Earlier we saw St Thomas making apparently conflicting remarks about metaphor. On the one hand, he speaks of the way in which the metaphorical use of a term involves reference to its proper meaning; on the other hand he contrasts metaphorical or equivocal modes to analogical community by saying that the latter and not the former involves reference to the proper meaning. We are now in a position to say quite formally what the reference to the proper notion entails: it is a reference on the part of something named by a given word to the most familiar mode of signifying the denominating form of the word. The question now arises: is this or is this not a difference between metaphor and analogy or, if you prefer, between the proper and improper use of a term? Consider the following remark: "...per prius dicitur nomen de illo in quo salvatur tota ratio nominis perfecte, quam de illo in quo salvatur secundum quid: de hoc enim dicitur quasi per similitudinem ad id in quo perfecte salvatur, quia omnia imperfecta sumuntur a perfectis."{1} St Thomas seems clearly to be speaking of metaphor here. "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 pta audacia vel fortitudo..."{2} We have already cited Q.D. de ver., q. 7, a. 2, c., where St Thomas said that metaphor is based on a similarity "in illo quo est de propria ratione eius cuius nomen transfertur."

    That metaphorical usage involves such a reference to the ratio propria, one which is part and parcel of what he means by analogical signification, also seems implied by the adverbial scale Aquinas often employs in speaking of the range of the analogical term. This scale sometimes goes, propriisime, proprie, communiter; sometimes, proprie, minus proprie, minime proprie.{3} At leasst once, when he is speaking in this second fashion, St Thomas suggests that metaphor is simply a trailing off into impropriety because of the remoteness os its reference to the ratio propria of the word. "Nam tripliciter invenitur motus in operationibus animae. In quibusdam enim invenitur motus proprie, in quibusdam minus proprie, in quisbusdem vero minime proprie."{4} And then this rather startling remark: "Minimum autem de proprietate motus, et nihil nisi metaphorice, inventur in intellectu."{5} The things named metaphorically, we want to say, is not named or denominated from the res significata of the name in question although it is referred to what is denominated from it: the thing which is spoken of metaphorically is not named properly because it does not fall under the range of the principal signification of the term in question. We shall have to return to this, of course, but first we will examine a case where, from different points of view, we can say either that a thing is being poken of metaphorically (improprie) or analogically (proprie).

    St Thomas asks if light is found properly in spiritual things, but before replying invites us to consider that a name may be taken either according to its first imposition or according to subsequent For example, "to see" is imposed to signify the activity of one external sense, but we also speak of the activities of the other senses, as seeing, e.g. "See how warm this is" and "See how it tastes." Indeed, we speak of seeing in the case of intellectual activity itself: Blessed are the pure of heart, for they shall see God. So it is with "light."

