Scotus Erigena: Martyr to philosophy

Quotes from John Deely, Four Ages of Understanding: The First Postmodern Survey of Philosophy from Ancient Times to the Turn of the Twenty-First Century

p. 137 “There is a tale, alleged by William of Malmesbury (C. 1095/6-1143), that Scotus Erigena, ‘a man of clear understanding and amazing eloquence’, went to England in his later years, and there, at a monastery school, was stabbed to death with the iron pens of his students.”

p. 137 “The tale is rendered less credible by want of a motive. Whatever would provoke schoolboys to an attack so vicious? To what noble cause would it make the teacher a martyr? Perhaps Erigena tried to impose on his students his singular view that ‘no one enters heaven except through philosophy’, an effort that could, even today, inspire undergraduates to murder. Martyr to philosophy or not what is certain is that Scotus Erigena died around AD877, and that his name and work have become immortal in the annals of Neoplatonism.”


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