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.


  1. trinities - HoG: Intellectual Production of the Word (Scott)
    December 6, 2007 @ 4:40 am

    […] have posted some responses to Dale’s post in the Comments section of his […]


  2. Scott
    November 27, 2007 @ 1:36 am

    To 5:

    “On this account, [1] which thing is it that is identical to the one God? In the comments once or twice, JT and Scott refer to D as God. [2] Is that what we’re talking about?”

    I would think for Henry the answer to [1] is the Trinity. B/c DE considered by itself, i.e. without the real relations (what we, and Henry, also have been calling the ‘real modes’ of DE) is not ‘the one God’ because ‘the one God’ is the creator of all things; and given that DE considered by itself is not an actor (i.e. a subsisting person), but only the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are subsisting persons who ‘have’ the power of thinking and loving (willing). So, ‘God’ = Trinity, in this sense. I’m sure though we could have technical uses of the name ‘God’, such as when we aim to attribute the divine making property of a divine person. For example, we say the Father is God. Why? Well, the Father is constituted by DE (and ‘paternity’), and whatever person has DE is God (divine).

    “On the positive side, there’s only one DE [divine essence] on this sort of theory. On the negative side, [3] the Trinity (T) is not identical with D, and so it is false to say that the Christian God is (identical to) the Trinity. Rather, [4] the Christian God would be… a component shared by the three divine persons? Or…?

    In regard to [3], with HoG’s answer to [1] in mind, DE could be taken as signifying T. Why? DE does not have any separable accidents; an accident is a thing that gets added onto a substance and may get destroyed (taken away) from the substance. E.g. Socrates has white skin, but he could lose this whiteness that inheres in his substance if he gets a tan. Since DE has no accidents (for most scholastics), we can say that in one sense DE is in fact identical to T if we signify DE with its real relations that are founded in it. We could also signify (i.e. have in mind) DE without its real relations, and so DE in this sense would not be identical to T.

    Re: [4], Henry would certainly say the Trinity is identical to DE, if we signify DE with its real relations (paternity, filiation and passive spiration). But if we take DE to only signify the ‘divine making property’, then no, DE in this sense is not identical to T. If we take DE to only mean the divine making property, then we aren’t (yet) signifying a subsisting agent who can do anything (think, love,.. create.. become incarnate). However, to signify T we must include DE in its signification, otherwise we are signifying a non-divine T, and that of course is heresy for orthodox Christians.


  3. Scott
    November 25, 2007 @ 7:13 am

    Thanks JT for all that.

    I’ll post on Henry’s Category Theory in the next day or so to clarify relations as ‘modes of existence’ and as ‘identical with its foundation that is a ‘thing”. ‘Mode of existing’ basically means ‘way of existing’; it identifies a peculiar way to exist. The options are: existence in itself (esse in se) , inhering existence (inesse), or toward another existence (esse ad aliud). Henry says that we can attribute the 3rd option to ‘relations’. More on this soon.


  4. JT Paasch
    November 25, 2007 @ 2:07 am

    Dale, given my long last post, here’s my quick responses to your objections 1-5. Not sure they’re satisfactory, but hopefully this will get us closer to formulating the issues/objections more precisely.

    To 1. Yes, DI is one of the properties bundled with the DE. And yeah, because of divine simplicity, DI is identical to all the other properties bundled in the DE.

    To 2. Yes, this is a fine question. I don’t really know what the scholastics would say in detail to this because I don’t know that much about the divine ideas and the divine creative power, but I have somewhere in the back of my brain that the answer is this: some causal powers (like the divine intellect and will) need to be actualized in order to be perfect, but others (like the divine power to make this or that creature) don’t.

    To 3. Yes, the divine persons will be perfect only if they are all-powerful, all-knowing, and so forth. But this is not true for DE. It is just a kind-essence, after all. I don’t think we’d call a human kind-essence a person, no matter how perfect it was. Rather, we’d call the humans who exemplify a human kind-essence perfect.

    To 4. The DE doesn’t qualify as a suppositum because it’s shareable. And only supposita act, so the DE needs the personal properties to make it three supposita.

