In Dialogue with Boyd on Hartshorne & Neville on Divine Freedom

Re: The true role of deduction in metaphysics is not to bring out the content of the initially certain, but to bring out the meaning of tentative descriptions of the metaphysically ultimate in experience so that we shall be better able to judge if they do generally describe this ultimate. <<<

Reminds me of Newman’s illative sense, Polyani’s tacit dimension, Maritain’s connaturality, Fries’ nonintuitive immediate knowledge & Peirce’s abduction.

Boyd succeeds at threading the nominalism-essentialism needle with his affirmation of Jonathan Edwards’ dynamical category of disposition, consistent with Peirce’s category of thirdness, where probabilities mediate between possibilities & actualities.

Hartshorne’s emphasis on beauty resonates with Peirce’s aesthetic primacy, but his doctrine of God seems to deflate God’s self-determinate nature, failing to make a sufficient distinction between a nondeterminate esse naturale & determinate esse intentionale. In the end Hartshorne will fall prey, unnecessarily, to the same peril as the Whiteheadian approach – it’s too nominalistic. Without a PSR, a category of dispositions and a Peircean-like abduction of an Ens Necessarium, he badly misconceives freedom, as Lord Acton might say, in terms of a volitional license to do what one, wholly indeterminately, wants, rather than in terms of the true volitional liberty to do what one — not extrinsically determinately, but — self-determinately must (per one’s esse naturale, which self-realizes freedom precisely in eternally be-ing all that’s true, beautiful, good & unitive).

See my own recent twitter thread re freedom, in/determinacy & telos:
https://mobile.twitter.com/John_S_Sylvest/status/1068640591376982017

re: We shall, in short, utilize the modification of Hartshorne’s foundational statements, combined with his theistic arguments, to arrive at a view of God which accomplishes what the classical view of God as actus purus accomplished—seeing God as self-sufficient, and thus creation and salvation as acts of grace—while yet avoiding the logical fallacies of the classical view and articulating a view of God which is, like the Process view, in accord with the dynamic categories of modernity. <<<

C’est bon

Re: And finally, while we have defended Hartshorne’s view that aesthetic value is a priori (III.vi.1), we have argued that his correlation of aesthetic intensity with synthesized multiplicity is not necessary (III.vi.2). One can, rather, distinguish between the subjective intensity of an experience, and the expression of that experience: the former admits of an acme point, the latter does not (III.vi.3). <<<

This all sounds consonant, still, with Peirce’s aesthetic primacy, i.e. how it avoids hedonism, and Scotus’ primacy of the will, i.e. how it avoids voluntarism. And, having considered Boyd’s project before, I’m reminded how his aesthetic distinctions between intensity & scope, experience & expression, were consonant with those between esse naturale & intentionale, reminiscent of that old formulation, albeit anthropomorphic, “appropriation of novelty & shedding of monotony.”

Re: This view is somewhat paradoxical in the context of Neville’s own system, for central to his entire ontology is the claim that the events of the world must “reveal” God’s character. See ibid., p. 11, “…God’s moral character is revealed in events….” But clearly, if God is genuinely wholly “indeterminate” ad intra, there can be nothing, literally “no-thing,” to reveal. A determinate revelation presupposes a determinate “something” to be revealed. Neville, however, is consistent in admitting that because God’s character is indeterminate, “the divine character” can be said to be “only as good as experience shows it to be as creator of just this world, and no more.” <<<

Yes, when I appropriated Neville on my own terms, I was not satisfied with a kataphatic predication of indeterminacy, ad intra. I appreciate the sentiment to cast God’s freedom more robustly, i.e. ontologically as well as morally. But I also felt that God ad intra must be predicated apophatically, beyond both in/determinacy & non/existents of being, e.g. no-thing-ness.

Essential propria like freedom would not be justified metaphysically but exegetically from both the gratuity of creation & the gratuity of grace, from both general & special revelation.

