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. An Ontological Argument for the Trinity
    December 6, 2014 @ 11:53 pm

    […] the Trinity. While I have not read Swinburne’s work on the subject, a summary can be found here: http://trinities.org/blog/archives/182 (last accessed 04/07/2014). [4] Love here is defined in the traditional manner as desiring and […]

  2. J.W. Wartick
    April 17, 2010 @ 2:16 am

    I’ve been trying to decide whether or not to put “The Christian God” on my radar. When you say “produce” as in one person will “produce” another, what do you mean?

  3. trinities - Are persons essentially relational?
    February 7, 2008 @ 2:31 pm

    […] to divinity? Presumably, we learn from divine revelation that divinity must be tri-personal. Unless Swinburne is right, it doesn’t seem to be knowable on the basis of reason alone. If you think of the concept: […]

  4. JT Paasch
    September 17, 2007 @ 6:09 am

    In any case, back to my original question. Swinburne wants to say that we need three and only three persons to have perfect love. Do we need three separate love-acts too? Or can we do with just one love-act that is shared by three persons (much the way that three houses would share the same energy source in my analogy above)? I’m not sure I understand why one love-act wouldn’t do here.

  5. JT Paasch
    September 17, 2007 @ 6:05 am

    Oops. Typo. Above, I wrote:

    ‘…but only if by ‘foundation’ we mean that the divine essence functions as [has a ratio of] a form or nature of the persons (not of the persons).’

    It was supposed to say:

    ‘…but only if by ‘foundation’ we mean that the divine essence functions as [has a ratio of] a form or nature of the persons (not of the personal properties).’

  6. JT Paasch
    September 17, 2007 @ 6:04 am

    Scott: Yeah, we used to say that Scotus inverts Henry’s material model, but now I’ve found places where Scotus argues that neither the essence nor the personal properties are the foundation of the other (this is impossible, since there’s no potency-act). So technically, the personal properties are not (nor are the persons, which is how I used to put it) the foundation of the divine essence. Scotus argues that, if anything, the divine essence is the ‘foundation’ of the relations, but only if by ‘foundation’ we mean that the divine essence functions as [has a ratio of] a form or nature of the persons (not of the persons). So Scotus does have a model inverse to Henry’s, but without any inherence or foundation (without any matter at all).

    Joseph: ‘I don’t mean to imply that the Father just is subsistent paternity if this is only the residue that remains when abstracted from the divine essence.’ I love this. Sounds so much like that very telling question in Aquinas’s Summa about whether if we abstract the personal properties from the trinity, the persons would still remain. And in that question, I think we get Aquinas’s view on this. Aquinas says there that, in a certain way, the divine essence is like a universal, and the persons are like particular instances of a universal, so if we remove the personal properties, we just have something like a common nature, just as we would have ‘humanity’ if we removed the personal properties Platonicity and Socrateity from Plato and Socrates.

    Alternatively, Aquinas wonders about this: suppose we consider the divine persons as lumps of matter, where the personal properties are like forms (B-R ring a bell here?). If we then abstract the personal properties, do we still have hypostases? Aquinas says no, because the personal properties are not features added to the persons. The underlying assumption being that if the persons were like lumps of matter and the personal properties like forms, then the personal properties would be like substantial forms, and thus they would be substance- (hypostasis-) constituting. If you remove those substance-constituting forms, then you just have a lump of matter that’s not in any substance.

    This last bit is why I think that Aquinas holds the position that the persons are subsistent relations, not relational properties. If they were relational properties, then I would think we could remove the personal property and still have a hypostasis.

  7. Scott
    September 17, 2007 @ 12:13 am

    One other things, I think for Henry the term relation in the technical sense (habitudo, respectus) is not subsisting, but rather, the foundation of the relation (in this technical sense) makes the relation to be real, and thus ‘to subsist’. But, if we take ‘relation’ in the broad sense (i.e. ‘Father’, ‘Son’, and ‘Holy Spirit) then we do say each name refers to a subsisting person. The point is, the property of paternity, etc. is not per se subsisting, but b/c of its foundation, which is the divine essence.

    As JT and I have discussed much before, Scotus inverts Henry’s position, such that the personal properties (paternity, etc.) are the foundation for the divine essence. Whereas Henry thinks of the divine essence as if like matter, and personal properties like a form that are per se predicated of the particular divine person (this is akin to R’s and B’s ‘material constitution model of the Trinity).

