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La mente humana como manifestacion de la Mente Divina en la filosofia de Eriugena.

Resumen: Muchos estudiosos, entre ellos B. Stock, han llamado la atencion hacia las palabras de Eriugena en Periphyseon IV 776, que pueden describirse con razon como el cogito de Eriugena, a saber, las palabras intelligo me esse. Aqui quiero discutir la funcion especial del cogito de Escoto en su pensamiento. El cogito de Escoto, a diferencia del de Descartes, no pretende fundar la certeza de la existencia del sujeto, ni por lo tanto fundar la certeza de su sistema. El significado del cogito de Escoto se recupera cuando se ve como manifestacion del Dios oculto y el "lugar" para la constitucion del mundo.

Palabras clave: Cogito, officina omnium, autoconstitucion, dialectica, neoplatonismo.

Abstract: Many scholars, B. Stock among them, pointed to the words in Eriugena's Periphyseon IV 776, which could with good reason be described as Eriugena's cogito, namely the words intelligo me esse. Here I would like to discuss the special function of Scotus' cogito in his thought. Scotus' cogito, unlike Descartes', is not meant to ground the certainty of the subject's existence and thereby to provide the foundation for the certainty of his system. The full meaning of Scotus' cogito is recovered when it is seen as a manifestation of hidden Cod and the "locus" for the constitution of the world.

Keywords: Cogito, oficina omnium, self-constitution, dialectics, Neoplatonism.

Human mind as manifestation of God's Mind in Eriugena's philosophy


Brian Stock pointed out that in Scotus' Periphyseon we find two distinct passages in which the conception of the cogito is expressed (1). Undoubtedly, the better known of the two is the passage in Periphyseon IV, in which Eriugena states:
   Although I know that I am, my knowledge of myself is not
   prior to myself because I and the knowledge by which I know
   myself are not two different things: if I did not know that I was
   I would not be ignorant that I did not know that I was: therefore
   whether I know or do not know that I am I shall not be
   without knowledge: for there will remain the knowledge of my
   ignorance. And if everything which is able to know that it does
   not know itself cannot be ignorant of the fact that it is (for if
   it did not have any existence at all it would not know that it did
   not know itself) it follows that absolutely everything has
   existence which knows that it is or knows that it does not know
   that it is. But if anyone is so far sunk in ignorance that he
   neither knows that he is nor perceives that he does not know that
   he is, I should say that either such a one is not a man at all, or
   that he is altogether dead (2).

My objective in this paper is modest enough: it is to quote a number of new arguments in support of Brian Stock's masterly analysis of this problem contained in his article and thus to contribute to the development of his idea. In the course of his analysis of the Periphyseon text and discussing points of similarity as well as differences between Augustine, Eriugena and Descartes, Brian Stock comes to affirm:
   For despite similarities in word and even thought one essential
   difference remains. Descartes says, I think, therefore I am;
   Augustine, I am, therefore I think. Eriugena's place is somewhere
   between the two. Like Augustine, his affirmation is esse. But
   instead of just answering doubt, he pursues the consequences of
   Intelligo me esse within a system that places great weight on the
   active intelligence. His position is a 'phenomenology' in which
   intelligo and esse are to be read together. For both Augustine and
   Eriugena ignorance is the result of sin and a replica of the
   Trinity is permanently imprinted on the mind as a foretaste of
   grace. But in Eriugena it is a docta ignorantia. The divine triad
   is not a receptacle of divine illumination. Man, as God's officina,
   directly reflects his maker. In Augustine, esse is an existential
   question; in Eriugena ousia is phenomenological. There is no
   parallel in Augustine for Eriugena's transcendental subjectivism,
   as illustrated in the proof of other minds. In this, Eriugena does
   not anticipate Descartes but Husserl (3).

I follow the meaning that Scotus' conception of the intelligo is as an constitutive act: for it is precisely human mind that is the locus of manifestation of what is being created and what paradigmatically, as an exemplar, is located in the Divine Word (God's Virtus Gnostica). For this reason man can rightly be described as the officina omnium, the "workshop," in which the reality of created things is being forged, that is, in which created beings become reality. This revelation of all things in man's mind is the clearest mark of man's likeness to the Word, the Logos which is "the Father's Speech" in which the Father's inner depths are revealed. Thus the intelligo in Scotus is given a function which is specific to his system: this is not so much to be the source of certainty for the thinking self of its own existence, but rather as the locus of the inaccessible God manifesting Himself.


Catherine Wilson drew a comparison between the conceptions of St Augustine and Descartes and was able to find quite a number of essential points of similarity bringing the two doctrines close to each other. Among these was the assumption that sense experience is a source of prejudices and should be rejected, that the human soul is an incorporeal substance, that we possess an innate idea of God and that the existence of sin and evil in general has to be reconciled with God's goodness (4). Perhaps, provocatively, one might say, that Eriugena's proposals go further and penetrate deeper: for him the human soul is incorporeal (as it is in Augustine and Descartes) but it contains in itself the totality of corporeal being, man is God's image and God's idea constituted in the Divine Mind; and it is man's fall that introduced evil into the world, God's Goodness being altogether free from blame.

To throw more light upon these seemingly paradoxical assertions let's begin with an analysis of the passage in the Periphyseon where--as B. Stock has shown (5)--Eriugena introduces his intelligo for the first time:
   Thus, when I say, 'I understand that I am', do I not imply in
   this single verb, 'understand', three (meanings) which cannot
   be separated from each other? For I show that I am, and that I
   can understand that I am, and that I do understand that I am.
   Do you not see that by the one verb are denoted my ousia and
   my power, and my act? For I would not understand if I were
   not, nor would I understand if I lacked the power of understanding,
   nor does that power remain latent in me, but breaks
   forth in the operation of understanding (6).

