John Scotus Eriugena or Johannes Scotus Erigena (/dʒoʊˈhæniːz ˈskoʊtəs ɪˈrɪdʒənə/; Ecclesiastical Latin: [joˈan.nes ˈskoː.tus eˈriː.d͡ʒe.na]; c. 815 – c. 877) was an Irish theologian, neoplatonist philosopher, and poet. He wrote a number of works, but is best known today for having written The Division of Nature, which has been called the "final achievement" of ancient philosophy, a work which "synthesizes the philosophical accomplishments of fifteen centuries."
Eriugena argued on behalf of something like a panentheistic definition of nature. He translated and made commentaries upon the work of Pseudo-Dionysius, and was one of the few Western European philosophers of his day that knew Greek, having studied in Byzantine Athens. Famously, he is said to have been stabbed to death by his students at Malmesbury with their pens.
John Scotus Eriugena
Eriugena as depicted in Honorius Augustodunensis' Clavis physicae (12th century)
|Died||c. 877 (age c. 62)|
|Other names||Johannes Scottus Eriugena, Johannes Scotus Erigena, Johannes Scottigena|
|Free will, logic, metaphysics|
|Four divisions of nature|
The form "Eriugena" of his byname is used by John Scotus to describe himself in one manuscript. It means 'Ireland (Ériu)-born'. 'Scottus' in the Middle Ages was the Latin term for "Irish or Gaelic", so his name translates as "John, the Irish-born Gael." 'Scotti" was the name that the Romans called the Irish. The spelling 'Scottus' has the authority of the early manuscripts until perhaps the 11th century. Occasionally he is also named 'Scottigena' ("Irish-born") in the manuscripts.
He is not to be confused with the later philosopher John Duns Scotus.
Johannes Scotus Eriugena was an Irishman, educated in Ireland. He moved to France (about 845) and took over the Palace School at the invitation of Carolingian King Charles the Bald. He succeeded Alcuin of York (735–804) as head of the Palace School. The reputation of this school, part of the Carolingian Renaissance, seems to have increased greatly under Eriugena's leadership, and the philosopher himself was treated with indulgence by the king. Whereas Alcuin was a schoolmaster rather than a philosopher, Eriugena was a noted Greek scholar, a skill which, though rare at that time in Western Europe, was used in the learning tradition of Early and Medieval Ireland, as evidenced by the use of Greek script in medieval Irish manuscripts. He remained in France for at least thirty years, and it was almost certainly during this period that he wrote his various works.
The latter part of his life is unclear. There is a story that in 882 he was invited to Oxford by Alfred the Great, laboured there for many years, became abbot at Malmesbury, and was stabbed to death by his pupils with their styli. Whether this is to be taken literally or figuratively is not clear, and some scholars think it may refer to some other Johannes. He probably never left France, and the date of his death is generally given as 877. From the evidence available, it is impossible to determine whether he was a cleric or a layman; the general conditions of the time make it likely that he was a cleric and perhaps a monk.
His work is largely based upon Saint Augustine, Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus the Confessor, and the Cappadocian Fathers, and is clearly Neoplatonist. He revived the transcendentalist standpoint of Neoplatonism with its "graded hierarchy" approach. By going back to Plato, he revived the nominalist–realist debate.
The first of the works known to have been written by Eriugena during this period was a treatise on the Eucharist, which has not survived. In it he seems to have advanced the doctrine that the Eucharist was merely symbolical or commemorative, an opinion for which Berengar of Tours was at a later date censured and condemned. As a part of his penance, Berengarius is said to have been compelled to burn publicly Eriugena's treatise. So far as we can learn, however, Eriugena was considered orthodox and a few years later was selected by Hincmar, archbishop of Reims, to defend the doctrine of liberty of will against the extreme predestinarianism of the monk Gottschalk (Gotteschalchus). Many in the Church opposed Gottschalk's position because it denied the inherent value of good works. The treatise De divina praedestinatione composed for this occasion has been preserved, and it was probably from its content that Eriugena's orthodoxy became suspect.
