Speculative Angelology – some caveats

As theological realists, we can establish semantical, ontological & epistemological contours for our meta-heuristics.

Employing the hypostatic union as our cosmological cipher, we then recognize those contours via a

semantical univocity of persons,

ontological analogy of natures &

meta-heuristical univocity of logoi.

As metaphysical realists, we can prescind from any given metaphysical root metaphor (substance, relational, process, experience, field, etc) to a phenomenological meta-heuristic.

Even while thus remaining metaphysically agnostic regarding the givens of determinate being, i.e. its primitives, forces & axioms, we can hermeneutically cycle through Lonergan’s functional specialties, following his transcendental imperatives.

And we can thereby harvest the value-realizations of our philosophical, historical & exegetical foundations and of our creedal doctrines, when we live as we pray & grow in authenticity.

We recognize, however, that these universal foundations & doctrines must be pastorally & sacramentally communicated to all in ways that are otherwise particular to each cultural milieu.

Our receptions of these creedal doctrines & celebrations of these liturgical gifts will have necessarily been preceded by systematic interpretations & idiomatic translations, which will have fostered the manifold & multiform Gospel inculturations & moral enculturations we encounter in our world today.

Christianity thus certainly implicates realist meta-heuristics, both phenomenological & theological, grounded in both general & special revelation.

Systematically, though, it remains in search of a metaphysic, whether such “explanations” reflect the deliverances of time-honored, commonsensical folk-psychologies or modern philosophies of mind.

Highly speculative medieval angelologies well framed many of the ongoing anthropological “explorations” in the modern philosophies of mind. We should all eschew the hubristic “consciousness explained” shtick of today’s eliminative materialists, even as we vigorously & laudably explore our angelologies.

We should recognize, too, when engaging in these angelologicalexplorations,” that our “explanatory” conclusions will often flow from – neither the consistency of our logic nor rigor of our premises, but – their tautological embeddedness in our very terms, i.e. chosen root metaphors.

The truths of our faith do not require the refutation of metaphysical ignosticisms, as those self-subvert. Neither do they hinge on whether or not consciousness is a primitive, along side space-time & matter-energy, or emergent therefrom per a nonreductive physicalism.

While I neither reject nor hold any given philosophy of mind, angelology or cosmology, I do applaud & encourage others’ explorations, only ever insisting that they not be confused with explanations and not be overinvested in terms of normative impetus. In other words, their deontological implications should be held, at least, as modestly as their ontological conclusions are tentative, which is very.

A Sweet Theological Autobiography

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

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

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

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

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

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

Isn’t life strange?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Neo-Chalcedonian, Cosmotheandric Turn

The hypostatic union of Px = an eternal protological, incarnatonal reality = an eschatological blueprint
re how uncreated & created hypostases proportonally participate, each per their particular ranges of tropoi, in the very same uncreated logoi (incl all creaturely teloi).

My late friend Jim Arraj a Maritain scholar in conversatons w/Norris Clarke deciphered the Thomist conception of forms (as distinct from Aristotles’s) in terms of a participation in limitation motif tracing it in part to Plotinus & neo-Platonic sources.

A formal cause exists in a much more dynamic way in St. Thomas than it could in Aristotle. Arraj would go on to reconceive same in terms of deep & dynamic formal fields (like Joseph Bracken’s neo-
Whiteheadian use of field as a root metaphor).

Bracken’s field conception of the Divine Matrix b/c of its affinity to Classical Theism & Trinitarian doctrine seems a fruitful way to imagine how Maximian logoi interplay among uncreated & created hypostatic tropoi as interpenetrating fields humanize &/or divinize them.

A mutual interpenetration of deep & dynamic formal fields an account for an exnihilating dynamic that creates novel creaturely teloi.

Such a creatio ex amore ex nihilo would be consistent even w/any incipiently telic fields of eternal prevenient chaos (Griffin) or of a tehomic profundis (Keller).

As divine hypostatic realities, the logoi of all finite, determinate creaturely becoming proceed from the infinite, nondeterminate Logos-Spirit hypostases-exemplifications,

pneumato-christologically in the gratuity of creation,
christo-pneumatologically in the gratuity of grace,
incarnationally in both, per the divine esse naturale.

The logoi (hows) carry the divine esse intentionale (will & intentions), both freely affecting creatures & freely affected (per energeia) by the aesthetic scope of all telic creaturely becoming, although divine realities are never affected in aesthetic intensity.

The divine esse naturale-intentionale is thus affected by more than mere Cambridge properties, but without any change in intrinsic perfection. Does this weaken DDS? Yes. Trivially, so.

As it is, since we neither reify the essence (natures aren’t “existing things,” whether divine or created) nor hypostasize energeia, why ontologize the intentionale, inquiring about its mode of being, determinatively –what, rather than of identity, denominatively –how?

Finite creatures proportionally participate (through a univocity of loving determinate effects or synergy) in the Logos-logoi identity, which, itself, grounds the differences of in/finite natures (through an analogia entis).

This in/finite disjunction doesn’t quantitatively differentiate Being & beings through a multiplication of quiddities (determinative nouns, genera, species, i.e. whats) by infinity. Instead, it multiplies qualia (denominative modifiers & participles, hows, etc.) by infinity, recognizing the qualitative differentiation of divine & determinate hypostases, i.e. via propria-idiomata-relata vs essentially-existentially-relationally.

Such a differentiation, then, entails no alienation from some Wholly Other, but, instead, fosters otherness & intimacy,
participation via donativity-receptivity, & immanence in transcendence, all theotically.

Cosmotheandric participation entails more than the mere growth in resemblances of vestigia & imagoes Dei into similitudines Dei, from image to likeness.

Generally, participation further requires a participant to freely choose to (in various ways to various extents) “take possession” of WHAT the participated, as a whole, “IS.”

Specifically, regarding God as Actus Purus, as participants, we, the Many, must freely choose, therefore, to “take possession” of HOW the Participated One, as the Whole, “DOES.”

If we don’t go beyond an analogy of being, ontologically & determinatively, to a univocity of doing, semantically & denominatively, we can’t bust the Maximian move, theologically or anthropologically or cosmogonically, in an authentically Neo-Chalcedonian fashion.

Cosmotheandric participation entails more than the mere growth in resemblances of vestigia & imagoes Dei into similitudines Dei, from image to likeness. It entails each participant’s progressive realization of facility in freely choosing to kenotically participate … in how the ur-kenotic Participated One Acts, which is, naturally, Purely Loving.

There can be no Shakespearean soliloquy: “To Be or Not to Be,” for that remains decidedly decided for every intrinsically valuable imago Dei, ensuing from its essential nature. Rather, the transcendental imperatives in-form-ing our existential orientations include both “To Be Like God or not?” and “To Do How God Does or Not?”.

All of this is articulated in Lonergan’s imperatives, the Degrees of Humility of Ignatius, & Therese’s Little Way.

A proper interpretation of the Capps Bros, Cyril, Maximus & Severus, et al, helped along by idioms like those of Scotus, Palamas & Peirce, et al, might say it the best?

So, finally, re the Logos-logoi identity, while it’s “just” a semantic predication, the reference remains eminently realist. Still, in the same way we eschew any overapplications of an analogia entis, we’d desist, here, from any over-specifications of peircean generals, whether created or uncreated, nomicities or probabilities, etc b/c, for DBHartians, if there’s anything more frightening than an unwitting infernalism, that would be – not a spinozan modal collapse, but – an accidental baroque thomism via a báñezian praemotiophysica! (just kidding)

This universalist vision is systematically argued in the monograph below:

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

A note regarding Personalism:

The personalist approach with which I most resonate can be found in what’s been called cosmotheandrism.

While I find the “cosmo-theo” part of Raimon Panikkar’s cosmotheandrism very
inspirational, for the “theandric” part, there’s a very old Eastern Orthodox account that, in my view, can hardly be improved upon, i.e. Maximian Logos &
logoi.

These would both seem consistent with DBH’s intuitions as were articulated during his back & forth with Ed Feser re animals in heaven.


On page 172 of An Emerging Cosmotheandric Religion?: Raimon Panikkar’s Pluralistic Theology Of Religions, Brill, 2005, Jyri Komulainene discusses the “personalism” in Panikkar’s “ecosophy.”

I’ll paraphrase & summarize the highlights here.

Per Komulainene, while Panikkar’s personalist idiom does convey his intent to avoid a “sheer monism,” he also approaches all of being in terms of communicatio, communio & communality.

The Divine donates via “pure communication.”

All creatures thus engage dialogically. While, per Panikkar, human persons do communicate per a particular interiority & consciousness, we best dialogue (dia-logos, thru the logos) with all of reality without losing sight of its “thou
dimension” or else we’ll “excommunicate” ourselves from nature, God & each other, i.e. cosmotheandrically.

The old EO approach with which I most resonate is Dionysius’ account of “theandric activity” as spoken of by Severus and as interpreted by Maximus
per a Cyrillian Christology.

At the link below, Rebekah Earnshaw summarizes a theology seminar presentation by Dr Brandon Gallaher entitled “The Word, the Words and the
Trinity: A Preliminary Exploration of the Relationship of Eastern Orthodoxy to
World Religions.” It touches on both Panikkar & Maximus.

The Word, the Words and the Trinity

A Note on Terminology

Understanding the historical account & development of the terminology employed in Trinitology & Christology remains crucial for tge proper interpretation of Severus.

I find the concept of the immanent universal [IU] to be very interesting, e.g. C. Kappes has a take re IU of Damacene & Nazianzen; Zachhuber & Cross differ on IU of Nyssan; IU of Scotus.

We might ask why that distinction between the divine IU, as a primary substance, & the universals of determinate beings, as secondary substances, did not leave questions begging for many re, e.g. how “consubstantial” must refer differently in the hypostatic union to the divine vs human natures?

If one allows Severus to define his own terms & properly reads him as a thoroughgoing Cyrillian, then he goes beyond not w/o Chalcedon. Christ remains consubstantial, divinely & humanly, respectively, via immanent & shared universals.

