Dale Tuggy

Dale Tuggy is Professor of Philosophy at the State University of New York at Fredonia, where he teaches courses in analytic theology, philosophy of religion, religious studies, and the history of philosophy.

20 Comments

  1. Brendan
    December 25, 2013 @ 11:31 pm

    Pure Being is necessarily “Personal” and “conscious.” “I am that I am.” Inasmuch as God is Personal, he may be viewed as a being–although this way of putting it lends itself to the wrong idea that He is an individual reality, and also the wrong idea that He is a being among other beings. Clearly, He transcends the category of individual existences. In fact, God doesn’t “exist”; creation exists. God is, and He is absolutely, unconditionally, eternally sufficient unto Himself. Being transcends existence or creation. God is a truly universal Reality, or rather He is the Real as such or in itself, and is not limited or determined by existential categories. There is no possibility that limits God, and indeed, God is All-Possibility, in that in God the possible and the real coincide.

  2. Gary Black
    December 9, 2013 @ 4:23 pm

    As an aside, “Panmetaphoricism and Abrahamic Religion” was a fun read. It falls apart on the last paragraph of the 13th page (1st part of the 14th page). It simply does not follow that if something can not be said literally of an object that nothing – even negations – can be reasoned from it. Suffice to say that the Prima Pars of the summa would have been a lot smaller had this been the case!

    (I do admire the bold statement that Aquinas was an atheist – it gave me a good chuckle.)

  3. Matthew Petersen
    December 7, 2013 @ 6:27 pm

    May I recommend a small book by N. W. Clerk, I believe, (or was it Clive Hamilton?) called Beyond Personality. I at least, would find it a little odd to call the author an atheist, but then, there he is, arguing for the classical position that God is beyond personality that God is “super-personal–something more than a person.” Indeed, Clerk hopes that his statements will mirror Christianity as it is believed by the whole Church (and not any particular denomination).

    More seriously: That book hardly touches the surface of the question. But he’s right: God isn’t a self, he is beyond-self. But can we fill in that negation “beyond-self” with positive content? Since any content, X, we would attempt to plug in for the apophatic “beyond self”, is itself created, we would have to simultaneously say God is beyond X–since whatever is created is less than God, and so God is beyond it.

    So yes, we can say that God is a god, or that He is a self, but after all that can be said of God through creaturely similitude has been said (and self, and godness, and personhood are all created, since they are not God Himself, and all things are created by Him), what He Himself is remains hidden and unknown.

    What do they teach them at schools these days! It’s all in Denis.

  4. Saturday: 72nd Anniversary of Pearl Harbor bombing. | Tipsy Teetotaler
    December 7, 2013 @ 6:49 am

    […] 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 […]

  5. Passing Feser’s Laugh Test | Trinities
    December 5, 2013 @ 11:04 am

    […] Ed Feser thinks my comments about God (here and here) are ridiculous. So, he breaks out his rhetorical brass knuckles, and tries to knock some […]

  6. Unspeakably Transcended Part 3 « An Open Orthodoxy
    December 4, 2013 @ 2:58 pm

    […] Dale Tuggy has referred to and engaged James McGrath’s veiled endorsement of Tillich. McGrath […]

  7. Unspeakably Transcended—Part 1 « An Open Orthodoxy
    December 2, 2013 @ 6:15 pm

    […] enjoyed running into this conversation recently on Dale Tuggy’s blog where he references a post (‘The Dread God Roberts’) written by James McGrath. Father Aidan over […]

  8. Fr Aidan Kimel
    November 30, 2013 @ 8:57 pm

    As far as I know, the article that Donald Hook and I wrote for the Scottish Journal of Theology, “Pronouns for Deity” (August 1993), remains the best treatment of this subject. For a synopsis of our arguments, see “Is God a ‘He’?”: http://goo.gl/YbYkZz.

  9. Matthew Frost
    November 29, 2013 @ 5:47 pm

    And I’m still going to disagree with you on pronoun gender. The English pronoun “he” refers to a male-gendered person or animal, or an object that has been anthropomorphized as male. Other languages have merely-grammatical gender, but English does not. The concept expressed by “he” is invariably the maleness, the masculinity, of the object.

    You want to have your cake and still eat it. If you want to use “he” as though it transcended gender, you’ve got a usage conflict with the current and longstanding usage of the third-masculine-singular pronoun in English. And if you want to refer to God as transcending the gender of objects, you aren’t helping your case by insisting on a masculine pronoun. That’s all.

    • Dale
      November 29, 2013 @ 6:40 pm

      Hey Matthew,

      I’m not willing to argue here what can be settled by grammarians. A sign at a temple reading “Anyone who enters must remove his shoes” will, always, be understood to apply to male and female. This illustrates a gender neutral use of “his”, one which is well-known. This usage has recently gone out of fashion, on the grounds that, as you say, it somehow “perpetuates the patriarchy.” Whatever. To me this preference for “his or her” or his/her is a matter of taste. Our language might well have evolved to use “her” for the gender-neutral meaning. If it had, I couldn’t care less. In practice, many philosophers use “she” and “her” for thought-experiments (where the sex of the hypothetical subject doesn’t matter), as if to re-balance all those years of gender-neutral “he” (etc.). I’ve done that myself, though not with that intention.

