Jacques Maritain Center : The Logic of Analogy / by Ralph McInerny


Since we name as we know, there is always a priority of knowledge with respect to that mode of signification called the analogy of names. Moreover, in the realm of knowledge, there is a use of the term "analogy" which must be distinguished from its use as signifying a type of name. Thus, we speak of reasoning from analogy, coming to know something by an analogy with something else. Such knowledge sometimes occasions an analogous name, at others does not; consequently it must be distinguished from the analogy of names. In drawing this distinction, we shall be calling into question Cajetan's interpretation of the role that proportionality plays in the analogy of names. As a sign of the difficulties inherent in his interpretation, we can recall his subdividing of proportionality, which for him is analogy par excellence, into proper and improper. The former is an analogous name, the latter, curiously enough, is not, although he seems to feel that it has as much claim to the title as what he calls attribution. This suggests that the proportionality is not itself constitutive of the analogous name. Given the difficulty involved in ascertaining the status of metaphor in Cajetan's interpretation, we believe that one of the merits of this chapter is that it provides a clear-cut distinction between metaphor and analogous names. Moreover, knowledge from analogy will be seen as that which can occasion either a metaphor or an analogous name.


In the fifth book of the Nicomachean Ethics, Aristotle argues that the just mean is determined by a proportionality. In the course of his argument, he has some things to say about proportionality itself before he applies it to the problem before him. We want to look at St Thomas's comments on this with a view to obtaining some general information on what it means to come to know something by a proportionality or by analogy.

    Aristotle first establishes that the mean of distributive justice is discovered in a proportionality. This entails holding that the mean is an equality. The unjust is the unequal, consisting in either too much or too little, but where there can be too much or too little, there can also be equal amounts. "Aequale enim est medium inter plus et minus."{1} Equality implies a mean, therefore, and the just is the equal and it is a mean. Further, this mean is had according to a proportionality. "Cum ergo iustum, sit ad aliquid, idest per respectum ad alterum (...), inquantum autem est aequale, sit in quibusdam rebus, secundum quas scilicet attenditur aequalitas inter duas personas."{2}  The just, consequently, involves four terms: "duo enim sunt homines, quibus observatur iustitia: duae sunt res in quibus eis iustitia fit."{3} At least two persons, at least two portions or things, and the just will consist in establishing the same proportion or equality in the things as there is between the two persons. Person: person :: thing : thing. Thus the mean which is equal is established in a proportionality.

    It is at this point that Aristotle says some things about the nature of proportionality as such. What is proportionality?

... proportionalitas nihil aliud est quam aequalitas proportionis; cum scilicet aequalem proportionem habet hoc ad hoc, et illud ad illud. Proportio autem nihil est aliud quam habitudo unius quantitatis ad aliam. Quantitas autem habet rationem mensurae: quae primo quidem invenitur in unitate numerali, et exinde derivatur ad omne genus quantitatis, ut patet decimo Metaphysicorum.{4}
Since a proportionality consists in an equality of proportions, it involves four terms."Four" need not be taken too rigidly, however, for a proportionality can involve only three different members: e.g. 12:6 :: 6:3. Such a proportionality is called continuous as opposed to the disjunctive proportionality exemplified by 8:4 :: 6:3.{5} both are species of geometrical proportionality: whatever numbers figure as terms in the proportionality, the equality sought is "double," "triple," etc., and not a fixed numerical distance, such as "greater by two." When the latter is the case, we have what is called an arithmetical proportionality: e.g. 9:7 :: 5:3.{6} Aristotle employs arithmetical proportionality in speaking of commutative justice. Two properties of proportionalities are pointed out: first, that they are commutative. Thus 8:4 :: 6:3 = 8:6 :: 4:3.{7} Secondly, "in his quae sic sunt proportionalia, quod quae est proportio unius ad alterum, eadem est proportio totius ad totum."{8} Thus, 8:4 :: 6:3 = 8 + 6 : 4 + 3.

    In applying all this to distributive justice, we notice that the proportionality will be geometrical and disjunctive. It cannot be continuous because distributive justice involves two persons and two portions.{9} And, since common goods are not distributed with quantitative equality, but according to merit, the proportionality will not be arithmetical but geometrical. Thus, if Plato works two hours and receives two dollars, Socrates who has worked one hour should receive one dollar, ceteris paribus. This indicates that proportionality is a device whereby we come to knowledge of something. Say we wonder how much Socarates is owed. The proportionality provides knowledge of this unknown. Two hours labor : one hour of labor :: two dollars : X = two hours, two dollars :: one hour : one dollar. In commutative justice, where equal quantity is the mean, Aristotle uses the example of lines. Thus is Socrates has 1 and Plato 3, we add the quantities and divide by two to get our measure. Then Plato is seen to have in excess of the mean the same quantity whereby Socrates is short of it. When this amount it taken from Plato and given to Socrates, justice is done.

