Wednesday, March 30, 2011

St Bonaventure, Univocity, and Analogy

L’être désigne dans les créatures une perfection que n’est pas analogique, mais qui est celle d’un genre; il faut donc dire que la matière se retrouve, au sens propre du mot, dans tous les êtres concrets. C’est là, nous a-t-il semblé, un des points importants de l’argumentation de saint Bonaventure et qui nous servira à l’opposer tout à l’heure à celle de saint Thomas. Dans la philosophie bonaventurienne, l’être est sans doute une notion analogique, mais c’est seulement lorsqu’on considère la communauté qu’elle désigne de Dieu à la créature. A l’intérieur du domaine des créatures, elle redevient une notion univoque.

"Being designates [for St Bonaventure] a perfection in creatures which is not analogical, but which belongs to a genus; one must then say that matter in the proper sense of the word is found in all concrete beings. This is, it seems to us, one of the most important points in St Bonaventure's argument by which we may compare it to that of St Thomas. In Bonaventurian philosophy, being is without doubt an analogical concept, but this is only when one considers the community between God and creature which it designates. Within the domain of creatures, it becomes a univocal concept."

--Aimé Forest, La Structure métaphysique du concret selon Saint Thomas d'Aquin, 118.


Lee Faber said...

I would want some evidence of that Bonaventure thinks being is a genus. and what does it mean to say that in the domain of creatures it is univocal? Does this mean between substance and accident, or between Socrates and Plato?

Michael Sullivan said...

To tell you the truth, I copied down this bit a couple of years ago when researching the old diss., just because I thought it was interesting. I didn't preserve the context or citations, if there were any.

But when he says that being is a perfection that belongs to a genus, he means that every creature exists in the same sense, as a compound of quod est and quo est, potency and act, matter and form, etc. Both angels and men belong to the ultimate genus "substance" and so the same metaphysical rules apply to them (as opposed to in Thomas); accidents inhere in them the same way, they're individuated the same way, their accidents are not of radically different sorts, etc.

As to whether Bonaventure would say that being is univocal or analogous between substance and accidents, I don't recall where or if this comes up in him. Certainly he wouldn't deny the distinction between a being in itself and a being in another, etc.

Renan Santos said...

It is important to note here that Bonaventure posited between God and Creation a different kind of analogy other than those kinds commonly discussed among the scholastics. He dealt with an analogy between two terms without the need of a third one. He called it analogy of attribution or exemplarity (since it comes from the most elevate kind of relationship, that between an "exemplar" and an "exemplatum").

I presume that such an analogy, the way Bonaventure has posed it, was his most original contribution to philosophy, but so unfortunately neglected.