In his Will there be Free Will in Heaven? (Continuum, 2003) Simon Gaine makes a seminal philosophical analysis of eschatological issues as treated by medieval philosophers, which he uses to address contemporary concerns. This unit will use Gaine’s texts to interrogate medieval thinkers' theories of the beatific vision. In particular, it will examine the theories of Thomas Aquinas and John Duns Scotus, which are diametrically opposed on major points. The unit will consider each thinker’s view of the kind of freedom that is possible in heaven, where we will be without sin and without even the ability to sin. In order to provide a complete picture of the theories of human nature in relation to the beatific vision, the unit will also explore other aspects of each thinker’s theory of beatitude: whether we could attain beatitude by our natural resources alone without grace, whether all people of necessity have a desire for beatitude, and whether people could rightly seek annihilation to escape damnation.

Unit Code: AP3122C

Points: 18.0

Unit Level: Undergraduate Level 3

Unit Discipline: Philosophy

Delivery Mode: Face to Face

Proposing College: Catholic Theological College

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Learning Outcomes


Explicate the selected primary texts and their purpose and context, and outline the implications of the positions and arguments therein.


Evaluate the salient theories, terminology and arguments of the philosophers studied in the unit.


Critically analyse the topics studied within the wider framework of the Christian philosophical tradition, especially the philosophical outlooks of the great medieval religious orders.


Explain the problems that motivate the medieval accounts of the beatific vision.


Appraise the position of at least one medieval thinker taught in the unit.


This unit requires students to undertake contextually-attuned study with very limited autonomy under the direction of a supervisor in its first mode of delivery; in its second mode of delivery it is taught as a more standard UG teaching and tutorial mode.


Type Description Wordcount Weight (%)

Option 1: 4500 word essay

4500 100.0

Option 2: 2000 word essay 40% Option 2: 2500 word essay 60%

4500 100.0

Unit approved for the University of Divinity by John Capper on 27 Jul, 2019

Unit Record last updated: 2019-09-06 10:15:22 +1000