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David of Dinant

DAVID OF DINANT

Scholastic philosopher; b. Dinant, Belgium (or Dinan, Brittany?), second half of 12th century; d. after 1206. Like amalric of bÈne, his senior contemporary, David lectured in Paris c. 1200 on Aristotle, interpreting him with the help of De divisione naturae of john scotus eriugena. The doctrine developed was a materialistic pantheism in which God was identified with Aristotle's primary matter. The Council of Sens, held in Paris in 1210, ordered that all copies of David's Quaternuli be sent immediately to the bishop of Paris to be burned. Anyone possessing a copy after Dec. 25 was to be considered a heretic (Chartularium universitatis Parisiensis, ed. H. Denifle and E. Chatelain, 1:11). In August 1215 rob ert of courÇon proscribed the reading of certain books of Aristotle at Paris and all summaries (summae ) of the doctrine of David of Dinant (ibid. 1:20). He himself was exiled from France as a heretic (ibid. 1:11 n.17).

Only fragments of his writings survive, notably his natural questions (ed. M. Kurdziałek). Some of his teaching can be reconstructed from quotations and paraphrases preserved by albert the great, thomas aquinas, and nicholas of cusa. Albert attributed to him a work described as De tomis, hoc est de divisionibus, which might be related to the Quaternuli condemned in 1210. According to Aquinas, "He divided reality into three categories: bodies, souls, and eternal separated substances; the first indivisible from which bodies are constituted he called hyle; the first indivisible from which souls are constituted he called nous or mind; however the first indivisible among eternal substances he called God; and these three are one and the same. From this it also follows that all things are essentially one" (In 2 sent. 17.1.1). Discussing pantheism, Aquinas says that the third type of error was that of David of Dinant, "who stupidly (stultissime ) maintained that God is primary matter" (Summa theologiae la, 3.8). According to Albert the Great, David argued that every analysis must terminate in a unique, absolutely simple principle of being beyond which analysis is impossible. By reason of this unique, absolutely simple principle, there is no differentiation of beings. Differentiation is due to accidental forms (Summa theologiae la, 6.29.1.2; 2a, 12.72.4.2).

Bibliography: É. h. gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (New York 1955) 241243, 654. g. bonafede, Enciclopedia filosofica (Venice-Rome 1957) 1:140809. r. arnou, "Quelques idées néoplatoniciennes de David de Dinant," Philosophia perennis: Festgabe J. Geyser (Regensburg 1930) 1:115127. g. thÉry, Autour de Décret de 1210: I. David de Dinant (Bibliothèque Thomiste, Le Saulchoir 1921 6; 1925). m. kurdzialek, "Fragments des Questions naturelles de David de Dinant," Mediaevalia philosophica polonorum 2 (Warsaw 1958) 35; "Davidus de Dinanto quaternulorum fragmenta," Studia Mediewistyczne 3 (Warsaw 1963).

[a. j. heiman]

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