Theory of Everything: Successful References, Definitions & Descriptions as criteria for degrees of Explanatory Adequacy

Outline to be fleshed out later:

Distinguish between

Exploration

Reference

Definition of Terms & Concepts

Dogmatic, heuristic, theoretic & semiotic

Indeterminacies

  • Overdetermined possibilities from vague to precise
  • Determined actualities from ambiguous to clear
  • Underdetermined probabilities from general to specific & regularities vs necessities

Classify the extent indeterminacy is epistemic and/or ontic, in/determinable and/or in/determined

Description

Explanation

Scholastic Notation

  • Un/certain
  • Im/probable
  • Im/plausible
  • Im/possible

Ir/rationality refers to sapient realities in degrees of epistemic virtue re metanomological heuristic

Adsurdity refers to metaphysical realities in degrees of un/friendliness to rational creatures in terms of excess of meaning re truth (sufficient nomicity) & surplus of beauty & goodness or suffering & pain, abundance & superabundance (existential sufficiency)

Occam’s Razor in terms of abductive facility plus multiplication of ontologies only adjudicating between models that enjoy explanatory adequacy

Evidentiary standards

Normative justifications

Practical reasoning under speculative uncertainty

Equiplausibility & equiprobability principles

What about a Theory of Everything?

Presently, it seems that a TOE is most generally understood to involve the construction of a model that describes both quantum mechanics and gravity. It remains quite the challenge but the research is driving remarkable technological advances. Perhaps such a TOE would

1) describe the origins of

2) all quantum and thermodynamic realities,

3) accounting for all of the initial, boundary, limit, intermediate & final conditions of

4) all of their properties, existents and relations, using the

5) same concepts & terms for them all.

One might imagine that, theoretically, “everything” could refer to more of reality than just quantum mechanics & thermodynamics. Perhaps such a TOE would

1) describe the origins (inductively & statistically) and predict the behaviors (deductively & probabilistically) of

2) all quantum and thermodynamic realities as well as all living, sentient and rational beings,

3) accounting for all of the initial, boundary, limit, intermediate & final conditions of

4) all of their properties, existents and relations,

5) using the same concepts & terms for them all.

While conceivable in theory, I don’t see that happening for all sorts of reasons, due mostly to practical constraints but some theoretic as well.

In my view, there will never (strong philosophical claim, n’est pas?) come a time when any given observer would not be epistemically entitled to posit vis a vis reality’s furnishings (being or meta-ontological heuristic), an Analogia Entis, and/or their arrangement (necessity or meta-nomological heuristic), an Analogia Axiomata.

An observer could, in principle, always further probe reality and holistically ask descriptive, evaluative, normative, interpretive, transcendent and explanatory questions, while respectively positing various cosmological, axiological, teleological, ontological, existential (soteriological) and epistemological proofs and arguments.

What would keep one within their epistemic rights, in addition to humanity’s requisite shared epistemic virtues, would be any significant and unique personal experiences with respect to which many others may not be similarly situated. Thus it is that accepting one’s reasonableness, as they articulate some reasonable stance regarding reality writ large within their given epistemic rights, must be distinguished from imagining that such a stance would necessarily move others with any general normative impetus.

Humanity’s relationship to God, as a meaningful philosophical concept, hypothetically, and as a leap of faith, existentially, can never be demonstrated as unreasonable, neither a priori, in principle or theoretically, nor a posteriori or for all practical purposes.

So, even as we heed the methodological admonition to not place God in our metaphysical gaps, that doesn’t mean that Nietzsche gets to stand guard at reality’s perimeter.

Note: Proofs are derivable from the primal causes (reality’s primitives).

An observer could, in principle, always further probe reality and holistically ask descriptive, evaluative, normative, interpretive, transcendent and explanatory questions, while respectively positing various cosmological (primal support & efficient), axiological (primal order & formal), teleological (primal goal & final), ontological (primal being & material), existential (primal source & existential in potency to essential & soteriological) and epistemological (primal ground & semantic/proportionate metaphysical ground plus PSR or metanomological heuristic) proofs and arguments.

A Reply to “First Mover is also the Universal Governor”

https://strangenotions.com/how-aquinass-first-mover-is-also-universal-governor/

Perhaps the problem with merely “emergent phenomena” is the “merely“?

It’s certainly not with the emergentist account, itself. It’s when one further characterizes the phenomena in terms of variously weak & strong emergence and strong & weak supervenience.

Otherwise, emergentism is “merely” a heuristic device, which bookmarks determinate reality’s most intractable aporia, locating various origins of novelty in terms of “aboutness.” The most familiar include quantum, cosmic & biogenetic origins as well as those for consciousness (sentience) and symbolic language (sapience).

At each level of increasing complexity or ontological density, novel nomicities present, which suggest, in my view, analogous teloi & not some univocal telos. This is to say that not all of reality appears telic in a robustly teleological sense, which implicates end-intendedness.

Nomologically, we also encounter realities that are variously end-unbounded, at quantum origins, let’s say teleopotent; end-stated, at cosmic origins, or teleomatic; end-directed, at biogenetic origins, or teleonomic; and end-purposed, when sentience emerges, or teleoqualic.

Now, these are just phenomenological denominative connotations that don’t imply anything robustly denotative in a determinative sense. They aspire to successfully refer, semantically, to some rather distinct aboutnesses that we’ve encountered along our way, but without pretending to successfully describe, ontologically, those same realities in terms of various primitives, givens, axioms & such. They’re only vague nomological categories, where different law-like properties emerge, none of which completely lend themselves to either epistemic or ontological reduction.

Now, if those vaguely referenced teloi serve as a mere exploratory heuristic rather than a robustly explanatory account, how much more vague is our Aristotelian telos & how much less should anyone pretend it’s an explanatory system?

As CS Peirce noted, it’s easy to be certain; all one has to do is to remain sufficiently vague!

