Monday, February 5, 2018

Truth and truths

Please consider this definition of truth as found in the glossary of my Italian volume of Thomas' commentary on De Trinitate of Boethius.

It seems to me that the key distinction here is that between primary and essential truth (truth as known by God, viz. ontological) and secondary and accidental truth ("truths" as known by man, viz., intellectual and moral). So that metaphysics would be the intersection between the ontological (primary and proper) truth and man's (secondary and proper) apprehension thereof? And human "scientific" truths would be the human (secondary and proper) apprehension of mutable (secondary and improper) truths in things, which are also known by God in their changing circumstance?

"Truth is adequation of the thing and the intellect. (cf. De verit., q.1, a. 2). Truth is found first in the intellect, secondarily in things (cf. ibid, a. 2). And it is found only in the intellect which judges things through the composition of subject and predicate when it affirms, and by the separation of the predicate from the subject when it denies (cf. ibid, a. 3). That exists first and properly in the divine intellect, properly and secondarily in the human intellect, secondarily and improperly in things (cf. ibid, q. 4).

"It exists first in the divine intellect, because all other truths which exist in human intellects and in things are in conformity with the truth which exists in the divine intellect (cf. ibid).

"It exists properly in the divine and human intellect, because formal truth (i.e., in its essence) exists solely in the intellect, while in things it exists materially (cf. ibid.).

"The truth which exists in the human intellect is accidental regarding things, because things are true not by the rapport with the human intellect (cf. ibid.).

"The truth existing in the divine intellect is the cause of the truth existing in things; the latter is the cause of the truth existing in the human intellect (cf. ibid.). But the truth existing in the products of man is caused by the truth existing in the practical intellect of man (cf. ibid., a. 2). The truth which exists in things and in the human intellect originates in time and according to time. Neither the truth of things nor that of the human intellect nor that of the enunciations, in which the human intellect manifests the truth which it knows, are eternal (cf. ibid,. a. 5). Man's truth is not immutable. Because the human intellect should adequate to things, every time that a thing changes the adequation of the intellect to it must also change (cf. ibid., a. 6). If the thing changes and the human intellect does not change its judgement on the thing, there is falsity in that (cf. ibid.). Only the truth which exists in the divine intellect is eternal and immutable (cf. I Sent., d. 19, q. 5, a. 3). The truth which exists in our intellect is not eternal, but originates in time, on account of the fact that our intellect is not eternal ( cf. Summa, theol., I, q. 16, a. 7, ad. 4). If everything were annihilated, only the divine truth would remain (cf. De verit., q. 1, a. 4, ad 3).

"Truth, if considered in the proper sense, is predicated in an essential way of God, if understood in a metaphorical sense as likeness and imitation, it is predicated in a personal sense of the second person of the Trinity, i.e. of the Son, insofar as the Son is the perfect image and likeness of the Father (cf., ibid, a. 7).

"Truth exists also in sensation, but sensation does not have consciousness of that (cf. ibid., a. 8). No thing is false in itself, because every thing is adequated by nature to the divine intellect, to which it relates in an essential way. Every thing continues to be that which it is, even if the human intellect should think of it differently from that which it is, because every thing relates to the human intellect in an accidental way (cf. ibid., a 10). A thing can be false only in rapport with the human intellect, when it manifests qualities of a corresponding nature different from that which it possesses (cf. ibid.). Falsity cannot exist in the senses because they signal to the intellect only the way according to which they are mechanically impressed by things. After all, since truth exists in the judgment, the false cannot be in the senses, since in them there is no judgment (cf. ibid, a. 11)."

Tommaso d'Aquino, Sulla verità, Milano: Bompiani, 2005, 2273-2274. (Plinthos translation)
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