Is the concept of existence univocal? – part II

The following is the second argument adduced for the univocity of the concept of existence in the Bidayat al-Hikmah. Allameh writes:

Another proof of it is that after positing the existence of something, at times we have doubts about its essential characteristics. For instance, after affirming the existence of a creator for the world, we may have doubts as to whether the creator is a necessary (wajib) or a contingent (mumkin) being, or as to whether or not [He] is characterized with quiddity (mahiyyah). Or, for instance, after affirming that man has a soul (nafs), we may have doubts as to whether it is material (maddi) or immaterial (mujarrad), a substance (jawhar) or an accident (‘aradh). Hence, if ‘existence’ were not univocal in the different instances and were it an equivocal or homonymous term with disparate meanings (mushtarak lafzi), its meaning would necessarily vary from one subject of which it is predicated to another.

I take the gist of this argument to amount to the idea that the fact that we are able to affirm the existence of certain things but still entertain doubts about some (other) features of them goes to show, for Allameh, that existence must be univocally predicated of the things of which we affirm it. For otherwise, if it was equivocal, we wouldn’t be able to do that. That is to say, the meaning of existence, each time we affirm it of things (but have doubts about other features of them) would differ significantly to such an extent that we wouldn’t be able to know what we mean when make statements such as “x exists and y exists but whether or not x has property a or y has property b is unknown.” But we do know what such statements mean, so ‘existence’ must be a univocal concept. In other words, the different instances in which we use the concept of existence all go to show that it is univocal. If it wasn’t, we wouldn’t be able to use it in the way in which Allameh specifies that we in fact do.

This second argument, or more specifically the fact that we are able to use the concept of existence meaningfully in the contexts which Allameh lists, suffers from the same problem as the first; namely, although it rules out ‘existence’ being equivocal, it does not it seems to me rule out the possibility that the concept may be analogical instead. On the contrary, it seems to me that the term existence can be analogical used (in the way Allameh’s argument requires) in various propositions without impugning the intelligibility of these propositions. That is, given that one can intelligibly and meaningfully analogically predicate existence of (a) different things and also (b) have doubts about certain other features of those things, then meeting conditions (a) and (b) does not require – contrary to Allameh’s claim – that ‘existence’ be univocally predicated. Hence, the univocity of existence would then not be necessary to fulfill conditions (a) and (b).

Here are some examples to illustrate the point. Take the following two statements:

(1)    “An animal is healthy and food is healthy but whether the animal is x or the food is y is unknown.” This statement is perfectly meaningful, even though the term ‘healthy’ here is analogical not univocal.

(2)    “God exists and the soul exists” or “a substance exists and an accident exists but whether or not … etc.” These statements are also perfectly meaningful and understandable even if we suppose the term ‘exists’ to be predicated analogically of the subjects of the statements.

What the above considerations show is that the unintelligibility which equivocality would engender in the contexts which Allameh lists if the concept of existence were an equivocal term would be absent from ‘existence’ in such contexts if we suppose it to be an analogical term. Given that, Allameh’s second argument then, like his first, does not seem to me to necessarily rule out existence being analogical or, the same point put differently, require necessarily that existence be univocal.

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37 thoughts on “Is the concept of existence univocal? – part II

  1. Yes. I also agree with your conclusion. In the statement (2), I think your idea is correct that existence is analogical, but not in statement (1). That is, even though the usage of term ‘healthy’ is analogical in both occasions in example (1)(animal is healthy and food is healthy), the idea that both (animal and food) are healthy is univocal that both substances are ‘healthy’. Since in both instances both animal and dog are directed in relation to being healthy, and we intelligibly know what healthy is, therefore the understanding of the term healthy in both material objects (animal and food) is univocal.

    In statement (2), I am with you since existence of God and existence of soul cannot be considered univocal since the mode through which they both exist must be analogical. Since both differ in degrees and in ontological reality. One is dependent on existence on the other, but not vice versa.

    1. Salam,

      I’m not sure I understand what you mean. If you agree, as you say you do, that the usage of the term ‘healthy’ in statement (1) is analogical, why then do you say “the idea that both (animal and food) are healthy is univocal”? Are you saying that ‘healthy’ is somehow both analogical and univocal?

  2. Aleikom salam.

    If the question is about the univocality of the ‘existence’ of ‘healthiness’ in both the animal and the food, then, what I mean is even though we use the term ‘healthy’ analogically in the case, the existence of healthiness in both the animal and the food is univocal, not analogical. That is because both the animal and the food can be considered healthy in the same way (univocally) healthy without knowing in details how they are healthy. Because we intelligibly know that when we say ‘animal is healthy’ and ‘food is healthy’, in both cases we mean that there is a reality called ‘healthiness’ that exists (in the same way) within both those substances, and do not mean anything else.

    On the contrary, we cannot say that God’s existence is similar to the soul’s existence because the former belongs to a different nature of reality, and the latter,although has some share in a different reality as well, can be compared to the corporeal world as an entity or substance through which the body is in motion. Then,we cannot say that (in this case) both existence is univocal,but analogical. Because the way God exists, according to Ibn Sina the great, is different from the existence of the soul since God is necessary existent and the soul is a possible existent (sorry about preaching to the choir).

    That is interesting when you mentioned whether healthiness is both univocal and analogical. I think it would be a good topic to ponder about. Have nothing to say yet about it.

    1. I see what you mean. But I don’t think you can say that even though the term ‘healthy’ is being used analogically, the ‘existence’ of healthiness in both cases is univocal. This is because when you predicate the term ‘healthy’ of the two you are just talking about the way it exists in both of them – and so there cannot be any distinction between (a) how the term is used and (b) the way it exists in the things of which it is said i.e., the animal and food. This means that (a) and (b) are one and same thing. Or more precisely, (a) is meant to reflect (b) i.e., the way the term ‘healthy’ is used is meant to pick out the way what the term signifies i.e., healthiness, exists in the things of which it is said. Given that, you either have to maintain it exists in them analogically or univocally and the way it exists in them is the way it is going to be predicated of them too.

      Regarding your concerns about what kind of term ‘healthy’is , it seems to me that your reason that it is univocal i.e., “because both the animal and the food can be considered healthy in the same way healthy without knowing in details how they are healthy”, is misplaced. I wasn’t trying to show that the term ‘healthy’ is not univocal in the post; but only that, if we assume it to be analogical, we can still fulfill conditions (a) and (b) (listed in the post) that Allameh thinks are required when we makes statements of the kind that he lists in his argument. Put simply, the point of Allameh’s argument was to show that non-univocal terms cannot satisfy conditions (a) and (b) that are listed in the post but, it seems to me at least, my hypothetical examples showed that that is not necessarily true i.e., in terms of analogical terms. Hence my conclusion was Allameh’s “second argument, like his first, does not necessarily rule out existence being analogical” and not “existence or healthy’ is therefore necessarily analogical.” Whether or not this latter claim is true would require separate arguments, which I may provide in future posts.

  3. inshallah, inshallah.

    when we say ‘man is healthy’, it means differently from saying ‘food is healthy’ since in the latter case, we are using analogy of attribution. In this case, you are right that healthy is an analogical term.