At an earlier point in his work Eriugena explained that there are these three elements present in every created being, whether corporeal or incorporeal, the elements that are both indestructible and inseparable from each other, namely: ousia/essentia, dynamis/virtus and energeia/operatio (7). These elements made their appearance at an earlier stage in the development of Neoplatonic philosophy, e. g. in Proclus where they were invoked to describe the process of causal action in Proclus' objective theory (8). Eriugena applies them specifically to the explanation of the way human knowledge functions (subjective theory).

What Eriugena suggests in this passage appears to be very close to the intention of Augustine's Si enim fallor, sum, as it shows that the power (virtus) of thinking and the very process of thinking (operatio) reveal the fact of being of an I (quid), which does not imply, that the I comprehends the "what" (quid) of its being (what an I is). Thus the intelligo reveals the fact of human existence, yet the very essence of man still remains concealed. To be able to affirm that he knows his own essence, man would have to be able to give his own essential definition (ousiades) in which he would have do limit the boundaries of his own nature, which, according to Eriugena, is impossible. For

to him definition is the "locus" of the defined reality, and consequently its delimitation and description (9). Implied in this conception is a redefinition (peculiar to Eriugena) of the concepts of time and place; and none of the created things can be conceived of without time and place. Thus a place is the "natural definition and mode and position of each creature," while time is "the beginning of movement of things through generation from not-being into being, and the fixed measurement of this motion of changeable things" (10).

If this is the way one defines time and movement, then it becomes clear, that defining and measuring presupposes a mind that performs both these operations. The mind in question is human mind, in which all things undergo a "second creation" (11). Now the essential question that here arises is that concerning the particular mode in which this second creation, or positing of all things in human mind, is carried out, in particular whether this second creation regards the essential or only the accidental being. If the first alternative is accepted, that is if it is assumed that the very essences of all things were created in man, then it would appear to follow, that only part of the Universe could have been created in man, to the exclusion of all accidental reality. Yet if, on the other hand, we assume, that absolutely all reality was produced in man, it would appear to follow, that man was a conglomerate of diverse heterogeneous elements, a kind of "monster" (12). Since neither solution appears to be satisfactory, a third way out must be sought after.


The escape from this dilemma has been found by Eriugena in the conception that was one of the formative principles of Neoplatonist thought, namely to the principle that "the spiritual world was not only a hierarchy of causation but also one of cognition" (13). This principle directly followed from the assumption adopted in Neoplatonism that true causality is only attributable to the sphere of the immaterial (e.g. the Demiurge), and the most perfect activity of an immaterial agent is the activity of cognition (14).

Now, human mind is immaterial too and human mind can, too, be regarded as a "smithy," where all things are being "forged" (officina omnium) (15) yet this is not to say that God literarily, in some corporeal way, somehow produces these things within the structure of man. As John Gavin puts it, a man is "the primordial knower, the field of the first creation" (16). All things are made in man as he comes to know all things by means of the concepts he has of them in his mind. A direct reversal of the order in the process of knowing assumed in the Aristotelian school is accepted in Eriugena: man is no longer represented as knowing by means of abstracting the contents of his concepts of things from the material delivered to him by his sense experience. Quite the reverse is true in Eriugena: it is the very things, the objects of knowing that get constituted owing to human acts of comprehension and knowing.

Thus in the Periphyseon the "Nourisher" (Nutritor) sets his pupil (the Alumnus) the following question: "It is your opinion that everything which is known by the intellect or the reason or imagined by the sense can somehow be created and produced in the knower and perceiver?" (17). The pupil in response rightly quotes St. Augustine and affirms that this indeed must be the case since the very knowledge of the Word subject to the senses is more perfect than these very things themselves (18):
   I believe--says Alumnus--that the same relationship proceeds from
   the Divine Providence through all creation, so that not only every
   nature which has the knowledge of that which follows it is better
   and superior, but also the knowledge itself, through the dignity of
   the nature in which it resides, greatly excels the object of which
   it is the knowledge (19).

This statement seems obvious enough on the ground of Augustine's philosophy (20), especially in what concerns material things, yet doubts immediately arise when we consider the immaterial principles according to which we issue our judgments on the objects we know. The skill in comprehending and applying these principles-norms is what in Eriugena's eyes constitutes mastery, which he calls the "skill" par excellence. St Augustine held, on the other hand, that these very principles are transcendent with regard to our minds and belong within the order of Divine Wisdom. God allows us to have access to these principles through his enlightenment and in this way He becomes the efficient factor in our knowing (21).

Eriugena does not discard the theory of illumination, yet he transforms Augustine's conception of it, as a consequence of his different conception of Divine Ideas. In Augustine exemplarism was the doctrine establishing the sphere of Divine Ideas (rationes aeternae) as the rule or regulative principle for all human knowledge; the Divine Ideas were conceived of as the eternal patterns for all things and yet as Divine Thoughts identical with God himself (22). In Scotus the Divine Ideas constitute the second nature--the one that both creates and is created--and this departs in a way from Augustine's model. The primordial causes (which are the Divine Ideas) can be viewed in two perspectives: as viewed with regard to God they are considered to be identical with the eternal Word of God and form unity with Him; while viewed in relation to creatures they are constituted in human mind and they are pregnant with all those created effects that would in due time come out of them (23).

