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CHAPTER XXXIIIThat it is not at all true that the application of common Predicates to God and to Creatures involves nothing beyond a mere Identity of Name

WHERE there is a mere accidental identity of name, there is no order or respect implied of one thing to another, but quite by accident one name is applied to several different things. But this is not the case with the names applied to God and to creatures: for in such a community of names we have regard to the order of cause and effect (Chap. XXIX, XXXII).6969The theological and devotional terms which we derive from creatures and apply to God are not as the Aristotelian homonyma, where, under sameness of name, two different senses are expressed of two entirely different thing, mere namesakes and nothing more, as when we call a post alike a log stuck in the ground and a delivery of letters.

2. Moreover, there is some manner of likeness of creatures to God (Chap. XXIX).

3. When there is no more than a mere identity of name between several things, we cannot be led from one of them to the knowledge of another; but from the attributes found in creatures we are led to a knowledge of the attributes of God (Chap. XXX, XXXI).

5. There is no use predicating any name of any thing unless by the name we come to understand something about the thing. But if names are predicated of God and creatures by a mere coincidence of sound, we understand by those names nothing whatever about God, seeing that the significations of those names are known to us only inasmuch as they apply to creatures: there would at that rate be no use in saying or proving of God that God is a good being, or anything else of the sort.

If it is said that by such names we only know of God what He is not — in that, e.g., He is called ‘living’ as not being of the genus of inanimate things — at least it must be allowed that the predicate ‘living,’ applied to God and to creatures, agrees in the negation of the inanimate, and thus will be something more than a bare coincidence of name.7070St Thomas says what suffices for his present argument: he is not undertaking to exhaust the sense of the phrase ‘living God.’

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