David Bentley Hart & Duns Scotus Walk Into a Bar, See Radical Orthodoxy & Ask: Why the Long Face?

Prologue – Conciliar trinitarian doctrines define the theological contours of worship & theosis, norming our responses to the Trinity, Who participatorily enfolds the essences, substances & relations of determinate being.

Our creeds do not ontologically define the theological concepts of Trinitarian essences (e.g ousia, nature), substances (e.g. hypostases, persons) or relations (e.g. ad intra/extra).

They do meta-ontologically implicate the semantical & metaphysical grounds of the Analogia, trans-essentially, trans-substantially, trans-personally, trans-relationally & trans-causally.

The semantical grounds are merely connotative, such that names, titles, appellations, attributions & propria successfully refer, denominatively as icons, to HOW God acts.

The denotative metaphysical grounds are clearly such that existential, numeric, quantitative & locative determinations successfully refer (with many apophatic predications), respectively as indexes, to THAT God acts, tri-trans-personally, trans-finitely & trans-spatio-temporally.

The connotative-denotative contexts metaphysically ground WHY determinate being, an effect proper to no known causes (there are NO generic determinations of WHAT acts as God), necessarily participates existentially in primal origin or source, materially in primal being, efficiently in primal support, formally in primal order, finally in primal destiny & intentionally in primal ground.

Determinate being’s telic participations respond to divine promptings (often symbolic, semiotic & pragmatic) toward human authenticity (freedom) via ortho-communal, ortho-pathic, ortho-praxic, ortho-doxic & ortho-theotic invitations, which are gifted by divine initiatives (divine energeia) in both the gratuities of creation (divine vestigia) & of grace (divine oikonomia).

Summary –

Trinitarian Analogia are grounded, semantically, by connotations, & metaphysically, by participations, but w/no generic determinations, ontologically, only apophatic references to a wholly transcendent telos.

The MOF has apophatic meta-ontological implications, i.e. NOT made. Per that distinction it avoids ontological subordinationism.

But, again, there’s no ontology implicated – not substantial, not personal, not relational, such as in modes of determinate being. At the same time, Trinitarian Analogia meta-ontologically connote trans-substantial, trans-personal & trans-relational icons, the semantical meaning of which get grounded metaphysically through theotic creaturely participations in the divine telos.

In What Manner & In What Degrees Might DBH’s Theological Vision Resonate with that of Duns Scotus?

DBH takes Deleuze to task more so than Scotus, perhaps:

“While he is aware of and cites with approval the doctrine of univocity usually ascribed (largely inaccurately) to Duns Scotus, it is Spinoza who asserts the most immediate influence over Deleuze’s use of the term.”

I haven’t located precisely where or by whom or how DBH has found the the doctrine of univocity usually ascribed to Duns Scotus to be largely inaccurate. I do know that Hart commends Scotus’ holistic theological anthropology for how Scotus recognizes the integral role desire plays in our holistic human acts of belonging, knowing, norming, willing, doing & becoming, that he affirms Scotus’ view that the Incarnation would’ve happened even without some felix culpa and that DBH critiques the excesses of RO’s Scotus Story.

At some level I suspect that DBH would generally agree with my normative application of Scotist-like nuances, below, even though he and others might find it descriptively suspect, historically & interpretively. That is, I can’t really say that I’m not really proposing what Scotus should have said rather than comfortably reposing in what Scotus actually did say & mean. I can say that I otherwise resonate with so much of DBH’s theological thrust.

DBH points out that Deleuze caricatures the Analogia tradition as an equivocity of being & univocity of attributes. Of course, DBH properly characterizes the Analogia as taking neither being nor attributes as either univocal or equivocal, but, instead, both as analogical.

Per Deleuze, says Hart, the Scotist version of univocity was intended to make intelligible the analogical attribution of like qualities between God and creatures, while the Spinozan version would altogether do away with analogy.

My summation, above, was paraphrased from DBH, The Beauty of the Infinite: The Aesthetics of Christian Truth, pp 61-62.

Implicit in such considerations, at the very least, are general characterizations of stances toward being qua being. To wit, per Lee Faber:

“With the emerge of Ockham, the basic positions of the scholastic discussion are set until the dissolution of scholasaticism itself: equivocity of being, univocity of being with analogy, univocity alone, analogy of being alone.”

Observations:

My account has rejected equivocity alone, univocity alone & analogy alone. Instead, I have articulated a univocity of being with analogy.

Specifically, I accept Deleuze’s characterization of Scotus’ univocity as an attempt to show how the Analogia’s intelligible. I would further parse my account, however, by saying that:

Scotus does not univocally predicate all essences of being between God & creatures, only attributions in quale (as denominative modifiers or participles). Attributions in quid (as determinative nouns, genera & species, quid est?) are predicated analogically.

Realities predicated in quid could include nouns like the truth & the life, or truth, beauty & goodness, or whiteness, whereas, when predicated in quale, could include participles like true, living, beautiful & good or white.

Love, itself, & Being Itself, would be predicated in quid, hence only ever analogically, while loving & being would be predicated in quale, ergo univocally.

Scotus thus proposes a Univocity of Predication “In Quale” & Analogy of Predication “In Quid” ?

Because this reduces to a denominative theological nomination, eliminating any determinative philosophical attributions, consistent with what DBH has insisted, I find it semantically & ontologically indistinguishable from Hart’s Analogia account?

I would only further distinguish between the rhetorical, theo-poetic, implicit denominations of our icons, images, diagrams & metaphors, on one hand, and philosophical, theo-logical, explicit denominations of our analogies, on the other. And further observe that, when invoking the in/finite disjunction, we must not multiply quiddities by infinity to arrive at a quantitative differentiation of Being & beings (certain theistic personalisms?). Instead, we multiply qualia by infinity, recognizing the qualitative differentiation of divine & determinate realities, fostering otherness & intimacy, participation & donativity-receptivity, immanence in transcendence rather than alienation from some Wholly Other.

But is univocity of being with analogy to be identified with all “analogy alone” stances?

I think that may be a fair assessment, if, by analogy alone, one refers to ontological descriptions of being as predicated in quid, as being among beings, generically.

Does anyone, however, suggest that, semantically, even regarding predications in quale, those must not be made univocally either, only analogically?

That would seem to risk the fallacy of equivocation and lead one into a radical apophaticism, obviating the empirical grounding of our God-conceptions, denying any intelligibility of the Actus Purus vis a vis our reasoning from determinate effects back to putative divine causes?

Heuristic for Univocal & Analogical God-Talk
I. iconic or qualitatively denominative (differentiae)
A. quale – how
B. qui – who
C. quem – whom
D. vague indeterminacy
1) vague or distinct
E. metaphorical & theo-poetic (e.g. certain implicit similarities of divine idiomata & individual essences)
F. analogical & theo-logical (e.g. certain explicit similarities of divine propria & ousia)
II. indexic & locatively determinative
A. spatio-temporal causes & effects & transcendental effects
1) quando – when
2) ubi – where
3) qua – as
4) unde – whence
5) quo – whither or existing state
B. transcendental causes – putatively & abductively inferred from effects proper to no known spatio-temporal causes
1) quo – whither or existing state
2) no spatio-temporal where or when, atemporality
3) existentially determinativequo — implicit ontological argument (Anselmian presuppositions)
C. indexic & numeric or numerally determinative
1) quot – how many
D. indexic & quantitatively determinative
1) quantum – how much
III. symbolic & generically determinative
1) quid – generic & specific
IV. contextual & pragmatic semiotic
A. telic or quare – why
1) principle of sufficient reason
2) generic in/determinacy (generality – general or specific)

Perhaps we can say that there can be a univocity of predication – not just denominatively (quale, qui & quem) including the iconic metaphors & analogies (whether of our theopoetics and/or theologies, whether of the idiomata and/or propria), but also – determinatively, including the locative (determinate effects of putative transcendental causes or quando, ubi & unde), numeral (three persons or quot), quantitative (in/finite disjunction or quantum) & existential (implicit ontological argument in pure perfections or quo) references to divine realities, while generically determinative descriptions (quid) require analogical predication?