Given these premises, Eriugena proceeds to state that the principles of the arts that fix the structure of the created reality are found in the mind of man and along with skill, which is the mastery with which they are comprehended, they form the triadic structure of human spirit, which "measures" and "defines," that is "constitutes" things. Thus the Teacher addresses the Pupil:
   [N] It remains then to consider in what way skill and the art
   reside in the mind, whether as those natural qualities which are
   known as potencies, like the species of wisdom and science which it
   perceives in the reflection of the Divine Ray; or as substantial
   and constituent parts of itself, so that mind, skill and the art
   would form a kind of trinity in one essence. [A] Your last
   suggestion is the one which I would accept. For the three seem to
   me to form a kind of substantial and connatural trinity.
   [N] Then mind intellectually comprehends both its skill and the
   art, and is intellectually comprehended both by the one and by the
   other (though not as to what it is, but as to the fact that it is).
   For otherwise, the trinity will not be coessential and coequal

The skill and the art which together form a trinitarian union with human mind reveal the existence thereof. The mind can "discover" the reality of its existence precisely through their "revealing" activity and for that reason the skill and the art identify with the mind and thus constitute unity in plurality. Yet this is not to imply that Eriugena reduces--in the most extreme formulation--the sphere of ideal patterns to the reality of human thought. True, what he calls "the art" identifies with human mind, yet the triad mind-skill-art is only actualized in man when man turns to God. It is by turning to God that the full constitution of human mind as a sui generis triadic unit is perfected as the moment of return is a necessary complement of the cyclic movement of cosmic causation. This cycle contains the enduring (mansio) of the effects in the cause, the outflow of effects outside of the cause (processio) and the return of the effects to the cause (reversion/reditus) (25). The triad of human mind can accomplish the process of its constitution, or rather self-constitution by turning back towards its Source:
   I do not doubt--Disciple claims--that the trinity of the mind is
   formed by a superior Nature, seeing that all things that are formed
   take from It the origin of their Forms, and it is by being turned
   towards It that are formed all things which are turned towards It
   or can be turned towards It. [N] Any hesitation on this point would
   be extremely stupid. So only the Mind of God possesses in Itself
   the true knowledge of the human mind, of its skill and of the art,
   for by It and for It was this trinity formed (26).

4. Self-constitution ([TEXT NOT REPRODUCIBLE IN ASCII])

Eriugena's is almost model restatement of another fundamental principle of Neoplatonism which establishes that any being can only become a true cause if it first constitutes itself (27). This self constitution can only be effected by turning towards a superior Nature in contemplation and thereby receiving from that Nature the form that is proper to the self-constituting reality (28). The conception of auGurcooTccTov as Eric Dodds has convincingly shown, played a significant role in the doctrine of Proclus. To begin with, it introduced an element of freedom or, more precisely, indeterminacy, to the Neoplatonist conception of reality, since what constitutes itself depends just as much on the higher principle as it does on itself. And secondly, an intermediary principles were introduced which mediated between the absolute causality of the Supreme Principle and the sphere of simple effects (causata) (29). These self-constituting principle are made much of by Proclus himself in his Elements of Theology where he attributes to them some significant properties: "All that is self-constituted is capable of reversion upon itself' (Prop. 42) and vice-versa (prop. 43) (30). "All that is self-constituted is without temporal origin" (prop. 45); "All that is self-constituted is imperishable" (prop. 46); "All that is self-constituted is without parts and simple" (prop. 47); "All that is self-constituted is perpetual" (prop. 49); "All that is self-constituted transcends the things which are measured by time in respect of their existence" (31). The intelligo of Scotus Eriugena is exactly alike with respect to these properties.

Human mind, skill, and art, though described by Eriugena as "substantial parts" constitute a trinity that is one in its nature, though its form derives directly from the Divine Mind. As noted above, the other two, that is the skill and the art permeate each other and "reveal" the reality of the mind, and this amounts to stating that the essential feature is self-reflectivity (ability to turn upon itself).

The factor of indeterminacy as characterizing that which constitutes itself is significant also for Eriugena's thought, which is strongly marked by intellectualism. Moreover, as John the Scot shows, the arts are an eternal possession of the soul that inheres in the soul and guarantees its eternity. True the truth may go the other way round, that is, perhaps it is the soul that is the foundation of the eternity of the arts. Which one of these two ways is the true, does not matter, for here we move at the level of intelligibility:
   For it has been rightly sought out and found by the philosophers
   that the arts are eternal and are immutably attached to
   the soul forever, in such a way that they seem to be not some
   kind of accidents of it, but natural powers [and actions] which
   do not and could not withdraw from it, and which do not
   come from anywhere but are innate in it as part of its nature,
   so that it is doubtful whether it is the arts which confer eternity
   upon it because they are eternal and eternally associated
   with it so that it may be eternal, or whether it is by reason of
   the subject, which is the soul, that eternity is supplied to the
   arts (for the ousia and the Power and the Operation of the
   soul are eternal), or whether they co-inhere in each other,
   all being eternal, in such a way that they cannot be separated
   from one another (32).

5. Officina omnium

Man, owing to the skill and the art that he possesses in his mind also has the mastery of the concepts of all things and these concepts are the true substance of everything. Yet this eternal possession does not make man the absolute maker of all ideas, but merely accords him the status of a kind of "secondary creator," whose mind is but a "place" in which God posits all things, on the condition that man turns his mind to God in contemplation. Thus the human constitutive activity is but a manifestation of the true, primary creative activity of God.

These problems receive a more detailed treatment in Eriugena's discussion of the opening lines of Genesis, where he reflects on the problem why God created man as contained in the genus of animal, as a "living soul," while making him at the same time an image of God. It appears that there is some duality entailed by the act through which God constituted man in being. Following the teaching of Gregory of Nyssa, Eriugena refuses to consider the creation of man as consisting of two separate acts, one following the other in time, he tries to make sense of the two aspects of the Biblical anthropogenesis as just two sides of one and the same act, each of these two having its own foundation and its own consequences.

In the Periphyseon, the Pupil asks the Teacher whether it might not have been more convenient to constitute man solely as a spiritual being and not in the genus of animals, since man's ultimate destiny was to achieve equality with the angelic nature (33). The answer given to that by the Teacher is very characteristic and typical of the Eriugenian rationalism, though one can here discern an echo of Augustine's teaching (34):
   When you ask why God should have created man, whom He
   proposed to make in His own Image, in the genus of animals,
   it should be enough for me to reply briefly that He wished so
   to fashion him that there might be one among the animals in
   which His Image was expressly manifested. But if one goes on
   to ask why He wished to do so, he is enquiring into the causes
   of the Divine Will, an enquiry which is over-presumptuous
   and arrogant (35).