    But we can use the statement ‘man is healthy’ in a similar fashion as we used the statement ‘food is healthy’. For example, if a man is being eaten by an animal, the healthiness part of man goes to the animal after the consumption of man, similarly when we eat food and acquire its healthiness. In this case, if we look at it, then the term ‘healthy’ is a univocal term because both healthiness used relative to man and food are used in the same sense, i.e., they provide nutritin and make the one who consumes them healthy.

    I think the definition of term ‘healthy’ is problematic since we probably have not defined it correctly what it means.

    salam sheikh.

    1. The analogicity of the term ‘healthy’, as Arestu says, consists in the fact that it has a primary referent, which is ‘animal’, and that every other use of the term with respect to anything else (e.g., food, complexion, etc) is related to thing of which it is primarely said i.e., animal. This idea of the relation of all secondary referents to a primary one is a feature of all analogical terms. But univocal and equivocal terms do not seem to have such a feature. Now regarding the term ‘healthy’, because it is analogical, there cannot be single definition of it that applies uniformly i.e., univocally, to all the things of which it is predicated. Hence, when it is said that ‘food is healthy’ what is meant is insofar as it maintains the health of the animal; when it is said that someone’s complexion is healthy it means insofar far as it is a sign or symptom of the health of the animal. And the same with everything else other ‘animal’ called healthy, that is, all such secondary predications of ‘healthy’ are always related to its primary referent i.e., animal. This is what it means to be analogical; for we do not use ‘healthy’ of animal with reference to some other thing but everything else is called ‘healthy’ in relation to the health of the animal. And among all secondary uses of healthy, the term is also analogical too; for, as was said, in some things e.g., food, it concerns the maintainance of health while in other things e.g., medicine, it concerns the production of health i.e., in the animal. Hence, in the case of your example of the man being eaten by an animal, the way the term ‘healthy’ will be predicated of him will be not insofar as the man is a man i.e., an animal, but insofar as he is food for the animal that is consuming him. And hence the term will be predicated analogically, not univocally.

  4. Salam sheikh.

    I am heading out from school now, but I will leave you to read this long passage from stanford encyclopedia of philosophy. I will read your response later carefully and think about it.

    [Boethius’s subdivisions had one major failure: they did not seem to accommodate the different uses of the word ‘being’ (ens). As a result, many authors used a new threefold division which included Boethius’s last two subdivisions and one more. They presented the division as a division of deliberate equivocals, and they identified deliberate equivocals with analogical terms. This threefold division of analogy was established in the thirteenth-century, in response to a remark by Averroes in his commentary on the Metaphysics to the effect that Aristotle had classified ‘healthy’ as a case of relationship to one thing as an end, ‘medical’ as a case of relationship to one thing as an agent, and ‘being’ (ens) as a case of relationship to one subject. It is found in Thomas Aquinas’s own commentary on the Metaphysics, as well as in his fifteenth-century follower Capreolus. An analogical term is now seen as one which is said of two things in a prior and a posterior sense, and it is grounded in various kinds of attribution or relationship to the primary object: food is healthy as a cause of a healthy animal, a procedure is medical when applied by a medical agent, a quality has being by virtue of the existent substance that it characterizes.

    A second threefold division of analogy arose from reflection on the relationship between equivocal and analogical terms. Analogical terms were said to be intermediaries between equivocal and univocal terms, and the standard view was that analogical terms were intermediary between chance equivocals and univocals, and hence that they were to be identified with deliberate equivocals. The notion of an intermediary term, however, is open to more than one interpretation, and some authors went further in suggesting that at least some analogical terms were intermediary between univocals and deliberate equivocals, so that they were not equivocal in any of the normal senses at all. Towards the end of the thirteenth century, an anonymous commentator on the Sophistical Refutations gives the following classification. First, there are analogical terms which are univocal in a broad sense of ‘univocal’. Here reference was made to genus terms such as ‘animal’. Human beings and donkeys participate equally in the common nature animal, but are not themselves equal, since human beings are more perfect than donkeys. This type of analogy was routinely discussed in response to a remark Aristotle had made in Physics VII (249a22–25) which, in Latin translation, asserted that many equivocations are hidden in a genus. Medieval logicians felt obliged to fit this claim into the framework of equivocation and analogy, even if the consensus was that in the end the use of genus terms was univocal. Second, there are those analogical terms such as ‘being’ (ens) which are not equivocal, because only one concept or nature (ratio) seems to be involved, and which are not univocal either, because things participate this one ratio unequally, in a prior and a posterior way. It is these terms which are the genuine intermediaries. Third, there are those analogical terms which are deliberate equivocals, because there are two concepts or natures (rationes) which are participated in a prior and a posterior way. The example here was ‘healthy’. This second threefold division was much discussed. Duns Scotus bitterly criticized it in his earlier logical writings. Walter Burley claimed that both the first and the second kinds of analogical term could properly be regarded as univocal in a wide sense. The division was popular in the fifteenth century with such Thomists as Capreolus, who realized its closeness to the account given by Aquinas in his Sentences commentary.]

  5. salam sheikh.

    I hope you read the passage. I am home now.

    How about if I state that the premise that the animal is the primary referent relative to health is not correct? That is, it is not necessary that the primary referent of anything,including healthy state is the animal. In that case, I think any object in the world, whether it be a man or an apple, would be considered healthy without keeping any primary or a secondary referent in mind.

    I have idea of sheikh Plato in mind. Healthiness in the world of copies (i.e., corporeal world) means healthiness in so far as it partakes to the Form of healthiness. Now, any object in the world, being healthy, would mean that they are healthy (univocally) in relation to each other, but in relation to the Form of healthiness, indeed are analogical.

    The man eaten by an animal is ‘a healthy man’, period. Yes, he becomes the food in that sense to an animal, but not essentially, only accidentally. And accidental attributes do not and cannot change something essentially, Therefore, healthy man, even though seems to be assumed as a food for an animal, is a ‘healthy man’. And healthy in both cases described earlier becomes a univocal term.

    1. Well, if you deny that ‘healthy’ has a primary referent to which all other uses of it are related, then it would either be equivocal – which means that it would have completely different meanings in our uses of it , or it would be univocal – and this would have its own problems. For example, in what exact same sense can ‘animal’, ‘excercise’, and ‘medicine’ all be called ‘healthy’? It seems to me none.

      Regarding healthy being a participation in the Form of healthiness, even granting the existence of such Forms, I think my point still stands since you agree that something that participates in the Form of healthiness does so analogically, not univocally. So the point you make about objects in the world being healthy univocally in relation each other (but not the Form) does not make sense to me. I mean, what is at issue here, assuming that Forms exist, is the relation between the Form of healthiness and its participants, not the relation of the participants (in the Form) to each other.

  6. mashallah, you masha’i (haha, become aflatuni, a real metaphysician).

    health in that sense would not be uquivocal because health is something that subsists similarly in all those three cases you mentioned, not necessarily without knowing how it subsists. Given that we know the term healthy intelligibly, then it would be univocal.

    you can describe different senses to understanding the relative definitions of healthy relative to those three situations, but in the last analysis, they all exist or subsist within those univocally. That is, they are all considered healthy. And since the idea is about the corporeal beings relative to each other, then in this case, healthiness would be univocal since all those healthinesses would be defected in them (i.e., in any sense it is seen, it would be copy of the Form of healthiness – I am with you if they have separate ontological reality).

    and the last point, I think the issue is about all relations (relation of participants to Form and vice versa, and relation of participants to each other). That is because, according to masha’is, the participants are real as well and not defected. Therefore, even if we take the Forms out of equation, we are only left with participants who has healthiness subsisting in them, and if there is a concrete reality subsisting within them, then since reality and truth is one about being healthy, therefore that would make healthiness a univocal term.

