Another brief thought on Bonaventure and Van Til and the nature of knowledge. In the quote from the last post, notice what Gilson says: "things are true in so far as they are conformed to the thought God has of them, . . ."
I supposed someone could say, "Then is God the ultimate Idealist?" Interesting thought. It does seem that (if we are to trust Gilson's summary of Bonaventure at this point) that something is what it is, because of what God "thinks" of it. Now, God has created all things. But we could still say that reality is what it is because God--in his thoughts--constitutes all things.
I have tried long and hard to understand how someone could really be, philosophically, an "Idealist." Does anyone really think that reality is what it is because the human person "constitutes" reality? I doubt it. But God is different, of course and indeed!!!
Greetings Friends. I am currently reading Van Til (Common Grace and the Gospel), while I am working on a book introducing Augustine. I have also been reading Etienne Gilson on a variety of things. With Van Til in mind, it is interesting what Bonaventure could say (I have in front of me Gilson's The Philosophy of St. Bonaventure. Here is Gilson on Bonaventure:
"Consider Adam's intellect: it was endowed with a perfectly right knowledge. Truth, by St. Anselm's definition, is rectitude perceptible only by the soul: which signifies that the thought of God is the measure of all things, that things are true in so far as they are conformed to the thought God has of them, and that our thought in turn is true in so far as it is conformed to the nature of things and to the divine model that they reproduce." (p. 432).
Now, I suspect Van Til could pretty much affirm/say this. Things are the way they are because God has created all things, and he currently is governing all things. In Van Til's terms, there are no "brute facts." Rather, all things are--all the way down--"interpreted" facts. That is, God's understanding or "interpretation" of all things is what a thing (and every thing) is.
Thus--as Van Til works this out, we come to truly understand something, when we understand it in light of, and in agreement with, and in terms of God's understanding or "interpretation" of what a thing is.
It is good to be reminded of why we read, why we think, why we take classes, why we read a good novel. Augustine is often a good one to turn our minds to the basics. For Augustine, we all want to be happy (maybe in another post we can try to push or challenge Augustine here. We shall see).
But, Augustine is on to something. He writes:
"Man has no reason to philosophize except with a view to happiness" (The City of God 19.1.3).
Found in Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of Saint Augustine, 115.