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Duns Scotus

Duns Scotus

[duhnz skoh-tuhs]
Duns Scotus, John [Lat. Scotus=Irishman or Scot], c.1266-1308, scholastic philosopher and theologian, called the Subtle Doctor. A native of Scotland, he became a Franciscan and taught at Oxford, Paris, and Cologne. The exact canon of Duns Scotus' work is unknown; the best known of his undoubtedly authentic works are On the First Principle and two commentaries on the Sentences of Peter Lombard. He put Aristotelian thought to the service of Christian theology and was the founder of a school of scholasticism called Scotism, which was often opposed to the Thomism of the followers of St. Thomas Aquinas. Scotism has had considerable influence on Roman Catholic thought and has been to some degree sponsored by the Franciscans.

In metaphysics, Duns taught the "univocity of being"; by this he meant that being must be regarded as the ultimate abstraction that can be applied to everything that exists. He is also known for the use of the "formal distinction," a subtle manner of distinguishing between different aspects of the same thing. The Scotists deny that matter is the principle of individuality and insist that individuation of things is caused by a determination called "haecceitas" or "thisness." According to Scotus, the essence of things as well as their existence depends not on the Divine Intellect but on the Divine Will; his philosophy accordingly is voluntaristic in its entire spirit. It is possible to prove the existence of God, but the ontological proof of St. Anselm is modified: the idea of God's possible existence involves his necessary existence, but knowledge of that possible existence must be demonstrated from sensible things, i.e., from experience. Scotus taught that the state arose from common consent of the people in a kind of social contract. He also denied that property was ordained by natural law.

(born 1266, Duns, Lothian, Scot.—died Nov. 8, 1308, Cologne) Medieval Scottish philosopher and Scholastic theologian. He studied and taught at Oxford, where he joined the Franciscans, and later taught at the University of Paris, from which he was briefly exiled for supporting Pope Boniface VIII in his quarrel with King Philip IV. In 1307 he became professor of theology at Cologne, perhaps to escape charges of heresy over his defense of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which the Dominicans and secular authorities opposed. His two major works are Ordinatio and Quaestiones quodlibetales, both left unfinished at his death.

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(born 1266, Duns, Lothian, Scot.—died Nov. 8, 1308, Cologne) Medieval Scottish philosopher and Scholastic theologian. He studied and taught at Oxford, where he joined the Franciscans, and later taught at the University of Paris, from which he was briefly exiled for supporting Pope Boniface VIII in his quarrel with King Philip IV. In 1307 he became professor of theology at Cologne, perhaps to escape charges of heresy over his defense of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which the Dominicans and secular authorities opposed. His two major works are Ordinatio and Quaestiones quodlibetales, both left unfinished at his death.

Learn more about Duns Scotus, John with a free trial on Britannica.com.

Duns Scotus College was a college of the Friars Minor in Southfield, Michigan from 1930 until 1979. It was first regularly accredited in 1969.

It was founded when the Friars decided their previous three-seminary set up in Kentucky and Ohio was too unwieldly. In 1928 ground was broken for the college at the corner of Nine Mile Road and Evergreen Road in Southfield. It was designed by Wilfrid B. Anthony.

People with bachelors degrees from Dunn Scotus are found on the faculties of many colleges and universities in the United States.

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