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Analogy, a technical, philosophical and theological term, commonly designates a kind of predication midway between univocation and equivocation. Thus it denotes a perfection (the "analogon") that, though found similar in two or more subjects called "analogates," is neither simply the same nor simply different. As a technical notion, analogy must be distinguished from "argument by analogy." The latter has the following structure: if a given perfection a is possessed by two individuals, B and C, and if a is accompanied by another perfection d in B, then d will also be found in C. This argument is heuristic, or suggestive; of itself it is not and cannot be certain.

History of the Concept of Analogy

The term analogy was first used by Greek mathematicians in the sense of proportion. plato is generally conceded to have been the first to use it philosophically to designate proportions between the elements of the world and between kinds of knowledge and types of reality. Plato also applies it to similarities of function in different things, and occasionally to a likeness between two things that is not an identity.

These uses were expanded and developed by aristotle. In biology, the "analogy" between different organs that perform similar functions became an important concept. In his ethical writings, Aristotle uses the term analogy in a similar way. Thus, there is no single "idea of the good"; "the good" designates something found in unequal degrees in different subjects. In the Metaphysics the principles, elements and causes of things are said to be common "analogously," that is, proportionately common. In his logical writings, analogy is sometimes used in the sense of similar proportions. However, when Aristotle says that the most common classes of terms are analogous, he refers rather to a general similarity which cannot be further analyzed into common genera and specific differences. In his psychological works he notes that actual knowledge is analogous to the object known. This is a type of proportion in the sense of suitability, "adaptation to" rather than similarity. Although these uses of analogy are clearly not identical, Aristotle does not explain how they are related, probably because he has no explicit theory of analogy.

One other discussion is important in Aristotle for the doctrine of analogy (though here he himself does not use the term): being is a word with many meanings, but all the meanings are somehow reduced to a primary one. Aristotle explains this by saying that all the things that are called being are so called by reference to one subject that is being in the primary sense; this is the so-called πρòς έν equivocity.

The Greek and Arabian commentators on Aristotle gathered these comments together, but did not develop a full theory of analogy. In the same way the later Platonists, especially Pseudo-Dionysius, extended Plato's use of analogy and adopted some of the Aristotelian terminology.


In the Augustinian tradition, no formal, explicit doctrine of analogy is to be found; since intellectual knowledge does not arise from the sensible world, such a doctrine is not necessary. But prominent among St. Augustine's themes are the inability of our language to express the perfection of God, and the similarity-indissimilarity of creatures in relation to God.

The doctrine of St. thomas aquinas will be considered in great detail below. He used analogy more than any of his predecessors and made a number of formal analyses of it. There is, however, no single, adequate summary. Some of his uses reflect the original meaning of proportion; one usage (analogy of Scripture) is derived from the grammatical meaning of agreement. Such usage is irrelevant to analogy as a philosophical doctrine.

St. Thomas's immediate predecessors, like his teacher St. Albert the Great and his contemporaries, used analogy only incidentally. In St. Bonaventure we find instead a highly developed doctrine of creatures as vestiges and images of God. Even such authors as Henry of Ghent do not elaborate a doctrine of analogy; he, for example, is content to say that there are two types of being.

John duns scotus is aware of Aquinas's doctrine of analogy as well as of equivalents like that of Henry of Ghent's double notion of being. His arguments for the univocity of being rest on his view of metaphysics (univocal being is its object), the possibility of a proof for the existence of God (only from being as being can the existence of a transcendent God be proved), and the principle of contradiction and the laws of logic (if being is not univocal, formal contradictions are impossible; arguments employing "being" would have four terms). However, along with the univocity of being, Scotus holds an analogy of beings in themselves insofar as they are related and ordered.

In the hands of william of ockham, the univocity of being becomes the logical univocity of a name or a sign. A word is "common" to many things; if it is not univocal, it must be equivocal. In addition to words, there are also signs, and signs are very like the words which conventionally express them. But there can be no question of any analogy of beings in themselves, since things are radically singular and unrelated to each other.


