Joseph Jedwab

Originally from Montreal in Canada, I lived in the UK for most of my life. My wife and I live in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, where I teach philosophy at the University there. My doctoral work was on the metaphysics of the Trinity and Incarnation, in which I argue for a particular account of both doctrines. My supervisor was Richard Swinburne and my examiners were Brian Leftow and Howard Robinson.


  1. Scott
    October 30, 2009 @ 8:03 pm

    Yep. And, good.


  2. Joseph Jedwab
    October 30, 2009 @ 12:00 pm

    Scott: Negation. Privations are bad, no?


  3. Scott
    October 28, 2009 @ 9:48 pm

    Is a _privation_ of thisness what Richard S. says, or just that divine persons do not have _thisness_? In other words, is ‘lacking thisness’ a privation or a negation?


  4. JT Paasch
    October 28, 2009 @ 7:30 pm

    Oh right, good clarification. The persons are individuals, but they lack thisness, for Ricardo Swinburno anyway.


  5. Joseph Jedwab
    October 26, 2009 @ 12:15 pm

    Hey JT!

    I see what you mean about Richard Oxon. He does think the divine persons are individuals. But since they lack thisness, perhaps we can also say they are universals. This is only part of the reason R. thinks there can’t be more than three. The other part has to do with the fact (if it is a fact) that Father, Son, and Spirit lack overall reason to bring about a fourth person, in which case no fourth person is necessary and so not divine.


  6. JT Paasch
    October 25, 2009 @ 11:23 am

    Interesting comments all. I’ll chime in on the infinity of persons that Dale raises. This is a classic objection to the Anselm/Aquinas argument for the filioque. For them, the divine persons differ only by origin, i.e., who produced them, so they must come from different producers. Thus, the Son must be produced by one person, and the Spirit must be produced by two persons. But, the objection goes, why shouldn’t we think that there’s a fourth person produced by three persons, and a fifth produced by four, and so on ad infinitum.

    Scott’s comment is insightful too, for it reminds me of the later Richard (Swinburne): the persons are not individuals, but rather universals, and therefore the Father and Son (for instance) cannot produce more than one Spirit.


  7. Scott
    September 11, 2009 @ 9:06 pm

    As regards the question, why at most three divine persons? I know I’ve said this before, but I’ll remind those who have forgotten. In book 5 Rick St. Vick focuses on the causal origins of the divine persons. He supposes that only one divine person [=Father] is ‘not from another, and productive of another’, and only one divine person [=Son] is ‘from another, and productive of another’, and only one divine person [=Holy Spirit] is ‘from another, and not productive of another’. And, there isn’t a divine person that is ‘not from another, and not productive of another’. This last option won’t work b/c perfect love requires that there be at several divine persons; but if we examine the causal origins of the persons, at most there can be three divine persons.

    There is more to be said about this, of course, but this is the basic sort of move to show why there can at most be three divine persons. I imagine Richard assumes the identity of indiscernibles such that e.g., there can’t be two divine persons with the personal property ‘from another and productive of another’.


  8. Joseph Jedwab
    September 11, 2009 @ 11:11 am

    Thanks Dale! Good comments.

    Re 1: Do you mean it’s incompatible with being a person to share all one can with another or that it’s incompatible just to want to do so? Of course, I can’t share being Joseph with another and the Father can’t share being the Father with another. Is this enough holding back? I do wonder whether this is part of fallen nature not to be content with beholding perfection and knowing it through and through, but wanting there always to be more to find out about another, else boredom sets in. But this is also just a vague worry on my part.

    There’s also a theoretical problem here. If a person doesn’t share all she can and also doesn’t share nothing, then how much does she share? And why didn’t she share just a little bit more or less than she did? To posit some but not all sharing possible in the divine being introduces theoretical complexity.

    Re 2: I’m tempted to say that all Richard need show here is that there are at least three persons, and he deals with the question of at most three persons later. Still, one might think the argument I gave makes it impossible to say there are at most three. For perhaps P has a perfect love with two divine persons that he can share and so on. Richard would need to do some work here to show that, though P can share a perfect love with another divine person, P can’t share a perfect love with two divine persons, and so on.

    Finally, I agree that we should worry about whether if it works, Richard’s argument is not just an argument for Trinitarianism but also Tritheism. But this is a different issue. Richard is a Latin Trinitarian, not a Social Trinitarian, in so far as these labels have sense. So whether the number of divine persons goes to infinity, Monotheism is supposed to be intact. Let me put it this way: the argument no more massacres Monotheism if it shows an infinity of divine persons than if it shows only three of them.


  9. Dale
    September 11, 2009 @ 10:21 am


    Excellent post – if only Richard of St. Victor were as careful you!

    I have a couple worries:

    (1) I have a vague intuition that it is incompatible with the nature of personhood that one should want to share *everything* about oneself with another. Even in the most intimate I-thou relations, something is held back – that is part of the allure of relationship with another. Now an omnipotent being could share *everything* every last thought, feeling, desire. It seems to me this would make living together as two autonomous agents impossible. Of course, one may say this is a matter of human limitations… So, this is just a vague worry, that it is not even desirable to share *all* one has or is.

    (2) I’m curious to see if this runaway train can be avoided:

    He thinks a perfect person has what we can call super-generosity – the desire to share all one has. The first being has himself, and so creates another to share in that (or in the divine nature). This super-generosity is supposed to be a good thing, and clearly an omnipotent being could replicate it in another. So the second person must have supergenerosity. They enjoy their love for another, and being super-generous, are compelled to make a third. These three enjoy their three-way-love, and each being super-generous, they are compelled to share it with a fourth. And of course, this fourth is supergenerous… I think we can all see where this is going: a divine person, so conceived, implies an infinite number of divine persons.

    It’d be better to say that divinity or perfection doesn’t imply supergenerosity, than to massacre monotheism in this way, no? I know how Richard of Oxford tries to get out of this, but I’m interested to see if and how Ricky of St. Vicky does it.


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