- Thomism: Atheists or Naturalists must say more than “the universe is all that exists”, since we say this too. If they want to separate themselves from us, they must also deny that God is all that exists. We also go a step further, and deny that the universe is God.
– Question: when Thomists say on the one hand the universe is all that exists, and then God is all that exists, does the predicate mean the same thing in both cases?
A1.) If you include the mode of predication in the idea of a predicate, then obviously no, and all Scholastics would agree. Existence is predicated per se and primo (the latter being “commensurately universal”, in some translations) of God, according to the first sense of per se. Existence is never predicated in this mode of a creature. What a Thomist means by sayign “God is the same in his existence and essence” is simply that existence is said of him according to this first mode of perseity.
A2.) If you take meaning in a broad sense, then (somewhat controversially) yes, and Thomists and Scotists would agree. Thomists go further, however, and say that “what we mean” when we use a transcendental term has two aspects: that which first verifies the concept, and that which most verifies the concept. Both are included in a common ratio of an analogous term, making these diverse senses partly the same (so far as they fall under a common ratio) and partly diverse (so far as they are diverse from one another).
A3.) If the question is taken to mean speaking about the particular, distinct reality in which the mind comes to rest, then there is a good deal of controversy. The Thomists seem to be asserting that the ratio of a term is a single whole, but the mind can only come to rest in one of its subjoined rationes, that is, though there is some common ratio of “exists” the mind can only come to rest in either existence said of creatures or of God. The critique of this argument (as given in The Doctrine of Transcendentals in Duns Scotus) is that a ratio or concept can never have this sort of duality: the whole point of a concept is to determine the mind to something, and so there is no reason for a concept to exist which does not do so. Thought requires thinking about something, but what are we thinking about if we posit some irreducible duality, with no common, general idea in which the mind can rest to contain both indistinctly?
-The Thomist says “both God and creatures verify what I mean by ‘exists'”. In this sense, “exists” must have one meaning. But they verify it in diverse ways, and not by being contained indistinctly in some general concept in which the mind can come to rest. Therefore, the use is not univocal.