Friday, May 27, 2011

Two, four, six, eight! Who do you reincarnate?

Could there be such a thing as reincarnation?  A necessary condition would be the truth of some form of dualism.  So far so good, since (I would say) some form of dualism is true.  But which form?  There are at least three to choose from: substance dualism, the version associated with Plato and Descartes; property dualism, associated with the likes of John Locke, David Chalmers, and (the early) Frank Jackson; and the hylemorphic dualism defended within the Aristotelian-Thomistic metaphysical tradition.  Are all of these equally favorable to a defense of reincarnation?

Property dualism might seem adequate to do the trick, especially when conjoined with a Lockean account of personal identity.  Locke holds that for some person existing after your death to count as the same person as you, it is sufficient that that person’s consciousness be continuous with yours in the sense of containing memories of having done the things you’ve done, manifesting your distinctive personality traits, and so forth.  It is not necessary that there be any continuity between your body and his; he will still be you even if he has a completely different body.  Nor is it even necessary that he have your soul in the sense of a Cartesian immaterial substance.  All that matters, for Locke, is that your consciousness has somehow jumped from your current body to his future one, or even (if there are such things as Cartesian souls) from your current immaterial substance to his.  Locke seems to think of mental characteristics like memories and personality traits as comparable to pieces of fruit which might be carried from one bowl to another – not only from one material “bowl” (a body) to another, but (at least in principle) from one immaterial “bowl” (a soul) to another.  Though, since he appears to be a kind of property dualist (at least as a “working” position), it seems the “bowl” would in fact in his view be material and the “fruit” immaterial, surviving the death of one brain and landing safely in another.  (Locke appears to be at best agnostic about substance dualism, opting instead for property dualism as a way of maintaining the immateriality of the mind in the face of the difficulties for the notion of substance his empiricism puts him into.  See pp. 79-87 of Locke for discussion.) 

This might seem to fit in well with the best evidence for reincarnation, viz. reports of individuals who appear to exhibit memories and personality traits of deceased people of whom, under the circumstances, they arguably could not have acquired knowledge via the normal means.  For it seems that an incomplete assortment of memories and personality traits is typically all that such individuals are claimed to exhibit.  That is to say, we don’t seem to have cases like (say) a 19-year-old female saying things like “I’m Jimmy Hoffa, and I can prove it!  Go dig under the concession stand at Giants Stadium and you’ll find my previous body.  Grab me a beer and brat while you’re at it” – acting and talking exactly like the deceased person and having the full complement of his memories, Heaven Can Wait style.  Rather, the purported continuity between the living person and the dead one is at best fragmentary and ambiguous (as in a movie like Dead Again).  If we think of memories and personality traits on the model of immaterial “fruit” spilling from the bodily “bowl” at death, it is no surprise if only some of it makes it into a single new “bowl.”

But in fact property dualism does not plausibly lend support to reincarnation.  Consider that if memories, personality traits, and the like really are analogous to fruit that might persist independently of the brain, they can hardly be properties but must be something more like substances.  For if they were properties (in the sense in which contemporary philosophers use the term “properties,” which roughly corresponds to the Scholastics’ term “accident” – the Scholastics use “property” to refer only to a “proper accident”), then they could not persist apart from the substance in which they inhere.

[Might the doctrine of transubstantiation be brought in to rescue a property dualist construal of reincarnation?  For according to that doctrine, the accidents of bread and wine persist even though the substance of bread and the substance of wine have disappeared.  But this will not help the property dualist construal of reincarnation, at least if we understand reincarnation in the usual way, viz. as resulting from the operation of the law of karma.  For the law of karma is supposed to be an impersonal and natural law, which determines all by itself, and without the intervention of any divine being, that the soul of a deceased person will be reincarnated in a body of such-and-such a type.  By contrast, as traditionally understood (and as required by Thomistic metaphysics) transubstantiation cannot occur in the natural course of things but requires a miraculous suspension of the natural order by God.  In the natural course of things, accidents cannot exist apart from a substance.]

So, reincarnation is more plausibly defensible given substance dualism than given property dualism.  (Locke’s conception of survival of death is not intended to require substance dualism, of course – indeed, it is intended to avoid the need to commit to substance dualism, or to any particular doctrine of substance for that matter.  But it is hard to see how it can do so.  If Locke’s “continuity of consciousness” theory of personal identity were correct, then the extinction of the substance in which your consciousness inheres would surely be your extinction, and any later person who seemed to have your memories and personality traits could only ever be a mere duplicate of you and not the McCoy.)

But here another problem arises.  If reincarnation occurs via the migration of a Cartesian immaterial substance from one body to another, why don’t memories and personality traits persist in a more robust way, reappearing unambiguously and in their entirety in the new body?  For unlike immaterial properties, a Cartesian immaterial substance is essentially ontologically independent of the body, even when it is conjoined with it.  Hence it is hard to see why even the shock of the death of the body would so disorient it that its memories and personality traits reappear in only a fragmentary way.  A “reincarnation hypothesis” put forward as an explanation even of the most impressive instances of individuals who purportedly exhibit memories and personality traits of deceased persons would thus seem hardly more plausible than alternative explanations – possession, say, or information received through unconscious telepathic means from living relatives of the deceased.  These are bizarre proposals, of course, but so is reincarnation.  The point is that even if we do not dismiss alleged cases of reincarnation as mere fraud, there are alternative explanations that are not obviously worse than the reincarnation hypothesis.  Or at least, they are not obviously worse given that if substance dualism is true, it seems we should expect more complete and unambiguous continuity between the deceased person and the person in whom he has allegedly been reincarnated.  (For a sympathetic and philosophically serious discussion of the most impressive cases and of various possible ways to interpret them, see Stephen Braude’s Immortal Remains: The Evidence for Life After Death.) 

What a defense of reincarnation needs, then, is a version of dualism on which something like an immaterial substance survives the death of the body, but in such a fashion that we would naturally expect it to function in a far from optimal way after death, so that lapses in memory and the like would not be so surprising.  And here it might seem that hylemorphic dualism would do the trick.  For the hylemorphic dualist holds that the soul is the substantial form of the body, that capacities like sensation and imagination are material in nature, and that even strictly intellectual activity, which it takes to be immaterial, requires the aid of sensation and imagination.  Hence it is not at all surprising – indeed, it is to be expected – that our mental activity is largely dependent on bodily processes, and that it should be severely impaired by the death of the body.  (We have had reason to discuss these matters earlier, here and here.)  But hylemorphic dualism also holds that the soul is a subsistent form, which persists beyond the death of the body as a kind of incomplete substance.

Tailor-made for a defense of reincarnation, right?  Not so fast.  For the hylemorphic dualist claims, not merely that your soul is the substantial form of a body, but that it is the form of a human body, and indeed the substantial form of your human body in particular.  Hence it cannot even in principle inform the body of some other human being, much less the body of a non-human animal.  Scenarios of the sort one finds in movies like Heaven Can Wait and Dead Again – and, for that matter, All of Me and Freaky Friday – are therefore ruled out as metaphysically impossible.  (Awful luck for us movie fans, but there it is.)  Also ruled out, naturally, are the man-to-brute reincarnation scenarios posited in some religious traditions.  To be sure, hylemorphic dualism does allow for the possibility of your being reunited with your body via resurrection, which might count as a kind of “reincarnation.”  But of course, that’s not what most people mean by the term.

But hylemorphic dualism is true, or so I would argue.  (See chapter 4 of Aquinas.)  Hence reincarnation in the sense in which it is understood in religions like Hinduism and Buddhism is (in my view) impossible.  Therefore, alleged cases of reincarnation, if they are not simply fraudulent, must be explained in some other way.

170 comments:

mpresley said...

Before discussing the enigma of life/death it may be helpful to explicate one's idea of time. Generally, the idea of reincarnation is bound up within an idea of linear time, where multiple lives exist on the larger "line of time." Taking time not as a straight line, but, say, an angle of 360 degrees, we are instead shown the rather ancient idea of recurrence. A perpendicular extension of any given "point" along this angle into its own "space" would form the figure representing eternity, or the infinite existence of any particular moment. Using a geometric basis of non-linear time, other possibilities may likewise be understood. It is all rather speculative.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Feser

Doesn't this argument rule out transmigration/pre-existence of souls as well?

Anonymous said...

In talking of the personality rather than simple memories, as potentially existing in a new bowl, one probably ought to consider just how much of the daily expression of personality is specifically body state generated.

I know that we all learned in college that personality traits can be categorized, and are enduring; but we have all also seen how a change of physical state or social condition can make people virtually unrecognizable psychologically.


Fanatics like Skinner aside, there's a core insight to the materialist and behaviorist perspective that is worth accounting for; as your hylemorphic dualism does seem to attempt to do.

Daniel Smith said...

It would seem to me that one possible explanation for the reincarnation believer (I'm not one) as to why memories, etc. don't persist when transferred to the new body is that the new body starts as an embryo. They might say that this forces the transplanted soul to "re-learn" everything---from infancy---that it once knew.

Richard said...

Typically, the concept of reincarnation is something that goes for everyone in Hinduism and Buddhism, and isn't just something that has occured for those that remember it. Therefore, if we expect either Hinduism or Buddhism to be true, I was reincarnated in this body from a previous one, and as is the normal state of things, I HAVE NO MEMORY OF MY PREVIOUS EXISTENCE. Now why is that? Having no effective memory of a previous life becomes the rule after this realization, and seems to be the way human personality is supposed to work. Therefore the typical (Western) conceptions of dualism don't fit at all, and trying to hammer reincarnation into the hole of Western philosophical dualism is silly at best. What is often postulated in Hinduism at least is something of a higher mind or consciousness than the one we typically experience when incarnated on this Earth, one which remembers every incidence of incarnation that we have undergone. When we are incarnated again, there seems to be some sort of forgeting of the previous life so that the habits and personality that we had in that previous life do not unduly influence the current one we are to experience. Those individuals that DO remember past lives seem to have some sort of metaphysical spillage from that super-consciousness that stays with them into their new life, but it never seems enough to make them into the old person they were, which is what one would hope given the nature of karma and the way one is to work it out.
I don't really expect any sort of Western philosophy to have all of the working concepts to really handle the issue, honestly.

Richard said...

So..uh..in short, false dillema. Sorry.

Charles R. Cherry said...

@Richard: So, "Eastern" truth is categorically different than "Western" truth, and "never the twain shall meet?"

Anonymous said...

"What is often postulated in Hinduism at least is something of a higher mind or consciousness than the one we typically experience when incarnated on this Earth, one which remembers every incidence of incarnation that we have undergone."

Is that higher consciousness one consciousness or many?

Under the eastern view you describe, it seems that the reincarnated "person" is at best, not who or what it thinks it is; and probably not even an individual person at all.

Richard said...

@Charles: No, and that's not what I said. What I did say is that only considering Western philosophy to understand an Eastern concept is a false dilemma.
@Anonymous: Whjile I believe each person would have a higher consciousness, I see no way to be certain; it could be just one higher consciousness into which all memories are subsumed after death. However, given the limited nature of human awareness, in that we are not intimately aware of other peoples thoughts, feelings, opinions, prejudices,knowledge, or desires, and that we would still be autonomous moral actors in the world, there is no threat presented to our current percieved individuality. I am still me, and you are still you despite any sort of higher connection past our mundane awareness.

Richard said...

Actually Charles, I can say that a bit more elegantly. Reincarnation may not fit into the three presented forms of dualism that were developed in the Western world, but that in no way shape or form discounts the possible reality of reincarnation.

SR said...

What bothers me is starting the post with

Could there be such a thing as reincarnation? A necessary condition would be the truth of some form of dualism.

The philosophic versions of Hinduism and Buddhism are monist, no? So it would seem that this whole post presupposes some concept of reincarnation that differs from that espoused by (say) a Buddhist metaphysician. In short, I suspect that it is a valid attack on a layperson's understanding of reincarnation, much like many atheist attacks are valid with respect to many lay understandings of God, but fail at more philosophical understandings.

Edward Feser said...

Anon 1,

Yes, I think it would rule that out as well.

Daniel,

But if one has to relearn everything, why would any earlier memories persist? And if they can persist, why would the others not persist also, so that one would not need to relearn?

Richard,

The point is to identify some mechanism by which reincarnation could work. Whether the concepts we apply to do that come from the West or the East is irrelevant, though I think you exaggerate the differences on this issue. In any event, if you think none of the forms of dualism I've mentioned is appropriate, fine, but then we need to see what the alternative you would prefer looks like. What exactly is it that persists from one incarnation to another that can account for personal identity here? I don't see that you've really told us.

SR,

It's true that these systems are monist at the end of the day, but they still make use of non-monist language in spelling out reincarnation, even if that language is (like everything else, on these views) somehow to be cashed out in monist terms when one looks at the big picture. Hence e.g. one finds in Vedanta a distinction made between the gross body, the subtle body, and the atman -- even though there is ultimately supposed to be only one thing (Brahman, with which atman is identical). So, it is perfectly legitimate to ask whether this doctrine might be interpreted in light of one of the forms of dualism I mentioned -- and if not, what alternative interpretation we are supposed to look to instead.

TheDeuce said...

Hi Ed:

Tailor-made for a defense of reincarnation, right? Not so fast. For the hylemorphic dualist claims, not merely that your soul is the substantial form of a body, but that it is the form of a human body, and indeed the substantial form of your human body in particular. Hence it cannot even in principle inform the body of some other human being, much less the body of a non-human animal.

So how is the Incarnation of Christ conceived under hylemorphic dualism? Since Christ preexisted the universe, including the human body, eternally and as a necessary being outside of time itself, how can his soul be the form of the human body, much less his human body in particular?

SR said...

Ed,

what alternative interpretation we are supposed to look to instead.

Well, I would start from the assumption that 'body', whether gross or subtle, is dependent on 'perception of body'.

But perhaps more important would be to adopt as a metaphysical rule of thumb that to distinguish (e.g., between body types and Atman, or between subject and object, etc.) does not entail dividing.

Daniel Smith said...

Ed: "But if one has to relearn everything, why would any earlier memories persist? And if they can persist, why would the others not persist also, so that one would not need to relearn?"

Well, perhaps it has something to do with that whole "10% of our brain" thing?

I don't know. Eastern thought seems completely irrational to me anyway. I mean if your starting point is "nothing is real" then where do you go from there?

Leo Carton Mollica said...

TheDeuce:

On St. Thomas' account, prior to the Incarnation, the Second Person of the Trinity existed only as that, the Second Person of the Trinity. The soul of Christ was created only with the Incarnation, see here.

Jayman said...

@Ed: "Hence it is not at all surprising – indeed, it is to be expected – that our mental activity is largely dependent on bodily processes, and that it should be severely impaired by the death of the body."

It is noteworthy that many people who have near-death experiences claim to have heightened perception and awareness. How would such data (if one believes it is actually what happens when the soul leaves the body) impact A-T views of the mind?

Jinzang said...

Indians don't have much to say about reincarnation, because of the seven schools of Indian philosophy (nine if you count Buddhism and Jainism) only the materialists did not accept reincarnation. The argument for reincarnation I'm most familiar with is the Buddhist argument of Dharmakirti.

First, before you argue the point you must accept some criterion of personal identity,. If your definition of personal identity is dependent on the continuity of the physical body, it follows that there is no reincarnation. But this is not a refutation of reincarnation, one has only defined the problem away. You make the point that if one defines personal identity as the continuity of an immaterial substance (the Cartesian mind) one is hard put to explain the discontinuity between one life and the next of abilities, memories, and so on. But surely it is no greater a difficulty to explain the absence of memories of a former life than to explain the absence of memories of one's birth. The world is a single object, but no one is surprised that one cannot see over the horizon. Even if one accepts that the mind is an immaterial substance, it can undergo change, and learn or forget.

The Buddhist position on personal identity is well known. Personal identity is merely imputed and does not truly exist. So what stands in for personal identity is the causal chain of mental events. Each mental event is held to have a previous mental event as a cause. So Dharmakirti's argument is that the first mental event in a particular life must have a cause, and that cause must be the consciousness of a being in a previous life. So the argument for reincarnation rests on the two premises that every mental event has a similar one as a cause and no mental event is uncaused.

Jime said...

Just to add some useful bibliography and references about reincarnation.

A current (secular) defender of reincarnation on empirical grounds is philosopher Robert Almeder. See this short video with him:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hZhMDU9GcVg

See also Almeder debate with Stephen Braude and Wheatley in this article:

http://www.scientificexploration.org/journal/jse_06_2_braude.pdf

For a criticism of reincarnation (from a point of view sympathetic of the afterlife and spiritualism), see The Case Against Reincarnation: a Rational Approach by James Webster:

Finally, I'd like to ask the seasoned Christians here (including Dr.Feser) the following question: suppose that reincarnation is proved to be true by empirical means. Does it necessarily imply that Christianity is false?

Most Christians would reply YES. But I'm not sure. I don't see how reincarnation would refute God's existence and Jesus' Resurrection (the two basic doctrines of Christianity according to C.S.Lewis and William Lane Craig).

At least a contemporary philosopher of religion, Geddes MacGregor, has defended the compatibility of Christianity and reincarnation, in is book Reincarnation in Christianity: A New Vision of the Role of Rebirth in Christian Thought

MacGregor still insists that Christians should believe in reincarnation, and support his contention with several passages of the bible.

