Jacques Maritain Center : Studies in Analogy / by Ralph McInerny


Reply to a Critic

Professor John Beach has taken issue with my book, The Logic of Analogy.{1} His criticisms appeared under the title, "Analogous Naming, Extrinsic Denomination, and the Real Order."{2} In replying to Professor Beach, I shall make every effort to be as succinct as possible. This will not be easy, however, because Professor Beach has apparently not thought through the bases of his criticisms and it will be necessary to do this for him in order to make a decisive refutation.

    What I wish to say can be gathered under three points. The first has to do with Professor Beach's surprising accusation that I am guilty of the very fault I find in Cajetan. I had taken issue with Cajetan's interpretation of Aquinas' doctrine of analogous naming by arguing that, although the analogy of names is a logical doctrine, Cajetan employs non-logical criteria in distinguishing types of analogy. Professor Beach would have it that it is I who confuse the logical and real orders. Secondly, whatever the fate of Cajetan's interpretation, Professor Beach maintains that it is the manifest sense of texts of St Thomas that the Cajetanian division of the analogy of names, purged of the Cardinal's confusions, must be accepted. Finally, almost inadvertently Professor Beach reveals something of his own understanding of analogy and allied issues. An examination of these lapses into the affirmative leads to an ironic conclusion.


Professor Beach pretty well confines himself to Cajetan's distinction between analogy of attribution and analogy of proper proportionality. My own contention was that Cajetan bases his distinction between these two on extra-logical criteria: on whether or not the perfection signified by the name exists in all the analogates or in one alone. It seems clear to me that St Thomas defines the analogous name in such a way that nothing at all is said or implied about such determinate ontological matters. In speaking of these two determinate ontological situations, Cajetan employs the notions of intrinsic and extrinsic denomination. The clear impression one gets is that intrinsic and extrinsic denomination name diverse real situations. If that is what intrinsic and extrinsic denomination mean for Cajetan, then analogous naming cannot be distinguished on the basis of these kinds of denomination without transgressing genera.

    Does Professor Beach accept this criticism of Cajetan? It is difficult to say. He says that the truth of my remarks on this matter must be conceded.{3} He agrees that Cajetan is confused on extrinsic denomination{4} However, he rather enigmatically refers to the precise sense of extrinsic denomination employed by Cajetan and Aquinas and overlooked by me. Between these incompatible statements has intervened his tu quoque - now I am the one who has identified intrinsic and extrinsic denomination with determinate ontological situations. The way in which Professor Beach establishes my confusion is marvelous. He cites passages in which I am endeavoring to express Cajetan's views as if they revealed my own thoughts on the matter despite the fact that what I am out to do is to criticize Cajetan.

    Professor Beach agrees with me Cajetan defines analogy of attribution and analogy of proper proportionality in terms of ontological properties. He agrees with me that he should not have done this. The language Cajetan uses to express the differing ontological properties is intrinsic and extrinsic denomination. I accepted as good money his identification of these phrases with the ontological. On that basis I rejected Cajetan's distinction between analogy of attribution and analogy of proper proportionality. Professor Beach says that I can do this only if I identify these types of analogy with determinate real situations. To which I can only reply that it is Cajetan who made the identification. I who pointed it out and I who, on this basis, reject his division. Professor Beach accuses me of accepting what I reject or rejecting what I accept.{5}

    Consider this equally Wonderlandish parallel. I ask someone if there are species of triangle and he tells me, Yes, there are A triangles and B triangles. I inquire further and am told that A means heavy and B means light. Thereupon I deny that there are A and B triangles because heavy and light are natural properties and triangle is a mathemaical entity. Along comes Professor Beach to cry, "Ah, foolish McInerny. In rejecting the distinction between A and B triangles you have imported natural properties into a discussion of a mathematical entity." Apart from notincing that Professor Beach had not been paying attention, I would probably assume that he has a more appropriate way of defining A and B.

    Now tht is just what seems to be going on in Professor Beach's critique. He understands intrinsic and extrinsic denomination differently from Cajetan. Despite his vacillation concerning the way Cajetan did or did not understand these types of denomination, his strongest point would seem to be this: Denomination is a logical entity and intrinsic and extrinsic appropriately divide it. Therefore intrinsic and extrinsic denomination are both logical and not, as Cajetan thought, names of ontological situations. Professor Beach would have saved his reader some pains if he had made this point explicitly. He leaves equally implicit his view of the significance of thus salvaging intrinsic and extrinsic denomination as logical. If the analogy of names is a logical entity and if intrinsic and extrinsic denomination are also logical, then... Well, then what? Surely not just any logical entity can aptly divide another logical entity. Professor Beach seems to think that intrinsic and extrinsic denomination, understood logically and not in the Cajetanian fashion as ontolotical, properly divide the analogy of names. I invite him to pursue overtly this hidden suggestion. I suspect that it will soon occur to him that some univocal names involve intrinsic and some univocal names involve extrinsic denomination and that thereafore intrinsic and extrinsic denomination, be they ever so logical, are not appropriately divisive of analogous naming. Perhaps in pursuing his investigations he will find useful my treatment of denomination on pp. 90-96 of my book - a section he did not feel compelled to cite in his critique.


