Blessed John Duns Scotus, Franciscan Intellectual Tradition, Philosophy, The Franciscans, Theology

Lessons in the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition — Haecceitas

ScotusLessons in the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition:

Haecceitas: The Doctrine of “Thisness”

There is, however, a still deeper dimension of creation in the Franciscan Intellectual Tradition. In this also, Scotus is a leader. Again and again, in his writings, he treats of individuation. He coins a special term for this dimension, calling it “Thisness” (in Latin, Haecceitas). If one were to ask Aristotle, Thomas Aquinas and others for a definition of a human being, the answer would be immediate: a human being is a rational animal. The difficulty in this view is that God has clearly created individual rational animals, but has never created a single rational animal. One finds the meaning of rational animal only in a singular individual. Perhaps, Allan Wolter has described it best:

“Scotus’s doctrine of haecceity applied to the human person would seem to invest each with a unique value as one singularly wanted and loved by God, quite apart from any trait that person shares with others or any contribution he or she might make to society. One could even say, haecceity is our personal gift from God.”


– Lucas G. Westman

**Taken From “The Franciscan Intellectual Tradition: Tracing Its Origins and Identifying Its Central Components, Pg. 67


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