Eriugena argues the question of predestination entirely on speculative grounds, and starts with the bold affirmation that philosophy and religion are fundamentally one and the same. Even more significant is his handling of authority and reason. Eriugena offered a skilled proof that there can be predestination only to the good, for all folk are summoned to be saints. The work was warmly assailed by Drepanius Florus, canon of Lyons, and Prudentius, and was condemned by two councils: that of Valence in 855, and that of Langres in 859. By the former council his arguments were described as Pultes Scotorum ("Irish porridge") and commentum diaboli ("an invention of the devil").
Eriugena believed that all people and all beings, including animals, reflect attributes of God, towards whom all are capable of progressing and to which all things ultimately must return. Eriugena was a believer in apocatastasis or universal reconciliation, which maintains that the universe will eventually be restored under God's dominion (see also Christian Universalism).
At some point in the centuries before Eriugena a legend had developed that Saint Denis, the first Bishop of Paris and patron saint of the important Abbey of Saint-Denis, was the same person as both the Dionysius the Areopagite mentioned in Acts 17.34, and Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite, a figure whose writings were not yet being circulated in the West in the ninth century (it was not until the sixteenth century, except by Abelard, that it was realised that these two figures were not connected). Accordingly, in the 820s ambassadors from the Byzantine emperor to the court of Louis the Pious donated Louis a Greek manuscript of the Dionysian corpus, which was immediately given to the Abbey of Saint Denis in the care of Abbot Hilduin. Hilduin proceeded to direct a translation of the Dionysian corpus from Greek into Latin, based on this single manuscript.
Soon after, probably by the middle of the ninth century, Eriugena made a second Latin translation of the Dionysian corpus, and much later wrote a commentary on "The Celestial Hierarchy". This constitutes the first major Latin reception of the Areopagite. It is unclear why Eriugena made a new translation so soon after Hilduin's. It has often been suggested that Hilduin's translation was deficient; though this is a possibility, it was a serviceable translation. Another possibility is that Eriugena's creative energies and his inclination toward Greek theological subjects motivated him to make a new translation.
Eriugena's next work was a Latin translation of Dionysius the Areopagite undertaken at the request of Charles the Bald. This also has been preserved, and fragments of a commentary by Eriugena on Dionysius have been discovered in manuscript.A translation of the Areopagite's writings was not likely to alter the opinion already formed as to Eriugena's orthodoxy. Pope Nicholas I was offended that the work had not been submitted for approval before being given to the world, and ordered Charles to send Eriugena to Rome, or at least to dismiss him from his court. There is no evidence, however, that this order was carried out.
With this translation, he was the first since Saint Augustine to introduce the ideas of Neoplatonism from the Greek into the Western European intellectual tradition, where they were to have a strong influence on Christian theology.
Eriugena's great work, De divisione naturae (On the Division of Nature) or Periphyseon, which was condemned by a council at Sens by Honorius III (1225), who described it as "swarming with worms of heretical perversity," and by Gregory XIII in 1585, is arranged in five books. The form of exposition is that of dialogue; the method of reasoning is the syllogism. Nature (Natura in Latin or physis in Greek) is the name of the most comprehensive of all unities, that which contains within itself the most primary division of all things, that which is (being) and that which is not (nonbeing).
The Latin title refers to these four divisions of nature: (1) that which creates and is not created; (2) that which is created and creates; (3) that which is created and does not create; (4) that which is neither created nor creates. The first is God as the ground or origin of all things, the last is God as the final end or goal of all things, that into which the world of created things ultimately returns. The second and third together compose the created universe, which is the manifestation of God, God in process, Theophania; the second is the world of Platonic ideas or forms, and the third is a more pantheistic world, or a pandeistic one, depending on the interference of God.
Thus we distinguish in the divine system beginning, middle and end. These three are in essence one; the difference is only the consequence of our finite comprehension. We are compelled to envisage this eternal process under the form of time, to apply temporal distinctions to that which is extra- or supra-temporal. It is in turn through our experience that the incomprehensible divine is able to frame an understanding of itself.
The Division of Nature has been called the final achievement of ancient philosophy, a work which "synthesizes the philosophical accomplishments of fifteen centuries." It is presented, like Alcuin's book, as a dialogue between Master and Pupil. Eriugena anticipates Thomas Aquinas, who said that one cannot know and believe a thing at the same time. Eriugena explains that reason is necessary to understand and interpret revelation. "Authority is the source of knowledge, but the reason of mankind is the norm by which all authority is judged."
