Peter Auriol on Connotative Distinction and His Criticism of Scotus’s Formal Distinction


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The aim of this paper is to outline Peter Auriol’s theory of connotative distinction as applied to the divine attributes and his criticism of Scotus’s formal distinction, as well. He mainly tackles this issue in two important texts : his Scriptum I, dist. 8, q. 3 and his Quodlibet q. 1. Although Auriol takes into account the opinions of various scholars on the matter, Scotus plays the role of the main debater in both texts. Accordingly, the rst part of this article is devoted to a survey of Scotus’s formal distinction. This doctrine is certainly one of the most important of Scotus’s teachings. At the same time, it is one of the most problematic. It elicited radically different interpretations even among medieval scholars. In particular, it seems that differences between his teaching in Oxford and in Paris may have occasioned such a dispute. Auriol appears to be aware of such a difference. In the second section of this paper, I examine Auriol’s arguments against Scotus’s formal distinction. Finally, his solution to the problem of the distinction of the divine attributes is presented. On the one hand, Auriol cannot accept the formal distinction due to metaphysical reasons. On the other, he tries to elaborate a theory according to which attributes are not just conceptually distinct. To overcome this impasse, he claims that the attributes are connotative terms, that is they differ through what they connote.
Keywords formal distinction  Duns Scotus  Peter Auriol  Metaphysics  Medieval Philosophy
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