Ramon Llull: Mysticism and Philosophy in Thirteenth- and Fourteenth- Century Catalonia


Autumn 2007, TTh: 12:00PM-1:20PM, HM 125

Amador Vega, Wb 217, 702-8476,                                                     avega@uchicago.edu

                                                                                                            Office hours: Th 10:00-12PM


Ramon Llull (1232-1316) was a celebrated medieval philosopher, mystic, and visionary who left behind more than 300 books written in Catalan, Latin, and Arabic. He traveled throughout Europe, the Eastern Mediterranean, and North Africa to share his discovery of the “combinatory art”, a new language with parallels in Jewish mysticism and Sufism. Though widely misunderstood in Llull’s own day, these ideas would later find numerous admirers in Europe; from the philosophers of the Renaissance (such as Nocolas of Cusa, Giordano Bruno, Pico della Mirandola), to Athanasius Kircher and Leibniz, or to even more recent scholars who see Lull’s discovery as a forerunner of computer languages. This course will focus on a reading of his autobiography (Vita coaetanea or Contemporary Life), written at the end of his life, an on the most important of his mystical and philosophical works, such as The Book of the Lover and the Beloved, whose influence in Spanish mystics, like St. John of the Cross, was very significant. However we can follow the fortune of the Lulian Art not only in the modern philosophical systems, but also in modern poetry and art, such as surrealist poetry and abstract painting.


Week 1 (September 25, 27): Lull and Lullism in the history of European thought.

Week 2 (October 2, 4): The Contemporary Life of Ramon Llull.

Week 3 (October 9, 11): The Lullian Art: from Ars Magna to Ars generalis ultima.

Week 4 (October 16, 18): A hermeneutics of secrets: the theory of spiritual senses.

Week 5 (October 23, 25): The mysticism of Llull: The Book of the Lover and the Beloved.

Week 6 (October 30, November 1): Llull and the Spanish mysticism: St. John of the Cross’s Spiritual


Week 7 (November 6, 8): “Ars combinatoria”, modern art and poetry in XXth-Century.

Week 8 (November 13, 15): Presentations.

Week 9 (Novenber 20): Presentations.




Bonner, Anthony

1993    Doctor Illuminatus: A Ramon Llull Reader, ed. and trans. by A. Bonner, Princeton: Princeton University Press.

De Certeau, Michel

1992    The mystic fable, trans. by Michael B. Smith, Chicago: The University of Chicago Press.

Eco, Umberto

1993    The search for the perfect language, trans. by James Fentress, Oxford UP/Blackwell.

Ramon Llull

1994    The Book of the Lover and the Beloved, ed. and trans. by Mark  D. Johnston, Oxford: Aris & Phillips/University of Bristol.

Vega, Amador

2003    Ramon Llull and the Secret of Life, trans. James W. Heisig: New York: Crossroad.



Requirements and Grades:


Presentation                              20 %

Final Paper       (20 pages)        80 %