Whether our discourse is denominative or determinative and/or employs a univocity or similarity and/or is explicit and/or implicit and/or refers generically and/or nongenerially and/or transfinitely and/or in/finitely — and so on, can make all the difference?

This grammar would eliminate the paralogisms that result from treating divine modes of identity (the denominative & nongenerically determinative predications of ousia & hypostases, essence & persons, primary substance & exemplifications) as if they were the generically determinative predications of modes of being (preserving, for example, both the consistency & intelligibility of our classic trinitology & creedal dogma). Furthermore, it would preserve important distinctions such as between a nondeterminate esse naturale & self-determinate esse intentionale, between intrinsic aesthetic intensity & extrinsic aesthetic scope of expression, or between an existentially determinative divine simplicity (quo) & qualitatively denominative divine aseity (quale).

This would all be toward the end of more highly nuancing our divine conceptions of immutability & impassibility and of the divinely omnipresent, omnipathic, omnibenevolent, omniscient & omnipotent, which, respectively, invite our participatory belonging, desiring, behaving, believing & becoming, i.e. orthocommunally, orthopathically, orthopraxically, orthodoxically & orthotheotically.

How Scotus’ Univocity of Being Grounds a Metaphysics of Participation

anselmscotusmeme4605273249805958728.jpg

Scotus’ univocity somewhat entails Anselm’s ontological proof, where “pure perfections,” which are predicable of God alone, refer to being none greater than which can be conceived. Thus, from aspects of determinate being, which self-evidently make creatures better, we can devise composite concepts that apply only to God. Such aspects are transcendentals, because they are coextensive with being, transcending this finite and infinite division of being.

Scotus’ proper attributes (one, good & true) are also transcendentals. The supercategory of disjunctive transcendentals, like finite & infinite and contingent & necessary, for Scotus, prove God’s existence.

The less perfect member of each disjunction are possibilities that may or may not be actualized, creation being contingent and dependent on the divine will and not a necessary & inevitable emanation. The pure perfections, which don’t presuppose some limitation, are transcendentals but, of course, not coextensive.

The above conceptions of being, for Scotus, are predicable in quale and not in quid, hence are predicable denominatively (essential difference or nonessential property) not determinatively (what is it? genus? species?).

In Peircean terms, qualia correspond to possibilities (firstness or 1ns) and not genera-lities (thirdness or 3ns) and can refer to properties (qualia not quiddities) we may conceptually abstract from actualities (secondness or 2ns). This distinction is crucial, for it distinguishes between a semantical univocity, which follows a grammar of naming, and what would otherwise be an ontological univocity, which follows a grammar of categories of existence, i.e. regarding features or properties possessed as formal acts in potency to a final telos. While every quiddity is an essence, not every essence is a quiddity. Scotus’ univocity refers to qualia not quiddities.

Scotus’ univocity still supports a distinction, however, between theo-poetic nomination & theo-logical attribution, but not the vicious form of attribution DBH laments in a univocal ontology. The distinction lies, instead, in that between icons, images, diagrams & metaphors, on one hand, and similes & analogies, on the other, the latter as explicit & literal, the former as implicit, all as possibilities, not generalities.

The reason these subtle distinctions of the Subtle Doctor are crucial, in my view, is that they set forth how both theo-poetic nomination (e.g. of certain idiomata) & theo-logical attribution (e.g. of certain propria), more modestly conceived, are consonant with our metaphysics of participation.

Indeed, triadically and semiotically, participatively, we are drawn beyond our iconic (peircean 1ns) & indexical (2ns) SIGN-ifications of divine names & locations, and thereby led to our robustly relational symbolic (3ns) engagements, spanning the infinite interval – not just theopoetically & theologically, but -doxologically & theotically!

No, the Divine Economy is Not Trickle Down! — The Flipping of the Divine Donative Script

What’s the nature of our participation in the divine oikonomia?

The trinitarian paterological ur-kenosis, via the divine nature, opens up the eternal distance (economically & intimately) that the Son & Spirit may truly be. (Bathasarian)

The pneumatological kenosis, via the divine will, opens up the infinite analogical interval between God and the gratuity of creation that determinate creatures could truly be. (Hartian)

The Christological kenosis, via the divine will, opens up the infinite possibilities that determinate persons could truly be-come love via the gratuity of grace. The Trinity thereby flipped the divine donative script, when, via the hypostatic union, Jesus participated in human nature. And He did this as a real personhood (enhypostasis), which belonged to Him, alone (anhypostasis).

These divine kenoses, via epektasis, open up an infinite human desire (aesthetically), and via ekstasis, open up the space for one to stand outside one’s self (relationally & personally). (Bulgakov, Balthasar, Hart & Zizioulas?)

I explain later, below, that human persons traverse these distances theopoetically, theologically and relationally. DBH would say rhetorically (via theological nomination) and epistemologically (via philosophical attribution).

And we might all agree that, by relationally, we mean Eucharistically (liturgically & sacramentally, doxologically & theotically).

In the personal and relational sense, in all forms of kenoses, including the paterological, pneumatological, Christological and our Eucharistic participations, we might see, in sharp relief, Zizioulas’ conception of person playing out, i.e. that of other & communion, economy & intimacy, epektasis & ekstasis.

If our analogia gift us, semantically, icons & indexes (signs & locations) of divine encounters (knowledge about God), it is finally a Eucharistic participation that will symbolically & efficaciously (semiotic pragmatism) gift us divine Communion (knowledge of God).

Our determinate oikonomia are the divine oikonomia & the economic trinity is the immanent trinity, just not vice versa, as the Trinity perpetually opens eternal distances (ad intra) and infinite intervals (ad extra), precisely that we might be, might become & might commune, forever & ever! Amen?

Now, has this not opened up the eternal space & infinite interval where we may all reasonably hope for ἀποκατάστασις ?

The Semiotic Eucharistic Cycle

Liturgy of the Word

  • Iconic theo-poetic nomination of divine names

  • Indexic theo-logic attribution of divine locations

Liturgy of the Eucharist

  • Symbolic doxological & theotic engagement of divine participations

Offertory – Ecstasis & Proodos as self-transcendence

Communion – Enstasis & Mone as union

Post Communion – Epecstasis & Epistrophe as self-reception

Dismissal (Ecstasis & Proodos)

Unitive Living (Enstasis & Mone)
ReturnIntroibo ad Altare Dei (Epecstasis & Epistrophe)
Liturgy of the Word – repeat the cycle

There’s Nothing Ontological About Scotus’ Univocity of Being

Because Scotus’ univocity of being refers to a semantic not ontological thesis, it’s – not only not over against analogy, but -tacitly relied upon on by, thereby integral to, analogy. It’s a thesis about language or how we think & talk about God and not about ontology or what God is.

So, does analogy with its implicit univocity still take back all the meaning it ostensibly gives?

It takes back a LOT but not ALL because our God-concepts are, at least, grounded empirically.

Like icons, images, similes & metaphors, both our univocal & analogical terms are likenesses or similarities of the realities they SIGN-ify or bring to mind, prior to conveying any complete meaning, which may or not be “fixed.”

For example, whiteness (Scotus’ example, in fact) is such a concept as can signify more than one reality irrespective of their generic ontological differences. And it can do so with a fixed meaning, too, even though it conveys nothing, in and of itself, ontologically, about different white things, i.e. neither what they are nor how they came to be white. (Scotus is not nominalist but moderately realist regarding universals, but that’s another conversation.) It’s thus a mental construct that’s been abstracted away from the things it variously signifies, while otherwise “proper” to none of them.

Once modalized as a white sheep or white Corvette, we have two new “composite” concepts.

Substitute “loving” for whiteness, “finitely” for sheep & “infinitely” for Corvette and one can see that the meaning of loving is fixed and so has some empirical bearing on our understanding of God, but the composite concept “infinitely loving” is qualitatively different & refers only to God.

Such an understanding remains rather meager, to be sure, but nevertheless sufficient to avoid wholesale equivocation, thereby rescuing the syllogisms of natural theology’s Analogia Entis from fallacy. It gifts us an imperfect knowledge and a small amount at that, but it’s an empirical – not just semantic & conceptual – knowledge of a very BIG & ULTIMATE reality, so, can have profound existential import, doxologically & theotically.