    Obviously the nature of our interest dictates that we run the risk of distorting the context from which we are drawing what is relevant to our discussion. We must, however, raise one question which will do something towards drawing attention to the context. In presenting the above doctrine, we might have given the impression that the search for what is just is a thoroughly objective calculus, as impersonal and as independent of the character of the calculator as mathematics itself. Yet we know that the judgments of the virtuous man, prudential judgments, are certain in a different way than are scientific judgments. "Sed firtus est certior omni arte, et etiam medior, sicut et natura."{10} The prudential judgment is connatural and its truth consists not in conformity with reality, but in conformity with rectified appetite.{11} The nature of moral decisions makes the apparent mathematizing of the just mean difficult to understand, and yet even in other areas we may wonder what permits the invocation of the mathematics of proportionality.


We have seen that one of the properties of proportionality is that it is commutative or alternating (A:B :: C:D = A:C :: B:D) and we have seen St Thomas make use of this property in discussing distributive justice. Sometimes, however, he will disagree with an argument based on alternating proportionals, not because of its basis, but because it is wrongly understood. In discussing whether two bodies can be in the same place, he is faced with an objection that just as one body is to one place, so are two bodies to two places. But one body can't be in two places, so two bodies can't be in one place.

Ad primum ergo dicendum, quod proportione commutata sic est utendum: sicut se habet primum ad secundum, ut duo ad tria, ita se habet tertium ad quartum; ergo commutatim, sicut se habet primum ad tertium, ita et secundum ad quartum, idesttria ad sex. Et secundum hoc ratio sic deberet procedere. Sicut se habet unum corpusad unum locum, ita duo corpora ad duo loca; ergo sicut unum ad duo corpora, itaunus locus ad duo loca; et sica non sequitur quod si unum corpus non possit esse in duobus locis, duo corpora non possint esse in uno loco.{12}
Here it is the failure to argue correctly from alternating proportionals and not the appeal to mathematical properties which is criticized. At other times, however, St Thomas will reject its applicability to the matter under discussion.{13} "...cum gratia sit perfectio naturae, non sic se habet gratia ad naturam sicut e converso. Commutata autem proportio non in omnibus tenet, sed in mensuris continuis vel discretis."{14} Now something of the same sort was suggested in the commentary on the Ethics. In discussing the mean of moral virtue in terms of the more, the less and the equal, St Thomas observes, "Ad cuius evidentiam oportet praeaccipere quod tria quaedam, idest plus et minus et aequale, tam in contingentibus continuis, quam etiam in quolibet alio divisbili, contingit accipere, sive per accidens, puta per intensionem et remissionem qualitatis in subiecto."{15} So too in discussing proportionality with respect to justice, St Thomas writes, "Et ideo numerus primo quidem invenitur in numero unitatum: et exinde derivatur ad omne aliud quantitatis genus quod secundum rationem numeri mensuratur."{16} Wherever number can be found, proportionality can be found. By asking now what is meant by the genera quantitatis, we will see how the notion of proportionality can be saved wherever there is quantity. Then we will want to reexamine what was said earlier about the extension of the notions of proportion and proportionality beyond quantity however taken.

    The quantified is divisible by those things which are in it, parts which, unlike essential parts, are of the same nature as the whole.{17} A multitude is divisible into non-continuous parts, magnitude into parts which are continua.{18} The quantity of a thing is revealed by a measure; that of multitude by one, that of magnitude by a minimum magnitude. What can be meant by a minimum magnitude? Surely there is no shortest possible line in the mathematical sense. St Thomas has spoken of the priority of the one as measure: first of all, it is the measure of discrete quantity, of number, and then it is extended to the other genera of quantity. This is what happens in the case of proportionality in continuous quantity. Lines, for example, have to be numbered. E.g. two  inches: one inch :: six inches : three inches. In this order we take the inch as indivisible, as measure, in the way in which one, the principle of number, is indivisible. But in continuous quantity, the measure is established only by convention, since the line we call an inch is infinitely divisible.{19} Two inches, three inches, etc. are not so much numbers as what is numbered,{20} and the one is not one but something one. "Nam unum in aliis speciebus quantitatis non est ipsum unum, sed aliquid cui accidit unum; sicut dicimus unam manum, aut unam magnitudinem."{21} In this way, there is a measure in weights and motions as well as magnitudes.{22} Some things are modes of quantity only accidentally, insofar as they are accidents of quanta. For example, color is quantified only accidentally, thanks to surface.{23} This white is greater than that insofar as the first is the color of a surface four feet square, the other of a surface two feet square.

    What has this to do with proportionality? "Quia vero proportio est quaedam habitudo quantitatum adinvicem; ubicumque dicitur quantum aliquo modo, ibi potest dici proportio. Et primo quidem in numeris; quia omnes in prima mensura, quae est unitas, sunt ad invicem commensurabiles."{24} And where there can be proportion, there can be proportionality. Thus, with respect to quantity, proportion is verified first in discrete quantity, then in continuous quantity insofar as it is numerable; then it is verified in those things which are called quantity per posterius, such as motion, time, weights;{25} finally, in those things like colors which are quantities only accidentally. We are also told of a proportion among continuous quantities which is not numerical; namely, the incommensurability of the diagonal of the square with its sides. There is a proportion between diagonal and sides, but it cannot be expressed numerically whether the numerical proportion be stated vaguely (greater than) or determinately (double, half again as much, etc.), since, however stated, the numerical proportion implies a measure, i.e. commensurability.{26} Thus the notion of proportion is quite complex even in its proper domain, quantity. Proportionality as derived  from the properties of numbers will always involve expressing a determinate distance, that is, a determinate relation of one quantity to another. It is only in virtue of an extension of meaning, the formation of a ratio communis ("quaelibet habitudo unius ad alterum,") that we can speak of proportion outside the realm of quantity. According to its proper notion (ratio propria) proportionality, like one and measure, applies only to quantity. So too the law of alternating proportionals is applicaable only where the proper notion of proportionality is verified.{27} Where we do not have continuous or discrete measures, proportionals do not alternate.{28}