Against this background, the great commentators on St. Thomas Aquinas, such as John Capreolus excepted, systematized and developed the doctrine of their master. In the 15th century, Cardinal Tommaso de Vio cajetan wrote his famous On the Analogy of Names. Cajetan holds that there are three basic types of analogy, according to the division of analogy given by St. Thomas in In 1 sent. 19.5.2 ad 1. These are analogy (1) according to being alone and not according to intention, (2) according to intention alone and not according to being, (3) according to both being and intention. Analogy according to being alone and not according to intention is also called analogy of inequality and analogy of genus. In St. Thomas, the example is the term "body," predicated of terrestrial and celestial bodies. A logician always defines this term in the same way, but the philosopher of nature and the metaphysician define the two kinds of bodies differently. Cajetan considers that a similar difference can be found in all generic predicates; he therefore concludes that such predication is not really analogy at all. The second analogy, according to intention and not according to being, is called analogy of attribution. In it, the perfection exists only in one analogate, the primary analogate, but is attributed to other things, the secondary analogates, which have some relation to the primary one (cause, effect, sign, exemplar and so on).

The third kind of analogy, according to both being and intention, is the most important for metaphysics. According to Cajetan, this analogy is the analogy of proportionality, discussed by St. Thomas in De ver. 2.11. In this analogy there is no direct relation between the two analogates; instead, there is a relation within each of the analogates, and it is these relations that are similar and are the bases for analogical predication. In the two analogates which are unlike, there are four relata which are also unlike, but the two relations, or proportions, are similar (schematically: A:B: C:D ). The analogon thus seems at first sight to be a similar function, or relation, but it is sometimes also called a common perfection. This analogy can be of two types: proper (intrinsic) and improper (extrinsic, metaphorical). Cajetan also asks whether there is one concept (una ratio ) corresponding to the single analogous term. He answers with a distinction: first, there is a clear concept that perfectly represents the relation in one of the analogates and imperfectly represents the others; this concept is simply many concepts and only proportionately one concept. Secondly, there is a "confused" concept which only imperfectly represents the relation in the analogates and so is simply one concept, though it is proportionately many. The clear multiple concepts become the common concept by a special abstraction in which the particular modes are run together (con-fused); the single, common but confused concept becomes one of the clear concepts by way of fuller expression.

Cajetan considers two objections against analogy from the viewpoint of his own systematization. One is that analogy leads to agnosticism. He answers that only in the analogy of proper proportionality is the perfection intrinsic to both analogates and yet not in such a way as to destroy the inequality of the analogates. His other objection is that the use of an analogous term in reasoning makes that reasoning formally invalid. He answers that the term, when confusedly conceived, does have a true unity and so is not used equivocally.

john of st. thomas, the third of the great commentators, is principally concerned with defending the doctrine of Cajetan. He does, however, differ on one point: it seems to him that individuals in the same species are univocal, for example, that many men are univocally beings.

Sylvester of Ferrara (ferrariensis), the fourth great commentator, takes exception to one of Cajetan's statements about the analogy of proper proportionality. Because many texts of St. Thomas assert that there is a primary analogate in every analogy, he holds that even in the analogy of proper proportionality there is a first analogate, though Cajetan had denied this.


The next major writer on analogy is Francisco suÁrez. He is not usually considered among the commentators of St. Thomas, though he does regard his theory of analogy as that of the Angelic Doctor. Suárez disagrees on many counts with Cajetan. He holds, first, that attribution is not necessarily extrinsic; in an intrinsic analogy the perfection exists perfectly and independently in one analogate, and imperfectly and dependently on the first in the secondary analogates. Secondly, he holds that proportionality is always extrinsic. He therefore holds that the relation between God and creatures cannot properly be expressed by the analogy of proportionality except in metaphorical language. Suárez considers the same objections which Cajetan had considered; these objections seem to him to require a strict unity of the objective concept which abstracts from the differences of the modes.

Later scholastic writers on analogy fall into three categories. There are followers of both Cajetan and Suárez; in addition, many Thomists and some Suarezians have adopted elements of both theories. In particular, these Thomists make use of an idea already mentioned by Cajetan: that a single pair of real beings may be related by several analogies; thus, God and a creature are analogously beings by both analogy of attribution and of proportionality. God is prior to the creature inasmuch as the analogy of attribution is made use of; both are intrinsically beings because of the analogy of proper proportionality.

