The women in my life have not forgotten me, and by their remembrance have enkindled warm thoughts to fend off the cold days of their absence.
Margaret sent me a love note paraphrased from Thomas Aquinas’s Summa Theologica:
We can signify God, using the understanding we draw from creatures, although our names for God cannot express God’s divine essence. We know God as God appears to us, but God’s essence exceeds our understanding. The names we use for God apply substantively, but imperfectly, because creatures can only signify perfection imperfectly. These names apply properly to God in terms of what they signify, but not in terms of how they signify, since we, as creatures, can only signify in creaturely modes. The multiple names we apply to God are not synonymous, even as they are proper to the one God, because God’s simple and united perfection appears to our intellects as many and different perfections of the one God. The names that can be applied to God and creatures are neither univocally nor equivocally predicated but rather they are used analogously, in proportion. Even though the names we predicate of God are predicated of creatures first, since we know creatures first, these names are applied primarily to God, since perfections flow from God to creatures. The names that we use for God that imply relation to creatures are predicated of God temporally, even though God is eternal and we are not. As creatures, we are really related to God (in a way that God is not to us), so that our temporality and change can be applied to God, through our naming of God, without imputing temporality or change to God.
The name, God, signifies the nature of God, even though we do not know God’s nature, because God signifies the source of God’s operations, which we do know. The name, God, is incommunicable when the name signifies something singular, but it is communicable in partial signification through similitude, from our experience of God’s operations. This name, God, applies to God by nature, by participation, and according to opinion analogically, and not univocally or equivocally. If God applied to God univocally, meaning exactly the same, then we would be able to know the true God, which we cannot. If God applied to God equivocally, meaning something entirely different, then we would not be speaking of God at all. Instead, God signifies God analogically, such that God participates both in the signification of the true God and in the God that creatures can imagine. The most proper name of God is HE WHO IS, for three reasons: it signifies the existence of God, which is God’s essence; it is universal, indicating the breadth of God beyond our comprehension; it signifies that God is present (eternally present, and not of the past or the future).
True affirmative propositions about God can be formed, because, even though the predicate and subject represent the plurality of an idea, they also signify the unity of one same thing, which the intellect represents by the composition of the proposition.
And if that doesn’t strike you as steamily romantic, then you need a little more semiotics in your life.
Pippa meanwhile, has been kicking up her heels in Maine — but she too has sent me reminders of her presence in my life. More to the point, she has left me reminders. The first day she was gone, I found a little paper heart marked “Bea” buried in the dog food. Yesterday, I opened my pocket watch only to discover another message:
And today I thought I’d finish off that bottle of wine that had only a drop or two left in it — and when I reached to open the cork, I found
that Pippa had left me a note there, too.