In De Trinitate Book 3.7 Richard summarizes some of what comes beforehand. We have learned that supreme goodness requires supreme love (i.e. supreme love is a necessary condition for supreme goodness), and that supreme love requires more than one person. If supreme love were only self-love, then the total state of affairs “one divine person has self-love” is not as perfect a state of affairs as another total state of affairs, namely “two persons have self-love, and each loves the other person.” Thus,
If there is supreme love, then there is a plurality of persons.
Likewise, Henry infers from what he takes to be the nature of supreme love to entail the equality of the persons in question.
If there is supreme love, then there is an equality of persons.
Below I try to explain just what all this means.
Richard says that divine persons are equal and similar to one another. It is somewhat unclear what he means by this distinction, but the best sense I can make is this.
(T4’) Divine persons are equal if they have the same dispositions (wisdom, goodness, etc.).
(T5’) Divine persons are similar if they exercise their same dispositions.
So, a divine person is perfect if this person satisfies (T4) (= For any person x, if x has a charitable disposition P, x is not perfect if x does not exercise P ) and (T5) (= For any person x, if x has a charitable disposition P, x is not perfect if x does not exercise P on some person y, where x is not identical to y.). And, if any divine persons x and y are equal and similar to one another, then x and y satisfy (T4’) and (T5’).
At this point there is ambiguity about the precise meaning of ‘same’ in (T4’) and (T5’). I will talk about this issue in the next post.
Richard believes that the love between divine persons is supreme love. But what does it mean to ‘love supremely’? Here is what I think Richard is getting at.
Beings come in (substance) kinds. For example, there are rocks, tree, cats, cars, humans, angels, and God. Each of these is worthy of a certain kind of love. If I love a creature in the way I love God, then there is something gone wrong. A human being is certainly lovable, but there might be things about a human being that are not so lovable, e.g., sin, imperfection, etc. Or again, suppose humans never fell into the state of sin. Is a righteous human creature equally lovable to God? Well, no. Consider one of the 10 Commandments, “you should love the Lord your God with all your heart, mind and soul, and you shall have no other gods before me.” Or again, rational creatures might require discursive reasoning to acquire beliefs and knowledge, and so depend on other things for these. But God does not require discursive reasoning, nor does God depend on others for these things. The point here is that our love for God is of a different kind than our love for any creature, no matter the righteous or unrighteous state (or actions) or powers of the creature in question.
So, if a divine person is going to love another person, this divine person could love a creature, or another divine person. But all creatures, whatever kind they are, are contingent, lesser in kind, and so less lovable than God. So if this divine person loves a creature, then this divine person has love for a less lovable kind of being (though of course, still lovable! We might say, ‘x is lovable in proportion to the kind of being x is’.). But Richard claims that for a divine person to have supreme love, the supreme love must be love for an equal. This equal must be co-eternal, because the first divine person is eternal. So, necessarily the first divine person always loves this other person. But suppose God eternally creates. In this case, a divine person might love a co-eternal creature. Nevertheless, any creature is a lesser kind than every divine person, and so a divine person’s love for a creature is not supreme love. Supreme love is relative to kinds. But divinity is the highest kind, thus every divine person is most lovable. Thus,
(T7) Supreme love should be directed at the highest kind of lovable beings.
Besides, the first divine person is no fool because this first divine person is wise, good, etc. So, this divine person knows that if there is to be supreme love for the highest kind of lovable beings, then this divine person will love another divine person, otherwise it won’t be supreme love, but love for a lesser kind. So,
(T8) “Supremely wise goodness guides discretion.” (“Who ya’ gonna love?”)
The first divine person is not ignorant, but directs love for another at another divine person.
At this point in the argument the first divine person has self-love and lover for another divine person. Moreover, if divine persons are equal and similar, then there will be mutual love between them.
Consider the following possible state of affairs:
(S1) A divine person x (1) has self-love and (2) loves divine person y, and (3) y has self-love but (4) y does not love x.
The only bad part in (S1) is (4). Thus, we might analyze (S1) as a case where x’s love for y is balanced off by y’s not loving x. (S1) overall is a good total state of affairs, but there could be a better one.
Consider another possible state of affairs:
(S2) A divine person x (1) has self-love and (2) loves divine person y, and (3) y has self-love and (4) y loves x.
By comparison we might say that the possible states of affairs (S2) is better than (S1) because (S2) has all good parts and no bad parts.
But, if (S2) is an overall great state of affairs, is it indefeasibly the greatest overall possible state of affairs? Could there be another total state of affairs (S3) that is better than (S2) such that (S2) can lose the title “the greatest state of affairs”? As we will see several posts from this one, Richard concedes that there is an (S3) such that (S2) is not indefeasibly the greatest overall possible state of affairs. Before moving onto the question of (S3), Richard solidifies what he takes “the same” to mean in (T4’) and (T5’), and this will be the subject of the next post.