ND   JMC : History of Medieval Philosophy / by Maurice De Wulf

155. Life and Works. -- The life of Scotus Eriugena is shrouded in mystery. Born between 800 and 815, in one of the British Islands, more probably Ireland -- where he could have the benefit such an education as the continental schools could no longer furnish -- he figures at the court of Charles the Bald as the most distinguished philosopher of the Palatine school. He died at an advanced age (after 877): assassinated by his students, if we are to believe the legend.

We may distinguish two periods in his literary career. Up to 851 he studied, almost exclusively, Latin authors and wrote the De Praedestinatione and the glosses on Martianus Capella. From 858 he studied Greek authors, translating and annotating the works of Pseudo-Denis (858-860), -- which had been offered in 827 to Louis the Debonaire by an ambassador from the Byzantine emperor Michael the Stammerer.{1} His great work is the De Divisione Naturae, in which he gave to the world a new presentation of the most thoroughgoing Neo-Platonism, accommodated to the doctrines of Catholicism. Without any apparent acquaintance with the philosophy of Plotinus, he appears to have himself reconstructed the latter's system.

Where did Scotus find his Neo-Platonism? He must have imbibed it in the works of Pseudo-Denis (105) and Maximus the Confessor, but certainly the pantheistic meaning he read into the theories of the former is from himself alone. We will deal briefly with his general principles of metaphysics and psychology, in order to ascertain what influence they exerted on medieval philosophy.

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