Now, I’m personally drawn to an hylomorphic heuristic with its formal causal acts in potency to final causes. But I use it to help me keep my modal ontological categories straight, not to adjudicate competing quantum interpretations, cosmogonic accounts, biogenetic hypotheses, philosophies of mind or language origin theories. For sure, it doesn’t tell me which of reality’s generalities & nomicities are merely regularist or clearly necessitarian, which indeterminacies are epistemic or ontic, in/determinable or in/determined. Sure, some are ontologically suggestive but none are metaphysically decisive.

Bottomline, we mustn’t be too quick to charge other heuristic accounts with all manner of irrationalities, as long as they employ, in my view, a weak principle of sufficient reason in the form – not of the epistemic equivalent of a 1st Principle, but – of a “mere” metanomological heuristic, which honors both the laws of nature and of logic and not, instead, some inflated sense of rationality, which flirts with a metaphysical rationalism & naive realism.

Any coherent metanomological heuristic or PSRmn would not deny that there must, in principle, necessarily be some noncausal ultimate explanations that would refer, denominatively & determinatively, in different ways and to various extents, to some primal-ultimate reality, which, lacking a causal explanation, must be explained in terms of its own nature. Who, though, is to a priori specify whether that nondeterminate nomicity would govern, bound & condition divine energeia versus some dynamical energy plenum?

I appreciate that certain philosophies of mind & cosmologies & philosophical anthropologies prove too much. But they all seem to deny too much, too, sometimes. Those flaky accounts, whether deflationarily ignostic & eliminative of various true aporia or inflationarily gnostic & apodictic with their expansive use of self-evidentials, deserve cursory dismissals. But there are other highly nuanced & self-critical competing a/theological accounts that are, in my view, equiplausible, which can serve us all as much better foils to tighten up our competing tautologies?

This approach is further developed here:

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2019/03/04/how-the-principle-of-sufficient-reason-bolsters-theism-and-not/

How the Principle of Sufficient Reason bolsters Theism (and not)

Just because naturalism is an indispensable methodological presupposition doesn’t mean it necessarily holds, metaphysically, it only means that we will be unfortunate if it does.

Just because some (weak) Principle of Sufficient Reason is an indispensable methodological presupposition doesn’t mean it necessarily holds, metaphysically, it only means that we will be unfortunate if it does not.

While I resonate more with a Scotistic/Peircean approach, properly understood, it reconciles well enough with an Aristotelian hylomorphism. I wonder, though, how many would agree that its strength does not present as much in terms of any explanatory adequacy but, instead, as an exploratory heuristic device?

And it properly guides one via analogia from determinate modes of being to the threshold of nondeterminate modes of identity, at which point, claims would not yet be distinctly a/theological? That particular step gets rather tacitly imported into one’s implicit or explicit PSR, which can embed one’s a/theological conclusions in its very definitions, which then rather sneakily implicate non/intentional realities. And this happens, perhaps, when one imports some un/reflectively preconceived philosophy of mind stance, as if they’ve some gnostic access to a Consciousness Explained?

Effectively, such a philosophy of mind takes hold as soon as one presupposes either a univocity of telos or an equivocity of teloi or even an analogia of teloi, which I take as an Analogia Axiomata in order to recognize reality’s plurality of aboutnesses.

Because it’s rather inescapable that a novel and robust teleo-logic presents in the emergence of Homo sapiens, there should be nothing terribly controversial, semantically, in referencing that phenomenon of symbolic consciousness by predicating it in terms of formal & final causes.

 

The problem comes, instead, when one metaphysically grounds this telos as if it were necessarily an ontological primitive, essentially placing consciousness along side space, time, mass & energy, for example. Whether this gets accomplished via some Cartesian dualism, idealist monism or even an Aristotelian hylomorphism that would further hypothesize the reality of disembodiable souls matters little. One has thereby invoked a univocity of telos in a reality where causes are pervasively intentional in origin.

 

Alternatively, one could metaphysically ground this telos as if it were necessarily epiphenomenally emergent, hypostasizing reality’s plurality of aboutnesses as if they ontologically derive, unidirectionally, from only upwardly causal material primitives. Whether this gets accomplished via some eliminative materialism, reductive physicalism, strongly supervenient emergentism or materialist monism matters little. One has thereby invoked an equivocity of teloi in a reality where causes are pervasively mechanistic in origin.

 

Finally, one could invoke an analogy of teloi, which semantically (grounds) employs a univocity to refer to reality’s plurality of aboutnesses using sufficiently vague causal references but which metaphysically grounds telos using analogies of proportion & attribution to properly distinguish determinate causal nomicities from putative nondeterminate noncausal nomicities. Whether this gets accomplished via some Aristotelian hylomorphism, weakly supervenient nonreductive physicalism or pragmatic semiotic realism matters little. One will have prescinded from any robust ontological account to a vague phenomenological heuristic.

 

At this point, in an Analogia Axiomata, due to a proper metaphysical bracketing, all ontological bets are still on vis a vis monisms, dualisms & pluralisms, im/materialisms, non/reductive physicalisms, idealisms, agnosticisms, atheisms, any of which, when properly articulated with logical consistency, external congruence, internal coherence, hypothetical consonance & interdisciplinary consilience, can compete equiplausibly with the others.

 

How, then, does anyone epistemically bust a move past an essential metaphysical agnosticism?

 

Speculatively, we all end up employing – not deductively conclusive, but – inductively & abductively suggestive cumulative case-like approaches. Logically, first principles, common sense notions of causality & principles of sufficient reason nondeductively ground our rationality. Ontologically, laws of nature & other regularities nomologically ground reality’s intelligibility, ampliatively guided by analogical heuristics. A problem regarding the nature of universals presents, including which nomicities are non/determinate, non/causal, in/finite, eternal or ephemeral, or real, conceptual or nominal. Here it is that we must start leaping, existentially, reasoning practically under speculative uncertainty regarding options that William James recognized as forced & vital. Here we turn over our bucket of epistemic frogs to see them leaping at various heights & distances and in every metaphysical direction.

