Published online by Cambridge University Press: 23 December 2021
Since their first formulation, many of John Duns Scotus’s views have attracted the attention of philosophers and theologians alike. Responses have ranged from admiration to opprobrium, including (perhaps most memorably) ridicule: in the sixteenth century, Duns Scotus gained the dubious distinction of entering the English language as a common noun—through the word ‘dunce’. In the relatively tolerant and sedate environment of contemporary academia, a mention of his name might still be met with a smirk, often on account of his alleged obscurity, or even provoke an occasional outburst of hostility, especially from those who are partial to interpreting the history of philosophy as a fight between abstractions (realism versus nominalism, voluntarism versus intellectualism, transcendence versus immanence, the Secular versus the Sacred, and so forth). For mysterious reasons—probably connected to the alleged opposition between two of those abstractions, Thomism and Scotism—it is not rare to see the name of Duns Scotus associated with some vague and ghastly philosophical catastrophe.1 It is high time for Duns Scotus to be considered sine ira et studio. It is also high time for his thought to be better known, and not just among the specialists of medieval philosophy.