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Categories of BeingEssays on Metaphysics and Logic$
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Leila Haaparanta and Heikki Koskinen

Print publication date: 2012

Print ISBN-13: 9780199890576

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2012

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199890576.001.0001

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The Metaphysics of the Categories in John Duns Scotus

The Metaphysics of the Categories in John Duns Scotus

(p.62) 3 The Metaphysics of the Categories in John Duns Scotus
Categories of Being

Simo Knuuttila

Oxford University Press

A special feature of Duns Scotus's philosophy is his unusually broad univocal notion of being as ‘that to which to be is not repugnant’. This led him to distinguish between logical and metaphysical possibilities. Categorical classifications are derived from an acquaintance with the order of finite things the existence of which is logically contingent. Scotus argued that all categorical items are real particular beings with extra-mental existence. Contrary to his thirteenth-century predecessors, he held that categorical things are simple in the sense that they are not composed of elements. The view of composite beings as analysable into categorical inherence structures is combined with an identity theory of predication. Scotus regarded his approach as a radical simplification of ontology. While this was true about the theory of simple categorical units, one may wonder, as Ockham did, whether the view of concrete beings as multifarious compositions of formalities was so.

Keywords:   metaphysics, being, category, Scotus, elements, ontology, Ockham

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