When in the first book of the Physics Aristotle gives his own account of the principles of the coming to be and being of those things which are as a result of a change, he begins by noting that when we speak of a change, we sometimes use simple, sometimes complex terms. Consider the following statements. (1) Man becomes musical. (2) The nonmusical becomes musical. (3) The non-musical man becomes a musical man. In (1) and (2), that to which the change is attributed and the term of the change are expressed simply. In (3) both are complex or composite. Various other differences between these expressions of a change are pointed out. In the case of (2) and (3), besides the mode of expression given, we could use the form, From X, Y comes to be. For example, From non-musical, musical comes to be; From the non-musical man, musical man comes to be. In the case of (1), however, we would not so readily say, From man, musical comes to be. Our way of speaking suggests this difference between our three original expressions: the grammatical subjects of (2) and (3) are non-permanent terms of the change. Non-musical ceases to be when musical has come to be. The subject of (1) is permanent; man does not cease to be when the change has reached its term.{29} On this basis, Aristotle asks us to notice that any change involves a subject which persists throughout the change and is that to which the change is attributed. Moreover, although the subject of (1) is simple and permanent, it must be understood in a dual manner. For it is at once the subject of the change and lacking that which will be its as the result of the change.{30}

    Aristotle wants now to show that any natural change involves a subject which persists throughout the change. How will he do this? His method, St Thomas points out, is induction.{31} It is up to the metaphysician to prove that there is a subject of unqualified becoming;{32} the natural philosopher arrives at the generality by an induction from the various kinds of change. The fact that the induction is made is sufficient indication that the previous analysis is not thought to have arrived at the general truth. It is important to bear this in mind: fieri applies to changes in different categories and cannot, therefore, be a univocal term. The previous analysis has shown that a permanent subject is involved in such changes as a man's becoming musical. Moreover, this suggests something about other things which are said to come to be, even though they are patently different changes from the acquisition of an accident. We say of Socrates that he has come to be; that before he came to be he simply speaking was not. Only here is absolute change attributed to Socrates, for Socrates comes to be only in a certain respect when he grows, blushes, learns to play the violin and moves from place to place. Is there a subject of such absolute or unqualified change as that whereby Socrates comes to be? "Sed etiam in substantiis, si quis considerat, manifestum fit quod fiunt ex subiecto: videlicet enim quod plantae et animalia fiunt ex semine."{33} "Seed" here is not the permanent subject, but rather a sign that such a subject is involved. The question remains, how do we know that such a subject is involved?

Et dicit quod natura quae primo subiicitur mutationi, idest materia prima, non potest sciri per seipsam, cum omne quod cognoscitur, cognoscatur per suam formam; materia autem prima consideratur subiecta omni formae. Sed scitur per analogiam, idest secundum proportionem. Sic enim cognoscimus quod lignum est aliquid praeter formam scamni et lecti, quia quandoque est sub una forma, quandoque sub alia. Cum igitur videamus hoc quod est aeer quandoque fieri aquam, oportet dicere quod aliquid existens sub forma aeris, quandoque sit sub forma aquae: et sic illud est aliquid praeter formam aeris, sicut lignum est aliquid praeter formam scamni et praeter formam lecti. Quod igitur sic se habet ad substantias naturales, sicut se habet aes ad statuam et lignum ad lectum, et quodlibet materiale et informe ad formam, hoc dicimus esse materiam primam.{34}
This procedure implies that we accept the fact that such substantial units as Socrates come to be and cease to be. As well, we accept the fact that such changes as Socrates becoming tan or musical take place. By analysis of this last kind of change, we have seen that it involves a subject which persists throughout the change. To make the notion of persistent subject more obvious, we appeal to changes due to human art. The carpenter takes wood and fashions it into a table. Since he might as easily have used it to make a chair, we are able to distinguish the shape or determination which makes wood to be a table or chair from the wood itself. We return now to the observation that from air, water comes to be; from seed, plant comes to be. The assumption is that these are recognized as being more drastic changes than that whereby a plant changes color or a man becomes musical. The flower comes to be on the condition that the seed ceases to be and yet it is to seed that the change is attributed in "The seed becomes a plant." This suggest what has already been said about the qualified change, "Man becomes musical." St Thomas says, accordingly, that it is by a comparison{35} or analogy with other changes that we come to know the subject of absolute or unqualified becoming. For just as shape is other than the wood and musical is other than man, so it would seem that when one substantial unit is said to come from another, there is a subject which is other than that determination whereby we denominate the substantial units seed and plant. Now the wood can be known through its natural properties without appeal to the shapes imposed upon it by man; Socrates can be known as to what he is, and his definition will not include musical. But if the subject of absolute becoming is something other than substantial determinations, it cannot be known in itself.{36} It must be known, if it is to be known, by means of something other than itself, by an analogy or comparison with somethings else. And yet the question arises, how can it be known by comparison with the subject of artificial change or the subject of natural but accidental or qualified change, since it is so utterly different from them? The similitudo proportionum does {37} not imply that all these are subjects in the same sense; as a matter of fact, the only description we have of prime matter is a series of negations.{38} What we set out to know remains unknown in itself; whatever we know of it is by reference to something else: to the forms which determine it or to the subjects of other changes.{39} Let us turn now to the kind of naming which can be based on this kind of knowing.


