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Курсовик As I see it, the theory is consistent, broad, has many levels, answer many questions and reconciles different positions. It is realistic and highly speculative, includes empirical considerations but also transcends their artificial limitations.


Тип работы: Курсовик. Предмет: Астрономия. Добавлен: 09.04.2007. Сдан: 2007. Уникальность по antiplagiat.ru: --.

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Illumination in Bonaventure's Epistemology

By Alexander Koudlai
The telos of this essay is to support the axiology of the literary work of the great man, which impressed me who lives almost eight hundred years later. What makes it so important to me and may be to our contemporary culture? The epistemology and metaphysics are considered there together and in such a way that the ethics of human life is affected in a reasonably defensible manner. Probably our contemporary axiology (and particularly in the matters of acquiring and evaluating of knowledge) may benefit from the investigation of Bonaventure's theory.
Today we are used to hear that a theory has to be verifiable in order to be considered as knowledge. By verifiable it is usually meant empirically provable. The latter means observable to senses and capable of repeated observations. The theories of ancient and medieval thinkers are usually treated lightly and accused of dogmatism, i.e. of claims not supported by experience. Nevertheless, it is not accurate because the spiritual and miraculous experiences reported by many individuals from different countries in every century and the communities of monks and nuns living in the monasteries (those laboratories of spiritual life) do support those theories again and again. Our W. James wrote of those prejudices of the scientific community of his time and of their refusal even to consider those “hard cases” not easily explicable by the contemporary scientific theories. There is still a huge problem in this department today, and we just have to be aware about its existence. As James, claiming himself to be a radical empiricist, suggested, if a theory (and he meant a modern theory) cannot deal with some facts reported by honest people, it is too bad for the theory and not for the facts. This sounds at least consistent and fair.
When observation is artificially limited only to the observation by physical senses, the observer risks to lock himself into a dogmatic circle, especially when he judges about non-empirical claims, or claims of the human observations which transcend merely sensual ones*. Those people who do this usually claim themselves materialists and are opposed to theories of spiritual thinkers. As we can see, the empiricists are not all materialists, who are extremely dogmatic themselves, but even though their theories are based on axioms which are not always shared by the rest of humanity and may seem dogmatic in certain respects to those who prefer to think differently. Another objection to theories of spiritual thinkers was that “they all disagree”, hence the truth, the existence of which they claim, could not be the universal truth.
In my opinion, the ontological claims of different prominent thinkers from different traditions have more points in common then not and others are arguably convertible. Those thinkers from different times and cultures universally claim the existence of truth beyond sensual experiences and somehow human access to that truth. They also say that some people persist in some kind of blindness to the truth and teachings of it. This blindness does not exclude productive thinking in the empirical mode, but it does secure the dissatisfaction of the soul and many kinds of suffering.
*Professor D. Robinson said once: “A scientist taking a corpuscular approach to explanation of the world, usually sets parameters for observations of corpuscles, build instruments capable to pick corpuscles, observes what those instruments show him and then says: I claimed that the world was corpuscular and see: it is corpuscular …” (The Great Ideas of Philosophy)
Jesus says:
But because I tell the truth, you do not believe Me. . . . And if I tell the truth, why do you not believe Me? He who is of God hears God's words; therefore you do not hear, because you are not of God”. (John 8:45-47)
In the Lankavatara Sutra Buddha says:
Then there are materialistic philosophers. No respect nor service is to be shown them because their teachings though they may be explained by using hundreds of thousands of words and phrases, do not go beyond the concepts of this world and this body and in the end they lead to suffering. As the materialists recognize no truth as existing by itself...(D. Goddard “A Buddhist Bible”, p.312-313).