In any case, I repeat my question: Is Christianity (in his essential doctrine) radically and essentially incompatible with reincarnation (at least, with some people being reincarnated temporally)?

I look forward for your answers, because personally I don't see how exactly reincarnation is incompatible with Lewis' "Mere Christianity" (God's existence + Jesus' Resurrection).

Jime said...

Just to complement my previous comment:

According to many "afterlife researchers" (i.e. people who try to get empirical evidence for the afterlife), reincarnation doesn't occur in all the cases, but mostly in cases when the person has died tragically.

Dr.Feser comments "This might seem to fit in well with the best evidence for reincarnation, viz. reports of individuals who appear to exhibit memories and personality traits of deceased people of whom, under the circumstances, they arguably could not have acquired knowledge via the normal means."

Actually, a better line of evidence for reincarnation are the cases of birth marks and other physical evidence which corroborate the testimonies of reincarnation.

See this paper by Ian Stevenson, where he documents (with photos included) cases of "birthmarks" which are plausibly explained by reincarnation (because in the previous putative incarnation, the person had an accident or lesion in the same body part where the birthmark appears in the new incarnation):

http://www.sinor.ru/~che/birthmarks.htm

Note that here we're dealing with physical evidence, not with mere memories or stories or anecdotes of a previous life. (the stories still exist in these cases, but the physical evidence provides prima facie empirical corroboration of the testimonies)

Stevenson's research in cases of birthmarks and birth defects is one of the strongest pieces of empirical evidence for reincanration that has ever been collected.

Obviously, the evidence is not absolutely compelling, other interpretations are possible. The point is that the debate has not be settled yet.

Dr.Feser comments "If reincarnation occurs via the migration of a Cartesian immaterial substance from one body to another, why don’t memories and personality traits persist in a more robust way, reappearing unambiguously and in their entirety in the new body?"

I think this objection is not fatal to the reincarnation hypothesis. Perhaps "the soul" decides to forget the previous memories in order to live a new life without the perturbation caused by the previous life's memories (associate with another body).

For example, if in my previous life I was a girl, perhaps in this life (as a man) I'd like to forget my memories of being a girl (like kissing and having sex with men), in order to experience this new life without previous perturbations.

Note that the fact that memories are not manifested in a more robust way don't imply that they are non-existent (Perhaps under certain conditions, like hypnosis, such memories could be recovered).

The point is that the forgetting of memories of past lives don't imply their ontological destruction.

The memories could still be there, but be suppressed temporally in order to enable the soul to experience a whole new life in a new epoch and in a new body.

In any case, our ignorance of the exact mechanism involved here doesn't prevent us to infer reincarnation as the best hypothesis given the best evidence (provided such evidence exists).

No more than my ignorance of exactly which are God's morally suficient reasons to allows evil in the world is not a reason to think that God doesn't have such reasons.

George R. said...

Ed, you really put on a clinic with this post.

I suggest that all you reincarnation apologists out there read it again.

Neil said...

@Jime

Even granting that reincarnation doesn't contradict the existence of God or the resurrection of Jesus, it does not thereby follow that reincarnation does not contradict some other Christian doctrine.

William Lane Craig may respond by citing Hebrews 9:27, stating that men are appointed to die once and face judgement afterwards. If there is no ontological destruction when memories are forgotten (and I think you're right about that, as it happens in this life) it follows that "Bobby" dies more than once as he lives his succeeding lifetimes.

A Catholic may add that reincarnation was condemned by the early Fathers and is contrary to the Magisterium's teaching.

http://www.catholic.com/library/Reincarnation.asp

To show that reincarnation is true would mean that the Church is wrong on a point of revealed doctrine and not infallibly protected by the Holy Spirit from formally teaching error.

mdshett said...

Dr. Feser,
I've very much enjoyed your books as well as your blog. Not meaning to insult anyone's religion, I've always found the concept of reincarnation to be abhorent. If true, then, in most of the religions that hold to reincarnation, someone is born into their present circumstances based on behavior in their previous lives. So the poor and unfortunate in most of the world are there because they really deserve to be, because they're bad people being punished. The rich are there because they are good people being rewarded. Look at the horrific caste system in India and imagine the generations of human suffering.

Daniel Smith said...

Me: "Eastern thought seems completely irrational to me anyway. I mean if your starting point is "nothing is real" then where do you go from there?"

Jinzang: "The Buddhist position on personal identity is well known. Personal identity is merely imputed and does not truly exist."

See what I mean?

BeingItself said...

mdshett,

The doctrine of hell is more abhorrent than the concept of reincarnation. At least reincarnated souls have a chance for a better future.

When it comes to vile and horrific doctrines, Christianity reigns supreme.

Anonymous said...

Is it you again, J?

Anonymous said...

OTOH what would constitute "Empirical Proof" of reincarnation?

If I wanted to get fantastic. If we could show persons had memories of other persons long dead how do we not know the spirits of the dead didn't drop their memories in the living?

BTW If reincarnation where true then Catholic Christianity would be false.

BenYachov said...

Opps! Anon May 28, 2011 8:11 PM

Was me.

BenYachov said...

Or to put it another way. If souls can transmigrate why not memories?

OTOH if I have some memory of fighting on a civil war battle field how am I to know that is really my memory and not the memory of someonr else?

OTOH if Thomistic Dualism is correct then it's all moot. Like taking about God making a Rock too heavy for him to lift etc...

Jime said...

Even granting that reincarnation doesn't contradict the existence of God or the resurrection of Jesus, it does not thereby follow that reincarnation does not contradict some other Christian doctrine.

True. But "some other Christian doctrines" are not so essential to Christianity like God's existence and Jesus' Resurrection.

Many people, like Bart Erhman, have abandoned Christianity when discovering mistakes or flaws in some non-essential Christian doctrines, like biblical inerrency.

Willian Lane Craig comments "Now the question raised by your letter is what our reaction should be if we become convinced that there really is an error in the Bible. Won’t such a conclusion have a kind of reverse effect along our chain of deductive reasoning, leading us to deny Jesus’ resurrection and deity? This was apparently the conclusion of Bart Ehrman, who says he lost his faith in Christ because he discovered one minor error in the Gospels.

...We should have to re-think our doctrine of inspiration in that case, but we needn’t give up belief in God or in Jesus, as Bart Ehrman did. Ehrman had, it seems to me, a flawed theological system of beliefs as a Christian. It seems that at the center of his web of theological beliefs was biblical inerrancy, and everything else, like the beliefs in the deity of Christ and in his resurrection, depended on that. Once the center was gone, the whole web soon collapsed. But when you think about it, such a structure is deeply flawed. At the center of our web of beliefs ought to be some core belief like the belief that God exists, with the deity and resurrection of Christ somewhere near the center. The doctrine of inspiration of Scripture will be somewhere further out and inerrancy even farther toward the periphery as a corollary of inspiration. If inerrancy goes, the web will feel the reverberations of that loss, as we adjust our doctrine of inspiration accordingly, but the web will not collapse because belief in God and Christ and his resurrection and so on don’t depend upon the doctrine of biblical inerrancy.


http://www.reasonablefaith.org/site/News2?page=NewsArticle&id=5717

"William Lane Craig may respond by citing Hebrews 9:27, stating that men are appointed to die once and face judgement afterwards"

Based on the above considerations, if reincarnation is true, then that specific passage of the Bible is false. At most, it implies that the doctrine of biblical inerrency is false, not that Christianity is false.

Moreover, the "Christian reincarnationist" could reply with John 3:3-7

"Jesus answered him "I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, that unless a person is born again, he will not enter the kingdom of God". Nicodemus said to him, "How can a man be born again when he is old?" CAn he enter his mother's womb again and be born? Jesus answered, "I assure you, most solemnly I tell you, unless a man be born of water and the spirit, he cannot ever enter the kingdom of God. What is born of the flesh is flesh --- of the physical is physical; and what is born of the spirit is spirit. Marvel not -- do not be surprised, astonished-- at my telling you, you must be born again"

This passage has been interpreted traditionally as a call to baptism. But note that a reincarnationist interpretation of that passage is possible.

If the evidence for reincarnation is good, then Christians would be rationally forced to interpret Biblical passages like that in a way consistent with reincarnation.

I'm not suggesting the reincarnationist interpretation is right; my point is that it is an alternative available to Christians faced with (hypothetical) good evidence for reincarnation.

See McGregor's book mentioned above for a more defense of this position.

Richard said...

Jime: Christianity rests on Christs resurrection because that was Christ dying for us, so that we do not have to suffer "death" oursleves, that is, we do not have to go to hell when we die. We can instead have faith in Christ, live the way the Church commands us to, and then after one life, we can pass into heaven. Keep in mind this is a general interpretation as given to me by years of living with Protestant Christians. If, however, we do not live a moral life and do not have faith in God and his son, the immediate response for such behavior is to go to Hell after we die, and the Bible is most emphatic that Hell is just as eternal a punishment as Heaven is eternal a reward. This is an either/or situation, leaving no interpretive room for reincarnation of any sort.
Therefore I would have to say that if reincarnation is true, the Christian religion would be pointless.

Daniel Smith said...

BeingItself: "The doctrine of hell is more abhorrent than the concept of reincarnation. At least reincarnated souls have a chance for a better future.
When it comes to vile and horrific doctrines, Christianity reigns supreme."

What's vile and horrific about giving people the freedom to choose their own destiny?

Hell (I think) is simply a place from which God withdraws his presence. Anyone who ends up in hell has chosen to reject God and all that comes from him - so they get what they want: an existence free from God and everything that that entails. The fact that all goodness, all happiness, all love, all laughter, all friendship (etc.) comes from God is just part of what that entails.

They choose to REJECT GOD - thus they continue on without him. So, while the place they end up may be vile and horrific, it's not because God is vile or horrific, rather it is the absence of God that is vile and horrific.

Anonymous said...

"The doctrine of hell is more abhorrent than the concept of reincarnation. At least reincarnated souls have a chance for a better future.
When it comes to vile and horrific doctrines, Christianity reigns supreme."

I always find this sort of language curious. Islam teaches all this and more, but why is that "Christianity reigns supreme" with respect to abhorrent doctrines?

I'll hazard a theory. This isn't about doctrines at all. You are a secular white liberal, and Christianity threatens your lifestyle while Islam does not. Christians might take away things that you think are essential to a "good" life: easy access to pornography, abortion, contraception, gay "marriage", or recreational drugs. Muslims, while far more illiberal than even the most right-wing Christians, pose only a remote threat to these "liberties". So this isn't about doctrine, its really all about you.

But you can't just come out and say this, can you? So, in order to effectively criticize Christianity, you have to make it seem like you have some kind of principle that you are basing your criticism on. So, even though Muslims support far more "abhorrent" doctrines than Christians do, you must declare that Christianity "reigns supreme" where "abhorrent doctrines" are involved.

Alyosha said...

All this discussion regarding reincarnation brought a point about afterlife. I recently notice in Philosophy Now magazine, article by one John Shand, which title appears to argue that belief in afterlife is not good for your life. I did not read the article since it requires subscription and when I googled him, he also published an article called "Refutation of existence of God." Anyone is familiar of him? Dr. Feser perhaps?

Jime said...

For people interested, I've interviewed a number of philosophers, scientists, authors, etc. who have in common one thing: they're critical of metaphysical materialism.

One of them, philosopher of science Neal Grossman (who's professor Emeritus of philosophy in Indiana University) is a supporter of the evidence for reincarnation and other empirical evidences for the afterlife. Check the interview here:

http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/2011/05/interview-with-philosopher-neal.html

Professor Grossman consider the evidence for reincarnation provided by Stevenson and Jim Tucker (the current leading researcher on reincarnation) as "conclusive".

Personally, I don't consider the empirical evidence for reincarnation (or the afterlife in general) as conclusive, but I think they're very suggestive.

Given that I think the existence of God is more likely than its denial, and that consciousness is not a material phenomenon, I think than survival of consciousness is very likely and from this perspective I examine the best empirical evidence for survival.

More interviews in my blog:

http://subversivethinking.blogspot.com/search/label/Subversive%20Interviews

james said...

"Hell (I think) is simply a place from which God withdraws his presence. [...] The fact that all goodness, all happiness, all love, all laughter, all friendship (etc.) comes from God is just part of what that entails.

"They choose to REJECT GOD - thus they continue on without him."

I don't wish to be contrarian, but -- so long as we take God to be the sustaining cause of all that is -- does it even make sense to discuss an exprience from which God is entirely withdrawn? At the very least God must sustain the experiencer; and even then there would be nothing to experience.

Anonymous said...

Also @ Daniel Smith.

I in no way have any sympathy for this "BeingItself" troll, but could you explain philosophically, or direct me somewhere that explains philosophically, what constitutes a "rejection of God"? (for instance, will the Japanese men who perished in the latest tsunami and who never explicitly heard of the God of Christianity certainly be doomed? Did they "reject God"?)

Anonymous said...

@Alyosha:

Philosophy Now publishes a lot of politically gauche and intellectually frivolous stuff. I wouldn't waste my time with that rag, unless you want an insight into what certain radical lefties think "philosophy" is all about.

Alyosha said...

@Anonymous

I am not sure that declaring something left or right settles anything. I am sure Dr. Feser will not take argument that his work is too much to the right and thus dismissed out of hand.

Anonymous said...

BeingItself: "The doctrine of hell is more abhorrent than the concept of reincarnation. At least reincarnated souls have a chance for a better future.
When it comes to vile and horrific doctrines, Christianity reigns supreme."

Wonderful atheist logic. People living in squalor and misery with no prospects (in the only life that matters) because they are seen as deserving their lot in life, are better of than Western atheists offended by imaginary theology.

Anonymous said...

Also, what's up with dismissing Aquinas' thought for being "a flying monk" ? By that same token, I could dismiss Russell's work for being a deceptive womanizer, or Wittgenstein's for being a cranky gay kraut.

Marvelous logic there, son.

Daniel Smith said...

Anonymous @ 11:39 PM: "could you explain philosophically, or direct me somewhere that explains philosophically, what constitutes a "rejection of God"?"

To my mind, a rejection of God is a rejection of what God is - goodness, light, truth, love, forgiveness, etc.

For those who have not heard the gospel (and even for those who have I suppose) to reject these things is to reject God.

dguller said...

Just out of curiosity, if reincarnation is impossible, then how does this impact the plausibility of incarnation itself? I mean, if the idea that a separate immaterial consciousness can inhabit a separate physical body is impossible, then wouldn't the idea of Pure Act inhabiting a material body also be at least implausible?

Thanks.

The Maestro said...

dguller,

I'm no philosopher, merely a student of Thomism at the moment, but I believe Dr. Feser here is trying to say that on a natural level, reincarnation is not possible. But through the supernatural intervention of God, things which do not regularly occur in the course of nature can occur - these kinds of occurrences are commonly called miracles. The Incarnation of Christ was such an occurrence, it required the supernatural action of God.

Also, God in His Divine nature is Pure Act. But in his human nature, in the person of Christ, he does have potentiality. Before the incarnation, the human nature existed, but only as a potential, rather than something actual. In the Incarnation, it was actualized.

That's how I understand it. Again, I'm no expert in this.

BenYachov said...

I think I should inform you people I have had a nasty rowe with dguller on the incarnation.

(Naturally I totally blame him. But that is between us & I am not here to rally allies to my side but to give full discloser)

dguller insists an incarnation is only a true incarnation if the Divine nature either mixes with the human nature or is transformed into a human nature.

Which is weird since that makes him an Atheist Monophsite.

Monophysite heresy is wrong in that God is Pure Act thus immutable thus he cannot change His nature.

He wrote:
>if the idea that a separate immaterial consciousness can inhabit a separate physical body is impossible, then wouldn't the idea of Pure Act inhabiting a material body also be at least implausible?

He is clearly confusing Feser's argument which talks about the human soul with being a Person.

Now Christ had a human soul. He didn't have a Divine Soul since there is no such thing.

His Person is not the same as His Soul. Indeed my person is not the same as my soul either if I believe what Feser wrote in the past & here.

Now if someone with more patience wants to explain the rest to dguller.

Give it a try.

But I won't recommend it. It's like pulling teeth.


OTOH to be fair I don't like the man so take that warning with a grain of salt & realize I am bias and bitter.

But honest!

dguller said...

The Maestro:

>> I'm no philosopher, merely a student of Thomism at the moment, but I believe Dr. Feser here is trying to say that on a natural level, reincarnation is not possible. But through the supernatural intervention of God, things which do not regularly occur in the course of nature can occur - these kinds of occurrences are commonly called miracles. The Incarnation of Christ was such an occurrence, it required the supernatural action of God.

First, I can understand how Thomism frowns upon reincarnation, especially given the fact that most mental faculties require a material substrate to even function, and so the idea of their ongoing continuity in an immaterial form is just impossible. My question was whether this idea sheds any light about God’s ability to assume a human form. Maybe it doesn’t at all, and the more I think about it, the less it seems to be relevant, because they are different issues, but I just wanted to get other people’s thoughts.

Second, I can appreciate the intervention of the supernatural in the natural world. What I cannot understand is whether the supernatural can make the logically impossible happen. According to my understanding of incarnation, it would require the assumption of bodily form by God, but that would mean that Pure Act assumes a form with potential, which contradicts its status as Pure Act, and thus resulting in a logical contradiction.