How do we justify our leaps?

We all, in essence, appeal pragmatically to basic pre-propositional stances, which some refer to as self-evident but which turn out to be methodologically indispensable inductive-abductive inferences, which beg no deductive proofs & serve our episteme axiomatically. While it is one thing to evade deductive demonstration, it’s a wholly different matter to survive a reductio ad absurdum or parody of one’s particular stance regarding the nomological reliability of one’s “epistemically privileged” inductions & abductions.

More concretely, when eliminative materialists deny the exploratory necessity & explanatory adequacy of formal & final causes, at the same time, they are not denying the relations that obtain between various physical entities. They are, rather, suggesting that both the laws of nature & of logic, metanomologically, are nondeductive equations that model reality while, in principle, not delivering explanations, because they are, unavoidably, inductive-abductive deliverances, just like first principles, common sense causality, belief in other minds and principles of sufficient reason. For them, the Analogia Axiomata terminate in these noncaused nondeterminate axioms, dying an explanatory Godelian death in the energy plenum, itself, where its nomic realities lack a causal explanation but are otherwise “explained” in terms of their own nature, i.e. noncaused, nondeterminate & axiomatic. Necessary Axiomata.

I know what you’re thinking: “Explained? Really?”

Now you know how question begging appeals to Necessary Being come across to many?

Still, faced with forced & vital options in our practical reasoning under uncertainty, how do we otherwise adjudicate, before leaping, between epistemic & ontological options that, speculatively, all remain live?

 

Well, beyond further plausibilistic, cumulative case-like reasoning, evidentially, inductively testing our competing hermeneutics, pragmatically, we all employ, aware or unawares, an equiplausibility principle, which is not inconsistent with either evolution’s biological, sociological & anthropological imperatives or religion’s transcendental imperatives: Do the most life-giving & relationship-enhancing thing you can do in each present moment.

Thus, with Reason as our guide & Love as our imperative, when faced with Kant’s interrogatories: What can I know? What may I hope for? What must I do? —

We can reasonably hope to know what we must do, which is to love!

 

As we each aspire to the most eminently actionable existential leap, let us patiently forbear with one another’s existential orientations. In my worldview, not only has special revelation gifted a gratuity of grace, which others may not have doxastically appropriated and others may have mystically encountered, I believe the Spirit processed forth in a gratuity of creation, which has underwritten all human reason & values, which most have indeed appropriated, if formatively fortunate. Others, whose worldviews differ from my own, even if greatly, who display reason and proceed in love, have something to offer me. And, I believe, they deserve in kind reciprocation.

A wise man, Dan Fogelberg, once sang:

I have these moments
All steady and strong
I’m feeling so holy and humble
The next thing I know
I’m all worried and weak
And I feel myself starting to crumble
The meanings get lost
And the teachings get tossed
And you don’t know what
You’re going to do next
You wait for the sun
But it never quite comes
Some kind of message
Comes through to you
Some kind of message comes through
And it says to you. . .
Love when you can
Cry when you have to
Be who you must
That’s a part of the plan
Await your arrival
With simple survival
And one day we’ll all understand

 

 

Meanwhile – 

What makes some theistic formulations controversial, i.e. not universally compelling, is that they implicitly invoke some principle of sufficient reason but without specifying which version.

Stronger versions are untenable such as regarding free will & determinism. Propositional versions can conflict with our conceptions regarding the divine will and often reify propositions and then treat them as we do subsistent substances. Existential or causal versions must refer to more than materio-energetic causations. All versions will typically be argued variously employing formal syllogisms, semi-formal heuristics or even quasi-formal possible world semantics in conjunction with premises that are variously un/controversial, some representing supposedly self-evident abductive-inductive inferences refutable only by reductio appeals.

Even when such arguments are logically valid and employ relatively noncontroversial premises, however, too often, their conclusions don’t so much follow from their fallacy-free logic or uncontroversial premises but moreso lie rather tacitly embedded in the definitions of their terms, which craftily (or maybe, sometimes, even unreflectively) will variously employ either overly broad or overly narrow conceptions, which then, to the more vigilant, will come off as variously incoherent, mutually incompatible or downright dubious, leading to the conclusion that the argument is unsound. And this applies to such conceptions as “basic propositions” or “necessary entity” or even “sufficient reason,” itself.

Weaker metaphysical or metanomological versions seem indispensable & eminently defensible!

Still, it would be highly controversial to elevate same from a common sense, provisional, methodological stipulation to an ontological, first principle & metaphysical verity (something we dare not do with, for example, our commitment to methodological naturalism).

Maritain accepts the PSR as among the first principles (applying to all being, created & uncreated) , but Gilson, properly in my view, sees the formula as leading back to noncontradiction (applying to things both necessary & contingent).

Even as a first principle, we can distinguish between denying whether such as noncontradiction or a PSR is true and denying whether or not it’s applicable or limited in scope, e.g. modally (noncontradiction holds for probabilities & necessities but folds for possibilities).

So, we must be thoughtful regarding which common sense intuitions we imagine to be (or elevate to) explanatory primitives or absolute first principles, after which we must properly restrict the scope of their application, such as when, modally, we aspire to move from the vague to the precise (Peircean firstness), from the conceptually possible to the existentially actual (secondness), from the general to the specific (thirdness), where both noncontradiction & excluded middle may variously hold or fold and we may have to metaphysically prescind from necessity to probability.

We must not reify “nothing,” as “from nothing” (“ex nihilo”) means, rather, “not from anything.”

A contrastive account of the PSR fits well with Peirce’s description of abductive inference, which addresses: why this state of affairs & not otherwise? Hence, the PSR indicates that contrastive questions always have answers (an approach not adequately justified by Della Rocca’s & Pruss’s arguments). On its own terms, the PSR requires contrastive explanations (sometimes in terms of sets of reasons). And, if expanded to include explanations of a thing in terms of its own nature, such existential properties will require synthetic exploration beyond mere analytic explication.