So, my taxonomy of determinacies looks like this:

Nondeterminate Emptiness (e.g. ground of Tillich & Neville, Ens Necessarium of Peirce)

Nondeterminate Nothingness (e.g. nihilum, ex nihilo)

Indeterminate Being (e.g. tehom)
• uncreated
• created
• lapsarian

Determinate Being (e.g. probabilistic in/determinacies as variously in/determinable and/or in/determined in degrees; as absolutely and/or relatively self-determinate)

God’s freedom

ad intra predicated

  • apophatically & essentially by a proprium of nondeterminacy,
  • apophatically & hypostatically by an idioma of unoriginacy, then,

ad extra – predicated kataphatically & hypostatically by

  • an idioma of absolute self-determinacy as the sole source of the Trinity
  • the pneumatological & Christological hypostases as relatively self-determinate
  • the Trinity, as Actus Purus, essentially & hypostatically, dynamical, determinable by substantial energies & hypostatical economies via the vestigial realities in the gratuity of creation & theotic realities in gratuity of grace, all as effected by the Trinitological synergy & revealed in special revelation

I recently observed:

It seems to me that many arguments – regarding what precisely was and remains at stake in those tensions still playing out between our patristic, scholastic & modern schools – turn on whether or not we imagine the Fathers & Medievals were mostly trying to solve, on one hand, the One & the Many, or, on the other, the Mystery of Freedom, both divine & creaturely, as all we most deeply cherish derives from its putatively coinherent gratuities, what we celebrate in our lives as Love. I hope I have unpacked enough to hint that such a tension represents a false dichotomy.

See:

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/11/29/my-mon-arche-i-tectonic-shift/

Re: God’s being is, in our view, determinate, at least with regard to God’s necessary God-defining characteristics. <<<

I think I suggested above – d’accord.

There are fundamental issues for me in univocally predicating in/determinacy of both God ad intra and creation. Even ad extra, I maintain, above, an apophatic predication of God’s determinacy by negating any coinherence of extrinsic determinacy with God’s self-determinacy. Divine self-determinacy further distinguishes itself as Actus Purus, while creaturely self-determinacy entails formative actualization of telic potencies in a dynamical theotic be-coming.

The question left begging, of course, is the causal nexus of creaturely participation in the divine economy & incorporation into the divine nature. Of course, it must be located

  • in our responses to special revelation,
  • in our responses to all that is true, unitive, beautiful, good & liberative in the vestigia of general revelation,
  • in our responses to our spontaneous abductions of the Ens Necessarium as we muse about effects we encounter as would be proper to no known creaturely causes, specifically vestigial & theotic effects that full body blow us with an excess of meaning, and
  • as those responses erupt in worship, foster conversions, instill a solidarity & unity from which compassion directly ensues in spiritual & corporal works of mercy.

Not to be coy, I imagine the nexus is semiotic.

And, when I tweet such things as I did earlier today —

What’s intrigues me about certain telic realities, including both formal & final causes, is that they can be lurking in such incredibly latent, implicate, tacit & unobtrusive ways, while, at the same time, so ineluctably & utterly efficacious. —

I very much have in mind both created & Uncreated grace, sacraments & symbols, vestigial & theotic signs.

My meta-ontological categorizing does not need a specific metaphysic but I intend it to be normative for any approach, whether creatio ex nihilo, amore or profundis, whether classical, neo-classical or process. And I do think panentheism & creatio ex profundis can be consistently conceived within rather classical contours. I first outlined same in a prologue to my project called pan-semio-entheism:

https://www.academia.edu/26023098/Reasons_and_Values_of_the_Heart_in_a_Pluralistic_World_Toward_a_Contemplative_Phenomenology_for_Interreligious_Dialogue

As for the Trinity, I think I subscribe to a negative mysterianism, combined with an ananoetic approach that serves only as an exploratory heuristic device & not as an explanatory model. This heuristic locates trinitarian unity substantially in one ousia; hypostatically in one source, the Father, as principium; dynamically, in the Trinity, as synergy.

