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Title: Duns Scotus on What is in the Mind
Subtitle: A Roadmap
Author(s): PINI, Giorgio
Journal: Recherches de Théologie et Philosophie Médiévales
Volume: 87    Issue: 2   Date: 2020   
Pages: 319-347
DOI: 10.2143/RTPM.87.2.3289007

Abstract :
Throughout the Middle Ages and early modern period, ‘being in the intellect’ and ‘intelligible being’ were taken to be key features of objects of thought. Duns Scotus’s striking claim that the intellect produces its objects in intelligible being triggered a debate among his interpreters on the ontological status of intelligible being. That debate, however, obscured what is arguably an even more striking aspect of Duns Scotus’s position: not all objects of thought have intelligible being; rather, intelligible being characterizes only the objects of what Duns Scotus called ‘abstractive cognition’, where objects are made present to the intellect through a representation (the so-called ‘intelligible species’). By contrast, if a certain thing is present to the intellect ‘by itself’, that thing is indeed an object of thought (specifically of an ‘intuitive’ as opposed to an ‘abstractive’ thought) but has no intelligible being. Starting from this insight, this paper provides a roadmap to Duns Scotus’s views on the role intelligible being plays in human cognition, divine cognition, and the intersection between the two. One of its main claims is that Duns Scotus’s position can be correctly grasped once the mystery surrounding the notion of presence is dispelled by calling attention to its links with the Aristotelian theory of action and passion.

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