Saturday, March 28, 2009

Cross on Scotus on Trinitarian Processions

The following remarks may be of interest to those who followed the last round of exchanges with the E.P. folks:

According to Scotus, Father and Son are one spirator of the Holy Spirit (as I have just noted, 'spirator' functions as if it were a substance-sortal here) . . . Because there is only one substance here, Father and Son are just one spirator. Thus, the general rule is that, when we count substances, we do just that: we do not count supposita as such. (Of course, created natures always coincide with supposita, although the way in which we would define what it is to be a nature will be different from the way in which we would define what it is to be a suppositum, such that the difference is spelled out in terms of a distinction between indivisibility/individuality and incommunicability.) Contrariwise, the Father and Son are indeed two spirantes (spirating persons, persons who spirate) . . . According to Scotus, there are two divine persons spirating the Holy Spirit, and we can thus talk about two spirantes. However, according to Scotus, for example, 'two Gods' would refer to numerically two divine substances, and 'two human beings' to numerically two human substances. Factually, there are (at least) two human beings; so 'two human beings' has a genuine reference. Yet there is necessarily only one divine substance; so 'two Gods' can never refer to anything other than objects in a counterpossible state of affairs--it can never refer to anything in any actual or possible world. 'Person', of course (or at any rate, 'suppositum'), does not, in an Aristotelian universe, pick out a natural kind.


--Richard Cross, "Duns Scotus on Divine Substance and the Trinity," Medieval Philosophy and Theology 11 (2003), 194-195.

29 comments:

Lee Faber said...

somehow I think our friends would say, "so, there's one latin who doesn't confuse person and nature. Big deal. but the rest are all heretics." After all, everyone knows Augustine was important, right, and the 13th century was all about just repeating what Augustine said. isn't that what lead to ontotheology?

energeticprocession said...

What we would say is this:
The Polytheistic Turn vs. The Semi-Sabellian Turn

They aren't consistent in carrying out the Person-Nature distinction throughout. It isn't that you guys don't make the distinction at all. It's that the problem is uniquely hidden and disguised. If you held the distinction throughout, you wouldn't say that the Father and Son are One Spirator. Is spiration a property of...person or nature? It sounds like it is 'of the nature' because there is One Substance. That makes Spiration a property of the Nature. If two person's hold the property of spiration whether it be Uncaused-Cause and Caused-Cause, the third should be doing His own Spirating down the line ad infinitum. You should, consistently, have three spirators, then four spirators, five, six, seven, ten, hundred, thousand,...million...as many spirators as you wish to count from the dialectical opposition.

Michael said...

Perry,

As I've said a hundred times, you can easily see the Latin answer to this if you open a book. Look at St Bonaventure's In Sententiarum Dist. XXXIV, De comparatione personae ad naturam et de appropriatione et translatione; Dist. XXVI, De proprietatibus in genere. In Dist. XXIX Bonaventure, unlike Scotus, denies that the Father and the Son are one Spirator, but affirms that they are one Principle, on semantic grounds. The point they make is the same, though.

Properties (in the sense which the term bears in Latin trinitarian theology anyway) belong to the persons. Active spiration belongs to the Father and the Son but not the Spirit; passive spiration to the Spirit but the not the Father and Son. Nevertheless the substance which spirates is God, and there is only one God, so there is only one spirating substance, though there are two spirating persons. The two persons are one principle because, as Bonaventure says, subiectum agit per virtutem, et virtus respicit naturam, cum in Patre et Filio sit una natura et una virtus non multiplicata; per hoc nomen 'principium' significatur notio spirationis ut nullo modo multiplicata. The principle of action is the power to act, which stems from the nature of the agent, which belongs to the substance, and there is only one of those.

Spiration then is a personal property, not a essential property. Those who act are persons, and they are two. The substance which acts is one. "Principle" indicates the substance, not the supposit. The difference between Bonaventure and Scouts is whether "spirator" indicates the substance or the supposit, but on the real point they are agreed. Anyway your conclusion assumes the Photian principle, which has been gone over before. What is freely asserted is freely denied.

Michael said...

Sorry, I should have made it clear that it's Lib. I of Bonaventure's Sentences commentary I'm referring to.

Michael said...

