The Mission of the Center

The mission of the Center is to promote the study of medieval and later scholastic philosophy at Georgetown University, as well as in the greater international academic community, and to engage in original research that expands the discipline. Because of the desire to focus more intensely on original research, we have decided to focus our efforts on the Greystones Project.

The center was fortunate in the early 1980s to have a generous benefactor in Edward A. Martin who believed that the study of medieval philosophy was important for the continuing development of Western culture and for sustaining dialog between the medieval past, the Enlightenment and the present. He named the endowed chair after his parents, the Isabella A. and Henry D. Martin Chair of Scholastic Medieval Philosophy and Politics. (For more information please click on the Martin Chair tab.) The current holder of the Chair, Professor Mark Henninger, S.J., directs the Center's activities.

Why Study Medieval Philosophy?

The Middle Ages contributed substantially to the formation of Western institutions, technologies, socio-cultural structures and intellectual thought. Therefore, it should not come as a surprise that the discipline of philosophy flourished during the medieval period. Many of the great questions medieval philosophers wrestled with concerned the relation between faith and reason, ethics, the role of virtue in human natural and supernatural flourishing, our place in the cosmos as well as technical issues of philosophy such as the mind-body problem, cognitional theory, and the ontological status of relations and universals. Medieval Philosophy achieved a level of intensity and sophistication rarely rivaled before or since, and many of its issues and theories in metaphysics, epistemology, action theory and ethics are still debated by thinkers today. During the medieval period, the search for answers to these questions facilitated cross-cultural exchanges between Christians, Jews and Muslims. One aspect of the mission of the Center is to renew that tradition of continuous cross-cultural exchange and dialog among religion, science and culture.