Scotus and Buridan on the First Known (Primum cognitum)

  • Timothy B. NooneEmail author
Part of the Historical-Analytical Studies on Nature, Mind and Action book series (HSNA, volume 3)


Noone’s chapter deals with the issue of what the “primordial” object of our intellective cognition is, contrasting Buridan’s position with that of John Duns Scotus (c. 1266–1308), perhaps, the most influential author on the issue after Aquinas. The chapter argues that, on the question of whether Buridan was influenced by Scotus on the primum cognitum, there is some slight, but not overwhelming, evidence that Buridan knew arguments similar to those advanced by Scotus, but none that show in a detailed manner any important influence of Scotus’s theory. The chapter concludes that we have, at the level of empirical psychology, some convergence between the two thinkers; however, at the level of ontology and the metaphysical underpinnings of human thought, Buridan and Scotus are quite far apart. Indeed, it would seem that Buridan only thinks about the related issues in terms of a new, nominalist paradigm, simply leaving the original problematic behind.


Objects of thought Primum cognitum Nominalism vs. realism 



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Copyright information

© Springer International Publishing Switzerland 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.The Catholic University of AmericaWashington, DCUSA

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