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Walter of Bruges


Franciscan philosopher and theologian; b. Zande, near Dixmuide, c. 1225; d. Poitiers, Jan. 21, 1307. Walter entered the order c. 1240 at Bruges and was sent to Paris for his theological studies, which he completed under bonaventure. He became regent at Paris c. 1267 to 1269. Elected minister provincial of the French Province, he served from 1269 to 1279. He was consecrated Bishop of Poitiers in 1279 and remained in the diocese until he retired because of ill health in 1306. The final year of his life was spent with the Franciscans at Poitiers. Among his writings are a commentary on the first, second, and fourth books of the Sentences composed between 1261 and 1265 and as yet unpublished; 36 disputed questions edited by E. Longpré under the title Quaestiones disputatae du B. Gauthier de Bruges (Louvain 1928); a Tabula originalium; and some sermons.

Walter held to the main theses of the Bonaventurian school. He taught the hylomorphic composition of spiritual substances (souls and angels), in which he distinguished form and spiritual or intelligible matter. The faculties of the soul, for him, are not accidents but in-here in the soul substantially or essentially. In his doctrine on the will, which he elaborated at great length, he stressed its radical independence and upheld its primacy over the intellect. He held that the proposition "God exists" is per se nota; he admitted the use of a posteriori proofs for God's existence, but sought their foundation in the habitual, innate knowledge of God possessed by the soul. Other doctrines held by Walter include the divine illumination theory, the subservience of philosophy to theology, and the intellectual knowledge of the singular.

Bibliography: É. h. gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (New York 1955). p. glorieux, Répertoire des maîtres en théologie de Paris au XIII e siècle (Paris 193334) 2:8486. g. bonafede, Enciclopedia filosofica (Venice-Rome 1957) 2:922923.

[m. j. grajewski]

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