John Duns Scotus

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John Duns Scotus

Johannes Duns Scotus , in the United Kingdom also John Duns Scotus and also Latinized Ioannes Duns Scotus , (* around 1266 in Duns , Scotland ; † November 8, 1308 in Cologne ) was a Scottish theologian , Franciscan and philosopher of scholasticism .

After being in Northampton the ordination had received, he studied and taught at Cambridge , Oxford , Paris and Cologne. As one of the most important Franciscan theologians, he founded the scholastic direction of Scotism named after him . He connected in it u. a. Teachings of Aristotle , Augustine and the Franciscans with one another in a subtle way, so that contemporaries also called him Doctor subtilis .

Duns Scotus explored the philosophical categories of possibility and necessity with the forms of modal logic , applying them in a non-formal way. This question still plays a major role in philosophy today . Furthermore, he valued faith , will and love higher than knowledge and reason . As one of the first medieval thinkers , he viewed philosophy and theology as different disciplines with different expressions.

Scotus was beatified on July 6, 1991 and on March 20, 1993 Pope John Paul II celebrated Vespers in his honor in St.


There is little documented information about the life of John Duns Scotus. He was named after his presumed birthplace of Duns in Scotland , near the English border near Berwick-upon-Tweed . Other traditions point to Maxton in Roxburghshire as the place of birth. His exact date of birth is also unknown. The first certain date in his biography is ordination with the Franciscans at Saint Andrews Convent in Northampton on March 17th, 1291.

Scotus relief (1948) by Ewald Mataré on the south portal of Cologne Cathedral . On the left portal door, the "bishop's door", seven reliefs represent the gifts of the Holy Spirit . Scotus symbolizes the mind.

When determining the year of his birth in 1266, it is assumed that he was ordained as early as possible when he was 25 years old. A corresponding recalculation based on the usual training periods shows that he entered the Franciscan order around 1280, then studied philosophy, the Septem artes , for around 6 years and finally received his theological training in Oxford from 1288 to around 1293 . There, and presumably also in Cambridge , he taught as a baccalaureate and probably wrote his first commentary on the sentences of Petrus Lombardus , the Lectura , in 1299 , as well as a series of Aristotle commentaries up to around 1300 . In 1300 he was listed on a list of suggestions for confessors in Oxford and there is evidence that he took part in a disputation in the same year.

In 1302 he taught on the Sentences in Paris , at the leading university of his time . There are various notes from students about his lectures -  reportationes or reportata Parisienses  - which Scotus probably also checked in one case.

In June 1303 he had to leave Paris because, as one of around 80 monks , he sided with Pope Boniface VIII by refusing the signature requested by the French King Philip IV . The king asked for support for an appeal to a planned council because he wanted to tax the clergy , which the Pope strictly refused to do.

In April 1304 Scotus returned to Paris. On November 17, 1304 he became a Magister and in 1306 or 1307 a Magister regens, d. H. Appointed professor of the Franciscan Theological Faculty in Paris. A number of disputations and the third unfinished version of his commentary on sentences, the Ordinatio , which is generally regarded as his main work, date from this period .

In 1307 he moved to Cologne as a lecturer at the Franciscan religious school , where he died on November 8, 1308. His grave is in the Minorite Church in Cologne, where Adolph Kolping is also buried.


Due to his relatively early death, Scotus did not leave an orderly work, but a large number of manuscripts for lectures, quests and disputations, of which only an incomplete text (the Ordinatio , see below) was prepared for publication. The found writings were - following the contemporary methods - smoothed by inserting additional notes or by omitting discrepancies, not, as is usual today, published critically with all marginal notes, deletions and brackets. In addition, student notes were used as a source for improvements and additions.

Manuscript of the Quaestiones

The resulting texts were initially distributed as copies and, due to the relatively great importance of Scotism, printed in the 17th century. Of particular importance is the edition of the collected works of Lucas Wadding (Lyon 1639), which was the authoritative source for Duns Scotus until a critical discussion in the 20th century. The problem with this edition is that it only contains the subsequently edited texts as well as a number of additional texts attributed to Scotus, which, however, are clearly not attributable to Scotus based on recent research. On the other hand, two Aristotle commentaries were discovered in the 1990s which are subsequently attributed to Scotus. Since the works of Scotus themselves do not contain any corresponding references, neither the time of the composition nor the exact order of the texts are actually known, so that one has to rely on reconstructions and assumptions of the Scotus research.

The first works date from around 1295 and deal with Aristotle under the title Parva Logicalia , as quaestiones to the categories , to De Interpretatione and the sophistic refutations . The quaestiones to the Isagogue of Porphyrius are also from this time. It is not entirely clear whether the Quaestiones super De Anima can actually be assigned to Scotus. The important text Quaestiones subtilissimae de metaphysicam Aristotelis was developed by Scotus over a long period of time.

The main work deals with the commentary on the sentences of Petrus Lombardus . Such comments were part of the normal job of a baccalaureate. Correspondingly, there are such comments from a great many philosophers of this time because of their theological teaching activities. The structure was largely given by the template. However, it had become common practice that the respective author freely formulated his introductory thoughts in the prologue.

The commentaries by Scotus are characterized by the fact that they are particularly extensive, both in the prologue and in the individual commentary sections. There are a total of three sentence comments. The first is called Lectura and dates from 1289 to 1299 in Oxford. It contains comments on the 1st and 2nd book of sentences. There is also a report , i. H. a student transcript indicating lectures at Cambridge around 1300.

The most important script is the Ordinatio , on which Scotus worked over a long period of time and which was probably intended for publication. It contains passages from the Lectura , but also content that corresponds to the Paris lectures. With this text in particular, the reconstruction is difficult due to additional notes. The handwritten original has been lost. However, there is a copy found in Assisi , in which the textual review assumes a good faithfulness to the original. The Additiones magnae by Wilhelm von Alnwick , a student of Scotus, are also helpful for the reconstruction .

In Paris he gave lectures on the individual books of the sentences over a period of several years. There are several reports on this, one of which Scotus probably corrected himself , namely the one on the first book of sentences .

The Collationes , a collection of 46 short disputations, date from the Oxford and Paris periods . The writings De primo principio , a presentation of the metaphysical doctrine of God with a very detailed proof of God , as well as the theoremata , a compilation of notes and tracts, are classified as late works . The authenticity of the latter is not guaranteed. In the last two years in Paris the Quaestiones Quodlibetales were created with extensive disputations on general questions that Scotus held as a Magister rainy.

Due to the uncertain source situation, a commission was formed in Rome in 1950 for a new critical edition of the theological writings of Scotus, whose work is far from being completed even after more than 50 years. On the one hand, this has to do with the size of the fonts. The reprint of the Wadding edition comprises 26 volumes (ed. Vivès). Above all, however, the problem lies in the very complex reconstruction. In 1997, the Bonaventure Institute of the Franciscans in New York also began to publish a critical edition of the philosophical writings. Significant translations of important parts of the Latin texts into the modern lingua franca did not take place until the 20th century.