Thus the Nourisher does not propose to inquire into the profound reasons for God's project to create man in a kind of dual condition; this inquiry exceeds the powers of human understanding and would smack of arrogance and presumption. On the other hand he does not wish to discourage his pupil's eager desire for understanding, so he proceeds to throw some light on the mystery of man's origin by going into the effects of God's creative action in the created world. He goes on to state that God wished his image to be revealed in and through the animal nature of man, because man was designed by God as a representative in contracted form of the whole of created reality or--to use Gregory of Nyssa's expression--as a microcosm (36), or the "third world". Owing to the dual creation of man as an animal and as a divine image man's ontological structure encompasses all created orders, and his own nature appears as the keystone and the crowning of the whole Universe. By creating man God created at the same time all other created natures:
   For among the wise it is maintained that in man is contained the
   universal creature. For, like the angel, he enjoys the use of Mind
   and Discursive Reason; and like the animal, the use of physical
   sense and the capacity to administer his body: and therefore his
   nature is understood to include that of every creature. For the
   whole of creation is divided into five parts: the creature may be
   either a body; or a living being; or a sensible being; or a
   rational being; or an intellectual being. And all these five parts
   are in every way found in man (37).

In the Genesis narrative of the act of creation the account of the creation of man comes at the end, on the sixth day, and this emphasizes the perfection of man as a being which comprises in its constitution the totality of created reality. There is nothing within the created realm that exceeds the boundaries of man's nature:
   So the reason why man is introduced at the conclusion of the
   narrative of the equipping of this visible world is that we might
   understand that all the things of which the creation is narrated
   before that of man are universally comprehended within
   him. For every greater number includes within itself the lesser
   (...). But as it is, since the creation of man is introduced at the
   conclusion of all divine operations, it is shown that the divine
   creations all subsist and are comprehended in him (38).

6. Man--the concept in the Divine Mind

There is, nevertheless, an important restriction imposed on man's intelligo, even when it is considered as an act of constituting or positing of all understood things. For while man is in possession of the concepts of all created things, he cannot possess the concept of himself. In the above we have already mentioned that human mind, while capable of knowing with certainty that it is, does not know its own constitution, its own quid, which remains veiled for its insight (39). For clearly, the concept of man's being can only be found in the very Divine Mind, the ultimate creative principle; it is this ultimate principle and the idea of human being contained therein that forms the absolute ontological foundation of man's reality as well as man's cognitive activity, which nevertheless is also creative in its own reduced way and consists in positing the cognized things:
   [A] For I understand the substance of the whole man to be
   nothing else but the concept of him in the Mind of his Artificer,
   Who knew all things in Himself before they were made;
   and that very knowledge is the true and only substance of the
   things known, since it is in that knowledge that they are most
   perfectly created and eternally and immutably subsist. [N] We
   may then define man as follows: Man is a certain intellectual
   concept formed eternally in the Mind of God. [A] That is an
   extremely true and very well tested definition of man; and not
   only of man, but of everything else which is formed in the
   Divine Wisdom (40).

God's mind is the locus of man, just as human mind is the locus of created things; for it is in the Divine Mind that the "description" or "definition" of man's nature is found. For this reason all intellectual activity properly human has to begin by man's turning to the Divine Mind, whence man receives his form, and this reception of form means that the function of intelligo is given its full constitution. This is how the properly human activity of intelligere and of constitution of things through intelligere finds its proper place between the Divine Source and the created outflow of things as a crucial mediating factor in the process of constituting the created reality.

7. Naming

The original concepts of all things created dwell in human mind. Man projects the things he has the concepts of via his skill (in the special sense given to this notion by Eriugena) and art and he gives names to the produced things. This is another aspect highlighting the constitutive power of human mind: whatever exists can be named and only that exists that can be named. Eriugena discusses the process of imposition of names with reference to Gen (2, 19) where Adam is represented as giving names to all things. Adam and his action are the archetype of all human activity, for he is the epitome of human nature as such (41). The imposition of names, which follows on the constitution of things, is an act by which man affirms his power over things. Man can only name that, of which he possesses the concepts and over which he can exercise domination; thus it is clear that he can possess neither the concept nor the essential definition of either himself or, with even more reason, of God:
   ... and indeed the essence of man is understood principally to
   consist in this: that it has been given him to possess the concept
   of all things which were either created his equals or which
   he was instructed to govern. For how could man be given the
   domination of things of which he had not the concept? For his
   dominion over them would go astray if he did not know the
   things which he was to rule. Holy Scripture gives us a clear
   indication of this when it says: 'Therefore, having formed out of
   the earth every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens,
   the Lord God brought them unto Adam to see what he would
   call them: and whatsoever Adam called every living soul that
   is its name'. (...) But what he called anything that is its name,
   that is, it is the very notion of the living soul (42).

Adam can name only those things, whose concepts are found in his mind; he cannot possibly have the concept of himself and consequently, cannot name himself, as this would imply that constitutes himself in being. The concept and definition of himself dwell instead in God's mind and it is only through that concept and owing to the creative and constitutive activity of the Divine Mind that man himself has been called into being and constituted in reality, and it is only by God that he could possibly have been named.

This confirms that in Eriugena's system the ruling principle is the rigorous hierarchy of cognition, with the higher intelligent principle fixing and describing the lower. In this world ruled by intelligence, dialectics must be both the supreme law of being and the basic method of scientific knowing.


In Eriugena's understanding dialectics was identical to philosophy itself; the general understanding of the term dialectics was in Eriugena's time as the art of disputation, by its nature oriented towards discovering truth. In Augustinian tradition truth is the same as God, so understandably, Eriugena too considers dialectics to be God's gift for man, a divinely sent device to distinguish truth from falsehood, to set apart what has been mixed up, to reunite what has been separated by division (43).

