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American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly

Volume 85, Issue 1, Winter 2011
Bonadventure

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1. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 85 > Issue: 1
Timothy B. Noone Editor’s Introduction
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It is my pleasure to present here ten essays devoted to one of the greatest of medieval philosophers, St. Bonaventure. Quite often, Bonaventure is mentioned prominently within histories of medieval philosophy only to be subsequently ignored; his thought is usually deemed too mystical or theological for serious philosophical reflection and analysis. I am happy to say that the present collection shows Bonaventure’s thought as engaging worthwhile issues both in the medieval and in the contemporary context. I hope that this collection may pique interest in the thought of the Seraphic Doctor, whose writings are now being translated into most modern languages, including English. But since the life and writings of Bonaventure are frequently not as familiar as those of his exact contemporary St. Thomas Aquinas, a brief overview of his life and writings are also in order prior to an overview of the essays presented here.
2. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 85 > Issue: 1
Joshua C. Benson Bonaventure’s De reductione artium ad theologiam and Its Early Reception as an Inaugural Sermon
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This essay further substantiates the author’s earlier thesis that St. Bonaventure’s De reductione was the second half (or resumptio) of his inaugural lecture atParis. After reviewing the central aspect of that thesis, the essay further shows how an unedited inaugural sermon, Fons sapientiae Verbum Dei in excelsis (found in Vatican Burghesiani 157) received the De reductione in its earliest form, particularly in its use of specific authorities and its division of the lights of knowledge. The discovery of this sermon further confirms in its reception of the De reductione that the work was originally an inaugural lecture. The essay then further explores the purpose and uniqueness of the De reductione as an inaugural lecture by comparing it to Fons sapientiae.
3. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 85 > Issue: 1
Michelle Blohm The Feminine and Masculine as Principles of Ascent in the Itinerarium mentis in Deum
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Bonaventure in his Itinerarium mentis in Deum traces the mystical journey of the spiritual wayfarer from the state of man posterior to the Fall of Adam and Eveto union with the Trinity as a partaker of the inter-Trinitarian love life. This journey takes the form of an ascent characterized by a Procline and Augustinian influenced ontology. I argue that the first two levels of the three-tiered ascent are understood ontologically as feminine and masculine principles, or evaluative metaphors, and mirror the coinciding of the opposites of Good and Being in Bonaventure’s Trinitarian theology. Furthermore, the process of the ascent is operative by means of yearning, or desire, acting as a unitive force in the ascent. The ascent of the Itinerarium is best realized in the person of Francis of Assisi upon whose very corpus is the ascent impressed according to the signs of the crucified Christ, the stigmata.
4. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 85 > Issue: 1
Suzanne Metselaar The Structural Similarity between the Itinerarium mentis in Deum and the Collationes in Hexaemeron with Regard to Bonaventure’s Doctrine of God as First Known
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In this article, I provide a close analysis of the resolutions to God as first known in Bonaventure’s Itinerarium mentis in Deum and the Collationes in Hexaemeron. Hardly any methodological reflection has been given to the fact that there are two accounts of God as first known in each of these works. Myanalysis shows that there exists a structural similarity between the Itinerarium and the Hexaemeron with regard to their treatment of Deus primum cognitum. In both texts, Bonaventure’s doctrine on God as first known exhibits a dynamic character, which I relate to the fact that both texts present a spiritual discourse dealing with the gradual transformation of the soul, in which the resolutions are embedded. Each of the two resolutions is part of a different stage of the development ofknowledge that corresponds to this transformation.
5. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 85 > Issue: 1
Wouter Goris Two-Staged Doctrines of God as First Known and the Transformation of the Concept of Reality in Bonaventure and Henry of Ghent
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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 presentcontribution analyzes two versions of this doctrine formulated by Bonaventure († 1274) and Henry of Ghent († 1293). In reaction to the preceding discussion inParis, they advance a doctrine of God as first known that distinguishes the relative priority of God within the first known transcendental concepts from the absolutepriority 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, thisconcept of reality gives rise to the very idea of neutral existence against which Levinas objects.
6. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 85 > Issue: 1
H. Francie Roberts-Longshore The Word and Mental Words: Bonaventure on Trinitarian Relation and Human Cognition
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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.
7. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 85 > Issue: 1
Andreas Speer Illumination and Certitude: The Foundation of Knowledge in Bonaventure
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The paper aims to relocate Bonaventure within the paradigm shift towards the Aristotelian conception of philosophy, which also had a deep impact on theology.But the standard narratives of a mere antagonism overlook to what extend the meeting of both the Aristotelian and the Augustinian tradition led to a mutualinfluence and transformation. This is especially true in epistemological matters, as I will show in this paper dealing with the central question of the foundation ofknowledge and its certainty. The paper focusses on three topics: the rationes aeternae, illumination and exemplarism, and analysis (reductio) vis-à-vis the question of the first known. While Bonaventure’s claim for a foundation of our understanding based on natural reasoning goes beyond the Aristotelian standard model, he also displays the critical attitude of the Augustinian epistemology with respect to natural human understanding, which reveals the boundaries of philosophical wisdom. His epistemological criticism leads to a fundamental critique of a metaphysics of the Aristotelian type from the point of view of an exemplaristic metaphysics, which goes hand in hand with a renewed concept of a sapientia christiana.
8. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 85 > Issue: 1
Timothy B. Noone Saint Bonaventure and Angelic Natural Knowledge of Singulars: A Source for the Doctrine of Intuitive Cognition?
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In this article, I argue that St. Bonaventure’s account of angelic natural knowledge of singulars is a remote source for the doctrine of intuitive cognition as this doctrine is later articulated in the writings of John Duns Scotus and his contemporaries. The article begins by reminding the reader of the essential elementsof intuitive cognition, then surveys the treatment of angelic knowledge in Bonaventure’s predecessors and contemporaries, and ends with an analysis ofBonaventure’s own teaching. The point on which Bonaventure anticipates Scotus’s teaching is his insistence that angels know truths about singulars by directlycognizing the existence and presence of singulars without receiving any species in the direct cognitive act.
9. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 85 > Issue: 1
Christopher Cullen, S.J. Bonaventure on Nature before Grace: A Historical Moment Reconsidered
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This essay investigates Bonaventure’s account of the original state of human nature and his reasons for holding the theory that God created human beingswithout grace in an actual, historical moment. Bonaventure argues that positing a historical moment before grace is more congruent with the divine order, precisely because it emphasizes the distinction between nature and grace and delays the conferral of grace until man’s desire is elicited and his willingness to cooperate in the divine plan made clear. Bonaventure incorporates Aristotle’s teleological view of nature into his thought while managing to avoid a view of nature as autonomous. He grounds nature’s heteronomy in the exigencies of natural desires, which dispose our nature to remain radically and intrinsically orderable to a good that transcends those natural powers (albeit not actually so ordered). Bonaventure’s theory thus affirms the integrity of nature, while also emphasizing the total gratuity of grace. He thinks human nature is suspended between its own finitude and a radical capacity for the transcendent that waits upon divine agency.
10. American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly: Volume > 85 > Issue: 1
John R. White St. Bonaventure and the Problem of Doctrinal Development
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The problem of doctrinal development, first formulated by John Henry Newman, is usually assumed to be a distinctly modern theological issue, since itoriginates in modern scholarly history and its application to problems of doctrine. My thesis, in contrast, is that St. Bonaventure’s theology of history as presentedin his Hexaemeron is also a theory of doctrinal development—though it appears some six hundred years prior to Newman’s Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. I begin by discussing the relationship between theology of history and doctrinal development, from which I conclude Bonaventure’s theology of history is a theory of doctrinal development. Secondly, I discuss Bonaventure’s theory and how he uses it to justify the mendicant and Franciscan ways of life. Finally, I develop elements of Cardinal Newman’s theory as points for comparison and evaluation of Bonaventure’s theory.