In Burçin Ercan (ed.), Interactions in the History of Philosophy II. Delta Publishing House. pp. 39-46 (2015)

Athanasia Theodoropoulou
National and Kapodistrian University of Athens
This paper offers an interpretative presentation of Duns Scotus’ notion of intellect, as it is delineated in his treatise entitled De Spiritualitate et Immortalitate Animae Humanae. Duns Scotus’ theory is gradually formed through his critical examination of the Aristotelian views which are presented in De Anima and Metaphysics.Duns Scotus accepts the Aristotelian definition of the soul, according to which the soul knows and thinks through its intellective power, and he claims that the intellective soul is the proper form of man. However, he is opposed to Aristotle’s theory concerning the imperishability of the intellect, holding that since the intellect is the form of the perishable composite, it cannot exist apart from the composite. Furthermore, adopting the Aristotelian view that only human beings have two cognitive powers, the senses and the intellect, Duns Scotus shows the supremacy of the intellect compared to the senses. He distinguishes intellectual knowledge from sense knowledge by designating their functions and objects. Intellectual knowledge is an immaterial and non organic act in contradistinction to sense knowledge, which is a material and organic act; the intellect perceives abstract objects whereas the senses grasp particular objects. Although Duns Scotus proves that intellectual knowledge is superior to sense knowledge, he recognizes the contribution of the senses in acquiring knowledge inasmuch as he holds that the intellect understands only when it is rotated to the outside world: the intellect knows the universal by perceiving the intellectual images through the medium of imagination (phantasia), which modifies sense images to intellectual images (phantasms). Therefore, for Duns Scotus, knowledge would be impossible without cooperation between the intellect and the senses.
Keywords Theory of Knowledge  Duns Scotus  Aristotle
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