It is extremely important to realize that knowledge by analogy, so called because it involves a similitudo proportionum, is quite distinct from the analogy of names. To be sure, when we come to know X by analogy with Y, this leads to calling X a Y. The point is, this can amount to nothing more than a metaphorical use of Y's name. and, as it happens, when St Thomas speaks of names applied metaphorically to God, he will say that they are based on a proportionality, or on a similitudo proportionalitas.{40} As for names said properly of God, he will say that they are based on a similtudo analogiae as opposed to a similtudo proportionalitatis.{41} A fairly common example of a name applied metaphorically to God is "fire." What leads to the predication of such a name to God? Precisely a proportionality. As fire destroys fuel, so God destroys impurity.{42} Or, God is called "sun" because he is the principle of spiritual life just as the sun is of corporeal life.{43} An examination of discussions of such metaphorical predicates reveals that they are based on a similarity of effects. Thus, "living waters" are so called because their activity is like that which follows on soul; the name of the principle of the latter effects is transferred to water as if it had the same cause of movement.{44} St Thomas points this out as the basis of names applied metaphorically to God; e.g. names of passions are predicated of God "secundum similitudinem effectus."{45} When we are angry, we punish those who cause our passion; but God punishes the sinner, so we say that God is angry with the transgressor. So too we speak of the eye of God, or attribute the names of other parts of the body to him, "ratione suorum actuum secundum quamdam similitudinem."{46} Generally speaking, things which are said metaphorically of God "dicuntur de eo per similitudinem proportionabilitatis ad effectum aliquem."{47}

    Should this terminology cause us to become confused about the difference between predicating a term metaphorically and predicating it analogically? Cajetan and Sylvester, we remember, were not a little vacillating on this score. They tend to refer metaphor to what they call "analogy of attribution." On that basis, "healthy," St Thomas' favorite example of an analogous name, would seemingly be a metaphor. Indeed, the difficulty could be pointed up with texts of St Thomas. He writes that names said metaphorically of God are said per prius of creatures and of God only because of a similarity of proportions.{48} But if said per prius of creatures, aren't they said per posterius of God and with reference to creatures? And isn't that what we mean by an analogous name? Or consider this text.

Respondeo dicendum quod per prius dicitur nomen de illo in quo salvatur tota ratio nominis perfecte, quam de illo in quo salvatur secundum aliquid; de hoc enim dicitur quasi per similitudinem ad id in quo perfecte salvatur, quia omnia imperfecta sumuntur a perfectis. Et inde est quod hoc nomen leo per prius dicitur de animali in quo tota ratio leonis salvatur, quod proprie dicitur leo, quam de aliquo homine in quo invenitur aliquid de ratione leonis, ut puta audacia vel fortitudo, vel aliquid huiusmodi: de hoc enim per similitudinem dicitur.{49}
Does this mean that, because in analogous names the ratio propria is saved in only one, that it is said metaphorically of everything else? If this were what St Thomas meant, names common to God and creature would be said only metaphorically of creatures, since in such names what the name signifies is found perfectly only in God. Clearly, unless we can distinguish metaphor from the analogous name, we shall have arrived at confusion compounded.

    Metaphors are said to be based on a similitude of proportions thanks to which a name is transferred. Thus, Christ is called the lion of the tribe of Juda. Why? Well, because just as lions act bravely, so too does Christ. The metaphor is based on the similarity of effects, but notice that it is not the name of the effect which is transferred, but "lion." What does "lion" mean? Such and such an irrational animal. But Christ does not fall under that signification; in other words, the term "lion" cannot properly suppose for Christ. Metaphor, John of St Thomas has wisely said, is a matter of improper supposition. What does that mean? Simply that a word is predicated of something which does not fall under what the word signifies. If all the things which are lions were brought together Christ would not be among them. "Lion" does not signify something thanks to which it can suppose for Christ; if it is predicated of him this is because he acts in a way similar to the things for which the term does properly suppose. When St Thomas says that metaphors are based on not just any kind of similarity, "sed secundum convenientiam in illo quod est de propria ratione rei cuius nomen transfertur,"{50} he does not mean that bravery is part of the definition of lion; otherwise he would not speak of a similarity of effects. What he seems rather to mean is that bravery is associated with lion in a particular way, as if it were a property.{51}