St Bonaventure, In I Sententiarum Dist. II Q.4:

"Item, ratio necessitatis, quare non possunt esse plures, est summa simplicitas, quae non patitur personas distingui, nisi secundum modos emanandi; et iterum principalis fecunditas, quae non permittit personam producere aliquo genere emanationis, nisi secundum rationem intelligendi sit prior illo. Unde prima persona, quia est innascibilis et inspirabilis, generat et spirat; secunda, quia inspirabilis sed genita, non generat sed spirat; tertia vero persona, quia spiratur et procedit a generante, nec generat nec spirat. Et ideo impossibile est, esse plures quam tres."

Since the properties are personal and not essential, even though the substance which acts is always essential and one, the Spirit no more spirates than the Son is ingenerable and generating.

energeticprocession said...

Michael you are just making my point FOR me when you state this:

"Nevertheless the substance which spirates is God, and there is only one God, so there is only one spirating substance, though there are two spirating persons."

That doesn't make any sense.

Bonaventure's reply isn't a meaninful answer and/or refutation at all except to muddy the categories of person-nature. I see no good reason to see that this 'substance' is nothing other than a Father-Son dyad. Once you speak of 'substance' in terms of 'spiration' and 'generation' then every hypostasis must be constituted by this feature TO BE God.

"Active spiration belongs to the Father and the Son but not the Spirit."

Active Spiration would have to belong to the Spirit by dint of it being held by the other two persons.

According to the Nicene Fathers, the Principle is not the Substance, but a Person, the Father, this is why the Creed states that I believe in One GOD the FATHER and not One God the Divinity.

"The principle of action is the power to act, which stems from the nature of the agent, which belongs to the substance, and there is only one of those."

True. I agree here as far as activity goes (activity being rooted in the substance or nature). But by your logic the Spirit should have this same power to act in producing another divine person if He is truly OF the same substance as the other two. However, spiration and generation aren't activity. The fact that you make spiration and generation (which are personal properties and not activities) as "activities" disguises the problem. Activity is rooted in the nature, generation and procession are rooted in the Person (being uniquely irreducible); activity is not rooted in the Person; generation and procession are not rooted in nature. This is why I say that you disguise the problem. Although you want to make the person-nature distinction, you can't make it work consistently and in the end have a very muddled view that is frought with so many difficulties.

Investigate more of the early medieval Celtic Patristic tradition (e.g. John Eriugena). They don't have this problem. Why? Also, St. Ambrose doesn't lump and/or confuse generation and procession with 'operations' (i.e. energies, activity) of the Godhead. Why?

Michael said...

Perry, the difficulties are in your head, as I've always maintained, because you don't understand the doctrine. This is evidently clear once again.

"Active Spiration would have to belong to the Spirit by dint of it being held by the other two persons"

Once again you freely assert a principle which I just as freely deny.

"According to the Nicene Fathers, the Principle is not the Substance, but a Person, the Father,"

You are equivocating on the term "principle". arche in the Greek Fathers does not have exactly the same range of meaning as principle in the Latin scholastics. You should know this. Try reading St Bonaventure sometime on the Father's "fontal plenitude".

"But by your logic the Spirit should have this same power to act in producing another divine person if He is truly OF the same substance as the other two"

It is precisely the logic given in the post which shows why this is not the case. The Son has all the power and substance of the Father but does not generate another Son; so the Spirit has all the power and substance as the Father and Son but does not spirate another Spirit. Generation is an act of the Person of the Father and Spiration an act of the Father and Son, not of the Substance; but the principle of action is the substance. It seems you're not paying attention.

"However, spiration and generation aren't activity."

Your use shows that you are equivocating on activity. You clearly mean "energetic operation," which is not the way I'm using the word here. Generation and Procession are not activities in the sense of any divine act ad extra.

"generation and procession are not rooted in nature."

I remember a years-old squabble about the meaning of "rooted in," and your use remains similarly vague. Divine generation is "rooted in" nature in a certain respect, and in Person in another respect. The Father generates the Son because He is the Father--this is "rooted in Person"--but He Who Is God generates He Who Is God because He is God--this is "rooted in nature".

Anyway, this debate seems as pointless as ever, because you still make no attempt to understand the relevant terms as they are being used or to understand the distinctions being made. Instead you use every term in your own sense, refuse to allow terms to have other senses, and gratuitously assert premises which I do not grant and which are not required by Tradition. So unless you have something new to say, I'm out--again.

energeticprocession said...

"Once again you freely assert a principle which I just as freely deny."

