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Collectanea Franciscana, 63,3-4,1993
lt is a commonplace far commentators on the Itinerarium to in­
dicate that St. Bonaventure has developed a comprehensive summa of
spirituality, successfully joining two heretofore incompatible elements of
the Western mystical tradition, vis. the tradition of St. Augustine and
the tradition of pseudo-Dionysius. To cite J. Guy Bougerol:
lt may be said that, in the Journey o/ the Mind to God, he successful­
ly produced a synthesis of the Dionysian visions and the authentic thought
of Augustine; an achievement ali the more remarkable since it amounted
to reversing the orientation of the Pseudo-Areopagite, which was totally
foreign to Bonaventure's Christocentrism [...]. In particular, it would be
fruitful to look for the implicit and explicit sources to which the text
itself, or the thought, may have reference, in order to discover how Bona­
venture accomplished, in the Journey, the synthesis of Augustinianism and
Dionysian mysticism. Such a search would, in our opinion, be of more
than historical interest .
Chenu speaks of the same incompatibility when he writes: "the
Neoplatonism borrowed from Augustine remained incompatible with that
taken from pseudo-Dionysius" 2• Chenu then proceeds to highlight what
he takes to be at the heart of the incompatibility:
1 J. G. Bougerol, Introduction to the Works o/ Bonaventure, Paterson, N.]., 1964,
M.-D. Chenu, Nature, Man, and Society in the Twelfth Century, Chicago 1968, 50.
Although Augustine cariie to Platonisrn through Plotinus, he did not
organize the Platonic elernents of his thought around speculation upon
the One but around the theory of ideas. Though the_se ideas were unified
in God, in the word of God, and though he expressly identified oneness
and being, Augustine's rnetaphysical preference was less a philosophical
choice than an expression of his persona! religious ternperarnent - a ternperarnent ul~irnately at variance with another type of rnind and ternperament, equally Platoriic, but attracted rather to the rnysticisrn of the One.
Pseudo-Dionysius. and his followers irnplicated the cosrnos in the special
dialectic by which man achieved ecstasy beyond the intelligible order;
but Augustine, attracted by the Christian emphasis upon rnan's inner !ife,
abandoned Plotinus at this point and reversed the process of ascent toward
God, whorn he hirnself was to find in the intimate depths of his own
rnind as it becarne freed from the scattered conditions native to creatures
and frorn the anguish of becorning 3 •
Jointly, Bougerol and Chenu raise the following questions: 1. How
did Bonaventure manage to overcome the inherent incompatibility between a Mysticism of the One, a mysticism that seeks to find rest
beyond all intelligible structure and a Mysticism of Being, one that
seeks God within the realm of the intelligible?4, and 2. Did Bonaventùre succeed in developing a successful synthesis of these two radically
distinct types of mystical experience as Bougerol claims?
There are two schools of thought concerning the extent of Bonaventure' s commitment to a Dionysian Mysticism of the One. Bougerol believes thai Bonaventure's mysticism is as distant from the mysticism
of the One, of pseudo-Dionysius, as was Augustine's. His Christocentrism as well as the whole positive thrust of the first six books of
the Itinerarium would attest to this. In his Introduction Bougerol writes:
If Bonaventure rnakes such frequent use of necessary reasons, it is
because his theology is so dynarnic - which perrnits us to doubt that
Ibid., 63.
I shall refer to Augustine's approach as a Mysticism of Being and to pseudoDionysius' as a Mysticism of the One. Any incompatibility between the two schemata
is rooted in the fact that Augustine and pseudo-Dionysius represent two entirely distinct
traditions and realms of discourse, one Christian and the other Neoplatonic. It has long
been held that Neoplatonic language is problematic for the expression of Christian thought.