It’s only an ontological univocity of being, as a generic category, that should draw anyone’s metaphysical fire or raise anyone’s theological ire.

There’s Nothing Esoteric About Apophasis

One afternoon, one notices that the glass vase, which normally rests on an outdoor table in their backyard, has been shattered into so many pieces & that one of the bricks on the house’s rear wall has been cracked. One immediately infers that a projectile from over the back fence did the damage, then tries to muse to the best explanation, unable to find the offending object.

Taking out one’s compass, protractor & sliderule, estimating the projectile’s velocity, angle of trajectory, distance travelled, putative weight & such, the resident rules out the object having been thrown, fired from a potato cannon, tossed by a pitching machine, flung by a lawnmower and so on. For now, the determinable effects remain proper to no known causes.

Those effects were not entirely dissimilar to those one might expect from zinged marbles, fired potatoes, thrown baseballs or flung rocks, but, at bottom, were inconsistent with such acts even though, in certain other ways, very much like them.

The resident cleans up the mess & replaces the vase. It happens again! The resident, again, does forensic measurements, cleans up the mess & replaces the vase. It happens a third time! Still, the effects remain proper to no known causes. But, now, the resident starts to take the cause “personally.”

What kind of person is doing this and how? Well, it can’t be the sweet little old childless widow, who lives there. Of course, then, not any grandchild. And it’s positively not her yardkeeper, house-cleaner or physical therapist. It must be a neighborhood prankster, but one without a name or motive.

We’ve talked very intelligibly about this unknown personal cause, only able to make successful semantic references but unable to make good ontological descriptions of the actor or the actor’s specific machinations. We have employed analogies that apply literally, qualifying them with all manner of apophatic negations.

You see, there’s nothing occult or gnostic about apophasis. It’s quite quotidian in application, with a positive epistemic valence, even, as a supplemental way of increasing descriptive accuracy by saying what something is not or is not like.

Pip did this in Great Expectations, searching for – not a malefactor, but – benefactor. Ralph McInerny has described us as Characters in Search of Their Author.

Not just the fast & frugal heuristics of common sense employ such abductive inference, ananoetics & apophasis, as this has long been the tradecraft of our highly speculative theoretic sciences, of quantum interpretations & philosophies of mind, of undiscovered elements on the Periodic Table & putative genes carrying the traits of Mendel’s peas.

Yes, our God-talk traffics only in successful references not ontological descriptions and takes back, apophatically, more than what it gifts, analogically. But that’s just the philosophical part of our human episteme. It, at least, renders our beliefs reasonable, partly intelligible even if not wholly comprehensible.

For some, that serves as the praeambula fidei to making the existential leap in responding to special revelation, musing that, if Jesus of Nazareth & his People Gathered are that loving, that beautiful, that good, that liberative, then, maybe just maybe, I can reasonably hope He & They are also that True!

That’s what this entire blog is really all about, reconciling Plato, Plotinus, Proclus, Palamas & Peirce, Bulgakov & Bracken, Zizioulas & Scotus.

When I say “successful reference” to God, I mean that literally in a robustly ontological sense.

From divine vestigia of the gratuity of creation via general revelation & energeia-oikonomia of the gratuity of grace via special revelation, I say we can infer from those divine effects, which are proper to no known causes, a putative Actus Purus.

Because the nondeterminate divine ousia & hypostases involve Act sans potency, similarities to the acts of determinate beings are far outnumbered by dissimilarities.

From a separate conversation, I’d written:

A practical take-away from Neville (following Peirce’s semantics):

Modally, if one takes an analogy to be a type of possibility (e.g. along w/ icons, images, diagrams, similes & metaphors, which are similarity-invoking), then, as a form of indeterminacy, it might be treated as a case of vagueness, where noncontradiction [PNC] wouldn’t apply?

We’d thus distinguish it from that form of indeterminacy, modal generality, where excluded middle wouldn’t apply but a continuum of probabilities could (scalar).

Without PNC, a great deal of epistemic humility‘s warranted in all analogy-discourse!

Dissimilarities abound!

Apophasis thus redounds!

When DB Hart gets outdone with some neo-scholastics, it’s because they apparently give more weight to the Analogia than it can epistemically bear. <<<

We believe, then, that nondeterminate divine realities cause determinate effects – vestigia, energeia & oikonomia & invite our participation. But what is the “nature” of our participation, considering divine acts are nondeterminate and/or self-determinate & ours determinate? Is there anything univocal going on?

It seems to me that when we cooperate with the divine gratuities of creation & grace, we as creatures foster the very same doxological & theotic effects as the Trinitological Synergy, soteriologically, sophiologically, ecclesiologically, eschatologically & sacramentally. We do this imitatively & instrumentally, by actively surrendering, kenotically, thereby becoming passive conduits, pneumatologically.

Correcting Bulgakov w/Bracken, I imagine a panentheistic, divine matrix, which, participatorily, not only involves us creatively & imitatively, but, which neo-platonic-like, also influences us diffusively & substratively, as the divine telos gently coaxes us toward the fulfillment of our human nature (sustained authenticity).

I guess I’m suggesting that there’s a participatory univocity of loving effects via our determinate kenosis, imitating Jesus’ self-determinate kenosis, unleashing the Spirit’s gifts, charisms & universal salvation.

Flipping the Semantic Script for Determinate & Divine Being

Turning this thing on its head has been precisely how I’ve come to approach this all. The more jargonistic way of condensing my above contributions is to wit:

Determinate syllosistics are derived from divine syllogistics.

If one begins with the Athanasian Creed, then formalizes it, one gets Abelard’s 3 modes of identity: essential, personal & formal.

The first 2 modes do not apply to determinate being, precisely due to radical dissimilarities in predications of ousia & exemplifications of hypostases.

For determinate realities, the only mode of identity is formal & we can consider it a derivation of divine syllogistics (rather than taking them to be an ad hoc strategy of our Aristotelian-like syllogistics).

Of course, for determinate realities, essence, hypostases & forms (the last = generalities, laws, regularities) reflect modes of being.

This doesn’t gift us a formal systematic accounting but it very much entails a rather robust semi-formal heuristic. This is the intersection where determinate effects interact, inter-participatively, as they variously ensue from divine nondeterminate or self-determinate realities or from creaturely determinate realities, either which can, variously, generate “effects proper to no known causes” whether putatively theological, metaphysical, scientific or common sensical.

It’s from the synergistic divine vestigia, energeia & oikonomia that we abductively infer a putative divine cause, Actus. We can thus affirm Rahner’s axiom that the economic trinity is the immanent trinity, even though many of us would hesitate regarding any vice versa. At least, I can’t go there.

Rahner spoke of a divine quasi-formal cause. Inverting the script, though, perhaps it’s better said that it’s our Aristotelian-like categories that are quasi, not the divine categories:

  • quasi-formal in potency to quasic-telic,
  • quasi-actus (efficient) in potency to quasi-substantial (material),
  • quasi-existential in potency to quasi-essential,

whereby, imitatively, we realize our authentic human nature as we grow from mere image (quasi) to clear likeness (REAL-ly), co-creatively fulfilling our created potential.

Not sure I’ve connected any dots or successfully unpacked my divine imaginary, but those are my categories, their semantic rules & implications for intelligible god-talk.

Further Nuancing Apophasis

Some Orthodox theologians point out that both the via positiva and via negativa are RATIONAL approaches, both sharing the same trajectory of increasing descriptive accuracy, whether through affirmation of what something is, ontologically, or is like, analogically, or through negation of what something is not or is not like. That’s how kataphasis and apophasis are largely conceived in the West, often through radically logo-centric lenses.

When Lossky employed an apophatic, perichoretic strategy, though, he referenced a transrational mystical experience moreso in terms of ineffability. He aspires merely to a successful relational reference but does not ambition a successful metaphysical description. (This distinction applies, by the way, to so much of nondual teaching in Buddhist & Hindu traditions, as they aren’t doing metaphysics as much as they are leading us into experiences or real-izations).

The Orthodox priest, Dumitru Staniloae, according to some, was more rigorous and nuanced than Lossky. He would refer to our ineffable experiences as transrational and trans-apophatic.

