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. JT Paasch
    February 26, 2008 @ 10:08 am

    Oh yeah, on Scott’s number 20 comment, I had written a point but forgot to post it.

    Yes, the LTers do equivocate between the DE as an abstraction and the DE as a concrete thing. This is why Aquinas so (famously and) carefully distinguished terms that apply to the DE abstractly, and terms that apply to the DE concretely.

    But as for drawings, I think that all the scholastics would want three circles drawn completely overlapping. Scotus too. We can draw the components separated to help our brains conceptualize the various bits of the puzzle, but that’s just a heuristic device. Don’t get me wrong. I draw things in my classes all the time because its so helpful to ‘see’ the components of the trinity. But those sorts of pictures don’t do justice to divine simplicity. Divine simplicity entails that identity relations obtain between the DE and the PPs/persons — every LTer agrees on that, even Scotus. To capture those identity relations, we’d have to draw everything overlapping.

    Maybe this helps to show why the LTers think that loving the DE entails loving a person. Since the DE is identical to a person y, if x loves DE, x loves y (by transitivity).

    To Scott’s comment # 21. Scotus is unique in holding that the constituents of God are all really the same, but they are formally non-identical. I won’t go into this too much as Scotus’s view of formal non-identity is pretty famous. Basically, x and y are really the same if they are inseparable (even by divine power); x and y are formally non-identical if they are susceptible of different (Aristotelian) definitions. Let’s use ‘RSFnI’ for being really the same but formally non-identical.

    Scotus thinks all the constituents of God are RSFnI. God’s omnipotence and omniscience, for example, are inseparable but defined differently, so they are RSFnI. The DE and the persons are RSFnI for the same reasons. The DE and the PPs are RSFnI for the same reasons. Scotus is a very unique LTer because he admits some kind of non-identity (namely, RSFnI) into the trinity, so his view of divine simplicity is somewhat weaker than, say, Aquinas’s.

    So yes, Scott, Scotus thinks the DE is a constituent of the persons which is RSFnI to the persons. And Scotus thinks a perfect knower will know each of those constituents. But Scotus also thinks that perfect identity relations obtain between all RSFnI constituents in God. So again, transitivity carries right through. If x knows DE, and if DE = y, then x knows y.

    Thus, the DE is perfectly identical to divine omnipotence, so if the Father x knows the DE, x knows divine omnipotence. Similarly, the DE is perfectly identical to the Son, so if x knows the DE, x knows the Son.


  2. JT Paasch
    February 26, 2008 @ 9:32 am

    Okay, I see where you’re coming from. Here’s how I’d approach that question. I wouldn’t try to find the answer in any general account of knowledge (Aristotelian or otherwise). Yes, knowing the ‘principles’ (constituents) of some x is not the same as knowing x, and so forth for the other things you’ve mentioned. All of that is true for an Aristotelian account of knowledge. But none of that, as far as I can tell, applies here (although it might for the strictest Aristotelians like Aquinas — but they’d be the exception).

    This is just a special kind of case, where the knowers (the divine persons) are perfect/infinite knowers, and the thing they know (the DE in its concrete exemplifications) is a perfect/infinite thing.

    Also, as you say, it’s not like knowing a universal in the created realm, because a universal is indifferent to its exemplifications. Not so for the DE. That’s not indifferent to its exemplifications. So it would be odd to know the full ‘contents’ of the DE, as it were, without knowing something about its exemplifications.

    So I think this particular case doesn’t have to do with any general account of knowledge. It just has to do with the peculiar nature of the knower and the known. If you had to pin it down to a ‘general account’ of knowledge, I’d hesitantly say to look in the Augustinian and Anselmian direction. Augustine’s stuff about perfect knowers and the perfectly known, and how knowledge entails knowing yourself (e.g., the mind) and the other (e.g., the inner word) in its fullest degree, all that stuff.

    Also, divine simplicity is important. On divine simplicity, the DE is necessarily identical to each of the persons, just as it is identical to any of the divine attributes. Given this, the LTer would think it impossible to perfectly know the DE but not, say, its goodness or omniscience, for these are all identical to the DE. The same goes for the persons.


  3. Scott
    February 25, 2008 @ 9:38 pm

    Oh; right. So if we deny that the Father knows DE in abstraction, it means that if the Father knows DE, then he necessarily knows it ‘in’ divine persons.

