Durandus of Saint-Pourçain (c. 1275–1334)

views updated

(c. 12751334)

Durandus of Saint-Pourçain, the scholastic philosopher and theologian, bishop, and author (Doctor Modernus, Doctor Fundatus ), was born in Saint-Pourçain-sur-Sioule in Auvergne, France. He entered the Dominican order at Clermont at the age of eighteen, and his philosophical studies were probably completed in his own priory of Clermont. By 1303 he was assigned to St. Jacques, Paris, to study theology at the university. There, according to some historians, he was influenced by his confrere James of Metz. The first version of Durandus's commentary on the Sentences of Peter Lombard represents his lectures as bachelor (13071308). In these lectures he strongly opposed certain views of Thomas Aquinas, whom the Dominican order had in 1286 commanded its members to study, promote, and defend. At Paris the nominalistic views of Durandus were immediately attacked by Hervé Nédellec and Peter of La Palu. Consequently, between 1310 and 1313 Durandus prepared a revision of his commentary, in which he mitigated many of his previous statements and omitted the more offensive passages. However, this was neither satisfactory to the order nor in accord with his own convictions. Nevertheless, he was granted a license by the university to incept in theology, succeeding Yves of Caen. Before completing his first year as master (13121313), he was called to Avignon by Pope Clement V to lecture in the papal Curia, replacing Peter Godin. Toward the end of that year the master general of the Dominicans, Berengar of Landorra, appointed a commission of nine theologians, headed by Hervé Nédellec, to examine the writings of Durandus. The commission singled out ninety-three propositions that were contrary to Thomistic teaching. Between 1314 and 1317, Durandus was continuously attacked in Paris by Hervé Nédellec, Peter of La Palu, John of Naples, James of Lausanne, Guido Terreni, and Gerard of Bologna. He replied to these in his Excusationes and in his Advent disputations de quolibet at Avignon (13141316). In the first Quodlibet he inveighed against "certain idiots" who charged him with Pelagianism or semi-Pelagianism.

Consecrated bishop in 1317, Durandus prepared a third and final version of his commentary on the Sentences, now free from all control by his order. He expressed regret that the first version had been circulated outside the order against his wishes, "before it had been sufficiently corrected" by him, insisting that only this new version was to be recognized as definitive. However, while some views are closer to the "common teaching" of the schools, the final version contains much that was taken verbatim from the first draft and from the first Avignon Quodlibet. It is, perhaps, not surprising that the final version, completed in 1327, abounds in compromises and contradictions.

In the jurisdictional dispute between Pope John XXII and Philip VI of France, Durandus sided with the pope in the treatise On the Source of Authority (1328), a work that later was published by Peter Bertrandi as his own composition. However, Durandus's reply to the pope's theological opinion concerning the beatific vision (1333) was promptly submitted to a commission of theologians, who found eleven objectionable statements. The reply of "the blessed master Durandus" was later vindicated by Benedict XII. But Durandus did not live to see himself vindicated, for he died at Meaux in 1334.

In philosophical matters Durandus manifested an independence of spirit more influenced by Augustine and Bonaventure than by Aristotle and Thomas. He has often been called a precursor of William of Ockham, but the similarities are only incidental; and it is most unlikely that either philosopher influenced the other. Besides denying the Thomistic distinction between essence and existence in creatures (as did Hervé Nédellec), he rejected the reality of mental species and the distinction between agent and possible intellect. For him, only individuals exist, receiving their individuality not from matter but from their efficient cause. Thus, in the act of knowing, the possible intellect is sufficiently active of itself to grasp individual existents directly and to create universal concepts by eliminating individual differences from consideration. In theology he manifested certain nominalist and Pelagian tendencies typical of the moderni of his day, tendencies that were to assume a more radical form in the teaching of Ockham.

In the later Middle Ages the prestige of Durandus was considerable. In the sixteenth century his final Commentary on the Sentences enjoyed an extraordinarily high reputation, particularly after its first printing (Paris, 1508). At Salamanca it was one of the alternative texts in the faculty of theology, the others being the Summa of Thomas and the Sentences of Peter Lombard, and the chair of Durandus rivaled those of Thomas and John Duns Scotus.

Later writers have sometimes confused this Durandus with William Durand, Durandus Petit, or Durandus Ferrandi.

See also Aristotle; Augustine, St.; Bonaventure, St.; Duns Scotus, John; Medieval Philosophy; Pelagius and Pelagianism; Peter Lombard; Thomas Aquinas, St.; Thomism; Universals, A Historical Survey; William of Ockham.


works by durandus

De Jurisdictione Ecclesiastica et de Legibus. Paris, 1506. Published under the name of Peter Bertrandi.

Commentaria in Quatuor Libros Sententiarum. Paris, 1508, 1515, 1533, 1539, 1547, 1550; Lyons, 1533 and 1569; Antwerp, 1567; Venice, 1571 and 1586 (Venice, 1571, reprinted by The Gregg Press, Ridgewood, NJ, 1964).

Questiones de libero arbitrio. In Prospero T. Stella, "Le 'Quaestiones de libero arbitrio' di Durando da S. Porciano." Salesianum 24 (1962): 450523.

Avignon disputations de quolibet. In Quolibeta Avenionensia Tria, edited by Prospero T. Stella. Zürich, 1965.

Libellus de visione Dei. In G. Cremascoli, "Il 'Libellus de visione Dei' di Durando di S. Porziano." Studi Medievali 25 (1984): 393443.

Votum de paupertate Christi et apostolorum. In Jürgen Miethke, "Das Votum de paupertate Christi et apostolorum des Durandus von S. Porciano." In Vera lex historiae. Studien zu mittelalterlichen Quellen. Festschrift für D. Kurze, 149196. Cologne, 1993.

Kaeppeli, Th., O.P., ed. Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum Medii Aevi. Vol. I. Rome, 1970, #927960, pp. 341350 (a repertorium of Durandus's works, with selected bibliography; see also the supplement in ibid., vol. IV, pp. 7374. Rome, 1993).

works on durandus

Fumagalli, M. T. B.-B. Durando di S. Porziano. Elementi filosofici della terza redazione del 'Commento alle Sentenze.' Florence, 1969.

Glorieux, P. Répertoire des maîtres en theologie. Paris, 1933. Vol. I, No. 70, pp. 214220. The bibliography is relatively complete up to 1933.

Henninger, Mark G. "Durand of Saint Pourçain (B. CA. 1270; D. 1334)." In Individuation in Scholasticism: The Later Middle Ages and the Counter-Reformation, 11501650, edited by J. J. E. Gracia, 319332. Albany, NY, 1994.

Koch, Joseph. Durandus de S. Porciano. Beiträge zur Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters 26. Münster, 1927.

Quétif, J., and Échard, J. Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum Recensiti. Paris, 1719. Vol. I, pp. 586587.

Schabel, Chris, Russell L. Friedman, and Irene Balcoyiannopoulou. "Peter of Palude and the Parisian Reaction to Durand of St. Pourçain on Future Contingents." Archivum Fratrum Praedicatorum 71 (2001): 183300 (including an introduction to Durand, his works, his troubles with his order, and his place in contemporary debate on future contingents).

Stella, Prospero T. "Le 'Quaestiones de libero arbitrio' di Durando da S. Porciano." Salesianum, Vol. 24 (1962), 450523. Additions and corrections to Koch's work.

James A. Weisheipl, O.P. (1967)

Bibliography updated by Russell Friedman (2005)

About this article

Durandus of Saint-Pourçain (c. 1275–1334)

Updated About encyclopedia.com content Print Article