Eriugena's work is distinguished by the freedom of his speculation, and the boldness with which he works out his logical or dialectical system of the universe. He marks, indeed, a stage of transition from the older Platonizing philosophy to the later scholasticism. For him philosophy is not in the service of theology. The above-quoted assertion as to the substantial identity between philosophy and religion is repeated almost word for word by many of the later scholastic writers, but its significance depends upon the selection of one or other term of the identity as fundamental or primary. For Eriugena, philosophy or reason is first, primitive; authority or religion is secondary, derived.
His influence was greater with mystics than with logicians, but he was responsible for a revival of philosophical thought which had remained largely dormant in western Europe after the death of Boethius.
After Eriugena another medieval thinker of significance was Berengar of Tours, professor at the monastic school in the French city. Berengar believed that truth is obtained through reason rather than revelation. St. Peter Damian agreed with Tertullian that it is not necessary for people to philosophize because God has spoken for them. Damian was prior of Fonte Avellana and afterward Cardinal-Bishop of Ostia. He died in 1072. Lanfranc (1005–89) was prior of Bec in Normandy. Like Damian he believed mostly in faith, but admitted the importance of reason. St. Anselm was a pupil and successor of St. Peter Damian.
On the whole, one might be surprised that even in the seventeenth century pantheism did not gain a complete victory over theism; for the most original, finest, and most thorough European expositions of it (none of them, of course, will bear comparison with the Upanishads of the Vedas) all came to light at that period, namely through Bruno, Malebranche, Spinoza, and Scotus Erigena. After Scotus Erigena had been lost and forgotten for many centuries, he was again discovered at Oxford and in 1681, thus four years after Spinoza's death, his work first saw the light in print. This seems to prove that the insight of individuals cannot make itself felt so long as the spirit of the age is not ripe to receive it. On the other hand, in our day (1851) pantheism, although presented only in Schelling's eclectic and confused revival thereof, has become the dominant mode of thought of scholars and even of educated people. This is because Kant had preceded it with his overthrow of theistic dogmatism and had cleared the way for it, whereby the spirit of the age was ready for it, just as a ploughed field is ready for the seed.
Leszek Kołakowski, a Polish Marx scholar, has mentioned Eriugena as one of the primary influences on Hegel's, and therefore Marx's, dialectical form. In particular, he called De Divisione Naturae a prototype of Hegel's Phenomenology of Spirit.
William of Malmesbury's humorous anecdote illustrates both the character of Eriugena and the position he occupied at the French court. The king having asked, Quid distat inter sottum et Scottum? (What separates a sot [drunkard] from an Irishman?), Eriugena replied, Tabula tantum (Only a Table).
William of Malmesbury is not considered a reliable source on John Scotus Eriugena by modern scholars. For example, his reports that Eriugena is buried at Malmesbury is doubted by scholars who say that William confused John Eriugena with a different monk named John. William’s report on the manner of Eriugena’s death, killed by the pens of his students, also appears to be a legend. “It seems certain that this is due to confusion with another John and that the manner of John’s death is borrowed from the Acts of St. Cassian of Imola. Feast: (at Malmesbury), 28 January.”
Bertrand Russell called him "the most astonishing person of the ninth century". The Stanford Encyclopaedia of Philosophy states he "is the most significant Irish intellectual of the early monastic period. He is generally recognized to be both the outstanding philosopher (in terms of originality) of the Carolingian era and of the whole period of Latin philosophy stretching from Boethius to Anselm".
Year 845 (DCCCXLV) was a common year starting on Thursday (link will display the full calendar) of the Julian calendar.Cadac-Andreas
Cadac-Andreas, Irish scholar, fl. 798 – 814.