    1. Ajmal, I’m confused as to what exactly you’re trying to say. I’m not saying that ‘healthy’ is equivocal. My point was simply that if you deny that it is analogical i.e., that it has one primary referent to which all other secondary cases of ‘being healthy’ are related, then the term is either equivocal or univocal. If it’s equivocal, we would not be able to meaningfully predicate ‘healthy’ of two distinct things but have doubts about some other properties of them. But we clearly can do that, so it can’t be equivocal. If you say it’s univocal, then you must explain in what exact same sense different things like ‘animal’, ‘excercise’, and ‘medicine’ can all be called ‘healthy’. For this is what univocal predication requires just as e.g., we can specify in what exact sense Zayd and Amr are both defined as ‘man’, namely, in that they are both ‘rational animals’ in the exact same way. It’s not that Zayd is ‘man’ in a primary sense and every other person is only ‘man’ in somehow being related to Zayd – if it was, ‘man’ would be analogical. Nor it is that ‘man’ said of Zayd and Amr has completely different meanings just as how ‘bark’ said of what dogs do and the outer sheath of wood has completely different meanings. In that case, ‘man’ would be equivocal. So the definition of ‘healthy’ that you have to give if you think it’s univocal has to be such that it contains no notion of a relation to something else which is primarily healthy and everything else only secondarily. The Forms can’t work because they do contain such a relation i.e., of participation.

      And again, it is not about the relation between things that are healthy – at least not primarily. That question is secondary. It’s first and foremost about the relation between the concept of healthy and the things of which it is said. Once that is clarified, only then we can makes sense of the relation of healthy things to each other. Hence, when I say ‘healthy’ is analogical, that also then clarifies in what way all things said to be healthy are related to each other, namely, insofar as one thing is said to be primarily healthy i.e., animal, and everything else is said to be healthy as having a relation (whether in terms of as a sign of health, as productive of health, and etc) to the primary sense of it. So the question of the relation of healthy things to each other cannot be answered unless we first answer the first question of the relation between the concept and the things of which it is said.

  7. salam.

    i am just trying to give you input about your input (read what you mentioned in your last reply to me). I know you are not saying that it is not equivocal, but in your reply you indicated it (once again, read it sheikh).

    about the primary referent, i already talked about it before.

    animal, exercise and medicine are considered healthy either in univocal or analogical sense. I think we should find a proper definition of healthiness prior to answering the question of whether the term is univocal or analogical, although i think it is most probably that it is univocal. In line with the statements in the encyclopedia of philosophy, it could be that ‘some analogical term in a broader sense are in fact univocal’, and th example they provided was the term ‘healthy’.

    So I would tell you to read the passage first from the encyclopedia of philosophy, and i am sending you the direct link to it.

    http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/analogy-medieval/#5

    and you are right that the concept of healthiness must be clarified. so we wait untill we clarify he concept of healthiness. And we wait untill we find a perfect definition of healthy.

    peace and blessings sheikh, inna fi qatli hayatan fi hayaat

    1. Two things: first, the burden is on you to provide the one definition of healthy that applies to everything it is said in exactly the same way since you think it is univocal. This is again a feature of all univocal terms i.e., they have one single definition. So, until you know what it is, you cannot claim that healthy is univocal. I’m denying that such a definition can be provided – that’s why I think it’s analogical. Second, the material from the encyclopedia is unhelpful; it’s simply explaining Boethius’s view, not arguing for it – so why should I accept it? Later philosophers like Aquinas and others rejected it. And in the encyclopedia, ‘healthy’ is not an example they give of a ‘broad analogical term which is univocal’ as you say they do. What they rather say is that healthy is an example of a ‘deliberate equivocal’ term.

  8. and if we do come and find a perfect definition of healthiness, then, it must be one, similar to man’s best definition is rational animal. then, if healthiness means x due to that perfect definition, it would not matter where it is found, it would mean x, and nothing else. example is sadness: even if a fish is sad, it means similarly (univocally) that it is in similar condition as a human would be sad, even when both belong to different species.

    once again, if health = x, then it is x in no matter place it is in, it cannot not be x, given that we have found what that x is.

    1. Again, since it is you that thinks the term is univocal, you must provide this perfect definition, not me. I deny that it has such a definition. But if you don’t know what this one perfect definition is, then how can you claim to know that the term is univocal?

  9. i think in claiming that healthy is an analogical term, we still require a definition. Simplay saying that ‘they are stated analogically in each three cases – animal, medicine and exercise – is not doing justice to the matter. that is why stating that it is univocal is better than stating it is analogical because in the latter case, you have to find three perfect definitions of healthy, which becomes absurd. That is because a thing has one perfect definition, and having three perfect definitions i think is out of grasp.

    if you scroll down to the final part of the final paragraph, they literally state that some analogical terms in a wider sense are univocal. You are right that i misread the statement: healthy is in a wider sense an equivocal term, as they say. But again you have to prove them wrong since you took equivocality out of the equation.

    i think intelligibly i know what healthy is, lets say, as i said, healthy is x. Now if it is x, then it would be x whether it subsists in animal, medicine or food. x, being essentially x, cannot not be x based on it being in a particular location or situation. Therefore, that makes x to be univocal. Hence i can tell it is univocal even without a perfect definition since perfect definitions, when acquired, are one and cannot not be themselves.

    oqtolooni oqtolooni ya seqat. salam aleikom wa rahmatullah

    1. You’re avoiding what is your due i.e., to provide us with a perfect definition of healthy. Analogical terms have no strict definition i.e., one that applies exactly in the same sense in all cases. Again, that is a mark of univocal terms. You agree that existence is analogical, can you then provide perfect definitions of it in all cases it is used? When you say I have to provide three perfect definitions of healthy instead of one if i think it’s analogical, you’re implicitly assuming that the term is univocal – that’s why you think such definitions can be provided. But I deny that i.e., there is no perfect (univocal) definition of the term. So the only way you can prove it univocity is if you give us that one perfect definition since you think there is one.

      Your example of ‘x being healthy’ just begs the question and so proves nothing. In order for it to actually prove something, instead of saying ‘healthy is x and you know what x means when you apply it to things’ you have to fill in where ‘x’ is with a definition. And then we’ll see if it in fact applies in the exact same sense in all cases it’s used. I for my part have already told you what I think ‘healthy’ means and that it does not mean the exact same thing in all cases it is used. For example, in the case of its primary referent i.e., animal, the meaning of the term concerns something like the proper and harmonious functioning of the whole organism in terms of its various organs and other constituents. But in something like ‘food’, when it’s said ‘food is healthy’, we aren’t talking about what we meant when we said that ‘animal is healthy’ for food is just not the sort of thing that has the relevant sorts of organs and other constituents which harmoniously function together; rather, the healthiness of the food is only so insofar as it is related to the healthiness of the animal as producing or maintaining its health, and the same with other things said to be healthy. Hence, in both cases, it does not have a univocal meaning (as e.g., the definition of ‘man’ would have applied to two men), nor it is purely equivocal either.