Apart from Suárez and the Suarezians, most scholastics could be considered followers of Cajetan. Not until the 1920s were there signs that any Thomist began to question Cajetan's interpretation. Since then, a number of writers have tried to work out anew the actual texts of St. Thomas. Here several views have been stressed. Some authors have emphasized the so-called Platonic strains in St. Thomas, and in the light of this new point of view the doctrine of participation has been stressed. Participation is a real, intrinsic analogy, which is not proportionality because it does not involve four terms. Similarly, the analogy of proportion has reappeared in many authors and this too, is a direct, intrinsic analogy. Finally, several authors depart from Cajetan in another direction; they assert that analogy is an affair of language, not of conceptions nor of being, and therefore pertains to logic, not to metaphysics.


The historical movement has been considered as staying within the scope of scholastic thought. Analogy for many years was of no interest to nonscholastic thinkers; rationalists, idealists, and their followers restricted scientific language to univocal terms. Kierkegaard here represents a break; he considered univocal language, as belonging to science whose proper field is that of objects. But persons, and especially God, cannot be known objectively; the only valid knowledge here is "subjective." In the Danish thinker himself there is no theory of predication or of knowledge which systematically considers this difference. Karl Barth and after him, Paul Tillich, consider the possibilities of analogy in solving this problem. It seems to both that any real analogy reduces God to the category of finite things. We can speak about God only through symbols.

The notions of symbol and of myth have been exploited by many writers who feel, on the one hand, that abstractive organized knowledge is not the only kind of knowledge man has, and on the other, that any direct, purely intellectual knowledge is necessarily abstractive. Knowledge through symbol and myth is direct, profound, and vitally moving, but it is not a grasp of the intrinsic reality of the thing known. Thomistic criticism of this theory generally centers on the issue of intrinsic vs. extrinsic knowledge. A being that is known only through symbol, myth, or metaphor is not known in itself; hence we can never make any statement about that being in itself, but only statements about ourselves and objects of direct experience. While this is not sufficient for religious language, it must be recognized as playing some partial role.

Something similar to analogy has been reached by an altogether different road. The movement called positivism considered that only scientific language was worthy of analysis, and so all non-univocal terms that deserved consideration had to be reducible to univocal ones. Moreover, univocal terms were restricted to things of immediate experience or to logical and mathematical terms. In the last decade or so, linguistic analysis began to consider common language rather than scientific language. In common language, there are of course many univocal terms; but a great number of terms are found to have many meanings, and in some of their usages no single meaning can be pinned down. This usage has been called systematic ambiguity. Several Thomistic writers have seen in the theory of systematic ambiguity a contemporary approach to the same problem that St. Thomas and his followers handled through the notion of analogy. A few think that the modern approach is better than the traditional one. For they point out, traditional discussions of analogy, at least since Cajetan, have been metaphysical. They think, however, that this is a mistake; analogy is and remains a matter of terms. Properly, therefore, analogy is to be treated by logic. There has been as yet no general and sharply focused Thomistic critique of this theory, but it would seem to raise serious difficulties with the traditional notion of logic as a science of second intentions, as well as to question the possibility of sciences other than logic, such as theology, to attain valid knowledge of the real. In the last analysis, ambiguous terms may serve to confuse or to persuade, perhaps even to suggest; but they would seem to have no place in anything like a science whose object is to know. Only if analogy reaches into our knowledge and even into the objects of our knowledge can analogical predication be admitted as scientific.