Such distinctions ground others, for example, a trinito-logy vs a trinito-phany.

An Afterward Regarding Univocity, Analogy & Apophasis

Our irreducibly triadic inferential cycling of abductive hypothesizing, deductive clarifying & inductive testing can fall into a sterile, nonvirtuous dyadic cycling of abduction & deduction, never gaining the realist traction that can only come from, at least, some inductive rubber hitting the epistemic road.

To be sure, sometimes, despite our mindful exploratory excursions, this happens because we’ve encountered a genuine explanatory aporia. In such cases, our alternating univocity, analogy & apophasis can make a salutary contribution to enhanced intelligibility by presenting then discarding one heuristic device after another in the form of more icons, images, diagrams, similes, metaphors & analogies.

This is analogous to our Popperian alternation of conjecture & criticism in the falsification of our abductive hypotheses via inductive testing, but unlike falsification in that, unable to critically engage inductively, it simply generates more hypotheses, more potential pathways to serve as candidates for testing, sometimes via rather weak forms of inference &, if lucky, sometimes using more robust methods.

So, the role of univocity, analogy & apophasis might best be conceived as an inference generator, souping up the abductive engine we already have. It can be thought of, too, as a meta-heuristic device, which keeps churning out heuristics.

  • When it does this using icons, images, diagrams & metaphors, our heuristics are poetic (e.g. theopoetic).
  • When using univocity, apophasis, similes & analogies, our heuristics are logocentric (e.g. theological).
  • When actively engaged by our participatory imaginations (e.g. liturgically, doxologically, theotically), such heuristics can foster interpersonal relations, trans-rationally, trans-apophatically & axiologically.

In my view, then, we best engage our Scotist, Thomist, Palamist, Aristotelian & Peircean approaches – not as explanatory metaphysics, but – as exploratory heuristics, setting forth metaphysical contours in the same way that our creeds define the theological boundaries of essential dogma.

Here’s a concrete application as an example:

An Aristotelian hylomorphism, properly conceived in a triadic semiotic sense, doesn’t compete as an explanatory metaphysic (i.e. aspiring to explain consciousness in competition with eliminativism, nonreductive physicalism, cartesian dualism, etc) but, instead, serves as an exploratory heuristic, which can guide empirical research, keeping relevant questions alive & foregrounded. It might suggest, for example, that one mustn’t conflate materialism with physicalist accounts. Instead, we best distinguish that conception of consciousness, which we properly take to be immaterial (i.e. for materialist approaches are prima facie absurd) from that of any physicalist conception of same, which needn’t necessarily be absurd (e.g. inconsistent with freedom).

Note re Thomist-Scotist “Impasse”

It seems that an analogy certainly needs nonanalogical grounds (positive & negative, dis/similarities) as a univocal foundation. And it further seems that, semiotically, there can be inconic & indexic signs and syntactic & semantic logics in play that can involve direct experience, existential significance & immediacy, via Scotus’ cognitive intuitions — all apart from & prior to conceptualizations. Signs & images can evoke analogous realities, including causes, effects, events & activities — again, without words, apart from discursive reasonings (per Peircean categorizations). Such signs would provide univocal foundations when “having one meaning,” but need not be conceptual, semantically. The semiotic logic of such intuitions would be intact & implicit, subject to eventual explication. Scotus’ semantical univocal predication of concepts would thus be a special case of a more general univocal grounding, which could be either intuitive or conceptual. Analogy could certainly be subverted by equivocation without any univocal grounding, whatsoever, but it would only require univocal conceptions for our discursive reasonings & not our quotidian participatory imaginings? I’m trying to locate & articulate the impasses.

What I mean to suggest, then, is that the Scotistic semantical-conceptual univocity does differentiate itself as a deductive approach. At the same time, the Thomistic approach does not differentiate itself vis a vis a univocal grounding. What both approaches, unavoidably, have in common is an irreducibly triadic inferential process of abduction, induction & deduction, each presupposing the others.

In higher animals, abduction is hardwired as an instinct, an adaptation gifting more behavioral plasticity than available from mere stimulus-response algorithms (lower lifeforms). In humans, we have the same teleo-nomic S–>R reflexes & abductive instincts plus the teleo-logical triadic inferential capacity, which is unleashed by our symbolic language capabilities. Whether implicitly & instinctively or explicitly & inferentially, the same syntactic & semantic logics are in play, and, for the symbolic species, Homo sapiens, pragmatic, contextual logics are added.

There’s no secret formulae kept in Scotistic, Thomistic or Palamitic vaults. There are only the fast & frugal, semi-formal heuristics of our biosemiotic legacy.

Taken semiotically, Scotus also distinguishes between immediate significates and mediate significates. In the former, an intelligible species is immediately signified, an extramental, existing physical thing. In the latter, a thing may be signified not as it physically exists, but as an object of the intellect, insofar as it is known or understood, what Scotus called objective being.

Signs as univocal ontological relations can refer to existent or nonexistent objects with equal facility, an important distinction if abduction is to work – hypothesizing, for example, putative unknown causes from determinate effects. (This distinction doesn’t straddle idealist vs realist accounts, but is strictly constructivist.)

Such a Scotistic semiotic account of mediate significates, objective being, univocal conceptions & formal distinctions, operates semantically — but not over against Thomistic metaphysical accounts of either univocity or analogy.

As for Aquinas’ metaphysical approach, some might imagine that he was denying univocism & equivocism prior to, apparently, affirming their amalgamated version in an ad hoc manner, i.e. not defending that leap or deriving its
logic?

But Aquinas needn’t be interpreted as denying Scotus’ univocal predication of God (via mode of conceiving), so, in that sense, also wouldn’t need to be interpreted as objecting to taking same (univocal predication) as defined per its successful use as a middle term in a syllogism. i.e. a univocal grounding, semantically.

However, there’s another grounding, metaphysically, which goes beyond mere intelligibility & avoidance of fallacy (equivocation) to make the predication true, i.e. not just consistent & valid but in a truth-making sense regarding how any given attribution is true.

There not only can be but there must be a heterogeneity, here, in how the attribution is metaphysically grounded, because the same claim will be true but for different reasons when, on one hand, talking about divine realities in their modes of identity, versus, on the other hand, determinate realities in their modes of being.

For a concrete example, see Pruss’ discussion regarding Wisdom:

http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/2010/09/do-aquinas-and-scotus-disagree-on.html?m=1

Coming full circle back to DBH, while he retrieved & affirmed the Analogia (I think to counter some radical aphophaticism in certain Palamitic cohorts), my impression is that he doesn’t countenance its being deployed in a naively realist manner that, in turn, overemphasizes the speculative & kataphatic, i.e. rationalism. We must continue to strike a careful balance between overemphases of either the affective or speculative as well as the apophatic or kataphatic, thus navigating past the shoals of rationalism, encratism, fideism, pietism & quietism. A modicum of epistemic humility is called for.

We mustn’t imagine that either our syllogisms or heuristics have proved anything. What I refer to as divine syllogistics (modes of identity) & determinate syllogistics (modes of being), which I won’t explicate here but which are consonant with the general consensus of neo-platonist, scotist & thomist classical theisms, should not be employed to say way more than can possibly be said or to tell untellable stories.

Those very same modes of identity can similarly be used to properly predicate and to consistently & intelligibly formulate other “Theories of Everything.” Different a priori mereological presuppositions can articulate, for example, either a pantheism or materialist monism, the latter which is nihilistically corrosive of ultimate meaning. Other dualist & pluralist ontologies similarly compete, speculatively.

What the Analogia gifts us is the speculative reasonableness of our faith. And the modes of identity gift us a demonstration of the consistency & intelligibility of even the Trinity. They don’t, however, eliminate nihilism or other approaches via speculative reason — at least, not in a manner as is repeated way too often by “apologists” engaged with atheists in cyberforums & chatrooms.

What vaults the believer past nihilism is, instead, a form of practical reasoning under speculative uncertainty, employing what I like to call an equiplausibility principle, which then guides us toward the most eminently actionable live options, existentially. There’s an existential disjunction or “living as if” that takes hold of our participatory imaginations as we choose to pursue, in each uncertainty, the most life-giving & relationship-enhancing response available.

