Festival will mark Duns Scotus anniversary

Duns Public Park with memorial to John Duns Scotus "The Sublte Doctor" and the War Memorial.
Duns Public Park with memorial to John Duns Scotus "The Sublte Doctor" and the War Memorial.

John Duns Scotus was a leading philosopher of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages and 750 years after his birth, a festival will be held in his home town of Duns to reawaken interest in the thinker.

The series of events which include lectures, walks, concerts and an exhibition will run in and around Duns from September 17 until November 8.

Professor Alexander Brodie from the University of Glasgow will open the festival, delivering an introductory lecture on Scotus and presenting the case that he is still today, a significant figure in the history of philosophy. The talk will give a brief overview of his ideas then focus on his account of the nature of the human mind and the power of our will.

Throughout the festival, Duns library will host an exhibition of the life and time of Scotus and of Berwickshire in the 13th century.

Educated in Oxford and Paris, Scotus was a leading figure in some of the great arguments of the Church, lecturing on theological works of Peter Lombard from the early 1100s.

It is believed Scotus was expelled from the Parisian university after a feud with King Philp IV of France, where he sided with Pope Boniface VIII in matters of taxation of church property.

His followers were named ‘Dunces’ by rivals following St Thomas Aquinas, giving the origins to the term Dunce’s cap, not because the followers were thought stupid, but because they stuck to the teachings of Duns Scotus.

Scotus died in Cologne in 1308, and was buried in the city. The Latin inscription on his sarcophagus reads ‘Scotia me genuit. Anglia me suscepit. Gallia me docuit. Colonia me tenet’ which translates to Scotland brought me forth. England sustained me. France taught me. Cologne holds me.

In 1966, the last major anniversary, 700 years since the birth of John Duns Scotus, his life and work was celebrated in Duns: a cairn was installed at the site of his birth near Pavillion Lodge at Duns Castle, and a statue erected in the public park.

More information about the 2016 festival can be found at www.dunsscotus2016.com