Wednesday, September 12, 2012

The divine intellect


A reader asks:

[I] was curious, given your work in philosophy of mind, what you would say is the most plausible notion we have of God's mental content… [T]he popular theories (functionalism, phenomenology, holism, etc) all seem to violate the doctrine of divine simplicity… I have a hard time conceiving of any conception of minds on which the mind is not, in some sense of the word, modular, or complex.  Minds have got to have thoughts at the very least on the most basic, primitivist conceptions, and that seems to require that minds have parts.

A fair question.  Suppose we said (as a contemporary functionalist philosopher of mind might) that a mind is a system of states -- beliefs, desires, perceptual experiences, sensations, etc. -- constituted by their causal relations to each other and to inputs to and outputs from the system.  Such a system (so the idea goes) might be embodied in the neural structure of the brain, or in the circuitry of a computer, or in the eccentric physiology of an extraterrestrial.  Or (the functionalist continues) it might in principle even be instantiated in the states of an immaterial substance, even though (the functionalist will go on to insist) the supposition that there are such substances violates Ockham’s razor.  (To be sure, this is inept, because it assumes that when Cartesians and others speak of “immaterial substances” they mean objects that are like material objects in having myriad parts, only parts that are immaterial rather than material.  But in fact it is central to the notion of an immaterial substance that it is simple in the sense of non-composite, and doesn’t have any “parts” that might “causally interact.”  Anyway, that is how functionalists -- who don’t always have an accurate understanding of what non-materialists actually think -- sometimes argue that their position is compatible with the view that minds are immaterial.)

Now, if we took this sort of view, then it might naturally seem that to attribute mind to God is to assert that He has “mental states” causally interrelated in something like the ways functionalists describe -- that He is a kind of “eternal brain,” only made out of a gigantic blob of ectoplasm (I guess) rather than neurons, silicon chips, or the like.  Naturally, it is hard to see how this could be squared with the classical theist’s core doctrine of divine simplicity.  But of course, for a classical theist -- and certainly for an Aristotelian-Thomistic (A-T) philosopher -- this whole way of characterizing mind in general and the divine mind in particular is completely wrongheaded.  There are a number of points to be made in explaining why.

First, when the classical theist attributes mind to God, he is not attributing to God everything that contemporary philosophers of mind place under the “mental” category and seek to explain in terms of theories like the ones to which the reader alludes (functionalism, etc.).  In particular, the classical theist is not attributing to God qualia (such as the color qualia we have when we see red and green objects, the qualia associated with feeling hot or cold objects, etc.), or mental images, or the like.  These are (certainly according to Thomists and other Aristotelians) all of a corporeal or bodily nature, and God is incorporeal.  What the classical theist does attribute to God is intellect and the knowledge that goes along with intellect, as well as will.  

Second, at least for Thomists, when attributing intellect, knowledge, etc. both to God and to us, we have to understand the relevant terms analogously rather than univocally.  It’s not that God has knowledge in just the sense we do, only more of it.  It’s rather that there is in God something analogous to what we call knowledge in us, even if (since He is absolutely simple, eternal, etc.) it cannot be the same thing we have.  

Third, for these reasons we have to be especially careful not to fall into the trap of trying to imagine God’s attributes – in this case, to try to imagine “what it’s like” to be God.  There’s nothing it’s “like” to be God if we mean by that a certain kind of stream of thoughts and conscious experiences, like ours but (say) more vivid and encompassing a perceptual awareness of every part of the world at once.  That’s a completely wrongheaded way of conceptualizing the divine, because it at least implicitly involves attributing changeability to God (such as the transition from one thought or experience to another).  Here as elsewhere we cannot properly understand metaphysical ideas unless we stop trying to visualize the realities to which they refer.  To grasp the divine intellect (to the extent that we can grasp it) we have to use our intellects, not our senses or our imaginations.

Fourth, while one might be tempted to conclude from these first three points that God’s intellect and knowledge must be decidedly sub-personal compared to ours, that is precisely the reverse of the truth.  To see how, compare the example of divine power.  When the classical theist says that God has power, what is meant is not that God has what a mere creature has or might be imagined to have – large muscles, political influence, rhetorical skill, or even telekinesis – only more of it.  What is meant is rather that there is in God something analogous to what we call power in us, though it cannot be the same thing since God is immaterial, incorporeal, absolutely simple, etc. 

Now this does not entail that God is less than powerful in the sense of “power” we have in mind when we speak of human power.  Rather it entails that He is unimaginably more than powerful in that sense.  For instance, what has “power” in the ordinary sense has the capacity merely to alter preexisting materials in various ways – to mold clay, or lift a heavy box, or cause an earthquake, or split an atom, or what have you.  But divine power is not limited to altering things.  In causing the world, for instance, God does not alter or modify preexisting materials after the fashion of a human artisan; rather, He creates it ex nihilo.  He does not make an X by taking some existing matter and imparting a new form to it, but rather makes it the case that the whole thing -- the matter and form of X together -- exists at all.  God is not like a human watchmaker, only cleverer and more skillful -- not because His causality is less than the sort represented by watchmaking, but because it is more than that.  Watchmaking is simply too trivial a sort of thing to model worldmaking on.  

Similarly, to say that it is a mistake to try to grasp the divine intellect by modeling it on our thought processes does not entail that God is less than “personal” in the sense that we are personal (as contrasted with impersonal objects and forces like stones and gravity).  Rather, God is more than personal, in that everyday sense of “personal.” His intellect is not inferior to our conscious thought processes (as a stone, gravity, or even the unconscious informational states of a computer are to that extent inferior to our conscious states) but on the contrary beyond and higher than them, just as divine power is beyond and higher than the relatively trivial capacities in created things that we characterize as “powers.”  “My thoughts are not your thoughts” (Isaiah 55:8).

Fifth, we need to understand what intellect is in the first place, and at least for the A-T tradition, it is, even in the case of human beings, not the sort of thing contemporary philosophers of mind typically have in mind when they talk about “beliefs” and other “representational states.”  Modern philosophers often conceptualize the mind in a kind of doubly bastardized Cartesian way.  In effect they start with Descartes’ notion of the mind as a kind of substance in its own right rather than a power of a complete substance (that’s their first mistake).  Then they rework Descartes’ conception in a Humean direction by supposing that this purported substance is really a kind of accidental collection comprised of a number of distinct “representations” modeled on images, or sentences, or symbols of some other sort (second mistake).  Finally, they suppose that these “representations” are as inherently devoid of content as material symbols in general are, and must therefore somehow derive whatever content they have from their relations (whether causal relations, relations of resemblance, or what have you) to something else (third mistake).

Now this is in my view just one more chapter in the long history of compounded errors that constitutes modern, post-Cartesian philosophy, and which I have discussed in detail in The Last Superstition.  But whether you agree with that assessment or not, the conception of mind in question is one that the A-T philosopher rejects.  

Aquinas’s account of what it is to have intellect is summarized in a passage in which he explains why we must attribute knowledge to God:
In God there exists the most perfect knowledge.  To prove this, we must note that intelligent beings are distinguished from non-intelligent beings in that the latter possess only their own form; whereas the intelligent being is naturally adapted to have also the form of some other thing; for the idea of the thing known is in the knower.  Hence it is manifest that the nature of a non-intelligent being is more contracted and limited; whereas the nature of intelligent beings has a greater amplitude and extension; therefore the Philosopher says (De Anima iii) that “the soul is in a sense all things.”  Now the contraction of the form comes from the matter.  Hence, as we have said above (Question 7, Article 1) forms according as they are the more immaterial, approach more nearly to a kind of infinity.  Therefore it is clear that the immateriality of a thing is the reason why it is cognitive; and according to the mode of immateriality is the mode of knowledge.  Hence it is said in De Anima ii that plants do not know, because they are wholly material.  But sense is cognitive because it can receive images free from matter, and the intellect is still further cognitive, because it is more separated from matter and unmixed, as said in De Anima iii.  Since therefore God is in the highest degree of immateriality as stated above (Question 7, Article 1), it follows that He occupies the highest place in knowledge. (Summa Theologiae I.14.1)

For Aquinas, then, what makes you intelligent and a stone non-intelligent is that you can have both your own form and the stone’s form -- as you do when you grasp what a stone is -- whereas the stone can have only its own form.  You possess the form of a stone “intentionally” -- in the intellect -- rather than “entitatively” -- that is to say, without being a stone.  In a looser sense, though, the soul “is” all things precisely insofar as it can have the forms of all things at least “intentionally” or in the intellect.  This is one reason why intellect cannot be material.  Material things can possess only one substantial form at a time.  Hence for a parcel of matter to posses the substantial form of a tree (for example) is just for it to be a tree, and for that same parcel to come to possess the substantial form of ashes is just for it to lose the substantial form of a tree and become ashes.  But the intellect can possess multiple substantial forms -- “intentionally” -- at the same time, and without ceasing to be an intellect.  (This sense of “intentionally” is the source of the modern technical philosophical term “intentionality.”)  

Indeed, as the passage quoted indicates, for Aquinas the further from matter a thing is the more intelligent it is, so that God -- as pure actuality and thus maximally devoid of the potentiality that is characteristic of matter -- is supreme in intellect.  Consider also the Scholastic principle of proportionate causality (which I have discussed and defended in Aquinas), according to which whatever is in an effect must in some way be in its total cause (whether “formally,” “virtually,” or “eminently”).  Now God is the sustaining cause of the world, that which keeps all things in existence from moment to moment.  The forms of all things -- that which makes them what they are -- must therefore exist in Him, not in an “entitative” way (since He is not a material thing nor in any other way limited) but rather in something analogous to the way in which forms exist “intentionally” in our intellects.  (Cf. ST I.15.1)

To be sure, given divine simplicity, they cannot exist in Him in exactly the way forms exist in our intellects.  But how, then, are we to understand the ideas in the divine intellect?  For A-T, anything other than God that exists or might exist is an imitation of God.  In creation, that which is unlimited and perfect in God comes to exist in a limited and imperfect way in the natural order.  (Recall the doctrine of divine simplicity, as Thomists understand it: Attributes that are distinct in us are analogous to what in God is one.)  The divine ideas according to which God creates are therefore to be understood as the divine intellect’s grasp of the diverse ways in which the divine essence -- which is one, unlimited, and perfect -- might be imitated in a limited and imperfect fashion by created things.  Aquinas writes:

Now, it is not repugnant to the simplicity of the divine mind that it understand many things; though it would be repugnant to its simplicity were His understanding to be formed by a plurality of images.  Hence many ideas exist in the divine mind, as things understood by it; as can be proved thus.  Inasmuch as He knows His own essence perfectly, He knows it according to every mode in which it can be known.  Now it can be known not only as it is in itself, but as it can be participated in by creatures according to some degree of likeness.  But every creature has its own proper species, according to which it participates in some degree in likeness to the divine essence.  So far, therefore, as God knows His essence as capable of such imitation by any creature, He knows it as the particular type and idea of that creature; and in like manner as regards other creatures.  So it is clear that God understands many particular types of things and these are many ideas. (ST I.15.2)

Again, the conception of the divine intellect that the doctrine of divine simplicity entails does not imply that what we call “intellect” in God is inferior to our intellects (as dogs, plants, and stones are each inferior to us cognitively speaking) but rather that it is superior.  What exists in a metaphysically simple or non-composite way in God is not sub-intellectual; on the contrary, it is “Intelligence Itself,” in which our puny intellects merely participate.  (I have discussed the manner in which ideas exist in the divine intellect in an earlier post.)

Naturally, someone who is unsympathetic to the A-T approach to these issues is bound to reject many or all of the metaphysical assumptions underlying these various points.  Obviously a blog post isn’t the place to settle all that.  But we see, here as elsewhere, that you have not understood classical and Scholastic philosophy in general and A-T in particular until you see how radically they differ from modern philosophy across the board.  The errors of the moderns (as we philosophical reactionaries see things) are not just errors in philosophy of religion and metaphysics, but in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and pretty much everything else, and the errors are all deeply interrelated.

500 comments:

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Jon Garvey said...

Ed

Do the same considerations apply to divine love, wrath etc and the concept of "divine impassibility"?

I've been reading a paper on the modern concept of "the suffering God" and gained the impression that its understanding of "impassible" as "less than emotional" wasn't doing justice to the sense in which the term was used in classical theism. Does "impassibility" actually encompass "analogies" for wrath, grief, pain and the other "emotion" words used of God in various Bible passages?

rank sophist said...

Excellent post. This really clarifies some of the more difficult passages of Aquinas for me.

Michael CP said...

I wonder if the intelligence/matter ratio applies within Homo Sap. Because Ed is more intelligent than I am does it follow that i'm more material in some way; it seems that way.

An intelligent person does appear lighter and less zombie-like than someone less intelligent. Also, a person stoned seems more material than the same person sober. Maybe there is a scale of awareness of truth/intelligence and how 'massy' a fellow is.

Gustavo said...

Thanks for the post, Ed.

I think I have more doubts about how to explain the divine simplicity in light of the doctrine of the Trinity... How can God be simple, and also be three persons?

lee faber said...

At one point in this post Dr. Feser says that the human intellect can take on multiple substantial forms. I think he actually meant accidental here; the substantial form of a tree does not exist in the human intellect as a substantial form, but as an intelligibile species, which is an accident. Otherwise, to know a tree would be to literally become a tree.

Also, regarding the divine ideas, it seems Aquinas defines a divine idea as the knowledge that the divine essence can be imitated; but this involves us in a relation: we have two terms/fundamenta, the divine essence and the creature, and the relation itself, the imitation of the divine essence by the creature. But the scholastics would generally say that one must know the terms prior to knowing the relation. So shouldn't Aquinas have defined a divine idea as 'the creature as known' instead? For in order to know the relation, God would first have to know the terms, even if this is a logical priority givine divine eternality.

Glenn said...

I find the reader's question to be reminiscent of theistic personalism:

"...Paley and Co. conceptualize [an intelligent] designer on the model of human tinkerers, attributing our characteristics (intelligence, power, etc.) to him in a univocal rather than an analogous way (to allude to a crucial Thomistic distinction explained in a previous post). To be sure, 'design arguments' also emphasize that the differences between human artifacts and the universe indicate that the designer's power and intelligence must be far vaster than ours. But we are necessarily left with a designer conceived of in anthropomorphic terms – essentially a human being, or at least a Cartesian immaterial substance, with the limitations abstracted away. The result is the 'theistic personalism' (as Brian Davies has labeled it) which has displaced classical theism in the thinking of many contemporary philosophers of religion." -- The trouble with William Paley

"...theistic personalism typically rests on a very different sort of metaphysics [than does classical theism], and conceives of God in far more anthropomorphic terms. In particular, the theistic personalist tends not to think of God as Pure Actuality, Being Itself, Goodness Itself, or the like, but rather as "a person without a body," like us but without our limitations[.]" -- Law’s "evil-god challenge"

"...the central theistic personalist thesis [is] that God is a person like we are, only without our bodily and other limitations." -- God, man, and classical theism

Also, I appreciate Michael CP's musings. Perhaps the 'massiness' he alludes to is a kind of ballast, and the heavier the ballast, the greater the stability. Then again, the 'wattage' also might be lower.

Here's another musing: wouldn't it be interesting if injunctions and cautions against involvement with certain forms of behavior and various ways were mostly a subtle way of saying, "Such involvement ultimately limits your extension and reduces your wattage, i.e., it keeps you from being as far-ranging, light and as bright as is possible for you to be." (If so, why not put it directly rather than subtly? Perhaps being subtle rather than direct serves the purpose of filtering out, somewhat, those who might abide for purely selfish reasons.)

thefederalist said...

Glenn, isn't that exactly why immoral behavior is, well, immoral? It keeps us from being truly the kind of creatures we are.

dguller said...

This just tries to paper over the problem.

On the one hand, God is metaphysically simple, and thus cannot possible consist of any kind of diversity, distinction, and difference, because all of them consist of composition of some kind. After all, to be diverse, distinct or different necessarily involves at least two things (i.e. parts or components) that are distinguished by their differentiating features, none of which is possible in a metaphysically simple being, such as God.

On the other hand, God must have divine ideas as exemplars that created entities are supposed share a “likeness”, or “similitude”, or “imitation” to. Otherwise, the entire Thomist framework to explain the natural world falls apart, because clearly there are different natures/essences/forms within the diversity of creation, and these different natures/essences/forms must be present in the divine intellect, which is their source and cause.

There is no resolution of this contradiction. The two positions are just repeated as if they magically resolve the issue, but they do not. Honestly, how does a metaphysically simple being, which cannot possible consist of any multiplicity or diversity, contain multiple and diverse forms, without itself becoming a composite being? After all, it contains multiplicity, and thus composition. It is impossible.

Glenn said...

thefederalist,

Glenn, isn't that exactly why immoral behavior is, well, immoral? It keeps us from being truly the kind of creatures we are.

Yes, of course. Doubt does not reside over here. What was said, and the way it was said, wasn't for the benefit of those readers who already get it. Now my cover is blown.

Anonymous said...

My atheist friends say that the cause of the universe cannot be a mind because minds are complex things and therefore improbable. I reply saying that minds are so “improbable” that in our solar system minds outnumber stars by 7 billion to one. I still don’t know how they reached the conclusion that minds are improbable.

Edward Feser said...

Hello dguller,

It seems to me that you are misunderstanding Aquinas’s position. Here’s one way to think about it. Suppose we distinguish between:

Picture A:

God has the thought that things in the world can imitate Him in way X.

God has the thought that things in the world can imitate Him in way Y
.
God has the thought that things in the world can imitate Him in way Z.

Etc.

Picture B:

God has the thought that things in the world can imitate Him in ways X, Y, Z, etc.

Now you seem to be attributing to Aquinas something like picture A, which attributes to God several intellectual acts, and thus seems incompatible with divine simplicity. But in fact his position is more like picture B, which attributes to God only a single intellectual act, and is compatible with divine simplicity.

Of course, you might still object that even the single intellectual act attributed to Him in B entails Him having parts corresponding to the distinct concepts for X, Y, Z, etc. But that requires reading the attribution in a univocal rather than analogous way. The claim is that there is in God something analogous to what is going on in us when we have a thought like “Things in the world can imitate God in ways X, Y, Z, etc.” But whereas in us this involves distinction of a sort that is incompatible with simplicity, it doesn’t follow that the divine intellectual act involves this, because the attribution isn’t made univocally.

dguller said...

Ed:

Thanks for the response.

Of course, you might still object that even the single intellectual act attributed to Him in B entails Him having parts corresponding to the distinct concepts for X, Y, Z, etc. But that requires reading the attribution in a univocal rather than analogous way. The claim is that there is in God something analogous to what is going on in us when we have a thought like “Things in the world can imitate God in ways X, Y, Z, etc.” But whereas in us this involves distinction of a sort that is incompatible with simplicity, it doesn’t follow that the divine intellectual act involves this, because the attribution isn’t made univocally.

First, if that argument is valid, then can’t you make the same argument about God being “evil”? I mean, I know that evil is technically non-being, and that non-being is impossible to associate with God, given his existence as Pure Act, but I’m talking analogously about “evil” in God. I mean that there is something like evil in God, and even though this is metaphysically impossible, analogy makes it possible. And what do I mean when I say that evil is analogously present in God? I have no idea. But, it seems that that is okay.

Second, I’m having a hard time following this. God has a single intellectual act, which contains a multiplicity of forms (X, Y, Z, etc.). Even Aquinas agrees with this statement. However, the argument is that this “multiplicity of forms” does not count as a composition of parts in a whole, i.e. multiple forms in the divine intellect, because “multiplicity” is to be understood analogously and not univocally. It is supposed to be understood in a way that makes no reference whatsoever to composition, and the question is whether this is even possible. I don’t think it is possible, because multiplicity necessarily involves multiple distinct entities, and once you have multiple distinct entities, then you have parts, especially if they are all within something else, as the multiplicity of forms is supposed to be within the divine intellect. So, to drain “multiplicity” of its univocal meaning, which necessarily involves “composition”, is actually to render it meaningless. It would be like saying that a triangle can exist, but not be a three-sided shape, and when it is pointed out that this is contradictory, respond by saying that “triangle” and “three-sided shape” are to be understood analogously, not univocally. I don’t think you would find this persuasive. You would probably want to know exactly what the analogous meanings of “triangle” and “three-sided shape” are supposed to be.

Third, it is my understanding that analogy presupposes similarity, which presupposes partial identity and partial difference. I’ve had a number of discussions with commenters here about this, and they all reject my construal. Perhaps you can clarify this matter for me, because I do not see how analogy is possible without partial identity and partial difference. And if that is a correct account, then to say that God’s “intellect” is analogous to our intellect necessitates that there is something shared in common between God’s “intellect” and our intellect, which grounds the analogous relationship. Without this commonality, there is no relationship between God’s “intellect” and our intellect whatsoever. And if there is this shared commonality, then we should be able to understand it, conceive it, and talk about it, because if we cannot, then we do not even know what this commonality is, and therefore do not know what the analogy is supposed to be about, which means that such an analogy is just empty of content at all.

Jules said...

Gustavo,

I think I have more doubts about how to explain the divine simplicity in light of the doctrine of the Trinity... How can God be simple, and also be three persons?

Ed adressed your question here - http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com.br/2012/08/philosophy-on-radio.html. Take a look at the podcast.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Ed,

Thanks for this post. Just a couple of quick comments.

1. God, you say, does not have qualia. How, then, does He know the concept "red"? One could argue that He knows it formally, by understanding it in terms of wavelengths or what have you. That seems deficient (as well as reductionist) to me - it would make God like Frank Jackson's Mary. Alternatively, one could argue that God knows red insofar as He is the cause of redness. But that seems to be putting the cart before the horse. One has to know what something is before one can cause it.

2. You also propose that God knows things by understanding them as pale imitations of Himself. God is Pure Existence, and everything else is Existence minus something. Thus God knows what a cat is by grasping it as Existence minus X, whereas a dog, by contrast, is Existence minus Y. But that invites the question: are X and Y simple concepts? It seems they cannot be. There's no simple way of describing all the Divine perfections that a cat lacks, and only those perfections. It seems that the idea of a cat, whether positive or negative, is irreducibly complex (I'm not using that in a technical "Intelligent Design" sense, but merely to show that you can't take the complexity out of the concept of a cat).

So I ask: how does the simple Mind of God know concepts which are irreducibly complex? I would suggest that God doesn't keep these concepts IN His Mind, but that they exist outside Him. They are, so to speak, at God's finger-tips rather than in God's head. (I understand some neo-Platonists suggested the same thing.) I would also suggest that God's having the concept of a cat is not logically prior to but simultaneous with His decision to create cats, and that He grasps the concept of a cat in sequential terms, as a progressive refinement of higher archetypes - organism, animal, mammal, carnivore, and so on.

Jules said...

lee faber,

At one point in this post Dr. Feser says that the human intellect can take on multiple substantial forms. I think he actually meant accidental here; the substantial form of a tree does not exist in the human intellect as a substantial form, but as an intelligibile species, which is an accident. Otherwise, to know a tree would be to literally become a tree.

Ed can correct me, but I think he really meant substantial. And he takes your conclusion (“Otherwise, to know a tree would be to literally become a tree”) to prove that the intellect is immaterial. The tree is the hylomorphic compound of matter and form; the intellect can take multiple forms, like the form of a tree. If the intellect were material, then when it took the form of a tree, it would become a tree and would be never able to think of other thing again; but since the intellect is wholly immaterial, it can take the form of tree and not literally become a tree (because a tree is the compound of matter and form, and the intellect does not have the “matter” part).

Others philosophers, like Peter Geach, would say that when I think the form of, lets say, a cat - the form of "catness" - one and the same form exists both in the hylomorphic compound of the particular cat and in my mind. But why then I dont become a cat? Here's the answer: it's the same form, but in two different modes of being. The mode of being of what exists in the cat is the esse naturale and the mode of being what exists in my mind is the esse intentionale.

Maybe the explanations are complementary, but I don’t want to put word on Ed’s mouth. This is what I understood of his position.

Jules said...

Sorry for the multiple posts, but in the line of Vincent, I also have a question for Ed: for the A-T, the knowledge of singular things is a matter of sense perception, while the intellect only grasps objects universal and incorporeal.

But if God is whole incorporeal and a pure intellect, can He knows particulars things? It seems to me that the conjunction of this two ideas implies that God dont know particulars, but only universals.

Daniel Smith said...

Does anyone have a good simple Thomist definition of "mind"?

I argued recently (on an ID blog that I frequent) that "intelligence" is inextricably tied to "mind". Of course I was then challenged (by an AI person) to define "mind". I thought "sure, that should be simple enough", but all my google search combinations for a Thomist definition of mind were futile.

TheOFloinn said...

can He knows particulars things?

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1014.htm#article11

monk68 said...

Duggler,

Two points which I hope are helpful.

1.) With respect to the doctrine of analogy, it is not merely that the “analogy of being” entails *some sort of difference* along with *some sort of similarity*. The dyadic structure of analogy - the similarity and difference - are more robustly understood within the AT tradition tan you seem to indicate. The similarity obtains with respect to the *type of act* (for instance, the act of knowing); whereas the difference obtains with respect to the mode/manner/means *by which* that act is, in fact, actual (or in the case of creatures, actual-ized). A dog *knows*, a man *knows*, God *knows* - a similarity with respect to *type* of activity; but the act of knowing in a dog, a man, and in God are actual (or actualized) in *different* ways. We can affirm a similarity or bridge among creatures, and also between creatures and God, according to act-type, such that "God-Talk" retains a positive content (as opposed to a strict apophaticism); while simultaneously affirming a difference among creatures, and also between creatures and God, in terms of *how* that similar act either exists or comes to be. When the “analogy of being” is employed to relate creatures within the hierarchy of being, we are often able to give an account of the *difference* in manner or mode of activity (such as the activity of knowing). For instance, based on experience, we might provide a credible account of how both a dog and a man come to *know*. In such a case, we affirm a similarity with respect to act-type (i.e. knowing) *and* are able to properly explain the difference in manner or mode of activity because we have some experiential knowledge of the physiology and psychology of both dogs and men. However, when comparing any creature to the divine essence, we can only speak from experience regarding the *way in which* the creature knows. We have no direct experience of the manner in/by which God knows. We cannot, as matter of principle, speak to, or speculate, about that for which we have no experiential foundation. Yet, despite this necessary silence with respect to the *difference* of mode or manner of knowing in God, the dyadic structure of analogy enables us to still affirm the *similarity* between God and creatures with respect to the type-of-act per se.

. . . and that brings me to my second point.

cntd . .

monk68 said...

2. Our knowledge that God exists, is necessarily simple (non-composite), all powerful, all-knowing, etc. flow epistemologically and ontologically from our direct experience of extra-mental reality, wherein the first principles, intermediate premises and rules of logic by which those theistic conclusions are reached, obtain of necessity: necessity in the specific sense that to deny any of those principles, premises, or rules of discursive reasoning would undermine our ability to explain anything at all. That is, their denial would undermine the fundamental intelligibility of the world. For this reason, the truth that God (Actus Purus) exists, and the truths that God is simple (non-composite), immaterial, all-powerful, all-knowing, etc. are, along with the epistemic and metaphysical principles which support those conclusions, some of the most secure conclusions which humans can possibly reach. Hence, when more – shall we say – exotic or remote questions arise, such as “how can God know in a way which does not undermine the doctrine of divine simplicity”, it is perfectly reasonable to subordinate speculation concerning *that* kind of question to the firm knowledge we have concerning God’s existence and simplicity - which are ultimately grounded in fundamental epistemology and metaphysics. We simply don’t have the sort of epistemic or ontic grounds for considering the *mode or manner* of God’s knowing that we have for the fact of His existence, simplicity, and omniscience. Therefore, the AT appeal (or hedge as you might see it) to the dyadic doctrine of analogy, when confronted with the accusation of an incompatibility between divine simplicity and the very prospect of divine knowing, is quite legitimate due to the conjunction of the following two propositions:

a.) We have firm epistemic and ontic grounds for affirming that God exists and is simple and in some way *knows*.

b.) We have no epistemic or ontic grounds for speculating as to *how* God knows, or the *manner in/by which* God knows.

