French Franciscan theologian and archbishop, known by the scholastic titles Doctor facundus and Doctor ingeniosus; b. near Gourdon, Aquitaine, c. 1280; d. Aix, Provence, January 1322. After entering the order he was sent to Paris, where he may have known Duns Scotus. By 1312 he was lector in Bologna, where he wrote Tractatus de paupertate et usu paupere (ed. Paris 1511) and an unfinished Tractatus de principiis. In 1314 he was lector in Toulouse and won fame for defending the doctrine of the immaculate conception. His Tractatus de conceptione beatae Mariae Virginis (ed. Quaracchi 1904) was completed on Dec. 20, 1314. Attacked for his views, he replied toward the beginning of 1315 with Repercussorium editum contra adversarium innocentiae Matris Dei (ed. Quaracchi 1904). At the general chapter of Naples in 1316, his name was submitted as a candidate for the Franciscan chair at Paris. The new minister general, michael of cesena, immediately assigned him to Paris to lecture on the Sentences (1316–18). Two versions of this important commentary exist. The first version (bk. 1, ed. E. M. Buytaert, 2 v. New York 1953–56) may have been written in 1317 or even before he arrived in Paris. The important definitive version was written in 1318–19 (2 v. Rome 1596–1605). Apparently Peter had some difficulty in obtaining license to incept as master, for on July 14, 1318, john xxii ordered the chancellor to grant this license. A university list of magistri actu regentes, dated Nov. 13, 1318, carries the name of Peter as regent master in theology. As master he composed a highly respected Compendium sensus litteralis totius sacrae scripturae in 1319 (ed. Quaracchi 1896). He also determined one series of quodlibetal questions in 1320. Toward the end of 1320 he was elected provincial of the province of Aquitaine. On Feb. 27, 1321, John XXII named him archbishop of Aix-en-Provence, and the Pope consecrated him at Avignon on June 14, 1321.
Aureoli was an independent and highly original thinker, having a tendency to criticize doctrines that were generally received by his predecessors and contemporaries. His thought is highly speculative and subtle. In his works he frequently revels in disagreeing with the foremost masters of the immediate past, among them St. bonaventure, St. thomas aquinas, duns scotus, henry of ghent, and godfrey of fontaines. He is especially fond of aristotle and averroËs and not always aware of the dangers implicit in some of their positions.
For Aureoli the role of reason in theology is much more modest than it is for Aquinas. In the teaching of Aureoli the unity of the human composite, the immortality of the human soul, and even the fact of intellectual knowledge cannot in the final analysis be demonstrated by human reason. Contrary to many Franciscans of his day, he maintained that reason cannot establish with strictly demonstrative arguments the doctrines of creation and divine omnipotence. As opposed to Scotus, he maintained that intuitive knowledge does not require the presence of the existing thing.
Though often called a conceptualist and a forerunner of william of ockham, Aureoli did not deny universals. For him, universals have a foundation insofar as several similar beings can be created by God.
Bibliography: j. beumer, "Der Augustinismus in der theologischen Erkenntnislehre des Petrus Aureoli," Franziskanische Studien 36 (1954) 131–171. j. halverson, Peter Aureol on Predestination: A Challenge to Late Medieval Thought (Leiden 1998). t. kobusch, Philosophen des Mittelalters: Eine Einfuhrung (Darmstadt 2000). s. r. struer, Die theologische Einleitungslehre des Petrus Aureoli: Auf Grund seines Scriptum super Primum Senteniarum und ihre theologiegeschichtliche Einordnung (Werl/Westf 1968).
[j. j. przezdziecki]