  8. Scott
    September 16, 2007 @ 6:13 pm

    Joseph: Ah, I see. So, yes, there is some terminology difference here, but not entirely. For Henry (at least), we need to think about ‘things’ and ‘relations’. THe divine essence is a ‘thing’ and ‘paternity’ is a relation of this one thing; or again, ‘paternity’ is a mode of this one absolute ‘thing’. So, acc. to Henry, when we use the name ‘Father’ we are signifying a thing and the relation founded on this this (paternity). So, to use the name ‘Father’ signifies ‘a thing in a certain mode’, for Henry thinks a relation is a ‘mode of being’ of some absolute foundation, here the divine essence.

    So, if we say the name ‘Father’ only signifies the ‘relation’ and not also its absolute foundation. then we may be treating ‘paternity’ as though it were an absolute thing that is conjoined with another absolute thing, which is the divine essence. Henry does this sort of move b/c saying there is only one absolute divine thing/foundation is what secures the unity of the divine persons.

    If this isn’t clear, I can give it another go–explaining Henry’s account of ‘things’ and their ‘relations’ (or see Mark Henninger’s book on relations, the chapter on Henry for his discussion of created foundations and their relations).

  9. Joseph Jedwab
    September 16, 2007 @ 1:10 pm

    Scott: I was trying to get clear about whether the divine Persons are subsistent relations or relational properties. I don’t mean to imply that the Father just is subsistent paternity if this is only the residue that remains when abstracted from the divine essence. One could say that paternity includes the divine essence and the residue or that the Father is the conjunction of paternity and the divine essence. This seems like a mere terminological choice. But either way nothing can be two properties or two anythings because one thing can’t be two things. So if one says the Father includes both paternity and the divine essence, one should identify the Father with the conjunction thereof.



  10. JT Paasch
    September 16, 2007 @ 7:58 am

    Scott, your comment makes me think I’m missing something, namely I’ve missed when it was said that ‘Father’ signifies only ‘paternity’ (I was under the impression that we were saying that ‘Father’ signifies not just ‘paternity’ but also the divine essence). So hmmm, what are we arguing about here?

  11. Scott
    September 16, 2007 @ 2:24 am

    I somewhat agree, though hesitatingly, with Joseph. The reason is that we can either take the name ‘father’ to signify one property, or more than one property. Henry thinks that it signifies two properties (at least): (a) paternity and (b) divine essence. If we take ‘Father’ to _only_ signify (a), then we’d need to signify another property that the Father ‘has’, namely, the divine essence. To my… Henricianly influenced ears, this sounds like unnecessary complication. If we want to speak about properties, then we say (a) and (b), but if we want to say ‘Father’ we take it to mean both (a) and (b) otherwise we seem to say ‘Father’ doesn’t signify the _divine_ Father, but just a paternity that just happens for some reason to also be divine. This could just be playing semantics, but it could also be the roots of deeper systemic rationale (e.g. a strong social view, verses a non-social view–I forget the name Niko den Bok uses for this later view; I’ll look it up as he has helpful categorizations in his _Communicating the Most High_ book, which is, fyi, entirely on Richard of St. Victor’s trinitarian theology, with a whole chapter on ‘modern’ accounts of the trinity, in which Richard is situated.)

  12. JT Paasch
    September 15, 2007 @ 4:24 pm

    Ah, ha ha, I slipped into a medieval way of saying things. Guess I’ve been reading too much Henry and Scotus the last couple of days. =)

  13. Joseph Jedwab
    September 15, 2007 @ 9:49 am

    JT, that’s right.
    Of course it’s better to say: the name ‘Father’ signifies a relational property.

  14. JT Paasch
    September 14, 2007 @ 1:22 pm

    Joseph, so let me see if I got you right. There are two statements — (a) the Father loves the Son, and (b) the Son loves the Father — but we have one and same relational truth-maker for both of those. Is that right?

    If so, then yeah, I think that’s a fair assessment of Aquinas.

    And, yeah, I agree with Scott regarding Henry: there is a property, paternity, which is a relation. And the name ‘Father’ is a relational property because it is said in virtue of paternity.

  15. Scott
    September 13, 2007 @ 3:20 am

    JT wrote: ‘those relations themselves are related as father and son. This is, I think, Aquinas’s view.’ I think this is right for Aquinas, given that he holds the relations are ‘opposed’. So, as it were, we could think of ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ without yet thinking of ‘divine essence’ which they have in common.

    Henry perhaps differs b/c of how he construes the definition of e.g. ‘father’. This name signifies two properties, (a) paternity and (c) divine essence. And similarly, the name ‘Son’ signifies two properties, (b) filiation and (c) divine essence. So, properities (a) and (b) characterize the numerically one divine essence. But if we compare ‘Father’ and ‘Son’ then we are in fact talking about the divine essence characterized in two ways (a) and (b).

