Semiotic Appropriation of Cyril, Maximus & Bulgakov in terms of cosmotheandric self-revelation

Might we semiotically appropriate Cyril, Maximus & Bulgakov per a heuristic of cosmotheandric eternal divine self-revelation, manifestation, exemplification & signification – to interpret the eternal ad intra in processio per the Monarchy of the Father & the personal taxis and the eternal ad extra in missio per the Incarnation & Creation?

The divine will has satiated each human person’s intellect & will with His primal Truth & Goodness, as He constitutes each of us, originally, as everlastingly abiding images of God.

We thus come into the world already drinking from our saucers of God-possession because our cups of subjective beatitude have overflowed from the very beginning for each of us.

As such, our primary nature is gifted with an intrinsically absolute lovability that can neither be enhanced nor diminished. We thus mirror the immutable intrinsic perfection & aesthetic intensity of the divine esse naturale.

Whatever else may be going on, self-constitutively, as we co-creatively cooperate in growing our secondary natures per degrees of virtuosity from image to likeness, there’s a revelatory dynamic, whereby we manifest Christ ever more clearly, signify Christ ever more consistently, glorify Christ ever more brilliantly, thereby participating ever more illuminatively in objective beatitude.

We thereby reflect the mutable self-revelatory exemplifications & aesthetic scope of the divine esse intentionale’s incarnational manifestations of – not only 

the Christo-Pneumatological particular presences mediated by special revelations via the missions of the Logos, which assumes creation’s forms that it might exemplify divinity through enhypostatic embodiment, icons, names & symbols in the divine gratuity of grace, but –

the Pneumato-Christological universal presence mediated by general revelations via the logoic processions, which in-form creatures that they might signify divinity through their shadows, vestiges & images of & likenesses to Him in the divine gratuity of creation.

That’s the Precis for my

PanSEMIOentheism –
A Neo-Chalcedonian, Franciscan, Cosmotheandric Universalism

Crossing the Bridge between Nostra Aetate & Amoris Laetitia

Amoris Laetitia has built a bridge between our conceptions of ecclesial communities and conjugal unions, showing us how they can all variously realize positive goods and approximate the ideals of ecclesial & conjugal relationships. James Martin has shown us how to walk across it. Continuing our explorations regarding the positive elements in all lifelong covenant […]

Crossing the Bridge between Nostra Aetate & Amoris Laetitia

A Sweet Theological Autobiography

This is my theo-story. This is my song.

Nearly a half-century ago, I spent my undergraduate & graduate years immersed in radically reductive neuroscientific pursuits. I pursued the physiological & biochemical precursors of behaviors – from flatworms to rodents.

Eventually, I narrowly focused on avian neuroendocrinology. For example, we knew what to inject when to make birds fly north or south.

Any philosophical interpretations of such empirical findings have only ever been a lifelong avocational pursuit, which has included philosophies of mind.

Investigations into philosophical, anthropological & systematic theologies came much later, after I retired from banking.

Those led me to Peirce, Maritain & Lonergan, thanks to a couple of friends who, like me, were Catholic Charismatics, one of whom introduced me to a similarly minded Pentecostal friend & collaborator.

Isn’t life strange?

Otherwise, I mostly explored ALL of these interests w/friends, who self-described as religious naturalists (non-militantly agnostic, nontheist & atheist), contributors to journals like Zygon.

It was those friends who reinforced my Peircean-bent & shared my emergentist stance. What differentiated our stances was that my reading of the book of nature was temperamentally Franciscan.

B/c of Bonaventure & Scotus, mine was a radically emanationist emergentism, somewhat innoculated from facile analogies & spurious reductionisms by Dionysius, Eriugena, Abelard, the Victorines, Franciscans & Cusanus.

So, I’m suspicious of distinctions like weak vs strong emergence & supervenience.

All the way up & down the great chain of being we encounter aporetic layers of trans-semiotic realities, including such horizons as quantum, cosmic, life, sentience & language origins.

To navigate these horizons, our
semantic references, ineluctably, must variously include terms that are analogical, univocal, apophatic, indefinite, vague & mediating, to frame heuristics for such as probabilistic causalities, statistical regularities & dis/continuities. If this is true proximately & temporally, then, trust me, it’ll be true in spades for ultimate & eternal realities.

Our phenomenological meta-heuristics, ergo, best ontologically bracket reality’s manifold & multiform aporia & eschew rushes to metaphysical closure.

I emphasized “mediating” not only as a nod to Peirce, Cusanus, Dionysius & the early Neoplatonists, philosophically, but as an embrace of the Christology of Cyril & Maximus. These folks gifted me my Cosmotheandric PanSEMIOentheism.

Now, don’t get me wrong or take umbrage as I insist that our sylly syllogisms often prove too much, say more than we can possibly know & tell untellable stories. This is not to say that every analytic pursuit’s an epistemic pretense. We only engage analytic conceits if we imagine that such formal deliverances gift us indubitable conclusions, when, instead, they suggest a pragmatic reasonableness.

And, while I still happily enjoy the fruit of Trinitological excursions, contemplating the emanating One, & so thoroughly enjoyed my early reductionist pursuits of the Many, I’ve now returned, philosophically & theologically, to that Mediator, Whom I encountered in my First Holy Communion, where I realized in my little heart & will, what I would only later better apprehend in my head & intellect: the hypostatic union, coincidentia oppositorum & communicatio idiomatum of our Eternally Creating Triune Creator.

How Bonaventure’s Trinitology jives with the Monarchy of the Father, Cosmotheandrism & the Kitchen Sink

Innascibility doesn’t constitute the Father for Bonaventure. It’s the logically unavoidable positive implication of same, the reality of The Sourcer, which does.

And that neither excludes nor presupposes an idioma like paternity.

The F’s primal act of sourcing would be logically but not temporally prior to the essence.

The Sourcer does refer as a logically prior agential verbal nominalization of that hypostasis, naming Who. But vis a vis the essence, innascibility or Unsourced refers, instead, as a logically prior verbal participle, an adjective qualifying Who in terms of how.

That’s to say that it provides semantic meaning logically (not temporally) prior to the ousia and apart from the semantic job it indeed does, further in our logical (not temporal) sequence, as a differentiating hypostatic idioma.

For Trinitarian logic, it helps me to think more consistently if I restrict my thoughts to verbals, since we’re referring to a noncomposite Actus Purus.

Also, I default to the more active & present forms, like gerunds, infinitives & nominalizations for the “whats” of hypostases & adjectival participles for the “hows” of hypostases, i.e. idiomata, & “hows” of ousia, ie propria.

All predications of hypostases in quid (what) must be analogical; in quale (how) – semantically univocal & infinite.

It helps, too, to ditch all verbals derived from “is,” including the infinitive “to be” and “being,” ie employ E-Prime. Or, when too dang hard, at least, to qualify such predications with Dionysian distinctions.

To say that hypostases = ousia, then, is like saying that “they are how they do.” Not bad. That qualifies a noun with an adjective, where the = represents some form of is or to be. However, ineluctably implicit in such grammatical constructions, there is a conception of potency reducing to act (as if it could be or have been otherwise). That implication’s not just imprecise but contradictory. Typically, while idiomata have been said to be “carried by” and propria “added to” hypostases, that erroneously implicates idiomata as entities and propria as potencies.