  10. salam sheikh.

    if we do not know the prefect definition of healthy, how can we even claim healthy to be either univocal or analogical (or even equivocal) at the first place? Let’s assume we found it, and it is x (for the sake of argument). Now, since healthy is x, then in all cases it would be x. And that makes the word univocal. But, there is something else. I remember when you asked in regards my first reply whether i thought that healthy is both analogical and univocal. I think it is, since essentially healthy is healthy (according to theory of identity by Plato), but when found in different things or species (i.e., animal, medicine or food), it makes more sense to consider each being healthy in analogical term. Therefore, I think saying that healthy is only univocal or only analogical is not the correct answer. Even in your conclusion you mentioned that it is not necessary that existence (of healthiness) be univocal since it does not negate the possibility of it being analogical. So in our dialectics, I think, according to me, it is both univocal and analogical. This is what the paper also said (in stanford encyclopedia of philosophy) that some analogical terms in broader sense are univocal. It could be that all are (again in staying with line of Plato’s first mention of theory of identity).

    1. if we do not know the prefect definition of healthy, how can we even claim healthy to be either univocal or analogical (or even equivocal) at the first place?

      We can because an analogical term does not require a perfect definition that applies in the exact same sense in all cases i.e., ones that include different natures or species. It only requires a definition that applies to things with the same nature uniformly and all other things as they’re are related to that one thing. And this is exactly how we use the term ‘healthy’ in normal, everyday contexts as I’ve indicated in my last post.

      Let’s assume we found it, and it is x (for the sake of argument). Now, since healthy is x, then in all cases it would be x. And that makes the word univocal.

      No, this does not work. You’re again assuming it to be univocal with this example. Again, you have to give us the required perfect definition of healthy in the place of ‘x’ for your argument to be valid.

      But, there is something else. I remember when you asked in regards my first reply whether i thought that healthy is both analogical and univocal. I think it is, since essentially healthy is healthy (according to theory of identity by Plato), but when found in different things or species (i.e., animal, medicine or food), it makes more sense to consider each being healthy in analogical term. […].

      First, the theory of identity here is unhelpful; for it does not concern the actual definition of things, just the fact that, whatever such definitions may turn out to be, the things themselves are themselves, not something else. Second, regarding the term being both analogical and univocal, I think that is true in one sense, but not in the more important sense that is relevant to our discussion here. It is univocal in the sense that it applies in the exact same way to individuals of a single nature so that when e.g., it is predicated of Zayd, Amr or Rakhsh (the famous horse of Rustam from the Shahnameh), its meaning is synonymous in all three cases. But it does not apply univocally across different natures i.e., animal, food, medicine, etc., and that is the sense which is pertinent to the issue here. In such cases, to say that ‘healthy’ is both analgoical and univocal would be a contradiction; for it would mean one that ‘healthy’ as applied to ‘animal’ and ‘food’ has one definition and not one definition, which does not make sense. Analogical terms combine similarity and difference, but univocal terms do not. And because they do not, they are incompatible in predication together with analogical terms. If you think otherwise, you have to (a) give a clear univocal definition of ‘healthy’, then (b) give us its analogical meaning, and then (c) give us an example of it applying in both ways to certain things.

  11. salam sheikh.

    when i say perfect definition, i mean ‘perfect definition’, not the definition that is used in every day language. when we use the term healthy in normal every day context, that does not mean that we know the real meaning of the term healthy. it is only that we make sense of the reality of being healthy in different terms. but my question again is, if we have not got a perfect definition (of healthy), then how can we assume that, a) without knowing perfect definition we can claim that we know it (healthy) has a primary referent to which all the other things are related, b) how do we know that in all cases they are related yet exist differently, c) how do we even know that they are univocal, and etc?

    my friend, if you are a true peripatetic, (and i am sure you are a true muqalled of sheikh arestu, hehe), the you must know that sheikh arestu also used letters like x, terms like ‘this a’, and others as symbols for something that is not yet determined fully by him. example is, in metaphysics, since he does not have a perfect definition for substance he calls it ‘this a’. therefore, as you said, i am assuming it to be univocal in that line since it makes more sense, but i later also provide points that it could be analogical. so hold on before you make any judgement.

    now, about identity theory: since a perfect definition is not reached, therefore i think it helps – (for me at least since i have not made my mind whether healthy is univocal or analogical) – to determine if x = x. and it is very obvious and logical that it is. therefore, whatever the definition of healthy is, it is healthy anywhere it is found. but when found in different species, it might be that it is more conceivable to assume the term as an analogical one. now, i think you misunderstood by contradiction part, since even Aristotle would not deny that things can be contradictory to themselves in different relations, not in the same sense. also, contrary to healthy would be (for the sake of argument again) not healthy, but saying that health is univocal is contrary to saying that health analogical is i think wrong since both essentially are healthy, not contrary to being healthy.

    i think the problem here is the broken leg of logic due to which the terms such as univocal and analogical, although looks simple to conceive, are in fact problematic. and it is apparent after further analyses that that is the case.

    and regarding shahnameh, i recommend that you give a bit of your time reading it since it might, inshallah, open your mind, reaoning, aql and heart to other side of acquiring knowledge, which, unlike the intellect, does not confine and close the truth in imagined box or a cage, but enables you to open the possibilities of receiving hikmah from the One who grants it to whomever He wills.

    peace be to you my friend.

    1. Let me try this again.

      […] my question again is, if we have not got a perfect definition (of healthy), then how can we assume that, a) without knowing perfect definition we can claim that we know it (healthy) has a primary referent to which all the other things are related, b) how do we know that in all cases they are related yet exist differently, c) how do we even know that they are univocal, and etc? […].

      Your first question (a) assumes that ‘healthy’ must have a univocal meaning and here is how: What is a perfect definition? That is, what does it mean to have a ‘perfect definition’? Is it a definition which is exactly the same in all cases like e.g., the definition of ‘man’ as a ‘rational animal’ or no?

      If yes, then that is just what a univocal term is i.e., one that has the exact same meaning in all cases. And in doing this you’ve just assumed what you needed to prove. In other words, in saying ‘healthy’ needs a perfect defintion you’re just saying ‘healthy needs to be univocal’ and so you’re equating having a perfect definition with being univocal. But this is what it at issue. Given that, in then claiming what you claim in your first question (a), you’re basically saying that “we cannot know that healthy is analogical because we don’t know that it is univocal.” That is, your statement in (a) that “without a perfect definition, we cannot know that healthy has a primary referent to which all other things said to be healthy are related (i.e., that is analogical)” is equivalent to saying ‘without an univocal meaning of healthy, we cannot know it is analogous’. But this does not make any sense at all.

      If no though i.e., if by ‘perfect definition’ you do not mean a meaning which applies in exactly the same sense in all cases i.e., a univocal meaning, then that leaves you with either an (1) equivocal meaning or (2) an analogical meaning. But both options make no sense; and so holding that a perfect definition must be either equivocal or analogical will get you into more of a mess than you’re already in. For example, suppose you say a perfect definition must be analogical. It would mean that the definitions of all things would have to be analogical; otherwise, according to you, we would not be able to know them because we will not have perfect i.e., analogical, definitions of them. But do you really think this has any sense to it?