As such, the PSR best be understood as a metanomological heuristic, which guides our causal explanations of variously indeterminate modal realities, whether overdetermined or vague possibilities, underdetermined or generalized probabilities or wholly determined necessities, not a priori taking any given indeterminacy as epistemic and/or ontic, i.e. merely methodologically constrained vs ontologically occulted, in principle.

Nomic determinism entails that events & states change – not in isolation, but – always via relations but doesn’t entail causal determinism, for not all events are causally related and not all processes are causally originated by, for example, new materio-energetic conversions or expenditures, even though they may well otherwise be influenced, nomically, by a variety of teloi, e.g. including previously embedded material formal causes.

A suitably restricted PSR will not raise objections from considerations of the divine will, quantum mechanics, Godelian incompleteness and objective randomness (and of course needn’t counter nonsensical objections like the modal quandaries of “grand conjunctive propositions”).

Further, when any given PSR version algorithmically maps to theism, then that PSR, itself, can in turn be undermined by any charges of incoherence in various theistic conceptions. Of course, if a given PSR maps only to a necessary entity, it wouldn’t necessarily also lead to a personal being (at least not uncontroversially).

It’s best to receive the PSR – not as an indubitable metaphysical theorem, but – as an indispensable metanomological heuristic.

The more generalized we make such a principle, the less work it can actually accomplish, epistemologically, and the more antinomies it will occasion ontologically, as it gets misappropriated to prove too much & say way more than we could possibly know.

Weaker claims vis a vis the PSR will be more universally compelling. For example, Scotus modally restricts it to “real possibilities,” i.e. those consistent with the basic laws (nomicities) and structures (forms) of the physical world. And he primarily applies it – not to accidentally, but – essentially ordered series.

As with Scotus’ argument, the real work to be accomplished by any PSR version vis a vis theism will not result in a conclusive demonstration (e.g. of an absolutely first efficient cause associated with any essentially ordered series), but instead will provide compelling intuitive support for theism’s possibility.

Few accept the strong Principle of Sufficient Reason – that there’s indeed a sufficient explanation for any fact in the world, but most embrace a weak version of PSR, e.g. as a metanomological heuristic, which entails that POSSIBLY such facts have an explanation. (e.g. Pruss employs a weak version like Scotus, but Pruss’ version might still entail a strong PSR.)

While this weak version can’t sustain the deductive cosmological argument (as it doesn’t finally require an explanation for the contingent), it does demonstrate that, if the contingent does have an explanation, its best version would be based on God-like activity, certainly consistent with classical theism but requiring further arguments to get there and even more to conclude to the requisite attributes.

This weak PSR locates its justification in both the pragmatics of explanation & metaphysics of contingency (for me, Peirce’s modal ontology & semiotic realism).

As long as one doesn’t deny the reality of eternal necessities, a priori, and of temporal nomicities, a posteriori, they will be affirming reality’s intelligibility & demonstrating their own rationality, implicitly subscribing to a principle of sufficient reason by the fact of their explicit employment of just such an indispensable metanomological heuristic. And they wouldn’t surrender their own rationality if, after the affirming the necessities & nomicities of a weak (e.g. Scotistic-Peircean more so than Gale-Pruss) version of the PSR, they don’t otherwise find subsequent cosmological arguments & divine attributions to be sufficiently compelling.

A fine little encyclopedia entry:
https://www.encyclopedia.com/religion/encyclopedias-almanacs-transcripts-and-maps/sufficient-reason-principle

Afterward – Who’s Irrational and Whose Irrationalism?

Atheism is implicitly irrationalist insofar as it must deny PSR so as to avoid theism. Ed Feser

I’m certain Feser would follow in a manner like DBH, who, himself, does not see philosophical atheism as an intellectually valid or cogent position but as fundamentally irrational?

Certainly, like DBH he would qualify it as a much more limited assertion than it appears on the surface, for example, acknowledging that atheism’s neither intellectually contemptible nor suffers any deep logical inconsistency in its embrace of an ultimate absurdity. He’d also say that naturalism simply entails that nature equipped our brains for survival but not for access to abstract truths about the totality of things, but that none of this makes atheism untenable in any final sense and that it may be perfectly rational to embrace absurdity. (Cf. David Bentley Hart, The Experience of God: Being, Consciousness, Bliss (2013) Yale University Press)

Now, others might counter that God similarly equipped our brains regarding the totality of things, which is why the lexicon of believers necessarily includes words like faith, hope and dogma?

And the astute philosophical observer might suggest that Feser and Hart’s chief complaint is not really that it’s epistemically irrational but that atheism’s realist philosophy is (unacceptably to them) implicitly pragmatic and nonfoundational, that, rather than proceeding from indubitably self-evident premises, instead, it plausibilistically but fallibilistically employs inductive-abductive inferences, both prior and subsequent to its deductive clarifications, in an ongoing irreducibly triadic inferential cycling, which progressively enhances the modeling power of reality for both individuals and earnest communities of inquiry. And that it even aspires to a plausible articulation of more nearly ultimate truths but in a more informal cumulative case-like approach rather than one that gifts them with the apodictic certainty, which some seem to embrace. Regarding such certainties, while I would hesitate to rob anyone of certain consolations that might flow from such attitudes (yes, essentially dispositions not propositions), at the same time, the existential dangers some can pose for societies or even ultimately our species compel me to dispossess any and all of such notions.

They may further object that some forms of pragmatism are vulgar in the Rortyian sense, but that’s a separate concern and not exhaustive of other nonfoundational or even weak foundational critical realisms, none of which elevate the postmodern critique into a system but most of which incorporate responses to same, responses which essentially jettisoned any remnants of metaphysical rationalisms and naïve realisms.