    A name is used metaphorically when that to which it is transferred does not fall under the ratio propria of the name. Does this enable us to distinguish metaphor from analogous names? Seemingly not, since only one of the things of which the analogous name is said saves its ratio propria. What distinguishes the analogous name from metaphor is this: those things which do not verify the proper notion of the common name are nonetheless properly, if less so, signified by it and consequently it can properly suppose for them. This is just what St Thomas suggests when he opposes the similitudo analogiae and the similitudo proportionalitatis which is metaphor.{52}

Dicendum quod proprietates divinae ostenduntur in creaturis dupliciter: vel secundum similitudinem analogiae, sicut vita, sapientia et hujusmodi, quae analogice de Deo et creaturis conveniunt, et sic divinae proprietates praecipue ostenduntur in rationali natura: vel secundum similitudinem proportionalitatis, secundum quod spirituales proprietates corporalibus metaphorice designantur, et hoc modo in igne ostenduntur proprietates divinae.{53}
It might be thought that this text means that in names said analogically of God and creature no similitude of proportionality is involved. Yet we are told that we come to knowledge of what God is by an analogy with creatures, something which would seeming imply - creature : wisdom :: God : wisdom, just as - fire : purifies :: God : purifies. We have arrived at the point where our dissatisfaction with the view that "life" said of God means "as life is to the creature so is life to God - only proportionally" can be explained. To do this we appeal to a beautiful text.

    This text, which has not been given the attention it deserves in discussions of the analogy of names, is in function of the question, "Utrum lux proprie invenitur in spiritualibus?"{54} The word discussed is particularly fortunate for our purposes, as will appear. Is "light" said properly, that is non-metaphorically, of spiritual things? For instance, is "In the light of new evidence, I understand..." a metaphorical use of "light"? St Thomas begins by noting that theologians are divided on the matter. St Augustine holds that "light" not only properly signifies spiritual things, but does so more properly than it signifies corporeal things. St Ambrose and Denis, on the other hand, feel that "light" is said only metaphorically of spiritual things. Surely the latter view is correct, St Thomas suggests, for nothing which is per se sensible, which involves matter in its very definition, can belong to spiritual things save metaphorically. To be sure, something can be analogically common to the corporeal and spiritual, but nothing per se sensible can be common to both. Take "being" and "heat." "Being" is not per se sensible and can therefore be common to corporeal and spiritual things, but "heat" cannot be thus common precisely because its signification restricts it to the sensible. Elsewhere{55} St Thomas uses "cognitio" and "sensus" to make the same point. Now surely "light" is like "heat," not "being," and St Ambrose and Denis hold the correct view.

    Having rendered the obvious position its due, St Thomas proceeds to examine that of St Augustine more closely. This is not surprising, nor is the final acceptance of St Augustine's view as the best. Especially where the Hexameron is concerned, St Thomas prefers St Augustine, and he has earlier said that to interpret "light" and "day" as signifying spiritual things properly "subtilis et congrua est."{56}

    We must remember, St Thomas says, that corporeal things are transferred to the spiritual by a similitude of proportionality. His next remark is of the utmost importance: et hanc similitudinem oportet reducere in aliquam communitatem univocationis vel analogiae. This is the question raised by the diversity of opinion among the theologians mentioned. There is a proportional similitude: light is to spiritual things as light is to corporeal things. Both Augustine and Ambrose presuppose this similitude: they differ in their interpretation of the signification of "light." Ambrose insists on the fact that "light" properly signifies that whereby things can be seen with bodily eyes; thus its proper meaning involves the material, sensible order. As said of spiritual things, it cannot properly suppose for them; it is a metaphor based on similar effects - just as God is called Sun. How then can Augustine be right? His view recognizes that the first and most proper meaning of "light" (its ratio propria) involves matter, for it refers to the external sense. However, there is also a common notion (ratio communis) signified by the term, namely "principle of manifestation." Taken as signifying this common notion, which contains no reference to matter, spiritual things can be properly signified by the term and it can properly suppose for them in a proposition. What is more, the term which then signifies spiritual things, does so more properly than it does corporeal things. This requires explanation.

    We have just traced the order of imposition of the term "light." It is first assigned to signify a notion expressing something in the sensible order, that which make bodies visible, and this is its ratio propria. Given this meaning, only those things are signified by the term which save this ratio propria. Used of anything else, it is used metaphorically and supposes improperly. However, if usage indicates that the meaning of the name has been extended, we can recognize a ratio communis of the name. This is what Augustine feels has happened with "light." If we consider the things which fall under the common signification of the term, the spiritual principle of manifestation, e.g. the agent intellect, is really ontologically more perfect than the sun. This scale of priority and posteriority is secundum ordinem rerum, of course; according to the order of imposition of the name, the sun is most properly signified by the term.{57} That is, it is still true that the "ratio propria nominis non invenitur nisi in uno tantum."{58} As St Thomas says, "Lux verius est in spiritualibus quam in corporalibus, non secundum propriam rationem lucis, sed secundum rtionem manifestationis." This has nothing to do with intrinsic possession of a quality. Notice too that if we have in mind the proper notion of the name, spiritual things are not signified by the name and it is used only metaphorically of them; if we have in mind the common notion, they are signified by it, and secundum rem that notion is verified most perfectly of them.{59} This is reminiscent of the way we can deny and then admit that accidents have an essence.{60}