>> Also, God in His Divine nature is Pure Act. But in his human nature, in the person of Christ, he does have potentiality. Before the incarnation, the human nature existed, but only as a potential, rather than something actual. In the Incarnation, it was actualized.

So, Pure Act contained within itself portion that contained potential? Doesn’t that contradict itself? After all, Pure Act has no potential whatsoever. That’s the whole reason why it can be the necessary Unmoved Mover to terminate the causal regress.

dguller said...

Hi Ben.

BenYachov said...

dguller is an irrational Atheist.

On the other thread he said"I am saying that this idea that you can have incarnation without intermingling and mixing of the natures is not incarnation at all."

This is like me as a Catholic telling a Sunni Muslim "Since you do not practice Shia Islam you are not a Muslim at all".

Now as a Catholic I believe all forms of Islam are false. Thus for me there is no such thing as a "True Form of a False religion".

Rather there are different religions whose followers believe they are the standard of Truth.

If I wanted to convince a Sunni that Islam is wrong I would have to deal with him threw Sunni Islam.

It would not make any rational sense for me to try to convince him if Islam is true it can only be Shia Islam & then turn around and prove Shia Islam is wrong & Catholicism is right.

That is just common sense and you don't even have to believe in any gods to see this is so.

dguller claims to be an Atheist. So how can there be a True version of the incarnation for him?

Just to let the rest of you know who you are really dealing with.

DNW said...

Anonymous, 29th 4:01PM:

Well stated.

And, if this Name/URL function works, I'll cease using "anonymous" myself.

BenYachov said...

>> Also, God in His Divine nature is Pure Act. But in his human nature, in the person of Christ, he does have potentiality. Before the incarnation, the human nature existed, but only as a potential, rather than something actual. In the Incarnation, it was actualized.

Christ's human nature exists as potential in the flesh of the Blessed Virgin Mary before the Incarnation.

New Flesh is not created out of nothing and Divine Nature is not turned into flesh.

dguller knows this but is still pretending his view of the incarnation is the true one.

Neil said...

*But "some other Christian doctrines" are not so essential to Christianity like God's existence and Jesus' Resurrection.*

How would you exclude the doctrine of "death once and then judgement" from the list of essential doctrines? A quote from a twenty-first century evangelical won't do (no disrespect to WLC). I must admit I'm not particularly interested in how an evangelical would rework his theology if confronted with good evidence for reincarnation. It may be possible for him to create a new theology that could still be meaningfully called Christian, though I doubt it.

In any case, its not so for the Catholic. As I've already said, reincarnation is contrary to formal Catholic doctrines (judgment after death, the eternity of heaven and hell, etc).

* Moreover, the "Christian reincarnationist" could reply with John 3:3-7*

Only by forcing a concept onto the text utterly alien to the first century Christians and Jews could reincarnation be seen as a plausible interpretation of that text. Theological speculations aside, it is undeniable reincarnation was decidedly not an early Christian or Jewish belief.

*my point is that it is an alternative available to Christians faced with (hypothetical) good evidence for reincarnation*

Not if an act of eisegesis is necessary for the alternative.

The Maestro said...

dguller,

Second, I can appreciate the intervention of the supernatural in the natural world. What I cannot understand is whether the supernatural can make the logically impossible happen. According to my understanding of incarnation, it would require the assumption of bodily form by God, but that would mean that Pure Act assumes a form with potential, which contradicts its status as Pure Act, and thus resulting in a logical contradiction.

First, again I think the case is that reincarnation is only "logically impossible" on a natural level, but not on a supernatural level, because on a supernatural level, things are different and the "logical possibility" would be different. And about the Pure Act taking on a form with potency, etc... you also said:

So, Pure Act contained within itself portion that contained potential? Doesn’t that contradict itself? After all, Pure Act has no potential whatsoever. That’s the whole reason why it can be the necessary Unmoved Mover to terminate the causal regress.

When we say "God is Pure Act", we are speaking very strictly so as to mean that God in his Divine Nature is Pure Act. So we are speaking of God in His Divine Nature there. On the other hand, we can also speak of God's human nature which merely had potential existence before the incarnation, but was actualized at the incarnation. So, before the incarnation, we are not saying that Pure Act did in fact contain the potential human nature, because that mixes the Divine Nature up with the human nature and things get confusing. Rather, we say that before the Incarnation, God (i.e. the Divine) was Pure Act, but God's human nature (something separate from the Divine nature) had potential in it.

I hope that makes sense.

dguller said...

The Maestro:

>> First, again I think the case is that reincarnation is only "logically impossible" on a natural level, but not on a supernatural level, because on a supernatural level, things are different and the "logical possibility" would be different.

I would tend to agree with much of what you say, except that I would disagree that “on a supernatural level, things are different”. I do not know if things ARE different, because I actually have no idea what goes on at the deepest level of reality, and I do not know if our rules of logic are fully reliable at that level. And without knowing whether our tools of inquiry are reliable, we should use them with great caution and hesitancy.

>> When we say "God is Pure Act", we are speaking very strictly so as to mean that God in his Divine Nature is Pure Act. So we are speaking of God in His Divine Nature there.

I’m with you so far.

>> On the other hand, we can also speak of God's human nature which merely had potential existence before the incarnation, but was actualized at the incarnation. So, before the incarnation, we are not saying that Pure Act did in fact contain the potential human nature, because that mixes the Divine Nature up with the human nature and things get confusing. Rather, we say that before the Incarnation, God (i.e. the Divine) was Pure Act, but God's human nature (something separate from the Divine nature) had potential in it.

But here’s where I see a problem, and correct me if I am wrong.

First, it would appear that, if you are correct, then God could have a nature outside of his nature, which would contradict many tenets of Thomism. That is because if his nature is to be Pure Act, and there is this potential human nature as a part of his nature, then this human nature would have to be outside of his divine nature, and thus there would be something outside of God but still be a part of God, which seems contradictory.

Second, if you say that God’s potential human nature existing within his divine nature, which cannot have any potential in it by virtue of being Pure Act, then how can Pure Act have a potential human nature, awaiting actualization in the incarnation? That would also be contradictory, no?

Third, if God’s human nature was initially potential before the incarnation, and then became actualized at the incarnation, then there was a change within God of potential to actuality, and this contradicts the idea of an Unmoved Mover.

Any thoughts?

The Maestro said...

I would tend to agree with much of what you say, except that I would disagree that “on a supernatural level, things are different”. I do not know if things ARE different, because I actually have no idea what goes on at the deepest level of reality, and I do not know if our rules of logic are fully reliable at that level. And without knowing whether our tools of inquiry are reliable, we should use them with great caution and hesitancy

Well then, all I can say is that you should deepen your knowledge of Natural Theology, because it would show that things are, in fact, different at that higher level of reality. Our rules of logic would apply at that level, but because things are different, the material of that logic would also be different.

First, it would appear that, if you are correct, then God could have a nature outside of his nature, which would contradict many tenets of Thomism. That is because if his nature is to be Pure Act, and there is this potential human nature as a part of his nature, then this human nature would have to be outside of his divine nature, and thus there would be something outside of God but still be a part of God, which seems contradictory.

Good points. This is where it gets a little tricky for me, so I don't claim to have a satisfactory answer. But I'll give it a try: First of all, God as God, i.e. his divine nature, is Pure Act. And it is the Divine Nature which defines him as God. But God in the Second Person, namely Christ, also has a human nature which is distinct from the divine nature, and therefore has potency. Again, this human nature is distinct from the divine nature, and is not essential to God as God; it does not define Him as God. Therefore, it does not conflict with Pure Act, because it is something entirely separate from the Divine nature. It is outside of the divine nature, which defines God as God; but it is also still a part of God as a person.

Second, if you say that God’s potential human nature existing within his divine nature, which cannot have any potential in it by virtue of being Pure Act, then how can Pure Act have a potential human nature, awaiting actualization in the incarnation? That would also be contradictory, no?

Yes, that would be contradictory, but we don’t say that the potential human nature existed within the divine nature. We say rather that they are two distinct natures, joined together in the Person of God. But the one, the divine nature, is what defines God as God, whereas the other, the human nature, is additional to God as a person…

Third, if God’s human nature was initially potential before the incarnation, and then became actualized at the incarnation, then there was a change within God of potential to actuality, and this contradicts the idea of an Unmoved Mover.

Again, this would be true if the potential human nature was contained within the divine. But it is not. It is separate from it.

See, I think the distinction is between God as God and God as a person. As God, He is Pure Act. As a person, in the second person, Christ, he does have another nature, distinct from the divine nature which defines him as God. It’s quite confusing… even I’m still trying to understand it.

I apologize if there’s anything unclear in this post. Also, if there is anything which is not accurate, Thomistically, I would appreciate corrections from any of the resident scholars here.

The Maestro said...

The Athanasian Creed points this out quite well and clearly. It says of Christ: "Equal to the Father as touching His Godhead, and inferior to the Father as touching His Manhood. Who, although He be God and Man, yet He is not two, but One Christ."

dguller said...

The Maestro:

>> Well then, all I can say is that you should deepen your knowledge of Natural Theology, because it would show that things are, in fact, different at that higher level of reality. Our rules of logic would apply at that level, but because things are different, the material of that logic would also be different.

But if things are different, then maybe our rules of logic would not apply. After all, our rules of logic only work, because they seem to reliably pick up patterns and regularities in the empirical world around us. If the supernatural operated according to different patterns and regularities, or maybe no patterns at all, then our rules of logic wouldn’t apply at all. The fact that we have no idea what is going on at that level means that we do not know if our rules of logic and inquiry are reliable, and thus we should be very careful in using them.

>> Good points. This is where it gets a little tricky for me, so I don't claim to have a satisfactory answer.

I appreciate the effort.

>> But I'll give it a try: First of all, God as God, i.e. his divine nature, is Pure Act. And it is the Divine Nature which defines him as God. But God in the Second Person, namely Christ, also has a human nature which is distinct from the divine nature, and therefore has potency. Again, this human nature is distinct from the divine nature, and is not essential to God as God; it does not define Him as God. Therefore, it does not conflict with Pure Act, because it is something entirely separate from the Divine nature. It is outside of the divine nature, which defines God as God; but it is also still a part of God as a person.

But the problem is that if “this human nature is distinct from the divine nature, and is not essential to God as God”, then God has an accidental property, which is supposed to be impossible for God to have. All of his properties exist necessarily and unchangeably within his essence, after all. So, your account comes down to God is God, except that he isn’t.

In addition, how does the human nature relate to the divine nature? Either it is outside and separate from the divine nature, or it is a part of the divine nature.

(1) If human nature is separate from the divine nature, as you seem to believe, then God has properties outside of the divine nature, which means that God is not Pure Act at all, because his essence contains an absence of a quality that is essential to be God. In other words, what makes God what he is exists outside of his nature, which would make God dependent upon something outside of himself, which is impossible.

(2) If human nature is part of the divine nature, then you are stuck with potential being present within Pure Act, which is supposed to be impossible.

And you can say that this human nature ultimately has nothing to do with God, except that you are saying that God involves Christ who has a human nature, and thus you are back to the problem of how Pure Act can contain something that inherently involves potential within itself.

dguller said...

The Maestro:

>> Yes, that would be contradictory, but we don’t say that the potential human nature existed within the divine nature. We say rather that they are two distinct natures, joined together in the Person of God. But the one, the divine nature, is what defines God as God, whereas the other, the human nature, is additional to God as a person…

The question is whether “the Person of God” is God. If it is God, then it contains both human nature and divine nature, and thus God contains human nature, which means that Pure Act contains potential. I’m sorry, but God is supposed to be what has a divine nature, and either human nature is separate from God or it is part of God. Both of these options lead to problems. And it seems that every solution other than dogmatic assertion leads to heresy.

>> See, I think the distinction is between God as God and God as a person. As God, He is Pure Act. As a person, in the second person, Christ, he does have another nature, distinct from the divine nature which defines him as God. It’s quite confusing… even I’m still trying to understand it.

Again, that seems to imply that Christ is not a part of God, but according to the Trinity, he must be part of God as the Second Person. If you want to say that God is not composed of the Trinity, and that Christ is separate from God, then that is fine, but that will result in heresy, as far as I understand it.

Any thoughts?

The Maestro said...

But if things are different, then maybe our rules of logic would not apply. After all, our rules of logic only work, because they seem to reliably pick up patterns and regularities in the empirical world around us. If the supernatural operated according to different patterns and regularities, or maybe no patterns at all, then our rules of logic wouldn’t apply at all. The fact that we have no idea what is going on at that level means that we do not know if our rules of logic and inquiry are reliable, and thus we should be very careful in using them.

Formally and structurally, I don’t see why our rules of logic would change. I do see why they would change materially, with regard to content, but not with regard to form and structure. It seems to me that it is the material part of logic is that depends on the evidence in the world around us, not the formal structural part.

But the problem is that if “this human nature is distinct from the divine nature, and is not essential to God as God”, then God has an accidental property, which is supposed to be impossible for God to have. All of his properties exist necessarily and unchangeably within his essence, after all. So, your account comes down to God is God, except that he isn’t.

Yes, it is true that all God’s properties exist necessarily and unchangeably within his essence, as you say, but again, this is speaking of the divine essense, the divine nature, God as God. The divine nature, God as God, contains no accidental properties. And like I said, the human nature did not exist in God as God, but in the Person of Christ, and therefore is not an accidental property of God as God.

I don't think I’m being clear enough...

(1) If human nature is separate from the divine nature, as you seem to believe, then God has properties outside of the divine nature, which means that God is not Pure Act at all, because his essence contains an absence of a quality that is essential to be God. In other words, what makes God what he is exists outside of his nature, which would make God dependent upon something outside of himself, which is impossible.

But again, to say that “God is Pure Act” is to say that his divine nature consists of Pure Actuality, and this defines him as God. Considered as God, he has no accidental properties. But considered in the second person, Christ, he does have an additional property, human nature. But this human nature is neither essential for him as God, nor is it accidental to him as God. If he did not become man, he would still be God, and thus it is not essential. But as God (vs. as the person of Christ), he is Pure Act, and therefore neither is it accidental to him as God.

The question is whether “the Person of God” is God. If it is God, then it contains both human nature and divine nature, and thus God contains human nature, which means that Pure Act contains potential. I’m sorry, but God is supposed to be what has a divine nature, and either human nature is separate from God or it is part of God. Both of these options lead to problems. And it seems that every solution other than dogmatic assertion leads to heresy.

Yes, this is where it is most confusing, and I must admit that I don’t think I can give an adequate answer. I’m looking at Aquinas’ treatment of this very question, and I’m having a hard time understanding some of it. Ultimately, he somehow boils it down to that same distinction between person and nature, “The Person of God” and “God as God”, and finds some way to reconcile that distinction with the fact that in God, Person and Nature are not really distinct. But I can’t clearly understand what he is saying… so at this point, I think I will bow out. It has been a very interesting discussion. Thanks.

BenYachov said...

A Nature is that by which something act. A Person is that which acts threw the nature.

The three Divine Persons are not natures they each fully possess the one Divine Nature.

They are not attributes they are focal points of attribution.

dguller writes"The question is whether “the Person of God” is God. If it is God, then it contains both human nature and divine nature,"

You see for him he believes ""I am saying that this idea that you can have incarnation without intermingling and mixing of the natures is not incarnation at all."

So no matter how you try to explain the incarnation to this Troll he will dogmatically insist and incarnation MUST involve a mixing of natures.

It's futile to explain it to him.

dguller said...

The Maestro:

>> Formally and structurally, I don’t see why our rules of logic would change. I do see why they would change materially, with regard to content, but not with regard to form and structure. It seems to me that it is the material part of logic is that depends on the evidence in the world around us, not the formal structural part.

This is a whole separate issue. My point is that our logic and other tools of inquiry are derived from our experience in the empirical world, and their reliability has been amply demonstrated in that domain. However, when it comes to the deepest level of reality, we do not know much, if anything, and so we do not know whether the tools that work so well in the empirical world continue to be reliable at the deepest level of reality. Maybe they are, but maybe they aren’t. If there was a way for us to have some kind of feedback from that level of reality to confirm that our conclusions are true, then that would be reassuring, but without such feedback, we are just spinning our wheels in the air without any traction.

>> Yes, it is true that all God’s properties exist necessarily and unchangeably within his essence, as you say, but again, this is speaking of the divine essense, the divine nature, God as God. The divine nature, God as God, contains no accidental properties. And like I said, the human nature did not exist in God as God, but in the Person of Christ, and therefore is not an accidental property of God as God.

But is the Person of Christ a part of God? My understanding is that God is the Trinity, and part of the Trinity is Christ, and so if Christ has human nature, then human nature is part of the Trinity, and thus part of God, which leads to all the problems that we have been discussing.

Maybe you can say that the human version of Christ is something other than the divine version of Christ in the Trinity. In that case, there is no obvious contradiction, because the human Christ is distinct from the divine Christ, much as any human being would be, and only the latter is God, and Pure Act. But in that case, it seems that the divine Christ is not the human Christ at all, and thus they are distinct entities. But in order to have incarnation, then wouldn’t the divine Christ have to assume a human form? And by doing so, then wouldn’t the divine Christ have to be stripped of its divine properties, such as Pure Act? And then what is left is just the human Christ, which means that there is no divine left, and if there is no divine left in the human Christ, then there is no incarnation. There is just the human Christ, period.

