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The Scottish Nation

BASSOL, JOHN, the favourite disciple of Duns Scotus, was born, according to Mackenzie, in the reign of Alexander III. In his younger years he applied himself to the study of philosophy and the bellos lettres, after which he went to the university of Oxford, where he studied theology under duns Scotus; with whom, in the year 1304, he removed to Paris, and studied for some time in the university there. In 1313 he entered the order of the Minorities. Being afterwards sent by the general of his order to Rheims, he there applied himself to the study of medicine, and taught philosophy for seven or eight years in that city. In 1322 he was sent to Mechlin, in Brabant, where he taught theology. He died there in 1347. His master, Duns Scotus, had such a high opinion of him, that, when he taught in the schools, he usually said, that “If only Joannes Bassiolis were present, he had a sufficient auditory.” The only work he wrote was entitled ‘Commentaria seu Lecturae in Quatuor Libros Sententiarum,” folio, which, with some miscellaneous treatises in philosophy and medicine, was published in Paris in 1517. Bassol was a man of great learning, and, in lecturing or writing, he handled his subject with so much order and method, that he was styled Doctor Ordinatissimus, or the most orderly or methodical doctor; for, at that period, eminent scholars and divines were distinguished by such titles. It was objected to him, however, that, in common with most of the schoolmen of that and the succeeding age, he was too subtle and nice in obscure questions; for they were fond of proposing objections that could never have occurred to any but themselves. So subtle, indeed, was one of them, called ‘The Calculator,’ that Cardan, an old author, says, only one of his arguments was enough to puzzle all posterity; and that, when he grew old, he wept because he could not understand his own books! – Mackenzie’s Scots Writers.

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