Monday, December 3, 2007

Ss. Thomas and Bonaventure Compared

“St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas use in large part a common vocabulary and handle several philosophical themes common to the thirteenth century. But the meanings of many common terms and the understanding of particular themes are so different in the Bonaventurean and Thomistic syntheses that, as original compositions of philosophical doctrines, they really cannot be reduced fundamentally to a common frame of metaphysical principles. This fact is very evident in the different meanings of act and potency in the two syntheses . . .” For Thomas the former is being and the latter essence; for Bonaventure the former is the act of being given by form where the latter is the foundational existence given by matter. “These different uses of act and potency by the two theologians make their syntheses irreducible not only to a common frame of metaphysics, but also to a common ground in the metaphysical principles of Aristotle. Although the metaphysical insights of St. Bonaventure and St. Thomas are expressed in Aristotelean terms, nevertheless, their personal insights are no more Aristotelean than the metaphysical insights of Aristotle himself are Platonic, and Aristotle expresses his personal insights in many Platonic terms. In our view, therefore, St. Thomas has not corrected a Neoplatonizing Aristoteleanism by deepening the epistemological and metaphysical bases of St. Bonaventure's theology. Though the Thomist reformation of philosophy was not a stage in the discovery of Aristotle by Latin theologians, the transformation acheived by St. Thomas was accomplished on the metaphysical level before it had its effect on the theological level of his thought. St. Thomas and St. Bonaventure approach the truth of the created universe, and of its dependence on God, from the two different bases on which they have built their philosophical edifices. Both theologians, in their philosophical reflexions, have transformed in their own way the Aristotelean principles of act and potency . . ."

--J.F. Quinn, The Historical Constitution of St. Bonaventure's Philosophy, 882-883.


Lee Faber said...

It seems so obviously true, yet it was written so late in the historiography of medieval phil. And I suspect its insights would be accepted by many Thomists.

M. Anderson said...

Hi, this is Michael Anderson (from back at the Scotus Congress). I was wondering if you could propound upon the differences between Bonaventure and Thomas on act and potency? Or point me to some good texts? How do these differences work themselves out through their metaphysics and theology? My main familiarity with this topic is from Paul Spade's handout on Platonic vs. Aristotelian metaphysics; is that more or less the same as the difference between Bonaventure and Aquinas on this issue?

CrimsonCatholic said...

I can't claim to have any real expertise, but it seems exactly right to me. Here's my take on why. Bonaventure's view has more in common with the Byzantine Neoplatonic solution, although with an Augustinian slant (see, e.g., Eriugena, Nicholas of Cusa). St. Thomas and Bl. Duns Scotus, on the other hand, appear to have been genuine conceptual innovators, Aquinas on act as being and Scotus on form/perfection as being.

What I think allowed this conceptual innovation was their ability to lean on a concept of infinity unknown in the Neoplatonic tradition. St. Bonaventure, St. Albertus Magnus, St. Gregory of Nyssa, St. Maximus the Confessor, and St. John Damascene all appear to have deployed Plotinus-style infinity, which is basically this vague equation of infinity with the utter transcendence of form in which an unlimited number of possible expressions are united in one transcendent simplicity. That doesn't really get to just how this can be the case, and it is probably natural that Byzantine philosophers did not ask that question, since to ask the question would have implied some dialectic that would implicitly posit the sort of separation one was denying. Hence, they took it for granted that the question was unanswerable and that it would even be impious to ask it. Even St. Clement of Alexandria, who did poke and prod into the question a little bit in the Christological context, could not figure out how to reconcile the Aristotelian notion of infinity as a privation that could never be actualized with God's own infinity, although to his credit, he did ask the question.

But St. Augustine seems to have grasped that there could be a little more substance there, and that infinity (and its concomitant, divine simplicity) might have some potential as a positive explanatory concept, rather than a purely negative apophatic statement. I think that gloss was picked up in the Western tradition even by the more Neoplatonic thinkers, so that one can see even an anti-Aristotelian Platonist like Nicholas of Cusa advancing arguments about the nature of infinity and its implications. But I think the first quantum leap from the suggestions in Augustine to a robust metaphysical concept took place under Thomas and Scotus, while Thomas applying infinity to the concept of existence and Scotus applying infinity to form/perfection. Before then, there had been no metaphysically rigorous attempt to describe the infinity of God's being in itself, but after Thomas and then Scotus, there were theories advanced on the subject. I think without them, Peter of Spain, Gregory of Rimini, John Buridan, Nicholas of Cusa, Albert of Saxony, and Giordano Bruno never advance their theories of infinity, and perhaps modern science never develops.

