Jacques Maritain Center : Studies in Analogy / by Ralph McInerny


We have seen St Thomas distinguish metaphor from the proper use of a term and clearly we can understand the meaning of improprie only if a meaning of proprie be established. Now metaphorical usage is distinguished from the variety of meanings of a term which refer to what is principally signified by the term in question. That is, in what at least sometimes St Thomas calls a multiplicitas analogiae, it would seem that each meaning permits proper usage. This may seem surprising since St Thomas distinguished the univocal term from the analogous term by saying that, when things are named univocally, the ratio propria is found in each of the things so named, whereas when things are named analogically, ratio propria non invenitur nisi in uno{1}. How can a thing be named proprie by a term whose ratio propria it does not save? It is just this puzzle that seems to have led Cajetan to write his incredible commentary on the passage in which our phrase occurs; he there maintains, in direct opposition to the text before him that in truly analogous names the ratio propria is found in all the things named. "Esse ergo nomen aliquod secundum propriam rationem in uno tantum, est conditio nominum quae sunt ad unum aut ab uno, etc. et non nominum proportionaliter dictorum.{2} Cajetan thereby assigns the distinction in the text between univocals and analogates to a new role; now analogy in the strict sense, analogy of proper proportionality, is grouped with univocity and opposed to analogy of attribution. In order to separate analogy of proper proportionality from univocation, Cajetan says that while things named analogically in the full sense of the term all save the ratio propria of their common name, unlike things named univocally they do not do so secundum eamdem rationem. What prompts this prestidigitation is clear from the following remark. "Quoniam si analogum in uno tantum secundum propriam rationem salvatur; et ex qu. xiii constat omnia nomina communia. Deo et aliisesse analoga, et consequenter veritatem analogice inveniri in intellectu divino et aliis intellectibus, sequitur quod in multis intellectibus non sunt multae veritates, sed omnes intellectus sunt veri una sola veritate, scilicet intellectus divini."{3} Cajetan may be taken to mean that unless the ratio propria of a word is saved by that of which the word is said or predicated, we will be speaking improperly and metaphorically and we see once more the affinity of metaphor to what Cajetan calls analogy of attribution. If Cajetan is mistaken here, and we will see that he is, the text does demand that we look for a way in which, when things are named analogically, the proper notion of the name is saved by only one of them and yet the others are named properly as opposed to improperly.


{1} Ia, q. 16, a. 6, c.

{2} Ia Iam, q. 16, a. 6, n. IV.

{3} Ibid., n. III.

© 2011 by the Estate of Ralph McInerny. All rights reserved including the right to translate or reproduce this book or parts thereof in any form.

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