John Scottus Eriugena Criticism - Essay

Alice Gardner (essay date 1900)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Gardner, Alice. “Scotus as Optimist” and “Scotus as Subjective Idealist.” In Studies in John the Scot (Erigena): A Philosopher of the Dark Ages, pp. 97-132. London: Henry Frowde, 1900.

[In the following essays, Gardner discusses the roots of Eriugena's optimism and examines his views on existence, thought, and knowledge.]

But yet we trust that somehow good
Will be the final goal of ill.


It has already been sufficiently pointed out that the principal ecclesiastical controversies with which the name of Scotus is associated were none of his own seeking, nor were they concerned with problems which he had set...

(The entire section is 8569 words.)

W. G. Hanson (essay date 1927)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Hanson, W. G. “John Scotus Erigena.” In The Early Monastic Schools of Ireland: Their Missionaries, Saints, and Scholars, pp. 111-26. Cambridge, England: W. Heffer & Sons Limited, 1927.

[In the following essay, Hanson provides an overview of Eriugena's work, reputation, and influence.]

It is the dictum of Mr. W. B. Yeats that “Ireland has produced but two men of religious genius: Johannes Scotus Erigena, who lived a long time ago, and Bishop Berkeley, who kept his Plato by his Bible; and Ireland has forgotten both.”1

If by “religious genius” Mr. Yeats means speculative genius, I would agree; but religion owes more...

(The entire section is 4345 words.)

I. P. Sheldon-Williams (essay date 1968)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Sheldon-Williams, I. P. “Introduction to Books I-III.” In Periphyseon (De Diuisione Naturae), by Iohannis Scotti Erivgenae, edited by I. P. Sheldon-Williams, pp. 1-34. Dublin: The Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 1968.

[In the following excerpt, Sheldon-Williams offers an overview of Eriugena's life and describes four stages of development regarding the work that became De Diuisione Naturae.]


Little is known of the life of the author of the Periphyseon, and no fresh biographical information has come to light since the publication of Dom Maïeul Cappuyns's exhaustive study in 1933.1 Only a few...

(The entire section is 4879 words.)

Peter Makin (essay date 1973)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Makin, Peter. “Ezra Pound and Scotus Eriugena.” Comparative Literature Studies 10 (1973): 60-83.

[In the following essay, Makin explains how Ezra Pound made use of Eriugena's concepts in his own work.]

“That Irishman” (“Scotus ille”), as some of his contemporaries knew him,1 was born at some time in the early ninth century.2 He left Ireland before the year 847, when he was to be found at the royal court of Charles the Bald, successor on the throne of France to Louis the Debonair. From the epithets applied to him (“scholasticus et eruditus”) it has been supposed that he taught at the Palace School.

He is...

(The entire section is 8669 words.)

Donald F. Duclow (essay date 1977)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Duclow, Donald F. “Nature as Speech and Book in John Scotus Eriugena.” Mediaevalia: A Journal of Mediaeval Studies 3 (1977): 131-40.

[In the following essay, Duclow examines Eriugena's use of the book as metaphor in his attempt to describe nature and divine creativity.]

In “The Book as Symbol,”1 E. R. Curtius outlines the history of book symbolism with emphasis on the Latin Middle Ages. His remarks on “the book of nature”2 are especially suggestive, because this metaphor witnesses to the astonishing depth and scope of book symbolism: the world itself comes to be seen as a book. This essay will explore this metaphor in the work...

(The entire section is 3389 words.)

Dominic J. O'Meara (essay date November 1981)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: O'Meara, Dominic J. “The Concept of Natura in John Scottus Eriugena (De divisione naturae Book I).” Vivarium 19, no. 2 (November 1981): 126-45.

[In the following essay, O'Meara explains Eriugena's use of the word natura and considers his purpose in describing a fourfold division of it.]

The first book of John Scottus Eriugena's great philosophical dialogue, the De Divisione Naturae, begins as follows:

 As I frequently ponder and … carefully investigate the fact that the first and fundamental division of all things which either can be grasped by the mind or lie beyond its grasp is into...

(The entire section is 9140 words.)