So I think I can pinpoint the basis of the metaphysical innovation of Thomas and Scotus over their predecessors. The question is which one of them has the application of infinity right. Is metaphysical infinity, infinite being, properly applied only to existence itself or to form/perfection? Or can the two be reconciled as two sides of the same coin? Those are questions I can't answer, and given the state of Scotist scholarship and metaphysics more generally, I wonder whether they will be answered in my lifetime.

I'm pretty much working without a net here, but the basic thesis is outlined in the following works explicitly addressing the metaphysical uses of divine infinity:

Leo Sweeney, SJ, Divine Infinity in Greek and Medieval Thought (see also his contribution to Augustine: Presbyter Factus Sum).

Arkadi Choufrine, Gnosis, Theophany, Theosis

Elizabeth Brient, The Immanence of the Infinite

I suppose I will just add my voice to yours and Lee's in the tiny chorus hoping for more rigorous metaphysical study of both Scholastic and patristic authors. Being a guy who is pretty much at the mercy of the secondary scholarship in my own ability to learn more about this subject, I really appreciate your work in making Scotus and Bonaventure accessible to the rest of us.

Lee Faber said...

Mr. Anderson...I don't think i can articulate anything myself, at the moment. You might try reading Thomas's De ente et essentia. Also his commentary on bk IX of aristotle's metaphysics would probably be helfpful. There may also be a question or two in De potentia dei. I can't think of any specific place in you read latin? if so, you could read the spiritual matter question in II Sent. d.2 (or 3? ask sullivan) for a start. you could try the breviloquium and itinerarium, though i doubt there is much there.

Lee Faber said...

Mr. Prejean,

It's nice to know these posts of ours don't go out into the electronic void unmarked.

I haven't read Thomas on infinity in quite a while, and there isn't much scholarship on scotus in this area as far as i've ever seen (but I'm sure Richard Cross has written on it somewhere, either in his physics of Duns Scotus or his article on divine substance and the trinity), but then i haven't looked too hard.

I'm not sure of the dichotomy set up between existence vs. form/perfection. Infinity is an intrinsic mode of being for scotus (one of the disjunctive transcendentals, the side applying to God); but it is not itself a perfection, but a mode of the perfection.

Of course the relation between essence and existence is different for Thomas and Scotus, so one's view of who is "correct" about infinity probably hinges on who one thinks is already correct on this other issue.

And then we have the little problem of the two systems being irreconcilable at best (I've been reading Gilson's Jean Duns Scot lately, as well as Garriogu-Lagrange).

CrimsonCatholic said...

I'm not sure of the dichotomy set up between existence vs. form/perfection.

To be clear, I'm not sure there is a dichotomy either. In some sense, both are thinking of infinity as a mode of existence. Thomas explicitly applies infinity to God's mode of existence; Scotus explicitly applies it to perfections. But it's not entirely clear to me even how Thomas's and Scotus's concepts of mode of existence relate to one another, so how they apply the notion of infinity to those respective concepts is even more obscure. Sweeney suggests that Scotus's critique of Thomas misreads Thomas, which introduces another level of complexity, but it may be that Scotus was quite deliberately taking issue with Thomas's position. All I can say at this point is that I am reluctant to oversimplify anything. I don't have my brain around Scotus's metaphysics well enough to say anything one way or the other, so I will reserve judgment.

Speaking of reserving judgment, I submit for your entertainment a fine example of NOT doing so here. My personal favorite:
"The Reformed and Rome share the fundamentally same view of the Trinity with the persons as self subsisting relations of the essence to itself.... This is something that is obvious to anyone who has any familiarity with Medieval Scholasticism in just about any discussion of the real relation that creatures have to God as well as discussions on the divine names."


Michael Sullivan said...

Mr Prejean,

I don't read Energetic Procession anymore--it's too irritating! I've had a number of valuable discussions with you in the past, and with a few others, but on the whole internet "discussion" about these matters has been very frustrating, and those Energetic Orthodox are the worst, precisely because they take so far the attitude that they already know everything they need to about everything. Arrgh. I on the other hand am getting to know enough to know how little I know. So I'm staying out of those sorts of discussions these days and instead quietly doing my part to shed a little illumination in a few dark corners.

