Rhyme and Reason: St. Thomas and Modes of Discourse by Ralph M. McInerny

By Ralph M. McInerny

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Extra resources for Rhyme and Reason: St. Thomas and Modes of Discourse

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Poetry is not so much distinguished from philosophy as it forms part of the network of disciplines which can be brought together under that commodious term. He who pursues wisdom, it seems, must concern himself with poetry as a discipline required for the esse or bene esse of wisdom. This is what we must now examine. a) The Least of Doctrines We have seen that "apodictic" modifies the discourse or syllogism Aristotle apparently takes to be characteristic of philosophy, whereas "metaphorical" modifies mythic and poetic discourse.

The question is: How can we possibly speak of them otherwise than metaphorically? The question can be answered and the difficulty resolved only if the principle here invoked can accommodate the claim that sometimes the transfer of terms from < previous page page_35 next page > < previous page page_36 next page > Page 36 sensible to spiritual things does not involve metaphor. We do not find in St. Thomas any suggestion that we have a special spiritual vocabulary. The terms that make up the language of theology are always terms which have a prior use to speak of ordinary physical things.

Far from jeopardizing the clarity of the distinction between metaphor and analogy, these precisions are a condition of its intelligibility. Such discussions enable us to generalize about metaphorical talk. When a man is called a lion, the intent is not to say that he is another instance of the type, though that is intended when he is called an animal. We cannot find in the meaning of "lion" the reason for calling a man one. Where then is the reason to be found? St. Thomas's suggestion is that the similarity is neither univocal nor analogical, both of which depend upon meanings.

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