Such a concern is at the heart of Bougerol's initial posing of the problem.
he actually approved the definitely negative trend of Dionysius. Although
at times he refers to this negative doctrine, it is rather out of faithfulness
to him as a teacher of mysticism than because of any ~ccord with his
thought •
Ewert Cousins, on the other hand, interprets Bonaventure as being
much more committed, at least in the Itinerarium, than Bougerol believes,
to the pseudo-Dionysian path beyond structure. According to Cousins,
Chapters 5 and 6 of the Itinerarium are the working out of the Dionysian The Divine Names, whereas the last chapter is developing the themes
of the Mystical Theology. It is the paradoxes inherent in the via affirmative as they climax in chapter 6 that so overwhelm the limits of human
language and knowing that one is forced to abandon all efforts at rational comprehension. This is the effect of what Cousins refers to as the
"coincidentia oppositorum" 6 • Apparently, Cousins holds that Bonaventure is employing the coincidence of opposites as a technique similar
to the Koan technique of Zen. Cousins writes of chapter six:
After contemplating both the divine nature and the Trinity as a coincidentia oppositorum, Bonaventure turns his gaze upon Christ, who is even
a greater coincidence of opposites. The soul is rapt in wonder when it
contemplates Christ as "the first and the last, the highest and the lowest,
the circumference and the center, the Alpha and the Omega, the caused
and the cause, the Crea tor and the creature ... This contemplation of Christ
causes the soul to abandon the via affirmativa and pass over to the negations of the darkness of unknowing in the seventh and final leve! of
the ascent into God •
Bougerol, lntroduction, 81.
On Cousins' account, it would appear that the notion of "Unity-in-Plurality" represents a "dialectical coincidence of opposites." Such a dialectic holds that a concept,
when pushed to its absolute limit, collapses into its apposite. Thus the principle of contradiction doesn't apply to the Absolute, doesn't apply to the highest genus of "Unity-inPlurality" because it is of necessity beyond the realm of discourse. This is how we are
to understand the ~ast passages in Chapter VII where Bonaventure speaks of mystical
knowledge of "absolute and changeless mysteries ... shrouded in the superluminous darkness
of silence" and of the piace where "all intellectual activities ought to be relinquished"
(Chapter VII, 5,4). Thus understood, the proposition "God is a Unity-in-Plurality" is
not to be understood as a descriptive proposition, it merely asserts existence. In this
sense, God as Unified plurality can be "pointed to" but not spoken of in any univoca! sense.
Bougerol, lntroduction, 182.
It would appear that for the Bonaventure of the Itinerarium, The
Mysticism of Being, the way of structure, the affirmative way is only
a means to arrive at what is ultimately important, vis., unity with the
God beyond structure. If this position is correct, Bonaventure is indeed
a follower of pseudo-Dionysius. That being the case, the synthesis that
Bougerol speaks about is only symbolic.
A boethian solution to the problem posed by the distinction between a mysticism of being and a mysticism of the One: God as Unified
The root of the problem of interpretation with which we are faced
is the apparent irreconcilability of the two concepts: Unitas and Esse 8 •
I shall argue in this section that Bonaventure was able to effectively
synthesize an ontology of Being with an ontology of the One by using
an approach similar to the one found in the works of Boethius and
ultimately traceable to Porphyry 9 • Specifically, both Boethius and Porphyry held the position that despite the fact that there is a per se
difference between the Being and the One, this difference is not incompatible with an underlying identity. Being was at one and the same
time both different from and identica! (non-different) to the One, Esse
and Unitas being bivalent states of the same reality. If such a position
could be rendered intelligible, then it would be possible to synthesize
the two approaches to mystical experience found in the Itinerarium, an experience of God as Being and/or as the One might be two modes
of experiencing the same reality.
See Chenu, Nature, 63 note 27 where he indicates that it was not unti! the
12th century that scholars of Chartres became concerned with the relation between the
ontology of the One and Being. In this regard he points to the treatment of God as
unitas and esse in the commentary of Boethius' De Trinitate. The key to understanding
how Bonaventure manages to reconcile the positions of both Augustine and pseudo-Dionysius
is found, I believe, in Boethius' treatment of the two aspects of God. Since Boethius
was much closer to the position of Porphyry, whereas pseudo-Dionysius was closer to
Proclus, it is essential to examine Porphyry's discussion concerning the ontology of the
One and Being.