And, I’m quite certain that philosophers as astute as Feser and Hart have epistemologically followed suit even though, perhaps due to a rare combination of erudite eloquence and pugnacious polemics, their charges of epistemic vice are often intended to be more limited and less offensive than they can initially appear to us metaphysical luddites, who, by the way, have a very difficult time distinguishing the foundationalists’ self-evident truths from the nonfoundationalists’ pragmatically justified inductive-abductive inferences, which makes it really difficult to further distinguish their manifold and multiform rational proofs from pragmatically motivated cumulative case-like arguments.

Thus, they’ll forgive those who struggle to discern the very fine nuances involved in how it is they distinguish the rational and irrational, effectively very narrowly conceiving the former, expansively so – the latter?

Notes on Situating Meta-Nomological Heuristics

Below are emergentist categories that are agnostic to ontological primitives, in other words, neither invoking supervenience nor distinguishing weak & strong emergence, hence, consistent w/panpsychism, non/reductive physicalism, etc. Where one stops, explanatorily, will associate one with various causally non/reductive stances, for example, regarding a philosophy of mind.

  • Quantum Origins are Teleopotent – end-unbounded: materio-energetic & quantumly causal
  • Cosmic Origins are Teleomatic – end-stated: spatio-temporal & materially-efficiently causal
  • Biogenetic Origins are Teleonomic – end-directed: sensori-perceptive & instinctually abductive w/experience = mereological sum of parts functioning per meta-nomological heuristics
  • Sentient Origins are Teleoqualic – end-purposed: instinctually abductive & formally causal (downward) w/experience > mereological sum of functioning parts but still computational
  • Sapient Origins are Teleologic – end-intended: symbolically inferential & finally causal w/ experience > mereological sum of functioning parts & non-computational

Metaphysical Stances for Sorting

methodological stipulations

metaphysical presuppositions

modal identities

modal ontologies

semantic & metaphysical grammars & groundings (roles of first principles)

epistemological justifications (roles of PSRs, common sense, noninferentials & other axiomata)

ontological primitives

mereological efficacies

nomological realities

axiological origins

moral realisms

philosophies of mind

an entity’s intelligence (degrees)

reality’s intelligibility (degrees)

absolutist, necessitarian & infallibilist vs in/determinate, probabilistic & fallibilistic (role of principle of excluded middle)

conceptions of freedom

a/theological

One simply can not a priori pretend to know to which metaphysical stances another subscribes solely from, for example, which worldview they hold regarding putative primal origins and ultimate realities, as if, for example, a particular philosophy of mind would necessarily be entailed by a given a/theological stance. At the same time, where one chooses to stop, explanatorily, for example, invoking various ignosticisms, will indeed logically foreclose on certain worldviews, for example, an eliminative materialism forecloses on all theistic stances (pantheism, panentheisms, classical theisms).

It’s best to categorize Naturalism > Physicalism > Materialism – because

Naturalism needn’t a priori define ontological primitives, e.g. consciousness could be a primitive.

Physicalism needn’t a priori entail causal reductionism, e.g. Nancey Murphy’s conception of the soul.

Materialism does a priori exclude metaphysical teloi, e.g. metaphysical ignosticism.

Also, one must be clear whether these categories are being applied strictly in a modal ontology of being, e.g. anthropologically, or for all metaphysical modes of identity, e.g. for reality writ large, primally & ultimately.

THEREFORE:

It may be more coherent to apply degrees of ir/rationality (variously adequate or sufficient) to only one type of reality, the personal, while describing reality writ large in terms of degrees of nomicity (variously adequate or sufficient) and perhaps of absurdism.

There simply are no Necessary Mutual Entailments for Atheism and any particular Anthropological Heuristic but there are some unilateral entailments where a given heuristic will entail atheism and/or absurdism/irrationalism.

Eliminative materialism entails atheism but does not entail irrationalism (a rejection of metanomological heuristics as a weak PSR) unless one uses a rather narrow conception of reason and expansive one of irrationality. Metanomological heuristics don’t require an epistemic resolution of whether laws of natures & logics are necessitarian or regularist, eternal or temporal, perduring or ephemeral.

Anthropological (Personal) Frame

Descriptive Heuristics – Epistemological: Radical Skepticism, Solipsism, Foundationalism (strong, weak) Nonfoundationalism (coherentist, radically deconstructivist), Evolutionary Epistemology

Interpretive Heuristics – Metaphysical Nominalism, Essentialism, Conceptualism, Pragmatism (vulgar, semiotic, etc)

Ontological Heuristics – Realism (naturalist, physicalist, materialist), Idealism (panpsychist), Hylomorphism

Evaluative Heuristics – Voluntarism, Intellectualism, Intellectualist Voluntarism (Scotist) or Voluntarist Intellectualism (Thomist), Sociobiological, Evolutionary Axiology

Normative Heuristics – Moral Relativism, Moral Realism, Moral Absolutism, Moral Probabilism

Transcendental Frame – Existentialism, Nihilism, Absurdism, A/theisms, Agnosticisms, Ignosticism

Im/Personal Heuristics – a/theological & anthropological

Modes of Identity Heuristics

Modes of Being Heuristics

Concerning Modes of Identity for Nondeterminate Realities

Ultimate Explanations are noncausal.
A reality lacking a causal explanation would be explained in terms of its own nature.

First principles & PSR are nondeductive but are intelligible in the context of inductive & abductive processes.

Feser writes:
When philosophers employ inductive reasoning they are essentially rejecting the claim that the future will not be relevantly like the past nor the unobserved like the observed, on the grounds that this would make future and otherwise unobserved phenomena inexplicable.

Perhaps some do, but most are essentially relying on the possibility that the future will be relevantly like the past, on the grounds that, if it is, the future and otherwise unobserved phenomena will be explicable, while, if it is not, it will be inexplicable in terms of past inductive & abductive processes.

But, this would not be to claim that future realities would be, in principle, inexplicable, only to recognize that our inductive-abductive processes may not be equipped to reliably explain unobserved phenomena from either the distant future or past, much less atemporal regularities and/or necessities.

This is also to recognize that we can’t a priori say which present nomological realities are by their very nature merely regularist or robustly necessitarian, but that it’s unreasonable to deny that, at least, some formal realities are necessary.