Such is the calculus that leaves a materialist monism in the dustbins of history, whether philosophically or existentially, along with its corrollary skepticism, solipsism, nominalism, voluntarism, relativism & ultimate nihilism. As a matter of practical reasoning, it’s not existentially actionable and, however uncertain one may be speculatively regarding 1) What can we know? 2) What can we hope for? & 3) What must we do? —- we can be practically certain in a most eminent manner: We can “hope” to “know” what we “must do,” which is to love!

And this is not just logically consistent, internally coherent, existentionally actionable & philosophically intelligible, but is externally congruent, inductively & probabilistically, with a great deal of historical evidence, whether historically (N.T. Wright re: Resurrection), ecclesiologically (Luke Timothy Johnson re: our living witness) or pneumatologically (Amos Yong re: Spirit in the great traditions) and notwithstanding marginal voices like John Dominic Crossan (Jesus Seminar).

I think DBH would rightly extoll the rolls of both our metaphorical theopoetics & participatory doxologies & theotics, while deemphasizing what the Analogia contributes (as necessary but woefully insufficient).

I’m also deeply sympathetic with DBH’s critique of what Natural Law reasoning might truly contribute beyond the most general of precepts; only the most rationalistic approaches (devoid of an authentic personalism) would imagine that it can deliver concrete norms for virtually every conceivable circumstance.

If I’m reading DBH correctly, at least his general thrust, it seems he’s asking us to cast off both an epistemic hubris & an excessive epistemic humility vis a vis speculative reasonings, but to put on a confident assurance in things hoped for & always eschew living as those who have no hope!

Coming full circle back to DBH, while he retrieved & affirmed the Analogia (I think to counter some radical aphophaticism in certain Palamitic cohorts), my impression is that he doesn’t countenance its being deployed in a naively realist manner that, in turn, overemphasizes the speculative & kataphatic, i.e. rationalism. We must continue to strike a careful balance between overemphases of either the affective or speculative as well as the apophatic or kataphatic, thus navigating past the shoals of rationalism, encratism, fideism, pietism & quietism. A modicum of epistemic humility is called for.

We mustn’t imagine that either our syllogisms or heuristics have proved anything. What I refer to as divine syllogistics (modes of identity) & determinate syllogistics (modes of being), which I won’t explicate here but which are consonant with the general consensus of neo-platonist, scotist & thomist classical theisms, should not be employed to say way more than can possibly be said or to tell untellable stories.

Those very same modes of identity can similarly be used to properly predicate and to consistently & intelligibly formulate other “Theories of Everything.” Different a priori mereological presuppositions can articulate, for example, either a pantheism or materialist monism, the latter which is nihilistically corrosive of ultimate meaning. Other dualist & pluralist ontologies similarly compete, speculatively.

What the Analogia gifts us is the speculative reasonableness of our faith. And the modes of identity gift us a demonstration of the consistency & intelligibility of even the Trinity. They don’t, however, eliminate nihilism or other approaches via speculative reason — at least, not in a manner as is repeated way too often by “apologists” engaged with atheists in cyberforums & chatrooms.

What vaults the believer past nihilism is, instead, a form of practical reasoning under speculative uncertainty, employing what I like to call an equiplausibility principle, which then guides us toward the most eminently actionable live options, existentially. There’s an existential disjunction or “living as if” that takes hold of our participatory imaginations as we choose to pursue, in each uncertainty, the most life-giving & relationship-enhancing response available.

Such is the calculus that leaves a materialist monism in the dustbins of history, whether philosophically or existentially, along with its corrollary skepticism, solipsism, nominalism, voluntarism, relativism & ultimate nihilism. As a matter of practical reasoning, it’s not existentially actionable and, however uncertain one may be speculatively regarding 1) What can we know? 2) What can we hope for? & 3) What must we do? —- we can be practically certain in a most eminent manner: We can “hope” to “know” what we “must do,” which is to love!

And this is not just logically consistent, internally coherent, existentionally actionable & philosophically intelligible, but is externally congruent, inductively & probabilistically, with a great deal of historical evidence, whether historically (N.T. Wright re: Resurrection), ecclesiologically (Luke Timothy Johnson re: our living witness) or pneumatologically (Amos Yong re: Spirit in the great traditions) and notwithstanding marginal voices like John Dominic Crossan (Jesus Seminar).

I think DBH would rightly extoll the rolls of both our metaphorical theopoetics & participatory doxologies & theotics, while deemphasizing what the Analogia contributes (as necessary but woefully insufficient).

I’m also deeply sympathetic with DBH’s critique of what Natural Law reasoning might truly contribute beyond the most general of precepts; only the most rationalistic approaches (devoid of an authentic personalism) would imagine that it can deliver concrete norms for virtually every conceivable circumstance.

If I’m reading DBH correctly, at least his general thrust, it seems he’s asking us to cast off both an epistemic hubris & an excessive epistemic humility vis a vis speculative reasonings, but to put on a confident assurance in things hoped for & always eschew living as those who have no hope!

Note on Moderate Realism:

I distinguish between THAT an objective being has “the same” meaning regarding two different realities, univocally & semantically, and HOW it can be “the same” for (more so “true of”) those two realities, analogically & metaphysically.

Even for those of us who stipulate (not uncontroversially? or, at least, “it’s complicated!”) that neither a semantical nor metaphysical grounding is sufficient and that both are necessary in the Analogia, the HOW of the analogical sameness is far more interesting, philosophically, and way more compelling, existentially, because its truth-making speaks directly to & literally of the Reality of God, while the THAT of a univocal sameness, alone, wouldn’t convey whether we’re even talking about existents or nonexistents, divine or determinate realities.

Scotus’ account of the transcendentals, including univocal & coextensive qualia, seems to be, itself, pre-suppositionally grounded analogically, implicitly articulating an Anselmian-like ontological proof of noncomposite Being (in a disjunctive relationship to modal beings).

I get the legitimately equivocal references to both types of sameness.

I even more so get why there’s a much stronger emphasis on analogy’s metaphysical import, which must be argued with rigor, philosophically, than on univocity’s semantic logic, which can almost be taken for granted, intuitively?

Robert Fortuin wrote: “Yes if we remain on a purely horizontal level then indeed univocal, ordinary semantics is quite proper, self evident, and intuitive. However the theological task doesn’t remain on the horizontal level, we are concerning ourselves with a cause of an altogether different and higher mode of being then creaturely being. Ipso facto likeness and difference is analogous: the resemblance in the lower effect of the higher cause is not univocal but analogical.”

https://anopenorthodoxy.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/lost-in-translation/#comment-3105

My response:

Yes, and, as we reason from determinate effects as would be proper to no known causes, our abductive task necessarily begins on this horizontal level. And it doesn’t a priori presuppose whether it will remain there or not. And, further, once we find it heuristically fruitful to explore the possibilities of additional vertical levels (of aboutness), we wouldn’t a priori presuppose whether we’ll be moving beyond a metaphysical to a theological task.

This is all to suggest, then, that the resemblances in lower effects of higher causes, for example, in an emergentist frame (Let me say that I’m not not invoking supervenience, here), may become analogical long before we commence a theological task.

Concretely, we encounter metaphysical tasks at different aporia, even in our scientific explorations, e.g. in the emergence of symbolic language, consciousness, life itself, the cosmos & quantum fluctuations.

The explanatory interpretations of various exploratory heuristics invoke novel realities that can, putatively, exhibit both univocal & analogical resemblances (here some invoke supervenience), raising both quantitative & qualitative questions.

More specifically, even, human symbolic language does not just surpass sentience or animal consciousness quantitatively but does so qualitatively. Animals already exhibit abductive instincts and syntactical & semantical sign usages, employing iconic & indexic signs BUT human consciousness, which exhibits not only abductive instincts but inferences, with its contextual & pragmatic sign usage, employing arbitrary symbol conventions, is qualitatively distinct, semiotically.

We thus anthropomorphize certain animal behaviors, when we univocally project onto them what are otherwise only analogous behaviors or, even, a mixture of univocal, analogical or even equivocal realities. We can sumilarly anthropomorphize divine hypostases, ousia & energeia.

