Language about God and Analogy

It is quite noticeable that Roger Bacon, unlike Thomas Aquinas, does not accept a doctrine of the "Analogy of Being." Instead, he presents analogy as a species of equivocation.2 Bacon is very explicit in his criticism of essential being (esse essentiae) a doctrine which he associates with Richard Rufus of Cornwall, and a doctrine which he claimed was introduced into Oxford by the latter (Raedts, 1987; Wood, 1998). In Bacon's approach, Aristotle did not provide a complete doctrine of Analogy. Bacon attempts a sketch of a doctrine. Yet, his sketch is quite different from any of the doctrine's of Analogy of Being found in the 13th c. and later in the Renaissance. It is an account of meaning and predication. Bacon classifies analogy as a species of equivocation/homonomy. This presupposes a pure univocity of meaning. Analogy therefore is the parallel found among equivocal terms all of which presuppose a strict univocity at a basic level. The preferred method in handling this kind of analogy, then, is the analysis of language.

This approach to the understanding of Being with its identification of Being with 'actually existing things' cuts off an approach to God by means of an Analogy of being (analogia entis), although it allows the interpreter to apply the full use of language analysis to both literal and metaphorical expressions. Bacon's approach to language about God, then, with it's negative judgment on "essential being" and on "analogy of Being" might be seen as having more in common with Maimonides' views on a negative approach to knowledge of God than to the more positive approach found among those such as Thomas Aquinas who are committed to the doctrine of "analogy of being."

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