Analogy and symbol

  • Created by: lizpots99
  • Created on: 03-06-18 12:44

Analogy and Symbol


Aristotle argued for three different types of language

  • Equivocal - the meaning of a word depends on its context (cricket bat, vampire bat)
  • Univocal - a word means the same however it is used (Green eyes, Green grass)
  • Analogical - a word does not point directly to what it is trying to say but makes a comparison to something greater than itslef

Some philosophers argue that we can only know God through 'via negativa' - what we know he is not, as human language is not equiped to deal with the encounter between God and human (this is similar to William James' idea of innefbility). 

Aquinas rejected this idea, but did agree that we cannot speak meaningfully of God through everyday human language. After the fall, humanity became imperfect and we cannot speak of a perfect being, with our imperfect langauge. Aquinas argued that there are positive things we can say about God

Aquinas rejecected the idea of equivocal language in relevance to God, and argued that we can therefore only use two types of analogy to describe him:

  • Analogy of lesser proportion - words we use to descrie one thing may be similar when describing another, but to a lesser extent. For example a dog and a human may both be faithful, but a dog is faithful to a lesser extent. Along the same line of logic, humans are loving, and so is God, but in his divine nature. Even if the words mean different things this…


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