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Document Details :
Title: Duns Scotus on God's Essence and Attributes
Subtitle: Metaphysics, Semantics, and the Greek Patristic Tradition
Author(s): CROSS, Richard
Journal: Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévales
Volume: 83 Issue: 2 Date: 2016
Scotus holds that there is a mind-independent distinction between the divine attributes, and between the divine attributes and the divine essence. The paper focuses on the second of these distinctions, less well known than the first, and after sketching the metaphysical aspects of the doctrine proceeds to discuss Scotus’s semantic claim that it is possible to signify the divine essence without signifying the divine attributes, and vice versa. This view is contrasted with the dominant Western view that there are no mind-independent distinctions, and thus that signifying the divine attributes amounts to signifying the divine essence. Scotus’s view is compared at slightly greater length with the Eastern view — which Scotus expressly appeals to, in the person of John of Damascus — that it is possible to signify the divine attributes, but not possible to signify the divine essence. Scotus takes from the West the view that we can signify the divine essence, and from the East the view that we can signify the attributes in distinction from the essence.