Well okay, let's throw out Nicea and Constantinople since all the Orthodox Fathers assert it (forcefully), that includes Ambrose and Hilary. If there is anything that is a "First Principle," it is that.

'You are equivocating on the term "principle". arche in the Greek Fathers does not have exactly the same range of meaning as principle in the Latin scholastics. You should know this. Try reading St Bonaventure sometime on the Father's "fontal plenitude".'

No equivocation. They intend to serve the same function in Latin and Greek theology. Florence was right about how those two terms serve the same function in the respective theologies. Maybe your problem is with the Council of Florence then? Hmmm...

"It is precisely the logic given in the post which shows why this is not the case. The Son has all the power and substance of the Father but does not generate another Son; so the Spirit has all the power and substance as the Father and Son but does not spirate another Spirit. Generation is an act of the Person of the Father and Spiration an act of the Father and Son, not of the Substance; but the principle of action is the substance. It seems you're not paying attention."

...or, this is just nonsensical, which is more likely. If the substance is the principle of action in spriation (although being employed by two other persons), then the Spirit should have this ability too. Is he of the substance, if you deny the Spirit this ability, then he must be of 'another substance.' Homoiousion.

"However, spiration and generation aren't activity."

"Your use shows that you are equivocating on activity. You clearly mean "energetic operation," which is not the way I'm using the word here. Generation and Procession are not activities in the sense of any divine act ad extra."

Nope when I mean those things aren't activity, I mean they aren't ANY activity: ad intra or ad extra or whatever you wish to call it. E.G. Perichoresis is a divine activity ad intra which is an energetic operation. We don't have any idea what generation or procession amount other than being personal properties.

"I remember a years-old squabble about the meaning of "rooted in," and your use remains similarly vague. Divine generation is "rooted in" nature in a certain respect, and in Person in another respect. The Father generates the Son because He is the Father--this is "rooted in Person"--but He Who Is God generates He Who Is God because He is God--this is "rooted in nature".'

Rooted is a handy way to describe categorization of where things belong. It's fairly self explanatory--which is why anyone can pick up on the meaning without elaboration. When the 6th Council speaks of every nature has an essential operation and will, this is precisely what I mean in saying that x is 'rooted in' y. Fairly common sense here. The will is rooted in the nature according to Orthodox Christology/Anthropology. It is therefore not 'rooted in' the person.

No point in addressing your last paragraph. It's the same frustration you always display. You're just unaware that there are others in the West that don't express the post-schism/Carolingian model you like that are continuous with the ONE faith and ONE tradition (not many faiths and many traditions) that God is. There is not a Greek Trinity and Latin Trinity model. There is only one biblical Trinity.

And...you're not dialoguing with Perry.

Photios

Michael said...

Sorry for the misidentification, Mr Jones. In any case everything in your comment has been addressed before, most of it on this blog, and I'm not going over it again. But if you can show me where "all the Orthodox fathers" "forcefully" assert the Photian principle I'll be very surprised. That you are unaware the "principium" does not always mean the same thing as "arche", or that patristic writers sometimes use some terms differently than medieval ones, does not surprise me. Shoot, I just showed that Scotus and Bonaventure disagree on the interpretation of a term, and yet their doctrine is the same.

Contrary to your opinion, your explanation of "rooted" remains unclear and is not self-explanatory. For instance: is an act of will contingent? The *power* of the will is essentially derived from nature, but if the *act* of the will is also so derived it must be non-contingent, no? So when you say "will" do mean the power or the act?

" We don't have any idea what generation or procession amount other than being personal properties."

I know that *you* don't. *We* do--isn't that part of the issue?

"If the substance is the principle of action in spriation (although being employed by two other persons), then the Spirit should have this ability too."

Once again showing that you don't understand or aren't paying attention. Should the Son be innascible and have fontal plenitude because he is of the same substance with the Father? Of course not. Should the Son generate another son? Of course not. Enough with the silliness. This is pointless.

energeticprocession said...

"That you are unaware the "principium" does not always mean the same thing as "arche"."

You're not talking to me. I said the terms serve the same purpose in Latin and Greek Trinitarianism. Aitia (cause), arche (source), and pege (fount) are all virtually the same to describe the Hypostatic feature of the Father. The term principium serves the same function in Latin Trinitarianism. Have you not read the minutes of the Council of Florence? They were absolutely correct that these terms function the same in each Trinitarian theology. They were absolutely wrong of how that was employed and implemented. For example, they read Basil and Gregory of Nyssa as saying that the Son is a secondary aitia or mediating principle of the Spirit. Whereas in actuality, the Greek Fathers never use aitia (or any of the other terms above) to describe the Son as a hypostatic principle or cause of the Spirit in ANY way. Likewise, Hilary and Ambrose never use principium to describe the relationship between the Son and the Spirit. That fact should give you some pause.

