Saturday, January 30, 2010

Johannes Scotus Eriugena (c. 815 -877) was an Irish philosopher who, according to some, was "one of the most original thinkers of the entire Middle Ages." He was head of the Palace School in France at the invitation of King Charles the Bald. From William of Malmesbury via Wikipedia:

[King Charles] having asked, Quid distat inter sottum et Scottum? (What separates a sot (drunkard) from an Irishman?) Eriugena replied, Mensa tantum (Only a table).

Ah, those wacky Medieval philosophers. I love the above little anecdote and just had to share it. No wonder Eriugena was on the Irish £5 banknote from 1976 through 1993.

The reason I was reading about Johannes Scotus Eriugena was that I recalled from my college days that he was (apocryphally) stabbed to death by the pens of his students. Whose says philosophy isn't exciting? Today, I imagine he would be stoned to death by students' iPhones.

-- Hulles

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