    I think there is an analogous ‘problem’ with Aquinas’s acct. of individuation our God’s knowledge of individual creatures. You can look at my article here for more details: http://www.fordham.edu/gsas/phil/klima/SMLM/PSMLM6/PSMLM6.pdf

    Suffice it to say, it is one thing to know principles that constitute an entity, it is another to know the concrete particular that exemplifies the principles. I think what is required is discussion of the ‘thisness’ of the divine essence/persons. It is sort of misleading to think of DE is a metaphysical principle; or better put, it is misleading to think of DE as a universal that is by definition indifferent to the entities that exemplify it. A follow up problem, if DE is by definition necessarily and sufficiently ‘in’ three divine persons, how would we square this with Jesus Christ’s contingently being constituted by the Son’s DE?


  4. JT Paasch
    February 25, 2008 @ 7:55 pm

    My point about abstraction is that, for classical LTers, the DE only exists in the persons, and this means that the only way to know the divine essence and not the persons would be by abstracting the divine essence from the persons.


  5. Scott
    February 25, 2008 @ 7:50 pm

    I wasn’t trying to suggest that if a divine person x knows DE, that x doesn’t know DE; but rather I was asking about the claim that x’s knowing DE is sufficient by itself for x’s knowing a divine person.

    I’m being a stickler here–but I’m trying to look at the Aristotelian roots in this stuff, and particular where the Arist. stuff breaks down; or at least, what premises must be accepted to make sense of the claim that x’s knowing DE just counts as x’s knowing a divine person. We might even say, if x knows DE, and x’s knowing DE counts as knowledge of a divine person–does this account enable us to say whether x knows this or that divine person?

    My guess is that Peter Aureoli’s (or Ockham too?) claim about the indistinction of DE and PPs is motivating you to say that we can’t conceptually make a distinction btwn. DE, a personal property, and a divine person. So, it is conceptually impossible to think DE w/o also thinking every other divine person. Is this right?


  6. Scott
    February 25, 2008 @ 7:35 pm

    JT: Do you really think the Father knows DE in abstraction from any divine person? I haven’t read anyone holding this position–or maybe I’ve missed something. What might the psychological account be for this unique intellectual operation? Surely the Father doesn’t need to abstract DE and then apply the concept to other divine persons. This would be a type of discursive reasoning, I imagine. Or again, perhaps this position that the Father knows DE in abstraction is held by certain modern day analytic LTers (or maybe even in Ockham somwhere)?


  7. JT Paasch
    February 25, 2008 @ 5:04 pm

    I think you’re trying to make this too complicated. For the LTers, if a divine person x knows the divine essence DE, then of course x knows DE in itself, in abstraction from the divine persons and the personal properties. And x also knows that the DE is a formal constituent of each person, again considering this in abstraction from any particular person. And x knows any other F that pertains to the DE in abstraction from the persons. So yes to all the stuff you mention there Scott.

    But that’s not all x knows about DE. x also knows the concrete way that DE necessarily exists, namely as three persons. So x knows Father, Son, and Spirit.


  8. Scott
    February 25, 2008 @ 4:25 pm

    A little trinitarian stuff: JT, do you think it is pertinent whether the divine personal properties are founded on DE as the basis for saying knowledge of DE counts as knowledge of divine persons?

    In other words, if DE is form-like and PP is form-like, and these two form-like properties together constitute a divine person–couldn’t it be the case that to say the Father knows DE does not precisely count as the Father knowing the ‘composite’ [DE+being a Son]? If the formal object of the Father’s knowing is DE, I don’t see why by this fact _alone_ this counts as the Father’s knowing a whole person?

    Perhaps one way around this is how you construe DE and PPs. If somehow DE is the causal basis for the Son and the Holy Spirit, then perhaps we might say the Father knows the Son in virtue of knowing the causal basis of the Son (and Holy Spirit). But then again, is it enough to know the causal basis for the Son and Holy Spirit in order to know the two ‘products’? We can call this view the ‘DE as causal basis view’ [=DECBV].

    Perhaps we don’t mean that the Father knows the Son in virtue of knowing the causal basis of the Son (i.e. DE); rather, perhaps we are saying that the Father knows a formal constituent of the Son. For an essential property of the Son is the divine essence. So if the Father knows this essential property of the Son, then the Father knows the Son by knowing this formal ‘part’ of the Son. We can call this view the ‘DE as formal constituent view’ [=DEFCV].

    My concern is that DECBV and DEFCV aren’t good enough, or precise enough as accounts of the Father’s knowledge of the Son; or analogously, for the Father’s love for the Son. It seems that the sort of view we’d want to hold is something like this: the Father knows the Son inclusive of all the Son’s formal constituents [=AFC, for ‘all formal constituents’].

    Given divine simplicity I can see why DECBV or DEFCV would seem to suffice as an account of the Father’s knowledge/love of the Son. And moreover, that this is the only case where DECBV or DEFCV could suffice for knowledge/love of a person. Still, though, my intuition is that a more precise account could be given, something like AFC.


