I'll be reading, glossing, and posting Thomas Aquinas' Summa Contra Gentiles, chapter by chapter, about twice a week, until the final Amen. Your comments, questions, and constructive criticisms are welcome!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

SCG, I, 34–36

Chapter 34: THAT NAMES SAID OF GOD AND CREATURES ARE SAID ANALOGICALLY [Quod ea quae dicuntur de Deo et creaturis dicuntur analogice]

[1] From what we have said, therefore, it remains that the names said of God and creatures are predicated neither univocally nor equivocally but analogically [neque univoce neque aequivoce, sed analogice], that is [hoc est], according to an order or reference to something one [secundum ordinem vel respectum ad aliquid unum].

[2] This can take place in two ways. In one way, according as many things have reference to something one. Thus, with reference to one health we say that an animal is healthy as the subject of health, medicine is healthy as its cause, food as its preserver, urine as its sign.

[3] In another way, the analogy can obtain according as the order or reference of two things is not to something else but to one of them. Thus, being is said of substance and accident according as an accident has reference to a substance [accidens ad substantiam respectum habet], and not according as substance and accident are referred to a third thing [non quod substantia et accidens ad aliquid tertium referantur].

[4] Now, the names said of God and things are not said analogically according to the first mode of analogy, since we should then have to posit something prior to God, but according to the second mode.

[The annotated edition explains the problem to be solved thus: "[W]e call God 'good' as being the origin of goodness, and creatures 'good' as being effects of divine goodness. But at that rate, it appears, we ought to know the goodness of God before we know the goodness of creatures, which seems not to be the case. This objection St Thomas proceeds to clear away."]

[5] In this second mode of analogical predication the order according to the name and according to reality is sometimes found to be the same and sometimes not. For the order of the name follows the order of knowledge [Nam ordo nominis sequitur ordinem cognitionis], because it is the sign of an intelligible conception [quia est signum intelligibilis conceptionis].

When, therefore, that which is prior in reality is found likewise to be prior in knowledge, the same thing is found to be prior both according to the meaning of the name and according to the nature of the thing. Thus, substance is prior to accident both in nature, in so far as substance is the cause of accident, and in knowledge, in so far as substance is included in the definition of accident. Hence, being is said of substance by priority over accident both according to the nature of the thing and according to the meaning of the name. [Et ideo ens dicitur prius de substantia quam de accidente et secundum rei naturam et secundum nominis rationem] …

[6] Thus, therefore [Sic, igitur],
because we come to a knowledge of God from other things
[quia ex rebus aliis in Dei cognitionem pervenimus],
the reality in the names said of God and other things belongs by priority in God
[res nominum de Deo et rebus aliis dictorum per prius est in Deo]
according to His mode of being [secundum suum modum],
but the meaning of the name belongs to God by posteriority [sed ratio nominis per posterius. Unde et nominari dicitur a suis causatis].
And so He is said to be named from His effects
[Unde et nominari dicitur a suis causatis].

[The annotated edition remarks: "This distinction between the 'thing signified' (res nominis) and the 'concept attaching to the name' (ratio nominis) is of interest to the idealist. It supposes -- as Kant also supposes, though Hegel apparently does not -- a distinction between things and our way of looking at them. "

I wonder how different the case is with our own self-consciousness. Even though we come to know ourselves through a diversity of perceptions, memories, feelings, impulses, and actions, and even though we are referred to by many names, yet we know ourselves to be one.]

Chapter 35: THAT MANY NAMES SAID OF GOD ARE NOT SYNONYMS [Quod plura nomina dicta de Deo non sunt synonyma]

[1] It is likewise shown from what has been said that, although names said of God signify the same reality, they are yet not synonyms because they do not signify the same notion [non tamen sunt synonyma: quia non significant rationem eandem].

[2] For [Nam]
just as diverse things are likened through their diverse forms to the one simple reality that God is [sicut diversae res uni simplici rei quae Deus est similantur per formas diversas],
so our intellect through its diverse conceptions is to some extent likened to God [ita intellectus noster per diversas conceptiones ei aliqualiter similatur]
in so far as it is led through the diverse perfections of creatures to know Him [inquantum per diversas perfectiones creaturarum in ipsum cognoscendum perducitur].

[This is fundamental! Thomistic paydirt! The mother lode and lodestone of analogia entis!]

Therefore, in forming many conceptions of one thing, our intellect is neither false nor futile [non est falsus neque vanus], because the simple being of God, as we have shown, is such that things can be likened to it according to the multiplicity of their forms [ei secundum formas multiplices aliqua similari possint]. But in accord with its diverse conceptions our intellect devises diverse names that it attributes to God [Secundum autem diversas conceptiones diversa nomina intellectus adinvenit quae Deo attribuit].

Hence [Et ita], since these names are not attributed to God according to the same notion, it is evident that they are not synonyms [cum non secundum eandem rationem attribuantur, constat ea non esse synonyma], even though [quamvis] they signify a reality that is absolutely one [rem omnino unam significent]. For the signification of the name is not the same, since a name signifies the conception of the intellect before it signifies the thing itself understood by the intellect [nomen per prius conceptionem intellectus quam rem intellectam significet].

Chapter 36: HOW OUR INTELLECT FORMS A PROPOSITION ABOUT GOD [Qualiter intellectus noster de Deo propositionem formet]

[1] From this it is further evident that, although God is absolutely simple, it is not futile [non in vanum] for our intellect [intellectus noster] to form enunciations [enuntiationes format] concerning God in His simplicity by means of composition and division [componendo et dividendo].

[2] For although, as we have said, our intellect arrives at the knowledge of God through diverse conceptions, it yet understands that what corresponds to all of them is absolutely one. For the intellect does not attribute its mode of understanding to the things that it understands [non enim intellectus modum quo intelligit rebus attribuit intellectis] {This is the fatal flaw of linguistic reductionism (à la Quine, Goodman, Whorf-Sapir, Wittgenstein, inter alia): to equate the (mode of) being of referents with the (mode of) being of linguistic action.}; for example, it does not attribute immateriality to a stone even though [quamvis] it knows the stone immaterially [eum immaterialiter cognoscat]. It therefore sets forth the unity of a thing by a composition of words [rei unitatem proponit per compositionem verbalem], which is a mark of identity, when it says, God is good or goodness.

[The annotated edition has it: "All our knowledge is immaterial, or in other words, universal, got by a spiritualisation of the impressions of sense: we know at once hoc aliquid et tale. To know hoc aliquid by itself would be impossible. The first knowledge is a judgement."]

The result is that [ita quod] if there is some diversity in the composition, it is referred to the intellect, whereas the unity is referred to the thing understood by the intellect [si qua diversitas in compositione est, ad intellectum referatur, unitas vero ad rem intellectam]. On the same basis [Et ex hac ratione], our intellect sometimes forms an enunciation about God with a certain mark of diversity in it [cum aliqua diversitatis nota], through the use of a preposition, as when we say, there is goodness in God.
Here, too, there is indicated a certain diversity, which belongs to the intellect [aliqua diversitas, quae competit intellectui],
and a certain unity, which must be referred to the reality [et aliqua unitas, quam oportet ad rem referre].

[The annotated edition remarks: "Kant would have said: The mind does not, or anyhow should not, mistake the forms of its own thought for properties of noumena. Hegel denied that there were any noumena, and held thought-forms to be everything that is. Forms of thought, e.g., universality, were quite recognised by the schoolmen."]

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