DURAND, dü-rand’, OF SAINT POURÇAIN, pür san.


His Life (§ 1).

Independence as a Thinker (§ 2).

Philosophical Position (§ 3).

His Theology (§ 4).

His Doctrine of the Sacraments (§ 5).

His Significance as a Teacher (§ 6).


1. His Life. Durand of Saint Pourçain (Durandus de Sancto Porciario), scholastic theologian, bishop of Meaux, was born at Saint Pourçain (85 m. n.w. of Lyons) in Auvergne, in the third quarter of the thirteenth century; d. at Meaux (28 m. e. of Paris) Sept. 10, 1334. He entered the Dominican order as early as 1303. In 1312 he was made a licentiate and was called to Avignon as lector curiæ and magister S. Palatii, and remained there for some time. In 1317 he was made a bishop, in 1326 bishop of Meaux. During the last years of his life he was in opposition to John XXII. on account of his teaching of the visio beatifica, and a judicium magistrorum theologiæ in curia existentium declared eleven of his articles objectionable. Of his writings one only has importance, the comprehensive commentary on the “Sentences” of Peter Lombard, which he commenced, according to his own statement, while a young man and finished in his old age.


2. Independence as a Thinker. In the controversy between the scientific tendencies of his time, Durand occupied an independent critical position and adhered to no school-authority, a position for which he obtained the name of Doctor resolutissimus. To be sure, dogmatic statements which had become authoritative in the Church are without question authoritative for him, but he distinguishes clearly between that which is really an ecclesiastical statement and that which is commonly deduced from it, the former, not the latter, being binding. Besides, the authority of any individual teacher must yield to good contrary reasons. Especially is this true (as he states with unmistakable reference to the colleagues of Thomas, who would make him the absolutely authoritative theologian of the order, Præf. in sent. no. 12) with respect to every modern teacher, for “every one who dismisses reason for the sake of human authority falls into beastly unwisdom.” Still more decided is Durand’s position against extra-ecclesiastical authorities; “it is no part of natural philosophy to know what Aristotle or other philosophers thought, but the truth of the matter is the essential thing; wherefore when Aristotle deviates from the truth of the matter it is no science to know what Aristotle thought, but rather error” (Præf. in sent., qu. 1, no. 6).


3. Philosophical Position. Like all theologians of that time, Durand has his say on the question of universalia. But his position is not clear owing to the fact that the commentary was composed during a long period, within which his views underwent development. Hence Prantl states (p. 292) only that he approaches to nominalistic views and Baur (Kirchengeschichte des Mittelalters, p. 377), that the premises of nominalism are found in him. Nevertheless every real entity is to him merely individual entity (II., dist. 3, qu. 3, no. 9). To be sure the general concepts are not merely nothings, since they designate congruities which are found among different things, but these congruities do not go back to something really common, therefore: “The unity of a universal in its particulars is not a unity of the thing but a unity of relationship, just as the entity is an entity of relationship” (I., dist. 19, qu. 4, no. 10; cf. II., dist. 3, qu. 3, no. 16). On this account also the much disputed question concerning the principium individuationis becomes to him null and void, because he thinks it a simple matter of fact that every thing real proceeds as such from the individual and is individual (II., dist 3, qu. 3, no. 15). From this point of view Durand must be considered a nominalist, though this is not clear everywhere. But on the other hand it can not be said that the theological views of Durand are to be traced to his nominalism, or even to his philosophical views in general, for he does not do it himself. Only a certain corresponding tendency in his thinking on both spheres may be admitted. Durand allows his views to develop everywhere from a criticism of his predecessors, but this criticism, acute as it is, rests so little on firm pervading principles that a Durandian system can hardly be spoken of. As a Dominican he started in the first place from Thomas, but in essential points he freed himself from Thomism and pursued in many directions a like path to Scotus, without therefore becoming a Scotist. For example he does not share with him the fundamentally important position of the will before intelligence. On the question whether theology is to be considered a science, he deviates much from Thomas asserting with emphasis that for most theological statements a scientific demonstration is impossible; he does not even admit with Scotus the possibility of a scientifically satisfactory refutation of the contrary reasons (IV., dist. 11, qu. 1, no. 6). Further considerations lead him to the result that theology is in no respect a science in the strict sense, but only in the wider sense, because one may call science a discipline which rests on true propositions, though not evident to the reasoner. On the whole in Durand may be perceived a keen apprehension of the distinction between faith and knowledge. Thomas imagined that he was able to bridge over the chasm between both, since faith, so far as it rests on divine authority appeared to him under the point of view of knowledge, and indeed of a knowledge the certainty of which is greater than that of all knowledge from natural reason (Summa, p. I., qu. 1, art. 8, ad. 2). Durand, however, says (II., dist. 23, qu. 7, no. 10) “there are many conditions of knowledge and action in us more certain and better known than faith.”