But in the realist framework of Eriugena there is more to dialectics than just an efficient means of setting apart true and untrue statements; in fact, the procedures of the dialectical art mirror the objective order of reality, there obtains a close correspondence between the ordo idearum and the ordo rerum. We know already the fundamental reason for this correspondence: it is that the order of things derives from the order of knowing (including human knowing) (44). As Giulio d'Onofrio pointed out Eriugena elevated dialectics from the level of a mere scientia sermocinalis to the dignity of the science that reveals the deepest ontological order. This has only been made possible by the fact that human mind, when informed by the Divine Mind, is capable of reflecting in the order of its words and concepts the very hierarchy of creations and their ultimate grounding in the unity of the Word (45). By means of dialectical procedure every thing is accorded its proper place in the hierarchy of genera and species and given its proper name which sets it apart from all other named things. The hierarchy descends from the most universal genera, including the genus generalissimum of substance, through the intervening genera of decreasing extension, down to the most particular entities; to that which is contaminated with matter and scattered "outside of' human mind, in other words, to that which persists at the level of Eriugena's third nature, the one that is created and does not create. The dialectical procession thus retraces the order of Porphyry's tree and this orderly progress is reiterated by the discursive development of human logic. Thus dialectics appears to be the supreme law of development both in knowing and in objective reality (46).

Naturally, the objective order of beings revealed and at the same time constituted by dialectical procedure, projected and posited as it is by the human intelligo, is by no means an arbitrary projection of man. Man's constitutive activity, or man's art, works according to the principles of that higher art issuing from God the Creator himself. Man is by no means the origin, but only an intermediary of the creative act:
   From this we may see that that art which concerns itself with
   the division of genera into species and the resolution of species
   into genera, which is called dialektike did not arise form
   human contrivances, but was first implanted in nature by the
   originator of all the arts that are properly so called, and was
   later discovered therein by the sages who make use of it in their
   subde investigations of reality (47).


As we have already seen, all things (save from man himself) have been constituted in human intelligence and persist there in the form of concepts. There is no created thing (except for man himself) whose concept would not be found in man's possession. This statement is equally true of angelic creations, which have too been constituted in man, or at an equal level with man. Man and angels are equals, for in the case of intelligent and rational natures there can be no question of primacy, but instead there obtains perfect simultaneity and mutuality:
   If you look more closely into the mutual relations and unity
   which exist between intelligible and rational natures, you will
   at once find that not only is the angelic nature established in
   the human but also the human is established in the angelic. For
   it is created in everything of which the pure intellect has the
   most perfect knowledge and becomes one with it (48).

Naturally, this mutual interpenetration of the minds of man and an angel as well as the perfect cognition by man of all other creatures is far from being actually present as natural and rightful possession in any single human being, nor can any single human individual in his or her ordinary material condition make use of that immense pool of information, allegedly at their disposal. For the case of Adam giving names to all things in Paradise is indicative of the condition of the ideal human nature, human nature as it existed in the original and pure God's conception. This primordial human nature, created in its integrity and purity in the image of God is what Eriugena calls Paradise:
   Therefore the limits of human nature are to be considered as
   the upper and the lower boundaries of Paradise, beyond which
   no created nature may be supposed to exist (49).

The correct understanding of Eriugena's concept of Paradise as the primordial and perfect condition of human nature calls for some sophistication. Eriugena asserts that Paradise is not the condition of man that obtained in a distant, primeval past, rather it is the state to be achieved as the final goal in the long process of cosmic return still to be accomplished in the future (provided that the temporal categories of sequence, past and future are at all applicable in a metaphysical context like the one discussed in Eriugena). It follows from that, that the total and perfect knowledge of all created reality is given man as an objective to be conquered rather than as something readily available. This interpretation, it seems, can be distilled from the following statements:
   Therefore, not only is irrationality created in the mind, but
   also every species, difference and property of irrationality, and
   all things which are naturally learnt concerning it, since the
   knowledge of all these and similar things is established in it.
   (...) True knowledge of all these is implanted in human nature
   although it is concealed from her that she has it until she is
   restored to her pristine and integral condition, in which with
   all clarity she will understand the magnitude and the beauty of
   the image that is fashioned within her, and will no longer be in
   ignorance of anything which is established within for she will
   be encompassed by the divine Light and turned towards God
   in Whom she will enjoy the perspicuous vision of all thing (50).

As one might easily expect in the Christian and Augustinian context in which Eriugena's thought developed, the blame for the total loss of that universal and perfect knowledge that was once a prerogative of man and which is sadly absent in man's present condition, is attributed by Eriugena to original sin (51). Yet the most deplorable effect of original sin was not the loss of the primeval knowledge of all things, but the forgetfulness of God and of man's true nature that became part of the fallen condition of man.

However, even sin, grave as it was, could not totally wipe out God's image impressed in man's nature; and even in the present condition of man, that is after original sin, the hidden image of God can work in man and inspire him with longing for perfect happiness, and thus for coming back to God:
   For most might and most wretched was that fall in which our
   nature lost the knowledge and the wisdom which had been
   planted in her, and lapsed into a profound ignorance of herself
   and her Creator, even though we understand that the desire for
   the bliss which she had lost remained with her even after the
   Fall, which would certainly not have been the case if she had
   lost all knowledge of herself and her God (52).

As we have seen, the understanding of intelligo as found in John the Scot, is clearly different from that offered by Augustine and also from that implied in the Cartesian cogito. In Eriugena, the intelligo as revealing the existence of the mind is merely the point of departure. It receives a grandiose development in the metaphysical scheme in which human mind as such is conceived as the "locus" of the constitution of created reality. The created things (except for man himself) receive their shapes and structures in and through human knowledge. This constitutive activity of human intellect is not arbitrary or willful: man is not the principal maker, but an intermediary; he is a "second creator," and his productive activity is only efficient on condition that he turns his spiritual look to God in contemplation.