  9. JT Paasch
    February 25, 2008 @ 3:26 pm

    Scott says: ‘Is the view that if a divine person loves the divine essence, then it necessarily follows that the person loves the other persons who are constituted by the divine essence?’

    Yes, that is the view.

    I myself am hesitant to try and generalize this point to human knowledge/love in general. This view only applies to a divine person who knows/loves the divine essence.

    Part of this view is that divine knowledge is perfect, which means that anyone with divine knowledge will know as much as they can. Human knowledge is not perfect, so it’s not the case that anyone with human knowledge will necessarily know everything that is knowlable.

    For example, when I love a widow, I don’t need to (and probably cannot) know everything about the widow. But if a divine person loves the widow, they will necessarily know everything about her. Similarly, if a divine person knows the divine essence, they will necessarily know everything about it, and one of the things that can be known (by a perfect divine mind) about the divine essence is that it is necessarily exemplified as Father, Son, and Spirit.


  10. Scott
    February 25, 2008 @ 1:32 pm

    One quick thought:

    Is the view that if a divine person loves the divine essence, then it necessarily follows that the person loves the other persons who are constituted by the divine essence?

    In contemporary epistemology there is a view called ‘closure’. A basic description of this view is as follows: Socrates knows that if P, then Q. But Socrates knows P, therefore Socrates also knows Q . ‘Closure’ is often criticized b/c it indicates or suggests that you ‘know more than you know’. For example, if I know that James is a human being, does it necessarily follow that _I_ know James has the capacity for laughter? The anti-closure position would say ‘no, Scott doesn’t necessarily know that James has the capacity for laughter’. One reason for this is based on an ‘open view’-namely, I’d need to know James has the capacity for laughter and only then could I add this knowledge together with my other knowledge that James is a human being. Only then could I perhaps figure out that James’s capacity for laughter is a necessary and non-essential property of James.

    Now, with the case of divine love, is there something analogous to the closure/open views? If the Father loves the divine essence, does the Father necessarily love another person? If you hold the closure view, then yes, the Father does love all persons constituted by DE; but if you hold an open view, then no, the Father only loves DE and not another person qua person. On an open view, we’d need to say that the Father loves divine persons— but then perhaps the reverse issue would come up– if the Father loves other divine persons, does the Father necessarily love DE? It perhaps seems that the same situation arises–it depends if you uphold a closure or open view…


  11. trinities - on interpersonal love and stick figures (Dale)
    February 22, 2008 @ 11:10 am

    […] like a philosopher! Here’s a pictorial recap, and some additional thoughts on the comments here, in response to Scott and JT. The point of all this: we’re exploring why people who call […]


  12. Scott
    February 20, 2008 @ 2:27 pm

    Besides, on Scotus’s view, DE is formally distinct from a personal property. So, if it is possible to love a formality without the other formalities of that entity, then one could love DE and not love a divine person, I suppose.


  13. Scott
    February 20, 2008 @ 2:24 pm

    In one sense, I think LTers sort of equivocate when they talk about the divine essence [=DE]. Sometimes DE signifies the immanent universal shared by all three personal subjects. Sometimes DE signifies the numerically one substance shared by all three personal subjects. In short, DE can signify a numerically singular substance, or a numerically one shared essence in three distinct subjects. We can think of LT as either holding a position like Henry, DE is the quasi-substrate of all three personal properties, or like Scotus, that DE is a formal property of a singular subject, which happens to be a shared property in two other singular subjects. If we had a diagram, the former could be represented by three circles which are on top of one another with no protruding parts of each circle. Or, we could draw three circles where there is one ‘section’ that is an overlap among the three circles; this overlap would represent DE. My guess is that Scotus’s view is something like the latter and Henry’s is something like the former drawing of circles.

    All this to say, to love the one ‘overlap’ among the three circles (on the Scotist model) is not identical with saying you love the whole circle, even the part that overlaps with the other 2 circles. So yes, I think Dale is on to something here.

    However, if we look at e.g. Henry’s model, then to say you love DE is closer to the claim that you’d be loving a whole divine person, b/c you’d be loving the whole circle which is identical with DE and the personal property. Dale, maybe you could help me ‘draw’ some circles?


  14. Dale
    February 20, 2008 @ 1:46 pm

    Hi guys – again, excellent comments!

