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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 90, Issue 4, Fall 2016

Victor M. Salas
Pages 635-663
DOI: 10.5840/acpq201691296

Bonaventure on the Vanity of Being
Towards a Metaphysic of Ecclesiastes

This article explores Bonaventure’s metaphysical account of creation, which holds that at the heart of every creature is a sort of metaphysical vanity. That vanity stems from the exigencies of a creation metaphysics in which the creator-God draws every creature out of nothingness into being. But, while God’s creative act sustains the creature in being, the nothingness from which God preserves creation, on Bonaventure’s view, always remains a feature of creation’s metaphysical constitution. In short, for the Seraphic Doctor, because nothingness always resides in creation, creation itself is fundamentally vain. Since vanity is a central theme in the book of Ecclesiastes, concerning which Bonaventure has left us a commentary, I argue that the metaphysical vision he employs to illuminate the nature of vanity as it pertains to creation—both within his biblical commentary and beyond—can be properly described as a “metaphysic of Ecclesiastes.”

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