Demonstrative Complications

First Things | 2/20/2017 | Peter J. Leithart
lhumara (Posted by) Level 3
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In their 1662 treatise on Logic, or the Art of Thinking, Antoine Arnauld and Pierre Nicole question the straightforwardness of the Calvinist logical analysis concerning the Eucharistic “This is my body.” They summarise the argument this way: “Their claim is that in Jesus Christ’s assertion, ‘This is my body,’ the word ‘this’ signifies the bread. Now the bread, they say, cannot really be the body of Christ, and therefore Christ’s assertion does not mean ‘This is really my body’” (71).

They challenge the point by arguing that “the word ‘bread,’ indicating a distinct idea, does not correspond exactly to the term hoc, which indicates only the confused idea of a present thing. Rather it is clear that when Christ uttered this word, and at the same time drew the Apostles’ attention to the bread he held in his hands, they probably added to the confused idea of a present thing signified by the term hoc, the distinct idea of bread which was only prompted and not precisely signified by this term” (71).

Confusion - Lack - Attention - Distinction - Ideas

The confusion arises from “lack of attention to this necessary distinction between prompted ideas and precisely signified ideas.” They do not doubt that the apostles conceived of the bread when Jesus spoke the words, but that is not the issue. The question is “how they conceived of it” (72). It didn’t come into mind because of the hoc, since that word never signifies “anything but a confused idea” - that is, it never brings with it any specific conception. They conceived bread because the idea of bread was added to the confused idea signified by “this,” an addition prompted by the surrounding circumstances rather than by the word “this.” When Calvinists argue that “this” means “this present thing which you know is bread,” they are adding the “which you know...
(Excerpt) Read more at: First Things
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