Gilson, Bonaventure, and the Fall

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s2smodern

It is always interesting to watch contemporary theologians speak to the issue of the Fall.  If one is trying to keep in step with the zeitgeist, it is certainly easier to evade, obfuscate, etc.  For to affirm a real space-time fall means you are saying something about the very heart of reality and history.  You are not just shadow-boxing.  You are putting yourself out there.  You are saying there was an era of history before sin entered the world.  You are saying there was an era where man was not sinful, and that now he is.  You are saying that there was a major shift in the very nature of the created order, brought about by real, historical human disobedience.  You are saying that death entered into a world which up until that time had not known death.  And if you tease that out, well, you have put yourself on the wrong side of history.

So, it was interesting as I read Etienne Gilson on Bonaventure on this issue.  

". . . for the absurdity [i.e., that God created things in the way we currently find them--broken, sinful, etc.] instantly becomes apparent of supposing that a perfect God created man in the state of wretchedness in which he now is." (p. 435)

Bonaventure, Van Til, and Idealism

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s2smodern

Another brief thought on Bonaventure and Van Til and the nature of knowledge.  In the quote from the last post, notice what Gilson says: "things are true in so far as they are conformed to the thought God has of them,  . . ."

I supposed someone could say, "Then is God the ultimate Idealist?"  Interesting thought.  It does seem that (if we are to trust Gilson's summary of Bonaventure at this point) that something is what it is, because of what God "thinks" of it.  Now, God has created all things.  But we could still say that reality is what it is because God--in his thoughts--constitutes all things.  

I have tried long and hard to understand how someone could really be, philosophically, an "Idealist."  Does anyone really think that reality is what it is because the human person "constitutes" reality?  I doubt it.  But God is different, of course and indeed!!!

 

Bonaventure and Van Til

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s2smodern

Greetings Friends.  I am currently reading Van Til (Common Grace and the Gospel), while I am working on a book introducing Augustine.  I have also been reading Etienne Gilson on a variety of things.  With Van Til in mind, it is interesting what Bonaventure could say (I have in front of me Gilson's The Philosophy of St. Bonaventure.  Here is Gilson on Bonaventure:

"Consider Adam's intellect: it was endowed with a perfectly right knowledge. Truth, by St. Anselm's definition, is  rectitude perceptible only by the soul: which signifies that the thought of God is the measure of all things, that things are true in so far as they are conformed to the thought God has of them, and that our thought in turn is true in so far as it is conformed to the nature of things and to the divine model that they reproduce." (p. 432).

Now, I suspect Van Til could pretty much affirm/say this.  Things are the way they are because God has created all things, and he currently is governing all things.  In Van Til's terms, there are no "brute facts."  Rather, all things are--all the way down--"interpreted" facts.  That is, God's understanding or "interpretation" of all things is what a thing (and every thing) is.  

Thus--as Van Til works this out, we come to truly understand something, when we understand it in light of, and in agreement with, and in terms of God's understanding or "interpretation" of what a thing is.  

Augustine on Happiness

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s2smodern

It is good to be reminded of why we read, why we think, why we take classes, why we read a good novel.  Augustine is often a good one to turn our minds to the basics.  For Augustine, we all want to be happy (maybe in another post we can try to push or challenge Augustine here.  We shall see).

But, Augustine is on to something.  He writes:

"Man has no reason to philosophize except with a view to happiness" (The City of God 19.1.3).

Found in Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine, 115.

Augustine on Habit

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s2smodern

Just a quick not from Augustine on habit, from Confessions X.40.65: "How high a price we pay for the burden of habit!"

Indeed!

Augustine and the Things Themselves

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s2smodern

I am simultaneously reading Husserl and Augustine, and some secondary literature on Augustine.  I have also been reading Dallas Willard, who argues that Husserl was not only a realist at the beginning of his career, but remained one throughout his life.  So there are many things bouncing around my mind these days.

Today, in reading Augustine, I discovered this in his On the Literal Interpretation of Genesis:

 "Knowledge, after all, cannot arise unless it is preceded by objects to be known; and these again are first in the Word through which all things were made (Jn 1:3), before they are in all the things that have been made." (IV.32.49)

Augustine has written the following a little earlier:

"So without bringing into existence yet any of the things which he made, he has all things primordially in himself in the same manner as he is. After all, he would not make them unless he knew them before he made them; nor would he know them unless he saw them; nor would he see them unless he had them with him; and he would not have with him things that had not yet been made except in the manner in which he himself is not made."

That is: God "has" all things in himself (perhaps in his mind), which he "later" brings into being.  For how could God make something which he did not in some sense know?  

All things that have come into being were known by God before they were brought into being.  These things were first "in the Word."