Of ali the sources of Christian Neoplatonism that would have either direcdy or
indirecdy influenced the thought of Bonaventure, leaving aside Augustine and pseudoDionysius, certainly Boethius is of paramount importance. Bonaventure's notions of 'mens'
is certainly traceable to Boethius. See M. D. Chenu, Nature, 64.
What exactly did Boethius teach concerning the nature of God? 10 • In
his description of the First Principle, Boethius shared much of the
thought of the Greek Neoplatonists Plotinus and Porphyry 11 • Yet on
the issue at hand, Boethius' teaching on the relation between Being
and the One, Boethius takes the path of Porphyry 12 • For Plotinus there
is a radical distinction between the One beyond structure and structured being that follows from it. To use the language of the Plotinian,
The One is the first hypostases and Being (or mind) is the second;
there is a clear subordination here, Being is less prior, less ultimate
than the One. Now such a schema is obviously not satisfactory for
a Trinitarian Christian like Boethius who wishes to prevent all subordination of the Second Person of the Trinity to the First. Yet like
Plotinus, Boethius wishes to make a distinction between God as structured and God as beyond structure, yet it is necessary to make such
a distinction without any hint of subordination of one aspect to the other.
How is this to be accomplished? Boethius distinguishes between
God viewed as "existence itself" (ipsum esse) and God viewed as "the
form which is essence itself" (formas... quae esse ipsum est). The first
notion of ipsum esse is God as beyond structure, as indeterminate;
the second, God as form, is God as formed or structured and consequently determined. The vital distinction between Boethius and Plotinus
here is simply that for Plotinus there are two principles, two hypostases,
whereas for Boethius, there is only one principle with two aspects.
To cite Steven Gersh on this point, "Of course Plotinus applies these
notions to two successive hypostases whereas Boethius combines them
into the characterization of a single principle" 13 • Here we have the
implicit answer to the question posed in this section: Bonaventure, utilizing the insight of Boethius, construes both the structured and the
beyond structure, the indeterminate and the determinate, Being and
the One, as two aspects of the same First Principle, - the two faces
of the one God.
Much of the insight for chis section of the paper depends on che monumental
recent work on Latin Neoplatonism by Scephen Gersh. See Stephen Gersh, Middle Platonism and Neoplatonism: The Latin Tradition, Notre Dame 1986, 2 Vols. Of particular
value is the chapter on Boethius in Voi. 2.
Ibid., 675.
Ibid., 679-688.
Ibid., 680-681.
What could it possibly mean for Boethius to say that the two
aspects of God are in fact the same? How can God, viewed as 'existence itself," be the same as God, viewed as "the form which is essence
itself"? Certainly the two aspects of God are different in that one
is "originative being" (the indeterminate) whereas the other is "derived
being" (the determinate). Using our earlier language, the structured is
derived from the beyond s.tructure. Boethius recognized this distinction
in Axiom II of bis De hebdomadibus. There we read "Existence (the
beyond structure) and the existent thing (the structured) are distinct,
for existence itself is not yet anything" 14•
In the second part of the same axiom Boethius indicates that even
though these two aspects of God are distinct, they are also simultaneously the same: "Yet the existent thing (the structured) certainly is and
consists of something, having accepted the form of its being" 15 . I interpret the second part of this axiom to mean that the formed and
the unformed, the structured and the beyond structure are two modes
or states of the same being depending upon whether one views being
as either originative or derivative. In this regard Porphyry speaks of
the "co-alteration" of Unity and Being. This language suggests that
the determinate and the indeterminate are bivalent states of the same
Porphyry appears to hold the same view concerning the bivalence
of the manifested and the unmanifested. In speaking of the way the
One can be "manifested in the identity of Unity and Being, Porphyry
speaks in a way reminiscent of Boethius' axiom II: "Thus, the second
is simultaneously identica! and not identica! with the first since what
comes after something and from something is in a manner equivalent
to that from which it comes" 16 • Thus it appears that the structured
and the beyond structure are simultaneously both di/ferent and non-different. Whether or not this position is self-contradictory would seem to
depend upon an understanding of difference as well as upon a decision
as to what point the law of contradiction would apply. Certainly it
would not apply at a point of radical ontologica! indeterminacy before
all structure.