Doctrine of St. Thomas on Analogy

For St. Thomas analogy is a kind of predication midway between univocation and equivocation. Since analogy is the use of a term to designate a perfection found in a similar way in two or more subjects in which it is found partly the same and partly different, the first step is to clarify what is meant by the words "partly the same, partly different." (Summa theologiae 1a, 13.5; In 4 meta. 1.534539; In 1 eth. 7.9596.) In univocal predication, predicates have an absolute meaning and can be accurately and distinctly defined in themselves. But strictly analogous predicates cannot be so defined; their meaning is proportional to the subjects of which they are predicated. The reason for this difference is that univocal terms arise by abstraction from the particular subjects in which the perfection is present, so that the difference in the subjects does not enter into their meaning. Analogous terms do not arise by abstraction but rather by "separation," or negation (In Boeth. de Trin. 5.34), and so retain a relation to a concrete subject. A consequence of this is that there is no single clear meaning for an analogous predicate (ST 1a, 13.5 ad 1). Nevertheless, analogous terms can be validly used in argumentation on condition that they are not mistaken for univocal concepts of essences. Even if we cannot judge the conclusion of a univocal argumentation without considering the premises from which it was derived, we can use that conclusion without keeping the original premises in mind as a premise for further argumentation. But in an argument using an analogous term, the conclusion cannot be abstracted from its premises, because the secondary analogate arrived at by the argument must include the primary in its definition (ST 1a, 13.6). That is why our statements concerning the existence and nature of God are limited in scope (ST 1a, 2.2 ad 3; 3.4 ad 2) and why St. Thomas made no concessions to rationalism, whether heterodox or Christian in intent, Averroistic or Anselmian.

The kind of abstraction called separation arrives at terms which in all their major uses are analogous and which can therefore be considered primarily analogous terms. In addition, some terms are first univocal but become analogous in other applications; these are secondarily analogous terms. Thus, some qualities of sensible things can be simply abstracted and are therefore univocal; but they can also be used to signify something that is primarily analogous. "Life," for instance, is a primarily univocal term. But in a second use, it can signify the kind of being that lives, and thus we use the term analogously when we speak of intellectual life.


Analogical predication therefore involves a relation to, and between, the analogates themselves. The most fundamental division of analogy is into intrinsic, or proper, and extrinsic, or improper (De prin. nat. 6; In 1 sent. 19.5.2 ad 1; De ver. 21.4 ad 2). An analogy is intrinsic when the perfection which is predicated is really found in both of the analogates; it is extrinsic when it is really found in only one but imposed by the mind on others. Thus the term "living" is analogously applied to angels and animals by an intrinsic analogy, for both live but in an irreducibly different way. But when it is applied to the language of Shakespeare, it is applied by an extrinsic analogy; for life is only attributed, it is not found there in reality (cf. ST 1a, 18.1).

Various relationships. The second way of dividing analogy is based on the relation between the analogates themselves (De pot. 7.7; ST 1a, 13.5; De ver. 2.11; In 5 eth. 5.939945). This relation can be directly between the two analogates, a "one-to-one," two-term analogy, as substance and accident are related to each other. Again, it can be a relation, not between the analogates themselves but between the analogates and some third object, as two accidents of a thing may be unrelated to each other but both be related to the same substance; this is a "many-to-one," three-term analogy. Finally, there may be no direct relationships of the analogates at all, but each of them may contain a relation that is similar to the relation in the other, a "many-to-many," four-term analogy, also called "proportionality." For example, when one understands something immediately, he says that he sees it. What he means is that as vision is to the power of sight, so direct understanding is to the intellect, not that the intellect is similar to the eye or vision to understanding.

Two-, Three-and Four-Term Analogies. In twoand three-term analogies there is necessarily an inequality between the terms, so that the terms can always be compared to each other as greater and lesser (De prin. nat. 6; De subs. sep. 8). Consequently one of the analogates will be "prior" to the other or others in time, in understanding, in perfection, in causality (In 3 meta. 8.437438; In 4 meta. 1.534539; In 5 meta. 1.749). Moreover, when there is a direct order between the terms, one of them will be defined by the other; that is, all the posterior analogates will be defined through the first. But since definition is relative to knowledge (In 5 meta. 5.824), the first analogate will be the one which is first in our knowledge, not necessarily the first in reality. Thus we define accidents through their dependence on substance, for we know substance as prior; but we "define" God through the creatures' dependence on Him, for creatures are first in our knowledge and we know God only through them (ST 1a, 13.6).