      All that being said, here’s how I would answer (a) and (b) (I don’t understand what you’re asking in (c)). As for (a), we know that ‘healthy’ is analogical because to have a ‘perfect definition’ does not necessarily mean to have a univocal meaning. You haven’t proven otherwise. The term ‘healthy’ can be said to have a perfect definition, even though it is an analogical term when it applies to things of the same and different natures (e.g., animal, medicine, food, etc) and we perfectly understand its meaning in all such cases. Regarding (b), they are related because they’re all called ‘healthy’ and they exist differently because they all have different natures e.g., food is not medicine, medicine is not animal, and animal is not food, etc.

      To recap then, the question is whether or not ‘healthy’ is analogical or univocal as predicated of things with different natures? I say that it is analogical; it is primarily predicated of animal, and secondarily of other things as far as they’re related to its primary predication. The definition of the term as it is said of ‘animal’ means, like I said, ‘the harmonious and proper operations of biological functions’ and in all cases of it being said of ‘animal’ it has this same meaning. However, as it is said of things with different natures i.e., medicine and food, it does not have that meaning, but a different although related meaning. This ‘related meaning’, depending on what it is predicated of (e.g., medicine, complexion, or food), will either be in terms of the thing being a cause of health in the animal, or a sign of health in the animal, or the maintaining of health in the animal and etc. Healthy is never said of these secondary things in the way it is said of the primary thing i.e., in terms of proper biological functions. And this is what it means to have an analogical meaning. But you say that it is univocal as applied across different natures? If so, then what, I ask you once again, is its univocal meaning in all these cases?

  12. peace and blessing be to my friend and brother.

    my friend, as i said i am not having a pre-conceived notion about healthy being a univocal term, because in stating so, i am not geting anywhere. it is only that it makes more sense to me that a term is equal to itself when it is placed anywhere.

    imagine this: a healthy man is healthy, meaning that it flourishes, grows, and other attributes that are good in man. we can say similarly about apple: an apple is healthy, meaning that it flourishes, grows, and also other attributes that are good in it. healthiness has a meaning, it is not just a word that we can state without actually knowing its meaning. the reason why it becomes analogical is if we attach healthiness to man as its primary referent (as sheikh arestu stated, and you are following him) which i think is not necessary.

    health is a state which subsides in subjects. to stay in line with sheikh arestu, a subject can only contain predicates in it, not vice versa. a healthy man is healthy because he is in the state of health, and similarly, an apple is healthy in so far as it is in the state of health as well, which is, if it is attached to a tree, is free of diseases, is flourishing, is getting nutrients from the tree, and so on. similarly, man is in a healthy state when it is getting nutrients (similar to apple getting nutrients from the tree), if it is free of disease (also same for apple being healthy if not diseased), is flourishing as well by growing properly without any deficiency, and so on. then, in that case, healthy is a univocal term, and cannot not be.

    if arestu is correct that healthy is always related to the primary referent of it, which is man, then i agree that healthy is an analogical term, even though it still does not eliminate the notion that essentially the word healthy, as i described above, is a univocal term.

    to sum up, if apple is never consumed by man (again if we do not consider that everything has a primary referent), then health in apple subsided is similar (univocal) to health in man, since in both substances (man and apple), being healthy means being in a state of healthy.
    but, if it is consumed by man, and we consider that the primary referent to healthy is man, then it becomes analogical, even if health subsided in both can be considered univocal. and this is, my friend, not a contradiction at all, if you pay close attention to what i am trying to say.

    or we can even say this: man and apple are healthy univocally if apple and man are observed as not primary or secondary referents relative to each other, but if one is considered a primary and the other secondary referent, then healthy in that sense is an analogical term (do not be bewildered sheikh ul ma’arif if it makes you so).

    salam sheikh.

    1. I take it that your so-called univocal definition of ‘healthy’ is the following:

      […] a healthy man is healthy, meaning that it flourishes, grows, and other attributes that are good in man. we can say similarly about apple: an apple is healthy, meaning that it flourishes, grows, and also other attributes that are good in it.

      So something is ‘healthy’ if it (a) flourishes, (b) grows, and (c) has other good attributes in it. This is, it seems to me, a terrible definition for a number of reasons. First, what is ‘flourish’ supposed to mean? And whatever it means, does it have the exact same meaning in the case of both the man and the apple? If it does not, then it will be equivocal, and so ‘healthy’ will then supposedly have a univocal meaning but contain an equivocal meaning as a part. But this makes no sense. Second, regarding (b), you’re confusing the consideration of the apple qua apple and the apple qua food for the man. This then leads you to incorrectly predicate ‘grow’ of the apple not qua it being food but qua it being an apple. But that’s not what at issue. What is at issue is whether you can meaningfully predicate ‘grow’ (and hence ‘healthy’) of the apple insofar as it is considered food for the man. It seems to me you cannot; what, e.g., would it mean to say that ‘the food grows (i.e., is healthy)? In other words, food does not grow in the sense in which your definition of healthy would require it as e.g., it is used in the case of man. Man grows, an apple grows, plants grow, but food i.e., the apple as food, does not grow in the sense in which those things grow. Due to to this confusion, you’re so-called definition can no longer be univocal. As for (c), this is too vague. What are these other attributes supposed to be? And whatever they are, are these attributes that are good in man exactly the same ones that are good in an apple? If not, they would have to be either equivocally the same or analogically the same. Whichever ones they’re, the result will be that the term ‘healthy’ will not be univocal for a univocal meaning cannot contain elements that are either equivocal or analogical. That makes no sense. Moreover, even if I grant your so-called univocal definition of ‘healthy’ for the sake of argument, how would you predicate all the elements of its meaning (e.g., flourish, grow, and other good attributes) of things like ‘medicine’ or ‘complexion’ or ‘blood’ and other things called healthy? What would it for ‘medicine’ to flourish? or ‘blood’ to grow? or vice versa? And what would it mean for ‘complexion’ to have these other ‘good attributes’? All this, it seems to me, has no sense to it and the objections I raised would equally apply to these cases as well.

      Also, you’re addition of ‘free of diseases’ as an element in the meaning of ‘healthy’ is vacuous. That is, it tells us nothing about what healthy actually means because ‘free of disease’ is just another way i.e., a negative way, of saying ‘healthy’ in the case of things like animals and plants. It’s a negative term signifying the presence or absence of health in an organism; i.e., to say something has a disease is to say that thing is unhealthy. Hence, if you include ‘free of disease’ as an element in your definition of ‘healthy’ you’re essentially saying ‘healthy means to be not unhealthy i.e., not have a disease of some sort. But that explains nothing; it is like saying the definition of ‘happiness’ is ‘not sad or not unhappy’. ‘Free of diseases’ may be a good way of describing ‘healthy’ but it seems to me that it is not a good way of defining ‘healthy’. A description (rasm) of something and a definition (hadd) of it are not the same thing.

