Tuesday, October 05, 2010

Why Cajetan's Interpretation of Aquinas's Doctrine of Analogy is Not Wrong


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Quaeritur: I've run into several articles by modern Thomists attacking traditional Thomists (e.g. Garrigou-Lagrange) for being "essentialists." Frequently, these moderns have been heavily influenced by Wittgenstein, which I find suspect to start with. At any rate, it seems that a large part of their attack is based on an allegation that the "essentialists" inherited a mistaken idea regarding analogy from Cajetan (interestingly, Charles de Koninck holds that Cajetan was incorrect as well, at least in the article I read by him). I was able to find an abstract of a promising looking article (“The Semantics of Analogy according to Thomas de Vio Cajetan’s De Nominum Analogia” by Joshua Hochschild), but I haven't been able to get access to the entire thing.

My questions are these:

1) What is your take on the attacks on traditional Thomism as "essentialist"? Was Cajetan wrong in his analysis of analogy? I saw your post from 2006 about Gilson, but I was wondering if you had more to add.

2) Is there anywhere one can find a brief history of this debate? I read a past post on Gilson and his dismissal of the commentators and have read a little by him on the matter (I don't aggree with him), but I was wondering if you had anything further to add.

3) Mcinerny's book on analogy is quite polemic, but I was told that he softened his views afterwards. Is his newer book worth one's time?

4) Why is the debate today so incredibly one-sided by and large (i.e. Cajetan was wrong, end of story)? It seems to be given as a fact that Cajetan was wrong (e.g. many articles simply have it as a footnote that Cajetan had a severely flawed yet influential notion of analogy). It is unclear to me as to what Santiago Ramirez's position is on account of my poor (but improving) Latin.

Also, what-if anything- is worth reading by Joseph Owens? I've had him recommended to me, but at first glance he seems to be against all the commentators. I haven't really looked at him much, but I was wondering if he's worth reading, in your opinion.

Finally, I found a site with literally hundreds of articles, papers, and lecture notes of Charles de Koninck. I thought it might be good to link.




Respondeo: I will first give you my general thought on the matter, and then proceed to give a more direct response to (what’s left of) your questions.

I. I have not yet tackled Ramirez; all I know is that his view is based on Cajetan and he rejects McInerny’s view.

II. I have found reading McInerny's newer book (not "The Logic of Analogy," from 1961, but rather "Aquinas and Analogy," published in 1996) a great learning experience, not because I agree, but because I disagree. Unfortunately, I'm still in the middle of it; I read about half of it last Summer and got too busy and never finished. So far it is indeed very polemical. He dedicates the first chapter to attacking Cajetan (the chapter is titled "Where Cajetan Went Wrong"). The rest of the book (so far) seems to be based on these criticisms of Cajetan.

The first chapter, which left me unconvinced, McInerny makes the following points:

A. Cajetan bases his view on analogy on text from Aquinas' (early) Commentary on the Sentences (I, d. 19, q. 5, a. 1 ad 1m).

B. There Cajetan finds a list of instances of analogous names, which Cajetan interprets as being a logical division of analogy into separate "kinds":

1) analogy of inequality (e.g., "body" is said of all corporeal substances),

2) analogy of attribution (e.g., the dog is "healthy," the dog's food is "healthy," and the dog's urine is "healthy"), and

3) analogy of proportionality (e.g., "being" is said of a substance and of an accident, and of God and creatures).

C. Cajetan admits that the first kind is only abusively called "analogy", because it is really closer to univocity, but the other two kinds do represent genuine, irreducible species of analogy.

D. McInerny, instead, takes passages from the Summa as his basis for interpreting Aquinas' doctrine on analogy. The passages of the Summa seem to present a simpler doctrine, based on Aristotle's distinction in the Categories between univocal and equivocal names. There are:

1) Univocal names (e.g., Plato is a "man" and Socrates is a "man.")

2) Equivocal names (e.g., I write with a "pen" and my children play with a "pen.")

