John Duns Scotus (named for his birthplace of Duns, Scotland) was a medieval Franciscan philosopher (Feast Day November 8). He spent time studying and lecturing at the universities of Oxford, Paris, and Cologne. Because he was concerned with clarifying the finer points of philosophical arguments, he was referred to as “The Subtle Doctor.” His work engaged with and incorporated elements of several schools of philosophy; he found value in the thought of Augustine, Aquinas, Aristotle, and even Muslim thinkers. John Duns Scotus is known for emphasizing the importance of free will as a characteristic of love and for supporting the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception of Mary. He was beatified by Pope John Paul II in 1993.
Questions for Reflection:
- Sometimes philosophers and theologians are accused of wasting time arguing about how many angels can dance on the head of a pin. Do you think it is important to engage with the finer points of theology in an analytical way?
- What role has intellectual questioning played in the development of your faith life?