So, we best resort to E-Prime and also refer to the F considering the innascible or unsourced using

a) gerunds or nominalizations as agential, proper nouns w/definite articles for subjects – individual hypostases; e.g. hypostatically, The Sourcer;

b) participles as adjectives for essential propria & hypostatic idiomata; e.g. idiomatically, Unsourced;

c) direct objects for relations, including to Oneself, as action recipients; e.g. relationally, The Sourcer (self) or the sourced (others); and

d) the underlying action verb of those gerunds & participles; e.g. actively, Sources.

Thus, coherently, with no reference to paternity, “the Unsourced Sourcer sources the sourced” (but Unsourced needn’t exclude Self-Sourcing).

Using a quasi-Dionysian formulation, where:

God is | not x | is true apophatically & literally;

God is | x | is true kataphatically & trans-analogically; and

God is neither | x | nor | not x | is true relationally & really.

The F is | not sourced | is true apophatically & literally, as an idioma, adjectivally.

The F is | The Unsourced Sourcer | is true kataphatically & trans-analogically, as an hypostasis or agential nominalization.

The F is neither | The Unsourced Sourcer | nor | not sourced | is true, for we can also refer to the F as The Self-Sourcing Sourcer, both in self-relation to The Sourcer and in relation to all sourced realities, both divine (non-determinate & self-determinate) and determinate.

Might innascibility have positive implications beyond pure negation?

It must.

Some constitutive relation(s) must be added to our grammar of hypostases & idioma, otherwise we’ll unavoidably implicate the reduction of some potency to act.

Any articulation of a beginning can’t avoid begging questions due to either a circular reference, causal disjunction or infinite regression. Our unavoidably triadic account relies on the validity of self-reference. For we’re otherwise precisely about the business of avoiding causal disjunctions and halting infinite regressions. And, just because we’ve constructed a tautology doesn’t mean it’s not true. It only means we’ve added no new information to our system. So, our Trinitological heuristics remain semi-formal, suggesting that our God-conceptions are not unreasonable, not demonstrating proofs.

One reason I struggle with translation of others’ Trinity talk is that I don’t interpret it from the same angle, because, out of habit, I’m unreflectively translating it on the fly.

For starters, my default bias is to presuppose that the Capps, Cyril, Pseudo-Dionysius, Maximus, Eriugena, Scotus, Bonaventure, Aquinas, Palamas & Bulgakov (w/fewer tweaks than many imagine) can be reconciled – not just creedally, but – in their speculative systematic opinions, though not ruling out exceptions.

Note on properly conceiving the Monarchy of the Father

Gregory of Nyssa: If you transfer to the divine
dogmas the principle of differentiation, which you recognize in human affairs,
between ousia and hypostasis, you will not go astray. (EpPet. 3)

Well, we’ll get the general idea, anyway. But if we don’t recognize the infinite analogical interval between nondeterminate & determinate being, we’ll push the analogy too far.

I previously brought up the Scotistic idiom of ousia as primary substance, saying it was more felicitous in that it foregrounded how the ousia was “like” and “unlike” both primary & secondary substances.

While all agree natures subsist in hypostases (aren’t floating around as abstractions or entities), there’s a difference between the immanent universals exemplified by divine being & those instantiated in determinate being, reduced from potencies to acts, formally.

Grammatically, we typically refer to such reductions in terms of indefinite common nouns being delimited by definite proper nouns. Hence, our conversations: Is God like a substance sortal or just an attribute among attributes when predicating divine hypostases? As a proper name, can God denominate only the F or each person?

What might change, however, when there are no reductions from potency to act, eternally so? Our analogy between divine & human persons must recognize a difference between irreducibly immanent & reducibly instantiated universals. There’s no indefinite potency becoming definite, whether essential propria (attributes) or hypostatic idiomata (e.g. relation, haecceity, emanation, + ?).

If one wants to apply an analogue of common (god) & proper nouns (The God), that’s intuitive, maybe preferable in some contexts. But, since via eternally pure acts, the divine persons exemplify an immanently universal essence, also analogously, as a primary-like substance, the ousia’s like a subject in that sense, justifying a proper signification, God.

Creedal Trinitology is not:

a) tritheistic, b/c, when it comes to how & what the persons do, those aspects constitute intrinsic perfections that are identical in each & every Person, both ontologically & axiologically; hence, the One God-ness of the Divine Nature;

b) modalist b/c, when it comes to Who does those intrinsically perfect things, there are three
persons doing them Who are really different in ways (aetiologically & economically) that don’t otherwise constitute perfections of God-ness; e.g. the relational aspects of the emanational Divine Singularity & personal MOF and incarnational aspects of the S & HS;

c) subordinationist, b/c, creedally, the persons are absolutely identical, ontologically &
axiologically, and their only real differences are aetiological & economic, which don’t involve
intrinsic perfections.

A Divine Singularity Ontologically Prior to even the MOF, logically not temporally … perhaps consistent w/our Bonaventuran stance

I can conceive The Father as The Self-Sourcing Sourcer, relationally constituted emanationally, which would be logically prior to personal relationality (opposing relations) and as analogous to that essentially ordered causal series we invoke vis a vis creation. I say analogous to distinguish between those intratrinitarian, aetiological ur-kenotic acts of the divine esse naturale and those of the economic kenotic acts divine esse intentionale.

That primal emanational relation could be a self-relationality, which wouldn’t be a pious ad hoc exception, b/c Trinitarian personal relational conceptions necessarily include the persons sharing their love for the essence as an object of their love fully in each Subject, hence, in the other Subjects as well as in Oneself.

For the Father, as Primal Font, emanationally, His logically prior constitutive relation would include His love for the essence in Himself.

This would be more of a Divine Singularity than the MOF, which is intrinsically other-relational, although still a logical not temporal ontological distinction. And it would still not be a great-making shared property of the Divine Nature, only an aeitiological superordination. It would be accounted as an idioma marking a real distinction from other divine persons even as the F, eternally, remains identical to the other persons, essentially, in shared nature.

This divine singularity, like the MOF, would be an unshared idioma, in principle, so like a really distinct Subject, Who’s not otherwise Subjectively distinct re any substantial (natural or essential) intrinsic perfections shared, in principle, as divine propria.

Consistent with the view that the One God of MOF & Divine Nature entails equivocations of Oneness and not of the term, God, which admits of virtual not real distinctions between the Trinity & the Divine Nature:

Blocking inferences to subordinationism suggests the persons are identical in great-making properties or intrinsic perfections.

Idiomata, unshareable in principle, would not be great-making.

Simplicity would refer to pure acts of intrinsic perfection, i.e. involving no reductions to potency of the divine esse naturale & no change in the divine aesthetic intensity.

DDS need not refer to the divine esse intentionale, which would determine changes only in the divine aesthetic scope.

This would allow for a (thin) divine passibility, i.e. divine responses, for example, to creaturely supplications, as chosen from ‘among’ an array perfectly good equipoised optimalities (ergo, no all or nothing “best possible world” reality choosing in an either-or manner ‘between’ higher & lesser goods) via divine energeia (formally distinct from essence).

