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Godfrey of Fontaines

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(GODEFRIDUS DE fontIBUS, DOCTOR VENERANDUS)

A scholastic philosopher and theologian ; born near Liège within the first half of the thirteenth century, he became a canon of his native diocese, and also of Paris and Cologne, and was elected, in 1300, to the See of Tournai, which he declined. He taught theology at the University of Paris during the last quarter of the century, was a Magister, or doctor, of theology and a member of the Sorbonne, to which he left a valuable collection of manuscripts He is the author of a notable collection of disputations, "XIV Quodlibeta", which show him to have been not merely a distinguished theologian and philosopher, but also a canonist, jurist, moralist, and controversialist, who took an active part in the various ecclesiastical, doctrinal, and disciplinary disputes that stirred Paris at that period. In regard to the privileges of the mendicant orders, Godfrey opposed St. Thomas, but for the Angelic Doctor's teaching he professed a sincere admiration. The bold "innovations" of Thomism were just then on their trial; they were condemned by Tempier, Archbishop of Paris (1277), and opposed by Peckham and many others. Godfrey was a staunch supporter of Thomism, yet sufficiently original to differ in many things from the master's views, e.g., the principle of individuation, and the distinction between essence and existence in material things.

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The "XIV Quodlibeta" of Godfrey, extensively studied and multiplied in manuscript form in the medieval schools, are at present in course of being published for the first time. A critical edition of the first four of them has already appeared in the series "Les Philosophes Belges, Textes et Etudes" (II, "Les quatre premiers Quodlibets de Godefroid de Fontaines", by de Wulf and Pelzer, Louvain, 1904). The remaining Quodlibeta (V-XIV) will form vols. III and IV of the same series; vol. V is to contain studies on Godfrey by de Wulf, de Munnynck, and Van Roel.


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