Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Dude, where’s my Being?


It must be Kick-a-Neo-Scholastic week.  Thomas Cothran calls us Nietzscheans and now my old grad school buddy Dale Tuggy implicitly labels us atheists.  More precisely, commenting on the view that “God is not a being, one among others… [but rather] Being Itself,” Dale opines that “this is not a Christian view of God, and isn’t even any sort of monotheism.  In fact, this type of view has always competed with the monotheisms.”  Indeed, he indicates that “this type of view – and I say this not to abuse, but only to describe – is a kind of atheism.”  (Emphasis in the original.) 

Atheism?  Really?  What is this, The Twilight Zone?  No, it’s a bad Ashton Kutcher movie (if you’ll pardon the redundancy), with metaphysical amnesia replacing the drug-induced kind -- Heidegger’s “forgetfulness of Being” meets Dude, Where’s My Car? 

Now, to be fair, Dale isn’t directly commenting on Neo-Scholasticism, specifically, nor even on Thomism more generally.  He’s responding to Paul Tillich as channeled through James McGrath.  All the same, while (as I have noted before myself) Tillich got certain things seriously wrong, he is from the point of view of traditional Christian theology -- and certainly from the point of view of Thomism and other forms of Scholasticism -- spot on correct to hold that “God is not a being, one among others… [but rather] Being Itself.”  As Orthodox blogger Fr. Aidan Kimel remarks:

I was surprised by [Tuggy’s] statement.  Right off the top of my head, I can think of three Christian theologians of antiquity who identified divinity and Being—St Gregory of Nazianzus, St Augustine of Hippo, and St Thomas Aquinas.  I can also think of three Christian theologians who preferred to speak of God as “beyond Being”—Dionysius, St Maximus the Confessor, and St Gregory Palamas. And not one had a problem identifying their God with the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.

(By the way, don’t miss Fr. Kimel’s old seminarians’ joke while you’re over there.)  Fr. Kimel goes on to note that Dale is evidently committed to what Brian Davies calls “theistic personalism” (and what Norman Geisler calls “neo-theism”) rather than to the classical theism that has traditionally been at the core of Christian (and Jewish, and Muslim, and purely philosophical) theology.  (Fr. Kimel offers some further remarks on theistic personalism in a follow-up post.)

Dale, for his part, essentially confirms this characterization of his position.  Indeed, he sounds positively Feserian in the brash confidence of his assertions, glibly averring in the combox of a follow-up post of his own: “Feser’s ‘theistic personalism’ is just what most philosophers call ‘theism,’ i.e. monotheism.”

Now, if by “most philosophers” Dale means “most contemporary philosophers who subscribe to Faith and Philosophy and Philosophia Christi, and who hang out in the faculty lounge at Calvin College or Biola,” he may well be right, and by a comfortable margin.  But, ecumenical guy that he is, I’m sure he wouldn’t want to leave out readers of ACPQ and The Thomist, or the lounge dwellers at Fordham or CUA.  And when we factor those votes in, things start to look more like the 2000 presidential election rather than the 2008.  Then there is the consideration that the American Philosophical Association has, I believe, recently declared it discriminatory to leave metabolically challenged philosophers out of one’s Appeals to Authority-cum-Majority.  And when we factor in all the dead guys, it’s a Reagan-in-‘84-style landslide for the classical theists, both in quantity and quality.  We classical theists have Plato, Aristotle, Philo of Alexandria, Plotinus, Augustine, Boethius, Anselm, Maimonides, Avicenna, Averroes, Aquinas, Scotus, and about a gazillion other Scholastics, Neo-Platonists, and Aristotelians.  Not to mention a lot of early Protestants, and not a few later ones.  Dale’s got Plantinga, Swinburne, Hartshorne, and the SCP email list.  Really smart guys and gals, to be sure, but… well, there it is. 

Here’s what else I think Dale’s got: a bad case of presentism.  (And like Dale, I say this not to abuse, but only to describe!)  This presentism is obvious enough from the straight-faced, flat assertion that God-as-Being-Itself is “not a Christian view of God” and indeed “is a kind of atheism.”  If your standard of what counts as “a Christian view” is the conventional wisdom in contemporary American academic philosophy of religion circles, then I suppose such a claim could pass the laugh test.   But if your standard is what most Christian philosophers and theologians have held historically, then Dale’s assertion is just a howler.  One would think that someone who makes a claim that implies that the position of (say) Thomas Aquinas -- whose favored description of God was ipsum esse subsistens or Subsistent Being Itself -- was “not a Christian view” and indeed amounts to “a kind of atheism,” would do so just a little more tentatively.

Another indication of presentism is what Dale says when he offers a philosophical critique of the notion of Being Itself.  He writes:

“Being itself” is of dubious intelligibility. When I think of all the beings in space and time, to me, they do not seem to be one whole anything. Nor does there some [sic] to be some stuff of which all are made. It positively seems possible that there be no things in space and time and [sic] all. Were this to be so, would Being Itself still be there? I assume not. If not, then Being Itself would seem to be a contingent and dependent entity. If such a thing existed, it would seem that it’s [sic] existence would be explained, if it is explained, by something else.

But even if we grant that “Being Itself” is a meaningful term, it’s not clear why we should believe in such a thing. We can of course consider appeals to mystical experiences

End quote.  Now, anyone familiar with Thomism, Neo-Platonism, and classical metaphysics more generally is bound to find all of this as mystifying as Dale finds Being Itself.  It just bears no interesting relationship whatsoever to what philosophers in these traditions actually mean by “Being Itself.”  Dale seems to think that the notion of Being Itself is the notion of the collection of all the individual spatiotemporal beings there are taken together (“all the beings in space and time” making up “one whole”); or that it is the “stuff” out of which they are all made. 

This is sort of like saying that Plato’s Form of the Good is the collection of individual good things within time and space taken as one big lump, or a kind of “stuff” out of which such good things are made; or that triangularity is identical with the collection of actual triangles, or with the ink, graphite, chalk, etc., with which we draw triangles.  This would, of course, be a ludicrous travesty of the notion of a Form or a universal.  Not that Being Itself is a form or universal -- it isn’t.  But a Platonic Form is a far better first approximation than anything that seems to occur to Dale.  Indeed, of all the four causes -- formal, material, efficient, and final -- Dale has picked precisely the one (material cause) on which no Neo-Platonic, Aristotelian, or Scholastic metaphysician would model Being Itself!

For Aquinas, it is in terms of efficient and final cause, especially, that we are to think of Being Itself, insofar as God is our first cause and last end.  And here we come to Dale’s astounding remark that “it’s not clear why we should believe in such a thing.”  As if the various Neo-Platonic, Aristotelian, and Thomistic arguments for God’s existence had never been written!  And as if these arguments for the existence of that which is Being Itself were not at the very same time the answer to the question of what it means to say that there is such a thing as Being Itself.  For in fact the two questions cannot, for the classical metaphysician, be separated. 

To follow out the logic of the Aristotelian theory of act and potency is (the Aristotelian maintains) to see why there must be (and to see what it means to say there must be) a purely actual cause of the actualization of all potentiality.  To follow out the logic of the Neo-Platonic analysis of composition and multiplicity is (the Neo-Platonist maintains) to see why there must be (and to see what it means to say there must be) a source of all reality which is absolutely simple or non-composite and necessarily unique.  To follow out the logic of the Thomistic analysis of essence and existence is (so the Thomist maintains) to see why there must be (and to see what it means to say there must be) a cause of the existence of things whose essence just is existence.  And all of these arguments have the implication that the ultimate explanation of things cannot in principle be “a being” among other beings but Being Itself.  (I’ve defended such arguments in several places, e.g. here, here, here, here, and here.)

Dale has to know that arguments of this sort exist, and yet he writes as if no one has ever given an argument for the existence of, or an account of the meaning of talk about, Being Itself, other than perhaps an appeal to mystical experience.  It’s as if he thought: “The notion of ‘Being Itself’ doesn’t fit anything that pops into my head as I write this blog post.  Nor do I remember hearing it talked about in any of the papers I sat in on at the last APA meeting.  Nor do I much feel like reading a bunch of Neo-Platonic and Thomist stuff.  So, the notion of Being Itself is of dubious intelligibility. Q.E.D.” 

In the combox of this particular post of Dale’s, a couple of his readers -- including one who sympathizes with his views -- implore him to grapple seriously with the arguments of Thomists. In response to the first, Dale writes:

Would it make an sense to ask such a being [i.e. Pure Actuality] a question? Argue with it? Could it communicate its thoughts to us? Could such a being love humans so much, that he sent his Son to be a sacrifice for our sin?

I take it, the answer is, No. Such a being can’t be affected, can’t respond. Can’t intend to communicate, literally can’t feel compassion or intentionally do anything. I take it, then, that such a “God” is a rival ultimate being to the God of the Bible, the heavenly Father.

End quote.  As if Thomists hadn’t heard, and answered, such objections many times over!  (See especially, among recent analytic philosophers of religion, the work of Brian Davies.  I’ve addressed such issues in some of the posts collected here.)

In response to the second reader -- who agrees with Dale but is unsatisfied with a glib dismissal and asks him actually to engage with the Thomist analysis of being -- Dale writes:

Honestly… past experience has made me wary of diving into that particular philosophical mud pit.  And time and energy are finite.

Well.  Hard to know what to say in response to that, other than to confirm for the reader that, yes, that came from a Christian philosopher’s combox and not (say) Jerry Coyne’s.

Nor do Dale’s responses (or lack thereof) to the arguments of the other side alone leave something to be desired.  He seems utterly oblivious to the grave difficulties facing his own, theistic personalist or neo-theist, point of view.  Consider his description of God as “a self” and his explanation of what this amounts to:

a self – roughly, a being with a point of view, knowledge, and will – which needn’t be human. An alien, a god, a spirit, a ghost. So, thinking of a God as a self needn’t get anywhere near true anthropomorphism (e.g. God is a dude with a beard who lives on a mountain). 

The trouble with this is that it simply misses the point entirely to think that one has sidestepped the problems classical theists are calling attention to merely by avoiding characterizing God as “a dude with a beard who lives on a mountain.”  The real problem is what Dale does admit to, namely calling God “a self” and “a God.”  Part of the problem here is the stuff about “having a point of view.”  God doesn’t have a “point of view”; that utterly trivializes divine knowledge, as if it were merely a matter of being extremely perceptive or maximally well perched.  But put that aside, because contrary to a common misunderstanding, the classical theist does not deny that God is personal.  (See, again, the posts collected here.)  When the theistic personalist says that “God is a person” or “God is a self,” the problem is not so much words like “person” or “self,” but rather the word “a.”  Making of God an instance of a kind is the key problem.  If God is that, then he is not the ultimate reality, because he will be metaphysically less fundamental than the kind he instantiates, and less fundamental than whatever it is that accounts for the kind’s being instantiated in him. 

Since I’ve addressed this aspect of the dispute between classical theism and theistic personalism at some length in my recent exchange with John Leslie and Robert Lawrence Kuhn, I’ll direct the interested reader to the last installment of that exchange.  Plus, since I like Dale, I don’t want to beat up on him any further. 

Instead I’ll sit back and watch David Bentley Hart do it.  In his recent book The Experience of God, Hart complains that contemporary analytic philosophers have uncritically swallowed the Fregean notion that existence is entirely captured by the existential quantifier; that they have become so dogmatically attached to this supposition that they are unable even properly to understand the arguments of classical metaphysicians vis-à-vis being and essence; and that the whole exercise is in any event metaphysically pointless since we still need to know what makes it the case that “There is an x such that…,” and the Fregean notion of existence simply doesn’t address this question (which is, for the classical metaphysician, the question).  I think he’s largely right on all three counts.  (I say this as someone who was trained as an analytic philosopher, and as someone who has had my own public disagreements with Hart on other matters.)  Too many contemporary philosophers have simply lost sight of the very question of the being of things -- and thereby lost sight, really, of what philosophy is, or so we old-fashioned metaphysicians would say.

I also warmly endorse Hart’s comments on theistic personalism:

Many Anglophone theistic philosophers who deal with these issues today… reared as they have been in a post-Fregean intellectual environment, have effectively broken with classical theistic tradition altogether, adopting a style of thinking that the Dominican philosopher Brian Davies calls theistic personalism.  I prefer to call it monopolytheism myself (or perhaps “mono-poly-theism”), since it seems to me to involve a view of God not conspicuously different from the polytheistic picture of the gods as merely very powerful discrete entities who possess a variety of distinct attributes that lesser entities also possess, if in smaller measure; it differs from polytheism, as far as I can tell, solely in that it posits the existence of only one such being.  It is a way of thinking that suggests that God, since he is only a particular instantiation of various concepts and properties, is logically dependent on some more comprehensive reality embracing both him and other beings.  For philosophers who think in this way, practically all the traditional metaphysical attempts to understand God as the source of all reality become impenetrable…To take a particularly important example: There is an ancient metaphysical doctrine that the source of all things -- God, that is -- must be essentially simple; that is, God cannot possess distinct parts, or even distinct properties, and in himself does not allow even of a distinction between essence and existence… [M]y conviction [is] that the idea is not open to dispute if one believes that God stands at the end of reason’s journey toward the truth of all things; it seems obvious to me that a denial of divine simplicity is tantamount to atheism, and the vast preponderance of metaphysical tradition concurs with that judgment.  And yet there are today Christian philosophers of an analytic bent who are quite content to cast the doctrine aside, either in whole or in part.  (pp. 127-128)

For the reason why a denial of divine simplicity -- which is the core of the theistic personalist critique of classical theism -- is “tantamount to atheism,” see again my recent reply to Leslie and Kuhn.  Suffice it for present purposes to note that if Dale wants to play “pin the atheist label on the fellow Christian,” it is evidently a game made for two.  Or as we Thomists like to say in good Scholastic Latin, nyah nyah

476 comments:

1 – 200 of 476   Newer›   Newest»
Daniel said...

I think the unwillingness to let go of the Fregean understanding of Existence was partly due to a condition we know as ‘Ontophobia’, the fear that if Existence was really otherwise it could function as a predicate and thus Kant’s objection to the Ontological Argument would be WRONG. It’s not as if that argument has been resurrected in Analytical circles completely independently of the question of Existential predication. Again, it’s not as if the question whether or not there is a Real Distinction between Essence and Existence was ever debated by the Scholastics either.

A couple of days ago I got hold of a copy of The Metaphysics of Sabzavari – I have only flicked through it as yet but I notice he gives an interesting argument to the affect that were not Essence and Existence really distinct something akin to the Riddles of Parmenides would arise.

Daniel said...

I suppose with regard to Kick-a-Neo-Scholastic-Week what could justly be said is that the Neo- Scholastics were very much Thomists rather than Scholastics, and thus had a habit of hanging on to all of Thomas’ limitations. The past fifty years have seen a mass of interest in the Modal Ontological Argument and the Kalam Cosmological Argument, both of which, in the West at least, were developed by Catholic philosophers i.e. Duns Scotus (who, btw, upheld the Logical Distinction and thus would have heartily agreed with Kant on that matter) and St. Bonaventure respectively: however, partly because Thomas rejected them this revival occurred outside Catholic circles.

(I know not all Neo-Scholastic writers are like this now)

Back to the post at hand so to speak: historically the question has always been whether God is absolute Being or whether He is Beyond-Being, with Aristotelians and some Platonists preferring the former and Neo-Platonists and Hindu philosophers opting for the later. Neither parties would think to question Divine Simplicity however. Unless one should want to opt for a ‘God Beyond God’ theology with the Creator being distinct and ontologically posterior to the Absolute I am surprised the question should ever have arisen.

Crude said...

I have to admit, something about this criticism of A-T metaphysics strikes me as... fun. I almost want to see it deployed in a debate with an atheist. Have a Thomist reject materialism, reject theism by accepting Tuggy's claim, remark that the Catholic Church always has been an atheist religion, that Christ did indeed rise from the dead - He just wasn't God, but Being Itself.

I'd just like to see the reaction if this was argued aggressively, with a straight face, to an atheist.

Anonymous said...

@Edward Feser

Will you please respond to Stephen Law's latest rejoinder? I know you've waited for his response for months and this whole showdown has the anticipation of a heavyweight title fight

Daniel said...

Re: the whole Evil God silliness:

Premise: Evil is convertible with Bad which is convertible with Worse, that is there is only a Logical Distinction between them – they are the Transcendentals of Privation if you will. If Law wishes to challenge the standard privation account of Evil then he must provide another account or explanation of said phenomena, one which doesn’t fall foul of the Fact/Value Distinction (if it does we have Spinoza’s answer to the Problem of Evil).

1. Evil God is that than which no worse can be conceived.

2. That which cannot be thought to exist i.e. that which possesses the Modal Class Impossible, is worse than that which can be thought to exist.

3. If a Being possesses the Modal Class Impossible its existence implies a contradiction and cannot be thought to exist in any Possible World.

4. Evil God cannot exist.

5. Evil God does not exist.

The above is of course related to the Ontological Argument but Thomas put forward something similar in the Summa Contra Gentiles when considering whether there could be a First Principle of Evil. Evil God can be left to frolic with the circle squares, married bachelors of Meinong’s Jungle.

dguller said...

Daniel:

I think the problem was that two different senses of "being" were being used. It would better to say that God's reality is being1 and creation's reality is being2, and that God is being1 itself, which is beyond being2. Although being2 is like being1, it is not identical to it.

Daniel said...

@dguller

Yes, I agree. I would opt for the Being rather than Beyond-Being as even the former is difficult enough to grasp, it only being describable in opposition to sheer Non- Being. Being2 is sometimes described as Finite Being in relation to Being1 Infinite Being (I use Infinite in the special theological fashion here since presumably God's power is in some sense finite or indefinite in that it is limited by the number possible essences and ways in which they can be instantiated - I stress indefinite as, since number is indefinite even if one calls into play Infinite Sets, there is an indefinite number of combinations in which these essences can be instantiated).

dguller said...

