The Logic of Ultimacy: Negativity and Unknowing in Pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite and in Johannes Scottus, Eriugena

Dissertation, University of Toronto (Canada) (1988)
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Within the orbit of Christian history, pseudo-Dionysius the Areopagite is the foremost representative of destructive, or negative, theology. Though he did not originate the systematic negativity by which his approach to divinity is most to be distinguished, none was more rigorous than he in its detail of application. His objects were those of subordinating dogmatic authority to the higher claims of mystical deification and, in so doing, of finding some ground in ultimate principles by reference to which a conflicted plurality of beliefs could be reconciled with unity. His logic of ultimacy, under the influence of Proclus and, perhaps, also of Damascius, is descended from Plato and from Aristotle; and, in the form in which he left it, it passed into the philosophical outlook of Johannes Scottus, Eriugena, his earliest Latin expositor. ;The theory of propositions, that is, of logoi apophantikoi, assumed by the Corpus Dionysiacum as well as by the Periphyseon of Eriugena is fundamentally Aristotelian. It proposes a logic of finite terms in respect of which no principle unqualified by limits of any kind can be articulated. To the extent, accordingly, that pseudo-Dionysius and Eriugena identify ultimacy with unrestricted unity, their premonitions of God as the metaphysical embodiment of ignorance are consistent with the Aristotelian model of science



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