THE DISINTEGRATION OF DIVINE ILLUMINATION THEORY IN THE FRANCISCAN SCHOOL, 1285-1300: PETER OF TRABES, RICHARD OF MIDDLETON, WILLIAM OF WARE

PATRICK JAMES DOYLE, Marquette University

Abstract

The focus of this dissertation is the status of the divine illumination theory between 1285 and 1300. Between 1274 (the death of St. Bonaventure) and 1308 (the death of John Duns Scotus), a doctrine traditionally associated with the Augustinianism of the Franciscan School is called into serious question by some members of this religious order, and they reject it. The writings of three representative Franciscans from this period--Peter of Trabes, Richard of Middleton, and William of Ware--were examined in order to uncover their reasons for dropping the illumination doctrine. Further, since illumination is considered by many to be a central Augustinian doctrine, to abandon this theory might indicate a basic shift away from Franciscan Augustinianism. Five issues which can be viewed as corollary to illumination were additionally chosen for study. They include: (a) the relation between esse and essence in a creature; (b) the plurality of substantial forms in man; (c) the intellective soul as immediate form of the body; (d) the active/passive aspects of human knowing, including the agent/possible intellect distinction; and (e) the identification of the divine ideas with the divine essence. Is a shift away from the traditional Franciscan School's positions on these issues evidenced along with rejection of illumination? Finally, an attempt was made to highlight some points of similarity between each of our three authors' treatments of illumination; points of contact were also suggested between them, Peter Olivi (d. 1298), Henry of Ghent (who taught at Paris between 1276 and 1292)--two of their contemporaries/predecessors--and Duns Scotus, their most famous immediate successor. It appears the three Franciscans in our study rejected illumination primarily because of problems inherent in the teaching. They saw it as an insufficient explanation of human cognition--a metaphor which, if taken literally, diminishes the nobility of human nature (as they understood it), and seems to require a direct vision of the divine ideas. This conclusion is strengthened by the lack of indications that radical shifts have occurred in the so-called corollary doctrines.

Recommended Citation

PATRICK JAMES DOYLE, "THE DISINTEGRATION OF DIVINE ILLUMINATION THEORY IN THE FRANCISCAN SCHOOL, 1285-1300: PETER OF TRABES, RICHARD OF MIDDLETON, WILLIAM OF WARE" (January 1, 1984). Dissertations (1962 - 2010) Access via Proquest Digital Dissertations. Paper AAI8422820.
http://epublications.marquette.edu/dissertations/AAI8422820

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