My research centers mainly on the metaphysics of St. Bonaventure’s Collationes in Hexaëmeron and other texts. One of my aims with this is to underscore the relevance of metaphysics and religion for addressing issues in contemporary culture. Lately, I have found myself intrigued by Bonaventure’s metaphysics of wisdom.

Referring to a passage from the Book of Wisdom, Bonaventure characterizes wisdom as

“a reflection of eternal light, a spotless mirror of the working of God, and an image of his goodness. Though she is but one, she can do all things, and while remaining in herself, she renews all things; in every generation she passes into holy souls and makes them friends of God, and prophets; for God loves nothing so much as the man who lives with wisdom. For she is more beautiful than the sun, and excels every constellation of the stars. Compared with the light she is found to be superior, for it is succeeded by the night, but against wisdom evil does not prevail.” (Wis vii, 26-30)

For Bonaventure, one key purpose of wisdom is to make “the intellective power beautiful, the affective power delightful, and the operative power strong” (II.1). Moreover, the door to wisdom is a yearning, a desire, and is brought forth in part by keeping ‘justice.’ Keeping justice requires that the will be rectified by memory and intelligence, and this rectification of memory and intelligence requires discipline. Discipline is twofold in Bonaventure’s thought. It is scholastic and personal (II.3). He even goes so far as to say that “Proper attention to discipline is love (dilectio)” (II.4). To be disciplined means not only listening to the precepts of wisdom, but also following through with wisdom’s prescriptions, similar to how, in Aristotle’s Nichomachean Ethics, it is insufficient for the patient to merely listen to the doctor’s prescriptions without obeying them (II.3). And as for the truth of things, words, signs, and behavior, each radiates from the light of wisdom, for “Truth is the light of the soul” (IV.1-2).

Is a metaphysics of wisdom (i.e., what Bonaventure might deem worthy to call “true metaphysics”) incapable of uniting faith and reason?

What precisely are the prescriptions of wisdom?

Are there criteria for knowing someone is wise? If so, what are they?

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