Cyril, ergo Severus, applied the Cappadocian trintological distinction, ousia vs hypostasis, to Christology.

Christ’s divine ousia = immanent universal (an extreme realism) & created ousia = shared universal (a moderate realism). For Cyril & Severus, one nature referred to – not ousia, but – hypostasis.

A Note on my reconceptions of Logoi, Tropoi & Teloi

Operating inseparably but distinctly

uncreated logoi: what, essential nature, act of existence, imago Dei, wholly determinate

un/created tropoi: how, actual secondary nature, virtues & vices, freedom/liberty, habits halfway between act & potency, variously in/determinate & self-determinate

created teloi: why, potential secondary nature, formal act & final potencies, intimacization, authenticity, variously in/determinate & self-determinate

A Note on Grace as Transmuted Experience in my Retreblement

“God not only gives things their form, but He also preserves them in existence, and applies them to act, and is moreover the end of every action.” (ST 1.105.5 ad 3)

Does determinism follow from immediate causality, whether divine or created?

Below is my paraphrased summary of William A. Frank’s “Duns Scotus on Autonomous Freedom & Divine Co-Causality,” Medieval Philosophy & Theology, Volume 2, 1992, Pages 142-164

Determinism doesn’t follow from immediate causality, whether divine or created.

Concurrent co-causes are necessary but not sufficient to bring about a given effect.

Concurrent co-causes can be
a) accidentally ordered, as in the case of needing two mules to pull a wagon, or
b) essentially ordered, as in needing a male & female to produce offspring.

When essentially ordered, even if one co-cause gives more toward an effect than another, the lesser cause can still be the total immediate cause of an effect, e.g. creatio continua vs creaturely volitional acts.

Scotus further distinguishes essentially ordered partial co-causes as

1) participative, requiring a sharing of power, &

2) autonomous, requiring inter-dependent cooperation thru coordinated, complementary lines of efficient causality e.g. how the will & intellect co-cause volition, how divine & created wills co-cause created volitions.

God’s immediate, efficient causality (uncreated) suffices for God’s knowledge in an extensional sense, as knowledge of His own act suffices for knowledge of the effect.

Here, one might remain content to establish the fact of God’s role as a partial co-cause without delving into the mysteries of God’s inner life.

Others aspire to travel further, explanatorily, with Suarez & Molina (middle knowledge), Baήez (premotion) or Scotus (attendant decision).

My thoughts:

The account above squares with how an Aristotelian God creates, conserves & knows.

Beyond that, though, what manner of divine “dialogue” (dia-logos) with the world would implicate a more providential relation between God & creatures, beyond a divine general or universal concurrence,

1) accounting for more of a theandric, even cosmotheandric, intimacy? via
2) a more personalist conception of divine & creaturely inter-relationality? or
3) a more robust account of participation in uncreated divine energeia, logoi & tropoi by creaturely teloi?

See:

https://www.academia.edu/42998704/The_Personalism_in_my_Retreblement

Speculating further, the accounts of Thomistic physical premotion, Jesuit middle knowledge & Scotistic attendant decision aspire to explain more than just how it is that God creates, conserves & knows, as they even explore beyond how it is the divine influences creatures via uncreated logoi & tropoi & created teloi. That’s to say they go beyond the divine-created concurrent, co-causal account, as elaborated above, to propose yet other distinct aspects of divine immediate causation.

For example, divine premotion would act “within” secondary causes, reducing material potencies to efficient acts, elevating instrumental causes to produce agapic (self-transcendent, loving, theotic, etc) effects proper to no known causes, so due to actual grace. God would thus act, however, without violating an agent’s causal integrity, still allowing those operations to be contingent & free, for God created not only necessary but contingent realities, including personal freedom. God moves (applies to act) necessary causes to cause necessarily & contingent causes to cause contingently according to their created natures. So, even if every reduction of material potencies to efficient causes should properly be interpreted as divinely caused & determined, that wouldn’t entail divine necessitation, except in the case of miracles.

Still, must a divine reduction of material potencies to efficient causes necessarily be interpreted as a bridging of physical causes & effects such that, if God wasn’t as such always determining, He’d otherwise have to be considered always determined?

I don’t see why that must necessarily be so. There’s nothing, in principle, to suggest that, to whatever extent that God might ever be variously determined by creatures, His intrinsic perfection would necessarily thereby be diminished (due to some divine impoverishment). Rather, such a divine affectivity might simply reflect a divine condescension (via a weakened DDS) that reflects divine changes in – neither aesthetic intensity nor intrinsic perfection, but – only aesthetic scope & kenotic relationality.

Furthermore, the will, itself, should be located, at least in part, in efficient causation. Scotus would have us recognize a form of volition that determines whether one exercises one’s will (or refrains therefrom). It’s the volitional question that asks why the will wills at all, because it does remain free not to act, notwithstanding all logoi, tropoi & physical premotions.

Proposed solution:
If we relocate grace to an uncreated formal cause (like E. Stump), it could still be effected through the uncreated physical premotion of efficient causes that will have brought about circumstances that, after creaturely semiotic interpretation, will necessitate certain dispositions of a given person’s will, inviting (even urging but not compelling) it to participate in a divine effecting of various agapic & theotic realizations .

I develop my semiotic approach to grace as transmuted experience, inspired by (but not developed from) James Dominic Rooney’s Stumping Freedom: Divine Causality and the Will, New Blackfriars (Volume 96, Issue 1066, November 2015, Pages 711–722)

See also:
http://www.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/freedom and God.pdf

Note: Situating Zizioulas Systematically in Tillich per My Retreblement

I don’t interpret Zizioulas’ existentialist & personalist approaches as developed out of classical existentialisms & personalisms, which are individualistic philosophies, b/c Z’s personalist conception is intrinsically relational, as difference in communion.

We’d need to distinguish aspects of Z’s philosophical anthropology, which might be implicit & inchoate, from those of his theological anthropology.

ISTM doubtful that the former could do anything other than to establish the reality of a person, that the “meaning” of a person must be imported from one’s worldview. There’s no doubt where Z’s concept of person gets its meaning & that freedom in the context of communion necessarily plays a constitutive role in person for him (think MOF).

One might also appropriate everything that’s useful in Tillich (e.g. Biblical personalism, pneumatology par excellence, ground of being), while correcting his insufficiencies (e.g. Christology) in order to bolster Z’s personalist hermeneutic. While Z pursued a similar project to Tillich, substituting neo-Patristic for Biblical sources, his patristic interpretations have been harshly criticized.

I don’t interpret Z’s thrust as anti-essential but as non-essential, so, retrieving Scotistic substance-talk into his hermeneutic needn’t explode it, but could, instead, better equip it to block unacceptable trinitological inferences. Also, Scotus’ eschewal of secondary substance-talk, trinitologically, would give Z an ontological idiom a tad more compatible with his preferred vocabulary vis a vis ousia, substance, hypostasis, person, etc

So, to best advance a systematic project sympathetic to Zizioulas’ concerns, I’d retrieve Tillich’s Christian existentialism & Biblical personalism, with the added bonus being that their dialectical character is very reminiscent of Panikkar’s cosmo-the-andrism. And I’d retrieve a Scotistic ontology (at least to articulate trinitological grammatical contours).

Finally, consistent with my triadic, axiological epistemology, as developed from Neville’s Peircean systematics, I’d turn to Peirce, Neville & Tillich for their conceptions regarding impersonal accounts of the Ground of Being to systematically situate Zizioulas’ causal-relational personalist interpretation of MOF.

Because Z asserts that the personal existence of the Father constitutes his own existence, the F thus causes not only the Trinitarian unity but the divine ousia, so, not only imparts His being but causes it, characteristics like divinity derived from, because identical to, His personhood.

In my own approach, I have not adopted but have adapted conceptions of the One & the many from Peirce, Tillich & Neville, often referred to with impersonal terms like Ens Necessarium and Ground of Being.

I employ distinct categories like nondeterminate emptiness (analogous to ground of Tillich & Neville, Ens Necessarium of Peirce), nondeterminate nothingness (real but not existing) and indeterminate being (existing).

There’s a certain paradoxical feel to juxtaposing Zizioulas’ MOF personalist approach with such impersonalist conceptions as Tillich’s Ground of Being, Infinite Abyss & Being-Itself?

But, following the Tillichian dialectical methodology, orienting our existential orientations to ultimate concerns, coloring our anthropology theologically, we can theologically gift meaning to what are otherwise bare philosophical conceptions. For me, & why not for Zizioulas, why couldn’t “freely relating” constitute the Ground of Being, Who is the Freely Willing Loving One God, the Father?

Note on Situating Zizioulas Systematically in Bracken in my Retreblement

Pannenberg moved away from just a “relations of origin” MOF interpretation to include a “diversity of relations” dimension, e.g. handing over of Lordship. Even then, some conception of the Father as “unoriginate originator” remains intact, istm.

B/c there’s so much affinity between Pannenberg’s & Joseph Bracken’s metaphysical approaches, appropriating such a modified MOF element in a Bracken-like approach seems a fruitful path forward.

The reason I adapted rather than adopted the Ground of Being conceptions of Tillich & Neville is that it’s important for my systematic consistency to remain faithful to Peirce, e.g. Ens Necessarium abduction.

Toward that end, the last element in my situating of Zizioulas, systematically, involves going beyond, but not without, Scotus, in a more robustly Peircean direction that’s also explicitly Trinitarian.

That is why I turn to the metaphysic of Joseph Bracken, a Peirce scholar and neo-Whiteheadian. What makes Bracken further amenable to this project is his faithful retrieval of Classical Theism and his conscious Peircean avoidance of nominalistic tendencies, such as in Whitehead’s process approach, or, to some extent, adumbrations in Hartshorne’s neo-Classical theism.

My favorite Bracken book remains God: Three Who Are One, 2008, Liturgical Press.

