Joseph Jedwab

Originally from Montreal in Canada, I lived in the UK for most of my life. My wife and I live in Kutztown, Pennsylvania, where I teach philosophy at the University there. My doctoral work was on the metaphysics of the Trinity and Incarnation, in which I argue for a particular account of both doctrines. My supervisor was Richard Swinburne and my examiners were Brian Leftow and Howard Robinson.


  1. Scott
    January 20, 2010 @ 6:26 pm

    Quick thought:

    For us imperfect creatures, we need to bring about love for another, and reciprocated love likewise needs to be brought about. It could be that acquiring the state of mutual love is an imperfection. So, why not assume that for the Trinity, no acquisition is need. It’s just the case that the three persons timelessly have these mutual friendship?

    Also, I assume that mutual friendship is a primitive. The Father, without another divine person, would lack having a mutual friendship. So, the Father might be perfect in all other respects, but the Father requires another divine person for mutual love, etc.

    This is different from a Logos-theology that might say the Son just is the Father’s wisdom. In which case, the Father would fail to have wisdom immanently; he’s just have wisdom because he’s related to the Son. In the case of mutual friendship, however, each divine person has it: it an immanent perfection they all have–yet having such an immanent perfection could depend on another divine person’s reciprocated love. [I say more about this sort of thing in a forthcoming article.]

  2. JT Paasch
    January 20, 2010 @ 12:38 am

    Yeah, that’s a good point that Richard probably isn’t interested in ‘friendship’ in the way moderns are. And actually, I’m not interested in it either. I’m just saying this: once you make all this loving timeless, I have trouble seeing why mutual love would be better than one-way love, in which case Richard’s argument loses some of its force.

  3. Dale
    January 19, 2010 @ 9:15 am

    He might say that as intrinsic properties, your love of the painting and of your spouse are similar – both desires or pleasures, I assume. But as Joseph and I are reading him, his best kind of “love” is a complex fact, which includes both lover and lovee.

    It is an interesting question in what sense any “friendship” can exist between timeless beings. If you think God is in time post-creation, this worry would apply only to their relationship apart from creation. But if you hold, like all medieval theologians, that anything divine is timeless, then it is mysterious what this three way “friendship” could amount to now. As you point out, friendship as we understand it involves interaction, affecting one another. We might add, shared activity and cooperation. How could those be possible in a static, timeless state?

    But it’s not clear to me how much Richard is really interested in friendship – that’s a 20th-21st century concern, as evidenced by much recent “social” trinitarianism. Isn’t everything that Richard says compatible with the three being in a static state?

  4. JT Paasch
    January 19, 2010 @ 8:13 am

    Joseph’s comments are making me think that there’s a distinction between loving something that doesn’t love back (like loving a painting) and loving someone that does (like loving a spouse). Maybe we should call the first mere ‘appreciation’ and the second ‘friendship’, or something like that.

    Anyway, what exactly is the difference between them?

    I get a lot of pleasure from gazing on my beloved painting, and I get a lot of beloved pleasure from gazing on my beloved spouse. Nevertheless, the spouse gazes back at me, while the painting does not.

    But how does that help? The spouse’s gaze is something extrinsic to me, so how could it affect or better the intrinsic features of my love for her?

    We might say that by being loved back, and over a period of time, a certain sort of social relationship develops: e.g., the spouse satisfies certain needs that I can’t satisfy all by myself, I learn to depend on her in important ways, and so forth.

    But all of that doesn’t apply to the divine persons, right? The Father and Son aren’t satisfying each other’s needs, for instance. But when I try to imagine mutual love like that, I picture the Father and Son just sitting there smiling at each other, not really getting anything from the other that each doesn’t already have. More like just basking in the goodness and perfection and beauty of the other. In other words, it looks more like gazing at a painting than having a loving relationship.

    So how exactly would being-loved-back affect or better the Father’s love (for his self, or even for another)? I don’t know. I can’t quite put my finger on the problem (which might mean I’m just confused and there is no problem).

  5. Scott
    January 18, 2010 @ 10:05 pm

    Richard discusses power and wisdom in Book 2. There he seems to have non-Machiavellian intuitions. If someone has power, then of course they are wise, and vice versa. I don’t think the entailment here is strictly logical, but something having to do with a perfect being thought. I say “thought” b/c on some medieval accounts of free will (freedom, not freedom of choice), they take free will to be the ability to stand firm in the good. This is not what most folk think today about free will, except people like Susan Wolf re: freedom of self-perfection.

    My guess is that if we get into a ‘freedom of perfection’ way of thinking–then we get close to the intuition that power entails wisdom and vice versa. Again, these entailment relations are NOT narrowly logical entailment relations.

  6. Dale
    January 18, 2010 @ 1:05 pm

    The part I couldn’t understand was how fullness of wisdom and fullness of power were supposed to entail each other – the part you discuss in your #3 above. Sorry – it is all one para – I’m talking about the part of ch. 16 on p. 390 in the translation.

  7. Dale
    January 18, 2010 @ 12:58 pm

    Pics are up to the poster. Hmm… Not sure whether or not I’ll go TV for my part.


  8. Scott
    January 15, 2010 @ 9:20 pm

    A house-keeping question: we need to pictures. JT began with Dynasty, I continue with Dallas … so perhaps it could be extended with another TV series? E.g., Facts of Life? Different Strokes?

  9. Joseph Jedwab
    January 11, 2010 @ 4:50 pm

    That’s exactly right Dale. Richard is using the term ‘caritas’ to pick out a kind of inter-personal love: a kind of friendship if you like. I suppose if you can be your own worst enemy, you can your own best friend. But perhaps this shouldn’t be taken too literally. I don’t see that he need deny the value and importance of proper self-love; he just wouldn’t describe it as caritas.

    In the translation I’m working with, the whole of ch.16 is one paragraph. Does that mean you can’t make sense of ch.16?! Or do you mean (3) as I’ve set it out? Can you say what it is about it that you can’t make sense of? I realize this may be a hard thing to ask. If I recall rightly, there is a similar argument in Descartes’ Replies to Objections to the Meditations. If I have time, I’ll look it up.

  10. Dale
    January 11, 2010 @ 9:07 am

    Interesting comments, Joseph. I still can’t make sense of his last paragraph.

    Your remarks on “factive” pleasure are interesting. Usually, in philosophy, we think of pleasures merely intrinsic properties of some self. But we do have these concepts you mention. Compare: “awareness”.

    One thing contentious here is his claim that the delights of love/charity must come “from the heart of another.” Isn’t there such thing as self-love, and wouldn’t any divine being have it? But maybe he means a sort of love which implies friendship, I-thou interaction and awareness. One can love oneself, but one can’t be friends with oneself.