Sweeney suggests that Scotus's critique of Thomas misreads Thomas, which introduces another level of complexity, but it may be that Scotus was quite deliberately taking issue with Thomas's position.

Sweeney's book isn't too recent, is it? I rather suspect that, rather than misreading Thomas, more likely Scotus isn't engaging Thomas at all, but has someone else's position in mind, Henry's or Godfrey's perhaps. Thomists generally seem to think that all pre-Thomas thinkers were leading up to him and all post-Thomas thinkers were either expounding or attacking him. But it ain't always so: Scotus in particular has Thomas' positions in the forefront of his mind much less often than one might expect.

Lee Faber said...

Michael beat me to the punch on this one, regarding Sweeney and Scotus. I think the divine infinity book is a collection of his essays.

As for Scotus,The only extended treatment I have seen him give of infinity is in the same context as when he talks about univocity; that is, it is one of the five ways in which he opposes Henry's theories of analogy and conceptualization of God.This is in Ordinatio I d. 3 q. 1-2 n. 58-60 (Vat. ed. III 40-42). He does mention infinity from time to time in the ordinatio (well, i've only read bks 1-3), but never more than a paragraph or two at a time.

Note the following: Tamen conceptus perfectior simul et simplicior, nobis possibilis, est conceptus entis infiniti. [...]'infinitum' non est quasi attributum vel passio entis, sive eius de quo dicitur, sed dicit modum intrinsecum illius entitatis, ita quod cum dico 'infinitum ens', non habeo conceptum quasi per accidens, ex subiecto et passione, sed conceptum per se subiecti in certo gradu perfectionis, scilicet infinitatis [...] Cognitio enim esse divini sub ratione infiniti est perfectior cognitione eius sub ratione simplicitatis, quia simplicitas communicatur creaturis, infinitas autem non, secundum modum quo convenit Deo.

Nevertheless, the concept more simple and perfect, possible to us is the concept of infinite being. "infinite" is not a quasi attribute or attribute of being, or of that of which it is said,but means the intrinsic mode of that entity, so that when I say "infinite being" I do not have a concept quasi per accidens, from subject and attribute, but one of the subject per se in a certain grade of perfection, namely infinity. For cognition of the divine being under the aspect of infinity is more perfect than the cognition of it under the aspect of simplicity, because simplicity is also found among creatures, infinity however not, according to mode in which it is suited to God.

Lee Faber said...

Those quotes are from the statement of his position (n. 60;except the last one), the remaining paragraphs discuss Henry's view of the intellect engaged in the act of "suffossitas", digging through concepts to get at the subject. So, no Thomas. But who knows. maybe there is something on thomas and infinity in the (unedited) reportationes.

Lee Faber said...

One more thing: That's right, Scotus says creatures are simple, too!

Michael Sullivan said...


good point! I should take note of this. Thanks.

CrimsonCatholic said...

I followed up on Sweeney (the collection was from the 90s, but the substance of the work may have been earlier), and I believe that Mr. Sullivan is correct. Sweeney follows Allan Wolter's interpretation of Scotus, and he prepares his own translation with Wolter's in mind. The argument Sweeney examines is from Ordinatio, aka, Opus Oxoniense. Sweeney says in a footnote, "Wolter attributes this theory, which Scotus himself calls 'via inutilis', to Aquinas and to Henry of Ghent."

I think Sweeney's argument does have some force in really distinguishing Scotus and Thomas thought, because Scotus says:
It is also argued that, if form is limited with reference to matter, where there is no matter, there the form is infinite. This is the fallacy of asserting the consequent, just as is the following: a body is limited with reference to a body; therefore, if a body is not limited with reference to another body, it will be infinite; hence, the outermost heaven will be actually infinite. This is the fallacy of Physics, Book III.

This seems to be clearly a mistake by Scotus, because it is universally agreed both that Aristotle denied the existence of any actual infinite, and this is actually an argument that there is no such thing as an actual infinite. It would simply say that the form is potentially infinite, not that it was actually infinite. And indeed, that is precisely how Aquinas views the potential of immaterial entities relative to God (Gregory of Nyssa as well, for that matter). Because their mode of existence is mixed with potency, their mode of existence is only potentially infinite.

Scotus uses the "fallacy" he has identified to justify the proposition that "an angelic essence is finite by a priority of of nature and not by esse, which accordingly does not make it finite in a subsequent manner. To put the argument briefly in one sentence, I say that every finite essence is such absolutely and prior to any reference it may have to another essence."