  13. salam sheikh.

    thanks for calling it a terrible definition, although it was not my intention to really define it, since, according to me, if a true definition is able to be reached for anything, then we would stop using our intellects to go in search of perfect definition because we would reach truth. but read sheikh arestu properly sheikh, since he says that acquisition of truth is very hard (but people think they are easy and have acquired it). But that is not the case: any definition could be considered terrible since any definition in the world could contain defects in it. and once again, that is due to the broken leg of logic that thinks reaching perfect definitions is possible.

    if indeed reaching perfect definitions can make us know the essence of things (according to arestu sheikh), then i think finding perfect definitions is impossoble since finding the essence of things is impossible, because only the all-knowing One knows the perfect definitions (and essences) of things, unless someone thinks that the One does not know them or they themselves are all-knowing.

    even if you really read sheikh arestu carefully, he is 100 times more humble than you since in your mentally, implicitly you assume that your statements are concrete, while sheikh arestu, a great man of partial intellect, always had assumptions that his statements could be true, not that they are the ultimate truth. so be careful with that.

    let me only says this (without further sophistry): health is a state which subsists in subjects. we intelligibly know that. now, food in a healthy state means it is in a healthy state (but you would say this is begging the question). then, sheikh, if i say that man is man, does that beg the question as well?

    flourish means (To grow well or luxuriantly; thrive) (http://www.thefreedictionary.com/flourish).
    now, you want to know what those words mean – grow, well. thrive, luxuriantly – (plese go to the site i provided and look for them). after you do so, stop for a second blind taqlid of some people and once for your own self think without any delimitation in your mind if the word flourish) has any connection to healthy, and if it does, does that word relate to both animal or, lets say, an apple.
    it would not if, i say again, you assume that man is the primary referent of healthy, but why would that be? why would i assume that? just because sheikh says it? (that is ironic).

    regarding the medicine: you cannot say that medicine is healthy (again if you stop doing blind taqlid). medicine is something or a mean through which health is preserved if something is not healthy due to a particular ailment (assuming that healthy is a state in the body, and if it is true). if something is a mean to aid in acquiring a state (healthy), that thing cannot be considered having that state (i.e., medicine essentially is not something healthy, since if you eat it for different ailment, it would make you unhealthy). so it is wrong to call medicine healthy, and absurd.

    peace and blessing be to you my friend.

    1. Ajmal, how about you stop these silly accusations of who is doing ‘taqlid’ and these emotional pronouncements about who is humble and who is not? Can you not just stick to the issue in question? This is getting annoying.

      “thanks for calling it a terrible definition, although it was not my intention to really define it, since, according to me, if a true definition is able to be reached for anything, then we would stop using our intellects to go in search of perfect definition because we would reach truth.”

      Ok, so? You just basically said that if we reach a perfect definition then we wouldn’t need to search for it anymore. Thanks for pointing out the obvious.

      “but read sheikh arestu properly sheikh, since he says that acquisition of truth is very hard (but people think they are easy and have acquired it). But that is not the case: any definition could be considered terrible since any definition in the world could contain defects in it.”

      Ok. I never denied any of that. There are bad definitions, sure. But if you consider a definition bad, then you have to point out what is wrong with it, just like I did with yours. You haven’t done that so far.

      “and once again, that is due to the broken leg of logic that thinks reaching perfect definitions is possible.”

      There is no need to get mystical and blame logic. Instead, maybe you should blame yourself because of your failure to grasp the issue. I mean c’mon, have you even properly studied logic? This is just comical.

      “if indeed reaching perfect definitions can make us know the essence of things (according to arestu sheikh), then i think finding perfect definitions is impossoble since finding the essence of things is impossible, because only the all-knowing One knows the perfect definitions (and essences) of things, unless someone thinks that the One does not know them or they themselves are all-knowing”

      What is your reason for saying only God knows essences?

      “even if you really read sheikh arestu carefully, he is 100 times more humble than you since in your mentally, implicitly you assume that your statements are concrete, while sheikh arestu, a great man of partial intellect, always had assumptions that his statements could be true, not that they are the ultimate truth. so be careful with that.”

      This is a bit confused, and ironic, because the claims that I’m making here are the claims that Arestu made. So, I’m not trying to show that I’m right, but that what Arestu said about this matter is right and that you’re wrong. I’m open to being corrected, but I just don’t think that the view that your presenting makes sense, let alone is an alternative to Arestu’s view.

      “let me only says this (without further sophistry): health is a state which subsists in subjects. we intelligibly know that. now, food in a healthy state means it is in a healthy state (but you would say this is begging the question). then, sheikh, if i say that man is man, does that beg the question as well?”

      I don’t think you know what begging the question means. You’re confusing the fact of the definition of something with the fact that, whatever that definition is, that thing is identical to itself. These are distinct concepts. Healthy is healthy and man is man, sure. But I’m trying to understand what this univocal meaning of healthy is which you claim it has – not whether or not healthy is identical to itself. To say ‘man is man i.e., is identical to itself’ and to say ‘the definition of man is rational animal’ is to say completely different things.

      “flourish means (To grow well or luxuriantly; thrive) now, you want to know what those words mean – grow, well. thrive, luxuriantly – (plese go to the site i provided and look for them). after you do so, stop for a second blind taqlid of some people and once for your own self think without any delimitation in your mind if the word flourish) has any connection to healthy, and if it does, does that word relate to both animal or, lets say, an apple. it would not if, i say again, you assume that man is the primary referent of healthy, but why would that be? why would i assume that? just because sheikh says it?”

      You just keep getting yourself into deeper problems. First, the dictionary is unhelpful in this context because it gives us the meanings of words not things. We’re concerned about the philosophical definition of the thing called ‘healthy’ or ‘flourishing’ which exists in other things, not what the words ‘healthy’ and ‘flourishing’ generally mean. But never mind that issue. Second, the way the dictionary defines the ‘flourish’ is certainly not univocally. It gives the word a total of 8 different meanings. But never mind that issue also. Let’s just go with the first meaning which you state i.e., to grow or thrive. There are two problems with this: (1) you already used the word ‘grow’ in the definition of ‘healthy’ that you gave in your second last post. So you’re now including one term twice in your definition, which makes no sense. And (2), if you use ‘thrive’ instead of ‘grow’, you have to specify in what exactly single sense a man and an apple thrive. If you look at what ‘thrive’ means in the dictionary, it just either refers you back to ‘grow’ and ‘flourish’ (and hence is circular) or it tells you that it means to ‘prosper’. But a man and an apple don’t certainly ‘prosper’ in the same i.e., univocal, way. Just look at what ‘prosper’ means in the dictionary. If you don’t think so, you must give this univocal meaning of ‘prosper’ in both cases and the others as well. So, you’re definition does not work. Hence, you haven’t shown that ‘healthy’ is univocal. You also haven’t answered my questions in my previous post about parts (b) and (c) of the definition of ‘healthy’ that you gave.

      “medicine is something or a mean through which health is preserved if something is not healthy due to a particular ailment (assuming that healthy is a state in the body, and if it is true).”

      I agree. That’s what I’ve been saying. That’s why I say predicating ‘healthy’ of it is only analogical. I think you’re confused about what it means for a term to be analogical.

      “if something is a mean to aid in acquiring a state (healthy), that thing cannot be considered having that state […].”

      I never said this is not true. I’m not saying ‘medicine’ is healthy in the same way a living organism is healthy. That would be univocal predication of healthy; that is what you’re saying. Again, you seem to be confused about what exactly univocal, analogical, and equivocal terms mean and how they’re used.

  14. read what i said in my last post again and pay close attention to it.

    (or we can even say this: man and apple are healthy univocally if apple and man are observed as not primary or secondary referents relative to each other, but if one is considered a primary and the other secondary referent, then healthy in that sense is an analogical term)

    1. “or we can even say this: man and apple are healthy univocally if apple and man are observed as not primary or secondary referents relative to each other […].”