Cadac-Andreas was an Irish scholar at the court of Charlemange who roused the ire of Bishop Theodulphus for lengthy and pedantic approach to exegesis, which he apparently delighted in. A nameless court poet, possibly connected to Theodulphus, wrote further of him, scorning and parodying
his fascination with etymologies in the three sacred languages
pondering who was the first person to perform something in the Bible
pedantic, long-winded, interest in terminologyTheodulphus grew to detest Cadac-Andreas so much that he strongly urged Charlemagne to have him dismissed from court. Yet much to the frustration of Theodulphus, and no doubt others at court, Cadac was subsequently awarded a bishopric by the king.
Theodulphus, on the other hand, was later sent into exile by Louis the Pious.Catholic Church and Pandeism
Relations between the Catholic Church and Pandeism have historically largely been critical. The Church condemned the thought of John Scotus Eriugena as heretical, and found the similar elements of Giordano Bruno's thought grounds for his execution. Max Bernhard Weinstein viewed both as pandeistic.
The Catholic Church has addressed theological concepts that are against its doctrine and been clear in its criticism of deism and pantheism, among others. There have also been a few Catholic thinkers who have specifically been critical of beliefs that they labeled pandeism. Some within the Church have also used the term pan-deism to refer to an ecumenical project to bring non-Abrahamic religions closer to Catholicism.Cellanus
Cellanus (fl. ca. 675-706) was the abbot of Péronne in Picardy. At the time, Péronne was known as Perrona Scottorum on account of its fame as a home to Irish peregrini.
He was a penfriend and correspondent of Aldhelm, and it is from a surviving letter that much of our knowledge of Cellanus originates. Ludwig Traube believed him to be identical with the Abbot Cellanus whose obit is recorded in the Annales Laureshamenses under 706; and was probably the Cellan mac Sechnusaigh, sapiens, recorded in the same year in the Annals of Ulster (pp. 96–119, 1900). Traube furthermore attributed two hexameter poems to Cellanus (Traube, pp. 105–08, 1900).Cogitosus
Cogitosus (fl. c. 650) was an Irish monk and writer. Cogitosus was a monk of Kildare who wrote the oldest extant vita of Saint Brigit, Vita Sanctae Brigidae, around 650. There is a controversy as to whether he was related to Saint Brigit.There are at least two contemporary English translations of Cogitosus's Life of St Brigid: one by Connolly and Picard in 1987 and another in 1993 by Liam da Paor.Diarmaid the Just
Saint Diarmaid the Just (also known as Diermit, Dhiarmuit, Dermod, Diermedus, Diermetus, Diermitius, Diermitius) was a Catholic abbot of Inis Clothrann (Inchcleraun), Lough Ree, County Longford and of Faughalstown, County Westmeath and a famous Irish confessor of the late-sixth century.
He was of princely origin as he was seventh in descent from Nath Í, King of Ireland, who died 428 and a member of the Hy-Fiachrach family from Connacht. His father was Lugna, son of Lugad, son of Finbarr, son of Fraic, son of Cathchuon, son of Aengus Becchuoun, son of Nath Í son of Fiachrae son of Eochaid Mugmedon. His mother was Dediva (also called Editua or Dedi or Deidi or Deighe or Deidiu or Deaga or Mediva), daughter of Tren, son of Dubhthach moccu Lughair, who was a Chief Ollam of Ireland and royal poet of King Lóegaire mac Néill. Dediva's other children were Saint Senan of Laraghabrine, son of Fintan, Saint Caillin of Fenagh, son of Niata, St.Mainchín of Corann, son of Collan of Corann, Saint Felim of Kilmore son of Carill, Saint Daigh of Inniskeen son of Carill, Saint Femia daughter of Carill and Senchán Torpéist, a later Chief Ollam of Ireland. Saint Diarmaid was the youngest of Dediva's famous children.
About the year 530, he founded the great monastery of Inchcleraun on Lough Ree, in the Diocese of Ardagh. Wishing to found an oratory far from the day-to-day distractions of civilization, he selected the isolated island associated with the memory of Queen Medbh, Inchcleraun.
Here his fame soon attracted disciples. He was a good teacher and also a distinguished writer and poet. On the island seven churches are traditionally said to have been erected, and the traces of six are still in evidence, including Teampul Diarmada, or the church of St. Diarmiad. This oratory, eight feet by seven feet, is said to have been Diarmaid's own church. The monastic school he founded kept up its reputation for fully six centuries after his death, and the island itself was famous for pilgrimages in pre-Reformation days. An ivory statue of the saint was removed from the island during the Reformation to avoid destruction. He also founded the monastery of Caille-Fochladha, Lough Derryvaragh, Co Westmeath, where there is a holy well dedicated to him.
