Bonaventura (Giovanni Fidenza)’s Understanding of HumanityJune 26, 2021
According to Bonaventura, man is a created being. His creation was to see and comprehend divine truths in a supreme purity. In the beginning, man was innocent, he had all the means necessary to be happy.
However, due to the crime committed by Adam, who acted with his free will, the original purification of man and his opportunities for happiness disappeared. Because of Adam’s crime, his descendants who followed him were dragged into crime (sin). As he explains in his work Itinerarium Mentis In Deum, man is unhappy and suffers because of his ignorance. However, the source of his ignorance is Adam’s crime. This ignorance is not due to human nature, it is the result of the first crime committed. There are certain conditions for a person to get rid of this ignorance and the effect of the first crime.
These are the states that develop one’s self and lead one to God, such as inner purity, competence, deep love, supplication, living in the way prescribed by the Bible, and not thinking of anything other than God. The way to reach God is to ascend through certain stages. These stages are like a three-step ladder. In the highest stage there is God, the universal of universals, in the next two stages there are objects. Some of the objects are divine traces, the other part are divine images (dreams). Some of these objects are temporary, some are permanent, immortal. Those that come and go are outside the person, they are related to the body. Permanent, immortal ones, on the other hand, are connected with the inner universe of man. The first condition of reaching God is to grasp these traces and to follow them.
If a person obeys them and tries to understand them, he enters the “way of God”. The divine images about the inner universe of the human being are grasped with the purity of the heart and the serenity of the soul. Doing so is called turning to the “truth of God.” The last condition of reaching God, who is at the highest stage, is ecstasy with the love of God, not being able to think of anything other than God.
Bonaventura argued that there are three faculties in human existence, as opposed to the three-stage path leading to God. According to him, these faculties are: “sensitivity” to perceive the divine traces and objects outside the human being, “understanding” which enables to reach their source with the perception of these objects, to grasp the successive series of developments, and to bring God to the highest level with all his splendor, wisdom, “reason” that realizes seeing with its purity, stupidity and unchanging immortal substance.
Prepared by: Sociologist Ömer YILDIRIM
Source: Omer YILDIRIM’s Personal Lecture Notes. Atatürk University Sociology Department 1st Year “Introduction to Philosophy” and 2nd, 3rd, 4th Grade “History of Philosophy” Lecture Notes (Ömer YILDIRIM); Open Education Philosophy Textbook