The philosophical environment

Thomas Aquinas and Duns Skotus, copper engraving in: Collationes doctrinae S. Thomae et Scoti, cum differentiis inter utrumque , 1671

Duns Scotus is considered to be one of the first representatives of late scholasticism , in which philosophy and theology gradually separated. He gave a decisive impetus for this.

In the 13th century, the reception of Aristotle dominated philosophy, especially since his writings had been completely translated from Arabic sources around 1200. It was under the sign of the Dominican Albertus Magnus and especially Thomas Aquinas . Thomas had harmoniously combined Aristotle's philosophy with theology in order to be able to specify theological questions more precisely and to relate the answers to them more clearly.

But some thinkers like Boetius von Dacien or Siger von Brabant were not satisfied with that. Based on Aristotle and Averroes , they considered the philosophical knowledge of reason independently of theology, even if in the case of conflict they gave priority to the truths of faith based on biblical revelations and the church fathers . On the other hand there were conservative teachers like Heinrich von Gent , the Augustinians or the Franciscan Bonaventure , who wanted to preserve the teachings of Augustine .

The year 1277 brought a turning point in this debate: The Parisian bishop Étienne Tempier forbade 219 theses, including some sentences by Thomas Aquinas. This verdict at least temporarily pushed back Aristotelian averroism . In this situation, a number of important thinkers sought new approaches, including Raimundus Lullus , Dietrich von Freiberg , Meister Eckart and Duns Scotus. He knew Aristotle very well and referred to him with all of his philosophical subjects. Standing in the Augustinian- Neoplatonic tradition of the Franciscans, he - like Petrus Johannes Olivi - took a critical look at the Aristotelians and the writings of Averroes . This philosophical criticism particularly affected his contemporaries. In doing so, he partly broke with the doctrine of Bonaventura, which goes back to Augustine and which Heinrich von Gent and Gottfried von Fontaine also advocated: General knowledge of reality is not possible without illumination from God .

The doctrine of Scotus is often presented as a critical contrast to Thomas Aquinas in order to bring out Scotus' new lines of thought. But Scotus did not pursue a school education, but always analyzed the existing philosophical traditions with the intention of gaining an improved, higher knowledge. He judged the relationship between philosophy and theology differently than Thomas. While the latter viewed the two as complementary disciplines, Scotus taught their clear distinction. Truths accepted by philosophy can therefore be false in theology. Philosophy has limits that God's revelation transcends. The object of metaphysics cannot therefore be God, but only beings .

Furthermore, Scotus did not order the will after the intellect like Thomas , but took the view that the intellect serves the will in order to provide it with the necessary knowledge about the objects. However, he also emphasized that his philosophical questions are always theologically conditioned (quaestio de methodo) . Philosophy leads to neutrality and skepticism and is therefore not suitable for practical life. Theology, on the other hand, is practical science, which is based on God's love and will and helps people to find their way.


There is no complete presentation on the subject of knowledge , but Scotus explained various aspects as required. Basically, he shared the views of Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, but modified them considerably.

As with Aristotle and Thomas, knowledge begins with the sensual perception of objects. In addition, for Scotus the immaterial understanding (intellectus) was an independent partial cause of the cognitive faculty. Both work together like father and mother in conceiving the child. However, according to Scotus, man not only recognizes the object as such, but also grasps what is essentially contained in it. The mind is not limited to purely material conditions, but searches for principles that go beyond matter and form , act and potency . Knowledge is thus not limited to the correspondence between object and thought (adaequatio rei et intellectus) . A reduction to the purely material is not possible.

Against this background, Scotus distinguished between two basic modes of knowledge: the abstractive knowledge as a process in which a concept of the object arises in the intellect from the perceived object , and the intuitive knowledge, which goes beyond the purely expressible through a holistic, holistic understanding of a state of affairs. This kind of knowledge has elements of the perception of essence , as it was developed much later by Husserl in phenomenology and recurs in Heidegger's concept of “being in the world”.

Abstract knowledge

Scheme for abstract knowledge

At the beginning of the cognitive process there is a simple act of cognition, in which an object affects the senses so that an image (phantasm) is generated in the mind . This is represented by the imagination (virtus phantastica) in the mind. The knowledge is still confused. Through the independent, active activity of the understanding (intellectus agens) the universal (natura communis) is determined in the image . This means that the general contained in the picture is abstracted from the special and material conditions of the individual object . The result is the clearly delimited (distinctive) knowledge that conceptually grasps the object in all its moments. Scotus called them the "species intelligibilis" . It is the conceptual description of a simple or composite object including the meaning of what is perceived.

In this way, one grasps a flower in its physicality, its expanse, with its fragrance, the blossom, the whiteness of the blossom, the stem and also its symbolism as a sign of spring or a greeting of love. The knowledge is only concluded when the species intelligibilis is received by the passive understanding (intellectus possibilis) and anchored in the memory . Only through (passive) internalization does an object become comprehensible ( intelligible ) for the mind and can shine up as a possibility in the visualization, that is, be called back into consciousness.

For Scotus, the understanding was not divided into two parts: intellectus agens and intellectus possibilis , but rather two different functions of the one understanding that become effective in the act of knowledge. Knowledge without an origin in sensory perception was not possible for Scotus, as it takes a phantasm to develop an idea . The concept of an object, once acquired, can, however, be replaced by another concept, just as ideas can be changed or newly created through combination. This view of abstract knowledge is reminiscent of Kant's later doctrine of the two tribes of knowledge , even if the constructivist element is missing.

Intuitive knowledge

The individual cannot be conceptually defined and proven. Every concept that one forms of an object necessarily has the property that it can also be applied to other objects. Even the most detailed description of a thing does not exclude that it can also be used to capture another thing. The special essence of an object, its individual unity, can only be recognized through one's own direct observation and not through the description of a third party. Intuitive knowledge is primarily located on the feeling or perception level, the direct basis for recognizing the singularities (the uniqueness) that are contingent (arranged as random properties) in the individual . For Scotus, contingency was not a question of being, but of unnecessary causation, of the transition from possibility to reality due to an act of free will, that is, if something that is only possible still exists, it must be from free will of an agent. That things have random properties is a consequence of creation. The singular is already absorbed before the understanding can grasp the universal in the object in abstract knowledge. The conceptual description is directed to the parts of the object and is therefore secondary.

Intuitive knowledge is a process of immediate perception, which on the one hand contains the sensual presence of what is perceived and on the other hand reflects the "here and now" of an object in the mind. In particular, the knowledge of the being of an object is part of this mode of knowledge. Intuitive knowledge makes the existence of an object evident. Without intuitive knowledge, people would know nothing about their inner life. Only intuitive knowledge enables reflection and self-knowledge .

According to Scotus, some methods and processes of knowledge cannot be proven in their origin (cf. Evidence ). This includes:

  • the principles of logic , that is, the principles of identity, contradiction and the excluded third;
  • the objects of immediate, in individual cases given experience through the senses;
  • the intentionality of one's own empractical action, e.g. B. the artistic act or the act of will.

This is a line of thought of modern times that was extremely rare in the Middle Ages.


Intuitive knowledge is the holistic grasp of a contingent object. From this abstraction solves the permanent and general. It is a prerequisite for the emergence of knowledge beyond the presence of the current object of knowledge. It captures the way of being of the object, even if the concept of it formed in the abstract knowledge does not outline its individuality: The tree is z. B. never identical to this tree.