My inclination is to say that Scotus is just wrong, because his argument doesn't prove what it purports to prove about actual and potential infinity. By Scotus's argument, angels and humans would not even be potentially infinite, and that seems to be essential for the beatific vision in both patristic and Thomist thought. That makes sense for Scotus, because he views infinity as a mode of a perfection. God has things in this infinite mode and other natures simply don't. But that seems like just the contrast I mentioned, between how Scotus views infinity as a mode of perfection and Aquinas views it as a mode of actuality (probably better than existence). Because Aquinas has creatures mixed with potency, they are only potentially infinite, but Scotus has no place for potential infinity. It seems relatively clear that Aristotle did, so he misunderstands Aristotle, and his argument doesn't prove what he thinks it does.

I have to say that I'm a bit concerned about Scotus's denial of the potential infinity of creatures, because that does seem to be an essential element of Christian soteriology. Both the Cappadocians and Aquinas insist on this in their account of Heaven. Perhaps Scotus explains this in a different way, so the lack of potential infinity is inessential in his explanation. But in any case, it appears clear from the difference on Aristotle that Scotus does not have the same concept of infinity that Aquinas does.

At any rate, it explains why Scotus says that angels are simple and not infinite, while Aquinas says that they are both simple and potentially infinite, but not actually infinite. That would appear to explain Mr. Faber's statement that "cognition of the divine being under the aspect of infinity is more perfect than the cognition of it under the aspect of simplicity, because simplicity is also found among creatures, infinity however not, according to mode in which it is suited to God."

Good discussion, fellas.

Lee Faber said...

Mr. Prejean,
I couldn't find the passage you quoted, though it doesn't seem that problematic to me; Scotus does seem to be correct in his assessment of there being a fallacy, logically speaking (and not knowing the context). But his logical claim that you quoted doesn't rule out a potential infinite, and I would imagine he has some further argument against it. And not knowing the context, or the passage he might be referring to in Aristotle, I can't speak to his error. Fans of Henry of Ghent sometimes accuse him of misrepresenting Henry. Maybe he misrepresented Aristotle. But don't think he is interpreting Aristotle. He is not writing to explain A. A. is an authority, but Scotus criticizes him freely from time to time. He gives more weight to explicit conciliar and magisterial statements and in a much lesser degree to the franciscan theological tradition.

I'm also not convinced that Scotus differs much from Thomas on the actual infinite; Scotus would agree that infinity is a mode of actuality. potency and act are disjunctive transcendentals for Scotus, and so in God they would have the intrinsic mode of infinity. infinity=mode of actuality in both cases.

Perhaps I really have integrated Scotus into my own thought, because I find anything created being potentially infinite unintelligible. Maybe its a metaphor. In the late 13th century there was a fierce battle over the nature of intelligible species in cognition. Henry denies there very existence because he doesn't think God can inform an intellect. I am actually doing an exam question on this, so will have more to say later. Thomas himself seems to be vaugue as to which intellect God "informs". Capreolus I think eventually establishes that it is the potential one. But Scotus and Henry reject intelligible species in the beatific vision. Don't ask me what HEnry does yet, but Scotus uses his notion of intuitive cognition, which is used in the definition of the beatific vision in Benedictus Deus, by Benedict XII in 1336 (I was reading some Thomist book on the subject, who wanted to ignore the scotist origin and simply said the term "intuitive" was "in the air" at the time). intuitive cognition is of the object simply as existing, or as present (yet another reason for modern types to hate scotus: Metaphysics of Presence, oh my!) Long story short, scotus doesn't need potential infinity in creatures, if this is seen as necessary to the beatific vision.

Thanks for posting; this is definitely the most lively conversation on the blog to date.

Lee Faber said...

This is the last time I blog at 3 am.; my spelling is terrible!

CrimsonCatholic said...

My grammar trying to post before I went to work yesterday morning was no better, but I concluded that keeping the discussion rolling was worth the embarrassment!

Infinite potency actually makes sense to me if one conceives it not as matter (vulnerability to chance) but as dynamis in the sense of faculty (power to produce effects in other things). That would be consistent with how I understand medieval theology of omnipotence that began with St. Peter Damian. Effectively, it is the absence of limitations terminating one's relations to anything else. See, e.g., Toivo J. Holopainen, Dialectic & Theology in the Eleventh Century (which is, apart from a few theological cavils, an excellent response to the conspiracy theories about the "Frankish" rationalist influence in medieval theology BTW).

