Aquinas and Wittgenstein
In part I, section V of the Philosophical Grammar Wittgenstein sets himself a problem.
That's him (this picture represents him)—that contains the whole problem of representation.
What is the criterion, how is it to be verified, that this picture is the portrait of that object, i.e. that it is meant to represent it? It is not similarity that makes the picture a portrait (it might be a striking resemblance of one person, and yet be a portrait of someone else it resembles less) ….
When I remember my friend and see him 'in my mind's eye', what is the connection between the memory image and its subject? The likeness between them?
… Here we have the old problem…the problem of the harmony between world and thought. (PG, p. 102)
In this essay I will say something about Wittgenstein's answer to his own question, his account of the harmony between world and thought. But mainly I will discuss an older solution to this old problem, to the question what makes a picture of X a picture of X, what makes an image of X an image of X, what makes a thought about X be about X?
One of the most elaborate and also one of the most puzzling accounts of the harmony between the world and thought is Aquinas' doctrine of the immaterial intentional existence of forms in the mind. According to Aquinas, when I think of redness, what makes my thought be a thought of redness is the form of redness. When I think of a horse, similarly, it is the form of horse which makes the thought be a thought of a horse and not of a cow. What makes the thought of a horse the thought of a horse is the same thing as makes a real horse a horse: namely, the form of
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Publication information: Book title: Thomas Aquinas: Contemporary Philosophical Perspectives. Contributors: Brian Davies - Editor. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Place of publication: New York. Publication year: 2002. Page number: 243.
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