MMM indeed! Henry of Ghent doesn’t spare the medieval lingo, and as Scott points out, it seems he never met a trinitarian theory he didn’t like – emanation, psychology, relations – it’s all good! Thanks to its being Thanksgiving break – and let me say Happy Thanksgiving to all our American and Canadian readers – I’ve caught up on the recent posts, as well as some very involved comments on my original H.O.G. post. (To those just jumping in – we’re using some letters defined in this post – it actually helps!) Here are some comments and questions relating to the lengthy comments on my original H.O.G. post. Perhaps this’ll give Scott some grist for the mill as he continues his series on Henry’s trinitarian theory.
Scott says (comment #2, emphases added):
…the Father’s first ad intra productive act is to generate a Word or Son by means of the divine intellect (DI). And further, we say that the product of this intellectual productive act is a perfect intellectual copy of the divine essence, and it is so perfect that it is the same D but as ‘being generated’.
Henry employs what I call a double-exposure argument. Recall the scene in the Woodie Allen film Annie Hall where Woody is laying on a bed and lamenting his problems with Annie. And then you see a copy of Woody stand up and pace back and forth in the room while the original Woody is laying on the bed. And then, the copy Woody returns to the original Woody and then they are indiscernible from one another, other than the fact that one is original and one is a copy. Henry himself uses an example of a bronze statue whose image is copied but remains in the very same bronze (SQO 54.9 or 54.10).
Why does Henry think we should posit a copy of the original with the identical material? He does so b/c he thinks the divine intellect is fecund for operating (just thinking) and for producing a Word (i.e. a perfect copy). If the D is perfect, then all of its powers (intellect and will) and their ’strengths’ (operation, production) are performed. Thus, given that there is a first actor (thanks to Henry’s proof for God’s existence) Henry says this actor acts by powers (and strengths). Since all powers and strengths in God are fully actual, and all powers only are enacted by an actor, we say that the first divine persons acts by the DI, and so thinks and in turn produces a Word (the causal connection btwn. F thinking and F producing another PP -personal property-, is another complexity, which would require lots of space).
So basically, you either accept Henry claim that divine powers have strengths (operative and productive strengths) or you don’t. If you do, then you can give a _specific_ rather than general account of the procession of the Son from the Father.
A few thoughts and objections:
- We now have a new postulated thing (property?) in the account, DI – the divine intellect, which I take it would be a property, a faculty of D, the divine essence. Although, I assume, we also get the standard line that this is “the same as” D, due to divine simplicity.
- “If the D is perfect, then all of its powers (intellect and will) and their ’strengths’ (operation, production) are performed.” This seems false to me. Why think that a perfect thing must lack unexercised powers? To the contrary, if you’re all-powerful, it seems to me that you’ll have an infinity of unexercised powers (e.g. to make all the possible beings you could have, but didn’t in fact make).
- If you’re going to consider D as a perfect being, I think that entails thinking of D as itself a divine person. For it must be a divine person to be all-powerful, all-knowing, etc. Is there a quaternity problem here? Maybe not – if the other “persons” really are just this one divine person being certain ways.
- Moreover, it looks like D is going to have to be itself a person, if its modes (e.g. D+P, which is just D being ungenerated) are going to somehow count as “persons”. If D isn’t “already”, by itself, a person, then I don’t see how adding these properties to it (P, Fi, Sp) is going to result in three “persons”. But then, it seems we just have FSH modalism – God (D) existing eternally in three ways. Scott, is this theologically acceptable, in your view?
- On this account, 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. Is that what we’re talking about? On the positive side, there’s only one D on this sort of theory. On the negative side, 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, the Christian God would be… a component shared by the three divine persons? Or…?
Again, from Scott’s second comment:
So in response to Joseph’s important objection (5) [that Henry’s theory commits him to D having incompatible properties], I’d say Henry would respond by saying that D is not formally identical with Fi, rather D contains certain powers (and strengths) and if there is an actor (P) who acts by these, then Fi will be a mode of D (necessarily). Given that there is a first actor, it follows that there will be Fi (a second actor). Henry would say D formally speaking is not generative, but P is generative by means of D, such that P’s acting by D (i.e. productive strength of DI) principiates Fi; or again, P’s acting by D principiates a new modal determination of D, namely Fi. For Henry, PP’s are modally distinct from D, so D taken by itself is not generating or is generated, but only by a modal determination of D (i.e. D + P), does a new modal determination of D ‘come about’ (i.e. D + Fi).
Is this saying that D is ungenerated “qua [insofar as it is a]” Father, and generated qua Son? If so, isn’t that sweeping the inconsistency under a verbal rug? Perhaps Scott will address this in a future post.
Re: this objection, that Henry is positing incompatible properties in D, I think JT does a nice job expanding this objection, in his comments #3 & 4 here. In essence, he says that on this theory, D is like matter, in that it is shared by F, S, and H. But just as a statue can’t simultaneously be, say, Jebediah Springfield and a vase, neither could D have incompatible properties, such as Fi and P.
Scott replies, in essence, that once you understand P and Fi to be, respectively, generating a “Word” and being a “Word”, then the appearance of contradiction goes away. (Comment 5) He says that these terms signify “the particular power and the productive act”. Further, both are simply modes of D.
I don’t see that this helps. We still have a D which is both ungenerated, and generated, don’t we? P would pick out D’s act of causing but not being caused (or something like that), while Fi would refer to D’s being caused. I think I’m missing something here.
But doesn’t Henry have the idea that P gives rise to S, and not D? And isn’t it D which is generated, but rather S only? But If F and S and but modes of D, then it seems to me that F’s powers just are those of D, and S’s origin just is whatever D’s is. Why? Because a mode is a state of affairs, and D is the only substance in the relevant states of affairs. Only substances have causal powers, and are generated, I’m assuming.