Daniel:

Agreed. Another way to put it is that being1 is identical to ipsum esse subsistens and being2 is identical to esse commune.

One problem is the relationship between being1 and being2. According to the doctrine of analogy of being, being2 is similar to being1, but I've never been clear about what this relation of similarity entails. To me, to say that X is similar to Y means that X is partly identical to Y (= X and Y have something in common) and X is partly different from Y (= X and Y have something not in common).

To reject this account has two possible implications. First, you could reject that X and Y have something in common, but then you have to explain how X can be similar to Y while X has nothing in common with Y. To me, if X has nothing in common with Y, then X is not similar to Y, but rather X is totally different from Y in every respect and has no possible relationship with Y at all. Second, you could reject that X and Y have something not in common, but the logical consequence of this is that X and Y have everything in common, which means that X's relationship to Y is one of identity and not similarity.

But that means that there is something that is identical in both being1 and being2, and then I don't see why you can't talk about this "something" in a univocal fashion, which would undermine the doctrine of analogy.

Anonymous said...

Law seems to be bring up the evidential prob of evil at this point. "Why so many privations?" EGC seems to be dissolved.

Anonymous said...

Theistic Personalism/ Neotheism...what about calling them Neo-Theos!

Anonymous said...

Many (if not most) contemporary philosophers of religion praise the work of Plantinga (and a few others) for bringing the discipline to light to the rest of the Academy, and for inspiring most who study it now. This may be true. But the dark side to this is the theistic personalism that pervades most philosophy of religion (within the protestant tradition).

Plantinga (and others) have done a lot of good for the philosophical study of God and religious belief, but their influence has caused a lot of people to believe that God is like us (as persons), just with more knowledge, power, etc. This is a sad thing to witness.

After the publication of Richard Swinburne's "The Coherence of Theism" in 1977 (in which he defined the Christian God a "a person"), he received a post card from Anthony Kenny, which read, "I am astonished that you have so quickly abandoned the faith of your forefathers." Spot on, Anthony.

As for Swinburne's definition, I could have sworn I remember hearing that God is not a person - he is three persons.

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Ed,

As a personal request, could I ask you to forward the following Thomistic reference on to Dr. David Oderberg:

http://www.newadvent.org/summa/4052.htm#article4 (S.T. III, q. 52, art. 4, obj. 3 - see the citation of Luke 23:43).

He'll see the relevance at once: he wrote an article on survivalism vs. corruptionism recently and admitted he couldn't find a clear statement of Aquinas' thought one way or the other. I think he'll find the reference very helpful. Thanks.

Vincent Torley said...

May I suggest that instead of describing God as "Being Itself," we would do better to describe him as "Love Itself" - a description that personalists could hardly object to.

I'd like to reproduce here what I wrote in a recent post of mine:

"Professor Feser, as a classical theist, holds that God is best characterized as Being Itself. For Feser, a finite being would not be Being Itself: it would be a composite of essence and existence. Composites require an explanation, so no finite being could be self-explanatory.

"However, while I agree that it is theologically accurate to describe God as Being Itself, I don't think this description tells us anything positive about Him, except that He exists. To describe something simply as "a being" is completely uninformative, as it tells us nothing about the being's causal powers, or its ways of interacting with other beings. To describe something as Being Itself merely tells us that there are no restrictions on its ways of interacting with other beings. But that tells us nothing positive about what it can actually do.

"I also think that "Being Itself" cannot possibly be the ultimate way of describing God, because if it were, it would lead to some very odd ways of talking about God. For if God's Nature is simply to be, then we should be able to substitute "Being" into statements about God and still make perfect sense. Now consider the following statements. "Being created the world." "Being is love." "Being loves you." "Being knows everything." "Being hates sin." "Being is tri-personal." None of these substitutions make sense. Why not? The answer, I would suggest, is that God is more than just "Being." We need to describe God in a more positive way, but one which does not circumscribe Him.

"It is for that reason that I prefer to characterize God in more personal terms, as Unlimited Intelligence and Love...

"By "personal being," I simply mean a being to whom intelligence can be ascribed. I should point out that as I use the term, to call someone a personal being is not to say that they merely possess intelligence, as a property; a personal being may actually be Intelligence, as I would affirm that God is. Thus to call God a Personal Being, as I use the term, is not to limit Him or put Him in a genus alongside creatures...

"Here, then, is how I would describe God: God is an uncaused personal being whose nature it is to know and consequently love in a perfect and unlimited way, thereby enabling Him to make anything He wishes to, which is consistent with His nature.

"The reader will notice several differences between my description of God and the classical theist description of Him as Pure Being. First, I have described God as a personal Being and not merely as Pure Being. Second, I have highlighted knowledge and love as the two most fundamental attributes of God, from which all the others flow. Third, I directly stipulate that God's creativity is rooted in His perfect and unlimited knowledge and love."

Daniel said...

I may give a proper reply later but I think one definition both Classical Theists and Neo-Theists could agree on is that God is the (leaving aside the question of whether abstract objects like those of Mathematics are also necessary) Necessary Being, the Absolute Being.

rank sophist said...

I found this post hugely entertaining. Funny and biting all the way through. I laughed out loud several times.

dguller,

I don't know why you keep bringing back that old and blatantly false strawman. You've never been able to offer an account of what "partial identity" (i.e. partial total identity) could possibly be, but you keep repeating it as though it's common sense. Not that I have any intention of getting into another argument about it.

dguller said...

Rank:

I don't know why you keep bringing back that old and blatantly false strawman. You've never been able to offer an account of what "partial identity" (i.e. partial total identity) could possibly be, but you keep repeating it as though it's common sense. Not that I have any intention of getting into another argument about it.

This may help. Rank sophist and dguller are partially the same and partially different. We are partially the same in that we have the same human nature in the sense of formal identity. We are partially different in that we are different instantiations of that formally identical human nature, which is what accounts for our numerical distinction. Hence, we are similar to one another, because we are partially identical and partially different.

To put it another way, say you have X and Y. If you can strip away particularizing features of X and strip away particularizing features of Y to the point that you reach something that is the same in each, then that “something that is the same in each” is what is partly identical in X and Y. Call this “something that is the same in each”, C. It does not matter that C cannot possibly exist without the additional particularizing features that were abstracted away by the intellect, and thus always exists as C-in-X, for example. The bottom line is that unless C is actually in X and Y, then you have undermined realism about universals and are left with nominalism.

Also, it isn’t a “blatantly false strawman”. I have cited in one of our previous discussions on this subject a number of prominent contemporary Thomists who agree with my characterization, such as Joseph Owens, W. Norris Clarke (whose work Hart recommends in his latest book), Gregory Rocca, John Wippel, and so on. So, it’s not as if my account has no Thomist pedigree. As I recall, your main response was that they all have been mistaken about the truth of what Aquinas was trying to elucidate, which I find hard to believe.

You tried to argue that similarity and likeness, which is the basis of analogy, are basic notions that are not analyzable into sub-components, which is clearly false, because they can be analyzed into partial identity and partial difference, and they have been analyzed in such a way by Thomist scholars in the past.

Scott said...

@dguller:

"The bottom line is that unless C is actually in X and Y, then you have undermined realism about universals and are left with nominalism."

Realism about universals is not undermined as long as there are some cases (or, strictly speaking, even a single case) in which C is actually in X and Y. But a realist can nevertheless consistently hold that this isn't true of every case of similarity. In order to be a nominalist, one would have to deny that it was ever true.

Scott said...

In other words, a realist need not hold that all cases of similarity reduce to underlying identities, only that some do.

Likewise, the fact thatsome cases of similarity have in fact been analyzed into partial identity and partial difference doesn't imply that all such cases can be thus analyzed, even assuming that previous such analyses are sound. All rank sophist (or anyone else) needs in order to substantiate his point is one example of a similarity that resists such analysis.

dguller said...

Scott:

Realism about universals is not undermined as long as there are some cases (or, strictly speaking, even a single case) in which C is actually in X and Y. But a realist can nevertheless consistently hold that this isn't true of every case of similarity. In order to be a nominalist, one would have to deny that it was ever true.

First, fair point, but from what I recall, I think that Rank was arguing that no case of similarity could ever be reduced to partial identity, and that the very idea was absurd, because similarity cannot be reduced to anything in that it is basic. And if that is true, then I don't see how you can avoid nominalism. But perhaps he can correct me if he meant something else.

Second, I still can’t understand how X can be similar to Y if X and Y have nothing in common. If X and Y had absolutely nothing in common, then they would be radically different and incomparable in any way, which would preclude any kind relationship at all, including that of likeness or similarity.

Scott said...

@dguller:

"I still can't understand how X can be similar to Y if X and Y have nothing in common."

However, as I recall, you've also acknowledged that in the case of e.g. colors, what X and Y have in common may be membership in a spectrum, what (say) yellow and orange "have in common" is "being a color" where "being a color" just is having a place in that spectrum, and that yellow's greater similarity to orange than to red may ultimately consist in its being closer to orange than to red within that spectrum.

I don't see that "membership in a spectrum" entails any sort of strict formal identity or that any two colors have some attribute or characteristic literally in common merely because they're both colors. But even if there is some sort of formal identity between similar colors, I don't think that sort of identity threatens the doctrine of analogy.

Scott said...

@dguller:

"I think that Rank was arguing that no case of similarity could ever be reduced to partial identity, and that the very idea was absurd, because similarity cannot be reduced to anything in that it is basic."

I can't speak for rank sophist and I don't recall your earlier discussion with him, but you'll probably recall my earlier mention of Ralph Withington Church's distinction between two types of resemblance—one that ultimately reduces to identity and one that doesn't. On his view, the latter type is basic. And if rank sophist is restricting the term "similarity" to those cases, his claim may be entirely legitimate; there's an argument to be made, after all, that if two things are genuinely identical in some respect, then in that respect they're not "similar" but identical.

dguller said...

Scott:

However, as I recall, you've also acknowledged that in the case of e.g. colors, what X and Y have in common may be membership in a spectrum, what (say) yellow and orange "have in common" is "being a color" where "being a color" just is having a place in that spectrum, and that yellow's greater similarity to orange than to red may ultimately consist in its being closer to orange than to red within that spectrum.

Yes.

I don't see that "membership in a spectrum" entails any sort of strict formal identity or that any two colors have some attribute or characteristic literally in common merely because they're both colors. But even if there is some sort of formal identity between similar colors, I don't think that sort of identity threatens the doctrine of analogy.

Why not? Why isn’t “being a color” a formally identical attribute of two colored entities? What am I missing here? What does it matter if “being a color” means being a member on a spectrum?

I can't speak for rank sophist and I don't recall your earlier discussion with him, but you'll probably recall my earlier mention of Ralph Withington Church's distinction between two types of resemblance—one that ultimately reduces to identity and one that doesn't. On his view, the latter type is basic.

And that is what I am having a hard time understanding. The example of “being a color” doesn’t seem compelling to me.

And if rank sophist is restricting the term "similarity" to those cases, his claim may be entirely legitimate; there's an argument to be made, after all, that if two things are genuinely identical in some respect, then in that respect they're not "similar" but identical.

But that ignores the relevant qualifiers. Yes, they are identical in some respect, but it does not follow that they are identical, period, which would mean that they are identical in every respect. If someone told you that John and Peter are the identical person, then you would take them to mean that “John” and “Peter” are simply different names for the same person. But if they said that they are the identical person, but John now lives in California and Peter now lives in Tibet, then you will rightly say that they are not the identical person. And if your interlocutor responded by saying that they are the same person, because they are both men, and thus are identical in that respect, then you will rightfully conclude that they are playing sophistical word games.

BenYachov said...

>Will you please respond to Stephen Law's latest rejoinder? I know you've waited for his response for months and this whole showdown has the anticipation of a heavyweight title fight

Law has perfected the art of argument by equivocation.

The evidential problem of evil was formulated by Rowe to answer Plantanga who is a Theistic Personalist. As Brian Davies pointed out Rowe assumes his argument rules out a supremely perfectly moral entity with omnipotent power. God in the Classic sense is still not a moral agent thus showing no perfectly moral entity with omnipotent power could likely exist based on the evidential problem of evil is about as meaningful to a Classic Theist as a flawless polemic against “Young Earth Scientific Creationism” is to an avowed Theistic Evolutionist.

It’s really that simple but Law can’t make himself see he has not formulated an all purpose omni-polemic against the whole of Christian Theism.

At best he can cause pain to those who believe in Theodicy. But the classic Theistic God needs a Theodicy like a fish need a bicycle.

At this point he is beneath Prof Feser.

Peasants like myself should deal with him.

Scott said...

@dguller:

"Why not? Why isn't 'being a color' a formally identical attribute of two colored entities?"

Is membership in a genus an "attribute"? Again, if you want it treat it as one, I don't mind, but I don't see any threat to the doctrine of analogy there.

"Yes, they are identical in some respect, but it does not follow that they are identical, period, which would mean that they are identical in every respect."

But it does follow that they're identical in the attribute they share, which means that the attributes are identical, period. Those two attributes aren't merely "similar."

Vasco Gama said...

This is not an originality from Dale Tuggy (and must not be what he really means), it appears that also the Romans used to cry ‘Down with the atheists!’ to the Christians a long time ago.

http://www.strangenotions.com/catholic-atheists/

dguller said...

Scott:

Is membership in a genus an "attribute"? Again, if you want it treat it as one, I don't mind, but I don't see any threat to the doctrine of analogy there.

I don’t see why it wouldn’t be an attribute, or a property.

And the threat to analogy comes from the possibility of talking about commonalities between similar entities in a way that involves the same term, the same sense, and the same referent, i.e. in a univocal fashion. In other words, if X is similar to Y, and X and Y have C in common, then when we talk about C, can we do so in a way that our talk about C has the same sense and referent whether we are discussing X or Y? I think that we can, which means that analogy is reduced to univocity.

But it does follow that they're identical in the attribute they share, which means that the attributes are identical, period. Those two attributes aren't merely "similar."

Yes, agreed, if by “identical, period” you mean formally identical. The attributes are numerically distinct, after all.

Scott said...

@dguller:

Suppose you say to a blind man, "Red as a color is somewhat similar to the tone of a trumpet as a sound." I think most of us who possess both sight and hearing would know what you meant, and very likely many of us agree. But for the life of me I don't see any "C" that the two literally have "in common."

Scott said...

Oops. "Many of us would agree."

rank sophist said...

dguller,

Going to make one short response to clarify why your argument, as always, is off the mark.

We are partially the same in that we have the same human nature in the sense of formal identity. We are partially different in that we are different instantiations of that formally identical human nature, which is what accounts for our numerical distinction.

"Formal identity" as you're using the term, in the sense of the total identity of a single form in two places, is a contradiction. It can't exist. We've been over this. Forms are always diversified. Your attempt to smuggle total numerical identity--which is what total identity must necessarily be--in through Aquinas's vague concept of formal identity is a dead end.

Formal identity is the likeness of actual (read: ontologically real, particular and diverse) forms within substances. It is a feature of particularized forms. You can't double back and claim that formal identity is a shared identical form; otherwise it would follow that the identity of two forms was caused by a third identical form within those forms, and so on forever. Formal identity does not involve partial total identity or partial total difference, which are incoherent concepts.

First, fair point, but from what I recall, I think that Rank was arguing that no case of similarity could ever be reduced to partial identity, and that the very idea was absurd, because similarity cannot be reduced to anything in that it is basic. And if that is true, then I don't see how you can avoid nominalism. But perhaps he can correct me if he meant something else.

That is more or less my argument, but I think there's potential in Scott's alternative as well. I'd also argue that partial total difference is impossible. If X is partially totally different from Y, then there is some respect in which it is absolutely not like Y in any way. But all things are alike (read: similar, analogous) in that they exist. Therefore, the only way for a total difference to exist is by not existing. Unfortunately for that argument, non-existence is a being of reason: it does not actually define or distinguish anything from anything else.

And, for the record, nominalism rests not on ontological similarity but on total ontological difference. It's a doctrine that only makes sense when one forgets being and rejects analogy.

That's all I'm going to say, though. Feel free to respond or not; I don't have any inclination to pursue another giant argument with you.

dguller said...

Scott:

Suppose you say to a blind man, "Red as a color is somewhat similar to the tone of a trumpet as a sound." I think most of us who possess both sight and hearing would know what you meant, and very likely many of us would agree. But for the life of me I don't see any "C" that the two literally have "in common."

I can think of a number of commonalities between them: they are both perceived by human beings, they are both triggers for emotions in human beings, they are both able to trigger memories of past events, they are both potent and distinctive, they are both attention-getting, and so on.

rank sophist said...

Scott,

But it does follow that they're identical in the attribute they share, which means that the attributes are identical, period. Those two attributes aren't merely "similar."

Indeed. And, at least for Aquinas, it is a contradiction for two things that are totally, numerically identical to exist. Interesting comment about Ralph Withington Church, too--I haven't heard of him, but it sounds like we've had similar thoughts.

dguller said...

Rank:

"Formal identity" as you're using the term, in the sense of the total identity of a single form in two places, is a contradiction. It can't exist. We've been over this. Forms are always diversified. Your attempt to smuggle total numerical identity--which is what total identity must necessarily be--in through Aquinas's vague concept of formal identity is a dead end.

There are different kinds of identity, such as formal identity and numerical identity. You are correct that partial identity could not be numerical identity, because forms only exist as instantiated in intellects or in natural entities, but that does not preclude its being other kinds of identity. Your objection only works if you reduce all identity to numerical identity, though.

And note that Feser writes: “… one and the same thing, namely the form of the thing understood, exists both in the intellect and in the thing itself … There is just one thing, a form, which … exists in two ways … [I]t is of the essence of the intellect that one and the very same thing, a form, exists both in it and in the real world when the former knows the latter” (Aquinas, p. 148).

