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

Bl. John Duns Scotus & Classical Theism

scotus-and-classical-theism“As for all the scholastics, Scotus’s God is the God of classical theism. I have tried to argue elsewhere that the key motivator for Scotus’s account of God is the notion of God’s being wholly unconditioned: being such that nothing can affect him. On this view, God lacks passive capacities. In what is now the most famous medieval account of God, that of Thomas Aquinas, the notion that God lacks passive capacities is associated with the view that God is identical with this own esse or existence. Aquinas reasons that essence is actualized by esse; hence in God essence and esse cannot be distinct: essence cannot be actualized by esse. Scotus, as I not briefly below, does not accept this view, since he does not believe it is possible to make any sense of a distinction between essence and esse. But he certainly thinks that God lacks any passive capacities, and uses this belief to justify a moral theory based on divine command: if God’s commands were somehow constrained by the natures of the things he has made, then God would fail to be wholly unconditioned: something external to God could have an effect in God, restricting God’s absolutely sovereign freedom. The God of classical theism is one inherited from the Patristic era. But the medieval believed that it can be inferred from God’s existence as first cause: the first cause must be such that nothing can cause an effect in it, for if something could cause an effect in it, then that thing would be prior to the first cause – which is impossible.”

– Richard Cross, Duns Scotus on God –


– Lucas G. Westman


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