In four-term analogies, on the other hand, there is no direct relationship between the analogates; hence, priority of one over the other is not necessary and one is not defined through the other (De ver. 2.11).

Mutual determination and eminence. Two-and three-term analogies can be further divided according to the kind of relation that is in question. Two-term analogies are sometimes definite proportions which are mutually determining (In 1 sent. prol., 1.2 ad 2; In Boeth. de Trin. 1.2 ad 3; De ver. 2.11). For example, knowledge can be possessed habitually or actually exercised. In the former case, "knowing" is predicated as in potency (and potency is always proportioned to the act of which it is the potency); in the latter, as in act (in creatures, an act is always the act of some potency). So, too, analogous causes are often strictly proportioned to their effects (In 4 meta. 1.534538).

A direct relationship, however, need not be understood as a definite, interdetermining proportion. Indeed, the term "proportion" itself is often used by St. Thomas to indicate an indefinitely greater perfection in the prior analogate (In 3 sent. 1.1.1 ad 3; ST 1a, 12.1 ad 4). In such cases, the prior analogate possesses a perfection eminently, in a higher degree, more perfectly; whereas the others possess it deficiently, in a lesser degree, less perfectly (C. gent. 2.98; De pot. 7.5; De ver. 4.6; In 1 sent. 8.1.2; ST 1a, 13.2, 104.1; Comp. theol. 2.8). This language must not be allowed to mislead us. The expression "degree of difference" may refer to a difference that is directly quantitative or at least based on a directly quantitative one; and then there is no analogy, but univocation, for the perfection in question is reducible to a single one (ST 1a, 42.1 ad 1). But at other times we speak of degrees of difference when the differences are greater than merely specific ones and cannot be reduced to univocal genera and differences (De pot. 7.7 ad 3). Similarly, we sometimes use the terms "perfect" and "imperfect" to refer to stages of one and the same perfection, as when we say that a baby has only an imperfect control of his limbs, whereas the grown man has perfect control; this also is univocation. On the other hand, we might say that animals have an imperfect spontaneity because they are not merely passive to outside influences; whereas the spontaneity of a man is perfect, in the sense that his spontaneity is truly a freedom, not only from external violence, but also from other predeterminations (cf. ST 1a, 4.1, 2; Comp. theol. 1.101; De ver. 8.1).

Participation. One kind of analogy of eminence has additional characteristics. For the prior analogate can be more eminent because it is the analogous perfection by its essence, whereas the imperfect analogates are such because they possess that perfection as distinct from themselves, as received, and so as limited by their own proper nature. The primary analogate, then, is identically its perfection and so is unlimited in its order; if we are talking about being and the properties of being, the being by essence is simply infinite. The secondary analogates, which have the perfections as received and limited, are being good and so on, by participation (De pot. 3.5, 7.7 ad 2; C. gent. 2.15, 53; 3.66, 97; ST 1a, 3.8, 44.1, 47.1, 75.5 ad 1 and 4; 79.4; In Ioann. prol.; Quodl. 2.2.1). In other perfections, too, a similar relation can be found. Thus, the acts of reason itself are reasonable by their essence, whereas the desires of a virtuous man are reasonable truly enough and intrinsicallyonly by participation, inasmuch as through obedience to reason they possess some order, structure, and so forth, that is derived from reason (De virt. in comm. 12 ad 16).

Three-term analogies are sometimes a set of two-term analogies with a common primary analogate which is numerically one and the same, as medicine, health, food and complexion are each called "healthy" by their various relations to the health of the animal (C. gent. 1.34). Such a form of analogy is not really distinctive, since it can be simply reduced to the two-term analogies which make it up. At other times, however, the common term is not itself one of the analogates that are immediately understood but is entirely outside the predication or is a whole made up of all the analogates (In 1 sent. prol. 1.2 ad 2, 35.1.4; De nat. gen. 1). In the latter case, evidently, the parts cannot be equal or quantitative parts; otherwise there would simply be univocation.


For St. Thomas, analogy is not simply a formal structure of predication to be treated in logic. When analogy is "applied" to a particular case, the content or matter of what is said must be taken into account. For this reason, analogy is properly treated in metaphysics.