No mention of similarity or likeness there. The forms are “one and the same”, “just one”, and “one and the very same”. Does that mean that you would add Feser to the list of people who simply do not understand Aquinas?

Formal identity is the likeness of actual (read: ontologically real, particular and diverse) forms within substances. It is a feature of particularized forms. You can't double back and claim that formal identity is a shared identical form; otherwise it would follow that the identity of two forms was caused by a third identical form within those forms, and so on forever. Formal identity does not involve partial total identity or partial total difference, which are incoherent concepts.

I don’t see why that would be the case. The primary archetype is in the divine intellect, and every created instantiation is an image of the primary archetype. The images are always compared to the original archetype, and that is what grounds their formal identity. There is no need for an infinite regress in this scenario.

dguller said...

That is more or less my argument, but I think there's potential in Scott's alternative as well. I'd also argue that partial total difference is impossible. If X is partially totally different from Y, then there is some respect in which it is absolutely not like Y in any way. But all things are alike (read: similar, analogous) in that they exist. Therefore, the only way for a total difference to exist is by not existing. Unfortunately for that argument, non-existence is a being of reason: it does not actually define or distinguish anything from anything else.

I agree with you. It is impossible for two entities to differ in every way, because simply being entities in reality would be something that they share in common. That is why my argument does not require anything as extreme as “partial total identity” and “partial total difference”. It only requires partial identity and partial difference, which ultimately just means that two similar things must have something in common and something not in common, and furthermore, that what they have in common cannot be identical to what they do not have in common, which means that there is a real distinction between what they have in common and what they do not have in common.

And, for the record, nominalism rests not on ontological similarity but on total ontological difference. It's a doctrine that only makes sense when one forgets being and rejects analogy.

I agree. Nominalism is what happens when you deny that two things have anything in common, i.e. “total ontological difference”.

That's all I'm going to say, though. Feel free to respond or not; I don't have any inclination to pursue another giant argument with you.

No problem. Just so you know, I’m still working my way through a number of books on philosophy and theology before I get to reading Hart. It’s been a several month long process, but I’m almost there. :) Just wanted to make sure I had the proper background before I tackle Hart. I know how much you value him, and so I wanted to show him the proper respect by doing the requisite background reading. Anyway, take care.

BenYachov said...

I'm liking the Fr. Kimel blog.

Can somebody explain to me why Swinburne who is Eastern Orthodox has such a non-Apropotic Theistic Personalist view of God that is a walking talking affront to Palamas and Co?


rank sophist said...

dguller,

No problem. Just so you know, I’m still working my way through a number of books on philosophy and theology before I get to reading Hart. It’s been a several month long process, but I’m almost there. :) Just wanted to make sure I had the proper background before I tackle Hart. I know how much you value him, and so I wanted to show him the proper respect by doing the requisite background reading. Anyway, take care.

Sounds good. I hope you get as much out of him as I did.

Also, I found this paper (starting from page 13) somewhat insightful on the topic at hand, even though I didn't agree with everything they said.

Walter Kovacs said...

So have any notable theistic personalists (Plantinga, Swineburne, Craig, Wolterstorff) given any substantail reply in this debate? That'd be worth reading - these guys are clearly not stupid, and I suspect are quite capable of defending their viewpoints coherently.

BenYachov said...

IMHO Craig has kind of a hybrid Classical/Theistic Personalist view.

Fr Aidan Kimel said...

"Can somebody explain to me why Swinburne who is Eastern Orthodox has such a non-Apophatic Theistic Personalist view of God that is a walking talking affront to Palamas and Co?"

Swinburne's philosophical work was principally written long before he entered into the Orthodox Church. I wonder if he would say the same things if he were writing his big books today. I wonder what he thinks about Pseudo-Dionysius or St Gregory Palamas's distinction between the divine essence and energies.

Anonymous said...

The problem is in Plato's theory of forms: each is said to be *both* one and many.

Anonymous said...

I remember listening to the Plantinga-Putnam interview where Plantinga's view of God's personhood was that God was "not less than personal," which strikes me as something leaning more toward the classical theist rather than "theistic personalism."

Anonymous said...

The article on Personalism has recently been updated at the SEP:

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/personalism/

It's now near the top of the What's New list.

Staircaseghost said...

So Yahweh is Being Itself, and not any sort of being that exists?

How does the claim that the god of the Christians is not a being who exists not entail the claim that the god of the Christians does not exist?

Either the god of the Christians is the value of a bound variable in a first-order predicate calculus or he isn't. Is he/she/it?

George R. said...

I guess according to Dale Tuggy God Himself is an atheist:

"God said to Moses: I AM WHO AM. He said: Thus shalt thou say to the children of Israel: HE WHO IS, hath sent me to you."
Exodus 3:14

Anonymous said...

How does the claim that the god of the Christians is not a being who exists not entail the claim that the god of the Christians does not exist?

It's been explained, even in the OP. Read again. This time, think.

Timotheos said...

@ BenYachov

I agree, it seems to me that Craig tries to take a sort of via media between Theistic Personalism and Classical Theism.

Specifically, it seems that he takes a broadly classical approach to his conception of God, but is forced to revise certain details to get his account to match up with his analytic commitments. (an example of this would be his conception of God as timeless sans creation and temporal since creation to line up with his version of the A-theory of time)

It’s not exactly obvious that he can do this without contradiction, but he gives it a run for its money.

Staircaseghost said...

@5:49 PM Anonymous

I took your advice and "thinked", but came up with the same result. Not unexpected, as my original question was the result of reading and thinking about it.

How does the claim that the god of the Christians is not a being who exists not entail the claim that the god of the Christians does not exist?

Either the god of the Christians is the value of a bound variable in a first-order predicate calculus or he isn't. Is he/she/it?

BenYachov said...

>St Gregory Palamas's distinction between the divine essence and energies.

There are some traditional Thomist types who think Palamas' might be problematic for a scholastic in this area. One fellow was a bit extreme IMHO calling it "demonic".

I'm not into that.

OTOH I prefer the approach of a reconciliation between the two.

But both side would need to spell out their terms.

Edward Feser said...

Staircaseghost,

No one here said "God is not a being who exists." You made that up. What I have said is that God is not "a being," in the sense that he is not an instance of a kind. But to conclude from that that he does not exist is like concluding, from the fact that Plato's Form of the Good does not itself participate in goodness, that the Form of the Good must therefore not be good.

(Notice that the point has nothing to do with whether you believe in the Form of the Good or in God. The point is that objecting to the Form of the Good for that reason would just be to commit a category mistake. What you are saying vis-a-vis God involves an analogous category mistake.)

And if you want to say that if a person affirms God's existence then he should also regard God as the value of a bound variable in first-order predicate calculus, well, fine. The point, however, is that this by itself has no metaphysical significance (e.g. regarding the nature of being) one way or the other. Certainly you've given no non-question-begging reason -- or indeed, any reason at all as far as I can see -- for thinking otherwise.

Brandon said...

Either the god of the Christians is the value of a bound variable in a first-order predicate calculus or he isn't. Is he/she/it?

The obvious answer is that it would depend on the proposition; there is no such thing as a thing being the value of a bound variable in general. Things can only be the value of a bound variable in an actual proposition actually having such a variable. One can, of course, formulate such propositions taking God as such a value; but, as Ed notes, it has on its own no metaphysical significance. Even Quine was primarily concerned not with what it is for something to exist -- which, to the extent he would regard it as a useful question, he would take to be determined by the natural sciences and similar inquiries, not logic -- but about how we commit to things being entities in a theoretical ontology -- any theoretical ontology. Thinking otherwise simply arises from people repeating Quine's slogans without considering what function they actually served.

Anonymous said...

Sadly, I've spent the last 20 minutes trying to find a Latin equivalent to "nyah nyah" to no avail. Heu! Heu!

Cale B.T. said...

@Timotheos

I'd be interested to see one of the folks on this blog attempt to address this particular objection against classical divine timelessness that Craig raises in Time and Eternity. He writes:

"...the idea that God and creation tenselessly co-exist seems to negate God’s triumph over evil. On the static theory of time, evil is never really vanquished from the world: It exists sturdily as ever at its various locations in space-time, even if those locations are all earlier than some point in cosmic time (for example, Judgement Day). Creation is never really purged of evil on this view; at most it can be said that evil infects only those parts of creation which are earlier than certain other events.

...In a sense Christ hangs permanently on the cross, for the dreadful events of A.D. 30 never fade away or transpire.”


James Chastek said...

Cale,

One response would be that Craig's idea of God's triumph over evil consists in making evil cease to exist, but the triumph does not consisting this but in ordering the evil to some good, like ordering martyrdom to redemption or glory. A sign of this is the resurrected Christ appearing with his wounds - marks of evil become marks of glory.

At any rate, Craig, as an orthodox Christian, would have a difficult time squaring this sense of conquering evil with the eternal punishment of Satan.

Dale said...

http://trinities.org/blog/archives/5552

Thanks for your thoughts, Ed. I love a guy who doesn't mince words. There are many things to discuss in your post - above is a small start.

Sincerely,
Han Solo

Dale said...

Oh also - thank you for including me, in your pic, in such an illustrious pantheon, with Tommy A. - and whoever those other guys are. ;-P

Josh said...

Seemed germane:

"One day, two citizens of Athens, returning from the temple of Mercury, perceived Socrates in the public place. One said to the other: 'Is not that the rascal who says that one can be virtuous without going every day to offer up sheep and geese?' 'Yes,' said the other, 'that is the sage who has no religion; that is the atheist who says there is only one God.'"

--Voltaire, Philosophical Dictionary

BenYachov said...

At this point in my life I cannot love a Theistic Personalist "god". I am a total strong Atheist in regards to it's existence
& I can't hate the damned thing enough or abuse it enough. The God of Abraham & Aquinas is the only true God whom I love..
As I relate to God or as God relates to me on my level naturally I might perceive Him as a person like me. But I know via reason and revelation that He is not that. He is infinitely more & an
incomprehensible mystery beyond all understanding. He cannot be well known only well loved. My late Cat Angel in her animal and cat cognition no doubt perceived me as just another
animal only larger and more dominant. But I doubt my Cat had the sense I was more then she because I have an intellect and she had mere instinct. So God seems "personal" to us at our
level of understanding but God is not unequivocally a person like we are persons.

He is so much more. That is the beautiful mystery. The Theistic Personalist "god" has no mystery and no infinite beauty thus how can such a useless thing be God?

Anonymous said...

If God changes or is not simple, then his existence stands in need of explanation. Theistic personalism is incompatible with God as creator.

David M said...

Brandon wrote: "... Thinking otherwise simply arises from people repeating Quine's slogans without considering what function they actually served." - Damn straight! I once failed a comprehensive exam primarily because (so far as I can tell) the examiners did just that. (I passed the second time, once I realized what the examiners wanted to hear.) "On what there is" my ass: As if anyone has ever really thought that "Pegasus does not exist" implies that Pegasus exists (insofar as "Pegasus exists" is the unqualified negation of the first proposition). As if we ever really needed reconstructed Russellian sentences to free us from the clutches of this 'paradox'! What a joke.

David M said...

guller: "[My argument against analogy] only requires partial identity and partial difference, [what kind of (partial) identity/difference?] which ultimately just means that two similar things must have something [what kind of 'something'?] in common and something [same question] not in common, and furthermore, that what they have in common cannot be identical to what they do not have in common [?? - what is the point of making this stipulation?], which means that there is a real distinction between what they have in common and what they do not have in common."

David M said...

guller: "there is a real distinction between what they have in common and what they do not have in common." - So, there is a real distinction between what God and creatures have in common (e.g., the analogical conception of being which can be applied to both of them) and what they do not have in common (their particular modes of instantiating the analogical concept of being: 'being itself' vs. finite, dependent, created being).

dguller said...

DavidM:

"[My argument against analogy] only requires partial identity and partial difference, [what kind of (partial) identity/difference?]

Any kind.

which ultimately just means that two similar things must have something [what kind of 'something'?]

Any kind.

in common and something [same question] not in common, and furthermore, that what they have in common cannot be identical to what they do not have in common [?? - what is the point of making this stipulation?]

Just something that came up in a previous discussion about the Trinity and divine simplicity. I used this idea to argue that the two were incompatible, but that's a whole other story.

"there is a real distinction between what they have in common and what they do not have in common." - So, there is a real distinction between what God and creatures have in common (e.g., the analogical conception of being which can be applied to both of them) and what they do not have in common (their particular modes of instantiating the analogical concept of being: 'being itself' vs. finite, dependent, created being).

Sure. The question is whether “the analogical conception of being” has the same sense (i.e. modus significandi) and referent (i.e. res significata) when predicated of God and creatures. I don’t see why it wouldn’t. Any thoughts?

David M said...

guller: "The question is whether “the analogical conception of being” has the same sense (i.e. modus significandi) and referent (i.e. res significata) when predicated of God and creatures. I don’t see why it wouldn’t." - I don't either. "The analogical conception of being" means and refers to none other than... the analogical conception of being!

dguller said...

DavidM:

guller: "The question is whether “the analogical conception of being” has the same sense (i.e. modus significandi) and referent (i.e. res significata) when predicated of God and creatures. I don’t see why it wouldn’t." - I don't either. "The analogical conception of being" means and refers to none other than... the analogical conception of being!

Works for me!

David M said...

guller, re. your responses of "Any kind": so purely nominal would be an appropriate kind?

David M said...

Just to clarify, guller, when you speak of predicating "the analogical conception of being" of God and creatures, this doesn't mean you can say: "God is the analogical conception of being and creatures are the analogical conception of being" - as if you had named a univocal property of God and creatures which contradicted the doctrine of analogy. When we talk about the univocal meaning of an analogical conception, this doesn't imply that that conception ceases to be analogical.

Fr Aidan Kimel said...

To all of you philosophy types, I'd appreciate if you would take a look at my article "The Christian Distinction" (http://goo.gl/hbJNQQ), and share your thoughts about it in the combox. It didn't generate much initial interest, but I think it's an interesting piece. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

But what about Original Light?

The conventions of our sense experience habituate us to the idea that light is always generated from a defined source, specific locus, or point in space. It is this presumption that permits us to perceive and conceive of defined or differentiated objects, space between objects, relative degrees of illumination, and also shadows.
But, all space, all locations, all objects are equally pervaded by true, original, or fundamental Light, Universal Energy, or Transcendental Radiance.
If we consider the nature of perception and cognition within that Light,which is omnidimensional or Infinite, then we realize that no objects, no degrees of light, no shadows, no differences can be found therein.
Just so, if we Realize Ecstasy, or perfect inherence in the Transcendental Light wherein all objects or conventions of difference appear, then we transcend all differences, all states of body, mind, space, time, self, and relations.

True Ecstasy in the Living Divine Reality is self-transcending inherence in the selfless, mindless, bodiless, wordless Infinity of Radiance, Bliss, or Love. The literal Divine, the Radiant Reality that is only Obvious and not to be identified with any independently subjective or objective states, is Infinite Light, the condition of all conditions or permutations of light-energy.
We must enter into the Presumption of that Condition via our native transcendence of the conventions of psycho-physical experience. Then that same Light will Transfigure and Transform us in every part, until there is not the slightest difference between us and that uninterrupted Glory.

Daniel said...

@ Fr Aidan Kimel

I'd like to respond to your post if I can snatch a few spare minutes but it doesn't appear I'm able to access the Combox. Is this a Wordpress members only thing? I think I remember something like this happening with a friend's blog before...

Fr Aidan Kimel said...

Daniel, I don't know why you cannot access the combox of my blog. It's open to everyone. I'll doublecheck the configuration just to make sure something hasn't changed. In the meantime, have you tried a different browser?

Let me know what happens. My email: tigana99 {at} hotmail.com

Scott said...

@Fr Aidan Kimel:

For whatever it's worth, like Daniel I'm unable to post comments in your combox. No option to do so appears in either of my two browsers (Chrome and Opera).

Fr Aidan Kimel said...

This is very strange. I just rechecked my blog, using three different browsers--Chrome, Safari, and Firefox. I am able to access the combox in all articles (without being logged-in to Wordpress).

I know that you guys must be blog savvy, so I do not have an explanation. There are two ways to access the combox: (1) If you go to the front page and scroll down to the article on which you wish to comment, you will see at the bottom of the box either "Leave a comment" or "[#] comment." Click on that and you will be taken to the combox. (2) Click on the article on which you wish to comment. You will then be taken to the article with the open combox.

Let me know if neither of these options work for you. Are you sure it's not because of your browser configurations? I have posted the problem over at the Wordpress support forum. Perhaps someone there will come up with the answer. If so, I'll post it at my blog.

Fr Aidan Kimel said...

One other possibility: Are you trying to comment on an article that is over 14 days old? Comments are closed on all such articles, but they are most certainly open for all articles posted during the past two weeks.

I posted the problem over at the Wordpress support forum: http://goo.gl/kSXD9i.

Scott said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Scott said...

Ah, well, that's the problem, then. The post on which you asked for comments is too old.

Fr Aidan Kimel said...

I'm glad we figured that out. I have reconfigured my blog to allow comments on articles up to 28 days old.

My apologies to Dr Fesser for cluttering up his own combox with my blog problems. They probably should be deleted. :)

dguller said...

DavidM:

your responses of "Any kind": so purely nominal would be an appropriate kind?

What is a “purely nominal” kind?

Just to clarify, guller, when you speak of predicating "the analogical conception of being" of God and creatures, this doesn't mean you can say: "God is the analogical conception of being and creatures are the analogical conception of being" - as if you had named a univocal property of God and creatures which contradicted the doctrine of analogy. When we talk about the univocal meaning of an analogical conception, this doesn't imply that that conception ceases to be analogical.