Accordingly, we are epistemologically and ontologically bound to affirm that God exists, God is simple, God knows, while we are simultaneously bound to affirm that we have no epistemic or ontic basis for understanding the mode or manner of His knowing. This is why the affirmation that God’s knowing is both real and compatible with His simplicity supervenes upon the speculative question of the precise mode or manner of His knowing, such that the later question is rightly differed to the doctrine of analogy. To do anything else would be philosophically irresponsible. The only way to challenge the propriety of that move is to challenge the fundamental epistemic and ontic principles, premises and/or discursive steps which underwrite AT natural theology.

Pax

Dante Aligheri said...

One reader asked about divine simplicity and the Trinity. Correct me if I am wrong, but I believe that God reflects upon Himself to find "within" Himself the multiplicity in which the world can possibly exist, how His essence can be known. This thought-action is the begetting of the Logos/Wisdom (I know Bulgakov said Wisdom is the unrealized content in God, but I am unsure about this interpretation). It's also what the rabbis meant when they said the Torah existed within the mind of God and by the Torah the world was created. This thought of God - or His breath - is Himself the Holy Spirit which "rests" in the Logos and by which Logos Himself exists. No one Person can exist without the Other.

Creation is the multiplicity within the Logos. Of course, after the Incarnation, the Logos entered through hypostatic union a man - becoming together with two wills and two natures Jesus in perfect communion with one another (While I lean towards Antioch, I hope this suffices for Chalcedonianism). In effect, the Logos recapitulated all of Creation from which it came back to God in a more complete form.

monk68 said...

oops, dguller, not duggler.

sorry

dguller said...

Mnok68:

Oops. I meant, “Monk68”. ;)

The similarity obtains with respect to the *type of act* (for instance, the act of knowing); whereas the difference obtains with respect to the mode/manner/means *by which* that act is, in fact, actual (or in the case of creatures, actual-ized).

That is not inconsistent with my understanding of “similarity”. The part that is identical is the type of act and the part that is different is how that type of act is actualized. The example that I use is that the form “dogness” is similar in a material dog and in an immaterial intellect. In the former, you have “dogness”-in-matter and in the latter, you have “dogness”-in-immaterial-intellect. What is the same in both is “dogness”, but “dogness” is realized in different ways, i.e. materially in the former, and immaterially in the latter. I think that we are on the same page here.

However, when comparing any creature to the divine essence, we can only speak from experience regarding the *way in which* the creature knows. We have no direct experience of the manner in/by which God knows. We cannot, as matter of principle, speak to, or speculate, about that for which we have no experiential foundation. Yet, despite this necessary silence with respect to the *difference* of mode or manner of knowing in God, the dyadic structure of analogy enables us to still affirm the *similarity* between God and creatures with respect to the type-of-act per se.

But again, the only way that such similarity is possible is if there is partial identity and partial difference. You can list off reams of differences between a knowing God and a knowing human, but unless you can identify something that they share in common, i.e. the partial identity part of the equation, then you cannot have an analogy at all. To say that God’s knowledge is similar to a human’s knowledge necessarily implies that there is something in God’s knowledge that is identical to a human’s knowledge, which grounds the analogical relationship, and without this ground, there is no analogy at all.

Hence, when more – shall we say – exotic or remote questions arise, such as “how can God know in a way which does not undermine the doctrine of divine simplicity”, it is perfectly reasonable to subordinate speculation concerning *that* kind of question to the firm knowledge we have concerning God’s existence and simplicity - which are ultimately grounded in fundamental epistemology and metaphysics. We simply don’t have the sort of epistemic or ontic grounds for considering the *mode or manner* of God’s knowing that we have for the fact of His existence, simplicity, and omniscience.

This would be an example of a necessary impossibility. It is both necessary that God’s knowledge not undermine divine simplicity and yet impossible that God’s knowledge does not undermine divine simplicity. Or, at least, that’s my argument, and if it is good, then that’s the end of that. It does not matter how certain other propostions or conclusions are. A contradiction is a contradiction. Unless you can find a flaw in my reasoning, and I’m open to the possibility that I am wrong, then just hoping that I am wrong is not being rational. It is hanging on by a prayer.

dguller said...

a.) We have firm epistemic and ontic grounds for affirming that God exists and is simple and in some way *knows*. 



Since knowledge is the possession of forms within an immaterial intellect, and since God is the source of all creation, then all the forms within creation must have their source in the forms within an immaterial intellect. That is all fine and good, and I see no problem there. The issue is when you combine this position with divine simplicity, and then you get a contradiction between a metaphysically simple being that lacks all composition, all diversity, and all intrinsic differences, because all of these characteristics imply having parts, and a being that has a multiplicity of forms within its intellect. Lack of diversity is impossible with multiplicity. They are effectively synonyms, and if not, share the same core feature of multiple distinct things.

b.) We have no epistemic or ontic grounds for speculating as to *how* God knows, or the *manner in/by which* God knows.

That does not matter. There would be no how for something that is impossible.

This is why the affirmation that God’s knowing is both real and compatible with His simplicity supervenes upon the speculative question of the precise mode or manner of His knowing, such that the later question is rightly differed to the doctrine of analogy. To do anything else would be philosophically irresponsible. The only way to challenge the propriety of that move is to challenge the fundamental epistemic and ontic principles, premises and/or discursive steps which underwrite AT natural theology.

If that’s the approach that you want to take, then that’s fine, but I don’t think a good response to a contradiction is, “I have no idea how to resolve it, but if it were true, the whole system would come crashing down!” Perhaps Thomism is just incomplete? Perhaps there are other principles and assumptions that could be added to it to resolve the contradiction? Perhaps Thomism is inconsistent, and thus requires a higher synthesis to resolve the inconsistency? Perhaps Thomism needs to be shaken up and re-examined? I dunno. All I can say is that responding to the discovery of a (possible) contradiction in one’s system with a healthy dose of denial may be psychologically satisfying, but epistemologically and rationally wanting.

Anonymous said...

dguller, a question for you. Is a Euclidean plane composite or simple? There are an immense number of things that can be said of Euclidean planes; Euclid himself wrote a treatise in twelve books on the subject and didn't come close to exhausting it. Yet the concept can be defined in a paragraph. Does the multiplicity of theorems in Euclidean geometry mean that the object geometers study is multiple?

I suggest the analogy: the forms in God's mind are parts of God's nature in the sense that geometrical theorems are parts of the Euclidean plane. Theorems describe the plane; any one theorem is a partial and limited description, and a great profusion of theorems exist. But the plane is prior to every theorem, and its definition generates that immense collection while remaining simple in itself. Thus the forms stand to existence as such, which is God. Any one form is a partial and limited definition of being; a great profusion of forms exist; but being as such is prior to every form, and simpler than any one of them, or even the whole collection of them.

Glenn said...

dguller,

There is no resolution of this contradiction.

The contradiction exists in the conception of the reality, not in the reality itself. Remain in the conception which gives birth to the apparent contradiction, and the apparent contradiction cannot but obtain as a seemingly real, irresolvable contradiction.

Aquinas understood that the human intellect is imperfect, not always up to the task of comprehending that which is above it, and given to making or falling into errors.

Nonetheless, the intellect can understand, in a manner free of contradictions, simple things above itself.

However, there is no guaranty that it will, thus it may not.

And if it does not, it is at least understandable why not.

[I]t is clear that our intellect understands material things below itself in an immaterial manner; not that it understands them to be immaterial things; but its manner of understanding is immaterial. Likewise, when it understands simple things above itself, it understands them according to its own mode, which is in a composite manner; yet not so as to understand them to be composite things. And thus our intellect is not false in forming composition in its ideas concerning God. (Summa Theologiae I.13.12)

Anonymous said...

Vincent Torley said... 1. God, you say, does not have qualia. How, then, does He know the concept "red"?

I'm still trying to figure out what it is for a human or animal to have qualia. I don't know that God needs anything more than to understand it intellectually because what more can then be about "red" than redness itself? And I get that redness in the intellect is not like redness in matter. But sense images are material (because animals have them), so how can imagining redness not mean that some part of my brain turns red (or whatever)? But that clearly is not right. Nor is sensing redness grasping redness in my intellect. So what exactly is it?

Anonymous said...

Dr Feser and any interested party,

You say that God does not have qualia, which is what we refer to in modern philosophy when speaking of subjective experience. Classical Theism maintains a personal God with Will and Intellect but I am also assuming that He has experiences as well. Surely not in any univocal sense but perhaps in an analogical sense.

When you say that God does not have qualia does that entail he has no experience at all or do you mean that is his experience qualitatively different than ours?

I ask because having experience is something I understand to be a fundamental part of a person.

monk68 said...

dguller,

"To say that God’s knowledge is similar to a human’s knowledge necessarily implies that there is something in God’s knowledge that is identical to a human’s knowledge, which grounds the analogical relationship, and without this ground, there is no analogy at all."

No, the way you are construing this is not precise. One need not say there is "something *in* God's knowledge", but merely to say that both God and men *know*, are in posession of knowledge. The means/manner by which they respectively posess knowledge is different. You affirmed as much in your agreement with me in your first paragraph. What you say in your second paragraph reverses your prior agreement.

You quoted me as follows:

"Hence, when more – shall we say – exotic or remote questions arise, such as “how can God know in a way which does not undermine the doctrine of divine simplicity”, it is perfectly reasonable to subordinate speculation concerning *that* kind of question to the firm knowledge we have concerning God’s existence and simplicity - which are ultimately grounded in fundamental epistemology and metaphysics. We simply don’t have the sort of epistemic or ontic grounds for considering the *mode or manner* of God’s knowing that we have for the fact of His existence, simplicity, and omniscience."

and from that you concluded the following:

"This would be an example of a necessary impossibility. It is both necessary that God’s knowledge not undermine divine simplicity and yet impossible that God’s knowledge does not undermine divine simplicity. Or, at least, that’s my argument . . ."

Except that you have not offered any argument here. Instead, you have made only an assertion without defending it or explaining how my statement neccesarily entails the impossibility "that God's knowledge does not undermine divine simplicity". My argument explicitly states that we have no epistemic/ontic/experiential grounds for saying anything about *how* God knows, while we have the strongest possible epistemic and ontic grounds for affirming divine simplicity and knowledge per se. That means that God's simplicity (non-composite nature) and omniscience are necessary, whereas the grounds for affirming the proposition that God's knowledge is in some way composite are non-existent. Accordingly, the upshot of what I wrote is that the compatibility of God's knowledge with His simplicity is - contrary to your assertion - not only possible, but in light of the epistemic and ontic situation, a fact to whic we must reasonably assent.

you go on to say . .

"and if it [alleged argument] is good, then that’s the end of that. It does not matter how certain other propostions or conclusions are. A contradiction is a contradiction. Unless you can find a flaw in my reasoning, and I’m open to the possibility that I am wrong, then just hoping that I am wrong is not being rational"

It is not a good argument because there simply is no argument. I agree that a contradiction is a contradiction, but you must show why my position entails a contradiction - not merely assert it. The flaw in your reasoning is that you are not reasoning in this section of your response.

Pax

Edward Feser said...

Hi dguller (and those responding to him),

A lot going on here. Only time for a few points:

1. If the Thomist holds that even God, despite His omnipotence, cannot make the logically impossible possible, I'm not sure why you think the Thomist thinks that analogy can make the impossible possible. It can't. Hence it can't make it possible to attribute evil to God. As you realize, for the Thomist, evil, as a privation, is a kind of non-being. But God is Being Itself, and what the Thomist predicates even analogously of God are still all various kinds of being. Hence there is no sense to be made of the idea that evil can be predicated of God. For what can it mean to say "There is something analogous to non-being in what is absolute Being Itself"?

Certainly you have said nothing to show that the Thomist is in any way being inconsistent in denying that evil can be attributed to Him.

2. In general, you seem to be supposing that the force of the doctrine of analogy is something like:

(a) God has exactly what we have, only analogously.

and you then go on to accuse this of being a way to "paper over" a contradiction. For how can he have exactly what we have if He's simple? How does analogy make this a non-contradiction? As if the Thomist were saying something comparable to: "A good book and a good pizza have exactly the same thing, only analogously" -- which of course seems silly, because the good flavor of the pizza cannot in any intelligible way be said to be in the book, and the goodness of the book's plot, writing, etc. cannot in any intelligible way be said to be in the pizza.

But (a) is not what the Thomist is saying. He is instead saying:

(b) God does not have exactly what we have, but rather has an analogue of what we have.

And there is nothing any more contradictory in this that there is in saying that a good book does not have exactly what a good pizza has (flavor, etc.), but rather has an analogue of what a good pizza has.

In short, you seem to be reading the Thomist as implicitly saying: "We are X and being simple entails being non-X, but God, who is simple, is nevertheless X" -- and then throwing in the word "analogy" as if it could somehow make this formal contradiction a non-contradiction. But that is not what the Thomist is saying, and he is not uttering a formal contradiction (or any other kind of contradiction). He is saying: "We are X and and being simple entails being non-X, so God, who is simple, is non-X, but He does nevertheless have an analogue of X."

3. I never said that there is an analogue of multiplicity in God. I said that there is in God something that is analogous to what in us we call the thought that God is imitated in creation in ways X, Y, Z, etc. That no more entails that there is an analogue of multiplicity in God (whatever that means) than saying that there is in God something analogous to the power of bulging biceps entails that there is in God something analogous to bulging biceps. There is in God something analogous to power, but it doesn't follow that it has to be exercised in anything remotely like the manner that biceps exercise it (any more than a powerful hurricane has to manifest its power in anything remotely like the way biceps do). Similarly, that there is in God something analogous to the thought in question does not entail that the thought has to exist in anything like the way the analogous thought in us does.

monk68 said...

dguller,

You wrote,

"Since knowledge is the possession of forms within an immaterial intellect, and since God is the source of all creation, then all the forms within creation must have their source in the *forms within* an immaterial intellect. [emphasis mine]"

To define knowledge as the posession of forms within an immaterial intellect is merely to define knowledge per se, according to the *way in which* humans know -by having forms within their immaterial intellects. But that is to define knowledge per se according to one particular manner or means by which an act of knowing may occur. Even prescinding from God, we speak of sense knowledge, intuitive knowledge, etc. What you describe is intellectual knowledge according to the way in which human beings posess it. To foist that mode or manner of knowing for which we have direct epistemic and ontic experience) upon God's knowledge (for which we have no epistemic or ontic experience) is to entirely miss the point with respect to the anology of being. The whole point of rejecting the univocity of being is that one does not combine a description of the manner/mode of human knowing with the doctrine of divine simplicity. In avoiding this mistake, one avoids the contradiction which you think obtains.

you wrote . . .

"There would be no how for something that is impossible."

I am quite confused as to what exactly you think (or think I am saying) is "impossible" here.

you wrote . . .

"If that’s the approach that you want to take, then that’s fine, but I don’t think a good response to a contradiction is, “I have no idea how to resolve it, but if it were true, the whole system would come crashing down!” . . . All I can say is that responding to the discovery of a (possible) contradiction in one’s system with a healthy dose of denial may be psychologically satisfying, but epistemologically and rationally wanting."

It is not that AT does not know how to resolve it. There is nothing to resolve, and nothing you have written actually argues for the incompatibility of divine simplicity and divine omniscience. I have explicitly argued why the AT position, far from being just psychologically satisfying, is in fact epistemically and rationally compelling. To acknowledge that God exists, is simple, and knows; while having the intellectual humility to admit that there are aspects of Being of which we have no direct experience (such as knowledge as existing in God), and therefore no epistemic right to subject or constrict such dimensions of being to those aspects of being for which we do have direct experience (such as knowledge as existing in men), is the mark of a good philosopher who understands the limits of the human intellect and rejects the intellectual hubris which - for no good reason or argument given - wishes to speculate on matters which are, in principle, outside it epistemic and ontic domain.

Pax

rank sophist said...

If I have it right, God grasps his own essence and through this sees at once the infinite virtual essences that are capable of imitating his essence. I see no contradiction here, unless it is also a contradiction to assert that, to use a highly imperfect analogy, the virtual particles within a human do not determine that human qua substance. This clearly is not a contradiction, though; and so neither is it a contradiction to assert that God can contain or know things virtually without those things composing him.

dguller said...

Ed:

Thanks again. I know you’re busy.

In short, you seem to be reading the Thomist as implicitly saying: "We are X and being simple entails being non-X, but God, who is simple, is nevertheless X" -- and then throwing in the word "analogy" as if it could somehow make this formal contradiction a non-contradiction. But that is not what the Thomist is saying, and he is not uttering a formal contradiction (or any other kind of contradiction). He is saying: "We are X and and being simple entails being non-X, so God, who is simple, is non-X, but He does nevertheless have an analogue of X."

But the issue is what is means to say that we have X and God has an analogue of X. What does “analogue of X” mean? The analogue of X, call it X*, it either the same as X, similar to X, or different from X. And here’s what I mean by those statements:

(1) X is identical to Y iff X and Y have everything in common
(2) X is similar to Y iff X and Y have something in common
(3) X is different from Y iff X and Y have nothing in common

As far as I can tell, those are the only logical possibilities, and they are parasitic upon the concepts of “all”, “some”, and “none”, which I think exhaust the different possibilities here.

X* cannot be identical X, because then you do not an analogue at all, but rather identical. X* would be X, and not X*, which is impossible. X* cannot be different from X, because then they would have nothing to do with each other at all, because they have nothing in common. The only remaining possibility, unless I have missed any, is that X* must be similar to X, which means that both X* and X must share something in common C.

And the problem is what this C could possibly be. God is simple, and thus has no composition, which means that he is either all or nothing. He can never be partially anything. He is totally good, and not evil. He is totally wise, and not non-wise. And so on. So, for God, C would have to be identical to his essence, which is identical to his esse, which means that for God, C would have to be identical to esse subsistens itself. After all, God is metaphysically simple. All his different characteristics are ultimately identical, and equate to esse subsistens. But it is impossible that we could share esse subsistens with God. There is only one esse subsistens, and it cannot be diversified into multiple beings, because then there would be more than one esse subsistens, which is impossible. Furthermore, if we possessed esse subsistens, then we would be God, which is impossible.

Therefore, it seems impossible for God and a human to share a common C, and therefore, it is impossible for God and a human to be similar, and therefore, it is impossible for God and human to exist in an analogous relationship to each other, in either direction. That’s the argument anyway.

dguller said...

Similarly, that there is in God something analogous to the thought in question does not entail that the thought has to exist in anything like the way the analogous thought in us does.

I see. That clarifies things, but I don’t think that this will work. However, I only say that assuming my analysis of analogy above is correct. To say that a human has X and God has an analogue of X (or X*) presupposes that there is enough in common between X and X* to warrant their similarity (or likeness, or imitation) relationship, and it also presupposes, I think, that X* has not negated key properties of X that would count X as X at all. It would be like saying that X is a triangle and X* is an analogue of a triangle, but it is not a three-sided shape. In that case, there is simply no way that X* could be an analogue of a triangle, because it has negated the essential features of a triangle.

Similarly, to say that humans have a single thought of multiple thoughts T and God has an analogue of a single thought of multiple thoughts T*, then that presupposes that the negations associated with T* still make it possible for it to be like T. I would argue that denying multiplicity in T* would not make it an analogue of T at all, because it is essential to T that there are multiple distinct thoughts present within the single thought. To negate this aspect of T is to negate T itself, because it would be equivalent to saying that a single thought of multiple thoughts is like a single thought of not-multiple thoughts, which is a contradiction. It would be like saying that T* is not a single thought, which would make it impossible to be an analogue of T at all.

dguller said...

Anonymous:

dguller, a question for you. Is a Euclidean plane composite or simple? There are an immense number of things that can be said of Euclidean planes; Euclid himself wrote a treatise in twelve books on the subject and didn't come close to exhausting it. Yet the concept can be defined in a paragraph. Does the multiplicity of theorems in Euclidean geometry mean that the object geometers study is multiple?

A Euclidean plane is composite. It is composed of an infinite number of points, extended over a flat surface, within a particular space. It is also characterized by a number of theorems, and thus is saturated with composition, I think. Its composition is what allows the multiplicity to be predicated of it and described by it. No composition, no multiplicity.

dguller said...

Monk:

No, the way you are construing this is not precise. One need not say there is "something *in* God's knowledge", but merely to say that both God and men *know*, are in posession of knowledge. The means/manner by which they respectively posess knowledge is different. You affirmed as much in your agreement with me in your first paragraph. What you say in your second paragraph reverses your prior agreement.

I don’t think so, because knowledge is about possession. It occurs when an immaterial intellect possesses a form from something outside of it. I was just describing what it means to be in possession of knowledge, and that is to possess a form without becoming that form.

Except that you have not offered any argument here. Instead, you have made only an assertion without defending it or explaining how my statement neccesarily entails the impossibility "that God's knowledge does not undermine divine simplicity".

Your argument is that if a contradiction means that we have to give up established principles and beliefs that are absolutely essential to us, then we can reject the contradiction, even if we cannot explain how it is wrong. For me, that is not an adequate response to a contradiction. That would have been like replying to Parmenides’ arguments about the unity of being by saying, “it violates our everyday experience, which we take to be more certain than logic and reason, and therefore, we reject your paradoxes”. I think the better response was Aristotle’s who showed precisely where Parmenides went wrong by virtue of the fact that he had ignored the different kinds of being that are possible, and completely missed potential being.

My argument explicitly states that we have no epistemic/ontic/experiential grounds for saying anything about *how* God knows, while we have the strongest possible epistemic and ontic grounds for affirming divine simplicity and knowledge per se. That means that God's simplicity (non-composite nature) and omniscience are necessary, whereas the grounds for affirming the proposition that God's knowledge is in some way composite are non-existent.

How can you say that it is “non-existent” when Aquinas himself affirms the multiplicity of forms in God’s intellect? Doesn’t the existence of multiplicity within a metaphysically simple being at least count as some existent “grounds” to perceive a possible inconsistency here? After all, Aquinas specifically addresses this very possibility in his works. Why would he do that if the evidence was non-existent?

It is not a good argument because there simply is no argument. I agree that a contradiction is a contradiction, but you must show why my position entails a contradiction - not merely assert it. The flaw in your reasoning is that you are not reasoning in this section of your response.

The argument is that there must be a multiplicity of forms in God’s intellect, because those forms would have to be the formal causes of all the multiple created entities that we encounter in the world. Without them, it becomes impossible to understand the world at all. Thus, they must be there in God’s intellect. The question is how they can be there while maintaining God’s absolute simplicity. The next argument is that absolute simplicity necessitates the utter lack of composition in any sense. If there is a sense of multiplicity in X, whether that multiplicity is actually there, potentially there, pre-existent and virtually there, or some other kind of “there”, then X cannot be absolutely simple.

rank sophist said...

dguller,

I would call your attention to the newest additions to our discussion in the other combox. I think that you should go over the idea of virtual distinction before making further arguments, because it seems to have been Aquinas's main tool for solving these difficulties. In my opinion, it seems effective.

ozero91 said...

Does the Classical God "think" in an analogous way to humans? Or, given omniscience, does he even need to "think" at all or does he simply "know?"

BenYachov said...

I find the idea that God "thinks" or "believes" to be a bit daft.

If there are in any actual reality no flying unicorns then God doesn't disbelieve in unicorns but He knows He never made any.

God may have Archetypal Ideas but He doesn't "think" He knows.

dguller said...

Rank:


Rank:

I would call your attention to the newest additions to our discussion in the other combox. I think that you should go over the idea of virtual distinction before making further arguments, because it seems to have been Aquinas's main tool for solving these difficulties. In my opinion, it seems effective.

Garrigou-Lagrange says: “The virtual distinction is a distinction founded on reality, which means, contrary to Scotus' theory, that it is non-existent previous to the mind's consideration”. So, it is “founded in reality”, but “non-existent previous to the mind’s consideration”. I think that it is trying to find a middle ground between real distinction (i.e. X and Y are really separable and distinct in reality, as well as separable and distinct in the mind, which has a basis in reality) and logical distinction (i.e. X and Y are not really separable and distinct in reality, but are separable and distinct in the mind, which does not have a basis in reality). And it does so by focusing upon real distinctions that are simply not actually separable in reality, but are justifiably separated in the mind.

For example, the genus of animal virtually contains the species of human. In other words, there is a real and true distinction between “animal” and “human” by virtue of the difference of “rational”, but you cannot actually separate “animal” from “human” like you could separate a brick from a house. So, it simply trades on different senses of “real”, i.e. substantial reality versus virtual reality, each having their basis in reality, but in different ways.

This is supposed to help the dilemma I mentioned, because it is held to be fully consistent to assert both God’s absolute simplicity and his virtual multiplicity. There is no contradiction, because the composition involved in his absolute simplicity is not the same as the composition involved in his virtual multiplicity. And you can only have a contradiction if not-composite and composite have the same sense of “composite”.

So, the issue is whether God’s lack of composition utilizes a notion of composition that is different from that of virtual composition. Now, if I have presented your argument fairly, then I think you would have to agree that there is a kind of composition in God, i.e. virtual composition. And if that is true, then the negative attribute of non-composition (i.e. simplicity) in God cannot be absolute, because he does have some composition, i.e. virtual composition. In other words, we cannot say that God is absolutely simple, but rather that he is relatively simple. In other words, he is composite in one sense, but simple in another sense.

Is that really the Thomist position here?

BenYachov said...

dguller,

Even Faser says God can change His Cambridge Properties & still by nature be absolutely unchanged & immutable in His nature.

I think you might be using the term absolutely simple in a manner analogous to how a Cartesian uses Omnipotence when he claims God can make a Rock so heavy etc...

I'm going to watch this from the side lines.

Josh said...

In other words, we cannot say that God is absolutely simple, but rather that he is relatively simple. In other words, he is composite in one sense, but simple in another sense.

It seems like the virtual distinction only exists in us, as our perspective looking upwards.

Remember the Dodecahedron in The Phantom Tollbooth, by chance (voiced by Mel Blanc in the cartoon)? It was a character that revealed different single aspects of itself as it presented a new side to Milo and Tock. But to itself, it was all 12 at once. The distinctions didn't exist. It's an imperfect example because the character is not God of course, but I at least see the intelligibility in the idea of Divine simplicity viewed through the finite, material lens, and how God is to Himself.

dguller said...

Josh:

It seems like the virtual distinction only exists in us, as our perspective looking upwards.

But then you are stuck with the problem that Feser nicely identified regarding teleology in nature. Either the teleology that we conceive is in nature or it is a figment of our imagination. Similarly, either the distinction has some basis in reality, or it is simply a byproduct of our minds. If it is a true distinction, then it must necessarily be a real distinction, in whatever sense of “real” you want. After all, true and real are coextensive by virtue of being transcendentals.