What would further differentiate the nature and propria from the persons and idiomata, then, is not any HOW that marks intrinsic perfections, aesthetic intensities or great making properties, but only aetiological ontological distinctions like emanational & personal relations, which refer to the persons logically not temporally and implicate no differentials in dignity. The persons are thus constituted relationally, identified by a relative indentity, making them really different, hypostatically. These refer to aetiological distinctions.

But, as far as intrinsic perfections go, HOW they act is in an absolutely identical way. This refers to an ontological distinction.

So, the One God of the MOF might best be thought of in terms of relative identity, both emanational & personal, moreso per an ordinal logical (but not temporal) reference, iow, aetiologically.

While the One God of the DN might best be thought of in terms of absolute identity between the Trinity & DN, moreso per a cardinal scale referring to their shared greatness of perfection, iow, ontologically.

When the S assumes human nature, that refers economically. Terms of rank or status refer axiologically.

So, re subordinationism, the creed eschews any ontological & axiological subordination, while aetiological & economic don’t present dogmatic problems.

A Theological Anthropological Meta-Heuristic for a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandric Universalism

A Grammatical Heuristic for the Hypostatic Union:

Person or hypostasis is primary, whether divine or human.

Christ, the person, the Logos, has an essential divine nature and a secondary human nature.
His assumption (becoming) of the latter humanizes the Logos.

The essential nature of human persons is identical to Christ’s secondary nature, but it is not a nature each person fully exemplifies or realizes, initially. It is a nature we become. That
becoming for us constitutes our deification.

The identical uncreated logoi (divine volition & energeia) that humanize the Logos, deify the
human person.

Christ is constituted by & fully exemplifies the divine & human natures.

Human persons are constituted by the same human nature, only progressively so, I would
suggest, participating in the divine nature as vestige, then image, then likeness, thereby only
signifying” the divine nature which is analogous to the human nature, which different
persons realize to varying degrees.

So human nature is analogous to the divine nature, participating as an effect proper to its
cause, resembling it to varying degrees, so signifying (semiotically) vestige, image & ,
eventually & hopefully likeness. That essential nature, when fully realized, would be identical to the human nature assumed by the Logos.

These are grammatical heuristics. BYOM (Bring your own metaphysic!)

Given that heuristic for relating the divine & human natures in the Hypostatic Union, what constitutes this shared human nature – cosmically, noetically & logically?

For every noetic form of knowing there is a corresponding form of logical engagement, as these epistemic approaches engage every aspect of our donative reality via probes that are methodologically autonomous but axiologically integral: descriptive, interpretive, evaluative, normative & contemplative. [1]

Human Agency Acts:

1) Cosmically, as vestigium Dei or Human Being, which reflects the cosmos, involves existential causes in potency to probabilistic essential causes, which include probabilistic telic realities-

teleopotent (veldopoietic),

teleomatic (cosmopoietic)

teleonomic (biopoietic) &

teleoqualic (sentiopoietic).

Divine Causal Joint:
The Spirit operates here via the Gratuity of Creation

2) Noetically, as an imago Dei or Willing Human Person, which reflects the Divine Nous of the divine esse naturale and involves efficient causes in potency to probabilistic material causes as

kinetic (dynamical) and constituting the will, which is teleological (sapiopoietic) and which responds [2] per innate nous, intellectus or sapienta, which can assent, refuse or remain quiescent (absence of refusal) & which engages

descriptively via the

perinoetic (empirical);

interpretively via the

dianoetic (logical), aporetic (diastemic), epinoetic (apophatic), & ananoetic (metaphysical);

evaluatively via the

anoetic (affective) ;

normatively via the

deonticnoetic (moral & prudential); and

contemplatively (receptively) via the

metanoetic (theotic).

Divine Causal Joint:

The Spirit willingly operates via the Gratuity of Grace on human persons as

vestigia Dei thru divine energeia through their teleopotent (veldopoietic), teleomatic (cosmopoietic), teleonomic (biopoietic) &
teleoqualic (sentiopoietic) natures (generally considered exceptional or miraculous), thereby effecting all manner of existential causes (which are efficient causes but not distinctly human) and as

similitudines Dei thru divine energeia through their semiotic natures, thereby effecting all manner of formal causes in utterly efficacious but ineluctably unobtrusive ways.

But the Spirit, condescendingly, refrains from operating on (coercing) the human will via any manner of distinctly human efficient causes (contra Reformed & Báñezian anthropologies). So the Spirit will not operate via the Gratuity of Grace without the human will’s assent or quiescence, as it will not coerce one who refuses to cooperate with Grace.

3) Logically, as a similitudino Dei or Human Becoming, which reflects the Divine Logos of the divine esse intentionale and involves formal causes in potency to probabilistic final causes as

phronetic (autonoetic) and constituting reason, which is teleological (scientiopoietic) and which responds [3] per logic or ratio, which can progressively transmute the will (metanoesis) by engaging

descriptively via the

empirical (perinoetic);

interpretively via the logical (dianoetic), diastemic (aporetic), apophatic (epinoetic) & metaphysical (ananoetic);

evaluatively via the

affective (anoetic) ; and

normatively via the

moral & prudential (deonticnoetic); and

contemplatively (receptively) via the

theotic (metanoetic).

Divine Causal Joint: The Spirit operates here via the Gratuity of Grace.

A Gelpian-Lonerganian Architectonic – a missiological meta-heuristic

Be attentive, orient, describe, truth, final causes, eschatological, protological, transjective necessity or Ens Necessarium – analog of paterological uniqueness

Be intelligent, empower, interpret, unity, efficient causes, ecclesiological, interpretive, intersubjective intimacy – analog of hypostatic unity

Be reasonable, sanctify & consecrate, evaluate, beauty, formal causes, soteriological, evaluative, charismatic, harmonic, unified self as intrasubjective integrity – analog of mystical, creaturely-divine, sophianic union

Be responsible, sustain, nurture & heal, norm, goodness, material causes, sacramental, ethical, normative, interobjective indeterminacy – analog of essential unicity

Be in love, save, contemplate, freedom, existential causes, synergy, sophiological, liberational, theotic, intraobjective Logos-logoi identity – analog of unitary energeia

Notes:

[1] These furnishings of the human epistemic suite correspond roughly to Lonergan’s transcendental imperatives and eightfold functional specialties, as explicated elsewhere in my Retreblement.

[2] Noetic responses roughly correspond to aspects of “knowing” as, for example, Newman’s illative sense; Polyani’s tacit dimension; Maritain’s connaturality; Fries’ nonintuitive immediate knowledge; Peirce’s abductive instinct; Aristotle’s intuitive induction; even noesis as pistis or faith.

[3] Logical responses roughly correspond to a more reflective engagement of existence’s donative realities, which are apprehended more inchoately when appropriated, noetically.

This is a companion piece to my Retreblement – a Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology per a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

Also to my Cosmotheandric Universalism

NeoChalcedonian Cosmotheandric Universalism

Because the Incarnation eternally proceeds from – not the divine nature as an essential necessity, but – the divine will as a volitional inevitability, therefore 

occasioned – not by some felix culpa, but – from the cosmotheandric get-go,

apocatastasis less so seems intended as some “restitutio in pristinum statum” and moreso seems to me

an indefeasible proto-logical entailment, hence eschato-logical inevitability.