      Again, it is traditional (in English) to assign various genders to various sort of objects. e.g. A captain calls his (if you like, or her) ship “she.” It is understood that ships don’t literally have gender. This is not more difficult, really, in the case of God. It seems to me that the worst feminists could charge against the traditions of calling God “he” is that it causes people to *imagine* God as a male. I think that is true. I don’t see the harm of it, though.

      In any case, about the matters at hand, if you believe the ultimate is a personal being, you should avoid “it” and go for “he”, “she”, “he or she” or even the monstrous “s/he”. 🙂

  10. Dale
    November 28, 2013 @ 3:21 pm

    Hey Dan – I’m willing to admit pantheism and panentheism as varieties of monotheism, if the “God” there needs to be a great self. I’m not saying that an Ultimate is a nothing – just that’s not a god, and so, not God.

  11. Dan Martin
    November 27, 2013 @ 4:12 pm

    Dale, it seems to me the concept you’re describing is not so much atheism as panentheism. A “reality that encompasses every he, she, or it” sounds to me like an everything more than a nothing. Either way, I agree that it is way beyond the pale of any Abrahamic tradition.

  12. Dale
    November 26, 2013 @ 1:09 pm

    “There is nothing atheistic or “ultimistic” about grasping that God’s personal reality does in fact transcend the categories for which we have personal pronouns—which are themselves categories of creaturely being, subcategories of “existence.” That does not make God impersonal, a non-self. It certainly does not make God less than we are!”

    Matthew, I’m not clear what the claim of transcendence is here. Take the concept expressed by “he”. Such, typically, is a male human. But a “he” need not be male, or human. And why, in your view, must a “he” be a creature. I don’t see any problem whatever, in saying of God, that “he exists necessarily and is uncreated.” If all you’re saying is that “he” applied to God doesn’t imply that God’s a human, male, or creature… then I wholly agree. It seems kind of a trivial point though, not a profound one.

    Nor am I clear on the distinction you (and Tillich?) seem to presuppose between existence (which applies only to the cosmos?) and … reality? (which applies to the ultimate).

  13. Dale
    November 26, 2013 @ 1:04 pm

    ““a reality which is somehow more basic than, and which in some sense lies behind the physical world” is incompatible with the God of the bible…Of course, if you deny this Reality is a self then I agree that this is unbiblical, but I still wouldn’t call it atheism. I’d call it deism.”

    HI Saskia,

    No – that first idea IS compatible with the God of the Bible. Those ideas don’t force ineffability, or anything close to it. Such a being may be plenty understandable, and even like us in some ways.

    “Deism,” as I understand it, is the belief in a great Self who created, but who does not then remain active in the world. So as I understand the term, it does require being a self, and is a kind of monotheism, or is at least compatible with it.

  14. Fr Aidan Kimel
    November 26, 2013 @ 8:13 am

    Pingback: “Being, Beyond Being, or Oz the Great and Terrible” (http://goo.gl/uEyB2T)

  15. Matthew Frost
    November 25, 2013 @ 10:15 am

    I’m obliged to think that the problem here is a shallow sort of Tillichianism, not Tillich himself. You wouldn’t actually hoist him on this petard.

    Certainly, if God is not a being, even the most superior being, then it is a reduction to absurdity to suggest that God is Being itself—unless one uses that as a signifier for a transcendent reality rather than one integral to existence. Tillich’s ultimate is not some categorical or fundamental component of existence. That is not the nature of God as ground of all being.

    There is nothing atheistic or “ultimistic” about grasping that God’s personal reality does in fact transcend the categories for which we have personal pronouns—which are themselves categories of creaturely being, subcategories of “existence.” That does not make God impersonal, a non-self. It certainly does not make God less than we are!

    And to step beyond all of that, I find it ironic that, on a site called “Trinities,” the nuance of God’s personal being as we have been given to understand it is not included in this conversation.

  16. Saskia
    November 20, 2013 @ 7:24 am

    I don’t really understand how “a reality which is somehow more basic than, and which in some sense lies behind the physical world” is incompatible with the God of the bible. If God does not lie behind the physical world, then He is part of it, and hence could not have created it.

    Of course, if you deny this Reality is a self then I agree that this is unbiblical, but I still wouldn’t call it atheism. I’d call it deism.

    Saskia

  17. Mystics and/or Atheists
    November 18, 2013 @ 9:06 am

    […] Dale Tuggy has been interacting with a recent post of mine here on my blog, and now in a post over on the blog Trinities. […]

  18. Randal Rauser
    November 17, 2013 @ 6:06 pm

    Well said Dale. My sympathies are definitely with you on this one. To add to your bibliography a bit I recommend George Mavrodes’ essay “The Gods Above the Gods: Can the High Gods Survive?” in Reasoned Faith, ed. Eleonore Stump (Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press, 1993).