Contrary to what you claim, I am well read on the semantic range of meaning of these terms and how they get used in theology, especially historiographically. You point out where certain medievalists differ on how they use terms, but the question is how your church as a whole sees the question more broadly, so you might want to consult what your church documents have to say about it.

"The *power* of the will is essentially derived from nature, but if the *act* of the will is also so derived it must be non-contingent, no? So when you say "will" do mean the power or the act?"

What does the Council say? It says every nature has an essential operation and will. Both the action and the ability to act is rooted in the nature. Every Person necessarily acts, therefore activity is rooted in the nature. The particular way that one acts is according to the 'tropos hyparcheos. Why this isn't determinism of such and such specific act becomes clear when you read the Chruch's definitive theologian on free choice: Maximus the Confessor.

"Once again showing that you don't understand or aren't paying attention. Should the Son be innascible and have fontal plenitude because he is of the same substance with the Father? Of course not. Should the Son generate another son? Of course not. Enough with the silliness. This is pointless."

Hey I'm just quoting you here. I'm pushing your words to absurd conclusions (reductio). We both deny what you say for different reasons. The Son doesn't have fontal plenitude of the Father according to Person, not because, quoting you: "the principle of action is the substance." If generation were 'of the substance', then most definitely the Son would need to generate His own son to be deity according to this logic. But on the other hand, I don't see any reason to think that the Spirit isn't the son of the Son since he proceeds mediately from Him in your view.

"I know that *you* don't. *We* do--isn't that part of the issue?"

You do huh? Then please disentangle generation and procession, that you define as actions are somehow non-contingent, from creation, an action which is contingent, with one of your principles being that "the principle of action is the substance." Please don't assert that one is ad intra and the other is ad extra with that distinction looking rather synthetic. And please don't condescend silliness, that just makes nonsense out of all the ink that gets spilled on trying to prove that distinction. Are you the only smart person, and all these other folks out there just morons? Own it up as a genuine problem.

Photios

Anonymous said...

"Are you the only smart person, and all these other folks out there just morons?"

Actually (and quite ironically), isn't this exactly what Photios thinks of the Romanists not only now but also before when he was an anti-Catholic protestant?

That anti-Catholicism then is exactly the very same which pervades his writings now even as Orthodox.

The general tenor of his posts ultimately ends up being exactly as expressed in his above inquiry; i.e., whereas he is the supreme intellect, all those who disagree with him are but his inferiors.

Michael said...

Yes, anonymous, Mr Jones' remark is both ironic and telling. It's arrogant of me to determine that I understand medieval Latin theology better than him, even though I've read an enormous amount of it in the original for over a decade, and--so far as the available evidence goes--his acquaintance is very spotty and derivative.

But it's not arrogant or short-sighted of him to presume that he understands Latin theology, its principles and its consequences, better than a millenium of its own saints and doctors. He gives his own interpretation to our councils rather than reading them in the light of the very theologians who formulated its doctrines, and finds in them meanings and "inescapable" conclusions no Latin theologian has ever found there, and which were not expressed by the council Fathers themselves. Indeed he apparently a) does not read the theologians whose doctrine the council codified, except for a few isolated snippets and modern interpretive literature on them; and b) is incapable of understanding them when they are explained. Even this last comment betrays his misunderstanding. Mr Jones thinks that on our principles the Son ought to generate another Son. This shows his complete lack of understanding of the Latin doctrine of Trinitarian relations, and indeed (ironic!) of the difference between essential and personal properties. He says he's just quoting us, but the way he uses our quotes betrays his inability to use our own words with the sense we ourselves understand them. I wonder--Does Mr Jones even know Latin? Has he studied logic? Is he even capable of reading our theologians, or is he too entrenched in his own conceptual framework to envisage thinking outside it? I have my doubts.

energeticprocession said...

Anonymous,
When was I ever an anti-Catholic *protestant*? I don't remember that one. Help me out with that.