I also commend 1) The Divine Matrix: Creativity as Link between East and West, 1995, Orbis Books; 2) The One in the Many: A Contemporary Reconstruction of the God-World Relationship, 2001, Eerdmans; and 3) Does God Roll Dice? Divine Providence for a World in the Making, 2012, Liturgical Press.

For a great overview that shows how these approaches can fruitfully be placed in dialogue, see the dissertation of Dong-Sik Park: The God-World Relationship Between Joseph Bracken, Philip Clayton, & Open Theism.

The above thread contextualizes how I situate Scotus, Peirce & Bracken with a sympathetic eye toward Zizioulas in my own Pan-SEMIO-entheism.

Notes re Predications of Ousia, Hypostatic Idiomata & Energeia in my Retreblement

There are different theories of idiomata. And different idioms for substance talk. As long as one is consistent, such different types of God-talk needn’t separate us.

Do they merely secure the reference of proper names?

Do they just identify things, epistemologically, or describe their properties, constitutively, defining them essentially? or both?

When idiomata individuate numerically distinct hypostases, do they refer to properties that are:
1) simple, non-shareable & non-coinstantiable; or
2) shareable in-principle but a uniquely combined bundle of idiomata?

How might we distinguish between metaphysically individuating idiomata & epistemic gnorismata, which epistemolsecure references through names?

How might we best distinguish between the semantic “signification” of the common nouns & natures of the ousia & semantic “indications” of the proper nouns & peculiar qualities of hypostases?

Does “God” predicate any subject which shares divine nature?

Does “God” signify the divine ousia in particular, as a kind or nature?

Does “God” signify certain types of energeia or activities?

Is the word “God” a substance-sortal at all, a special predicate expressing the divine nature itself? Is the word “God” just another predicate among predicates, attribute among attributes?
Are natures or ousiai otherwise individuated by energeiai?

Whether the word “God” signifies the divine nature or not (per Cross, yes; per Branson, no),

if one employs an idiom wherein the ousia’s a secondary substance, the word “God” most certainly can be predicated of all the hypostases; and

if one eschews substance-talk & denominatively (connotatively) names the Father, “the One God” – not just as an epistemic gnorismata securing one’s reference via signification, but determinatively (denotatively) – as a metaphysically individuating idioma that differentiates the Father via some robustly personalistic, causal-relational indication, still, “the One God” as arche & aitia, would ontologically subordinate neither God the Son nor God the Holy Spirit.

This is precisely because, even if the sole arche & aitia entails some type of analogous aseity, whether via such a God-conception as would be signified either thru
1) predication & instantiation; or
2) attribution & exemplification; or
3) a supremely personal causal-relational activity —

such an imparting of divine nature is shared as “God from God” and ergo must be clearly & emphatically distinguished from creation’s reception of “finite determinate being from God,” Who is Being Beyond being.

Historically speaking, I take no position re how the Nyssan best be interpreted re God signifying the ousia (Cross) or not (Branson) and, similarly, no position re the basis of divine unity per the Nazianzen, the ousia (Cross) or the MOF (Beeley).

Normatively, my own approach coheres with the views that “God” does not signify ousia & the MOF does secure divine unity.

So, if Branson & Beeley are correct in their respective interpretations of the Nyssan & Nazianzen, then my position thus coheres with the Capps.

Accordingly, “is God”
predicates – not the divine nature (ousia), but – engagements in a certain type of activity (energeia), not in terms of quiddity or “what,” but in terms of doing or “how.”

Hence “God” refers as is defined not in terms
of the divine nature, but as a doer of a certain kind of energeia. In other words, “God” refers as an agent noun (like butcher or baker or candlestick maker).

Although some approaches are nominalist re both ousia & idiomata, my own is realist re both idiomata & ousia.

Re: how idiomata individuate numerically distinct hypostases, in my approach, they refer to properties that are shareable in-principle but in a uniquely combined bundle of idiomata.

If one’s idiom refers to ousia as a secondary substance, God can thus be predicated of each divine hypostasis, as a property that’s shareable in-principle but within an otherwise uniquely combined bundle of idiomata.

If one’s idiom refers to ousia as a primary substance, i.e. an indivisible immanent universal, the attribute, God, can thus be exemplified by each divine hypostasis, as a property that’s shareable in-principle but within an otherwise uniquely combined bundle of idiomata.

In my approach, wherein ousia’s a primary substance & hypostases are exemplifications, I distinguish between semantic “significations” of the common nouns & natures of the ousia & the semantic “indications” of the proper nouns & peculiar qualities of hypostases. And “God” can signify certain types of energeia or activities. So, the word “God” is not a substance-sortal at all, i.e. not a special predicate expressing the divine nature, itself, but is just another predicate among predicates, attribute among attributes.

Because natures, or ousiai, are individuated by energeiai as shared by all the hypostases, we can infer that they all share the same nature & that “God” can be predicated of each hypostasis even as “God” doesn’t otherwise signify the divine nature per se.

The stances articulated above represent phraseology & paraphrases from Beau Branson’s LPT.

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

 

The Vestigia, Imagines & Similitudines Dei per Universalism & Apokatastasis

Human reality fully transcends the teleo-potent, -matic, -nomic, -qualic as teleo-logic

beyond the essential, dynamical human being/becoming (acting per existential, material & final human potencies), as vestigia Dei (autopoietic, but as more determined, less indetermined)

w/a distinctively human abduction as it transcends abductive instinct w/abductive inference, fostering a more versatile, plastic behavioral repertoire, aesthetically, i.e. vis a vis choosing among divine teloi & logoi w/an enlightened self-interest (erotically & proto-ethically), e.g. Bernardian love, Ignatian degrees of humility, Kohlberg’s stages, imperfect contrition, etc, of human persons as imagines Dei … every distinctively personal act constitutes a volitional disposition re both what to freely will (among divine logoi) and whether to (freely) will at all (i.e. choosing not just instinctively but inferentially), so as less determined, more indetermined

next (at age of reason) realizing a more versatile, plastic behavioral repertoire, ethically, i.e. vis a vis choosing among even more divine teloi & logoi by transcending self-interests (agapically & ethically), e.g. Bernardian love, Ignatian degrees of humility, Kohlberg’s stages, perfect contrition, etc, of a person becoming (virtuous and/or vicious 2nd natures), thereby with a more expansive aesthetic scope, too, as similitudines Dei, as much more indetermined

Considerations of human volition, a freely willing human, must avoid absolute notions of in/determinism, for the personal freedom of humans presents only in terms of degrees, whereby we are free-enough to truly enjoy meaningful (good-enough, beautiful-enough, dayenu) value-realizations.

It seems to me that human persons are determined enough so as to be radically unable to thwart the divine logoi ordered toward our personal being (essential nature as imagines Dei) but are indetermined enough so as to be radically able to thwart those divine logoi ordered toward our personal becoming (secondary nature as similitudines Dei).

All other conceptions of human freedom are facile & simplistic, and fall prey to tautological nonsense and analytical paradox, anthropologically, either indeterministically reducing to all sorts of ridiculous voluntarisms & libertarianisms or deterministically yielding silly intellectualisms & compatibilisms.

Neither Thomist nor Scotist nor Molinist theological anthropologies, properly approached, fall prey to such anthropological nonsense, essentially, because their explicit/implicit “theories of everything” embrace a priniciple of “sufficient” reason, which is neither the idealist monist PSR of Spinoza, which reduces to pantheism, nor a materialist monist PSR, which reduces to nihilism. There are various physicalist & naturalist approaches that vary in their interpretations of necessity & in/determinacy, but they go beyond the heuristic of a suitably nuanced Aristotelian hylemorphism to prove too much, in my view.

How one conceives human freedom vis a vis ultimate realities will always boil down to one’s stipulations re mereological (whole-part conception), metaphysical (root metaphor) and teleological (PSR version) primal realities.

Below are some reflections evoked by:

Despairing into Gehenna: Manis, Kierkegaard, and the Choice Model

One upshot of divine simplicity [DDS] and actus purus, when understood in terms of apophatic negation, would be that one way determinate being differs from divine being is that the former can act only in relationship to limited potencies.

The human being, constitutively, enjoys a freedom that phylogenetically (in its evolutionary lineage) presented with the emergence of symbolic language. Prior to the age of reason, where new freedoms (moral & spiritual) will emerge, ontogenetically (in its individual development), a human child already enjoys a freedom of choosing among equally optimal self-interested choices with a behavioral plasticity that differs – not only quantitatively, but – qualitatively from other primates.

Specifically, as a child matures, its (aesthetic) scope of self-interested choices is not limited to mere abductive instincts, which many animals exhibit, but is expanded by abductive inference, an if-then calculus driven by an early imagination that’s growing exponentially. This exponential expansion of behavioral plasticity precisely results from an unmooring of the nonarbitrary range of instinctive responses by the child’s growing repertoire of arbitrary symbol conventions.

I emphasize this constitutive freedom of choosing among equally optimal goods per a young human’s first order desires (what they want) to note its relationship to human eros, what St Bernard distinguished in terms of love of self for sake of self and love of God and/or others for sake of self. From this eros, young (and old) humans experience imperfect contrition, i.e. expressing sorrow due to our just punishment and growing in enlightened self-interest (choosing being over nonbeing). I mention this in the context of reminding all that such an imperfect contrition is all that’s ever been required “to be saved” and to observe that I was taught that it would be heretical to suggest otherwise.

Thus, it seems to me that, soteriologically, human beings are intrinsically constituted by all that’s both necessary and sufficient to be saved?

Furthermore, this elemental human freedom possesses a distinct proto-moral and proto-spiritual character, which means that it can potentially progress beyond its constitutive & soteriological essential nature to realize a more robustly elective & sophiological secondary nature, which might determine – not its eschatological destiny, but – its beatitudinal scope. By that, I mean to suggest that it could progress in Bernardian love, beyond the erotic to the agapic, i.e. love of God & others for their own sake, thus expanding its original frontier of equally optimal choices (what some would call a Pareto front), thus enjoying an expanded aesthetic scope of choosing among even more goods, albeit always acting within limited potencies.

