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Analogy

Started by Geremia, February 23, 2024, 11:57:24 AM

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Geremia

Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 09:41:00 AMA few weeks ago I read a comment in the library on Fr. Warkulwiz's cosmological essay, Universe Without Space and Time, which says some very interesting things about analogy, symbolism, and intellection, making reference to Brian Kemple's PhD dissertation on Ens Primum Cognitum in Thomas Aquinas and the Tradition; and a quick search of the forum shows that you have mentioned this same dissertation in another place. I have long suspected that notion of analogy is the key to a sound metaphysic, and wish to understand it better (Erich Przywara of Analogia Entis fame(?)
Jacobus M. Ramírez, O.P. is the Thomistic expert in analogy.

Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 09:41:00 AMis my principal philosophic influence). I am particularly interested in the nexus of this concept with the history and philosophy of science and how the medieval "analogical understanding of the world", ruined by the Fall and restored, at least in potency, by the Incarnation, seems to have gradually dimmed since the thirteenth century,* resulting in a general failure to distinguish between symbols and signs, or, in Thomistic terms, between formal signs, which immediately signify actual things, and instrumental signs, which directly signify only other signs.
That seems to be too simplistic a difference between formal and instrumental signs. Upon what are you basing this distinction?

Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 09:41:00 AMThis confusion seems to be behind the prevalence of what Baudrillard called simulacra, signs which have no, or are not taken to have any, ultimate referent but are, so to speak, opaque or, as you
It was actually my Scripture scholar and Thomist friend, Sébastien "SR", who wrote that. My comments to what my friend wrote are indented (like the one where I cite Dr. Kemple's dissertation).

Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 09:41:00 AMsay, "just there as a meaningless terminus ad quem". This modern opacity of signs, in clouding the distinction between truth and falsehood and between sincerity and hypocrisy, clears the way for the pragmatistic, communistic subordination of contemplation (theoria) to action (praxis), language as an instrument of social control, Orwellian doublespeak, bull**** in the sense defined by the analytic philosopher Harry Frankfurt, so this is far from being a merely theoretical interest—on the contrary, such tacit quasi-Nestorian divorcing of the true from the good is precisely what is characteristic of this peculiarly modern deviation! "But he that doth truth, cometh to the light, that his works may be made manifest, because they are done in God" (John 3:21); for charity "Rejoiceth not in iniquity, but rejoiceth with the truth" (1 Corinthians 13:6), but "the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and injustice of those men that detain the truth of God in injustice" (Romans 1:18).

(* Non-modernist Catholics are, of course, inclined to think of the thirteenth century and the Pontificate of Innocent III in particular as the zenith of Christendom, but no sooner does the sun reach its zenith in the sky than it starts to decline. Our Lady's teaching St. Dominic the Rosary in 1214, the definition of transubstantiation by the Fourth Lateran Council, and Gregory IX's establishment of the Roman Inquisition are all indicators that there were were dark clouds on the horizon even before St. Thomas came of age.)

Is this your comment?
It's my comments on my Scripture scholar friend's answers to my questions.

Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 09:41:00 AMand are there any sources which you would recommend for a better understanding of analogy and the history of science, besides Kemple's dissertation?
The Duhemian Mary Hesse is an expert in analogy and the modern sciences.

Luc

Your recommendations are appreciated.

Quote from: Geremia on February 23, 2024, 11:57:24 AMThat seems to be too simplistic a difference between formal and instrumental signs. Upon what are you basing this distinction?

Admittedly I can't point to a passage of St. Thomas in which he makes this distinction. My intention was to distinguish between those signs which resemble and are, so to speak, transparent to what they signify (as our visual perception of a solid object like a water bottle is transparent to the water bottle even though it fails to capture the essence of the water bottle as a solid body which exists independently of our viewing it and which retains its essential properties regardless of the angle from which we view it) and those which signify only by some kind of linguistic convention (as the written words 'water bottle' signify a water bottle despite bearing no resemblance to the latter). It seems to me that when we confuse one kind of sign with another, then we begin to whether wonder our senses are not deceiving us even as words sometimes deceive us, resulting in Cartesian skepticism and its sequels.