Being. The analogon most often and most fully discussed by St. Thomas is being. But there is no single analogy of being; rather, the various beings have different relations to each other. Following the lead of Aristotle, St. Thomas finds in each being a set of internal components. Of these, the most thoroughly discussed principles are substance and accident. Substance is being in the primary sense, and the act of being (esse, existence) properly pertains to it. Accident is proportioned to substance, and its being consists in its actual inherence in substance (In 4 meta. 1.534539; In 7 meta. 4.133438; De ver. 2.11; In 1 eth. 7.9596). Thus, substance and accident stand in a one-to-one, two-term analogy, the analogy of proportion. However, we can also consider that accidents are not beings by themselves but rather by their relation or reference to substance, and that the being attributed to them is the being of substance; we would then call this an analogy of reference or attribution (De prin. nat. 6; In 4 meta. 1.543; In 11 meta. 3.2197). The various internal principles of being and substance are similar pairs of proportioned analogates and so can all be understood as act and potency; the act-potency correlation is itself the proportional relationship (In 5 meta. 9.897; In 9 meta. 710.184494). The act-potency correlation itself is first discovered in motion; it is again found in substance (potency) and accident (act), in matter (potency) and form (act), faculty (potency) and operation (act) and essence (potency) and the act of being, esse (act).

Causality. Beings are also related to each other as cause and effect. Though many causes are univocal, having the same perfection as their effects, these are only the proximate causes of beings. More ultimate causes are not specifically the same as their effects; nevertheless, they can be denominated extrinsically from these effects by causal reference (ST 1a, 6.4, 16.6). In addition, these equivocal causes must be in some sense "more perfect" than their effects (ST 1a, 4.2). This is the analogy of eminencebut merely by knowing this we are unable to determine whether the perfection of the effect is intrinsically in the equivocal cause or whether the equivocal cause is more perfect inasmuch as its perfection is simply different. After the existence of God is known and His nature as pure act is apprehended, then His causal eminence in regard to His creatures is seen to consist in this, that He is being, goodness and other similar perfections by His essence and therefore infinitely; whereas creatures both are and are what they are by participation (ST 1a, 14.6, 25.2 ad 2, 45.5, 57.2, 79.4, 93.2 ad 1 and 4; In Dion. de div. nom. 1.3, 2.4). Inasmuch as the being by-essence is simple and self-identical, the analogy of participation in being is necessarily an intrinsic analogy. Hence, whatever is predicated of God according to this analogy is truly a knowledge of God, even though it remains a knowledge of Him through His creatures. Because God is the cause of the world through intellect and will (ST 1a, 44.3), He is the exemplar of all things; and created things are related to Him as images (ST 1a, 3.3 ad 2, 35.1 ad 1, 93.1; In 1 Cor. 11.1), as representations (ST 1a, 45.7), and as similar to Him (De pot. 7.7 ad 4 in contrarium; ST 1a, 4.3 ad 4). At the same time, created beings as individuals are seen to be related to each other as diverse participants in the One Being that is being by essence.

Good. The good that is convertible with being is predicated according to the analogy of participation, as is being (ST 1a, 6.1, 2); this transcendental good is, however, only a qualified good and as such, a secondary analogate (in an analogy of proportion) to the unqualified good, which is the "proper" good (ST 1a, 5.1 ad 1). The proper good is itself divided into the moral good, the pleasurable and the useful (ST 1a, 5.6 ad 3). Whereas the good is in things, truth is primarily in the intellect and only secondarily in things (ST 1a, 16.1). As it is in things, it is analogous according to their intrinsic perfection (ST 1a, 16.3); as it is in the mind, it is dependently and imperfectly in created minds, absolutely and perfectly in the divine mind (ST 1a, 16.5). Perfections such as life and wisdom (ST 1a, 18.3, 14.1, 9.1 ad 2, 13.9 ad 3, 41.3 ad 4) are also predicated by essence and by participation.

