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THE QUEST FOR CERTAINTY IN BONAVENTURE I The quest for certainty is one of the basic problems which gave orientation to many of the fundamental notions and theories in the thought of Saint Bonaventure. The whole intellectual life of Saint Bonaventure resolved itself in a perpetual quest for certainty, for necessary and plausible reasons, that would give him some clear and convincing insight into the inner-intelligibility and the cogent evidence of the truths so firmly and irrevocably held through faith on the authority of God manifesting his truth through divine revelation as expressed in the Sacred Scriptures and determined by the Church. The doctrine of divine illumination which was brought about to explain and justify our success in achieving the quest for certainty plays a central role in the thought of Saint Bonaventure, being "a sort of leit-motiv, present everywhere and constantly recalled"1 which pervades and permeates the whole of his speculations.2 For a Franciscan of the type of Saint Bonaventure in whom unction and science united to help him fulfil his vocation as a Christian seeking above all in knowledge, in love and in service the union with God, it was the whole man, body and soul, in his natural and supernatural life, who must pursue the quest for perfection in truth for the mind and in peace of the soul.3 Saint Bonaventure the believer, the philosopher, the 1 Et. Gilson, The Philosophy of Saint Bonaventure, tr. Illtyd Trethowan and F. J. Sheed, New York, Sheed and Ward, 1938, p. 338. Cf. French ed., La philosophie de saint Bonaventure, Paris, Vrin, ist ed., 1924, p. 373 ; 2nd ed., 1943, p. 312: "On remarquera cependant l'insistance particulière avec laquelle cette thèse est formulée dans la doctrine bonaventurienne, où elle joue le rôle d'une sorte de thème conducteur, partout présent et sans cesse rappelé." 2 Cf. J.-M. Bissen, L'exemplarisme divin selon saint Bonaventure, Paris, Vrin, 1929, p. 176 : "La doctrine de l'illumination divine joue chez lui le rôle de thème conducteur; toute sa spéculation en est comme pénétrée." B. refers to R. Guardini, Die Lehre des hl. Bonaventura von der Erlösung, Düsseldorf, L. Schwann, 1921, p. 4: "Diese Lehre (vom lumen mentis, der Erkenntnis im Lichte Gottes) durchdringt Bonaventuras ganze Spekulation." 3Cf. Hin., I, 1—8, (Quaracchi critical edition, V. 296—298). Cf. ?. 4: "Secundum hunc triplicem progressum mens nostra tres habet aspectus principales. Unus est ad corporalia exteriora, secundum quem vocatur animalitas seu sensualitas; alius intra se et in se, secundum quem dicitur 104 The Quest for Certainty in Bonaventure105 theologian, the mystic, the imitator of Saint Francis of Assisi and of Christ, strove with all his being to ascend to the possession of truth and peace in the contemplation of God.4 Thus it is that beyond the humanly acquired and developed wisdom of purely natural and philosophical knowledges, he seeks to be brought up to the partaking of Christian wisdom whether theological or mystical.5 The basic elements to be considered in the pursuit of the quest for certainty, which in Saint Bonaventure will find its fulfilment in the restful quiet produced by the underspiritus ; tertius supra se, secundum quern dicitur mens. — Ex quibus omnibus disponere se debet ad conscendendum in Deum, ut ipsum diligat ex tota mente, ex toto corde et ex tota anima, in quo consistit perfecta Legis observatio et simul cum hoc sapientia Christiana." Cf. n. 6: "Juxta igitur sex gradus ascensionis in Deum sex sunt gradus potentiarum animae, per quos ascendimus ab imis ad summa, ab exterioribus ad intima, a temporalibus conscendimus ad aeterna, scilicet sensus, imaginatio, ratio, intellectus, intelligentia et apex mentis seu synderesis scintilla. Hos gradus in nobis habemus plantâtes per naturam, deformatos per culpam, reformatos per gratiam; purgandos per justitiam, exercendos per scientiam, perficiendos per sapientiam ." Cf. n. 8: "Qui igitur vult in Deum ascenderé necesse est, ut vitata culpa deformante naturam, naturales potentias supradictas exerceat ad gratiam reformantem, et hoc per orationem; ad justitiam purificantem, et hoc in conversatione ; ad scientiam illuminantem, et hoc in meditatione; ad sapientiam perficiendam, et hoc in contemplatione. Sicut igitur...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 104-227
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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