Furthermore, it seems that in that case, it is not that God has assumed a human form, but rather that there is some kind of supernatural connection between the Son of God in the Trinity and Jesus Christ the human being. It would be more like some action at a distance between the Son and Christ, and in that case, it does not seem to be consistent with incarnation at all. It would be like me controlling a person beside me, and then saying that I have assumed their physical form. I have done no such thing.

In addition, I struggle with understanding how the same person of Christ can have a single identity while having two incompatible and contradictory natures at the same time? To me, this is would be like talking about a square triangle. When it is pointed out that this is obviously a contradiction, then it is said that somehow it is not contradictory at all, because the square nature and triangular nature form a “unity” somehow despite being distinct. But then it’s not a square triangle anymore!

dguller said...

The Maestro:

>> Yes, this is where it is most confusing, and I must admit that I don’t think I can give an adequate answer. I’m looking at Aquinas’ treatment of this very question, and I’m having a hard time understanding some of it. Ultimately, he somehow boils it down to that same distinction between person and nature, “The Person of God” and “God as God”, and finds some way to reconcile that distinction with the fact that in God, Person and Nature are not really distinct. But I can’t clearly understand what he is saying… so at this point, I think I will bow out. It has been a very interesting discussion. Thanks.

No problem. Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this matter. Maybe at some point, it will make more sense to me, but for now, it just seems incoherent.

It is like taking Godel’s incompleteness theorem, and saying that all true statements within an axiomatic system are provable anyway, irrespective of the theorem, “somehow”. It just seems like this notion of God assuming a human form is so important to Christianity that even though it results in rational incoherence that it cannot be abandoned no matter what. I can certainly appreciate the theology behind why the incarnation is necessary, but it just appears that the incarnation itself becomes incoherent, and the only way to preserve its coherence is to invent a number of distinctions that ultimately themselves become incoherent.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> The three Divine Persons are not natures they each fully possess the one Divine Nature.

What accounts for the distinction between the Divine Persons? Do they have different qualities and characteristics? Are these ESSENTIAL qualities and characteristics?

And if one of the Persons has an essential quality of having a human nature, then does that mean that human nature is part of divine nature? And if so, then how is that even possible? And if not, then how is this essential quality kept apart from the divine nature? And if it is separate, then doesn’t that mean that there is an accidental property as part of God, and isn’t that impossible?

The Maestro said...

You raise some good and important questions, dguller. I'll have a lot to think about for a while now. Meanwhile, I hope Dr. Feser or someone else might be able to give you a satisfactory answer. Thanks.

dguller said...

The Masestro:

You take care. Again, thanks for the discussion.

Crude said...

This is a whole separate issue. My point is that our logic and other tools of inquiry are derived from our experience in the empirical world, and their reliability has been amply demonstrated in that domain. However, when it comes to the deepest level of reality, we do not know much, if anything, and so we do not know whether the tools that work so well in the empirical world continue to be reliable at the deepest level of reality. Maybe they are, but maybe they aren’t. If there was a way for us to have some kind of feedback from that level of reality to confirm that our conclusions are true, then that would be reassuring, but without such feedback, we are just spinning our wheels in the air without any traction.

...

In addition, I struggle with understanding how the same person of Christ can have a single identity while having two incompatible and contradictory natures at the same time? To me, this is would be like talking about a square triangle. When it is pointed out that this is obviously a contradiction, then it is said that somehow it is not contradictory at all, because the square nature and triangular nature form a “unity” somehow despite being distinct.

Even taking this at face value, these are inconsistent attitudes. You go from complaining that we have no reason to assume logic holds for God (well, anything you label 'ultimate reality' or 'supernatural', really), to complaining that you take such and such claim about God to be illogical. And axioms of logic are not demonstrated, or put up for falsification - they're axiomatic.

You're claiming at once that there's no reason to assume logic holds for certain things, then complaining that arguments about those certain things are illogical. Put them together and you end up with the following statement: "Your argument leads to a logical contradiction. Granted, that's no reason to think it's not true."

Then again, if you're saying that things don't need to be logical to be actual, why worry about being consistent.

Crude said...

Further, with regards to the Trinity itself, Ed has discussed this in the past. I believe the short of it is that on Thomism, the Trinity is a mystery. Studied, reflected on, affirmed, but a mystery.

dguller said...

Crude:

>> You're claiming at once that there's no reason to assume logic holds for certain things, then complaining that arguments about those certain things are illogical. Put them together and you end up with the following statement: "Your argument leads to a logical contradiction. Granted, that's no reason to think it's not true."

Not really. I declare utter ignorance of whether the rules of logic continue to apply at the deepest level of reality, but there are others who claim that they absolutely do. For the sake of argument, I can assume that they are correct, and see where this leads me within that system. It is like saying that I do not know if X is true, but assuming that X is true, then Y would follow, for example. I do not think that that involves any inconsistency. Furthermore, it appears that making this assumption results in the conclusion that certain Christian dogmas might actually be incoherent, such as the incarnation, for example.

>> Further, with regards to the Trinity itself, Ed has discussed this in the past. I believe the short of it is that on Thomism, the Trinity is a mystery. Studied, reflected on, affirmed, but a mystery.

Actually, I can respect that view, because it affirms my suspicion that there are aspects of reality that logic and reason simply cannot penetrate due to their limitations.

The only difference between this idea and mine is that I put the limitations a little further back to those aspects of reality that we have no feedback from that allows us to confirm whether our logical and rational conclusions are actually true. You seem to put the limits further ahead to the point where logic results in utter incoherence and contradiction as the boundary, but rather than reject such beliefs as false, you continue to assert them and would prefer to reject logic and reason instead.

dguller said...

Crude:

>> axioms of logic are not demonstrated, or put up for falsification - they're axiomatic.

Where does logic come from? Did it drop out of the sky, fully formed with a signed guarantee from heaven that it necessarily works in all contexts? No, it was developed by human beings trying to understand the patterns and relationships in the world around them. When you read a textbook of logic, the way that the logical principles are justified is with empirical examples that show whether a logical rule of inference results in true or false conclusions. They are definitely demonstrated and falsifiable, but because they have been confirmed without any exception in the empirical world, they are taken to be immutable and incorrigible. In other words, they assume a central place in our conceptual framework, and at this point, if they were to be false, then our entire edifice of knowledge would come crashing down.

That’s my understanding of where logic gets its reliability and validity from. It is a set of abstracted rules for how one can derive one proposition from another in a way that reliably maps the patterns and relationships in the world around us. It works splendidly well in the empirical world, but it is an open question whether it works equally well at the deepest level of reality. Maybe it does, but maybe it doesn’t. We just don’t know without any feedback from that level of reality to let us know that our conclusions are on the right track.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts on this issue.

Crude said...

Not really. I declare utter ignorance of whether the rules of logic continue to apply at the deepest level of reality, but there are others who claim that they absolutely do.

And I'm talking about for you, not others. For you, logic and reason are optional in the strongest sense of the word. So, when talking about God, reality, etc, self-contradiction or incoherence in a claim does not itself mean the claim is untrue. It's not even evidence that the claim is untrue.

You seem fine with that. More power to you.


Actually, I can respect that view, because it affirms my suspicion that there are aspects of reality that logic and reason simply cannot penetrate due to their limitations.

And the limitations can be with humanity, rather than with either logic or reason.

You seem to put the limits further ahead to the point where logic results in utter incoherence and contradiction as the boundary, but rather than reject such beliefs as false, you continue to assert them and would prefer to reject logic and reason instead.

I've done no such thing, so the "seem to" here is projection. What I "seem to" do is rely on first principles, reason, and evidence to come to reasonable conclusions about reality and nature, and recognize that utter certainty and empirical testability are not required to have a reasonable belief. You think the reasonable alternative is to think A != A.

As I said, more power to you.

Where does logic come from? Did it drop out of the sky, fully formed with a signed guarantee from heaven that it necessarily works in all contexts? No, it was developed by human beings trying to understand the patterns and relationships in the world around them.

You say developed, I say discovered. I point out that axioms are not proved or demonstrated, you insist that they are (and how is that done, without yet more axioms or demonstrations?)

Really, the fact that you're talking about falsifying fundamental axioms should throw up red flags for you.

SR said...

@dguller,

If you're interested in whether logic applies at deeper levels of reality, here is a claim, from the philosopher-mystic Franklin Merrell-Wolff, that it does not:

"While in the State [of High Indifference, as he called it], I was particularly impressed with the fact that the logical principle of contradiction had no relevancy. It would not be correct to say that this principle was violated, but rather, that it had no application. For to isolate any phase of the State was to be immediately aware of the opposite
phase as the necessary complementary part of the first. Thus the attempt of self-conscious thought to isolate anything resulted in the immediate
initiation of a sort of flow in the very essence of consciousness itself, so that the nascent isolation was transformed into its opposite as co-partner in a timeless reality....It seemed to be the real underlying fact of all
consciousness of all creatures."
[Experience and Philosophy, p.286]

dguller said...

Crude:

>> And I'm talking about for you, not others. For you, logic and reason are optional in the strongest sense of the word. So, when talking about God, reality, etc, self-contradiction or incoherence in a claim does not itself mean the claim is untrue. It's not even evidence that the claim is untrue.

Logic and reason are not optional. They are absolutely necessary when trying to understand the empirical world, and have demonstrated their reliability again and again.

When it comes to the deepest level of reality, then I do not say that they are necessary or optional. I do not choose either option, because I do not know whether they are necessary or unnecessary. So, when discussing the deepest level of reality, then you are right, incoherence does not mean a claim is necessary untrue. It might, but it might not. I do not know at that level of reality.

>> You seem fine with that. More power to you.

I am actually. I don’t lose any sleep over the fact that I have no idea what is going on at the deepest level of reality. It seems to bother you a lot. It’s kind of like the stockbroker whose career depends upon being able to convince others that he can model and predict the market, and so he uses tools that are woefully inadequate to the task, because no-one can predict the market, but convinces himself that his models are up to the task. The only difference is that the stockbroker has feedback from reality when his models fail, and you have none from reality about whether logic fails.

>> And the limitations can be with humanity, rather than with either logic or reason.

What do you mean? So, if a logical argument necessarily shows that a Christian doctrine is incoherent, then the problem is with humans, and not logic? How is that any different from rejecting logic?

dguller said...

Crude:

>> I've done no such thing, so the "seem to" here is projection. What I "seem to" do is rely on first principles, reason, and evidence to come to reasonable conclusions about reality and nature, and recognize that utter certainty and empirical testability are not required to have a reasonable belief. You think the reasonable alternative is to think A != A.

Sorry, I thought that you were saying that the Trinity is a mystery, which meant that there are aspects of reality that logic and reason cannot penetrate. Do you have a full and total understanding of the Trinity and the incarnation, for example? Care to share that understanding?

>> You say developed, I say discovered. I point out that axioms are not proved or demonstrated, you insist that they are (and how is that done, without yet more axioms or demonstrations?)

Where do axioms come from, according to you? Again, my contention is that our rules of logic are abstractions from the regularities and patterns that we experience around us, and have codified into necessary truths. I would suspect that this is parasitic upon our ability to detect patterns in the first place, which is something that we share with most living creatures. It is the detection of regularities in nature that allows living creatures to be able to survive in the world in the first place. Our capacity is much more sophisticated in that we can consciously talk about these patterns, but ultimately comes from the same foundation.

So, it is true that the patterns in nature that logic models are true and independent of human beings, and that they would continue to be true even if human beings go extinct, or even never existed. However, the patterns that we have access to are in the empirical world, and not the deepest level of reality, and all that we can conclude with logic is that it is accurate and reliable in the former, but not necessarily in the latter.

>> Really, the fact that you're talking about falsifying fundamental axioms should throw up red flags for you.

I think that anything is, in principle, falsifiable. With logic, their truth has held up for so long without a single exception that we treat them as necessary and indubitable.

dguller said...

SR:

Thanks for the quote. I think that my thoughts can be construed as consistent with negative theology in many respects. I appreciate the struggles of negative theologians to preserve God's utter transcendence, but ultimately think that their project fails, because there is no real difference from our standpoint from an utterly transcendent and distant God and a non-existent one. And that's a problem, I think.

SR said...

@dguller,

That quote is not a statement of negative theology. It is a claim that, for Merrell-Wolff, Aristotelian logic empirically does not apply.

Of course we just have to take his word for it. Which I do, because it seems to me that Aristotelian logic also fails when considering the nature of consciousness, but that's another story.

Crude said...

dguller,

I don’t lose any sleep over the fact that I have no idea what is going on at the deepest level of reality. It seems to bother you a lot.

What I argue against here is a person who takes the pose of being rational and reasonable, on the grounds that they're willing to entertain the idea that things they can't immediately empirically verify may in fact be illogical, and that we should be agnostic on whether the logically incoherent is actual.

That I don't have utter certainty of the truth of my reasonable beliefs doesn't bother me. You seem to be gravely bothered that I'm not bothered. ;)

So, if a logical argument necessarily shows that a Christian doctrine is incoherent, then the problem is with humans, and not logic? How is that any different from rejecting logic?

Because the problem can be with the formulation of the doctrine as given in the argument. And ultimately, the orthodox Christian belief on the trinity does not itself add up to believing a rapt logical declaration.

Interestingly enough, insofar as you take the logically incoherent to be possible, arguing that the trinity is logically incoherent does nothing for you. Again, your position here can be summed up as 'logical incoherence is no reason to think something isn't true'. Of course, the Christian response is the trinity is a mystery, but not incoherent.

Where do axioms come from, according to you? Again, my contention is that our rules of logic are abstractions from the regularities and patterns that we experience around us, and have codified into necessary truths.

What you've contended is that logical axioms are demonstrated and falsifiable. I've asked how they are demonstrated and how they could be falsified, recognizing that either move would itself require axioms and therefore demonstration. You've been silent on this, and not noticing that your take on axioms is wildly idiosyncratic - according to you, logicians should be running around trying to find where A != A, and taking reports of such seriously.

Amusingly, you say 'anything is, in principle, falsifiable'. I ask: "Including that belief?"

dguller said...

Crude:

>> What I argue against here is a person who takes the pose of being rational and reasonable, on the grounds that they're willing to entertain the idea that things they can't immediately empirically verify may in fact be illogical, and that we should be agnostic on whether the logically incoherent is actual.

It’s no pose. One can be rational while accepting the possible limits of rationality.

>> That I don't have utter certainty of the truth of my reasonable beliefs doesn't bother me. You seem to be gravely bothered that I'm not bothered. ;)

Not really. As always, you are free to believe whatever you like.

>> Because the problem can be with the formulation of the doctrine as given in the argument.

That is true. But what if the doctrine was formulated properly, and it resulted in a logical contradiction? Then what?

>> And ultimately, the orthodox Christian belief on the trinity does not itself add up to believing a rapt logical declaration.

It does not have to. But it does have to make sense, and if multiple formulations result in internal inconsistencies, then what does an orthodox Christian do?

>> Interestingly enough, insofar as you take the logically incoherent to be possible, arguing that the trinity is logically incoherent does nothing for you. Again, your position here can be summed up as 'logical incoherence is no reason to think something isn't true'.

You are right that it does nothing for me. However, it does do something for someone who assumes that reason and logic can cut to the core of the deepest level of reality and are fully reliable at that level. For that person, if logic and reason show that a doctrine that they hold about the characteristics of that level of reality is incoherent, then they should take it seriously. For me, it’s all idle speculation, and I do not know one way or the other.

>> Of course, the Christian response is the trinity is a mystery, but not incoherent.

What is the difference between a mystery and an incoherent doctrine? And what if the quality of mysteriousness is demonstrated by a concept’s incoherence? What then?

dguller said...

Crude:

>> What you've contended is that logical axioms are demonstrated and falsifiable. I've asked how they are demonstrated and how they could be falsified, recognizing that either move would itself require axioms and therefore demonstration. You've been silent on this, and not noticing that your take on axioms is wildly idiosyncratic - according to you, logicians should be running around trying to find where A != A, and taking reports of such seriously.

First, you still have not explained your understanding of where axioms come from and where they derive their truth.

Second, the logical axiom of non-contradiction could be falsified by finding something that is both X and not-X. That is currently inconceivable, and the mind breaks down contemplating it. However, is that because (a) it is truly impossible out there at any level of reality, or (b) it is a limitation of what humans can conceive by virtue of our evolved cognitive capacities and experience, which necessarily were of empirical phenomena, and thus our mental capacities would be consistent with the patterns and regularities that we have experienced, including that nothing is X and not-X.

My intuition says (b) is more likely to be true. After all, you would have to explain how our rules of logic are capable of representing the deepest level of reality. Sure, they work great in the empirical world, and they seem impossible to doubt, but again, that could be due to the structure of our thoughts themselves being limited by such logical rules, especially by virtue of our cognitive capacity evolving in a particular environment with particular patterns and regularities.

Third, there are logicians who believe that contradictions can demonstrate truths. And no, they are not laughed out of their profession.

>> Amusingly, you say 'anything is, in principle, falsifiable'. I ask: "Including that belief?"

Tu chez! :)

Crude said...

dguller,

It’s no pose. One can be rational while accepting the possible limits of rationality.