It's an imperfect example because the character is not God of course, but I at least see the intelligibility in the idea of Divine simplicity viewed through the finite, material lens, and how God is to Himself.

And its an imperfect example mainly because of divine simplicity being perceived by humans in multiple different ways (i.e. good, true, beautiful, perfect, real). How is this even possible? How can a simple being be perceived differently from different perspectives? Each of these different perspectives sees something different in the simple being, but it seems that only one of them could be right, or none of them could be right, because there should be only one thing to see by virtue of its lack of composition. And since Aquinas states that we cannot see God, except in the next life, then we actually do not see anything at all.

Glenn said...

dguller,

to say that humans have a single thought of multiple thoughts T and God has an analogue of a single thought of multiple thoughts T*, then that presupposes that the negations associated with T* still make it possible for it to be like T. I would argue that denying multiplicity in T* would not make it an analogue of T at all, because it is essential to T that there are multiple distinct thoughts present within the single thought. To negate this aspect of T is to negate T itself, because it would be equivalent to saying that a single thought of multiple thoughts is like a single thought of not-multiple thoughts, which is a contradiction. It would be like saying that T* is not a single thought, which would make it impossible to be an analogue of T at all.

1. Assume analogy A which asserts that there exists a likeness of some kind between two different things T1 and T2, thus that T1 is like T2.

2. Because T1 and T2 are two different things, there are exists a non-likenesses of some kind between T1 and T2, thus T1 is not like T2.

3. But to say that T1 is like T2, and also that T1 is not like T2 is a contradiction.

4. Analogy A, therefore, is impossible.

One objection to this argument might be that since analogy A by definition does not embrace any difference between T1 and T2, but only some likeness between the two, no difference between T1 and T2 can subvert, negate or contradict the likeness between them.

But perhaps it'll be thought that the objection is specious for the reason that where there is a likeness there must be something in that likeness which is not merely a likeness but an actual equivalence.

Such a position, however, seems to be a by-product of attempts to computationally model analogies. You can't computationally model an analogy if there isn't something in the analogy which qualifies as (i.e., can be mapped as) an actual equivalence. And people who want to computationally model analogies necessarily must restrict themselves to working with those analogies which have within them something which can be mapped as an equivalence.

It is but an additional step to assert that a likeness which hasn't something within it which can be mapped as an actual equivalence isn't an analogy.

And just an additional step to alter "can be mapped as" to "is", thus to say that a likeness which hasn't something within it which is an actual equivalence isn't an analogy.

And one further step to turn it around, spruce it up, and say that an analogy is a comparison involving an equivalence between two different things.

Once one arrives here, one has arrived at a definition of analogy which is not fully consonant with all of A-T's uses of analogy.

If one then views A-T's uses of analogy through the lens of this subsequently formulated definition of analogy, which is inconsonant with some of those uses, it would be very surprising if something couldn't be found which inspired a knitting of one's brow.

My stamina at this point is kaput. So, if anyone cares to continue the argument, please do so (making whatever corrections or refinements are deemed to be appropriate). The basic point is that dguller's argument quoted above necessitates that there be an equivalence between the thoughts of God and human thoughts (beyond the mere fact that both God and humans have thoughts), as well as that any likeness which does not involve an identifiable / mappable equivalence either isn't an analogy or fails in its mission to state something acceptably in an analogical way.

Josh said...

And its an imperfect example mainly because of divine simplicity being perceived by humans in multiple different ways (i.e. good, true, beautiful, perfect, real). How is this even possible? How can a simple being be perceived differently from different perspectives?

The example I referred to does just this; from Milo and Tock's perspective, they see the "good" face, or the "beautiful" face, as presented by their perception. But the Dodecahedron's knowledge of itself realizes no distinction between the faces, because they are all "Himself." This doesn't seem too difficult to me.

Glenn said...

Hmm. I'll simplify all that by saying that the conflict is between dguller's implied definition of analogy, and some of A-T's uses of analogy, i.e., dguller is basically asserting that A-T makes illegal use of analogy.

Josh said...

Glenn,

I think that's on the right track. John Knasas distinguishes analogy by sameness apart from difference, and sameness within difference. Dguller only recognizes the first type, which is reducible to univocality, and not the second.

Glenn said...

Josh,

I'll be sure to check out what Mr. Knasa has to say re analogy. Thanks for the lead.

dguller said...

Glenn:

2. Because T1 and T2 are two different things, there are exists a non-likenesses of some kind between T1 and T2, thus T1 is not like T2.

I would revise this premise to say: Because T1 and T2 are two different things, there are exists a non-identity of some kind between T1 and T2, thus T1 is not identical to T2.

The negation of “likeness” is either identity or difference. In the above proposition, it seemed that identity made more sense. Again, here are my definitions, and one can feel free to offer criticisms of them, if you like:

(1) X is identical to Y iff X and Y share everything in common
(2) X is similar to Y (= X is like Y = X imitates Y) iff X and Y share something in common
(3) X is different from Y iff X and Y share nothing in common

So, when you are using the word “likeness”, I interpret it as meaning “similar”.

But perhaps it'll be thought that the objection is specious for the reason that where there is a likeness there must be something in that likeness which is not merely a likeness but an actual equivalence.

Exactly. There must be something in common, and that “something in common” must be either identical in both X and Y, similar in both X and Y, or different in both X and Y. If it is identical in both X and Y, then we stop. If it is similar in both X and Y, then there must be a further “something in common”, and you either go on in infinite regress, or you find “something in common” that is identical in both X and Y, and then you stop. If it is different in both X and Y, then it cannot be “something in common” at all.

Such a position, however, seems to be a by-product of attempts to computationally model analogies. You can't computationally model an analogy if there isn't something in the analogy which qualifies as (i.e., can be mapped as) an actual equivalence. And people who want to computationally model analogies necessarily must restrict themselves to working with those analogies which have within them something which can be mapped as an equivalence.

It’s not about computationally modeling analogies. It is about defining “analogy”, and understanding the rules that govern it. When am I using an analogy and not a metaphor? When am I using an analogy and not a cause? There must be some distinguishing rules that are operative whenever an analogy is used. I think that I have come up with some that are fair, and they basically map onto the distinction between “all”, “some” and “none” when applied to commonality between two things.

dguller said...

Glenn:

Once one arrives here, one has arrived at a definition of analogy which is not fully consonant with all of A-T's uses of analogy.

And I’m trying to understand the Thomist definition of “analogy”. It seems to be parasitic upon “similarity”, and every instance of Thomist analogy is consistent with my understanding of analogy, except when it comes to an analogy between a metaphysically simple being and composite beings. Then things break down. The inference from Thomists is that my definition of analogy is inadequate, because it fails to incorporate analogies between God and created beings. My inference is that my definition of analogy is adequate, and that it is simply impossible to have an analogy between God and created beings.

The basic point is that dguller's argument quoted above necessitates that there be an equivalence between the thoughts of God and human thoughts (beyond the mere fact that both God and humans have thoughts), as well as that any likeness which does not involve an identifiable / mappable equivalence either isn't an analogy or fails in its mission to state something acceptably in an analogical way.

Exactly right.

dguller said...

Josh:

John Knasas distinguishes analogy by sameness apart from difference, and sameness within difference. Dguller only recognizes the first type, which is reducible to univocality, and not the second.

I recognize them both, but that the second reduces to the first.

Take the example of the form of “dogness”. “Dogness” cannot exist in itself, but must exist either in an immaterial intellect as “dogness”-in-an-immaterial-intellect or in a material body as “dogness”-in-a-material-body. The former corresponds to our concept of “dogness” and the latter corresponds to a particular dog. “Dognness” is identical in both the concept of dog and the particular dog, but its mode of being, or manner of expression in reality, is different in that the former is immaterial and the latter is material. This would be an example of sameness within difference. In one sense, there is no “dogness” independent of its mode of being, which can only be immaterial or material, but in another sense, there is an identical form of “dogness” that is present within each mode of being.

My point is that even in this kind of analogy, you still have similarity as partial identity and partial difference, because you can clearly recognize a common and identical core, i.e. the form of “dogness”, which is the “partial identity”, even though it can only exist in two different modes of being, i.e. material and immaterial, which is the “partial difference”.

I honestly think that everything ultimately reduces to this partial identity and partial difference, and that anything that cannot be so reduced cannot truly be held to be a kind of analogy at all. It might be something else entirely, and thus maybe it is analogous to analogy, but it cannot be analogy proper, because it would violate the rules that constitute analogy. In fact, you shouldn’t even call it “analogy” at all, to avoid confusion. Maybe call it “deepoly”? God is deepologous with creation?

dguller said...

Ben:

Feser writes that “while the relation of creatures to God is a real one, the relation of God to creatures is a mere Cambridge one, so that (for example) God’s creating the universe is one of His merely Cambridge properties.” By “Cambridge properties”, he means properties that add nothing to an individual X, either substantially or accidentally. Rather, they get their truth by virtue of a particular relationship that X has with something else. For example, to say that X was taller than Y, but is now shorter than Y does not mean that X had the intrinsic property “taller than Y”, and now has the intrinsic property “shorter than Y”. X hasn’t changed at all, but X’s place within a relational matrix has changed.

How would this apply to God’s causing a creature to exist? God is the cause, and the creature is the effect. It seems that, from a creature’s perspective, it is really the effect of the causal activity of God. However, from God’s “perspective”, being the cause of the creature’s existence is a Cambridge property, i.e. not an intrinsic property of God, but only a relational one, and thus “real”. In other words, although we can say that a creature is the effect of God, we cannot say that God is the cause of a creature, because “is a cause of a creature” is a Cambridge property, and not really a property of God at all. It therefore follows that God is not really the Creator. Other consequences of this idea are that God is not really more powerful than creation, more perfect than creation, more beautiful than creation, more … well, anything than creation, because none of these are real intrinsic properties of God, but are only Cambridge properties that depend upon God’s relationship with his creation.

I’m not too sure how that accords with Catholic doctrine.

Josh said...

I just want to make an attempt to taxonomize the concepts surrounding analogy (utilizing Knasas as a guide):

Univocal predication:
Renders differences implicit and potential. ("sameness apart from difference")

e.g.: What does it mean for both a man and a dog to be 'a body with sensitive powers'?Man:animal::Dog:animal; the differences are implicit but not made actual in our elucidation of the concept.

Analogical predication:
Renders differences implicit and actual. ("sameness within difference")

e.g.: What does it mean for Koufax and Mays to both be 'athletes who compete against others in the form of a nine-inning contest involving a sphere and bat, etc.'?
Koufax:pitching::Mays:hitting; the differences are implicit and also remain actual in our elucidation of the concept.



Josh said...

And as per your response (which was typed while I was writing), a further taxonomy needs to be made:

Abstraction without precision:
When I say differences are implicit in the previous post, both are instances of this type of abstraction.

e.g.: Socrates is a Man. Man is abstracted without precision and can still be predicated of individuals.

Abstraction with precision:
Your 'dogness,' 'humanity,' etc.

e.g.: Socrates is humanity. Clearly false and not predicable of individuals.

Josh said...

I’m not too sure how that accords with Catholic doctrine.

There must be a difference between:

God is necessarily the cause of creatures

and

God necessarily causes creatures

?

dguller said...

Josh:

Univocal predication:
Renders differences implicit and potential. ("sameness apart from difference")



e.g.: What does it mean for both a man and a dog to be 'a body with sensitive powers'?Man:animal::Dog:animal; the differences are implicit but not made actual in our elucidation of the concept.


I think what you mean here is that “animal” is a genus, and “man” and “dog” are both species that share the same genus. The differences within the genus that result in different species are not explicitly mentioned in the analogy, and thus are “not made actual”. Instead, the focus is just upon the shared genus, ignoring the differences in the respective species. Hence, “differences implicit and potential”.

So, to say that X is P and Y is P under univocal predication necessarily implies that P is a common genus of X and Y, and that the specific differences that differentiate X from Y are “implicit and potential”, and thus kept out of the matter altogether, because they are not relevant in this context at all.

Analogical predication:
Renders differences implicit and actual. ("sameness within difference")



e.g.: What does it mean for Koufax and Mays to both be 'athletes who compete against others in the form of a nine-inning contest involving a sphere and bat, etc.'?
Koufax:pitching::Mays:hitting; the differences are implicit and also remain actual in our elucidation of the concept.


We have discussed this before. I think that what Koufax:pitching and Mays:hitting share in common is “great baseball player”. What counts as a “great baseball player” is different for a pitcher and for a batter, but at their core, they share this common form. In other words, what you actually have is “great baseball player”-as-a-pitcher and “great baseball player”-as-a-hitter. You cannot have a “great baseball player” without some mention of what position on the baseball team the great baseball player is fulfilling, much like you cannot have the form of “dogness” without some mention of whether that form is in matter or an immaterial intellect.

However, you can still recognize that what “great baseball player”-as-a-pitcher and “great baseball player”-as-a-hitter have in common is “great baseball player” even though the former is expressed as a pitcher and the latter is expressed as a hitter. And this would nicely fit into similarity as partial identity and partial difference, whether that difference is implicit/potential or implicit/actual. There is still an underlying partial difference.

Josh said...

And this would nicely fit into similarity as partial identity and partial difference, whether that difference is implicit/potential or implicit/actual. There is still an underlying partial difference.

You cannot have a “great baseball player” without some mention of what position on the baseball team the great baseball player is fulfilling

These two statements combined merely reinforce the taxonomy: you cannot predicate the one notion of both Koufax and Mays apart from the differences, as you note in the second statement. This means we are considering the sameness within difference. For "great baseball player" to be said to be univocal between Koufax and Mays, we would have to make the differences potential. But again, as you note in the second statement, it must take the roles into account in the concept. And this is what analogical predication is as Knasas and others outline it.

Josh said...

With all that being said, I'd amend your definitions only in 'similarity':

Identity
Difference

Similarity-

Identity apart from difference
Identity within difference

Using the taxonomies described above.

dguller said...

Josh:

There must be a difference between: 

God is necessarily the cause of creatures

and

God necessarily causes creatures

?

You are right that there is such a difference. But the point is that once God has caused creatures, he is necessarily the cause of creatures, even though he did not necessarily have to cause them. And none of this changes the implication is that he is not really the cause of creatures, because this is a Cambridge property, and thus unreal as an intrinsic property of God. That was what I wondered if it was consistent with Catholic doctrine. And if God is really the cause of creatures, then it seems that he can have a relation to creation after all?

Josh said...

Dguller,

I can only assume you are responding to a Feserpost from the past:

As Barry Miller points out in his book A Most Unlikely God, this amounts to the claim that while the relation of creatures to God is a real one, the relation of God to creatures is a mere Cambridge one, so that (for example) God’s creating the universe is one of His merely Cambridge properties.

How can this be so? As Brian Davies points out in his chapter on divine simplicity in An Introduction to Philosophy of Religion (3rd edition), what is essential to acting is the bringing about of an effect in another thing, not undergoing change oneself as one does so. What is essential to teaching, for example, is that one cause someone else to learn, and not that one lecture, write books, or the like. Of course, in created things, bringing about an effect is typically associated with undergoing change oneself (e.g. for us to cause another to learn typically requires lecturing, writing, or the like as a means). But that is accidental to agency per se, something true of us only because of our status as finite, created things. We should not expect the same thing to be true of a purely actual uncaused cause of the world. Hence there is no reason to suppose that God’s creation of the world entails a change in God Himself.

dguller said...

Josh:

These two statements combined merely reinforce the taxonomy: you cannot predicate the one notion of both Koufax and Mays apart from the differences, as you note in the second statement. This means we are considering the sameness within difference. For "great baseball player" to be said to be univocal between Koufax and Mays, we would have to make the differences potential. But again, as you note in the second statement, it must take the roles into account in the concept. And this is what analogical predication is as Knasas and others outline it.

Like I said before, this account would make all predication analogous, because any concept necessarily involves differences. To think of “triangle” is to think of a particular triangle, which necessarily differs from the universal “triangle”. To think of “animal” is to think of a particular animal, and that particular animal differs from the universal “animal”. If you are arguing that analogical predication necessarily involves actualizing differences, then you cannot ever have univocal predication.

Take your example above:

(1) A man is an animal
(2) A dog is an animal

According to you, when making the comparison of man:animal::dog:animal, you necessarily think of differences. They are not potential, except in theory. In actuality, in your actual mind, by virtue of how it operates, whenever you think of “animal” in this comparison, you necessarily think the differences, because the differences have to be present in “man” and “dog”. To think the following thought:

(3) A man is like a dog in that they are both animals

Means that you have to keep the differences in mind while thinking the sentence, because for “man” and “dog” to have any content in (3), you must bring in the differences. And that means that your distinction between univocal and analogous predication completely breaks down and ultimately becomes analogous predication, which is a problem.

Like I said before, you seem to be taking a quirk of the human mind –i.e. whenever it thinks of a general category, it necessarily brings in particulars and differences – and turning it into some metaphysical principle of predication.

What do you think?

Josh said...

According to you, when making the comparison of man:animal::dog:animal, you necessarily think of differences. They are not potential, except in theory.

Not at all; the differences are implicit, but I need not think of them at all. They are rendered potential to the predication. This is expressly considering only the sameness apart from the difference.

Like I said before, this account would make all predication analogous, because any concept necessarily involves differences.

What I find interesting about this is that I note when I look at your definitions:

(1) X is identical to Y iff X and Y share everything in common
(2) X is similar to Y (= X is like Y = X imitates Y) iff X and Y share something in common
(3) X is different from Y iff X and Y share nothing in common


I note that nothing in the world would ever fall under 1 and 3. And this is what's meant by Being being analogous. Analogical predication is the default, and univocality and equivocality only come when one side or the other is considered apart from the other...and I don't see why this should be regarded as a quirk of the mind, except to note that only minds can understand it.

dguller said...

Josh:

Not at all; the differences are implicit, but I need not think of them at all. They are rendered potential to the predication. This is expressly considering only the sameness apart from the difference.

But you cannot help but think about them, and for the same reason that when you think about the essence of triangularity, you necessarily think about a particular triangle. In this sense, there is no such thing as sameness apart from the difference, because you simultaneously need both the sameness and the difference, and keep both in mind, for the analogy to hold.

I note that nothing in the world would ever fall under 1 and 3.

That’s not true. The form of “dogness” is identical in the concept of “dogness” in the intellect and in a material dog.

Josh said...

Dguller,

I think we're talking past each other on a few things, and I think you'd agree with what I'm saying put a different way. I affirm that one understands the sameness and difference of something conceptually when the concept is formed, but I deny that the difference has to be made actual to the concept. All this means is essentially the same thing you've said elsewhere: that we can consider how a thing is the same (univocal) apart from its differences. Really, that's it. It leaves the differences implicit and potential, as when we predicate Man of Socrates, it doesn't exclude the individual traits. But abstracting with precision, to Humanity, makes predication to Socrates impossible, because it makes the differences explicit, excluding the non-common, individual characteristics.

That’s not true. The form of “dogness” is identical in the concept of “dogness” in the intellect and in a material dog.

As to this, what I meant was merely a reiteration of your own point, that every thing carries with it a sameness and difference; I mean, that's the basic thing of analogy of being. So yes, the form of dogness in the intellect is the same form that is joined with the matter of the dog. But under your definitions, those wouldn't be two separate things then; all I was pointing to is that any existent thing as individual is necessarily different in some respect, and so, strictly speaking, total identity is just A=A. Identity (univocal) predication of an X and Y (two individuals), strictly speaking, means precisely abstracting the sameness away from difference as I've outlined.

Josh said...

So in the baseball example, we have the sameness considered within difference:

Koufax:Pitching::Mays:Hitting

They both have a proportional relation to their acts of baseball playing; 'great baseball player' as predicated of these two individuals makes the differences implicit, leaving particular individual traits out of consideration, but making the differences between them, their roles, actual to the concept. This enables us to put any pitcher and hitter throughout the ages in as analogates, and apply the term equally, realizing the sameness within difference.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Ed,

Back again. I've just been having a look at your post, "William Lane Craig on divine simplicity" at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.jp/2009/11/william-lane-craig-on-divine-simplicity.html . One problem with your post is that you nowhere defined exactly what a Cambridge property was, although you did define "Cambridge change." It seems to me that you equivocate between four definitions of "Cambridge property":

(i) that which is acquired merely as a result of a change in another entity;

(ii) that which is possessed merely as a result of a change in another entity;

(iii) that which can be acquired without undergoing a change in oneself;

(iv) that which can be possessed without undergoing a change in oneself.

We can set aside definitions (i) and (iii) at once, as nonsensical when applied to God. For if God is genuinely outside time, then God cannot acquire anything.

Definition (iv) is also unhelpful: many non-Divine properties can also be possessed without undergoing a change - e.g. the property of being fat or round or happy or kind or finite.

That leaves us with (ii): that which is possessed merely as a result of a change in another entity. But definition (ii) is false, when applied to the property of being the Creator of the universe.

First, God does not have this property because things change, but because things are wholly contingent: they would be nothing without God.

Second, even the radical contingency of things is not enough to explain God's being their Creator. We do not say that God is the Creator merely because things are contingent. Rather, God is Creator because He freely chose (timelessly, of course) to create those things.

Making a free choice is an intrinsic property of the agent that makes it, although it is obviously not an essential property, if the choice is contingent. Since it is intrinsic and non-essential, making a free choice can only be an accidental property.

God, then, must have accidental properties, if He freely chose to create us. They are timeless accidental properties, to be sure, but still accidental.

As far as I can tell, no ecclesiastical definition precludes God from having such properties. Vatican I declared God to be an "unchangeable spiritual substance", but said nothing about Him having accidents.

Thoughts?

Glenn said...

dguller,

A few points, in no particular order.

1. The inference from Thomists is that my definition of analogy is inadequate, because it fails to incorporate analogies between God and created beings.

While I cannot say that no on one has intimated this, I can say that it doesn't seem to me that your definition of analogy is inadequate for the reason that it fails to incorporate analogies between God and created beings. It seems to be more this way: the definition of analogy that you use is incomplete, and one consequence of the use of your incomplete definition of analogy is that it prohibits a particular way of speaking of God and created beings. In other words, "fails to incorporate analogies between God and created beings" is a consequence, rather than the cause, of your definition's incompleteness.

2. So, when you are using the word 'likeness', I interpret it as meaning 'similar'.

'Similarity' would be the synonym for 'likeness'; it is 'like' for which 'similar' would be the synonym.

3. There must be something in common, and that "something in common" must be either identical in both X and Y, similar in both X and Y, or different in both X and Y. If it is identical in both X and Y, then we stop. If it is similar in both X and Y, then there must be a further "something in common", and you either go on in infinite regress, or you find "something in common" that is identical in both X and Y, and then you stop. If it is different in both X and Y, then it cannot be "something in common" at all.

Let's use an analogy. Let us say that "something in common" (that is identical in both X and Y) in your example is the "exact boundary which separates" in my example. My example is that of a cloud. A cloud is a visible mass of condensed water vapor floating in the atmosphere. A cloud is usually found at a high altitude, but not always so. In any case, the altitude of the cloud does not matter here. In your example, you want to zoom in until you can find that which is identical in both X and Y. In my example, zooming in takes you further away from identifying the "exact boundary which separates" (that part of the atmosphere which doesn't contain anything of the cloud and that part of the atmosphere which does contain something of the cloud). That "exact boundary which separates" cannot be found. And the closer you get in trying to find it, the less distinct the cloud becomes. Yet no one concludes that clouds do not exist, or that they hallucinate who claim that they do.

ozero91 said...

Glenn, in your cloud example, are you stating that there is a dynamic boundary (water molecules leave and enter constantly) or that there really is no boundary? Although it seems like the dynamic boundary has to assume that there is some arbitrary line between cloud and non-cloud. If there's no boundary, then does a water droplet ever "leave" the cloud or is it always part of the cloud no matter where it goes? If we can't establish an arbitrary boundary, then I don't think we can establish an arbitrary distance either (if the molecule is x miles away) it is no longer part of the cloud.) Maybe we can think of it like universal gravitation, where two masses can always be considered to exert force on eachother regardless of the distance between them. Does your cloud analogy have any implications for reductionism?

rank sophist said...

Vincent,

From my understanding, a "Cambridge property" is a logical rather than real entity, at least if we're talking about stuff like God's relationship with humans.

Another possible definition would be "virtual property", which is a logical property with a real basis in reality, unlike purely logical properties. An example of a virtual property would be the color red inside white. White is not determined by red, nor is it composed of red, nor is red really distinct from white--but we can understand redness separately when we think about it.

Papalinton said...

The difference between 'intellect' and 'divine intellect'?
The difference between 'power' and 'divine power'?
The difference between 'simplicity' and 'divine simplicity'?
The difference between 'essence' and 'divine essence'?

Nothing more than an appeal to anthropomorphic teleology, projected personification. The attribution of human characteristics (or characteristics assumed to belong only to humans) to other animals, non-living things, phenomena, material states, objects or abstract concepts, such as organizations, governments, and in the case of the christian mythos, spirits and deities. A whole bunch of words in this thread exhausted on what? The somewhat jejune and misconstrued endeavour to explain ineffability. And when push comes to shove, the 'ineffable' nature of god is a common choice of last resort for most theists. The huddle around Aquinas's largely wholesale appropriation of Aristotelian pagan philosophy simply underscores the paucity of evidence for the christian mythos. To talk of Thomism, is somewhat bittersweet irony, when one rises above the fog of Apologetics in this discussion and appreciates the extent to which christian theism is so reliant on the Thomist proposition, which is itself a wholly-owned derivative of earlier Aristotelian pagan thought.

It is not surprising to read there is but one contributor attempting to snap the tail-chasing nature of Apologetical commentary here on the 'divine intellect', and in doing, bringing some robust and rigorous questioning and challenge to the arcane idea of believers being able to not only to describe and interpret, but to also read the 'mind of god' at will.

'Divine intellect' indeed. :o)

ozero91 said...

Im pretty sure classical theism rejects anthropomorphism and personification. Classical theism deals with what God is, rather than what we want God to be.

Papalinton said...

"But divine power is not limited to altering things. In causing the world, for instance, God does not alter or modify preexisting materials after the fashion of a human artisan; rather, He creates it ex nihilo. He does not make an X by taking some existing matter and imparting a new form to it, but rather makes it the case that the whole thing -- the matter and form of X together -- exists at all. God is not like a human watchmaker, only cleverer and more skillful -- not because His causality is less than the sort represented by watchmaking, but because it is more than that."

Unsubstantiated hyperbole.

"Now this does not entail that God is less than powerful in the sense of “power” we have in mind when we speak of human power. Rather it entails that He is unimaginably more than powerful in that sense."

How do you know? What is you source of knowledge and evidence? Or is this simply a case where empirical data is anathema to 'real' understanding of a [putatively live] spectral entity?

"But divine power is not limited to altering things. In causing the world, for instance, God does not alter or modify preexisting materials after the fashion of a human artisan; rather, He creates it ex nihilo. He does not make an X by taking some existing matter and imparting a new form to it, but rather makes it the case that the whole thing -- the matter and form of X together -- exists at all. God is not like a human watchmaker, only cleverer and more skillful -- not because His causality is less than the sort represented by watchmaking, but because it is more than that."

A universal declarative statement unsupported by evidence. Unsubstantiated hyperbole.