    Scott talks about ‘modal properties, ‘modes’, and the like. That may be seriously misleading to anyone who doesn’t know Henry’s theory of relations. When Scott says the personal properties are modal properties, he doesn’t mean anything like what we mean when we talk about Lewis-esque modal properties. When he says the three persons are three ‘modes’ of the DE, he also probably doesn’t mean to imply the kind of modalism associated with Sabellius or other patristic modalisms.

    Henry has this theory of relations that claims relations are ‘modes of existence’ (ways of existing). Exactly what Henry means by that is not straight forward, and so I won’t go into it. To talk about it here, it would probably be most useful to first have a look at Jeffrey Brower’s article in the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy on medieval theories of relations.

    But nevertheless, I like Dale’s question. Scott: do you think Henry’s theory of relations entails that the trinity is sabellian/modalist?

    To 5. The DE is numerically one divine kind-essence which is shared by the three persons, so any person that possesses the DE will be divine. Thus, each divine person is divine (i.e., is God). Also, since there is numerically one DE, each of the divine persons will be the same deity (i.e. the same God). But I have mis-spoken before if I said DE is God. Only a person is, strictly speaking, God, and since the three persons are one and the same God, only the three persons are the one God.


  5. JT Paasch
    November 25, 2007 @ 1:46 am

    Oops. Corrections:

    The second paragraph of point 6 should read:

    Some x is only an ultimate subject of properties if it is not shareable with some other y. If x is shared with y, then y will be the subject of x, and then y will be the ultimate subject. The scholastics think individuals can be shared, and so if an individual is shareable, it’s not a suppositum.

    Also, point 10 should read:

    Now, this is all the standard/traditional scholastic view on the matter. Henry departs from this model in certain ways, and for this he is quite unique. Unfortunately, I’m too sleepy to try and mention ways he’s departed from this view. Besides, I’ve written quite a long post here already.


  6. JT Paasch
    November 25, 2007 @ 1:39 am

    Here are some comments on all this. My goal here is to clarify the standard scholastic view on the divine essence, the divine intellect, and the divine supposital/persons.

    1. On the standard scholastic view, the divine essence (DE) is a kind-essence. It is just that bundle of properties which are each necessary and jointly sufficient to make something divine. So any x which possesses DE will be divine.

    2. One of the properties bundled with the DE is DI, the divine intellect. Also, there is the divine will, divine power, and so on for all the other so-called ‘divine attributes’. The divine attributes are just those properties bundled in DE.

    3. The scholastics make two caveats to this though.

    First, they believe in divine simplicity, and that pushes them to argue that all the properties bundled together in DE are identical. No surprise there though.

    Second, when we talk about some x exemplifying or possessing a property F, we often mean that F is an abstract entity that exists ‘out there’ somewhere, over and above its exemplification in some x. The scholastics are uncomfortable with this because they don’t think the DE exists in any way over and above the divine persons who possess it. For these medieval boys, it’s probably more appropriate to think of DE as a trope rather than a property, strictly speaking. Numerically one trope, shared/possessed by three persons.

    But call it a trope or a property, nevertheless for the scholastics the DE functions as a kind-essence. It is the divine-maker, as it were, for the persons. At least that’s the standard scholastic view.

    4. Things can perform certain actions in virtue of possessing certain properties. A flame can heat because it has the property of being hot, but it can’t think because it lacks the relevant thinker property. A human, on the other hand, can think because it possesses the property of being intelligent, but it can’t heat because it lacks the relevant heater property.

    The point here is that we don’t think of the properties themselves as agents. We think of properties as that in virtue of which things perform certain actions. A human x has the property F of being intelligent, but we wouldn’t say F thinks. We would say x thinks, and that in virtue of possessing F.

    5. So in a way, properties ‘bestow’ certain causal powers on the things that possess them. And this is what I mean when I say properties are power packs. Some x can perform a certain action A because it possesses a property F which is a power pack for A. E.g., x is a human, A is thinking, and F is ‘being intelligent’.

