Now I will talk about a number of topics that I can bring together under the heading of analogy or analogical language in Thomas Aquinas. And lest this sound like a peripheral or grammatical topic I think you'll see in terms of the things I want to take up how fundamental, how substantive a notion this is. First what Thomas would call a natural mode of knowing: philosophical discourse ultimately has to be grounded in starting points that are available and knowable in principle to anybody. There is nothing private or special about the beginning point of philosophy. There goes along with this a sense that Thomas has as to how it is that the human mind naturally progresses from not knowing to knowing, to knowing a little bit, to knowing more, and so forth. And I'm going to talk a bit about that.
When he is beginning the study of the natural world Thomas likes to say Aristotle's view that children call all mendaddy and all women mommy. And he suggests that this is a confusion of a certain kind of designation which is only later clarified. He's not necessarily suggesting that every female and every male is a parent. He says that a daddy is someone who looks like his paternal parent, and a mommy is someone who looks like his mother. Gradually out of this confused way of using the term of lots of people the child comes to see and know my daddy and my mommy, and there is a very special relationship. Not every male is a daddy and not every female is a mommy. So the movement is fromconfusion to clarity. Thomas likes that example: children call all men father, all women mother, and only later do they distinguish clearly between their parents and other adult human beings.
Another example that Thomas invokes is this: that if you see something at a great distance, you know something is there. And then as it moves towards you, you say it's not a tumbling tumbleweed, it's alive, it's moving itself. It obviously is an animal, and it's my mother-in-law. Let's say you move through these stages, and you have these layers of understanding, a grasp of what the thing is. It's the same thing we're talking about, that from confused to progressively more specific recognition you come to know what it is as such.
What Thomas is doing is suggesting that that's the way the human mind works. I mean we move from generalization, from great global grasp of things, confused grasp of things, but only with time and effort do we arrive at specific knowledge of the kinds of things. This is something which is manifested in that opening book of natural philosophy, the book of Aristotle called the Physics. Natural things would be the Latin way to put it, physical things, and the metaphor behind that is things that were born. In the Latin they suggest someone being born in the sense that that would have to cover anything that comes to be as a result of a change, anything that comes into being.
Now when Thomas suggests that we begin with very general or confused knowledge of the things around us, he is not suggesting that there aren't rewards to be had at these levels of generality. For example, in beginning natural scienceThomas, following Aristotle, is asking himself in effect, what are the characteristics that would be true of every physical object? And by a physical object he means something that has come to be as the result of change, as the term would suggest. Is there something we could say about anything whatsoever insofar as it has come to be as the result of a change that would be true? It's not going to be very profound if it's true of all of them indiscriminately, but it would be a gain of a certain sort from which we could move on to more precise and specific knowledge. This is Thomas's understanding not only of the procedure in our knowledge of physical objects but generally speaking in our knowledge. A feature of this is that our thinking is based on our sense perception and our ideas are formulated on the basis of our sense experience. So the natural object, as you will perceive, the object that fits such a mind as ours will be in the nature of the physical object. This is on a level of great generality but which nonetheless has its rewards.
What we need, of course, is a specific example: a kid learning how to play the piano. Orville becomes a pianist, and this is the change. You can express that change in a number of ways of course. You could say Orville becomes a pianist, or the non-pianist becomes a pianist, or the non-piano-playing Orville becomes a pianist. What's the point of that? The point of it is not that we have three different changes: we have three ways of talking about the same change.
And there is yet another way in which we can talk about that same change. The three examples that I gave are all in the form of A becomes B. Sometimes we say: from A, B comes to be. Could we translate all of those possibilities that I just gave into this other form? Could we say: from the non-pianist the pianist comes to be? Could we say: from non-piano-playing little Orville pianist comes to be? Why not? But could we say: from Orville the pianist comes to be? Through verbal variations of this kind what is put before us is the suggestion that not every grammatical subject expressing the change, a very simple example of change that we're talking about, not every grammatical subject of the change picks out the subject of the change. What is the subject? Well we know what a grammatical subject is: anyone who is put in a position to which credit is being attributed. But what do we mean by subject of the change? That to which the change is attributed and which persists throughout the change, that survives the change.
