John Duns Scotus 2016

A Duns, which is as much as a fool….

Born in Duns 750 years ago, John Duns Scotus – the Subtle Doctor – was one of the leading philosophers of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. His views were later so criticised (Scotists, the children of darkness or John Scot of Duns, one of the most egregious blockheads in the world) that the word Dunce came to stand for a stupid, ignorant person. Writing in 1826 Sir Walter Scott said that many a clever boy is flogged into a dunce…The symbol of the Dunce is the dunce’s cap, immortalised in many comics and cartoons.

This autumn a festival is being held in Duns to bring home the international importance of John Duns Scotus and to draw attention to the birthplace of this significant figure, who died in Cologne in 1308. Beatified by Pope John Paul in 1993, John Duns Scotus is widely respected and studied throughout the world. One of the main events of the festival will be a Study Day on 15 October which has attracted speakers from Germany, the Netherlands and California, as well as Britain.

An exhibition in Duns Library will link the life and work of John to his home town and the south east of Scotland, while a series of concerts will allow the opportunity to celebrate his life. The notorious Dunce’s Cap will be rescued by a specially written play, and the work of a local milliner and guided walks will take participants to sites traditionally associated with John.

Dunse History Society are organising two lectures as part of their autumn programme and the opportunity to understand John’s life and work will be offered by a special introductory lecture on 17 September. An award winning film of his life, made in Italy will also be shown.

The programme will end with a special mass on 8 November.

A writer in the fourteenth century wrote

Lament now, O Scotland, for thy rare glory is gone

John Duns Scotus is one of the most significant figures in medieval philosophy and this is a unique opportunity to learn about this great local man.

Further details of the programme will be made available on the website

Contact: Derek Janes,  01361 883095

There are no contemporary pictures of John Duns Scotus, but this is one of a number created in later centuries, showing the young scholar.

John Duns Scotus