Erigena, John Scotus

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed.

Erigena, John Scotus

John Scotus Erigena (skō´təs ĕrĬj´Ĭnə) [Lat. Scotus=Irish, Erigena=born in Ireland], c.810–c.877, scholastic philosopher, born in Ireland. About 847 he was invited by Charles II, king of the West Franks (later Holy Roman emperor), to take charge of the court school at Paris. At Charles's request he translated the writings of Pseudo-Dionysius and his commentator Maximus the Confessor. His own philosophical speculation is contained in the De divisione naturae and the fragmentary De egressu et regressu animae ad Deum. Erigena was perhaps the most learned man of his time and a remarkable thinker. His thought, based on that of Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus the Confessor, the Greek Fathers, and St. Augustine, is Neoplatonic. Philosophy and theology are identified; all thinking and being begin and end with God, who is above all being and thought. Erigena makes a fourfold division of the things that are, or nature—that which creates and is not created; that which is created and creates; that which is created and does not create; that which neither creates nor is created. The first is God, the source of all things. The second is the Logos, existent in, and coeternal with, God, in whom are the primordial causes and types of things. The third is the world of space, time, and generation, which came into being from the primordial causes by emanation through the successive genera and species. The fourth is again God, but regarded now as the end of all things; for just as creatures have emanated from God, so they will return to Him.

See study by D. Moran (1989).

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