Have a look at the following propositions:

(1) God exists
(2) Socrates exists

The question is whether “exists” is univocal or analogous. In this case, it is analogous, because the sense of “exists” in (1) is different from the sense of “exists” in (2), particularly that the existence in (1) is ipsum esse subsistens, and the existence in (2) is esse commune. But, say that you expand it out into the following:

(3) God exists according to the analogical conception of being
(4) Socrates exists according to the analogical conception of being

I would argue that the sense of “exists according to the analogical conception of being” is the same in both (3) and (4). I suppose that you could respond that the kind of existence under the purview of the analogical conception of being is different in (3) and (4), and therefore the sense must be different.

But that wouldn’t work, I think. Look at the following:

(5) Socrates the human is an animal
(6) Fido the dog is an animal

I’m pretty sure that you would agree that “animal” in (5) and (6) is univocal. And yet, Socrates and Fido are different kinds of animals, which means that being different kinds of X does not mean that X is necessarily not univocal when predicated of two different subjects.

Any thoughts?

BenYachov said...

@DavidM

Since certain dirtbags here like to argue by equivocation at the drop of a hat, shift the goal posts or just outright lie if you are going to waste your time arguing with them you may wish to specify if you are arguing Cajetan's account of analogy or the idea Aquinas was arguing a logical doctrine of naming God.

http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/analogy-medieval/#8

http://www3.nd.edu/Departments/Maritain/etext/LOA2.htm

Because in the later case Analogy of Being doesn't play a part IMHO.

BenYachov said...

BTW

God exists is just another way of saying Existence Itself exists or Existence exists.

In 1) swap out God with either Existence Itself or Existence and see if it really is unequivocal?

BenYachov said...

Of course I am not sure if 3 & 4 are even coherent.

BenYachov said...

Being of course is another way of saying Existence.

1) Existence exists
(2) Socrates exists

(3) Existence Itself exists according to the analogical conception of existence
(4) Socrates exists according to the analogical conception of existence.

Am I missing something here?

BenYachov said...

So what is unequivocal between Existence & Socrates existing?

dguller said...

Ben:

So what is unequivocal between Existence & Socrates existing?

That each exists according to the analogy of being.

BenYachov said...

You mean.

That each exists according to the analogy of existence.

Or

That each "has being" according to the analogy of being.

But it is not coherent to say Being Itself "has being" but "is Being".

I smell equivocation.

BenYachov said...

Thus "each exists according to the analogy of Whatever/being/existence etc" doesn't seem to be coherent since your used of "exists" is equivocal.

BenYachov said...

Or I should say you are equivocating in your use of the phrase "exists" in each "exists" according to the analogy of being.

BenYachov said...

Thus when I say both God and Socrates exists then "exists" must be an analogous term not an unequivocal one.

Since God is His Own Existence and or is Existence Itself but Socrates "has his existence".

So I don't see how it can be an unequivocal term here?

David M said...

guller, I'm no expert on this stuff, but it seems obvious that you are failing to grasp the most basic nature of the logical grammar here.

"(3) God exists according to the analogical conception of being" is false or nonsense. God exists as ipsum esse.
"(4) Socrates exists according to the analogical conception of being" is false or nonsense. Socrates exists as a separated soul awaiting the resurrection, or perhaps not at all (that is, if someone wants to insist that Socrates is a man and a man cannot exist as such apart from his body).

And, since you asked(!), a purely nominal (partial) identity/difference is presumably a (partial) identity/difference in name only. You claimed ANY kind, remember? So what did you mean by that? What are the possible kinds? Presumably you're just begging the question by assuming to begin with that 'analogical' is not a possible kind. But maybe not. So what did you mean, then, when you made that claim? Did you mean to refer to a determinate set of kinds of identity/difference? If so, what are the members of that set? If not, how do you propose to determine which are the possible members of that set? (For example, whether purely nominal (partial) identities/differences are included in the set?)

dguller said...

Ben:

As you mention, there are different ways for different existents to exist. God is existence itself (i.e. unparticipated existence), and created entities have existence (i.e. participated existence). But unparticipated existence and participated existence are both kinds of existence, which means that they have something in common, much like infinite being and finite being are both kinds of being.

The fact that they have something in common, but differ in some way, is what grounds the similarity relationship between them, which is what grounds the analogy of being. If they did not have anything in common, then they would not be similar, but rather would be radically different to the extent of being completely incommensurable and incomparable, which would undermine the analogy of being. If they have everything in common, then they would not be similar, but rather would be identical to one another, which would also undermine the analogy of being. Therefore, unparticipated existence and participated existence have something in common, which we can “X”.

Now, look at the following propositions:

(1) Unparticipated existence is X
(2) Participated existence is X

I think that “X” in (1) and (2) has the same sense and referent, i.e. what unparticipated existence and participated existence have in common. And if “X” has the same sense and referent in (1) and (2), then “X” is a univocal predicate. So, there is no equivocation at all, as far as I can tell.

Ultimately, what this comes down to is whether it is possible for A to be like B while A and B have nothing in common. If you are agree that if A is like B, then A and B must have something in common, then the further question is whether we can talk about this “something in common” that they share. If we can in a way that it has the same sense and referent, then we have univocal predication.

dguller said...

DavidM:

"(3) God exists according to the analogical conception of being" is false or nonsense. God exists as ipsum esse.

But the “esse” in “ipsum esse subsistens” is understood according to the analogy of being. Our only understanding of this “esse” is by comparing it to esse commune, which is the kind of being that we possess. The only way for esse commune to provide a window into ipsum esse subsistens is if esse commune is similar to ipsum esse subsistens, which I take to mean that they have something in common, while differing in some way. My question is whether we can talk about this “something in common” in such a way that this term has the same sense and referent in each analogate. I think that we can. What do you think?

And, since you asked(!), a purely nominal (partial) identity/difference is presumably a (partial) identity/difference in name only. You claimed ANY kind, remember? So what did you mean by that? What are the possible kinds?

I still don’t understand what you mean. If the partial identity and partial difference were “in name only”, then that would mean that, in reality, the partial identity was identical to the partial difference, which would be like saying that what the analogates have in common is identical to what the analogates do not have in common, which is contradictory. Perhaps you mean something else? Maybe an example would help?

Thanks.

benYachov said...

>guller, I'm no expert on this stuff, but it seems obvious that you are failing to grasp the most basic nature of the logical grammar here.

He will never improve in that area & as we can see by his response he will ignore the problem and continue to argue via use of fallacies of equivocation.

BenYachov said...

>But unparticipated existence and participated existence are both kinds of existence, which means that they have something in common, much like infinite being and finite being are both kinds of being.

Well we can logically conclude we must have something in common with God(of course it is only one way from us to Him not Him to us) otherwise He could not be the cause of His creation but whatever it is cannot be known.

But the use of "exists" is clearly analogous not unequivocal.

>(1) Unparticipated existence is X
(2) Participated existence is X.

We can't really know what it is we are that is like God we can only logically deduce we have it.

But this changes your argument(why am I not f***ing suprised?).

BTW un-Participated Existence cannot be a Kind by definition.

God is not a "kind" or a single instanciation of species.

That is Classic Theism 101.

You are equivocating between God concepts.

You are so tedious.

BenYachov said...

>The fact that they have something in common, but differ in some way, is what grounds the similarity relationship between them, which is what grounds the analogy of being.

Assuming we are channeling Cajetan.


But somebody from the Traditional School should speak up.

BenYachov said...

>But the “esse” in “ipsum esse subsistens” is understood according to the analogy of being.

Says who?

>Our only understanding of this “esse” is by comparing it to esse commune, which is the kind of being that we possess.

That we must compare God to His creation is unavoidable since we cannot know what God is as God.

We can only know Him by creatures. But whatever we know of Him is an analog of Him.

dguller said...

Ben:

Well we can logically conclude we must have something in common with God

Great. We are in agreement. Look at the following propositions:

(1) God is “something in common between God and creation”
(2) Creation is “something in common between God and creation”

Would you say that “something in common between God and creation” has the same sense and referent between (1) and (2)?

BTW un-Participated Existence cannot be a Kind by definition.

God is not a "kind" or a single instanciation of species.


I know. I agree that being is not a genus, and thus there are no species of being, but there must be a commonality involved in the different kinds of being that justifies their being called “being” at all, which you have acknowledged. The only caveat is that this commonality of being cannot be a genus.

dguller said...

Ben:

That we must compare God to His creation is unavoidable since we cannot know what God is as God.

We can only know Him by creatures. But whatever we know of Him is an analog of Him.


But this analogy is only possible if effects are like their causes. We know the effect as esse commune, are we reason that the cause of esse commune must be like esse commune. Since ipsum esse subsistens is the cause of esse commune, it follows that ipsum esse subsistens must be like esse commune, which means – as you agree – that they must have something in common.

BenYachov said...

Did you just ignored that whole thing I said how the comparison goes from us to Him not Him to us?

I hope not.

>Would you say that “something in common between God and creation” has the same sense and referent between (1) and (2)?

Since it is unknowable how can I make positive assertions about them other then logically conclude the brute fact of their reality?

>But this analogy is only possible if effects are like their causes.

Which we can know to be a fact logically but we don't actually have to know what they are, only simply, that they are especially if they are by nature unknowable.

>We know the effect as esse commune, are we reason that the cause of esse commune must be like esse commune. Since ipsum esse subsistens is the cause of esse commune, it follows that ipsum esse subsistens must be like esse commune, which means – as you agree – that they must have something in common.

But we cannot know what it is only that it is but we can know logically and philosophically they don't have being unequivocally in common.

So I am forced to agree with David M about your weird non-logical use of Grammar.

dguller said...

Ben:

Since it is unknowable how can I make positive assertions about them other then logically conclude the brute fact of their reality?

Does the term, “something in common between God and creation”, have a sense and a referent, or not?

If it does have a sense and referent, then is it the same sense and referent, or not?

If it does have the same sense and referent, then it is univocal.

If it does not have the same sense and referent, then does it have different senses and/or different referents? If it has different senses, then what are the different senses? Also, how can X and Y have C in common, but "C" has different senses? If C is truly in common, then "C" should have the same sense and referent.

If it has different referents, then it cannot refer to what God and creation has in common, thus nullifying your entire point.

If it does not have a sense and referent, then what does it mean at all?

BenYachov said...

I will have to go look up the exact quote but Brian Davies said that saying you can't compare God & creatures unequivocally doesn't rule out the idea God & creatures have something literally in common.

For example God has Will.

Man has a will.

Simply means both God and Man literally have volition. Not that they will the same way.

God has Intellect vs Man has Intellect.

Simply means both God and Man Know but not in the same way.

I think your problem dguller is your understanding of no unequivocal comparison between God and Creatures is wrong.

rank sophist said...

Ben,

Before you get into a five hundred post argument with dguller, I feel like I should make it clear what exactly dguller's mistake is. Fundamentally, he can't understand analogy because he has no idea what "identity" and "difference" actually are, as Aquinas conceives them.

dguller says that something must be "partially identical" and "partially different" to be analogous. But what do these terms mean? When you get down to it, "partially identical" must necessarily mean that there is some absolutely, numerically identical attribute present in two things at once. Anything less is too weak to constitute "identity" as dguller understands that word. The problem is that attributes are forms, and forms are always numerically distinct. One numerically identical form being in two places at once is a contradiction. When Aquinas speaks of identity between members of a species, he is referring not to dguller's hard identity but to "formal sameness". That is, the individual forms within each substance have a certain, intrinsic relation of likeness to each other. This kind of sameness is, as that paper I linked before says, "midway between identity and ordinary similarity". It's what Aquinas has in mind when he refers to univocal sameness. For Aquinas, the only really hard identity is self-identity; the formal, univocal identity or sameness shared by a species is of a weaker variety. Analogous likeness is weaker still, as Aquinas explains here.

But dguller didn't just misunderstand identity. His theory of "partial difference" is also wholly at odds with what Aquinas believed. Somewhat like partial identity, partial difference ultimately cashes out as some attribute or set of attributes that are wholly different--in no way reducible to more "partial identity/partial difference" equations--in multiple things. But it is impossible for an attribute to be wholly unlike something else, for the simple reason that an attribute must exist, and so it must have something in common with everything else that exists. When Aquinas thinks of "difference", it is again much looser than what dguller claims. Difference only exists insofar as it comes bundled with formal sameness, and so difference always cashes out as a kind of likeness.

Simply put, Aquinas did not believe in a strict dichotomy between difference and identity. dguller's argument rests on such a dichotomy. It is only when you presuppose this dichotomy that Aquinas's theory of analogy, which builds on his theory of identity and difference, becomes incoherent.

BenYachov said...

>Does the term, “something in common between God and creation”, have a sense and a referent, or not?

What part of "Since it is unknowable how can I make positive assertions about them other then logically conclude the brute fact of their reality?" do you not understand F***brain?

Now you are trying topiss me off!

If you can't accept a straight answer from me then get lost!

>If it does not have a sense and referent, then what does it mean at all?

It means it's a mystery.

It's that simple.

I really don't know WHAT God is dguller get the F*** over it!

Oy vey!

BenYachov said...

Thanks RS I will mull over what you have told me.

Scott said...

"Tommy A. - and whoever those other guys are. ;-P"

In all seriousness, I recognize Aquinas and Heidegger, but who's the first one on the left? He looks very familiar but I'm just not placing him.

dguller said...

Ben:

I think your problem dguller is your understanding of no unequivocal comparison between God and Creatures is wrong.

First, I would recommend that you be more precise about your terminology, and use univocal, analogical and equivocal, rather than equivocal and unequivocal, because equivocal could mean pure equivocal or analogical, and your posts never make the distinction.

Second, I understand why there cannot be a univocal comparison between God and creatures. It is because it would imply that God and creatures are both instantiations of a common category or genus, which is impossible. It would also imply that human beings could comprehend God in a positive fashion, which is impossible.

But I think that the problem is that analogy must be reducible to univocity, because saying that God and creatures have something in common allows us to talk about this “something in common between God and creation”, and when we use the term “something in common between God and creation”, this term must have a sense and a referent. The referent must be the same, because the referent must be whatever they have in common. If the referents were different, then you wouldn’t be talking about what they have in common at all.

The only remaining question is how the senses can be different here. I don’t see two different senses of “something in common between God and creation”. What are the different senses here, Ben?

If it is true that analogy is reducible to univocity and yet univocity is impossible, then there is a contradiction here. It is similar to the contradiction that I found between divine simplicity and the Trinity. Just to recap, what the divine persons have in common cannot be identical to what the divine persons do not have in common. If the divine persons have the divine essence in common, then what the divine persons do not have in common cannot be identical to the divine essence. Since anything that is not the divine essence is a creature, it follows that what the divine persons do not have in common must be a creature. But this is impossible, and so you have to reject some core doctrine, which would either be that the divine persons are really distinct, that the divine persons have a principle of distinction that is not what the divine persons have in common, or that the divine essence is identical to Being itself. The bottom line is that the system has a contradiction that must be addressed.

dguller said...

Scott:

I think it's Plato.

rank sophist said...

Ben,

Sounds good. I need to correct one part of what I said, though.

This:

Difference only exists insofar as it comes bundled with formal sameness, and so difference always cashes out as a kind of likeness.

Should be this:

Difference only exists insofar as it comes bundled with formal sameness or some weaker kind of likeness, and so difference always cashes out as a kind of likeness.

I caught that mistake after I posted, and I wanted to make sure it didn't cause any confusion.

dguller said...

Rank:

First, I've already explained how my argument does not require numerical identity. There are numerous different kinds of identity, such as generic identity, specific identity, and so on.

Second, my argument would work if you cashed it out in terms of saying that if X is like Y, then X and Y must have something in common and X and Y must have something not in common. Even Ben admits that if X is like Y, then X and Y must have something in common.

Third, the problem with saying that F-in-X and F-in-Y are the same F only because they have "a certain, intrinsic relation of likeness to each other" is that you can say the same thing about any two forms, including two different forms. After all, all forms have intrinsic relations of likeness to each other, and thus you lose the very specificity that was necessary to identify the same forms at all.

Fourth, how do you differentiate between identity and similarity anyway?

Take care.

BenYachov said...

>If it is true that analogy is reducible to univocity and yet univocity is impossible, then there is a contradiction here. It is similar to the contradiction that I found between divine simplicity and the Trinity.

You made up your own definition of divine simplicity that exuded all real relations in the Godhead not just physical and metaphysical as taught by Catholic dictionaries and theology manuals.

You also lied to me. First you said A meant the distinction between relations and essence then you switched to meaning relation to relation and had the balls to claim you never said the former!

Third you are now repeating the same argumentative bullshit where you make no distinction between real Physical, metaphysical and mysterious relations by opposition & treat them all equivocally.

dguller I already consider you a dishonest troll. Stop trying to changing the discussion to the Trinity.

BenYachov said...

I think we all should just boycott dguller.

He has busted David M cops, RS's & mine.

Scott is too mature he just walks away but the rest of us keep getting suckered into talking to him & it is self evident from his responses he doesn't want to discuss anything but make up his own crap.

rank sophist said...

dguller,

Like I said, I have no interest in arguing with you. I was posting to clarify my own thoughts and to help Ben understand why you're off the mark. If you want more information on what that "certain, intrinsic relation of likeness" is--and how it differs from weaker forms of likeness--, then read the section on "formal-sameness theory" in that article I linked.

BenYachov said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
BenYachov said...

Thanks again Rank.

dguller is here to bust chops nothing more.

I'll leave him to Scott or DavidM.

Then he can just repeat his nonsense to the echo chamber.

BenYachov said...

Re-post this with corrections.

>If the divine persons have the divine essence in common,

Answer: Then they are all equally the One God with no distinction from one another as the one God.

>then what the divine persons do not have in common cannot be identical to the divine essence.

Says who? What they don't have in common is being indistinct divine persons or being the same divine person.

It is that simple.

You see it is not hard!

What is it to be a distinct divine person that doesn't cause there to be distinct gods?