Michael,
You like whining don't you.
You're just unaware, unscrupulous, and unperceptive that your church has been co-opted both many centuries ago and now. For a modern take, just try reading Fr. Malachi Martin's novel The Vatican.

Funny one of your best theologians and one of my teachers never told me I didn't understand Latin Trinitarianism. I think I'll believe him over you.

You ignore the early Latin tradition and focus to narrowly on western medievalists and you ignore the continuity of ideas hisoriographically (e.g. the first instance in making the filioque a doctrine in Spain and that deity was defined as causality, protecting the Son's status as deity at expense of the Spirit).

Actually, I've spent much time reading both traditions. When have you ever picked up, read, and tried to understand St. Dionysios the Areopagaite.

Photios

Michael said...

Last time it was hermetic esotericism, this time it's Malachi Martin? And you don't even mention one of his "non-fiction" books, but a novel? Is this argument?

Goodness, I've read half a dozen of MM's books, but this is not the time to debate their good and bad points. Yes, my Church has lots of both cranks and heretics. It also has lots of saints. We're talking about theology here, though, aren't we? Or is it an accident that the ground shifts whenever you can't keep up? You can't prove a particular point--or even understand the opposition--so it turns to insults and vast generalizations.

Look, I've read "Dionysios". I can talk Augustine and Gregory, Jerome and Ambrose, if you like. But that's not what we're talking about here. Nor are we talking about the Church's modern woes, nor about Carolingian politics, although you'd rather talk about any of these things rather than admit you can't understand Scotus or Bonaventure and haven't read them.

That's what the post is about, remember. I focus on the "western medievalists"--meaning the greatest scholastic doctors of the Church--because I know them the best. My dissertation is on these guys and I've studied them more than anyone else. So when you say something demonstrably untrue about them, or wildly misinterpret them, it's easier for me to show it than when you say wildly untrue things in other areas, where I would need to actually go into my study and pull down some books, which is more effort than I like to take for you. Patristics is not my field, only a hobby, and I'll let experts tackle you there. I've seen you tussle with, say, Peter Gilbert, and lose--badly. So I don't go after you there. I don't need to, because to anyone who knows anything about scholastic thought your own comments here will reveal your problems. I don't know who "one of your best theologians and one of my teachers" is, and I don't care what you claim they've said or haven't. You've amply demonstrated *to me* that you can't keep up.

energeticprocession said...

Hey bud, YOU are the one that cut off the debate by basically saying I'm arrogant and what not. I left it open two posts back. My points are left unaddressed.

Peter Gilbert is not any kind of Orthodox Christian committed to historical Orthodox dogmatics. The basis of my objections with him are similar to what I have with you, though much worse, since the focus is more on interpretive methodologies. I have no interest in his kind. Peter is committed to the same pan-heresy and confusion that *some* in "canoncial" Orthodoxy are committed to. Been there done that and I don't want a thing to do with them. Apologies, if I actually find you a little more interesting.

I wanted to keep it focused on theology, but you preferred to chase Anonymous' garbage and "insights." So, to me you lost--and lost badly. You lost focus and were unable to address the points except to exclaim "we've answered that already!" Yeah...

Photios

energeticprocession said...

Fr. Malachi's ideas in The Vatican are in no wise non-fiction.

Oh and I firmly believe that the filioque disguises and has a hidden esoteric agenda and ensures the survivial of Egyptian hermeticism as "sacred science." It's not by any accident that great scholastic doctors (and some byzantine one's) were alchemists too.

energeticprocession said...

Fr. Malachi's ideas in The Vatican are in no wise *fiction.*

Michael said...

I didn't cut it off. You were just repeating yourself. You want your points addressed?

The Son does not generate because filiation, not innascibility and generation, is his personal property. It is in virtue of the divine essence that Who the Father begets is God, but it is in virtue of his Fatherhood (his personal property) that he begets. The Son does not beget, even though he is of one substance with the Father, because he does not have divine Fatherhood, but divine Sonship. When you think you are repeating my words in glibly saying "If generation is of the substance . . ." you miss the whole point of the substance/supposit distinction.

But the Son spirates along with the Father because the Father gives to the Son everything he has except Fatherhood. But the Son is not another Principle because what he has is only the Father's, i.e. the substance of the Father, and has nothing of his own except Sonship.