Ibid., 683.
Ibid., 682.
In Plotinus's treatment of the second hypostasis, lntellect, we find
a genuine plurality that goes beyond the attributes of God. This is
an important distinction to understand because Boethius, having been
especially influenced by Porphyry, tends, contrary to Plotinus, to overlap
the characteristics of the Plotinian first and second hypostasis. That
being the case, Gersh concludes that there is a tendency in Boethius
to apply to the first hypostasis, influenced by Porphyry, what Plotinus
applies to the second. Thus, in Boethius, God is a Unified Plurality
in a genuine sense 17 • In what sense can God be a Unified Plurality?
At one point Plotinus argues that the plurality is a plurality of kinds.
The crucial insight found in Plotinus is that plurality arises from thought:
Being, motion, rest, sameness, and otherness. The kinds interrelate
in that Motion will appear in Being and Being in Motion, for in the
One Being each separately contains the other. But it is thought which
makes them two, in that we separate with intellect. Duality arises from
unity because it thinks and unity because it thinks itself 18 •
Here at last we bave the answer to our question. The two aspects
of the Divine, unity and the plurality of being, can be understood
in terms of bivalent states of thought, i.e. thought (with an object)
and thought thinking itself (without an object, without duality). God
is in fact a unity within plurality, simultaneously both One and Many,
indeterminate and determinate 19 • Whether He manifests Himself as the
One beyond distinction or as structured Being depends upon the act
of thought. If God is the object of our thought then of necessity
there is duality and distinction; He must be apprehended as Being.
But at the point of mystical union where there is no longer any distinction between knower and known, between subject and object, all that
remains is thought thinking itself. At this point God is the One.
A positive account of difference as found in Boethius' Commentary
on Porphyry's Isagoge.
Ibid., 685-688.
Ibid., 687-688.
In private conversations I have had over the years this seems to be, as I understand, the position held by Ewert Cousins, a difference-non difference position. Whether or not this 'bivalent" reading of Bonaventure is compatible with Cousins' Zen Koan
interpretation of the last chapter of the Itinerarium is unclear.
If Gersh is correct in this claim that Boethius has been influenced
by the works of Porphyry, especially in bis identification of the first
and second hypostases, we are again beset with the perennial problem
of the One and the Many. To phrase the problem in the words of
Syrianus, "How could all things bave been produced from a Unity
which has no duality nor trace of plurality nor otherness within itself?" 20. How is it possible to bridge the gap between what John Passmore refers to as the "two worlds," - the world of the One and
the world of Being? The solution to the "Two-Worlds" problem requires a sophisticated account of the relation of difference that will allow
us to say at one and the same time, without contradiction, that two
things, Unity and Being are per se different and yet the same. We
need an account of difference compatible with nondifference or identity.
One such account of difference is found in the works of Porphyry.
In bis Isagoge there are found two senses of per se difference, one
positive and one negative, - not every difference must divide. In bis
account of the various neoplatonic senses of otherness, Steven Gersh
contrasts the positive use of difference and distinction from the negative
account of difference as division: "Difference and distinction are fundamentally positive in their significance while division acquires a certain
negative connotation. The positive view of otherness is clearly indebted
to one well-known source: the notion of constitutive difference in Porphyrian logie" 21 • The point is that if we utilize a positive account
of per se difference that is compatible with an underlying identity, we
may be able to hold that Unity and Being are both different and
non-different without contradiction.
