Do we need identity?
Sommers questions the doctrine of ‘relationism’, i.e. the view that identity is a relation…
Sommers questions the doctrine of ‘relationism’, i.e. the view that identity is a relation…
A propos of a discussion going on at the Maverick Philosopher’s place, I revisited ‘Do we need Identity’, chapter 6 of The Logic of Natural Language, a work by the late Fred Sommers that should be on everyone’s bookshelf. As the title suggests, Sommers questions the doctrine of ‘relationism’, i.e. the view that identity is a relation, and that the verb ‘is’ functions both to connect subject and predicate, as in ‘Venus is a planet’, and to relate objects, as in ‘Hesperus is Venus’.
I summarise his argument as follows. First, the distinction between the ‘is’ of predication and the ‘is’ of identity is not obvious, otherwise philosophers would have spotted it earlier. It is sometimes attributed to Leibniz, but Sommers questions whether it is to be found in that philosopher’s writings. Second, it only seems obvious after we have accepted the category distinction made by modern logic between object words and concept words. If we agree that ‘Venus’ and ‘Hesperus’ must be represented in the syntax of modern logic by lower-case letters, we must represent them as ‘a’ and ‘b’. But then ‘a is b’ is ill-formed if we read the ‘is’ as the ‘is’ of predication. In the aptly named ‘predicate logic’, the verb ‘to be’ is swallowed up into the predicate: we must represent ‘Venus is a planet’ as ‘Fa’, where ‘F’ stands for ‘is a planet’. As Sommers ironically comments
It is therefore obvious that ‘a is b’ has the form F(a,b,) where F is the grammatical predicate which represents ‘is identical with’ or ‘is no other than’. Clearly, it is only after one has adopted the syntax that prohibits the predication of proper names that one is forced to read ‘a is b’ dyadically and to see in it a sign of identity.
It may still be objected that identity really is a relation, and that the modern syntax makes explicit what was there all along, but more of that later.
Professor Tuggy can talk philosophy with the scholars, question theologians sympathetically, search out historical viewpoints, and (usually) make it all understandable but logically grounded. And despite the variety of subjects and viewpoints there is often a solid attempt look at the issue from a biblical, especially New Testament, perspective. Occasionally the subject does not appeal to me, but many discussions I have listened to more than once. Highly recommended if you would like to think biblically and approach that goal logically.
The Trinities podcast is consistently of interest, addressing topics related to but not exactly part of my field of biblical studies. Dale Tuggy is measured and informed when he discusses a topic, whether the discussion consists of original content or an interview. The broad range of material on the Trinities podcast keeps me coming back – sometimes it's church history, sometimes philosophy of science, sometimes philosophy of religion or theology. I always look forward to the next episode. Thank you for your work on this podcast.
This podcast not only addresses one of the most important but oft-neglected points of doctrine of the church (i.e. Who is God?) but also does it in a profoundly deep and thorough manner. Dr. Tuggy has the best Christian minds there are on his show and he is incredibly careful to give them both respect and time to explain their views while also analyzing the internal consistency of their views. He also has recommended so many books by both Trinitarians and Unitarians which have been helpful to me. This is a wonderful podcast about a subject all Christians should wrestle with as they seek to make their views align with the Bible. Dr. Tight has helped me and is continuing to help me on that journey.
I write as a PhD student in theology and religion at Marquette University whose concentration is Judaism and Christianity in Antiquity. I have been listening to Trinities Podcast for some time now, and, although I'm training to be a biblical scholar, I find Dale's podcast to be nothing but stimulating and enriching, and only very rarely infuriating—quite an accomplishment, really, given the topic matter of the podcast! Since I am also interested in theology and the development of Christian theology within history, I find the topic matters and the guests that Dale has on the show to be usually very interesting and thought provoking. I appreciate that he has guests on such as Larry Hurtado, to talk about the development of early Christianity. Although he is a philosopher of religion, Dale has an admirable respect for history and the nitty-gritty details of early Christianity, the Fathers, and exegesis of the New Testament. Even though I disagree with Dale on some important issues, I very much enjoy hearing his perspective as a philosopher. I would enjoy hearing Dale interact more with Catholic theologians who study and defend views regarding the role of tradition in scriptural hermeneutics and the development of church doctrine. Although most protestants do not have a well formulated theology of history and tradition (it is usually implicit, however), Catholics do, and it would be interesting to hear Dale interact with imporant texts such as Dei Verbum, or to hear him interview theologians who hold differing view points regarding the role of tradition in the Christian (theological) interpretation of Scripture and the development of Christian doctrine (I have to admit, I have not listened to all the episodes, so I may have missed some material here). All that being said, I very highly recommend this podcast to anyone interested in Christian theology, the doctrine of God, early Christianity, apologetics, or philosophical theology. It's really well done.