Similarly the Father and the Son in spirating the Spirit give to him everything that belongs to them except for Fatherhood and Sonship and (active) spiration. The Spirit as the donum and the nexus amoris of the Father and the Son is constituted as the gift, the breath, and the love of the Trinity, therefore not the giver, the breather, and the lover within the Trinity. To imply that the personal properties must be given along with the substance just because the essence is the principle of action is to miss the whole point of the supposit-constituting relations of origin among the Trinity. Again, in the spiration of the Spirit it is because of the divine substance that what is produced is God. But it is not because of the substance that what is produced is the Spirit, or else the Son and Spirit would not be other than the Father. It is not because of the substance that they are Son and Spirit--this is why they are God--but because of the relations of origin.

As for distinguishing generation and spiration from creation, I really don't understand the point of the question. Generation and spiration produce God, i.e. they multiply supposits within the divine substance. Creation produces both new supposits and new non-divine substances.

Again I say that your questions are either disingenuous or you really haven't read the material or don't understand. But I'm not the one know started the "arrogance" charges, remember. You said: "Are you the only smart person, and all these other folks out there just morons? Own it up as a genuine problem." As though recognizing your intelligence obligated me to agree with your construal of the argument. It doesn't and I don't.

I don't need to defend Peter Gilbert, a former teacher and mentor of mine. He can do that himself. But once you start talking alchemy and Jesuit exorcist conspiracies I'm out. As I've said before, cum insanis non est arguendum.

Anyway I've wasted enough time on this thread. If you actually have a new argument to make it's welcome. If you only have wild historiographical claims, arguments from authority, and insults I may decide to start imitating your own blog and delete further comments.

energeticprocession said...

The rest of what you say is fine. Here is the problem:

"But the Son spirates along with the Father because the Father gives to the Son everything he has except Fatherhood. But the Son is not another Principle because what he has is only the Father's, i.e. the substance of the Father, and has nothing of his own except Sonship."

What your saying is that the Son inherits the principle property of causing a divine person because "what he has is only the Father's, i.e. the substance of the Father"? So if the Son inherits the principle property of causing a person, so should the Spirit since He inherits the same substance. By your gloss Principle and to be Father are not co-extensive, since the Son shares it. So it is not an exclusive personal feature. On my view, principle is the exclusive personal feature of the Father.

Anonymous said...

Michael,

Superbly done!

Thanks for staying on point by focussing primarily on the substance of the argument submitted (or rather hurled) by the opposition and not succumbing to what can be better described more precisely as their red herrings and, not to mention, pervasive ad hominems.

Still, I continue to enjoy this seemingly incessant debate between opposing parties as they bring to light not only matters of grave theological issues but also the various fallacies that can run amok and can unfortunately (and quite typically) plague the exchange.

'Tis why I shall ever remain a faithful reader (in spite of those momentous pauses on the blog when an entry doesn't come about until days or even weeks later!).

energeticprocession said...

"Again I say that your questions are either disingenuous or you really haven't read the material or don't understand."

Actually, as far as explanation goes I don't find anything proffered by Bonaventure and Scotus that wasn't already covered by Alcuin and Ratramnus.

energeticprocession said...

"As for distinguishing generation and spiration from creation, I really don't understand the point of the question. Generation and spiration produce God, i.e. they multiply supposits within the divine substance. Creation produces both new supposits and new non-divine substances."

Well I saw it as a problem seven years ago when I was trying to work on the problem as a Catholic before I ever spent much time on reading Photios or Gregory of Nyssa, etc. Let me give you an example of an article I read when I was trying to work out the problem. This person is quite keen to the problem:

http://www.opwest.org/Archive/2004/200402/The_Good_as_Self-Diffusive_01.htm

I feel like your attitude is "What problem? There's no problem here to solve! You just need to read Bonaventure and Scotus! Problem solved!" If it was all that apparent, problem would have been solved a long time ago.

Photios

Michael said...

Mr Jones, I hardly feel that it should be necessary to point out that 1) the article you link too is 35 pages and is about a specific Thomistic maxim; 2) it is by no means clear from a brief glance that the article is directly about your problem, meaning that I would have to hunt it out; 3) we here at the Smithy are not Thomists and a problem for Thomism is not necessarily a problem for Scotism, much less for Catholic doctrine per se. Now I may read the article, since it looks like it might be interesting, but is there any way for you to indicate what your problem is without demanding that I read a 35 page article on "the good is diffusive of itself"?

