NTU Philosophical Review:
From Aquinas’ Analogy to Ian Ramsey’s Models and Disclosures – the Possibility of Religious Language Then and Now
從阿奎那的類比法到藍聖恩的 「模型」與「揭示」 ──宗教語言可能性的古與今
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The search for a proper language for God-talk is a perennial task in theology as well as in philosophy. From times of antiquity, the use of analogy was employed in different realms of knowledge. Yet it was not until the medieval era, primarily through the effort of Thomas Aquinas, that analogy was used extensively in religious discourse. However, Thomistic analogy was not accepted by all. The contention between univocal and analogical use of words was never settled. The contemporary scene adds further fuel to the debate. Logical positivism claims that God-talk is totally meaningless, as truth claims can never be established in such a domain. And some critics say that religion belongs to the world of the ‘un-sayable’ and silence is the only response. The situation demands an urgent response from the side of the religious thinkers, and Ian Ramsey, previous Nolloth professor of Philosopy of Christian Religion at Oxford University, has taken up the task to face this challenge. Ramsey’s job is twofold. First, he is of course concerned with defending religious discourse against such philosophical critiques. At the same time, he is eager to show how theological apologetics could actually benefit from the tenets of Logical Empiricism. His method of ‘models’ and‘disclosures’ is used to demonstrate the empirical relevance of religious language. Such approach also reveals that religious discourses do containsomething more than the narrowness of meaning and truth set down by the logical empiricists. The purpose of this paper is to place Aquinas’ analogyside by side with Ramsey’s models approach and see how they compare and contrast each other. Specifically, we will see how these approaches haveroughly the same dynamics of going from what is seen to what is unseen in talking about God. We will also see how the two projects differ owing to a fundamental difference in their ontology.