    What distinguishes the analogy of names from metaphorical usage is this: the former have been given an extended meaning and are no longer univocal terms having only a ratio propria. Thanks to their ratio communis they have become analogous. The metaphor, on the other hand, is a univocal term used in a proposition to suppose for something which does not fall under its signification. Thus the term is used improperly. Since it is precisely the ratio communis which distinguishes the analogous name from metaphorical usage, it is easy to see why Cajetan has difficulty with metaphor and why, finally, his "analogy of attribution" becomes indistinguishable from metaphorical usage. Speaking of the example of "healthy," he argues{61} that there is no ratio communis of the term. Animal, urine, medicine, etc. all agree in this that the id a quo of the word sanum applied to each of them is sanitas. However, no common reference to sanitas can be abstracted from all these special relations, that is, there is no ratio communis of the term. He gives two reasons for this alleged impossibility. First, it is false to say that the term "healthy" means "pertaining or related in some way to health." Secondly, if such a ratio communis were possible, healthy" would be a univocal term. These are particularly useful objections, since they are bound to occur to one when he reads the text on "light" we have just seen. If you have a ratio communis lucis, why doesn't the term thereby become univocal?

    First of all, the example of "healthy." There is a ratio communis of the term insofar as it is analogous. "Respectus ad sanitatem" or "proportio ad sanitatem" is that common notion thanks to which animal is called healthy as subject of health, urine as sign, medicine as cause. This is clear from chapter thirty-four of the first book of Contra Gentiles, the third lesson (n. 2197) of the commentary on the eleventh book of the Metaphysics and many other texts. When Cajetan says that it is not true that "healthy" signifies this, we can agree only if we restrict the name to its proper notion, when "healthy" means what has a quality whereby there is a proper proportion among its humors.

    Does a ratio communis entail univocity? Does the common notion "principle of manifestation" make "light" univocally common to spiritual and corporeal things? Well, does the ratio communis entis  make "being" univocally common to substance and accident? Cajetan has referred us to the definition of univocal terms. Things are named univocally which have a common name signifying exactly the same notion as said of each of them. It is true that both the univocal and analogous name have a ratio communis; the difference lies in the way the notion is common. The analogous name has a proper notion as well as a common notion which is why, if the meaning of the name is sought, the answer will most likely be the proper notion. Moreover, if the word is used, it is going to be taken to mean only the proper notion unless some indication to the contrary is given.{62} In the univocal name, there is no such distinction between a proper and common notion: the two are identical because it is not predicated per prius et posterius. That is why the proper notion is said to be saved by each of the things of which the univocal name is said. However, although the analogous name has a common as well as a proper notion, the latter is saved in only one of the things of which the name is said. The other things save the ratio communis in such a way that when we explain what the term means, the proper notion enters into their notion. Thus, the proper notion is "that which has health" and this is verified only in the animal. When urine is called healthy, it is denominated from healthy, not directly, but with reference to the animal. This is what is meant when it is said that the analogous name is divided by diverse modes and not by formal differences.{63}

    A final word on metaphor. The metaphor consists of speaking of one thing in terms of another and applying the name of the latter to the former although it does not fall under what is signified by the name. Such a procedure is called for when what we want to talk about is obscure and unintelligible to us and the best we can do is refer it to something less obscure on the basis of a similarity. The similarity of proportionality does not argue for any substantial similarity in the lion and Christ, but for a similarity of mode of action. On this basis, the term "lion" is transferred (μεταφερεῖν) to Christ and by a quick shuttle of the mind goes through the proportionality and there is surprise and delight. Poetical knowledge is characterized by metaphor, St. Thomas feels, and it has this character because of the obscurity of its subject matter. Perhaps it would not be far wrong to call that subject human existence, man's involvement in the world. Just as the mythos of tragedy is a principle of intelligibility, imposing an intelligible pattern on action (action which, in ordinary life is obscure, anything but intelligible in its ultimate purport, in a word, for the most part absurd), so the linguistic  device of metaphor casts a slanting and delightful light. Whether it is nature which is personified or non-human terms which are applied to man, poetic knowledge is fundamentally anthropocentric. For a somewhat similar reason, Scripture makes use of metaphor - that of which it would speak is remote from and unintelligible to us.{64} Does the poet lie by means of his delightful abuse of terms? No deception is intended and "aliquis loquens per metaphoricas locutiones non mentitur; non enim intendit sua locutione ducere in res quae per nomina significantur, sed magis in illas quarum illae res, significatae per nomina, similitudinem habent."{65} As Cajetan points out, metaphors are not verified of the things of which they are said according to their proper signification, but rather according to a similarity to what is properly signified by the term.{66} Since we first know sensible things, the transfer of their names to non-sensible things must first involve a metaphor. Then, with the sanction of usage and the recognition of a common notion, these names becomes analogous. Thus, while some metaphors become but tired clichés, banalities incapable any longer of eliciting the delight and wonder which was their original justification, others become analogous names thanks to an extension of their meaning. Philosophical terms are always open to the charge of being metaphors, at least philosophical terms in the Aristotelian tradition. how quaint and metaphorical to call white a μορφή, to call man a ὕλη in "Man becomes white."{67} Precisely, if usage had not sanctioned the extended meaning whereby these terms are there used properly. That is why St Thomas can say that the subject of absolute becoming is not called matter metaphorically. "Nec etiam utitur hic figurata locutione, sed exemplari."{68} As the example of "light" makes clear, we can always say that an analogous name is used metaphorically of what doesn't fall under its proper notion if we ignore the common notion.