Finite persons are constituted via acts in potency, divine persons by pure act. As such, Jesus eternally humanizes the Logos and deifies human nature via the cosmotheandric incarnation, thereby implicating several types of participation per distinct but analogous forms of dynamical perichoreses:

1) trinitological between the divine persons;

2) Christological in the hypostatic union;

3) cosmological in vestigia Dei;

4) anthropological in imagoes Dei; &

5) theotic in similitudines Dei.

Through those Trinitological & Christological perichoreses, divine persons “exemplify” the divine nature.

Through those cosmological, anthropological and theotic perichoreses, human persons “signify” the divine nature.

These eternal cosmotheandric realities thus constitute the proto-logical contours of all paterology, Christology, pneumatology, Trinitology, anthropology, ecclesiology, soteriology, sacramentology, sophiology, missiology and eschatology.

These proto-logical contours logically advert to no such reality as “evil.”

While, temporally & ephemerally, privations of goodness can obtain ontologically via a “parasitic existence,”  eternally, no coherent accounts of oikonomic condescension or kenotic tzimtzum could abide same and remain logically consistent and existentially congruent with the integrally related  & inherently consonant divine logics as are revealed in our Scriptures, celebrated in our Liturgies & Devotions and realized in our Theoses.

Eternally perduring parasitic existences would render unintelligible every divine logic: proto-, Christo-, anthropo-, soterio-, ecclesio-, sophio- and eschato-

This is all developed systematically in:

Retreblement – a Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology per a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism

PRECIS for
https://www.academia.edu/43938792/PanSEMIOentheism_A_Neo_Chalcedonian_Cosmotheandric_Universalism

By existentialist & personalist, I mean that the predicate of existence (entitative existential quantification) will precede any of essence & energy & that any theory of triadic naming (semiotic-like) will be more fundamental than any emergentist theory of triadic terms.

So, any entity, person or hypostasis is more fundamental than essences or energeia (relations).

Absolute and nonstrict identities re determinate realities will have derived from a more fundamental relative identity re nondeterminate & self-determinate realities in our realist metaphysic.

Similarity & difference must be dynamically related via constitutive functional relations of formal identity, which is quidditative for determinate realities but not nondeterminate.

Three name theory will employ both existential & universal quantification but no universal qualification for nondeterminate & self-determinate realities.

Three term theory employs existential & universal quantification; also – the universal qualification of our irreducibly triadic propositional modal ontology; as well as propositional object in/determinacy for determinate realities.

ERGO, per our emergentist (participatory) dynamic, neither essences nor relations will infinitely regress for they will have ultimately derived from, participated with and been formally identified in relation to primal energeia or primal relations or primal logoi of a primal Logos.

This avoids both a pantheism and theopanism because the determinate realities of this emergentist account will have derived – neither from primal entities, themselves, nor a primal essence, but – the primal will of Persons, Whose divine haecceity refers (indexically) to hypostases in their otherwise indescribable, unqualitative, indefinite hereness & nowness.

What, then, of the “stuff” we’re made of, much less the stuff of which divine persons were begotten (& not)?

Well, it’s not as if our account has no antinomial residue. It’s consistent but incomplete, which is an architectonic feature not a positivistic bug.

While for material determinate realities, matter, alone, suffices to individuate hypostases, even when only metaphorically & analogically, the taxonomy of immaterial determinate realities (human persons, because we are analogical images of the divine persons), can only employ a naming strategy that recognizes “that, when & where” each of us, ultimately, came to be in our thisness, hereness, nowness (even in some form of eternal simultaneity).

Who each person is remains, ultimately & ineluctably, indescribable, unqualitative and indefinite!

A contemplative pause, then gaze, then stance with respect to any beloved accesses this truth.

What we do profess is that we know from Whom and Why we emerged.

And our participatory metaphysic suggests, with its inescapably vague (in/definite) and inescapably general (not specific) terms and modal ontology, How.

Some of us learned this in our catechisms when we reached the “age of reason” prior to our Holy Communion:

“Who made us?” and “Why?”.

Only a participatory process of Anamnesis (concelebration), which facilitates forgetting, at least, some of what we learned in our Age of Enlightenment, will get us back in touch with those fundamental truths, which are more so Christological, much less so philosophical.

I’ll now turn to making a list of things to forget.

Feel free to submit. For starters:

Ockham

God Out the Dock

All the talk of defenses & theodicies vis a vis the problem of evil, which are more vs less on point (though not reckoning in my universalist logic), bring to mind an analogous criminal paradigm.

A general theory of crime, classically,
must involve a rational will. A given crime involves a set of facts, evidentially. A
particular case theory interprets those facts.

Logical defenses can represent interpretive case theory arguments, including whether or not there was a crime.

Theodicies represent evidential arguments
for specific facts, which might beg explanations.

An incredibly weighty form of substantive, positive evidence is good character. It needn’t be weighted in the context of other matters. That is to say that it needn’t be considered in the context of other evidence but is an independent factor that can, by itself, engender reasonable
doubt or produce a conclusion of innocence.

Jury instructions make clear that the law recognizes that a person of good character is not likely to commit a crime contrary to that person’s nature, so, that person’s character or nature can
require a verdict of not guilty.

So, while theodicies are repugnant & defenses can be merely adequate
(understandably, nevertheless, important to many), neither are necessary to take God out of the dock, if He can assemble great cloud of (character) witnesses.

I suspect that’s how many of us roll.

Introducing Republican Voters Against Trump, the Lincoln Project, 43 Alumni for Biden, Right Side PAC & the Bravery Project

Vote! It Does Makes a Difference!

Casting a vote can have both/either symbolic and/or pragmatic effects.

Optimally, a vote would be both symbolic and pragmatic, not only sending a signal but contributing to practical outcomes.

One may vote pragmatically with an aim of influencing one or more practical outcomes. Generally, the greater the gravity of a particular issue, morally and practically, the more one may feel justified in being a single-issue voter.

Because voting involves prudential judgments, generally, it can be eminently defensible however one chooses to cast one’s vote, whether symbolically, pragmatically or focused on a single issue. (Roman Catholics should be especially attentive here, as any given POTUS vote that doesn’t formally cooperate with evil is not likely to constitute anything other than an extremely remote form of material cooperation. This is because the causal chain between a given POTUS vote and individual evil acts is so very tenuous and such acts are so highly contingent).

Symbolic votes can help shape conversations as a means of conveying one’s prophetic witness for or protest against competing interests or stances. More often, perhaps, they’ll be cast with an aim to more so influence future outcomes, less so with any real hope regarding immediate efficacies.

Pragmatic votes, of course, can be aimed toward immediate outcomes, whether avoiding clear and present dangers or advancing particular goals, whether incrementally and cumulatively over time or with immediate effect.

Nowadays, it often seems that, when it comes to choosing between various candidates, voters feel as if they’re faced with a choice among the lesser of evils. Rather than embracing candidates because of personality strengths, character traits, specific competencies or even particular political postures, voters are otherwise only really hoping to empower what might ensue vis a vis executive administrative teams, legislative agendas and/or judiciary selections.

So, another voting distinction, in addition to voting symbolically, pragmatically, single-issuedly or strategically (whether aimed at outcomes over time or more immediately), is that of supporting a party or coalition’s ticket or even entire slate – not BECAUSE of, but – IN SPITE of their nominees.

