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This essay focuses on the notion of “object of the intellect.” It argues that the distinction between “natural object of inclination” (obiectum naturale inclinabile) and “natural reachable object” (obiectum naturale attingibile) is at the basis of a fundamental reorientation in the doctrine of the first adequate object of the intellect in Duns Scotus’s later works. In the absence of any direct intellectual intuition of the soul and its potencies in this life, natural reason has no epistemic access to the first adequate object of the intellect except by way of abstraction of the per se objects it attains effectively. This insight induces Duns Scotus to revise his criticism of the position that he ascribes to Aristotle and Thomas Aquinas, namely that the “quiddity of material things” is the first adequate object of the intellect. Although Duns Scotus claims consistently that this position cannot be maintained by a theologian, he comes to accept it in his later works as correctly expressing the philosopher’s view of the first adequate object of the intellect in this life.
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