The Trinities podcast is an excellent resource for discovering more about Christian thought through the ages. I am happy that Dale is keeping the art of conversation alive, especially concerning important theological and historical issues such as these. I'm a regular listener and consider these podcasts to be fair in presentation of the arguments available, and also very sharp with good well reasoned and gentlemanly criticism. I highly recommend this podcast to anyone curious to know more about the doctrines of God.
Simply put, this podcast is excellent. I have great admiration for the work Dale has done in philosophy generally. And moreover, the views he's defended both in published/presented work and the Trinities podcast, while not always readily accepted by the Christian majority, reveal his philosophical acumen and intellectual honesty. As a Christian myself, I'm quite grateful to have this podcast available to think through questions and issues that fall outside my own current research. Thanks to Dale for sacrificially making this material available to a wider audience and leading out as an example for other academics to follow who find themselves profitably wrestling with difficult topics.
I will begin by saying completely subjectively that this is my favorite podcast on iTunes. Perhaps the very best part about it is the example that the host, Dr. Dale Tuggy, sets for us in how to argue charitably with those who disagree with us. And this is not to say that the content is not excellent as well! Dr. Tuggy is interested in exploring theories about the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit of Christianity and approaches this discussion from a Unitarian perspective (that there is one God and this is God the Father). However, he interviews a wide array of guests including Unitarians, Trinitarians, and everything in between. He also dedicates episodes to the exploration of the history of Trinitarian beliefs, to interviews with philosophers of religion who have written interesting new books not related to the trinity, and to discussions of “current affairs” in philosophy of religion. The interviews are balanced, often funny, and - the aspect which I most appreciate - “lean". What I mean by this is that Dr. Tuggy keeps the interviews clear and focused, without meandering into rabbit trails, inside jokes, and trivialities as other podcasts are wont to do. I cannot say enough good things about this podcasts, and encourage anyone who is interested in thinking deeply about God to give it a listen. -Dustin B. in Dallas, TX
Dale Tuggy and his scholarly guests plumb depths of theological perception, calibrating all the while their own and others' means of measuring what are often turgid and turbid intellectual waters. Like explorer Francis Drake, Tuggy eschews arriving safely by sailing close to shore, instead navigating on wider seas " where losing sight of land, we may find the stars". As from the voyage of HMS Beagle we came to new understanding, Tuggy's Trinities podcasts lead ineluctably to discoveries in areas heretofore mapped terra incognito.
it is difficult to find comparative religion without any preliminary bias. these podcast are really using all type of historical material to support their argumentation. well done.
I ran across this podcast after searching for interviews with Larry Hurtado. After listening to those episodes, I began from the beginning to better acquaint myself with the aim of the host, Dale Tuggy. Though I am not a philosophical theologian, I am pleased to hear their reasonings and it has given me a lot to consider in my own theology. Tuggy does a great job of letting his guests speak for themselves, but Tuggy doesn't let them off the hook when he sees holes in their logic or knows of objections others might want to raise. But, I believe Tuggy's critiques demonstrate his sincere desire for this podcast to be a platform for open discussion on a difficult topic. I give this a 4-star rating, partly out of personal preference (some guests don't gain my full attention), and partly out of my recent realization that Tuggy hasn't addressed too many philosophers/theologians/biblical scholars from the Continent, or from th Global South. I think a fuller perspective would be beneficial, and I hope Tuggy will consider this. Otherwise, it is been highly beneficial for me, my scholarship, and my faith. I encourage anyone with interest in theology to listen to this podcast--it's good commute fodder. Thanks, Dr. Tuggy.
