Sunday, July 1, 2012

Dunces and Supreme Court Justices

Given the intellectual and scholastic abilities of the justices of the United States Supreme Court, the term 'dunces' hardly seems applicable.  But what about by association:


The 'Supreme Court Of The United States' is being referred to more and more by the media using the acronym "SCOTUS".

Lets look at John Duns Scotus (1265-1308).   He was one of the most important and influential philosopher-theologians of the High Middle Ages.  'Scotus’ was a nickname, identifying him as a Scot.  His family name was Duns, which was the name of the village where he was born.  His brilliantly complex and nuanced thought earned him the nickname 'Doctor Subtilis'.

Later philosophers in the sixteenth century were not as complimentary about his work, and accused him of sophistry.

In the 16th century, the followers of Scotus (Scotists or Dunses)) obstinately opposed the new learning (i.e., the King James Bible).  The term duns or dunce became in the mouths of the Protestants a term of abuse - someone who is incapable of scholarship.

So that's where the word "dunce' comes from.


It just goes to show that when you're dead, your enemies make the rules and get to do the name calling. Consider Nero, Alexander, and even Judas Iscariot.

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