According to Porphyry's account in the Isagoge, among differences
per se some are " divisive," e.g., mortal/immortal and rational/irrational,
since they dichotomize a genus into species, but others are "constitutive," e.g., animate and sensible, since together they complete the substance of anima!. This analysis would bave been assumed by both pagan
and Christian Neoplatonists of the period, and it showed them how
the otherness implied by the logica! concept of difference could be
a positive determining factor 22 ."
See Steven Gersh, From Iamblichus to Eriugena, Leiden 1978, 137.
Ibid., 239.
Let us examine closely the section on Difference found in Boethius' s Commentary on the Isagoge23 • There are two types of per se
1. Negative per se _differences which divide genera into different species
(rational/irrational, mortal/immortal are divisive since they divide x and
y into different species), and 2. Positive per se differences which do
not divide genera into different species but "by which the divided genera
are constituted as species", e.g., animate and sensible are different genera
that constitute the same species, animai. "The difference animate and
sensible is constitutive of the substance of animal, for animal is an animate, sensible substance".
The same differences understood one way become constitutive and
m another way become divisi ve •
Now according to Porphyry, per se differences are negative and
divisive when they divide genera into distinct species, i.e., rational and
irrational are pre se different because they bave essentially diff erent
definitions but they are also divisive in that they divide the genera
animal into two distinct species.
Yet fortunately, in Porphyry's account there is a more positive
way to construe difference. Per se differences can be construed as constitutive when the divided genera are constituted as species, i.e, animal,
rational, and mortai constitute the substance man. To quote Porphyry,
"the difference animate and sensible is constitutive of the substance
animal" 25 • The key point is that rational and mortal are per se differences yet they are common properties of man; the fact that two terms
are per se different does not preclude them from adhering to the same
substance. On this construal, Unity and Being might be pre se different
in a positive way.
Let us return to Porphyry. At one point in his account he remarks
that a difference, by definition, is that by which the species exceeds
the genus. Thus man possesses more than animai, namely, rational and
mortal. As a generai rule we might say that the lower leve! of Porphyry' s tree possesses more distinction, more distinct content, than the
Isagoge, 42-47.
Ibid., 45.
Ibid., 44.
higher level. It goes without saying that for a Neoplatonic emanationist,
the upper level possesses more ontic reality; the lower levels are real
only to the extent that they participate in the being of the higher
level. Perhaps we should say that the lower level exceeds the upper
in multiplicity of distinction rather than in some ontic sense. The concept "man" possesses more than and exceeds the content of animai
because it contains the notion of rational. To quote Porphyry: "the
(upper) genus is none of these, for if not, how could the species be
diff eren t from one another?" 26 •
More importantly, the upper level possesses none of the contradictory differences found at the lower level. To quote Porphyry, "Nor
does animai possess all the contradictory differences, for the same thing
at the same time would have contradictory characteristics. . . . Nothing
then arises from notbeing, nor will contradictories exist at the same
time in the same thing" •
Simply put, the lower level, e.g., rational/irrational must be derived
from the upper level, i.e., animai, or else it has no origin at all. But
if rational/irrational were contained within the genus animai, that notion
would be self-contradictory. Ammonius states the problem thus: If the
differences exist in the genera, opposites will exist at the same time,
as mortai and immortal, rational and irrational. This is impossible. If
differences do not exist in the genera, from what source do they arise
in the species?" 28 •
The solution that Porphyry gives to this problem is significant:
"animai (genus) possesses potentially, not actually, all the differences
of the subordinate species" 29 • The apparent contradiction is removed
by moving from the actual to the potential. If animai contained within
itself actual rationality and irrationality the term animai would be incoherent. Animai contains the properties, rational/irrational only potentially. Returning to the notion of unified-plurality we can now conclude
that the term is not self-contradictory in that unity and being are
contained, in some respect, within the highest genus potentially and
not actually. Since the notion of unified-plurality is, for Boethius, the
Ibid., 46.
