Duns Scotus's Theory of Cognition

ISBN : 9780199684885

Revd Richard Cross
240 Pages
169 x 240 mm
Pub date
Sep 2014
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Richard Cross provides the first complete and detailed account of Duns Scotus's theory of cognition, tracing the processes involved in cognition from sensation, through intuition and abstraction, to conceptual thought. He provides an analysis of the ontological status of the various mental items (acts and dispositions) involved in cognition, and a new account of Scotus on nature of conceptual content. Cross goes on to offer a novel, reductionist, interpretation of Scotus's view of the ontological status of representational content, as well as new accounts of Scotus's opinions on intuitive cognition, intelligible species, and the varieties of consciousness. Scotus was a perceptive but highly critical reader of his intellectual forebears, and this volume places his thought clearly within the context of thirteenth-century reflections on cognitive psychology, influenced as they were by Aristotle, Augustine, and Avicenna. As far as possible, Duns Scotus's Theory of Cognition traces developments in Scotus's thought during the ten or so highly productive years that formed the bulk of his intellectual life.


1. Sensation
2. Intuitive cognition
3. Abstractive cognition (1): abstraction and concept formation
4. Abstractive cognition (2): intelligible species
5. The ontological status of cognitive acts
6. The production of cognitive acts
7. The soul and its powers
8. Semantic internalism and the grounds of intentionality
9. Mental language and the nature of conceptual content
10. The ontological status of mental content
Concluding remarks

About the author: 

Richard Cross is the John A. O'Brien Professor of Philosophy at the University of Notre Dame. Before that he was Tutorial Fellow in Theology at Oriel College, Oxford from 1993 to 2007, and Professor of Medieval Theology from 2007.

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