ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

389. Denis the Carthusian. Gerson. -- A mystic writer of great renown, DENIS THE CARTHUSIAN may be classed as a Thomist. He was the most remarkable scholastic in the Low Countries during the fifteenth century. Born at Ryckel, in Limbourg, in 1402, he received his early education at St. Trond, became master of arts at the University of Cologne, entered the Carthusian monastery of Roermonde in 1423 and died in 1471.

His principal philosophico-theological works are his Commentaries on the Sentences and on the De Consolatione of Boëthius, the Summa Fidei Catholicae, the Compendium Philosophicum and Theologicum and the Dialogon de Fide Catholica. Those are real scholastic manuals, clear and concise and deliberately free from the perplexing controversies that encumbered the scholasticism of the time.{1} Their author was a convinced and ardent disciple of St. Thomas. In his Summa Fidei Catholicae (L. i.-iii.), which he himself calls "medulla operum S. Thomae," he follows faithfully the matters treated by St. Thomas in his Summa Theologica. On some particular points, however, he disagrees with the Thomist teaching: thus, in his Commentary on the Sentences he declares that he has changed his opinion on the question of the relation between essence and existence, and that although he defended the real distinction theory in his thesis for mastership at Cologne, he has since embraced the opposite opinion.

We may also connect with the Thomism of the fifteenth century the name of another great mystic whose philosophy is little known and who is sometimes classified with the terminists: JOHN GERSON (394), chancellor of Paris. Living at the great centre of philosophical agitation, Gerson could not well avoid taking part in scholastic controversies. In two books, the Centilogium de Conceptibus, de Modis Significandi, and the De Concordantia Metaphysicae cum Logica, he attacked the formalism of the Scotists, which he suspected of pantheism.

{1} "Impertinentes subtilitates vitare propono" (In Psalmos, Proëmium).

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