Volume 21, 2018
The Medieval Concept of Creation: Causality or Emanation?
The Case of Johannes Scottus Eriugena
The philosophy of Johannes Scottus Eriugena is normally identified with late antique/early medieval Platonism, which has a very distinctively emanationist cosmological model. The concept of causality, on the other hand, is generally identified with Aristotelianism, which was not at all common in the early medieval West, due, amongst other things, to the lack of most of Aristotle’s texts. However, causality is an important concept for Eriugena: it is the link via “creation”, which allows the creature to know the otherwise utterly transcendent God. This particular sense of causality as a structure of creation, distinct alike from specifically Aristotelian causality and Platonic emanation is something Eriugena inherited from Maximus the Confessor, who also uses it as a structure of participation. This paper examines the background to Eriugena’s use of causality, before examining particular structures of causality, i.e., God as the First and Final cause, the primordial causes as formal and efficient cause, and how they help Eriugena balance a very strong negative theology with a very strong model of participation, and concluding.