Ibid., 46 note 45.
Ibid., 46.
highest of ali genera it follows that it must possess ali forms and indeed
all that is formless within itself, in some respect, as pure potentiality 30 •
Bonaventure's bipolar concept of the first person of the Trinity:
the Father as Unified-Plurality.
It has been the main thesis of this paper that the key to understanding the relation between the apparently unreconcilable concepts of
One and Being in the Itinerarium is to hold that both concepts can
be subsumed under a broader notion that has been referred to as UnifiedPlurality, understood as a bivalent concept. Although an interesting hypothesis, the question now remains as to whether there is any evidence
in Bonaventure to suggest that he held something like Boethius' notion
of God as Unified-Plurality. Let us begin by saying that the case has
already been made by Bougerol that Bonaventure has been employing
a notion of difference derived from Porphyry 31 • If some concept could
be found in Bonaventure th;t incorporates elements of both the One
and Being of Plotinus and Porphyry, we would have a solid case. Indeed there is such a concept in Bonaventure that plays the exact same
role in his system as does the notion of Unified-Plurality in Boethius
and Porphyry.
It is widely recognized that Bonaventure's system of thought is
essentially Trinitarian. What is not so readily recognized is the centrality of piace Bonaventure gives to the Father, or First Person of the
Trinity3 2 • Zachary Hayes remarks in his Commentary preceding the Disputed Questions on The Mystery o/ the Trinity, "The Father receives
an emphasis (in Bonaventure) that would be foreign to the thought
of either Augustine or Aquinas, and is similar to the theology of the
classica! Greek Fathers" H_
In good Plotinian fashion, Bonaventure refers, in the Breviloquium,
to the Father as the "first and supreme Principle, Who is the source
of all the emanations" 34 • Again he refers to Him as "the originai pro-
JO God, of course, must be pure act, for if not there could be no created reality.
But in respect to creatures, all things can be viewed as existing within Him potentially.
See J. G. Bougerol, Lexique Saint Bonaventure, Paris 1969, 54.
I must thank Professor Ewert Cousins for this insight.
JJ Zachary Hayes, St. Bonaventure's Disputed Questions on the Mystery of the Trinity
in Works o/ St. Bonaventure, voi. III, St. Bonaventure University 1979, 41. See also
Th. De Regnon, Etudes de theologie positive sur la sainte Trinite, 3 vols. Paris 1892-98.
The Works o/ Bonaventure, Cardinal, Seraphic Doctor and Saint, transi. Jose de
Vinck, voi. II, Paterson 1963, 38.
ducing hypostasis (which) does not itself emanate from anything else" 35 •
Tue relation is made especially clear where Bonaventure states, "The
Father is properly the One without an originator, the Unbegotten One;
the Principle who proceeds from no other; the Father as such" 36 •
Here we are being told that the Father in the Christian Trinity is
none other than the Neoplatonic ONE, the originator of all emanations,
Himself without origin. How, we may now ask is the One related
to Being?
In the same passage in the Breviloquium Bonaventure continues:
"Therefore, Unbegotten one designates Him by a negation, but also
affirmatively through inference, since it implies existence (Being) within
the Father of fullness at its source" 37 • The One, we are being told
has two meanings: one negative and the other affirmative. Fr. Zachary
Hayes sheds a great deal of light on this passage in his commentary:
To speak of the Father as innascible or unbegotten seems at first
glance to be a purely negative way of defining the property of the first
person; and so it had appeared to Aquinas. But in Bonaventure's view,
innascibility is not a mere negation; for it involves both a negation and
a positive aspect. Negatively, it affirms a Jack of origin. But to exist
as one who has no origin is to be first in an absolute sense, and to
exist as first is the highest of all perfections. Here again we encounter
Bonaventure's concept of primacy. That person in God who is first is
the fontal fullness; precisely as the person who is innascible, He is the
highest source of all the imrnanent processions and the external productions 38 •
Hayes then goes on to suggest that the notion of Father in Bonaventure is a "bipolar concept;" by this Hayes means a term with both
positive and negative meaning. Referring to Ewert Cousin' work on
coincidence of opposites, Hayes remarks that such a bipolar concept
has "mutually complementary opposites which cannot be formally reduced one to the other" 39 •
lbid., 39.
