The Immaculate Conception

Enter the Subtle Doctor: Duns Scotus

The conversation continues over at the Register.

Fun fact: Duns Scotus’ name is the origin of the word “dunce” in English.  I’ve often wondered why since he was not a dunce.  Where is Mike Flynn when you need him?

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  • Bob

    From his followers, who were called that by their opponents. Together with “medieval,” one of the world’s most successful ad hominems.

    • Ghosty

      The opponents largely being the Dominicans. They had a lot of problems with his work.

      Peace and God bless!

      • Bob

        Actually, in this instance, I think the opponents were anti-scholastics, perhaps those of the via moderna. Dominicans (or Thomists) and Scotists (the two characterizations did co-instantiate on occasion, but that’s another discussion for another place) did have heated, and sometimes turgid and ossified, debates, but I don’t know that they considered their opponents stupid. I actually think, the doctor subtilis thing is a backhanded compliment, someone difficult to understand. By the renaissance, both had found other common enemies. The Oxford English dictionary gives Tyndale, Thomas Hobbes, and Thomas Wilson of the ars rhetorica as using it.

        Peace and God bless!

    • Hm, I had thought it was because his arguments were so difficult to understand that many thought he was talking nonsense. So “Duns/dunce” came to mean someone who talks nonsense.

      But I’m far from a historian of the period, so I’m happy to be corrected.

      • Bob

        The Scholastics did understand each other, and I would think that Scotus’ explanations were thought convoluted, particularly after Ockham, but not hard to understand necessarily, and certainly not as nonsense. His Latin is actually quite straightforward, once you know his vocabulary, and the Scholastics were quite adept at juggling complicated systems of thought in their mind. Mind you, all I have any acquaintance with are a dozen or so of the high Scholastics. Who knows what the students were calling each other? 😉 But my medieval Latin dictionary does not list duns or any variant thereof, and the earliest usage in English is reformation/humanist. Scotism was quite common in England, and it would make sense for it to be a reformation sneer.

        • Ted Seeber

          After all these arguments with skeptical New Atheists, I’m beginning to think Ockham was the real dunce- his razor cuts out all of the invisible world!

          • Bob_the_other

            Ockham was wrong, terribly so, but he was certainly no dunce.

            [Change of moniker, by the way, because I note another Bob has appeared here with whom I don’t particularly want to be confused]

  • wayne

    Hi brother Mark, hows it goin? i was reading an article about brother Corapi and it went on to mention you and someone who had a beef with your praise of a homosexual you called a saint. In your defense i will note that all have sinned and that no sin is greater or lesser than another sin. I have sinned and am sinning and will continue to sin, which makes me guilty of homosexuality and murder. The bible is clear on who are saints. The born again, the saved are saints. The catholic church wants you to think saints are all catholics appointed by the catholic church. Being born again means your sins are covered, it doesnt mean you are no longer a sinner. But the saved should sin less and less as the days go by, As one grows in Christ. The guy who was criticizing you doesnt realize that he too is guilty of homosexaulity and murder. He is also a catholic priest i believe. They dont know beans about gods plan of salvation. For them, its just a job with perks. If you break one commandment, youve broken them all. Good to see you my brother Mark. i still read the books you sent me.