Ten Categories Of God Analysis

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In the Jewish and Christian traditions, theologians have debated for centuries over the use of language used to describe God. The sacred scriptures reveal truths about God in the language of man. Accordingly, theologians have argued over the manner in which this language must be interpreted and understood. In the medieval period, two great philosophers and theologians from the Jewish and Christian traditions, respectively Maimonides and St. Thomas Aquinas, advanced their own theories regarding the manner in which language is used to apprehend a knowledge of God. Maimonides argues from a Jewish perspective, and claims that, excluding attributes attributed to God’s actions, it is impossible to know God through any other means besides the negation …show more content…
He argues that when one attaches an attribute to God, one establishes a deficiency in God and breaks His unitary essence. To argue his case, Maimonides uses the ten categories of being, developed by Aristotle. Like Aristotle, he posits that anything which can be univocally known must fit under these ten categories. The ten categories are reliant on univocal terms. Univocal terms are terms of the same species, and the only manner in which something can be truly understood. For example, when one says that John is good and Joe is good, good is a univocal attribute predicated of John and Joe. The species of goodness found within them is the same. One is able to ascertain a knowledge of something’s existence by using univocal terms which fall within the ten categories of being. For example, when it is univocally predicated of Joe that he is good, we know that Joe exists with the attributive quality of goodness. The ten categories are comprised of substance and 9 other accidental properties. Maimonides illustrates that it is impossible for a univocal attribute to be predicated of God, e.g. one cannot predicate of God that he is good. Goodness is an attribute of man, and to predicate of God that he is good with respect to the same goodness found in Joe establishes within God multiplicity and …show more content…
Maimonides argues that God cannot be attributed to relating to a certain time, place or individual. Maimonides acknowledges that at first, it seems permissible for these relations to be attributed to God, as a relation is neither the essence of a thing or something subsisting as part of a thing’s essence. However, he nevertheless shows that all relations between God and time, place, or an individual are impossible. God cannot be related to time because time is an accident dependent on motion, and motion is a thing attributed only to bodies. God is not a body, and thus, cannot be related in any way to time. Likewise, Maimonides argues that God cannot be attributed in any way to place. If these attributes are predicated of him, it implies that he is not, namely, a body. Finally, Maimonides argues that God cannot be related to individuals by demonstrating that God’s existence is necessary, while an individual’s existence is merely possible. There can be no relation between the two, because, as Maimonides stated, “For one of the properties of two correlated things is the possibility of inverting the statement concerning them while preserving their respective relations” (377). Given that God and creation have profoundly different types of existences, there can be no relation between them. To predicate a relation between God and man is to imply that God and man are part of the same

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