Bonaventure respects the empirical knowledge. He read Aristotle's Physics and Metaphysics, but he also read Neo-Platonists and was impressed by Plato's theory of archetypes, which we cannot say where he received from*. Bonaventure is a friar and a mystic, and the existence of the spiritual light, bliss and the visions beyond physical senses is an immediate reality for him; also he is a scholar. Therefore, he attempts to synthesize different theoretical views into one consistent theory, which would account for the empirical, speculative and spiritual knowledge, and would be consistent with the Revelation of the Holy Scripture and Bonaventure's favorite thinker St. Augustine, “the wisest of them all”.
How do we know? Plato used to say that there is knowledge and beliefs or opinions, and there are lovers of knowledge, or wisdom philosophers, and lovers of opinions philodoxers. The beliefs (opinions) could be beautiful but not true, while
* Possibly Plotinus, Porphyry, Augustine or some medieval writers before Bonaventure.
knowledge is always true. While certain beliefs when tested could collapse, the truth is resilient to any tests whether empirical or speculative (logical). Of course, Bonaventure is a believer, but he also thinks that he can show for something more then just a belief. For Bonaventure the question: “How do we know that something is true with certitude?” - is important. He thinks about this kind of knowledge of anything as of illumined by light.
When the intellect knows something with certainty, it is because it is enlightened from above. He writes in his On the Reduction of Arts to Theology:
Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the God of Lights, writes James . . . of the source of all illumination; but at the same time. . . there are many lights which flow generously from that fontal source of light.
Then pointing out the essentially internal nature of illumination of all knowledge he categorizes the varieties of such illumination:
Even though every illumination of knowledge is internal, still we can reasonably distinguish what can be called an exterior light of mechanical art; an inferior light, or the light of sense perception; an interior light of philosophical knowledge; and a superior light or the light of grace and of Sacred Scripture. The first light illumines with respect to the forms of artifacts; the second with respect to natural forms; the third, with respect to intellectual truth; the forth and last with respect to saving truth. (p.37)
In other words, God of Lights gives knowledge to His creatures and directly inspires different kinds of pursuits of knowledge (arts) according to different aspects of that part of human nature, which is currently under investigation, and this is always for the sake of that creature.
The creature is always enlightened directly from the Creator but in different applications of that One Light and normally follows the lead acquiring various kinds of useful knowledge co-operating in that intended enlightenment in all different spheres of its life. This theory truly reduces all kinds of knowledge to theology but in a meaningful and consistent way.
Whatever is our knowledge we can always associate it with light, because we observe it empirically or intellectually. Even perfect spiritual knowledge is called beatific vision. Observing we see by light in all cases, that is why it is proper to relate all our knowledge to light. This approach is universal, and may be even more universal than some Bonaventurians would like to admit. In one of the ancient Upanishads of India it is described in the form of a dialog between a teacher and a student:
How do you see at the daytime?
- I see by the light of the sun.
And when it is night?
- By the light of the moon.
And when there is no moon?
- Then by the light of a candle.
And when there is no sun, moon or candle?
- Then, teacher, I somehow see by the light within.
In the Disputed Questions on the Knowledge of Christ (q. 4, p. 115-117) Bonaventure quotes from St. Augustine On the Teacher:
In every instance where we understand something, we are listening not to someone who utters external words, but to that truth which guides us from the mind itself (1).
The City of God:
Those whom we rightly prefer to all others have said that the very God by whom all things were made is the light of our minds by which we learn all things (4).
On the Trinity:
When our soul so pleases us that we prefer it to all corporeal light, it is not the soul itself that pleases us but that art by which it was created. For a created thing is worthy of approval in reference to that source where it is seen to have been present before it was created. Now this is the truth and pure goodness(5)
When we approve or disapprove of something rightly, we are shown to approve or disapprove by virtue of other rules which remain altogether unchangeable and above our mind (6).