Applying Abelardian-like modes of identity & being, as we do, for example, in divine (nondeterminate) & determinate syllogistics, any such necessary reality that lacks a causal explanation and is to be explained in terms of its own nature would be explicable using – not determinate, but – nondeterminate syllogistics (semi-formal heuristics), where modes of identity (not being) apply, including the essential, exemplificatory and formal.

Essential identity, a semantic connotation or ground, refers to an immanent universal (not a Platonist standard form), a numerically singular or individual reality that is communicable to—predicable of— any exemplificatory (nonsubstantial & nondeterminate) supposita, which refer to metaphysical denotations or grounds, that fall under it.

Formal identity refers to connotative-denotative realities, i.e. real relations, e.g. regularities, generalities & neccesities.

Any coherent metanomological heuristic or PSR would not deny that there must, in principle, necessarily be some noncausal ultimate explanations that would refer, denominatively & determinatively, in different ways and to various extents, to some primal-ultimate reality, which, lacking a causal explanation, must be explained in terms of its own nature.

At the same time, that would not necessarily implicate, 1) essentially & connotatively, propria that are divine attributes; 2) exemplificatorily & denotatively, idiomata that are divine persons or, in any other way, personal; or 3) formally & nomologically, energeia that implicate divine vestigia & oikonomia. While such implications are undeniably rational, consistent & coherent and would flow, even necessarily, from some strong PSR versions, from less controversial PSRs a cosmological argument would not entail a personal first cause. That would require further argumentation, after which attributes would require additional derivations.

One would not want to deny that primal energeia must necessarily be conditioned by noncausal realities that could, in principle, be explained in nondeterminate terms of modal identity: essential propria, exemplificatory idiomata & formal energeia (energy in relationship). And such an explication would model whether or not such a dynamical energy plenum is necessarily volumetrically in/finite, manifoldly un/bounded, geometrically un/curved, topologically simple/complex and so on and locate any putative noncausal conditions, which we could hypothesize through abduction, hypothetically, and test through induction, experimentally, but not prove via deduction, formally, as such noncausal realities would be explained merely in terms of their own nature.

If such a noncaused reality were, however, personal & self-determinate, then such a divine esse naturale & intentionale would invite further reflection regarding PSR implications.

Closing Remarks

My late friend, Jim Arraj, explicated Maritain’s degrees of knowledge. He explored philosophical contemplation, objective intuition of being, subjective intuition of being, mysticism of self & mystical contemplation — none set over against the other, all furnishings of our holistic epistemic suite, all consonant with Lonergan’s theological anthropology.

Whatever our discursive or nondiscursive experience, prerational, nonrational, rational, suprarational or irrational, in order to best realize its fruits as well as to avoid any value-frustrations, human rationality must engage it in post-experiential processing and must do so in a community of earnest inquiry, wherein communal discernment can apply normative criteria to our descriptions, interpretations, evaluations, norms & transformations, justifying them in terms of – not only right believing, but – right belonging, right desiring, right behaving and right becoming.

Down thru millenia, even whole communities have gone astray, when they’ve traded any earnestness of inquiry for the expediencies of tribal exigencies. One hallmark of such epistemic-axiological perversity will typically involve both excessive broadenings & narrowings of criteria for epistemic & moral virtues & vices, excluding as many others from all manner of virtues, which must be reserved to one’s tribe, including as many others in all manner of vices, which just never afflict one’s tribe.

It has been a long considered opinion of mine that we simply cannot use a/theological criteria, alone, to a priori sort individuals from various worldviews into either epistemic or moral categories of either vice or virtue, including charges of irrationality, however absurd the ultimate consequences of their particular stances, which are seldom monolithic & often highly nuanced. This is not to deny that, for most every hermeneutic, there are cases of doxastic disaster & moral catastrophe, but those must be teased out, point by point, person by person & school by school, and not by categorical dismissal.

As a case in point, consider:

https://strangenotions.com/how-aquinass-first-mover-is-also-universal-governor/

Perhaps the problem with merely “emergent phenomena” is the “merely“?

It’s certainly not with the emergentist account, itself. It’s when one further characterizes the phenomena in terms of variously weak & strong emergence and strong & weak supervenience.

Otherwise, emergentism is “merely” a heuristic device, which bookmarks determinate reality’s most intractable aporia, locating various origins of novelty in terms of “aboutness.” The most familiar include quantum, cosmic & biogenetic origins as well as those for consciousness (sentience) and symbolic language (sapience).

At each level of increasing complexity or ontological density, novel nomicities present, which suggest, in my view, analogous teloi & not some univocal telos. This is to say that not all of reality appears telic in a robustly teleological sense, which implicates end-intendedness.

Nomologically, we also encounter realities that are variously end-unbounded, at quantum origins, let’s say teleopotent; end-stated, at cosmic origins, or teleomatic; end-directed, at biogenetic origins, or teleonomic; and end-purposed, when sentience emerges, or teleoqualic.

Now, these are just phenomenological denominative connotations that don’t imply anything robustly denotative in a determinative sense. They aspire to successfully refer, semantically, to some rather distinct aboutnesses that we’ve encountered along our way, but without pretending to successfully describe, ontologically, those same realities in terms of various primitives, givens, axioms & such. They’re only vague nomological categories, where different law-like properties emerge, none of which completely lend themselves to either epistemic or ontological reduction.

Now, if those vaguely referenced teloi serve as a mere exploratory heuristic rather than a robustly explanatory account, how much more vague is our Aristotelian telos & how much less should anyone pretend it’s an explanatory system?

As CS Peirce noted, it’s easy to be certain; all one has to do is to remain sufficiently vague!

