I Can’t Stop Loving You – actually, it’s worse than that – I can’t not love you!
Alexander Pruss is an excellent philosophy of religion dude at Baylor. His second PhD dissertation was on possible worlds. Don’t ask me to explain what his first one was on! 🙂 He’s got about a million original ideas on almost as many topics, a lot of which get posted at his creatively-titled blog, Alexander Pruss’s Blog 🙂 as well as at The Prosblogion.
He recently weighed in (comments #8-9) on my attempted argument against social trinitarian arguments. Here are the most relevant bits:
In the case of a human x, it seems possible for loving y to be an intrinsic property of x as long as “y” is a definite description. Thus, it is possible to have the intrinsic property of loving the present king of France–under that description–whether France has a king or not. If there are haecceities, then a being that can directly grasp haecceities can have the intrinsic property of loving the being that has haecceity H.
[about the above objection]…I think there might be a way out for you. Either it is a great-making property of x that x loves an ACTUALLY EXISTING other or not. If not, then the argument for social trinitarianism fails–it only establishes that God loves someone else, not that God loves another existing being. But if it is a great-making property of x that x loves an actually existing other, then some great-making properties are not intrinsic, since loving AN ACTUALLY EXISTING other is plainly not intrinsic. (emphasis added)
In reply, I don’t know if I believe in haecceities – but if I did, I think I’d add that loving X’s haecceity isn’t the same as, and doesn’t entail loving X.
Further, this seems right to me: one might be “essentially loving” in that one can’t but take a loving attitude like the one would take if a thing of a certain sort existed. One might be, as it were, unchangeably molded into a loving shape, stuck in a loving (mental) posture, in all worlds where one exists, even in the ones where the object of that attitude, that love, doesn’t exist. I’m not sure this is always a perfection… you might think that in worlds where there are no “others” to love, it’s an affliction to be stuck in this posture! I can just imagine a metaphysician’s Valentine: “Darling, in all possible worlds in which I exist, I’m loving you, whether or not you’re in that world. Others may love you faithfully, but I love you essentially.”
Also, I wonder if it is possible to love something you know doesn’t exist… if it is not, then an essentially omniscient being couldn’t do that. (We shouldn’t confuse this with wishing that something existed.)
In any case, as Alexander points out, this sort of essential lovingness would be of no help to social trinitarians, that is, to the ones trying to show that if God is perfect, there must be “others” for him to love.
But Alexander has more to say, about the same crucial premise that Mike challenged.
That said, I worry that [your premise] (6) [namely, If some great-making properties are infinitely increasable, then the concept of a Greatest Possible Being is the concept of an impossible being] is no longer plausible. For the social trinitarian may say that only essential properties are great-making, but allow non-intrinsic essential properties to be great-making. In regard to your suggestion that then it follows that creating a good world is an essential great-making property of God, the social trinitarian can respond that it is a great-making property of God that he freely chooses to create, and hence the property of essentially making a good world is not a great-making property, being inconsistent with a great-making property. (emphases added)
The suggestion, then, is that perhaps social trinitarians may say that greatness supervenes on essential properties, but these may be relational – properties that a thing has because of how it is related to something else.
In response, whether or not relational essential properties make sense, may depend on what work “essences” are doing in our metaphysics.
- Suppose that an essential property is just one without which a thing couldn’t exist (if you like, one which it has at all times in all possible worlds in which it exists). Could some of those be relational? I don’t see why not.
- But suppose that an essence is supposed to be the “whatness” of a thing, its kind or definition. Could this include a relation to something else? One wants to say no – here, essences are thought to be a third kind of universal, distinct from properties and relations, and not composed of them, or constructions out of them. These universals inhere in the possessor of them. Perhaps an essence in this sense could entail that one has a certain relational property… hard to say.
In sum, I need to think more about this. Maybe in another post soon, I’ll further explore the idea that the essence divinity includes relational properties, specifically, being in certain I-thou relationships.
Thanks to Alexander for putting his finger on a weak spot in the argument!
I leave you with some completely gratuitous Tom Jones. 🙂