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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 85, Issue 1, Winter 2011


H. Francie Roberts-Longshore
Pages 99-125

The Word and Mental Words: Bonaventure on Trinitarian Relation and Human Cognition

If, as Augustine taught, the rational powers of the mind are made in the image of the Trinity, it stands to reason that there would be discernible parallels between trinitarian relations and epistemological relations. According to Bonaventure, the Trinity in general, and the Word in particular, provides the model and guarantor for human knowledge. Since knowledge is inherently relational, the basic relations of causality, similitude, and assimilation and expression that Bonaventure finds operative within the Trinity are also key elements of human knowledge. The human mind most images the Trinity when it operates according to exemplar causality, expressing its habitual knowledge as a pattern according to which it fashions objects in the world. I suggest that no philosophical description of human cognition can be successful without accounting for the role that causality, similitude, and expression play in human knowledge.

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