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BOOK REVIEWS Jean Duns Scot: Un Docteur des Temps Nouveaux. By Béraud de SaintMaurice . (Montréal: Thérien Frères, 1944. Pp. xiii+318.) This book is written by a warm admirer of Duns Scotus. Its purpose is to introduce the general student of philosophy to the Subtle Doctor, with a view to spreading a better knowledge and deeper appreciation of Scotus, who admittedly receives scant and frequently unfair treatment in much of the current Catholic philosophical and theological literature, and in our Scholastic text-books. Wisely the author begins by reconstructing the life and times of Scotus. He succeeds in doing this with such vivid detail of milieu and biographical data in their historical setting, that the Subtle Doctor emerges a living personality with boldly outlined peculiarities. This reveals him as he lived, penetrating in mind and warm in heart, personally experiencing the ultimate problems, and giving his own characteristic solutions in an honest endeavor to fathom and reach the truth. Of these characteristic doctrines, the author singles out for special treatment four belonging to philosophy, and two to the domain of theology . The philosophical chapters embrace: a. Scotus' metaphysical demonstration of the existence of God as the Absolute Infinite, a proof preferred by the Subtle Doctor as more cogent than the traditional Prime Mover argument, and one which has been proclaimed one of the high points of medieval metaphysics, b. The "Univocity of Being," permitting us to transcend the abyss between the finite and the infinite by guaranteeing a positive knowledge of God, thus truly linking the creature to his Creator. This is one of the best expositions we have ever seen within similar brief compass, c. Equally adequate is the explanation of the much misunderstood and maligned "Formal Distinction." d. Finally, we have a discussion of the "Voluntarism" of Scotus and his "Primacy of the Will," showing how Scotus, though attributing the superior role in our psychic life to the will, does not make of the latter an arbitrary faculty. The will is a rational power, guided in its choice by deliberate judgment; but in every case it ultimately determines itself, even in the presence of an object presented as supremely desirable by the intellect. Of the theological teaching of Scotus, the author selects his defense of the Immaculate Conception and his thesis on the Primacy of Christ. In a rapid sketch of the state of the controversy within the theological circles of Paris, he permits us to see why such saintly leaders of thought as Alexander of Hales, St. Bonaventare, St. Albert the Great and St. Thomas hesitated to subscribe to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, restrained by the difficulty of reconciling this privilege of Mary with the dogma of universal Redemption, and how Scotus daringly and brilliantly met this difficulty by his praevisis meritis solution. The doctrine of the "Primacy of Christ" asserts that Christ is the tenter of creation, and that consequently He would have become man even if Adam had not sinned. According to Scotus, in the eternal decrees 236 BOOK REVIEWS237 of God the Incarnation was willed absolutely as the supreme expression of God's love ad extra, and not merely, as it were, dependently upon and subsequently to the fall of man for the purpose of his Redemption. This thesis is stated in detail and with clarity. In a final chapter discussing the mission of Scotus in our day, the author states the belief that if the modern world, lost in agnosticism and neo-paganism, were to take Scotus with his sane philosophy and his conception of the divine plan of the universe with "Christ the King" for its center as its guide, it would of necessity find its way back to normalcy and salvation. This book furnishes the general student of philosophy with much valuable information. It embodies the published results of the latest representative Scotistic scholarship, and in addition much that is new because the author was in the fortunate position of having access to hitherto unpublished material of the distinguished Scotistic scholar, Fr. Ephrem Longpré, O.F.M. Perhaps the inclusion of some admittedly legendary items and an occasional lyrical tone might better have been avoided...


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