“Will the real H.o.G. please stand up?”
Henry of Ghent was an eclectic theologian. He fancied new theories and adored old theories. When it comes to the doctrine of the Trinity, Henry was a glutton for old and new doctrines. What was old that he liked? His favourite theologian was Augustine, and his favourite book titled De Trinitate was Augustine’s. Of course, Henry didn’t just read Augustine, he read other De Trinitate texts: Boethius, Ambrose, Hilary, Richard of St. Victor and learned important lessons from these. The primary theological source for psychological doctrines applied to the Trinity comes from Augustine (who contemplated such models as the Father as Memory, Son as Intelligence/Word, and Holy Spirit as Will/Love). Further, Henry takes Richard of St.Victor’s claim about the importance of ‘mutual love’ (of the Father and Son) and applies it as the principiative principle for the production of the Holy Spirit. A ‘principiative principle’ is a fancy phrase for ‘productive power’. Henry seems to use it at times in distinction from a productive power for the production of created essences (e.g. human beings). Still, the the semantic range of this can be applied to ad intra divine productions, and ad extra creaturely productions.
Henry also fancied ‘new’ doctrines of human philosophical psychology, though he was critical of these. What he liked was Aquinas’s developed teaching about what a mental ‘Word’ is, namely, a product that an intellect can produce that is really distinct from the intellect and its operations. This ‘word’ inheres in the intellect as an accident. Further, Henry liked the notion that this product is some sort of ‘final’ act of the intellect. Of course, in the divine case the ‘Word’ won’t ‘inhere’ in the divine essence, but ‘subsist’ in its. This of course is ambiguous (and worthy of another post).In epistemology Henry disagreed with Aquinas. Whereas Aquinas thought we could achieve scientific definitional knowledge of material objects by the natural powers God has given us, Henry didn’t think our natural powers could adequately achieve their natural end without more supernatural help from God. Henry follows Augustine that to avoid scepticism we need to posit general and special divine illumination for certain and true knowledge. Henry’s general scepticism in epistemology more or less falls out when he talks about the Trinity–for of course, God has perfect knowledge, and the divine essence is the one and only proper object of the divine intellect. Of course, the divine essence is so freakin’ awesome that God knows every possible and real creature by it, not to mention the Trinity of persons.
When it comes to the will, Henry had to figure certain things out for himself without Aquinas’s aid. What would he call a real product of the will that inheres in the agent who performs the productive act of this product? Henry has no proper name for this, so he gave several names: zeal, inflammative love, illustrative love, and manifestive love.
So, then how does Henry use philosophical psychology to explain the real distinction between divine persons? In this post I focus only on the ad intra production of the Son. In a later post I will discuss the ad intra production of the Holy Spirit. (I confess I aim to read lots more of Henry’s SQO before then, there are 20 questions in SQO 60-61), and it is basically unknown to most people, even most specialists.)
I start by overlooking Henry’s long proof for God’s existence (SQO 21-29) (as I am not as familiar with it as I need to be presently) which would contribute to the premise below that there is a first divine actor. Henry considers the Trinity in two ways: by an essential order and by a principatiave order (i.e. order of the persons). There is only one divine essence and this essence has the property ‘not from another (essence)’. Henry claims that a similar property is true in the principiative order: there is a person ‘not from another (person)’. I haven’t yet found his proper argument for such a transference of a property from the essential order to the principiative order, still, I suggest an argument he might’ve made.
Below are 40 lines trying to summarize Henry’s general claims about the intellectual emanation of the Word from the Father. Apologies in advance for enthymemes, etc. There are of course, details omitted here, e.g. 9-12 are quite contestable. Duns Scotus took Henry out to lunch and bought him a trash can (Ord 1.3.1-3). The arguments, to my mind, entirely depend on how Henry and Duns Scotus explain what an ‘intelligible species’ is in human cognition (worthy of another post!) and how this gets mapped onto divine cognition.
1. P1: The divine essence necessarily is an active form without any unrealized potentiality in itself.
2. P2: Any power of the divine essence is complete/perfect by its act.
3. (Aside) P2.1: There are two powers of the divine essence: intellect and will.
4. P3: Any act necessarily requires an actor (supposite).
5. C: Therefore, there is an actor of the divine essence that does not emanate by intellect or by will (i.e. is not principiated by intellect or by will). Call this ‘non-emanated’ actor ‘the Father’ or ‘innascible divine person’.
6. P1: There is a necessary prior/posterior order between the acts by intellect and by will.
7. P2: The Father’s act by the power of intellect is necessarily prior to his act by will because it is impossible for an act of will to occur without the actor knowing something (volition presupposes knowledge).
8. C: Therefore, the Father’s first act is by the power of intellect.
9. P1: The power of intellect in the divine essence has two strengths: (i) as an operative strength that is perfected by its term, which is the true (verum), and (ii) a productive strength that is perfected by its term, which is a real product called the ‘Word‘ (i.e. declarative of the true). Call this really distinct product from its producer a ‘mental Word’.
10. P2: There is a necessary prior/posterior order between (i) and (ii).
11. P3: (i) as perfected is prior to (ii) as perfected because (ii) as perfected necessarily presupposes (i) as perfected. If (i) were not prior, then (ii) could not be declarative of (i).
12. C: Therefore, the Father’s act by (i) is necessarily prior to the Father’s act by (ii).
13. P1: The Father’s act by (i) is a necessary condition for the Father’s act by (ii).
14. P2: The Father necessarily acts by (ii) [cf. 2].
15. C: Therefore, the Father necessarily acts by (ii) posterior to the Father’s act by (i).
16. P1: The term of (i) and the term of (ii) are diverse.
17. P2: The term of (i) is rationally distinct from the Father; the term of (ii) is really distinct from the Father.
18. P3: The Father’s act by (i) is not his act by (ii), vice versa.
19. C: Therefore the Father’s act by (i) is a different kind of act than the Father’s act by (ii).
20. P1: An act whose term remains within the agent is an operative act.
21. P2: The Father’s act by (i) remains in the Father.
22. C: Therefore, the Father’s act by (i) is an operation.
23. P1: An act whose term is a really distinct product from the producer is a productive act.
24. P2: The Father’s act by (ii) terminates in a really distinct product.
25. C: Therefore, the Father’s act by (ii) is a productive act.
26. P1: The only kind of intellectual productive act whose product remains within the same essence as the producer’s essence is a reflexive act.
27. P2: The Father produces the Word, which remains in the divine essence.
28. P2: The Father performs an intellectual productive act.
29. C: Therefore, the Father’s intellectual productive act is a reflexive act.
30. P1: A divine person is constituted by a personal property and the divine essence [these properties are rationally distinct].
31. P2: Any combination of a personal property and the divine essence is a supposite.
32. C: Therefore, a divine person is a supposite.
33. P1: The Father is constituted by the divine essence and a personal property. 34. C: Therefore, The Father is a divine person.
33. (P2: A divine person is a supposite.)
34. C: Therefore, the Father is a supposite.
35. P1: The Word is constituted by the divine essence and a personal property. 36. C: The Word is a divine person.
36. (P2: A divine person is a supposite.)
37. C: Therefore, the Word is a supposite.
38. P1: The Father necessarily acts by the power of intellect.
39. P2: To act by the power of intellect necessarily is to act by (i) whose perfection is the true; and consequently to act by (ii) whose perfection is in a real product.
40. C: Therefore, the Father necessarily knows the true by (i) and consequently produces the Word by (ii) [cf. 1-4].