Geremia

#2
Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 09:41:00 AMformal signs, which immediately signify actual things, and instrumental signs, which directly signify only other signs.
Tractatus de Signis, Summulæ ch. 2, p. 27 (Deely's transl., my reformatting/rearranging):
Quote from: John of St. ThomasHence arises the twofold division of the sign [divisio signi]. For insofar as signs are ordered
  • to a power [ad potentiam], they are divided into
    • formal signs
      • the formal awareness [notitia] which represents of itself, not by means of another.
    • instrumental signs;
      • represents something other than itself from a preexisting cognition of itself as an object, as the footprint of an ox represents an ox. And this definition is usually given for signs generally.
  • to something signified [ad signatum], they are divided according to the cause of that ordering into
    • natural [naturale]
      • represents from the nature of a thing, independently of any stipulation and custom whatever, and so it represents the same for all, as smoke signifies a fire burning.
    • stipulative [ad placitum]
      • represents something owing to an imposition by the will of a community [ex impositione voluntatis per publicam auctoritatem], like the linguistic expression "man."
    • customary [ex consuetudine].
      • represents from use alone without any public imposition, as napkins upon the table signify a meal.
See Teixeira, 21st Century Realism: John Deely's Recovery of Poinsot's Doctrine of Signs (2018) pp. 94-105.

Luc

Quote from: Deely's Rediscovery, p. 105[...]both natural and stipulated signs, formally speaking belong to the same species; both represent something other than themselves to a cognitive power. They lead the intellect to a knowledge of something other, whether this awareness is based on natural relation or stipulation is inconsequential.
So, according to John of St. Thomas, all stipulated signs are instrumental signs, but not all instrumental signs are stipulated signs and, in particular, ox-footprints and smoke are instrumental and non-stipulative (natural) signs of an ox and a fire respectively. Is this correct? If there is a relevant difference between the ox example and the fire example, I don't see it.

If such is the case, then it would seem that my first distinction, that between signs which immediately signify things and those which signify other signs, is closer to the formal-instrumental distinction than my second, which overlooks the distinction between the distinctions(!) between formal and instrumental signs, on one hand, and natural and stipulative intrumental signs on the other. The point, however, remains the same: if there are no natural, formal signs, then the connection between a sign and what it signifies is probable at best. The analogical understanding of the world is replaced with an equivocal one; faith is replaced with conjecture, which, according to Clement of Alexandria, counterfeits faith as a flatterer countefeits a friend.

Geremia

#4
Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 03:05:30 PMIf there is a relevant difference between the ox example and the fire example
No. He simply gives a natural instrumental sign as an example elucidating instrumental sign.

Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 03:05:30 PMbetween signs which immediately signify things and those which signify other signs
Formal signs certainly do signify of themselves ("immediately signify"), but the fundament or signified of an instrumental sign needn't be itself a sign, does it?

Quote from: Luc on February 23, 2024, 03:05:30 PMif there are no natural, formal signs, then the connection between a sign and what it signifies is probable at best.
John of St. Thomas, in his Tractatus de Signis (pp. 80 "Whether There Exist on the Side of Mind-Independent Being Intrinsic Forms Which Are Relations" ff.) does an excellent job refuting those who deny that there are real relations in the extra-mental universe.

Luc

Quote from: Geremia on February 23, 2024, 03:46:11 PMFormal signs certainly do signify of themselves ("immediately signify"), but the fundament or signified of an instrumental sign needn't be itself a sign, does it?
No, I suppose it needn't. What is signified by the footprint of an ox, for example, is not another sign of an ox, formal or otherwise, but the ox itself. What I should have said, perhaps, is not that instrumental signs "directly signify only other signs", but that they lack the intrinsic certitude of formal signs. The 'footprint of an ox', after all, might not be the footprint of an ox: it could have been left by a man using a simulated ox hoof. Smoke, similarly, can be produced without fire. It seems that insofar as a sign is merely instrumental, there is a gap between it and what it signifies which can only be bridged by conjecture. To mistake formal signs for instrumental ones, then, is to erroneously ascribe the inherently conjectural and probable nature of the latter to the former.