Despite the fact that he - more or less - agrees that Cajetan's way of distinguishing attribution and proper proportionality is confused, Professor Beach purports to find that division fairly leaping from the page when he turns to Aquinas. There is an intriguing innocence in his exegesis of the few texts he mentions. From first to last, despite the recent spate of book-length studies on analogy, despite the fact that the texts he quotes with the voilà of a Fundamentalist have been the object of much painstaking analysis, by myself and others, Professor Beach proceeds as if he had before him something on the level of a McGuffey Reader. He quotes In I Ethics, lect. 7, n. 96, scolds me briefly, and asserts that the text mentions three kinds of analogous naming. That bland remark commits him to the view that insofar as the primary analogate is a final cause or an efficient cause there are different kinds of analogous name. Since I, whether well or badly, have already attempted a serious analysis of the text, I think it is fair to invite Professor Beach to favor us with definitions of the kinds of analogy he finds there in such a way that his definitions do not involve a transgression of genera.

    Professor Beach cites Q.D. de ver., q. 21, a. 4, ad 2, an extremely difficult text. It is here that he confines himself to the enigmatic - and rhetorical - reference to Cajetan's conception of extrinsic denomination which, from being confused, has unaccountably become precise. Even more breathtaking is Professor Beach's remark, with reference to I Sent., d. 19, q. 5, a. 2, ad 1, that Aquinas is there presenting a logical division of the analogy of names into three kinds. I would be very interested to be shown that this is the case. All Professor Beach gives is the magisterial assurance that it is the case. All Professor Beach gives is the magisterial assurance that it is the case. "Now, the logical character of the above division is indisputable."{1} Surely such an assertion is not likely to occasion profitable dispute; I for one have no idea what Professor Beach means by it. In the elaboration of his own views, which I am suggesting he undertake, Professor Beach might explore my contention that, in the text in question, St Thomas is listing some of the meanings of "analogy"and not types of analogous naming. "Analogy" is an an analogous name, one of its meanings has to do with the proportion between several meanings of a common name, and the subtypes of that, of anlogous naming, are not given in the text in question. Nearly a quarter of my book was devoted to an analysis of that text; Professor Beach sees fit to quote but one sentence of mine, thereby suggesting that my procedure was as cavalier as his own.


It is melancholy but true that Professor Beach is himself guilty of the kind of confusion I found in Cajetan and he thinks he finds in me. One is prepared for this by one of those throw-away lines with which Professor Beach's article is filled. He quotes Ia, q. 16, a.6, a text which more and more seems to me the most lucid Aquinas wrote on analogous names and where commentators inevitably reveal their hand.{1}

...sciendum est quod, quando aliquid praedicatur univoce de multis, illud in quolibet eorum secundum propriam rationem invenitur, sicut animal in qualibet specie animalis. Sed quando aliquid dicitur analogice de multis, illud invenitur secundum propriam rationem in uno eorum tantum, a quo alia denominatur.
What does Professor Beach have to say of this text? Immediately after quoting it, he writes,
We cannot, of course, accept the statement on analogous naming as necessarily true. What, however, of that on univocity? His argument would appear to be that if, as they are known, things acquire the logical status of being named univocally, they must, as they exist, possess the common nature in a proper way. Much the same can be said of things as intrinsically denominated, as named according to analogy of proper proportionality, as named analogously secundum intentionem et secundum esse. We shall, in fact, see that St Thomas draws a similar conclusion in the case of this last analogy. The point is that, in each of these modes of naming, a determinate condition in the real is presupposed. This may well fall outside the province of the logician; but, after all, he merely studies the modes of naming and predication actually engaged in by others, and these others do usually proceed in their task cognizant of what is true of things as they exist.
This passage, singular as it is, is perfectly typical of Professor Beach when he endeavors to be positive. With two exceptions, every sentence in this paragraph is startling in one way or another. Why is it that we cannot accept St Thomas' definition of analogous naming? (For Professor Beach this is a matter of course.) Why should definitions be discussed as if they were arguments? In the definition of things named univocally, which Professor Beach prefers, of course, to concentrate on, where is there any mention of things as they exist? Let us pause here. St Thomas wrote that when something is predicated univocally of many it is found in each of them according to its proper notion. I take that to be a definition and that Professor Beach will concede that the remainder of the sentence gives an example. If so, what component of the definition says anything of things as they exist? Professor Beach apparently regards the definition as an argument. He takes St Thomas to be saying that if, as they are known, things acquire the logical status of being named univocally, they must, as they exist, possess the common nature in a proper way. But the whole definition purports to tell us what it means for things to acquire the logical status of being named univocally. all one can conclude is that Professor Beach understands "illud in quolibet eorum secundum propriam rationem invenitur" to be some kind of consequence of being named univocally. But what then would he mean by being named univocally? He clearly does not see that this definition of univocity is from first to last expressed in logical terminology. That is why, for him, for that which is predicated univocally to be found in each of the univocates according to its proper notion is a statement about things as they exist.