Michael Haren (essay date 1985)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Haren, Michael. “From Ancient World to Middle Ages: Adaptation and Transmission.” In Medieval Thought: The Western Intellectual Tradition from Antiquity to the Thirteenth Century, pp. 37-82. Hampshire, England: Macmillan Publishers Ltd, 1985.

[In the following excerpt, Haren provides an overview of Eriugena's background, career, and major writings.]


The Visigothic culture which had produced Isidore of Seville was submerged in the Islamic invasion which swamped the Spanish peninsula—with the exception of the Basque land and the adjoining coastal region—in 711. From then until the Carolingian...

(The entire section is 4805 words.)

Dermot Moran (essay date 1989)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Moran, Dermot. “Eriugena's Influence on Later Mediaeval Philosophy.” In The Philosophy of John Scottus Eriugena: A Study of Idealism in the Middle Ages, pp. 269-81. Cambridge, England: Cambridge University Press, 1989.

[In the following essay, Moran explores the question of the extent of Eriugena's influence on thinkers of the Middle Ages.]

How influential was Eriugena in the development of philosophy in the High Middle Ages?

It is notoriously difficult to measure the exact influence of one author on another in the mediaeval tradition. The main intention of mediaeval authors was to represent the truth as they saw it, and they frequently...

(The entire section is 5065 words.)

Deirdre Carabine (lecture date 1991)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Carabine, Deirdre. “Eriugena's Use of the Symbolism of Light, Cloud, and Darkness in the Periphyseon.” In Eriugena: East and West: Papers of the Eighth International Colloquium of the Society for the Promotion of Eriugenian Studies: Chicago and Notre Dame: 18-20 October 1991, edited by Bernard McGinn and Willemien Otten, pp. 141-52. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1994.

[In the following essay, originally delivered as lecture in 1991, Carabine examines ambiguous aspects of Eriugena's symbolism.]

The diverse ways in which eriugena employs the theme of light have been given scholarly attention in the past.1 It is my...

(The entire section is 4597 words.)

John J. Contreni and Pádraig P. Ó Néill (essay date 1997)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Contreni, John J. and Pádraig P. Ó Néill. Introduction to Glossae Divinae Historiae: The Biblical Glosses of John Scottus Eriugena, by John Scottus Eriugena, edited by John J. Contreni and Pádraig P. Ó Néill, pp. 1-85. Firenze, Italy: SISMEL, 1997.

[In the following excerpt, Contreni and Ó Néill examine the early writings of Eriugena.]

That so much has been written about John Scottus, arguably the most studied of all early medieval intellectual figures during the last twenty-five years or so, testifies to a deeper and more precise appreciation both of his principal historical context, the Carolingian renewal program, and of his unique position within...

(The entire section is 6982 words.)

Avital Wohlman (essay date 1998)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Wohlman, Avital. “Introduction to the English Translation.” In Treatise on Divine Predestination, by John Scottus Eriugena, translated by Mary Brennan, pp. xv-xxix. Notre Dame, Ind.: University of Notre Dame Press, 1998.

[In the following excerpt, Wohlman discusses the controversy over the concept of predestination and explains why Eriugena's De Praedestinatione caused scandal.]

Jean Trouillard has contended that Scottus Eriugena or John the Scot was the only authentic Neoplatonist in whom the Latin world could take pride,1 the only one who knew how to “recover, beyond Saint Augustine, the authentic spirit of Neoplatonism.”2...

(The entire section is 5738 words.)

Deirdre Carabine (essay date 2000)

(Classical and Medieval Literature Criticism)

SOURCE: Carabine, Deirdre. “The Structure of Reality.” In John Scottus Eriugena, pp. 29-43. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000.

[In the following excerpt, Carabine discusses Eriugena's use of negative theology as part of his description of the nature of reality.]

Eriugena's overall view of reality, both human and divine, will be familiar to students of Neoplatonism, based as it is on the dual movement of procession and return: every effect remains in its cause, proceeds from it, and returns to it.1 Although I have chosen to discuss Eriugena's ideas within the framework of divisoria and resolutiva (diairetike and...

(The entire section is 8268 words.)