This *is* a philosophy/theology podcast. And it's hosted by a philosophy professor. So you shouldn’t be surprised that the subject matter can at times get a little technical. BUT…if you’re curious at all about how to love God with all of your mind, a little thinking couldn’t hurt, right? As the tagline suggests, the podcast explores various ways to make sense of the Bible’s teachings regarding the relationship between the Father, Son and Holy Spirit. It certainly does that. But it does more. Dr. Tuggy keeps the podcast series interesting by also interviewing some of the most important thinkers in the fields of philosophy and theology. He and his guests do not always start with the same assumptions or arrive at the same conclusions. But the interviews themselves are models of civil discourse: friendly, sincere, respectful, charitable, and informative. What this podcast does, it does well. Two enthusiastic thumbs up! (Or, if you prefer, 5 stars!)
I found this podcast on a whim and thoroughly enjoyed the first episodes. I strongly disagree with Tuggy’s views, but, I couldn’t event tell until about ten episodes in. Tuggy is one of the most balanced and objective interviewers I have heard. The level of philosophical precision is a breath of fresh air amongst so many shallow podcasts.
Trinities is an excellent podcast of rare quality. Tuggy does an excellent job in preparing interesting topics. He also sources a wide variety of great guests and asks them all the right questions. He gets straight to the point and delivers excellent content with a friendly and humble attitude. The podcast occasionally ventures into theological issues that are not really relevant to the central topics of christology, pneumatology and paterology. Though this is disappointing, the tangential content remains a high quality. This podcast includes a variety of different voices for quotations and narrations. I presume Tuggy does this to break it up a bit and infuse some character. However, this is my biggest problem with the podcast. The voices often have strong accents or are read in an unusual manner. Because of this, I sometimes find it difficult to understand what is being said (let alone reflect on it), or I find it cringeworthy and off-putting. Besides, I enjoy Tuggy’s clear and monotonous university-professor-style voice.
If you are looking for a podcast that interacts with tough theological questions, especially but not limited to the nature of God debate, this is a must hear. Dale Tuggy is an intelligent and graceful host who offers his opinions but allows those with differing opinions to state their own cases. The Trinities podcast embodies what Christian debate and truth seeking should look like, and I have learned a great deal by listening.
There are lots of voices out there, and as post-moderns we live in a time when it can feel as though one could drown in the ocean of information available; who and what is to be trusted? This is particularly true when it comes to the discussion of religion and theology. Often, what makes it needlessly difficult for those not intimately acquainted with specific disciplines of scholarship and issues at hand, is the hostile dialogue between schools of thought. Dale Tuggy, host of the Trinities Podcast has proven himself to be a bastion of honor, meekness and objective inquiry in the podcasting universe. Refreshingly, his guests and interviewees are given uninterrupted time (with the exception of an occasional clarification) to fully develop a premise, followed by the concise questions of Dr. Tuggy. Dr. Tuggy’s content is fresh, explorative, interesting and informative. I find myself time and again completing an episode with a contented and balanced “bite” of intricate topics. For those interested in calm, collected and concise theological dialogue and everything that comes with it, you will not regret tuning in.
I've been voraciously catching up on the earlier trinities episodes, since coming across this gem a few months back. It consistently features interesting guests that espouse incredibly varied views on the nature of God, from the more mainstream to the, some I'm sure would say, downright heretical. On the hands of a less capable host, these charged matters could devolve into maelstrom, but Dale always manages to help his guests put forward their viewpoints in the strongest, most cohesive way, all in the interest of expanding the listener's religious and philosophic lexicon. Unmissable.
Listening to this kind of podcast is what makes me listen to podcasts, that is, to expand my mind and gain more knowledge to think about God. Dr. Tuggy, an awesome scholar, trained in analytic theology and philosophy, talks about theories that deals with trinity. This podcast also has excellent interviews with experts and debates. Very deep, thought provoking and intelligent.