Constituted in human mind are both visible and invisible things. The mind contains the immaterial reasons of material things, thus even material reality exists in man in an immaterial way, that is not as subject to dispersal. Eriugena's conception of matter, modeled on that of Gregory of Nyssa appears to be closer to some contemporary theories than to the conception of matter as extended spatially formulated by Descartes.

The human intelligo in its function of revealing the totality of created reality is the intermediary through which all God's creative activity passes towards its effects. Its role as the mediator for the totality of God's influence upon the created effects epitomizes the essence of human intelligence as God's Image.

Knowing, as he does, all created essences (except for man himself), man is excluded from knowing his own essence; the "locus" for man's essence is the Divine Mind and it is there that the concept of man resides. From the human perspective, however, even that ignorance of man's own essence, a kind of "learned ignorance" is revealing: it is a revelation of the mysterious, inaccessible God.

(1.) Cf. B. STOCK, Intelligo me esse: Eriugena's 'Cogito', in Jean Scot Erigene et l'histoire de la philosophic (Ed. R. Roques, Paris, 1977) 328.

(2.) Eriugena, Periphyseon IV, 776 B-C, tr. by J. J. O'Meara (Bellarmin-Montreal, Dumbarton Oaks-Washington, 1987) 423; IOHANNIS SCOTTI SEU Eriugenae, Periphyseon. Liber quartos (Ed. E. Jeauneau [further: PP IV, Jeauneau, CCCM 164], Turnholti, 2000) 51: "Scio enim me esse, nec tamen me praecedit scientia mei, quia non aliud sum et aliud scientia qua me scio; et si nescirem me esse, non nescirem ignorare me esse. Ac per hoc, sive scivero, sive nescivero me esse, scientia non carebo: Mihi enim remanebit scire ignorantiam meam. Et si omne quod potest nescire se ipsum, [nescire] non potest ignorare se ipsum esse (nam si penitus non esset, non sciret se ipsum nescire), conficitur omnino esse omne quod scit se esse, vel scit se nescire se esse. [Si quis autem tanta ignorantia obrutus est, ut nec se ipsum esse sciat, nec nescire se ipsum esse sentiat, aut penitus talem non esse hominem, aut omnino extinctum dixerim]".

(3.) B. STOCK, Intelligo me esse cit., 334. Cf. D. Moran, Christian Neoplatonism and the Phenomenological Tradition: The Hidden Influence of John Scottus Eriugena, in W. OTTEN, I. ALLEN (eds.), Eriugena and Creation (Brepols, Turnholti, 2014) 601 and f.

(4.) Cf. C. Wilson, Descartes and Augustine, in J. BROUGHTON, J. CARRIERO (eds.), A Companion to Descartes (Wiley-Blackwell, Malden, 2011) 41.

(5.) Cf. B. STOCK, Intelligo me esse cit., 328 and f.

(6.) PP I 490 B, p. 82-83; Cf. Iohannis Scotti Seu Eriugenae, Periphyseon. Liber primus (Ed. E. Jeauneau [further: PP I, Jeauneau, CCCM 161], Turnholti 1996) 67: "Dam ergo dico 'intelligo me esse', nonne in hoc uno verbo quod est 'intelligo' tria significo a se inseparabilia? Nam et me esse, et posse intelligere me esse, et intelligere me esse demonstro. Num vides uno verbo et meam OUCIAN meamque virtutem et actionem significan? Non enim intelligerem si non essem; neque intelligerem si virtute intelligentiae carerem; nec illa virtus in me silet sed in operationem intelligendi prorumpit".

(7.) Cf. PP 1490 A, p. 82.

(8.) Cf. Proclus, The Ele?nents of Theology 27, 77, ed. E. R. Dodds (Oxford 1963) 31, 73. Cf. S. Gersh, From Iamhlichus to Eriugena. An Investigation of the Prehistory and Evolution of the Pseudo-Dionysian Tradition (Brill, Leiden 1978) 82.

(9.) Cf. C. D'Amico, Locus und deffinitdo bei Eriugena und Cusanus, in A. KIJEWSKA, R. Majeran, H. Schwaetzer (eds.), Eriugena-Cusanus (Lublin Catholic University Publishing House, Lublin, 2011) 171 and f.; cf. M. VOLLET, Raum und Grenze bei Eriugena and Cusanus, in Eriugena-Cusanus cit., 193 and f.; C. Steel, Maximus Confessor and John Scottus Eriugena on Place and Time, in Eriugena and Creation cit., 291 and f.

(10.) PP I 483 B-C, 74; Jeauneau, op. cit., 58: "Ac per hoc concluditur nil aliud esse locum nisi naturalem diffinitionem modumque positionemque uniuscuiusque sive generalis sive specialis creaturae, quemadmodum nil aliud est tempus nisi rerum per generationem motionis ex non esse in esse inchoationem ipsiusque motus rerum mutabilium certae dimensiones donee veniat stabilis finis, in quo immutabiliter Omnia stabunt". Cf. B. Stock, Intelligo me esse cit., 329.

(11.) Cf. J. Trouillard, Erigene et la theophanie creatrice, in Jean Scot Erigene. Etudes (F. Berland, Paris 2014) 71: "La connaissance implique une creation, et il n'est d'efficacite authentique que dans la pensee. Celle-ci est la substance des etres. De meme que Dieu se cree en pensant l'univers et que l'univers a son etre dans la pensee divine, ainsi l'homme se realise en se connaissant et en connaissant les choses, et la nature a sa veritable consistance dans l'esprit humain".

(12.) Cf. PP IV 764 D-765 B, Jeauneau, op. cit., 34-35.

(13.) S. E. GERSH, From Iamblichus to Eriugena: An Investigation of the Prehistory and Evolution of the Pseudo-Dionysian Tradition (Brill, Leiden, 1978) 82.

(14.) Stephen Gersh presents the roots of the doctrine in Proclus' philosophy. Cf. there, 111.

(15.) Cf. IOHANNIS Scot Seu Eriugenae, Periphyseon. Liber tertius (further: PP III), 733 B (Ed. E. Jeauneau, CCCM 163, Brepols, Turnholti, 1999) 369.