Thus we can parse human freedom, constitutively & electively, soteriologically and sophiologically, erotically & agapically, in terms of aesthetic scope expansion, moral progress & growth in intimacy (theosis).

Thus we can distinguish between 1) willing among equally optimal goods, aesthetically; 2) whether we will or not, morally & spiritually; and 3) what we will. Our “willing among” goods and volitional option “between” willing or not (choosing between being & nonbeing, good & evil) refer to human freedoms. “What we will” has been determined by divine logoi, teloi, intentionale, etc.

Coming full circle to the DDS & Actus Purus, might this portrait of the imago Dei not illuminate our understanding of divine being? If we properly distinguish between the divine nature and will, esse naturale and intentionale, might we not glimpse a thin divine passibility, where the divine will chooses – never between good and evil, being and nonbeing, but – along an eternal Pareto front of equally optimal “best” worlds, no such choices entailing either improvements or impairments of an ever-perfect divine nature’s aesthetic intensity but only “affecting” a divine aesthetic scope? Would this not account, exegetically & Christologically, for the distinction between Jesus’ natural will and the Father’s will as He prayed for the passing of that particular Cup? Would this not account for human second order desires, theotically, for example, such as when we grow with holy indifference in Ignatian degrees of humility, from image to likeness, praying for our transformation even in “what we want to want”? That’s to say – not only regarding second order desires pertaining to our choosing “between” being and nonbeing, but – our longing to please others and God in our choosing “among” equally optimal goods in holy submission to wills not our own?

Of course, we differ from Jesus in that our natural wills have a gnomic character due to our temporal epistemic distancing, which may even perdure in some manner post-mortem for some duration. If my apokatastatic intuitions are correct, our gnomic willing affects and effects – not soteriological realities of our essential natures vis a vis the imago Dei, but – our sophiological trajectories as we grow our secondary natures in intimacy and beatitude.

These implications of my universalism thus turn on this distinction:

A single will to raise up the image, but two to make the image into a likeness. ~ Lossky

This implicates another distinction – that between our essential & secondary natures. Human freedom determines only WHETHER one chooses to will at all & not WHAT one wills (in participating with divine logoi), incrementally forming a virtuous or vicious secondary nature or various degrees of both.

Vicious choices are privative of being, hence eternally self-annihilating as God honors human freedom. This is to suggest that, whatever reality they exhibit temporally, will not perdure eternally (much less be eternalized instantaneously & proleptically like our virtuous acts).

Virtuous natures are eternalized, both proleptically (i.e. harvested, instantaneously, is every trace of human goodness, every beginning of a smile, all wholesome trivialities) & eschatologically, by virtue of necessarily being joined to divine intentionale.

Even if, hypothetically, a given person’s eternal being was, in the end, constituted only by their essential nature as an imago Dei, having developed no virtuous secondary nature whatsoever (even after all epistemic distancing has been closed, whether temporally or even post-mortem), there can be no talk of self-annihilation for an imago Dei’s not self-determined (cf Lossky’s one will). Neither would God’s perfect will annihilate such an imago Dei, for that would amount to a divine self-contradiction.

What’s at stake, then, would be the nature of one’s eternal beatitude, perhaps in terms of aesthetic scope, which would be self-determinedly wider for one who’s developed a virtuous secondary nature.

Dogmatic Presuppositions of my theological anthropology

In a way, the answers — to such questions as

1) “libertarianism or compatibilism?”

2) “intellectualism or voluntarism?” and

3) “will or intellect or character?” — aren’t even wrong (regarding either divine or human natures).

For human persons, this is because there are 3 indispensable acts, limited by potentialities, involved in every human choice. These include

1) existence in potency to being,

2) efficient to material (will) and

3) formal to final (intellect), each necessary, none alone sufficient. Of course, this part wouldn’t apply to Actus Purus.

Character (habitus) stands halfway between those acts and potentialities, like iron forged into

1) leg braces, facilitating and/or

2) a bear trap, crippling the potentialities,

although in the latter case, never able (either temporally or eschatologically) to kill them, as they’re, in principle, inherently realizable (both temporally and eternally).

God does not punish habits, only acts, ergo, God allows misery only as a punishment for acts.

Why Suffering in God’s Presence doesn’t make sense to me

I am grateful for these conversations. They make me scratch my head and help me process my muddled thoughts. If anyone catches my drift, that’s a blessing for me. If anyone challenges me to be more artful in expression, that helps me, too. Most of all, any challenges to the substance of my views has, eventually, brought me closer to the truth and our God. In that spirit, then:

Even once casting aside the classical libertarianism & compatibilism framings as nonsensical category errors (what I mean by saying such “answers aren’t even wrong” but are gibberishtic anthropological caricatures), I have strived, awkwardly, to more intuitively grasp how to avoid the notion that a human person’s eternal destiny isn’t wholly determined.

In other words, while it may be logically valid and internally consistent to argue, analytically, that humans are created as “freely willing the Godly-determined” by using definitions of freedom that, to many, sound paradoxical (but make perfect sense! In terms of virtu-osity!), I still want more than a syllogism.

I want a story in which I can participate, holistically and imaginatively. Good news? From the online lectures (youtube) of DBH, one can tell that he will be gifting nourishment for both head & heart in _That All May Be Saved_.

Still –

If the will is located in efficient causation, free in the sense of WHETHER one chooses to will at all, and also in the sense of choosing AMONG goods, that, in my view, offers an eminently satisfying account of freedom, not just cognitively but emotionally. In these senses, persons are manifestly self-determined, created as freely willing.

There is another sense of freedom, which imagines a person’s capacity to choose WHAT is good, in other words to self-determine and to define and to appropriate being & goodness as they imagine same. In this sense, then, some view freedom in terms of choosing BETWEEN good & evil (apparent good), being & nonbeing (apparent being), virtue & vice. This view falls into incoherence because WHAT is good and constitutes being has indeed already been wholly determined by God and we are not free to determine or define same.

What about the “freedom” to choose otherwise, though, to opt for evil or nonbeing? That’s nonsensical on the grounds that evil or nonbeing, as privation, doesn’t successfully refer, ontologically. That definition of freedom lacks an ontic reference and entails an epistemic error, propositionally.

Nevertheless, dispositionally, our choices can, indeed, be culpable & such habits, clearly, vicious.

Under the true definition of freedom, to refrain from choosing among goods when acting, i.e. giving no “consideration” to what God has determined, is intuitively recognized by most as “inconsiderate” behavior. While such can be just a plain mistake rooted in finitude, it can also be culpable (sinful refusal). Such a willful and culpable blindness, in my view, constitutes a self-determined behavior, “freely” chosen in the “whether & among sense” even though not the “what & between” sense. And it can habitually accrete into a vicious nature. I just believe that God honors such free choices through eternal annihilation, which we can self-determine vis a vis our “second nature” or acquired dispositions.

And I doubt anyone wholly lacks some measure of a virtuous nature, which will indeed be eternalized.

Even a person’s essential imago Dei — if largely bereft of any significant growth (2nd nature) from that particular image to likeness, if primarily wholly determined, if self-determined to the most meager degree conceivable and if not even discernibly responsive to some post-mortem epistemic-closure & beatific illumination — would not experience the Presence in misery, precisely because God has wholly determined otherwise. In God’s governance, punishment ensues only from sin (moral choices).

1) Because our moral nature emerges as a second nature from our essential nature, and
2) because, eschatologically, there are no longer moral acts, and
3) because acts not natures are punished under any circumstances,
no such misery can be experienced.

However one approaches the reality of innocent suffering in a cosmos fallen into dis-order by sin, temporally, such a disorder will, by definition, be eschatologically repaired.

voluntarism, intellectualism, libertarianism & compatibilism – Oh my!

Any proper transcendence of the category errors of voluntarism, intellectualism, libertarianism & compatibilism won’t entail a dissolution of in/determinacies.

What we can will (among) has been determined, while whether we will at all has not, the former as formal acts in limited potency to final causes, the latter as efficient acts in potency to material. Halfway between such acts & potency, habitus presents as virtuous & vicious 2nd natures, able to facilitate or cripple, but never to kill, potentialities.

This is why Thomas Talbott can say: Personally, I seriously doubt that God causally determines every event that occurs, whether it be the change of state of a radium atom, a dog’s leaping this way rather than that while romping in the yard, or the free choice of an independent rational agent.

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2016/06/09/free-will-theodicies-of-hell/

Why should such an irrational choice, even if not causally determined, be any more compatible with genuine moral freedom than a rigorous determinism would be? ~ Talbott

In our temporal affairs, we routinely impute guilt to those deemed willfully blind. In criminal law, we employ such terms as willful neglect, reasonable diligence, reckless indifference, knew or should have known, should reasonably have known, etc In our quotidian affairs we refer to willful blindness or ignorance and self-deception. Moral theologians distinguish in/vincible ignorance and nescience, more crass when deliberate than affected, blameworthy in either case, more gravely wrong for serious matters.

That all such behavior is irrational to various degrees, nevertheless, it retains its inculpating character. That’s why so many irrational choices, even if not causally determined, are universally deemed more compatible with genuine moral freedom than any rigorous determinism.

My rule of thumb in theological anthropology is to preserve, as far as practicable, our common sense & sensibilities, so as not to violate the integrity of the freely willing person. Therefore, tautologically concluding that all irrational behavior is, in principle, exculpating, does not sufficiently square with our ordinary moral intuitions. Our universalist apologetics, then, best appeal to infinite mercy & forgiveness rather than argue for a counterintuitive analytic, syllogistic innocence. Having deftly avoided the shoals of voluntarism, we must similarly steer clear of intellectualistic appeals, which ignore the vicious habitus that can impede the efficient cause of the will in realizing its potentialities.