The reason why we wouldn't want to say that from Orville the pianist comes to be is that that locution seems to suggest that the price of becoming a pianist is to cease to be Orville. So who is going to be the pianist? We realize that there is a subject that survives the change, and it acquires a characteristic, being able to play the piano, which it lacked in the first place. Now this is step one that Thomas puts forward as the analysis of physical objects. This is the least you could say about anything that comes to be as the result of change. But it's something you could say about everything that comes to be as a result of the change. You've built it up, you've derived it from the analysis of a particular example, but you see it as generalizeable across the whole natural world. This is something that would be true of anything whatsoever.
Now given the view that Thomas has as to how we proceed in knowledge, this isn't of course just the first step towards coming to knowledge of the things of this world. But he thinks it's going to be the case that we will first of all try to come up with truths which are general in that way and only gradually come to more and more specific kinds of truths. I mention this analysis not just to regale you with how things go in natural science for Thomas, because this is an absolutely fundamental source of Thomas's language and his way of using language throughout all of his philosophical writing and all of his theological writing as well.
Let me look at that analysis again and express it in a way that may be familiar to you. It is possible to take another sort of example of the change. Aristotle suggests that someone is whittling wood. When he begins whittling it has whatever shape it naturally has but after he whittles, let's say President Bush, he's made a simulacrum of the President. So a subject, wood, which was shaped in a certain way has come to be shaped in this new way. The terms that are now used in talking about the change are in the Greek hule for matter or the subject, morphe for the form or shape, andsteresis for the lack. this comes into Latin as materia, forma, and privatio. Matter, form, and privation. the terms matterand form have a career throughout the writing and thinking of Thomas Aquinas, throughout his philosophy and his theology as well. So that what we're going to find here is the way in which the most abstract and abstruse of topics will be anchored in an analysis which is as available to us as thinking about little Orville learning how to play the piano.
Thomas uses language in such a way that terminology anchored in a very simple kind of analysis will be used in progressively more difficult inquiries until we find God spoken of as pure form or pure act at the end. This will be a kind of Ariadne's thread that will lead us from these very abstruse and difficult and remote discussions back to the most obvious kind of analysis of all. If we find something difficult to understand we can track back through what it depends on and relies on.
When a subject changes color or when it learns how to play the piano, when it changes place and it changes size, the subject persists throughout those changes -- if a subject of change is that to which the new characterizations are attributed. But what about the subject itself? What if little Orville came to be too? And alas, there will come a time when little Orville ceases to be. How can we handle this more dramatic kind of change, not an incidental change, not a change of the subject from this or that characterization, but the change of the subject from not being to being, or from being to not being. That's a far more dramatic change. What we see when we follow this kind of analysis is that if the terms matter and form are used of the coming into being of the substance they have to change meaning in part in order to do that. The subject of a substantial change, the coming of the being of something like Orville, can't be another something because then Orville would simply be an incidental property of that underlying something. If there really are substances (and there are), and if they really come into being (and they do), then there must be a subject of that change which is not a substance or autonomous thing in itself.
The terms matter and form are being pushed along to new but connected meanings as this analysis goes on, and this continues in the area of natural science. When Aristotle and Thomas turned to a discussion of soul and then the human soul as an instance of soul, what did they say? The soul is the substantial form of a physically organized body. So we've got that same language, but not all forms are souls, not all forms are principles of life. But nonetheless the term is kept and its meaning is slightly altered, because you want to keep the similarity with the things that were analyzed first but of course recognize that there differences as well. Even before we get around to talking about the difference between incidental change and substantial change, form, morphe in Greek, forma in Latin, means what shape would mean for us -- the external contours of a thing. When you talk about a billiard ball moving from place a to place b, and you say it has acquired a new shape, there is a movement from the more obvious sense of the term to something related but not exactly the same.
So a terminology which is derived from a very simple example, matter and form, will have a long career in the philosophical analyses of Thomas Aquinas. And this is another way in which philosophical discourse is anchored in things that are available to anyone whatsoever. Thomas's way of describing this sort of extension of the meaning of a term, or connected meaning, is to say that some terms are common to lots of things, but analogically common to them. What does that mean? This is a contrast between certain shared or common terms that have exactly the same meaning as they are attributed to a multiplicity of individuals. The term human being, the phrase or the term man, has exactly the same meaning as predicated of any individual human being. So we call it a univocal term: we have the same term said of many things; exactly the same meaning is said of them all.