Prudential judgments and political strategies can vary widely, even among those who largely agree regarding the morality of any given reality. For example, take that most contentious of issues – abortion. Two voters can aspire to precisely the same practical outcome, let’s say in this example, of immediately reducing the number of abortions and ultimately eliminating them, yet disagree strategically regarding how to best realize that outcome? Specifically, voters can disagree regarding – not only the relative likelihoods, but – the past or future (in)efficacies of court-packing, judicial strategies, overturning Roe, criminalization, birth control health coverage, etc Now, surely, most can conceive of how two voters, both of large intelligence and profound goodwill, can navigate the very same constellation of facts and putative counterfactuals, can probabilistically project the very same array of un/likely outcomes and, yet, prudentially arrive at different conclusions regarding the most (counter)productive strategies – politically, legally and practically?

Another dynamic that regrettably pollutes political discourse is all or nothing and either-or rhetoric. Again, we should be thinking more so in terms of least and most likely outcomes, less so in terms of worst and best case scenarios. After all, it’s not as if minority positions are politically impotent, especially in a federal polity designed specifically to thwart the tyranny of the majority?

To wit:

Regarding the economy, it’s not as if a long-established regulated capitalism is in jeopardy of becoming even a Western European Democratic Socialism, much less a totalitarian socialism or communism. This is not to deny that some political rhetoric focuses way too much on dividing up the golden eggs, while so much is otherwise over-concerned with nurturing the golden goose. It’s only to recognize that the most likely case scenarios, based on the country’s historical political give and take, don’t justify the prevailing political hyperbole, e.g. that we’re on a slippery slope to communism.

Regarding taxation, by consensus the tax tables have generally been progressive, only differing in terms of degrees, where marginal rates vary. Those rates will need to be raised and to become less regressive in order to dig ourselves out of the massive deficits and debts incurred by this administration, some unavoidably and some most imprudently.

Regarding healthcare, there’s little chance of a wholly socialized approach with single-payer and single-provider, much more likely a public option along side private alternatives.

On and on, whether regarding crime & punishment, war & peace, policing & the military, energy & the environment, the 1st & 2nd Amendments, immigration, voting, safety nets, etc. While the range of policy choices can certainly be wide, historically, the range of policy outcomes has inevitably been narrower, the pace of change more incremental and never as apocalyptic as hysterically portrayed by our country’s ideologues, right and left! Such people facilely & cynically misapply epithets to all who stray from their narrowly conceived policy prescriptions, even to those who otherwise share the very same moral stances and societal aspirations! They casually toss around labels like baby killers, warmongers, communists, and on and on and on. Enough!

As a general rule, the saner voices of dissent regarding a given politico likely will be those from within one’s party, the more serious forms of critique likely will be those from within a candidate’s inner circle of most senior advisers.

In 2020, those most serious forms of critique come from a growing list of Trump advisers turned detractors, which is striking in “its size, the seniority of its members and the vehemence of their critiques” and whose “proximity to Trump has brought a devastating level of detail and credibility to their appraisals of his tenure.” [1]

To wit:

Former Secretary of State Rex Tillerson who calls Trump a “f….ing moron.

Former Secretary of Defense James Mattis who said Trump “tries to divide us.”

Former Chief of Staff John Kelly called Trump “an idiot” and said “I think we need to look harder at who we elect.”

Former National Economic Policy Council head Gary Cohn who said Trump “was a professional liar.”

Former Trump Alt-Right advisor Steve Bannon said Trump “is like an eleven-year-old child.”

Former National Security Advisor John Bolton stated “I don’t think he’s fit for office.”

While space doesn’t permit, the snippets, above, from those senior advisors, are emblematic of stances they’ve expressed and documented more at length in interviews, books & elsewhere. And they aren’t inconsistent with the concerns previously expressed by 50 senior Republican national security officials in 2016, which they’ve reiterated and expanded for 2020. Nor is it inconsistent with that mountain of evidence as has gushed forth for over a thousand days from all manner of sources, including news cycles, POTUS Twitter feeds, transcripts of Congressional testimony, etc, although others may reasonably interpret it differently than I. Those stances, in my view, have been credibly, diligently & dutifully set forth in Bolton’s book. McMaster’s book will be released in September. Finally, while requiring a more critical eye and some degree of skepticism, Michael Cohen’s book should not be cursorily dismissed. After all, why would he risk libel and defamation suits from his extremely litigious ex-boss, if he did not believe he could prevail on the merits regarding the veracity of the book’s claims?

Update:

Tue, October 21, 2020

Why 780 retired generals and former national security leaders spoke out against Trump

Trump has sparked a shift in how some conservatives talk and think about abortion

Thu, September 24, 2020

More than 200 retired generals, admirals endorse Biden, including some who served under Trump

Update:

Monday, Sept 28, 2020

There is an insurrection within the ranks of prominent past GOP officials (and senior staff) the likes of which we haven’t seen against an incumbent president in a very long time.

See: There’s a historic insurrection against Donald Trump happening within the GOP

Continuing

In 2020, such voices of dissent certainly include RVAT, the Lincoln Project, 43 Alumni for Biden, Right Side PAC and the Bravery Project.

To wit:

RVAT

Republican Voters Against Trump

These are Republicans, former Republicans, conservatives, and former Trump voters who can’t support Trump for president this fall.

Lincoln Project
https://lincolnproject.us/

We do not undertake this task lightly nor from ideological preference. Our many policy differences with national Democrats remain. However, the priority for all patriotic Americans must be a shared fidelity to the Constitution and a commitment to defeat those candidates who have abandoned their constitutional oaths, regardless of party.

Right Side PAC
https://ballotpedia.org/Right_Side_PAC

Right Side PAC was formed by Matt Borges, a former chairman of the Ohio Republican Party, and Anthony Scaramucci, who served as Trump’s White House communications director. Borges said the group was a complement to the Lincoln Project, another super PAC formed by anti-Trump Republicans. Scaramucci said that he was “very confident that we can convince a large group of Republican voters that Biden is the right person to vote for if they want to stay true to their principles and to the legacy of the Republican Party.”

43 Alumni for Biden

43 Alumni for Joe Biden

Principles matter more than politics. That’s why we, a group of alumni who served President Bush, and other Republican presidents, governors, and Members of Congress, support Joe Biden for President.

Bravery Project

About Us

We’re conservatives and Independents standing up and choosing to be brave by publicly declaring that Donald Trump and his enablers don’t represent us–that Trumpism is destroying this country.

August 31, 2020 Update

Biden’s GOP endorsements show cracks in Trump’s coalition as a steady stream of GOP endorsements this year for Biden — highlighted by the early emergence of The Lincoln Project and Republican Voters Against Trump, two groups trying to peel away GOP voters from the President — has surged into a torrent over the past two weeks.

https://www.cnn.com/2020/09/01/politics/us-election-biden-gop-endorsements/index.html

Conclusion:

I get that there will be many intelligent, goodwilled people who will vote for the 2020 GOP ticket IN SPITE OF Trump, whether symbolically, pragmatically or single-issuedly. And they won’t share the degree of concern that those dissident former advisers have instilled in me, perhaps not finding them as credible as I do.

