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Duns Scotus and His Relation to Thomas Aquinas Author(s): C. R. S. Harris Source: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series, Vol. 25 (1924 - 1925), pp. 219-246 Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The Aristotelian Society Stable URL: Accessed: 15/10/2009 11:15 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms a
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  Duns Scotus and His Relation to Thomas AquinasAuthor(s): C. R. S. HarrisSource: Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, New Series, Vol. 25 (1924 - 1925), pp. 219-246Published by: Blackwell Publishing on behalf of The Aristotelian SocietyStable URL: Accessed: 15/10/2009 11:15 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact The Aristotelian Society  and  Blackwell Publishing  are collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve andextend access to Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society.  Meeting of the Aristotelian ociety at 21, Gower Street, London, W.C.1, on May 4th, 1925, at 8 p.m. XIII.-DUNS SCOTUS AND HIS RELATION TO THOMAS AQUINAS. By C. R. S. HARRIS. IT has commonly been stated in histories of philosophy that Scotus marks a decline n the development f scholastic hought, and that the almost perfect synthesis between philosophy and theology achieved by Aquinas was so rent asunder by the criticism of his great rival, that the eventual collapse of mediseval thinking into an ill-disguised scepticism was thereby rendered inevitable. The main object of this paper is to demonstrate that such a v7iew ests upon a profound misconception of the philosophy of the Subtle Doctor, and to suggest that it is in Duns rather than Thomas that the philosophic peculation of the Middle Ages attains its richest and most characteristic xpression. For if we examine the history of mediaeval hought and trace the main lines of its development rom the middle of the ninth century to the early decades of the fourteenth, we cannot fail to be impressed by the fact that the Aristotelian evival of the thirteenth entury mported nto the speculation f Latin Christen- dom many elements which were not only foreign o the realm of Christian deas, but which even stood in flat contradiction o the basic conceptions f the Catholic Faith. And it is precisely because the Scotist philosophy, in contradistinction o the Thomist, follows ess strictly Axistotelian ines and incorporates many elements of the older Augustinian tradition, a tradition derived from Platonic rather than Aristotelian ources, that it 2D  220 C. R. S. HARRIS. forms the most complete summing up of the very various and complex tendencies of the mediaeval mind. The philosophy of Thomas, on the other hand, represents the Aristotelianism of the Middle Ages at its very purest, purged of the neo-platonist accretions of the Arabian commentators and the platonizing Augustinianism of the older scholasticism, and systematized by a mind whose genius for orderly arrangement and clarity of pre- sentation has rarely been equalled in the history of philosophic thought. But for this very reason it is an inadequate expression of the richer spirit of the Middle Ages. The superimposition of the traditional theology of the Catholic Church on a purely Aristotelian philosophy is almost startlingly incongruous, and to the unprejudiced observer who is not concerned with establish- ing the truth of either of these incompatibles the harmony between faith and reason seems rather to be conspicuous by its absence. For in the last resort either the Aristotelian philosophy has to be mutilated out of recognition, or else the contradiction left unreconciled, save in the higher synthesis of faith and revelation. It is undoubtedly true that the philosophy of Scotus presents a less complete and finished appearance than that of the Angelic Doctor. For Duns, who was scarcely more than forty years of age at his death, left behind him no such masterpieces of concise exposition as the Summa Theologica and the Summa contra Gentiles. His thought has to be collected painfully and piecemeal from Commentaries and Quwstiones overburdened with vast and dreary masses of controversy from which it is by no means always easily disentangled. But in spite of this apparent fragmentariness, it exhibits when examined a consis- tency and a real coherence which entitle it to a place among the great philosophic systems of the past. It is in the main a critical reconstruction of the Thomist Aristotelianism in the light of the older Augustinian doctrine of the scholastics of the eleventh and  DUNS SCOTUS AND HIS RELATION TO THOMAS AQUINAS, 221 twelfth centuries, and it represents an attempt to lay down a philosophic foundation for the theology of the Church which, while incorporating with the older tradition those elements of the Aristotelian philosophy which are compatible with the dogmas of the faith, should avoid the fundamental incompatibilities which the doctrines of Thomas had so plainly exhibited.* From the days of Albert the Great (1206-1280) theology and phiJosophy had pursued their course as separate sciences, each more or less in- dependent of the other. The domains of natural and supernatural knowledge had been carefully marked out. But the Divine Nature inevitably transcended this division, lying as it did partly within one realm and partly within the other. Hence arose the distinc- tion between nattural theology and the theology of revelation; the one, a branch of metaphysic, the QeoXoyt'a of the peripatetics, lay wholly within the region of the naturally knowable; the other. the theology of Revelation, with its dogmas of the Trinity and Incarnation and the whole soteriology of the Catholic Faith, wholly within the sphere of the supernatural; he content of which was indemonstrable by reason. Yet the being of God, under diflering aspects, was at once the subjectum of both departments of knowledge. The Divinity was thus knowable partly by natural reason, partly by supernatural grace. In His unity the Supreme Being was revealed to the eye of reason, in His Trinity only to the eye of faith. Exactly where the border-line should be drawn between these two kinds of knowledge of the same object was inevitably a matter of dispute. It is in this connection that the highly critical character of the Scotist philosophy makes its influence felt. Duns submits to a long and searching criticism the natural theology of his Dominican rival, and he shows a tendency to restrict somewhat more narrowly the competence * For an early account of the incompatibility of the Thomist philosophy with the doctrines of the Church, see the Correctorium ratris Thomae, written by the Franciscan William Lamarre n 1284. 2 D 2
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