    OK – I still, sorry, don’t see why loving DE would entail loving the persons of which it is a component. JT – we can *say* that it does, intend it to, but I think we need to show it to. As Scott points out, it is coherent to, e.g. love the matter of this bookcase and not its form – to love its matter isn’t (necessarily) to love it. In general, if we love something, it doesn’t follow that we love “everything that’s either in it or necessarily entailed by it.” If you love a widow, suppose she has essential parts X, Y, Z (suppose: brain parts). It doesn’t follow that you love them. (esp. if we’re talking about a love-attitude one only adopts to persons) And her existence (qua widow) entails that her husband is dead – perhaps you don’t love the fact that her husband is dead – he was a buddy of yours. As you say, JT, LT *tries to* make room for the personal love, but it’s not clear that it successfully does.

    I agree with your points about essential features and merely necessary ones. It’s not clear to me just where events fit into Aristotelian metaphysics. But in that middle of that comment you put your finger on the problem: “If *two people* love each other…” Problem is, the LT we’re discussing has Persons “loving” a universal (which yes, is *supposed to* count as their loving one another).

    I’m not sure why you talk about a metaphysician loving a *concept*. Rather, he’d be loving a metaphysical… principle or component, or whatever. You say “But this isn’t really a perfect (or ‘full’) act of love.” But that’s what needs to be shown. Why couldn’t it, be, if that metaphysician’s mental stance is sufficiently… arduous, if I can put it that way.

    Scott – yeah, I think you’re right that some STers, under early modern influence (Descartes, Kant, Reid) think that selves should be irreducible, fundamental entities. But I think they might accept composed, non-basic persons, if the Trinity theory was more Swinburne-like, in positing what are clearly person-to-person relationships.


  15. Scott
    February 20, 2008 @ 4:07 am

    JT: above I mentioned the ‘cognitive dissonance’ that an STer would have to the classical view. I think one concern is that an STer isn’t comfortable with talking about 2 per se principles (DE+personal property) as making up a whole. As we’ve discussed awhile back, we can analyze (on an Aristotelian scheme) a chair in terms of the wood and in terms of the shape. So, if we are to know the constitutive parts of ‘the chair’, we identify the wood and the form. But in the divine case, to say a divine person love DE sounds too much like saying a divine person loves a metaphysical part and not a whole person, even if it necessarily a consequent that loving DE entails loving a ‘whole’ person. It’d be like saying (to STer’s ears), ‘I like the wood of my bookcase’. Sure this statement would necessarily entail that I like the form of my bookcase, but this sort of statement sounds too indirect, as though we love metaphysical parts, and not the whole.

    This is just a guess. I’m sure there are STers that are quite happy to talk about metaphysical parts, but my guess is that an STer wants the word ‘person’ to be metaphysically basic, rather than to signify the sum of two metaphysical per se parts (i.e. DE + a personal property).


  16. JT Paasch
    February 19, 2008 @ 4:36 pm

    Sorry, one more long post here. =)

    Dale comments that on the Aristotelian view, love occurs when one person takes a pro-attitude (of some sort) on something else. And you aptly point out that the problem STers see with this is that personal fellowship, community, and so forth just drops out of the picture. I think that’s a clear way of putting the worry that most STers see with the ‘classical’ notion of love.

    But it seems to me that it doesn’t quite hit the mark. To explain this, I’ll take a little detour into essential and necessary properties first.

    The Aristotelians think, like most of us do today, that a kind-essence includes a whole lot of properties that are necessarily instantiated in every individual of that kind. However, the Aristotelians class some of these properties as ‘essential’ and some of them as ‘necessary’. For example, every human will exemplify humanity, rationality, risibility, and so forth. But the Aristotelians say animality and rationality are ‘essential’, and the others (like risibility) are ‘necessary’.

    So if every human will necessarily have all these properties, what’s the point of saying some are ‘essential’ and some are ‘necessary’? The reason is that the Aristotelians think the essential properties explain (and for some, causes) all the others. Animality and rationality, for example, explain (and for some, causes) all the others like risibility to be instantiated too. So the Aristotelians distinguish essential and necessary properties for explanatory reasons.

    Given this, it would be a mistake to say that when the Aristotelians describe the human essence as ‘animality and rationality’, then the ability to laugh drops out of the picture. This would be a mistake because although animality and rationality are the ‘essential’ properties, risibility is a necessary property, and so there can be no human without risibility.

    Okay, with all that said, the same goes for the Aristotelian view of love. Yes, the Aristotelians say that when one person loves something, we just need one person x who performs an act of love A which is directed/inclined at some y. But that’s not all that happens. This is just the ‘essence’ of love. It is the root level analysis which explains/causes all other necessary properties that occur in love. And of course there are other necessary properties and/or states of affairs that come along with this.

