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Bonnetty, Augustin


Philosopher and historian; b. Entrevaux, France, April 9, 1798; d. Paris, March 26, 1879. Although Bonnetty spent four years at the major seminary of Digne, he decided not to embrace the priesthood. He went to Paris to live and become part of the circle of Catholic intellectuals that included O. P. gerbet and H. F. de lamen nais. In 1830 he founded the review Annales de philosophie chrétienne, which he edited until his death. He also collaborated in editing Université catholique, begun by Gerbet in 1836, completely assumed its direction in 1840, and in 1855 fused it with his own Annales. In these two reviews, Bonnetty dedicated his rich talents entirely to the service of the Church, particularly by propagating what he considered to be Christian philosophy.

Unfortunately, he vigorously defended fideism and traditionalism, although his system was not as extreme as that of Louis G. A. de bonald and Louis E. M. bautain. Originally, he had no intention of discussing the theoretical limits of human reason. He felt it was useless even to pose the question because, according to him, man had never been left on a merely natural level, but from the very beginning was instructed by God in the necessary moral and religious truths. The only problem real to Bonnetty was the origin of man's rational and religious beliefs. In his opinion, all man's knowledge is traceable to a revelation made by God to our first parents. Bonnetty went beyond this historical question, however, in maintaining that man is incapable of discovering truth without the help of revelation. This led him to condemn the scholasticism that upheld the demonstrative power of the human intellect.

Because of these opinions, on June 11, 1855 the Congregation of the Index insisted that Bonnetty subscribe to four propositions (H. Denzinger, Enchiridion symbolorum [Freiburg, 1963, 281114]) maintaining the distinction, but harmony, between faith and reason and exonerating scholasticism from the accusation of rationalism. He submitted to the judgment of the Holy See without reserve and remained faithful to the Church.

Beside his many articles in the Annales, Bonnetty also published Morceaux choisis de l'Église, 2 v. (Paris 1828), which appeared again in 1841 under the title Beautés de l'histoire de l'Église; Documents historiques sur la religion des romains, 4 v. (Paris 186778); and an annotated translation of the Jesuit De Prémaré's work, Vestiges des principaux dogmes chrétiens, tirés des anciens livres chinois (Paris 1879).

Bibliography: e. dublanchy, Dictionnaire de théologie catholique (Paris 190350) 2.1:101926. j. dopp, Dictionnaire d'histoire et de géographie ecclésiastiques (Paris 1912) 9:105860.

[j. h. miller]

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