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John Duns Scotus: An Anthropology of Dignity and Love Antonie Vos I. Introduction We believe. We celebrate. We remember. It is a privilege for me to introduce John Duns from Scotland (Scotus). John was born in Duns in the South of Scotland in the winter of 1266 into a family of the same name: Duns.1 We meet a mature and rich version of the new Christian mode of thinking in Duns Scotus’s philosophy and theology, which was specifically embodied in his anthropology. First, in §2 we look at the early Scottish life of John Duns (* 1266), whereas §3 deals with his Franciscan context just as it mirrors itself in the Franciscan school system. We also meet John Duns Scotus in his historical academic world (§4). In §5 we look at the ancient mode of thinking so that we can discern the decisive differences and appreciate the point at which it all changed, whereas §6 sketches the nature of Scotus’s decisive contributions to the philosophy of the individual, wedded to other crucial notions: what it means to be human and to have will (§7), and what contingency and freedom (§8), goodness (§9) and love (§10) consist in.Against this background, some reflections on the issue of globalization are launched (§11). Our final remarks concern the pressing process 1 The original version of this contribution was presented on the occasion of the International Franciscan Symposium (Berkeley Franciscan School of Theology, October 6, 2007), focusing on Duns Scotus’s anthropology. Words Made Flesh: Essays Honoring Kenan Osborne 152 of globalization where we need the retrieval of John Duns Scotus ’s heritage (§12). 2. Duns: a Scottish boy Both Scotland, and Church and mendicancy were John Duns’s cradle.2 He was born in the North of Great Britain: in the South of Scotland, named Duns, baptized John, in the winter of 1266. The old Melrose Chronicle tells us that a first small band of Minors crossed the border along the Tweed in 1231,3 when they established a site in Berwick-on-Tweed before founding a house in Roxburgh about 1234 and pressing on to Haddington (before 1242), Dumfries (about 1262) and Dundee (1284).4 So around 1280 there were four friaries in South Scotland: Berwick, Roxburgh , Haddington and Dumfries. The three first were rather near to each other. In that area John Duns originated. Church and faith, mendicancy and theology were his manger. The young John followed Christ in the footsteps of il poverello. Franciscan renewal was welcomed by both families and inspired individuals. This feature was a continental one, and this attraction also touched the gentry family of Duns in the South of Scotland, which supported the Franciscan movement on both the personal, and the practical and financial levels.5 John was a Duns from Berwickshire, twenty-five miles to the North.6 The village of Duns, in the heart of Berwickshire, lies be2 See David Knowles, The Religious Orders in England I, (Cambridge 1948), part II: ‘The Friars 1216-1340,’ and Jean Leclercq, François Vandenbroucke and Louis Bouyer, A History of Christian Spirituality II, (London and Tunbridge Wells2 1982), 283-314: The Spirituality of the Middle Ages: ‘The Franciscan Spring.’ 3 Quoted by William Moir Bryce, The Scottish Grey Friars I, EdinburghLondon 1909, 5 note 1: Hic primo ingrediuntur fratres minores Scotiam. 4 See Moir Bryce, The Scottish Grey Friars I, 5-6 (20-35), 161-62 (161-67), 168-69 (168-98), 199 (199-217) and 218-19 (218-39), respectively. 5 Cf. Angelus Cardinal Felici in the Decretum of Dun’s Beatification by the Congregatio de Causis Sanctorum, in Opera Omnia XIX, X: Ortus est in Scotiae urbe Dunsio, ad annum 1265. Eius familia liberaliter beneficia conferebat in Sancti Francisci Asisinatis filios, qui primos evangelizatores imitantes, iam ab institutionis exordio ad Scotiae fines perrexerant. 6 “Dun” is Gaelic for hill or fort. Antonie Vos 153 tween two chains of mountains, to be located south of the Lammermuir Hills. It was an agricultural area. Father Duns was a commoner, a gentleman from the landed gentry in a world which was a mixture of Scottish-Pictish and Anglo-Norman. After some preparatory education at home or in a local school a young friar attended the school of his friary. It was obligatory on all friars – a word derived from the way Englishmen pronounced the French word frères – except the illiterate, to devote part of their time to reading and writing, as the General Chapter of...


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