John Scottus Eriugena (Great Medieval Thinkers) by Deirdre Carabine

By Deirdre Carabine

This quantity presents a short and available creation to the 9th-century thinker and theologian John Scottus Eriugena--perhaps crucial philosophical philosopher to seem in Latin Christendom within the interval among Augustine and Anselm. Eriugena used to be referred to as the interpreter of Greek notion to the Latin West, and this booklet emphasizes the relation of Eriugena's idea to his Greek and Latin resources.

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Eriugena describes the first three books using the image of steering a ship through the smooth seas of the scriptures, copiloted on many occasions by the great fathers of both East and West: "the first three books seem like a smooth sea upon which, because of the calmness of the waves, readers could sail without fear of shipwreck, steering a safe course" (P. IV 743C-744A). Books IV and V enter more dangerous seas, characterized by the heavy currents and concealed rocks of obscure and conflicting doctrines.

The scope of ideas and themes discussed by Eriugena is, at least to my mind, comparable to the Enneads of Plotinus in terms of richness and food for sustained thought. Eriugena's fascination with the beauty, harmony, and intricate workings of the universe (culminating in the creation of human nature in the image of God), which is an ineffable unity held in being by the Word, is, to my mind, the one characteristic of the Periphyseon that leaves a lasting impression with the reader long after particular details of philosophical of theological importance have been forgotten.

Strictly speaking, God is uncreated, yet in the act of creating, God creates God's self (a se ipso creatur). This means that God, as cause, is the essence of all things (P. 1454A); outside of God there is nothing (P. I 4526). Therefore, the second and third divisions of nature are eternal, since they are God, and they are made, since they are not God. But how can that which is one thing be another different thing? Such a contradiction cannot be reconciled unless we do away with temporal categories.

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