Classics and Religious Studies


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Published in American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly, Vol. LXVII, No. 2 (1993), pp. 219-232. Copyright © 1993 American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly. Used by permission.


Does the predication of a relation between two things imply that each of the relata have attributes predicable as well? In Volume I, Ch. 52 of The Guide of the Perplexed, Maimonides discusses this, and he seems to imply that it does. I will argue, using Aristotle’s discussion of relativity as a predicate in Bk. 5, Ch. 15 of Metaphysics, that it does not, and I shall use this to discuss the consequent improved utility of an analogy Maimonides constructs between God and creatures in I.53. To do this, I shall need to recount a logic of analogy for Maimonides that he might initially contest, but given our improved picture of relativity, I think Maimonides would agree to its utility in the end. It might be objected that there is no need for a logic of analogy in Maimonides’s work; analogy is dismissed as a way to talk about God, and much of Volume I of the Guide is indeed an attempt to create a referential structure through which we can predicate about God. My project is not meant to supplant Maimonides’s work; it is; rather, to augment it. If we can chart the great gulf between God and creatures by means of an analogy that Maimonides himself provides by clarifying it somewhat, on medieval Aristotelian grounds, perhaps the referential system that Maimonides constructs will itself be made clearer, even less perplexing.

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