Scotus determined knowledge like Aristotle as a habitus , i.e. H. a habit or attitude of reason about a fact: you know what to justify by a conclusion. The reason has become a matter of disposition, i.e. H. it is not repeated over and over, but assumed as given. The conclusion is based on a syllogism , which can be either deductive or inductive .

Deductive inferences can explain the “why” of an issue (scientia propter quid) . To do this, its causes must be known. The causes of the causes are based on presuppositions which, for their part, were deductively obtained or which are evident (immediately understandable). In this respect, all statements in a deductive science go back to a few first true sentences. Hence, deduction is only possible within a system of axioms , for example in mathematics or in logic . According to Scotus, deductive inferences about reality could only be made if the understanding were not limited in its cognitive performance. He also referred to this ideal of a science as "scientia in se". It is science par excellence (scientia simpliciter) .

If only the effects of a situation are known, but not its causes, then only an inductive conclusion is possible. This explains the "that" of a thing (scienta quia) . Since man is finite and limited and dependent on sensory experience, he can not obtain deductive knowledge in empirical science . Rather, his conclusions are drawn inductively. This form of ascertaining facts a posteriori is determined by man's limited capacity for knowledge and thus a “doctrina nobis” (teaching by us) , i.e. a science that is also dependent on subjectivity .

With that, Scotus did not doubt that man can achieve secure knowledge and thus truth. His reference to the dependence of all knowledge on sensual perception and the limits of the understanding turned against the teachings of Heinrich von Gents and Gottfried von Fontaines on the divine illumination of knowledge (doctrine of illumination ). For him, this belief was not provable, but only based on revelation or the acceptance of the teachings of the Bible and the Church.

On the level of reason, according to Scotus, there are rational arguments for certain knowledge and against the skeptics, because there are things that are immediately evident (evident):

  • Reason can determine first principles. Valid syllogisms can proceed from these so that truth can be obtained.
  • Experience has shown that there is certainty about a large number of causal judgments.
  • There are immediately valid insights as the basis of action.
  • There are certain statements about current perception.
  • Internal acts are evident per se due to their immediacy and presence through intuitive knowledge .

One can call Scotus' view of certain knowledge as an evidence theory of truth , as it was still advocated by Edmund Husserl . Such a theory has been accepted in logical positivism in the case of perceptual judgments. In today's epistemological debate, however, it is predominantly classified as logically untenable, because the axioms that are assumed to be evident do not escape the infinite regress : Every statement taken as the first principle can be questioned again whether it is true. Knowledge gained deductively can therefore only be shown as valid within a system of axioms and not proven to be generally valid.


Subject of metaphysics

In Aristotle's first philosophy a. a. the question of what a person is able to grasp first or what precedes all knowledge - first. What is valid beyond all physics? Scotus interpreted the term metaphysics etymologically by splitting it into "Meta" (beyond) and "Ycos" (science - from early Greek), which is unusual for the actual meaning of the term, and thus came not only to the question of what the first cause is, but also to ask about the limits of the knowable.

Averroes ' interpretation of Aristotle in particular equates metaphysics with theology, which has the first divine being as its object, that is, makes God the object of knowledge. A theology of revelation would thus - at least for the most part - be superfluous. Thomas had already clearly opposed this teaching. For Scotus it was an essential goal to show that man can recognize from reason that God exists, but is in no way able to say anything about God's being, his characteristics or his will. For this purpose, according to Scotus' teaching, man is dependent on revelation.

Metaphysics as the highest science (maxima scientia) deals on the one hand with what is most possible to know (maxime scibilia) , on the other hand with the principles and causes that can be identified with the greatest certainty (certissime scibilia) .

As the highest state of affairs, Scotus designated the objects that go beyond science (scientia transcedens) and thus gave the concept of the transcendental an epistemological meaning. The transcendental is of the highest generality and can no longer be traced back to anything else. This is the subject of metaphysics, which differs from the individual sciences in that it deals with unlimited content. The subject of the individual sciences, on the other hand, is limited to certain cognitive contents, such as For example, physics research movement (ens mobile) or mathematics research the countable (ens quantum) . Transcendental predications (sentence statements) are transcategorial, that is, on a level before the Aristotelian categories , because the latter always refer to concrete objects (distinct things) in which substance and accidental (the accidental or an unnecessary property) are differentiated.

The highest being

For Scotus, the highest abstractly knowable was the being as being (ens inquantum ens) , which belongs to all things. Knowledge is the conceptual determination of the essential content of an object (cognitio distincta) from a confused image. Knowledge, however, is not only determined by what can be known, but also by man's capacity for knowledge. At the beginning there is the sensual knowledge of the individual, which is differentiated by its characteristics in the mind. The scope (extensio) and content (intensio) of a concept of an object do not yet exist. Only through the differentiation of the essential features, the distinction , does the term arise. But the first thing in distinctive knowledge is beings as beings, which are contained in all essential concepts. It is the term used to speak about an object without it containing any definiteness. The condition of knowledge is that what is known is adequate to insight (intellectio) . This in turn is being as such, because non-being cannot be known. The being as being is in itself free of contradictions and also includes the possibility of being. It is therefore contingent as recognizable. Scotus did not develop a metaphysical order of things (ordo rerum) like Thomas did , but understood beings epistemologically as the transcendental. Contingent does not arise as a self-cause from the things themselves. The contingent can only exist because there is God's will as the first cause. All secondary causes are determined by this. Here the ontological conception of the possibility developed with Scotus , as it can later be found in Descartes or Leibniz and in modal logic.

He turned against the conceptual analogy of the concept of being ( analogia entis ) as taught by Thomas, in which God is described in terms such as creator or almighty . At most, such concepts would have the character of metaphors: they are not univocal but equivocal (ambiguous) because there is a distinction between the creator and the creature. The term bouquet can refer to the flowers, but also to the bird. Terms that characterize a relation are also ambiguous, as can be seen in the following (false) syllogism:

  • Everything that is is created.
  • God is a being. (Strictly speaking, like being, God is actually inconceivable in its properties.)
  • So God is made.

Univok is a term if it excludes contradiction and fallacy and can function as a clear middle link in a syllogism. Such terms are consistent (without contradictions) and have a logical meaning. This requirement on a term is the ideal linguistic meaning, as it can be found in modern times with Frege , Russell , Carnap and Quine . Such transcendental concepts, which can be said univok of beings, are concepts that are interchangeable with beings (extensionally identical), such as the one, the true or the good (passiones convertibiles) . Univok in this sense are also the disjunctive (mutually exclusive) determinations (passiones disjunctae) finite and infinite as well as contingent and necessary in the sense that every being is either one or the other.

Natural theology

The main question of natural theology is: Can man establish the existence of God from reason without revelation? Since God is a purely incorporeal being, according to Scotus he cannot be grasped in the way of ordinary knowledge and therefore cannot be the subject of metaphysics. This must be limited to the consideration of beings as beings. Nevertheless, for Scotus a proof of God was possible through reason. However, not deductively by an argument “propter quid” , i.e. H. a justification with a conclusion from the rule to the facts, but only through an argument “propter quia” , d. H. through an inductive inference from the effect to the cause.

