According to John Scotus Erigena, the nothing out of which the world is created is the divine essence.
The influence of the pseudo-Dionysian writings were transmitted to the West in the 9th century by Erigena, in whose speculative spirit both the scholasticism and the mysticism of the middle ages have their rise.
Erigena translated Dionysius into Latin along with the commentaries of Maximus, and his system is, essentially based upon theirs.
Erigena teaches the restitution of all things under the form of the Dionysian adunatio or deificatio.
In Erigena mysticism has not yet separated itself in any way from the dogma of the Church.
But what was matter of immanent assumption with Erigena is in them an equating of two things which have been dealt with on the hypothesis that they are separate, and which, therefore, still retain that external relation to one another.
Though a strong realist tendency is evident in the system of Erigena (9th century), the controversy was not definitely started till the 11th century: it lasted till the middle of the 12th, when the first period of scholastic philosophy ends.
In this book he tries to prove that Bernard (Sapiens), Alcuin, Boniface and Joannes Scotus Erigena were all Scots, and even Boadicea becomes a Scottish author.
Scholasticism in the widest sense thus extends from the 9th to the end of the 14th or the beginning of the 15th century - from Erigena to Occam and his followers.
Erigena is really of the spiritual kindred of the Neoplatonists and Christian mystics rather than of the typical Scholastic doctors, and, in fact, the activity of Scholasticism is mainly confined within the limits of the 11th and the 14th centuries.
In Scotus Erigena, at the beginning of the Scholastic era, there is no such subordination contemplated, because philosophy and theology in his work are in implicit unity.
Reason in its own strength and with its own instruments evolves a system of the universe which coincides, according to Erigena, with the teaching of Scripture.
For Erigena, therefore, the speculative reason is the supreme arbiter; and in accordance with its results the utterances of Scripture and of the church have not infrequently to be subjected to an allegorical or mystical interpretation.
But this is only to say again that Erigena is more of a Neoplatonist than a Scholastic. Hence Cousin suggested in respect of this point a threefold chronological division - at the outset the absolute subordination of philosophy to theology, then the period of their alliance, and finally the beginning of their separation.
The grandly conceived system of Erigena (see Erigena and Mysticism) stands by itself in the 9th century like the product of another age.
Erigena pronounces no express opinion upon the question which was even then beginning to occupy men's minds; but his Platonico-Christian theory of the Eternal Word as containing in Himself the exemplars of created things is equivalent to the assertion of universalia His whole system, indeed, is based upon the idea of the divine as the exclusively real, of which the world of individual existence is but the theophany; the special and the individual are immanent, therefore, in the general.
Erigena does not separate his Platonic theory of pre-existent exemplars from the Aristotelian doctrine of the universal as in the individuals.
Prantl has professed to find the headstream of Nominalism also in Scotus Erigena; but beyond the fact that he discusses at considerable length the categories of thought and their mutual relations, occasionally using the term voces to express his meaning, Prantl appears to adduce no reasons for an assertion which directly contradicts Erigena's most fundamental doctrines.
Moreover, Erigena again and again declares that dialectic has to do with the stadia of a real or divine classification: " Intelligitur quod ars ilia, quae dividit genera in species et species in genera resolvit, quae X dicitur, non ab humanis machinationibus sit facta, sed in natura rerum ab auctore omnium artium, quae verae artes sunt, condita et a sapientibus inventa " (De divisione naturae, iv.
1207; see Amalric and MYsTicism), though based by him upon a revival of Scotus Erigena, was doubtless connected in its origin with the Neoplatonic treatises which now become current.
So long as the Neoplatonic influence remained strong, attempts were still made to demonstrate the doctrine of the Trinity, chiefly in a mystical sense as in Erigena, but also by orthodox churchmen like Anselm.
They belong indeed (Gerson in particular) to the history of mysticism rather than of Scholasticism, and the same may be said of another cardinal, Nicolaus of Cusa (1401-1464), who is sometimes reckoned among the last of the Scholastics, but who has more affinity with Erigena than with any intervening teacher.
Wotschke, Fichte and Erigena (1896); W.
After 868); and the last theologian who came into France from abroad, Johannes Scotus Erigena (d.
877) there was a certain revival of interest in literature, when John the Scot (Erigena) became, for some thirty years (c. 845-875), the head of the Palace School.
In Erigena, Meister Eckhardt, Jakob Boehme).
JOHANNES SCOTUS ERIGENA (c. Boo - c. 877), medieval philosopher and theologian.
The combination Johannes Scotus Erigena has not been traced earlier than Ussher and Gale; even Gale uses it only in the heading of the version of St Maximus.
The pseudonym commonly read Erigena, used by himself in the titles of his versions of Dionysius the Areopagite, is Ierugena (in later MSS.
Roger Bacon, in his severe criticism on the ignorance of Greek displayed by the most eminent scholastic writers, expressly exempts Erigena, and ascribes to him a knowledge of Aristotle in the original.
Among other legends which have at various timesbeen attached to Erigena are that he was invited to France by Charlemagne, and that he was one of the founders of the university of Paris.
Erigena replied, "Mensa tantum."
The first of the works known to have been written by Erigena during this period was a treatise on the eucharist, which has not come down to us (by some it has been identified with a treatise by Ratramnus, De corpore et sanguine Domini).
Erigena argues the question entirely on speculative grounds, and starts with the bold affirmation that philosophy and religion are fundamentally one and the same- "Conficitur inde veram esse philosophiam veram religionem, conversimque veram religionem esse veram philosophiam."
This also has been preserved, and fragments of a commentary by Erigena on Dionysius have been discovered in MS. A translation of theAreopagite's pantheistical writings was not likely to alter the opinion already formed as to Erigena's orthodoxy.
Was offended that the work had not been submitted for approval before being given to the world, and ordered Charles to send Erigena to Rome, or at least to dismiss him from his court.
Erigena in all probability never left France, and Haureau has advanced some reasons for fixing the date of his death about 877.
Erigena is the most interesting figure among the middle-age writers.
In no sense whatever can it be affirmed that with Erigena philosophy is in the service of theology.
Maurice, the only historian of note who declines to ascribe a rationalizing tendency to Erigena, obscures the question by the manner in which he states it.
He asks his readers, after weighing the evidence advanced, to determine "whether he (Erigena) used his philosophy to explain away his theology, or to bring out what he conceived to be the fullest meaning of it."
"Explaining away theology" is something wholly foreign to the philosophy of that age; and even if we accept the alternative that Erigena endeavours speculatively to bring out the full meaning of theology, we are by no means driven to the conclusion that he was primarily or principally a theologian.
When Erigena starts with such propositions, it is clearly impossible to understand his position and work if we insist on regarding him as a scholastic, accepting the dogmas of the church as ultimate data, and endeavouring only to present them in due order and defend them by argument.
Naturally sin is a necessary preliminary to this redemption, and Erigena has the greatest difficulty in accounting for the fact of sin.
Schluter (Munster, 1838); and in Floss's Opera omnia; there is a German translation by Ludwig Noack, Johannes Scotus Erigena fiber die Eintheilung der Natur (3 vols., 1874-1876).
Erigena was also the author of some poems edited by L.
Lehre des Johannes Scotus Erigena(Gotha,1860); J.
Huber, Johannes Scotus Erigena(Munich, 1861); W.
Kaulich, Das speculative System des Johannes Scotus Erigena (Prague, 1860); A.
Scoto Erigena (1867); L.