A Franciscan Counter to Thomism

This is not a rebuttal or refutation of Thomism.  It is a medieval alternative. I will offer my problems with Thomism in another post.

From the O’Donovan’s From Irenaeus to Grotius: A Sourcebook in Chritian Political Thought.

Notes on Bonaventura.  This follows a lot of my reading on the Thomists.  Basically, I have the same feeling about Thomism as I do about a loose tooth.  I don’t know exactly what’s wrong, but I am scared to bite down really hard.

I suspect that a Thomist ontology is in tension with an Augustinian ontology.  I am following closely the O’Donovans’ reading on this point. (which is basically what I do on everything).

  1. Franciscan poverty was redefined from purely practical to legal terms.
    “The friars renounced, individually and in common, all ownership of property, so that they had mere use, not legal possesion, of temporal goods” (O’Donovans 309).
  2. “The Way of Evangelical Perfection.”  There is an intimate relationship between covetousness and pride in disordered human love: “That the soul’s excessive love of other beings and things, its consuming passion to possess them, is always for the sake of aggrandizing its own powers” (310).

Bonaventure and the Four Rights (311)

  1. The natural right of using necessary things universally available in creation, the community of earthly goods indispensable to sustenance.
  2. The divine right by which all things belong to the just, the community of righteous possession of the whole earth and of the Lord who made it
  3. the Civil Right, the community of private ownership of temporal things.
  4. The Right of Ecclesiastical Donation, the community of holding goods dedicated to God and conferred upon the churches.

For Bonaventure, the Franciscans had nonproprietary or simple use of goods owned and conceded by others per the first two rights.  But this isn’t simply a return to Adam.  As O’Donovan reads it, it is “a restoration mediated by participation in the cross of Christ” (311).


About J. B. Aitken

Interests include patristics, the role of the soul in the human person, analytic theology, Reformed Scholasticism, Medievalism, Substance Metaphysics
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