In order to grasp God with a concept, such a concept must express the infinity of God (perfectiones simpliciter) . But this is precisely what the univocal concepts achieve. While Thomas saw all terms as part of creation , i.e. viewed statements about God as analogies , Scotus asked where the analogies or the concept of analogy came from. His objection was that without the originality of the univocal terms, everything could only be expressed in relation and thus a statement about God would be meaningless. However, clear terms could not describe God. This would be a restriction that would also make God a restricted being, because he would be distinguishable from other beings. Conversely, the univocality of the concepts shows the existence of God without saying anything about his essence in terms of content.

According to Scotus' teaching, the attributes of God cannot be described by language. But how can one still imagine that God is infinite? Infinity means infinity. “God is a sea of ​​infinite and consequently indistinguishable substance.” One cannot express God as a difference to something else. Scotus developed his idea of ​​the infinity of God based on the determination of an infinite set in Aristotle, in which one can add a further element to an imaginary set at any time. This determination is quantitative and infinity is potential. But since one cannot understand God quantitatively, one has to imagine the divine qualitatively as a being that contains all conceivable qualities. This infinity is also not potential, but effective at all times, i.e. current. It is being in and of itself ( ens a se ), which cannot be supplemented by any accidental (unnecessary) properties.

God is unlimited, also in his capacity for knowledge and his will . Hence, there can be things that he recognized but in some ways did not want during creation. Accordingly, creation as a result of God's free and autonomous will is not necessary, but a possible reality. Reality thus becomes a possible world - a thought that Leibniz elaborated into contemporary philosophy ( Carnap , Kripke , Kuhn ). If God wants it, he can change things with his omnipotence (potentia absoluta) and create a different reality. But it also follows from this that outside of God everything is good because he willed and created it. So there is nothing good except God, that is, God is not determined by any norms . The only law to which he is 'subject' is the law of contradiction, because he cannot both want and will something. From the point of view of Scotus, finite human beings cannot recognize this omnipotence of God, but can only accept it as a theological article of faith, even if it seems reasonable and meaningful (evident).

Universals, species nature and individual

Thomas Aquinas taught with Aristotle that the individual arises from a specific, substantial form that is given its form by matter. The individual is thus a special case of the general, the accident of the substantial form. Scotus raised the question to the level of knowledge-critical (language-critical) and argued that terms only denote something general. The singularity cannot be grasped by a term. That which constitutes an individual cannot be expressed through language, no matter how hard one tries to come close to the individual through differentiations and subdivisions.

Scotus was convinced that there are generalities or universals and was thus universals realist like Aristotle and Thomas. But how does the reality of the general arise? There is matter and form. But each in itself cannot be the cause of the individual. Likewise, one cannot determine the individual by negating the general. The individual is something positive, independent in nature , which is separate from the species . Even more, the individual object is the ultimate, perfect reality of a being.

Scheme for the teaching of Natura Communis and Universals

By conceiving the individual human being (the single thing ) and being human (its species nature) as two formally different objects that are contained in nature even before perception, Scotus created the concept of the distinctio formalis . Avicenna had already distinguished between the individual and his essence, but bound the idea of ​​essence to knowledge in the soul . For Scotus, on the other hand, there was already in true being outside the soul a commonality between the various individualities that do not depend on the 'operations' of the intellect. Being human, for example, belongs to Socrates regardless of how he is recognized. The perception focuses on the individual thing. This already contains the species nature (natura communis) as a real foundation of the abstraction of general terms (fundamentum in re) .

Only in the intellect is the natura communis transformed into universals through reflection, in that the general is formed from several acts of sensory perception. The active, abstractive intellect spontaneously forms terms based on the opportunity ( occasion ) of the perception, even if the perception is wrong or if a thing appears in the perception for the first time. The transition from grasping sensation to cognition takes place when the intellect grasps the truth of the relationship between two individuals who unite the two. On the one hand, universals are conceptualistic (only in the intellect) because they relate terms to several things, e.g. B. Human. On the other hand, they are realistic (in re) if we are dealing with general terms that apply absolutely, so to speak, that cannot be related to anything individual, e.g. B. humanity.

Species nature is before things because it was created by God. It is in things as a formal framework for things. The individual in its thisness ( haecceitas ) is more perfect because it cannot be grasped by the concept, by the general, in its entirety, but only through intuition in intuitive knowledge. Universals are the reflected representation of the natura communis and thus realities of the second degree without physical existence. Man recognizes the universal (qua natura communis) through the abstractive knowledge that he has come to through the fall of man , by forming the corresponding concepts for species and genera (universals). However, terms that compare real terms (e.g. plants and mammals) with one another, such as the five predicables of Porphyry (genus, species, specific difference, proprium (essential characteristic) and accident (insignificant characteristic)) are not realities. Such logical concepts of the second order are completely universal (complete universale) and therefore only in the mind (nominalistic). Scotus' nuanced position in the universality controversy can be viewed as a conceptualist compromise that paved the way for Occam's nominalism . Dominik Perler speaks of a “moderate or immanent realism”.

Scotus himself resolutely ruled out the possibility of pure nominalism, as Ockham later taught him, and made a number of arguments against it. The basic thesis of nominalism is that all terms are names for objects (substances) and properties (qualities) . This is only possible if the ontological basic assumption is correct that everything that is can be distinguished from one another. Every substance consists of an individual matter and individual form. All entities that exist have a difference from one another and can therefore be distinguished numerically. The general arises only in the mind through the formation of terms with a corresponding meaning.

Above all, Scotus protested against the view that there was no other conceivable unit than the individual object and no differences other than a numerical difference. The basic theses of nominalism stand in direct opposition to its conception of intuitive knowledge and to its understanding of natura communis .

His main theses on this are:

  • If everything were only differentiated numerically, then how can one distinguish two white entities from two others, one white and one black? Without the species, this is not possible. (Why are two white swans just as two swans as a white and a black swan? According to Scotus: because they have the type of "swan" nature.)
  • If there were numerical distinctness for all objects, all these objects would have part in the phenomenon of distinctiveness. The phenomenon of the participation of all elements is, however, a contradiction to numerical differentiation.
  • The individual is unspeakable (individuum ineffabile) because every term already includes generality. The individual is even mute because the concept does not arise in the real world, but in the intellect. The objects are what they are - without logos .
  • The unit of the genus is not a numerical unit, as Aristotle emphasized. If everything were only differentiated numerically, no real similarities or contradictions between the individual things could be determined.

body and soul

Matter is the basis of all sensually perceptible being. Something individual arises from matter, substance. Substances are transient and their properties (accidents) can change during their existence. The individual determination of the substance results from its shape. Starting from this Aristotelian doctrine, Scotus developed an independent concept of matter and form to determine the essence of the soul . His main statements on this were (see SEP 3.2):

  • There is matter without form. He was referring to the concept of first matter ( prima materia ). Such a term to designate a completely indeterminate starting material can be found in Aristotle. But this probably only uses it in a thought experiment with the result that such a thing cannot exist. Thomas had also rejected the existence of such a first matter, which was pure possibility (potentiality). Scotus, on the other hand, considered matter without form to be the starting point for all changes in substance.
  • There is no hylemorphism , at least not in the extreme form according to which everything created consists of matter and form. The older Franciscans like Bonaventure were of the opinion that angels, as purely spiritual beings, must nevertheless have some kind of spiritual matter, because matter is possibility and angels otherwise could not exist. Scotus considered the equation of matter and possibility to be wrong and advocated the possibility of angels even without matter.
  • A substance can have several forms. For many thinkers of the Middle Ages - including Thomas - the soul was the only form of the body that made up the individual in man. After death, when the soul had left the body, the body was no longer the same substance for it as it was before death. Scotus, however, took the view that the body before and after death is the same substance with a separate form. Likewise, the soul is an independent form that animates the body and leaves the body as something independent in death. In doing so, however, the question of the immortality of the soul eludes human knowledge, so that one is dependent on faith in this question.

