John Milbank
University of Nottingham
The following essay explores the way in which notions of truth are linked to those of secure identity and hence to certain mathematical issues, from Plato and Aristotle onward. It argues that this recognition underlies traditional resorts to notions of form or eidos as securing both particular and general identity—at once the integrity of things and the link among things. I contend that nominalism rightly saw that there were certain problems with this notion in terms of the strict application of the logical law of identity and the recognition of the “artificial” character of human understanding. However, I also argue that the most extreme fulfillment of the nominalist program after Frege itself ran foul of the law of identity because of the paradoxes of set theory. In the face of this double impasse I press for a re-configured Thomistic realism, taking account of the insights of Nicholas of Cusa that would abandon the ultimacy of the law of identity as paradoxically the only way to save identity and so truth, and would admit that the passage to the recognition of universals lies through the human creative construction of universals. Realism can still be saved here because in the Divine Son or Logos, in whom human reason participates, divine ideas are at once made and seen.
Keywords Catholic Tradition  Contemporary Philosophy  History of Philosophy  Philosophy and Religion
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ISBN(s) 1051-3558
DOI acpq200680242
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