Whether a vicious nature stands halfway between the acts & potentialities of the will or intellect, still, it can in no way, temporally or eternally, extinguish them, as they remain inherently realizable.

Pastor Tom Belt has persuasively argued a Maximian irrevocability thesis: “Hart’s view is an argument for the impossibility of the will foreclosing upon all possibility of Godward becoming. Such foreclosure would be teleological foreclosure.”

Again, invoking my rule of thumb in theological anthropology – to preserve, as far as practicable, our common sense & sensibilities, so as not to violate the integrity of the freely willing person – Belt’s Maximian irrevocability thesis squares better with our human experience than the overly speculative account of any putative irreversibility theses vis a vis avoiding such conceptual discontinuities between now & the eschaton as would render our anthropology unintelligible.

Now, if I may presume to paraphrase Talbott: Add to Belt’s Maximian irrevocability thesis the condition of minimal rationality and it seems impossible that anyone rational enough to qualify as a free moral agent would freely embrace an objective horror forever.

That’s as close as one can come to splitting the difference between a hopeful, practical universalism & an affirmation of a robustly theoretic universalism.

It seems to me that it’s quite possible a our viscious 2nd natures may not transist into the eschaton, especially if considered as privations of becoming. They may well thus be annihilated as God honors one’s choice for a self-determined non-becoming (refraining from growth in likeness). There can otherwise be no annihilation, in principle, for an imago Dei, as no one can freely self-determine non-being for an intrinsically good & absolutely valuable creation. The imago Dei plus any inklings of our virtuous 2nd natures (no one has none, whatsoever?) are eternalized, as God honors our self-determined choices for becoming (theotic realizations of divine & creaturely wills together).

Notes:

Calvin, Luther, Aquinas & Scotus

The Antecedent and Consequent Will of God: Is This a Valid and Useful Distinction? by Andrew Hussman

Perhaps St. Anselm was on the right track when he classified the scriptural concepts under discussion here not as antecedens et consequens, but as misericordiae et iustitiae. This comes close to another distinction of God’s will, legalis et evangelicus. Law and gospel are found on every page of Scripture.

The Oxford Handbook of Early Christian Biblical Interpretation edited by Paul M. Blowers, Peter W Martens

Bonaventure & Scotus on 1 Timothy 2:4

W

Gloria Frost: When the passages in which Aquinas and Scotus explicitly discuss the origin of contingency in creation are read in context with attention to the kind of contingency each is discussing, similarities between their views can be identified and the objections raised against their respective views can be solved.

In sum, for Aquinas the proximate reason for why an effect is contingently caused is the fact that it was produced by a contingently operating secondary cause. The ultimate reason, however, for why the effect was contingently caused is the efficacy of God’s will which willed for the effect to come about through a contingent mode of causation and thus, willed a contingent cause for it. Regarding the contingent mode of existence that belongs to all created effects, Aquinas says that the proximate reason for why every created effect is contingently existing is the fact that God freely causes every created effect.

In sum, when Scotus identified God’s contingent mode of causation as the source of the contingency of creatures, he was referring to the contingent mode of existence that belongs to all creatures. Like Aquinas, he thought that the capacity of the divine will to cause creatures contingently was founded on the fact that the divine will only necessarily wills the divine goodness, which is complete and self-sufficient.

Similarly, Scotus would have agreed with Aquinas’s position that effects are contingently caused by their proximate causes because of the efficacy of the divine will which chooses which kind of causes exist in creation.

Scotus, however, thinks that although the effects produced by God alone and those produced by both God and contingently operating secondary causes both follow from contingently operating proximate causes, they are fundamentally different in their modal features. The former effects have a single potency for non-existence, while the latter have double possibility for nonexistence. Thus, in Scotus’s view contingently operating secondary causes are a necessary condition for God to introduce into creation a secondary contingency, which adds an additional layer of indeterminacy to the contingent mode of existence which all creatures enjoy.

Scotus’s point is that God necessarily wills only those things that are necessary for what God loves in himself (i.e. his goodness). Thus, no creature is willed necessarily, since what is lovable in God does not require any creature for its existence. Like Aquinas, Scotus thought that God’s freedom not to create stemmed from the self-sufficiency and completeness of what is good, and therefore lovable, in God himself. If God’s contingent mode of causation with respect to creatures is traced to the self-sufficiency of the divine goodness, then the contingent mode of existence that belongs to creatures will similarly have this as its ultimate foundation.

Aquinas and Scotus on the Source of Contingency, Oxford Studies in Medieval Philosophy, 2014 by Gloria Frost

At Academia: Retreblement – A Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology

At Scribd: Retreblement – A Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology

More Eschatological Anthropology

I resonate with certain central elements of Dr Manis’ approach, e.g. that in *some* sense the divine will can be thwarted, that annihilation is incompatible with divine presence & that creaturely moral freedom’s a logically necessary condition of communion.

I also resonate with Fr Aidan’s recognition that no metaphysical necessity’s imposed on God. It is from both general & special revelations that we have been gifted with some knowledge of the logic that onto-logically inheres and theo-logically coheres in the divine’s relationship with determinate realities. That relationship, of course, has ensued from – not metaphysical necessity, but – a self-determinate, divine kenosis.

Our knowledge of same, at the same time, remains fallible & inchoate. Regarding the problem of evil, for example, I reject (even recoil from) theodicies re the *evidential* problem, instead opting for Job 38 (where were you???!!!), but I do embrace a divine presence solution to the *existential* problem, i.e. (Be not afraid! I AM with you!).

More directly bearing on this discussion, though, I personally experience much consolation from many of the defenses to the *logical* problem of evil, ranging across the theological spectrum (from classical to process approaches).

To be fully coherent, then, it seems we must aspire to pull together a solution that satisfies the problem of evil in a way that’s — not only *logically* consistent (and even the best atheistic philosophers now concede that accomplishment, which is why they focus on *evidential* theodicies), but — *existentially* satisfying.

Such a solution, then, must be neither evidentially pretentious (re: why God allowed this particular evil) nor soteriologically presumptuous (re: why God must do this) in addressing divine reality (e.g. suggesting definite metaphysical and/or moral divine necessities).

Thus it is that the more nuanced universalist stances will, in my view, aspire to reconcile the best classical defenses with the best existential intuitions, the latter grown — not propositionally from logical argumentations, but — dispositionally from theotic participations.

Beyond the arguments of Athens & energies of Athos, those participations will also include such quotidian realities as, for a prime example, the raising of children.

There is, then, in all authentic human loving, a trans-rational apophaticism, which, beyond all proposals of speculative affirmations & negations, disposes one via a movement of the will (e.g. including a will graced with a virtuous habitus)? Such a movement of the will, whether of parental, spousal or other communal loves, pretty much inevitably & in principle, will come up short in what it can articulate via its co-causal movement of the intellect, which falters in its effablings regarding life’s truly ineffable experiences.

It is from my experience as a parent & grandparent, then, coupled with my gratuitously gifted formation & sacramental participation in a healing, reconciling & loving community of faith, that I want to proclaim “THAT all may be saved,” even as I struggle to give a metaphysical or theological account of *why* or *how*.

Yet, I’m here to learn how to better defend that hope, which is indeed within me, that I and others might move more swiftly, with less hindrance & greater consolation on our temporal journeys into eternity.

Another of my feeble efforts to defend my hope follows, but I am more sure regarding why Fr Aidan’s and others’ intuitions truly matter, much less sure that I can convey my own in a sufficiently artful & accessible manner.

I use a lot of question marks, below, not to solicit answers but to indicate my own intellectual tentativeness. My hope is firm but my expression falters.

While I find it problematic to conceive how there could ever be a definitive teleological foreclosure (cf. Pastor Tom Belt), neither would I want to deny the necessity of a creaturely freedom to refrain from willing. Further, properly understood, both the Thomistic and Scotistic anthropologies, in my view, suitably avoid the libertarian, compatibilist, voluntarist & intellectualist incoherencies. Human acts can indeed, at the same time, be irrational & culpable or impassioned & culpable, because the reality of human freedom presents in degrees.

Admittedly, we find it hard to define & difficult to discern exactly how and precisely when such thresholds get crossed in terms of degrees of both affectivity & rationality as they impinge on various degrees of culpability.

Still, if we deny our common sense & sensibilities regarding our experiences of human freedom, whether temporally or eschatologically, we risk abandoning what little intelligibility we enjoy regarding same. We inescapably must rely on that same intelligibility that we must employ in our daily approach to the realities of our dynamical human transformation (including moral conversion, spiritual formation & theosis).

Therefore, what?

While creaturely moral freedom’s a logically necessary condition of communion, what if, like freedom, the reality of communion also presents in degrees?

Is there not a modicum of communion, even in that imago Dei, who’s not crossed the threshold into the human moral life, whether due to age, illnesses or deformative dynamics? Or, who enjoys little in the way of theotic participation in the human spiritual life, i.e. little or no growing in likeness? Or, who’s even culpably developed a vicious second nature, but undeniably remains divinely indwelled and teleologically oriented, eternally & inherently?

What *is* a vicious nature but a habit of refraining from whether one wills to will at all regarding — not *be-ing* per se, but — one’s *be-coming*? To refrain, that is, from whether one wills to will at all regarding — not one’s essential nature or very existence, but — one’s growing from image to likeness?

What if one could only self-determinedly choose — not to be or not to be, but — to become or not become?

What if, in the same way we mustn’t ontologize evil, perhaps, neither should we reify the concept of a vicious nature, which habitually chooses non-becoming?

What if we should otherwise also, in part, conceive of such an imago Dei in terms of what it has freely & definitively determined not to *become*, even though it would & must, nevertheless, thus persist in *being* for all eternity? Even that putatively definitive determination *not to become*, though, should be approaching the threshold of a practical inconceivability, at least for those of us who couple Belt’s irrevocability thesis with Talbott’s virtual impossibility thesis (my description of the latter)?

