguments in The Confessions regarding the nature of time. Be sure to attend to his argument as it
concludes with the claim that "The present has no space," (Hyman and Walsh, 81), and
concludes with the understanding of time as a "distention" of the mind, such that "time" is the result of a mental synthesis, rather than the measurement of some external, objective reality (the latter suggested by our language regarding time, as numerous examples from Augustine make clear).
Once you've developed Augustine's conception of time, further comment on how this conception of time -- including the rìle of the mind in the construction of our experience of time -- reemerges in modern philosophy in Descartes' "inward turn" and Kant's conception of knowledge as the result of the mind structuring the data of its experience in the frameworks of time and space.
2. Summarize Augustine's conception of God, including God's "location" in the eternal, as irreducibly different from human experience within a temporal framework -- a distinction which then works in Augustine's defense of human free will vis-a-vis the foreknowledge of God. (Be sure to use a significant number of examples from Augustine to illustrate and support your summary.)
a) how does this radical distinction between God and human experience reflect the influence of earlier philosophers -- especially those such as Parmenides, whose arguments lead to a radical difference between a proposed underlying reality (as the explanans of their explanatory system) and the diverse, changing particulars of ordinary human experience (the explanandum)?
b) how does Augustine's strategy here for escaping the apparent dilemma between God's foreknowledge (and no free will) vs. free will (and limits to God's knowledge) work (i.e., as it posits a radical difference between the two domains and thus makes possible the truth of both sides)?
3. Recapitulate with some care Avicenna's argument (ch. 7) for the oneness of God (as a necessary existent), as distinct from the "composite dualities" of contingent existents.
Comment: how is Avicenna's argument here, and the resulting conception of God as a necessary, unitary, unchanging Being vs. the contingent, multiple, changing beings of experience similar to Parmenides' arguments and his conception of "the One" vs. the many changing beings of experience?
4. How does Averroes defend the view that both religion and philosophy may be true? Be sure to include here his understanding of nature ("beings") in general as the art of God qua Artisan, such that the religious impulse to know God can be fulfilled in part through the rational/philosophical impulse to know the natural order through reason (e.g., 300)
In developing your response to this question, be sure to include some comment on Averroes' attention to language in his argument -- including his
rejection of literalism as the appropriate approach to religious texts (e.g., 299);
the Koran as having both an apparent meaning and an allegorical meaning (302f.); and
his attention to language as equivocal, such that we must distinguish between different meanings of the same word in order to avoid fallacious reasoning (e.g., 305). (This last element, drawn from Aristotle, will prove to be especially crucial in both Maimonides and Aquinas, and is perhaps the single most influential element of Islamic philosophy in the development of subsequent Jewish and Christian philosophy.)
5.A) Summarize Maimonides' account of predication (ch. 51, 373ff.) and then show how he uses this understanding of predication in at least one of the arguments he offers (ch. 52) against predicating attributes of God (i.e., against predicates as explanation, as part of the subject's definition, as qualities/accidents, as relational).
5.B) While Maimonides allows for predication of actions of God, he further argues for description of God by means of negations (chs. 58, 59). Explicate his arguments for this approach, including:
i) the especially Aristotelian argument involving "What" and "That" (382); and
ii) the (Parmenidean-Aristotelian) argument that God as simple, without matter (as potential and particular), as necessary existent, etc. "escapes" ordinary language as it refers to particular, contingent existents in ordinary experience (383).
5.C) Maimonides goes on to support his philosophical account of the proper way to speak of God -- in part by drawing on Biblical and Talmudic authority, i.e., the claims of faith (ch. 59). In this way, he echoes especially Averroes' understanding of the complimentary relation between faith and reason.
In developing this complementarity further, Maimonides (like Averroes) develops an understanding of
religious language as having both an "external" sense (what Rabbinic tradition refers to as the plain sense) and an allegorical or representational sense (see 386 and 370 [editors' introduction]);
scientific accounts -- first of all, astronomical theory -- as what moderns call "instrumental" or non-realist accounts (i.e., which function as models for calculating and predicting observable phenomena, but which do not necessarily tell us "in which way the spheres truly are," 398).
Explain these understandings somewhat more fully, as well as the strategy at work here for resolving what otherwise appears to be an intractable dilemma -- i.e., an apparent conflict between the claims of faith and the claims of philosophy/science if both sets of claims in fact refer to the same Reality/realities in exactly the same sense.
(If you're really with it, you can compare Maimonides' strategy here with Augustine's resolution of the human free will/God's foreknowledge dilemma and Averroes' understanding of how rational study of beings, as a study of the artifacts of the Divine Artisan, can complement the claims of faith -- especially as these latter claims in the Koran are understood to involve nonliteral language.)²