One can't be rational while accepting the irrational as live options. Not unless you're working with an idiosyncratic definition of rational - in which case, go crazy. ;)

However, it does do something for someone who assumes that reason and logic can cut to the core of the deepest level of reality and are fully reliable at that level.

If by that you mean "believe that we, as humans, can entirely know all of existence purely through logic and reason", you'll find no Thomist - and I doubt any theist - making the claim. The Trinity is arrived at through revelation, not philosophy. Now, we can reasonably get far enough, and 'far enough' does not at all imply 'because beyond this point there is logical incoherence as truth'.

There's no need to belabor all this yet again with multi-part replies. At the end of the day, you deny first principles - you question all axioms and conclusions based on them, and your main argument against religious thinking you dislike is "maybe logic doesn't hold and circles can be squares sometimes". You define axioms as things which are found via demonstration and falsification. Really, your argument here can be extended to the rest of the world - hey, maybe the day to day world is utterly irrational too, but our minds can only process certain things, so we filter out all the irrationality. Or maybe we don't - maybe the madman is sane. Etc, etc.

In short, you're either wildly confused, or trying to fast talk a position that's on the level of solipsism. Again, Feser had the "Last Superstition" dead to rights here, talking about how the New Atheism wasn't a defense of reason, but the sacrifice of it.

BenYachov said...

dguller is an irrational Atheist.

On the other thread he said"I am saying that this idea that you can have incarnation without intermingling and mixing of the natures is not incarnation at all."

dguller ladies and gentileman! An Atheist monophysite!

This is like me as a Catholic telling a Sunni Muslim "Since you do not practice Shia Islam you are not a Muslim at all".

Now as a Catholic I believe all forms of Islam are false. Thus for me there is no such thing as a "True Form of a False religion".

How is this rational?

Additionally he got his understanding of the incarnation from a generic definition on the wikipedia but willfully ignored the Christian definition (which states explicitly the two natures do not mix).

How is it rational to argue with a Chalcedonian Christian on the incarnation and refuse to use the Chalcedonian definition of the incarnation?

That is not rational. Now either dguller is so irrational he can't see how unreasonable his ideas are or he is just being a jackass.

I'll leave the reads to make the call.

BenYachov said...

Additional:

I did some reading on Analogy over at the online Catholic Encylopedia.

Found HERE

It lists the different views on analogy.

I. In physical and natural sciences;
II. In metaphysics and scholastic philosophy;
III. In theodicy;
IV. In relation to the mysteries of faith.

Considering the bait and switch dguller used in arguing the incarnation with me I suspect at this point he was using how analogy is employed in physical and natural sciences and conflating it with metaphysical and scholastic philosophy and or theodicy.

This is not either a rational or honest way to debate.

OTOH maybe I have been to hard on dguller? It could be he is such a convinced and unconscious materialist that he has been reading and interpreting all the philosophy he's been reading in those terms.

That would explain a lot.

BenYachov said...

@Crude

I just noticed it. dguller equates "irrational" with "incomprehensible".

Ironically he is making a similar mistake CS Lewis made that Anscombe spanked him for.

Lewis conflated the "non-rational" with "irrational".

It's not the same but by analogy it's similar.

Daniel Smith said...

dguller: "For that person, if logic and reason show that a doctrine that they hold about the characteristics of that level of reality is incoherent, then they should take it seriously."

You keep repeating this mantra as if you have somehow shown the incarnation doctrine to be incoherent.

The problem with your logic is that the doctrine is only incoherent to you.

You have not taken the time to try to understand what Aquinas meant by the terms "nature" and "person" have you?

Aquinas said "the union is in the person", meaning that it is not in the nature (either the divine or the human) - those natures remain unchanged. The union of the two natures is IN A PERSON - Jesus Christ. It's not a mixture, so pure-act stays pure-act and human stays human. It's like putting oil and water in a jar - the oil stays oil, the water stays water, and the jar contains both.

Do you understand that distinction?

dguller said...

Crude:

>> One can't be rational while accepting the irrational as live options. Not unless you're working with an idiosyncratic definition of rational - in which case, go crazy. ;)

Well, it depends upon what you mean by “accepting the irrational as live options”. It could mean that there are truths that cannot be captured or reached by logic and reason, perhaps along the lines of Godel’s true propositions that cannot be demonstrated within an axiomatic system. It could mean that there are truths that remain true even if they involve an explicit contradiction, along the lines of Graham Priest’s dialetheism. So, it depends on what you mean.

Personally, I am comfortable with the idea that there are truths that cannot be demonstrated within a logical system, and that therefore logic and reason have their limits. Certainly, many theologians would agree with me on this point.

>> If by that you mean "believe that we, as humans, can entirely know all of existence purely through logic and reason", you'll find no Thomist - and I doubt any theist - making the claim.

That’s good.

>> The Trinity is arrived at through revelation, not philosophy. Now, we can reasonably get far enough, and 'far enough' does not at all imply 'because beyond this point there is logical incoherence as truth'.

Then what does it imply? Why does logic reach a limit? How do you know when you have reached the limit? What do you call the truths that exist beyond logical demonstration? How do you know that they are true at all?

>> At the end of the day, you deny first principles - you question all axioms and conclusions based on them, and your main argument against religious thinking you dislike is "maybe logic doesn't hold and circles can be squares sometimes".

Just because I deny that these principles necessarily apply at all levels of reality, it does not mean that I deny them in total. That would be like saying that because I deny that Euclid’s theorems can be used to predict who will fall in love that I deny them.

dguller said...

Crude:

>> You define axioms as things which are found via demonstration and falsification.

First, you have not explained how you demonstrate the truths of axioms at all. I’m really curious how you know that their truth applies in every level of reality.

Second, I said that axioms are abstractions that are derived from our experience of the world, and are only true because they represent patterns and regularities that exist in the empirical world. How do we know this? Because they are abundantly confirmed in our empirical experience without any falsification whatsoever. That does not mean that human beings engaged in experimentation to discover them. Rather, they are probably derived from our inherent capacity to detect patterns around us. Our brains likely evolved to track key patterns that were initially used intuitively and unconsciously to make inferences about our environment, and then when explicitly reflected upon, became codified as the rules of logic.

These rules are so essential that they are part of the very conditions of having thoughts at all, but though they feel obviously true, because having thoughts means obeying the rules of logic, that does not change the fact that they have been derived from the patterns and regularities around us. Does it follow that those patterns and regularities are identical at the deepest level of reality? I have no idea, and the fact that they seem intuitively obvious does not imply that our intuition can reach to the depths of reality.

>> Really, your argument here can be extended to the rest of the world - hey, maybe the day to day world is utterly irrational too, but our minds can only process certain things, so we filter out all the irrationality. Or maybe we don't - maybe the madman is sane. Etc, etc.

You can try it out for yourself. Pretend that the world is really irrational, and that the madman is sane. You will quickly receive feedback from around you that there are regularities and patterns that you can use to predict the future to a reasonable extent, and that madmen usually die due to a lack of capacity to care for themselves without the concern of society to provide them with sustenance.

Again, this is what I mean by feedback from reality that forces us to keep our thinking within evidentiary limits. I am hesitant when in a situation without such feedback, because I do not know if my conclusions are true or false. I fact, it is like having a fantastic model to make predictions, but you can never determine if those predictions are true or false. What do you do with those predictions? I would be skeptical until firmer support in the form of feedback from reality can be provided.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> Considering the bait and switch dguller used in arguing the incarnation with me I suspect at this point he was using how analogy is employed in physical and natural sciences and conflating it with metaphysical and scholastic philosophy and or theodicy.

My definition of “analogy” is the same in any discipline. There was no bait and switch. X is like Y if and only if X and Y share a common property P. This appears to be consistent with the definitions of analogy provided in the link that you cited. Furthermore, you said that you agreed with this definition, and so I really do not know what you are complaining about.

My argument is that when you apply this definition to talk about God, then you are stuck with a trilemma. I still would like your thoughts on the trilemma that I mentioned about talking about God.

Thanks.

P.S. Try not to yell at me. ;)

dguller said...

Ben:

>> Aquinas said "the union is in the person", meaning that it is not in the nature (either the divine or the human) - those natures remain unchanged. The union of the two natures is IN A PERSON - Jesus Christ. It's not a mixture, so pure-act stays pure-act and human stays human. It's like putting oil and water in a jar - the oil stays oil, the water stays water, and the jar contains both.

Let’s reason through this. According to your logic, it would make sense to say that the oil has assumed a watery form. Does that make sense to you, given the example that you provided. It’s clear that the oil and water are totally separate, and neither one nor the other assumed the form of the other. Unfortunately, that is what would have to be the case for the incarnation to be miraculous and mysterious at all. Otherwise, what is the big deal? God formed a special bond with a human being. He’s done that lots of times, right?

BenYachov said...

dguller

First of all you responded to something Daniel Smith wrote as if I wrote it.

>My definition of “analogy” is the same in any discipline.

What proof do I have the concept of "analogy" is the same across disciplines?

By you own admission you have not given the Thomistic or scholastic view of analogy.

It's just like your irrational use of a non-Christian definition of incarnation.

If I was going to critique the Calvinist view of Justification I would be reading the Westminster Confession and I certainly wouldn't pretend the Council of Trent's definition was synonymous with the Calvinist view.

So what is your problem here?

It is clear you either do not have a rational standard to analyze philosophical concepts or you are just being a jackass.

I am yelling at you because I assume you being a jackass.

I will stop yelling when you stop playing games.

BenYachov said...

>Let’s reason through this. According to your logic, it would make sense to say that the oil has assumed a watery form.

dguller really doesn't understand analogy here? Water and oil in a jar is an analogy. Water and oil are united int the same jar but oil does not assume a watery form.

I think dguller is just pissed Catholics are not monophysite heretics.

>Does that make sense to you, given the example that you provided.

But we are not trying to say water assumes a water form.

We certainly don't say Divine Nature transforms into human nature or mixes with it.

Pope St Leo would spin in his grave!

dguller said...

Ben:

>> What proof do I have the concept of "analogy" is the same across disciplines?

Because it always means the same thing. Cite me an example where it does not mean the same thing. Even on the link that you provided, all the definitions of analogy lined up with mine.

If you think that my definition is incorrect, then provide a correct definition.

Also, when will you comment on the trilemma that I mentioned?

>> dguller really doesn't understand analogy here? Water and oil in a jar is an analogy. Water and oil are united int the same jar but oil does not assume a watery form.

I do understand analogy, and this is a bad one. The incarnation is where God became flesh in the form of a human being, right? If in the water and oil analogy, God is supposed to be represented by “water” and the human being is supposed to be represented by “oil”, then that would mean that water became oil, i.e. water assumed an oily form. Since that makes no sense, it follows that the analogy is a poor one.

>> But we are not trying to say water assumes a water form.

Okay. My question is how two incompatible natures can be united in a single person? And if there is no mixture, then God did not suffer on the cross, and if God did not suffer, then the theology of the crucifixion makes no sense. My understanding was that God had to suffer and die in order to repay the infinite debt of original sin. But if God did not suffer, but stood separate from the human nature that suffered, then how was this infinite debt paid?

BenYachov said...

> Otherwise, what is the big deal? God formed a special bond with a human being. He’s done that lots of times, right?

You go from one extreme Christological heresy to another.

Now you are an Atheist Nestorian.

Nestorianism is the opposite heresy from the Monophsite. It teaches Christ is Two Persons a human person and a Divine person with two natures.

Orthodoxy teaches Christ is a Divine Person only with two separate natures.

You have a lot to learn and you have to deal with what we believe not what you wish we believed.

dguller said...

Ben:

And regarding analogy, on the article from the Catholic encyclopedia says that in metaphysics and Scholastic theology, there are two types of analogy:

First, “Two objects can be said to be analogous on account of a relation which they have not to each other, but to a third object: e.g., there is analogy between a remedy and the appearance of a person, in virtue of which these two objects are said to be healthy. This is based upon the relation which each of them has to the person's health, the former as a cause, the latter as a sign.”

Second, “Two objects again are analogous on account of a relation which they have not to a third object, but to each other. Remedy, nourishment, and external appearance are termed healthy on account of the direct relation they bear to the health of the person. Here health is the basis of the analogy, and is an example of what the Schoolmen call summum analogatum (Cf. St. Thomas, ib.)”

In both these examples, the terms being compared share a common property. In the first case, that common property is their relationship to a third object (e.g. health of the person), and in the second case, that common property is shared between the two objects (e.g. health in general).

So what exactly is the problem with my definition of analogy? It seems to fit the explanation on the Catholic encyclopedia. Again, X is like Y iff X and Y share common property P.

BenYachov said...

>Because it always means the same thing.

Then why does the Catholic Encyclopedia make a distinction between Science, Metaphysics and Scholasticism. Theocity etc?

This is not a rational statement.

You are a big expert in the history of analogy?

Since when? That's like claiming the concept of an Atom has always been the same.

Not rational.

BenYachov said...

So what exactly is the problem with my definition of analogy? It seems to fit the explanation on the Catholic encyclopedia. Again, X is like Y iff X and Y share common property P.

It also may be considered either as a property or as a process of reasoning.


As a metaphysical property, analogy is not a mere likeness between diverse objects, but a proportion or relation of object to object. It is, therefore, neither a merely equivocal or verbal coincidence, nor a fully univocal participation in a common concept; but it partakes of the one and the other.

BenYachov said...

>So what exactly is the problem with my definition of analogy? It seems to fit the explanation on the Catholic encyclopedia. Again, X is like Y iff X and Y share common property P.

It also may be considered either as a property or as a process of reasoning.


As a metaphysical property, analogy is not a mere likeness between diverse objects, but a proportion or relation of object to object. It is, therefore, neither a merely equivocal or verbal coincidence, nor a fully univocal participation in a common concept; but it partakes of the one and the other.

Analogy is not a simple concept anymore than the incarnation is simply God turning himself into a human.

You are treating these subjects either carelessly or trivially.

That is disrespectful. Plus you are still not rational and you won't own up to it.

BenYachov said...

dguller it is in fact objectively not possible to have a rational conversation with you since you break the rules of rationality with abandon.

BenYachov said...

>I do understand analogy, and this is a bad one. The incarnation is where God became flesh in the form of a human being, right?

You have already in the past dogmatically stated the incarnation can only be Divine Nature mixing with human Nature.

"Shia Islam is the True False religion".

That is what you mean by "God became flesh". It's not what we mean and it is irrational to keep insisting the incarnation has to mean monophysite christology.

Hey I understand your anger. If we where monophysites you would have a silver bullet (i.e. how can Pure actuality change?)

But it is not and it is irrational to keep pretending otherwise.

BenYachov said...

>My question is how two incompatible natures can be united in a single person?

I reject the idea they are incompatible (not uneqivocally alike yes) since the Divine Nature creates the Human Nature and sustains it's existence from moment to moment.

>And if there is no mixture, then God did not suffer on the cross,

His divine nature did not "suffer" in that it didn't become diminished in anyway.

But his Divine Person did suffer threw his Human nature.

>and if God did not suffer, then the theology of the crucifixion makes no sense.

It is a mystery but the Divine Person of the Son suffers threw the human nature. Not threw the divine.

I would have been happy to explain this to you if you didn't act like such a dick and kept insisting the Incarnation had to be monophysite.

Now I will not answer you anymore since you have a tendency to piss me off.

I will let Crude talk to you if he has the Stomach.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> Then why does the Catholic Encyclopedia make a distinction between Science, Metaphysics and Scholasticism. Theocity etc?

I have no idea. It makes no sense to me. Why do they make a distinction? And what exactly is the difference between analogy in science and metaphysics, for example?

>> As a metaphysical property, analogy is not a mere likeness between diverse objects, but a proportion or relation of object to object. It is, therefore, neither a merely equivocal or verbal coincidence, nor a fully univocal participation in a common concept; but it partakes of the one and the other.

First, if you look at the two types of analogy that are described in that section, they clearly involve a shared property, i.e. “health”. For example, a remedy is like the appearance of a person in that they both share the common property “healthy”. Again, this does not contradict my definition at all.

Second, can you give non-theological examples of how this is supposed to work?

>> His divine nature did not "suffer" in that it didn't become diminished in anyway.

But his Divine Person did suffer threw his Human nature.

First, is the Divine Person a part of the Trinity? In that case, then human nature is a part of God, and thus something finite and potential is part of Pure Act, which seems to be contradictory.

Second, if only the human part of the unity suffered, and the divine part did not, then how can we say that God suffered? The divine part was completely unharmed. All that happened was a human suffered, and how is that supposed to redeem original sin?

>> Now I will not answer you anymore since you have a tendency to piss me off.

No problem. Take care, Ben.

BenYachov said...

One last thing then I mean it I'm gone before I burst a blood vessel.

>All that happened was a human suffered, and how is that supposed to redeem original sin?

Fess up you define a human as a material thing only. We do not. I define a human as a composite of matter and form the later being the human soul.

Thus humans are material and non material together. Obviously my none material person "feels" and knows the pain my Body feels. Why would the Person of the Divine Word not?

I feel it threw my human nature and The Incarnate Word threw His Human nature.

By your argument I can't really feel pain(& if we believe Dennett then there really is nobody there to feel it which is why he is strange).

Maybe you need to read the article on analogy completely. Also read the articles on the Trinity and Person.