There are other terms which are shared by lots of things, but if we ask why, we don't seem to have any explanation in terms of what the terms mean. If we say that Cinderella went to the ball and danced on the balls of her feet and the next day went to a ball game, we've got a term that is showing up all over the place. If we ask ourselves what is the single meaning of ball that would enable us to understand the dance, the bottom of her feet, and the thing hit out of the park atWhite Sox Field, what would be the single meaning of ball? Let's say there isn't any. These are just different uses of the same word, but there isn't any connection between the meanings of the word. I hope that example works. If that one doesn't we can find others. When hammering nails the carpenter hit his nail and now he's dancing around in the yard swearing and cursing and so forth. What is the relationship between nail as the things on the ends of your fingers on the one hand and a steel fastener that you drive into lumber? And again, obviously there isn't any connection. How does this happen that the same word is used in each place? And the term that covers that is equivocal. Don't look for any connection between the meanings because there is none. So we've got those two possibilities, a shared term that has an identical meaning, in other words the univocal term, and a shared term that has no connection between the many meanings that it has, and we'll call that an equivocal term.
When Thomas talks about the feature of his language that I've been drawing attention to he says: we will call thatanalogical predication, and it is midway between univocal and equivocal. So what I'm drawing attention to now is thatthe philosophical vocabulary of Thomas Aquinas can be characterized as analogical. What do we mean by an analogical term? It is a term which is shared by many but which has different but related senses and meanings in each of the uses. Whenever Thomas or indeed Aristotle brings up this subject there is one example that they are absolutely sure to use, and that is the way in which the term healthy is predicated by, let's say, your dog, dog food and your dog's coat, its fur. You say, "That's a healthy coat of fur the dog has. " And then you would say, "The dog is healthy." So here we have a shared term: healthy is used for the dog and of the dog food and of his coat.
Do we want to say that it has exactly the same meaning in all of these uses? A moment's reflection indicates that it can't be exactly the same use. On the other hand we certainly wouldn't want to say there is no connection between these uses, as would be the case if it were an equivocal term. So how are we going to handle this kind of a term? We're going to say there is an ordered set of meanings. One of the meanings is primary and the others are parasitic on it. What is primary in the case of healthy is the condition, the physical condition of the animal. For Aristotle and Thomas and for Shakespeare that would have meant a proportion among the four humors. When you say that the dog food is healthy what you are saying is it's a cause of this condition in the animal, or it preserves this condition in the animal. And when you say its coat is healthy it's a sign of this condition in the animal. So that condition in the animal, healthy in that sense, is regulative of these other uses of the term healthy. So it is an ordered set of meanings.
Now what I was suggesting to you is this about Thomas's philosophical vocabulary: in all its amplitude it is made up of very few words. One of the astounding things about Thomas -- it makes it easier to learn how to read him in Latin -- is that he makes do with a very limited vocabulary. We might think that he is not much of a scholar and doesn't realize that there are all kinds of synonyms. But there is a method in this: he is building up an ordered set of meanings for this minimal vocabulary which will connect the later and perhaps somewhat esoteric uses of the term with the earlier and finally the primary meaning of the term. And that's the point I wanted to make with respect to form and matter. The first way of getting hold of that is in terms of the analysis that I suggested: a little kid learning how to play the piano or someone whittling with wood, shape and matter. Those terms fixed there, understood there in a very easily accessible example, those terms will acquire many, many connective meanings later on. But it's an ordered set that will ultimately be related to this primary and rather simple understanding of the term.
There are other such terms. There are key terms in Thomas -- a very limited number, but they are extremely various in terms of the meanings that they have. Nor is this a random kind of plurality. It is an artful accretion of meanings on the part of the same term that connects later in difficult expressions to earlier and simpler things. What I am emphasizing now is meant to guard us against thinking of the language of Thomas as somehow a jargon, as if some kind of technical vocabulary that we just learn, and it has no relationship to the ordinary uses of terms. If there is anything that characterizes his language as a philosopher, and also, as I will show, as a theologian, it is taking terms as you find them and figuring out meanings and understandings as they are, accessible to anybody, and then going on from there -- the most fundamental in the sense of the most accessible. This presupposes that some things are more easily known to us than others. And the point of the remarks at the beginning of this lecture is that confused knowledge is something that comes first, but insofar as you are moving in a kind ordered declension from confusion to clarity, from the more general to the less general, you're learning things that are generally true, less generally true, more specifically true, and then quite specifically true. But there are truths found on all of these levels, and there is an accretion or accumulation of understanding which is tracked by hanging on to the same term as you are moving along.