"Rather, God is more than personal, in that everyday sense of “personal.” His intellect is not inferior to our conscious thought processes (as a stone, gravity, or even the unconscious informational states of a computer are to that extent inferior to our conscious states) but on the contrary beyond and higher than them, just as divine power is beyond and higher than the relatively trivial capacities in created things that we characterize as “powers.”

More personal than personal; a power more powerful than power, a consciousness more conscious than consciousness.

Dr Feser, this is not philosophy. This is a sermon. And the ideas promulgated here are not unique to christianity. Indeed they have all been declared at one time or another, and claimed as uniquely pertinent to their particular stripe of human origins stories, in their various incantations, forms and guises since the year dot. There are any number of decent academic contributions that will more than adequately outline the historiographical account of religions in cultures that simply puts paid to the notion of 'divine intellect' as anything other than a purely religious construct.

Edward Feser said...

Papalinton,

It is tiresome to have to repeat this, in every blog post, to every dime-store skeptic who swoops in thinking he can dispatch serious arguments without bothering to try to understand them, merely by flinging whatever smarmy, ill-informed objection he just pulled out of his backside. But here goes:

This is a blog post written in response to a specific question. That's it. It is not intended as a complete, one-stop demonstration of the existence of God and of the various divine attributes which answers every objection anyone has ever given. I've defended arguments for God's existence and the various divine attributes elsewhere, such as in my books Aquinas and The Last Superstition. I've addressed various specific objections in other blog posts, in articles, etc. The point of the present post is merely to apply ideas defended in these other places to a specific question. And in fact I emphasized just this point toward the end of the post, precisely in anticipation of stupid remarks like yours.

It really is amazing how utterly devoid of basic reading skills -- and indeed, of the common decency of trying to give an opponent a minimally fair reading -- are so many self-described proponents of "critical thinking" and "rationality."

Papalinton said...

>Im pretty sure classical theism rejects anthropomorphism and personification. Classical theism deals with what God is, rather than what we want God to be.

Hi, you're probably mistaking me for a non-troll who has the slightest idea what he's talking about or cares. Really, I expected to stir up a lot more trouble than that mild, on topic statement of fact. Comeon guys, feed me, I'm hungry!!!

Papalinton said...

ozero91
"Im pretty sure classical theism rejects anthropomorphism and personification. Classical theism deals with what God is, rather than what we want God to be"

I'm sure they do reject anthropomorphism and personification. What else can they do to minimize the cognitive dissonance they generate other than to sequester and compartmentalize them. The question is how can one reject anthropomorphism and personification when Homo saps can only perceive and be deceived through the primary senses? How does classical theism know what god is? Where is Classical Theism, that claims all its answers are true and inviolable, any more cogent and substantive from those that subscribe to the Theistic Personalist perspective that equally claim their answers are true and inviolable?

How does one determine and select apart from personal proclivity?
I say, christian theism is bit of a dog's breakfast really.

ozero91 said...

"How does classical theism know what god is?"

Read TLS and Aquinas. Your answer lies therein.

You should start a blog.

rank sophist said...

Papalinton is a (slightly deranged) fugitive from Victor Reppert's blog. Standard practice over there is to ignore him, and I'd recommend that response here as well.

Papalinton said...

Dr Feser
I read the question, and I carefully read your response. I also noted your guarantee waiver clause at the conclusion of your commentary that you kindly pointed out to me.

The ploy to denigrate an interlocutor, ..."But we see, here as elsewhere, that you have not understood classical and Scholastic philosophy in general and A-T in particular until you see how radically they differ from modern philosophy across the board. " ... is a fairly common put down when one's favoured ideas are questioned. Oh, I understand classical and scholastic philosophy and the notion of A-T well enough to appreciate when the wool is being pulled over one's eyes. And yes, you are correct, I do reject the metaphysical assumptions underlying the A-T approach by the simple virtue of their being 'assumptions'. But that should not be a cause for refraining to respond to your opinion piece. I am sure Dennett, Drange or John Harris would have something to say about your response to the questioner should they have had a mind to. Well, I do and I did. Whether you imagine it came from my arse or not is irrelevant.

You say, "The errors of the moderns (as we philosophical reactionaries see things) are not just errors in philosophy of religion and metaphysics, but in epistemology, philosophy of mind, and pretty much everything else, and the errors are all deeply interrelated."

Is this perspective of the 'errors of the moderns' a result of philosophers, who by happenstance are also believers, collectively deciding that they don't train philosophers like they used to, in the good-old Aquinas fashion? Or is it a swipe at the moderns for incorporating the sciences, the neuro-sciences, etc into their deliberations, you know, a scientifically-informed philosophy that is nibbling at the edges of Thomistic philosophy and natural theology? I note there is little response in you blog to the mounting knowledge base of the sciences of the mind that yet even in their infancy are clearly rewriting the chapter on the mind and brain, through which a diverging narrative is emerging to that of theism.

And your, " .... until you see how radically they differ from modern philosophy across the board." is really a plea from the heart for stasis, a reactionary conservatism to progress and modernity. And I can understand that too, given the trend in the community away from a religion conception of a life well lived to one more in keeping with a contemporary non-tribal civilization, one that is more accepting of diversity and a heterogenous community.

Anthony Fleming said...

Amazing questions by dguller here and very interesting comments in return! Very much enjoyed it. Thanks everyone for your contributions, I learned a lot.

Anthony Fleming said...

And then Papalinton came in.

Papalinton said...

ozero91
"Read TLS and Aquinas. Your answer lies therein."

Try not to be foolish. Feser might have found an answer in one and used it as a basis for writing the other. But they are not 'real' answers to the vicissitudes of the human condition. Theism no longer carries the sway it once did at the centre of community. A more reasoned, empirical, wider, inclusive and powerful explanatory model is emerging within the community against which a society can assess the progress and development of well-being.

There are two kinds of philosophy, scientifically-informed philosophy and scientifically-uninformed philosophy. Scientifically-uninformed philosophy is just, well ........ theology. To read TLS and Aquinas is to cocoon oneself into stasis within a cloud of theo-philosophical musings, an echo chamber of earlier Aristotelian pagan philosophy. To read TLS and Aquinas is not an advancement in human knowledge and understanding but a childlike umbilical attachment, a return to the juvenile stage of humanity's long-passed infancy. The anxiety of religionists to tread the boardwalk as a grown-up, independent, responsible and mature adult without a celestial 'father' monitoring their every second, underlies the deep existential fear of religionists of their incapacity to strike out on their own.

Bullpup said...

Try not to be foolish. Feser might have found an answer in one and used it as a basis for writing the other.

You wouldn't know, since you haven't read the books, or the posts on this site. Hence your misunderstandings.

Please, please, please stop embarrassing atheists. kthx :(

BenYachov said...

I wrote the following on Victor's blog then Paps somehow decided it meant I "invited" him here.

QUOTE"Over at Feser's blog an Atheist fellow by the name of dguller is going to drive us a little crazy.

Not because like Paps he is going to spew a gaggle of ignorant nonsense. Or bore the shit out of us with senseless ridicule.

No dguller has done much of the relevant reading in classic philosophy. So he is going to ask many principled and tough questions about Thomism. He wouldn't be caught dead using the lame ass ignorant blather from the link Paps provided. In fact dguller says he has been verbally abused by Cult of the Gnu jag offs when he tried to explain Thomistic concepts to them and why their trope arguments don't fly.


Anyway what is going to drive us a little crazy is we Thomist wannabes are going to have to put up an actual fight. We are going to have to actually learn more about our Thomism to answer dguller. Sometime we might not have the answers we need right away.

In short unlike Paps who defends Atheism like Old people bump uglies. dguller will drive us a little crazy by actually legitimately challenging us.

The tragic part is Paps is too much of a lazy f*** to actually read any of it & see how it is done.

He would actually have to learn something and that might hurt his fundie brain which craves the simple minded.

Tragic.END

Well I love being right. Paps has refused to read any of the material. I doubt he has read even one post by dguller.

He is here to become djindra replacement nothing more.

Funny thing is he claims to be a retired teacher down under. Yet he has no desire to learn. None at all.

Anthony Fleming said...

Papalinton, your deluded because of your depravity from separating yourself from God. This is causing you to make up these mere deluded and atheistic projections.

You see how easy it is to make sermonizing assertions about others without dealing with the actual issues?

While most people on these blogs, including the atheists, seem to disregard your statements, I actually enjoy all the time you take to write. Why? Because your sermons provide demonstrable proof that atheists can be completely and fundamentally dogmatic. :) Keep it up! I have actually used your posts as examples in discussions with some of my atheists friends, who formerly denied the existence of atheists like you. For me, that was just a little less satisfying than persuading them that God exists. :)

Have a great night.

johnmc said...

Haven't read everything in this thread but my comments on virtual distinction etc. are as follows

I would say that a distinction of logical features of a thing does not have to be a distinction of being. If X and Y are two properties that cannot be reduced to one another it does not follow that X and Y are two beings.

So I would distinguish logical complexity (possessing many logical features that are irreducible to each other) from ontological complexity (having many moving parts or other ontological parts). I think God as first cause would have to be ontologically simple (not made up of prior or more fundamental parts, since then we would have something prior to God) but at the same time would have to be logically complex, especially if he is omniscient.

Papalinton said...

"And then Papalinton came in."

Thanks, Anthony. I thought that a stint of commenting on this site was with some merit, if only to symbolically introduce Darwin's fish into the christian pond. I am reminded of Taner Edis, esteemed American physicist and author, when he notes:
"Theologians hardly predicted the Big Bang .... Even if a beginning for the universe is a successful prediction of one version of theism, this is still not that impressive. After all, even a stopped clock is right twice a day. The Big Bang becomes strong support for God only with an argument showing that such a beginning requires a Creator."

There has been much talk about, ink spilt and quibble over the millennia of christian philosophizing, theologizing and hot-housing but in the final analysis, neither Aquinas nor Feser [the Alpha and the Omega of the Thomistic continuum] have demonstrated that. Indeed the LaPlacian axiom, "'Je n 'ai pas besoin de cette hypothèse." best represents the reality of the totality of Apologetical scholarship.

"Divine intellect" indeed. :o)

The question I ask is why is it always left to the terrestrially-bound apparatchiks of catholic hegemony to respond on god's behalf. Surely an omni-max entity, the Anselmian 'a being of which none greater can be conceived', would even need earthlings let alone use them as canon fodder to 'man' the battlements of christendom seems a long stretch in logic. The concept is pretty ludicrous even in the most generous of light.

I'm sure Feser will appreciate the robust nature of my commentary which should compliment his somewhat combative style.

Glenn said...

ozero91,

The questions you raise are interesting to think about. What I'm going to do is raise two additional general questions (a), then briefly respond to your last question (b).

(a) Given the definition of a cloud as a visible mass of condensed water vapor: 1) when does a mass of condensed water vapor become visible? 2) when does it cease to be visible?

(b) Does your cloud analogy have any implications for reductionism?

To keep it short, and speak honestly, I don't see how it might.

The point of the cloud analogy, basically, was to suggest that approximation in analogy is not verboten. Analogy, to be sure, often involves exactitude. But it also can involve approximation without exactitude, and it is not 'illegal' for it to do so.

rank sophist said...

Not only did theologians predict the Big Bang, it was first discovered by a Catholic priest.

Just wanted to throw a jab at Paps. I have no interest in engaging him.

Papalinton said...

Papalinton said...
>Im pretty sure classical theism rejects anthropomorphism and personification. Classical theism deals with what God is, rather than what we want God to be.

Hi, you're probably mistaking me for a non-troll who has the slightest idea what he's talking about or cares. Really, I expected to stir up a lot more trouble than that mild, on topic statement of fact. Comeon guys, feed me, I'm hungry!!!

September 15, 2012 6:26 PM


This is a very interesting combox that apparently is attributed to me. If one were a' conspiracy theorist' one would probably not smile at the infantile attempt at the "messin' with my mind" counterintelligence strategy that appears to bless this site. But smile I do.

I wonder if it is Feser's altar-ego? [Persiflage Ed, pure persiflage]

Bullpup said...

Papalinton,

I'm sure Feser will appreciate the robust nature of my commentary

Well, then perhaps you should start by explaining, in your own words, why formal and final causes are not present in nature.

If you can't do that, it's going to be clear you just don't have much to offer here. You don't really seem to have a very good style, and if you're totally lacking substance...

Edward Feser said...

rank sophist wrote:

Papalinton is ... (slightly deranged)...

Oh my goodness, you ain't kidding.

Standard practice over there is to ignore him, and I'd recommend that response here as well.

Yes, stupid of me not to have done so from the start. When one is hard at work on other stuff, visits the combox for some diversion, and then comes across crap like that straightaway, one's annoyance can get the better of one's judgment. Oh well, live and learn.

Cale B.T. said...

Crazy party at Feser's!

A friend of mine who couldn't make it told me to say the following on his account.

*Deep breath*

VICHY FRANCE CATHOLOFASCISM!!! RUDY GOOOOLIANI!!

Ahem.

Eduardo said...

What the heck, we lose Touch to get THAT !!!

O_O F*** this S***

u_u so who is with me, about cloning dguller 9 times?

we could .... clone Reighley and Upload jesse´s mind XD, so we have Jesse and eJesse

rank sophist said...

Cale,

This is kind of off-topic (isn't everything?), but high-five on that avatar. Funny to see a fellow fan of the classics on a philosophy blog.

Papalinton said...

"When one is hard at work on other stuff, visits the combox for some diversion, and then comes across crap like that straightaway, one's annoyance can get the better of one's judgment. Oh well, live and learn."

Oooohhh! A little pouty are we? The demeanour of a theo-philosopher whose professional raison d'être has been challenged and found inexplicable.

One further observation of your opinion piece:

"But in fact it is central to the notion of an immaterial substance that it is simple ..."

Where is the fact in this statement? Rather, more of an assertion than a fact, in the ordinary sense of the word. Or is it simply a turn of phrase? Are you sure you are not confusing 'simple' with 'simplistic' which would better characterize the nature of 'putatively living' immaterialism? Or is the implication akin to the song; 'The hills are alive with the sound of music'.

Yoiks!

For the benefit of the believer crowd on this site who by dint of their religious upbringing are unable to recognize and appreciate the tenor of my response, let me simply say it is more parody than parable, a satire on unchecked teleology that suffuses the christian mythos.




Papalinton said...

Ed
Rank says, "Standard practice over there is to ignore him, and I'd recommend that response here as well."

No, not standard practice over there. Rank is telling you a little porky for jesus. A couple of weeks ago Rank, crude, and another mud-shoveler [I cannot for the life of me remember his name] imposed a triune religious fatwa on my commentary. Yes, I remember now, Yachov. Needless to say, there has been no shortage of respondents to my comments; even the good Doctor Reppert responds on occasion as he has done over the last year or so. While I may seem implacably opposed to religious superstition, it is important that believers be reminded that the sentiments first promulgated in the Enlightenment period are now finding their feet into the 21stC after centuries of religious domination of the town square. The rise and rise of empiricism, methodological naturalism, and the advent of scientifically-informed philosophy that found its voice in the latter half of the 20thC bring to the table a far more inclusive, cogent, relevant and a more powerful vision going forward, with far greater explanatory power, indicative of the irrevocable trend in the community away from the theologically-derived worldview.

ozero91 said...

Papalinton,

Okay, I saw that you do have a blog, why don't you start posting there?

If you want people to respond don't post meaningless walls of text, make concise statements, or even better, syllogisms.

BenYachov said...

This is tragic. You had an excellent & challenging critique of Thomism coming from dguller then Paps showed up sucking up all the oxygen with his brain dead anti-intellectual uneducated twattle.

It's like real life. All the stupid Atheists (Dawkins, Dennett, Myers the late Hitchens) get all the popular press. Where as the intelligent ones (Smith, Jack Smart, Nagel, Stove etc) who know what they are talking about are ignored.

Against stupidity even the gods themselves contend in vain.

>s. A couple of weeks ago Rank, crude, and another mud-shoveler [I cannot for the life of me remember his name] imposed a triune religious fatwa on my commentary. Yes, I remember now, Yachov.

Yes it is gratifying to know I have gotten under your skin. But that is your own fault. You defend Atheism like Old people have sex.

I still can't believe this guy was ever a teacher. No love of learning for it's own sake. At least dguller shows a love of learn Thomism and Aristole even if he doesn't believe in it.

Tragic.

Anonymous said...

Dr Feser you should ban the trolls.

BenYachov said...

I agree.

Anyway enough of this crap sucking up the oxygen.

God's intelligence vs Human intelligence. What does or can an analogous comparison tell us?

People?

Edward Feser said...

Dr Feser you should ban the trolls.

I prefer to let the combox self-police to the extent that I can. Don't feed the trolls and most will refrain from crapping up the combox. (I momentarily fed the current troll because I hadn't known of his trollish background.)

In the history of the blog I've banned only 3 or 4 people, and they were really asking for it. The majority of even the more obnoxious comments I've let stand, and longtime readers know that there are several critics who comment fairly regularly, not all of them as smart and intellectually honest as dguller. Yet still I occasionally get fools claiming that I ban people who disagree with me, etc.

So, again, please don't feed the trolls. And don't even talk about them for that matter.

dguller said...

Rank:

Let’s focus upon this idea of “virtual distinction”. It seems that you are claiming that virtual distinction protects God’s metaphysical simplicity from his possession of a multiplicity of distinct forms, which superficially at least, seems to be a contradiction. Your claim is that in order for there to be a contradiction, there must be simplicity and composition, in the same sense, and the simplicity of God is real whereas the multiplicity is virtual, and thus you cannot have a contradiction between real simplicity and virtual multiplicity.

I’ve been mulling over this idea on various occasions over the weekend, and have come up with a few responses to it. Let me know what you think.

First, it is my understanding that divine simplicity is supposed to be due to God’s absolute simplicity. In other words, God’s simplicity is supposed to lack any and all types of composition. The fact that it has virtual composition seems to negate that, and thus he does have one kind of composition after all, which means that he is not absolutely simple, but only relatively so. Another indication of this is that he has a distinction between real simplicity and virtual composition, which means that he is composed of real simplicity and virtual composition, which means that he has composition after all, but in another way.

Second, it seems that the virtual, and thus implicit, possession of a multiplicity of forms is closely akin to potentiality, which is probably why Wippel basically identified the two as the same thing. To have the potential to do X means to have X in a pre-existent and virtual fashion, and when X goes from pre-existent and virtual X to actual X, then the potentiality has been actualized. If that is the case, then it seems that if God has multiple forms an in implicit and virtual fashion, and implicit and virtual forms would necessarily be a kind of potentiality, then it follows that God himself must contain a kind of potentiality, which would compromise his state of being pure actuality.

Third, in order for F to be a virtual and pre-existent form, F must be implicit, and not be explicit. An implicit F is a pre-existent and virtual F, and an explicit F is a real F. After all, you have argued that a virtual distinction is not a real distinction, and actually is essentially unreal until it is made explicit by an intellect. This becomes a problem when it comes to God, because it would be impossible for a pre-existent and virtual F to be implicit to God’s intellect. Nothing is implicit to God, and that must include his pre-existent and virtual forms. In other words, they must all be explicit to him, and thus cannot possibly be virtual, and instead must be real. If that is correct, then they are not virtually distinct, but really distinct, and thus there is a real composition in God.

dguller said...

Fourth, if God cannot have real distinctions, but only virtual distinctions, then the distinction between the persons of the Trinity are necessarily virtual distinctions. In other words, until they are conceived by an intellect, they are “non-existent”. Does that mean that until a created intellect conceives of them, the persons of the Trinity remain “non-existent”, and only afterwards become “actually” distinct? But, that would imply temporality and change in God, which is impossible, i.e. non-existent X becomes actual X in God. But if the persons of the Trinity cannot change their ontological status in this way, then the distinction between them is necessarily either eternally “non-existent” or “actual”. Both of these possiblities pose huge problems for the Trinity. If the distinction between the persons in the Trinity is eternally “non-existent”, then it is not “grounded in reality” at all, which is a condition of virtual distinction, and thus it cannot be a virtual distinction at all, which means that it is a real distinction, and which means there is composition in God. And if the distinction between the persons in the Trinity is eternally “actual”, then it is a real distinction, and there is composition in God.

Given these problems, it seems that the doctrine of virtual distinction (a) still implies a kind of composition to an absolutely simple being, which is supposed to be absolutely simple and not relatively simple, (b) implies that a purely actual being necessarily has potentiality within him, (c) that in God, it is impossible for there to be any virtual distinction whatsoever, given the fact that there is no such thing as implicit to God’s intellect, and (d) that it makes you either give up any distinction between the different persons in the Trinity or divine simplicity.

If this critique is correct, then the doctrine of virtual distinction does not save the problem of a metaphysically simple being possessing a multiplicity of forms within itself, and for a number of reasons. If that is true, then there is still a genuine contradiction at the heart of Thomism, which has not yet been resolved.

dguller said...

And guys, as for me responding to Papalinton, neither in my professional medical career nor in my personal life do I ever deal with Pap smears.

dguller said...

Glenn & Josh:

I'll be replying to your posts when I have time later today or tomorrow. Sorry for the delay, I took my kids to see their grandparents this weekend. Intentionally avoided the computer, but not thinking about our discussion. Comments to follow. :)

Anonymous said...

And guys, as for me responding to Papalinton, neither in my professional medical career nor in my personal life do I ever deal with Pap smears.

*snrrk*

Well said.

Papalinton said...

To be categorised as a troll on a website that extols religious superstition is a badge of honour of sorts.

There are no errors in my commentary, just different assessments of the same information. No one has contested any of the information as false. The reactions so far have been simply defensive autonomic responses from those whose theistic bubble has been pricked and they feel very sorely.

Yes, it is abundantly clear I do not read from the same hymn book as others on this site but that in itself should not be construed as trollish behaviour. After more than twenty years as a god-fearing, bible thumping god-botherer, reaching each milestone of the rites of christian passage of my early journey, [baptism, Sunday School, church services, Religious Instruction at primary school, Confirmation, reading of the Banns, church wedding, children baptised], I do understand the emotionally charged pull of christian enculturation and the dissonance that comes with defending the tradition.

Feser's representation of the world is an ethereal one, gossamer predicated solely on tradition and convention. There are no decisions made by a god, no matter the form of cultural manifestation envisaged. There is no interference of the natural world by [putatively] live immaterialism. The closest that any god gets to making decisions, is by proxy, the magisterium in the case of catholics, a bunch of misogynist farts all members of the 'old school' net. It is this 'Men Only' club that constitutes the real-life, real-time 'mind of god', the hand in the puppet. The rest is physical and emotional swoon, amply dealt with in the disciplines of sociology, psychology, psychiatry, the various specialisms of the neuro-sciences and anthropology.

Religion does not progress as science does. Indeed 'progress' in religion is synonymous with more rather than better. Science is a fundamental process that is substitutive and/or eliminative. New ideas replace old ideas, old ideas are thrown out as new and improved ones are discovered and confirmed. Scientists no longer refer to Copernicus and Ptolemy other than in an historical sense. Religion, by contrast, is accumulative and/or schismatic at its core. New and old ideas proliferate and swirl indiscriminately alongside each other.

CONT.

Papalinton said...

CONT.
That is the reason that the old ideas of Aquinas, Augustine and other ancients, which should rightly have been consigned to the history books, are bandied about as if they are the contemporary. Christian theism is an Argumentum ad nauseam or argument from repetition or argumentum ad infinitum, an argument made repeatedly (by different people) until nobody cares to listen any more, pretty much as the recent decades of ARIS religious identification survey polls are demonstrating. I suspect for the most times, but perhaps I'm being a little harsh here, this repetitive, interpretative interpretation of others interpretations over the centuries, seem to form a proof by assertion [an Apologetical literary device that substitutes for 'evidence']. Equally, competing and diametric ideas are resolved through schism. That is why the catholic church broke away from the Eastern Orthodox over the Filioque, among other irreconcilable positions:

"Almost from the very beginning, Christians referred to the Church as the "One, Holy, Catholic [from the Greek καθολική, or "according to the whole"] and Apostolic Church". Today, in addition to the Orthodox Church, a number of other Christian churches lay claim to this title (including the Catholic Church, the Anglican Communion, the Assyrian Church and the Oriental Orthodox Church); however, the Orthodox Church considers these other churches to be schismatic and, in some cases, heretical. In the Orthodox view, the Assyrians and Orientals left the Orthodox Church in the first few centuries after Christ, and later the Catholics did the same, becoming the largest ever group to leave the Church. This event is known as the East–West Schism, and it is traditionally dated to the year 1054, although it was more of a gradual process than a sudden break." [my bolding] SEE HERE under Definition


"Was the Roman Catholic Church a part of the Orthodox Church?
Yes, the Roman Catholic Church was a part of the Orthodox Church, believing and teaching the same doctrines and Sacred Tradition, until 1054. It was the Roman Catholic Church that broke away from the Orthodox Church. In that year the Patriarch of Rome, or the bishop of Rome, also known as the Pope of Rome broke away from the original Church by making unacceptable claims of authority over the entire Christian Church. Since then, the Roman Catholic Church has added new teachings, which the ancient Christian Church above rejects. One of these is the Doctrine of the Infallibility of the Pope. Not only this doctrine but also other matters of the faith have developed within the Roman Catholic Church which has since has separated both these Churches." HERE :o)

The work of a troll?
Hardly. Just the truth in the factual sense. It's all about evidence and substantiation of claims.

dguller said...

Josh:

I think we're talking past each other on a few things, and I think you'd agree with what I'm saying put a different way. I affirm that one understands the sameness and difference of something conceptually when the concept is formed, but I deny that the difference has to be made actual to the concept. All this means is essentially the same thing you've said elsewhere: that we can consider how a thing is the same (univocal) apart from its differences. Really, that's it. It leaves the differences implicit and potential, as when we predicate Man of Socrates, it doesn't exclude the individual traits. But abstracting with precision, to Humanity, makes predication to Socrates impossible, because it makes the differences explicit, excluding the non-common, individual characteristics.


My point is that whether the differences are explicit or implicit, actual or potential, the point is that in any analogy there must be a true partial identity at some level of analysis and a true partial difference at some level of analysis. Neither have to be explicit or actual, and can be implicit or potential, at least at first, but there must be some level of analysis in which the partial identity and partial difference become explicit and actual. If they both remain implicit and potential, then you actually have no idea what the analogy is about. You might as well say that X is like Y without specifying anything about X or Y.

They both have a proportional relation to their acts of baseball playing; 'great baseball player' as predicated of these two individuals makes the differences implicit, leaving particular individual traits out of consideration, but making the differences between them, their roles, actual to the concept. This enables us to put any pitcher and hitter throughout the ages in as analogates, and apply the term equally, realizing the sameness within difference.

Again, I just don’t see how this is particularly relevant at all. “Great baseball player” is the general category, which can be further specified (i.e. great pitcher), which can be even more further specified (i.e. great left handed pitcher), which can be even more specified (i.e. great left handed fastball pitcher), and on and on. All of these further specifications are under “great baseball player”, and what they all share in common is something like “maximally actualizes their particular role within the baseball team to maximally improve its chances of winning baseball games”. As I wrote in our previous engagement on this issue, I think that this general definition of what it means to be a “great baseball player” is not rich with content, but it is not empty either. If you want to reject it as totally empty, then you might as well also reject the following definition:

X is good = X maximally actualizes the essential potential secondary actualities contained in X’s primary actualities.

dguller said...

