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The Practical Nature of Truth in Aquinas

March 14, 2008
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For Aquinas, crucially, being is analogically like knowing and knowing like being.  This is what makes Aquinas’s theory of truth – unlike modern theories – an ontological rather than epistemological one.  Indeed, the conformity or proportion which pertains between knowing and the known introduces an aesthetic dimension to knowledge utterly alien to most modern considerations.  And, in addition, truth for Aquinas has a teleological and a practical dimension, as well as a theoretical one – that is to say, the truth of a thing is taken as that thing fulfilling the way it ought to be, being the way it must be in order to be true.  These two dimensions of truth, as the way a thing is and the way it ought to be, come together, because for Aquinas they coincide in the Mind of God.  So whereas for modern correspondence theories … one first has a theory of truth and then might or might not apply it to theology, for Aquinas, truth is theological without remainder. (Catherine Pickstock, Truth in Aquinas, 5, 6.)

John Frame says similar things about the practicality of truth in theology in his Doctrine of the Knowledge of God. I think my goal in life, for now, is to prove the practicality of Aquinas.  It seems like a daunting task.   

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