    If two people both love each other, for example, then community, fellowship, and all of that jazz will come along with it too. But for an Aristotelian, these are more like the necessary properties, not the essential properties. That is, the essential properties explains/causes the necessary properties. Indeed: if no person loved another (the essence), then fellowship, community, etc. (the necessary properties) wouldn’t exist either.

    So I think it’s a mistake for the STers to say that on the classical view, the necessary properties (fellowship, community, etc.) drop out of the picture. They don’t. It’s just that the Aristotelians won’t class those necessary properties as ‘essential’ for explanatory purposes.

    So the worry of ST about the classical view — that there is no community, fellowing, etc. — seems to me unfounded. I myself agree with the STers that the best kind of love includes community, fellowship, and so forth. But the Aristotelians would agree with this too.

    Does this make sense? I may be getting too into technical stuff unnecessarily.

    (I myself don’t follow an Aristotelian view on love, btw, even though I’m defending it. I just think the ‘personalists/relationalists’ and STers have given the classical view a bad rap which can at times be fairly historically inaccurate.)


  17. JT Paasch
    February 19, 2008 @ 3:24 pm

    Okay, after that long post there, here’s a quick answer to your question Dale. A metaphysician could abstract the divine essence from the persons and love that concept, just as a metaphysician could abstract humanity from one’s spouse and children and love that concept. But this isn’t really a perfect (or ‘full’) act of love. To really love the divine essence or humanity, you need to love the real thing, and that only exists in persons.


  18. JT Paasch
    February 19, 2008 @ 3:19 pm

    Good questions Dale.

    I’m assuming that EL, as a perfect act of love, is as passionate and vigorous as it can be. I’m also assuming that loving the divine essence involves loving everything that’s either in it or necessarily entailed by it. The divine persons are thus included. They come along with, as it were, the divine essence.

    To clarify this point. LTers maintain that just as it’s impossible to know/love the divine essence fully/perfectly without knowing/loving its goodness and omnipotence, so too is it impossible to know/love the divine essence without knowing/loving the persons that exemplify it.

    LTers would also maintain that this is true for the divine persons who love the divine essence, and for the blessed in heaven who love the divine essence. In both cases, loving the divine essence entails loving the divine persons.

    Maybe I can put the point like this. Whether you are a divine person or a human person in heaven, staring at/knowing/loving the divine essence is not like staring at a big white light. It’s like staring at/knowing/loving three persons who perfectly exemplify the numerically same essence.

    Anyways, so on the LT view, each divine person essentially loves the divine essence, and this means that each person essentially loves each other too. And if we want to say that a divine person ‘experiences’ being loved by another, then each divine person would therefore experience being loved by the other persons too.

    To put it another way, EL includes PL. For LTers, EL is intended to be robust enough to include all the community/personal stuff that PL does too.

    So I guess I’m just not clear why all the community/personal and mutual love stuff (relations) wouldn’t (obtain for) apply to the divine persons, given just EL.

    (As I see it, the problem isn’t that the LT view makes no room for community/personal love. Indeed, LT tries to build all that stuff in. Rather, the problem as I see it is whether LT coherently/successfully does so.)


  19. Dale
    February 19, 2008 @ 1:47 pm

    Hi M.,

    I agree that there is a qualitative difference in these goods: being Lord of a good (inanimate) creation, and being in fellowship with another person. However, it is less clear what the difference is between fellowship with another divine person, and with a community of Christ-like human persons. That might be more a matter of degree – hard to say.

    But in any case, it is one thing to assert that a divine or perfect being must enjoy such a good, and another to argue for it. With Davis, it’s supposed to be a necessary truth. The way one argues for a necessary truth is to show how it is impossible (contradictory) for the claim in question to be false – that’s how necessary truths are, such that it’s contradictory to suppose them false. I believe that no social trinitarians actually shoulder this burden. They just want it to be true that divinity or perfection implies actual loving of another; they’re enraptured by this image of God as a having a built-in community.

    God’s essence can’t be identical to any person, for on the accounts we’re talking about, some things are true of one but not the other. (See this previous post.) They could in some other, lesser sense be “the same”, but then we must be told what that is.


  20. M. Anderson
    February 19, 2008 @ 1:27 pm

    Re: 11 – Dale, perhaps we could change the distinction around a bit then? It at very least seems that the good of God in loving is a different sort of good than that of creation, even if both are goods for God. The intuition which I want to preserve is this: God’s creation of the world is a thoroughly gracious act, one which was not necessitated out of God’s being (and so a version of emanation) but rather one in which God rejoices in an act which is beyond anything which God needs. However, I want to say that the love of the divine persons for each other is as necessary as it gets, though in accordance with their natures (and so not as though something were forced upon God). However one would like to parse this out, it seems that there is a qualitative difference in goods.