God. The transcendentals and those perfections which are called pure perfections (which do not necessarily include a mode of participation, ST 1a, 13.3 ad 1), are the concern of both natural theology and revealed theology. Negative statements about God are no problem. But affirmative statements can also be made about God (ST 1a, 13.12), both on the basis of the perfections of creatures and on the basis of revelation. A theory of analogy is the only way in which we can be sure of the meaning (not the truth) of these statements. St. Thomas's fullest explanation is given in regard to the predicate "living" (ST 1a, 18.3). Living can mean (1) a kind of substance capable of certain activities, (2) the activities themselves, (3) the way of existing proportioned to such a nature and such activities. The first two senses are univocal; only the third is analogous. In the richest sense the phrase "God is living" means: being the cause of life as we know it and having the perfection of life intrinsically, not as a limiting essence, but as identical with an unlimited existence and as expressing what we conceive as a mode of being. Surely we can form no simple concept of this or any other perfection that is drawn into the analogy of being (ST 1a, 13.1), yet we can understand what we mean by saying "God is living," and "God is life"; we can also show why we make such a statement.

On the other hand, what we can say significantly about God is often metaphorical. St. Thomas shows us how we can determine the abstract philosophically analyzed meaning of metaphorical statements (ST 1a, 4.2), and his commentaries on Sacred Scripture provide many instances of such analysis. But he does not engage in an investigation of the psychological, or subjective, meaning of these metaphors. For such analysis, fruitful recourse can be had to phenomenological and existentialist as well as to psychological, and literary studies of metaphor and symbol. Many modern writers on Sacred Scripture are successfully doing this.

See Also: analogy, theological use of; being; act; substance; accident; good; participation; causality; transcendentals; god

Bibliography: History. j. f. anderson, The Bond of Being (St. Louis 1949). h. lyttkens, The Analogy between God and the World (Uppsala 1952). j. owens, The Doctrine of Being in the Aristotelian Metaphysics (Toronto 1951) 5860. Doctrine. cajetan, The Analogy of Names and the Concept of Being, tr. e. bushinski and h. koren (Pittsburgh 1953). t. m. flanagan, "The Use of Analogy in the Summa Contra Gentiles," The Modern Schoolman, 35 (1957) 2137. john of st. thomas, The Material Logic, tr. y. r. simon et al. (Chicago 1955) 152208. g. p. klubertanz, St. Thomas Aquinas on Analogy (Chicago 1960). e. l. mascall, Existence and Analogy (New York 1949). r. masiello, "The Analogy of Proportion in the Metaphysics of St. Thomas," The Modern Schoolman, 35 (1958) 91105. a. maurer, "St. Thomas and the Analogy of Genus," The New Scholasticism, 29 (1955) 127144. r. mcinerny, The Logic of Analogy (The Hague 1961). m. t.-l. penido, Le Rôle de l'analogie en théologie dogmatique (Bibliothèque Thomiste 15; Paris 1931). g. phelan, St. Thomas and Analogy (Milwaukee 1941). j. m. ramirez, "De analogia secundum doctrinam aristotelico-thomisticam," La Ciencia Tomista, 24 (1921) 2040, 195214, 337357; 25 (1922) 1738.

[g. p. klubertanz]


views updated Jun 27 2018

ANALOGY. A comparison or correspondence between two things because of a third element that they are considered to share. An analogy is usually framed in order to describe or explain the nature of something: for example, time in ‘Let me give you an analogy. Time is like a river. Just as the river flows from higher to lower ground, so time flows from the past into the future.’ Once the time/river analogy has been drawn, people can talk about the flow of time and the currents of history. When such usages are established, their users may forget the analogy and come to think of them as statements of fact: what else can time do but flow? Because analogies depend on the concept as if, they often take the form of METAPHORS and SIMILES.


In traditional language teaching, such PARADIGMS as the conjugations of Latin and French display inflections in a fixed order, using a REGULAR form of the verb for each class of inflections. In French, j'aime (I love) is to tu aimes (thou lovest) as j'adore (I adore) is to tu adores (thou adorest). Students learn to apply the basic example to all words of the same type and in this way can form nous adorons (we adore) from nous aimons (we love). In learning a language, children and students constantly make such analogies, both on their own and under guidance. Sometimes, however, they engage in false analogy. Here, the child or student uses such known relationships as cat: cats and dog: dogs to produce sheep: *sheeps. The analogy has been correctly applied but is false because languages are not completely logical or analogical.