As I say, to my mind the difference between divine production and creation is primarily that generation and spiration produce God, while creation produces things other than God. Generation and spiration are eternal and its products infinite, the products of creation are temporal and finite. The divine Persons are necessary, creatures are chosen. And so forth. if this is not the kind of distinction you're looking for, then what is? I can't grasp your problem if you don't state it.

energeticprocession said...

Michael,
You don't need to call me Mr. Jones. Photios or Daniel is fine.

The article is using the thomistic principle as the good as self-diffusive, a Neoplatonic concept, to launch a correction to Kretzmann's view that God creates the world just as He necessarily Generates the Son. Now, I don't think he's entirely successful in refuting Kretzmann but he sees that there is a genuine problem there. Now, from what you've stated to me here and in the past, I don't see how the same problem can't be re-cast in Scotistic garb, since you think there is no unactualized potency in God. Do you think there are some formal attributes in God that are not actualized? Aren't these formal attributes identical with the divine essence (though not identical with each other)? Can the essence of God ever be unactualized?

Photios

Michael said...

Mr Jones,

when I do not know someone personally or well but I know his last name, I use it out of politeness and to avoid excess familiarity. It's a habit I learned long ago.

"Now, from what you've stated to me here and in the past, I don't see how the same problem can't be re-cast in Scotistic garb, since you think there is no unactualized potency in God."

As I have said before, you need to distinguish between active and passive potency. God has no passive potency. But He has infinite active potency. God could have created a million additional worlds which he did not create, or no world.

But the active potency to create is not exactly something in God. It is rather something about God. What I mean is the actualization of an active potency does not make God any different. As you should know, even in Aquinas--whose account of creation I do not follow and which is not doctrine--creatures are related to God but God is not related to them. God remains the same whether there are any creatures or not. When he creates nothing happens to God, only to the creature. This is why we say that there are no passive potencies in God.

Now, yes, I believe that in God will is not something other than essence, because of divine simplicity. They are not two objects or two things or two realities. But that does not mean that the will has the same formal ratio as the essence, simply because it is not separable from the essence. The essence qua essence then is necessary, because God cannot be other than God. The will (as regards creatures), however, is contingent, because nothing other than the free determination of the will causes God to create rather than not to create, or to create this rather than that. There is nothing in the essence qua divine essence that determines the will, because God is the same in Himself whether he creates or not. Therefore God does not create because he is God, but because he chooses to.

energeticprocession said...

"What I mean is the actualization of an active potency does not make God any different."

I agree that is what is affirmed, but I don't see how that follows logically from the view.

"But the active potency to create is not exactly something in God."

This is where I see the problem. Are you saying that an active potency to create, being an operation of God, is not exactly a formal attribute? If God has knowledge of this rational principle to create in a logical order prior to creating, and it is not exactly God, then what is it? Or is a formal attribute not exactly a formal attribute until an active potency is actualized?

Photios

Michael said...

"I agree that is what is affirmed, but I don't see how that follows logically from the view."

I know you don't see it, but frankly, I don't see how that's my problem. More study is needed. By you.

"This is where I see the problem. Are you saying that an active potency to create, being an operation of God, is not exactly a formal attribute?"

See, this is where I see the problem: your terminology is muddled, which prevents you from grasping distinctions or is a sign of a failure to grasp them. A potency is not an operation. An operation is not an attribute. You're mixing things up.

"If God has knowledge of this rational principle to create in a logical order prior to creating, and it is not exactly God, then what is it?"

Knowledge is not will and will is not action, so what are you talking about, exactly? God knows all possibilities, therefore he knows everything that could be created, and this knowledge is not something other than his essence. But not everything that is possible is actual, and not every creabile is actually created. This is because God's will does not choose to actually create them all and indeed many of them are mutually incompatible. God then chooses a selection of the infinite possibilities open to him to create, and creates those. This choice is not something other than the essence, since it is inseparable from it, but it is not determined by the properties of the essence qua essence, but is wholly self-determined, i.e. free. My little paper on the formal distinction in God covered all this years ago.

"Or is a formal attribute not exactly a formal attribute until an active potency is actualized?

This question makes no sense. I suggest you do some more reading.

Michael said...

I'm sorry if my tone seems to be slipping again, but I'm frustrated. This is the same argument that we were having something like three years ago. I put a lot of work into the discussion at that time. You didn't seem to understand what I was saying then. You don't seem to have made any progress in the meantime. I'm not really willing to go over the whole thing again.

energeticprocession said...
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