Existential Philosophy and Literature
Philip Tonner

The Univocity of Being: Scotus, Heidegger, Deleuze. September 2017.


My PhD thesis (2006) engaged Aristotle, Duns Scotus and Heidegger in a debate over the concept of being and critically engaged with Heidegger’s philosophy of art in relation to history. I engaged Husserl and Heidegger in a debate over the nature of phenomenology and examined Heidegger’s phenomenology of religion in relation to historical manifestations of religious practice. I argued that Heidegger’s temporal configuration of being as meaningful presence amounts to a univocal conception of being in terms of time. I then related this interpretation to Heidegger’s later philosophy.
Heidegger, Metaphysics and the Univocity of Being (Continuum Studies in Continental Philosophy)


The evolutionary context of my DPhil thesis (2016) is the development of the hominin mind from its earliest beginnings through the Upper Palaeolithic Revolution (ca 50,000 ya) to the period of the last 10,000 years. It includes the event referred to as the ‘human revolution’ and has been associated with the appearance of language, with the cognitively fluid modularized mind, with evidence for the external storage of symbolic data and with the appearance of a theory of mind implicated in religious belief. In my thesis I developed the “dwelling perspective” in Palaeolithic archaeology in relation to anthropology and philosophy.

John Duns Scotus Network For the Study of Existential Philosophy, Literature and Arts

The network, named after one of the most prominent European theologians and philosophers born in Scotland, draws on a wide range of expertise in Modern Languages and Cultures, Religious Studies, History of Arts, and Philosophy, as well as on the exceptional bibliographical and iconographic resources at the University of Glasgow in order to promote the study of existential thought, literature and visual arts.

Well-known for his influence on both Catholic and secular thought, and for his doctrine of the ‘univocity of being’ and the idea of ‘haecceity’, Duns Scotus (1266 – 1308) can rightly be considered as one of the predecessors of the modern philosophies of existence, alongside Meister Eckhart, whose thought has often been referred to in the work of Heidegger, Derrida, Agamben and Jean-Luc Nancy.

Here is a link to the upcoming John Duns Scotus Festival and Study Day:

Here is a link to a BBC piece on Duns Scotus and the DS Festival:

On Saturday 17th September 2016 I was interviewed about Duns Scotus on BBC Radio Good Morning Scotland. Here is a link to the episode (the interview is on during the last five minutes of the show):

Duns Scotus Philosophical Writings: A Selection

Network Launch event, visit and celebration of the work of Professor Jean-Luc Marion, 14th March 2016:

Professor Jean-Luc Marion

Paris-Sorbonne University, France, and The University of Chicago.

Publication of his Glasgow Gifford Lectures

Givenness and Revelation (Oxford University Press, 2016)

2.00 p.m. Seminar on the work of Professor Marion

Theology and Religious Studies, Melville Room (Main Building), University of Glasgow.

4.00 p.m. Launch of the John Duns Scotus Network and Display of Incunabula in the Henry Heaney

Room in the University Library, Level 12, Special Collections. In the presence of Professor Marion.

5.30 p.m. Publication Launch of Givenness and Revelation.
Givenness and Revelation

With Drinks Reception, Glasgow University Chapel.


I launched my new book – Phenomenology Between Aesthetics and Idealism (Noesis Press 2015)- as part of this event. Phenomenology between aesthetics and idealism: an essay in the history of ideas (New Studies in Idealism)

John Duns Scotus Study Day

Born in Duns 750 years ago this year, John Duns Scotus rose to become one of the leading philosophers of the Catholic Church in the Middle Ages. Educated at Oxford and in Paris, he was a leading figure in some of the great arguments in the Church, with his followers earning the name ‘Dunces’ – the origin of the Dunce’s Cap. They were called this not because they were stupid, but because they stuck to the teachings of Duns Scotus.

Please see the press cutting below from the Duns Scotus Study Day.

A great place to start with Scotus is Richard Cross’s book in the Great Medieval Thinkers series:
A series of events is planned to mark this occasion designed to re-awaken interest in this son of Duns.



An exhibition of the life and times of John Duns Scotus and of Berwickshire in the 13th century.

Venue: Duns Exhibition Room at the Library from the 17 Sept – 8 Nov. open during library hours.


Saturday 17 at 2pm

Introduction to Duns Scotus

By Professor Alexander Broadie

Venue: Volunteer Hall

Sunday 18 at 2pm

Family Walk

Venue: Meet at statue of Duns Scotus in Duns Public Park ending at Parish Church for refreshments

Friday 23rd at 7:30 (date tbc)

Film:- “The Blessed Duns Scotus”

Venue: Volunteer Hall

Cost: £6 / £5 concessions

Wednesday 28th at 7:30

Talk by Professor J.L.H. Thomas on the Duns portrait of John Duns Scotus

Venue: Dunse History Society meeting at Dunse Social Club, 45 Newtown Street


Sunday 2nd at 7:30

Yetholm Sinfonia Concert

Venue: Parish Church

Cost: £7.50 / £5 concession

Friday 14th at 7:30


Venue: Christ Church

Cost: £7.50 / £5 concession

Saturday 15th from 10-4:30

Conference on John Duns Scotus

Venue: Christ Church

Cost: £5 including lunch

Booking recommended

Sunday 16th at 2pm

Historic Walk

Venue: Meet at Market Cross in town centre ending at Parish Church for refreshments

Friday 21st & Saturday 22nd at 7:30

Play – “You Dunce!”

Venue: Volunteer Hall

Cost: £7.50 / £5 concession

Duns Scotus 2016

Study Day

15th October, 10.00 – 4.00

Christ Church, Duns

The purpose of the Study Day is to bring together a group of scholars and interested people to consider the place of John Duns Scotus in historic and contemporary religious thought and philosophy, together with the influences that helped him to develop his thinking and his continuing influence.

The format will allow for six people to present papers for around 30 minutes, with ample time allowed for discussion and debate. It is anticipated that a publication will derive from the day.

Confirmed speakers:

Antonie Vos, professor of historical theology at the Evangelical Theological Faculty (ETF) in Leuven (Belgium). Author of, among many other works, The Philosophy of John Duns Scotus (2006). Dr Vos will speak about the wordwide influence of John Duns Scotus.

Dr Herbert Schneider, ofm, Director of the Office for Franciscan Institutes, editor and author of many works on the theology of John Duns Scotus.

Dr Philip Tonner, Head of Philosophy and Religion & Director, The Hutchesons’ Centre for Research, Hutchesons’ Grammar School, Glasgow, will speak on the relevance of John Duns Scotus to contemporary philosophy

Paul Starkey, Emeritus Professor, University of Durham, specialising in Arabic literature, will speak on Duns Scotus and the Islamic tradition.

Mary Beth Ingham, Professor of Philosophical Theology, Franciscan School of Theology, Graduate Theological Union, Berkeley, Ca., will speak about Duns Scotus and Christian Humanism

Anne Dyer, previously Warden (Principal) of the Anglican Theological College that is part of Durham University (Cranmer Hall) will speak about John Duns Scotus’ beginnings – what might it have meant for him to educated in a Franciscan Friary in Scotland. And what does it meant to be a theologian who is a mendicant friar praying the offices.



In Association with

The Unemployed Philosophers Guild


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