Duns Scot vs Thomas d'Aquin

March 2009
Revue d'histoire de L'Amerique francaise;hiver/printemps2009, Vol. 62 Issue 3/4, p378
Academic Journal
This article analyses a philosophical and theological controversy which occurred in Quebec during November 1927, pitting Father Éphrem Longpré, a Franciscan, against Father Rodrigue Villeneuve, the Oblate of Ottawa and the future Archbishop and Cardinal of Quebec City. The debate, which centred on the figures of Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas, saw Father Longpré challenge the monopoly of Thomism as the only legitimate discourse of Catholic philosophy. Contrary to the portrayal of this short-lived polemic as a superficial and insignificant debate among clerics working on the periphery of the intellectual world, this paper argues that the debate between Villeneuve and Longpré was actually a local manifestation of a multi-secular conflict between two major philosophical and theological doctrines which had been th in conflict since the 18 century. In fact, this short-lived exchange (the debate lasted only a few short months), traces its origins to and finds its real significance within a much longer tradition. After a brief look at the origins of the opposition between the philosophies of Duns Scotus and Thomas Aquinas, the article analyzes the exchanges between Longpré and Villeneuve. It then traces the influence of Duns Scotus in Quebec with an emphasis on the work of Sister Clotilde Lemieux, of the Ursulines of Trois Rivières, who wrote an important biography of Scotus. The article concludes by looking at the Second Vatican Council, perceived by many as the triumph of Scotus over the Thomist monopoly.


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