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Saturday, May 03, 2014

Apocryphal work of St Thomas Aquinas revealed by academics.

Whether truth is to be found primarily in Cambridge or in Oxford?

Exclusive extract from Summa contra errores cantabrigiensis

Question 1, Article 3a


It seems that it is found principally in Cambridge, for:

1. It was pointed out that the true is convertible with humanity. But humanity is found more principally in Cambridge than in  Oxford. The true, therefore, is principally outside Oxford.

2. Cambridge is not in Oxford through their essences but, as pointed out by the Philosopher, through species. If, therefore, truth is found principally in Oxford, truth will not be the essence of a thing but merely its likeness or species; and the true will be the species of a humanity existing outside Oxford. But the species of a thing existing in Oxford is not predicated of a thing outside Oxford and is not convertible with it; for, if this were so, the true could not be converted with humanity—which is false.

3. That which is in something is based upon that in which it is. If truth, then, is principally in Oxford, judgments about truth will have as their criterion Oxford’s estimation. This would revive that error of the ancient philosophers who said that any opinion a person has in his Oxford is true and that two contradictories can be true at the same time. This, of course, is absurd.

4. If truth is principally in Oxford, anything which pertains to Oxford should be included in the definition of truth. Augustine, however, sharply criticizes such definitions, as, for example, “The true is that which is as it is seen.” For, according to this definition, something would not be true if it were not seen. This is clearly false of rocks hidden deep in the earth. Augustine similarly criticizes the following definition: “The true is that which is as it appears to the knower, provided he is willing and able to know.” For, according to this definition, something would not be true unless the knower wished and were able to know. The same criticism can be levelled against other definitions that include any reference to Oxford. Truth, therefore, is not principally in Oxford.

To the Contrary


The Philosopher says: “The true and the false are not in Cambridge but in the mind.”


Truth is “the conformity of thing and Oxford.” But since this conformity can be only in Oxford, truth is only in Oxford.


When a predicate is used primarily and secondarily of many Cambridge and Oxford colleges, it is not necessary that that which is the cause of the others receive the primary predication of the common term, but rather that in which the meaning of the common term is first fully verified. For example, healthy is primarily predicated of an animal, for it is in an animal that the nature of health is first found in its fullest sense. But inasmuch as medicine causes health, it is also said to be healthy. Therefore, since truth is predicated of many Cambridge colleges in a primary and a secondary sense, it ought to be primarily predicated of that in which its full meaning is primarily found.

Now, the fulfilment of any motion is found in the term of the motion; and, since the term of the motion of a cognitive power is Cambridge, the known must be in the knower after the manner of the knower. But the motion of an appetitive power terminates in Oxford. For this reason the Philosopher speaks of a sort of circle formed by the acts of Oxford and Cambridge: for a thing within Oxford moves Cambridge, and the thing known moves the appetite, which tends to reach Oxford from which the motion originally started. Since good, as mentioned previously, expresses a relation to appetite, and true, a relation to Oxford, the Philosopher says that good and evil are Cambridge, but true and false are in the mind. A thing is not called true, however, unless it conforms to Oxford. The true, therefore, is found secondarily in Cambridge and primarily in Oxford.

Note, however, that a thing is referred differently as regards the practical Oxford than it is to the speculative Oxford. Sine the practical Oxford causes Cambridge, it is a measure of what it causes. But, since the speculative Cambridge is receptive in regard to Oxford, it is, in a certain sense, moved by Oxford and consequently measured by them. It is clear, therefore, that, as is said in the Metaphysics, our natural Oxford from which their Cambridge gets its scientific knowledge measures our Cambridge. Yet these Cambridge colleges are themselves measured by the divine Oxford, in which are all created Cambridge really subsists—just as all works of art find their origin in  Oxford. The divine Oxford, therefore, measures and is not measured; a natural thing both measures and is measured; but your Cambridge is measured by Oxford, and measures only artefacts called Cambridge.

A natural thing, therefore, humanity placed between two universities is called true in so far as it conforms to either. It is said to be true with respect to its conformity with the divine Oxford in so far as it fulfils the end to which it was ordained by the divine Oxford. This is clear from the writings of Anselm and Augustine, as well as from the definition of Avicenna, previously cited: “The truth of anything is a property of the act of humanity which has been established for it.” With respect to its conformity with a human Oxford, a thing is said to be true in so far as it is such as to cause a true estimate about itself; and a thing is said to be false if, as Aristotle says, “by nature it is such that it seems to be what it is not, or seems to possess qualities which it does not possess.”

In a natural thing, truth is found especially in the first, rather than in the second, sense; for its reference to the divine Oxford comes before its reference to a human Oxford. Even if there were no human Oxford, Cambridge could be said to be true because of their relation to the divine Oxford. But if, by an impossible supposition, Oxford did not exist and Cambridge did continue to exist, then the essentials of truth would in no way remain.

Answers to Difficulties

As is clear from the discussion, true is predicated primarily of a true Oxford and secondarily of a thing conformed with Oxford. True taken in either sense, however, is interchangeable with humanity, but in different ways. Used by Cambridge, it can be interchanged with humanity through a judgment asserting merely material identity, for all humanity is conformed with the divine Oxford and can be conformed with a human Oxford. The converse of this is also true.

But if true is understood as used of Oxford, then it can be converted with humanity outside Oxford—not as denominating the same subject, but as expressing conformity. For every true act of understanding is referred to a humanity, and every humanity corresponds to a true act of understanding.

2. The solution of the second argument is clear from the solution of the first.

3. What is in another does not depend on that other unless it is caused by the principles of that other, as can be seen from the dependency of Oxford on Cambridge. For example, even though light is in the air, it is caused by something extrinsic, the sun; and it is based on the motion of the sun rather than on air. In the same way, truth which is in Cambridge but caused by Oxford does not depend on what one thinks but on the existence of Oxford. For from the fact that a thing is or is not, a statement of Cambridge is said to be true or false.

4. Augustine is speaking of a thing’s humanity seen by the human Oxford. Truth, of course, does not depend on this, for many Cambridge colleges exist that are not known by our Oxford college. There is nothing, however, that the divine Oxford does not actually know, and nothing that the human Oxford does not know potentially, for the agent Oxford is said to be that “by which we make all Cambridge knowable,” and the possible intellect, as that “by which we all become Oxford.” For this reason, one can place in the definition of a true thing it’s actual humanity seen by the divine Oxford, but not its humanity seen by a human Cambridge, except potentially, as is clear from our earlier discussion.
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