• Created by: Vez97
  • Created on: 08-03-16 18:10

What is ANALOGY?

The use of the familiar to explain the unfamiliar; a comparison between one thing and another, typically for the purpose of understanding or clarification.

It is another way of using language to try to bridge the finite-infinite gap that stands between humans and God.


In his work Summa TheologicaAquinas criticises the use of both univocal and equivocal language when used to describe/talk about God...

  • Univocal language - language that means the same thing in all contexts/situations; words that have only one meaning, e.g. Paris and Rome are both cities.
    • Aquinas believed this type of language could not be applied to God because God is not the same thing as a human, e.g. human goodness is different to God's goodness. Describing God in a human context merely brings him down to a human level and anthropomorphizes him.
  • Equivocal language - words that have multiple meanings depending on the context, e.g. a cricket 'bat' is different to the mammal 'bat'.
    • Aquinas believe this type of language could not be applied to God because it distances humans too far from God, and you want there to be some link between the two.

However, Aquinas believed you could use words analogically to talk of God and thus bridge the gap between the finite and the infinite.  He believed this was possible because God created humans.  Therefore, some of God's attributes are within us and these give us some understanding as to the nature of God.

Aquinas recognises TWO types of analogy...

  • Analogy of attribution

Aquinas uses the example of a bull's


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