Hayes, Trinity, 41.
lbid., 42.
The two mutually complementary opposites contained in the bipolar
concept "Father" are innascibility and primacy. Working on a principle
found in the Liber de causis, Bonaventure argues that "because the
Father is innascible, He is absolutely first; and because He is absolutely
first, He is the fecund source of others" •
The whole Bonaventurean turn is based on Proposition One from
Liber de Causis: "The more a being is prior, the more powerful and
actual it is" 41 • The same principle couched in Bonaventurean terms in
the Commentary on the Sentences reads: "The productive fecundity of
God is in proportion to His primacy" 42 • His absolute primacy, therefore, designates Him as the universal fountain of all origin, the absolute
source and cause of all being 0 . Now given an ontology of emanation
in which lower levels of being derive their reality or being from upper
levels, an ontology of Platonic participation, we may conclude that the
highest genus would contain all lower genera at least potentially. If
not they would have no source for their being. Now if there were
an absolutely prior genus then it would follow that it must contain
within it, at least potentially, all being. The absolutely indeterminate,
the One prior to all form must then contain within itself all the possible forms of being. The ONE if you will is the flip side of BEING
based on the First proposition of the Liber de Causis.
Hayes highlights a rather subtle argument based on privation: now
since a negative privation such as darkness can only be known in virtue
of its corresponding positive quality, light, which is both logically prior
and prior in the real order, it follows that which is both logically
and really prior must be proportionately greater in being and perfection.
Put in terms of Porphyry's genera, the higher the leve!, the greater
amount of being. From this it would follow that the absolutely most
prior would be the absolutely most replete with Being. In short, the
One is the principle of Being in so far as it is the most prior.
A final word on Bonaventure's mysticism: Given what we have
said about Bonaventure's understanding of the bivalent aspects of God
as Unified-Plurality, it would appear reasonable to argue that he is
Hayes, Trinity, 261.
lbid., 101. See also note 45.
developing a type of mysticism most compatible with a synthesis of
Augustine and Dionysius. If we interpret Unity and Being as being
bivalent states of the First Person of the Trinity, the question remains
as to whether, for Bonaventure, one state has a privileged status over
the other?
Yet no matter which reading is correct, the negative reading of
Cousins or the more positive theological account of Bougerol, it is clear
that Bonaventure is able to synthesize the two visions by implicitly
employing Boethius' bivalent notion of God as Unified-Plurality. By
stressing the dual aspect of God, the derivative and the originative
modes, Bonaventure has come dose to collapsing the natural and the
supernatural, the transcendent and the immanent, yet at the same time
formally avoiding pantheism. By developing the insights of Boethius
and Porphyry, he effectively argues that the Father is simultaneously
both the One and the Many. This Boethian assumption stated in his
axiom II of De Hebdomadibus, rooted as it is in the thought of Porphyry, serves as the basis of the synthesis of Dionysian and Augustinian
thought highlighted by Bougerol's earlier research.
SOMMARIO. - L'A. spiega come Bonaventura, servendosi del pensiero
di due tradizioni contrapposte, mistica dell'"uno" dionisiano e quella delle "idee"
agostiniane, arriva a una sintesi che ricorda la nozione bivalente boeziana di
Dio come "unificata pluralità". Affermando gli aspetti derivativi e originativi
in Dio, si colma la spaccatura tra naturale e soprannaturale, tra trascendenza
e immanenza. nel suo primato assoluto Dio radica la sua fecondità produttiva,
causa e sorgente assoluta di ogni benessere.