We don't know it's a mystery?

This is simple!!!!

But if it is your dogma that Distinct persons always equals distinct gods then I cannot help you I follow Catholic dogma not Muslim.

How does anyone not get this

Scott said...

Got it. It's Parmenides.

BenYachov said...

>Even Ben admits that if X is like Y, then X and Y must have something in common.

If RS wants to know what I mean he can ask me.

Don't presume to speak for me to others.

dguller said...

Ben:

Says who? What they don't have in common is being indistinct divine persons or being the same divine person.

Says Aquinas and Emery. What differentiates the Father from the Son cannot be the divine essence, because they share it in common, and what is shared in common cannot be used to differentiate individuals. Only what is not shared in common can be used in that way. That is why Aquinas rejects the divine essence as the principle of distinction that differentiates the really distinct divine persons from one another, and instead identifies the principle of distinction as being the different origins and processions.

BenYachov said...

dguller you are just a lunatic at this point & we went over all this shit.

>What differentiates the Father from the Son cannot be the divine essence[i.e. being the One God], because they share it in common{ both fully being the One God], and what is shared in common cannot be used to differentiate individuals[i.e thus they are not two Gods]..

Even without my qualifiers[..] what you are saying above is just another way of saying both the Father & the Son are equally the One God without distinction. Like I just said.

>Only what is not shared in common can be used in that way.

Otherwise known as the mysterious really distinct relations by opposition(which are neither real physical nor metaphysical distinctions).

>That is why Aquinas rejects the divine essence as the principle of distinction that differentiates the really distinct divine persons from one another, and instead identifies the principle of distinction as being the different origins and processions.

Which doesn't divide the essence & create real physical distinctions. Which are not examples of potency being made actual which are real metaphysical ones so the divine simplicity remains intact.

Scott went over this with you as did I & you are just repeating the same insane shit.

In one ear and out the other.

You just make up your own crap. What are you going to do next? Claim the divine relations are somehow really distinct from the essence & cite Aquinas when he explicitly said the divine relations where not really distinct from the divine essence?

Or claim because the divine persons are really distinct in a mysterious way that they must be really distinct from the essence in a mysterious way?

That doesn't work. The persons are distinct by relation of opposition. Father is the opposite relation to the Son.

How is the Father an opposite relation to the essence? That isn't even coherent.

This is all I can say. You either get it or you f***ing need at all costs to believe three persons really mean three gods and or one God really means one person and three persons.

You don't want to talk about the Trinity & I suspect you don't want to talk about analogy either.

You just want the last word and you want to wear your opponent out with 700 posts of bullshit.

Take it to Stephen Law's blog. The Gnus will eat it up no Trinitarian here thinks you have the slightest understanding of the Trinity.

If I am wrong then let someone who is a Trinitarian Christian sound off.

I don't know a lot about analogy but I suspect you don't either.

BenYachov said...

dguller do you have Aspergers or something because really your cluelessness reminds me of my Son?Just

He is a brillant little boy but because of his Autism he can't grasp simple abstract concepts.

Just as you can't grasp the doctrine of the Trinity or the concept of logical contradiction.

Now get lost.

I am not doing another 600 posts of bullshit.

Wait for me RS!

Anonymous said...

You all are making this way too complicated. Assuming God is Being itself then logically God must be a being. Personally I think it's easier to think of God as an Entity. The Entity which created All That Is. Obviously God had to create All That Is by himself and from himself, in as much as nothing else was available. Everything must therefore to some extent be a part of God and the stated debate of the article is moot. When you brush away the mythology, cultural differences, and the historic times of the writings, the above stated concept is and has been the root of all religions through out the world since the beginning.

I am amazed and sometimes amused when theologians or philosophers split semantic hairs then prattle on and on about it. The sole apparent goal seemingly to gain intellectual superiority. That is not necessarily a bad thing, but it takes the simple and makes it obtusely complex. Such efforts do not serve the greater good of many in that it adds nothing to their understanding. The teachings of Jesus still exist in large part because He made the complex simple.

Glenn said...

Got it. It's Parmenides.

Parmenides? Parmenides?

Nooo, it can't be. No way! Mr. Tuggy assures his readers that "Feser starts with Plato".

- - - - -

I wonder what makes a being a being?

Might it be that it has being?

But if it has being, needn't it then be the case that the being it has originally is from somewhere, someplace or something not itself?

For if the being that makes a being a being is not from somewhere, someplace or something not itself, how can it be said to have being?

Would it not actually then be the case that its being truly is Being Itself?

Anonymous said...

WLC briefly mentioned thomism towards the end of his latest podcast. Just curious about what those here thought of his comments.

Anonymous said...

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/qa-on-confronting-harsh-treatment-nothingness-and-the-trinity

Timotheos said...

@ Anon

Firstly, I think Craig needs to break out of his analytic mold a little if he wants to understand classical philosopher’s better. Not that there is anything per se wrong with being analytic, but if you want to insist on understanding a classical system with a modern philosophical mindset, you are almost sure to misunderstand or misinterpret something.

Which is the problem that I think plagues Craig’s criticisms; I’m not so sure how well he understands the logical framework that makes a Thomist’s understanding plausible.

Take for instance his criticism that God is not pure actuality, since he at least has the “potency” to create something else. The problem with this criticism is that it is definitely one that Aquinas addressed, since to not have some sort of potency would imply that God does not have the freewill to create something else, and Craig didn’t even mention that Aquinas had a possible solution.

For Aquinas, there are two types of potency, active and passive, and while God being pure actuality entails that he possess the later, nothing restricts him from possessing the former. Thus, God's freewill in creation and his being pure actuality is preserved.

Another one of Craig criticisms that I thought stemmed from his lack of classical training was his criticism of the derivability of God “essential” attributes from each other. I think this problem mostly stems from Craig’s lack of understanding in the Aristotelian essentialism that shaped Aquinas’s thought. Craig says that God has essential attributes, implying that substances can have more than one essence, whereas Aquinas would say that there is one and only one essence for every substance. (I know that Craig wasn’t speaking very technically here, but pointing this out helps to underline my point)

So, for Aquinas, God’s essence is not “pure actuality”, or “omnipotent being”, even though he must have these properties, but something that we cannot even fully comprehend. Thus, each attribute is a consequence of his essence, but they are not part of his essence.

To take an example, to be a human makes you a rational animal, and everything that is rational has the capacity for humor, therefore every human has the capacity for humor. But this is not to say that having the capacity for humor is part of the essence of a human, it’s something that is a consequence, or flows from the essence.

Not understanding this leads Craig to think that you may have an instance of something being “omniscient being”, another thing being “omnipotent being”, and their not being the same thing, since you can’t analytically derive, in Kant’s sense, omnipotent from omniscient. But, following the method used for humans, you can derive “omniscient” as a property of whatever being that is “omnipotent”, not as part of the essence, but as a property that is entailed by the essence.

This account also allows Aquinas to include the trinity as being entailed by God’s essence without us being able to figure that out by pure reason. Aquinas’s criticism of those you think we can know that God is triune by pure reason is similar to his critique of the ontological argument. If we knew God’s complete essence, then we would know that he is triune, but we don’t, so we can’t.

Thus concludes my critique of Craig’s critiques in the podcast. I don’t want to sound like I’m just beating up on Craig, since he has done some really good work and he's a stand-up guy, but the discussion of Thomism he gave in the podcast was mostly a critique, so I responded with one myself.

Daniel Joachim said...

@Timotheos

Great summary. That sums up my initial thoughts, only in more clarity and detail.

I'm a regular listener to Craig, as I find him very interesting in interacting with contemporary ideas.

So as a Thomist, it's always exciting when he chooses to interact with these sort of issues. Seems like Craig, as many other contemporary Protestants, fails to engage the classical view on its own terms, and opt for a simplified interpretation.

I guess his knowledge of Thomism hasn't progressed too much since this video.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QpkslLpn8QQ

He's a very knowledgable, humble and generous debater though. Thankful for people like him (instead of e.g. Comfort) presenting the Christian belief in the public square.

Anonymous said...

I think you can see similar tendencies here, where Craig responds to Thomistic arguments for divine simplicity.

The example he gives is of someone who has a kidney removed but continues to be the same person, despite having lost a "part." This leads him to call the existence of parts into question. But this seems not to engage with the way that a classical theist would handle the question. The classical theist does not think that the kidney is a separate substance within the human; but neither is the difference between the human with a kidney and a human without a kidney "just a figment of our imagination," as Craig says. It's an accidental change, though the human's substance remains the same. And that is the sort of thing that can't happen to God on any account in which God is changeless.

That said, I don't think the discussion of parts is wholly relevant (but that isn't Craig's fault, since both Watkins and Pruss phrase their arguments in terms of metaphysically proper parts), since simplicity is really about the lack of composition of essence and existence.

Timotheos said...

@ Daniel Joachim

Thank you for your kind words; I’m glad to see that someone else on the Thomist side was having similar thoughts.

@ Everyone

I want to make clear however that I’m sure Craig has addressed many of my concerns in his more academic work, which he simply didn’t have time to cover in his podcast. His objections to Thomism were not rigorously formulated in any sense of the word and his attitude was that of kind dismissal rather than any strong opposition, which was appropriate.

Still, I think he should have at least stated that the objections that he gave to the Thomist theses had been addressed by Aquinas himself and by many of his followers since, and that the theses Aquinas defended only make much sense in a broadly Aristotelian/Thomist metaphysic and mindset. That would prevent his listeners from thinking that his objections are obvious and that Aquinas was just demonstrably wrong, since Aquinas’s theses make a lot more sense if they are painted in the classical background they require, and make practically no sense in a modern one.

Timotheos said...

@ Anon #2?

Yes, I agree with you that Craig’s discussion is mostly superfluous to the doctrine of divine simplicity. And in fact, I think that he misses the point of both Watkins’ and Pruss’ argument.

Whenever you see a philosopher use the word “part” in an argument, you need to instantly have them define what they mean by “part”, because everyone likes to use it in equivocal ways. And this is what happens to Craig; he misses the finer details of what they mean by “proper part” in their argument.

Craig takes them to be saying that “proper parts” are Platonic-like abstract objects, and subsist in their own right, which is NOT what either Watkins or Pruss means. So part of Craig’s problem is that he only sees two broadly possible solutions to the question of universals, Platonism and Nominalism, and then accepts the later because of the arguments against the former. He would probably be aware that Aristotle had his own theory, but just assumes it’s an attempt to refine Plato. However, this is just wrong, Aristotle’s theory is different than either nominalism or Platonism, and doesn’t accept the existence of abstract objects, like Craig, yet allows for a metaphysics that features “proper parts.”

That’s one problem; another is that his argument against Dottie’s kidney has flaws. One flaw is that Dottie’s kidney before it is removed and Dottie’s kidney after it is removed CAN be differentiated simply by the time in which they exist.

Another flaw is failing to give Aquinas’ hylemorphic analysis its due. Take for instance Socrates, whose form is that of a human and whose matter is the various things informed by his form. Now take Hannibal the Cannibal, who shares the same form, human, but has different matter, making them different substances. Now suppose that Hannibal eats Socrates, and slowly sheds his existing matter, replacing it with Socrates’, until he shares the same matter as that of Socrates. Since they share the same form and the same matter, they should be the same individual, by the identity of indiscernibles.

The conclusion here is a false one, since it misses the fact that the matter associated with Socrates before he is eaten IS in some way different from the matter associated with Hannibal post-eating, because the matter is associated with each respective individual at different times.

Also to be noted is the fact Socrates is constantly changing, and thus, so is his matter. So we need to be careful about identifying Socrates’ matter as “one thing” instead of a range of things, since his matter only truly stays the same at one instant of time. During intervals of time, we should speak of Socrates’ matter as a range of things, instead of truly one thing, since matter is the principle of change, and is constantly changing.

dguller said...

Rank:

Not to get into an argument with you, but I just wanted to clarify my position, if you don’t mind.

First, I do not endorse the position that the kind of partial identity involved in my argument must necessarily be numerical identity. I explicitly reject this as too strong a condition that leads to absurdities, as you rightly pointed out. Weaker forms of identity, such as generic identity, specific identity, and so on, are all plausible candidates for the kind of partial identity that my argument presupposes. And since Aquinas endorses precisely these kinds of identity in numerous texts, it is not a farfetched notion. So, I do not think that I misunderstand Aquinas on identity.

Second, with regards to difference, let me use an example. Take a human being and a snake. There are some things that they share in common (e.g. they are living creatures, they have sensory systems, they have digestive systems, they are mobile, etc.), but there are also some things that they do not share in common (e.g. the snake is born from a hatched egg, and the human being is not; the human being has legs, and the snake does not). Take the example of legs here. The human being has legs, and the snake does not. I would call this a difference. Legs are present in the human being and legs are absent in the snake. That is all I mean by a “partial difference”. I don’t think this is particularly controversial or bizarre.

Third, with regards to the article that you linked, I’ve read it, and it was very informative, and thank you for mentioning it. In one of your previous comments here, you cited the phrase, “midway between identity and ordinary similarity” from the article. That quote comes from the section on “formal-sameness theory”, and you seem to be endorsing it as Aquinas’ actual position, which is great, because that is exactly the position that I have been defending. The authors write that different forms of humanity, say, “don’t differ intrinsically, even though they differ numerically. On the contrary, they are intrinsically the same”.

However, you wrote that “the individual forms within each substance have a certain, intrinsic relation of likeness to each other". Unfortunately, in that section of the paper, the intrinsic relation is not one of “likeness”, but rather one of “sameness”. They actually call it “intrinsic sameness”. So, you are either equivocating on sameness and likeness, or you are claiming that sameness is likeness. Neither of these positions is feasible, I think, and so the most reasonable option is to distinguish between sameness and likeness, and therefore, the paper actually is closer to my position than to yours.

The subsequent section considers a “similarity theory” in which “the sameness condition” is interpreted according to “mere similarity or resemblance”. In other words, that theory actually rejects formal sameness or identity altogether, and replaces it with similarity. That is actually closer to your position, I think. But the problem with this position is that everything is like everything else, and so you would have to be able to specify how one thing is like another thing in a particular way, which would require the ability to analyze the similarity relationship into more basic components, and I would argue that these more basic components would have to include partial sameness in the sense of the same properties or attributes being present in both analogates, and partial difference in the sense of some properties or attributes being present in one analogate, but absent in the other.

I hope this helps to clarify my position, and resolve some of your objections to it. That's the last I'll talk about it on this thread. Perhaps it will come up again in the future.

Take care.

Michael said...

I am a survivor of a previous thread with dguller about the analogical. And I just never really saw how his argument, in practice, was able to progress in order to be an issue.

When we talk about analogical terms we are talking about analogical predication. Basically, we are talking about two statements with the same word and we want to know if the meaning of the term is the same in both statements. For example:

1) God is wise.
2) Man is wise.

Does the term “wise” in both statements mean the same? To answer this question we must make a judgment about the principles of signification, and there are two: A) the referent and B) the way the referent is being signified. Based on prior Thomistic arguments and considerations, we necessarily judge that principle A is the same in both predications. But, again based on prior Thomistic arguments and considerations, we necessarily judge that principle B is not the same. And therefore we conclude that the terms are being predicated analogically. The meanings of the terms are not the same, but nor are they completely different—the meanings are related.

Exactly how they are related? Answer: they have the same referent. So far, so good. But dguller might say but how are their B principles related? And the answer is: they’re not, at least not in any relevant way that allows for dguller’s regression of difference and sameness.

Basically, dguller tries to use analogical predication on the principles of analogical predication… which is precisely what one cannot do! I do not blame him as it is a common tendency to reify the abstraction, but here it is in all its ugly glory.

So this is my take on the “problem”, which may or may not be the same as Rank Sophist’s and/or Ben Y’s critique(s)—I don’t know. But what I do know is we need to go back to basics in this discussion and spell out what we are talking about—analogical predication (not mere analogy)—and its principles.

Can I get a yay or nay? Thanks and good luck.

-Michael

Josh said...

Michael,

I am in full agreement with you and I applaud your clarity and economy in writing on the issue.

dguller said...

Michael:

Thanks for that excellent summary, and I fully agree with you that an examination of the fundamentals of this issue would be highly clarifying. For me, the sticking point has always been three issues:

(1) What exactly is the modus significandi supposed to be?

(2) What is the difference between sameness and similarity?

(3) What is the relationship between the different modus significandi themselves that share the same res significata?

With regards to (1), I’ve always understood the modus significandi to be how the res significata manifests itself to the human mind. In other words, it is how the res shows up in our minds. And that would require some explanation of how the res impacts or affects the mind in order to appear as the modus at all. Since the modus is an effect of the res, it must follow that the modus must be like the res in some way. In other words, they must share something in common in order to ground the connection between them, and this “something in common” must be present both in the modus and in the res, albeit in different modes of being.

With regards to (2), the difference between sameness and similarity is basically that if X is the same as Y, then X has everything in common with Y, and if X is similar to Y, then X and Y have something in common (i.e. are partially the same), and X and Y have something not in common (i.e. are partially different).

With regards to (3), if you have two different modes, call them M1 and M2, and each refers to the same res, which we can call R. If M1 is the same as M2, then you have univocal meaning. It is impossible for M1 and M2 to be totally different, because then they would have nothing in common, and everything has something in common. At the very least, M1 and M2 would both be about R, which would be something in common that they share. So, that leaves the position that M1 is similar to M2.

Now, if what I have said in my response to (1) and (2) above is correct, then it would make sense to say that one thing if M1 and M2 are similar, then M1 and M2 must have something in common, and one thing that they have in common must also be present in R, albeit in a different mode of being. My only remaining question is whether we can talk about this “something in common” between M1 and M2 and R, and if we can talk about it, then why can’t this “something in common” have the same modus significandi and res signficata?

Thanks.

Daniel said...

