The Philosophical Vision of John Duns Scotus

The Philosophical Vision of John Duns Scotus: an introduction

MARY BETH INGHAM
MECHTHILD DREYER
Copyright Date: 2004
Pages: 240
https://www.jstor.org/stable/j.ctt284x4b
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  • Book Info
    The Philosophical Vision of John Duns Scotus
    Book Description:

    In this much-anticipated work, distinguished authors Mary Beth Ingham and Mechthild Dreyer present an accessible introduction to the philosophy of the thirteenth century Franciscan John Duns Scotus

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-1614-0
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. PREFACE & ACKNOWLEDGMENTS
    (pp. vii-xii)
  4. 1. THE HISTORICAL MOMENT
    (pp. 1-21)

    From the earliest decades of the thirteenth century, Latin scholars¹ enjoyed a rich textual renaissance that was to have a profound impact on the disciplines of philosophy and theology. While in the twelfth century, philosophy had been understood to be a propadeutic discipline, preparatory for further study in law, medicine, or theology, the thirteenth century witnessed its birth as an independent field of academic study, largely due to the arrival of the complete Aristotelian corpus. The growth of the universities that also took place during this time was aided by the entrance of texts both from the Arab and Greek...

  5. 2. KNOWING REALITY
    (pp. 22-51)

    Thirteenth-century scholars had two cognitive models from which to choose: the first based upon Augustine’s theory of illumination and the second based upon Aristotle’s theory of the agent intellect in De anima III. While Augustine’s spiritual, Platonic approach was, in principle, more compatible with the religious perspective, it grounded the objectivity of human cognition in a prior knowledge of the world of Ideas, which pre-supposed some direct access to the divine mind or innate ideas. Aristotle’s theory seemed to do a better job of explaining the psychological experience of cognition via phantasms (mental representations of reality generated by the senses),...

  6. 3. METAPHYSICS AND NATURAL KNOWLEDGE OF GOD
    (pp. 52-86)

    Medieval authors customarily began their study of a given discipline with a consideration of its scientific character. Therefore, before Scotus considers the specific content of Aristotle’s Metaphysics, he first discusses the epistemological problems that are involved in metaphysical reflection. Not only does metaphysics claim to be a science, but since its earliest beginnings, it lays claim to the highest philosophical status. Metaphysics claims to be the first of all sciences. Its primacy results from the unique character of its object, as Scotus affirms in his Prologue to the Questions on the Metaphysics.¹ This connection of object to primacy is not...

  7. 4. MODES OF BEING: WILL AND NATURE
    (pp. 87-116)

    Following aristotle, medieval philosophers understand by a contingent being one which is not necessary, in other words a being that possesses the (symmetrical) possibility of existence or non-existence.¹ The domain of the contingent represents both a logical and an epistemological problem. If all that exists is subject to change, what can the human mind know with certainty? Ancient as well as medieval philosophers point out that it is possible to have certain knowledge of a being in itself as well as of its essential qualities. Such knowledge is possible only where one has knowledge of the causes of the being...

  8. 5. THE FOUNDATIONS OF A SCIENCE OF ‘PRAXIS’
    (pp. 117-145)

    Scotus’s ethical insights, with their emphasis on freedom in the will, belong to the generation of thinkers writing after the Condemnation of 1277. In response to an overly intellectualized depiction of human perfection on the part of those he simply calls “the philosophers,” Scotus examines traditional moral elements from the perspective of freedom, for both the human and divine wills. The will is central for Scotus because it is love, not knowledge, that perfects the human person as rational animal. Following Augustine, he locates the fulfillment of human nature in the act of right and ordered loving. With other mainline...

  9. 6. THE RATIONAL WILL AND FREEDOM
    (pp. 146-172)

    Medieval thinkers understood both the will and intellect to be powers of the individual, human soul. Therefore a discussion of the rational will is more properly understood as a discussion of the person according to the formality of self-determination and rational desire. The language of faculty psychology of intellect and will, so common to scholastic vocabulary, should not confuse us into thinking that the two powers of the human soul operate independently of the single human person whose soul it is. Indeed, for Scotus the intellect and will are only formally distinct from one another and from the soul. In...

  10. 7. PRACTICAL WISDOM AND MORAL GOODNESS
    (pp. 173-200)

    As the preceding chapters make clear, Scotus develops his discussion of the moral domain in terms of the will’s rational freedom for self-determination in tandem with the activity of abstractive and intuitive intellection. Together, intellect and will provide the ground for rational action and moral choice for which the agent is accountable and can be praised or blamed. As we look finally at the overall portrait of moral perfection, we recognize the major elements of classical moral thought, yet in a distinct configuration. This configuration is governed by the primacy of the voluntary over the intellectual and reveals how all...

  11. 8. SCOTUS’S LEGACY
    (pp. 201-212)

    Scotus is a bridge thinker, a transitional figure in the development of thought from the synthesis of the High Middle Ages to the emerging early modern philosophy. He is not, for all that, an innovator in the strong sense of the term,¹ if by this one means a thinker who self-consciously re-framed the existing Weltanshauung and set a new direction. He stands clearly within the tradition that has gone before him, and artfully restates and affirms its vision of reality, whether this be in the domains of epistemology, metaphysics, or ethics. One can find with little difficulty the same sort...

  12. SELECT BIBLIOGRAPHY
    (pp. 213-222)
  13. INDEX
    (pp. 223-228)