I’m not a priori suggesting there’s no ontological root metaphor that could be had in principle, but am dang sure observing that I’ve never see a sufficient one in practice.

See:

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/09/17/why-i-have-no-metaphysic/

Re: link between a diversified harmony and the intensity of an aesthetic experience is not necessarily proportional

Important

Re: view of God wherein the self-sufficient actuality of God could be conceived of as necessary, while yet allowing for a contingent “expressive” actual aspect to God’s being

Important

Re: And the benevolence of the Trinity consists in the fact that God appreciates, and eternally remembers, the goodness acquired in the world along this journey, transforming it in a way that “feeds back into the world” to further its progress.

My own sophianic vision!

Where in the World is Sophia? —a Sophiological footnote

The created grace Gelpi refers to would be constituted by reality’s actualized potencies, eternalized teloi (both temporal & ultimate teloi) of Peircean thirdness, efficient materialities of secondness, connaturalized indeterminacies of firstness, existentialized essences, formalized finalities, participatory intimacizations eternalized, all temporal realities coaxed forth Pneumatologically, Christologically & Paterologically via Divine Energies as would account for effects as would be proper to no known causes.

Every trace of human goodness, for example, eternalized; along with every beginning of a smile & all wholesome trivialities.

Whether interpreted in Platonic, Neoplatonic, Aristotelian, Thomist, Scotist, Palamitic or Peircean categories — (and I cross hermeneutical bridges between them all:
https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/03/23/mapping-metaphysical-distinctions-aristotelian-thomist-peircean/ ), — collectively & dynamically, these cumulative actualized potencies or eternally realized divine teloi may represent Sophia, who participates in the Divine Energies in a perichoretic
Divine Dance.

In The Wisdom of God, Bulgakov spoke of two Sophias, one created and the other uncreated. She to whom I refer above would be the created Sophia in her participatedness. While I affirm the Divine Energies per a quasi- or trans-formal distinction, I must defer to others regarding the manner of viewing Sophia in
Orthodoxy. And still wonder just how we might best account for ecstatic visions of Sophia.

Re: Hence, God enjoys the world—the world “means something” to God—not as an essential element in God’s necessary self-constitution, but as an expression of God’s self-constitution. The world provides a new occasion for the unsurpassable beauty of God, defined in terms of divine intensity, to be expressed and in a sense “repeated” in a novel form. <<<

Important & defensible, again w/esse naturale vs intentionale distinction.

Re: dispositionality

Peircean Thirdness, the category of telic realities, formal acts in various degrees of final potencies, the loci of semiotic symbols, nexus of the divine & human, the dispositional, Christological & pneumatological.

Tom Belt, I can see why Robinson & Southgate appealed to you. You must’ve well intuited that you & Boyd (erstwhile?) would capture my imagination.

8 thoughts on “In Dialogue with Boyd on Hartshorne & Neville on Divine Freedom

  1. Hi John! Thanks for this. You’re able to juggle half a dozen important notions at the same time!
    Just one thought – it seemed that early on your seemed to recognize the category of ‘disposition’ as part of Hartshorne’s metaphysic. Actually Hartshorne doesn’t discuss or develop the idea. This was part of Boyd’s criticism of Hartshorne, and so it was Boyd (Trinity & Process) who introduced ‘disposition’ as a way to address the weaknesses of Whitehead/Hartshorne’s process understanding of God.
    Merry Christmas!
    Tom

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks, Tom. I think I fixed this. I was blogging that while watching football. It’s a very BIG misattribution because, had Hartshorne followed Peirce, his dipolar approach wouldn’t have lapsed into incoherence, at least on that front. How Hartshorne devoted so much time & effort on Peirce’s literary legacy only to depart from his thinking on that crucial insight is most unfortunate.

      Blessed Advent! Merry Christmas!

      Liked by 1 person

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