@ Timotheos,

This is just idle speculation but I suspect that this is another reason why Craig prefers Nominalism: I seem to remember that there is a problem one can raise against the Kalam Cosmological Argument involving a Platonic account of Infinite Sets, which might also be why Brian Davies is keen to argue that Mathematics is invented and not discovered. Since Platonic Realism would seem to commit one to a Philosophy of Mind that is de facto non-Naturalistic it seems a Pyrrhic victory for the argument’s critics however.

My favourite confusion vis-à-vis terminology is when a modern Analytical philosopher – Plantinga is a good one for this – talks about Existence being or not being a Property. If Existence were really a Property of God, I now use Property in the strict sense, then God would be the only being who could possibly exist, though need not do so essentially.

By the bye if anyone knows any good online (or in print) documentation on Active Potency please do feel free to share – looking at this article from The New Scholasticism now:

http://www.pdcnet.org/newscholas/content/newscholas_1960_0034_0004_0431_0437

David M said...

Michael wrote: "Does the term “wise” in both statements mean the same? To answer this question we must make a judgment about the principles of signification, and there are two: A) the referent and B) the way the referent is being signified. Based on prior Thomistic arguments and considerations, we necessarily judge that principle A is the same in both predications. But, again based on prior Thomistic arguments and considerations, we necessarily judge that principle B is not the same. And therefore we conclude that the terms are being predicated analogically. The meanings of the terms are not the same, but nor are they completely different—the meanings are related. -- Exactly how they are related? Answer: they have the same referent. [Etc.]"

Nay. Whence cometh this account of the matter? It sounds as badly confused as guller's account to me. First, "the two principles of signification"? Huh?? Where does this come from? Second: The referent of the predicate "is wise" is certainly not the same in the two sentences: God's wisdom is not the same as man's wisdom.

dguller said...

DavidM:

The way that I’ve always understood the different kinds of predication is as follows. Say you have the following propositions:

(1) X is P
(2) Y is P

In (1) and (2), you have the same term, “P”. The term “P” in (1) has a sense (or modus significandi), which we can call S1, and the term “P” in (2) has a sense (or modus significandi), which we can call S2. The term “P” in (1) has a referent (or res significata), which we can call R1, and the term “P” in (2) has a referent (or res significata), which we can call R2. And just to be clear, to me, the sense is simply how the referent appears to the human mind as a linguistic and cognitive construct.

We can expand (1) and (2) in the following way:

(3) X is {“P”, S1, R1}
(4) Y is {“P”, S2, R2}

Based upon that framework, we have the following:

(5) P is univocal iff (a) S1 is identical to S2, and (b) R1 is identical to R2
(6) P is equivocal iff (a) S1 is similar to S2, and (b) R1 is similar to R2
(7) P is analogous iff (a) S1 is similar to S2, and (b) R1 is identical to R2

And just to complete my definitions:

(8) A is identical to B iff A and B have everything in common
(9) A is similar to B iff A and B have something in common

Now, you raise an excellent point. When you look at the following propositions:

(10) God is wise
(11) Socrates is wise

we can agree that the sense of “wise” is not identical in (10) and (11). The question is about the referent, and to answer that question, we must be clear that there are different kinds of identity. For example, you and I both have the same form of humanity, but the identity in question here is formal identity, which is different from numerical identity, because clearly there are two instantiations of the same form. Applying this to (10) and (11), I think that the common referent is wisdom, which exists in two modes of being that can be described in different ways – i.e. unparticipated and participated, or infinite and finite, or uncreated and created, etc. – but ultimately come down to the divine archetype of Wisdom versus the derived image of Wisdom in creation. But the commonality between them is Wisdom, and that is what it means to say that in analogous predication, there is the same referent, albeit in different senses.

David M said...

guller: "But the “esse” in “ipsum esse subsistens” is understood according to the analogy of being. Our only understanding of this “esse” is by comparing it to esse commune, which is the kind of being that we possess."

Think this through:
We know nothing about A. We know about B. But we know about A by comparing it to B. Since that makes no sense, you should probably stop right there and say to yourself, "Wait: that makes no sense! I can't very well discover what, say, an eb'rimp has in common with, say, a socket wrench (and what it doesn't have in common) if I know exactly NOTHING about what an "eb'rimp" is or even what "eb'rimp" means!"

Further, you and I don't possess 'common being' (esse commune), do we? We possess human being. If we do possess 'common being,' then what does 'common' refer to here? What real commonality do you think grounds the use of the term 'common' here?

"The only way for esse commune to provide a window into ipsum esse subsistens is if esse commune is similar to ipsum esse subsistens, which I take to mean that they have something in common, while differing in some way. My question is whether we can talk about this “something in common” in such a way that this term has the same sense and referent in each analogate. I think that we can. What do you think?"

No, we can't. We are not God from God, light from light, true God from true God. We are creatures from creator, finite light from infinite light, not true God at all. Why would you want to insist that 'creator' and 'creature' have the same referent? Yes, it's by understanding creatures that we can come to understand God (creator), but how does it follow that 'creator' (partially(?!)) means(!) 'creature' or that 'creator' partially(?!) refers to creatures.

David M said...

guller: 'modus significandi' does not mean 'sense' - it means 'mode of signifying' or 'mode of signification.'

David M said...

guller:
"The term “P” in (1) has a referent (or res significata), which we can call R1, and the term “P” in (2) has a referent (or res significata), which we can call R2. And just to be clear, to me, the sense is simply how the referent appears to the human mind as a linguistic and cognitive construct.

We can expand (1) and (2) in the following way:

(3) X is {“P”, S1, R1}
(4) Y is {“P”, S2, R2}"

NO. When you say "God is P" the referent of P is identical to referent of 'God.' When you say "Socrates is P" the referent of P is not identical to the referent of 'Socrates.' If you can understand this and digest it, I think your confusion will finally be dispelled. These are different modes of predication, not just different modes of signifying, or different senses.

dguller said...

DavidM:

We know nothing about A. We know about B. But we know about A by comparing it to B. Since that makes no sense, you should probably stop right there and say to yourself, "Wait: that makes no sense! I can't very well discover what, say, an eb'rimp has in common with, say, a socket wrench (and what it doesn't have in common) if I know exactly NOTHING about what an "eb'rimp" is or even what "eb'rimp" means!"

You have to keep the framework in mind. According to the Neoplatonic framework of participatory efficient causality that Aquinas endorses, an effect is like its cause. That is the only way that we can know anything about the cause on the basis of its effects, and it presupposes the idea that the cause and effect must share something in common that is present in both the cause and the effect, albeit in different modes of being. Now, if you want to reject this framework, which you are fully welcome to do, then you can sever the likeness relationship between causes and effects, which would result in radical and extreme agnosticism about God in the form of an exclusively negative theology. But that means that anything cataphatic or positive about God is precluded and eliminated altogether, which would have to include God as first cause, as creator, as source and origin, as possessing intellect and will, and so on.

Further, you and I don't possess 'common being' (esse commune), do we? We possess human being. If we do possess 'common being,' then what does 'common' refer to here? What real commonality do you think grounds the use of the term 'common' here?

We have human being only because we are a composite of esse commune and human essence. Esse commune is the kind of esse that all composite entities share in common, according to Aquinas.

Yes, it's by understanding creatures that we can come to understand God (creator), but how does it follow that 'creator' (partially(?!)) means(!) 'creature' or that 'creator' partially(?!) refers to creatures.

Now, I’m confused, because you seem to imply that we can understand God by understanding creatures when you earlier said that we know “nothing” about God. Either we can understand something about God or we can’t understand anything about God. I’ll ignore the possibility of understanding everything about God, which is impossible without our becoming God himself.

dguller said...

guller: 'modus significandi' does not mean 'sense' - it means 'mode of signifying' or 'mode of signification.'

Right. It is the way the res signficata is signified, which I take to mean how the res manifests itself to the human mind as a cognitive and linguistic construct, which is what I take a sense to be.

Here’s Gregory Rocca:

“The modus significandi gradually became identified with a word’s consignificatio, which could mean two things: the syntactic meaning of a word, which is a word’s semantic relationship with other words within the total statement; and the connotative meaning of a word as distinct from its denotative meaning … The modus significandi can be different even when the reality referred to remains the same, because the modus intelligendi on which the modus significandi is based can also be different. (Speaking the Incomprehensible God, pp. 338-9).

NO. When you say "God is P" the referent of P is identical to referent of 'God.' When you say "Socrates is P" the referent of P is not identical to the referent of 'Socrates.' If you can understand this and digest it, I think your confusion will finally be dispelled. These are different modes of predication, not just different modes of signifying, or different senses.

First, the idea is that the referent of P when predicated of Socrates reaches through Socrates to the divine archetype that Socrates is derived image of. Again, you must keep the overall framework in mind. The divine archetype exists in one way in the divine intellect and exists in another way in its creaturely manifestation. But it is present nonetheless in both. That is one way that God is everywhere and yet nowhere, according to negative theology.

Second, different modes of predication are different modes of signification, because they are different ways that we can talk and think about reality as it manifests itself to our minds.

David M said...

"You have to keep the framework in mind....."
I'm sorry, guller: you've totally missed the point here. I was merely pointing out the absurdity of the way you were talking. I was not giving an exposition of what I think.

dguller said...

DavidM:

I'm sorry, guller: you've totally missed the point here. I was merely pointing out the absurdity of the way you were talking. I was not giving an exposition of what I think.

The absurdity is yours, though. You claim that (a) creatures are nothing like God, and thus we can know nothing about God, and (b) we can know something about God by studying his effects in creation. I agree that this position is inconsistent, and that something must be abandoned. We can have knowledge about God if and only if God and creation share something in common to ground the likeness between them. If there is no such commonality, then there is no likeness, and then there is no knowledge, leaving us with absolute agnosticism and negative theology.

David M said...

"Right. It is the way the res signficata is signified, which I take to mean how the res manifests itself to the human mind as a cognitive and linguistic construct, which is what I take a sense to be."

Wrong. In Rocca's terminology, 'sense' is the same as 'modus intelligendi' - NOT 'modus significandi.'

"First, the idea is that the referent of P when predicated of Socrates reaches through Socrates to the divine archetype that Socrates is derived image of."

It certainly is not. The referent of P when predicated of Socrates is the P-ness of Socrates, which is a property of Socrates. (And this time let us not speak of his A-ness!)

David M said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
David M said...

"The absurdity is yours, though..."

I repeat: I was not giving an exposition of what I think. You are attributing views to me which I never claimed to hold and calling them absurd. You are missing the point. You need to read statements in context.

dguller said...

DavidM:

Wrong. In Rocca's terminology, 'sense' is the same as 'modus intelligendi' - NOT 'modus significandi.'

Rocca writes that the “ratio” of a name is “a mental concept or meaning” (Ibid., p. 292), and he writes that Aquinas makes a distinction between “the actual meaning of a name, and the name’s referential extension” (Ibid., p. 293). It seems that Aquinas makes a distinction between the ratio of a name and its reference. And Rocca says that the Fregean sense and reference would correspond to the medieval ratio and substantia (Ibid., p. 293n9). So, that is where I got my idea that the sense of a term corresponds to how the referent of the term manifests itself to the human mind as mental construct.

What is the relationship between the modus intelligendi and the modus significandi to the ratio nominis? Rocca writes that “a physical noise (vox) becomes a word (diction) and a part of speech (pars orationis) by possessing a determine manner of signifying (modus significandi) within the language, but the manner of signifying is directly conditioned by the human manner of understanding (modus intelligendi), which is itself representative of the various categories and modes of real being (modus essendi)” (Ibid., p. 338).

Given the Aristotelian framework here, a term refers to a referent through the medium of the human mind. Something is present in the human mind that connects the term to the referent. I think that this “something” is the ratio, which would correspond to the Fregean sense. I think that the ratio nominis would have to consist of both the modus significandi and the modus intelligendi, because all linguistic meaning (i.e. modus significandi) is dependent and “directly conditioned” by human understanding (i.e. modus intelligendi), and thus both would have to be present to have a sense at all.

Regardless, my underlying point remains valid, I think. The referent presents itself to the human mind in linguistic and cognitive mental construct that is conditioned by and dependent upon human understanding.

It certainly is not. The referent of P when predicated of Socrates is the P-ness of Socrates, which is a property of Socrates. (And this time let us not speak of his A-ness!)

First, not that there’s anything wrong with that!

Second, the P-ness of Socrates is the image of P-ness in the divine intellect. The image necessarily makes reference to what it is an image of. Similarly, to say that X is an effect necessarily makes reference to a cause of X, because it is impossible for there to be an effect without a cause, and thus each mutually refers to each other.

I repeat: I was not giving an exposition of what I think. You are attributing views to me which I never claimed to hold and calling them absurd. You are missing the point. You need to read statements in context.

Fair enough. But then I’d recommend that you do the same. I never said that we knew nothing about ipsum esse subsistens. Of course we know something about it, and my only point was that the only way to know anything about ipsum esse subsistens is due to our knowledge of esse commune and our knowledge that effects are like causes, and thus esse commune must be like ipsum esse subsistens in some way. Only if none of that holds can we know absolutely nothing about ipsum esse subsistens.

David M said...

guller: "the P-ness of Socrates is the image of P-ness in the divine intellect" - no, it's not (that's absurd!); it's what I said (a property of Socrates, in Socrates).

"I never said that we knew nothing about ipsum esse subsistens. Of course we know something about it, and my only point was that the only way to know anything about ipsum esse subsistens is due to our knowledge of esse commune and our knowledge that effects are like causes, and thus esse commune must be like ipsum esse subsistens in some way." - No, you were more specific than that. You talked about comparing the two (which is crucial for your incomprehension): "But the “esse” in “ipsum esse subsistens” is understood according to the analogy of being. Our only understanding of this “esse” is by comparing it to esse commune, which is the kind of being that we possess." That is plainly wrong. It is the analogical conception of being that is derived from comparing divine and created being, not the conception of divine being itself - the latter is absurd, as I pointed out. You have to see this! Stop confusing yourself by trying to use a bunch of fancy Latin terms that you clearly don't understand. (If you want to actually learn Latin and read some primary sources, that would be worthwhile.)

David M said...

"Fair enough. But then I’d recommend that you do the same." (He says, as he again ignores the fact that I did read him in context and that he's still just missing the point...)

Fr Aidan Kimel said...

I would like to ask the readers of this blog to explain further why "theistic personalism" is anthropomorphic in a way that classical theism is not. Isn't it possible for the theistic personalist to sufficiently qualify his position to avoid this problem?

Thanks.

David M said...

Wasn't the term 'theistic personalism' coined precisely to designate a position that is anthropomorphic in a way that classical theism is not? Ergo, etc...

dguller said...

DavidM:

no, it's not (that's absurd!); it's what I said (a property of Socrates, in Socrates).

Once again, if you want to completely ignore the metaphysical and theological context involved, then that is your right, but if you want to have a good sense of what is going on, then you have to keep the Neoplatonic metaphysics of participatory efficient causality in mind, which is precisely what I have been describing. Socrates does not exist as an entity completely independent of the divine origin, but rather is an image of that divine origin by virtue of the presence in Socrates of a reflection of the divine archetypes that are the source of all predication. Certainly, the reflection or image is distinct from its source, but it is also intrinsically related to its source, which is necessarily implicated whenever the image is present.

No, you were more specific than that. You talked about comparing the two (which is crucial for your incomprehension):

Are you arguing that one can affirm that X is like Y without comparing X and Y in any way?

That is plainly wrong. It is the analogical conception of being that is derived from comparing divine and created being, not the conception of divine being itself - the latter is absurd, as I pointed out.

Fair enough. So, we start with creation and infer that creation must be an effect of some higher cause. Based upon our knowledge of causality, we know that effects are like causes, and thus if creation is an effect, then it must be like its higher cause in some way. It is precisely this idea that is the basis for the analogical conception of being, which states that the being of one being is like the being of any other being, as well as being like the being of God, and this is only because each being is caused by Being itself. Ultimately, the analogical conception of being is derived from the Neoplatonic metaphysics of participatory efficient causality as used by Aquinas.

David M said...

"Once again, if you want to completely ignore the metaphysical and theological context involved, then that is your right..."

LOL! Seriously? You're a goof, you are, mr. guller. Divine archetypes are the 'source' of all predication, are they? (For example, "Guller is a twit.") And that's all there is to it, huh? (Well thank you o divine archetype of the twitness of guller.) When we talk about Socrates being wise, we're really referring to the mind of God, not to Socrates and his wisdom? And who says this? Aristotle? Aquinas? LOL! You're too funny. (Arrogant twit.) But wait; you do admit: "the reflection or image is distinct from its source, but it is also intrinsically related to its source, which is necessarily implicated whenever the image is present" - too bad I completely ignored that... er, right? Didn't I? (No, guller, I didn't.)

"Are you arguing that one can affirm that X is like Y without comparing X and Y in any way?"

Dude, where are you getting this crap? No, that is not what I argued. If you want to know what I argued, "take and read, take and read!"

Fr Aidan Kimel said...

"Wasn't the term 'theistic personalism' coined precisely to designate a position that is anthropomorphic in a way that classical theism is not? Ergo, etc..."

David, is that really true? I doubt Swinburne or Alston, e.g., would agree. I suspect it has more to do with some tendency in analytic philosophy itself.

dguller said...

DavidM:

LOL! Seriously? You're a goof, you are, mr. guller. Divine archetypes are the 'source' of all predication, are they?

The divine archetypes are the source of everything in creation.

(For example, "Guller is a twit.") And that's all there is to it, huh? (Well thank you o divine archetype of the twitness of guller.)

That’s not all there is to it, but it’s an essential part of it, yes.

When we talk about Socrates being wise, we're really referring to the mind of God, not to Socrates and his wisdom? And who says this? Aristotle? Aquinas? LOL! You're too funny. (Arrogant twit.) But wait; you do admit: "the reflection or image is distinct from its source, but it is also intrinsically related to its source, which is necessarily implicated whenever the image is present" - too bad I completely ignored that... er, right? Didn't I? (No, guller, I didn't.)