Trinities is one of the few Christian podcasts that doesn't flatten out Scripture to accommodate one particular theological tribe (I believe "a" so make Bible fit into constellation of "a"). Trinities tries to take Scripture for what it says - in all its relevant contexts - and arrive at reasonably correct beliefs. This is something I always appreciate. God, and His revelation through Scripture, always come out more interesting, complex and untamed on this approach. What also sets Trinities apart is the quality of the guests/discussions and its philosophical frame of reference. Dale interviews the folks you should have heard of but probably haven't - Dr. William Hasker, Dr. William Vallicella, Dr. Larry Hurtado and Dr. Michael Heiser. And woven into each discussion is the search for philosophical consistency. The Christian faith is rational. It has warrant. It is a justified belief. Because of this approach, you will grow. Grow not only in your knowledge, but in your appreciation of the philosophical complexities of God's revelation - Scripture and nature. Yet you will also be challenged; challenged to be intellectually honest about the reasons you believe certain things. For these reasons, Trinities is a must listen for me - every week. Two cautions - this podcast requires some brain power; some effort. And be aware that Dale holds to some form of Unitarianism - something I disagree with. However, I am grateful that he has plenty of guests that also disagree with him - including the four listed above.
This podcast isn’t just a series of sermons like most Christian podcasts I know of. This is in depth stuff about trying to understand how God has revealed himself to us in scripture. Dale does a great job of translating all the technical jargon into everyday language so that us common folk can understand the conversation as well.
Professor Tuggy can talk philosophy with the scholars, question theologians sympathetically, search out historical viewpoints, and (usually) make it all understandable but logically grounded. And despite the variety of subjects and viewpoints there is often a solid attempt look at the issue from a biblical, especially New Testament, perspecti ve. Occasionally the subject does not appeal to me, but many discussions I have listened to more than once. Highly recommended if you would like to think biblically and approach that goal logically.
Interesting viewpoint from a Christian philosopher with a Jewish background!
Thoroughly discussed theological and christological topics, including interviews with some big names in their respective fields. If you're into Trinity theories or subjects related to them, then this is for you!
If you are interested in expanding your theological reflection beyond that of a Study Bible, this podcast will blow your mind. Tuggy does an amazing job and interacts with a variety of fascinating minds. Highly, highly recommended regardless of your Christological adherence.
It was refreshing to discover Trinities recently. I visited the site initially to listen to an episode from one particular scholar and then looked at their feed and found so many to seek out. The host does a great job giving guest an opportunity to represent their views on their own terms.
If you are interested in theories about the Father, Son, and holy spirit then this podcast should certainly interest you. I love the variety of guest philosophers and theologians. The interviews are always enjoyable and informative whether Dale Tuggy is interviewing a unitarian, a trinitarian, or someone with another perspective on God and Jesus. In addition to the interviews with Anthony Buzzard and Sean Finnegan, I especially enjoyed the interviews from episodes 83-96. Overall, it's a great job by Mr. Tuggy exploring theories about God. Check it out!
What makes this podcast particularly good is its host, Dale Tuggy. He's an analytic philosopher who is a leading expert on the Trinity, which means that his interviews can go very deep. That said, he also takes some care to make things intelligible to the educated layperson. If you like philosophy of religion (in particular, Christianity), this is can't miss stuff.
The best theology podcast I have found so far. Dale goes very deep into various theological subjects without being over technical. Anyone interested in theology from an analytical perspective should take a listen.
A great theological podcast on what is held by many as a foundational christian Doctrine. It can be very dry at times, and my be tough for the layman of philosophy. The humor can be very dry, which I love. Quality guests as well!
Think: wouldn’t be great to switch that grey stuff back on? Let Dale Tuggy help you!
An invaluable resource for those whose Christianity questions are centered on the Doctrine of the Trinity? Is Biblical? Is it valid? If it isn't, what should we think of Christ? Tuggy gives many sides a fair hearing... even non-Christian faiths... but doesn't beat listeners over the head with his own views. When he has an opinion, he tells you straight up that it's his opinion, and encourages you to read, think, and pray for yourself. You can't ask for more than that. The Trinities.org website is an invaluable reference, with a blog and discussions about the podcast subjects, and even links to books referenced in the discussions.
Great podcast. Very informative, intelligent, and objective. Good selection of guests.
I really appreciate this podcast for its tone and content. This is certainly the most thought-provoking theology podcast that I listen to and I appreciate Dale's irenic tone. As I've listened, I've had my default beliefs soundly challenged and met some interesting philosophers and theologians along the way who I wouldn't have otherwise discovered. Looking forward to many more episodes in the years ahead. Thanks very much - Ben