So, it’s helpful, heuristically, to distinguish reality’s causes in terms of “aboutness,” recognizing that not all causes can be explained in univocal terms, that the concept of telos, itself, can be analogically differentiated into various teloi, as we move through the great chain of being from the robustly end-intended to the end-purposed to the end-directed to the merely end-stated to, perhaps even, the end-unbounded, respectively what I would refer to as teleologic, teleoqualic, teleonomic, teleomatic & teleopotent “aboutnesses.”

The arguments begin as various schools of, for example, quantum interpretation or philosophy of mind, will a priori presuppose which aporia are epistemic and/or ontic and/or both in nature, which novelties demonstrate weak or strong emergence or supervenience. I resist such distinctions as, on one end, they can remain question begging, while, on the other, they can seem trivial. In many cases, such presuppositions can mistake what are merely exploratory heuristics for explanatory accomplishments (e.g. Dennett’s consciousness “explained” or, more appropriately, eliminated, having the deleterious effect of prematurely shutting down critically important research programs.

It is immensely gratifying to me that, whether as Scotists, Thomists, Neo-Platonists or such, we enjoy a great deal of normative consensus regarding how different realities are predicated and properly grounded, metaphysically. That’s where my interests lie in this conversation. And, it’s further satisfying that we all, of course, eschew the corrosive axiological effects that necessarily ensue from nominalism, voluntarism, relativism, etc that all decay into an ultimate nihilism. As if ever there was (or could be) a disagreement …

Which Scotus narratives are eisegetic or exegetic, descriptively, is above my paygrade (and I work for free, SO … ) & of no consequence to my normative approach.

Of course, the principle of meaning refers to judgment. That’s why I continuously invoke jargon like icon, index & symbol – not b/c others find it informative, but b/c it helps me think straight, for any robust conception of meaning requires both denotation & connotation. Denotation merely references things. A sign representation that only denotes but does not connote is only an index. A sign representation that only connotes but does not denote is only an icon. As usual, each is necessary, neither sufficient.

The trick is not to move toward or away from nominalism, on one hand, or toward or away from essentialism, on the other, for these are but the obverse sides of the same bankrupt coinage of our epistemic realm. Instead, we must approach reality as moderate realists, precisely by perceiving, understanding, judging, deciding & acting in a complete hermeneutical spiraling of descriptive, interpretive, evaluative, normative & relational approaches to reality.

For the most part (not necessarily mapping perfectly), Aquinas met this moderate criterion with his “metaphysically real” distinction & Scotus with his “formal distinction.” Peirce met it with his category of Thirdness (regularities & real generalities), which was inspired by but not developed directly from Scotus. Moderate realisms vis a vis approaches to universals, as far as nominalism goes, have no need of that hypothesis.

The musing, above, dialogues with this conversation at Pastor Tom Belt’s Open Orthodoxy blog.

Divine Names

No argument w/analytic approach, generally, BUT too many analytics imagine they’re providing solutions to problems in classical trinitarianism that exist in neither Latin nor East, e.g. modalism/tritheism, b/c they engage (ontological) caricatures of (meta-ontological) creeds.

A communicated essence (not divisible) coinheres in three persons (not communicable), the Son (eternally begotten) & Spirit (eternally spirated) proceeding from the Father (eternally originating).

The Cappadocians & fathers derived various names/propria Biblically, not philosophically, from prayers & practices, traditions & transformations.

Because names usually reify or indicate the form or intrinsic characteristics of the thing (entity or existent) named, since (the reality of) God (no thing) has no form, He has no name in that sense ..
so divine names refer to divine propria of the essence (intrinsically) & idiomata of the persons as revealed by energeia, vestigia, oikonomia. One could take simplicity as a name, where God is both simplicity itself (as pure act) & beyond simplicity (as its source).

Simplicity as such wouldn’t prevent such divine distinctions as between a singularity of source & multiplicity of expression, an aesthetic intensity & scope, or the divine nature & will (e.g. John Damascene doesn’t identify the esse naturale with the esse intentionale).

Mary-Jane Rubenstein: The bottom line for Hart is that whether the fathers claim that illuminated souls see the divine essence or participate in God’s energies, or whether they call God “Being” or “beyond being,” they are saying the same thing, which is … that God is “the transcendent source & end of all things,” who “reveals ever more of himself & yet always infinitely exceeds what he reveals.” review – Orthodox Readings of Augustine, ed. Aristotle Papanikolaou & George E. Demacopoulos (St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2008).

It’s not in our geographic positions but our humble dispositions the Holy Spirit works – even beyond a seminary or cloister wall, a workaday world or homelife of masked contemplation, the visible frontiers of the church – in all people of goodwill.
https://t.co/iIXMUWDnfu

How Scotus Might Gift Zizioulas Coherence

Zizioulas’ musings evoke images for me that work really well, metaphorically & theopoetically.

And any rhetorical & liturgical approach, which is that existentially persuasive & intuitively appealing, just has to implicate some coherent ontological account?

For example,

  • 1) Leading w/hypostases rather than ousia,
  • 2) recognizing, in the order of intelligibility, the essential dependencies of individual essences,
  • 3) interpreting each as personal &
  • 4) trinitarian dynamics as relational –

How might we best conceive such modes of identity?

Scotus, too, eschews substantial references to hypostases (e.g. primary substances & subsistences), recategorizing them as exemplifications!

He doesn’t altogether abandon substance-talk, but relocates primary substance to ousia (Thomist analogue being secondary substance), thus avoiding causal dynamics (act-potency ascriptions).

Zizioulas’ critics point out that, at some point, he must retrieve substantial distinctions into his relational ontology to avoid conundra of the one & the many & metaphysically differentiate un/created realities and I suspect Scotus could gift the coherence, which some opinions (nod to the Dude) hold, his account lacks!?

A Scotus Glossary

divine realities

  • extreme realism
  • numerically singular essence
  • immanent universal
  • communicability or predicability = exemplifiability
  • persons = exemplification
  • individuality is not nonexemplifiability but indivisibility
  • communicable essence (like secondary substance)
  • indivisible essence (like primary substance)
  • persons = exemplifications not individuals or substances (b/c incommunicable)

determinate realities

  • moderate realism
  • numerically many essence
  • created universal
  • divisibility = instantiability
  • individuality = noninstantiability
  • persons = individuals or substances (communicable)

The Scotist approach to divine syllogistics is not over against, for example, the Thomist, but addresses divine realities on its own terms. Both Scotistic & Thomistic trinitarian approaches well conform to our classical creedal formulations.

There are theological contours implicit in our creeds, which, when explicated, metaphysically, can only employ meta-ontological, semantic references, not ontological descriptions. The Scotistic glossary makes more explicit how this is the case, when differentiating divine & determinate realities by using neologisms. Of course, the definition of such coinages still must make explicit the extensive nuancing required in distinguishing divine & aristotelian syllogistics.

For example, such nuancing as set forth in a Dionysian-type logic, where:

God is | x | is true kataphatically & trans-analogically; as a simile, analogically & literally or metaphorically & nonliterally;

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

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

Put another way, consider DBH’s admonition from The Hidden & the Manifest:

This donation of being is so utterly beyond any species of causality we can conceive that the very word cause has only the most remotely analogous value in regard to it. And, whatever warrant Thomists might find in Thomas for speaking of God as the first efficient cause of creation (which I believe to be in principle wrong), such language is misleading unless the analogical scope of the concept of efficiency has been extended almost to the point of apophasis.

I’m sympathetic to Zizioulas’ eschewal of substance-talk in trinitarian logistics. However, I receive it as more of a rhetorical than substantial (double entendre intended) critique, because, point of fact, properly parsed & nuanced, neither Latin nor Greek Fathers, Augustinians nor Cappadocians, Chalcedonians nor Alexandrians, Thomists nor Scotists, when speaking of the Trinity, however much they may have implicitly relied on a univocity and/or analogy of being, ever really employed ontological categories, such as in terms of modes of being. Rather, properly understood, they spoke semantically using meta-ontological categories, such as in terms of modes of identity.