In that case, it seems that Scotus has followed St. Bonaventure (and perhaps more generally, the school of Paris). That is interesting to me, because I found Sweeney's explanation of Bonaventure troubling in some ways. Sweeney says in DI that Bonaventure had a concept of infinity as freedom from act and potency, but that he never spelled it out in detail. What seems more likely to me now is that he actually had a rigorous conceptual distinction between potential and actual infinity, and that the former was clearly associated with matter while the latter was clearly associated with God's immunity to limitation. IOW, Bonaventure would not deny the potential infinity of creatures; he would simply associate it with matter or spiritual matter. And of course, that would fit just fine with Scotus.

That's fascinating. If we think of potency as both susceptibility to change AND YET ordered to some end by the form, then infinity applied to potency is what gives God unlimited power (omnipotence), and this is actually the same thing as infinity applied to form, i.e., infinite perfection, since the infinite form removes all sense of limitation from the power conveyed by potency. It is the disjunct between this mode of existence and finite form, which limits the mode of activity and makes infinity only potential (i.e., form/matter composition) that differentiates creature from Creator. And therefore, it makes sense for Scotus to say that it is the intrinsic limitation of form, not the limitation by matter, that defines creaturely limits. And because God's power is unlimited, God knows them simply by the range of His power, so that God's knowledge itself qua divine ideas does not include the limitations (i.e., God is not intrinsically limited by knowing the limited forms).

I still think Scotus got Aristotle wrong, because I think Aristotle was trying to say that material forms must be potentially infinite and not actually infinite. But that doesn't appear to imply any denial of potential infinity on Scotus's part, so the error doesn't impair Scotus's conclusions. Perhaps he simply read his own metaphysics back in Aristotle to some degree and misunderstood the conclusion on that account.

This has been particularly helpful for me, because I've always found mystical visions pesky in Thomist epistemology. Maritain's attempts to account for them purely in terms of supernatural charity rather than the mind always seemed a bit unsatisfying, which is why I preferred the Seraphic Doctor as a guide on this point. And I noticed Maritain did include some ad hoc notions of intuition from time to time that I would like to have seen explained in more detail. And while I had noticed before that Benedictus Deus did not commit to the Thomist view of the beatific vision as an intelligible species, I had NOT made the observation regarding intuitive knowledge that you had, likely because I was unfamiliar with Scotist epistemology.

You might just bring me around yet. This has touched on some concepts that have troubled me, and if there are better ideas out there, I'm all ears.

Michael Sullivan said...


from your remarks I'm not sure that you're properly distinguishing between the kind of potential infinity that would be potentially an actual infinity, and the kind of potential infinity that could never become actual, such as the infinite divisibility of matter or the infinite addibility of numbers. Surely on all counts creatures can be potentially infinite in the latter respect.

Mr Prejean,

Re: St Bonaventure, some years back I wrote a paper comparing St B's concept of infinity with St Thomas' in the context of the argument over the eternity of the world. I recall that there was something interesting there, but I don't recall exactly what it was. I'll see if I can dig it up.

Lee Faber said...

Michael, you're right, I was thinking mainly of the quote regarding the fallacy of the consequent and Aristotle, and Mr. Prejean's mentin of the beatific vision. Scotus would probably admit the distinction.

Mr. Prejean,

this 'dunamis' sounds like active potency, right?

The remark on Scotus on spiritual matter was intriguing; does Sweeney comment on it or someone else that you have read that I have not? As far as I"ve ever seen, Scotus neither affirms nor denies the doctrine, nor have I seen anything in his metaphysics that would secretly rule it out.

Also (And I am really not trying to sound like the energetic easterners, but since you made some recommendations I will too...and I do intend to read that sweeney book), you might enjoy reading Christian Trottmann's book "La Vision Beatifique" a monstrous 800 page work on the beatific vision from the fathers to Benedictus Deus and Benedict XII (its the slimmed-down version of his even more monstrous dissertation). My french isn't too good but its pretty easy even for me. Also, if you want some fireworks on potency, try Scotus' Questions on the Metaphysics Book IX. Allan Wolter did an English-Latin facing page edition, of the whole thing, which is still in print from Franciscan Institute Publications. In my opinion, it is also the best introduction to the serious study of Scotus.

CrimsonCatholic said...

