Thomas Aquinas' doctrine of analogy, a new interpretation
Zimmerman, Jacquelyn Ann
Mackey, Louis H.
Master of Arts
The Thomistic doctrine of analogy is multidimensional and intimately related to Thomas' total metaphysical thought. To grasp its fullest meaning, one must turn to the whole of the Thomistic corpus with the question: what role does analogy play in Thomas? metaphysics? Analogy in the Thomistic sense is both a mode of speech and a basic metaphysical concept, functioning as a mean between two extremes. As a form of speech it enables one to talk about infinite and finite reality while avoiding anthropomorphism and agnosticism. It asserts that when terms are predicated of In- finite Being they are used in a sense which is neither precisely the same nor completely different from the sense in which they are predicated of finite things. As a metaphysical concept "analogy of being" is neither monistic or pluralistic, but says that reality is both one and many, unified within diversity. In Aquinast system there are two principles which underlie and ground analogy: the doctrine of creation and the principle of potency-act. Creation is an effect of God pre-existing in Him both intellectually and naturally and thus resembling Him in some way. There is neither equivocation nor univocation, for though God is truly Agent and His effects are linked to Him through a real relation of likeness, nevertheless no effect perfectly resembles its cause, and God and world remain essentially diverse. The principle of potency-act is the metaphysical expression of the doctrine of creation. All Thomistic arguments for creation are based on the principle that God alone is Pure Act and all other things are composed of potency-act. If God is Pure Act in whom essence and the act of existing are identical, it follows that if any other beings exist they depend upon Him and receive their being from Him. Every being, an analogue of God the Pure Act, participates in Him and imitates Him existentially. Existential participation is intrinsically analogical: there is a community of existence, but not of essence. All four types of analogy in Thomas are properly metaphysical in the sense that they demonstrate and explicate the principle of potency-act and the doctrine of creation. Aquinas is fundamentally concerned to speak of both sides of the God-creature relation, using various modes of analogy in relation to each other and supplementing each other. Analogy of metaphor can speak of God through its use of finite terms: it is man in his most creative and distinctive way expressing something of his relation to God. Analogy of attribution and analogy of proper proportionality are used in mutual relation with some definite overlap in function. The analogy of attribution is used in contexts where the supereminence and transcendence of God is carefully guarded, while in cases where the analogy of proportionality is used, the concern is to guard the integrity of creation. Both analogies tell us that a certain perfection, e.g. love, belongs intrinsically both to God and man and that Love and love are similar. The analogy of attribution, however, tells us that Love belongs first to God, that God is Love, and that man's love is always an imperfect imitation of Gods Love. On the other hand, the analogy of proportionality tells us that there is a similarity between Gods relation to His Love and man's relation to his, so that though God = Love, yet man also has love fully and in proportion to his being. Both these analogies are necessary for Aquinas, whose single aim in using analogy is adequately to account for all aspects of the God-creature relation.