Now, I’m personally drawn to an hylomorphic heuristic with its formal causal acts in potency to final causes. But I use it to help me keep my modal ontological categories straight, not to adjudicate competing quantum interpretations, cosmogonic accounts, biogenetic hypotheses, philosophies of mind or language origin theories. For sure, it doesn’t tell me which of reality’s generalities & nomicities are merely regularist or clearly necessitarian, which indeterminacies are epistemic or ontic, in/determinable or in/determined. Sure, some are ontologically suggestive but none are metaphysically decisive.

Bottomline, we mustn’t be too quick to charge other heuristic accounts with all manner of irrationalities, as long as they employ, in my view, a weak principle of sufficient reason in the form – not of the epistemic equivalent of a 1st Principle, but – of a “mere” metanomological heuristic, which honors both the laws of nature and of logic and not, instead, some inflated sense of rationality, which flirts with a metaphysical rationalism & naive realism.

Any coherent metanomological heuristic or PSRmn would not deny that there must, in principle, necessarily be some noncausal ultimate explanations that would refer, denominatively & determinatively, in different ways and to various extents, to some primal-ultimate reality, which, lacking a causal explanation, must be explained in terms of its own nature. Who, though, is to a priori specify whether that nondeterminate nomicity would govern, bound & condition divine energeia versus some dynamical energy plenum?

I appreciate that certain philosophies of mind & cosmologies & philosophical anthropologies prove too much. But they all seem to deny too much, too, sometimes. Those flaky accounts, whether deflationarily ignostic & eliminative of various true aporia or inflationarily gnostic & apodictic with their expansive use of self-evidentials, deserve cursory dismissals. But there are other highly nuanced & self-critical competing a/theological accounts that are, in my view, equiplausible, which can serve us all as much better foils to tighten up our competing tautologies?

Univocity & Analogy of divine propria, idiomata & qualia vs determinate essences, hypostases & quiddities

Propria (denominative in quale predications) of divine essence are metaphysically grounded as primary substance with no act of existence in potency to any essence, unlike the quiddities of a determinate essence, which as secondary substances instantiate in otherwise modally distinct primary substances.

Personal modes of being refer to primary substances, while personal modes of identity refer to exemplifications, which are nonsubstantial realities. Personal modes of being & identity are both determinatively denotative, the latter referring to the nonsubstantial idiomata of exemplifications, the former to substantial individual essences of hypostases.

Formal modes of being & identity both include contextually determinative denotations, but only formal modes of being include generically determinative denotations (the what? of genus & species or in quid predications).

Heuristic for Univocal & Analogical God-Talk

I. connotative or iconic
A. qualitatively denominative (differentiae)
1) quale – how
2) qui – who
3) quem – whom

B. vaguely denominative 1) indeterminacy
vague or precise (distinct) or overdetermined realities

C. metaphorically & theo-poetically denominative (e.g. certain implicit similarities of divine idiomata & individual essences)

D. analogically & theo-logically denominative (e.g. certain explicit similarities of divine propria & ousia)

II. denotative or indexic

A. locatively determinative
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. transcendentally determinative determined effects of transcendental causes – putatively & abductively inferred from effects proper to no known spatio-temporal causes
quo – whither or existing state
no spatio-temporal where or when, atemporality

C. existentially determinative – implicit ontological argument (Anselmian presuppositions) or quo as existing state or that

D. numerally determinative
quot – how many

E. quantitatively determinative
quantum – how much

III. connotative-denotative or symbolic

A. generically determinative
quid – what
generic & specific

B. contextually determinative (generally determinative) including pragmatic semiotic quare – why (principle of sufficient reason) including various underdetermined realities or generic in/determinacies (generality – general or specific)

Modes of Being

Essential or Connotative – denominative & refers to secondary substance or essence

denominatively connotative

Personal or Denotative – determinative partially (but sufficiently) contracts denominative & refers to primary substance or individual essence or hypostasis or existence

determinatively denotative

Formal or Connotative-Denotative Contraction – determinative fully contracts connotative & denotative & refers to generically determinative or general essence or genus & species as well as to contextually determinative (or generally determinative of various underdetermined realities)

Modes of Identity

Essential – primary substance with no existence-essence or act-potency contractions

denominatively connotative

Personal – nonsubstantial exemplifications or hypostases

determinatively denotative

Formal – contextually but not generically determinative in allowing successful references to nondeterminate & self-determinate causes abducted from putatively divine determinate effects of vestigia, energeia & oikonomia via both denominatively connotative & determinatively denotative references with both univocal semantical & analogical metaphysical groundings

Propria of divine essence are metaphysically grounded as primary substance with no act of existence in potency to any essence, unlike the quiddities of a determinate essence, which as secondary substances instantiate in otherwise modally distinct primary substances.

Personal modes of being refer to primary substances, while personal modes of identity refer to exemplifications, which are nonsubstantial realities. Personal modes of being & identity are both determinatively denotative, the latter referring to the nonsubstantial idiomata of exemplifications, the former to substantial individual essences of hypostases.

Formal modes of being & identity both include contextually determinative denotations, but only formal modes of being include generically determinative denotations (the what? of genus & species or in quid predications).

Parsing Theories of Eveything in Terms of Modal Identities & Being  (essential, hypostatic & formal)

I’ve often reflected on how the manner in which one approaches the notion of formal causation, alone, can hold the key to which metaphysical door one chooses to walk through. I don’t have the time or interest to explicate it all, presently, but some may capture where I’m headed from this skeletal outline, below.

I will suggest this – no serious scientist or philosopher would, nowadays, consider human symbolic consciousness as anything other than immaterial. This is to further suggest that no physicalist approach can be coherently advanced without an openness to the reality of formal causation.

Finally, metaphysics remains alive & kicking. Those who, in their anxiety to annihilate metaphysics, deny formal causation, will also do away with our highly speculative theoretic sciences, for formal causation is the epistemic fulcrum by which all moderate realisms accomplish their metaphysical heavy lifting, heuristically.

