[Fis] DECRETUM: Concordance of the Discordant

Pedro C. Marijuan pcmarijuan.iacs at aragon.es
Thu Nov 18 14:24:06 CET 2021

Dear FIS Colleagues,

In the early XII Century, something very interesting occurred around the 
first university created in Europe (Bologna). The situation of law in 
that time was very confusing, with overlapping civil and religious 
canons that had been developed independently. Gratian (Gratianus) was a 
fine jurist and canon lawyer operating in Tuscany, and teacher, and 
monastic rubricator in Bologna. He produced an admirable synthesis,  
Decretum: Concordia Discordantium Canonum. In the first, more concise, 
version, the synthetic work was framed in three parts: a sophisticate 
Introduction in which fundamental Distinctiones (distinctions) were 
made, and a second part with 36 causae or situations divided into 
concrete questions with systematic commentaries (Summae). The third 
part  discussed the difficulties, bringing forward solutions via 
different auctoritates from a variety of sources.

The work supposed a watershed for Western Law. He was acclaimed as 
Father of the Canon Law, appreciatively cited in Dante's Divine Comedy 
(with a place in Paradise!), and considered as the creator of rational 
law. Gratian himself coined the term "scientia nova" (new science) 
referring to his synthesis, which indeed became highly influential 
outside law, particularly concerning his methodology of questions and 
systematic commentaries or Summae. Actually, later great synthesizers in 
philosophy and theology (Albertus Magnus, Thomas Aquinas) were 
influenced by his method, as well the further development of the 
Scholastic School in next centuries...

Could the reflection on Doctor Gratianus strenuous work & clever 
methodology, bringing concordance among the discordant, be of interest 
for our troubles on the general study of information and on the 
foundations of information science in particular? In my own case, those 
ten fundamental principles I penned time ago, could be easily 
transformed into a few of the questions... Rather than looking for the 
single, exclusive point of view, the participation in establishing 
concordance among the discordant via a multidisciplinary spattering of 
basic questions is what transpires when one contemplates the historic of 
our list debates. See the 64 "questions" FIS has dealt with up to now: 
https://fis.sciforum.net/fis-discussion-sessions/  Of course, with 
hindsight, it could be done better.

All the best,


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