commonly called DUNS SCOTUS, an eminent scholastic divine and
theological disputant, was born, according to some writers, in 1264, or,
as others say, ten years thereafter. He is supposed to have been a
native of Dunse in Berwickshire, but some English authors contend that
his birthplace was Dunstance, near Alnwick, in Northumberland. When a
boy, two Franciscan friars, while begging for their monastery, came to
his father’s house, and, finding him to be a youth of extraordinary
capacity, prevailed on him to accompany them to Newcastle, where they
persuaded him to enter their fraternity. From thence he was sent to
Merton college, Oxford, and, becoming celebrated for his skill in
scholastic theology, civil law, logic, and mathematics, he was in 1301
appointed professor of divinity, when, it is said, the fame of his
learning and eloquence attracted scholars from all parts to his
lectures. In 1304 he was sent by the general of the Franciscan order to
Paris, where he was honoured with the degrees, first of bachelor, and
then of doctor in divinity. At a meeting of the monks of his order at
Toulouse, in 1307, he was created regent, and, about the same time, he
was placed at the head of the theological schools at Paris. Here it is
affirmed to have first propounded his favourite doctrine of the
immaculate conception of the Virgin Mary, and having, in a public
disputation, refuted two hundred objections urged against it by some
divines, he acquired the name of “the most subtle doctor.” Nothing,
however, could be more barren and useless than the chimerical
abstractions and metaphysical refinements which obtained for him this
title. He was at first a follower of Thomas Aquinas, but, differing with
him on the subject of the efficacy of divine grace, he formed a distinct
sect, called the Scotists, in contradistinction to the Thomists. In 1308
he was sent to Cologne by the head of his order; and, not long after his
arrival there, he was cut off by apoplexy, November 8 of that year, in
the forty-fourth, or, according to some writers, in the thirty-fourth,
year of his age; and, it is stated, was buried before he was actually
dead, as was discovered by an examination of his grave. He was the
author of a vast number of works, which were collected by Lucas Wadding,
in 12 vols. folio, and published, with his Life, at Lyons, in 1639; but
which have long since been consigned to hopeless oblivion. A life of him
by Mr. Pinkerton appeared in the Scots Magazine for 1817. The titles of
his various writings are subjoined from Watt’s Bibliotheca Britannica:
super primam Sententiarum, ab Antonia Tronbeta emendatae. Ven. 1472.
quartum Librum Sententiarum. 1472, fol. Par. 1513, 4 vols. fol. Ven.
1597, fol. Et cum Vita Scoti, editae ab Hugone Cavello. Ant. 1620, fol.
Ven. 1474, fol. Ven. 1477, fol.
primam partem Sententiarum, studio Thomae Pelreth, Anglici. Ven. per J.
de Colonia, et Joan. Mant. de Geretzheim. 1477, fol.
tertium Sentent. Ven. 1478, fol. Very scarce.
Metaphysicam Aristotelis. Ejusdem de primo Rerum Principio, et
Theoremata, cum Castigat. Mauritii Hibernici. Ven. 1491, fol. Ven. 1501,
fol. Et ab Antonio Andrea. Par. 1520, fol.
Libros Priorum Arist. Ven. 1504, 4to.
Universalia Porphyrii, Aristotelis Predicamenta, et Perihermenias, et
Libros Elenchorum, correctae per Mauritium de Portu Hib. Ven. 1512, fol.
Libros Priorum et Posteriorum Arist. Ven. 1512, fol.
quolibitates, cum Reportatis Petri Thatareti. Par. 1519, fol.
cum Notis et Comm. à P.P. Hibernis Collegii Romani S. Isidori
Professoribus, cum Vita per Luc. Waddingum. Lugd. 1639, &c. 12 vols.
fol. A very scarce collection.