3) Analogical names (e.g., again, the dog is "healthy," the dog's food is "healthy," and the dog's urine is "healthy").

Then Aquinas proceeds to apply this third kind of name (analogous names) to speak of the difference between God and creatures.

E. Thus, McInerny concludes, there is only one kind of analogy. The kind of analogy that obtains between "healthy" things is the same kind of analogy that he will apply to God and creatures. Hence, Aristotle is right, Aquinas is right, but Cajetan is wrong.

III. This is an oversimplification of McInerny’s argument in Ch. 1, and I have not yet thought through all the details of the problem in the rest of the book, but so far here are my thoughts:

A. Aristotle is right. Aquinas is right. Cajetan is right. McInerny is wrong at least insofar as he thinks these three are irreconcilable.

B. McInerny is arguing on the basis of Aquinas' examples. He sees Aquinas in the Summa giving one example of "analogous names" (the "healthy" example) and then saying that analogous names are used between God and creatures. Therefore, he concludes, the kind of analogy that obtains between healthy things is the same as the kind of analogy that obtains between God and creatures. In general, he concludes that there is no basis in Aquinas to make distinctions between kinds of analogous name.
But this is bad reasoning. This is like arguing that, because cats are an example of mammals, and we say that dogs are mammals, it follows that cats are the same kind of mammals as dogs. It's literally the same form of reasoning: because healthy things are an example of analogous names, and we say that God and creatures are given analogous names, it follows that the healthy things are applied the same kind of analogous name as God and creatures.

C. My own interpretation of Aquinas, so far, is this:

1. Cajetan is interpreting the passage of the Sentences correctly: there are three distinct species within the genus "analogous names."

2. The text of the Summa is contrasting the GENUS "analogous names" with two other genera, "univocal names" and "equivocal names."

3. Therefore, a division of "name" would be the following:

A. Univocal
B. Equiocal
C. Analogous
... 1. by inequality
... 2. by attribution
... 3. by proportionality

4. This outline still doesn't quite fit with some of the details, for instance:

a. Aristotle's texts, which list only two kinds of “names,” the univocal and the equivocal (giving the term “healthy” as an example of equivocal names),

b. a few of Aquinas’ texts, which contrast “purely equivocal names” with “analogous names” (implying analogous names are equivocal, but not purely equivocal),

c. Cajetan's classification of the analogy of inequality as being really equivocity that is called analogy only abusively.

So my hunch is that this division can be further revised to make better sense of these problems, and others raised by McInerny, to look like this:

A. Univocal
B. Equiocal
... 1. Purely Equivocal
... 2. Analogous
...... a. by inequality
...... b. by attribution
...... c. by proportionality

This would make Cajetan, Aquinas, and Aristotle all agree. Aristotle would be listing only A and B; Aquinas would be listing A, B1, and B2; and Cajetan would be listing B2a, B2b, and B2c.


IV. In response to your questions:

Q1. I’m no longer so sure that the criticism that Cajetan was an “essentialist” is not based on this issue of analogy, as much as on the fact that Cajetan was very fond of performing a logical analysis on anything that he talked about, thus almost “reifying” logical “essences.” And for ‘existentialist’ Thomists, this is intolerable.

Q2. I’m not sure where you can find an updated history of the debate, but I believe Ramirez goes into it ad nauseam, from ancient Greek philosophy up until his time (1960s).

Q3. I am aware of the two mentioned above. If there is a newer one I don’t know anything about it.

Q4. Cajetan has to be wrong because he is the most prominent of the scholastic Thomists, and scholastic Thomism is over.

Q5. Joseph Owens: read his dissertation on Aristotle, titled: The Doctrine on Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics. It’s a masterpiece as a historical interpretation of Aristotle which no one has suprassed it in almost half a century. Anything he has written on Aquinas, however, I wouldn’t be so excited about; it's not awful, but it's just the same old historical Thomism.

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