Look at one of the standard Aristotelian and Thomist examples of analogy:

(1) John is healthy
(2) Medicine is healthy

“Healthy” is being used analogously in (1) and (2). In (1), “healthy” refers to a physiological state of equilibrium and well-being, and in (2), “healthy” refers to that which causes a physiological state of equilibrium and well-being. “A physiological state of equilibrium and well-being” is present in both (1) and (2), although it is present in (1) in a primary form, and in (2) in a secondary form that depends upon the primary form. This is what Aquinas calls per prius and per posterius predication. (Sorry about the Latin, which I’ll admit I barely understand.) It is important to note that the primary form is necessarily present whenever the secondary form is present, and that the primary form is the main referent that grounds the analogy. This is what Rocca calls the “central anchoring thread from which the spokes radiate” (Ibid., p. 138).

dguller said...

The way that this analysis applies to the divine archetypes in the divine intellect and the manifestations or images of the divine archetypes in creation is that the former are the primary form and the latter are the secondary form. The former stand independently of the latter, whereas the latter are entirely dependent upon the former such that the former are present in the latter in some sense. So, whenever you are talking about the latter, you necessarily include the former in your referent, even if not in your sense. As Aquinas says: “because we come to a knowledge of God from other things, the reality in the names said of God and other things belongs by priority in God according to His mode of being, but the meaning of the name belongs to God by posteriority. And so He is said to be named from His effects” (SCG 1.34.6). In other words, the referent (i.e. “the reality in the names”) is primarily in God and secondarily in creatures, but the sense (i.e. “the meaning of the name”) is primarily in creatures and secondarily in God.

And just for clarification, this entire analysis is just my attempt at understanding Aquinas’ position on analogy. He says that analogy is neither univocal (i.e. same sense and same referent) nor equivocal (i.e. different sense and different referent). Assuming that analogy involves both a sense and a referent, the only logical conclusion here is that analogy involves different senses but the same referent. Everything else that I’ve written has been an attempt to understand how this is possible.

But it’s certainly possible that I’m wrong about all of this.

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dguller said...

DavidM:

Just to further support my position, Aquinas writes:

“… whatever is said of God and creatures, is said according to the relation of a creature to God as its principle and cause, wherein all perfections of things pre-exist excellently. Now this mode of community of idea is a mean between pure equivocation and simple univocation. 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; but a term which is thus used in a multiple sense signifies various proportions to some one thing; thus "healthy" applied to urine signifies the sign of animal health, and applied to medicine signifies the cause of the same health” (ST 1.13.5).

A few things to notice about this passage.

First, Aquinas explicitly says that “whatever is said of God and creatures is said according to the relation of a creature to God as its principle and cause”. In other words, whenever you predicate something of God and a creature, that meaning must necessarily make reference to God as “principle and cause” of the predicate in question. For example, to say that God is wise and Socrates is wise necessarily makes reference to divine wisdom with “God as its principle and cause”.

Second, he describes an analogous term as “a term which is thus used in a multiple sense signifies various proportions to some one thing”. Again, I take this to describe a term that has different senses (i.e. “used in a multiple sense”), but the same underlying referent (i.e. “to some one thing”). So, when one says that God is wise and Socrates is wise, although “wise” has different senses, the two terms ultimately refer “to some one thing”, i.e. divine wisdom.

dguller said...

And none of this addresses my main concern with analogy, which is that it makes absolutely no sense to say that X is like Y without also affirming that X and Y have something in common.

Thomas Henry Larsen said...

The early Christians were accused of being atheists. What of it? ;)

Brandon said...

Assuming that analogy involves both a sense and a referent, the only logical conclusion here is that analogy involves different senses but the same referent.

I'm fairly sure this doesn't follow; there are other possibilities, since meaning even in a broadly Fregean analysis involves not just sense and referent but tone or coloring as well, and since 'sense' is actually analyzable into several different things. Sense and reference themselves are determined entirely with respect to the truth conditions for the particular proposition in question; they are artifacts of a particular kind of analysis of meaning, presuppose that meaning while considering it only in light of the whole proposition, and cannot be assumed to exhaust that meaning. This is quite clear in Frege. For instance, one possibility is its having the same sense and the same referent but different tone; another is it have the same sense but different tone and referent. Since all three, sense, tone, and referent, are capable of being analyzed further, I would not surprised if there were many other possibilities.

it makes absolutely no sense to say that X is like Y without also affirming that X and Y have something in common

I think most people are simply confused by your previous discussion of it in terms of identity, since almost no one else uses 'identity' in the sense you are trying to use it, so it ends up adding an extraordinary amount of obscurity and philosophical baggage to the whole discussion. Of course X and Y have something in common in analogy: they have a reference point or standard in common. Thus 'bull' when used to talk about living bulls and 'bull' when used to talk about a Picasso's bulls in his lithograph series 'Bull' (or any of his other many abstract paintings of bulls) have living bulls as their common standard. In a sense they both 'have a reference to' or 'are referred to' this common standard or reference point. But this is a different sense of the word 'reference' than when we are using it in the context of talking about sense and reference, and there's not any obvious reason why they would have any stable kind of connection to each other at all.

Timotheos said...

@ Daniel

Most of Craig’s misgivings about Platonism are theologically based, since it leads to regress problems that seem to invalidate God’s existence. (Which he talks more about here )

Personally, I think he’s correct to disbelieve in the existence of abstract objects, in the sense that there are abstract substances, but wrong to believe that this invalidates the existence of abstract things period.

So I think he has trapped himself into a false dilemma, and I’m not sure he is even aware that there are alternatives, since I’ve never seen him even mention Aristotle’s theory at all.

Josh said...

Brandon,

I think the appropriation of Fregean terms throughout these discussions has merely been a byproduct of Feser's own use in Aquinas, and it's understood that it's only loosely applicable; simply a way of illustration. And if I had to guess Dguller's response, I'd say tone and color being added to the equation would merely make his two-term univocality requirement into a four-term univocality requirement.

I'm fully behind the 2nd paragraph, as it echoes what Michael pointed out earlier in the thread.

zmikecuber said...

So then did Jesus have a "self" or a "point of view"?

dguller said...

Brandon:

I'm fairly sure this doesn't follow; there are other possibilities

I agree with Josh’s comment above, and would also add that I agree that there are other possibilities for other philosophical systems, but I was referring specifically to possibilities open to Aquinas’ philosophical system.

Of course X and Y have something in common in analogy: they have a reference point or standard in common.

I agree. Now, when we talk about this common reference point or standard, is our language univocal, analogical or equivocal? I’ve been arguing for a while now that our language is univocal, because the terms we use for this common reference point have the same sense and referent. Your thoughts?

In a sense they both 'have a reference to' or 'are referred to' this common standard or reference point. But this is a different sense of the word 'reference' than when we are using it in the context of talking about sense and reference, and there's not any obvious reason why they would have any stable kind of connection to each other at all.

Agreed. But like I said to DavidM, I am trying to understand what Aquinas is talking about from within his system. As far as I understand him, a term is used analogously if it has two different senses that each share a common referent, which in this case would be the common reference point that you mentioned earlier.

Brandon said...

Josh,

Dguller can't be using it merely as an illustration; his argument requires an account of what analogy is, not just one possible kind of scenario in which we can find analogy.

And in terms of accommodating it in an account of univocity, tone is not so accommodating as you suggest: there is no major philosophical account of sameness or difference of tone and its relation to sense and reference at all. The only generally accepted claim about tone is that it's the part of the meaning we haven't looked at when we've analyzed the proposition for sense and reference. There is not even consensus that tone is stable in its relation to sense and reference; one possible position one can take is that there is no possible general theory of tone and its relations to sense and reference. If the claim is that all dguller has to do in order to make his interpretation work is to construct and prove an account, which some people don't think exists, of one of the most difficult and least studied elements of a theory of meaning, and show how it relates to other elements, OK, but I'm pretty sure this is not something he should actually commit his argument to doing if he can at all avoid it.

Brandon said...

dguller,

I agree. Now, when we talk about this common reference point or standard, is our language univocal, analogical or equivocal? I’ve been arguing for a while now that our language is univocal, because the terms we use for this common reference point have the same sense and referent.

The question is ill-formed if we are talking about Aquinas. In Aquinas 'language' is not univocal, analogical, or equivocal; only predication and naming are. (Contrast this to the kind of sense/reference account you seem to want to build, which would require that univocal etc. are defined relative not to predication but to judgment of propositions, or a Scotist account, where they are defined relative to their possible role in inferences.) The obvious answer is that when attributing things to the reference point, we might be doing so by univocal, analogical, or equivocal predication; it will depend on what the actual predicate is and how we are able to apply it.

As far as I understand him, a term is used analogously if it has two different senses that each share a common referent, which in this case would be the common reference point that you mentioned earlier.

But this runs into the problem I raised above, which is that Aquinas's account of analogy can't be this, because sense/reference/tone analyses of meaning are simply different kinds of analysis of meaning than anything in Aquinas, and there's no reason to expect that they will always match up in the same way.

Nor, as far as I can see, does it make much sense. Living bulls are not the referent(s) of the term 'bull' when used of one of Picasso's lithograph; the picture in the lithograph is. This is actually true by definition: if the referent of the term 'bull' were a living bull, we would be using it of that living bull, not of the picture of a bull. Since we are using it of the bull in the picture, by definition the referent is the bull in the picture. If I use the term 'bull' of a living bull and then use it of a bull in picture, the referents are different in each usage.

Josh said...

Brandon,

Dguller can't be using it merely as an illustration; his argument requires an account of what analogy is, not just one possible kind of scenario in which we can find analogy.

I just meant that like Feser's brief gloss of analogy using Frege's terms in Aquinas, sense/reference is being used here in any strict way, and is merely a sort of jumping off point, indirectly supplied by Feser himself.

Josh said...

*isn't being used in any strict way

Brandon said...

Josh,

Well, Rocca, whom he quoted earlier, seems to be intending to use the term 'referent' in a fairly standard way, but if there's an idiosyncratic use of the terms here, that would certainly explain the all around confusion.

dguller said...

Brandon:

The question is ill-formed if we are talking about Aquinas. In Aquinas 'language' is not univocal, analogical, or equivocal; only predication and naming are. (Contrast this to the kind of sense/reference account you seem to want to build, which would require that univocal etc. are defined relative not to predication but to judgment of propositions, or a Scotist account, where they are defined relative to their possible role in inferences.) The obvious answer is that when attributing things to the reference point, we might be doing so by univocal, analogical, or equivocal predication; it will depend on what the actual predicate is and how we are able to apply it.

Okay. Let’s focus upon predication. Take the following propositions:

(1) God is wise
(2) Socrates is wise

I think that you will agree that “wise” is analogous between (1) and (2). But that means that “wise” in (1) is similar to “wise” in (2), which means that “wise” in (1) has something in common with “wise” in (2). What “wise” in (1) has in common with “wise” in (2) is present in God and present in Socrates, or else they wouldn’t have it in common, and we can call is commonality between “wise” in (1) and “wise” in (2), wise(c).

Now, take the following propositions:

(3) God is wise(c)
(4) Socrates is wise(c)

Does “wise(c)” in (3) and (4) have a univocal meaning, an analogous meaning, or an equivocal meaning? “Wise(c)” in (3) and (4) have the same referent, i.e. what “wise” in (1) and “wise” in (2) have in common. But do they have the same sense? I don’t see why not.

Any thoughts?

But this runs into the problem I raised above, which is that Aquinas's account of analogy can't be this, because sense/reference/tone analyses of meaning are simply different kinds of analysis of meaning than anything in Aquinas, and there's no reason to expect that they will always match up in the same way.

Have a look at this Aquinas quote:

“… whatever is said of God and creatures, is said according to the relation of a creature to God as its principle and cause, wherein all perfections of things pre-exist excellently. Now this mode of community of idea is a mean between pure equivocation and simple univocation. 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; but a term which is thus used in a multiple sense signifies various proportions to some one thing; thus "healthy" applied to urine signifies the sign of animal health, and applied to medicine signifies the cause of the same health” (ST 1.13.5).

Here, Aquinas specifically mentions “multiple sense” and “to some one thing”, which is “the same”. So, I take him to mean that analogous terms have different senses, but the same referent.

Nor, as far as I can see, does it make much sense. Living bulls are not the referent(s) of the term 'bull' when used of one of Picasso's lithograph; the picture in the lithograph is. This is actually true by definition: if the referent of the term 'bull' were a living bull, we would be using it of that living bull, not of the picture of a bull. Since we are using it of the bull in the picture, by definition the referent is the bull in the picture. If I use the term 'bull' of a living bull and then use it of a bull in picture, the referents are different in each usage.

I think that you are right that “referent” is being used in two different senses: (1) what the statement is about (i.e. the referent), and (2) what the statement is about has in common with what another statement is about (i.e. the common referent).

Josh said...

Well, Rocca, whom he quoted earlier, seems to be intending to use the term 'referent' in a fairly standard way, but if there's an idiosyncratic use of the terms here, that would certainly explain the all around confusion.

I guess I'll leave that to Dguller if we wants to explicate

Daniel said...

@Timotheos,

Yes, I don’t agree with the Platonic understanding of Abstract Objects, I just think that any atheist who employs them as an objection will find him/herself faced with a lot of awkward questions at the end of it all (it reminds me of how J. Gaskin raised an ‘objection’ to the Ontological Argument which only worked at the cost of admitting some kind of trans-modal God).

The Platonists of course might respond that said objection is even worthless against him since he posits God-as-Beyond-Being and thus not on a par with abstract objects. Whether this is intelligible or not is a different question.

David M said...

"Now, take the following propositions:

(3) God is wise(c)
(4) Socrates is wise(c)

Does “wise(c)” in (3) and (4) have a univocal meaning, an analogous meaning, or an equivocal meaning? “Wise(c)” in (3) and (4) have the same referent, i.e. what “wise” in (1) and “wise” in (2) have in common. But do they have the same sense? I don’t see why not."

guller, my brother, I've already explained that you are utterly confused when you offer this kind of analysis. But I'm interested to see Brandon's take on it. Perhaps he will have better luck explaining it to you.

Billy Bean said...

Dude: Didn't I read somewhere that one of the charges laid against the early Christians by the pagans of the empire was that they were atheists? And couldn't that have been because the deity they claimed to worship wasn't a "being among beings" like their own gods?

dguller said...

DavidM:

guller, my brother, I've already explained that you are utterly confused when you offer this kind of analysis. But I'm interested to see Brandon's take on it. Perhaps he will have better luck explaining it to you.

Unfortunately, your explanation basically reduces all God talk to pure equivocation, and so I hardly think that Aquinas would endorse it.

Take the following propositions:

(1) God is P
(2) Socrates is P

According to you, the P in (1) refers to God himself, and the P in (2) refers to the property P, which is distinct from God himself. So, it follows that P has a different referent in (1) and (2). I doubt that you would say that P has the same sense in (1) and (2), given that the sense of P in (1) is God himself, and the sense of P in (2) cannot be God himself. Therefore, your account ultimately comes down to saying that P in (1) and (2) has different senses and referents, which is precisely what Aquinas means by “pure equivocation”. Congratulations, you’ve destroyed all knowledge and meaningful talk about God.

And I'm still waiting for you to explain to me what Aquinas means by univocal, analogical, and equivocal predication, and how his account differs from mine.

David M said...

SCG I.34.1: Sic igitur ex dictis relinquitur quod ea quae de Deo et rebus aliis dicuntur, praedicantur neque univoce neque aequivoce, sed analogice: hoc est, secundum ordinem vel respectum ad aliquid unum. Quod quidem dupliciter contingit: uno modo, secundum quod multa habent respectum ad aliquid unum: sicut secundum respectum ad unam sanitatem animal dicitur sanum ut eius subiectum, medicina ut eius effectivum, cibus ut conservativum, urina ut signum. Alio modo, secundum quod duorum attenditur ordo vel respectus, non ad aliquid alterum, sed ad unum ipsorum: sicut ens de substantia et accidente dicitur secundum quod accidens ad substantiam respectum habet, non quod substantia et accidens ad aliquid tertium referantur. Huiusmodi igitur nomina de Deo et rebus aliis non dicuntur analogice secundum primum modum, oporteret enim aliquid Deo ponere prius: sed modo secundo.

"So, then, from what has been stated, what remains is that those [names, predicates] which are said of God and of other things are predicated neither univocally nor equivocally, but analogically: that is, in accordance with an ordering or relation to something [that is] one. Which can occur in two ways: in one way, according as many things have a relation to some one thing, just as in relation to one health an animal is called healthy as its subject, medicine as its cause, bread as preserving, urine as a sign. In another way, according as there is found to be an order or relation between two things, not towards some third thing, but towards one of the two; just as being is said of substance and of accident according as an accident has a relation towards a substance, not because substance and accident are referred to some third thing. Therefore names of this kind are not said [i.e., predicated] analogically of God and of other things in the first way, for that would require positing something prior to God; but rather [they are said/predicated] in the second way."

David M said...

"And none of this addresses my main concern with analogy, which is that it makes absolutely no sense to say that X is like Y without also affirming that X and Y have something in common."

guller, the problem is that you seem to keep talking as if analogical predication necessarily involved reference to a (univocal) third thing. In other words, you fail to distinguish the first and second modes of analogical predication which St. Thomas distinguishes in SCG I.34.

Re. your latest attempt to explain to me what I think:
"According to you, the P in (1) refers to God himself, and the P in (2) refers to the property P, which is distinct from God himself." But again, guller, as Brandon indicated, your use of 'refers to' here is simply unclear. What I said was that the P in (1) is identical to God (God is his wisdom), but the P in (2) is not identical to Socrates.