    So, Henry does have something like a distinction between ‘a relation’ and a ‘relational property’. The former is counted as e.g. ‘Father’ and the latter is counted as e.g. ‘paternity’. This is, in fact, classic Henry. This is based from his category theory regarding relations, namely that when they are named, they name some ‘thing’ and a mode of that thing toward another; so he thinks e.g. the quantity of some body (e.g. Socrates’s dimensive body) is the foundation for saying Socrates is a temporal being. Saying ‘Socrates is temporal’ includes in its definition Socrates quantity. If you deleted quantity from the definition of ‘time’, then it’d be a fruitless predicate, b/c Henry thinks that every ‘relational property’ must be consignified with some foundation; so, in the divine case, the divine substance is consignified when you say ‘father’ or ‘son’ or ‘holy spirit’.

    JT, FYI: Henry does say that we can’t see for ourselves the three-in-one until the beatific vision. So for now, we have to fake it (and do onto-theology). He really does say that, ‘theology is onto-theology’ (j/k).

  16. Joseph Jedwab
    September 12, 2007 @ 4:13 pm

    Dear JT,

    Thanks for this. A relation is an n-place assertible. Normally one reserves the term ‘relation’ for an n-place assertible where n>1. An assertible is something that can be asserted, or asserted of one thing, or asserted of a pair, and so on. So loving is a two-place assertible. Its converse being loved is also a two-place assertible. They are, alas, obviously distinct. Unrequited love proves it. Normally one reserves the term ‘property’ for a one-place assertible. Something has the property of being white iff one can truly assert being white of it, or more simply, being white is true of it. A relational property is a property that, if some entity has it, it has in virtue of bearing a relation to something. So loving is a relation. But loving a child is a relational property, for, if one has it, one has it in virtue of bearing a relation to a child.

    I didn’t put my final point about a relation and its converse in my previous comment at all well. So let me put this right. One might call something a relational truth-maker iff it is that in virtue of which some relation-predication is true. A relation-predication is a predication that predicates an n-place assertible of an ordered n-tuple, e.g. John loves Mary predicates loving of the ordered pair . Now I’m ready to restate the further point. It might be that, in the divine case, one entity is a relational truth-maker for the Father loves the Son and for the Son loves the Father.



  17. JT Paasch
    September 12, 2007 @ 2:43 pm

    So I guess I should continue the train of thought that Joseph was getting at. So if the medievals think of love as a relation, then if x loves y and y loves x, there would have to be two relations (better: two co-relatives). And if the persons are supposed to mutually love each other, then wouldn’t we have distinct loving-acts? Probably.

    This is interesting. I need to figure out how to state this better. Ockham thinks this idea that of mutual lovin is incoherent for just these reasons that we’re discussing. If x-loving-y is different from y-loving-x (and it would have to be if the medievals interpret ‘loving’ as a relation), then it follows that each loving person would have their own act of loving. And that’s inconsistent with the claim that the act of loving is a shared (essential) act.

  18. JT Paasch
    September 12, 2007 @ 2:35 pm

    Joseph: boy, great and tough questions. Hmmm. Let me see if I can put this clearly without too much wind (interpret that how you like).

    1. I think the mark of a social view is saying there are three sets of rational and/or voluntary properties (C-properties, for ‘consciousness properties’), one set for each person. So, if many love-acts are each the act of a distinct C-property, then I would think we have a social view. If three love-acts are the all the act of a single C-property, then I think we don’t have a social view.

    Here’s an analogy.

    There are three houses on the same block, each with their own power source. Let’s call each power source a C-property, and when each house turns the lights on, then that is an act of that house’s unique C-property. This would be a social (house) view.

    Alternatively, imagine if three houses on the same block all share the same power source such that if one house turns the lights on, all the lights in all the houses go on, because their shared power source is activated. Here, there are three acts of one C-property. This would not be a social (house) view.

    2. I’m not sure I understand the difference between a relational property and a relation. My first thought was that a property characterizes its subject such that we can say that F amounts to being F, while a mere relation would not be a characterizer in this way. Is that what you have in mind?

    In a connected line of thought, I thought maybe we could distinguish a relation from a relational property by the terms of the relation or relational property.

    So, for example, let’s say that paternity and filiation are non-characterizing relations. If the divine essence has the non-characterizing relations of paternity and filiation, then the terms of those relations would be each other. The divine essence is not related as father and son, those relations themselves are related as father and son. This is, I think, Aquinas’s view.