      This does not work either. It just faces the same problems.

  15. salam sheikh.

    sorry if i made you annoyed. i appologize for that.

    i think by not finding perfect definitions we would fall in to all these criticisms since we essentially do not know yet what it means to be healthy. so i think the problem lies in both cases that whether healthy is univocal or analogical. but you would say analogical terms need no perfect definitions. then i think we are not reaching anywhere, my friend, since without proper definition any statement could be made or shown to be correct in a sophistical manner.

    when i talk about logic, i have in mind closed boundaries of logic from which one has no where else to go but to affirm what one has reached due to deduction and induction, but notice that everything comes from the intellect, not that the knowledge comes from outside to inside. and i did mention that to you before: the difference between realizers and philosophers, that the former waits for the knowledge and the latter goes in search of it. and both ways are correct (even though there is the difference of opinion that which one is superior, and if i mention it then we would be talking forever, haha). indeed i did not do justice by calling it weak before i studied it enough (less than you for sure), but sheikh, if acquisition of knowledge is only through logic, then how about realization (tahqiq)? when i talked about logic, this is what i had in mind.

    regarding only God knows the essences, you know the answer already, just ask yourself about it. i would tell you something very simply that why: we are not all-knowing, but God is, therefore He knows the essences, while we are trying to know them (that is why we are doing tahqiq). ontologically we know that essences exist, but epistomologically we do not know about them fully, and i think we would not, no matter how much we try, since it is beyond the capacity of the intellect. we can get close to it by dialectics if we do not have any preconceived notion of what an essence of a thing is, which i am doing by stating that in different relations healthy could mean (not that it means) univocal and analogical at the same time, but if you would not agree and state that the final answer and the truth is what arestu sheikh said, then i think we will not reach anywhere.

    take man and apple, not considering one as a primary referent and other as a secondary referent. now, place them side by side, they both are healthy (independent of knowing essentially what healthy is). now, take manness and appleness away from the healthy, what is left is healthy on both circumstances (use imagination here my friend). now, here we have healthy on one side and healthy on the other side, and as i stated earlier, if a = a is true (most probably it is), then healthy = healthy since we have no subjects in which healthiness is subsided but only the predicate healthy, if indeed healthy means a state in which subjects subside or it subsides within subjects. but if it is not, or we have to assume one as a primary referent to the other, then it is correct to say that healthy in that sense is analogical.

    peace and blessings.

    1. “[…] but you would say analogical terms need no perfect definitions.”

      Yes, but only if by ‘perfect definitions’ you mean a univocal meaning. This is the assumption that you’ve been implicitly making but haven’t given a good reason for. I’m saying that perfect definitions need not exclusively be univocal, they can be analogical as well. That’s why I believe that the analogical definition of healthy is a perfect definition of it, as Arestu says.

      “regarding only God knows the essences, […].”

      I say let’s leave this issue, at least for now. Perhaps another chance to discuss it will come in another context.

      “take man and apple, not considering one as a primary referent and other as a secondary referent. now, place them side by side, they both are healthy (independent of knowing essentially what healthy is).”

      I don’t understand this. How can you know that both the apple and man are healthy in the same sense when you don’t know what healthy essentially is?

      “now, take manness and appleness away from the healthy, what is left is healthy on both circumstances (use imagination here my friend). now, here we have healthy on one side and healthy on the other side, and as i stated earlier, if a = a is true (most probably it is), then healthy = healthy since we have no subjects in which healthiness is subsided but only the predicate healthy, if indeed healthy means a state in which subjects subside or it subsides within subjects. but if it is not, or we have to assume one as a primary referent to the other, then it is correct to say that healthy in that sense is analogical.”

      This seems too confused so I’m not even sure I get what you’re saying. When you take manness and appleness away from healthy you don’t have healthiness left on both sides. It has no existence apart from the things of which it is said. And healthiness does not ‘subside’ in things and things don’t ‘subside’ in healthiness. The word ‘subside’ just makes no sense in this context.

  16. salam sheikh.

    as i was saying before that if man is the primary referent to things, then healthy would be an analogical term. indeed sheikh arestu is right, since i found sheikh of shuyukh (you know who) also talks about that concept that everything in the cosmic reality is directed and to be referred to for utility by man. but that is not why i am convinced: the main point is that it is in the quran that everything in the earth is subjected towards man. “Have you not seen how God has subjected to you everything in the heavens and the earth?” (Quran, 31:20). therefore, yes, healthines in that context is an analogical term because we have to observe things, like food, as to their primary referent, man.

    also, it follows that if man is not referred, then within species, healthiness would be a univocal term because, for example, any apple in relation to any other apple would be healthy in the same manner. but, if across species the reference is done, then it becomes an analogical term.

    with regars to the the example i gave, i told you to use your imagination (not necessarily that it occurs as i said). that is because i also said so many times that predicates cannot have a separate existence apart from subjects in cosmic reality, and i agree with both arestu and bu ali on the issue. so it was just to affirm that when we want to see if healthy qua healthy is similar to itself, no matter where it is found. and indeed it follows that healthy cannot be anything but healthy, independent of where it is found.

    so, to conclude, if healthiness is observed as it being healthiness, then it is same anywhere, but when observed in relation to man, then it is analogical.

    salam aleikom sheikh

    1. “[…] but that is not why i am convinced: the main point is that it is in the quran that everything in the earth is subjected towards man. “Have you not seen how God has subjected to you everything in the heavens and the earth?” (Quran, 31:20). therefore, yes, healthines in that context is an analogical term because we have to observe things, like food, as to their primary referent, man.”

      What in the world does the Koran have to do with whether ‘healthy’ is analogical or not? Nothing. So bringing up verses from it is completely irrelevant.

      “also, it follows that if man is not referred, then within species, healthiness would be a univocal term because, for example, any apple in relation to any other apple would be healthy in the same manner. but, if across species the reference is done, then it becomes an analogical term.”

      Well I’m not denying that. In fact, in earlier posts I said that was the case. The only problem here is that you think healthy can only be univocal within species if ‘man’ is not it’s primary referent. I don’t think that’s true though. I mean, even if healthy had a primary referent, its meaning would still be univocal within a single species e.g., all living organisms or all medicines, etc.

      “so, to conclude, if healthiness is observed as it being healthiness, then it is same anywhere, but when observed in relation to man, then it is analogical.”

      I’m not sure about this. Apart from its (primary) relation to living organisms, ‘healthy’, it seems to me, would not have a univocal meaning but rather an equivocal meaning. Suppose e.g., that all living organisms did not exist at all but things like food, medicine, and other (secondary things) called healthy existed. Now what would it mean to call something healthy? What would healthy mean e.g., as predicated of two different things?

