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For more on this

For more on this argument, see especially Authors/Duns Scotus/Ordinatio/Ordinatio I/D2/Q2B – The Logic Museum.

Scotus argued against the version of illuminationism that had been defended earlier in the century by Henry of Ghent. In his Ordinatio (I.3.1.4) he argued against the sceptical consequences that Henry claimed would follow from abandoning divine illumination. Scotus argued that if our thinking were fallible in the way Henry had believed, such illumination could not, even in principle, ensure "certain and pure knowledge."[42]

When one of those that come together is incompatible with certainty, then certainty cannot be achieved. For just as from one premise that is necessary and one that is contingent nothing follows but a contingent conclusion, so from something certain and something uncertain, coming together in some cognition, no cog

Perhaps the most influential point of Duns Scotus's theology was his defense of the Immaculate Conception of Mary (i.e., that Mary herself was conceived without sin). At the time, there was a great deal of argument about the subject. The general opinion was that it was appropriately deferential to the Mother of God, but it could not be seen how to resolve the problem that only with Christ's death would the stain of original sin be removed. The great philosophers and theologians of the West were divided on the subject (indeed, even Thomas Aquinas sided with those who denied the doctrine). The feast day had existed in the East (though in the East, the feast is just of the Conception of Mary) since the seventh century and had been introduced in several dioceses in the West as well, even though the philosophical basis was lacking. Citing Anselm of Canterbury's principle, "potuit, decuit, ergo fecit" (He [i.e., God] could do it, it was appropriate, therefore He did it), Duns Scotus devised the following argument: Mary was in need of redemption like all other human beings, but through the merits of Jesus' crucifixion, given in advance, she was conceived without the stain of original sin. God could have brought it about (1) that she was never in original sin, (2) she was in sin only for an instant, (3) she was in sin for a period of time, being purged at the last instant. Whichever of these options was most excellent should probably be attributed to Mary.[43] This apparently careful statement provoked a storm of opposition at Paris, and suggested the line 'fired France for Mary without spot' in the famous poem "Duns Scotus's Oxford," by Gerard Manley Hopkins.

Scotus's argument appears in Pope Pius IX's 1854 declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, "at the first moment of Her conception, Mary was preserved free from the stain of original sin, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ."[44] Scotus's position was hailed as "a correct expression of the faith of the Apostles."[44]

Another of Scotus's positions also gained official approval of the Roman Catholic Church: his doctrine on the unive

Scotus's argument appears in Pope Pius IX's 1854 declaration of the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, "at the first moment of Her conception, Mary was preserved free from the stain of original sin, in view of the merits of Jesus Christ."[44] Scotus's position was hailed as "a correct expression of the faith of the Apostles."[44]

Another of Scotus's positions also gained official approval of the Roman Catholic Church: his doctrine on the universal primacy of Christ became the underlying rationale for the feast of Christ the King instituted in 1925.[44]

During his pontificate, Pope John XXIII recommended the reading of Duns Scotus's theology to modern theology students.

Duns Scotus was long honored as a Blessed by the Order of Friars Minor, as well as in the Archdioceses of Edinburgh and Cologne. In the 19th-century, the process was started seeking his recognition as such by the Holy See, on the basis of a cultus immemorabilis, i.e., one of ancient standing.[17] He was declared Venerable by Pope John Paul II in 1991, who officially recognized his liturgical cult, effectively beatifying him on 20 March 1993.[45]

Later reputation and influence

His reputation suffered during the English reformation, probably due to its association with the Franciscans. In a letter to Thomas Cromwell about his visit to Oxford in 1535, His reputation suffered during the English reformation, probably due to its association with the Franciscans. In a letter to Thomas Cromwell about his visit to Oxford in 1535, Richard Layton described how he saw the court of New College full of pages from Scotus's work, "the wind blowing them into every corner."[47] John Leland described the Oxford Greyfriar's library in 1538 (just prior to its dissolution) as an accumulation of "cobwebs, moths and bookworms."[48]

When in the sixteenth century the Scotists argued against Renaissance humanism, the term duns or dunce became, in the mouths of the Protestants, a term of abuse and a synonym for one incapable of Renaissance humanism, the term duns or dunce became, in the mouths of the Protestants, a term of abuse and a synonym for one incapable of scholarship.[49]

