The three options for God talk: univocal, equivocal , analogical

jubalsqaud

Puritan Board Freshman
The three options for God talk: univocal, equivocal , analogical.

My understanding is univocal predicates about God are rejected in favor of the other options because it makes God like creation.


Likewise equivocal language is rejected for if we can only speak in equivocal terms without the ability to understand these terms God talk is rendered meaningless.

Thus everybody pretty asserts we speak of God analogically.

However this is confusing to me....

It seems like someone who affirms "all God talk is analogical" can't have ANY UNDERSTANDING of God.


Analogies hold because there are univocally expressible commonalties between two analogs.

So by definition there needs to be a commonality if analogies are at work.

A similar problem happens if you grant there is a mysterious commonality.

If you said "God loves you" and admitted that this is a analogical statement that contains univocal commonality but you didn't know what the commonality is then the problem below happens.

Unless you can personally explain the meaning of the analogy it doesn't seem that you have the ability to understand what your saying and thus not be able to understand God.

Does anyone have a solution to these problems?
 

jwithnell

Moderator
Staff member
Logically, an analogy demonstrates a similar construction so that if validity is asserted for one argument it is reasonable to accept validity for another. In common usage, an analogy is generally offered because both parties understand and accept one argument and are trying to establish a second that has at least some commonly understood components.

Theologically, man thinks God's thoughts after him. The Creator, outside of creation, gives knowledge to his creatures through special and general Revelation.

If memory serves me correctly, an ahem, analogy is offered here of a water creature trying to climb out of water using a water ladder to gain the impossible perspective needed to assert knowledge apart from Revelation.
 

VictorBravo

Administrator
Staff member
I may not be getting your question--maybe I'm missing something because I'm thinking of the words in their normal sense, but I start with the idea that God created us to understand what he says. Sometimes that is univocal, sometimes it is analogical.

"I am that I am" is about as univocal as it gets. The thought transcends creation and reverberates through all eternity.

"In the beginning, God created...." no equivocation or analogy there.

And another example, "I and the Father are one."

Taking as a starting point that God created us to understand him through his word(s), we also infer that he gave us enough intuition to discern the difference between plain unequivocal statements and analogous statements.
 

jwright82

Puritan Board Graduate
The three options for God talk: univocal, equivocal , analogical.

My understanding is univocal predicates about God are rejected in favor of the other options because it makes God like creation.


Likewise equivocal language is rejected for if we can only speak in equivocal terms without the ability to understand these terms God talk is rendered meaningless.

Thus everybody pretty asserts we speak of God analogically.

However this is confusing to me....

It seems like someone who affirms "all God talk is analogical" can't have ANY UNDERSTANDING of God.


Analogies hold because there are univocally expressible commonalties between two analogs.

So by definition there needs to be a commonality if analogies are at work.

A similar problem happens if you grant there is a mysterious commonality.

If you said "God loves you" and admitted that this is a analogical statement that contains univocal commonality but you didn't know what the commonality is then the problem below happens.

Unless you can personally explain the meaning of the analogy it doesn't seem that you have the ability to understand what your saying and thus not be able to understand God.

Does anyone have a solution to these problems?
I think your definitions may be off. You said analogical language involves univocal language, just because there are similarities between analogies doesn't make them the same kind of thing. You seem, will all due respect, to be stretching univocal beyond what it actually means. Does love for God mean a different kind of thing than love between people? Does love for a family pet mean a different kind of thing than love for one's child? Both are analogical uses of language.
 

athanatos

Puritan Board Freshman
I may not be getting your question--maybe I'm missing something because I'm thinking of the words in their normal sense, but I start with the idea that God created us to understand what he says. Sometimes that is univocal, sometimes it is analogical.

"I am that I am" is about as univocal as it gets. The thought transcends creation and reverberates through all eternity.

"In the beginning, God created...." no equivocation or analogy there.

And another example, "I and the Father are one."

Taking as a starting point that God created us to understand him through his word(s), we also infer that he gave us enough intuition to discern the difference between plain unequivocal statements and analogous statements.
The examples you've given don't seem to be univocal or equivocal, though.

To say "I am that I am" has in view an eternal existence, sufficient in Himself. That isn't true about any way of existing on a creaturely level; creatures are dependent and derivative, existing contingently and having a source in another. I can't say this of myself, that "I am" in the same sense as God says "I am". The way I am is fundamentally different, not just as to the kind of thing I am (human, corporeal and spiritual), but also the sense of existence as well.

Likewise, "In the beginning, God created" is not ultimately like and human creations. My creations could be construed as rearrangements of existing things, but not ex nihilo. Both acts of creation involve the change of the number of objects (say, the number of bookshelves changes as I build one), but I don't generate from nothing the parts which I use to build.

OP:
There's lots of ways of understanding analogy. @BayouHuguenot is right. One might also talk about the plurality of existing just as there is a material version of existence, and an immaterial or formal. Just as there is a way to exist that isn't the same for red pandas, chairs, and triangles, so also there is a way to exist as an angel or as God. This seems to flatten out the distinction of existence on one level, but if we recognize that all instances on the creature side of the creator-creature divide is finite, then a negation of the limitations to all of our terms results in talking about God as infinite and as importantly other.
 
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