    As for God’s love of his essence, my take on it would be that God’s essence just is the persons (I believe that’s where Henry ends up, right?). So, the inference interpreted theologically, after the standpoint of revelation, would be true: God’s love of his essence just is the love of the persons for each other (and self), as one single love. However, I’m not sure that this helps from the standpoint of metaphysics and trying to prove the doctrine of the Trinity in the first place.


  21. Dale
    February 19, 2008 @ 12:14 pm

    A few additional thoughts on my post:

    One might concede that not any great good lacked would amount to a deficiency in God. (e.g. not being ruler of a good creation). But surely, one may think, God would be lacking if he couldn’t experience love of another (a kind of love better than self-love).

    In reply, a God without internal “others” *would* be able to experience other-love, which I agree is more valuable than self-love. His powers and character traits, I take it, are the same in all possible worlds, even, it seems, in worlds in which he doesn’t actually experience other-love.


  22. Dale
    February 19, 2008 @ 12:08 pm

    Gentlemen: some interesting comments! Navigating ST vs. LT ideas is a cross-cultural adventure!

    Re: #3 – Scott, I think there’s something to this. There’s an early modern heritage of thinking of particulars as things underlying and possessing their properties (tropes). When confronted with the claim that particular just is, or is constituted by a relational property (trope or universal?) and a non-relational property – the divine essence (I assume that you follow Cross in thinking this is a universal), some with have the intuition that this shouldn’t be what a concrete being/individual amounts to – that there’s got to be more to it.

    Re: 4 – M., I think being creator and ruler of a very good universe is a good for God. If you don’t have that intuition, all I can do is repeat it more emphatically. 🙂

    Now some thoughts on JT’s and Scott’s plotting of a reply for LT re: the idea that a divine being must actually be lover an (in some sense) other. I think that here we have another Aristotelian vs. non-Aristotelian clash of intuitions. JT starts out defining EL, as love of divine person for either the divine essence or God – either way, for a something which isn’t identical to a person. Now STers, it seems to me, are defining “love” here as an event in which two personal agents are intentionally acting for the benefit of one another. There are feelings involved, but the defining mark of a love-event is that two persons are living together in a cooperative, mutually benefiting way. So this talk of “love” of a person for an essence, or for whatever category of thing you think God/the Trinity belongs to, is, to STers, a non-starter.

    Dale’s attempt at diagnosis goes something like this: Aristotelians are working with a medieval notion of love as a desire, appetite, or valuation. So, loving is a person (we need at least one person on this notion of love) taking some sort of pro-attitude towards something else – may be a person, non-person, group of persons, universal, etc. So you guys say: “That’s enough – who needs PL when you already have DL in your theory of God?” But the concept of personal fellowship, of community, of eternal I-thou relating among these three divine persons, has just dropped out of the picture. Whatever the justification for this is supposed to be, STers cherish this picture, and won’t be satisfied by the bloodless substitute.

    So Scott asks, very pertinently, “But does the object in question change the very kind of act of love?” (#7) The act of love here is what the one person puts out – something she does, and I take it a property of hers. I say that with a notion of love as desiring (etc), then perhaps not. But with the other notion of “love” as a non-reflexive personal relationship – here the event implies personal objects, and it is plausible to think that yes, this requires the individual acts of love to be different. I desire both pizza and my wife (not in the same way, of course!) But I love my wife, and my friends, and I’d be mentally ill if I loved a pizza that way – that is, if I tried to related to it as to another self.

    I guess I’m with the STers on this. BUT, I don’t think there’s any good reason to think that a perfect being, or wholly divine person, must actually be in an other-love situation.

    Finally, on a different matter, guys, I don’t see why on your view, EL would entail loving the persons. Why couldn’t one, say, a metaphysician who can make the distinction, love the divine essence without loving the persons? After all, it isn’t, in your view, identical to any of them. So why should love, as it were, transfer from one to the others?


  23. Scott
    February 19, 2008 @ 4:24 am

    Presumably, on a Rick St. Vick/HoG line of thinking, the production of the Holy Spirit requires mutual love. However, to love the product produced, i.e. the Holy Spirit, that is another question. I wonder whether Rick and Henry would say the Father only loves the Holy Spirit by mutual love with the Son. I’ve only, thus far, seen the claim that the _production_ of the Holy Spirit requires mutual love. But once the Holy Spirit is produced, we may not need to say (if you agree with Rick and Henry) the Father has only mutual love for the Holy Spirit.

    In this case, there is a peculiar love called ‘personal love’ [PL] that explains the production of a divine person; but it does not explain loving that produced divine person. This view, I imagine, is not what STs have in mind when they define a divine person’s love for another person as mutual love.