The Catholic Encylopedia is there for a reason.

You need to do homework before you can ask any meaningful questions.

You have to stop with the Nestorianism and Monophysite heresy.

We don't believe that here.

You have to learn the difference between a Hypostasis vs a Nature.

You have a lot to learn.

Good luck and may you find someone with infinite patience to help you. They are going to need it.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> Thus humans are material and non material together. Obviously my none material person "feels" and knows the pain my Body feels. Why would the Person of the Divine Word not?

Your personal identity is the combination of form and matter, and you feel anything only through this combination. It does not make sense to say that your immaterial self feels what goes on in your body. As Feser writes: “For [Aristotle and Aquinas] the soul is neither a ghost, nor an immaterial substance, nor some spooky kind of “stuff”, non-physical, quasi-physical or otherwise” (Aquinas, pp. 133-4). He also writes: “the vegetative and sensory functions of the human soul also depend on matter. Even phantasms or mental images … are in Aquinas’s view dependent on the existence of bodily organs” (Aquinas, p. 151).

>> I feel it threw my human nature and The Incarnate Word threw His Human nature.

You feel it through your body, not your human nature, and thus embodiment is essential to the subjective experience of pain. It seems that the Divine Person, which is fully God by being part of the Trinity, is dually divine and human, which means that human nature is part of God, and thus potential is part of Pure Act.

In addition, this whole idea that the human part of God was the part that suffered, but this part is completely independent of the divine part implies that God did not suffer at all. After all, God is the divine part, and he cannot suffer, because God has no body to suffer through, especially since the body is part of the human part. So, I cannot understand how you can say that God suffered when the divine nature was untouched and unharmed. All that happened was Jesus the human being suffered on earth, but God, being identical with the divine nature, didn’t feel a thing. I would say that unless the divine nature felt pain, then God did not suffer. Only Jesus did.

>> Good luck and may you find someone with infinite patience to help you. They are going to need it.

Take care, Ben. Nice talking to you, as usual.

BenYachov said...

One of the reasons I get mad at you is you dishonestly put words in my mouth and read concepts I don't hold into my statements.

It's disrespectful and unfair.

I was talking about the person not the soul. Jesus has a human soul. Jesus is not a human person. I never said the person is an immaterial substance thank you I know what Cartesian dualism is & I reject it outright.

So again you misread and misunderstand.

Good day.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> I was talking about the person not the soul. Jesus has a human soul. Jesus is not a human person. I never said the person is an immaterial substance thank you I know what Cartesian dualism is & I reject it outright.

I understand that you are trying to contain a divine and human nature within the person of Jesus Christ. That is why you are saying that “Jesus is not a human person”. I think that you are thinking along the lines of a container with two balls in it, labeled “divine” and “human”. It would be analogous to a red ball and a blue ball sitting side by side within a container. Even though red and blue cannot occur at the same time in the same place, they can certainly be placed beside on another in space without any contradiction.

Here’s where I think that this analogy breaks down. I would have no problem with it, except that the divine nature is supposed to be simple, i.e. does not consist of parts, and is indivisible.

Say that you are right, and that in the person of Jesus Christ, the divine and human nature coexist without any mixture. What about the Trinity? Is the Son in the Trinity the person of Jesus Christ? If it is, then a part of the Trinity consists of the container with the divine and human nature in it.

First, that would mean that human nature is within the Trinity, and if the Trinity essentially has a divine nature, then you have a human nature within the divine nature, which is contradictory and impossible.

Second, what happens to the container itself within the Trinity? It is like there is a container (i.e. the Trinity) that has a divine nature by virtue of being God, and then within the container, there is a smaller container (i.e. the Person of Jesus Christ), which contains a divine and human nature within it. In that case, it seems that the divine nature has been divided, one in the Trinity container and another in the Jesus container. But the divine nature is indivisible, and so how can this be?

dguller said...

Ben:

Another way of putting this is whether human nature in the person of Jesus Christ is part of God, or not part of God.

(1) If it is a part of God, then you have potential and change as part of Pure Act, which is impossible. Also, is human nature a pure and perfect property? If not, then it cannot be part of God.

(2) If it is not a part of God, then God did not suffer on the cross to redeem the sins of mankind, because the divine nature was unchanged and untouched by the pain. Only the human part in the form of the human Jesus suffered. As such, there was no grand redemption at all, and thus theology of the crucifixion loses its mojo.

Any thoughts?

BenYachov said...

dguller if you are not going to actually read the back round material from the appropriate sources (I am not interested in what Hindus think about personality) I don't see how we can have meaningful dialog?

So go read the Catholic Encylopedia on Trinity, Incarnation, Nature, Person,

Those are my thoughts.

Confusing Nature with Person is an old charge.

BenYachov said...

Btw your question is nothing more than asking me to choose between Monophysite Heresy vs Nestorian Heresy.

Would it kill ya to learn even something about Chacedonian Christology?

Seriously?

BenYachov said...

Also the Divine Person of the Word is not "part" of the Divine Nature(that would make God composite) but He possesses the Divine Nature fully and operates by the Divine Nature.

Would it kill ya to read up on the Trinity?

Daniel Smith said...

dguller is convinced he's found a chink in the armor of Christianity and refuses to let go - no matter how many times he's been shown the error of his ways.

I'll second Ben on this dguller - go and learn what the terms mean, in the context in which they're used, and then come back and argue (if you still think you can.)

dguller said...

Ben & Daniel:

I have tried to read the Catholic encyclopedia's explanations, but they make absolutely no sense to me. Are there other texts online that can explain them better? Or maybe one of you could explain the terms, and how they fit together in a way that explains the incarnation and the Trinity? For the life of me, none of it makes sense.

The Maestro said...

It can be pretty difficult stuff, I myself agree. Personally, I'd like to see Dr. Feser himself explain it all in one place.

BenYachov said...

>I have tried to read the Catholic encyclopedia's explanations, but they make absolutely no sense to me.

What doesn't make sense?

BTW get a copy of THEOLOGY AND SANITY & Theology for Beginners both by Frank Sheed.

Maybe you need to start at the beginning.

OTOH I told you to master natural theology and philosophy first before taking on revealed theology.

BenYachov said...

ARTICLES from the Catholic Encylopedia

The Nature and Attributes of God

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06612a.htm

Relation of God to the Universe

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/06614a.htm

Infinity

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/08004a.htm

Essence and Existence

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05543b.htm

Eternity

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/05551b.htm

Person

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/11726a.htm

Nature

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/10715a.htm

Analogy

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/01449a.htm

The Blessed Trinity

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/15047a.htm

The Incarnation

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07706b.htm

Scholasticism

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/13548a.htm

Dogmatic Theology

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/14580a.htm

dguller said...

Ben:

Just a quick question. You claim that it is possible for two incompatible natures to be united and expressed in a single Person. That is how the incompatible divine and human natures can be united without mixture and expressed in the single Person of Jesus Christ. Fine.

My question is whether it is possible for a cockroach and human nature to be united and expressed in a single person? And if not, then why not? After all, the same principle is being followed. And if it is possible, then what implications does this have for A-T metaphysics? It means that the idea that each substance has a single essence that expresses itself to fulfill its telos becomes much more complicated. After all, if it is possible for a single person to have two incompatible natures, then we never really know whether an acorn necessarily has its final end to become an oak. Maybe it has a beaver nature hidden away somewhere, and one day, an acorn will become a beaver! And then we’re back to Hume’s metaphysics!

Any thoughts?

BenYachov said...

>Just a quick question. You claim that it is possible for two incompatible natures.....

I'm going to stop you right here. If you recall I reject the claim they are incompatible since one nature continuously causes the existence of the other nature.

Also human nature has a non-material aspect just as God is purely non-material.

This level of illegitimate argument is irrational & problematic. Starting out with the unproven presupposition that the natures are "incompatible" and not even defining what you mean by "incompatible" cannot contribute to a fruitful discussion.

It's as bad as when you where constantly by kneejerk treating the Incarnation in Monophysite terms and or Nestorian terms.

>My question is whether it is possible for a cockroach and human nature to be united and expressed in a single person?

No since there is no causal relationship between those two natures. God's Nature continuously causes human nature. Plus God is non-material & intellective and so is human nature. Animal nature is purely material, non-intellective and thus is truly incompatible.

Maybe it's possible for an Angel to become incarnate as a human. Since angels are non-material.

But man becoming incarnate as an animal is not possible.

God can unite via the non-material aspect of a human. Animals are purely material.

BenYachov said...

Additionally:

Animals can't become incarnate as other animals since the incarnation presupposes immateriality and there is no such thing as an Animal with a immaterial aspect.

Humans have immaterial aspects but animals do not.

BenYachov said...

Additional:

If God created an Alien race that was intellective and material with a soul made in the divine image he could become incarnate with them.

But we could not become incarnate since we are immaterial and material conjoined (& so would they be) and there is simply no way our incompatible material natures could become united.

God could in theory incarnate as an Angel. An Angel by a creative act of God could become incarnate as a Man. God could become incarnate as a man. An incarnation would require the purely immaterial uniting to another immaterial thing and or take it's operative place.

You need to do more reading.

BenYachov said...

BTW I am using the terms "non-material" and "immaterial" here synonymously for convention's sake.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> If you recall I reject the claim they are incompatible since one nature continuously causes the existence of the other nature.

If that principle is valid, then God’s nature is compatible with everything.

>> Also human nature has a non-material aspect just as God is purely non-material.

Fine, they share some aspects, but they also have incompatible aspects, such as the presence of change and potential in human nature, but their absence in divine nature. It does not matter what they share. A triangle and a square share the fact that they are geometric shapes, but they are incompatible, because one has three sides and the other has four.

>> No since there is no causal relationship between those two natures. God's Nature continuously causes human nature.

But why is this relevant? So what if God’s nature causes human nature? How does that imply that God’s nature is compatible with human nature when they each have properties that flatly contradict the other. Again, God’s nature is Pure Act, unchangeable, timeless and eternal, simple, and so on, and human nature is the exact opposite of these qualities. Hence, the incompatibility.

>> Plus God is non-material & intellective and so is human nature. Animal nature is purely material, non-intellective and thus is truly incompatible.

I thought that human nature includes animal nature: “The soul of a human being is called the intellective or rational soul, and it includes the powers of the vegetative and sensory souls, and adds to them the distinctively human powers of intellect and will” (Aquinas, p. 138).

>> But man becoming incarnate as an animal is not possible.

Right, because an animal would necessarily lack a rational soul, which is an essential component of being a human being.

>> God can unite via the non-material aspect of a human. Animals are purely material.

But even the immaterial aspect of a human is a mixture of potential and actual. It is not the immateriality that is the issue, but the fact that human nature, whether material or immaterial, contains potential and change, and THAT is why it is incompatible with divine nature.

BenYachov said...

You don't offer any real Arguments dguller just an endless parade of mistakes that require correction.

>Fine, they share some aspects, but they also have incompatible aspects, such as the presence of change and potential in human nature, but their absence in divine nature.

There is no point in continuing to discuss this with you since you are back to your dogmatic Monophysite insistence the incarnation is not really an incarnation unless the natures mix or the Divine Nature is transformed into human nature.

Otherwise it's not relevant to keep bring up God's immutable nature.

Also you are equating being unlike with being incompatible. My wife and I have unlike genders but they certainly are compatible.

>But why is this relevant? So what if God’s nature causes human nature?

It shows they have a real relationship and are not alien as you seem to think they are.

>But why is this relevant? So what if God’s nature causes human nature?

God is creative & Prue Act that can actualize any potency(like causing an incarnation by taking the place of a human person with the Divine Person of the Word.

Neither creature is Purely actual and cannot actualize all potencies only those potencies they can by nature.

BenYachov said...

>I thought that human nature includes animal nature: “The soul of a human being is called the intellective or rational soul, and it includes the powers of the vegetative and sensory souls, and adds to them the distinctively human powers of intellect and will” (Aquinas, p. 138).

You are clearly reading me in sound bites and thus not carefully. I never claim humans are purely immaterial.

>Right, because an animal would necessarily lack a rational soul, which is an essential component of being a human being.

No because an animal is not an immaterial person. If you would have read the links correctly you would know having a human soul is not synonymous with being a person.

>But even the immaterial aspect of a human is a mixture of potential and actual.

Which would be a meaningful objection if the Divine Person of the Word intended to mix His Nature with the Human. Rather the Human person is replaced with a Divine Person without mixing the natures.

Also again you are conflating Person and Nature. A reading of the Catholic Encylopedia should correct these mistakes.

BenYachov said...

So your errors are as follows.

1)You are still insisting the incarnation is not really an incarnation unless it's done according to monophysite nature mixing heresy which we all reject here.

2)Otherwise why would God's Immutability be an issue for you in objecting to an orthodox Chalcedonian view of the incarnation?

3)You have in the past dogmatically complained a Divine Person controlling a Human Nature in the place of a Human Person controlling a human nature makes Jesus a robot.

That is just weird. So my nature is a Robot to my Person? Silly!

4)Then there is the issue of pain and suffering. You have claimed we suffer in our bodies and not in our human natures which is a distinction without a difference.

I fail to see how the Divine Person of the Incarnate Word does not experience suffering threw His human nature even if His Divine Nature is not effected? The human nature still suffers.

Now I don't understand how that happens. But being both my Soul and my Person are immaterial (not in the Cartusan sense) I don't understand How I suffer either.

So I don't worry about it.

BenYachov said...

dguller you simply will not find a smoking gun here. You don't know enough theology or philosophy to make any meaningful objections. Plus you offer no objection that is original. This has all been ironed out over the past 2,000 years so it's pretty consistent.

One concept you seem to not be able to grasp is you could be right about there not being a God but wrong in there being any real inconsistency or contradiction in revealed theology(on the Incarnation or Trinity).

You need to either show inconsistency within natural theology or make a successful argument for either materialism or metaphysical naturalism.

Then it doesn't matter if Revealed theology is consistent. It would be consistently false.

I pray you really are trying to act in good will. I still have my doubt but wouldn't mind being wrong about that.

Cheers!

BenYachov said...

BTW just to clarify the doctrines of the Incarnation and or the Trinity are not part of natural theology since they can only be known if one accepts Divine Revelation.

They can be shown to be rationally consistent but they can't be proven by reason.

This discussion needs to end you need to follow my advice. You need to make the case for materialism or metaphysical naturalism or find fault with natural theology.

That is all.

BenYachov said...

In the Incarnation article over at the CE I fail to see why you can't skip down to section titled The nature of the incarnation & read?

Maybe you should skip to the part after that which is titled "The Catholic Faith".

http://www.newadvent.org/cathen/07706b.htm#I

I don't know what you find unclear here it seems straight forward to me?

Kakashi said...

Peter Geach wrote an interesting argument against reincarnation, found in "God and the Soul".

dguller said...

Ben:

>> Also you are equating being unlike with being incompatible. My wife and I have unlike genders but they certainly are compatible.

But God is supposed to be radically unlike human beings. He is simple, eternal, immutable, perfect, Pure Act, and so on. Human beings are nothing like this. And remember my problem with analogy. One the one hand, Thomists say that God cannot be described univocally in the sense of his properties being understood in the same sense as human beings, but on the other hand, they happily go on talking about him as if he does, in fact, share some properties with human beings, and thus is compatible with humans. Analogy presupposes similarity. X is “like” Y if X and Y are “alike” in some ways. It’s right there in the words “like” and “alike”.

>> It shows they have a real relationship and are not alien as you seem to think they are.

But you think that if X causes Y, then Y must share X’s properties and thus X and Y are compatible. That would be fine, except that God and human beings are supposed to be so radically unlike one another that they cannot be described univocally.

>> God is creative & Prue Act that can actualize any potency(like causing an incarnation by taking the place of a human person with the Divine Person of the Word.

Again, God cannot take any place, because he is outside space-time, and thus is eternal and immutable. You cannot have it both ways, and pretending that you can is like saying that a square can become a triangle and still be a square. You can say it, again and again, but it doesn’t stop it from being incoherent.

>> 
Which would be a meaningful objection if the Divine Person of the Word intended to mix His Nature with the Human. Rather the Human person is replaced with a Divine Person without mixing the natures.

How can the human person be replaced while retaining human nature? If the human part of Jesus Christ was emptied in order to have God assume his place, then where did the human nature go? And if it did not go, then the human person was not replaced at all.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> 2)Otherwise why would God's Immutability be an issue for you in objecting to an orthodox Chalcedonian view of the incarnation?

Because then God did not become a human being at all. He kept a distance from the human nature in order to avoid mixing his divine nature with human nature. Again, it is like me saying that I have become a dog, and when you check, all that happened is that I am holding a dog by the leash, and making it behave according to my instructions. Our natures have remained separate, and we form a “unity” in the form of a “person”, but would you agree that I have become a dog, and become in-dog-ated? Of course not.

>> You have in the past dogmatically complained a Divine Person controlling a Human Nature in the place of a Human Person controlling a human nature makes Jesus a robot.

Right.

>> That is just weird. So my nature is a Robot to my Person? Silly!

No, the person would be like a robot to your nature, because the behavior and activity of the person flows from the nature. I object to the whole idea of a “person” to hide the incoherence of the incarnation. It is like sweeping the problems under the rug, and claiming that they have been solved.

>> 4)Then there is the issue of pain and suffering. You have claimed we suffer in our bodies and not in our human natures which is a distinction without a difference.

