The next theme that will occupy our attention in our studies of Aristotle involves his analysis of the ways we use language. In his concern about classification, he realized that it was important to clarify the application of terms as precisely as possible. Otherwise our classifications would likely become ambiguous or confusing.
To assist in this project, Aristotle identified three different ways in which we use langauage: univocal, equivocal, and analogical. Each of these represents an important and distinct manner in which terms are applied, and it is important to grasp these distinctions, both for understanding Aristotle, but also for understanding all attempts at human communication.
In the history of Christian thought, Aristotle's treatment of this topic has been quite important. The great theologian of the middle ages, Thomas Aquinas, applied Aristotle's principles to clarify the limits of human vocabulary when it comes to the problem of trying to describe God. We will return to this question later when we take up the thought of Thomas.
This wide ranging course starts with the pre-Socratic philosophers of the ancient world, and traces the history of philosophical speculation across the ages up to the present. Included along the way is special attention to the greatest Christian thinkers in history, including Augustine, Anselm, Aquinas, Luther, Calvin and many others.