With his teaching on the mind-body problem , too , Scotus took a step towards separating philosophical knowledge and theological belief.


Free will

While for Thomas, following Aristotle, the will was the intellectual striving for the perfection of human nature, Scotus developed a notion of a will that was independent of the intellect, which was clearly different from this. As with cognition, he taught the concept of two sub-causes, here for human action, intellect and will. That the will is free is not a logical truth, but an inward, direct experience of man. The act of will is therefore not necessary, but possible or accidental ( contingent ).

With the differentiation of the human will into an inclination towards justice (affectio iustitiae) and an inclination towards pleasure (affectio commodi) , Scotus leaned on the teaching of Anselm of Canterbury . From these two different inclinations resulted for Scotus the idea of freedom , because the pleasant and the justice can require different actions, so that the person has to decide. An unfree will would only strive for what is pleasant. The inclination towards pleasure strives for the highest happiness , the inclination towards justice towards the absolute good . But since the highest happiness is a valid standard only for a finite, earthly person, while the absolute good has unlimited validity, the inclination towards justice is of higher value. He who only follows the inclination for pleasure and thereby violates the commandments of inclination to righteousness, sins. Therefore it is the task of the will, with the help of reason, to recognize the contradictions of the two inclinations and to curb the inclination towards the pleasant. Only actions based on inclinations towards justice, towards the infinitely good, and thus towards God, can be meritorious.


Even if the actions are contingent by free will, they are not irrational . The will alone is a blind faculty . Only those who use reason can make meaningful judgments and decisions. The will is directed towards an object, but it requires the intellect to recognize it. The intellect, for its part, can only show the state of the object. He is passive in this process and cannot dictate anything to the will. The active will is autonomous and makes its decision independently of the intellect. The cause of action is therefore the will. This means that the responsibility for action rests solely with people.

The highest good

God is to be loved (deus est diligendus) . For Scotus, this fundamental principle is the self-evident (nota per se) basis of all morality , which requires no special justification. All moral actions must be guided by it. Which actions are to follow from this principle must be determined with the help of right reason (ratio recta) , which everyone has at their disposal. The rationality describes the moral good and the will that is free in itself, has the run as morally right Detected if he wants to follow the commandment of love.

Scotus regarded analytically true statements (ex terminis) as unreservedly valid moral statements . These are those sentences, the truth of which does not depend on a divine will. Scotus saw the first three of the ten commandments as such statements . These refer to God himself and therefore represent natural law . The natural law can be formulated as follows: If God exists, man must love God, honor no one else and not deny God.

The other commandments concern the relationship between people and are a stipulation according to God's will. This is shown by the fact that he could have set the commandments differently. So one can imagine that the prohibition of killing or murder or that of adultery could possibly be lifted. Scotus discussed this using the example of God's command to kill Isaac . If God wants this, he has the possibility to do so because of his absolute power (potentia absoluta) . He does not violate an existing order, but creates a new order in which the commandment makes sense.

Man cannot understand by reason why the commandments are as they are. Because God's will is free. The commandments are contingent, but not arbitrary, insofar as God with his ordered power (potentia ordinata) has created a meaningful, ordered world. The created world is highly reasonable, so that the conditions in the world are in harmony with the abilities of its creatures (valde consonant) . In this sense, in his practical considerations, man must weigh up between the general norm of natural law (ordo naturalis) and the concrete situation (ordo particularis) . In the sense of such a balancing act, for example, the protection of property can be lifted, i.e. the requirement “You should not steal” can be relativized.

“There are commandments outside of the stated principles that can be justified in such a way that they are shown to be in high agreement with the stated practical principles, in so far as they are reasonable, good, and reasonable by all who know the principles generally binding, without being able to be deductively derived from the principles as premises, and which are therefore counted as natural law, even if they are not natural law in the actual sense, because they do not (simply) follow from it, but by virtue of positive ones Right apply. "

- Reportatio IV, dist. 18, n4

Translated freely, this means in the sense of the equilibrium of considerations according to John Rawls that gaps or contradictions due to given circumstances in the natural laws (God's commandments) must be compensated by analogous substitute regulations, even if these seem to represent a violation of the law.

It is precisely because man is endowed with reason that he can recognize the correct moral values. Following the Franciscan tradition, Scotus, like Alexander von Hale , made a distinction between consumer goods (bonum utile) such as B. the money, which can be used both positively and negatively, of goods of value (bonum honestum) such. B. the good reputation or the personal integrity. Like Kant later, Scotus demanded that such values ​​should not be used as a means.

As a result of reasonable deliberation, Scotus developed a gradual order that is to be seen as a hierarchy for the achievement of moral perfection:

Moral order according to Duns Scotus
Type of act Standard of value evaluation example
mere action ability Praise and criticism tell the truth
Multiplicity / virtuous action Habitus / disposition moral wisdom honesty
Caritas love loving intention Way of telling the truth
perfect goodness Godliness Merit Truth to your own detriment

Aristotle, and with him Thomas, had a eudaemonic understanding of ethics , because in their imagination the affectio iustitiae was missing and only the highest happiness served as a measure of the absolutely good. For Scotus, however, morally correct action included the duty to follow the recta ratio . He even went so far that an action is not good if one does not follow the judgment that is considered to be correct, even if the result is assessed as good. Here, too, there is a similar conception in Kant's ethics of duty.

Virtue and moral prudence

With Aristotle and Thomas, the possession of virtue was a prerequisite for attaining the highest happiness. For Scotus, on the other hand, the virtues, similar to Kant's virtue ethics , only had a supporting function. The rationally justified decision of the autonomous will can also be made without virtue. Even a basically bad person always has the option of deciding in favor of the morally good in a specific individual case. Virtues are also to be subordinated to love as the highest moral commandment. Virtues are practiced, are important for practical life, but do not establish moral values. Moral wisdom is expressed above all in the thoroughness of the rational weighing. Of the cardinal virtues , only prudence is of particular importance, while justice , bravery and prudence are not so important. Wisdom is the ability of the intellect to judge the correct and appropriate form for an action.

