Richard Fishacre

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Richard Fishacre (c1204-1248) was the first Dominican master at Oxford to be educated exclusively in England. He was a student at the first Oxford Blackfriars, taught by Robert Bacon, the first Dominican master in theology, and probably incepted around 1240. He lectured with Bacon, although whether this was at the same venue or not is uncertain.


De Rijk has suggested that Richard was the same person as Richard the Sophister, known as the 'Master of the Abstractions' on the grounds that the dating of the text of the Abstractiones (a collection of sophisms that became a kind of logical textbook used to teach students to identify sophistical fallacies) is more consistent with Fishacre’s chronology (De Rijk 1962-67, Vol. II, 71) than other writers of the same period.


In Metaphysics, Fishacre's view lies within the Christian neo-Platonic tradition, that being is essence. God is completely what he is, simple and unchangeable. To the extent that created things change, they are infected with non-being (In I Sent. 8.1). Richard suggests in one passage that our own being follows from the composition of material and form, and so is the actualising of the essence, and therefore is an accident. God's being is truer than ours, and is identical with his substance, whereas our being is between being and non-being, because our being is to die (ibid).

Fishacre gives ten arguments for the existence of God, including three that are obvious variations on Anselm's argument in the Proslogion.

If there be something most simple, it would be identical with its being; otherwise it would have is being and something else besides and consequently would not be the most simple. Therefore, if anything be most simple, it would esit; but the most simple is the most simple; therefore it exists. (Long 1987, pp. 176-7).

According to Leo Sweeney, Richard is the first western thinker to attach importance to God's infinity.


Primary sources


  • Commentary on the sentences (ca. 1235/1240)
    • Einzelbemerkungen: Mss.: Oxford, Balliol College 57
    • Paris, B.N. lat. 15754.
  • De fide, spe et caritate
  • De poenitentia
  • Quodlibeta


  • Quaestio de ascensione Christi
  • Sermo "Non enim heres erit filius ancille cum filio libere (Gal 4, 30) ..."
  • Sermo marianus "Sicut oliva fructifera ..."
  • Super super Augustini librum de haeresibus adnotationes

Secondary sources

  • Callus, D.A. (1943) 'Introduction of Aristotelian learning to Oxford', Proceedings of the British Academy 29, pp. 229-81.
  • Dales, R. (1995), The Problem of the Rational Soul in the Thirteenth Century, Leiden: Brill.
  • de Rijk, L. M.: 1962-67, Logica Modernorum, I-II, van Gorcum, Assen.
  • Glorieux, Palémon: Répertoire des maîtres en théologie de Paris au XIIIe siècle, Paris 1933.
  • Kaeppeli, Scriptores Ordinis Praedicatorum Medii Aevi. Volumen III, 1980, S. 303.
  • Long, R.J. (1987), "Richard Fishacre's way to God," in R. Link-Salinger et al., eds., A Straight Path: Studies in Medieval Philosophy and Culture: Essays in Honor of Arthur Hyman (pp. 23-36), Washington D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press.
  • Long, R.J. (1995), "Richard Fishacre's treatise De libero arbitrio", in B.C. Bazan, E. Andujar, and L.G. Sbrocchi, eds., Moral and Political Philosophies in the Middle Ages, vol. 2, Ottawa: Legas.
  • Long, R.J. (1996), "The reception and use f Aristotle by the early English Dominicans" in J. Marenbon, ed., Aristotle in Britain during the Middle Ages (pp. 51-6), Turnhout: Brepols.
  • Long, R.J. (1998), "Of angels and pinheads: the contributions of the early Oxford masters to the doctrine of spiritual matter", Franciscan studies 56, pp. 239-54.
  • Long, R.J. and O'Carroll, M. (1999), The Life and Works of Richard Fishacre OP: Prolegomena to the Edition of his Commentary on the Sentences, Munich: Bavarian academy of Sciences.
  • Marschler, Thomas, Auferstehung und Himmelfahrt Christi in der scholastischen Theologie bis zu Thomas von Aquin [BGPhThMA. Neue Folge, Bd. 64/I], Münster 2003.
  • Sweeney, L., and Ermatinger, C.J. (1958), "Divine infinity according to Richard Fishacre", The Modern Schoolman 35, pp. 191-235.
  • Weisheipl, James A.: Thomas von Aquin. Sein Leben und seine Theologie, Graz (Styria) 1980.


5 1205 (ca) 1240 England 1248 England