Even stipulating to such an eschatological anthropology, as would remain an essentially hopeful — not a theoretically necessary — universalism, there remains a question regarding how such an imago Dei, bereft of any robustly moral & spiritual becoming, might subjectively experience the Eschaton.

To what extent might its experience be tortuous, whether formatively, restoratively or retributively?

In my view, once determinate reality has been made whole, cosmically reconciled, in principle, creatures would not be susceptible to existential deprivations or depredations. An imago Dei, not grown into divine likeness beyond its irrevocable, essential nature, might, rather quietistically, enjoy a minimalist reverie of aesthetic scope, while others enjoy, in various degrees, more expansive scopes (as I’ve discussed elsewhere), continuing to exercise their freedom in an eternal fugue of choosing among divine goods.

So, perhaps, authentic freedom entails relational, just not existential, self-determination?
Perhaps one’s self-determined choice to refrain from becoming could, in principle, be exercised irrevocably & eternally, hence never definitively?

Perhaps such a choosing might best be conceived in terms similar to that of a sacred, precious imago Dei, as one who, prior to the age of reason, possesses the same absolute, intrinsic value as that shared by all innocent children?

Perhaps such a self-determined refraining (including post-mortem, even after all epistemic closures), eschatologically, no longer could involve a culpable refraining from the consideration or not of goods in one’s acts, in principle, since any such neediness as would have motivated such acts, temporally, will have been obviated, eschatologically, by the cosmic reconciliation?

In other words, such an eschatological reordering would be metaphysically incompatible with such deprivations & depredations as would’ve formerly been compatible with the old temporal, lapsarian dis-order?

Eschatological freedom would thus entail only whether one wills to will at all, i.e. one’s *choosing* or not (in & of itself) among eternal goods & becomings, as well as any choosing *among* such potentialities (that array of divinely determined goods & becomings)? It could not otherwise involve a choosing *between* divinely determined goods and reified evils (by disordered appetites or inordinate attachments), which would be ontologically nonsensical. Nor could it involve refraining from a choice from/for non/being, which has never been an existential prerogative of the imago Dei over against the divine will, anyway.

Eternal annihilation of any imago Dei remains off the table as conceptually incompatible with its essential nature and theologically incoherent, as it would constitute a reversal of the eternal divine intentionale?

I believe, therefore, that God honors the freedom of human persons by eternalizing all self-determined acts of human becoming (as synergetic divine participations) and by refraining from any eternalizations of our non-participatory acts (such as we refer to in terms of vicious 2nd natures) i.e. our choices “not to become.” As such, our virtuous 2nd natures transition into eternity along with our essential natures, while our vicious 2nd natures will self-determinedly perish (a virtual self-annihilation), which certainly remains, to an extent, and in *some* way, a lamentable thwarting of the divine will. What it would not amount to is an unmitigated loss. Such choices would (self-punitively & consequently) cost one tremendous but nonessential opportunities, but, in the end, no loss of an original & essential goodness. Such choices would amount to a gratuitous superabundance foregone, but with no loss of an abundant life redeemed, that’s to say, reoriented, saved, healed, sanctified & empowered, as a new creation.

Our participatory imaginations gift us, integrally & relationally, unity, beauty, goodness, freedom & truth, forming our dispositions (senses & sensibilities) toward various ways of belonging, desiring, behaving, transcending & believing, as expressed in our attitudes regarding & personal commitments to others, the cosmos, God & even our own selves, as told & retold in our stories.

One, who’s thus properly disposed & committed, can then imaginatively engage others thru inspired storytelling, thereby, in turn, fostering others’ healthy participations, dispositions & commitments.

Such storytelling may, more or less, lend itself to a more rigorous cognitive map-making, foundationally, which is to say, historically, exegetically, scientifically, philosophically & metaphysically. Theologically, such foundations can then systematically underwrite our ecclesiologies, soteriologies, sacramentologies, sophiologies & eschatologies.

There are countless pastors, homilists & spiritual directors from diverse faith traditions, who’ve articulated robustly pneumatological ecclesiologies, radically inclusive soteriologies, profusely incarnational sacramentologies, remarkably polydoxic sophiologies & universally efficacious eschatologies – as awakened & enlivened by human solidarity & compassion & retold in personal stories, thus implicitly grounded in their collective participatory imaginations.

Some are better than others, when it comes to explicitly mapping such dispositions, systematically & foundationally. Make no mistake, though, it can be done, especially, it seems to me, by those who recognize certain resonances between Franciscan, Scotist sensibilities & Eastern Orthodox sophiological approaches.

For example, however harshly one might wish to critique certain of Fr Richard Rohr’s explicit foundational apologetics, far more importantly & deserving of way more emphasis, implicit in the collective oeuvre of his lifetime’s ministry, is precisely such an ecclesiology, soteriology, sacramentology, sophiology & eschatology that I would to defend in my Retreblement: A Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology.

This is to suggest that one shouldn’t ever miss the concrete, dispositional, participatory theophanic, theopoetic, theopoietic & theotic forests for the abstract, propositional, cognitive theological, metaphysical trees. As it is, robustly metaphysical descriptions & rigorous theological formulations necessarily elude us, in principle, while vaguely semantical references & broad heuristical contours guide us, in practice.

Following Ignatius, we must charitably presuppose the most orthodox interpretations of our theological interlocutors, not reflexively & habitually construing ambiguities & inadequate or inartful expressions against them.

Integrally, Fr. Rohr’s robustly pneumatological ecclesiology, radically inclusive soteriology, profusely incarnational sacramentology, remarkably polydoxic sophiology & universally efficacious eschatology are grounded in his Franciscan (common) sensibilities, Scotistic meta-heuristic (common) sensicalities & Eastern sympathies, both Orthodoxy’s sophiological tradition as well as the Orient’s nondual traditions. All of these presuppose, then, certain outlooks, theologically (i.e. paterological, Christological, pneumatological & Trinitological approaches) and anthropologically (as, continuous with all vestigia Dei & uniquely as imagines Dei, theotic intimacization invites each person to progress via similitudo Dei).

To wit:

A. implicatory trinitarian theology (of divine esse naturale):

  • 1) interpersonal propria
  • 2) intimate idiomata
  • 3) invitatory (ad intra ur-kenosis) relata

B. intertwined temporal missions of creation, conservation & consummation (mutually entailing acts of ad extra kenosis) via tri-personal presences (multi-form unitive revelations, i.e. mutual intimaci-zations not mani-fold encounters of separate exemplifications), where

C. inseparable “opera ad extra” are tri-personal while also especially revealing of particular exemplifications via their “proper roles” where the

D. immensity of the divine universal presence, which is variously im/mediate, in/visible & intense, the effects of which are tri-personally operative as well as personally appropriated in the theophanic operations of our creaturely “exitus” or production from God in divine creation, i.e. trinitologically & anthropologically … or as an

E. intensity of the particular divine presence via hypostatic extensions, the effects of which are – not only tri-personally operative & personally appropriated, but – personally “proper,” i.e. united to a given divine exemplification, in the theotic missions of our creaturely “reditus” or return to God in divine consummation, i.e. sophiologically & eschatologically … with the

F. immediacy (Emmanuel, God is with us!) of the divine mercy & urgency of its prompt succor, bringing about manifold & multiform proleptic creaturely realizations of the divine telos, as it’s entailed in these theotic missions. Such realizations anticipate & guarantee the divine missions’ universal efficacy, ecclesiologically & sacramentally, thereby effecting – in this eternal now – our creaturely salvation, redemption & reconciliation by God through divine conservation, i.e soteriologically.

G. implicated theological anthropology (of divine esse intentionale):

  • 1) indwelling vestigia
  • 2) imaginal uniqueness (essential nature of imago Dei)
  • 3) intentional & incremental theosis (dynamical & progressive intimaci-zation of secondary nature of kenotic similitudo Dei)

tags: interreligious dialogue, polydoxy, panentheism, pansemioentheism, retreblement, john sobert sylvest, richard rohr, universal christ, pneumatological missiology, apocatastasis, apokatastasis, david bentley hart, russian sophiology, joseph bracken, divine matrix, norris clarke, personalist thomism, charles sanders peirce, donald gelpi s.j., amos yong, palamas, duns scotus, logical problem of the trinity, richard rohr, michael morrell, perichoresis, universalism, universal salvation, free will, libertarian free will, cappadocians

Ur-kenosis & Ur-analogy in a Trinitarian, Kenotic Panentheism – Bracken’s Peircean approach can bring Hegel, Bulgakov & others together

One might appropriate Hegel & Bulgakov through Peircean lenses, using, for example, Joe Bracken’s panentheism.

One can thereby also avoid any apparent (Hegel) or latent (Bulgakov) nominalist tendencies (thick in Whitehead, thin in Hartshorne) and affirm a robustly Trinitarian & kenotic panentheism.

Hegel (too deterministic? I’m not so sure. See thought experiment, below.), perhaps, needs an appropriation of Peirce (no nominalism) & Schelling (personalist, more freedom) for his panentheism to be distinguished from Aurobindo’s, and to conform more to Bracken’s panentheism, which is more consistent with Classical Theism.

The following makes sense within such a stance:

Clayton cites Hegel’s recognition that the logic of the infinite requires the inclusion of the finite in the infinite and points towards the presence of the world in God (Clayton 2004b, 78–79). Clayton, along with Joseph Bracken (1974; 2004), identifies his understanding of panentheism as Trinitarian and kenotic (Clayton 2005, 255). It is Trinitarian because the world participates in God in a manner analogous to the way that members of the trinity participate in each other although the world is not and does not become God. God freely decides to limit God’s infinite power in an act of kenosis in order to allow for the existence of non-divine reality. The divine kenotic decision results in the actuality of the world that is taken into God.
https://stanford.library.sydney.edu.au/archives/spr2012/entries/panentheism/

It seems that, as long as we don’t misconceive Logos & logoi (e g. of Maximus, Neo-platonists, etc) as universals, thoughts or ideas, i.e. abstractly, in essential or formal terms, but think of them in concrete terms of a freely acting Person with intentions or wills, reasons or purposes, to Whom some end is “fitting,” —

Then, we can apply the Anselmian principle, potuit, decuit, ergo fecit: ‘twas possible & “fitting,” ergo accomplished – to all Trinitarian missio ad extra, both vestigia of the gratuity of creation and oikonomia of soteriology & theosis of the gratuity of grace, without attributing such contingent effects to a *necessity* as would be grounded in God’s nature, divine esse naturale, but, instead attributing same to an *inevitability* grounded in God’s Will, divine esse intentionale.