I also reckon there will be some people who will vote GOP “because” of who Trump is but am not willing to generalize about either their intelligence or goodwill, as that would require a case by case analysis (which would admittedly be animated by an enormous degree of curiosity & incredulity).

I’m just here to suggest that persons of equal intelligence and similar goodwill can, in an eminently defensible manner, vote for the 2020 Democratic ticket IN SPITE OF Biden. And, I’ve no quarrels, generally, with those voting Democratic “because” of who Biden is, although that invites nuance and qualification beyond our present scope.

When it comes to risk-reward calculations and tradeoffs, however one imagines a person or a nation might best thrive, one is obliged to first ensure that this person or nation survives?

Some justified their 2016 vote for Trump based on the rewarding prospect of stacking the judiciary, suggesting that any risks attendant to his occupying the Oval Office would otherwise be mitigated by him being surrounded by adults. On one hand, that gamble has most assuredly paid off in terms of a substantially reshaped judiciary. On the other hand, the adults have left the building – McMasters, Bolton, Tillerson, Mattis & Kelly and more! Scores of other GOP faithful, including Romney, have issued warnings.

In 2016, 50 senior Republican national security officials issued a letter stating “None of us will vote for Donald Trump.” Here is what they had to say:

quote: The undersigned individuals have all served in senior national security and/or foreign policy positions in Republican Administrations, from Richard Nixon to George W. Bush. We have worked directly on national security issues with these Republican Presidents and/or their principal advisers during wartime and other periods of crisis, through successes and failures. We know the personal qualities required of a President of the United States.

None of us will vote for Donald Trump.

From a foreign policy perspective, Donald Trump is not qualified to be President and Commander-in-Chief. Indeed, we are convinced that he would be a dangerous President and would put at risk our country’s national security and well-being.

Most fundamentally, Mr. Trump lacks the character, values, and experience to be President. He weakens U.S. moral authority as the leader of the free world. He appears to lack basic knowledge about and belief in the U.S. Constitution, U.S. laws, and U.S. institutions, including religious tolerance, freedom of the press, and an independent judiciary.
In addition, Mr. Trump has demonstrated repeatedly that he has little understanding of America’s vital national interests, its complex diplomatic challenges, its indispensable alliances, and the democratic values on which U.S. foreign policy must be based. At the same time, he persistently compliments our adversaries and threatens our allies and friends. Unlike previous Presidents who had limited experience in foreign affairs, Mr. Trump has shown no interest in educating himself. He continues to display an alarming ignorance of basic facts of contemporary international politics. Despite his lack of knowledge, Mr. Trump claims that he understands foreign affairs and “knows more about ISIS than the generals do.”

Mr. Trump lacks the temperament to be President. In our experience, a President must be willing to listen to his advisers and department heads; must encourage consideration of conflicting views; and must acknowledge errors and learn from them. A President must be disciplined, control emotions, and act only after reflection and careful deliberation. A President must maintain cordial relationships with leaders of countries of different backgrounds and must have their respect and trust.

In our judgment, Mr. Trump has none of these critical qualities. He is unable or unwilling to separate truth from falsehood. He does not encourage conflicting views. He lacks self-control and acts impetuously. He cannot tolerate personal criticism. He has alarmed our closest allies with his erratic behavior. All of these are dangerous qualities in an individual who aspires to be President and Commanderin-Chief, with command of the U.S. nuclear arsenal. end quote

Again, when it comes to risk-reward calculations and tradeoffs, however one imagines a person or a nation might best “thrive,” one is obliged to first ensure that this person or nation SURVIVES.

Serious people of large intelligence and profound goodwill, who have been in a much better position to know this, are telling us that Trump as POTUS poses a grave existential threat to – not only our Constitution, but – the planet, itself, by way of his command of our nuclear arsenal.

If that was all less obvious in 2016, in my view, it’s more so in 2020.

Former Secretary of State Colin Powell did not sign the 2016 letter, above, from national security officials opposing Trump, but since then, Powell has made his disapproval of the President clear. Most recently, Powell pledged his support for Biden in 2020, calling Trump a liar and saying Trump is bad for the country. [2]

For more than 40 years George F. Will has been a leader of conservative political thought. Will won the Pulitzer Prize for Commentary in 1977, was a contributor for Fox News from 2013-2017: “The president’s provocations — his coarsening of public discourse that lowers the threshold for acting out by people as mentally crippled as he — do not excuse the violent few. They must be punished. He must be removed.” [3]

Please vote Biden in November, as if your life depended on him getting elected.

Citations

[1] Josh Wingrove https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2020-06-24/from-bolton-to-mattis-trump-faces-aides-turned-adversaries?srnd=markets-vp

[2] Mariam Morshedi https://www.subscriptlaw.com/blog/conservative-voices-against-trump

[3] ibid

Reflections Regarding Political Discourse

Although I’m independent, that’s just my temperament. I really like our two-party system & I truly welcome such discourse, especially that of family & friends, even when I don’t feel like contributing.

In some cases, our parties should be collaborative. In some, though, they best be competitive. Such collaboration, competition & criticism generally fosters better outcomes.

I choose to focus on WHY my family & friends vote this way or that. I honestly cannot recall any such WHYs that I would find either objectionable or wholly unreasonable.

The likelihood that such votes will produce the outcomes each voter desires (or fears) is an entirely different question. In retrospect, I’ve been so wrong about that often enough over the decades that it tempers how much confidence I invest in my own inclinations (or against others’).

It’s true that some retweets & shares might display various types & degrees of crassness, stereotyping & oversimplification, but I haven’t seen cruelty or hatred in my (admittedly pruned) social feeds. I don’t let inartful moments become defining moments for my family & friends, especially when they are in no way reinforcing moments regarding people I’ve knowned & cherished, many since childhood! That’s some insurance that it won’t be done unto me, either.

And, by default, I choose to charitably interpret all tweets & posts from family & friends as truly aspirational expressions or as deeply felt voices of prophetic protest, which is to say that, while virtue twerking exists, we’re in no position, in principle, since we shouldn’t judge, to know if that’s what’s going on in any particular person’s motives.

re the crassness, stereotyping & oversimplification, most commonly it presents in the form of all or nothing and either-or thinking for realities that otherwise present in degrees, also in sweeping over-generalizations wholly lacking nuance and, sadly, in superficial interpretations that mischaracterize situations & caricature persons but which could’ve been clarified or corrected by digging just a little deeper & fact checking. So, when I use the characterization of “not wholly unreasonable” or inartful, that only means I resist judging others’ hearts. It doesn’t mean that I necessarily congratulate them for using their good heads well. Honestly, there’s not sufficient time in a day to provide fact checked corrections to the amount of garbage that populates even my pruned social feeds.

Among the most crass expressions are those that indiscriminately apply the term murderers to all sorts of persons in abortion debates. Over-against such discourse consider:

Trump ‘is so much anti-life,’ Kentucky Catholic bishop says in abortion discussion

“For this president to call himself pro-life, and for anybody to back him because of claims of being pro-life, is almost willful ignorance. He is so much anti-life because he is only concerned about himself, and he gives us every, every, every indication of that.”