Despite this, Scotism grew in Catholic Europe. Scotus's works were collected into many editions, particularly in the late fifteenth century with the advent of printing. His school was probably at the height of its popularity at the beginning of the seventeenth century; during the sixteenth and the seventeenth centuries there were special Scotist chairs, e.g. at Paris, Rome, Coimbra, Salamanca, Alcalá, Padua, and Pavia. New ideas were included pseudographically in later editions of his work, such as the principle of explosion, now attributed to Pseudo-Scotus. Scotism flourished well into the seventeenth century, and its influence can be seen in such writers as Descartes and Bramhall. Interest dwindled in the eighteenth century, and the revival of scholastic philosophy, known as neo-Scholasticism, was essentially a revival of Thomistic thinking.

Gerard Manley Hopkins was able to reconcile his religious calling and his vocation as a poet thanks to his reading of Duns Scotus. His poem As Kingfishers Catch Fire expresses Duns Scotus' ideas on "haecceity".

The twentieth century saw a resurgence of interest in Scotus, with a range of assessments of his thought.

For one thing, Scotus has received interest from secular philosophers such as Peter King, Gyula Klima, Paul Vincent Spade, and others.

For some today, Scotus is one of the most important Franciscan theologians and the founder of Franciscan theologians and the founder of Scotism, a special form of Scholasticism. He came out of the Old Franciscan School, to which Haymo of Faversham (died 1244), Alexander of Hales (died 1245), John of Rupella (died 1245), William of Melitona (died 1260), St. Bonaventure (died 1274), Cardinal Matthew of Aquasparta (died 1289), John Peckham, Archbishop of Canterbury (died 1292), Richard of Middletown (died c. 1300), etc., belonged. He was known as "Doctor Subtilis" because of the subtle distinctions and nuances of his thinking. Later philosophers in the sixteenth century were less complimentary about his work and accused him of sophistry. This led to the word "dunce," which developed from the name "Dunse" given to his followers in the 1500s, becoming used for "somebody who is incapable of scholarship."

An important question since the 1960s has revolved over whether Scotus's thought heralded a change in thinking on the nature of 'being,' a change which marked a shift from Aquinas and other previous thinkers; this question has been particularly significant in recent years because it has come to be seen as a debate over the origins of 'modernity.' This line of argument first emerged in the 1960s among popular French philosophers who, in passing, singled out Duns Scotus as the figure whose theory of univocal being changed an earlier approach which Aquinas had shared with his predecessors.[50] Then, in 1990, the historian of philosophy Jean-Francois Courtine argued that, between the time of Aquinas in the mid-thirteenth century and Francisco Suárez at the turn of the seventeenth, a fundamentally new approach to being was developed, with Scotus taking a major part in its development.[51] During the 1990s, various scholars extended this argument to locate Scotus as the first thinker who succumbed to what Heidegger termed 'onto-theology'.

In recent years, this criticism of Scotus has become disseminated in particular through the writings of the 'Radical Orthodox' group of theologians, drawing on John Milbank and Catherine Pickstock. The Radical Orthodox model has been questioned by Daniel Horan[52] and Thomas Williams,[53] both of whom claim that Scotus' doctrine of the univocity of being is a semantic, rather than an ontological theory. Both thinkers cite Ord. 1, d. 3, pars 1, q. 3, n. 163, in which Scotus claims that "This [univocally] is how all the authoritative passages one might find on this topic in the Metaphysics or Physics should be interpreted: in terms of the ontological diversity of those things to which the concept is attributed, which is compatible with there being one concept that can be abstracted from them". Such a quotation seems to refer to epistemology, with abstracted concepts, rather than with ontology, which Scotus admits can be diverse.

In 2012 Fernando Muraca directed for TVCO and the Franciscan Friars of the Immaculate the biopic Blessed Duns Scotus: Defender of the Immaculate Conception in Italian.[54][55] It centers on the debate at the Paris University with glimpses of his infancy and Franciscan vocation. Adriano Braidotti played adult Scotus and Emanuele Maria Gamboni played child Scotus.[56]

Bibliography

Work