Yes, active potency is what I have in mind. Sweeney didn't mention anything about spiritual matter one way or another; that was just me thinking out loud. I was just thinking that if God was the only entity with infinite(ly) active potency, then all those created entities with finite form would necessarily be unactualized in some respect. But come to think of it, that wouldn't necessarily imply spiritual matter. I suppose it could be like an "obediential potency," a potency that has to be triggered by an external power. Anyway, as simply my musings, no warranty of correctness is expressed or implied!

French is one language that I actually can read, albeit more slowly than English, so I'll see if I can procure Trottman's book and definitely Wolter on potency. And Mr. Sullivan, if you can email that paper to me if you locate it, I'd be much obliged. My email address is in my profile at the blog.

And BTW, y'all can feel free to call me Jonathan! I try to avoid lapsing into informality when involved in public discussions so that I don't offend anyone, but I'm certainly not offended when people speak to me on a first-name basis.

Michael Sullivan said...

Mr Prejean,

a search reveals that my paper no longer exists in electronic form--I had catastrophic computer issues a couple years back--but I still have a hard copy. I'll try to post relevant extracts in one or more posts on the main page here when I get the time.

Using last names doesn't strike me as excessively formal or impersonal; at my college it was the rule to always so address people, teachers as well as fellow students, often even outside of formal classroom settings. So when engaged in serious discussion it's what I'm used to.

CrimsonCatholic said...

Using last names doesn't strike me as excessively formal or impersonal; at my college it was the rule to always so address people, teachers as well as fellow students, often even outside of formal classroom settings.

I thank you for your explanation, and I do not myself view the formality as excessive. I only did not want to impose formality where it would not fit naturally. I agree that such a "culture of respect" (for lack of a better term) is particularly appropriate when discussing contentious matters of scholarship in order to avoid anyone taking the discussion personally.

Speaking of contentious matters of scholarship, I located a copy of Trottmann's book, and along the way, I also came across this book by Michael Sylwanowicz (it can also be previewed on Google Books). It looks like a good read for someone who is skeptical about what modern analytic philosophy attributes to Scotus (which I am, thanks to Messrs. Faber and Sullivan) and who would like to read a survey of the important concepts in Scotist metaphysics, so I am adding it to my reading list as well.

CrimsonCatholic said...

Oh, and I forgot to say thanks in advance for whatever you get a chance to post from that paper!

Lee Faber said...

I went to a regular college, so will refer to you as such if you prefer.

As for Trottmann, you should look at the book review of my dread master, the editor of the Societe pour l'Etude de Philosophie Medievale, Kent Emery, Jr. It's "A Forced March to Beatitude: Christian Trottmann's Histoire of the Beatific Vision" in Vivarium 37 (1999), 258-281.

I started the sylwanowicz book several months ago, but never finished. synchronic contingency doesn't thrill me to the very marros as it does RO and Antonie Vos. Lately I've been thinking more about univocity, the formal distinction (I'm in the early stages of editing the "Logica Scoti"), and the plurality vs. unicity of substantial forms debate. And the Will/voluntarism/did scotus change his mind between oxford and paris question.

CrimsonCatholic said...

RO never met an idea, particularly a faddish idea, that it couldn't abuse, but the caveat is noted.

Lee Faber said...

My remark wasn't meant as a criticism of the sylwanowicz book; it seemed a fine, respectable scholarly study. Vos is probably fine as well, though he is really gung-ho about synchronic contingency as the key to Scotus, or at least Scotus' most imporant innovation. I'm slightly suspicious as to the reality of any such "key" to Scotus. When one reads the various summary articles that Prof. Dumont has written on Scotus, one finds the phrase "one of the most innovating features" of x discipline a lot, which is I think the way to go. He is simply reformulating and developing the tradition, in all areas. aristotle, avicenna, and the traditional franciscan positions all go into the pot. such at least is my humble opinion.

Anonymous said...

Gilson writes:

"According to the motto of St.Bonaventure, one must always begin with the centre and the centre is no other than Christ: ipse est medium omnium scientiarum. It is not surprising then that he should have criticized this or that thesis of St. Thomas---the thesis for instance of the unity of the form in man, or that of the simplicity of angelic substances, etc...

"Thus for [St. Bonaventure], the philosophy of St. Albert and St. Thomas was of necessity in error because while it situated Christ in the centre of theology, it did not situate Him in the centre of philosophy; and we might show by a great number of examples to what degree this problem appears in St. Bonaventure's eyes as dominating the whole discussion". ---The Philosophy of St. Bonaventure, Etienne Gilson, St. Anthony Guild press, Patterson, NJ, 1963, Pp28f