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John Duns Scotus

(c. 1265—1308) Franciscan friar and theologian

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(c. 1265–1308),

Scottish theologian and scholar. A profoundly influential figure in the Middle Ages, he was the first major theologian to defend the theory of the Immaculate Conception, and opposed St Thomas Aquinas in arguing that faith was a matter of will rather than something dependent on logical proofs.

In the 16th century his name, through his followers the Scotists, became associated with a scholasticism characterized by hair-splitting and useless distinctions, which was seen as inimical to the new learning; from this developed the word dunce.

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