  24. JT Paasch
    February 18, 2008 @ 9:32 am

    (Yes, Scott, I did not mean to imply that EL has for its object a non-person. I meant that it has the divine essence as its object, and that includes the divine persons (and creatures). So my question was: why can’t EL satisfy what PL is supposed to satisfy?)


  25. JT Paasch
    February 18, 2008 @ 9:29 am

    Right. That’s what I meant. Loving the divine essence (EL) entails loving the persons. (Also, it entails loving all the creatures that are created by God too. But that’s another side topic.) And so if we want to insist that PL is needed because EL is not sufficient, then I would want some kind of explanation for why EL is not sufficient to accomplish what PL is supposed to accomplish.

    (Btw, this is one of Ockham’s arguments against Henry, who supports a Richard of St. Victor view about mutual love.)


  26. Scott
    February 17, 2008 @ 8:14 pm

    One objection against the claim that EL has ‘non-person’ as its object. Is the object of EL a non-exemplified property? If the object of EL were something really distinct from a divine person, then the object is really distinct from a divine person. But on most Patristic/scholastic accts. of divine simplicity, there is no generic divine property that is not exemplified by a divine person. Therefore, the object of EL is some property exemplified by a divine person. Consequently, the object of EL is some property of a divine person.

    1. The Father could love some feature of the Father.
    2. The Father could love some feature of the Son.
    3. The Father could love some feature of the Holy Spirit.

    [1]-[3] can be re-stated with ‘The Son’ [4]-[6] and ‘The Holy Spirit’ [7]-[9] as the subject of each sentence.

    On this view then, EL could have a person as the object of this love, in the case of [1]: The Father loves some feature of the Father, [5]: The Son loves some feature of the Son], and [9]: The Holy Spirit loves some feature of the Holy Spirit.

    Consequently, EL meets the criterion that a person loves a person. But it does not meet the criterion that ‘a person loves another person’. Does EL count as ‘personal love’? It seems it does b/c in [1], [5], [9] the object of the love is a person.

    But the more interesting claim is that PL is ‘a person loves another person’. Does it add anything to the kind of love if the love is ‘for another person’? It certainly adds some additional object of love, namely, love for another in addition to love for oneself. But does the object in question change the very kind of act of love?

    If the object does change the kind of love, then EL is only exemplified in [1], [5], and [9]. If the object does not change the kind of love, then EL is exemplified in [1]-[9].

    Perhaps an argument can made from the claims that (i) powers are differentiated by acts, and (ii) acts are differentiated by their objects. If there is one kind of object, namely ‘oneself’, and another kind of object, namely ‘another one’, then a case might be made that there are 2 kinds of acts and in turn 2 kinds of powers (or one power with 2 sub-powers).

    In the end, then; the aim is to say that ‘self-love’ is one kind of act with one kind of object; and ‘love for another’ is another kind of act with another kind of object.

    It seems that EL could count as ‘love for oneself and love for another person’ b/c the def. of EL is ‘A person loves some person’. The predicate [‘some person’] is broad enough to include ‘oneself’ and ‘another person’. So it seems, at least, that EL is equivalent with PL; and this ultimately based on the claim that there is no divine property that is not identical with a divine person. So, EL could just be love of ‘God’, it must be a divine person’s love for a divine person (whether that be self-love or love for another).


  27. JT Paasch
    February 17, 2008 @ 11:21 am

    Also, for PL, I would probably suggest that Davis’s premise 2 assumes some other conditions:

    (a) a divine person is conscious of being loved by another lover.

    (b) maybe even this: a divine person (and not anything else like God or the divine essence) is the total and complete object of another lover’s PL love.

    The reason I say the object of PL love has to be the person, and not God or the divine essence, is that otherwise EL would count as PL.


  28. JT Paasch
    February 17, 2008 @ 11:21 am

    Suppose we all agree that the Father (or any divine person for that matter) necessarily/essentially performs an act of loving either (a) the divine essence or (b) God — whether you choose (a) or (b) I don’t care much. Let’s call this God’s essential love (EL).

    Suppose we also take inspiration from Davis’s premise 2 and say that any divine person loves another person. Let’s call this God’s personal love (PL).

    Question: are EL and PL two different acts? Or are they one? Why couldn’t EL satisfy the conditions that PL does?

    I think it should be said explicitly that

    T1: Premise 2 assumes that EL is not sufficient to satisfy the conditions that PL does.

    (I’m not sure I’m willing to accept that EL would be so weak.)


