Franciscan Studies 68:39-81 (2010)

In lieu of an abstract, here is a brief excerpt of the content:A great deal of ink has been spilled on the topic of "Augustinian illumination" over the past two hundred years. Why add more? Although there have been, and continue to be, disagreements over the philosophical relevance of "Augustinian illumination," a standard picture of "Augustinian illumination" is widespread in journal articles, encyclopedias, and commentaries on medieval philosophy. "Augustinian illumination" is widely understood as that Platonic account of knowledge that holds that absolutely certain, necessary truth is attained not via the senses, which are mutable and thus incapable of delivering certainty, but via awareness of the eternality of the divine ideas in the mind of God. Further, the secondary literature has routinely described "Augustinian illumination" as offering an account of knowledge that is different from and incompatible with Aristotle's emphasis on the necessity of input from sensible species in our knowledge of the natures of material things. Finally, the literature has consistently represented Bonaventure as continuing "Augustinian illumination," and Aquinas as rejecting it, and has represented Bonaventure and Aquinas as in agreement that Aristotle and Augustine's cognitive psychologies are incompatible.I have argued elsewhere that this standard representation of "Augustinian illumination" is perhaps best seen as the product of the era of the retrieval of medieval philosophy in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century. Here, my focus is on two texts long considered central to Bonaventure's continuation of "Augustinian illumination" and Aquinas's rejection of it: Bonaventure's Question IV of the Quaestiones disputatae de scientia Christi , and Aquinas's Summa theologiae Ia. 84, 1-8 . My argument is that Aquinas and Bonaventure do not interpret Augustine as following a Platonic epistemological schema, nor do they agree that Aristotle and Augustine hold contradictory cognitive psychologies. Instead, both Bonaventure and Aquinas interpret Augustine as consciously rejecting Platonic epistemology and as ripe for assimilation with Aristotelian epistemological givens, including the notion that paradigmatic knowledge proceeds from the senses, and both articulate a cognitive psychology that harmonizes Augustinian and Aristotelian elements. In other words, if by "Augustinian illumination" we mean the continuation of a Platonic account of knowledge at odds with an Aristotelian emphasis on the necessity of the senses in the creation of certain knowledge, then at least in these texts, Bonaventure does not continue "Augustinian illumination," nor does Aquinas reject it, because "it" does not exist in their reading or interpretation of Augustine's texts.After some brief remarks about the history of the interpretative strain that has marked the commentary on these texts, I begin with Aquinas's ST Ia 84.1-8 in section I. Although it is chronologically a decade or so later, Aquinas's streamlined treatment of the role of the eternal reasons in the production of scientia sets up a clear comparison with Bonaventure's slightly earlier, longer Quaestiones disputatae de scientia Christi , which I discuss in section II. The similarities between Bonaventure and Aquinas's positions can be seen with greater clarity when contrasted with Henry of Ghent's slightly later treatment in the Summa theologiae, Q. 1, art. 1, 2, which I treat in section III. In particular what emerges is a clear contrast with how Ghent reads and assimilates the Augustinian corpus: Ghent's is an explicitly pro-Platonic Augustine, and his formulation of "illumination" is precisely the reading of Augustine that Bonaventure and Aquinas reject. I conclude with remarks highlighting the similarities in Bonaventure and Aquinas's approach vis a vis Ghent's and suggest the need to revise our notions of thirteenth century approaches to "Augustinian illumination" as well as our narratives regarding the assimilation of Aristotle's epistemological corpus in the middle-decades of the thirteenth-century.Interpretative strainBonaventure's question IV and Aquinas's ST Ia 84, 1-8 have long shown signs of interpretive strain. Detailed commentaries on this section of the Summa often skip over article 5 on the Augustinian eternal reasons entirely, or simply reiterate stock interpretations. Alternatively, it is grudgingly admitted that Question 84 evidences an.
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DOI 10.1353/frc.2010.0004
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