Nam primo quidem est institutum ad significandum id quod facit manifestationem in sensu visus; postmodum autem extensum est ad significandum omne illud quod facit manifestationem secundum quamcumque cognitionem. Si ergo accipiatur nomen luminis secundum primam impositionem, metaphorice in spiritualibus dicitur, ut Ambrosius dicit. Si autem accipiatur secundum quod est in usu loquentium ad omnem manifestationem extensu, sic proprie in spiritualibus dicitur.{6}
With respect to the usus loquentium invoked here, we must distinguish the mere use of a word - surely metaphor is a use of a word - from usage which suggest regularity and convention and thus results in the extension of the very meaning of the word.{7} Without such an extension of meaning, St Thomas is saying, the use would be metaphorical. He elaborates this in a parallel text where he begins by distinguishing metaphor and analogy. Ambrose and Denis maintain that "light" is used only metaphorically of spiritual things and this seems true "because nothing per se sensible belongs to spiritual things except  metaphorically, for though something can be analogically common to spiritual and corporeal things, something per se sensible cannot." Thus "light is said of spiritual things "either equivocally or metaphorically." It is interesting to read how St Thomas expresses the common ground between Ambrose and Denis, on the one hand, and, on the other, Augustine who held that light is found properly in spiritual things.
Sciendum tamen quod transfeuntur corporalia in spiritualia per quamdam similitudinem, quae quidem est similitudo proportionabilatis; et hanc similitudinem oportet reducere in aliquam communitatem univocationis vel analogiae; et sic est in propositio: dicitur enim lux in spiritualibus illud quod ita se habet ad manifestationem intellectivam sicut se habet lux corporales ad manifestationem sensitivam. Manifestatio autem verius est in spiritualibus; et quantum ad hoc, verum est dictum Augustini...quod lux verius est in spiritualibus quam in corporalibus, non secundum propriam ratioionem lucis, sed secundum rationem manifestationis.{8}
If lux has only a ratio propria, it is used metaphorically of whatever does not verify that notion. However, if we attend to the res significata, the denominating form, manifestation, it is possible to form a ratio communis: "whatever causes manifestation" and any mode of manifestation can then be named properly by the term lux. In order to grasp these extended meanings, we must have recourse to the proper notion, but these extended meanings, are other denominations from the res significata. This is the similitudo analogiae which is distinguished from the similitudo proportionabilitatis.{9) We are now on the threshold of discovering the peculiar way in which metaphor involves a reference to the ratio propria, a way which does not amount to a different mode of signifying the same rem significatam. notice how St Thomas expresses himself in the following text. "Ea quae proprie de ipso (i. e. de Deo) dicuntur, vere in eo sunt; sed ea que metaphorice dicuntur de eo per similitudinem proportionabilitatis ad effectum aliquem, sicut ignis Deuter, IV, eo quod sicut ignis se habet ad consumptionem contrarii, ita Deus ad consummendum nequitiam."{10} Here there is no similarity of nature, or in that from which the name is imposed to signify; rather, the thing named metaphorically has a property or effect similar to an effect or property of that which the term properly signifies. As fire consumes fuel, God consumes evil; as the lion acts boldly, so too does Socrates. Obviously no metaphor would be involved in saying "Socrates is bold." Only "Socrates is a lion" is taken to be metaphorical. Thus, on the basis of "lion: bold: Socrates: bold," it is the transfer of "lion" which constitutes the metaphor and the word is not so transferred because of a new mode of signifying the res significata - which is why what is named metaphorically, cannot be properly supposed for by the name in question. It may be, of course, that the effect is a sufficient sign of leonine nature,{11} but it is not the id a quo in the sense of the res significata of lion.


{1} Ia, q. 33, a. 3, c.


{3} Cf. e.g., Ia-Iae, q. 22, a. 1, c., Q.D. de virtutibus in communi, a. 7.

{4} In I de anima, lect. 10, n. 157.

{5} Ibid., n. 160.

{6} Ia, q. 67, a. 1. On why sight of all the senses should be so extended, see In I Metaphys., lect. 1, nn. 5-8.

{7} Cf. Ia, q. 29, a. 4, in fine corps., for a distinction between use and meaning.

{8} Il Sent., d. 13, q. 1, a. 2; cf. In Ioannem, cap. 1, lect. 3, n. 96.

{9} Cf. II Sent., d. 16, q. 1, a. 2, ad 5m; Bernard Montagnes, O.P., La doctrine de l'analogie de l'etre d'apres saint Thomas d'Aquin, Louvain: Nauwelaerts, 1963, p. 75, n. 21.

{10} I Sent., d. 45, q. 1, a. 4, c. Cf. M. T.-L. Penido, Le role de l'analogie en theologie dogmatique, Paris: Vrin, 1931, pp. 98-108.

{11} "...effectus qui est signum alicuius secundum proprietatem in uno est signum eiusdem secundum similitudinem in altero, in omnibus quae metaphorice dicuntur." - I Sent., d. 45, q. 1, a. 4, ad 2m.

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