See:

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2019/01/11/godel-the-end-of-physics-and-abelard-et-al-the-end-of-trinitology/

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2019/01/17/how-to-re-conceive-substance-for-divine-modes-of-identity-scotus-the-greek-fathers/

This category error should be avoided when critiquing other trinitologies or we’ll end up caricaturizing them.

If Zizioulas wanted to advance our trinitarian conceptions, idiomatically, perhaps he could’ve followed in Scotus’ footsteps, updating Scotus’ neologisms? And perhaps he should’ve begun his project meta-ontologically using vague semantical references rather than ontologically with robust metaphysical descriptions?

How might one commence such a project?

A Proposed Relational Meta-ontology Glossary

Personhood – a cluster concept including communion & otherness

Essence or ousia – primary not secondary substance for divine realities

Divine person – exemplification of relational personhood & incommunicable

Human person – individual self-consciousness, communicable or predicable

Person – cluster concept including ekstasis (moving toward communion or unitive striving) & hypostasis (particularity or haecceity via idiomata)

The Father – not personal cause but unoriginate originator in order of intelligibility (essential dependencies) & eternally generating (donatively & eucharistically) communion & otherness (persons via ur-kenosis)

Essential Dependencies – donatively gift not what one is, essentially, but how one is, economically, in the order of intelligibility not ontologically, not a substantial subordination

Divine Other – person or hypostasis, neither an individual (i.e. not an indivisible essence or primary substance) nor an essential nature (i.e. not a communicable essence or secondary substance)

Human Other – person or hypostasis as self with both individual & essential natures

The One or monasBegetter and Emitter, of whom the others are the one begotten and the other the emission

Necessity – refers to ousia or nature but only applies to instantiations of secondary substances (hence not predicated of divine primary substance)

Divine Nature or Essence or Ousia – refers to primary substance as numerically singular essence, which, as an immanent universal exhibits communicability or predicability or exemplifiability (hence not predicated of human primary substances, which instantiate only created universals or secondary substances)

Necessary Being – Borrowing Hartian phraseology, this language is misleading unless the analogical scope of the concepts of necessity & being have both been extended almost to the point of apophasis, for divine ousia refers to primary substances & created ousia refers to secondary substances, where necessary or contingent ordinarily would refer to the hypostatic instantiations of same.

Divine Necessary Being – could only refer to personal hypostatic exemplifications of the divine ousia as the numerically singular, communicable primary substance, which entails eternally communicating communion (ekstasis) & otherness (hypostasis). As such, in a dynamical, relational ontology, necessity would refer not to an essential whatness but the economical howness of divine realities, which does not involve causal, substantial transmissions but unitive strivings, loving relationalities or perichoresis, which, semantically, are logically not ontologically necessary. Hence, beyond the primally gratuitous paterological ur-kenosis, ad intra, a pneumatological kenosis ad extra donates the gratuity of creation & a Christological kenosis gifts the gratuity of grace. And by gratuitous, we mean radically free.

Divine Oneness – can be expressed

  • 1) essentially (singular, communicable, primary substance, whatness or propria of esse naturale), an Augustinian conception
  • 2) hypostatically (ad intra paterological ur-kenosis & Christological & pneumatological ad intra communing and ad extra kenoses, howness or idiomata) and
  • 3) dynamically (synergeia of trinitarian will, of the esse intentionale via energeia & oikonomia).

After Thoughts

To me, this would all still entail, it seems, only an “analogy of universals,” which would implicate an extreme realism for the immanent divine universals but only a moderate realism for instantiable created universals.

If, by universals, one refers to shared properties like HOW one acts & as WHAT one acts,

Then, even unable to generically specify WHAT thus acts divinely, i.e. only able to apophatically say what one is not & only able to analogically imagine what one is connotatively like,

One could apophatically distinguish divine & creaturely realities by defining the latter’s shared essences as divisible, the former’s as NOT so & the latter’s persons (substances or individuals) as communicable, the former’s persons (nonsubstantial exemplifications) as NOT so.

Such apophatic predications of the divine essence would guarantee more conceptual compatibility & logical consistency than related, but still very much distinct, kataphatic affirmations.

For example, to be more clear that I wouldn’t mean to say that the divine essence is one per some strictly numeric determination, I’d want to say, instead, that it includes, rather, Oneness, itself (per a verbally iconic denomination.) And I’d emphatically not want to refer to divine being per any strictly generic determination but, instead, refer, rather, to Being itself, again, strictly denominatively.

Orthodox Dialogue on the Trinity

The Father is the primordial source (arch‘) & ultimate cause (aitia) of the divine being. ~ 1992 Orthodox-Reformed dialogue

https://t.co/8rK9l8PCMf?amp=1

in ineffable ways that are beyond all time (achronos), beyond all origin (anarchos), & beyond all cause (anaitios). Orthodox-R. Catholic dialogue 2003

https://t.co/0WqgRkqHmv?amp=1

http://www.usccb.org/beliefs-and-teachings/ecumenical-and-interreligious/ecumenical/orthodox/filioque-church-dividing-issue-english.cfm

Not everything Torrance had to say is acceptable to the Orthodox. The disagreements are real & not trifling. But the affinities also are significant, & the mutual respect is profound.

https://t.co/VMMmjDKDOp?amp=1

https://blogs.ancientfaith.com/orthodoxbridge/tf-torrance-and-reformed-orthodox-dialogue/

Such language is misleading unless the analogical scope of the concept of efficiency has been extended almost to the point of apophasis. ~ DBH, The Hidden & the Manifest 4/

What’s instructive about the trinitarian dialogue cited above, beyond the significant descriptive & normative agreements expressed in those joint statements, is the manner in which it was conducted with such prayerful, respectful, charitable dispositions of all participants. 5/5
In recent years, with much dialogue & many joint declarations among Anglican, Roman, Orthodox & even Reformed traditions, even interpretations of such as the MOF & Filioque present fewer conceptual stumbling blocks to a rather BROAD creedal consensus re Trinitarian doctrine?

A Brief Defense of Common Sense

Our “participatory imagination” engages “common sense.”

Our common sense derives from events encountered, first, nondiscursively & preconceptually, & is, next, articulated by our stories, & finally, organized by our conceptual mapmaking.

I have chosen to interpret Aquinas, Scotus & Peirce as providing meta-ontological heuristics that, more than almost anything else, amount to a robust defense of common sense & insistence on the epistemic indispensability of our participatory imagination.

Why, then, all the subtlety, nuance & neologisms? Why a Summa, for goshsakes? How, then, do such peripatetic wanderings arrive at anything more than a metaphysical haystack of philosophical straw, if all we’re talking about is common sense?

That irony comes about precisely because, as we employ our common sense & participatory imagination, we’ll often discover, nondiscursively, more than we can say, discursively, and we’ll often know, preconceptually, more than we can map, conceptually.

Many have variously described distinct aspects of this “knowing” such as in terms of connaturality (Maritain), an illative sense (Cardinal Newman), a tacit dimension (Polyani) & abduction (Peirce), all which are prior to robustly inferential understandings, for example, of creedal & moral realities. Such a knowing can be existential, confessional, performative & participatory, though always certainly anticipating, albeit inchoately, sapiential, theoretical, informative & conceptual formulations.

There’s undeniably a sensus fidei (of laity, theologians & bishops) that might be conceived as a charism of discernment & graced via nondiscursive instinct, intuition, empathy, heart knowledge, innate inclinations or synderesis. And it’s going to be obscure & unsystematic before it gets discursively appropriated with any degree of conceptual clarity. We must not forget that this sensus, as grace, pertains to all the faithful, and that we can learn something of God even from the ordinary, distracted, confused, ill-informed, sinful, & ecclesially marginalized. This is also why a written tradition presupposes an oral tradition, wherein the stories once told & prayers once prayed will indispensably contribute to any proper theological interpretation beyond mere texts.

So, there’s a LOT going on of a logical nature, tacitly & implicitly, in our common sense & participatory imagination. And they’re so fearfully & wonderfully made that it’s systematic explication does require no small effort that yields no simple schema. Their elaboration yields such as the first principles & the various causations, entails realism & fallibilism, eschews nominalism & essentialism and norms practical reasoning even under speculative uncertainty.

