Aquinas and Analogy

Aquinas and Analogy

Ralph McInerny
Copyright Date: 1996
Pages: 180
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  • Book Info
    Aquinas and Analogy
    Book Description:

    The basic distinctions McInerny introduces, his criticism of the central piece in the literature, Cajetan's De nominum analogia, the applications he makes to problems such as that of the nature of metaphysics or of logic, his knowledge of contemporary debates on related topics, combine to make his contribution unique

    eISBN: 978-0-8132-2074-1
    Subjects: Philosophy

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-viii)
    (pp. ix-x)
      (pp. 3-29)

      When Thomas de Vio completed his short work De nominum analogia on September 1, 1498, in the Dominican convent of St. Apollinaris in Padua, he had put the interpretation of what St. Thomas has to say about analogous names onto a path it still travels today. At twenty-nine years of age Cajetan was already an intellectual power. He was and is one of the great glories of the Thomistic school and it was, pace Gilson, entirely fitting that his commentary on the Summa theologiae should be printed along with that work in the Leonine Edition. Cajetan was to become master...

      (pp. 30-48)

      The working assumption of the De nominum analogia is that, since the Latin word analogia is borrowed from the Greek, it is Greek usage that is regulative. This assumption is clear from the way Cajetan speaks of the Latin use of the word as abusive, indeed as involving degrees of gaucherie, insofar as it departs more or less from the Greek. Whatever one might say of this as a principle of interpretation, it is only in its narrower implications that it interests us here. No great violence would be done to Cajetan’s opusculum if we were to substitute “Aristotle” whenever...

      (pp. 51-52)

      There is no extended formal discussion of analogy in the writings of St. Thomas Aquinas. What we find are many identifications of terms as analogous and, here and there, the elements of a formal account of what it is such names are instances of. Aquinas’s teaching on analogy, accordingly, must be gleaned from a variety of places in his work and fashioned into a systematic account. One who develops such an account and calls it Thomistic must therefore mean that (a) the elements of the doctrine are drawn from Thomas, and (b) the systematic statement of doctrine is suggested by...

      (pp. 53-85)

      When a term is said to be analogous, it is contrasted with univocal and purely equivocal terms. That is, the analogous term is a type of shared or common term. Things are said to be named univocally when the term they share receives exactly the same account as applied to each, whereas things are said to be named equivocally when, though they share the same term—the same orthographic symbol or the same vocal sound—the term receives quite unrelated accounts as applied to them. The analogous term is located between these two.

      It might be thought that it would...

      (pp. 86-101)

      Whenever Thomas lays out what he means by a word’s being analogous, he refers us to univocal and equivocal terms and notes that the analogous term can be located between these two as extremes.¹ Aristotle’s discussion of equivocal and univocal terms at the outset of his Categories provided the point of reference for the discussion of analogous terms.

      “Things are said to be named equivocally when, though they have a common name, the definition corresponding with the name differs for each.”² It is, of course, the Latin translation of this sentence that influenced Thomas Aquinas. Aequivoca dicuntur quorum solum nomen...

      (pp. 102-115)

      Cajetan tells us that there are three kinds of analogous name, or perhaps four, only one of which is truly such. Others have proposed divisions of analogous names that differ from that of Cajetan, often becoming luxuriant by treating every instance of analogous name as if it were a separate type. When the question is put to the texts of St. Thomas, there is a straightforward answer. In the majority of texts, he tells us that there are two kinds of analogous name.

      Quod quidem dupliciter contingit in nominibus: vel quia multa habent proportionem ad unum, sicut sanum dicitur de...

      (pp. 116-136)

      There seems little reason to doubt that, within the Thomist tradition, it is assumed that a metaphor is one thing, an analogous term another, and that, while metaphor is justifiable–certainly in poetry, but also if for different reasons in Scripture–it is, generally speaking, something a philosopher should take pains to avoid since it can vitiate arguments and obscure issues. St. Thomas himself often characterizes metaphor as the improper use of a term and speaks of poetry, the soul of which is metaphor, as the least informative form of discourse, infima doctrina.¹ When we consider texts carefully, however, the...

      (pp. 137-141)

      One of the weaknesses of Cajetan’s presentation of analogous names is that he begins by saying that there are several kinds of analogous name. This is manifestly a weakness of the kind Socrates loved to exploit, if the various kinds of analogous name are species of a genus. But it is this that Cajetan wishes to deny. He is confronted, as he thinks, with an abuse of terminology. Latins are using Greek loan words in confusing ways. They—St. Thomas included, needless to say—speak of words that are equivocal ab uno or ad unum or in uno, as if...

      (pp. 142-151)

      One of the benefits of achieving clarity about the claim that ‘analogy’ itself is an analogous term is that we see that only one of the meanings of the term refers to analogous names. It follows that there is something quixotic in trying to make those other meanings of ‘analogy’ part of an interpretation of what Thomas means by analogous names. The primary meaning of ‘analogy’ or ‘proportion’ has nothing to do with analogous naming; it signifies a determinate relation of one quantity to another. It would be an obvious mistake to try to make this a kind of analogous...

      (pp. 152-164)

      In this chapter, two matters are discussed: first, the so-called ‘analogy of being’; second, the application of the doctrine of analogous names to talk about God.¹

      The account that we have given of the analogous name, the one we profess to find in Thomas Aquinas, is objected to by many as dealing only with analogy in a logical sense, leaving its ontological and/or metaphysical side untouched. But, the objection continues, the real interest of analogy, and its true role in Aquinas, pace the proponent of the interpretation just alluded to, is metaphysical. It is not so much the analogy of...

    (pp. 165-166)
  7. INDEX
    (pp. 167-169)
  8. Back Matter
    (pp. 170-171)