Aquinas: A Collection of Critical Essays by Anthony (ed) Kenny

By Anthony (ed) Kenny

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All the same, I think there are good reasons for accepting the real distinction between an individualised form and the corresponding esse. The most important and most general reason is stated succinctly but clearly by Aquinas himself. If x is F and y is F, then in respect of F-ness x and yare so far alike; the F-ness of x will indeed be a different individualised form from the F-ness of y, but they will be, as F-nesses, alike. But when x is and y also is, the esse of x and the esse of yare in general different as such.

By this I do not simply mean that there are many different types of sentence or many different ways of formulating truths, but that the word 'statement' has to be used in several irreducibly different senses and cannot be treated as a univocal term. This I take to be Aristotle's and St Thomas' theory of the Categories. If this theory is correct the way is at least open to an intellectualist ethics and theology; it will at any rate not be possible to say that because a statement is not a factual one it is neither true nor false.

One such obstacle is the old two-name or identity theory of predication, which flourished in the Middle Ages, and still keeps on appearing in new guises: the theory that a true predication is effected by joining different names of the same thing or things, the copula being a sign of this real identity. I shall not waste time on this logically worthless theory. Anybody who is tempted by it may try his hand at explaining in terms of it how we can fit together the three terms 'David', 'father', and 'Solomon' (which on this theory are three names) to form the true predication 'David is the father of Solomon'.

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