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Throughout the whole history of religious experience there have been two supplementary emphases, the rational and the non-rational, which have vied with each other for men's allegiance. The Thomistic synthesis, with its stress on reason and how reason could prove the existence of God, was thought by many, including St. Bonaventura (1221-1274), to press too far the rational side of religion and thus to detract from the other side, which emphasizes the free g~it of faith, intuitive insight, and mystical experience. This rational emphasis, thought Bonaventura, could lead to intellectual pride and arrogance. It could also lead to a minimizing of that aspect of God which his Augustinian and Neoplatonic leanings led him to stress: the absolute sovereignty of God. [excerpt]

Additional Resources

Some material in the original text is restricted by copyright. Here are links to earlier editions or translations of the same material:

Saint Bonaventura. Itinerarium Mentis in Deum (The Journey of the Mind to God). (1502).


This is a part of Section IV: The Medieval Ferment. The Contemporary Civilization page lists all additional sections ofIdeas and Institutions of Western Man, as well as the Table of Contents for both volumes.

More About Contemporary Civilization:

From 1947 through 1969, all first-year Gettysburg College students took a two-semester course called Contemporary Civilization. The course was developed at President Henry W.A. Hanson’s request with the goal of “introducing the student to the backgrounds of contemporary social problems through the major concepts, ideals, hopes and motivations of western culture since the Middle Ages.”

Gettysburg College professors from the history, philosophy, and religion departments developed a textbook for the course. The first edition, published in 1955, was called An Introduction to Contemporary Civilization and Its Problems. A second edition, retitled Ideas and Institutions of Western Man, was published in 1958 and 1960. It is this second edition that we include here. The copy we digitized is from the Gary T. Hawbaker ’66 Collection and the marginalia are his.