JOHN DUNS SCOTUS Biography - Religious Figures & Icons


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Name: John Duns Scotus                                                                 
Born: c. 1266 (Duns, Lothian, Scotland)                                                 
Dead: 8 November 1308 (Cologne, Germany)                                               
Blessed John Duns Scotus, O.F.M (c. 1266 - November 8, 1308) was a theologian,         
philosopher, and logician. Some argue that during his tenure at Oxford, the             
systematic examination of what differentiates theology from philosophy and             
science began in earnest. He was one of the most influential theologians and           
philosophers of the High Middle Ages, nicknamed "Doctor Subtilis" for his               
penetrating manner of thought.                                                         
Though of dubious nativity (one school would have it at Duns, in the Borders;           
another, elsewhere: off in Ireland) in 1291 Duns Scotus was recorded duly an           
ordained man of God, in Northampton, England; he was a student, and subsequently       
a teacher, beginning in 1293 and running through 1297, at the University of             
Paris, later at Oxford, and likely again at Cambridge. He was expelled from the         
University of Paris for siding with then Pope Boniface VIII in that pontiff's           
feud with Philip the Fair of France. At length, Duns Scotus settled in Cologne,         
Germany, in 1307.                                                                       
Duns Scotus is considered one of the most important Franciscan theologians and         
was the founder of Scotism, a special form of Scholasticism. He came out of the         
Old Franciscan School, to which Haymo of Faversham (d. 1244), Alexander of Hales       
(d. 1245), John of Rupella (d. 1245), William of Melitona (d. 1260), St.               
Bonaventure (d. 1274), Cardinal Matthew of Aquasparta (d. 1289), John Peckham,         
Archbishop of Canterbury (d. 1292), Richard of Middletown (d. about 1300), etc.,       
belonged. He was known as "Doctor Subtilis" because of his subtle merging of           
differing views. Later philosophers in the sixteenth century were not so               
complimentary about his work, and accused him of sophistry. This led to his name,       
"dunce" (which developed from the name "Dunse" given to his followers in the           
1500s) to become synonymous for "somebody who is incapable of scholarship", as         
is expressed for example in the, (now defunct) use of the "dunce cap" to punish         
pupils who behave badly in class.                                                       
He died in Cologne and is buried in the Church of the Minorites in Cologne. His         
sarcophagus bears the Latin inscription: Scotia me genuit. Anglia me suscepit.         
Gallia me docuit. Colonia me tenet. (trans. "Scotia brought me forth. England           
sustained me. France taught me. Cologne holds me.") He was beatified by Pope           
John Paul II on March 20, 1993. According to an old tradition, Scotus was buried       
alive following his lapse into a coma, for he was believed to be dead. See             
Safety coffin.