    On the other hand, let’s say that paternity and filiation are characterizing relations. If the divine essence has the characterizing relations paternity and filiation, then the terms of those relations would be the divine essence. The divine essence + paternity = the divine essence being unbegotten, while the divine essence + filiation = the divine essence being begotten. Perhaps this is Henry of Ghent’s view? Scott, any thoughts on this?

    In any case, I don’t think this is Aquinas’s view, because I don’t think relations can be characterizers in this way for Aquinas. My reason is that he thinks the divine relations are opposite relations, so one half of the relation is R (say, being the producer of), and the other half, the correlative, is not-R (say, being the product of). And since they are opposite in this way, they have to be really distinct, since no one thing can be both R and not-R at the same time. So if relations were characterizers, then it wouldn’t seem possible that one x had a relation R but also had its really distinct, opposite correlative not-R. I think that’s how Aquinas would reason. What do you think?

    3. It’s an interesting question about whether x-loves-y and y-loves-x are different relations. My hunch is to say they would think these are different relations. The reason is that the medievals don’t believe in genuinely polyadic properties: no property can be instantiated by many individuals at the same time. Instead, they divide up any relation into 2 co-relatives: R, and R’.
    For example, in ‘x is taller than y’, the ‘is taller than’ relation is really just a monadic property ‘is taller than’ in x that points to y (but is not instantiated in y), and y has a monadic property ‘is shorter than’ which points to x (but is not instantiated in x). That’s the basic medieval theory of relations. And if they think of love as a relation in this way, then I guess they’d have to say x loves y and y loves x are co-relatives, and thus two monadic properties that point at each other.

  19. Joseph Jedwab
    September 11, 2007 @ 10:15 pm

    1. S would I think concede that there’s a qualitative difference between cooperating with one in benefiting a third and doing so with two in benefiting a fourth or doing so with another in benefiting a third and fourth, and so on. He might even concede that each successive kind is better than the kind that goes before. But he doesn’t think there’s a similar qualitative difference between, on the one hand, one sharing with another and two co-operating in sharing with a third, and, between, on the other hand, two co-operating in sharing with a third and three co-operating in sharing with a fourth.
    2. S wouldn’t say that one divine individual creates another by an act of essence. Though he would and does say that one divine individual can’t create another by an act of essence.

    Scott: There are selections from Book 1 in A Scholastic Miscellany, published by John Knox/Westminster Press. There’s also, for those who don’t know, a more recent translation of Book 3, one can get from Spade’s website. I wish there was more, so I could find out what his arguments are not just for at least three persons but also at most three persons. I think that’s right that not many know that the same Richard who argues for the trinity of persons, also argues for monotheism from, e.g. the impossibility of there being more than one omnipotent being. It would be a nice challenge to try to put these arguments together and come up with a consistent view.

    JT: That’s interesting. Do you think many love-acts is a mark of a social view? Did the medievals believe in relations as opposed to relational properties? For example, I’ve often wondered whether when Thomas says each person is a subsistent relation, he means each is a subsistent relational property: the Son is God’s being begotten, not (passive) generation. Then there’s the further issue of whether many medievals think the relation of love (x loves y) is the same as its converse, the relation of being loved (y loves x).



  20. JT Paasch
    September 11, 2007 @ 3:25 pm

    Piggy backing on Scott’s comment, Richard the 1st uses mutual lovin’ to get the number of persons, but this only requires a multiplication of persons. It does not require a multiplication of love-acts. Mutual lovin’ is just the _shared_ love of x and y, not x loving y (love-act 1), and y loving x (love-act 2). Richard the 2nd, on the other hand, seems to multiply not only the persons, but also the love-acts.

    Does Richard the 2nd’s argument lead only to many persons, as Richard the 1st’s does? If so, then adding the multiple love-acts might be to ‘do with many what could be done with fewer’, to use Ockham’s razor. Or does Richard the 2nd’s argument lead not only to many persons, but also to many love-acts too? In other words, why do we need a social view here?

  21. Scott
    September 10, 2007 @ 12:59 pm

    One thing of interest about Richard of St. Victor’s argument is what is not normally given attention, which is his account of divine unity in the prior chapters of his De Trinitate which have _not_ been translated into English (I believe only ch. 3 has been translated, and it is here where the ‘love argument’ occurs). I bet his account would be different from Swinburne’s. The former Richard thinks there is ‘one divine substance’ which is shared by the three persons, and so this view is akin to the ‘one-substance-in-three-modes’ or ‘three-modes-of-one-substance’ model, rather than Swinburne’s social trinitarian model of three persons, each with (their own) intellect and will, who freely act together.