As a thought experiment, how might Hegel’s determinism be cast in (or reconciled to) Maximian terms of logoi, Peircean realist (not nominalist) terms & a Scotist libertarian will, all in defense of a strong apocatastasis, e.g. consistent with Hart, perhaps.

If one conceives of both Scotus & Maximus as libertarians, for whom the intellect’s necessarily operative but not wholly determinative in volition, where self-determinative volitional acts remain limited in potency to the logoi of being, well-being, and eternal being, then, the creature self-determines – not its depth, but – its breadth of being.

The creature self-determines the kenotic scope of its theotic participation (perhaps even choosing to annihilate much of it), while God, alone, determines the kenotic intensity of that participation (in an aesthetic teleology).

Whatever one’s eschatological anthropology, any irreversibility could only refer to one’s self-determination of scope, i.e. in terms of foregoing superabundant being. Existence, itself, abundantly & gratuitously, partakes of being over against nonbeing, limited in potency to divine logoi (rather than, e.g. merely uncreated essences or universals).

If appetitive movements cease in some instance, e.g. due to closure of a creaturely epistemic distance, at some moment like a particular judgment, then, per the determinative Maximian logoi, this could not entail a cessation of ardor vis a vis the depth of one’s desires & loves, i.e. the very fact that one desires & loves per an intrinsic orientation, but only could refer to a self-determination regarding the breadth of those ardors.

Some may call this eternal ill-being, if they must, but ill*being* would strike me as a paragon of oxymorons, i.e. once considering the intrinsic goodness of any and all participation in Being, itself, beyond all being.

The thought that some of us might populate the firmament like a tiny votive candle, while others might shine forth like a blazing helios, would not likely be off-putting to anyone, who’s ever been a parent, whose love for each child knows no bounds, no limits, and differs in neither depth nor breadth, intensity nor scope, from one to the next, however much they participate or reciprocate in family-being, however differently abled regarding, or disposed toward, same.

So, as parents, we’ll always pray: That our children & grandchildren may become holier than us, provided that we may become as holy as we should, Jesus, grant us the grace to desire it.

At any rate, that’s where I was headed, when suggesting:

I conceive the afterlife as a state wherein the will remains, eternally, in relation to an extrinsic aesthetic scope, however otherwise unsurpassable the realization of one’s intrinsic aesthetic intensity. (This is an imago Dei riff on the divine esse intentionale.) This requires a conception of volition, whereby one, while only ever freely willing that which is suited both to one’s advantage & justice (& never freely pursuing privatio boni or evil for evil), also enjoys the radical freedom to choose – from among the infinity of aesthetic options as they’ll lay before us in eternity, none, in any way, suboptimal (an eternal Pareto Frontier). This requires my Scotist conception of quasi-libertarian freedom, which would include the power to refrain from willing one optimal choice, while willing another (equally optimal), both choices self-interested & both just.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Litany of Humility
Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

A Further Defense of my Eschatological Anthropology

In further defense of this apocatastatic hypothesis, let me further defend its eschatological anthropology, which employs an analogy of divine and determinate esse naturale & intentionale, the determinate as imago Dei.

By aesthetic depth or intensity, I refer to the ontological density of the human person’s essential nature, which, in the great chain of being, transcends (but includes) all teleo-potent, teleo-matic, teleo-nomic & teleo-qualic realities as a teleo-logic reality, as the symbolic species.

From the anthropological account of a Peircean axiological epistemology, this entails an holistic epistemic suite, marked by an aesthetic primacy (no more voluntarist than the Scotist’s primacy of will). As such, we distinguish the determinate esse naturale and intentionale only formally, as integrally related, inseparable aspects of the human person.

God gifts this reality, an imago Dei, an absolute, intrinsic value, the perfection of which cannot be enhanced or diminished by extrinsic changes in the aesthetic scope of its esse intentionale.

Aside from the gifts of its existence & redemption, where this makes some sense, what are we to make of theotic realizations, of Lonergan’s secular & religious conversions, of our journeys to Authenticity & Sustained Authenticity, of mystical theology’s Ways of Perfection, of Ascetic Theology’s path from the false to True Self, where this makes less sense?

In other words, to what does Transformation refer in terms of any reality’s movement from vestige to image to likeness?

Transformative movements, in my view, refer to all manner of self-transcendence, a by-product of which is self-actualization.

Such movements, per Bernardian love, move us from

  • love of self for sake of self,
  • love of God for sake of self,
  • love of God for sake of God, to
  • love of self for sake of God.

Ignatius similarly gives account of this journey in his Degrees of Humility.

More simply put, we move from imperfect to perfect contrition, from the eros of self-enlightenment to the agape of Gospel love.

Imperfect contrition is necessary and sufficient, however, for increased beatitude!

Even love of self for sake of self, that most basic of desires, the storge’ & eros of Lewis’ Four Loves, remains both necessary & sufficient in a human reality that’s already essentially & absolutely, intrinsically valuable to God, as an imago Dei, which comprises a perfection, which cannot be enhanced or diminished by such extrinsic changes as could never increase its dignity or worth, only its beatitude.

We might, therefore, introduce a distinction between more perfect redemptions & salvations (as Scotus introduced for the Immaculate Conception, which I, then, analogously applied to post-mortem, eschatological anthropology) and more perfect creatures, in and of themselves, ontologically. The former apply, beatitudinally, while the latter would apply, essentially & existentially, except for the fact that it does not, since the intrinsic value of persons is already & ever absolute.

Transformation, therefore, refers to sanctification & glorification, growing as holy as He would desire & passing from glory to glory in eternal beatitude, as one’s will might self-determine vis a vis its desired aesthetic scope.

Does this trivialize mortal sin? Does it sanction quietism? Does it amount to an insidious indifferentism? Does it obviate soteriological discourse?

Let’s foreground the distinctions I’ve introduced above.

As St John of the Cross pointed out, God’s creatio continua holds the soul in existence even in mortal sin. What’s placed in jeopardy is never the absolute intrinsic value of the person’s existence, only its own extrinsic realizations of other values (that are also of absolute intrinsic value, in and of themselves, i.e. Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Love & Freedom, the pursuits of which are their own rewards).

Here, the quest, itself, becomes one’s grail, the journey – one’s destination, the sitting – one’s consolation.

This is because, naked personal existence, itself, only ever pursues any values, via transformative value pursuits, because, in and of itself, it already constitutively & necessarily possesses them in goodly measure, precisely by already abundantly participating in that & Whom it would to possess, but is already possessed by. Thus it’s really only aspiring to be (and do) who it abundantly is already, only ever more fully, i.e. superabundantly.

A person, eternally being, could never be annihilated through self-determination & wouldn’t so be since the divine fiat, which has deemed it intrinsically good, has already deemed its existence fitting per divine esse intentionale. In so doing, such a personal act of existence was limited by divine logoi, one of which mirrors, via its determinate esse intentionale, a radical freedom – not of ontological density or aesthetic depth or intensity, but – of aesthetic breadth or scope.

Whether or not, after having crossed a sufficient (or even closed an essential) epistemic distance, this aesthetic scope remains irrevocably intact (a Maximian hypothesis) or irreversibly frozen (a Thomist hypothesis), the naked personal existent nevertheless “enjoys” its constitutive & abundant possession of and participation in Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Love & Freedom, by virtue of an essential (naturale) participation, always journeying (intentionale) in Being, itself, beyond all being, because it’s never self-determined in its esse naturale, whether or not it happens to also be self-determined in its intentionale (via irrevocability or irreversibility).

It would seem exceptional, when anyone would forego (or appear, somehow, indifferent to) superabundance, settling into a quietistic stance. At the same time, a nevertheless abundant life would be sustained precisely by the soteriological efficacies that reach all, for all have been redeemed. Some do enjoy, via a self-determined aesthetic scope (limited in potency only by divine logoi) a superabundant beatitude.

What, then, of mortal sin? Even if that state somehow irreversibly freezes one’s determinate esse intentionale (foreclosing the possibility of any expansion of an essential, minimalist aesthetic scope), such as via an epistemic closure in a particular judgment, it cannot annihilate one’s essential existence or its absolute intrinsic value, personal dignity & extrinsic worth, as eternally loved by God & others, all expecting absolutely nothing in return.

Primal ur-kenosis, ad extra kenosis and the kenotic self-emptying of parents & lovers has always been this way?

We even recoil at every insidious form of ableism, which would value our children based on developmental milestones or setbacks, whether due to genetic, perinatal or accidental dis-ease, whether from deformative influences or the pangs of addiction, whether due simply to age or through their unfathomable dispositions & puzzling personality differences.

Who values a child at 20 more than one at 2?

Who loves a child, who’s a model of social grace, athletic grace or academic grace, more than one who’s on some spectrum, physically awkward or mentally struggling?

It’s all grace!

Who tells a child, if you don’t come to Thanksgiving Dinner, I will hire a hit man to take you out? Well, yeah, right. I guess that has been done, in so many ways, but it was with the best of intentions and highly nuanced.

No, I can buy that some will be votive candles in eternity, on fire with the same flame, ontologically, as others, who’ll outshine the sun. After all, life seems very much like that here and now. A lot of us quite rather be votive candles, truth be told. And I imagine that some earthly luminaries, who compete with the stars, themselves, may well be but votive candles in eternity, once their dross burns off.