    The same goes for the DE. It includes the DI, yes, but the DI just a power pack for thinking, just like how the property of ‘being intelligent’ (which is included in a human kind-essence) is a power pack for thinking in humans. So just because the DE includes the property of being intelligent doesn’t mean that the DE is a person any more than a human kind-essence is.

    6. Also, the scholastics distinguish between being an individual and being a suppositum. A suppositum is the ultimate subject of properties, and so it will be an individual. But an individual won’t necessarily be a suppositum.

    Some x only because an ultimate subject of properties if it is not shareable with some other y. If x is shared with y, then y will be the subject of x, and then y will be the ultimate subject. The scholastics think individuals can be shared, and so if an individual is shareable, it’s not a supposita.

    7. For example, the DE is an individual, but it is shared by three divine persons, so it doesn’t qualify as a supposita. Consequently, if we want the DE to be a supposita, we need to add a further property to it to make it unshareable.

    That’s where the personal properties (the PPs) come in. They are unshareable properties, and so when we add a PP to the DE, we get an unshareable entity, and now we have a supposita. And of course, there are three PPs, so we end up with three divine supposita.

    8. The divine ‘persons’ and the divine ‘supposita’ are extensionally the same, but ‘person’ and ‘supposita’ do not have the same meaning. A ‘supposita’ is just an ultimate subject of properties, but a ‘person’ is a suppositum which can think and love. So a suppositum won’t be a person unless it can think and love.

    9. In the divine case, each divine supposita possesses the DE, and the DE includes the DI and the divine will (DW), and DI and DW are thinking and loving power packs, so each divine supposita counts as a person.

    10. Now, this is all the standard/traditional scholastic view on the matter. Henry departs from this model in certain ways, and for this he is quite. Unfortunately, I’m too sleepy to try and mention ways he’s departed from this view. Besides, I’ve written quite a long post here already.


  7. Scott
    November 23, 2007 @ 10:59 pm

    I’ll take a crack at 4 now, and 5 soon enough.

    “If you’re going to consider D as a perfect being, I think that entails thinking of D as itself a divine person.”

    It depends on what you mean by ‘being’. If you way, a perfect essence, then I don’t think the entailment follows that DE is a divine person all by itself. Consider the case of Socrates, he is a thinker and a willer; but his being Socrates (rather than Plato) isn’t what accounts for Socrates being a thinker and a willer, rather Socrates’s essence accounts for this. Still, Socrates’s essence does not exist by itself, rather it is ‘composed’ with some individuating principle (e.g. prime matter, prime matter signed by dimensive quantity, or perhaps ‘thisness’). Yet, we can still say that Socrates’s essence ‘exists’. But we say that Socrates exists subsistingly. Similarly, DE although it exists, it exists ‘in’ a divine person, one who subsists. It is a little odd.

    Usually in the Aristotelian scheme, there is some more basic subject than a creature’s essence, namely matter. And the essence (otherwise called substantial form) is supported by this substrate–this ‘stuff’ that is ‘under’ the essence. And it is this combination that explains how it is that an essence is ‘this essence’, i.e. an individual essence.

    But in the case of God, Henry seems to invert it as it were. The divine essence is not supported by some matter under it; rather, the DE itself is the basic ‘stuff’ (i.e. the property ‘being divine’, where ‘being divine’ includes the divine intellect and divine will–and all the properties that are included in the divine intellect and will, e.g. divine knowledge, divine love, etc.). What the DE supports is a personal property (e.g. ‘actually generating/paternity’).

    In the case of Socrates, an essence by itself is not an ‘individual person’, there must be some supporting matter ‘under it’. In the divine case, DE by itself is not an ‘individual person’, there must be some other property–namely a personal property [PP], and Henry follows Richard of St. Victor by defining a PP as an ‘incommunicable property’. So, ‘being a Father’ is not shareable, nor is ‘being a Son, ‘nor is ‘being a Holy Spirit’. So, Henry says that DE supports (is a substrate for) three personal properties. PPs are not identical b/c by definition that are not shareable; and if there are 3 PPs, then they are not identical. However, b/c DE supports the 3 PPs, it is ‘shareable’ (in a limited sense–it is only shareable by the three persons).