Cleverness also plays an important role when theoretical principles and the practical life situation collide, as in the case of value conflicts . This can be illustrated again using the example of truth. The principle of honesty becomes a moral imperative through abstractive knowledge. But how ruthlessly does the doctor inform a terminally ill person about his illness? Do you have to tell the truth when you know you are exposing someone without benefiting anyone else? The example constructed by Kant is drastic, in which a murderer searches for his victim and asks about his whereabouts, whom one knows and also knows about the intention to murder. Scotus would not have accepted Kant's solution, according to which the truth is the only correct solution in this case too.

He basically distinguished between positive will (velle) , rejection (nolle) and omission (non velle) as decision-making options for free will . After the course of action related to honesty, it means telling the truth, lying, or keeping silent. Prudence dictates the act based on experience and the specific circumstances. In addition to the abstract, intuitive judgment must also be taken into account. Moral judgments must comprehend the contingent situations holistically. In this sense, Scotus also compared moral judgments with aesthetic judgments. The judgment has an entirely objective character, since it requires a rational judgment and also includes the requirement to implement what is recognized as correct according to right reason.

Theological issues

In the reception of Duns Scotus, philosophy is in the foreground, even if it is always to be seen from the perspective of the theological question. Purely theological topics can be found almost exclusively in specialist literature. One important reason is that Scotus does not have a closed doctrine on theology either, but only comments on individual aspects.

Immaculate Conception

The newly burgeoning Marian devotion in the Middle Ages prompted Scotus to grapple with the question of the Immaculate Conception of Mary . The theological question was whether Mary was still burdened by original sin at the conception of the Son of God , since liberation from sins was only brought about through the redeeming death of Christ. Scotus argued against this that Mary was already freed from original sin at her birth due to the election by God by way of the pre-redemption (preredemptio) . His argument followed a step of three. Duns Scotus says of God that he could do it (“potuit)”, it was fitting (“decuit”), so he did it (“ergo fecit”). This view, because of which Scotus was also nicknamed Doctor Marianus , repeatedly led to theological disputes, especially with the Dominicans , who saw in this teaching a downgrading of the divinity of Jesus. The doctrine of the immaculate conception was introduced on December 8, 1854 by Pope Pius IX. in the bull Ineffabilis Deus ("The Ineffable God") raised to dogma .

Hostility towards Jews

Scotus showed a very hostile attitude towards the Jews . In accordance with the anti-Judaism of the time , which referred to corresponding passages in the Gospel of John and manifested itself in pogroms in connection with the Crusades , he called for compulsory baptism for Jewish children and suggested that the Jews be banished to an island as a reserve for the "cursed".

An irony is that his philosophy was heavily influenced by the Jewish philosopher Solomon ibn Gabirol , whom he believed to be a Christian.


Scotus studied the difference between revealed and acquired faith . Since God's will cannot be known through reason, the texts of the Bible and the teachings of the Christian church must be accepted. Acquired faith arises from the intensive study of these sources, which leads to the fact that one has no doubt that these sources are true. The Church's credibility as a witness to these truths results from her stabilitas (constancy, stability). Acquired faith differs from mere “my belief” by “ certainty ”, i.e. H. by the lack of doubt.

Scotus was convinced that, in addition to the acquired belief, there is also a revealed belief (fides infusa) , which represents another aspect of the act of belief, whereby - unlike in philosophy with the various sub-areas of knowledge - the acquired belief alone is sufficient for the to grasp divine truth. The revealed faith is a complement that perfects the soul and strengthens the act of faith.

“If the whole consent comes from the (poured) faith habit, then the act of faith necessarily takes place as soon as everything is available that belongs to the essence of the act of faith. Let us assume a baptized person who thinks of the sensory images of those simple terms 'death' and 'resurrection'. If his intellectual faculty is endowed with the necessary inclining habitus and the object of faith is present as an image of the senses, the act of necessity takes place, namely consent to the judgment: the dead will rise. But this is wrong. Because he will never agree to this fact earlier than before, if he has not been instructed about that act of faith that it is to be believed. So the belief acquired by listening seems to suffice, and one does not experience anything else in such an agreement. "

There can be errors of belief in acquired belief as well as belief based on revelation if the object of belief is incorrectly presented. The truth of the object is independent of the habitus (of the acquired habit) of belief. The will does not change anything in the content of belief. As a source of sin, however, it can prevent man from acting according to his faith.

Absolute predestination

According to Scotus, God's Son would have become man even if Adam had not sinned. God wants man to love him. That is the reason for the incarnation . If predestination ( predestination ) Christ depending on the sin of Adam, God would have made it dependent on the actions of a person. But this contradicts the absolute free will of God. With this view, Scotus succeeds Robert Grosseteste , but in contrast to Thomas Aquinas , Bonaventure and most of the later theologians.


One of the first complete definitions of the sacraments came from Scotus. These are sensually perceptible events, realities or rites that were instituted by Christ to denote and to preserve the graces of salvation he deserved and to convey them to people through people in the pilgrimage, in the performance of the sacrament through donors and recipients.

While, according to Thomas, the sacramental act of baptism as an instrument primarily mediates the grace of God, Scotus was of the opinion that this act of baptism is only an occasion for God to communicate his grace on the basis of a corresponding arrangement (institutio divina) . According to Scotus, the institute of baptism did not occur with the baptism of Jesus in the Jordan, but only later. However, there is no report on this.

The unavailability of God

The actions of God, but also the grace of God, are independent of human will. It follows that man cannot earn God's grace. Grace and merit oppose each other. But from the revelation it follows that God gives eternal life to man whom he graciously accepts .

According to Peter Lombardus, the Holy Spirit dwelling in man through baptism is the cause of grace. Thomas Aquinas viewed grace as a habitus, an inherent quality of the soul. Scotus equated this quality with the human capacity for charity, love as the highest good. The merit of human reason (ratio meriti) lies in the conformity of divine and human will. The capacity for Caritas arises from the supernatural grace of God. Man cannot acquire this grace through concrete action. But he can turn Caritas into a habitus, an acquired predilection, like a virtue through practice.

If man behaves accordingly, he will be accepted by God according to revelation. This is so because God created the conditions of the world exactly as they are (potentia dei ordinata) , even if he could have created them otherwise (potentia dei absoluta) . This doctrine of acceptance led to the reception, for example by Petrus Aureoli , that it was often wrongly claimed that Scotus had taught that humans can influence God through their behavior. He had thus taken a Pelagian position, according to which man could be without sin on his own. But according to Scotus, God was never available to man. In terms of content, the debate followed more closely to Scotus' students, who were less clear about this teaching.


Johannes Duns Scotus - illustration from the 18th or 19th century

Even if Scotus did not write a summa , but dealt primarily with the detailed (subtle) analysis and elaboration of individual topics and the commentary on existing texts, one can still describe his teaching as a coherent one, ranging from knowledge to metaphysics to ethics See a concept based on Aristotle and Avicenna , but referring to the Franciscan-Augustinian tradition in terms of the meaning of the will and revelation. Even today, the critical question about the conditions of the possibility of knowledge, the basic assumption of intuitive knowledge and the responsibility of the individual based on free will are of particular importance. Scotus was one of the first to emphasize individuality and justify the change from ontology to epistemology as the most important topic in philosophy. In this respect, he not only contributed to the preparation of the Renaissance , but worked far beyond that. With his philosophy he overcame a number of metaphysical prejudices. By relegating truths of faith such as the Trinity or the virgin birth to the realm of theology, he withdrew them from the rational discussion in philosophy. Theology and philosophy have their own realm, whereby philosophy is always viewed from the perspective of theology and is not in competition with it. Etienne Gilson and Wolfgang Kluxen see this as an important impetus for the transition from medieval to modern thinking.