Sensation is corporeal, even according to Aquinas. Intellect is immaterial, but sensation is not.

>> I fail to see how the Divine Person of the Incarnate Word does not experience suffering threw His human nature even if His Divine Nature is not effected? The human nature still suffers.

But then God did not suffer, because God is the being with the divine nature. Jesus suffered. When you claim that Jesus had two natures that never mixed, then the divine nature, which is God, is untouched. The human Jesus is not God, because he did not have the divine nature that God is supposed to have.

>> Now I don't understand how that happens. But being both my Soul and my Person are immaterial (not in the Cartusan sense) I don't understand How I suffer either.

What is the difference between your soul and your person? Aren’t they one and the same?

>> In the Incarnation article over at the CE I fail to see why you can't skip down to section titled The nature of the incarnation & read?

I tried to read it. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

Maybe if you could explain to me what “person” is supposed to be?

BenYachov said...

I wrote:
>> 2)Otherwise why would God's Immutability be an issue for you in objecting to an orthodox Chalcedonian view of the incarnation?

dguller wrote:
>Because then God did not become a human being at all.

So it is like I said, it is impossible to have a rational discussion with you since you insist dogmatically the incarnation is not an incarnation unless it happen in a heterodox monophysite fashion. Of course you have showed us how a monophysite incarnation is impossible since God cannot change his nature and he can't change the human nature into Divine Nature.

You are simply too irrational here to have a logical discussion on this topic with all you are doing is repeating yourself.

I wrote:
>> In the Incarnation article over at the CE I fail to see why you can't skip down to section titled The nature of the incarnation & read?

dguller replied:
>I tried to read it. It makes absolutely no sense to me.

I simply don't believe you. It makes perfect sense. I've asked you in the past what specific parts of the article doesn't make sense thus far you have declined to reference any part of it. I don't believe you really read it.

>Maybe if you could explain to me what “person” is supposed to be?

I have already referred you to THEOLOGY AND SANITY by Frank Sheed and the CE article on Persons.

If you are smart enough to show how a heterodox monophysite "incarnation" is metaphysically impossible there is no excuse for you not to understand any of these sources.

I grow tired of your games.

You offer no objections just errors in need of correction.

>Again, God cannot take any place, because he is outside space-time, and thus is eternal and immutable.

Error! This objection has no meaning since it conflates Person with Nature. The Divine Person can take the place of the human person. The Divine Nature does not and cannot since that would be another form of Monophysite heresy.

If it wasn't for your weird dogmatic fixation on Monophysite heresy you would not write anything at all.

>You cannot have it both ways, and pretending that you can is like saying that a square can become a triangle and still be a square.

Error! Rather it is clearly you who are saying a Square can be a triangle. I don't believe Islam is true but I would never tell a Sunni he wasn't a Muslim because he didn't hold Shia doctrines. You are an Atheist. Therefore no version of the Incarnation is true to you. It is not rational for you to say only monophysite Christiology is true in regards to the false doctrine of the incarnation.

According to Catholic Doctrine an Monophysite view is NOT AN INCARNATION. Get over it.

>How can the human person be replaced while retaining human nature?

Error! If you had really read the CE you would know. But I believe you are lying to me. It's explained.

>but would you agree that I have become a dog, and become in-dog-ated?

Dogs are not persons. They are purely material. Thus it is not possible to become incarnate as a Dog.

>No, the person would be like a robot to your nature, because the behavior and activity of the person flows from the nature.

Error! Your materialist and physicalist presupsitions have no meaning here. You can believe them but they are not our view/ Persons operate the nature.

>Sensation is corporeal, even according to Aquinas. Intellect is immaterial, but sensation is not.

Yet if there is no connection you and I should not be able to experience pain? Yet we do.

>But then God did not suffer,

Specifically the Divine Nature did not suffer but the Divine Person experienced suffering threw the Human Nature.

>What is the difference between your soul and your person? Aren’t they one and the same?

No they are not. Indeed I've actually said that a number of times. & if you really the CE you would know this.

BenYachov said...

dguller wrote:
>What is the difference between your soul and your person? Aren’t they one and the same?

You are not paying attention to what I am saying.

I wrote on this thread:

Confusing Nature with Person is an old charge.

June 2, 2011 11:22 AM


I was talking about the person not the soul. Jesus has a human soul. Jesus is not a human person. ........

June 2, 2011 9:42 AM

I simply don't buy your claim you can't understand Chacedonian Christology or the relevant articles in the Catholic Encyclopedia on the topic.

This argument is over.

You are on your own.

BenYachov said...

dguller on the other thread you said"I am saying that this idea that you can have incarnation without intermingling and mixing of the natures is not incarnation at all."

Here again you said (in spite of past claims you would sddrop it)"Because then God did not become a human being at all. He kept a distance from the human nature in order to avoid mixing his divine nature with human nature."

This is no better than Richard Dawkins saying "God cannot really be Omnipotent if He can't make contradictions true".

Or saying "God cannot really be omnipotent if He can't make 2+2=5".

The followers of Aquinas simply do not define Omnipotence as meaning the ability to preform contradictory operations. Nor do they hold Monophysite heresy instead of Chacedonian orthodoxy.

It is simply irrational to claim Thomists call circles, squares, when they talk about drawing a circle on a square piece of paper.

>I tried to read it(i.e. the Catholic Encylopedia on the Incarnation). It makes absolutely no sense to me.

The only thing I can conclude here assuming you really are arguing in good faith is the reason you can't understand it is because you are reflexively interpreting what you read in monophysite terms. You are looking for the CE to explain to you how God can mix His nature with Human nature and of course the CE rejects that view as heresy. That is just futile.

If after all my yelling you can't drop your need to understand the incarnation solely in monophysite terms then there is no logical way I can ever explain Chalcedonian Christology to you.

Under these circumstances it is impossible for you to do so.

BenYachov said...

edit: Sorry the wife asked me question

Should saY"Under these circumstances it is impossible for you to understand the incarnation."

dguller said...

Ben:

>> So it is like I said, it is impossible to have a rational discussion with you since you insist dogmatically the incarnation is not an incarnation unless it happen in a heterodox monophysite fashion. Of course you have showed us how a monophysite incarnation is impossible since God cannot change his nature and he can't change the human nature into Divine Nature.

That’s the only way that I can understand it.

>> I simply don't believe you. It makes perfect sense. I've asked you in the past what specific parts of the article doesn't make sense thus far you have declined to reference any part of it. I don't believe you really read it.

From what I can gather a “person” is an individual rational substance. Where I get confused is that an individual substance has a particular essence, which corresponds to the form that organizes matter into the specific substance in question, i.e. a table, a human being, and so on. Normally, an individual substance’s essence or form does not contain any contradictory qualities, because otherwise it could not inform matter in a coherent way. For example, the form of a table contains no concepts that contradict one another at all. They all fit nicely together without incident.

However, when it comes to Jesus Christ, the essence contains both a divine and a human nature. These contradict one another in a number of important respects, which I have already mentioned, but particularly that the divine has no potential and the human has potential. So, it seems that the doctrine of “person” really does not help at all, because even though both divine and human natures are similar in that they both contain the form of “rational individual substance”, they differ in a number of important respects that are not just a series of accidental properties.

How can one person have an essential form that contains two contradictory natures? That is what I meant when I said that just saying that they both are present in a “person” does not help at all. That just highlights the features that the human and the divine have in common, which in itself is a problematic idea, but ignores the deep and radical differences, which go farther than the differences between you and your wife.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> The Divine Person can take the place of the human person. The Divine Nature does not and cannot since that would be another form of Monophysite heresy.

But a person is just an individual rational substance. A divine person would have a divine nature, and a human person would have a human nature. There does not appear to be a good explanation for how there can be a divine-human person that remains a single substance, but keeps its distinct natures utterly separate. There is nothing else in Aristotelian metaphysics that permits this, and if it wasn’t for the centrality of the incarnation for Christianity, then Christians who follow Aristotle would declare it an utter absurdity. However, since it is essential, they find loopholes and ad hoc modifications of core metaphysical doctrines to somehow squeeze this doctrine into a permissible form.

>> Dogs are not persons. They are purely material. Thus it is not possible to become incarnate as a Dog.

I didn’t say “incarnated”. I said “in-dog-ated”. If my example makes no sense, then neither does yours, because they are analogous.

BenYachov said...

>That’s the only way that I can understand it.

I think it's more correct to say that it is the only way you want to understand it.

If someone said to me I can only understand Omnipotence as having the power to do contradictory things (like God making a rock so heavy even He can't lift it, 2+2=5 etc) I would say they are full of shit.

That's like saying "I can only understand Evolution in Lamarkian terms and not Darwinian terms." Or I can only understand Darwin by radically reinterpreting him in a Lamarkian way.

That simply is not a rational claim. It's a contradiction. Or it's just a refusal to look at things rationally and correctly.

Is it that you can't give up your false idea you found a real contradiction? Well the Nestorian Heresy contains no internal contradictions yet I still have no trouble rejecting it. After all "two persons, Divine & Human with Two natures in Moral Union" is not a contradiction. (Unlike One Nature which is Divine and Human and or an immutable Divine Nature that can Change by mixing etc which is a contradiction)

I reject Nestorianism because I accept the Infallible teaching of Pope St Celestine and the Council of Ephesus. I reject the Monophysite because I accept Pope St Leo's teaching and it's metaphysically absurd as you have shown.

So is that your problem you need a manufactured contradiction here to disbelieve the incarnation? I have no trouble not believing in the Nestorian view of the Incarnation even though it contains no contradiction. You should have no trouble understanding the Chacedonian.

Now for the mistakes. I will only correct one because I likely inhereted my Mother's High Blood Pressure and I can't take it.

BenYachov said...

>However, when it comes to Jesus Christ, the essence contains both a divine and a human nature.

Error! Since you are not going to read the CE I will quote it here for you QUOTE"The human and Divine natures are united in one Divine Person so as to remain that exactly which they are, namely, Divine and human natures with distinct and perfect activities of their own.......Human nature is the principle of human activities; but only an hypostasis, a person, can exercise these activities. The Schoolmen discuss the question whether the hypostasis has anything more of reality than human nature. To understand the discussion, one must needs be versed in scholastic Philosophy. Be the case as it may in the matter of human nature that is not united with the Divine, the human nature that is hypostatically united with the Divine, that is, the human nature that the Divine Hypostasis or Person assumes to Itself, has certainly more of reality united to it than the human nature of Christ would have were it not hypostatically united in the Word. The Divine Logos identified with Divine nature (Hypostatic Union) means then that the Divine Hypostasis (or Person, or Word, or Logos) appropriates to Itself human nature, and takes in every respect the place of the human person. In this way, the human nature of Christ, though not a human person, loses nothing of the perfection of the perfect man; for the Divine Person supplies the place of the human. END QUOTE

Anyway YOUR novel phrase "the essence contains both a divine and a human nature." is the same as saying "the Nature contains both a divine and a human nature". Which again is Monophysite heresy.

What is it with you and the heresy of Eutyches? None of my articles use the term "essence" as a synonym for "Hypostasis". Essence is used as a synonym for nature.

So bait and switching terms to recast the Incarnation in Monophysite terms is not convincing.

BenYachov said...

I'm going to have to ask you to stop dguller.

Please stop responding till you learn more.

Please!

Explaining all this to you is like trying to explain Heisenberg's views on Physics to someone who is only recently familiar with Newton and has skipped over Einstein.

You must read THEOLOGY FOR BEGINNERS by Frank Sheed (awesome book taught me a lot) and THEOLOGY AND SANITY.

You need to learn basic physics and Einstein before you can take on Quantum Mechanics (Metaphorically speaking of course).

Bye!

BenYachov said...

Well one more quick correction.

>But a person is just an individual rational substance.

That is not all a person is from the CE "A hypostasis is a complete rational individual. St. Thomas defines hypostasis as substantia cum ultimo complemento (III:2:3, ad 2um), a substance in its entirety. Hypostasis superadds to the notion of rational substance this idea of entirety; nor does the idea of rational nature include this notion of entirety. Human nature is the principle of human activities; but only an hypostasis, a person, can exercise these activities."

To put it in ultra simplistic terms.

My Person is Who I Am. Human Being is my nature and it is What I Am.

I shake hands with you using my Human Nature but it is I Who shake the hand.

Also who I am is not the same as who you are. We both have a human nature that is alike. But our Persons are not alike in that I am BenYachov and you are dguller.

Go read Sheed for more on the basics.

Now PLEASE stop asking questions till you have read more.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> My Person is Who I Am. Human Being is my nature and it is What I Am.

That is all great, but it fails to answer my question of how a person can have two contradictory natures.

Let us say that there is the nature of a plant and the nature of an animal, and I say that there is an entity that has both the nature of a plant and the nature of an animal, but that they are kept separate from each other and utterly distinct, and yet both fully present in this entity. Now, this may appear impossible to you, but it’s okay, because these separate natures are united in the sheer individuality of this entity.

According to your arguments, this is fully possible. After all, both the plant nature and animal nature share in many properties, and thus are completely compatible. Therefore, it follows that there can be an individual entity that has both a plant nature and an animal nature, both fully expressed and both kept utterly separate from one another.

Why is this not possible?

BenYachov said...

>That is all great, but it fails to answer my question of how a person can have two contradictory natures.

It's all there in the Articles. Go read them. Seriously!

>That is all great, but it fails to answer my question of how a person can have two contradictory natures.

You term "contradictory natures" is at best ambiguous at worst meaningless. Two different natures is more correct.

I don't think you understand the concept of "contradiction".

Animals can't by definition ever be Persons. They are purely material.

No go study.

Cheers!

dguller said...

Ben:

>> Animals can't by definition ever be Persons. They are purely material.

I never said that animals could be persons. I said that a plant nature and animal nature could be united, but kept utterly separate, in an individual entity. I never said that this entity is a person. We can call it a “planimal”. Is a “planimal” possible, according to you? And if not, then why not?

dguller said...

Ben:

>> You term "contradictory natures" is at best ambiguous at worst meaningless. Two different natures is more correct.

“Contradictory natures” = two natures that could not be instantiated in the same entity, because they contain contradictory properties. For example, a plant nature and an animal nature are contradictory, because they cannot both be actualized in the same entity. A shape nature and a triangle nature are not contradictory, because they can both be actualized in the same entity. But a triangle nature and square nature are contradictory, because they cannot both be actualized in the same entity.

BenYachov said...

>I never said that animals could be persons. I said that a plant nature and animal nature could be united, but kept utterly separate, in an individual entity.

Ok but what does lichen have to do with anything? Maybe it's a weak metaphor for the Incarnation like the clover is for the Trinity but an incarnation requires rational entities. Just saying.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> Ok but what does lichen have to do with anything? Maybe it's a weak metaphor for the Incarnation like the clover is for the Trinity but an incarnation requires rational entities. Just saying.

Is it possible to have a planimal, according to Thomism?

BenYachov said...

>“Contradictory natures” = two natures that could not be instantiated in the same entity, because they contain contradictory properties.

That might be a valid objection for material things. You can't have a creature made of both pure Sodium and Water.

You have offered no proof the natures "contradict" nor have you shown using Aquinas and Aristotle's metaphysics.

Besides your whole contradiction fallacy is solely based on the idea the Natures Mix or one nature is transmuted into another.

So repeating the same failed argument is not going to help you.

>But a triangle nature and square nature are contradictory, because they cannot both be actualized in the same entity.

I can draw a Triangle on a Square sheet of Paper. The Square Paper does not become "not a Square" and the Triangle drawn on it doesn't become square.

Besides this is all pointless considering you believe by dogma that the incarnation can only be monophysite.

Which is weird because you are an Atheist.

BenYachov said...

>Is it possible to have a planimal, according to Thomism?

Nobody has ever asked that question since a planimal is not defined.

Can you genetically engineer an Animal to grow leaves and do photosynthesis?

Maybe but such a thing would be a biological Artifact. Could life have evolved that contains plant and animal properties? Maybe? But this is off topic of the Incarnation.

dguller said...

Ben:

Here’s another way to look at it.

Animals have a vegetative nature (V) and appetitive nature (A), but no rational nature (not-R). So, animal nature = V + A + not-R.

Plants have a vegetative nature (V), but no appetitive nature (not-A) and no rational nature (not-R). So, plant nature = V + not-A + not-R.

I claim that two natures are contradictory if they cannot be instantiated in the same entity, because of the presence of contradictory properties.

An entity with both an animal nature and a plant nature would have to have the following properties: V + A + not-A + not-R. I would say that this entity has a contradictory nature, because it has A and not-A in its nature. Therefore, such an entity should be impossible.

It is the same thing with the impossibility of an entity being both a square and a triangle at the same time. This entity’s nature would have the properties: three-sided shape and four-sided shape in its nature, and these are contradictory.

Any thoughts?

dguller said...

Ben:

>> I can draw a Triangle on a Square sheet of Paper. The Square Paper does not become "not a Square" and the Triangle drawn on it doesn't become square.

But the square sheet of paper does not become a triangle. The triangle is upon the square paper. They are different entities. I am asking you if a square paper can also be a triangular piece of paper. That is what I mean by the same entity being unable to have contradictory properties. You are saying that the parts can have different properties than the whole, and that is not the issue. I am saying that the parts are entities, and the whole is an entity. I am talking about the individual entity, and not what is on its T-shirt.

