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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 85, Issue 1, Winter 2011

Bonadventure

Wouter Goris
Pages 77-97

Two-Staged Doctrines of God as First Known and the Transformation of the Concept of Reality in Bonaventure and Henry of Ghent

The medieval doctrine of God as first known presents a privileged moment in a tradition of classical metaphysics that runs from Plato to Levinas. The present contribution analyzes two versions of this doctrine formulated by Bonaventure († 1274) and Henry of Ghent († 1293). In reaction to the preceding discussion in Paris, they advance a doctrine of God as first known that distinguishes the relative priority of God within the first known transcendental concepts from the absolute priority of God over these. Although their two-staged doctrines of God as first known structurally agree, they vary in their strategical embedding. Underlying this variation is a transformation of the concept of reality that abstracts actuality as a standard and criterion to the determination of the first known. As such, this concept of reality gives rise to the very idea of neutral existence against which Levinas objects.

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