Who is Bonaventura (Giovanni Fidenza)?December 14, 2020
Italian theologian and mystic.
He is the founder of a mystical knowledge teaching stemming from neo-Platonism.
He was born in Bagnorea, near Tuscany, and died in Lyon, where the Pope went upon his call because of the “Second Lyon Spiritual Council”. His real name is Giovanni Fidanza.
Due to a serious illness he had at a very young age, his mother had him educated by the Holy Francis, and if he recovered, he promised that he would join the Franciscan order founded by this saint. The name of the boy remained as “Bonaventura” when Franciscus, whom he went back to when he regained his health, said “Bona Ventura” meaning “good tomorrow” when he saw him.
When he reached the age of twenty-two, his mother wanted him to fulfill his promise to the saint in his childhood; Bonaventura then entered the Franciscan order. Bonaventura was sent to study at the University of Paris, where the Franciscans are in the majority, especially to the wise Halesl Alexander. There he studied theology, soon attracted attention with his hard work, strong talent, and sincere affinity for theology. In 1253, the teacher became a lecturer instead of Alexander from Hales. During this time, he studied the works of Ancient Anatolian-Greek sages known in that era. He learned the epochs of philosophy that developed after the birth of Christianity, especially the neo-Platonism and the views of the Church Fathers, Augustine.
Although he grew up in an age and environment where Aristotle’s philosophy was very common, he was more inclined towards Neoplatonism, which originated from Plato’s views, and studied the writings of Plotinos, the founder of this movement. He won the title of “doctor” in 1254, took over the administration of the sect in 1256, gave a new order to the sect. He defended the view that monastic life is the best and most adequate way to mature people. He asked the monks not to marry but to devote themselves to God by keeping themselves away from all temporary inclinations, passions, and desires, and claimed that they could set an example for people and lead people to salvation by this method. He suggested that Mary should be respected above the usual and affectionately attached. Pope Gregorus X, who liked his works and thoughts, assigned Bonaventura first as the bishop of Albano and then as the cardinal.
For Bonaventura, who strives to reconcile religion and philosophy both during his tenure and in his private life, and attaches importance to establishing a connection between his thoughts and behaviors, thinking and acting are equivalent. A mature person is a wise person who lives as he thinks, who arranges his life according to his beliefs. The purpose of life is to act according to divine commands, to adopt and apply them as a principle. Unless there is a harmony between duty and belief, the way of behavior envisaged by religion cannot be realized. Bonaventura entered philosophy by seeking solutions to the problems of transposition. What he understands from philosophy is the theology, originating from the Neo-Platonism, seeing God at the height of the stages of existence. In his early works, he tried to reconcile mysticism and philosophy by using the proving method of Aristotle’s philosophy. He then argued that there was a link between theology and philosophy for the benefit of theology. He set out to explain the “creation” reported by the Bible and the “decline” that emerged as a result of the crimes committed by the Adam-Eve duo with a mystical understanding. Thus, he placed the human being at the center of his thought.
Bonaventura’s understanding of creation, humanity, knowledge and morality
Bonaventura opposed the idea of the eternal eternity of the universe, arguing that everything was created by God as his cause. The entire universe was created in time, and this existence emerged from nothing. The reason for this kind of existence out of nothing is a Principle that is One, Superior and Unmeasurable. This Principle is God. God is a Power that contains the entire universe he has created. According to Bonaventura, all objects are formed from a basic form of light. Light is not just an accidental form of the object; it is also the most noble of all substantial forms. The light that makes objects visible is a simple expression of the light that gives life power to the objects. The light in the universe is the light that has its share from God, who is pure light. Individualization arises from the unity of matter and form. With the combination of matter and mental form, the individual emerges. Man, the most noble of creatures, turned to God as his ultimate goal. The life of the human soul means taking a share of God’s life. The human soul is a composite structure, and each individual person has a different soul as his individual form. The purpose of the soul is to reach the most perfect good in order to achieve its own perfect happiness. In order to enjoy perfect happiness, the soul must have the ability to own God. Spirit wants to be completely like God. Since he was created in the image of God, he is directed towards Him and towards himself.
The soul uses both senses and mental activities to obtain knowledge. The beginning of knowledge is inaudible. Sensory perception means that the soul activated by the sense object is