Josh:

This definition does not say what “X” is, what the “primary actualities” are, and what the “secondary actualities” are, but it is the general definition of “goodness” for Thomism, particular as it is applied to composite finite beings. It has some content, because we can abstract from particular good things to a general idea of “goodness”, and I don’t see any difference between the case of “good” and the case of “great baseball player”.

The bottom line is whether the partial identity or partial difference is implicit or explicit, as long as there is a real partial identity at some level of analysis and a real partial difference at some level of analysis, then there is a similarity relationship, and thus an analogous relationship. If there is either no real partial identity and/or no real partial difference, then you have no similarity, and thus you have no analogy.

Sameness-within-difference and sameness-without-difference both collapse into the same definition of "similarity", i.e. the one that I elucidated above. They do not stand as counterexamples of my definition, but are simply different sub-groups of it.

Papalinton said...

Anonymous
"And guys, as for me responding to Papalinton, neither in my professional medical career nor in my personal life do I ever deal with Pap smears.
*snrrk*
Well said.


Yes, a sad indictment of the anonymity of the net. It seems even supposedly trusted, respected and highly regarded members of the community, who also have pledged the Hippocratic oath of the medical profession to do no harm, can set aside even the most fundamental ethical and moral guiding principles with scant personal conscience or regard. It is equally an indictment on atheism if this comment is indeed that of a fellow atheist, as I am led to believe by Ben Yachov. I seems I have been sold a dummy. Caveat emptor.

But the hurt is done.

ozero91 said...

Lighten up Papa, he agrees with your worldview, just not your way of presenting it.

dguller said...

Papalinton:

Cry me a river.

I am an atheist, and I am appalled by my compatriots wasting everyone's time with critiques that do not attack their opponents on their strongest possible terms and without even trying to understand those terms at all. If you want to burn straw men, then go to a farm and enjoy yourself. Whether you do it there or here, you will be no closer to the truth, which is all you should care about. This is not about you or me or Feser or anyone, but about the truth. I have personally been vilified on atheist blogs and told to fuck off on this blog by someone I respect and have learned from, but I try not to take any of it personally. It is only about the arguments, and has always been about the arguments, which is all you should focus upon.

And if you can’t focus upon the strongest arguments of your opponents, and would rather attack popular misconceptions and other fantasies, then you might as well take candy from a baby and call yourself a man. I highly doubt that you would do such a thing and be proud of yourself.

So, why engage in that behaviour here?

BenYachov said...

@dguller

I hope this doesn't sound too gay or too creepy but I love you man.

You dude are my hero.

Of course as Clint Eastwood said in HEARTBREAK RIDGE that doesn't me you and I are going to be taking warm showers in the wee hours of the morning together but you da man.

Cheers.

BenYachov said...

At this point I think you know way more Thomism than me dguller m'lad.

>My point is that whether the differences are explicit or implicit, actual or potential, the point is that in any analogy there must be a true partial identity at some level of analysis and a true partial difference at some level of analysis.

This was one of your first principled objections to the doctrine of analogy. (Thought this is the best formulation I've seen you make so far.)

It threw me for a loop at the time hence I acted like a dick too you because I couldn't answer it.

I'm used to correcting the brain dead monkey shit guys like Paps throw around. A real objection caught me off guard.

But I have read some Gilson. We can know God has Intelligence in that He simply knows.

But how He knows the form His intelligence takes in Him, that we cannot comprehend or unequivocally describe. There can be no unequivocal comparison such in the sense of imagining God as a Giant Cosmic Brain tha behaves like our brains.

But we can say God knows(i.e. has positive knowledge) and thus by definition has intelligence.

I'll let the others who know way way more answer better.

I know when I am out of my league.
I'm cool with it.

dover_beach said...

Science is a fundamental process that is substitutive and/or eliminative. New ideas replace old ideas, old ideas are thrown out as new and improved ones are discovered and confirmed....Religion, by contrast, is accumulative...

If this were true, then what contemporary scientific knowledge is true, and thus not subject to substitution/ elimination? And whatever happened to the phrase that "we see further having stood on the shoulders of giants" uttered for instance by Newton? Not accumulative, hey? Dear, oh dear.

Nick Corrado said...

Dguller, I wanted to respond to your 9/16/12 5:00 PM post, first objection. Keep in mind, though, that I definitely don't understand all of the concepts discussed here. This is just my take as a "Thomist-in-training," so to speak:
First, it is my understanding that divine simplicity is supposed to be due to God’s absolute simplicity. In other words, God’s simplicity is supposed to lack any and all types of composition. The fact that it has virtual composition seems to negate that, and thus he does have one kind of composition after all, which means that he is not absolutely simple, but only relatively so. Another indication of this is that he has a distinction between real simplicity and virtual composition, which means that he is composed of real simplicity and virtual composition, which means that he has composition after all, but in another way."

It seems to me you're misunderstanding "virtual composition." When we make a distinction virtually about something, say between the transcendentals, we are distinguishing for the purposes of understanding, not because the distinction actually exists, and this distinction isn't actually part of the nature of the subject at all. It's incoherent to say that God is composed of real simplicity and virtual composition because we're not even attributing virtual composition to him, we're just using it as a framework to look at his real simplicity in various ways.

Imagine that God is a large wall, its form utterly incomprehensible to us when we look with our bare eyes. Now imagine that we set up several windows around it to study it, each tinted for a certain concept. When we look through the red window, say, we see God as Pure Act, and indeed, this wall looks Red, it is Act. When we look through the window tinted blue we see God as Good, and looking through this window the wall certainly just looks blue, just is Good.

Now of course the windows aren't part of the wall, we put up the windows around the wall. They're our conceptual framework, distinct from the divinely simple wall. But even if we looked through all the windows at once all we'd get is black, the sum of all the colors, and that's still composite! Of course the wall isn't black or any color then, but can it be white, the absence of all colors? No, God is still Goodness, God is still Act, God is still Being, He does not lack these.... Ultimately it seems looking in terms of all of these windows isn't going to get us any closer to understanding God's simplicity.

Josh said...

Hello Dguller,

How's it hanging. Getting back to the grind:

I don't want to be construed as saying something as ridiculous as the two things have nothing in common, nor that the predication of analogy proceeds without this.

In my mind, the analogy of being at its heart says that no two individuals as they exist are either completely the same, or completely different. That's fairly uncontroversial. I'm largely in agreement with you on this issue, except what I perceive as logicism in your application of the analogical concept.

To me, it's really simple; for any term predicated, I just ask, what does a term applied mean in terms of the thing's actual existence? So for instance:

Animal means 'body with sensitive power' and applies equally to dog and man, even though man has rationality to differentiate it from the dog. This means we're considering the differences implicit and potential, and therefore, we have a univocal predication. You don't have to understand a man and animal's animal natures with explicit reference to their rationality or lack thereof.

Great baseball player presents a different case though. So what does this mean in each case? Why are Koufax and Mays both called great baseball players? Koufax is called one because of his pitching, and Mays one because of his hitting. And to understand how each “maximally actualizes their particular role within the baseball team to maximally improve its chances of winning baseball games” we have to make explicit reference to what that role actually is.

Same thing with goodness applied to triangles and man. To understand what good means when applied to both, we have to make explicit that man's goodness is moral, to understand just what 'good' applied to him means. And this is the thing triangles lack, even though both "maximally actualize the essential potential secondary actualities contained in primary actualities."

It's not enough that they are partially the same and partially different, but that they are partially the same and partially different within one and the same notion, and that merely confining your analysis to what's same in that notion necessarily leaves part of the meaning out of one of the analogates. What kind of analysis are you doing if you don't make explicit reference to the moral aspect in your concept of goodness applied to triangle and man? It's incomplete! Plus, you would ipso facto be implying that both the triangle and man have the same amount of perfection of goodness in each by that univocal analysis, as in the dog and man---->animal example. But as you know that's not true; Man has more of the perfection by his very difference.

rank sophist said...

First, it is my understanding that divine simplicity is supposed to be due to God’s absolute simplicity. In other words, God’s simplicity is supposed to lack any and all types of composition. The fact that it has virtual composition seems to negate that, and thus he does have one kind of composition after all, which means that he is not absolutely simple, but only relatively so. Another indication of this is that he has a distinction between real simplicity and virtual composition, which means that he is composed of real simplicity and virtual composition, which means that he has composition after all, but in another way.

It's important to keep in mind what "absolute simplicity" meant under the philosophical terms of 100-1300 AD. There were only a set number of ways that a thing could be said to be composed, and God did not fit in any of them. For example:

Is God on the Porphyrian tree? No.
Does God contain any accidents under the ten categories? No.
Is God a substance? No.
Is God composed of form and matter? No.
Is God composed of actuality and potentiality? No.
Is God composed of essence and existence? No.

What, then, is left? He's not on the Porphyrian tree, nor is he in the ten categories, nor is he composed of anything. Because there are no other modes of composition, it must follow that God is not in any way composite. The virtual distinction does not change any of this. It does not put him under any trees or categories, nor does it cause him to be composed of essence and existence, nor actuality and potentiality, nor form and matter. It follows that God must still be absolutely simple, even if a modern reader might take "absolutely simple" to mean something different than did the ancients.

"Virtual composition", remember, is not really in the subject, even if it has a real basis in the subject. Hence, white is not "really red" or "really blue", nor is it "really composed of red and blue". Red and blue rely on white, but white does not rely on them. It is because white is white that red and blue are implicit within it; it is because God is God that all possible goodness, truth, nobility and beauty are implicit within him, even though they are not really distinct.

In a similar vein, Aquinas says that a statue might be said to look like a man, but a man might not be said to look like a statue. (Obviously, some people today liken others to statues; but it is to say that they are in some sense non-human, possibly less than human.)

Second, it seems that the virtual, and thus implicit, possession of a multiplicity of forms is closely akin to potentiality, which is probably why Wippel basically identified the two as the same thing. To have the potential to do X means to have X in a pre-existent and virtual fashion, and when X goes from pre-existent and virtual X to actual X, then the potentiality has been actualized. If that is the case, then it seems that if God has multiple forms an in implicit and virtual fashion, and implicit and virtual forms would necessarily be a kind of potentiality, then it follows that God himself must contain a kind of potentiality, which would compromise his state of being pure actuality.

But white light is not potentially red, nor does it have a potential for redness within it. Redness is actually within it in a virtual way. What might be said is that red has a potential for existence outside of white--a potential removed from whiteness itself, since whiteness only has actual, virtual redness. (Key difference: while whiteness must be the act against a separate potency, God creates ex nihilo.)

rank sophist said...

Third, in order for F to be a virtual and pre-existent form, F must be implicit, and not be explicit. An implicit F is a pre-existent and virtual F, and an explicit F is a real F. After all, you have argued that a virtual distinction is not a real distinction, and actually is essentially unreal until it is made explicit by an intellect. This becomes a problem when it comes to God, because it would be impossible for a pre-existent and virtual F to be implicit to God’s intellect. Nothing is implicit to God, and that must include his pre-existent and virtual forms. In other words, they must all be explicit to him, and thus cannot possibly be virtual, and instead must be real. If that is correct, then they are not virtually distinct, but really distinct, and thus there is a real composition in God.

Nothing is implicit to God; this is correct. However, this would be Aquinas's argument for God's knowledge of everything, not for a composition in God. Because God is God (and not the totality of all beings), he is able to know all possible imitations of himself, because they exist virtually within him. This is not evidence of composition any more than is the virtual existence of redness in whiteness, unless we presuppose a reductionist account in which whiteness just is all colors, and God just is the totality of all being. However, not only is this reductionist, it is univocal--and it forgets equivocal causation. God is not the totality of everything, but everything good, true, noble or beautiful participates in God; and God virtually contains every goodness, beauty, truth or nobility by being their "exemplar", to put it crudely and somewhat misleadingly.

Further, just because God is able to know the things that exist within him virtually, it does not follow that they become really explicit within him. This would be an ontological change, which is exactly what the virtual distinction avoids. God does not cause things just because he knows them, even though he knows things because he causes them, if that makes sense.

Fourth, if God cannot have real distinctions, but only virtual distinctions, then the distinction between the persons of the Trinity are necessarily virtual distinctions. In other words, until they are conceived by an intellect, they are “non-existent”. Does that mean that until a created intellect conceives of them, the persons of the Trinity remain “non-existent”, and only afterwards become “actually” distinct? But, that would imply temporality and change in God, which is impossible, i.e. non-existent X becomes actual X in God. But if the persons of the Trinity cannot change their ontological status in this way, then the distinction between them is necessarily either eternally “non-existent” or “actual”. Both of these possiblities pose huge problems for the Trinity. If the distinction between the persons in the Trinity is eternally “non-existent”, then it is not “grounded in reality” at all, which is a condition of virtual distinction, and thus it cannot be a virtual distinction at all, which means that it is a real distinction, and which means there is composition in God. And if the distinction between the persons in the Trinity is eternally “actual”, then it is a real distinction, and there is composition in God.

This, unfortunately, is out of my league. My understanding of the Trinity is that of a beginner. Garrigou-Lagrange states that the Trinity is a virtual distinction, in that it is implicit but not explicit in God; but I'm not sure if Aquinas would have agreed. I'll defer on this point to those with more knowledge.

rank sophist said...

I should add one point, here.

White qua white may be said to contain all possible colors virtually, and as such is their cause. God, as being itself, contains all modes of being virtually within himself. However, his goodness, truth, nobility and beauty are not virtual in the exact same sense as the virtual modes of being they contain. Why? Because of the interconvertibility of the transcendentals. Beauty, truth, goodness and so forth are all modalities of being itself, and God, as being itself, is also beauty, truth and goodness themselves. On the other hand, God is not the various imitations that he "contains" and understands virtually, because these are not modalities of being itself, but are rather imperfect instantiations of those modalities.

Depending on how one understands whiteness, the comparison with God can be misleading, particularly because there is no doctrine of the "interconvertibility of colors". I just thought I should clarify.

Papalinton said...

dguller
"It is only about the arguments, and has always been about the arguments, which is all you should focus upon."

Precisely. But it is also about cutting to the chase. Soft shoeing in abject and unwarranted deference is not a sign of respect. It is a one of complaisance. Sometimes a little jolt, a little ECT, does the trick.
On your current trajectory, at the end of the day whatever your argument, it will ebb into despairing irrelevancy. To delude oneself into imagining there is reason and logic motivating those that aver the literality of virgin parturition, the revivification of three-day putrescent corpses, the physical full-bodied levitation, as if a helium balloon floating off into the blue beyond to who knows where, colloquially remembered as 'heaven', not to mention the 3-in-1 apparition, is simply playing foolishly. These are the big ticket items, the fundaments of the christian mythos, around which the whole universe and the catholic edifice rotates. Playing at the margins among the minutiae of Thomism and Classical Theism, which christian's themselves, around half of them subscribing to a Theistic Personalist mindset, already simply pooh-pooh as Catholic-contrived nonsense, speaks volumes of the tenuous nature of the shifting determinants that presumably masquerade as rock-solid evidence for 'the divine intellect'. These are the 'strong' points, the focus of the argument, the raison d'être of Feser's frenetic rearguard defence of the catholic tradition.

That is my focus.

Glenn said...

dguller,

> Glenn:

>> Once one arrives here, one has arrived at a definition of
>> analogy which is not fully consonant with all of A-T's
>> uses of analogy.

> And I'm trying to understand the Thomist definition of
> "analogy". It seems to be parasitic upon "similarity",
> and every instance of Thomist analogy is consistent with
> my understanding of analogy, except when it comes to an
> analogy between a metaphysically simple being and composite
> beings.

Let's do this in two parts.


PART I
(1) X is identical to Y iff X and Y have everything in common
(2) X is similar to Y iff X and Y have something in common
(3) X is different from Y iff X and Y have nothing in common

As far as I can tell, those are the only logical possibilities


Following suit,

(a) What is said of X and Y may be said in a purely univocal sense.
(b) What is said of X and Y may be said in a sense that is neither purely univocal nor purely equivocal.
(c) What is said of X and Y may be said in a purely equivocal sense.

If there are more logical possibilities than these, let them be stated (by whomever).


PART II
Now, Aquinas defines the sense in (b), i.e., that sense which is neither purely univocal nor purely equivocal, as analogical.

In other words, as a mathematician might say, e.g., "Let f(x) = ax^2, where a is a nonzero constant", Aquinas is saying, "Let A = neither U nor E, where U = 'purely equivocal sense', E = 'purely equivocal sense' and A = 'analogical sense'."

In still other words, Aquinas is saying, "Just as it may be said that The negation of 'likeness' is either identity or difference, so it may be said that the negation of A ('analogical sense') is either U ('purely univocal sense') or E ('purely equivocal sense').

o [S]ome things are said of God and creatures analogically, and not in a purely equivocal nor in a purely univocal sense... For in analogies the idea is not, as it is in univocals, one and the same, yet it is not totally diverse as in equivocals[.] -- (Summa Theologiae I.13.5)

Aquinas' definition of analogy is a stipulative definition. Ergo, case closed.

Bullpup said...

I'm glad to see the conversation can continue with the detritus being swept aside. Feser, Rank and dguller have some interesting things to say, while the clowns can be clowns: laughed at, but otherwise not paid attention to.

A question for Rank.

Other than Oderberg, are there others whose works you recommend? And not just from a Catholic perspective. Something like TLS, that doesn't defend Catholicism specifically so much as classical theism, would be so very welcome. I need to expand my library.

rank sophist said...

Something like TLS, that doesn't defend Catholicism specifically so much as classical theism, would be so very welcome. I need to expand my library.

Tough call. Classical theism isn't discussed much these days, and I honestly can't think of anyone who explicitly argues for it over personalism, other than Prof. Feser and the Eastern Orthodox theologian David Bentley Hart. The other Thomists I've read are more interested in discussing the system than in talking about God--Oderberg included.

Hart's work (particularly The Beauty of the Infinite) is challenging continental philosophy, but it's some of the most powerful lobbying for classical theism I've read. However, unless you're equipped with at least a minimal amount of knowledge regarding Heidegger, Derrida, Levinas, Foucault and Deleuze, you can prepare yourself for a vertical climb like the one I experienced. One more thing: the term "classical theism" is not used very often. Hart argues for the system without ever naming it. He defines it in opposition to personalism, which, in Heidegger's language (which he is prone to borrowing), is "onto-theology".

Perhaps some of the other posters can recommend further writers--I just can't think of any others.

dguller said...

Nick:

It seems to me you're misunderstanding "virtual composition." When we make a distinction virtually about something, say between the transcendentals, we are distinguishing for the purposes of understanding, not because the distinction actually exists, and this distinction isn't actually part of the nature of the subject at all. It's incoherent to say that God is composed of real simplicity and virtual composition because we're not even attributing virtual composition to him, we're just using it as a framework to look at his real simplicity in various ways.

Virtual composition is supposed to be “the logical distinction that is founded in reality” (http://www.thesumma.info/one/one37.php), though. The question is precisely about how a distinction that only exists in the mind (i.e. a logical distinction) is still “founded in reality” (i.e. a real distinction). If the distinction between the transcendentals is “founded in reality”, then there must be a sense in which they really have the distinct properties that they do. Otherwise, it is just a logical distinction that only exists in the mind.

Even if our ideas of the transcendentals T1, T2 and T3 are just distinctions in our minds, T1, T2 and T3 must correspond to something real in order to be virtual distinctions. The question is what this possibly could be, because the reality that they are trying to refer to is a metaphysically simple being B that has no composition whatsoever. So, T1 only refers to B, T2 only refers to B, and T3 only refers to B. There does not seem to be anything real that T1, T2 and T3 are referring to, except B, and thus there is no distinction whatsoever in B. So, where does the distinction in our mind come from? It is not in B, which is metaphysically simple. It must, therefore, be in our minds only, and thus the whole idea of a virtual distinction, especially when used in a metaphysically simple being, just does not work. White light virtually contains redness, because the redness is really there, but not explicitly expressed, which is how it is “founded in reality”. What could you possibly say that is analogous in God with regards to the distinction between the transcendentals?

Imagine that God is a large wall, its form utterly incomprehensible to us when we look with our bare eyes. Now imagine that we set up several windows around it to study it, each tinted for a certain concept. When we look through the red window, say, we see God as Pure Act, and indeed, this wall looks Red, it is Act. When we look through the window tinted blue we see God as Good, and looking through this window the wall certainly just looks blue, just is Good.

But there still must be something in the wall that corresponds to Pure Act when we use the red glass, and that corresponds to Good when we use the blue glass. In other words, there must be something that is passing through the tinted glass, entering our eyes, and being registered by our brains as distinct and different in one tint versus another. If we stipulate from the outset that the wall can only be one thing without any different and distinct components or parts, then how do you explain how different tints of glass make the wall look different? Where exactly in the chain of causation (i.e. Wall → Glass → Eyes → Brain → Intellect) does the difference occur? It cannot occur anywhere.

dguller said...

Josh:

Animal means 'body with sensitive power' and applies equally to dog and man, even though man has rationality to differentiate it from the dog. This means we're considering the differences implicit and potential, and therefore, we have a univocal predication. You don't have to understand a man and animal's animal natures with explicit reference to their rationality or lack thereof.

My question is whether the differences are “implicit and potential”. After all, “body” can be expressed in different ways, because there are different kinds of bodies. Can you really think “body” without necessarily thinking of different bodies? Aquinas said that you cannot think of universals without imaging particulars at the same time. That is just how our minds work, after all. So, “body” cannot always be implicit and potential, because whenever we think of “body”, we necessarily also think of actual bodies. And that is why I don’t think that your distinction between implicit differences versus explicit differences actually works. They are all explicit differences, but in different degrees. Perhaps “animal” is on one end of the spectrum and “great baseball player” is on the other, but they are not distinct categories, but degrees along a single spectrum.

Furthermore, even if one could direct one’s mind to ignore the differences between a human and a dog, then that does not change the overall structure of the similarity relationship, which is an ontological one, i.e. real partial identity and real partial difference. You can focus upon the partial identity and ignore the partial difference, but that is just a difference in epistemology and not ontology. And if you accept the similarity relationship as necessarily ontological true, which is the ground and support for the analogical relationship in our judgment, then similarity leads to problems when it comes to comparing God to creation, and vice versa, especially within the context of Aquinas’ system. For example, how can God be partially identical and partially different from creation, and not be composite?

Great baseball player presents a different case though. So what does this mean in each case? Why are Koufax and Mays both called great baseball players? Koufax is called one because of his pitching, and Mays one because of his hitting. And to understand how each “maximally actualizes their particular role within the baseball team to maximally improve its chances of winning baseball games” we have to make explicit reference to what that role actually is.

So what? To understand how a man is like a dog, we have to initially hold the differences in mind, and then abstract them away to get at the partial identity. I don’t see why can’t do the same thing. “Great pitcher” and “great hitter”. Hmm. They are supposed to be connected, but how? Well, a great pitcher is one that strikes out a lot of batters, which helps the baseball team win, because the other team cannot score that many points. Well, a great hitter is one that gets on base a lot, which increases the chances of both him and another teammate on base to get to home base and score points. Hmm. What does that have in common. Well, both are roles that, if done well, contribute to their team’s winning more baseball games. That’s it! That must be the partial identity. And so you abstract “maximally actualizes their particular role within the baseball team to maximally improve its chances of winning baseball games” from those two definitions, and you have reached the partial identity. Whether you hold their differences explicitly or implicitly in mind does not change the basic underlying structure of the similarity relationship, which is the key issue here.

dguller said...

Josh:

Same thing with goodness applied to triangles and man. To understand what good means when applied to both, we have to make explicit that man's goodness is moral, to understand just what 'good' applied to him means. And this is the thing triangles lack, even though both "maximally actualize the essential potential secondary actualities contained in primary actualities."

But even moral goodness is contained within my definition of “goodness”. Man’s primary actualities are his intellect and will, and his secondary actualities are the exercise of intellect to identify the good and for the will to do the good. A triangle lacks the primary actualities of intellect and will, and so it cannot have th secondary actualities of intellect and will. It has different primary actualities that it is trying to secondarily actualize in reality. Again, so what? The point is that there is an underlying and core commonality between the two, which must be there for any analogy to be possible. Whether the differences are implicit or explicit makes no difference to this ontological point, and it is this point that causes most of the headaches when it comes to analogy between God and creation.

It's not enough that they are partially the same and partially different, but that they are partially the same and partially different within one and the same notion, and that merely confining your analysis to what's same in that notion necessarily leaves part of the meaning out of one of the analogates.

But that is what you do in analogy. You start off with two different things, X and Y. Someone says that X is like Y, and you start wondering why. You start conceptually analyzing X’s and Y’s deeper structures to find something therein that is identical and common to both X and Y. You keep abstracting and abstracting until you eventually – hopefully – reach this commonality C. Of course, C in this very analogy, necessarily must be conjoined to the differences, because the analogy necessarily contains both partial identity and partial difference. Whether you can totally ignore these differences in your mind or not is irrelevant. The bottom line is whether you can ever reach the point where you can truly say that X is C and Y is C, and if you can say this truly, then X really is C and Y really is C.

What kind of analysis are you doing if you don't make explicit reference to the moral aspect in your concept of goodness applied to triangle and man? It's incomplete!

It’s only incomplete if you are trying to keep the whole structure of the analogy outside of your mind. X is like Y iff X is partly the same as Y and X is partly different from Y. You have to keep the whole thing in your mind for there to be an analogy at all. However, you can also choose to focus only upon the identity or upon the difference in order to better understand the analogy, and then once you have done this, you can hold the whole thing in your head. After all, there is a difference between the following three sentences:

(1) X is C
(2) Y is C
(3) X is like Y

Notice that can think (1) without thinking (2) or (3), (2) without (1) or (3), but you cannot think (3) without (1) and (2). It depends upon what your mind is focusing upon. You seem to think that if someone told you that X is a great baseball player that you would have no idea what they are talking about. Your mind would be totally blank. Of course, it would not. It would start imagining the different roles of the team, and baseball players exemplifying those different roles to maximize the team’s wins, and that would hold true no matter which particular roles on the baseball team X actually played.

Josh said...

Dguller,

I don't get the sense that I really disagree with you when it gets down to it, but for some reason the way I've expressed it isn't getting through. Let me just try to put it by way of example one last time:

Say the concept is a form represented by a blanket, or something. We want to cover two things on a table with it; picking up the same blanket and seeing if it covers each object and to what extent. If it's univocal, the blanket will completely cover both things perfectly. If equivocal, it won't cover them at all, or either one and not the other, and if it's analogical, it will cover one perfectly and the other will have some hanging over, or both will have some remainder but will be covered. Hopefully that's not too bad an image.

So an animal form blanket would cover man and dog perfectly and to the same extent.

In the case of the triangles and man, goodness as a form "blanket" is the same one applied to both, fulfilling your criteria, but it has remainder as it covers triangle, because moral goodness is part of the form that makes up the blanket, which only covers man perfectly. This makes the one with more perfection the conditioning source for the form's makeup, determining what size it will be in the comparison.

And it's the same with God and man; it's not univocal because the same perfection would have to fit over us perfectly to be so. There will always be a part of the blanket that covers us but you can't pick out only that part and say "here is the bit that applies univocally" because then you merely "cut" the square out that fits man perfectly but God barely at all and make man the defining source of the comparison.