    But is this what he means? Doesn't he go on to say that his point is that a determinate condition in the real is presupposed by the definition and, being presupposed, lies outside the province of the logician? Yes, he does; but the only possible candidate for that determinate condition in the real is an essential component of the logical definition of univocity: illud in quolibet eorum secundum propriam rationem invenitur. That is why his final sentence need not detain us - though it confirms our interpretation of what he is trying to say.

    Professor Beach's discomfort with St Thomas' definition of things named analogously can now be understood. It can have no other basis than his conviction that "illud invenitur secundum propriam rationem in uno eorum tantum" says something about a determinate condition of the real. That misconception will lead him inexorably to the attitude of Cajetan in his commentary on this text. Nor is this prophecy and conjecture. Professor Beach's fourth sentence can only be taken to mean that he thinks that in "analogy of proper proportionality" the common perfection is found secundum propriam rationem in each of the analogates. Like Cajetan, Professor Beach has come to the point where he must use St Thomas' definition of things named univocally to explain his own notion of things named analogically.

    His confusion of the logical and real orders is further evident in what Professor Beach has to say about the term ratio. His article began with the following sentence. "It may be taken as given that the analogy of names is a logical entity; that is to say, a relation which belongs to things as they exist in the mind." The matter may not be as uncontroverted as Professor Beach thinks, but I at least will give him that. I argued that the term ratio, which shows up in the definition of this logical entity, is a logical word and that it thereby stands for things as they exist in the mind, more precisely that it signifies the relation of what is known to the name imposed to signify it. I take that to be a clear case of a non-real, logical relation. We have just seen that Professor Beach deserts the pure position of his opening assertion when he attempts to explicate logical definitions in which ratio figures. Beyond that, he concludes his article by objecting to what I had to say about ratio, claiming that what I say and what St Thomas said are two quite different things. He arrives at this difference by reading what I had written as if when I said that ratio is the name of a second intention I meant that the subject of this intention must be itself a second intention. The passage from St Thomas that I was analysing contains such remarks as the following, quoted by Professor Beach. "Unde patet secundum, scilicet quod ratio dicitur esse in re, inquantum significatum nominis, cui accidit esse rationem, est in re: et hoc contingit proprie quando conceptio intellectus est similitudo rei." (I Sent., d. 2, q. 1, a. 3, sol.) Professor Beach understands Aquinas' point to be, in context, that there is a difference between such words as man and such words as genus. The first signifies an intentional representation of something existing in reality; the second signifies a relation existing among things as known. That is true enough but hardly relevant if ratio is like genus, which is the point I was making. Professor Beach thinks I maintain that healthy signifies second intentions. What I did say - and what Professor Beach said in the opening of his article - was that the relations between the many meanings of such terms as healthy is discussed by the logician in a logical way. "Animal is a genus" and "Conducive to health is a meaning (ratio) of healthy" I take to be sentences of the same type; both have predicates which are logical. And neither commits me or anyone to the view that their subjects signify second intentions. Professor Beach makes some such suggestion as this. Since the concepts which are the rationes of healthy represent things in reality, any statement about the relation among those rationes must be just as such a statement about real relations among the things represented. That is the kind of claim that I was out to criticize. Unfortunately, Professor Beach's confused reading of what St Thomas says about ratio makes it impossible for him to grasp the significance of my criticism. And, oddly enough, he ends his article with statements that make his opening sentence absurd.


{1} Martinus Nijhoff, The Hague, 1961.

{2} Modern Schoolman, January, 1965, pp. 198-213.

{3} Op. cit.,  p. 202.

{4} Op. cit.,  p. 204.

{5} Op. cit.,  p. 207.

{6} Op. cit. p. 210.

{7} Op. cit., p. 205

© 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.

<< ======= >>