Let me give you an example of another pair that will show up. Imagine someone just said to you: "In Thomas Aquinas we have the acceptance of the hylomorphic theory of physical objects." Hylomorphic? What does that mean? If it is just put forward like that as a bit of information, and we don't understand what the analysis is behind it -- to claim that anything that has come to be as a result of a change is the combination of matter and form of a subject in a new characteristic -- it is going to seem like jargon to us. So too we might be told: "act and potency are key concepts in Thomas Aquinas." What do they mean by this theory? This is the way those terms come into currency. When you are talking about the subject of a change and you are talking about the change is such that, not being this, it comes to be this, another thing you have to be able to say is the subject which was not this could be this. Although it's actually hot, water can become warm. And when it is actually warm, it can become cold. So you begin distinguish between can and actually being something or other. This analysis is as simple as anything that one can imagine talking about. If something from not being this comes to be this, it must have been possible for it to become this. It can do this because it's doing it. So out of that kind of analysis the notion of act and potency arrives.
Now imagine someone says: "Do you know the difference between being able to do something and actually doing it? Do you know the difference between being awake and being asleep, between possibly being awake and actually being awake?" You say, "Of course I know that." That's all you have to know in order to get hold of this initial use of this couplet of act and potency. But once Aristotle has that, and Thomas has it, they will turn to an analysis of something like motion. What is motion? This is one of the great questions that is asked on the first level of generality and natural knowledge as Thomas, following Aristotle, sees it. What is motion? If you looked it up in a philosophical dictionary, usually you would find that the definition invokes some synonym of motion in defining it. But what we find as the definition of motion in Thomas and Aristotle is, Motion is the act of a being in potency insofar as it is in potency. And you say, Good grief! I mean if you just heard that without any forewarning, you would figure, this is the kind of thing that philosophers say, and don't ask me how it relates to anything that might be said down at McDonald's. They just talk that way, and you've got to learn the lingo and pass the course and get the credit and so forth. That's libelous, that kind of interpretation of Thomas, as I think it is of Aristotle as well.
What does that definition of motion mean? Motion is the act of a being in potency insofar as it is in potency. If something is at point A, it's actually there, and it can be at point B -- it's potentially at point B. When it's there it's actually at point B, and it's no longer at point A, so there is a difference between being actually someplace and potentially somewhere else and vice versa. Now when we talk about motion we are dealing with something between those two. We are talking about the thing on the way to being at point B. And how can we explain it? Well that's what that definition is meant to do. Motion is the act of a being in potency. The ball is actual with respect to at least this much of the realization of its capacity to get over there, but it's still in potency to that new location. What the definition tries to do is to capture the arrow in flight, so to speak, and to give an account of what motion is in terms of the contrasting states of actuality and potentiality. And think about it, it's a use that is connected with quite ordinary uses of actual and potential, and it turns out to be a good definition of motion.
What we have there is another instance of language that is secured in a very simple example. Everyone knows what that means; of course they do. So once you've got that, then you keep the same terms for similar but dissimilar problems, and the connection in the language is a connection in the arguments they're from. What I'm saying is something absolutely fundamental to the language of Thomas Aquinas -- philosophical language. And it's also the case that in theology there is the same kind of dependence. What is the dependence here? How can we characterize it? You've got to get difficult and remote discussion back to the palpable and the sensible. That's where our language gets its easy and original meaning. And if the knowledge of sensible things, first in obvious and general ways and then in more elusive ways, is a presupposition of any knowledge of something that isn't a physical object, that's going to be absolutely crucial for our proofs, as I indicated with respect to the proof of motion. And this will be true of the most exalted instance of this kind of language, analogical language, in our attempts to say something meaningful about God.
This is something we will be returning to later on. But I want to put it before you now as an indication of how terribly important this is. When God is talked about in philosophy, language is going to be used that was first devised to talk about the simplest and most obvious things in our experience. Aristotle will speak of God as pure act. And if you look at it, what does that mean? In order to understand it, one has to see how it builds up from a series of arguments that are ultimately lodged in our ability to see the difference between actually and possibly, possible and actual, in something moving from point A to point B. This language might seem to drag God down and say He is just another thing like a physical object. And that's why one has to see that there are dissimilarities as well as similarities as one pushes this word beyond earlier uses to later and more difficult uses -- and ultimately, philosophically, in order to say something meaningful about the first cause of all.