This is a better image because it takes into account wholeness, and doesn't cleave things into a Cartesian partial identity and partial difference. God's form blanket of goodness is maximal, and covers us with much left over, in the same way that ours covers triangles with much left over. But the important thing is that it's one and the same formal perfection.

dguller said...

Glenn:

Aquinas' definition of analogy is a stipulative definition. Ergo, case closed.

Okay, so let’s follow your stipulations. (I’ll assume that you agree with my definition of “similarity” as exhausting the logical possibilities of any kind of comparison between two things, X and Y.)

Now, we are trying to understand what “analogy” means. You are arguing that

(1) What is said of X and Y may be said in a purely univocal sense.
(2) What is said of X and Y may be said in a sense that is neither purely univocal nor purely equivocal.

(3) What is said of X and Y may be said in a purely equivocal sense.

Let’s call “what is said of X”, the words used about X, or W(X), and “what is said of Y”, the words used about Y, or W(Y). Also, let’s agree that the actual word used must be the same, i.e. W is the same in W(X) as in W(Y). So, your (1) to (3) can be restructured as follows:

(1*) W(X) and W(Y) may be said in a purely univocal sense
(2*) W(X) and W(Y) may be said in a sense that is neither purely univocal or purely equivocal
(3*) W(X) and W(Y) may be said in a purely equivocal sense

Now, W(X) and W(Y), being words that are spoken about X and Y, necessarily involve both a sense and a referent. Let’s call them S and R, respectively. So, W(X) → S(X) and R(X), which means that W(X) has a sense (or S(X)) and a referent (or R(X)). In fact, just to be clear, R(X) = X itself and R(Y) = Y itself, so you can interchange these terms, if you like.

You can use this symbolism to clarify (1*) to (3*) as follows:

(1**) W(X) and W(Y) has a purely univocal sense iff S(X) = S(Y) and R(X) = R(Y)
(2**) W(X) and W(Y) has an analogical sense iff not-(S(X) = S(Y)) and R(X) = R(Y),
(3**) W(X) and W(Y) has a purely equivocal sense iff not-(S(X) = S(Y)) and not-(R(X) = R(Y))

(Note that there is another logical possibility here:

(4**) W(X) and W(Y) is such that S(X) = S(Y) and not-(R(X) = R(Y))

However, I think that you and I will both agree that it impossible for W(X) to have the same sense as W(Y), but differ in reference. I can’t even think of any examples where this would be the case, which means that we can ignore (4**) as a semantic impossibility, although it is a logical possibility.)

Assuming that (2) is the definition of “analogy”, it follows that in order to have an analogy, it must be the case that S(X) cannot be identical to S(Y), but S(X) and S(Y) both refer to the same thing, R (i.e. S(X) → R, and S(Y) → R).

dguller said...

Glenn:

If this is correct thus far, then we can proceed to following final definition of analogy:

(Analogy) W(X) is analogous to W(Y) iff (a) W is identical in both, (b) S(X) is not identical to S(Y), and (c) W(X) and W(Y) both refer to R.

If (Analogy) is true, then let us focus upon (b). “Not-identical” in (b) could mean either similar or different, according to my definitions of the terms, which I’m assuming you agree with. The question is which possibility actually applies here. I would argue that it must be similarity and not difference, because if it was difference, then you would have the following:

(5) S(X) is different from S(Y) iff S(X) has nothing in common with S(Y)

It would then have to follow that S(X) and S(Y) have nothing in common. However, they do have something in common. They share the same referent R, and they both get their sense from R. If you take the example of the Morning Star and the Evening Star as having different senses, but the same referent, then you will see that both senses have a lot in common. They are both empirical objects in the sky that appear with regularity and predictability, for example. I don’t think you can ever find a situation in which S(X) and S(Y) will have absolutely nothing in common, which is what would be the case if they were truly different.

And what that means is that S(X) must be similar to S(Y). What does that mean? It means that S(X) must have something in common with S(Y), which means that S(X) is partly identical to S(Y) and S(X) is partly different from S(Y).

It has always been my argument that unless S(X) and S(Y) ultimately are analyzed into a univocal commonality, then you end up with an infinite regress of meaning. It seems to me that the layers of meaning that support our words are like a causal series per se. You cannot have the superficial meaning without the deeper meaning sustaining it at all times, even if only implicitly. If that is true, then it is impossible to have an infinite regress of meaning, and thus meaning must terminate in univocality at some point.

Here’s the argument:

S(X) is similar to S(Y), which means that S(X) and S(Y) must be partially identical by sharing the commonality C. It follows that you can say the following:

(6) S(X) is C
(7) S(Y) is C

Then you can further ask whether C is identical between (6) and (7), similar between (6) and (7), or different between (6) and (7).

If C is identical between (6) and (7), then you have univocality, because C must have everything in common between (6) and (7), which would include the same sense and referent when saying “C” between (6) and (7), which would meet the definition of (1**).

If C is different between (6) and (7), then C in (6) has nothing in common with C in (7). In fact, you cannot even call them both “C” at all. You should actually say:

(8) S(X) is D
(9) S(Y) is E

Where D and E have nothing in common with each other.

If C is similar between (6) and (7), then C is partly identical and partly different between (6) and (7). Let’s focus upon the partly identical portion of the equation, and call it C*. You then have the following:

(10) S(X) is C*
(11) S(Y) is C*

You can then ask of (10) and (11) whether C* is identical, similar or different between (10) and (11), and so you are right back where you started from. It goes on forever unless you can end with a scenario in which the commonality C (or C*, or C**, or C***, etc.) is identical between both S(X) and S(Y), and that would be univocality.

dguller said...

Glenn:

And that means that even with Aquinas’ stipulated definition, you still end up with Scotus’ position of univocality between God and creation, assuming analogy is possible, or an infinite regress of meaning such that you can never really mean anything at all when comparing God to creatures.

Furthermore, this is just the semantic problems with analogy between God and creation. There are also metaphysical problems, such as the fact that the following seems logically true:

(5) X is like Y iff Y is like X.

And (12) is true, because it ultimately cashes out into:

(13) X is partly identical to Y and X is partly different from Y = Y is partly identical to X and Y is partly different from X.

What that means is that what X has in common with Y is the same thing as what Y has in common with X, because it is the same thing that they share in common. And if X differs from Y in some way, then Y must differ from X in the same ways, which may be a debatable point. But even ignoring that part, just look at what it would mean to say that God shares something in common with creation. God is metaphysically simple. He does not have parts that he can share of himself, such that he shares part P, but keeps to himself not-P. That would require composition, which is impossible in a metaphysically simple being. Thus, he is either all-or-nothing.

And what that means is that to say that God and creatures have C in common means that C is either God himself in his entirety or C is nothing at all. In other words, for God and creatures to have a C, God himself in his entirety must be a part of creatures, which I think you’ll agree is impossible, because the finite cannot contain the infinite. Therefore, if God cannot be present in a creature in his entirety, then God cannot be present in a creature at all, and since God can only share the entirety of himself, it follows that God cannot share anything of himself at all. And finally, if God cannot share anything of himself at all, then God and creatures cannot have anything in common, which means that they cannot be similar, which means that there can be no analogy between them.

Papalinton said...

Over the coming days in the fashion of a series the seminal works from some of the most influential contemporary philosophers that happen to sit in my library. Comparatively, Feser, Plantinga, Willard, Dembski, Geisler and Geivett are but old pastiche.

Michel Onfray - A Frenchman, founder of Université populaire de Caen.
From his book: "Atheist Manifesto: The Case Against Christianity, Judaism, and Islam."

[Pp 38-39]
Plate Tectonics"We still live a a theological or religious stage of civilization. But there are signs of movement, comparable to the types of motion in plate tectonics; convergence, divergence, sliding, collision, subduction, overriding, fracture. The 'Pre-Christian' era is clearly demarcated: from pre-Socratic mythology to Roman Empire Stoicism; i.e. from Parmenides to Epictetus. next came a a turbulent transition period, as early-stage Christianity overlapped late-stage paganism. The 'Christian era' is easily defined: it started with the church fathers, was spread in the second century by millenarian prophets (proclaiming that God is about to destroy the world and only true believers will be saved), and continued to the eighteenth century with the secular deism of the Enlightenment. The beheading of Louis XvI in January 1793 marked the end of Theocracy in France. Christianity, of course, persisted.

We are now living in a new transitional phase, heading toward a third era, the 'post-Christian era'. In some ways, our current period is is curiously similar to the transitional stage between the pagan and Christian eras. Thus the end of the pre-Christian and the beginning of the post-Christian both exhibit the same nihilism, the same anxieties, the same dynamic interplay between progressive and reactionary trends. [Feser is a self-confessed reactionary] Today we have conservatism, reaction, yearning for the past, and rigid religion vying with liberalism, progressivism, social reform, and movements dedicated to building a better future. Religion is anchored in tradition and cashes in on nostalgia. Philosophy looks to the future.

The forces in play are clearly identifiable. It is not Western, progressive, enlightened, democratic Judeo-Christianity pitted against Eastern, backward-looking, obscurantist Islam. Rather, it is yesterday's montheisms pitted against the atheism of tomorrow. not bush versus bin Laden. Instead, it is Moses, Jesus, Muhammad, and their religions of the book versus Baron d'Holback, Ludwig Feuerback, Fredrich Nietzsche, and their philosophical formulae of radical deconstruction of myths and fables.

Historically speaking, the post-Christian era will deploy its forces the same way the christian era did: the monotheist empire can be toppled. The religion of an only God cannot become the fixed horizon of philosophy and of history itself - as communism once was for some people or as free-market liberalism is for others today. A Christian era once replaced a pagan era, and it will inevitably be replaced by a post-Christian phase. The turbulent period we live in suggests that change is at hand and the time has come for a new order. Hence the importance on atheological project."

BenYachov said...

>And that means that even with Aquinas’ stipulated definition, you still end up with Scotus’ position of univocality between God and creation.

Even within the Scotus view the univocality is in the sense that both God and let's say myself exist. We are both real in the base sense. But I exist as an essence combined with being/existence. My essence and my being are not the same. God's being and essence are identical. & how that is is incomprehensible.

God is C like I am C in that we both merely Know. But the form of His knowing is unknowable. Mine is more comprehensible.

BenYachov said...

I think dguller has stumbled into some advanced stuff here.

He has from the beginning conjured the argument between the Scotus school vs the Thomist.

I suggest to Josh, RS, Glenn etc that is where his questions focus on.

dguller said...

Josh:

And it's the same with God and man; it's not univocal because the same perfection would have to fit over us perfectly to be so. There will always be a part of the blanket that covers us but you can't pick out only that part and say "here is the bit that applies univocally" because then you merely "cut" the square out that fits man perfectly but God barely at all and make man the defining source of the comparison.

It seems that you want to say that if X is under the blanket, then X participates in the form of the blanket. That’s fine, except that you need a further principle, which is that it must be possible for X to perfectly fit at some part of the blanket. For example, a human that is morally good perfectly fits the part of the blanket of goodness that contains moral goodness, and a triangle that is good perfectly fits the part of the blanket of goodness that contains non-moral goodness. There must be the possibility of some kind of division of the blanket into parts, according to differentiating features of one part versus another part. If X cannot be perfectly placed at some part of the blanket, then you have no idea how it fits under the blanket at all.

And this is a problem for the blanket that is God himself, because God is metaphysically simple, and thus berefit of composition. There is no part of the blanket that fits a man, and another part of the blanket that fits a triangle. There are no parts at all! And without parts, there is no way to know where X fits under the blanket. Even you say that “There will always be a part of the blanket that covers us”, and yet this is impossible, because there is no such thing as a part of the blanket at all. And if there is no part of the blanket where we fit, then we do not fit under the blanket at all.

Or maybe an analogy with blankets just isn’t the way to go?

Josh said...

Dguller,

I would have thought my image and how I was applying it would have been easy enough to understand; it appears I was wrong.

If God simply is the form or "blanket" of Good, qua Good, then there's no sense in talking of parts, in terms of God being only under a part of the form. The question of univocality is form-fittingness. We are under a part, just as triangles are under a part in relation to a comparison between Man and triangle. But though the blanket covers triangles completely, it extends beyond its bounds because it was made to fit us to the extent of our limits.

When Aquinas says you can't apply our form-fitting bit of the blanket to God univocally, he means we can't scissor our piece out, hold it up to God, and say "there, fits you perfectly too," anymore than a triangle could cut its piece out and do the same with us.

In contrast with some of the other posters here (possibly), I think the line of demarcation between us is what constitutes univocality, not analogy.

dguller said...

Rank:

What, then, is left? He's not on the Porphyrian tree, nor is he in the ten categories, nor is he composed of anything. Because there are no other modes of composition, it must follow that God is not in any way composite.

No. What follows is that as far as we know of composition, God is not composite. This becomes an epistemological principle rather than an ontological one.

The virtual distinction does not change any of this. It does not put him under any trees or categories, nor does it cause him to be composed of essence and existence, nor actuality and potentiality, nor form and matter. It follows that God must still be absolutely simple, even if a modern reader might take "absolutely simple" to mean something different than did the ancients.

But it just seems that there is a distinction between him having real properties and virtual properties, and that should count as some kind of composition, other than just by ignoring it. Unless you want to say that all of his properties are virtual, and if so, then it would follow that all of God’s properties are “non-existent”, and then you have to explain how exactly they are “grounded in reality” if they are all “non-existent”. So, your choice is between admitting composition into a metaphysically simple being, which is impossible, or declaring that all of God’s properties are “non-existent” and yet “grounded in reality”, which is impossible.

In a similar vein, Aquinas says that a statue might be said to look like a man, but a man might not be said to look like a statue. (Obviously, some people today liken others to statues; but it is to say that they are in some sense non-human, possibly less than human.)

I don’t see why a man cannot look like a statue. Someone who resembles Caesar could look like a statue of Caesar. Is there something I’m missing here.

But white light is not potentially red, nor does it have a potential for redness within it. Redness is actually within it in a virtual way. What might be said is that red has a potential for existence outside of white--a potential removed from whiteness itself, since whiteness only has actual, virtual redness. (Key difference: while whiteness must be the act against a separate potency, God creates ex nihilo.)

This does not resolve the issue for me. I still don’t see the difference between

(1) X has the potential to do Y
(2) X has Y in a virtual state

In both (1) and (2), X has an actual power to make Y occur, and until X actually does Y,then Y exists in X as in a state between actuality and non-being, which can be called … “potential” or “virtual”. I mean, what is the difference? They are both actually present in X, and they are both not actualized, but they could be.

With regards to white light, how can you say that it is not “potentially red”? If you take white light and pass it through a prism, red comes out. White light + prism = red light. The red is somehow within the white light, and becomes separated by the prism, but until it became separated, it was not redness as visible redness. Once the redness within the white light was made explicit or actualized, it became visible red light. This would not be possible unless the white light was potentially red. “Potentially X” just means that X has not actually happened and X could happen.

dguller said...

Rank:

I really think that you are just fudging the issue by saying the same thing in different ways, and pretending that you are talking about two different things. You can call it “virtual”, but it ultimately is the same thing as “potential”, and if that is right, then if God has virtual properties, then he necessarily has potential properties, which is impossible, given that he is pure actuality.

Nothing is implicit to God; this is correct.

Then he cannot have virtual properties.

Remember, the hallmark of minor virtual distinctions is that they are implicit. Once they are made explicit, then they are no longer virtual. For example, once the red light is observed from the white light after refracted by the prism, the red light is no longer virtual, but rather it is explicit, which just means that an intellect is aware of it. That is why G-L writes that the virtual property is “non-existent previous to the mind's consideration”, and that once the virtual property is attended to by a mind, then it becomes “existent”, which means that it is made explicit. The redness is “grounded in reality”, because it is actually within the white light, but it exists in an implicit state, which just means that there is no mind that is aware of it and contemplating it, and that once the redness comes to the attention of a mind, then it is no longer implicit, but rather explicit, and thus not just “grounded in reality”, but actually “existent”.

And since “nothing is implicit to God”, then that must include his virtual properties. Since he makes them explicit to himself by virtue of his intellect’s possession of them, they cannot be implicit, and thus cannot be virtual. And if they cannot be virtual, then they are either logical or real. If they are logical, then they are not “grounded in reality” at all, and thus are fundamentally unreal, which is impossible. If they are real, then God has real distinctions, which means that he is composite after all, which is impossible.

However, this would be Aquinas's argument for God's knowledge of everything, not for a composition in God. Because God is God (and not the totality of all beings), he is able to know all possible imitations of himself, because they exist virtually within him. This is not evidence of composition any more than is the virtual existence of redness in whiteness, unless we presuppose a reductionist account in which whiteness just is all colors, and God just is the totality of all being. However, not only is this reductionist, it is univocal--and it forgets equivocal causation. God is not the totality of everything, but everything good, true, noble or beautiful participates in God; and God virtually contains every goodness, beauty, truth or nobility by being their "exemplar", to put it crudely and somewhat misleadingly.

None of this affects my argument. Perhaps you can demonstrate how a property can remain virtual if it is always explicit, because it is always present to God’s intellect? Maybe only a human intellect can make a virtual property explicit? But you already conceded that “nothing is implicit to God”, so you can’t go this route. Honestly, if everything is explicit to God, then that must include his virtual properties, and they can only be virtual if they are implicit within him. However, they are not implicit within him, because to be within him is to be within his intellect, and to be within his intellect is to be explicit to an intellect, which obliterates their virtuality. They become real, which necessarily implies a real distinction in God, and thus composition.

dguller said...

Rank:

Further, just because God is able to know the things that exist within him virtually, it does not follow that they become really explicit within him. This would be an ontological change, which is exactly what the virtual distinction avoids. God does not cause things just because he knows them, even though he knows things because he causes them, if that makes sense.

First, it does follow. To be explicit is to be real and actual. If nothing is implicit to God, then everything is explicit, including his virtual properties, which obliterates their virtuality, and converts them into reality.

Second, if there cannot be “ontological change”, then God’s properties are either always virtual or always real. They cannot be always virtual, because God is always making them explicit to his intellect, and thus they must be real. But they cannot be real, because then God has composition, which is impossible.

This, unfortunately, is out of my league. My understanding of the Trinity is that of a beginner. Garrigou-Lagrange states that the Trinity is a virtual distinction, in that it is implicit but not explicit in God; but I'm not sure if Aquinas would have agreed. I'll defer on this point to those with more knowledge.

No problemo. But there’s a prima facie problem with saying that everything is explicit to God, but the Trinity is implicit to God. How can everything be explicit, except this one thing? Furthermore, how can God's personhood be implicit to God's intellect and knowledge? That seems like a pretty big contradiction to me.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi dguller,

I've been having a look at your very interesting posts. I actually agree with you that in the end, the Scotist position on the Divine attributes is the only one that makes sense, but I'd like to play devil's advocate for a moment.

Let's go back to your statement

(2**) W(X) and W(Y) has an analogical sense iff not-(S(X) = S(Y)) and R(X) = R(Y).

I think Ed would disagree with this. I think he would say:

(2***) W(X) and W(Y) has an analogical sense iff not-(S(X) = S(Y)) and not-(R(X) = R(Y)) and (E!Q)(Q(S(X),R(X)) = Q(S(Y),R(Y)),

where E! means "there exists" and Q is a two-term, second-order relation.

Since you declared above that R(X) = X and R(Y) = Y, we can translate this verbally as follows:

"A word W is used analogically of two entities X and Y iff it has different senses when applied to X and Y,

AND X and Y are not identical entities,

BUT there is a two-term relation Q between the sense of the word W when applied to X and X itself, which is IDENTICAL to the two-term relation Q between the sense of the word W when applied to Y and Y itself."

That, I think, is what Ed (and Aquinas) are saying. For example, Ed writes in his article on Classical theism at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.jp/2010/09/classical-theism.html that:

"there is in the goodness of a meal something analogous to the goodness of a book, and analogous to the goodness of a man, even if it is not exactly the same sort of thing that constitutes the goodness in each case."

At first blush, Ed's explanation appears open to the obvious riposte: "What do you mean by 'something analogous'? You're explaining one analogy - that between the meaning of the term 'good' when applied to a meal and when applied to a book - by invoking another - that between the goodness of a meal and the goodness of a book."

However, I think Ed is really saying that the relation between the meaning of "good" when applied to a meal and the meal itself is THE SAME AS the relation between the meaning of "good" when applied to a book and the book itself.

Of course, the problem with this construal, when applied to God, is that on the Thomist account, our minds are incapable of grasping either of the terms S(Y) and Y, so we have two unknowns on the right-hand side. According to Thomists, we are incapable of grasping either the meaning of God's goodness or God Himself. (I'm not pointing out anything new here; Eric Mascall made the same point in "He Who Is," in 1943.) So I think we are back with Scotus. The term "good" must have the same sense when applied to both. Ditto for "knowledge" and "love." As the meaning of the verbs "know" and "love" has nothing to do with the manner in which one knows or loves, or the degree to which one does so, I can't see a problem with affirming that we know and love in the same sense that God does, but that God knows and loves in a different manner and to an infinite degree.

My two cents.

dguller said...

Josh:

If God simply is the form or "blanket" of Good, qua Good, then there's no sense in talking of parts, in terms of God being only under a part of the form. The question of univocality is form-fittingness. We are under a part, just as triangles are under a part in relation to a comparison between Man and triangle. But though the blanket covers triangles completely, it extends beyond its bounds because it was made to fit us to the extent of our limits.

But that is the problem. How can you be under a part of something that has no parts? It is impossible. Either you are not under it, or it has parts. Either way, you have a problem.

johnmc said...

Further comments:

1) I think Aquinas thought of the distinctions of the Trinity as real relative distinctions - not distinctions of being, which would mean three gods, but distinctions of relational properties in God. The traditional doctrine of divine simplicity, as held by Trinitarians, denies to God complexity of being but not all real distinction.

2) If God's attributes are all real it does not follow that each attribute is a distinct being. There is ontologically one reality in a simple God but the logical features of that one reality are not all reducible to one another.

3) I think the paradox dguller indicates applies not just to a theistic worldview but to any worldview which postulates an ontologically indivisible reality X of any kind. For such an X would ex hypothesi involve no real internal distinction of being, yet it would have two logical features irreducible to each other i.e. "being" and "being this or that being" (whereby it was similar to and different from other beings respectively.) So you would have a being with logical complexity but not ontological complexity.

Josh said...

Dguller,

But that is the problem. How can you be under a part of something that has no parts? It is impossible. Either you are not under it, or it has parts. Either way, you have a problem.

Is it impossible to swim in an infinite ocean? That's how that question reads to me. We are under it, and we have parts.

dguller said...

Vincent:

Thanks for the kind words, and I’m glad someone agrees with me!

Since you declared above that R(X) = X and R(Y) = Y, we can translate this verbally as follows:

"A word W is used analogically of two entities X and Y iff it has different senses when applied to X and Y, 

AND X and Y are not identical entities,

The reason why I say that R(X) and R(Y) have to refer to the same thing such that R(X) = R(Y), is because that is Aquinas’ doctrine of analogy:

“All analogical predication occurs “according to an order or reference (respectus) to something one” (SCG 1.34.297). This “one” is not specifically or conceptually one, but one as an individual reality or nature is one. For example, medicine’s or urine’s “health” is derived from the health that is in the animal’s body, “and the health of the medicine and urine is not other than the health of the animal, which medicine produces and urine signifies (ST 1-2.20.3 ad3). Whenever healthy is used as a predicate, then, the same, concrete health of the animal is referred to, and thus Thomas can assert that the health of the medicine or urine is realy the same as the animal’s health. The various meanings of an analogical term are one insofar as the different relations signified are referred “to something one and the same” (Meta 4.1.535)” (Gregory P. Rocca, Speaking the Incomprehensible God: Thomas Aquinas on the Interplay of Positive and Negative Theology (CUA Press, 2004), pp. 139-40).

dguller said...

Josh:

Is it impossible to swim in an infinite ocean? That's how that question reads to me. We are under it, and we have parts.

An infinite ocean has parts. A metaphysically simple being does not. So, it is impossible to swim in a metaphysically simple and infinite being, because to swim in it, you must be somewhere, which means that there must be a distinction between here and there, which would imply composition, and thus compromise the metaphysical simplicity.

Josh said...

Dguller,

Remove the material restriction and you remove the "parts" part of the ocean that precludes it from being metaphysically simple. That's what the ways of eminence and negation enable us to do. You didn't think I was applying that illustration literally, right? Once again, the distinction is in us, and not Him. And my analogy is in reference to one thing as well, which is why I've been referring to one formal perfection within all the analogates.

dguller said...

Johnmc:

I think the paradox dguller indicates applies not just to a theistic worldview but to any worldview which postulates an ontologically indivisible reality X of any kind. For such an X would ex hypothesi involve no real internal distinction of being, yet it would have two logical features irreducible to each other i.e. "being" and "being this or that being" (whereby it was similar to and different from other beings respectively.) So you would have a being with logical complexity but not ontological complexity.

That is very interesting. That would put us in a horrible bind, because reason dictates that there must be something in which essence = existence, which is metaphysically simple, and yet that makes it impossible for it to create any of us, because creation implies sharing a part of oneself, and a metaphysically simple being has no parts at all. However, creation obviously exists, and it is through creation that you are supposed to reason to a being of pure actuality, of being itself, of esse subsistens. So, you have a contradiction in which (1) we existing beings realize that it is a necessary truth of reason that there is a metaphysically simple being in which essence = existence, and (2) if there does exist a metaphysically simple being in which essence = existence, then it is impossible for creation to exist, and we cannot exist to know that it is true, because we cannot exist at all.

dguller said...

Josh:

Remove the material restriction and you remove the "parts" part of the ocean that precludes it from being metaphysically simple. That's what the ways of eminence and negation enable us to do. You didn't think I was applying that illustration literally, right? Once again, the distinction is in us, and not Him. And my analogy is in reference to one thing as well, which is why I've been referring to one formal perfection within all the analogates.

If you remove the “parts” part, then you remove the possibility for you to swim “in” it without becoming it. Either you are in one particular location in the ocean, or you are everywhere in the ocean. If the former, then composition is true. If the latter, then you no longer exist, because you have become the ocean. There is simply no way for you to exist as you and swim in a metaphysically simple “ocean”.

Glenn said...

dguller,

It has always been my argument that unless S(X) and S(Y) ultimately are analyzed into a univocal commonality, then you end up with an infinite regress of meaning.

a) If you divide some positive integer by two, you won't arrive at zero--no matter how many times you repeat the operation of division by two.

Consider the following pseudo-code (where the numbers on the left are line numbers):

10 let x = 317
20 let x = x /2
30 if x <> 0 then go to 20

This will never end. It goes on and on and on. The simple operation can be executed one billion times per second for all of eternity, and 0 still will not be arrived at. The result will approach 0, but will never actually be 0. Shall we then claim that with this operation we have an infinite regress of a diminishing result, therefore the operation is incoherent, has no meaning and/or is of no use?

b) If an analogy is a comparison in which what is said of two things is neither purely univocal nor purely equivocal, then by definition can be analyzed into a univocal commonality can be re X and Y. Your argument is a necessary consequence of, i.e., entailed by, Aquinas' definition. Unwittingly or not, you are simply restating an implication of that definition in your own words.

Which is fine.

But then something seems to go awry.

And when a univocal commonality is pointed out, as Josh, e.g., has done (seemingly) countless times, you say, "Yes, but... there is not a univocal commonality over here. And unless you can show that there is a univocal commonality over here, there is no reason for me to accept what you have said. And this, because..." In other words, you claim that something must exist, and when it is shown to exist, you say, "No. Let's look over here instead."