    It is an odd picture to be sure.

    It goes against our brains to thinks there can be one subject (DE) that can be counted as three persons. There is a person iff there is an essence and an incommunicable property with per se unity. Given that each PP is ‘supported’ by an essence [DE], we can count three ‘persons’. ‘Person’ signifies an essence and an incommunicable property; so strictly speaking ‘paternity’ is not equivalent to ‘the Father’, b/c the name ‘Father’ co-signifies the a substrate (essence) and an incommunicable property (paternity).

    The reason Henry calls paternity, filiation, and passive spiration [PPs] ‘modes of being’ is because this is how Henry defines relations in general. This is what justified my saying Henry’s has a modal acct. of the Trinity.

    More later… I’m in the queue at the Mac store in Chicago.


  8. Dale
    November 22, 2007 @ 12:51 pm

    JT – thanks for the historical info!

    Scott – Good – thanks. I guess I keep turning the account around, in the attempt to make sense of it – in that I keep thinking of D as primary. I also misunderstood your “power pack” comments.

    So D “cannot do any action”, and is itself not a “supposit” (divine person, subject of properties like omniscience). I guess I’m not really sure how to think of it, but it must be something like a property or a stuff. Either way, though, D isn’t qualified to be even a third-rate polytheistic god, much less the one God, the creator.

    If D isn’t itself a person, much less a divine one, I don’t understand how it can have an intellect at all, whether perfect or not. But it has to have one, it seems – you’re thinking of the Persons as getting their intellect, in some sense, from D, or rather just sharing that one perfect intellect. So, it seems to me the account both explicitly denies that D is a personal agent, and implicity affirms that it is.

    I also wonder how we argue that it is a necessary… thing. It won’t be by some perfect being argument. Sure, it’s consistent to say that D is a necessary *thing* but not a necessarily existing *person*. I guess you mentioned he has a cosmological argument – it must be one, then, which argues for at least on independent property or stuff (or something analogous thereto) right?

    Re: DI (the divine intellect) producing the Word – this DI is a thing which “can do a productive action” – I take it, perform an intentional action. That seems to personify DI – which is odd, as DI is a faculty of (and also “the same as”) D, the divine essence. Again, won’t be soon be personifying D’s will (DW), saying that it voluntarily brought about H? Same worries.

    “And Henry thinks the difference is that at T1 he was just thinking, but at T2 he has produced a perfect copy of what he did at T1.” Remembering isn’t “making a copy of” what one did previously, except that the content of a genuine memory must match the fact the memory is of. Typically, the memory and what the memory is of won’t even be the same kind of event. Are the thought X and the memory of X “really distinct”? If that means, non-identical, then they are certainly non-identical, even when we’re talking about a memory of a memory.

    Random question: Scott, when talking of Henry’s account as “modalism” – did you mean that F, S, and H are modes of D, in somewhat the way that a vase is a mode of a mass of clay? (When I’ve been talking of modalism – I’m thinking of that which the modes are of as primary – in the realm of the Trinity, kinds of “modalism” are usually motivated by a desire to preserve monotheism.)

    Some time (no hurry!) I’d be interested in folks’ responses to my 4th and 5th objections.

    OK, I’m going to go help cook a Turkey.


  9. Scott
    November 22, 2007 @ 4:12 am

    Objection 3 although interesting, is not as strong as objection 2. Dale writes:

    “3. If you’re going to consider D as a perfect being, I think that entails thinking of D as itself a divine person.”

    Henry would probably first say ‘D’ in the first sentence is ambiguous. We would need to say that DE (divine essence) has the property _necessary existence_, but we say that the Father has _necessary subsisting existence_. What is the difference btwn. these? The former is still ambiguous, it doesn’t identify what is existing or how it is existing. So, DE does not subsist (i.e. it is not a person), but only exists; but F does subsist so F is a person.


  10. Scott
    November 22, 2007 @ 1:41 am

    Next, what about the will? If the Holy Spirit is produced by an act of will, is this not by definition a contingent (voluntary) production?

