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CHAPTER XXXIVThat the things that are said God and Creatures are said analogously

THUS then from the foregoing arguments the conclusion remains that things said alike of God and of other beings are not said either in quite the same sense, or in a totally different sense, but in an analogous sense, that is, in point of order or regard to some one object. And this happens in two ways: in one way inasmuch as many things have regard to one particular, as in regard to the one point of health an animal is called ‘healthy’ as being the subject of health medicine is called ‘healthful’ as being productive of health; food is ‘healthy,’ being preservative of health; urine, as being a sign of health: in another way, inasmuch as we consider the order or regard of two things, not to any third thing, but to one of the two, as ‘being’ is predicated of substance and accident inasmuch as accident is referred to substance, not that substance and accident are referred to any third thing. Such names then as are predicated of God and of other beings are not predicated analogously in the former way of analogy — for then we should have to posit something before God — but in the latter way.7171Therefore we call God ‘good’ as being the origin of goodness, and creatures ‘good’ as being effects of divine goodness. But at that rate, it appears, we ought to know the goodness of God before we know the goodness of creatures, which seems not to be the case. This objection St Thomas proceeds to clear away.

In this matter of analogous predication we find sometimes the same order in point of name and in point of thing named, sometimes not the same. The order of naming follows the order of knowing, because the name is a sign of an intelligible concept. When then that which is prior in point of fact happens to be also prior in point of knowledge, there is one and the same priority alike in point of the concept answering to the name and of the nature of the thing named. Thus substance is prior to accident by nature, inasmuch as substance is the cause of accident;7272The thing appearing is the cause of the appearance, of actual appearance, when a capable finite mind is present, as in the case of a book being read; of the potentiality of appearance, when, as with an unread book, no such capable finite mind is there. and prior also in knowledge, inasmuch as substance is put in the definition of accident; and therefore ‘being’ is predicated of substance before it is predicated of accident, alike in point of the nature of the thing and in point of the concept attaching to the name.7373Children have some inkling of substance before they have any of accidents, as is shown by this, that the first names they use are nouns substantive, not adjectives. On dumb animals Cardinal Newman writes in his Grammar of Assent (p. 111, cd. 1895) “It is one peculiarity of animal natures to be susceptible of phenomena through the channels of sense: it is another to have in those sensible phenomena a perception of the individuals to which this or that group of them belongs. This perception of individual things, amid the mass of shapes and colours which meets their sight, is given to brutes in large measure, and that, apparently, from the moment of their birth. It is by no mere physical instinct, such as that which leads him to his mother for milk, that the new-dropped lamb recognises each of his fellow-lambkins as a whole, consisting of many parts bound up in one, and, before he is an hour old, makes experience of his and their rival individualities. And much more distinctly do the horse and dog recognise even the personality of their master.” But when what is prior in nature is posterior in knowledge, in such cases of analogy there is not the same order alike in point of the thing named and in point of the concept attaching to the name. Thus the power of healing, that is in healing remedies, is prior by nature to the health that is in the animal, as the cause is prior to the effect: but because this power is known from its effect, it is also named from its effect: hence, though ‘healthful’ or ‘health- producing,’ is prior in order of fast, yet the application of the predicate ‘healthy’ to the animal is prior in point of the concept attaching to the name. Thus then, because we arrive at the knowledge of God from the knowledge of other realities, the thing signified by the names 27that we apply in common to God and to those other realities — the thing signified, I say, is by priority in God, in the mode proper to God: but the concept attaching to the name is posterior in its application to Him: hence He is said to be named from the effects which He causes.7474This distinction between the ‘thing signified’ (res nominis) and the ‘concept attaching to the name’ (ratio nominis) is of interest to the idealist. It supposes — as Kant also supposes, though Hegel apparently does not — a distinction between things and our way of looking at them.


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