** I haven't the time just now to properly attend to the new symbolic argument introduced. I'll get to it later. For now, I'm using the previous X and Y.

Now, we are trying to understand what "analogy" means.

As shown above, an analogy is--according to Aquinas, when speaking of God and creatures--a comparison in which what is said of two things is neither purely univocal nor purely equivocal.

If you wish to define analogy in some other way, then it is quite possible that analogy in this other sense may not be similarly serviceable. So what? (Not being belligerent; just sayin', is all.)

The primary success that will be had by defining analogy in some other way is that you'll likely have shown that what you can or cannot say of God and creatures differs from what Aquinas was able to and did say of the same.

And if one cannot see how something posited by Aquinas about God and creatures follows from an application or use of one's definition of analogy, the problem likely is not with Aquinas' definition of analogy in this respect, but with the fact that one is using a definition not used by Aquinas in establishing what he has posited.

Glenn said...

If an analogy is a comparison in which what is said of two things is neither purely univocal nor purely equivocal, then by definition it can be analyzed into some univocal commonality.

Oh, that is painful.

Try this instead (quickly!):

If an analogy is a comparison in which what is said of two things is neither purely univocal nor purely equivocal, then by definition it can be analyzed into a univocal commonality.

Glenn said...

I'm pressed for time, really rushing, and messed up twice. It was this...

b) If an analogy is a comparison in which what is said of two things is neither purely univocal nor purely equivocal, then by definition can be analyzed into a univocal commonality can be re X and Y.

...that I meant to replace with...

b) If an analogy is a comparison in which what is said of two things is neither purely univocal nor purely equivocal, then by definition it can be analyzed into a univocal commonality.

dguller said...

Glenn:

Shall we then claim that with this operation we have an infinite regress of a diminishing result, therefore the operation is incoherent, has no meaning and/or is of no use?

This does not affect my argument at all, at least as far as I can tell. If you never reach what is actually shared in common between two terms, then how can you know what is shared in common? And if you cannot know what is shared in common, then how can you talk about an analogy between the two terms? You literally have no idea what you are talking about, because you never actually reach the commonality between them. What you are actually saying is that X is like Y, and when asked how, respond, “I don’t know”.

And when a univocal commonality is pointed out, as Josh, e.g., has done (seemingly) countless times, you say, "Yes, but... there is not a univocal commonality over here. And unless you can show that there is a univocal commonality over here, there is no reason for me to accept what you have said. And this, because..." In other words, you claim that something must exist, and when it is shown to exist, you say, "No. Let's look over here instead."

What are you talking about? Josh disagrees that there is any univocal commonality. His point is that there is never any when doing an analogy. You have completely missed the point, and if you agree that Aquinas’ definition necessarily implies a univocal commonality, then you have left Aquinas behind, and embraced Duns Scotus.

If you wish to define analogy in some other way, then it is quite possible that analogy in this other sense may not be similarly serviceable. So what? (Not being belligerent; just sayin', is all.)

I’m not defining it “in some other way”. I am trying to understand what it means to be neither univocal nor equivocal. This is a negative definition, and I am exploring the positive implications of these two negations. You have already agreed that univocal commonality is a necessary component of any meaningful analogy, and so the argument is actually finished, because that was my conclusion. It also means that you are no longer defending Aquinas at all on this score, and have actually rejecting his position entirely, which was that analogy cannot ever terminate in univocal commonality, because it is impossible for there to be univocal commonality between God and creation.

The primary success that will be had by defining analogy in some other way is that you'll likely have shown that what you can or cannot say of God and creatures differs from what Aquinas was able to and did say of the same.

I don’t think that my definition of “analogy” is different from Aquinas’, at least not yet. It’s just that there are implications in his definition that he would reject.

And if one cannot see how something posited by Aquinas about God and creatures follows from an application or use of one's definition of analogy, the problem likely is not with Aquinas' definition of analogy in this respect, but with the fact that one is using a definition not used by Aquinas in establishing what he has posited.

The issue is whether my definition of “analogy” differs from Aquinas’. If it does, then the question is how, and if it does not, then Duns Scotus was correct on this point that all analogy necessarily terminates in univocal commonality, which – again – you have already embraced. So, if you disagree with Duns Scotus, and myself, on this score, then your alternative is to either show an error in my reasoning, or show how my definition of analogy actually differs from Aquinas’. I’m exploring this issue myself by reading Gregory P. Rocca’s Speaking the Incomprehensible God: Thomas Aquinas on the Interplay of Positive and Negative Theology (CUA Press, 2004).

Josh said...

Dguller,

I simply can't address your concerns re:parts of the ocean; to me the distinctions separating us from it are in us and not it.

What does univocal predication involve to you? Is it a concrete notion? I believe Aquinas says it is, and that that's what he meant when saying there wasn't anything univocal applying to God and creatures. When I'm saying the same formal perfection is in each, that means there's an identity relationship as you require grounding the analogy, but that our understanding of this notion is concrete and not abstract.

As Ben put it earlier, God knows and we know, but not in the same way. For there to be a univocal predication, there has to be the shared meaning, and in the same sense. 'Animal' of dog and man fits the bill, 'Good' of God and Man doesn't; the sense is missing.

I've really always figured that it was the nature of identity and univocality that was the key issue of disagreement here. When you say:

The reason why I say that R(X) and R(Y) have to refer to the same thing such that R(X) = R(Y), is because that is Aquinas’ doctrine of analogy:

I agree with you! Doesn't mean you can say there's a univocal understanding of something with respect to God, because it's a concrete notion. You can't just pick out the R and say, there, univocal.

It's like Ed's pizza/book example above, you want to say this is reducible to "actualizing a certain potential" in both cases, but a certain potential is what keeps the sense from being the same in both cases! In one, it's flavor, in another, it's readability or whatever.

It's all about asking "what does it mean to be a good X, and what does it mean to be a good Y?" if the answers to those two questions are identical, then you have a univocal predication! If not, it's analogical!

What does it mean to be a good pizza?

It has a pleasing taste when I eat it

What does it mean to be a good book?

It has a pleasing taste when I eat it? --Hell no, obviously

It conveys knowledge well, or somesuch

Josh said...

What does animal mean applied to a Man?

Body with sensitive powers

What does animal mean applied to a Dog?

Body with sensitive powers

Huzzah! Univocal predication.

And in the above re: book and pizza, you still have the core of actualizing a potential or whatever, but it's by their differences that we get the whole meaning in those cases. Pizza is good by actualizing the sense of taste, a book is good actualizing a potential in the intellect

BenYachov said...

What does intelligence mean applied to a Man?

What does intelligence mean applied to God?

Josh can we do the above in an analogical manner to contrast it with the Univocal predication of dogs, humans and animality?

Glenn said...

dguller,

This does not affect my argument at all, at least as far as I can tell. If you never reach what is actually shared in common between two terms, then how can you know what is shared in common? And if you cannot know what is shared in common, then how can you talk about an analogy between the two terms? You literally have no idea what you are talking about, because you never actually reach the commonality between them. What you are actually saying is that X is like Y, and when asked how, respond, "I don't know".

Au contraire. While I could be wrong, I do think you are overlooking the fact the commonality isn't necessarily not at the 'forest' level but at the 'tree' level.

What are you talking about? Josh disagrees that there is any univocal commonality. His point is that there is never any when doing an analogy. You have completely missed the point, and if you agree that Aquinas' definition necessarily implies a univocal commonality, then you have left Aquinas behind, and embraced Duns Scotus.

So, if something is not 100% fat-free, it is necessarily 100% fat?

But perhaps you are right; perhaps by "not purely univocal" Aquinas did indeed mean 100% univocal-free. If so, it is hard (for me) to find where he made clear that that is indeed what he meant.

And if I am wrong in saying that Josh has, more than once, shown the way in which some univocal sense applies to two different things, I'll happily stand corrected by him.

I'm not defining it "in some other way". I am trying to understand what it means to be neither univocal nor equivocal.

What does it mean? Let me paraphrase by using the words of someone else: whether the differences are explicit or implicit, actual or potential, the point is that in any analogy there must be a true partial identity at some level of analysis and a true partial difference at some level of analysis.

I don't think that my definition of "analogy" is different from Aquinas', at least not yet.

If you don't understand Aquinas' definition, and his is not different from yours, then you don't yet understand your own definition of analogy. But you do claim not to understand Aquinas' definition ("I am trying to understand what it means to be neither univocal nor equivocal"), so it follows that you don't yet understand your own definition.

The issue is whether my definition of "analogy" differs from Aquinas'. If it does, then the question is how, and if it does not, then Duns Scotus was correct on this point that all analogy necessarily terminates in univocal commonality, which – again – you have already embraced.

From ["not a purely univocal sense" and "not a purely equivocal sense"] we get ["partly an univocal sense" and "partly equivocal sense"]. But that there is "partly an univocal sense" does not entail that there is a termination in 'univocal commonality'. So, when you say, "you have already embraced [it]", you in fact are saying, "I have already mistakenly stated that you have embraced [it]."

dguller said...

Glenn:

If you don't understand Aquinas' definition, and his is not different from yours, then you don't yet understand your own definition of analogy. But you do claim not to understand Aquinas' definition ("I am trying to understand what it means to be neither univocal nor equivocal"), so it follows that you don't yet understand your own definition.

Seriously? You could resolve this matter easily. I have quoted my definition of “analogy” above. Here it is again:

(Analogy) W(X) is analogous to W(Y) iff (a) W is identical in both, (b) S(X) is not identical to S(Y), and (c) W(X) and W(Y) both refer to R.

To flesh this out, say you have the following analogy:

(1) X is like Y

In order for this to be possible, the following sentences must be true:

(2) X is W
(3) Y is W

The word “W” must be the same in (2) and (3), which is the case. W in (2) must have the same referent as W in (3). The sense of W in (2) must not be the same as the sense of W in (3). If all of these conditions are met, then you can truthfully say (1).

For example, you can say:

(4) Medicine is like urine

How is medicine like urine? This is how:

(5) Medicine is healthy
(6) Urine is healthy

Let’s see how this fits into my definition of “analogy”. The predicate in (5) and (6) is the same, i.e. “healthy”, which corresponds to the condition that the word “W” must be the same. “Healthy” in (5) and (6) both have the same referent, i.e. the physical health of a person. However, “healthy” in (5) and (6) differ in their respective senses, because “healthy” in (5) has the sense of “health-causing”, and “healthy” in (6) has the sense of “health-indicating”.

Note that even in this example, there is partial identity (i.e. “the physical health of a person”) and partial difference (i.e. (5) indicates something causing health, and (6) indicates something indicating health).

I don’t see this as any different from Aquinas’ understanding of analogy, but perhaps you can quote him as claiming otherwise.

From ["not a purely univocal sense" and "not a purely equivocal sense"] we get ["partly an univocal sense" and "partly equivocal sense"]. But that there is "partly an univocal sense" does not entail that there is a termination in 'univocal commonality'. So, when you say, "you have already embraced [it]", you in fact are saying, "I have already mistakenly stated that you have embraced [it]."

Here’s the thing. Aquinas denies that there can be “partly a univocal sense”. He says that there is no univocality whatsoever when it comes to analogy, especially when the analogy is between God and creation. He would reject the idea of partial univocality. And that’s the problem. Analogy cannot work without univocality somewhere. Furthermore, I have provided an argument purporting to show that either the analysis of meaning terminates in univocality or continues indefinitely in infinite regress.

Josh said...

Dguller,

Here’s the thing. Aquinas denies that there can be “partly a univocal sense”. He says that there is no univocality whatsoever when it comes to analogy, especially when the analogy is between God and creation. He would reject the idea of partial univocality. And that’s the problem. Analogy cannot work without univocality somewhere. Furthermore, I have provided an argument purporting to show that either the analysis of meaning terminates in univocality or continues indefinitely in infinite regress.

This highlights to me again that your conflict is over what can be univocal, especially:

he would reject the idea of partial univocality

Which is what I was getting at in the previous post. If you are calling the shared R between two things a univocal predication, then you're simply assigning a different meaning to 'univocal' than Aquinas is. In your instance, it is abstract, only applying to an R, in his, it is concrete, holistic to an S and R together.

That being said, if you wanna call that univocal, I can get over that, realize that there are only semantic differences, and be on my merry way!

dguller said...

Josh:

What does univocal predication involve to you?

I’ve defined “univocality” above. To repeat, if X is like Y, then X and Y must have something in common, which we can call C. It necessarily follows that if X is like Y, then the following sentences are true:

(1) X is C
(2) Y is C

If C in (1) and C in (2) have the same sense and the same referent, then C is understood “univocally”. If C in (1) and C in (2) have a different sense and referent, then C is understood “equivocally”. If C in (1) and C in (2) have different senses, but an identical referent, then C is understood analogously. In fact, C in (1) and C in (2) would be understood as partially identical (i.e. both in terms of having the same referent, but also in terms of having similarities within the sense of C in (1) and the sense of C in (2)) and partially different (i.e. having differences in the sense of C in (1) and (2)).

Or, as Aquinas says:

“Something is predicated of different things in various ways: sometimes according to a meaning totally the same, and then it is said to be predicated of them univocally, as animal of horse and cow; sometimes according to meanings totally diverse, and then it is said to be predicated equivocally of them, as dog of the star and the animal; and sometimes according to meanings which are partly different and partly not different – different inasmuch as they imply different relations, one insofar as those different relations are referred to something one and the same – and then it is said to be predicated analogically, i.e. proportionally, as everything according to its own relation is referred to that one thing” (Meta 4.1.535, cited in Rocca, p. 129).

That sounds like what I’m saying above, don’t you think?

Josh said...

Ben,

I'll give it an imperfect shot (I'll take intelligence to be 'knowing'):

What does intelligence mean applied to a Man?

Intellectual possession of a form in proportion to our essence

What does intelligence mean applied to God?

Intellectual possession of a form in proportion to His essence

And the qualities that differentiate our essences from His are what keep this from being univocal, finite/infinite, material/immaterial, simple/composite, etc.

Josh said...

D,

Must have been typing at the same time. I don't disagree with your exposition in that post. My only qualm is with calling the relationship between referents themselves univocal.

Ann O. said...

Guys --

In a proportionality there are two pairs of things. The things of those pairs (A, B, C, and D, i.e., the relata) are different, but -- here's the important point -- the *relations* within the pairs are the same.

Consider this mathematical proportionality: 2 is half of 4 as 5 is half of 10. Or to use some generic math symbols:
2:4 :: 5:10.

The relations that are the same, viz. "is half of ", the relata (2,4,5 and 10) are all different.

Josh said...

Ann,

The relations that are the same, viz. "is half of ", the relata (2,4,5 and 10) are all different.

I appreciate your input, but the meaning of "half of" applied in all those cases is univocal, referring to a determination of quantity meaning the same thing across all the cases.

Papalinton said...

Mea culpa Dr Fewer, unreservedly.
Bad behaviour is bad behaviour.

Papalinton said...

Dr Feser

Ann O. said...

Josh --

Indeed, the meaning of "is half of" is univocal, but the whole expression also includes meanings (the relata) that are different, from the relation and different from each other, so that the specification of the half of the first pair is not equal to the specification half of the second pair.

Consider: 3:6 :: 10: 20

Half of 6 is 3, while half of 20 is 10, and those halves are different sizes though both are halves.

Glenn said...

dguller,

Here's the thing. Aquinas denies that there can be "partly a univocal sense". He says that there is no univocality whatsoever when it comes to analogy, especially when the analogy is between God and creation.

No. What Aquinas does deny is that anything can be univocally predicated of God.

To speak in an as-if sense, however, of one thing being predicated of another is not to actually claim that that the one thing is indeed predicated of the other, just as to speak of the sun as rising and setting is not to predicate of the sun that it actually revolves about the earth.

Which is why I have referred to a "partly univocal sense" rather than to a "partly univocal predication".

Bullpup said...

Rank,

Thank you for that recommendation. Hopefully more will be written now that the classical theist concept seems to be spreading far and wide. I'd actually like to see CT discussed from perspectives other than Aquinas', as a matter of fact.

We'll see if I get my wish.

dguller said...

Glenn:

No. What Aquinas does deny is that anything can be univocally predicated of God.

Exactly. You cannot say:

(1) A man is P
(2) God is P

Such that P is univocal between (1) and (2). P may have the same referent R, but it necessarily must have a different sense in (1) and (2), because in (1), it is finite and limited, and in (2), it is infinite and unlimited, amongst other likely differences.

And with regards to my point, if (1) and (2) are considered analogical, then the sense of P must be partially the same and partially different in (1) and (2). When you focus upon the part of the sense of P that is partially the same, call it P*, then you have the following sentences:

(3) A man is P*
(4) God is P*

And you can then ask if P* is univocal, analogical or equivocal. If it is univocal, then the meaning stops. You clearly know what P* means and how it applies to both (3) and (4), but this is impossible because (3) and (4) compares God to man, which means that P* cannot be univocal. If it is equivocal, then you never had an analogy to begin with between (1) and (2). That only leaves P* being understood analogically, which means that the sense of P* is partly the same and partly different between (3) and (4). When you focus upon the part of the sense of P* that is the same between (3) and (4), which you can call P**, then you get the following sentences:

(5) A man is P**
(6) God is P**

And you can then ask if P** is to be understood univocally, analogically, or equivocally. And then you apply the same analysis as before, which means either that the sense of P** must terminate in a univocal meaning, or the iterations go on forever in an infinite regress, which never actually gets to the commonality between (1) and (2), making any understanding of the analogy impossible.

That’s the argument, again.

dguller said...

Josh:

What does animal mean applied to a Man?



Body with sensitive powers



What does animal mean applied to a Dog?



Body with sensitive powers



Huzzah! Univocal predication.



And in the above re: book and pizza, you still have the core of actualizing a potential or whatever, but it's by their differences that we get the whole meaning in those cases. Pizza is good by actualizing the sense of taste, a book is good actualizing a potential in the intellect


But don’t you see that “body” and “sensitive powers” are abstractions? They lack any particularizing details of necessity, and yet you cannot understand them without automatically bringing in particulars into your mind. You cannot think of the essence of triangularity without also thinking about particular triangles. That is just how the mind works.

In the case of univocality, you see this necessary connection between thinking abstract form F and concrete particular P, and you just yawn and ignore it as unimportant, but when you see the same dynamic with analogical predication, you jump all over it as if it was the biggest deal in the world. So, when you look at the analogy between a good pizza and a good book, you see the underlying abstraction, but also claim that you cannot possibly conceive of the abstraction in isolation, but rather must bring in the particularizing aspects that flesh out the meaning further. That is what sameness-in-difference is supposed to mean. But how exactly is that different from the case with univocal predication? In univocal predication you also necessarily think of a particular body when you conceive of the universal abstraction of “body”. Why doesn’t it follow that univocal predication is also sameness-in-difference?

Glenn said...

...making any understanding of the analogy impossible.

To whom? Are you speaking for yourself? Or for all human beings?

This to me is certain (though it may not be certain to you)--my understanding either is lax, or it is flexible.

Josh said...

Dguller,

you see the underlying abstraction, but also claim that you cannot possibly conceive of the abstraction in isolation, but rather must bring in the particularizing aspects that flesh out the meaning further. That is what sameness-in-difference is supposed to mean. But how exactly is that different from the case with univocal predication?

Because it's not total abstraction; I'm not referring to this pizza and this book, but still pizza in general and books in general. And those still carry the differences even at that level of abstraction. It's called abstraction without precision, as referred to above. It's different from univocal predication in this sense that there's nothing in the predication of 'animal' to dog and man in general that doesn't apply, at that level of abstraction.

You wrote this to Glenn:

Such that P is univocal between (1) and (2). P may have the same referent R, but it necessarily must have a different sense in (1) and (2), because in (1), it is finite and limited, and in (2), it is infinite and unlimited, amongst other likely differences.

And with regards to my point, if (1) and (2) are considered analogical, then the sense of P must be partially the same and partially different in (1) and (2).


Why doesn't it end at same R different S? On what grounds are you cleaving the S further? Aquinas doesn't do this. That's been my whole point; univocality requires the holistic relation of S and R. There's no sense in describing a "univocal" relationship between S or R, unless as a pet term you stipulate.

dguller said...

Glenn:

To whom? Are you speaking for yourself? Or for all human beings?

For all human beings. How can you claim to understand what X and Y have in common without ever understanding what they have in common? If your analysis continues forever, then you never reach the foundation that grounds the commonality. Here’s an example:

(1) John is like Joanna

Well, what do they have in common?

(2) John is an artist
(3) Joanna is a driver

Okay, that narrows it down, but what does (2) and (3) have in common?

(4) John is a male artist
(5) Joanna is a female driver

Okay, that narrows is down, but what does (4) and (5) have in common?

(6) John is a conventional male artist
(7) Joanna is an unconventional female driver

Okay, that narrows it down, but what does (6) and (7) have in common?

(8) John is a red-shirted conventional male artist
(9) Joanna is a blue-shirted unconventional female driver

Okay, that narrows is down, but what does (8) and (9) have in common?

And on and on you can go without ever ending until you reach a univocal predication that they share in common. Otherwise, the analogy goes on forever, as you can see above. No matter how many iterations or details that are added, until it ends in something univocal, such as:

(10) John is a white red-shirted conventional male artist
(11) Joanna is a white blue-shirted unconventional female driver

Such that “whiteness” is the univocal predication that they share in common, and which grounds the analogy.

Josh said...

This really has nothing whatsoever with conception and bringing into mind a phantasm caused by perception. Everything I'm talking about is a form of abstraction; I'm only dealing in generalities.

Josh said...

Dguller,

Such that “whiteness” is the univocal predication that they share in common, and which grounds the analogy.

That's ridiculous; If you are saying John is like Joanna wrt 'whiteness,' meaning of the Caucasian race, then there's no analogy at all. That's purely univocal predication. There's no way in which they are different with respect to that, and you should instead say John is just as Joanna; they are both white.

Sorry for the quick replies and butt-ins, I'm just rapid firing here.

Glenn said...

dguller,

Well, what do they have in common?...

Okay, that narrows it down, but what does (2) and (3) have in common?...

Okay, that narrows is down, but what does (4) and (5) have in common?...

Okay, that narrows it down, but what does (6) and (7) have in common?...

Okay, that narrows is down, but what does (8) and (9) have in common?...


This is a good example of what I was saying earlier, that when a commonality is identified, you go on to say, "No. Look over here instead." Your argument seems to boil down to the fact that you can keep doing this until any and all commonality has been rejected, at which point, or so you claim, the original claim that there is a commonality has been disproved.

Glenn said...

"I can prove to you that your red car is not red."

"Oh, really? And how do you propose to do that?"

"Simple. I'll remove all the red paint, at which point your car won't be red. Since at that point your car won't be red, I'll have proven that your car is not red."

"Uh-huh..."

dguller said...

Josh:

Because it's not total abstraction; I'm not referring to this pizza and this book, but still pizza in general and books in general. And those still carry the differences even at that level of abstraction. It's called abstraction without precision, as referred to above. It's different from univocal predication in this sense that there's nothing in the predication of 'animal' to dog and man in general that doesn't apply, at that level of abstraction.

I’m still seeing a distinction without a difference.

When you talk about good pizza and a good book, the common predication is “goodness”, right? And there is a single definition of “goodness” that is applicable to both good pizza and a good book, which is also applicable of anything other good X, i.e. maximal actualization of underlying potentialities, for example.

So, when you have the following sentences:

(1) The pizza is good
(2) The book is good

Both (1) and (2) have the same definition of goodness:

(Goodness) X is good iff X maximally actualizes its underlying potentialities

If (Goodness) is correct, then you can plug it in to (1) and (2) to get:

(3) The pizza maximally actualizes its underlying potentialities
(4) The book maximally actualizes its underlying potentialities

The issue is whether the sense of “maximally actualizes its underlying potentialities” is different in (3) and (4), because we agree that they both refer to the same referent, i.e. goodness. Your argument is that at this level of abstraction, they cannot possibly have the same sense, because they necessarily bring in their differences, i.e. sameness-within-difference.

First, this would presuppose the following principle: if the common property that is shared between X and Y necessarily brings differences to mind, then it cannot be univocal. My counterclaim is that if this is true, then the abstraction “body” cannot be univocal, because thinking about the abstract form of “body” necessarily brings particular bodies to mind, just as thinking about the abstract form of “triangle” necessarily brings particular triangles to mind.

dguller said...

Josh:

Second, your position would mean that the following statement would require sameness-in-difference, as well:

(5) If X and Y both maximally actualize their underlying potentialities, then both X and Y are good

According to you, any mention of “maximally actualizes its underlying potentialities” is empty without bringing in the differences involved in specifying what potentialities are being actualized, for example. Without those specifications kept in mind, the statement involving “maximally actualizes its underlying potentialities” is empty of content, or something. But clearly, you understand (5), except that it is at a level of abstraction that does not mention any particulars whatsoever. And if (5) is possibly coherent, then why aren’t (3) and (4) also coherent without bringing in particulars?

Third, just because more details would be more helpful to better understand a comparison does not mean that the comparison is empty without any specifying details. (3) and (4) certainly have a general content, which could be fleshed out with particulars, but it is not an all-or-nothing phenomenon, but rather a degree of generality until you reach a level where there are no particulars, which would ultimately be the level of God himself, who is neither a particular nor an individual, and thus has no particulars involved within his essence.

That's ridiculous; If you are saying John is like Joanna wrt 'whiteness,' meaning of the Caucasian race, then there's no analogy at all. That's purely univocal predication. There's no way in which they are different with respect to that, and you should instead say John is just as Joanna; they are both white.

On the contrary, that is the only way for analogy to occur. That is what it means to have partial identity involved in analogy. I mean, does it really not make any sense to say that Odie is like Garfield in that they are both animals? An analogy occurs whenever a likeness occurs, and all likeness necessarily must terminate in univocal predication at some level of analysis, or else you get an infinite regress of meaning.

Sorry for the quick replies and butt-ins, I'm just rapid firing here.

Nothing to apologize for.

dguller said...

Glenn:

This is a good example of what I was saying earlier, that when a commonality is identified, you go on to say, "No. Look over here instead."

I’m really struggling to understand you. The example I gave was that once a commonality is identified, the chain of meaning stops, because one finally understands what the commonality was that grounded the similarity expressed by the analogical relationship. Where did I use misdirection here?

Your argument seems to boil down to the fact that you can keep doing this until any and all commonality has been rejected, at which point, or so you claim, the original claim that there is a commonality has been disproved.

Exactly right. I would argue that meaning is another example of a causal series per se, and not per accidens. The meaning of X is sustained by the meaning of Y, which is sustained by the meaning of Z, and so on, until you reach some ground of meaning. If this is correct, then an infinite regress of such a series would be impossible, much like an infinite causal series per se is impossible in the First Way.

You could perhaps argue that meaning is not a causal series per se, and therefore an infinite series is no big deal, but even so, as my example above was supposed to show, just because you keep adding details in the iteration that bring you closer to the commonality, it does not follow that your understanding actually gets any better until you actually reach the commonality. If an analogy is such that this is impossible, then understanding the analogy is impossible. It would be like playing Hot and Cold, and always getting hotter, but never actually finding what is hidden. Would you really consider yourself in possession of what is hidden, if you never actually find it?

