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PORTIO SUPERIOR AND PORTIO INFERIOR RATIONIS IN THE WRITINGS OF ST. BONAVENTURE Like all the other thinkers of the thirteenth century, St. Bonaventure fell heir to a mixed philosophic tradition constituted by elements of Aristotelianism, Neoplatonism, and Augustinianism; and, in the spirit of the age which inspired most, if not all, of the important philosophers and theologians of the time, he attempted to put all three elements in the service of theology. Aristotle's notion of abstraction, Avicebron's theory of spiritual matter and plurality of forms, St.Augustine 's doctrine of illumination — all these and more can be found in the rich corpus of St. Bonaventure's writings. This vast complexity of St. Bonaventure's sources, is brought out most strikingly by a study of the doctrine of portio superior and portio inferior rationis, which appears many times in his works. The purpose of this paper, however, is not simply to indicate his sources, but also to show how he mastered them by developing an idea without ever departing from its original inspiration. St. Bonaventure's principal source in the question of portio superior and portio inferior rationis was undoubtedly St. Augustine, who speaks at length upon the two parts of the reason or of the soul in the De Trinitate: the higher part of the soul has its gaze, as it were, fixed upon the eternal reasons and draws from them its wisdom; the lower part of the soul is turned towards exterior, material things, and, through the science it acquires, guides man in the practical affairs of life1. St. Augustine himself seems to have drawn the idea from Plotinus or from the neoPlatonists who, following Plotinus, held that every soul has two parts: "Something of the lower on the body side, and something of the higher on the side of the Intellectual Principle2." St. Augustine's theory re1 St. Augustine, De Trinitate, XH, 2. Migne, Patrologiae cursus computus, series latina (hereafter cited as PL): 42, 999. 2 Plotinus, Enneads, IV, 8, 8. Translation of S. MacKenna, Plotinus (London, 1921—1930), III, p. 153 332 Portio Superior et Inferior Rationis333 appeared successively, in different forms, in the works of Isaac de Stella8, Alcher4, Richard and Hugh of St. Victor5, and probably influenced many of the famous twelfth century commentators on Boethius, whose distinction between ratio and intelligentia often bears a startling resemblance to St. Augustine's distinction between the two parts of the soul6. The theory also passed directly from Plotinus into the history of Arabian philosophy, for the mediaeval Arabian philosophers were heavily influenced by a work called The Elements of Theology, which they thought was Aristotle's and reverenced accordingly. In reality, this work was by a neo-Platonist, deeply indebted to Plotinus and the Enneads1. Avicenna's division of the power of the soul into virtus sciendi and virtus agendi was undoubtely inspired by the Elements6, and the Latin translation of Avicenna's De anima by a remarkable coincidence describes each power as a fades animae — a term used by St. Augustine 3 Isaac de Stella, De anima. PL: 194, 1879: Posita ergo in medio, anima aliquam cum utroque habere debet convenientiam, et cum summo in suo superiori, et cum imo in suo inferiori. 4 Alcher, De spiritu et anima, xi. PL: 40, 783: Et dividit se ratio in duo, scilicet in seorsum et deorsum; sursum in sapientiam; deorsum in prudentiam; quasi in virum et mulierem, ut vir sit superior et regat,mulier inferior et regatur. 6 Richard of St. Victor speaks of an aspectus tntelligentiae directed towards higher beings and of the aspectus animae concerned with knowledge of corporeal things. See his De gratia contemplationis, I, 3. PL: 196, 67. Compare also St. Augustine's statement, " Quandoquidem de ipsis corporalibus quae sensu corporis sentiuntur ... si bene, ut earn notitiam referai ad finem summi boni..." {De Trinitate, XII, 12. PL: 42, 1007) with Hugh of St. Victor's "Dispositae sunt virtutes aliae inferiores, aliae superiores, ut ab ínferioribus ad superiora ascendendo participes tandem fiat summi boni ..." (Expositio in hierarch. coelest., IX. PL: 175, 1104). ß See, for example, the anonymous manuscript contained in Wilhelm Jansen, Der Kommentar des Clarenbaldus von Arras (Breslau, 1926), p. 7* : Res...


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