"So, it follows that P has a different referent in (1) and (2)." - Well it's certainly obvious that God's wisdom and Socrates' wisdom are not identical, isn't it?

"I doubt that you would say that P has the same sense in (1) and (2), given that the sense of P in (1) is God himself, and the sense of P in (2) cannot be God himself." - I'm glad you doubt that. However, the sense of P in (1) is NOT simply God himself. (Again, this is a very BASIC point; I'm baffled that you still don't get it.)

"Therefore, your account ultimately comes down to saying that P in (1) and (2) has different senses and referents, which is precisely what Aquinas means by “pure equivocation”." - DOH! No, that's not exactly what Aquinas means by 'pure equivocation.' Where are you getting THAT from?

"Congratulations, you’ve destroyed all knowledge and meaningful talk about God." - Congratulations, you've made some dumb shit up again.

David M said...

"David, is that really true? I doubt Swinburne or Alston, e.g., would agree."

I don't know for sure, Fr. Aidan, but I believe that's what I've read: that Brian Davies coined the term for just the purpose mentioned.

dguller said...

DavidM:

Let’s talk about that SCG passage.

You seem to agree that if X is like Y, then X and Y must have something in common. Even Brandon agrees with this. The question is what this “something in common” must be. I think that whatever is common between X and Y must be present in X and Y. For example, to say that DavidM and dguller share human nature in common, then human nature must be present in both DavidM and dguller. Otherwise, how could they be said to share it in common, if neither of them actually possesses it?

Aquinas helpful distinguishes two modes of analogy.

First, where X is like Y in that X and Y both have a relation to Z, which is independent of X and Y, and yet present in X and Y. In that case, what X and Y have in common is precisely that each has a relation to Z. That is the commonality that grounds the likeness relation. That’s pretty straightforward, I think.

Second, where X is like Y in there is an “order or reference” between X and Y themselves, and without an independent Z. This is far less straightforward than the first mode of being. The example that Aquinas cites involves the predication of “being” to a substance and an accident. The being of an accident “has reference to” the being of a substance, and not to “a third thing”. Immediately, it seems false, because the being of substances and the being of accidents certainly makes reference to “a third thing”, in particular, to Being itself. Furthermore, what is the “order” that he is talking about? And why would X being in an order with Y or X referring to Y in some way make X and Y like or similar to one another?

One way to think about this is if X is the standard and Y is an imperfect instantiation of X. That way, X and Y exist in an order where X is the archetype and Y is the image of the archetype, and where Y necessarily refers to X. It would be analogous to the relation between the standard meter in France and every other meter ruler. But then what exactly does X and Y have in common in this scenario? What do they share that grounds the likeness relationship between them? In the example of the standard meter and other meters, what they share is that they are all physical lengths used to measure things, but that would be a “third thing” that they each refer to in order to ground the similarity relationship, and thus it would not work in this scenario.

dguller said...

What I think Aquinas is actually talking about is a relation of causal dependence between X and Y. There is a hierarchical order between cause and effect such that the effect refers to the cause as its ground of existence. That way, there is both an order and a reference, which would be in keeping with the second mode of analogy. And it would also explain the likeness relationship, because X is like Y in the same way that an effect is like its cause, according to the metaphysical framework within which Aquinas operates. Furthermore, it would make sense when one applies it to the relationship between God and creation, which is fundamentally a causal relationship.

If this is correct, then there must be something that is shared in common between a cause and its effect, because otherwise, there would be no likeness relationship at all. This commonality is primarily present in the cause, and secondarily present in the effect. That would explain Aquinas’ example of substantial being and accidental being, because accidental being is causally dependent upon substantial being, and thus there is an order between substantial being and accidental being, accidental being refers to substantial being, and accidental being is like substantial being, because effects are like their causes. Thus, this account ties together order, reference and likeness quite nicely, I think.

So, the next question would involve how we talk about this commonality between a cause and its effect. Call this commonality C, and we can say that there is C-in-cause and C-in-effect. This is analogous to talking about the form F, which can exist as F-in-matter and F-in-intellect. It is the same F in both in the sense of formal identity, and similarly, it is the same C in both the cause and the effect, but in different modes of being. So, the question is whether we can talk about C itself as we can talk about F itself, independent of its instantiating and particularizing features. And when we do this, does our talk about C have the same sense and referent? I think that it does.

Any thoughts?

dguller said...

DavidM:

DOH! No, that's not exactly what Aquinas means by 'pure equivocation.' Where are you getting THAT from?

Where did I get the idea that pure equivocation involved different meanings and different referents?

Here are some places:

Rocca:

“Pure equivocity is also called equivocity by fortune or chance, for the change equivocal is predicated of several specifically different realities that, although they bear the same name due to some historical accident or linguistic quirk, do not actually possess any common intelligible relation or bond … whereas the univocal term always carries the exact same meaning, and the purely equivocal term bears a completely different meaning as applied to different subjects …” (Ibid., p. 128).

Feser:

“… though ‘being’ is not an equivocal term – unlike ‘dog’ as applied to an animal and to a constellation, we do not call different things ‘beings’ in senses which are completely different …” (Aquinas, p. 32).

Wippel:

“Thomas frequently repeats the point that the intelligible content (ratio) corresponding to analogical terms is partly the same and partly diverse. For instance, in Summa Theologica I, q. 13, a. 5 he again points out that in the case of things which are said analogically, there is not a single ratio as with univocal terms; nor are the rationes totally diverse, as is the case with equivocal terms” (Metaphysical Thought of Thomas Aquinas, p. 81).

“Where pure equivocation obtains, no likeness between the things named is expressed, but merely the unity of a name or term” (Ibid., p. 559).

Norris Clarke:

“Equivocal = the other extreme, when the same term is applied to several different subjects according to a completely different meaning in each case, so that only the verbal sound or written sign remains the same, with no common conceptual content or meaning” (The One and the Many, p. 45).

I can add more, if you like, but I hope that this suffices to justify my position somewhat.

David M said...

"Aquinas helpful distinguishes two modes of analogy." -- Er, yes; right: Aquinas helpful.

"First, where X is like Y in that X and Y both have a relation to Z, which is independent of X and Y, and yet present in X and Y. In that case, what X and Y have in common is precisely that each has a relation to Z. That is the commonality that grounds the likeness relation. That’s pretty straightforward, I think."

You think. Yet this is already unclear and wrong, with your "independent of X and Y, and yet present in X and Y"-bullshit. You'll do much better if you stick to actual texts instead of providing your own always confused and erroneous summaries and interpolations. That's advice, take it or leave it. *shrug*

"Where did I get the idea that pure equivocation involved different meanings and different referents? ...."

Oh, poor guller. You honestly believe that you're responding to my objection to what you originally wrote here, don't you?

"I can add more, if you like, but I hope that this suffices to justify my position somewhat." --
Nein, mein freund, das hat es sicher nicht getan.

dguller said...

DavidM:

You think. Yet this is already unclear and wrong, with your "independent of X and Y, and yet present in X and Y"-bullshit. You'll do much better if you stick to actual texts instead of providing your own always confused and erroneous summaries and interpolations. That's advice, take it or leave it. *shrug*

Here’s an example. Human nature is present in particular human beings, but human nature is not dependent upon particular human beings. Even if there were no actual human beings, human nature would still exist as an archetype in the divine intellect. Hence, human nature is present in particular human beings, and yet is independent of particular human beings.

Oh, poor guller. You honestly believe that you're responding to my objection to what you originally wrote here, don't you?

I do, actually. I said that Aquinas’ conception of pure equivocation involved the same term, different senses (or meanings) and different referents. You can see that when I wrote: “Therefore, your account ultimately comes down to saying that P in (1) and (2) has different senses and referents, which is precisely what Aquinas means by “pure equivocation”.” The quotes from Thomist scholars that I cited all support this idea. If you disagree with me, then it would be helpful if you could tell me what you think Aquinas means by “pure equivocation” in predication.

Thanks.

David M said...

"...And when we do this, does our talk about C have the same sense and referent? I think that it does."

So IF you think that, WHAT do you think this sense is, and WHAT do you think it refers to (i.e., supposits for)??

Honestly, you shouldn't be attempting to understand stuff like this when you can't even manage to understand that 'Socrate's wisdom' refers to/supposits for the wisdom found in Socrates, and not for a 'divine archetype' thereof. You're still refusing to understand the most basic elements of the logical grammar.

David M said...

guller, if you want me to tell you what Aquinas means by 'pure equivocation,' give me a passage where he uses that term and I'll do my best to explain what he means.

Anonymous said...

"I do, actually. I said that Aquinas’ conception of pure equivocation involved the same term, different senses (or meanings) and different referents."

Yes, you do. That's why David dubbed you "poor guller". You're incapable of responding to the objection because you fail to see how it applies in the first place. Which is why you keep referring us back to "when I wrote". You're the only one who fails to see what you wrote is, well, crap.

David M said...

"Here’s an example. Human nature is present in particular human beings, but human nature is not dependent upon particular human beings. Even if there were no actual human beings, human nature would still exist as an archetype in the divine intellect. Hence, human nature is present in particular human beings, and yet is independent of particular human beings."

Again, please give me a Thomistic text.

dguller said...

DavidM:

So IF you think that, WHAT do you think this sense is, and WHAT do you think it refers to (i.e., supposits for)??

Let’s look at an example. A flaming torch causes a piece of wood to combust into flames. In this case, C would be heat, which is present in the cause (i.e. the flaming torch) and in the effect (i.e. the flaming wood). The sense of “heat” is the same in both cause and effect, and the referent is the same. The only difference is how the heat is particularized in the cause (i.e. heat in a torch) and the effect (i.e. heat in a piece of wood).

When you look at divine causality, you have C-in-God-as-cause and C-in-creature-as-effect. The presence of C in both is what they have in common, which is what grounds their likeness. Their differences is C’s mode of being, i.e. –in-God-as-cause versus –in-creature-as-effect, much like form-in-matter is different from form-in-intellect, even though the form is the same in both.

Honestly, you shouldn't be attempting to understand stuff like this when you can't even manage to understand that 'Socrate's wisdom' refers to/supposits for the wisdom found in Socrates, and not for a 'divine archetype' thereof. You're still refusing to understand the most basic elements of the logical grammar.

I think that Brandon nicely clarified things by stating that there are two different senses of “referent” in play here. In analogy, the relevant referent is the common referent that is shared by each analogate, even while the referents for each analogate remain distinct.

guller, if you want me to tell you what Aquinas means by 'pure equivocation,' give me a passage where he uses that term and I'll do my best to explain what he means.

First, I’m surprised that Rocca, Feser, Wippel, and Clarke are not good enough references.

Second, I’ll oblige you. Aquinas writes:

“whatever is predicated of various things under the same name but not in the same sense, is predicated equivocally” (ST 1.13.5).

dguller said...

“… it must be noted that a term is predicated of different things in various senses. Sometimes it is predicated of them according to a meaning which is entirely the same, and then it is said to be predicated of them univocally, as animal is predicated of a horse and of an ox. Sometimes it is predicated of them according to meanings which are entirely different, and then it is said to be predicated of them equivocally, as dog is predicated of a star and of an animal. And sometimes it is predicated of them according to meanings which are partly different and partly not (different inasmuch as they imply different relationships, and the same inasmuch as these different relationships are referred to one and the same thing), and then it is said “to be predicated analogously,” i.e., proportionally, according as each one by its own relationship is referred to that one same thing” (In Meta 4.1.535).

“In the case of fortuitous equivocation, a name is attached to an object that has no relation to another object bearing the same name. Hence the reasoning in which we engage about one cannot be transferred to the other” (CT 1.27).

“For in equivocals by chance there is no order or reference of one to another, but it is entirely accidental that one name is applied to diverse things: the application of the name to one of them does not signify that it has an order to the other” (SCG 1.33.2).

“These are purely equivocal because it happens by chance that the same word has been used by one person for one thing, and then by someone else for an entirely different thing, as is plainly evident in the case of different men having the same name … In this fashion, therefore, he affirms that “good” is predicated of many things not with meanings entirely different, as happens with things completely equivocal, but according to analogy or the same proportion, inasmuch as all goods depend on the first principle of goodness, that is, as they are ordered to one end.” (Ethics 1.7.95-6).

I hope that you can see that in all these quotes is the same underlying idea. Pure equivocation occurs when the same term is predicated in such a way that it has different senses (or meanings) and different referents.

Again, please give me a Thomistic text.

Which specific part of my account do you believe is false? That forms are instantiated within individual substances? That forms exist in the divine intellect as exemplars and archetypes? That the divine archetypes remain the same irrespective of whether creation exists or not? That the forms that exist in the divine intellect are formally identical to the forms that exist in particular creatures?

dguller said...

Anonymous:

Yes, you do. That's why David dubbed you "poor guller". You're incapable of responding to the objection because you fail to see how it applies in the first place. Which is why you keep referring us back to "when I wrote". You're the only one who fails to see what you wrote is, well, crap.

So, you disagree that on Aquinas’ account, pure equivocation in predication involves the same term, but different meanings (or senses) and different referents? What other account do you propose for pure equivocation in predication, and can you cite some Thomist texts to support it?

dguller said...

Anonymous:

And one more thing.

My response to David’s objection depends upon two points.

First, whether David endorses a position in which when P is predicated of God and Socrates, for example, then P has a different meaning (or sense) in each and a different referent in each. I think that this point is true, because David agrees that the referent in each is different (“Well it's certainly obvious that God's wisdom and Socrates' wisdom are not identical, isn't it?”) and that the meaning (or sense) in each is different (dguller: “I doubt that you would say that P has the same sense in (1) and (2) …”. DavidM: “I'm glad you doubt that.”)

Second, whether Aquinas endorses a position in which if the same term that is predicated of two different subjects has a different meaning (or sense) in each and a different referent in each, then this is precisely pure equivocation in predication. I think that this point is also true, because I have provided a number of quotes from Aquinas himself, as well as several Thomist scholars, that endorses this position.

If both points are true, then it necessarily follows that David’s account is what Aquinas would consider pure equivocation.

Anonymous said...

"So, you disagree that on Aquinas’ account, pure equivocation in predication involves the same term, but different meanings (or senses) and different referents? What other account do you propose for pure equivocation in predication, and can you cite some Thomist texts to support it?"

I fail to see why my disagreement/agreement even matters. I also fail to see why citations (when dialoguing with you) are important. You must be under the impression that I haven't seen the 1000+ posts submitted by you, catholic thomists, protestant thomists, and various other views on how you pretty much ALWAYS get it wrong. I'll give you a quote though.

"LOL! Seriously? You're a goof, you are, mr. guller."

dguller said...

Anonymous:

I fail to see why my disagreement/agreement even matters.

It does matter, because you claim that what I wrote is “crap”. If you want to make a claim, then you should be able to back it up with some kind of evidence. I’m interested in what I wrote that you consider to be “crap”, and your evidence for why it is “crap”. However, if you don’t want to help me out here or justify your position, then that’s perfectly fine, too. You are free to do whatever you wish, including insult me. Anyway, happy holidays, and take care.

Anonymous said...

"It does matter, because you claim that what I wrote is “crap”. If you want to make a claim, then you should be able to back it up with some kind of evidence."

Like I said, I've seen your work. I guess I could cite some stuff, then attach whatever meaning I want to my citation, disregarding traditional/educated interpretations. Oh, then when corrected on my interpretation, I could continue to claim everyone else has it wrong. Then I could demand citations from the educated traditionalists (with no intention of considering them if presented) and go on taking my own advice on the given matter. Then we could be bosom buddies you and me. Hooray!!!! I see a bright future between the two of us dguller!!!!

dguller said...

Anonymous:

Okey dokey. Take care.

Anonymous said...

I'll take your okey dokey as agreement with my interpretation of the philosophy of dguller. I'll be sure to quote it in future posts.

See how easy it is to ignore context.

dguller said...

Anonymous:

You can take it however you like. Take care.

Anonymous said...

Like I said, bosom buddies

Michael said...

If you can't be nice to dguller, however wrong you think he is, then just ignore him. Move along.

But I for one am glad for some of the threads in which we have interacted in as I have learned some important things.

dguller said...

Michael:

Thanks for the kind remarks.

Do you have any criticisms of the arguments that I have presented on this thread?

Your input would be most welcome.

David M said...

Michael: You already offered some input and you were as full of crap as guller, weren't you?

guller: You constantly miss the point. anon. pointed out, as I did, that you are unable to comprehend criticisms of your position, so you offer a bunch of irrelevant citations and say dumb shit like, "I hope you can see that my position is justified by the fact that I was able to produce all these irrelevant citations." When you respond to that point, that critique with your glib, "Well please show me then where I have gone wrong with my arguments," this simply proves once again that you are full of crap: you simply don't understand the critiques of your argumentation - or, as Ben believes, you are just an a-hole and you just don't care. This is not to insult you. It is a point of logic. You and Michael should both try to understand this.

dguller said...

David M:

You constantly miss the point. anon. pointed out, as I did, that you are unable to comprehend criticisms of your position, so you offer a bunch of irrelevant citations and say dumb shit like, "I hope you can see that my position is justified by the fact that I was able to produce all these irrelevant citations." When you respond to that point, that critique with your glib, "Well please show me then where I have gone wrong with my arguments," this simply proves once again that you are full of crap: you simply don't understand the critiques of your argumentation - or, as Ben believes, you are just an a-hole and you just don't care. This is not to insult you. It is a point of logic. You and Michael should both try to understand this.

And what you don’t understand is that your problem isn’t with me or with Michael, but rather with Aquinas. The positions that I’ve been defending are his. That is why the quotations and citations are relevant, because they demonstrate what Aquinas’ position on this matter is. If you find that position absurd and foolish, then that is perfectly fine, and I have offered my own criticisms of Aquinas’ arguments and positions on a number of issues. But at least be clear about who the target of your invective is.

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