The Certainty and Scope of Knowledge: Bonaventure’s Disputed Questions on the Knowledge of Christ
Medieval Philosophy and Theology, vol. 3 (1993)
I shall be concerned here with two key questions for any theory of knowledge: (1) Is there such a thing as certainty of knowledge and, if so, what is it? (2) How far does our knowledge extend, and what are its possible limits? In answering these questions I shall make use of Bonaventure’s seven disputed questions concerning the knowledge of Christ. This procedure surely calls for some explanation, since both the author and the subject matter of these questions seem to fall outside the sphere of philosophical interest.
As far as Bonaventure’s philosophical importance is concerned, there still seems to be widespread agreement with Etienne Gilson’s judgment that, in contrast to Albert the Great or Thomas Aquinas, Bonaventure has nothing that can properly be called philosophy, if by ‘philosophy’ one means the discoveries of reason alone, independent of the data of revelation.1 Is not this caveat borne out in the very subject matter of these disputed questions? What can reason alone tell us about the knowledge of Christ?