I understand the CCC and what the apologist in today’s catholic FAQ said. But Also concerning image. You can’t have an image of an image. What’s that mean?


What was the context in which they were discussing images?

Maybe you have in mind some symbolic Scriptural passage, or a parable of Christ, or one of the Sacraments or something, where the words or physical signs point towards a spiritual reality and the signs are supposed to get you into the right mode of thinking to realize these spiritual realities. The point is that there has to actually be a spiritual reality there towards which the symbols are pointing. That’s the only thing I can think of without more context.

Well “You can’t have an image of an image.” is Thomism.


Well it certainly wouldn’t surprise me if it were a tenant of Thomism, because it sounds like something that one could argue easily from a Thomist perspective, but I would think it was being used to make some point about theism or the universe or something instead of being discussed in isolation.

So we find in man a likeness to God by way of an “image” in his mind; but in the other parts of his being by way of a “trace.”


Likeness falls short of image. But is like image. Old Aristotlean terminology can be confusing.

Ah, that helps. Thank you for the link.

Based on a cursory reading, it seems that Aquinas is arguing that man is created in the image of God due to our having intellectual capacities. As you said, he goes on to say that an image always bears likeness to the thing it is an image of, but mere likeness itself is not sufficient for making something an image.

I think the reason why he argues that only the intellectual soul is an image of God is because the intellect naturally desires God as its final end, so it is inherently directed at God in whose image it was created. Animals are not said to be made in the image of God because they lack something that specifically points at God Himself. They certainly participate in the divine existence and divine goodness and hence may bear likeness to God, but these are more like the effects of God on creation. Aquinas used the analogy of likeness being like the footprints of an animal and this analogy seems appropriate. An image points to the actual thing itself, while a footprint by itself would only point to a vague, general thing and not imply a specific animal that made it.

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