The suggestion is that God isn't just there for us to take a look at: God is known to us philosophically as the explainer behind the things that we have experience of, which would be inexplicable without an appeal to such a cause as He is. If there were not a prime mover there would be no motion at all. That's the idea. So that the hookup between these things is constant; it is a continuum from the simplest matter to the most exalted. And the idea behind it is that the appropriate object of human thinking, the natural object of the human mind, is the nature of physical objects. So if we are to know anything about something that is not physical that knowledge has to be grounded in what we can know of a physical object. When you think about it, any proof for the existence of God will exemplify that. It is going to be truths about the world, and what we come then to see as His effect, which will enable us to come to some knowledge of God as the first efficient cause, the ultimate final cause, and so forth. This is the way our proofs look, but they are anchored in what? Our knowledge of sensible reality. Without that anchor we would not have any warrant for talking about spiritual things or things apart from the physical world, as God is.
So this feature of philosophical language is not just a grammatical nicety. What it's meant to do is to guard philosophical language from being a jargon. From just being an odd way of talking, some kind of Esperanto that you learn if you want to become a professional philosopher. This is a philosophical use of the term. I think it's fair to say that Thomas would dread that kind of characterization of his language as well. This is philosophical as opposed to what? The suggestion would be that it doesn't link up with ordinary use of the term, and if it doesn't do that, as we indicated, it would fail as philosophical discourse.
You might think that this is all true of philosophy, but when you get to the faith and when you get to Christianity, how are you going to say that everything is anchored in sensible experience? Well, you're not going to say that what you know about sensible experience proves the truths of the mysteries of faith. But what we are going to notice is that the way our Lord teaches is such that it pays absolute attention to our way of learning things. Think of the parables that Christ taught, the parable most notably perhaps of the prodigal son. Here he told us a story about the relationship between a spendthrift child and his indulgent parent and the way in which the father forgives even the most outrageous behavior on the part of the prodigal son. It's a nice story; it's got all of the elements. Why is our Lord telling us that? He's not just trying to pass the time or to amuse the followers after a hot and busy day. He is telling them something through this story about the relationship between ourselves and the mercy of God, the inexhaustible mercy of God. This is the way, the only way, we can get hold of it. So the parables and indeed the Incarnation itself is an indication that when God is telling us things about himself he is doing it in a manner and in a mode that pays attention to our dependence on sense experience, and on a language which is anchored in sense experience.
This use of language that I've been going on about is dubbed by Thomas the analogical use of its language, and that's one of those terms that might sound technical to us. I think Thomas would dread being suspected of some kind of technical vocabulary. I'm going to use black to mean green and green to mean purple. That's what I mean by technical, as opposed to a kind of organic connection between sophisticated uses of a term and ordinary, common sense, generally available uses of a term. I want to present this as characteristic of Thomas as a philosopher. However abstract or abstruse or arcane a discussion will seem, you can usually look at it and find terms that you've seen before. And you're going to say: I wonder what they mean here? If you start doing that you are going to find yourself being able to track from that to the most obvious use of the term. When God is said to be pure act, while this is a statement which is about someone very far removed from objects which when they are here they are actually here and they can be over there, an understanding of that is required to understand the extended views of the term act or actuality in trying to express what God is. So there is this theme, there is a great chain of being that leads us back from these ultimately desirable and defining inquiries and discussions in philosophy, back to the sources of the language and the sources of the knowledge on which knowledge of these greater things must depend.
It would invite misunderstanding, because the phrase has been put to a lot of different uses, if one were to say that Thomas's is a philosophy anchored in common sense. This is something that's clearly true, because philosophical discourse for him will be successful to the degree that it's anchored in starting points that are available to anyone, common to anyone. Common sense in that sense would seem to characterize adequately what Thomas does, what his practice is.
I was struck in reading John Paul II's Fides et Ratio to find that this sort of thing is underlined by him in a way that is very relevant to what I've been trying to say. The Holy Father, in Fides et Ratio, is concerned with this problem, which has been with believers from the beginning: what is the relationship between faith and reason? What is the relationship between what we could know, what anyone can know, on the one hand, and what we are asked to believe on the other.Thomas's work can be seen as addressing that problem as it flared up in the thirteenth century because of the arrival of the translations of Aristotle. And it's with us still. It's something that every believer is going to develop under the pressure of events or issues -- a view as to what the relationship is. One suggestion, of course, is that there is no relationship. Over here are known truths and over here are believed truths, and there is no traffic between them. The difficulty with that is the language that seems to traffic back and forth between these two. But then you want to say: no there isn't. If you follow the equivocal, then, there is no connection between the use of language in philosophy and in faith.