4. His Theology. Characteristic of Durand’s morally serious but religiously cool mode of consideration is his answer to the question (IV., dist. 1, qu. 7)” whether sin should be more hateful to the believer because it is offensive to God or because it is hurtful to himself.” The idea of offensa Dei, also that of the wrath of God, is here in substance wholly removed, both are asserted of God only secundum effectum, not secundum affectum, and by offensa Dei must not be understood a displeasure of God in the sinner or the will to punish him, for the expression is nothing more than a metaphorical designation of punishment itself, and originated by transferring to God a disposition analogous to that in which the reproving man generally is. The guilt of the sinner is therefore not in the offensa Dei, but in the irregular conduct of man; such a conduct is against reason, whereas the just punishment is not against reason, and hence sin is a greater evil and must be hated more than punishment. This is a way of viewing things which comes near to that of Kant, but is just as far removed from that of Anselm as from that of Luther. No less removed from Anselm is Durand also with respect to the necessity of redemption through the satisfaction by the son of God. If Thomas allowed it at least relatively, Durand denies in the first place all necessity for God to redeem the fallen race, secondly also, if a redemption was to take place, the necessity of a perfect satisfaction, since God could have refused all satisfaction or could have been satisfied with a lesser one (III., dist. 20, qu. 12). That not all have part in the salvation, and that there exists a difference between the predestined and non-predestined, must be assumed on the ground of revelation. For a rational argument one may assert with Thomas that in this way in the order of the universe not only the bonum misericordiæ but also the bonum justitiæ punientis is fully asserted, but Durand finds this reason not cogent because the punitive justice is only a relative good, in so far as it serves as remedy, for “the universe were better off without guilt and punitive justice than with them; just as nature were better off without sickness and medicine than with them” (I., dist. 41, qu. 2, no. 13).


5. His Doctrine of the Sacraments. Concerning the sacraments Durand adopted the already customary number seven, but he went back again to the more ancient distinction between sacraments in the narrower and wider sense and considered marriage as a sacrament only in the wider sense. The doctrine of transubstantiation caused him, like many of his contemporaries, great difficulties. His older contemporary and monastic colleague, John of Paris, taught a kind of consubstantiation--the substances remain after the consecration but not in proprio supposito--he was tried on that account but died at Avignon before the trial was ended. Durand is more cautious; he remarks indeed that the reasons for the doctrine are not satisfying, but he also states that the assumption that the substance of the elements remains would remove many difficulties (IV., dist. 11, qu. 1, no. 15-17). Against all these considerations however stands the authority of the Church, to which one must be subject. He wishes therefore only to oppose a certain form of transubstantiation--the common one--according to which a complete change of the substances takes place, and tries to explain this as conceivable by assuming a change of the form of the elements, whereas the substance turns into the form of the body of Christ.


6. His Significance as a Teacher. Taking all together the importance of Durand may thus be expressed: (1) he is a theologian of a strictly ecelesiastico-conservative tendency, and only within these limits of one comparatively more liberal (2) a somewhat larger freedom was made possible for him by the separation of the domains of faith and knowledge, but even in this form he used it in a very moderate manner. (3) His talent is predominantly critical, not productive; he is stronger in critical reflection on the points under discussion than in the deeper apprehension of the subjects; (4) the preceding considerations taken together explain why he was unable to produce an epoch-making impression. Such could have proceeded mainly from the treatment of the preliminary questions of theology and from his nominalism, but in both respects he was outstripped by the boldness of Occam and, as it were, placed in the shade. (5) Nevertheless his main work has for a long time enjoyed an authority on account of the excellences mentioned above and on account of its dogmatic correctness. Gerson recommended him beside Thomas, Bonaventura, and Henry of Ghent, and in the sixteenth century there still existed at Salamanca a special chair for Durand.



BIBLIOGRAPHY: The commentary on Peter Lombard has been often printed; the Antwerp edition of 1567 is quoted above. O. Raynaldus, Annales ecclesiastici, ad. an. 1534, Cologne, 1694-1727; C. E. du Boulay, Historia universitatis Parisiensis, iv. 954, 6 vols., Paris, 1665-73; C. Oudin, Commentarius de scriptoribus ecclesicæ, vol. iii., Frankfort, 1722; A. H. Ritter, Geschichte der Philosophie, viii. 550 sqq., Hamburg, 1845; idem, Die Christliche Philosophie, i. 712 sqq., Göttingen, 1858; A. Stöckl, Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters, ii. 976-986, Mainz, 1865; J. B. Hauréau, De La philocophie scolastique, ii, 411 sqq., Paris, 1850; idem, Histoire de La philosophic scolastique, ii. 2, pp. 47 sqq., ib. 1880; C. von Prantl, Geschichte der Logik im Abendlande, iii. 292 sqq., Leipsic, 1867; K. Werner, Thomas von Aquino, iii. 106 sqq., Regensburg, 1859; idem, Die nominalisierende Psychologie des späteren Mittelalters, Vienna, 1882; idem, Die Scholastik des späteren Mittelalters, vol. ii., ib. 1883; J. E. Erdmann, Hist. of Philosophy, vol. i., London, 1889; C. Bäumker, Beiträqe zur Geschichte der Philosophie des Mittelalters, 3 vols., Münster, 1891-1901.