God as Partly Univocal Partly Equivocal Cause

Considerations of just this sort apply also to sorting out the ways in which other things are really like God, as Aquinas observes when he concludes some of those passages about the sun's equivocal causation with observations associating it with God's causation: 'So, too, God also confers all perfections on things and on that basis has likeness and unlikeness at once with all of them' (29.270); 'So, too, the perfections of all things, which go together with those other things in accordance with various forms, must be attributed to God in accordance with his one power' (31.280). Does this mean that God's causation is equivocal in just the way the sun's is? No, not in just that way, although an understanding of the sun's equivocal causation is obviously a step toward properly understanding God's causation: '[A]ll perfections found in other things are attributed to God the way effects are found in their equivocal causes' (31.280).

Simply in virtue of God's being the ultimate agent cause of other things, there is con-formity between them and God: (*1) every thing caused by God has a form, f, that God shares with it. In this case the appropriate paradigm of fis the thing's species, or the ratio associated with that species, since 'each species must have its own mode of perfection and of being', Aquinas says, and, consequently, 'every name imposed to designate a species of

created thing'expresses a perfection (30.276).

28 An imperfection is properly attributable only to an individual and only in so far as the individual falls short of the perfection appropriate to its species.

And the concept of universal perfection entails that every such species-specific /"must be in God somehow.

Because God's causation of other things can't be univocal, there must be unlikeness between God and other things as regards the ratio associated with f in cases of divine causation. It isn't only that in non-univocal causation the agent cause and its effects can't belong to the same species: God can't be located in any species or genus or category at all (1.25). And 'if there is an agent that is not included in a genus, its effects will approach even more

remotely to a likeness of a form belonging to the agent' (ST la.4.3c).

29 '[Perfections flow from [God] as from their first cause. They do not flow from him, however, as from a univocal agent, . . . but as from an agent that does not agree with its effects either in the ratio of a species or in the ratio of a genus' (ST la. 6.2c).

Therefore, end p. 154


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(*2') it cannot be the case that the form of any of God's effects is associated with the same ratio in the effect and in God.

Furthermore, as we've already seen in connection with universal perfection, no other thing's form can be realized in the same way or to the same degree in God: 'every perfection associated with a creature must be found in God, but in a different, superior (eminentiorem) mode' (30.276); 'that in virtue of which the likeness is observed of course belongs to God absolutely, but not to the creature' (29.273). 'Things other [than God], even if they did come to possess a form altogether like [a form of God's], would not come to possess

it in accordance with the same mode of being' (32.285).

30 The continuation of this passage is also worth noting: 'For nothing is in God that is not the divine being itself (as is clear from things said above [1.21-2]), as does not happen in connection with other things. Therefore, it is impossible that anything be predicated univocally of God and of other things.'

Therefore, (*3a') no form can be realized in the same way in God and in any other thing, and (*3b') no form can be realized to the same degree in God and in any other thing.

So, when God is the agent cause under consideration, the unlikeness between cause and effects may seem overwhelming, especially after having been established in depth by the results of the eliminative method and then reinforced by these observations growing out of the analysis of equivocal agent causation. In these circumstances is there really any way to make good on the claim that the perfections specific to topaz, tulips, and tapeworms must be found in God somehow?

The perfections associated specifically with topaz, tulips, and tapeworms essentially involve corporeality, 'a mode [of realization] that is proper to creatures' (30.276). And so, if we stay with the sun as the model of non-univocal agent causation, those perfections can be in God, their non-univocal agent cause, only 'in respect of power', as hardness is in the sun. Just as the sun could be called hard only metaphorically, so any such terms designating specific perfections 'can be said of God only on the basis of simile and metaphor, through which characteristics that belong to one

thing are conventionally adapted to another' (30.276).

31 Explaining a sort of terminological sameness on the basis of convention is tantamount to acknowledging that that sort is Justified solely on the basis of a more or less artificial conceptual relation, and so the metaphorical applicability of predicates to God, which is undeniably important in religious literature, is of no further interest in an investigation of the metaphysical basis of some sorts of terminological sameness.

