Richard Rufus Project

As one reviewer wrote, “[Richard Rufus] is a pivotal figure for the development of Western science, philosophy, and theology.” RRP provides “easily accessible, free, public editions of his commentaries on Aristotle, an enterprise essential to our knowledge of the philosophy Rufus taught at Paris in the very decade that Aristotle's works transformed the university curriculum.”

NEH support for projects such as RRP has a positive impact on IU. Its funding enables scholars at IU to teach about Isaac Newton and Charles Sanders Peirce, perhaps America’s greatest philosopher, but also about the original Haida population of the American Northwest whose language is being lost, and the emergence of new diseases. NEH funding provides for support staff as well as well as scholars; it funds the work of computer programmers, librarians, and web developers among many others.

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About the Richard Rufus Project

Richard Rufus of Cornwall lived in the thirteenth century and taught philosophy at the new universities just starting at Paris and Oxford. He was one of the first scholars to challenge Aristotle’s views of the world, and influenced later philosophers and scientists.

The Richard Rufus of Cornwall Project based at Indiana University in Bloomington produces critical editions of Rufus’ works. This labor-intensive process involves reading medieval manuscripts (and deciphering both medieval handwriting and the abbreviations medieval scribes used), carefully comparing different copies of the same work to check for discrepancies, and making sometimes difficult choices about which readings reflect Rufus’ original thoughts. Rufus was a prolific writer, with some works running to more than 250,000 words.

Over the last 15 years as scholars have had access to Rufus’ work thanks to RRP, a new way of thinking about early medieval philosophy has emerged. Once considered to be capable of little more than paraphrasing the views of ancient Greek philosophers, scholars now recognize that Rufus and his peers challenged those views and paved the way for later thinkers such as John Duns Scotus. RRP’s work has overturned assumptions held for centuries, and opened up new lines of inquiry in medieval thought.

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