  17. salam friend.

    i think you misunderstood by me presenting the verse. what i mean by presenting is that it vindicates that there is a primary referent to everything in the cosmic level, which is man,. and since sheikh arestu says that if health is observed in relation to its primary referent, man, then indeed it is analogical since THERE IS A PRIMARY REFERENT TO THINGS (not that the Qur’an says that the word is analogical but it affirms that there is a primary referent to things – which is man).

    yes, i agree with you, that is why i said it is univocal and analogical at the same time. when it becomes different is when the primary referent comes in the picture (i said it a billion times, haha). and i also mentioned that that is not a contradiction. therefor, in relation to primary referent, healthy is analogical (but being univocal in the same species since healthiness is healthiness), and not in relation to primary referent, healthiness is univocal (but being analogical across species since healthiness is referred to its primary referent). i think you misunderstood me, or i did not do a good job presenting my thoughts. so i blame myself.

    and i think you are not observing the broad picture that i have tried to present to you about the reality of health as a state. healthiness qua healthiness is the same (univocal) no matter it is found, but in relation to the primary referent, it is analogical. sheikh, if humans do not exist, medicines would not exit as well since medicine exist because man makes them. you then might say that we have natural medicines. well, herbal medicines come under the category of plants, and there is no necessity for man to grow plants the same way they grow medicine. they are naturally grown by themselves (due to other secondary causes as water, soil, root of plant, etc). but if everything that man makes would not exist, then again healthy state, qua being healthy, would be the same again in natural things like plants within the same species.

    peace be to you

    1. “since sheikh arestu says that if health is observed in relation to its primary referent, man, then indeed it is analogical since THERE IS A PRIMARY REFERENT TO THINGS (not that the Qur’an says that the word is analogical but it affirms that there is a primary referent to things – which is man).”

      This just makes me doubt whether you even understand the issue involved. I never said the Koran uses the term analogical; I rather had in mind the concept or meaning of it. And the Koran has nothing to with with that too. That is, that verse has nothing to do with whether or not healthy is the primary referent of man or not. Hence, it’s completely unhelpful and so should not be brought up.

      “healthiness qua healthiness is the same (univocal) no matter it is found, but in relation to the primary referent, it is analogical.”

      No, qua healthiness it is not univocal. It depends on whether or not it is said of things within a single species or across species. For example, healthiness qua itself is not the same when it is in man or medicine. It is only so either when it is said of just men or just medicines. You agree with all this.

      “sheikh, if humans do not exist, medicines would not exit as well since medicine exist because man makes them.”

      I know that. That’s why I said it was only a hypothetical situation. It was meant to show that ‘healthy’ would have equivocal meanings across different things if all of a sudden all livings organisms died out but things like food, medicines, and etc, remained.

      Anyways, you say you agree that healthy is an analogical term as applied to specifically different things. That was the point I was making in my critique of Allameh’s argument in the initial post.

  18. salam sheikh.

    i don’t understand what you mean by “No it does not. You’re just reading your own fancies into that verse”. my friend, the verse, if you have ever read it carefully means everything is made for the purpose of man in the world. and, it follows that since everything is made for humans, everything must be observed as well in relation to utility of man. in that sense, healthiness in food becomes only analogical in so far as man is there since everything is subjected to man, including food. if you do not see the connection, then wassalam.

    my friend, indeed the verse does not say anything about specific things, but in a general way addresses that everything is subjected to man, including food (i say this twice). the verse made me realize the point sheikh arestu made.

    with regard to bringing it up (the verse), i did that in order to tell you that sincerely it was the verse that made me realize about the truth of what sheikh was talking about. since i am a student that pursues truth, and i know that i can make mistakes, therefore i told you the verse because indeed it was the verse that made me understand it. that was the only purpose.

    salam sheikh. peace be with you. may God open our hearts and minds to the acquisition of knowledge which is beneficial.

  19. Salam dear brother,

    Having studied this, the cause of the confusion is a failure to distinguish between wujud as a concept (mafhum) and wujud as a instantiation in reality (misdaq).

    What Allameh’s arguments mean to show is that the concept of existence can only be predicated with one meaning, rather than multiple meanings, not that the misdaq (reality) of existence is one and the same for all things.

    Using your example “God exists and soul exists” – what has one meaning is the concept of existence i.e to be real, to not be non-existent.
    This does not necessitate that the reality of existence between God and a soul is not different or analogous so to speak – for of course, God’s existence is intrinsic, necessary, uncaused and the soul’s is extrinsic, needful, caused, limited etc..

    So God’s existence and the soul’s existence is analogous or different in the reality (misdaq) of wujud, but one in meaning in the concept (mafhum) of wujud.

    Btw, I wish you would post more!

    1. salam brother,

      i’m familiar with that response. there are, in my view, two problems with it. the first is that it entails a lack of correspondence between concept and reality. and this would in turn render our judgments about existence unintelligible. indeed, as unintelligible as if the concept of man was univocal but its extra-mental instances were analogical. there’s must be a correspondence between the two, which is to say that the concept must capture the way manness exists in individual men. (compare: healthiness, although common to many healthy things, exists in different ways in diverse healthy objects (e.g., an animal and food) and our concept of ‘healthy’ is analogical as a result of that. that is why we can predicate it of such objects truthfully). otherwise, like i said, our judgment (e.g., Zayd and Amr are both men) would be false. the same is the case with regards to judgments about existence.

      the second problem with the above view is that it renders existence a genus; for all univocal terms are genera under which a various species fall. E.g., animal, a univocal term, is a genus under which are various species of animals, like men, horses, and oxen, etc, all of which are animals in the same sense. hence, if existence were univocal and predicated in the same sense of both man and God, they would be species of it. but every species is composed of a genus and some differentia. as such, God would be composite (مركّب), which is absurd.

      i will hopefully start posting more once my busy school schedule lightens up.

  20. Salam akhi,

    Thank you for the response. I do not see it necessitating any lack of correspondence between concept and reality. As a concept, God exists and Zaid exists means that they are both real, but this does not necessitate that their existence is equal in reality. Here the concept is capturing the fact they exist and are real, which is all that is required. The details of reality would then need to be investigated in a separate topic.

    Similarly, it is like saying, X is clever and Y is clever. As a concept, suppose this means that both X and Y have a good degree of intellectual capabilities. This does not require that they in reality have univocal intellectual capabilities, rather one can far exceed the other. I know the example used is not the best one.

    Going back to your post one briefly, if the concept of existence was not univocal, it would not be possible to divide the concept of existence into categories such as necessary and contingent, like saying the concept of existence is either necessary or contingent.. Such a division is not valid in analogy because you are not dividing the same thing. You say good is either ‘man’ ‘song or ‘day’ which is not exactly true. The concept of good which predicates to man means carrying out good actions and this can only truly be predicated of man and the concept of good which means pleasant to listen to is only predicated to songs and other similar things.etc and the concept of good which means something else (can’t think it’s late) is predicated to day. In so far as the word refers to three different meanings, such a division is not really true. Yes, in so far as the word can be used for three different analogical concepts, then this division is okay, but in a true division, you are meant to be dividing one thing, because words are not really intended here, but words insofar as they refer to concepts. And in terms of concepts, what you are dividing are atleast two or three different concepts. If your division was a really true division, the exact concept you predicate to man (goodness – carrying out good deeds) could be predicated of songs and day, but this is evidently not true.

    You said..”hence, if existence were univocal and predicated in the same sense of both man and God,they would be species of it. but every species is composed of a genus and some differentia. as such, God would be composite (مركّب), which is absurd.”

    I grant all this if we assume that the univocality that we predicate to God and Man are in reality. But this is not what is intended. The univocality is only in concepts and this does not necessitate univocality in reality, just like predicated cleverness to two things, though they hold the same meaning in concept, does not necessitate their univocality in reality.
    Secondly, this does not have to imply that existence is a genus at all, but insha’Allah, another time, it is very late here.

    Sorry for the long reply!

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