I was delighted to stumble across McCabe’s discussion of late modernity’s univocal shift away from analogical knowledge. In God and Evil, he writes,

it is one of the most striking differences between St Thomas and later writers in the scholastic tradition that he never seeks to formulate generalizations large enough to include God as well as creatures (23).

McCabe then discuses what he means by analogical language and predication. According to McCabe, analogical language in Aquinas does not function primarily as a near miss of the mark, as we when say that we have an idea that “God is good” because we have slight notion of goodness. This idea implies that God and goodness share a common characteristic that we can calculate, and in a sense, reverts back to univocal ontology. As some philosophers maintain, “We know what goodness is in creatures. The doctrine of analogy tells us that goodness in God is a certain projection of this; only, unfortunately, we do not know the angle of projection.” But as McCabe notes,

all this is quite foreign to St Thomas and to the Thomist tradition. For Thomists, analogy is a theory of language concerned with the logical behavior of certain kinds of words, and more especially with their failure to behave in way that might be expected of them (58).

I think this is a fascinating claim. Analogical language or the analogy of being has to do with an element of surprise – language and concepts not doing what they are supposed to. “In the end,” writes McCabe, “what is common to good things is not that they share a characteristic but that they share a Creator. For St Thomas, to have a concept of goodness in the sense in which we have a concept of redness would be to comprehend God” (59).

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