In LEXICOLOGY, many words are described as created by analogy with other words: that is, new forms are modelled on older forms, as when cavalcade (a procession of horses and riders) prompted the formation of camelcade (a procession of camels) and motorcade (a procession of cars). In addition to the semantics of processions, important factors here appear to be a pattern of three syllables in which sole or primary stress falls on the first. The phonologically suitable beavercade is semantically unlikely, however, while the semantically suitable elephantcade is phonologically unlikely. Through such analogizing, the suffix -cade (meaning ‘procession of’) is added to the language, its use subject to certain constraints. This kind of analogy is fundamental to the formation of compound and derived words.


Analogies are commonly employed for rhetorical, stylistic, or dramatic effect, often in the service of a social or political position:
Planet Earth is 4,600 million years old. If we condense this inconceivable time-span into an understandable concept, we can liken Earth to a person of 46 years of age. Nothing is known about the first 7 years of this person's life, and whilst only scattered information exists about the middle span, we know that only at the age 42 did the Earth begin to flower. Dinosaurs and great reptiles did not appear until one year ago, when the planet was 45. Mammals arrived only 8 months ago; in the middle of last week man-like apes evolved into ape-like men, and at the weekend the last ice age enveloped the Earth. Modern man has been around for four hours. During the last hour, Man discovered agriculture. The industrial revolution began a minute ago. During those sixty seconds of biological time, Modern Man has made a rubbish tip of Paradise (from a Greenpeace recruiting and fund-raising pamphlet, 1989).



views updated May 17 2018

a·nal·o·gy / əˈnaləjē/ • n. (pl. -gies) a comparison between two things, typically on the basis of their structure and for the purpose of explanation or clarification: an analogy between the workings of nature and those of human societies. ∎  a correspondence or partial similarity: the syndrome is called deep dysgraphia because of its analogy to deep dyslexia. ∎  a thing that is comparable to something else in significant respects: works of art were seen as an analogy for works of nature. ∎  Logic a process of arguing from similarity in known respects to similarity in other respects. ∎  Linguistics a process by which new words and inflections are created on the basis of regularities in the form of existing ones. ∎  Biol. the resemblance of function between organs that have a different evolutionary origin.DERIVATIVES: an·a·log·i·cal / ˌanəˈläjikəl/·a·log·i·cal·ly adv.ORIGIN: late Middle English (in the sense ‘appropriateness, correspondence’): from French analogie, Latin analogia ‘proportion,’ from Greek, from analogos ‘proportionate.’


views updated May 18 2018

Analogy. A proportional similarity. Most theological discussion of analogy has been concerned with analogical predication, a mode of predication in which terms familiar in one context are used in an extended sense elsewhere. Thus it is claimed that terms like ‘love’, ‘wisdom’, and ‘living’, which are learnt in everyday contexts, are applied to God by analogy because of some relationship (e.g. likeness, exemplarity, participation, and causation) between God's perfections and these human attributes.

According to Thomas Aquinas, such a mode of predication is midway between univocity and equivocation (Summa Theologiae, 1a, xiii. 5). Terms like ‘family resemblance’, ‘open texture’, and ‘systematic equivocation’, used in 20th-cent. analytic philosophy, may be regarded as akin to analogy. See also TANZĪH; NYĀYA (for upamana).


views updated May 21 2018


The inference that two or more things that are similar to each other in some respects are also similar in other respects.

An analogy denotes that similarity exists in some characteristics of things that are otherwise not alike.

In a legal argument, an analogy may be used when there is no precedent (prior case law close in facts and legal principles) in point. Reasoning by analogy involves referring to a case that concerns unrelated subject matter but is governed by the same general principles and applying those principles to the case at hand.


views updated May 14 2018

analogy proportion XV; similarity, parallelism XVII. — (O)F. analogie or L. analogia — Gr. analogíā equality of ratios, f. análogos (see prec.).
So analogic XVII, analogical XVI.