Truth in Thomas Aquinas Author(s): John F. Wippel Source: The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 43, No. 2 (Dec., 1989), pp. 295-326 Published by: Philosophy Education Society Inc. Stable URL: Accessed: 15/10/2009 10:42 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unless you have obtaine
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  Truth in Thomas AquinasAuthor(s): John F. WippelSource: The Review of Metaphysics, Vol. 43, No. 2 (Dec., 1989), pp. 295-326Published by: Philosophy Education Society Inc.Stable URL: Accessed: 15/10/2009 10:42 Your use of the JSTOR archive indicates your acceptance of JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use, available at JSTOR's Terms and Conditions of Use provides, in part, that unlessyou have obtained prior permission, you may not download an entire issue of a journal or multiple copies of articles, and youmay use content in the JSTOR archive only for your personal, non-commercial use.Please contact the publisher regarding any further use of this work. Publisher contact information may be obtained at copy of any part of a JSTOR transmission must contain the same copyright notice that appears on the screen or printedpage of such transmission.JSTOR is a not-for-profit service that helps scholars, researchers, and students discover, use, and build upon a wide range of content in a trusted digital archive. We use information technology and tools to increase productivity and facilitate new formsof scholarship. For more information about JSTOR, please contact Philosophy Education Society Inc.  is collaborating with JSTOR to digitize, preserve and extend access to The Review of Metaphysics.  TRUTH IN THOMAS AQUINAS* JOHN F. WIPPEL J. HOMAS aquinas is well-known for having defended the view that truth consists of an adequation between the intellect and a thing. Perhaps no discussion of this within his literary corpus is better known than that offered in qu. 1 of his Disputed Questions on Truth (De veritate). Even so, in addition to describing truth as an adequation of the intellect and a thing, he there considers a number of other definitions. Most importantly, he develops a notion of truth of being (what might be called ontological truth ) along with truth of the intellect (what might be called logical truth ).1 As various scholars have pointed out, prior to Thomas's time two general tra ditions regarding the nature of truth had already appeared. One is heavily neoplatonic and emphasizes truth of being. It was known to Aquinas especially through the writings of Augustine, Anselm, and Avicenna. The other, more Aristotelian, stresses truth as an adequation of mind and reality, or truth of the intellect. Both of these traditions deeply influenced Aquinas's own thinking, as we shall see. But he could and did appeal to a variety of earlier defi nitions of truth in developing his own view, and this suggests that the two traditions were not so opposed to one another in Thomas's mind as one might think.2 * This is the first part of a two-part article which will be continued in the March 1990 issue of the Review of Metaphysics. 1 This terminology ( ontological truth and logical truth ) is not found in Thomas's writings themselves, but has long been used by later interpreters of scholastic philosophy. See, for instance, R. J. McCall, St. Thomas on Ontological Truth, The New Scholasticism 12 (1938): 9-29; J. Vande Wiele, Le probl?me de la v?rit? ontologique dans la philosophie de saint Thomas, Revue philosophique de Louvain 52 (1954): 521-71. 2 For historical background on these two earlier traditions see Vande Wiele, 522-27 (on Aristotle), 527-31 (on Augustine), 532-35 (on Avicenna), and 543 for summarizing remarks. Unfortunately, Vande Wiele neglects Anselm's role as a source for the truth of things (ontological truth). For Review of Metaphysics 43 (December 1989): 295-326. Copyright ? 1989 by the Review of Metaphysics  296 JOHN F. WIPPEL In order to set the stage for closer examination of Aquinas's views on truth, this paper will begin with his earliest discussion in book 1, dist. 19, qu. 5 of his commentary on the Sentences, dating from about 1252. In article 1 of this question he asks whether truth is to be identified with the essence of a thing.3 In developing his reply Thomas distinguishes three different kinds of things which terms may signify. One type enjoys complete and total being outside the mind; that is, independently from the mind's consideration. In illustration Thomas cites complete entities such as human beings or stones. A second type enjoys no reality in itself independently from the mind, for instance, dreams or chimeras. A third kind has a foundation in extramental reality, but depends upon the intellect's operation for its complete and formal realization. As illustrations Thomas cites universals and time. Each of these enjoys some foun dation in extramental reality; but that which makes time to be time, or a universal to be universal, depends upon an intellectual operation. Thomas places truth