This light, which is the truth and goodness, come from within and there from above. The latter is obvious to Bonaventure, because - he quotes (8):
When the unjust person sees the rules according to which everyone ought to live, where does he see them? Not in his own nature, since it is certain his mind is changeable while these rules are unchangeable. And not in any habit of his mind, since these are rules of justice. Where does he perceive that he ought to possess something that he does not possess? Where then are they written but in the book of that light which is called the truth, from which every just law is copied? (Augustine, On the Trinity, chapter 15)
Further in the argument 8 Bonaventure presents the Augustinian correction of Plato's theory of reminiscence:
It is credible that even those who are unskilled in certain disciplines can give the correct answers when they are able to receive the eternal light of reason in which they perceive these immutable truths. This is true, but not because they once knew them and have forgotten them, as it seemed to Plato. (Retractations)
About this, I would argue that it is problematic that Plato speaking of the mind and the eternal ideas did not understand that the mind should ascend from its regular state. On the contrary, Plato speaks about this divine perfection, which is not easily achieved by a philosopher while his soul goes through four stages (symbolically “requires four incarnations”) in his quest for perfect knowledge. So, the Divine Plato rather had quite similar approach (but of course he did not use the terminology of the Christian theology), and his reminiscence does include the possibility that the soul on some deepest level is divine or participates in the knowledge of the Divinity. It is just that in its regular state of forgetfulness of its deepest nature it can have just glimpses of the light that is not essentially external to the soul itself. This seem to be in compliance with Genesis 2:7 and the idea that we are all children of One Father, and not bastards.
Bonaventure continues to quote:
The intellectual nature is linked not only to intelligible things but also to immutable things. This nature is made in such a way that when it moves to those things with which it is connected, or when it moves to itself, it may give correct answers about such things as it is capable of seeing.
Then he concludes:
From these authoritative arguments of Augustine it is manifestly clear that everything is known in the eternal reasons.
The essential connection of the intellect to the eternal reasons and its capability of seeing those suggest our relation to those and to the light itself. Bonaventure quotes from Anselm Proslogion, chapter 14:
How great is the light from which shines forth all truth that manifests itself to the rational mind (12) How rich is that truth in which is found everything that is true and outside of which is only emptiness and falsehood!
And he concludes: “Therefore no truth is seen except in the eternal truth”. It is not that dogmatic as it may seem to those contemporary thinkers who claim: “There is no Truth…” Logically, their claim is a universal claim itself, hence aspires to be true universally, hence, it claims itself the existence of the universal truth it attempted to deny, hence does not have any ontological value and constitutes rather invalid critique on purely emotional ground.
Quoting Aristotle's Ethics:
We all suppose that what we know by means of science cannot possibly be other than it is. But, when those things that could be other than they are pass beyond the range of our observation, we do not know whether they exist or not. Therefore, the object of scientific knowledge is necessarily eternal. And eternal things are ungenerated and incorruptible (16).
Bonaventure concludes:
Therefore, there can be no such thing as certain knowledge unless the very nature of eternal truth is involved. But this is found only in the eternal reasons.
It is fascinating, how in the world of contingency, where everything what we observe could be otherwise, there could be any certainty. Still we know there is certainty. Where does it come from then? Obviously not from the world of change and uncertainty. And what is this world? It is the world of the eternal reasons, which belong to the very nature of God who is beyond all change and doubt, and who illumines our minds, which are rather attached to this world of change and are used to its various forms of entertainment.
It is very reasonable, that when the intellect is connected to senses, analyzing their data, so to speak, it is habitually in the mode of perception of precisely this kind of data, but when it is disconnected from senses it may be in some other mode of perception, and not only of the sensual memory content, but also what they call super sensual. Isn't it the reason why the monks or hermits everywhere practice asceticism? So, usually one mode of perception and corresponding activity of the intellect excludes or hinders the other mode of perception and formation of the relevant ideas.
The light is always given from God (or that center of light and life) to a creature, but it is used differently for different kinds of understanding and corresponding activity. That is why the scriptures, the true spiritual teachers, and spiritual philosophy are important. It is because without this category of light there is no that category of data and even serious thinking about that dimension of life.