{1} In V Ethic., lect. 4, n. 933.

{2} Ibid.,  n. 934.

{3} Ibid.

{4} Ibid., lect. 5, n. 939.

{5} Ibid., n. 940.

{6} Ibid., lect. 6, n. 950.

{7} Ibid.,  lect. 5, n. 941.

{8} Ibid.,  n. 942.

{9} Ibid., n. 945.

{10} In II Ethic.,  lect. 6, n. 315.

{11} In VI Ethic., lect. 4, nn. 1172-3.

{12} Quodl. I,  q. 10, q. 2, ad 1.

{13} Q.D. de ver., q. 27, a. 7, obj. 4 et ad 4; q. 29, a. 8, ad 7.

{14} Q.D. de ver., q. 29, a. 8, ad 7.

{15} In II Ethic.,  lect. 6, n. 310.

{16} In V Ethic.,  lect 5, n. 939.

{17} In V. Metaphys., lect. 15, n. 977.

{18} Ibid.,  n. 978.

{19} In X Metaphys.,  lect. 2, n. 1953.

{20} In IV Physic.,  lect. 17, n. 11: "...numerus dicitur dupliciter. Uno modo id quod numeratur actu, vel quod est numerabile, ut puta cum dicimus decem homines aut decem equos; qui dicitur numerus numeratus, quia est numerus applicatus rebus numeratis. Alio modo dicitur numerus quo numeramus, idest ipse numerus absolute acceptus, ut duo, tria, quatuor."

{21} In X Metaphys.,  lect. 2, n. 1939.

{22} Ibid.,  nn. 1944-1952.

{23} Cf.  In V Metaphys. lect. 15, n. 984.

{24} In de sensu et sensato, lect. 7, n. 98.

{25} In V Metaphys.,  lect. 15, n. 985.

{26} Ibid.., lect. 17, nn. 1020-1.

{27} In I Post. Analt.,  lect. 12, n. 8: "Dicit ergo quod esse proportionale commutabiliter convenit numeris, et lineis, et firmis, idest corporibus, et temporibus. Sicut autem de singulis determinatum est aliquando seorsum, de numeris quidem in arithmetica, de lineis et firmis in geometria, de temporibus in naturali philosophia vel astrologia, ita contingens est, quod de omnibus praedicitis commutatim proportionari una demonstratione demonstretur. Sed ideo commutatim proportionari, de singulis horum seorsum demonstratur, quia non est nominatum illud sommune, in quo omnia ista sunt unum. Etsi enim quantitas omnibus his communis est, tamen sub se et alia praeter haec, comprehendit, sicut orationem et quaedam quae sunt quantitates per accidens."

{28} Q.D. de ver.,  q. 29, a. 8, ad 7.

{29} In I Physic.,  lect. 12, nn 4-5.

{30} Cf. ibid.,  nn. 7-9.

{31} Ibid., n. 10.

{32} Cf. Chapter VI, note 100.

{33} In I Physic., lect. 12, n. 10.

{34} Ibid., lect. 13, n. 9.

{35} In Boethii de trin., q. 4, a. 2.

{36} Ibid.

{37} In Metaphys.,  lect. 2, n. 1277: "Exemplificat autem hic membra in artificialibus, in quibus aes est ut materia, figura ut 'forma speciei,' idest dans speciem, statua compositum ex his. Quae quidem exemplificatio non est accipienda secundum veritatem, sed secundum similitudinem proportionis. Figura enim et aliae formae artificiales non sunt substantiae, sed accidentia quaedam. Sed quia hoc modo se habet figura ad aes in artificialibus, sicut forma substantialis ad materiam in naturalibus, pro tanto utitur hoc exemplo, ut demonstret ignotum per manifestum."

{38} Ibid.,  n. 1289.

{39} Cf. In Boethii de trin., q. 4, a. 2; Q.D. de ver.,  q. 10, a. 4.

{40} Summa theologiae, Suppl., q. 69, a. 1, ad 2; I Sent., d. 34, q. 3, a. 1, ad 2; ibid.,  d. 45, q. 1, a. 4; II Sent.,  d. 16, q. 1, a. 2;  III Sent.,  d. 2, q. 1, a. 1, sol. 1, ad 3; IV Sent.,  d. 1, q. 1, a. 1, sol. 5, ad 3.

