The Division Of Nature (Periphyseon). John Scotus Eriugena. Book I. TEACHER: Often I investigate as carefully as I can and reflect that of all things which can. John Scotus Eriugena (c/) Works (Selected List). Periphyseon ( The Division of Nature, ) Such is the first division of nature into genera. Eriugena is mainly remembered for his volu- minous work the Periphyseon [On Nature] or, in its Latin title, De Divisione. Naturae [The Division of Nature).

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A number of interesting poems survive which show the breadth of Eriugena’s learning; but also portray him as a courtier quite well versed in political affairs. The pupil, while not a simple foil — he is the vehicle of much of what Scotus Erigena wants to say — is not the occasion for dialectical progression.

John Scotus Eriugena (c.810/815-877)

Also among his writings are On Predestinationin which he disputed the position of Gottschalk, only to have his own position condemned by two councils, and fragments of a commentary on St.

In Eriugena’s conceptions of God, the cosmos and human nature, there is an extraordinarily bold emphasis on infinity. Furthermore, knowledge of the Ideas could not be oj from material things. However, Erigena is swift to agree that none of the categories, not even that of relation, can be attributed to God properly. The order of the universe has been established by Divine Providence.

It is his further statement concerning the nature of God’s making that is troublesome. On the Division of Nature. In cosmological terms, however, God and the creature are one and the same:.

A satisfying picture, perhaps, but dissatisfying as well; it is a blend of nature and grace, and the assertions of otherness seem to clash in the final apotheosis when creation apparently dissolves into God. Erigena goes further, however, thus bringing us face to face with one of the main difficulties in On the Division of Nature. Eriugena, then, has a dialectical understanding of the relation of God and man which can be viewed as orthodox from one point of view, but which is always transgressing the boundaries of orthodoxy in the direction of a view which has God and man mutually contemplating themselves and each other, divisipn an endless, eternal play of theophanies.


Dialectic, moreover, is not just about the organization of words and thoughts but also describes the structure of reality itself. According to this mode, actual things, which are the effects of the causes, have being, whereas those things which are still virtual in the Primary Causes e. Thus, goodness is ultimately determined by whether a species of being participates in the goodness of God.

Indeed there are many places where Eriugena cites texts e. Eriugena’s masterpiece is undoubtedly the Periphyseon written c. The first species is God, transcendent and self-existent. Apart from having a minor influence in France in the ninth century, Eriugena’s cosmological speculations appear too conceptually advanced for the philosophers and theologians of his time, and his philosophical system was generally neglected in the tenth and eleventh centuries.

God has existential knowledge, but no circumscribing knowledge of His essence, since, as infinite, He is uncircumscribable:.

John the Scot Joannes Scotus Eriugena. The Division of Nature As has been mentioned, the single most important work of John Scotus Erigena, the one to which he owes his claim to our particular attention, is the De divisione naturae.

Pseudo-Dionysius claims that God is the affirmation of all things, the negation of all things, and beyond all johm and denial in Eriugena’s translation: This is not something small, then, but something great and most useful, namely, that the knowledge of sensible things is ordered to the understanding of intelligible things. Erigina replies that such statements encompass the two theologies, for they have both affirmative and negative overtones. The uniquely incarnate Word leads fallen humankind back to God.

How to cite this entry. When Erigena compares reason and authority, he has in mind two methods of interpreting Scripture: Contrary to what some earlier commentators supposed, it is most unlikely that Eriugena had direct knowledge of the original texts of Plotinus, Porphyry, Proclus, or other pagan Neoplatonists, but he did have some direct knowledge of Plato a portion of Timaeus in the translation of Calcidius as well as familiarity with the pseudo-Augustinian Categoriae decem.


Changeable, spatiotemporal things are then instances of nonbeing.

John Scottus Eriugena (Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy)

Erigena adverts to previous remarks of his own and to the nature of the theologian’s task in stating that since it seems clear that assertions about God are based only on what we can know of him in his effects, no statement about God can be expressive of what God is like in himself.

Erigena also argues that God, as the First Cause of all things, surpasses all understanding. Eriugena celebrates the lack of limit and inherent transcendence not just of human nature but also of the whole of nature. We can imagine how Scotus Erigena’s contemporaries must have reacted to a work of such strangeness and comprehension.

Third, we can prefix these terms to suggest that what the term signifies is found in God in a fashion which surpasses our understanding. For if Christ Who understands of all things, Who indeed is the understanding of all things, really unified all that He assumed, who doubts then that what first took place in the Head and principal Exemplar of the whole of human nature will eventually happen in the whole?

The creative power of God cannot be comprehended by the intellect. It is considered nevertheless, as complementary to affirmative theology, for the negations serve to remind us that our terms cannot be applied to God in the same way that they are applied to things that exist.

Other works include translations of the De hominis opificio of Gregory of Nyssa and the Ambiguities of Maximus the Confessor and a commentary on the work of Martianus Capella.

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