St. Diarmaid's nickname was 'Diarmaid the Just'; he is sometimes confused with an earlier St. Justus who was both baptizer and teacher of St.Kieran of Clonmacnoise. He was a friend of St. Senan, Abbot of Iniscathy and he composed metrical psalters, among which is "Cealtair Dichill".
He died on January 10 at Inchcleraun and his feast is celebrated on that date.
This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Herbermann, Charles, ed. (1913). "St. Diarmaid" . Catholic Encyclopedia. New York: Robert Appleton.Dionysius (journal)
Dionysius is a scholarly journal published by the Department of Classics at Dalhousie University. It was established originally in 1977, and a new series began in 1998. It publishes articles on the history of ancient philosophy and theology, and has a special interest in the Aristotelian and Neoplatonic traditions. It also publishes more general articles relating to literature, history, and religion.
The original editors-in-chief were J.A. Doull, R.D. Crouse, and A. H. Armstrong, whose Form, Individual, and Person in Plotinus appeared in the first volume.
A number of distinguished scholars were among the original editorial advisors, and many of them made contributions in due course to the journal. Examples include Werner Beierwaltes' Negati Affirmatio or The World as Metaphor: A Foundation for Medieval Aesthetics from the Writings of John Scotus Eriugena and his Cusanus and Eriugena; Mary T. Clark's Augustine's Theology of the Trinity: Its Relevance; J.N. Findlay's The Myths of Plato; Hans-Georg Gadamer's Plato's "Parmenides" and Its Influence; and George Grant's Nietzsche and the Ancients: Philosophy and Scholarship.Dungal of Bobbio
Dungal of Bobbio (fl. 811–828) was an Irish monk, teacher, astronomer, and poet. He was to live at Saint-Denis, Pavia, and Bobbio.
He may be the same person as Hibernicus exul.Elucidarium
Elucidarium (also Elucidarius, so called because it "elucidates the obscurity of various things") is an encyclopedic work or summa about medieval Christian theology and folk belief, originally written in the late 11th century by Honorius Augustodunensis, influenced by Anselm of Canterbury and John Scotus Eriugena. It was probably complete by 1098, as the latest work by Anselm that finds mention is Cur deus homo. This suggests that it is the earliest work by Honorius, written when he was a young man. It was intended as a handbook for the lower and less educated clergy. Valerie Flint (1975) associates its compilation with the 11th-century Reform of English monasticism.Gilla Pátraic
Gilla Pátraic (died October 10, 1084), also known as Patricius, was the second Bishop of Dublin. Gilla Pátraic was elevated to the see of Dublin following bishop Dúnán's death in 1074, He was consecrated by Lanfranc, Archbishop of Canterbury. Whether Gilla Pátraic or Dúnán was the first Irish bishop to be consecrated in Canterbury is disputed.Before he became bishop of Dublin Gilla Pátraic had been a monk in a Benedictine community at Worcester, the prior then had been Wulfstan, later Bishop of Worcester.Hiberno-Latin
Hiberno-Latin, also called Hisperic Latin, was a learned style of literary Latin first used and subsequently spread by Irish monks during the period from the sixth century to the tenth century.Laidcenn mac Buith Bannaig
Laidcenn mac Buith Bannaig or Laidcend mac Baíth Bandaig (died 661) was a monastic scholar at Cluain Ferta Mo-Lua (Clonfert-Mulloe, Co. Laois) in northern
Osraige. The name is also sometimes spelled "Lathcen."
He is the ascribed author of the earliest surviving example of a lorica or breastplate, a term applied to a genre of charm-prayers, derived from the Pauline conception of life as an armed struggle. In this work, protection is asked for all 70-odd body parts by invoking the heavenly powers. The best known lorica is St. Patrick's Breastplate, which, however, has no connection to the saint.
