Sunday, November 8, 2015

For All the Saints: Duns Scotus

On the Roman Catholic calendar, the philosopher John Duns Scotus is honored today. He died on November 8, 1308, aged about 42 years. With William of Ockham and Thomas Aquinas he is considered one of the three most important theologian-philosophers of the High Middle Ages. He is known for several things, for instance: his metaphysical argument for the existence of God, his Augustine-influenced voluntarism that emphasized both the divine will and human freedom, his denial of a real distinction between essence and existence, his Aristotle-influenced metaphysics of being and transcendentals, and his defense of the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary, a defense that was cited in Pope Pius IX's declaration of the dogma in 1854. Duns Scotus was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1993. The online Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy provides a summary of his life and thought, which is still influential.

Thank you, Lord, for Duns Scotus.

In the Greek Orthodox church, today is also a day for honoring the angels and archangels: "the Synaxis of the Chief Captains of the Heavenly Host, Michael and Gabriel, and of the other Bodiless Powers of Heaven." (The Western church honors the angels on Michaelmas, September 29.)

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