Aristotle and the Ontology of St. Bonaventure

Franziska van Buren

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Monograph - hardback

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Bonaventure’s metaphysical thought and his interpretation of Aristotle

Contemporary scholarship on Bonaventure has characterized him as the Neo-platonic foil to the Aristotelianism of his day. The present book, however, shows a Bonaventure who is highly enthusiastic about utilizing the philosophy of Aristotle and who centers much of his philosophical project around interpreting and understanding the texts of Aristotle. Two goals are central to this book. The first is to shed light on Bonaventure’s greatly understudied ontology and theory of forms, demonstrating how his philosophical system is an important and unique alternative to other medieval Aristotelian systems. The second is to establish, more broadly, how Bonaventure’s interpretation of Aristotle is a resource which should be mined for contemporary efforts in thinking about and reading Aristotle himself.

Ebook available in Open Access.
This publication is GPRC-labeled (Guaranteed Peer-Reviewed Content).


Abbreviations for Editions and Translations of Primary Texts

Chapter 1. Historical Background 
1. The Neoplatonic via Proclus: The One and the Many 
2. The Problem of Neoplatonism in the Christian Tradition 
3. Aristotle via Avicenna and the Early Franciscan Tradition, or What Exactly Is Aristotelianism? 

Chapter 2. The Theory of Forms in Thomas Aquinas 
1. The Structure of Creation 
2. Participation 
3. Participation in the Fourth Way? 
4. Participation in Exemplar Causes? 
5. Conclusion 

Chapter 3. The Controversy: Bonaventure and Aristotle
1. History of Scholarship on Bonaventure 
2. The “Anti-Aristotelianism” of the Collationes 

Chapter 4. An Aristotelian Account of Universals 
1. Form, Esse, Actuality, Goodness 
2. Universal Forms and Seminal Reasons
3. Universals 
4. Conclusion 

Chapter 5. Forms as Caused by God 
1. God Beyond Being 
2. Exemplar Causation 
3. A Multiplicity of Ideas? 
4. Conclusion 

Chapter 6. Forms in the Natural World 
1. Individuation 
2. Light and the Question of a Plurality of Substantial Forms 
3. Causation 
4. Evil 
5. Conclusion 


Primary Sources 
Secondary Sources 


Format: Monograph - hardback

Size: 234 × 156 × 12 mm

226 pages

ISBN: 9789462703568

Publication: April 05, 2023

Series: Ancient and Medieval Philosophy - Series 1 63

Languages: English

Stock item number: 153776

Franziska van Buren is a post-doctoral researcher in ancient philosophy at KU Leuven.

The radical nature of her proposal is likely to give rise to new and fruitful exchanges on the philosophy of Saint Bonaventure. Laure Solignac, Speculum 99/1 (January 2024),


Van Buren’s work makes an impressive contribution to Bonaventure scholarship, which could really reset the whole debate and narrative. It will challenge the historical norms for many a reader and interpreter of Bonaventure—perhaps, also of Aristotle! Indeed, this work will upend some deeply entrenched historical narratives that have proven a major obstacle for understanding Bonaventure as a philosopher.
Christopher M. Cullen, Fordham University