Duns Scotus

Duns ScotusHopkins had an especial regard for two Catholic theologians from the past:

  • Duns Scotus (c1266-1308), a Scottish theologian who lived and taught at Oxford in the medieval period. Scotus' teaching chimed in with the theory of art and poetry which Hopkins was developing.
  • St. Ignatius Loyola, the founder of the Jesuit order which Hopkins joined.

The nature of reality

One of the medieval arguments was about the nature of reality. Some theologians held that our sense of reality needs to be anchored, not in the material reality of things, but in some more transcendent realm of being, beyond our senses, but of which we have an intuition. Hopkins' sense was that if God filled his Creation, then every material thing was very real, and very solid, even unique.

Scotus' teaching on reality

Hopkins' theories about reality agreed with those of Duns Scotus, who had a notion of haeccitas, which is a made-up Latin word meaning roughly ‘this-ness': the quality of a thing to be this and not that; for you to be you and not your best friend, not even one twin to be the same as another. Such a belief gives a heightened sense of identity and individuality, rather than a person just being a ‘soul' or a ‘human'.

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