This is a recurrent problem, and the present pope, John Paul II, takes it up in this encyclical Fides et Ratio. As he begins this, he challenges us. He is the pope; he's going to talk about philosophy. It's as if he's worried about that being off-putting. And then he says, as we very often do when we're teaching introductions to philosophy: look, there are certain questions that no human being can fail to ask himself. There are certain questions that evince experiences, life, these questions that are thrown at us and we ask: what does it all mean? What's the right thing to do? Is death the end? Whether they're put in just those terms or not, these are things everyone thinks about, and most people talk about in bull sessions of one kind or another -- and not only among young people.
What does it all mean? That's the most sweeping question of all, but it's the hardest question to dodge. So that's what the Pope was saying. Often we say it at introductory courses in philosophy that way. You may not know it, but you've been asking, or pondering, implicitly or explicitly, the kinds of questions that we address in philosophy. Then you use examples such as those the pope used. What does it all mean? Is death the end? How do I know the difference between right and wrong? And so on. What strikes me in that encyclical is not just that. He goes beyond that, and he says something which is pretty surprising. He says not only are there questions that no one can fail to ask, there are certain answers to these questions that people pose that seem to be most commonly held by people.
This is the section that I have in mind. It's from paragraph four of that encyclical. John Paul II writes,
Although times change and knowledge increases, it is possible to discern a core of philosophical insight within the history of thought as a whole. Consider, for example, the principles of non-contradiction, finality and causality, as well as the concept of the person as a free and intelligent subject, with the capacity to know God, truth and goodness. Consider as well certain fundamental moral norms which are shared by all. These are among the indications that, beyond different schools of thought, there exists a body of knowledge which may be judged a kind of spiritual heritage of humanity. It is as if we had come upon an implicit philosophy, as a result of which all feel that they possess these principles, albeit in a general and unreflective way.That paragraph sums up what I've been trying to say in this lecture, what I've tried to say about Thomas as a philosopher. What the pope here calls implicit philosophy, that is certain common principles of a theoretical and practical kind which we can count on anybody knowing, however generally and unreflectively, however implicitly we might say, these are the starting points of philosophy as Thomas Aquinas understands them. Look at what they are. Look at the ones that are mentioned in this little menu of implicit philosophy.
The principle of non-contradiction. It's impossible for something to be and not to be at the same time and in the same respect. You can't affirm and deny the same proposition simultaneously.
The principle of finality. You might say, "Oh, that's real philosophic." Is it? Don't we normally in talking about ourselves ask: What's the point of doing that? What's the end of that particular activity? Or what's the purpose of a particular feature of an animal? And so forth. Anyway it's not all that arcane, and the idea that things are going somewhere, things have a purpose. Yes most people would accept that.
That a human being is free. You might say, "Aw, come on, philosophers have argued about human freedom. Well, the fact of the matter is, Thomas holds, I hold, and would be willing to defend this claim, freedom is self-evidently true. It's self-evidently true that I am free. The problem is trying to convince someone who knows he is free that he isn't, or to get over the initial obvious appeal to freedom. Why did you do that? Or that you're holding people responsible for what they do on the assumption that they might have acted otherwise than as they did. "Freedom is merely the word for our ignorance of why we act necessarily as we do, or something to that effect." That's theory; that's philosophy in the bad sense of the term.
I think Thomas is absolutely right. The pope here is in referring to something that Thomas interpolated. Human freedom is a given. It's not something you have to prove. What you do in terms of argument is to show that denials on their part are incoherent. They won't wash, just as denials of the principle of contradiction won't wash, because they invoke what they seemingly purport to be denying. What I am suggesting, and I'm not trying to enlist the pope on my side here, but I think what he is expressing is something that could be taken to be a summary of Thomas's view of the starting point of philosophy. That is the reason we can count on people knowing implicit philosophy, however generally or confusedly,however implicitly. We can count on them knowing certain truths of a theoretical kind and of a practical kind. It they are not explicit they can be made explicit in terms of the easiest kinds of analysis.
This might seem to trivialize philosophy and say: every man a metaphysician. I would say I'm talking about the beginnings of it. And there is nothing more crucial than seeing philosophical discourse as in one continuity with what everyone already knows. If you look at what Thomas says about principle, whether the practical order or the theoretical order, you see that what he is referring to is exactly that. Things you can count on everybody knowing. Once they are stated, there is the shock of recognition that this is indeed what we all hold. It's impossible for a thing to be and not to be at the same time. When you think about it you say: I knew that. I knew that, and of course you do, everybody knows that. It's not a theory: it's a truth that is in the possession, as the Holy Father says, of every human person.