Long, Steve A.: Analogia Entis: On the Analogy of Being, Metaphysics and the Act of Faith.
For the past fifty years, these questions have been greatly influenced by the genealogical thesis of the French Dominican, Bernard Montagnes. His argument is that Aquinas' doctrine evolved as he developed a mature theory of participated being, and of the real distinction between existence and essence. Aquinas supposedly came to see created being in a primarily relational way, and articulated this in terms of "analogy of attribution" or "proportion." Thus, the analogy of "proper proportionality" that Aquinas articulated in the De Veritate was progressively abandoned. Behind this seemingly technical argument lies a significant question: what is the composite structure of reality that leads us to the knowledge of the existence of God, and how do we name God analogically departing from characteristics we find in creatures?
Long's book consists of four parts. First, he establishes a basis for the use of the analogy of proper proportionality (A is to B as C is to D) to speak about the ontological structures of realities, and does so primarily in terms of the act/potency composition in creatures and the existence/essence distinction. Contra McInerny, analogy theory in Aquinas is fundamentally about the being of things. Second, contra Montagnes, Long argues that the early position of Aquinas on analogy of proper proportionality can be interpreted speculatively in a fashion entirely consistent with the later position of the Summa and other mature texts. Third, he spends a good deal of time considering objections to this position from purveyors of the modern genealogical position. Last, he considers the implications of a right understanding of Aquinas' doctrine of analogy for an integral cooperation of faith and reason in the realm of sacred theology.
The core theses of the book are as follows: Being is not a generic kind of thing, as Aristotle noted, but is common to substances and their accidental properties. It is found realized, then, across a spectrum of analogical modes, each subject to act and potency. "But the division of being into analogically diverse rationes of potency and act makes both the discovery of the real distinction of essence and existence and the causal reasoning to the conclusion of God as pure act, to be possible." Second, then, the foundation for any proper metaphysical reflection concerning God is the analogy of proper proportionality. Why? The ontological proportionality we find in creatures between their capacity to be and their act of being is what makes it clear to us that they depend upon an ontologically precedent cause that is pure actuality, God. And God is proportionately both like and unlike them. Third, only in light of this analogy of proper proportionality is it then feasible also to think of God by way of causal attribution (analogy of proportion of ST I, q. 13, a. 5). We can see all creatures relative to the primary cause, as participating in being that they each receive from God who is ipsum esse subsistens. And yet, God is in no way proportionately dependent upon creatures. We can think of creaturely substances as entirely produced by God in all that they are, while maintaining that God is in no way subject to creatures and that he does not develop in relational dependence upon them. Consequently, we can read the "early" Aquinas and the "late" Aquinas in perfect harmony. There is no need to hold that Aquinas changed his doctrine, but only that he expressed different, compatible aspects of the same doctrine at different stages and in distinct contexts. It should be noted that this reading of Aquinas accords by and large with that of Thomas de Vio Cajetan. Last, the analogy of being is a prerequisite for the possibility of supernatural faith, just as grace surpasses but presupposes nature: "Both the transcendence and the intelligibility of all speech regarding God are accordingly founded in the analogia entis. The analogy of being is the evidentiary foundation for the praeambula fidei, as well as the precondition for the terms of revelation signifying the inner life of God."
Long's book could benefit from a more thorough exposition of his opponents' views. He has produced, however, a work of high speculative acumen. Analogia Entis presents an intellectually acute and (to this reader) compelling defense of the classical Dominican reading of Aquinas on the analogy of being.--Thomas Joseph White, The Dominican House of Studies.
|Printer friendly Cite/link Email Feedback|
|Author:||White, Thomas Joseph|
|Publication:||The Review of Metaphysics|
|Article Type:||Book review|
|Date:||Sep 1, 2012|
|Previous Article:||Lear, Jonathan. A Case for Irony.|
|Next Article:||Marino, Stefano. Gadamer and the Limits of the Modern Techno-Scientific Civilization.|