Still, some terms end p.155

Kretzmann, Norman , (deceased) formerly Susan Linn Sage Professor Emeritus of Philosophy, Cornell University, New York

The Metaphysics of Theism

Print ISBN 9780199246533, 2001 pp. [ 156]-[ 160]

'designate a perfection absolutely, without any [implied essential] lessening (idefectu)' or mode of realization proper to creatures, and such terms 'are

predicated of God and of other things' literally, even though not univocally

32 'Therefore, even if—per impossibile—goodness in God and in a creature is of the same ratio, "good" would nevertheless not be predicated univocally of God [and of the creature], because what is in God immaterially and simply is in a creature materially and variously' (QDP 7.7c).

—'for instance, "goodness", "wisdom", "being" (esse), and others of that sort' (ibid.).

What I've said so far about the way specific perfections are in God stays within the confines of the sun model, as does Aquinas's account in these methodological chapters of SCG. But there's more to be said, and Aquinas is postponing saying it because he hasn't yet argued for ascribing to God intellect and will, the crucial ingredients for the fuller, apter account he means to give. For that reason I won't go far in that direction now, but I want just to look ahead.

Regardless of considerations of likeness, the sun's causal relationship with terrestrial things, events, and states of affairs obviously can't be quite right as a model for God's. For one thing, the results of the eliminative method distinguish God from the sun just as sharply as from any other thing and in respects that are clearly relevant to these considerations. The reasons that eventually ruled out our taking Alpha to be any sort of natural entity, subject to natural laws, would apply all the more obviously to any already identifiable particular natural entity.

More importantly, and more directly to the point, there are two kinds of non-univocal agent causation: natural—the kind of which the sun's causation is Aquinas's paradigm—and artificial—the kind that involves ideas and volitions, the artisan's kind of non-univocal agent causation.

In some agents a likeness of the form of what is to be brought about exists antecedently in keeping with natural being, as in those agents that act through nature—the way a human being generates a human being and a fire generates a fire. But in others [a likeness of the form of what is to be brought about exists antecedently] in keeping with intelligible being, as in those agents that act through intellect—the way a likeness of the house exists antecedently in the builder's mind. And [that likeness] can be called an idea of the house, because the artisan intends to assimilate the house to the form he has conceived in his mind. Therefore, because the world was brought about not by chance but by God acting through intellect (as will end p.156

appear hereafter), it is necessary that there be a form in the divine mind, a form in the likeness of which the world was made. (ST


33 See also e.g. ST IaIIae.79.3c: 'God is the universal cause of the illumination of souls ... as the sun is the universal cause of the illumination of bodies, but in different ways. For God [unlike the sun] acts voluntarily, through the ordering of his wisdom'; ST la.19.4: 'God's will is the cause of things, and God acts through will, not through a necessity of nature.'

Looking ahead, then, we can see that Aquinas's fuller answer to the question of how 'every perfection associated with a creature must be found in God' will be that a specific perfection must be found in God as the form of a house is found in the architect's mind, roughly speaking. This preferred artisan model brings with it a kind of causation midway between the univocal and equivocal kinds that have been dealt with up to this point in SCG. Since the status of entirely univocal causation depends on the sameness in C and E of both the ratio associated with the shared form and the way in which the form is realized or exists, an artisan producing pots or poems is obviously not a univocal cause. For 'even if the ratio of the form occurring in the agent and in its effect is one [and the same], a different mode of existence blocks univocal predication' of the same term as applied to the shared form in both the effect and its cause. 'For although the ratio of a house that exists in matter and of the house that is in the artisan's mind is the same (since the

latter is the ratio of the former

34 I'm interpolating 'the latter' and 'the former' for the sake of clarity. The Latin is merely quia unum est ratio aiterius.

), "house" is not predicated univocally of both of them because the form (species) of the house has material being in the matter but immaterial being

35 Aquinas's recognition of the importance of the shared form's mode of realization seems to have come after his early commentary on the Sentences. See e.g. the discussion of three kinds of agent cause in In Sent., where there is no mention of modus and where an agent cause is said to be univocal 'when the effect agrees in both name and ratio with the cause'. See also In Sent. IV. on univocal agent causes.

And so Aquinas sometimes calls this artificial, intellective-volitional sort of

agent causation partly univocal and partly equivocal.

36 See e.g. In Met. VII: L8.1445. He also calls this sort of causation analogical; see e.g. In Sent. On analogical causation see esp. Mclnerny 19616. For a helpful, critical, up-to-date account of the logical side of Aquinas's concept of analogy, see Ashworth 1991 and 1992.

(In later chapters I'll consider some details of this account of God's causation and some arguments in support of adopting it.)

end p.157

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