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THE POSITION AND FUNCTION OF MAN IN THE CREATED WORLD ACCORDING TO SAINT BONAVENTURE CHAPTER II SOURCES OF THE DOCTRINE In order to prove the necessity of man's intermediate position in creation, St. Bonaventura has developed three main arguments.1 We saw in our first chapter how each one of them centers around the idea that a perfect manifestation of the Creator's basic attributes requires a created world that consists of three levels. God displays His power best by creating the two extremely distant realities of spirit and matter, and by joining them together in one intermediate creature. His wisdom is most clearly manifested in a perfect order, which likewise demands a highest, a lowest, and an intermediate member. Finally, His self-diffusing goodness is shown most perfectly in a creation that displays an act of self-communication ; and such an act again requires three elements: a giver that communicates to another, a receiver to which something is communicated , and the actual communication which is achieved through a union of the two. The necessary third, intermediate creature is in each case man who stands between the spiritual and the material realm of creation. The second of these three arguments is the more basic and important one. Seen in the light of this second argument, the first one with its emphasis on the maximum distance appears more like a preparation, and the third one with its idea of communication more like a further elaboration of what takes place in the combination of the two extremes. The preeminence of this second argument is in agreement with the general plan of St. Bonaventure's doctrine which was outlined in the Introduction;2 for this argument deals with the manifestation of the wisdom of the Creator, which is realized in a specific way in the second phase of creation. But the essential feature of this second phase is the 1 II Sent. i. 2. 1. 2. fund. 1—3 (II. 41b—42a). The exposition of these arguments has been given in Chapter I, Sect. B, § 2, a—c. See Franciscan Studies 20 (i960) 295—310. 2 See § ? and 2 (Franc. Stud. 20 [i960] 262—74). 16 Franciscan Studies 1961233 234A. SCHAEFER order among creatures; and this is indeed the predominant idea in the second argument, which thus proves to be of particular importance for the position of man within this order. The decisive part, upon which the validity and cogency of the whole second argument depends, is the principle that "every order necessarily has a lowest level, a highest level, and an intermediate level."3 In our previous explanation of this second argument we have already seen the importance of this principle and the difficulties which it involves, and have tried to explain it by some parallel texts from the works of St. Bonaventura . But it is clear that a more complete answer to the problem of its evidence and justification can be given by showing its historical background; and this task will be undertaken in the present chapter. Since this principle about a necessary medium is basic for our whole study, which centers around the main idea of man's intermediate place and mediating function in creation, the analysis of its sources will prove helpful also for the understanding of the entire dissertation. In our attempt to find the various sources we shall follow the explicit references or other definite indications which the texts themselves contain. We therefore begin with the works of St. Bonaventura. But since the indications we find in them do not lead us far enough, we shall then turn to Alexander of Hales, whose works represent the Franciscan School immediately prior to St. Bonaventura and are the Seraphic Doctor's proximate sources and authorities. Here we shall find several lines of development. Section A Sources Explicitly Mentioned or Implicitly Present in the Works of St. Bonaventure The Meaning of Some Explicit Quotations from Aristotle and their Limits with regard to the Principle a) The Idea of a First, Middle, and Last Element St. Bonaventure himself never mentions a definite source where we could find his principle in that complete form in which we have seen it 8...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1945-9718
Print ISSN
0080-5459
Pages
pp. 233-382
Launched on MUSE
2015-07-01
Open Access
No
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