  29. M. Anderson
    February 16, 2008 @ 8:18 pm

    It seems to me that there is a significant difference between the statements “love is a great good” and “creation is a great good,” which entail different inferences. Specifically, the “great good” is toward different parties in the different circumstances. Creation is a great good, but does God really gain from it? This is not to say that God has chosen to be unaffected by creation, but rather that creation has not actually added something to God. We are the ones who rejoice, but God could have supremely rejoiced without us.

    Love, on the other hand, is a great good for the lover, as well as the beloved. While creation forms an external relation, love forms an internal one. Further, we are not talking about God loving this or that, but God loving, period. So, there must be something which necessarily (and essentially) God loves in order to actualize this internal good, and so there must be some necessary being loved.

    To get away from self-love as a possible answer is harder; I don’t know that we would want to fully dismiss self-love, as the “other” which God loves is not something completely “other.” Speaking more poetically, maybe we could say that perfect love would both be of something else, and so avoid selfishness, and yet also be of the same through its power of unifying? I’m not sure how much could be done with this.

    But, as Scott said, this doesn’t really get us to ST in opposition to other theories of the Trinity. However, it may be a somewhat playful proof of not-yet-further-distinguished Trinitarianism.


  30. Scott
    February 16, 2008 @ 4:57 am

    I think ‘part’ of the cognitive dissonance that social-trinitarian minded folk (I’m not sure if I am one of them yet or not) have in saying that a divine persons = divine essence+relational property, is that this identifies the ‘parts’ as it were, and not the ‘whole’ person. But my best guess is that the problem has more to do with understanding Aristotelian metaphysics. This is one instance of a general problem in Aristotelian physics–or rather, an apparent problem. Acc. to Arist. physics we say there are two per se principles that constitute ‘this familiar particular’ = Daniel. But then if we ask for some ‘non-relational tie’ that brings these two per se properties together, some sort of supervening property, we are left without an answer. In the end, all we get is the claim that there are two per se principles that together constitute familiar particulars. Likewise, scholastics have a similar situation in saying a divine person can be analyzed in terms of this divine person’s per se principles, namely, the divine essence and a non-shareable relative property. And, then if we ask, ‘well, just b/c you’ve posited 2 properties, does that really identify a whole person?’ I think it does, but not in the way that some STs would like. This ‘bare account’ of 2 per se principles that constitutes a divine person isn’t very narrative like; it isn’t very ‘concrete’; it is entirely non-pictorial. In other words, this account, as a method of giving a definition, or something like a definition, is dissatisfactory as such–whatever you say by this method; the method just doesn’t ‘flesh out’ divine persons. And, I think STs are well in the rights to complain about this. I would complain too. But I am inclined to think I’ll be complaining until the beatific vision when I see the Trinity ‘face to face’, God-willing. Until then, we are stuck with our meager methods for knowing. This doesn’t discount our objectivity; but what it does discount is our ability to ‘see for ourselves’ the divine persons. It is one thing to be told about the beauty of the sunset at Key West; it is quite another to see it for yourself.


  31. Dale
    February 15, 2008 @ 1:41 pm

    Hi Scott,

    I’m sympathetic to this idea, which I think is common to social trinitarians – that non-social views don’t have robust enough “persons” to actually be in relationships. I mean, if “the Father” turns out to be the sum of a “nature” (a universal) and a relational-property, it isn’t clear that this thing can be in anything much like a relationship between human friends. The *language* is easy to preserve, of course – we just stipulate that the aforementioned sum is a substance, and rational one. But social trinitarians fear that the reality is being implicitly denied.

    On the other hand, Davis is sympathetic to the idea that “Latin” and “social” theorists are best understood as saying basically the same thing, or close to it, maybe with a different emphasis. Maybe I’ll discuss that whenever I get around to posting on his full theory.


  32. Scott
    February 15, 2008 @ 5:03 am

    How about we look at number 5? Is it true that only a social trinitarian acct. holds the view that the Father loves the Son? Well, our friendly HoG is not an ST if we take ST to mean something like three absolute subjects; but HoG does thinks that the Father loves the Son, and vice versa. And likewise for the Holy Spirit.

    Basically, does ST alone uphold the view that God the Father lovers another? My guess is that the answer is ‘no’. A non-ST view does uphold the view that the Father loves another. Consequently, 5 does not hold.

    I’m sure there are many other theologians who hold a non-ST view but do affirm (in some manner) that the Father loves the Son, vice versa; and likewise for the Holy Spirit.

    But, I take it that ST could mean something like a diversity of centers of consciousness.. and that leads to a whole other set of issues about ‘consciousness’. I’m sure Joseph has a lot to say about this… he once said some interesting things to me about this on the High Street.


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