Although the Franciscans did not declare the teachings of Scotus binding for their order, as had happened with Thomas and the Dominicans, a school developed based on Scotism and which spread from Paris. One of the first to deal with Scotus was Wilhelm von Ockham , who adopted the concept of "beings as beings", followed Scotus' ethics and emphasized in particular the freedom of will, which on the other hand further developed and unified logic and semantics represented clear nominalism .

Scotism reached its peak in the 17th century, in which Lucas Wadding took care of the printed complete edition (1639), and was even the dominant scholastic doctrine at the time. The basic elements of the Scottish doctrine were brought into German philosophy via Francisco Suárez and formed the starting point for the idea of ​​“possible worlds” for Leibniz and the basis for its ontology for Christian Wolff .

Immanuel Kant was also influenced to a considerable extent through rationalist philosophy . This can be found, for example, in the question of the “limits of knowledge” or the doctrine of the “two tribes of knowledge”. Kant also took a conceptualist position with regard to universals. Kant's basic ethical assumptions could be derived directly from Scotus. This applies to the postulated “free will” as well as to the all-determining statement that morally good alone is good will. Kant also saw the priority of moral intention over the effect of an action and the importance of virtue as supporting but not decisive for morality in a similar way to Scotus.

Against this background it is understandable that Charles S. Peirce of Scotus spoke with admiration and - using the term medieval debate - turned against the "Necesseritarians" and referred to the "contingency" and the "Haecceitas" of Scotus. Elements of the Scottish philosophy can be found in Edmund Husserl's essence view, which is similar in the basic idea to intuitive knowledge, and in Martin Heidegger's being, which has its correspondence in beings as beings. Even though Heidegger, like Peirce before, made strong reference to the Grammatica Speculativa script in his habilitation, The Doctrine of Meaning and Categories of Duns Scotus , which was later assigned to Thomas von Erfurt , the basic theme remains. Even Hannah Arendt sat down explicitly Scotus apart and grabbed for example, his theory of intuitive knowledge on by zusprach individual things singularity. She also emphasized human free will, freedom of choice for good or evil, and responsibility for one's actions.

The Scotus reception is today especially supported by the Franciscans (OFM) , for example by the Johannes Duns Scotus Academy for Franciscan Intellectual History and Spirituality in Mönchengladbach , the Bonaventure Institute in New York or the Philosophical-Theological College of the Franciscans in Schwaz / Tyrol, while Thomism dominated in Neo- Scholasticism. Nevertheless, it can be said that Scotus occupies an important place in its own right in the reception and even fertilizes the philosophical discussion of the present.


As part of the redesign of the sculpture program for the Cologne town hall tower in the 1980s, Johannes Duns Scotus was honored with a figure by Andreas Dilthey on the fourth floor on the west side of the tower.



  • Parva logicalia (on the isagogue of Porphyrios and various topics from Aristotle, c. 1295)
  • Quaestiones super de anima
  • Quaestiones subtilissimae de metaphysicam Aristotelis (developed over a longer period of time)
  • Lectura (first version of the sentence commentary c. 1299 in Oxford)
  • Ordinatio (approx. 1300, also known as Opus Oxoniense, concept of the sentence commentary that has been revised several times)
  • Reportata parisiensia (student transcripts approx. 1300)
  • Reportatio parisiensis examinata IA (presumably the transcript of the Paris lectures c. 1302–1305, which Scotus read through)
  • Collationes (46 disputations from the years 1300 to 1305)
  • Tractatus de Primo Principio (with extensive proof of God c. 1305)
  • Theoremata (authorship questionable)
  • Quaestiones Quodlibetales (collection of disputations as magister regens approx. 1306)

The “Grammatica speculativa”, which Charles S. Peirce and Martin Heidegger referred to, is not one of the writings, which is often attributed to Duns Scotus. As far as we know today, this comes from Thomas von Erfurt .

Work editions

  • Opera Omnia. (“Wadding Edition”) Lyon, 1639, reprint Hildesheim, Olms 1968, 12 vols., Reprinted in 26 volumes in modern typesetting by L. Vivès 1891–1895; contains - however often mixed with spurious text parts - of real fonts:
    • Vol. 1: Super universalia Porphyrii quaestiones (pp. 87-123), In librum Praedicamentorum quaestiones (pp. 124-185), Quaestiones in I et II librum Perihermeneias Aristotelis (pp. 186-210), In duos libros Perihermeneias, operis secundi… quaestiones (pp. 211–223), In libros Elenchorum quaestiones (pp. 224–272)
    • Vol. 2: Quaestiones super libros Aristotelis De Anima (pp. 485-582).
    • Vol. 3: De primo rerum omnium principio (pp. 209-259), Theoremata (pp. 263-338), Collationes Parisienses (pp. 345-430).
    • Vol. 4: Quaestiones super libros Metaphysicorum Aristotelis libri I-IX (pp. 505-848).
    • Vol. 5-10: Opus Oxoniense.
    • Vol. 11: Reportata Parisiensa.
    • Vol. 12: Quodlibet
  • Opera Omnia. ("Vatican edition") Civitas Vaticana 1950ff, previously volumes I-XIV and XVI-XXI
  • Opera Philosophica. St. Bonaventure, NY, The Franciscan Institute, 1997 (5 volumes)


  • Treatise on the first principle . (Lat.-Dt.) Ed. By Wolfgang Kluxen, 3rd ed. Wiss. Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 1994, ISBN 3-534-00532-5
  • The univocality of beings . Texts on metaphysics. With study commentary and 2 registers. Edited by Tobias Hoffmann, Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2002, ISBN 3-525-30600-8
  • About the knowledge of God . (Lat.-German), ed. by Hans Kraml, Meiner, Hamburg 2000, ISBN 978-3-7873-1617-5
  • About the individuation principle. Ordinatio II, distinctio 3, pars 1 . Edited with a detailed introduction by Thamar Rossi Leidi, Meiner, Hamburg 2015, ISBN 978-3-7873-2520-7
  • Parisian lectures on knowledge and contingency . (Lat.-Dt.) Herder's Library of the Philosophy of the Middle Ages Volume 4, ed. and annotated by Joachim R. Söder, Herder, Munich and Freiburg 2005, ISBN 3-451-28686-6
  • Contingency and Freedom. Lectura I 39 (translated and commented inter alia by Antonie Vos), Kluwer, Dordrecht 1994, ISBN 0-7923-2707-1 (The New Synthesis Historical Library; Vol. 4)


Basic literature in the article "Philosophy of the Middle Ages"