{41} Il Sent.,  d. 16, q. 1, a. 2, ad 5.

{42} III Sent. 2, q. 1, a. 1, sol. 1, ad 3.

{43} Suppl., q. 69, a. 1, ad 2.

{44} Ia, q. 18, a. 1, ad 3.

{45} Ia, q. 19, a. 11; ibid.,  a. 7, ad 1; ibid., q. 3, a. 2, ad 2.

{46} Ia, q. 3, a. 1, ad 3.

{47} I Sent.,  d. 45, q. 1, a. 4; Ia, q. 3, a. 1, ad 3.

{48} Ia, q. 13, a. 6: "Sic ergo omnia nomina quae metaphorice de Deo dicuntur, per prius de creaturis dicuntur quam de Deo, quia dicta de Deo nihil aliud significant quam similitudines ad tales creaturas. Sicut enim ridere dictum de prato nihil aliud significat quam quod pratum similiter se habet in decore cum floret sicut homo cum ridet, secundum similitudinem proportionis; sic nomen leonis dictum de Deo nihil aliud significat quam quod Deus similiter se habet ut fortiter operetur in suis operibus, sicut leo in suis. Et sic patet quod secundum quod dicuntur de Deo, eorum significatio definiri non potest, nisi per illud quod de creaturis dicitur."

{49} Ia, q. 33, a. 3.

{50} Q.D. de ver.,  q. 7, a. 2.

{51} It is of interest to note that the lion is called brave metaphorically. Cf. In VII Ethic., lect. 6, n. 1399.

{52} Suppl., q. 69, a. 1, ad 2; I Sent.,  d. 34, q. 3, a. 1, ad 2.

{53} Il Sent., d. 16, q. 1, a. 2, ad 5.

{54} II Sent.,  d. 13, q. 1, a. 2: Respondeo quod in hoc videtur esse quaedam diversitas inter sanctos. Augustinus enim videtur velle quod lux in spiritualibus verius inveniatur quam in corporalibus. Sed Ambrosius et Dionysius videntur innuere quod in spiritualibus non nisi metaphorice inveniatur. Et hoc quidem videtur magis verum: quia hihil per se sensibile spiritualibus convenit nisi metaphorice, quia quamvis aliquid commune possit inveniri analogice in spiritualibus et corporalibus, non tamen aliquid per se sensibile determinat, ut patet in ente et calore; ens enim non est per se sensibile, quod utrique commune est; calor autem, quod per se sensibile est in spiritualibus proprie non invenitur. Unde cum lux sit qualitas per se visibilis, et species quaedam determinata in sensibilibus, non potest dici in spiritualibus nisi vel aequivoce vel metaphorice.

    Sciendum tamen quod transferuntur corporalia in spiritualia per quamdam similitudinem, quae quidem est similitudo proportionabilitatis; et hanc similitudinem oportet reducere in aliquam communitatem univocationis vel analogiae; et sic est in proporito: dicitur enim lux in spiritualibus illud quod ita se habet ad manifestationem intellectivam sicut se habet lux corporalis ad manifestationem sensitivam. Manifestatio enim verius est in spiritualibus; et quantum ad hoc, verum est dictum augustini, ubi supra, quod lux verius est in spiritualibus quam in corporalibus, non secundum propriam rationem lucis, sed secundum rationem manifestationis, prout dicitur in canonica Joannis, quod 'omne quod manifestatur, lux est'; per quem modum omne quod manifestum est, clarum dicitur, et omne occultum obscurum."Cf. Ia, q. 67, a. 1. Hayen (op. cit., p. 84) is one of the few to allude to the passage just quoted from the Sentences, but he takes the transition from metaphor to analogy to be based on a real relation. "Mais, il importe de la remarquer, ce n'est pas la proportionalitas comme telle qui assure la réalité de la relation entre les deux termes rapportés l'un à l'autre."

{55} I Sent., d. 22, q. 1, a. 2.

{56} Il Sent.,  d. 12, q. 1, a. 3.

{57} I Contra Gentiles, cap. 34; cf. infra Chapter IX, section 4.

{58} Ia,  q. 16, a. 6.

{59} Cf. Q.D. de ver., q. 1, a. 8.

{60} In VII Metaphys., lect. 4.

{61} Cajetan, op. cit. n. 51.

{62} In I Periherm., lect. 5, n. 19.

{63} I Sent.,  d. 22, q. 1, a. 3, ad 2.

{64} I Sent.,  prolog., q. 1, a. 5, ad 3; IaIIae, q. 101, a. 2, ad 2.

{65} I Sent., d. 16, q. 1, a. 3, ad 3.

{66} "...uti metaphoris est uti locutionibus quae non verificantur de his de quibus dicuntur, secundum propriam significationem, sed secundum aliquam similitudinem ad proprie significata." -In Iam, q. 1, a. 9, n. 1.

{67} Cf. Margaret Macdonald, "The Philosopher's Use of Analogy," Essays on Logic and Language, ed. Flew, (New York, 1951).

{68} In I Physic., lect. 15, n. 10.

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