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Tydskrif vir Geesteswetenskappe

versión On-line ISSN 2224-7912
versión impresa ISSN 0041-4751


BEUKES, Johann. The critical Scotism of Henry of Harclay (ca.1270-1317), as deduced from his Quaestiones Ordinaire (1312-1317). Tydskr. geesteswet. [online]. 2021, vol.61, n.1, pp.259-281. ISSN 2224-7912.

This article provides an introduction to the life of Henry of Harclay (ca.1270-1317). It also attempts an interpretation of the most significant themes in the primary extant work of this, still understated, double magister in philosophy and theology at Oxford, who was chancellor of Oxford university and bishop of Lincoln from 1312 to 1317. The introduction and interpretation are undertaken with reference to his correspondence theory (challenging his otherwise most significant discursive influence, John Duns Scotus's (ca.1266-1308) natura communis or theory of general nature), unique conceptualism, views on the ontological status of relational contingents and ethical reflections on the relation between virtue and will, as deduced from the 29 questions in his Quaestiones Ordinaire, written precisely in that productive period between 1312 and 1317. It is argued that although Harclay was one of the first exponents of Scotism, it would be a mistake to reduce his work to a mere commentary on Scotus's thought. Harclay should rather be appreciated in terms of an expressly critical Scotism on account of his dismissive attitude toward aspects of the Scotus legacy, on the one hand, and the originality of his engagement in scholastic discourse regarding relations, particularity, universality and ethics, on the other. Although he remained a secular master and never officially entered the order, Harclay forms, in terms of this presentation, part of the broader Franciscan intellectual tradition and should be regarded as a significant exponent of this particular philosophical trajectory in the first two decades of the fourteenth century. After a brief biographical introduction, the results of a comparative study of Harclay's presence in recent introductions to, as well as editorial works of, Medieval philosophy are presented. It quickly becomes clear that although Harclay'sprofile is steadily being promoted in these broader disciplinary works, the Oxonian remains a relatively unknown thinker outside the narrow parameters of such specialised niche-research. In fact, only a handful of contemporary researchers have been working on Harclay's textual legacy over the past decade; the most prolific being MG Henninger (from 1980 to 2008), although it is shown that WO Duba, RL Friedman and CD Schabel (in 2010) and JT Slotemaker (in 2011) have recently contributed significantly to the specialised Harclay scholarship. It is therefore important that Harclay's unique place within the scholastic discourse of the early 14th century be continuously highlighted and presented to a broader and non-specialised readership in philosophy, which is a pertinent sub-objective of this article. The 29 questions in Harclay's Quaestiones Ordinaire, as preliminarily edited by A Maurer from 1954 to 1961 and extensively by Henninger from 1980 to 2008, are henceforth presented via the author's semantic translation from the Latin and a short commentary on each question in Afrikaans. Four themes are deduced from these questions which point to Harclay as a genuinely critical exponent of the first Scotist school of the 14th century: As dependent as he initially was on the basic tenets in Scotus's thought, Harclay's correspondence theory, his unique or even "Harclian" conceptualism, his views on the ontological status of relational contingents and his ethical reflections on the relation between virtue and will (where the will is prioritised over the intellect in characteristic Franciscan fashion) display an originality and discursive inventiveness in the heated disputes between the Dominicans and the Franciscans (and the Franciscans among themselves) in the last two decades of the 13th and the first two decades of the 14th century. The article is descriptive-analytical in its presentation of the relevant primary text, Quaestiones Ordinaire, and synthetical in its attempt to integrate coherently key secondary texts and commentaries on the most prominent philosophical themes in Barclay's contributions to high scholasticism.

Palabras clave : John Duns Scotus (ca.1266-1308); Franciscan philosophy-theology; conceptualism; Henry of Harclay (ca.1270-1317); MG Henninger; natura communis; ontological status of relational contingents; Scotism; Quaestiones Ordinaire; virtue and will; the prioritisation of the will over the intellect.

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