  • Friedrich Wilhelm BautzDuns Scotus, Johannes. In: Biographisch-Bibliographisches Kirchenlexikon (BBKL). Volume 1, Bautz, Hamm 1975. 2nd, unchanged edition Hamm 1990, ISBN 3-88309-013-1 , Sp. 1423-1427.
  • Andreas J. Beck and Henri Veldhuis (eds.): Geloof geeft te think: Opstellen over de theologie van Johannes Duns Scotus . Assen, Van Gorcum, 2005, ISBN 90-232-4154-1 (Scripta franciscana; Vol. 8)
  • Johann Jakob Brucker : Historia critica philosophiae. A Christo nato ad repurgatas usque literas. Tomus III . Leipzig 1766, here: pp. 825–829 (Brucker's negative assessment of Scotus is to be seen in the context of the time and is not understandable from today's perspective.)
  • Maria Burger: Personality on the horizon of absolute predestination - Investigations into the Christology of Johannes Duns Scotus and its reception in modern theological approaches . Aschendorff, Münster 1994, ISBN 3-402-03935-4
  • Michal Chabada: Cognitio intuitiva et abstractiva. The ontological implications of the epistemology of Johannes Duns Skotus with the comparison to Aristotle and Immanuel Kant . Verlag Kühlen, Mönchengladbach 2005, ISBN 3-87448-250-2
  • Werner Dettloff : Johannes Duns Scotus. The unavailability of God. In: Ulrich Köpf (Ed.): Theologians of the Middle Ages. An introduction. Wissenschaftliche Buchgesellschaft, Darmstadt 2002 ISBN 3-534-14815-0 , pp. 168-181.
  • Werner Dettloff: Johannes Duns Scotus. In: Heinrich Fries and Georg Kretschmar (eds.): Classics of theology . Volume 1: From Irenäus to Martin Luther, Beck, Munich 1981, 226–237 ( online ; PDF file; 6.3 MB)
  • Mechthild Dreyer, Mary B. Ingham: Johannes Duns Scotus for an introduction . Junius Verlag, Hamburg 2003, ISBN 3-88506-388-3
  • Walter Hoeres : Will as pure perfection according to Duns Scotus. Pustet, Munich 1962.
  • Walter Hoeres: The longing for the view of God. Thomas Aquinas and Duns Scotus in conversation about nature and grace . Patrimonium, Aachen 2015, ISBN 978-3-86417046-1 .
  • Roberto Hofmeister Pich: The concept of scientific knowledge according to Johannes Duns Scotus . Diss. Bonn 2001 pdf
  • Ludger Honnefelder : Johannes Duns Scotus . Beck, Munich 2005, ISBN 3-406-51116-3
  • Ludger Honnefelder: Scientia transcendens. The formal determination of being and reality in the metaphysics of the Middle Ages and modern times (Duns Scotus, Suárez, Wolff, Kant, Peirce) . Meiner, Hamburg 1990, ISBN 3-7873-0726-5 (Paradeigmata; Vol. 9)
  • Mary B. Ingham: Duns Scotus . Aschendorff, Münster 2006, ISBN 3-402-04632-6 (Approaches to Medieval Thinking; Vol. 3)
  • Wilhelm Kahl : The doctrine of the primacy of the will with Augustine , Duns Scotus and Descartes . Trübner, Strasbourg 1886.
  • Dominik Perler: Doubt and certainty. Skeptical Debates in the Middle Ages , Frankfurt am Main 2006, ISBN 978-3-465-03496-4
  • Cesar Ribas Cezar: The natural law and the concrete practical judgment according to the teaching of John Duns Scotus . Diss. Bonn 2003 pdf
  • Waltram Roggisch: Johannes Duns Scotus. The theologian of the Immaculate . Christiana-Verlag, Stein am Rhein 1995, ISBN 3-7171-0839-5
  • Axel Schmidt: nature and mystery. Critique of Naturalism through Modern Physics and Scottish Metaphysics . Alber, Munich 2003, ISBN 3-495-48078-1
  • Siegfried Staudinger: The problem of the analysis of the act of faith with Johannes Duns Scotus . Cooling, Mönchengladbach 2006, ISBN 3-87448-269-3
  • Antonie Vos u. a. (Ed.): Duns Scotus on Divine Love: Texts and Commentary on Goodness and Freedom, God and Humans . Aldershot, Ashgate 2003, ISBN 0-7546-3590-2
  • Antonie Vos: The Philosophy of John Duns Scotus . Edinburgh, Edinburgh University Press, 2006, ISBN 0-7486-2462-7
  • Friedrich Wetter : The doctrine of the Trinity of Johannes Duns Scotus . Aschendorff, Münster, 1967 (contributions to the history of philosophy and theology of the Middle Ages; 41.5)
  • Thomas Williams (Ed.): The Cambridge Companion to Duns Scotus . Cambridge University Press 2002, ISBN 978-0-521-63563-9

Web links

Commons : Johannes Duns Scotus  - collection of images, videos and audio files

Primary texts

Secondary literature

Individual evidence

  1. ^ Beati e Santi del Pontificato di Giovanni Paolo II 1993
  2. Honnefelder, 2005, p. 11
  3. Honnefelder, 2005, p. 151
  4. ^ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP), Section 4.3
  5. Honnefelder, 2005, p. 52
  6. ^ Etienne Gilson : Johannes Duns Scotus. Introduction to the basic ideas of his teaching , trans. by Werner Dettloff. Schwann, Düsseldorf 1959, Chapter 4, II, especially 326–339
  7. Duns Scotus: Quodlibet (Est enim deus pelagus infinitiae substantiae et per consequens indistinctae) . Quoted from: Roland Faber: “God's Sea” - attempt on the indistinctness of God . In: Th. Dienberg, M. Plattig (Ed.): Life in fullness . Christian spirituality sketches . Aschendorff, Münster 2001, pp. 64–95, here 66
  8. ^ Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (SEP) 2.3
  9. Dominik Perler : Johannes Duns Scotus - Universals . In: Ansgar Beckermann , Dominik Perler: Classics of Philosophy . Reclam, Stuttgart 2004, pp. 166-185, 173
  10. ^ Ockham's criticism of Scotus can be found in; Ordinatio I, d. 2. q. 6. In: S. Brown, G. Gál (eds.): Opera theologica II. St. Bonaventure NY 1970, pp. 161-195
  11. after Honnefelder, 2005, p. 129/130
  12. Dreyer / Ingham, p. 100ff.
  13. Staudinger, 2006, p. 48
  14. Werner Detloff: The spirituality of St. Francis in the Christology of John Duns Scotus . (PDF; 1.9 MB) In: Wissenschaft und Weisheit , 22, 1959, pp. 17–28
  15. Werner Dettloff: The image of God and justification in the school theology between Duns Scotus and Luther . (PDF; 2.1 MB) In: Wissenschaft und Weisheit , 27, 1964, pp. 197–210
  16. Ludger Honnefelder: Scientia transzendens, The formal determination of being and reality in the metaphysics of the Middle Ages and modern times . Meiner, Hamburg 1990, p. XI
  17. ^ Sculptures on the fourth floor .; accessed on January 15, 2015
This article was added to the list of excellent articles on May 13, 2006 in this version .