Scotism and Platonism: A New Appraisal

May 25, 2023 - May 26, 2023
UCD Dublin, University of Bonn

Am Hof 1
Bonn 53113

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In the Scholarship of the twentieth century, Scotism and Platonism were often linked and contrasted unfavorably with Aristotelianism, especially that displayed by Thomas Aquinas. Thus, Gilson famously compared Duns Scotus’ doctrine of essence to the Platonism “anterior” to the Aristotelianism of Thomas Aquinas. Motivated by more recent research, however, not least that indicating that Thomism itself is suffused with Platonism, the present conference seeks to reevaluate the relationship between the varieties of Platonism and Scotism by considering a doctrine central to both traditions, the Ideas. The problem is, however, that the Platonic doctrine of Ideas was explicitly rejected, only to be continued in another form. With John Duns Scotus, the Platonic Ideas and their successors, namely objects endowed with esse essentiae, were rejected and transformed into quiddities endowed with intelligible being (esse intelligibile). The concept of esse intelligibile itself proved controversial, however, even among Scotus’ own followers. Furthermore, there were contemporary critiques from Dominicans and others inside and outside the Franciscan order as well, for example, those directed at the formalizantes in the 15th and 16th centuries, which still objected to their Platonism, despite wider access to Platonic texts during the Renaissance. These debates formed a running controversy that lasted to the end of the Middle Ages and was noted even by those outside of the scholastic schools, famously playing a role in Descartes’ proof for the existence of God. The present conference brings together leading scholars of both Scotism and Platonism and will explore and evaluate the connections between the two traditions.


Benno van Croesdijk, Giacomo Fornasieri, Odile Gilon, Wouter Goris, Lars Heckenroth, Hannes Möhle, Alessandro de Pascalis, Giorgio Pini, Christian Rode, Garrett Smith, Anna Tropia

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Hudson County Community College
Sorbonne Université
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