>> Nobody has ever asked that question since a planimal is not defined.

I just defined it.

>> Can you genetically engineer an Animal to grow leaves and do photosynthesis?

But then it would still be an animal, because it has an appetitive nature. The fact that it has vegetative features is irrelevant, because all animals have such features, but we do not consider them plants. They are animals. I am asking you if an entity can have a full-throated plant nature and animal nature, but they are kept separate, do not mix, and are united in a “planimal”.

Is this possible? It’s a simple question.

BenYachov said...

If you mixed an Animal with a Plant you would get an animal that can do photosynthesis.

It would be an animal that have additional properties in common with plants.

>Let us say that there is the nature of a plant and the nature of an animal, and I say that there is an entity that has both the nature of a plant and the nature of an animal, but that they are kept separate from each other and utterly distinct, and yet both fully present in this entity.

This is an interesting thought experiment but it has nothing to do with the incarnation.

>Now, this may appear impossible to you, but it’s okay, because these separate natures are united in the sheer individuality of this entity.

I don't envision material entities can be united in anyway that is similar to how the Divine Person unites the Human and Divine Natures.

Apples and Oranges.

You can mix the two since material natures are mutable unlike the Divine Nature.

Here your monophysite concepts work because of the nature of material things.

>According to your arguments, this is fully possible.

My arguments involve by necessity an individual rational substance.
This one does not.

You can't have an incarnation without a Person.

You are speculating on something that is not an incarnation. So I have no answer for you. It's off topic.

BenYachov said...

>But the square sheet of paper does not become a triangle.

The Human nature doesn't become Divine Nature and the Divine doesn't become human either. Pope St Leo Christology 101!

We settled this.

>Is this possible? It’s a simple question.

No it's not a simple question. Therefore it would be imprudent to give an answer without study.

So I refuse to answer it. But it naturally has nothing to do with the incarnation.

Gotta work. Bye!

dguller said...

Ben:

>> This is an interesting thought experiment but it has nothing to do with the incarnation.

Then why not just answer the question. According to Thomism, is it possible for an entity to have ALL the properties of plant nature and ALL the properties of animal nature, because these natures are kept separate without mixture, but are unified in their being expressed by a “planimal”? Seriously, does Thomism allow such an entity, or is it impossible, given Thomistic principles?

>> I don't envision material entities can be united in anyway that is similar to how the Divine Person unites the Human and Divine Natures.

They don’t have to be similar, only ANALOGOUS. Natures are expressed through individual entities. Human nature and divine nature is expressed in the individual entity of “person”, for example. Animal nature is expressed in an individual “animal”. Plant nature is expressed in an individual “plant”. It does not matter what you call them, the point is that the essential nature of a thing is actually expressed in the existence of the individual entity that has the essential nature.

>> You can mix the two since material natures are mutable unlike the Divine Nature.

So, you are saying that a planimal is possible, given Thomism? How is it possible, because this entity would both have and not have an appetitive nature. How can this be? After all, it would be like saying that a single square entity is also a triangle, because the square nature and triangular nature are kept separate somehow, but still fully expressed in a single entity, a “tri-squar-angle”, for example. And what does immaterial nature have to do with anything? Why is that relevant?

BenYachov said...

Besides you always have hidden unstated assumptions that I don't know about till I pull our my hair(like monophysite dogmatism).

So I won't answer the question without study.

Ready Shoot Aim is not my style.

BenYachov said...

>How is it possible, because this entity would both have and not have an appetitive nature.

Let me make this simple. No enityt that has property X and does not have property X at the same time in the same relationship can exist(like a monophysite christology but unlike either Nestorian heresy or Chacedonian Christology).

The Law of non-Contradiction applies.

So that is my answer.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> The Human nature doesn't become Divine Nature and the Divine doesn't become human either. Pope St Leo Christology 101!

I know! The square nature didn’t become a triangular nature, either! They are both fully present in the individual substance of the “tri-squar-angle”. It all makes perfect sense, because the tri-squar-angle makes all the contradictions go away.

And it does no good to say that one can have a triangle on a square sheet of paper. We are not talking parts and wholes here, but rather about a single entity, i.e. the square sheet of paper. It does not matter what is on the sheet of paper, it is still square. To say that a triangle is upon the square paper does not imply that the square has assumed the form of the triangle in some mysterious union. No, it just means that there is a picture of a triangle on a square sheet of paper. Neither one has assumed the former of the other in any coherent sense.

Again, I have no problem with there being a human Jesus Christ and a divine Son of God (or whatever), that the latter is separate from the former without any mixture, and that the divine is intimately influencing the human Jesus Christ in his actions. That’s pretty standard divine influence, as far as I can tell. Nothing consistent with incarnation there at all.

Where I think things become incoherent is when the further claim is made that due to this arrangement, God became a man. He did not become a man. He remained God and is closely influencing a human being, and there is an ontological gap between them, as there should be between the divine infinite and the human finite. If God became Jesus, according to this criteria, then God has become many human beings throughout history, especially when they are moved by his will.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> Let me make this simple. No enityt that has property X and does not have property X at the same time in the same relationship can exist(like a monophysite christology but unlike either Nestorian heresy or Chacedonian Christology).

Okay. So, then a planimal is impossible, as per Thomism, right?

BenYachov said...

>Okay. So, then a planimal is impossible, as per Thomism, right?

Rather no creature that has property x and does not have property x at the same time in the same relationship is impossible.

It doesn't matter what you name it.

You can gene splice a Tiger and a Gerber but you can make it very very big and very very small (relative to the size of a man) at the same time.

BenYachov said...

edit : "is impossible" should read "is possible".

dguller said...

Ben:

>> Rather no creature that has property x and does not have property x at the same time in the same relationship is impossible.

But you don’t understand. The planimal keeps its animal nature and plant nature completely separate, and so there is no contradiction at all. It fully expresses its animal nature without any deficiency, and it fully expresses its plant nature without any deficiency. It does not hold back at all in its expression of its two natures. They are fully expressed at the same time, but are kept separate so that there is no mixture. I mean, if there was mixture, then the planimal would be impossible, but since there is no mixture, it is possible for there to be a single entity that fully expresses all of its animal nature (including its appetitive nature) and its plant nature (including the utter absence of an appetitive nature). And even though this appears contradictory and impossible, the fact that it happens through the expression of Planimal makes all the contradictions go away.

BenYachov said...

>But you don’t understand. The planimal keeps its animal nature and plant nature completely separate.

You keep changing the rules and making contradictory statements.

Anyway that is not possible with two material things and if it where possible(which it isn't) then one nature could have property X and the other could not have property X.

Your single-minded devotion to monophysite heresy is strange for an Atheist.

BenYachov said...

Even with your mock Plant-Animal pseudo-incarnation you can't decide if it's Monophysite or Chalcedonian?

You really need to study.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> Anyway that is not possible with two material things and if it where possible(which it isn't) then one nature could have property X and the other could not have property X.

But you don’t understand. According to the council of Plantanimalius, it was decreed by unanimous consent that your anti-Plantanimalian heresy held no sway and that these contradictory natures can both be fully expressed without any deficiency and in their fullest capacity in the same Planimal without any difficulty. The apparent contradiction is resolved by virtue of the fact that they are kept separate from one another without any mixture, and that they are both fully expressed in the same individual Planimal.

Can’t you see how your heretical understanding is blinding you to the truth of the miracle of the Planimal?

BenYachov said...

>But you don’t understand. According to the council of Plantanimalius,

Now you are just mocking because you ran out of arguments.

Also my theory of why you cast everything in monophysite terms is because of your materialism.

When I think of God I think of a non-material thing that is purely actual.

I think you imagine God must be some type of material thing that has this magical property called "pure actuality".

So your problem is you think in materialistic terms only.

Which is fine but have you ever questioned materialism? Ever read the case against materialism? Or the contradictions inherent in materialism(unlike Hylomorphism)?

Maybe rather than mock my beliefs you need to develop a philosophical apologetic for materialism?

That would go over better here. I wouldn't be pissed off by it. I would merely disagree with it.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> Now you are just mocking because you ran out of arguments.

I am using the same statements that you have used against me. You keep citing authority figures as if that resolves a contradiction. It does not matter if some group of people has agreed that a contradiction is not a contradiction if the contradiction is real. And it helps even less when they just repeat “person” again and again, as if it genuinely reconciled anything. It helps as much as me citing the Council of Plantanimalius and saying “planimal” again and again. You see how utterly unconvincing it is when I do it to you? Hopefully, you have a sense of how unpersuasive it is for me, as well.

>> Also my theory of why you cast everything in monophysite terms is because of your materialism.

This has nothing to do with materialism. Where has materialism ever come into this equation? It is about a bedrock principle, which you articulated very well, i.e. that a single entity cannot have natures that contain contradictory properties. This has nothing to do with materialism at all, and everything to do with whether a single entity can have multiple natures, some of which require actualizing contradictory properties. My planimal is one, and your Son of God is another. Just saying that some council somewhere agreed that this is all okay does not make it okay.

>> Which is fine but have you ever questioned materialism? Ever read the case against materialism? Or the contradictions inherent in materialism(unlike Hylomorphism)?

I have. I actually have a book called “the Waning of Materialism”, and a “Philosophy of Mind” book that trumpets hylomorphism as a viable alternative.

And none of this addresses the fact that the Planimal is a possible entity despite your obvious heretical misunderstandings of the revered conclusions of holy councils.

BenYachov said...

>I am using the same statements that you have used against me. You keep citing authority figures as if that resolves a contradiction.

You are such a liar dguller!

I tried to get you to address the Catholic view of the incarnation. You refused & kept bitching because the Catholic view was not the monophysite view & refused to learn the Chacedonian view.

Not my problem asshole!

>And none of this addresses the fact that the Planimal is a possible entity despite your obvious heretical misunderstandings of the revered conclusions of holy councils.

You are just being sad and bitter.

You where the one who tried to paint the incarnation as "incoherent". But the only way you could do that was to kneejerk redefine the doctrine in a manner Catholics reject.

I've had it with you! I was even civil to you.

I've had it!

Fuck off you brain dead Gnu!

dguller said...

Ben:

>> I tried to get you to address the Catholic view of the incarnation. You refused & kept bitching because the Catholic view was not the monophysite view & refused to learn the Chacedonian view.

Yes, you never mentioned councils and synods agreeing upon some interpretation of a theological controversy, and labeling an alternative viewpoint a heresy. Oh wait. You JUST DID.

>> You are just being sad and bitter.

I’m actually quite happy and outgoing. :)

>> You where the one who tried to paint the incarnation as "incoherent". But the only way you could do that was to kneejerk redefine the doctrine in a manner Catholics reject.

No, you agreed to the bedrock principle that a single entity cannot have a nature that contains a contradiction, and having a nature that has both the divine and the human within it does contain a contradiction. You can say that the fact that it is contained within a single “Person” makes it all okay, but this does not change anything, no more than saying that a single entity can fully express a plant and animal nature does not result in a contradiction, because it all happens under the rubric of a “Planimal”. And just as I did not become a dog just because I am standing beside a dog and pulling the leash in whatever direction I choose, so God did not become a man just because he manifests his will through the human Jesus Christ.

>> Fuck off you brain dead Gnu!

Classy to the end, Ben. Nice.

BenYachov said...

You are a bold face pathological liar dguller!

>Yes, you never mentioned councils and synods agreeing upon some interpretation of a theological controversy, and labeling an alternative viewpoint a heresy. Oh wait. You JUST DID.

Excuse me liar! I never set out to prove the doctrine true.
Only that it was coherent. You where trying to show that it was incoherent. You failed! The authorities where cited to get you to learn the actual doctrine as opposed to what you wished the doctrine was!

You can look up the Council of Chalcedon online!

Where is the council of Plantanimalius online? Nowhere you made it up!

Typical Gnu'Atheist!

PZ Myers would love you!

Now get lost!

I will never trust you again!

BenYachov said...

>No, you agreed to the bedrock principle that a single entity cannot have a nature that contains a contradiction, and having a nature that has both the divine and the human within it does contain a contradiction.

Only if you are an idiot who ADMITS he can't/won't conceive of a Christology that is anything other than Monophysite!

Now get lost! YOU DON"T GET THE LAST WORD LIAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

BenYachov said...

I would like to apologize to Dr. Feser for my use of language in the unlikely even he is reading this nonsense.

Sorry sir.

dguller said...

Ben:

>> Excuse me liar! I never set out to prove the doctrine true. 
Only that it was coherent. You where trying to show that it was incoherent. You failed! The authorities where cited to get you to learn the actual doctrine as opposed to what you wished the doctrine was!

First, I know that you cited the authorities, and their dogmatic formulations. I just told you that their formulation made absolutely no sense to me. You can’t fault me if your doctrines are incoherent.

Second, you never showed that they were coherent. You kept hiding behind the fact that the two contradictory natures were united in a Person, but still kept totally separate and unmixed. I said that this just doesn’t help at all, and you just called me a heretic and threw dogmatic statements at me, supported by authoritative Christian counsels.

>> Where is the council of Plantanimalius online? Nowhere you made it up!

It does not matter. The point is that the structure and form of your argument is fallacious. It is irrelevant if an authoritative council, real or fictional, utters doctrinal statements. All that matters is if the statements can be justified. You did not. When I tried to explain how your doctrines resulted in incoherence, you just said that the doctrines said otherwise. That is not enough. You can tell me all you want that a square triangle is possible, and cite multiple councils that have agreed with pious consensus that a square triangle is the holiest entity in the universe. It doesn’t change the fact that a square triangle is impossible, and saying that the square and triangle natures are kept separate, but still fully expressed, in a squarangular entity does not help.

>> Now get lost! YOU DON"T GET THE LAST WORD LIAR!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Okay. You can have the last word. Oh wait. Oops. ;)

BenYachov said...

>you just called me a heretic and threw dogmatic statements at me,

That is a lie! I never once called you a heretic!

I called monophysite Christology a heresy because it is a heresy. You OTOH said "I am saying that this idea that you can have incarnation without intermingling and mixing of the natures is not incarnation at all."

You also said (in spite of past claims on your part you would drop it) "Because then God did not become a human being at all. He kept a distance from the human nature in order to avoid mixing his divine nature with human nature."

It was you who refused to learn the Chacedonian view which I and every faithful Catholic believes.

It was you who insisted on redefining & reinterpreting all explanations of Chalcedonian doctrine in monophysite terms.

How is that rational or honest?

It isn't!

>Second, you never showed that they were coherent.

The burden of proof is on the accuser. That's you! You have to learn what your opponent teaches and means then make a case they are not coherent.

You instead wasted time arguing against a Monophysite Christology that I already rejected. Thus you wasted your time not only beating a dead horse but the wrong dead horse!

>You kept hiding behind the fact that the two contradictory natures were united in a Person,

That is I gave the actual Catholic doctrine which you ignored & refused to deal with & your only response was to reflexively reinterpret it in Monophysite terms or bitch you could not understand it.

>but still kept totally separate and unmixed

Catholics don't believe Jesus' Two Natures mix! Get over it shithead!

>It does not matter. The point is that the structure and form of your argument is fallacious.

How do you know that? By you own admission you can't understand the incarnation in anything but monophysite terms and you could not understand the Catholic Encylopedia's article on the Incarnation.

By that logic if I read a Paper by Hawking on Quantum Cosmology if I can't understand it then it must be because he is arguing it incoherently? I think not! Talk about fallacious!

>Okay. You can have the last word.

Whatever!

Anonymous said...

I have some ideas to discuss.

First, you are making a mistake very common in some philosophers, namely, first discuss the metaphysical positions and then discuss empirical phenomena. No, you must do the reverse: to investigate the empirical phenomena and then discuss what metaphysical position to lead such phenomena.

Second, children who seem to remember past lives begin to talk about their memories any more learn to speak, so that it points to the hypothesis of the filter: the mind is filtered by the body, not produced by him, so that the reencarned mind can only express their capacities when the body has developed enough. So I think that substancial dualism predicts that the mind reborn necessary might be able to display all his skills at birth is a mistake.

And third, I think the cases of children who remember past lives seem to favor the hypothesis of an ethereal body that would be the vehicle of our personality and memories that emerges from the biological body at death, besides that we have evidence that converge on the same as for example, out of body experiences and apparitions of the living and the dead. This ethereal body is surely material, but is made of a material unknown to modern science, so that the dichotomy between material body and material body/immaterial soul is false, whether we are Aristotelian, materialist or Thomists.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember much of what happened before I was 5 yrs old. And what I do remember is fuzzy, some of which may be true some not. If I (as consciousness) had suffered the shock of losing a mass i always associated with being me and I then assumed a different identity it's not surprising the confusion would affect my memory (it's common for ECT patients to lose memories from the 'shock' , which may be the reason it can provide relief). Also if mind is bound up to some degree with the body, my new body takes time to mature and at the same time I'm surrounded by a culture that implies I am only a body and memories of before i was born are a delusion so it seems unsurprising that i might write off any foggy recollections of past life moments as invalid. Also if we could recall all our misdeeds from potentially thousands of past lives and be affected by the shame, blame regret it would likely overwhelm us. The incidence of addictions has much to do with ones actions this life..if one had to live with many lives worth..one, well, might become a new atheist.