Bishop John Stowe,
Diocese of Lexington

https://www.kentucky.com/news/state/kentucky/article244796347.html

Well, one can concede Trump’s not truly pro-life, yet still feel his judicial appointments might advance the cause.
#######

Why we shouldn’t call women who’ve had abortions murderers

Why We Shouldn’t Call Women Who’ve Had Abortions “Murderers”

######

On March 27, Tommy Scholtes, the spokesperson for the Belgian Episcopal Conference, condemned the professor, calling his words a “caricature” of Church teaching.

“The word ‘murder’ is too strong,” he insisted. “It presupposes violence, an act committed in the consciousness, with an intention, and that does not take into account the situation of the people, often in the greatest distress.”

“Such formulas do not really help the Church, particularly in the context of the Pope’s call for life,” Scholtes continues. “For, on the other hand, respect for life remains, of course, at the center of the doctrine. But the Pope also calls for mercy: We must show understanding, compassion.”

BELGIAN BISHOPS REFUSE TO CALL ABORTION MURDER

######

Calling abortion murder invites violence

Calling abortion murder invites violence

#####

Conservatives Call for Civility, But Claim Democrats Want to Murder Babies

https://www.thenation.com/article/archive/civility-later-abortion-republicans/

Many Dems share the goal of reducing the abortion rate & numbers with an aim toward eliminating any need for same but cite evidence that criminalization doesn’t work, is counterproductive & becoming increasingly unenforceable (hence bad law). Calling them murderers offends charity, incites violence & departs from the truth, i.e. it’s a lie, hence a defamation. There’s a difference between a moral stance and a prudential strategy re how to best realize an outcome.

######

Abortion extremism will yield more laws like New York’s

https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/distinctly-catholic/abortion-extremism-will-yield-more-laws-new-yorks

######

I don’t think abortion is murder, and neither do you

https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/steve-chapman/ct-perspec-chapman-abortion-murder-williamson-homicide-0429-20180427-story.html

Those who suggest differentials in punishments for women vs providers are justified are being disingenuous & condescending toward women.

######
We must never allow that woman to perceive the Pro-Life movement as a bunch of angry self-righteous Pharisees with stones in their hands, looking down on her and judging her.

Cardinal O’Malley

https://www.bostoncatholic.org/news/cardinal-sean-omalleys-pro-life-homily
######

As for the practical implications of abortion votes:
https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/08/18/biden-harris-abortion-2020-election

https://www.americamagazine.org/faith/2020/08/26/donald-trump-abortion-election-2020-pro-life

https://frenchpress.thedispatch.com/p/do-pro-lifers-who-reject-trump-have

As for the facile correlations between city politics and crime:
https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/factcheck/2020/06/24/fact-check-linking-city-violence-democratic-politics-reach/3248102001/

Is President Trump Correct In Saying Democrat Mayors Run The Most Violent Cities?

My Personal Outlook

Worldview Default Biases

1) Theologically, my approach (default biases) is Incarnational.

Descriptively, a theory of Truth.

Hence, my socio-economic-politico-cultural vision embraces Christian humanism.

In our vital affairs & essential orientations, approaches are optimally traditionalist, while, in our speculative pursuits & accidental orientations, optimally, they’re boldly progressive, all governed by prudentially applied subsidiarity principles ordered toward a human dignity, recognized in the realizations of solidarity, compassion, humility, disinterestness, blessedness (objective beatitude or AMDG) & joy (subjective beatification).

Ergo, my default biases are

2) Philosophically, a pragmatic, semiotic realism.

Descriptively, a theory of Knowledge.

3) Socially – optimally, familial & suboptimally, NGOs.

Interpretively, ultimately an Ecclesiology & theory of Unity.

4) Culturally – pluralistic.

Evaluatively, ultimately a Soteriology & theory of Beauty.

5) Economically – optimally, communal & suboptimally, regulated capitalism.

Normatively, ultimately a Sacramentology & theory of Goodness.

6) Politically – optimally, anarchical & suboptimally, classically libertarian (as, alas, we are not angels).

Transcendentally, ultimately a Sophiology & theory of Freedom.

A Metaphysical “univocity of reality” in a Neo-Chalcedonian Cosmotheandrism – a Peircean Precis

Thinking in terms of Peirce’s

Being > Reality > Existence

Considering a Neo-Chalcedonian Christology

While we still refer to divine & determinate hypostases via semantic univocity & ontological analogy …

Can we say that the Logos-logoi identity that humanizes divine persons & deifies human persons

invokes a metaphysical “univocity of reality per a Peircean Thirdness of generals, including created logoi, teloi, nomicities, etc,

all “participating” in a creatio ex deo, the essentially divine person self-determinately so, the essentially human person determinately …

such determinate effects variously exemplifying or signifying their Cause per their unique tropoi …

 

human persons as vestigia, imagoes & similitudines Dei …

the divine person as Logos in hypostatic union?

This would distinguish Maximus, on his own terms, from Balthasar’s Maximus, who overapplied the analogia?

Analogia of an Aesthetic Teleology

1) analogy of aesthetic intensityfixed

a) God: intrinsic perfection

b) human: subjective beatitude, bliss of beatific vision

2) analogy of aesthetic scope – variable in terms of manifestation

a) creator, God: scope of manifestations increased thru ad extra “exemplifications” of Logos & Glory, i.e. of divine esse intentionale, more than mere Cambridge properties, thin passibility

b) co-creator, human: scope of manifestations increased thru “significations” of Logos & Glory, objective beatitude, AMDG

Analogia of Divine & Human Tropoi

1) tropos of divine person

   a) essential nature exemplifies Logos

   b) secondary nature, exemplifies humanity

2) tropos human person

   a) essential nature as vestigial & imaginal Dei signifies Logos, exemplifies evolving humanity

   b) secondary nature as similitudino Dei signifies Logos, exemplifies deified humanity

Universalist Implications

 

The Summer of Love: Feser-Hart Redux

I was initially disappointed with Feser’s lack of earnest engagement with _TASBS_ . At the same time, I do concede that he and DBH have previously gone back & forth rather extensively & substantively. In some sense, one might ask how much more can Feser really add by way of argumentation.

See, for example:

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2017/01/a-hartless-god.html

Honestly, I really couldn’t stomach more of Feser’s revival of that ole time religion, i.e. a decadent neo-scholasticism. The disconnect for me & his ilk truly is visceral. I don’t necessarily reject Feser’s counterarguments because they aren’t logically consistent. What leaves me cold or, sometimes, even on the verge of wretching, is that such rationalistic takes as his are so existentially disappointing.

To proceed from Feser’s valid premises to check for soundness, one must also accept his terms, which, in my case, presuppose that I will have jettisoned all of my most deeply felt aesthetic sensibilities & moral intuitions.

Now, I fully expect that, post-mortem, we will all travel “beyond” those quotidian evaluative dispositions in various ways, but I certainly don’t expect we’ll travel “without” them, that any acceptable post-mortem anthropology should do such violence to my earthly experiences of all that’s been true, beautiful, good & unitive. For that matter, neither can I set aside my theophanic experiences of the here & now for the morally unintelligible theodicies on offer.

Rhetorically, I felt like DBH was interrogating me, asking how I really felt, what I most deeply valued, whom I most fervently cherished and how those relational dispositions imparted normative impetus to how I’d really respond to various thought experiments, whether now or post-mortem, whether regarding God or, let’s say, my precious children. And he was suggesting “Hold that thought! Cherish that feeling!” before engaging any syllogism!