Bonaventure emphasizes:
That by which we have certain knowledge is immutable because it is necessary truth. But our mind is mutable. Therefore, that by which we know is superior to our mind. But there is nothing above our mind other than God and eternal truth. Therefore, the divine truth and the eternal reason is that by which knowledge comes to be (17).
He does not see any other way to explain the existence of the corruptible intellect, changeable world as its regular object, and at the same time the existence of truth by which that corruptible intellect knows something with certainty. And referring to different modes of knowledge he writes:
That by which we know excels every created truth. Therefore, it is uncreated truth (21)
We know only by the truth, which is not a created one (or from this world), but the eternal truth itself. The truth is a category of the intellect. Hence, we know only by the eternal mind when it illumines our mind, and in this way we participate in the eternal. But how is it possible? It is because we are created in likeness of that divine mind itself on the first place, and that divine mind therefore is the closest thing to our mind. That is why Bonaventure considers the knowledge of God the most natural kind of knowledge to the human being. Other kinds of knowledge depend on it.
As God is the cause of being, so the divine reality is the principle of knowing and order of living. But God is the cause of being in such a way that nothing can be done by any cause unless God moves that cause in the action by means of the divinity itself and by the eternal divine power. Therefore, nothing can be understood at all unless God immediately illumines the subject of knowledge by means of the eternal, divine truth (24).
This is the most straight forward and absolute statement, and all other arguments revolve around it just providing different hues and shades to this major picture, this philosophical intuition which is very well supported and expressed in detail. Accordingly, that part of our intellectual activity “is called higher in as far as it turns to the eternal laws. It is called lower in as far as it is concerned with the temporal things” (27).
It is obvious which one is preferable. Hence, it constitutes an ethical foundation for the pursuits in the area of philosophy and the lifestyle in general. This maxim could be expressed in the following manner: Love God, know God and act with and for God. And this style of life is suitable for all who understand this doctrine. It will be developed even further in the Itinerarium, but in the Disputed Questions (IV) Bonaventure gives the last argument for the God's participation in the human knowledge (summarizes his position on the illumination) in the following way:
According to the Saints, God is said to be master of all knowledge. This is the case because God cooperates in general with every intellect, or because God infuses the gift of grace, or because - in the act of knowing - the intellect attains to the divine. If God cooperates in general, then we would be lead to say that the divine being teaches the senses as well as the intellect. But this is absurd. If it is because God infuses the gift of grace, then all knowledge would be gratuitous or infused, and non would be innate or acquired. But this is most absurd. Nothing remains, therefore, except to say that our intellect attains to the divine as to the light of our minds and the cause of the knowledge of all truth (34).
Here the ideas of cooperation and grace are understood as having only limited application and not in general, while the preference is given to the idea of attaining of the intellect to the divine in the general case of knowing.
The arguments for the negative position are considered in their turn. They do not break the Bonaventure's conviction that God does participate in all our knowledge and that the latter is ultimately based on the illumination, but they oblige him to explain the complications and restate his positive position carefully in the Conclusion:
For knowledge with certitude, even in the state of wayfarers, the intellect must attain to the eternal reasons as that reason which regulates and motivates. It is not the sole principle of knowledge, nor is it attained in its clarity; but together with the proper created reason it is known obscurely and as in a mirror.

Bonaventure clarifies this conclusion explicitly on the next four pages, but I would
emphasize a few important points:
1. In the case of certain knowledge the mind must be regulated by unchangeable and eternal rules which operate not by means of habit of the mind but by means of themselves as realities which are above the mind in the eternal truth (p.133).
2. For certain knowledge, the eternal reason is necessary involved as a regulative and motivating principle, but certainly not as the sole principle nor in its full clarity (134).
3. But along with the created reason, it is continued by us in part as is fitting in this life.
4. A creature is related to God as a vestige (as to its principle), as an image (as to its object), and as a likeness (as to an infused gift) (p.135).
Bonaventure proclaims divine cooperation “in any< и т.д.................

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