"Simple. I'll remove all the red paint, at which point your car won't be red. Since at that point your car won't be red, I'll have proven that your car is not red."

"Uh-huh..."


If you think that I am being unfaithful to Aquinas’ definition of univocal, analogous and equivocal, then feel free to cite him and prove me wrong. I’ve already laid my cards on the table at September 17, 2012 11:24 AM with Josh, and even included an Aquinas quote to support my position. I’m really interested in some citations from Aquinas to clarify the matter for me, because I honestly cannot see where I am going wrong here.

Josh said...

Dguller,

I mean, does it really not make any sense to say that Odie is like Garfield in that they are both animals?

Of course it makes sense, it's just not an analogical predication of 'animal.'


I’m still seeing a distinction without a difference.

Your argument is that at this level of abstraction, they cannot possibly have the same sense, because they necessarily bring in their differences, i.e. sameness-within-difference.

First, this would presuppose the following principle: if the common property that is shared between X and Y necessarily brings differences to mind, then it cannot be univocal. My counterclaim is that if this is true, then the abstraction “body” cannot be univocal, because thinking about the abstract form of “body” necessarily brings particular bodies to mind, just as thinking about the abstract form of “triangle” necessarily brings particular triangles to mind.


Socrates is good.
Socrates is goodness.

What is the difference between those two predications? When you see that, you'll see what I'm saying about the level of abstraction.

Why can't the underlying definitions be:

With Q=(SR)

X is like Y wrt Q, where X(SR)=Y(SR)--Univocal

X is like Y wrt Q, where X(R)=/=Y(R)--Equivocal, I leave the S out because it don't matter

X is like Y wrt Q, where X(R)=Y(R), but X(S)=/=Y(S)

?

BTW, if we manage to carry this into November, we'll have rolled on this topic off and on for a year. We should do something special for the anniversary.

Josh said...

Oops, meant to make that last def read:

X is like Y wrt Q, where X(R)=Y(R), but X(S)=/=Y(S)--Analogy

dguller said...

Josh:

Of course it makes sense, it's just not an analogical predication of 'animal.'

So, not all sentences of the form “X is like Y” are considered to be analogies by Aquinas. That’s helpful to know. Thanks for that, and that nicely dovetails into your next point.

Socrates is good.
Socrates is goodness.

What is the difference between those two predications? When you see that, you'll see what I'm saying about the level of abstraction.


(1) Socrates is good insofar as he maximally actualizes his potentialities
(2) Socrates is goodness insofar as he is the ultimate standard that all good things are trying imitate when actualizing their potentialities by virtue of his infinite and complete actualization such that there is no residual potentiality

(2) is higher than (1). I think I can understand (1) and (2) just fine without any additional details, but I certainly could understand them better with details and examples.

Why can't the underlying definitions be:

With Q=(SR)

X is like Y wrt Q, where X(SR)=Y(SR)--Univocal

X is like Y wrt Q, where X(R)=/=Y(R)--Equivocal, I leave the S out because it don't matter

X is like Y wrt Q, where X(R)=Y(R), but X(S)=/=Y(S)--Analogy

?


Overall, not too bad, but I don’t think that you can say “X is like Y” in equivocation. X is nothing like Y in that case. So, any form of likeness must be either univocal or analogical. And your definitions of univocal and analogical are essentially identical to mine, because we agree that both univocal and analogical likeness relationships have the same word used in the predication, the same referent for both words, and that senses must be identical in univocality and different in analogy.

I think that where we might disagree is whether the difference in senses involved in analogy is supposed to be partial difference (i.e. similarity) or total difference. In other words, are you saying that X(S) has something in common with Y(S), or that X(S) has nothing in common with Y(S)? I think it is more reasonable to say that X(S) has something in common with Y(S) rather than nothing in common, because I cannot think of any example in which you can have two totally different senses that share nothing in common, and yet refer to the same referent. After all, the sense is the perspective by which we understand the referent, and looking at the same thing from two different perspectives necessarily implies that there should be some things that remain the same and some things that are different. I find it hard to believe that there would be absolutely nothing in common from one perspective to the other.

Any thoughts?

dguller said...

Josh:

Why doesn't it end at same R different S? On what grounds are you cleaving the S further? Aquinas doesn't do this. That's been my whole point; univocality requires the holistic relation of S and R. There's no sense in describing a "univocal" relationship between S or R, unless as a pet term you stipulate.

Sorry, didn’t get around to this point, but I think it’s important.

As I mentioned in the post before this one, when you say that there are different senses involved in the predicates, do you mean partial difference or total difference. You must mean partial difference, which implies partial identity, and that amounts to a similarity relationship. So, what you really mean is that you have similar S’s and not different S’s. If this is correct, then if you have similarity, then you necessarily have cleavage, because you have composition, i.e. partly the same, partly different. Whether Aquinas did this or not, it seems to be implied by his doctrine, unless you want to say that the S’s are totally different, but that just seems wildly implausible. I can’t think of any examples of such a scenario. Can you?

Josh said...

Dguller,

Overall, not too bad, but I don’t think that you can say “X is like Y” in equivocation. X is nothing like Y in that case.

Right, just an oversight there.

(2) is higher than (1). I think I can understand (1) and (2) just fine without any additional details, but I certainly could understand them better with details and examples

Right, it is higher than one, but the difference is that one makes sense and the other doesn't. Let me try an earlier example:

Socrates is human
Socrates is humanity

1st one makes sense, 2nd one doesn't. The 2nd one is like saying "a man is a nose." One is abstraction without precision, the other is with precision. And anything predicable in our analogies is according to the first, e.g., pizza is good, books are good; not pizza is goodness, books are goodness. And the point about the first type of abstraction is that it "carries along" the senses that differ, which goes into my next response.

I think that where we might disagree is whether the difference in senses involved in analogy is supposed to be partial difference (i.e. similarity) or total difference. In other words, are you saying that X(S) has something in common with Y(S), or that X(S) has nothing in common with Y(S)? I think it is more reasonable to say that X(S) has something in common with Y(S) rather than nothing in common, because I cannot think of any example in which you can have two totally different senses that share nothing in common, and yet refer to the same referent

It's almost like you want to "nest" another R inside the S...I'm committed to the view that the senses in each analogate are different, not similar. It is the R identity which grounds the commonality, in my opinion, and the different S that makes it analogy and not univocity.

Back to the ol' triangles:

Triangles are good
Men are good

I think we both agree on the R being common...what are the senses (S) in each case? A triangle does its R in a completely different way than does a man, right? You have a hard time seeing how the S is completely different, I have a hard time seeing how they'd be partially the same and different in that case...

Josh said...

(cont.)

That is to say, how can you express the partial sameness in the S without referring to R? Because we already agree that's the same, it seems like you are pointing to something else besides R that is the same, and so it can't contain that.

rank sophist said...

No. What follows is that as far as we know of composition, God is not composite. This becomes an epistemological principle rather than an ontological one.

This is false. The ten categories, the Porphyrian tree and all of those other classifications are ontological structures built on the three axioms. There are no other possible ontological structures into which God might fall. It has nothing to do with epistemology: it's a matter of following the axioms out to their logical (and ontological) conclusions.

But it just seems that there is a distinction between him having real properties and virtual properties, and that should count as some kind of composition, other than just by ignoring it. Unless you want to say that all of his properties are virtual, and if so, then it would follow that all of God’s properties are “non-existent”, and then you have to explain how exactly they are “grounded in reality” if they are all “non-existent”. So, your choice is between admitting composition into a metaphysically simple being, which is impossible, or declaring that all of God’s properties are “non-existent” and yet “grounded in reality”, which is impossible.

But you've simply missed the point. The highest truth contains all possible truths virtually, because all possible truths always already "exist" within it. It's like how Aquinas treats the element of fire. All fiery things are virtually within fire: fire is not a fiery thing, nor is it various levels of fieriness, nor is it made up of fiery things. As the highest fire, it is in no way restricted qua fire, and so all modes of fire pre-exist within it. Aquinas would not say that fire is composed simply because it has virtual distinctions within itself. The very fact that it is not any of these distinctions, nor composed by them, nor determined by them, makes it clear that a virtual distinction is not a real distinction.

The virtual distinction is based on reality because a unified thing can be understood in various ways according to comprehension. Whiteness virtually "contains" redness because it is the highest color, and as such is in no way restricted qua color. As such, no color is off-limits to it, even though it may be identified directly with none of them. Whiteness is part of redness, but redness is not part of whiteness, except logically. This is a one-way distinction relying on equivocal causation and the virtual distinction.

I don’t see why a man cannot look like a statue. Someone who resembles Caesar could look like a statue of Caesar. Is there something I’m missing here.

Yes. A statue is a copy of a man, and as such it is fundamentally imperfect. You could not say that a man looked like a statue unless you were speaking metaphorically or logically. If someone looks like a statue of Caesar, then they do not look like the statue but rather the likeness within the statue.

rank sophist said...

This does not resolve the issue for me. I still don’t see the difference between

(1) X has the potential to do Y
(2) X has Y in a virtual state

In both (1) and (2), X has an actual power to make Y occur, and until X actually does Y,then Y exists in X as in a state between actuality and non-being, which can be called … “potential” or “virtual”. I mean, what is the difference? They are both actually present in X, and they are both not actualized, but they could be.


If a virtual distinction is potential, then why did they bother calling it virtual? That doesn't make any sense. Here's Aquinas:

"But an effect, before it is actually produced, pre-exists virtually in its efficient causes but not actually, which is to exist absolutely. In like manner, before it is drawn out of its demonstrative principles, the conclusion is pre-known virtually, although not actually, in its self-evident principles. For that is the way it pre-exists in them. And so it is clear that it is not pre-known in the full sense, but in some sense."

Virtual is not quite actual in a univocal sense (as we both agree), but neither is it potential. For conclusions are not potentially within self-evident principles at all; they are, in some analogous sense, actually within them. If they were potentially within the axioms, then something else would have to actualize the axioms, which is impossible: the axioms cannot be questioned or added to. But the conclusions don't exist absolutely within the axioms either, because then the conclusions would also be self-evident, and the axioms would be composed of them. They must, then, exist virtually within the axioms, which is to say quasi-actually, so that the axioms may be the efficient cause of the conclusions.

More from Aquinas:

"But if he were to know the cause by itself, he would not yet know the effect actually—which would be to know it absolutely—but only virtually, which is the same as knowing in a qualified sense and incidentally."

He does not potentially know the effect, because to potentially know something is not to know it at all. It's like saying that a French baby can potentially learn Swahili: he does not yet in any way know Swahili--not even virtually. However, Swahili-speaking pre-exists virtually within the actual form of humanity. This is not to say merely that the actual form grants a potential for Swahili-speaking, because, for such a potential effect to exist, it must pre-exist virtually within the actual cause. Otherwise, the cause could not even potentially cause the effect, under the principle of proportionate causality. Hence, the virtual distinction must exist, and it must be something other than straight actuality or straight potentiality.

With regards to white light, how can you say that it is not “potentially red”? If you take white light and pass it through a prism, red comes out. White light + prism = red light. The red is somehow within the white light, and becomes separated by the prism, but until it became separated, it was not redness as visible redness. Once the redness within the white light was made explicit or actualized, it became visible red light. This would not be possible unless the white light was potentially red. “Potentially X” just means that X has not actually happened and X could happen.

You're looking at this from the standpoint of modern causation. The white light would be the efficient cause, here: not the prism. The prism, I believe, would be the material cause, the white light the efficient and "redness" the formal.

rank sophist said...



You can call it “virtual”, but it ultimately is the same thing as “potential”,

If this is true, then Aquinas and Garrigou-Lagrange have been speaking gibberish. I don't think that's a smart bet.

Remember, the hallmark of minor virtual distinctions is that they are implicit. Once they are made explicit, then they are no longer virtual.

Whaaaaaa? That makes no sense. You seem to think that they become real distinctions upon contemplation, which is false. A virtual distinction is a logical distinction with a basis in reality, not a real distinction with a basis in logic. Once a virtual distinction is grasped as explicit, it becomes an explicit logical entity with a foundation in reality, rather than an implicit one.

For example, once the red light is observed from the white light after refracted by the prism, the red light is no longer virtual, but rather it is explicit, which just means that an intellect is aware of it.

You've gotten hugely mixed up. The red light, once it appears, becomes actual red light. It has nothing to do with the mind's comprehension of it.

That is why G-L writes that the virtual property is “non-existent previous to the mind's consideration”, and that once the virtual property is attended to by a mind, then it becomes “existent”, which means that it is made explicit.

Made explicit in the mind, which is not an ontological change. The appearance of redness through a prism is an ontological change, whereas our grasp of redness's pre-existence in whiteness is not an ontological change, even though it becomes explicit in our minds.

once the redness comes to the attention of a mind, then it is no longer implicit, but rather explicit, and thus not just “grounded in reality”, but actually “existent”.

Actually existent as a logical being. But logical beings do not exist. I don't see the contradiction.

And since “nothing is implicit to God”, then that must include his virtual properties. Since he makes them explicit to himself by virtue of his intellect’s possession of them, they cannot be implicit, and thus cannot be virtual.

A virtual distinction never stops being a virtual distinction, even if it becomes explicit. An explicit virtual distinction is merely a logical entity based on a real fact.

Also, Aquinas says, "It should be said that God's knowledge is cause, not of Himself, but of other things; of some actually, namely those which at some time come to be, of others virtually, namely those He can make yet never makes." But things that can be made by God are not potentially made, because non-existence is not potential. Therefore, they are virtual insofar as they pre-exist within God--not as potentiality, which is incoherent, but as a kind of quasi-actuality.

None of this affects my argument. Perhaps you can demonstrate how a property can remain virtual if it is always explicit, because it is always present to God’s intellect?

That it is always present to God's intellect does not changes its ontological status. Otherwise, God would necessarily create all things simply by knowing them, which is incoherent and impossible.

Honestly, if everything is explicit to God, then that must include his virtual properties, and they can only be virtual if they are implicit within him.

That makes no sense. A virtual distinction never stops being virtual, even after becoming explicit.

Second, if there cannot be “ontological change”, then God’s properties are either always virtual or always real.

You've gone off the rails again. God's properties are totally unified, but we understand them variously by way of the interconvertibility of the transcendentals. He is the "highest truth" and "highest good" by being the "highest being", so to speak, which means that all possible truths and goods pre-exist within him virtually.

Mr. Green said...

Dguller: I don’t see why a man cannot look like a statue. Someone who resembles Caesar could look like a statue of Caesar. Is there something I’m missing here.

It's a jargon thing. In ordinary English, "likeness" is commutative: if X is like Y, then Y is like X. I'm not sure how literally the connotations translate into Mediaeval Latin, but even in English we understand what is meant when somebody says, "I'm not like my portrait, my portrait is like me!" The way "like" is being used in contexts like this really means something more like "is a copy of [in some way]". Clearly a statue of Caesar copies Caesar but Caesar is not copying the statue.

Mr. Green said...

This example may be helpful in considering analogy: consider various curves, some of which have something in common (the points where they intersect), and some which do not (they do not intersect anywhere). At first glance it seems any two curves must fall into one category or the other, but things get trickier when we bring infinity into the picture: we can have a curve that is asymptotic to a line. There is no point you can point to that the line and the curve share in common, but they get as close as you like without ever actually intersecting. So perhaps we can think of analogies involving God as being "almost" like univocality, but not quite. Also note that we can have different curves that approach the same line, for example one on this side and one on that side — just as we can apply different attributes to God even though (in Him) they must all be the same thing. Loosely speaking, they would all "meet at infinity", but since we of course cannot stuff an infinite essence into our intellects, we must "approach" it from various angles.

Glenn said...

dguller,

First we have...

>> This is a good example of what I was saying earlier, that
>> when a commonality is identified, you go on to say, "No.
>> Look over here instead."

> I'm really struggling to understand you. The example I gave
> was that once a commonality is identified, the chain of
> meaning stops, because one finally understands what the
> commonality was that grounded the similarity expressed
> by the analogical relationship. Where did I use
> misdirection here?

...and immediately following we have...

>> Your argument seems to boil down to the fact that you
>> can keep doing this until any and all commonality has
>> been rejected, at which point, or so you claim, the original
>> claim that there is a commonality has been disproved.

> Exactly right.

So which is it?

The former? That once a commonality is identified, the chain of meaning stops for the reason that the claim that there is a commonality has been substantitated and verified?

Or the latter? That once a commonality is identified, one should reject it through refinement, and keep going until any and all commonality has been rejected--at which point it then can be asserted that the original claim that there is a commonality has been disproved?

You may want to have it both ways, but I don't think you can. I think you have to choose one or the other, i.e., that you cannot subscribe to both:

a) "I found a commonality; therefore, yes, there is a commonality"; and,

b) "I found a commonality; but so what? I'll continue doing things until there is no more commonality--at which point I then can say that I've disproven the claim that there is a commonality".

johnmc said...

Reply to dguller:

Re: the idea that creation means sharing a part of oneself. This would depend on how creation was understood. If it is understood as emanationism then this would be literally true - that is, if creation entails something that used to be part of the creator subsequently breaking off and being independent.

But if creation is creation ex nihilo I don't think the definition will hold, unless we interpret "part" very metaphorically.

To my mind a logical feature in an indivisible reality is not sufficiently autonomous to be a full-blown "part" of something to the extent that would entail real composition.

In creation some logical features of the creator are reflected in the creation and some are not. But such logical features would not be "parts" in the strict sense.

Unless we interpret "part" metaphorically to extend to logical features: in which case the contradiction you noted in your post amounts to lack of real parts vs. existence of irreducible properties metaphorically called parts.

Glenn said...

dguller,

I said (@September 17, 2012 9:35 AM),

** I haven't the time just now to properly attend to the new symbolic argument introduced. I'll get to it later. For now, I'm using the previous X and Y.

I've now taken a few moments to attend to the new symbolic argument introduced (@September 17, 2012 5:04 AM). And I'll make just one comment.

You can use this symbolism to clarify (1*) to (3*) as follows:

(1**) W(X) and W(Y) has a purely univocal sense iff S(X) = S(Y) and R(X) = R(Y)
(2**) W(X) and W(Y) has an analogical sense iff not-(S(X) = S(Y)) and R(X) = R(Y),
(3**) W(X) and W(Y) has a purely equivocal sense iff not-(S(X) = S(Y)) and not-(R(X) = R(Y))


My (1): "What is said of X and Y may be said in a purely univocal sense."

Your (1**) translated back into natural language: "What is said of X and Y may be said in a purely univocal sense if and only if X and Y are the same thing."

It may be that your (1**) clarifies what you want to say, but it clearly changes, rather than clarifies, (1).

rank sophist said...

Thank you for that recommendation. Hopefully more will be written now that the classical theist concept seems to be spreading far and wide. I'd actually like to see CT discussed from perspectives other than Aquinas', as a matter of fact.

We'll see if I get my wish.


Hart is not a Thomist. He takes his CT mainly from the Church Fathers--particularly Gregory of Nyssa, Pseudo-Dionysius and Maximus the Confessor. He brings in Aquinas and some of the other "recent" contributors (Bonaventure, Anselm) from time to time, but they're a minor influence compared to those first three. But yeah, I agree that more non-Thomists should join the CT fray, even though I'm firmly committed both to CT and to Thomism already.

Glenn said...

dguller,

If you think that I am being unfaithful to Aquinas' definition of univocal, analogous and equivocal, then feel free to cite him and prove me wrong. I've already laid my cards on the table at September 17, 2012 11:24 AM with Josh, and even included an Aquinas quote to support my position. I'm really interested in some citations from Aquinas to clarify the matter for me, because I honestly cannot see where I am going wrong here.

What I will do is note that Rocca, from whom you obtained the Aquinas quote (p. 129), writes on the same page (immediately following the Aquinas quote),

"For Aquinas, analogy formally understood as such is also a logical entity that is neutral as regards the ontological question of whether a subject possesses an analogous predicate intrinsically or not."

I'll also note that Rocca later writes (p. 132) that "the logic of analogical names" is "rooted in the creature's ontological imitation of the divine nature and properties."

Your argument, with respect to God and creatures (@September 17, 2012 12:26 PM, e.g.), does not share Aquinas' neutrality, and is demanding of an ontological identicalness rather than accepting of an ontological imitation.

dguller said...

Rank:

It's like how Aquinas treats the element of fire.

Perhaps it would be better if you used examples of virtuality that are not based upon outdated physics?

Aquinas would not say that fire is composed simply because it has virtual distinctions within itself. The very fact that it is not any of these distinctions, nor composed by them, nor determined by them, makes it clear that a virtual distinction is not a real distinction.

Say you have fire that virtually contains burning trees, burning leaves and burning paper, and you have fire* that virtually contains burning trees and burning leaves, but does not virtually contain burning paper. Clearly fire and fire* are different, because fire can burn something that fire* cannot. Doesn’t it follow that the nature of fire and fire* are determined by what virtual distinctions they possess? After all, one different virtual distinction and you have a totally different thing.

Virtual is not quite actual in a univocal sense (as we both agree), but neither is it potential. For conclusions are not potentially within self-evident principles at all; they are, in some analogous sense, actually within them. If they were potentially within the axioms, then something else would have to actualize the axioms, which is impossible: the axioms cannot be questioned or added to. But the conclusions don't exist absolutely within the axioms either, because then the conclusions would also be self-evident, and the axioms would be composed of them. They must, then, exist virtually within the axioms, which is to say quasi-actually, so that the axioms may be the efficient cause of the conclusions.

First, couldn’t you say that when a mind considers self-evident principles, then the mind actualizes the potential conclusions within it? Until the mind considers them, the conclusions remain potentialities within the self-evident principles. After all, even G-L writes that virtual distinctions are non-existent until considered by a mind.

Second, are you saying that within the principle of non-contradiction, there actually exist in a virtual fashion every single possible conclusion? Furthermore, are you saying that within fire there actually exists every thing on fire?

Third, if we can now use concepts, such as “quasi-actually”, then why not also call potentiality “quasi-actual”? After all, for a being to have a potentiality to do X, it must actually have that actual potentiality, and that potentiality is directed towards some possible actuality. And if that is the case, then we can subsume potentiality under actuality, via quasi-actuality, which is absurd.

Fourth, even G-L writes: “a virtual distinction, even a minor virtual distinction, since each attribute contains all others actually, but not explicitly, only implicitly, while genus contains its species, in no wise actually, but only potentially, virtually.” (http://www.ewtn.com/library/theology/reality.htm) It seems that even G-L conflates “potentially” and “virtually” as being fundamentally related somehow.

dguller said...

Rank:

He does not potentially know the effect, because to potentially know something is not to know it at all. It's like saying that a French baby can potentially learn Swahili: he does not yet in any way know Swahili--not even virtually. However, Swahili-speaking pre-exists virtually within the actual form of humanity. This is not to say merely that the actual form grants a potential for Swahili-speaking, because, for such a potential effect to exist, it must pre-exist virtually within the actual cause. Otherwise, the cause could not even potentially cause the effect, under the principle of proportionate causality. Hence, the virtual distinction must exist, and it must be something other than straight actuality or straight potentiality.

First, it seems that virtual distinction is something between actuality and potentiality, kind of like potentiality is between actuality and non-being. That would make it a quasi-actuality and quasi-potentiality, at the same time.

Second, you seem to grant the connection between potentiality and pre-existent virtual forms when you write: “for such a potential effect to exist, it must pre-exist virtually within the actual cause”. X can potentially do Y iff Y pre-existed in a virtual fashion within the actual form of X. The question is which is parasitic upon which. You seem to argue that the pre-existent a virtual forms within the unified actual form F is the origin of the potentiality of the being that actually has F. My position is that neither is parasitic upon the other, but rather each refers to the same thing in different ways, i.e. they are different ways for us to talk about possibility, or what could be the case. The possibility that Z can occur must, in some sense, exist in the nature of the thing that could do Z.

Third, to actually know a language is to have the primary actuality of language, which has the potential of secondary actualization. It is the secondary actualization that would correspond to actually using language, rather than just knowing language. So, once someone learns the language, they actually have a primary actuality of language, but their use of language remains potential. Similarly, the virtual possession of F could be construed as a primary actuality that has not yet been secondarily actualized, and in which this secondary actualization remain in potentiality. So, maybe we are both kind of saying the same thing here.

You're looking at this from the standpoint of modern causation. The white light would be the efficient cause, here: not the prism. The prism, I believe, would be the material cause, the white light the efficient and "redness" the formal.

First, an efficient cause is an actual thing that causes the transition from potentiality to actuality in another thing. If the white light is the efficient cause, then it must be the actual agent of change from potentiality to actuality. What is going from potentiality to actuality?

Second, how can the prism be the material cause? The material cause is what something is made of. Is the red light made of the prism?

dguller said...

Rank:

If this is true, then Aquinas and Garrigou-Lagrange have been speaking gibberish. I don't think that's a smart bet.

They weren’t speaking gibberish. They may have been inconsistent with their use of terms. For example, Aquinas uses the word “substance” often to refer to “essence”, which can be quite confusing until you know what he actually means. Also, they may be trying to talk about something that just doesn’t fit nicely into any categories, and thus use different and distinct categories in ways that seem inconsistent, but only because they are trying to capture something quite elusive. Hence, saying things like virtual distinction actually exists, but does not really exist, and is non-existent until considered by an intellect. Finally, the terms involved are not even used consistently. For example, you say that “Garrigou-Lagrange states that the Trinity is a virtual distinction”, and yet G-L writes that “in God the only real distinction is that of the divine persons relatively opposed one to another” (http://www.ewtn.com/library/theology/reality.htm), which seems to contradict what you are saying. And Aquinas writes: “Now in God there is no real distinction except between the persons and opposite relations: wherefore in God there is not real order except as regards the persons between whom, according to Augustine (Contra Maxim. iv), there is order of nature inasmuch as one is from another, not one before another.” (http://dhspriory.org/thomas/QDdePotentia.htm).

Whaaaaaa? That makes no sense. You seem to think that they become real distinctions upon contemplation, which is false. A virtual distinction is a logical distinction with a basis in reality, not a real distinction with a basis in logic. Once a virtual distinction is grasped as explicit, it becomes an explicit logical entity with a foundation in reality, rather than an implicit one.

Let’s clarify what a “real distinction” is supposed to be. Some examples of real distinctions are between essence and existence, substance and accident, act and potency, form and matter, and so on. The idea is that if there is a real distinction between A and B, then it is not necessarily the case that A and B must always be together. In other words, it is possible for A to actually exist without B. So, you can have substance without accident, act without potency, and form without matter, particularly in the case of God.

However, what does it mean to say that essence and existence is a real distinction? It is certainly not the case that you can have essence without existence. All essences have existence, either in a composite being (essence + existence = ens) or in a simple being (essence = existence). After all, if an essence lacked existence, then it would be absolute nothingness. An essence must first exist before it is combined with esse in order to form an ens. In other words, it must have a kind of being, either as conjoined to an essence into an ens, or within an existing intellect. Therefore, it is not possible to actually separate essence from existence in reality, which means that it is not a real distinction, and thus must be a logical or virtual distinction, unless I am misunderstanding what it means. But it cannot be a virtual distinction, either, because Aquinas and G-L both confirm that it is a real distinction. So, what exactly is a real distinction?

Finally, if you want to say that a virtual distinction is an actual distinction but not a real distinction, then you need to clarify what you mean by “actual” and “real” in this context. I mean, how can something that is not real have a “basis in real-ity”?

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