Others, like Feser, assure me, rather, that … well, if that single damned soul is my son  … “Don’t worry. You’ll get over it.” And when we reflexively recoil & launch an invective, they complain of our harsh rhetoric.

That’s it. I’ve said much more about much else, elsewhere & here. Sometimes too much, to be sure. So, I apologize again. But these are reasons of my heart. I’m searching for arguments that are not just valid. The most taut tautologies for me will also be existentially satisfying.

In a more discursive vein, I realize that many have misinterpreted _TASBS_ as a theodicy.

What I have described above has more to do with its theophanic thrust. I eschew evidential theodicies. I resist them vehemently. But I do countenance logical defenses regarding the problem of evil. One of the bigger takeaways from DBH’s arguments, for me, was a deeper appreciation for the conception of evil as privation, which, as a concept over the years, wasn’t wholly compelling to me, although, in some ways, just sufficient. What infused that notion with more meaning was interpreting it (as  a corrollary to _TASBS_) as referring to an eschatological reality.

While I had previously bought into the idea that evil had no intrinsic existence, still, it most definitely was real and “existed” parasitically. To suggest that its parasitic existence wasn’t visible, real, etc always seemed to be wholly incoherent, lame, unpersuasive. One just could not convincingly say it was absolutely “no thing.”

Only per a universalist account can one affirm that, ultimately & eternally, evil will indeed enjoy no parasitic existence &, as a corrollary to all being realizing its Sophianic union with Being beyond being, evil will lapse into utter no-thing-ness, absolutely not existing, since no privations of the good, of being, shall perdure.

Evil may not be absolutely no thing “yet” but it is progressively “becoming” nonexistent, for we are poised to exist in fulfillment of the divine Logoi.

Anything less than the utter destruction of evil’s parasitic existence (hindering our telic realizations) will leave us with a Manichean residue and a “relatively good” God?

So, while _TASBS_ proffered no shallow evidential theodicy as misread by folks wearing the wrong hermeneutical lenses, it does seem to provide a theophany which has practical implications for grounding a modest logical defense – not Platinga’s or Stump’s, but – perhaps like M.M. Adams’?

To be clear regarding the normative role that our aesthetic sensibilities & moral intuitions play in how we judge competing theophanic accounts:

Our evaluative dispositions are integrally situated within an holistic hermeneutical spiral, which orients us to transcendental imperatives. They represent laws planted in our hearts, experienced by our consciences, which have been further informed by family life, friendships & loves, church fellowship, catechetical instruction, moral development, liturgical cultivation, formative spirituality, communal discernments & ongoing conversions, both secular & religious.

They are not to be cursorily dismissed, hastily set aside or cynically caricatured.

I personally subscribe to an axiological epistemology, as has been previously articulated by Amos Yong and I in conversation with CS Peirce, Lonergan & RC Neville.

This should be read in conjunction with:

A Collatio in Response to Edward Feser’s review of David Bentley Hart’s That All Shall Be Saved

And with:

An Open Invitation to Universalism – no matter how you square divine-human agential interaction

A Collatio in Response to Edward Feser’s review of David Bentley Hart’s _That All Shall Be Saved_

A Collatio in Response to Edward Feser’s review of That All Shall Be Saved: Heaven, Hell, and Universal Salvation By David Bentley Hart, Yale University Press (2019).

Feser recently published this review: David Bentley Hart’s attack on Christian tradition fails to convince

Precis of Feser’s Review

For Hart, at the end of the day it is not scripture, not the Fathers, not the councils, not the creeds, not Holy Tradition, that should determine what Christians believe.

The Fathers

Feser: The possibility of eternal damnation is taught in Scripture, by almost all the Church Fathers.

Why did Jesus not explicitly say that everyone will be saved, if that is what he meant? Why did it take centuries before any Christian even floated the idea?

Response:

Ambrose Andreano: Patristic universalism


The Councils

Feser: The Council of Trent rejected the view that a Christian can be certain of his salvation. As a non-Catholic, Hart would not be troubled by some of these facts, but his view is generally considered heterodox even in Eastern Orthodoxy.

Response:


Justin Coyle: May a Catholic faithful to the magisterium endorse universalism?


The Scriptures

Feser: Hart dismisses the traditional interpretation of the scriptural passages that teach the possibility of everlasting punishment. He claims that Christ’s words to this effect are either hyperbole of the kind typical of parables and apocalyptic literature, or have been mistranslated. When Christ speaks of punishment that is “everlasting”, he really means merely that it will last for an age.

Response:

Matthew Joss – Graduate Student of St. Mary’s College Logos Institute, University of St. Andrews writes:

DBH describes his hermeneutical method: obvious doctrinal statements (generally from the epistles) should be privileged over the figurative language of the Gospels and Revelation (93-94). There is an extended section dealing with the translation of aionios, which is quite helpful, although its actual application to texts is limited. He concludes, “The texts of the gospels simply make no obvious claim about a place or state of endless suffering”


Theological Anthropology

Feser: On the philosophical side, too, Hart’s book is a mess. A line of argument developed by Aquinas holds that it is impossible for the will to change its basic orientation after the death of the body. The reason is that the intellect’s attention can be pulled away from what it judges to be good and worth pursuing only by the senses and imagination, and these go when the body goes. The view has been spelled out and defended in detail within the Thomist tradition, but Hart has little to say about it other than to dismiss it with a few insults and cursory objections which Thomists have already answered.

Response:


Pastor Tom Belt:
Maximian irrevocability thesis


Moral Responsibility

Feser: Hart argues that since rational creatures are made to know and love God, any choice against God is irrational. If a choice is non-culpable because it is irrational, how can we be culpable for any bad thing that we do (given that bad actions are always contrary to reason)? How can we deserve even finite punishments? And if we can’t, then why do we need a saviour?

Response:

DBH: response to David W. Opderbeck, Ph.D.

Hart’s Rhetoric

Feser: DBH’s book freely indulges the boundless appetite for gratuitous invective and other ad hominem rhetoric for which he is famous.

Response:


John Sobert Sylvest:
re DBH’s harsh rhetoric

Hart’s Pantheism


Feser: Hart holds that all human beings are parts of Christ’s body in such a way that if even one person is damned forever, then Christ’s body is incomplete, and even his obedience to the Father is incomplete. Hart also holds that the individual self is destined to be “reduced to nothing” so that we can be “free of what separates us from God and neighbour.” What is left he compares to the Hindu notion of Atman. But all of this is hard to distinguish from a pantheism that blasphemously deifies human beings.

Response:


John Sobert Sylvest: That’s too facile a caricature to dignify with a response.


Divine & Human Agential Interaction

John Sobert Sylvest:
account of the noncompetitive nature of divine & human agencies

The Arguments of DBH Ed Feser Failed to Engage

Response 1

John Sobert Sylvest:
Essay Before Reading TASBS

Response 2

John Sobert Sylvest:
Essay After Reading TASBS

This should be read in conjunction with:

The Summer of Love: Feser-Hart Redux

And with:

An Open Invitation to Universalism – no matter how you square divine-human agential interaction