"Not a Little Confusing": Francis Silvestri of Ferrara's Hybrid Thomist Doctrine of Analogy

Document Type


Publication Date

Winter 2016

Published In / Presented At

American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly (Vol.90, Iss.1)


Catholic Studies | Religious Thought, Theology and Philosophy of Religion


Fifty-plus years ago, Ralph McInerny’s The Logic of Analogy characterized Francis Silvestri of Ferrara’s doctrine of analogy as a confusing hybrid of the thought of Thomas Aquinas and of Thomas Cajetan. Since then, scholarship on fifteenth-century Thomism has flourished, thanks especially to the efforts of Ashworth, Bonino, Hochschild, Riva, and Tavuzzi. In light of these decades of scholarship, in this article I reconsider Francis Silvestri’s doctrine of analogy. I attempt to show the merits of his contribution to the Thomist tradition’s ongoing reflection on analogy, especially the dispute among Thomists and with Scotists over abstracting an analogous concept, the unity of the concept used analogously, and the use of analogy in demonstration. I argue that Francis’s hybrid succeeds in finding a place for analogy of attribution in names said analogously of God and creatures while still meeting Cajetan’s standards for answering Scotist objections to demonstration through analogous terms.