    I confess I am not yet ready to report with confidence precisely what Henry’s position is on this question. I know that Scotus takes the line that acts of will always have some object. Most all objects are good and may be willed, but not necessarily. However, DE is the most perfect and amazing object. In fact, it is so perfect (and infinite) that the Will just will will it b/c it is the perfect object.

    I apologize for the fuzziness of the above. I need to review a Quodlibetal question of Scotus’s to see precisely how the argument goes.

    I presume that Henry makes a similar sort of move as Scotus, or rather, Scotus makes a similar (though not the same) sort of move as Henry.


  11. Scott
    November 22, 2007 @ 1:34 am

    Re: 2, Henry thinks that DE has the property necessary existence. Whatever person (supposite; a distinct entity) has DE, necessarily has necessary existence. And DE doesn’t act by itself, in any sort of action, whether the creative act (for creatures), or for ‘causing’ (in a yet to be clarified sense) another divine person. The argument, as JT mentioned is the following:

    DE by itself cannot do any action (operative or productive). For example, heat doesn’t heat, but a hot thing heats. Likewise, DE by itself does not act, there must be (at least) one who acts. This is a general Aristotelian claim: powers don’t act by themselves, an agent who has a power acts.

    Applying this principle to the case of the Trinity, we can at least say that there is one supposite (one distinct entity that has/is DE). But why any more? We could say the production of the Son and Holy Spirit are contingent productions in the way that God’s creative action for creatures is contingent. However, Henry (and Scotus) think that there necessarily (and not contingently) are three divine persons. But why are the three persons necessary?

    Now we get into the fuzzy math of production by intellect and by will. For the divine intellect, it is necessarily perfect. In other words, the divine intellect necessarily knows its object (DE). This is a general Aristotelian and scholastic view, acts of intellect as such are not voluntary. If some object is present to the intellect, the intellect will cognize it unless there is some impediment (i.e. some other object present to the intellect or the will impedes the intellectual act by willing to do something else.)

    So, if there is a first divine person and this person by identity has DE, and in turn has the power of intellect, then this divine person will perform an operative act, i.e. just thinking about DE.

    The next step is the biggest problem, why posit another sort of act that the intellect can do, namely a productive act? We humans can think, and we can also make products (e.g. JT could make bookshelves for me.). Usually, we think that JT would need (i) to know something (how to make bookshelves) and (ii) actually will the production of these bookshelves. Now, Henry says that the intellect -without the will, though he says the will is a sine qua non cause for the production of the Word- can do a productive action. Normally we think that intellect and will have to work together for some production to happen.

    In Henry’s theory of human cognition he likewise posits this dual-strength of the human intellect. Why? B/c the intellect can (i) actually think and (ii) actually produce concepts. At time T1, Henry can think (X) ‘I’ve got the best necessary argument for the Trinity of divine persons’; at time T2, Henry can reflect on the fact he was thinking X and so produce a new concept that contains X, but is distinct from what was happening in T1. And Henry thinks the difference is that at T1 he was just thinking, but at T2 he has produced a perfect copy of what he did at T1. There are some disanalogies btwn. the human case and divine case, but I’ll leave those aside so as not to further complicate our discussion (for now).

    I don’t have the text in front of me now, but he does give 6 ‘marks’ of a mental Word in a passage.

    So the basic question is, do you think that what was happening at T1 and at T2 are really distinct from one another; is the former ‘just thinking’ and the latter a perfect product-copy of what was being thought.


  12. JT Paasch
    November 21, 2007 @ 10:53 pm

    Historical note, Dale. Ockham raised an objection similar to your number 2. Henry had argued, as Scott has pointed out, that a perfect power must be exercised so fully that it is ‘exhausted’, so to speak, in one, perfect production. Scotus picks this up and argues (like Henry) that there are two irreducible productive powers in D, namely intellect and will, and since both of these are fully exhausted in one production each, we get two and only two produced persons. Scotus’s follower William of Alnwick also takes this line up. Ockham objects to all these cats that there is no reason a perfect power should ever be exhausted by a single act. If the power is indeed perfect (and so infinite), it could always be exercised again, and just as perfectly, so one cannot use this kind of argument to establish how many times such a power will be exercised.


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