(16.) J. Gavin, The Incarnational Vision of John Scottus Eriugena, "Archa Verbi. Yearbook for the Study of Medieval Theology" 10 (2013) (Aschendorff, Munster, 2014) 51.

(17.) PP IV 765 C, p. 409; Jeauneau cit., 35: "Omne quod cognoscitur intellectu et ratione, seu corporeo sensu imaginatur, putasne in ipso qui intelligit et sentit quodammodo posse creari et effici?".

(18.) PP IV 766 A, p. 411 ; Cf. Proclus, The Elements of theology 134, 118-119; 173, 150-151: "In the Intelligence, accordingly, its priors are contained intellectually".

(19.) PP IV 766 B, p. 410; Jeauneau cit., 36: "Et si ita est, talis ordo, ut reor, ex divina providentia per universam creaturam procedit, ut omnis natura, quae sequentis se notitiam comprehendit, non solum melior et superior sit, verum etiam et ipsa notitia dignitate naturae, in quae est, praecedit earn longe, cuius notitia est".

(20.) Cf. St. Augustine, De magistro IX, 28.

(21.) Cf. St. Augustine, De magistro XI, 38; Cf R. H. Nash, Illumination, in A. D. Fitzgerald (ed.), Augustine through the Ages. An Encyclopedia (Eerdmans, Michigan, Cambridge, 1999) 438 and f.

(22.) Cf. W. J. HANKEY, Ratio, Reason, Rationalism, in Augustine through the Ages cit., 697-698.

(23.) Cf. JOHANNIS ScOTI SEU Eriugenae, Periphyseon. Liber secundus (further: PP II) 556 B-D, ed. E. Jeauneau, CCCM 162 (Brepols, Turholti, 1997) 158.

(24.) PP IV 767 C-D, 412-413; Jeauneau cit., 39: "[N] Restat igitur considerare quomodo ei insunt peritia et disciplina: Num veluti naturales qualitates, quas virtutes appellant, ut sunt species sapientiae et scientiae, quas divini radii repercussion percipit, an veluti substantiales suas partes, quibus consistit, ita ut quaedam trinitas sit unius essentiae, mens, peritia, disciplina? [A] Quod postremo posuisti crediderim. Videtur enim mihi substantialis quaedam et connaturalis trinitas. [N] Mens itaque et peritiam et disciplinam suam intelligit, et a sua peritia suaque disciplina intelligitur, non quid, sed quia est; aliter enim coessentialis et coaequalis trinitatis non erit".

(25.) Cf. S. E. Gersh, From lamblichus to Eriugena cit., 217-229.

(26.) PPIV 768 A, p. 413; JEAUNEAU cit., 39: "[A] lam vero, quoniam superior estipsa, ex qua omnia quae formantur incipiunt formari, et ad quam conversa formantur quae ad earn convertuntur aut possunt converti, ab eadem etiam mentis trinitatem formari non dubito. [N] Hinc ambigere stultissimum. Sola itaque divina mens [notitiam] humanae mentis, peritae, disciplinalis, a se formatae veram possidet notionem.

(27.) Cf. D. MORAN, The Philosophy of John Scottus Eriugena. A Study of Idealism in the Middle Ages (Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1989) 166 and f.

(28.) Cf. PROCLUS, The Elements of Theology 31 cit., 35: "All that proceeds form any principle reverts in respect of its being upon that form which it proceeds".

(29.) Cf. E.R. Dodds, Commentary, in PROCLUS, The Elements of Theology 223-224

(30.) PROCLUS, Elements of Theology 42, 43, 44-45.

(31.) PROCLUS, Elements of Theology 45,46, 47, 49, 51, 46-51.

(32.) PP I, 486 C-D, 78; Jeauneau cit., 62-63: "Siquidem a philosophis veraciter quaesitom repertumque est artes esse aeternas et semper immutabiliter animae adhaerere ita ut non quasi accidentia quaedam ipsius esse videantur, sed naturales virtutes actionesque millo modo ab ea recedentes nec recedere valentes nec aliunde venientes sed naturaliter ei insitas, ita ut ambiguum sit utrum ipsae aeternitatem ei praestant quoniam aeternae sunt eique semper adhaereant ut aeterna sit, an ratione subiecti quod est anima artibus aeternitas administrator--OYCIA enim animae et virtos et actio aeternae sunt--an ita sibi invicem coadhaereant, dum omnes aeternae sint, ut a se invicem segregan non possint".

(33.) Por. PPIV 763 A-B, 406-407.

(34.) Cf. Augustinus, De Genesi adversus Mankheos I, II, 4.

(35.) PPIV763 C-D, 407;Jeauneau cit., 32: "Et mihi sufficeret interroganti tibi quare deus hominem in genere animalium creaverit, quem ad suam imaginem facere proposuit, breviter respondere: Quia ita voluit eum condere, ut quoddam animal esset, in quo imaginem suam expressam manifestaret. Cur autem ita voluit quisquis quaerit, divinae voluntatis causas quaerit, quas quaerere nimis praesumptivum est atque superbum".

(36.) Cf. PP IV, 793 C, 444.

(37.) PP IV 755 B-C, 396-397; Jeauneau cit., 21: "Constat enim inter sapientes in homine universam creaturam contineri: Intelligit enim et ratiocinatur ut angelus, sentit et corpus administrat ut animal, ac per hoc omnis creatura in eo intelligitur. Totius siquidem creaturae quinquepertita divisio est: aut enim corporea est, aut vitalis, aut sensiva, aut rationalis, aut intellectualis. Et haec omnia omni modo in homine continentur". Cf. PP IV 764 B, 408.