Aristotelian Hylomorphism – robustly conceives formal causes

  • 1) affirms modes of identity

  • 2) derives modes of being from modes of identity

  • 3) employs formal identity for both nondeterminate & determinate realities

Consequences: as exploratory heuristic, fosters research programs, eminently actionable – existentially, consistent with humanity’s common sense & sensibilities and with its great & indigenous religious traditions

Agnostic Physicalism – open to formal causation

  • 1) consistent with modes of identity

  • 2) derives modes of being from modes of identity

  • 3) ephemeral entities, hypostatically, are essentially physical

  • 4) employs formal identity & being for realities, bracketing in/determinacies

  • 5) ontologically reductive physicalism devolves into materialism

  • 6) nonreductive physicalism could reconcile with hylomorphism

Consequences: forecloses on research programs

Materialist Monism – denies formal causation

  • 1) consistent with essential & hypostatic modes of identity

  • 2) ephemeral exemplifications, hypostatically, are essentially material

  • 3) considers formal realities, whether modes of identity or of being, nonsensical

Consequences: reduces to ultimate nihilism & makes free will wholly illusory

Idealist Monism – affirms formal causation practically & ephemerally not essentially & eternally

  • 1) consistent with essential & hypostatic modes of identity & qualified formal identity

  • 2) ephemeral exemplifications, hypostatically, are essentially intentional

  • 3) considers formal realities, whether modes of identity or of being, epiphenomenal

Consequences: principle of sufficient reason on steroids, wreaks havoc with free will, reduces to pantheism

In some sense, naturalism is a more expansive concept than physicalism which is more expansive than materialism. Furthermore, these concepts must be further parsed to specify whether they are being employed methodologically (i.e. epistemologically) and/or philosophically (i.e. ontologically) as well as ephemerally & determinately and/or eternally & nondeterminately (e.g. axiomata).

For its part, naturalism doesn’t a priori specify its primitives (e.g. spatio-tempero-materio-energetic, i.e. physicalism and/or consciousness), while physicalism doesn’t deny formal realities, whereas materialism does (both ephemerally & eternally).

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.

Yes to Radical Orthodoxy, BUT

Over the years, it’s taken me a great deal of parsing to differentiate DBHart from Milbank at times, not rhetorically, of course, but philosophically.

Hart has critiqued certain strands of Thomism, humorously to me, arrogantly to some, in a way that makes me suspect he grounds his epistemology in a weakened foundationalism, i.e. a suitable response to a postmodernist chastisement.

Milbank, on the other hand, seems to be suspicious of all metanarratives … ahem … with the exception of his own. And he seems to urge it by only resorting to a distinct existential panache & rhetorical magnetism, which will invite others in to his ecclesial participatory imagination.

And, honestly, I do believe that, soteriologically, that can indeed be necessary & sufficient for many.

It’s foundational in the sense that, in my view, philosophy is best articulated by a life well-lived as progressively conforms, orthotheotically, to that divine telos, which is embodied in our human nature & will and manifest in humanity’s common sense & sensibilities. And his approach realizes this telos orthopathically, orthopraxically & orthocommunally in a radically orthodox manner.

But, here’s the rub.

Any authentically human anthropology will be holistic and will integrate our participatory imaginations with our discursive cognitive map-making, which, for some, may provide a necessary
praeambula fidei, and, for others, a richer life of prayer & worship.

And I say this knowing that explicit philosophical articulations, including syllogistic arguments, of faith’s implicit existential interpretations have contributed to my own life of faith in both ways.

I don’t begrudge RO its harsh critiques of vulgar modernistic & postmodernistic depredations of meaning, manifest in all manner of encroachments such as skepticism, voluntarism, relativism, nominalism & nihilism (although, they’ve manifestly caricatured Scotus beyond recognition).

BUT there’s a certain McCarthyesque strain in their interrogations of other stances, which results in R.O. seeing nihilists behind every modernist tree and under every philosophical rock?

See:

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/08/12/natural-theology-natural-law-however-otherwise-weak-at-least-defeat-nihilism/

A Logo-centric Account of Apophasis with a quick nod to Lossky & Staniloae

How Scotus’ Univocity of Being Grounds a Metaphysics of Participation

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 (idiomata) & theo-logical attribution (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).

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

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!

properly locating impasses in theological stances

A suggestion for properly locating impasses in theological stances, e.g. trinitological disputes:

It makes sense to me to associate Lonergan’s secular conversions

  • 1) intellectual,
  • 2) social,
  • 3) affective &
  • 4) moral –

w/his imperatives & functional specialties, respectively,

  • 1) experiential awareness & research,
  • 2) intelligent understanding & interpretation,
  • 3) reasonable judging – deciding & history and
  • 4) responsible acting & dialectics.

This anthropological account thus cycles thru

  • 1) descriptive
  • 2) interpretive
  • 3) evaluative &
  • 4) normative

value-pursuits to realize human authenticity.

Religious conversion would then proceed in a reverse succession thru the normative, evaluative, interpretive & descriptive functional specialties to realize a sustained authenticity via self-transcendence (being in love):

  • 1) normative – foundations (exegetical, liturgical, historical & philosophical)
  • 2) evaluative – doctrines (creedal)
  • 3) interpretive – systematics (theopoetic & metaphysical idioms)
  • 4) descriptive -communications (pastoral, homiletics, missiology).

I set this forth to suggest that, for example, scholarly trinitological impasses can thus be variously located in differences regarding:

  • 1) anthropology
  • 2) foundations
  • 3) doctrines
  • 4) systematics and/or
  • 5) communications.

This is to suggest that if two theologians disagree regarding a more fundamental level, e.g. anthropological or exegetical, then, it will derivatively produce doctrinal disputes.

And it makes little sense to engage in systematic polemics, e.g. trinitarian syllogistics, with those whose who disagree with us at a more fundamental level, e.g. doctrinally or foundationally, much less anthropologically.

Some impasses between classical & analytical approaches, in fact, result from conclusions embedded – not only in one’s axioms, premises or logic, but – in the very definitions of one’s terms (e.g. philosophically: what is God? or anthropologically, what’s a person?).