in this third class.4 Thomas's usage of Anselm's definition, see M. J. Lapierre, Aquinas' In terpretation of Anselm's Definition of Truth, Sciences eccl?siastiques 18 (1966): 413-41. Cf. A. Zimmermann, Bemerkungen zu Thomas von Aquin, Quaest. disp. De veritate 1, Miscellanea Mediaevalia 15 (1982): 247-61, esp. 248-55; J. A. Aertsen, Medieval Reflections on Truth. Adaequatio rei et intellectus (Inaugural Address, Free University of Amsterdam, Nov. 9,1984), 5-6. Also see the dissertation by R. B. Schmitz, Sein-Wahrheit-Wort. Thomas von Aquin und die Lehre von der Wahrheit der Dinge (M?nster, 1984), 398-401. Schmitz also refers to a Bonn dissertation by W. Reiner mann, Zur Problematik des Wahrheitsbegriffes in der Hochscholastik, Die Auseinandersetzung des Aquinaten mit dem Wahrheitsbegriff Anselms von Canterbury (Bonn, 1928), which I have not seen. 3 Utrum veritas sit essentia rei. Scriptum super libros Sententiarum, ed. P. Mandonnet (Paris, 1929), vol. 1, p. 484. For the dating of Thomas's works I shall follow J. A. Weisheipl, Friar Thomas d Aquino. His Life, Thought and Works. With Corrigenda and Addenda (Washington, D.C.: Catholic University of America Press, 1983). 4 In I Sent, p. 486. Note Thomas's remarks about this third class: Quaedam autem sunt quae habent fundamentum in re extra animam, sed complementum rationis eorum quantum ad id quod est formale, est per operationem animae, ut patet in universali. Humanitas enim est aliquid in re, non tarnen ibi habet rationem universalis, cum non sit extra animam aliqua humanitas multis communis; sed secundum quod accipitur in in tellects adiungitur ei per operationem intellectus intentio, secundum quam dicitur species: et similiter est de tempore.. . . Similiter dico de veritate, quod habet fundamentum in re, sed ratio eius completur per actionem intellectus, quando scilicet apprehenditur eo modo quo est. On this see F. Ruello, La notion de v?rit? chez saint Albert le Grand et chez saint Thomas d Aquin (Louvain-Paris: B?atrice-Nauwelaerts, 1969), 179-227.  TRUTH IN THOMAS AQUINAS 297 Accordingly, if truth has a foundation in extramental reality, its nature as truth is perfected only through an operation by the intellect?when the intellect grasps a thing as it really is. In con firmation Thomas cites the oft-quoted text from Aristotle's Meta physics 6 to the effect that while truth and falsity exist in the soul, good and evil exist in things. In fact, Aristotle's Greek text does not quite say this, but this reading is given by the medieval Latin translation from the Arabic which accompanied the Latin trans lation of Averroes's commentary on the Metaphysics.5 Thomas im mediately goes beyond Aristotle, however, by appealing to his meta physics of essence and existence (esse). Since both quiddity and existence (esse) are present in a thing, truth is grounded on the thing's existence (esse) more so than upon its quiddity. Thomas finds a confirming argument for this in the grammatical fact that the name being (ens) is imposed on a thing by reason of its esse. He adds that it is only through the operation of the intellect which grasps the esse of a thing as it is by becoming assimilated to that thing that the relation of adequation is completed. And it is in this relation of adequation that the nature (ratio) of truth consists.6 Therefore, in this earliest text, we already see Thomas defending the view of truth as adequation. Given all of this, Thomas concludes that a thing's esse causes truth about that thing to be present in the intellect. He also com ments that the nature of truth exists in the intellect in prior fashion to its existence in the thing. He recalls Aristotle's example of the 5 In I Sent, p. 486. For Aristotle, see Metaphysics 6.4.1027b25-27: for falsity and truth are not in things?it is not as if the good were true, and the bad were in itself false?but in thought (W. D. Ross translation in The Complete Works of Aristotle, ed. J. Barnes, vol. 2 [Princeton: Princeton University Press, 1984], 1623). But this is the reading given by the medieval Latin translation of the Arabic which accompanied Averroes's commentary on the same. See Averroes, In VIMetaph. (Venice, 1562), vol. 8. fols. 151 vb 152ra: Verum enim et falsum non sunt in rebus, sicut bonum et malum, ut verum sit sicut bonum et falsum sicut malum, sed sunt in cognitione. For Averroes's commentary on this see fols. 152rb-152va. And if one may judge from Thomas's own commentary on this same text, he must have had a similar reading at hand at the time he prepared this. See his In XII libros Metaphysicorum Aristotelis expositio (Turin-Rome, 1950), bk. 6, lect. 4, nn. 1230-1231. 6 In I Sent, d. 19, q. 5, a. 1, p. 486: Cum autem in re sit quidditas eius et suum esse, veritas fundatur in esse rei magis quam in quidditate, sicut et nomen entis ab esse imponitur; et in ipsa operatione intellectus acci pientis esse rei sicut est per quamdam similationem ad ipsum, completur relatio adaequationis, in qua consistit ratio veritatis.
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