For a good grasp of how our participatory imagination works, think of how one’s “hometown knowledge” works. To give a stranger directions, one needs determinative descriptions like how many blocks (numerically), which direction (locatively), which street signs (indexically) and, perhaps, a map. To give a fellow inhabitant directions, one who participates in the same imaginary, one might only require a denominative connotation: “You’re looking for directions to the local IGA store? Ha ha, silly! That’s just Mr. Gower’s Grocery!”

The chief problem with dismissing our concrete participatory imagination & common sense, esteeming only conceptual map-making, is that we can inadvertently jettison first principles, causations & realism, things we’ll want to go beyond but never without. We’ll end up subverting science, itself, along with our common sense, embracing epistemic dead-ends like logical positivism, radical empiricism, metaphysical ignosticism, theological noncognitivism & scientism.

What I personally discovered in examining the defense of common sense as inheres in Aristotle, Aquinas, Scotus, Peirce, Maritain, Newman, Polyani et al is a type of second naiveté, a re-enchantment, the realization that, everything I felt & believed, when making my joyous First Communion, when learning my Latin responses as an altar boy, when baptized in the Spirit & first prayed in tongues, is ultimately eminently defensible, philosophically, and still rationally actionable, existentially. The proper use of my common sense & participatory imagination in a community of earnest inquiry & value-realization very well epistemically entitled me long before I had a more precise understanding of how. I’ve told my loved ones that, if they trust their common sense & participate in an earnest community of value-realizers, they don’t have to follow my path, where I happily discovered thru various means that my common sense was justified by that grace we experience as common sense, itself. The rest is — so much straw!

Epilogue –

January 2020

Last year, Pastor Tom Belt initiated a great conversation regarding univocity & analogy, which partly inspired my musings, above, and caught the attention of Lee Faber, The Smithy, who wrote:

On the internet, there have been some fascinating discussions of analogy and univocity, that may be of interest to some.

A. John Sylvest.

B. Al Kimel

Sadly I don’t have time to comment at the moment, but they are well worth reading.

All of these folks have been a singular blessing to me on my journey.

3 thoughts on “David Bentley Hart & Duns Scotus Walk Into a Bar, See Radical Orthodoxy & Ask: Why the Long Face?

  1. I distinguish between THAT an objective being has “the same” meaning regarding two different realities, univocally & semantically, and HOW it can be “the same” for (more so “true of”) those two realities, analogically & metaphysically.

    Even for those of us who stipulate (not uncontroversially? or, at least, “it’s complicated!”) that neither a semantical nor metaphysical grounding is sufficient and that both are necessary in the Analogia, the HOW of the analogical sameness is far more interesting, philosophically, and way more compelling, existentially, because its truth-making speaks directly to & literally of the Reality of God, while the THAT of a univocal sameness, alone, wouldn’t convey whether we’re even talking about existents or nonexistents, divine or determinate realities.

    Scotus’ account of the transcendentals, including univocal & coextensive qualia, seems to be, itself, pre-suppositionally grounded analogically, implicitly articulating an Anselmian-like ontological proof of noncomposite Being (in a disjunctive relationship to modal beings).

    I get the legitimately equivocal references to both types of sameness.

    I even more so get why there’s a much stronger emphasis on analogy’s metaphysical import, which must be argued with rigor, philosophically, than on univocity’s semantic logic, which can almost be taken for granted, intuitively?

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  2. Robert Fortuin wrote: “Yes if we remain on a purely horizontal level then indeed univocal, ordinary semantics is quite proper, self evident, and intuitive. However the theological task doesn’t remain on the horizontal level, we are concerning ourselves with a cause of an altogether different and higher mode of being then creaturely being. Ipso facto likeness and difference is analogous: the resemblance in the lower effect of the higher cause is not univocal but analogical.”

    https://anopenorthodoxy.wordpress.com/2019/02/08/lost-in-translation/#comment-3105

    My response:

    Yes, and, as we reason from determinate effects as would be proper to no known causes, our abductive task necessarily begins on this horizontal level. And it doesn’t a priori presuppose whether it will remain there or not. And, further, once we find it heuristically fruitful to explore the possibilities of additional vertical levels (of aboutness), we wouldn’t a priori presuppose whether we’ll be moving beyond a metaphysical to a theological task.

    This is all to suggest, then, that the resemblances in lower effects of higher causes, for example, in an emergentist frame (Let me say that I’m not not invoking supervenience, here), may become analogical long before we commence a theological task.

    Concretely, we encounter metaphysical tasks at different aporia, even in our scientific explorations, e.g. in the emergence of symbolic language, consciousness, life itself, the cosmos & quantum fluctuations.

    The explanatory interpretations of various exploratory heuristics invoke novel realities that can, putatively, exhibit both univocal & analogical resemblances (here some invoke supervenience), raising both quantitative & qualitative questions.

    More specifically, even, human symbolic language does not just surpass sentience or animal consciousness quantitatively but does so qualitatively. Animals already exhibit abductive instincts and syntactical & semantical sign usages, employing iconic & indexic signs BUT human consciousness, which exhibits not only abductive instincts but inferences, with its contextual & pragmatic sign usage, employing arbitrary symbol conventions, is qualitatively distinct, semiotically.

    We thus anthropomorphize certain animal behaviors, when we univocally project onto them what are otherwise only analogous behaviors or, even, a mixture of univocal, analogical or even equivocal realities. We can sumilarly anthropomorphize divine hypostases, ousia & energeia.

    So, it’s helpful, heuristically, to distinguish reality’s causes in terms of “aboutness,” recognizing that not all causes can be explained in univocal terms, that the concept of telos, itself, can be analogically differentiated into various teloi, as we move through the great chain of being from the robustly end-intended to the end-purposed to the end-directed to the merely end-stated to, perhaps even, the end-unbounded, respectively what I would refer to as teleologic, teleoqualic, teleonomic, teleomatic & teleopotent “aboutnesses.”

    The arguments begin as various schools of, for example, quantum interpretation or philosophy of mind, will a priori presuppose which aporia are epistemic and/or ontic and/or both in nature, which novelties demonstrate weak or strong emergence or supervenience. I resist such distinctions as, on one end, they can remain question begging, while, on the other, they can seem trivial. In many cases, such presuppositions can mistake what are merely exploratory heuristics for explanatory accomplishments (e.g. Dennett’s consciousness “explained” or, more appropriately, eliminated, having the deleterious effect of prematurely shutting down critically important research programs

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  3. It is immensely gratifying to me that, whether as Scotists, Thomists, Neo-Platonists or such, we enjoy a great deal of normative consensus regarding how different realities are predicated and properly grounded, metaphysically. That’s where my interests lie in this conversation. And, it’s further satisfying that we all, of course, eschew the corrosive axiological effects that necessarily ensue from nominalism, voluntarism, relativism, etc that all decay into an ultimate nihilism. As if ever there was (or could be) a disagreement …

    Which Scotus narratives are eisegetic or exegetic, descriptively, is above my paygrade (and I work for free, SO … ) & of no consequence to my normative approach.

    Of course, the principle of meaning refers to judgment. That’s why I continuously invoke jargon like icon, index & symbol – not b/c others find it informative, but b/c it helps me think straight, for any robust conception of meaning requires both denotation & connotation. Denotation merely references things. A sign representation that only denotes but does not connote is only an index. A sign representation that only connotes but does not denote is only an icon. As usual, each is necessary, neither sufficient.

    The trick is not to move toward or away from nominalism, on one hand, or toward or away from essentialism, on the other, for these are but the obverse sides of the same bankrupt coinage of our epistemic realm. Instead, we must approach reality as moderate realists, precisely by perceiving, understanding, judging, deciding & acting in a complete hermeneutical spiraling of descriptive, interpretive, evaluative, normative & relational approaches to reality.

    For the most part (not necessarily mapping perfectly), Aquinas met this moderate criterion with his “metaphysically real” distinction & Scotus with his “formal distinction.” Peirce met it with his category of Thirdness (regularities & real generalities), which was inspired by but not developed directly from Scotus. Moderate realisms vis a vis approaches to universals, as far as nominalism goes, have no need of that hypothesis.

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