Skip to main content

Henry of Harclay (c. 1270–1317)

HENRY OF HARCLAY
(c. 12701317)

Henry of Harclay, the English scholastic theologian and philosopher, was born in the diocese of Carlisle. After studying at Oxford and Paris, he was ordained a priest in 1297 and obtained his master of theology about 1310. He taught at Oxford, becoming chancellor of the university in 1312. He wrote an unedited "Commentary on the Sentences," and "Disputed Questions," most of which are unpublished. He died at Avignon.

Early in his career, while commenting on the Sentences, Henry defended the main theses of John Duns Scotus. Later, he criticized Scotism, teaching a doctrine of universals close to that of William of Ockham. He held that there are no common natures or essences in reality; there are only individuals, each of which has its own nature. Since there are no common natures, there is no need of the Scotist haecceity to render them individual. As Ockham later said, realities are individual not by an added "thisness" but by themselves.

Henry's doctrine of universals is based on this notion of reality. According to him, an individual can be conceived of either distinctly or indistinctly. When distinctly conceived, it is known through a particular concept; when indistinctly conceived, it is known through a universal concept. A universal is a confused concept by which the mind knows one individual without distinguishing it from others in the same genus or species. Inasmuch as an individual can be known through general concepts, Henry called it universal. For example, Socrates indistinctly conceived is man, animal, and body. Ockham criticized Henry's conceptualism because it ascribed some universality to things outside the mind.

Henry rejected the Scotist doctrine of the divine ideas as essences of creatures existing in God with cognitional being. He adopted a variation of the theory that the ideas are really the same as the divine essence itself known by God as imitable by creatures. God is known through concepts univocal to Him and creatures.

Henry stressed the omnipotence of God and the radical contingency of creatures. He claimed that no creature is naturally indestructible; the human soul is immortal not by nature but by divine grace. According to Henry, St. Thomas Aquinas betrayed Christianity by teaching the natural immortality of the soul.

See also Duns Scotus, John; Immortality; Scotism; Thomas Aquinas, St.; Universals, A Historical Survey; William of Ockham.

Bibliography

Balić, Carlum. "Henricus de Harcley et loannes Duns Scotus." In Mélanges offerts à Étienne Gilson, 93121. Toronto: Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, 1959.

Gilson, Étienne. History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages, 480483, 779. New York: Random House, 1955.

Kraus, Johannes. "Die Universalienlehre des Oxforder Kanzlers Heinrich von Harclay." Divus Thomas 10 (1932): 3658, 475508; 11 (1933): 7696, 288314.

Maurer, Armand. "Henry of Harclay's Question on the Univocity of Being." Mediaeval Studies 16 (1954): 118.

Maurer, Armand. "Henry of Harclay's Questions on Immortality." Mediaeval Studies 19 (1957): 79107.

Maurer, Armand. "Henry of Harclay's Questions on the Divine Ideas." Mediaeval Studies 23 (1961): 163193.

Pelster, Franz. "Heinrich von Harclay, Kanzler von Oxford, und seine Quästionen." Miscellanea Francesco Ehrle 1 (1924): 307356.

Armand A. Maurer (1967)

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Henry of Harclay (c. 1270–1317)." Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . Encyclopedia.com. 12 Dec. 2018 <https://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Henry of Harclay (c. 1270–1317)." Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . Encyclopedia.com. (December 12, 2018). https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/henry-harclay-c-1270-1317

"Henry of Harclay (c. 1270–1317)." Encyclopedia of Philosophy. . Retrieved December 12, 2018 from Encyclopedia.com: https://www.encyclopedia.com/humanities/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/henry-harclay-c-1270-1317

Learn more about citation styles

Citation styles

Encyclopedia.com gives you the ability to cite reference entries and articles according to common styles from the Modern Language Association (MLA), The Chicago Manual of Style, and the American Psychological Association (APA).

Within the “Cite this article” tool, pick a style to see how all available information looks when formatted according to that style. Then, copy and paste the text into your bibliography or works cited list.

Because each style has its own formatting nuances that evolve over time and not all information is available for every reference entry or article, Encyclopedia.com cannot guarantee each citation it generates. Therefore, it’s best to use Encyclopedia.com citations as a starting point before checking the style against your school or publication’s requirements and the most-recent information available at these sites:

Modern Language Association

http://www.mla.org/style

The Chicago Manual of Style

http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html

American Psychological Association

http://apastyle.apa.org/

Notes:
  • Most online reference entries and articles do not have page numbers. Therefore, that information is unavailable for most Encyclopedia.com content. However, the date of retrieval is often important. Refer to each style’s convention regarding the best way to format page numbers and retrieval dates.
  • In addition to the MLA, Chicago, and APA styles, your school, university, publication, or institution may have its own requirements for citations. Therefore, be sure to refer to those guidelines when editing your bibliography or works cited list.