Laidcend is also known for having produced the Ecloga de Moralibus, an epitome of Gregory the Great's Commentary on Job. Ten medieval manuscripts of the work are known.Laurentius of Echternach
Laurentius of Echternach, fl. 704–722, was a scribe from Echternach in modern Luxembourg.
Laurentius wrote the Echternach martyrology in minuscule, and charters for the town of Echternach between 704 and 722.
His name may be a Latin rendering of the Irish personal name, Lorcán, so there is a possibility he was IrishMalmesbury Abbey
Malmesbury Abbey, at Malmesbury in Wiltshire, England, is a religious house dedicated to Saint Peter and Saint Paul. It was one of the few English houses with a continuous history from the 7th century through to the Dissolution of the Monasteries.Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite
Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite (Greek: Διονύσιος ὁ Ἀρεοπαγίτης), also known as Pseudo-Denys, was a Christian theologian and philosopher of the late 5th to early 6th century, who wrote a set of works known as the Corpus Areopagiticum or Corpus Dionysiacum.
The author pseudonymously identifies himself in the corpus as "Dionysios", portraying himself as Dionysius the Areopagite, the Athenian convert of Paul the Apostle mentioned in Acts 17:34. This false attribution to the earliest decades of Christianity resulted in the work being given great authority in subsequent theological writing in both East and West.
The Dionysian writings and their mystical teaching were universally accepted throughout the East, amongst both Chalcedonians and non-Chalcedonians, and also had a strong impact in later medieval western mysticism, most notably Meister Eckhart. Its influence decreased in the West with the fifteenth-century demonstration of its later dating, but in recent decades, interest has increased again in the Corpus Areopagiticum.Reichenau Primer
The Reichenau Primer (Reichenauer Schulheft) is an early 9th-century manuscript of 8 folia kept in the St. Paul abbey library in Lavanttal, Carinthia (Stift St. Paul Cod. 86a/1), (a ninth leaf is kept separately in Karlsruhe), probably written in Reichenau abbey or St. Gallen abbey, but possibly also elsewhere in the wider region, brought to Reichenau at a later date. It came to St. Blasien in the 18th century.
The content is in insular script, apparently scribal practice by an Irish monk. It contains mainly Latin hymns and grammatical texts, with added glosses in Old High German, but also Greek declination tables, astronomical tables and notably Old Irish poems, among them Pangur Bán.Ruben of Dairinis
Ruben of Dairinis (died 725) was an Irish scholar. He was, along with Cú Chuimne of Iona, responsible for the great compendium known as Collectio canonum Hibernensis (Irish collection of Canon law).Scotus
Scotus or SCOTUS may refer to:
Supreme Court of the United States
Scotus Academy, Edinburgh, Scotland
Scotus Central Catholic High School, Nebraska
Scotus College, Glasgow, ScotlandPeople named Scotus or Scottus:
Aaron Scotus (died 1052), Scottish abbot
Marianus Scotus of Regensburg (died c. 1088), Irish saint
David the Scot (died c. 1138), Bishop of Bangor
David Scotus (died 1139), Irish historian
Duns Scotus (died 1308), Scottish theologian and philosopher
Haddingtonus Scotus (1467–1550), Scottish philosopher, see John Major (philosopher)
Joseph Scottus (died near 800), Irish deacon, scholar, diplomat, poet, and ecclesiastic
John Scotus Eriugena (c. 815–877), Irish theologian
John Scotus (bishop of Dunkeld) (12th century), Bishop of St Andrews and Dunkeld
John Scotus (bishop of Mecklenburg) (c. 990 – 1066), Bishop of Mecklenburg and Glasgow
Marianus Scotus of Mainz (1028 – c. 1082), Irish monk
Marianus Scotus of Regensburg (died about 1088), Irish abbot of St Peter's at Ratisbon (Regensburg)
Marius Scotus (8th–9th century), a Scottish paladin of Charlemagne, see Ruspoli family
Michael Scot (Latin: Michael Scotus; 1175 – c. 1232), mathematician and scholar
Sedulius Scottus (9th century), Irish teacher, grammarian and Scriptural commentatorTírechán
Tírechán was a 7th-century Irish bishop from north Connacht, specifically the Killala Bay area, in what is now County Mayo.
See also Renaissance philosophy