(38.) PP IV, 782 C-D, 431; Jeauneau cit., 60: "Proinde post mundi visibilis omatus narrationem introducitur homo, veluti omnium conclusio, ut intelligeretur quod omnia quae ante ipsum condita narrantur, in ipso universaliter comprehenduntur. Omnis enim numerus maior minorem intra se numeram concludit (...). Iam vero, quoniam in fine omnium divinorum operam introducitur, omnia divina opera in ipso subsistere et comprehendi manifestantur".

(39.) Cf. A. Kuewska, Eriugena on the ineffability of God, in VON H. SCHWAETZER, M.-A. Vannier (eds.), Der Bildbegrijf bei Meister Eckhart und Nikolaus von Kues (Aschendorff, Munster, 2015) 171 and f.

(40.) PPIV, 768 B, 413; Cf. PP IV, Jeauneau cit., 40: "Immo vero intelligo non aliam esse substantiam totius hominis nisi suam notionem in mente artificis, qui omnia priusquam fierent in se ipso cognovit, ipsamque cognitionem substantiam esse veram ac solam eorum quae cognita sunt, quoniam in ipsa perfectissime facta et aeternaliter et immutabiliter subsistunt". Cf. PP IV, 770B, A. 416.

(41.) Cf. A. KIJEWSKA, Eriugena on the ineffability of God cit., 167 and f.

(42.) PP IV 768 C-769 A, 414; Jeauneau cit., 41: "Et quidem per hoc maxime intelligitur homo esse quod cunctorum, quae sive aequaliter sibi creata sunt sive quibus dominari praecipitur, datum est ei habere notionem. Quomodo enim dominatus eorum homini daretur, quorum notionem non haberet? Siquidem dominatus illius erraret, si ea quae regeret nesciret. Quod apertissime divina nobis indicat scriptura dicens: 'Formatis igitur dominus deus de humo cunctis animantibus terrae et universis volatilibus caeli, adduxit ea ad Adam ut videret quid vocaret ea; omne autem quod vocavit Adam animae viventis, ipsum est nomen eius.' (...) 'Omne autem quod vocavit, ipsum est nomen,' hoc est ipsa notio animae viventis".

(43.) Cf. IOHANNES SCOTTUS Eriugena, De Praedestinatione VII, 1, ed. E. S. Mainoldi (Galluzzo, Firenze, 2003) 70: "Potest enim aliquis in disciplina uerbi causa disputandi quae dicitur dialectica peritus, que millo dubitante a deo homini donatur, si uoluerit bene uti, quoniam ad hoc certissime data est, dum ea ignorantes earn erudit, uera falsaque discemit, confusa diuidit, separata colligit, in omnibus ueritatem inquirit".

(44.) Cf. Ch. ERISMANN, L'homme commun. La genese du realisme ontologique durant le haut Moyen Age (Vrin, Paris, 2011) 6-9; cf. Ch. Erismann, The Logic of Being: Eriugena's Dialectical Ontology, "Vivarium" 45 (2007) 207.

(45.) Cf. G. D'ONOFRIO, Bene disputandi disciplina. Procedes dialectique et logica vetus dans le langa ge philosophique de Jean Scot, in G.-H. Allard (ed.), Jean Scot-ecrivain (Montreal-Paris, 1986) 239-240.

(46.) Cf. Ch. ERISMANN, L'homme commim cit., 252 and if.; Ch. ERISMANN, The Logic of Being cit., 213.

(47.) PP IV, 749 A, 389; JEAUNEAU cit., 12: "Ac per hoc intelligitur quod ars ilia, quae dividit genera in species, et species in genera resolvit, quaeque DIALEKTIKH dicitur, non ab humanis machinationibus sit facta, sed in natura rerum ab auctore omnium atrium, quae vere artes sunt, condita, et a sapientibus inventa, et ad utilitatem sollertis rerum indagis usitata".

(48.) PP IV 780 B, 428; JEAUNEAU cit., 56-57: "Si intentas intellectualium et rationabilium natararum reciprocam copulationem et unitatem inspexeris, invenies profecto et angelicam essentiam in humana, et humanam in angelica constitatam. In omni siquidem quodcunque purus intellectas perfectissime cognoscit, fit, eique unum efficitar".

(49.) PP IV, 825 C, 481; JEAUNEAU cit., 119-120: "Considera ergo extremitates humame naturae veluti cuiuspiam paradisi terminos, sursum versus atque deorsum, extra quos nulla creata intelligitar natura".

(50.) PPIV 769 B-C, 414-415; JEAUNEAU cit., 41-42: "Creata igitur in eo irrationabilitas, et omnes species, omnisque differentia, et proprietas ipsius irrationabilitatis, et omnia quae circa earn naturaliter cognoscuntur, quoniam horum omnium et similium notitia in ipso condita est (...). Quorum omnium vera cognitio humanae naturae insita est, quamvis adhuc inesse ei lateat se ipsam, donee ad pristinam integritatem restituatur, in qua magnitudinem et pulchritudinem imaginis in se conditae purissime intellectura est, et nihil earn latebit ex his quae in se condita sunt, divino lumine ambita et in deum conversa, in quo omnia perspicue contemplabitur".

(51.) Cf. A. WOHLMAN, L'homme, le monde sensible et le peche dans la philosophic de Jean Scot Erigen (Paris, 1987) 32 and f.

(52.) PP IV 777 C-D, 425; JEAUNEAU cit., 53: "Casus quippe illius maximus et miserrimus errat scientiam et sapientiam sibi insitam deserere, et in profundam ignorantiam subnet et creatoris sui labi, quamvis appetitus beatitudinis, quam perdiderat, etiam post casum in ea remansisse intelligatur, qui in ea millo modo remaneret, si se ipsam et deum suum ornnino ignoraret".


History of Philosophy Department

Faculty of Philosophy

John Paul II Catholic University of Lublin

20-950 Lublin (Polonia)


DOI: 10.15581/
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Title Annotation:texto en ingles
Author:Kijewska, Agnieszka
Publication:Anuario Filosofico
Article Type:Ensayo critico
Date:Sep 1, 2016
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