What I can’t imagine is that any fire, whomsoever, will be extinguished, by one’s self or Another’s determination.

See ya on the other side.

Exploring the Other Side (well, one part, anyway)

Scotus locates the will in efficient causation. For many, this represents a conceptual relocation from the formal.
Conceiving the free will as efficient cause (in limited potency to material) implicates a volition that determines only WHETHER one exercises (or refrains therefrom) one’s will but not to WHAT it chooses, i.e. it must not refer to why this or that is chosen but only to why the will wills at all, because it does remain free not to act.

As such, the will refers to the sole rational potency, never acting without the intellect, which is co-causally operative (in bringing the Maximian logoi to bear) even though not finally determinative.

The will determines neither the act of existence in potency to essence nor the formal generically determinative act in potency to one’s final cause, which makes a human existent what one truly is, e.g. a human person, the symbolic species, an imago Dei, a beloved child of God, a sister of Jesus, a brother of the Cosmos.

Taken seriously, this has enormous soteriological and sophiological implications, which is to say, regarding redemption, justification & sanctification, i.e. intiation into communion, adoption into the Kingdom, on one hand, and, on the other, beatitude & glorification, i.e. ascetically & mystically or theotically, further establishing the Kingdom via communal collaboration.

In my view, Scotus would worry about the risk of any full blown liberty of indifference [1], i.e. including not just one’s aesthetic scope or efficient acts in limited potency to divine logoi, materially, but also, vis a vis aesthetic intensity (ontological density), existential acts (self-annihilation) in limited potency to divine logoi, essentially, as well as formal acts (generic self-determination) in limited potency to divine logoi, finally (as if we could become other than what we already are, what C.S. Lewis might call a “dismantling of humanity”). This amounts to what M. M. Adams would call a low doctrine of human agency [2], although I am not wholly familiar with her precise formulation and how it might comport with my own, above.

Any such exercise and actualization of rationality makes one’s efficient acts good and increases the being of the Kingdom, ecclesiologically, both proleptically & eschatologically. But does that also increase one’s own being, intrinsically, as per a Thomistic metaethic, per se changing one’s esse naturale per a generic determination? [3]

Or does it only change, per an agential extrinsic denomination, one’s esse intentionale?

Does moral evil frustrate an increase in the being of one’s esse naturale, even to the point of its full diminishment, so to speak undoing one’s intiation into communion and adoption into the Kingdom, denying one’s very aesthetic intensity & ontological density?

Rather, might it frustrate an increase in being only vis a vis one’s esse intentionale, foregoing further communal collaboration in the Kingdom, restricting one’s aesthetic scope, limiting one’s ecclesiological participation, as one neglects spiritual exercises and practices of presence? [4]

I’m not suggesting my anthropological categories & applications measure up with anthropological rigor or even capture the points of disagreement between, for example, Eleonore Stump & Marilyn M. Adams. Even if they amount to an ahistorical, eisegetic account of Aquinas & Scotus, though, perhaps they still have some normative integrity all their own?

If stable dispositions, derived from habitual spiritual exercices and practices of presence, to act in accordance with or contrary to one’s nature, i.e. virtues or vice, do produce second natures, whether virtuous or vicious, do those ontologically negate or just phenomenologically mask our primal human nature, hide the imago Dei?

In my view, our primal being and goodness is both unalienable, due to divine esse intentionale, & inalienable, not a capacity of determinate esse intentionale.

Eternally, are we dealt with in accordance with both or either of our natures, primary &/or secondary, however one conceives these volitional loci, as esse naturale or intentionale?

If the goodness of our being is thus light, will our existence in Hell thereby be unbearable?

Let’s consider Hart:
[T]he wrathful soul experiences the transfiguring and deifying fire of love not as bliss but as chastisement and despair. [5]

Does not this refer to the transformative & theotic dynamisms that I addressed, above. Will not those dynamisms cease post-mortem or in some eschatological closure of epistemic distance, such as in a particular judgment & life review? Hart doesn’t take this into account, when describing the tortures of hell, but only because he otherwise ultimately rejects an infernalist stance, not inconsistent with Bulgakov’s surmise that those dynamisms might continue post-mortem, finally rejecting eternal torment as a moral absurdity.

So, if those dynamisms terminate post-mortem, wouldn’t we necessarily only be dealt with in accordance with our primary nature, which would comport with Maximian being, eternal being and well-being?

Might ill-being only ever be a transitory, purgative state? Or even a misconstrual of an eternal esse intentionale, which remains volitionally indifferent to any aesthetic scope, beyond its original endowment, not inconsistent with a Scotistic free will, located in efficient not telic causes?

Bishop Barron [6] writes: If there are any people in Hell (and the church has never obliged us to believe that any human is in that state), they are there, not because God capriciously “sent” them, but because they absolutely insist on not joining in the party.

This isn’t wholly inconsistent with the view of volitional indifference to a self-constrained aesthetic scope, but, again, what of my point that human volition is not otherwise constituted by self-constraints regarding aesthetic intensity (ontological density), existentially or generically, regarding THAT one is or WHAT one primally is (whatever one believes regarding self-constructed secondary natures)?

How, then, would we psychologize that eternal disposition? I’m asking for a friend, who’s a social wallflower, who prefers to watch the mirrorball & swirling dervishes beneath, who doesn’t mind others coming over to sit in silent presence (90% is showing up, only 10% is dancing, perichoretically or otherwise?), while they keep the finger sandwiches & beers coming. One person’s modus ponens is another’s modus tollens?

As John O’Brien observers: Concerning the detailed specific nature of hell … the Catholic Church has defined nothing. … It is useless to speculate about its true nature, and more sensible to confess our ignorance in a question that evidently exceeds human understanding. [7]

Fr Richard Rohr writes: To be frank, I think that perhaps no single belief has done more to undercut the spiritual journey of more Western people than the belief that God could be an eternal torturer of people who do not like him or disobey him. And this after Jesus exemplified and taught us to love our enemies and forgive offenses 70 x 7 times! The very idea of Hell (with a capital ‘H’), as Jon Sweeney explains in this magnificent book, constructs a very toxic and fear-based universe, starting at its very center and ground. Hatred, exclusion, and mistreatment of enemies is legitimated all the way down the chain of command.” [8]

Jon Sweeney writes: “Ultimately, I choose not Dante’s vengeful, predatory God who is anxious to tally faults, to reward and to punish. Instead I choose the God who creates and sustains us, who is incarnate and wants to be among us, and the God who inspires and comforts us. That God is the real one, the one I have come to know and understand, and that God has nothing to do with the medieval Hell.” [9]

Conclusions

Following Scotus, I intuit that no eternally self-constrained aesthetic intensity is possible, neither existentially (THAT) nor generically (WHAT).

And with Rohr & Sweeney, I’ll simply insist, apophatically, on what an eternally self-constrained aesthetic scope simply must NOT be like.

Then, with O’Brien, I’ll confess ignorance, kataphatically.

Notes:

Layers of Analogia in Eschatological Anthropology

The musing, below, was evoked by Resurrection Prolegomena at Fr Kimel’s Eclectic Orthodoxy.

I post it here so as to avoid being inapposite to others’ more pressing concerns (as I tend to digress) and to avoid sucking the participatory oxygen out of another’s forum (as what I usually lack in general accessibility is too often only made up for by my long-windedness).

When I (most vaguely) consider the possibility of a post-mortem discarnate soul, even as somehow embodied, even with an identity as somehow constituted of different types of form, including unitary, plural & partial …

it occurs to me that Bonaventure may have well been correct in that “every act of cognition must be theology’s slave” …

because such a metaphysical anthropological account as that above, which eclectically incorporates Thomist (unitary), Bonaventuran (plural) & Scotist (partial) conceptions of forms

even if does not necessarily presuppose an eschatological, theological anthropology

does implicitly recognize that Aristotelian syllogistics, alone, cannot metaphysically account for anthropological realities to the same extent or with the same facility that it does regarding other finite determinate realities.

When we (e.g. Abelard) bridge the modal ontology of our Aristotelian syllogistics with the modal identities of our divine syllogistics, we unavoidably must employ an epistemic approach that integrally intertwines univocal semantic, analogical ontic & apophatic conceptual strategies.

The alert metaphysician, especially emergentist, semiotic realists (whether Augustinian, Bonaventuran, Scotist, Neo-platonist, Thomist, classical or process, even naturalist but, sorry, not Cartesian) recognizes that …

For finite determinate realities, we unavoidably must bridge the logics of end-stated and end-purposed realities (the merely teleomatic & teleonomic) with those of end-intended realities (the clearly teleo-logic), similarly, employing an epistemic approach that integrally intertwines univocal semantic, analogical ontic & apophatic conceptual strategies.

As epistemology models ontology, there are, unavoidably, layers of analogia required to model reality’s layers of complexity, all characters in search of their Author, all complexities in search of the Simplicity, all determinacies in search of the Ens Necessarium, as “omnes cognitiones theologiae famulantur” (every act of cognition is theology’s slave).

So, when braver (incarnate) souls than I, e.g. Paul J. Griffiths, speculate regarding eschatological anthropology, I adopt a posture of charitable interpretation that presupposes their recognition of & attendance to those requisite analogical intervals & apophatic predications that will integrally relate to & qualify their otherwise univocal semantic references.

And I expect those, who employ robustly personalist stances, both divine & human, to draw such distinctions as between esse naturale & intentionale.

Then, regarding the natures, energies & wills of divine hypostases, when incarnated, due to those analogical intervals, ontologically, they’ll necessarily refer to them only in terms of, respectively, dyophysitism, dyenergism & dyothelitism, or, at least, a properly nuanced miaphysitism.

I would expect them to apply the same degree of nuance & same deliberate parsings to the plural & partial forms that constitute human hypostases, respecting the analogical intervals & employing suitable apophatic predications between those aspects of our identities as they variously correspond to our teleomatic physicality, teleonomic physiology & teleologic intentionality.

Specifically, then, when philosopher-theologians like Griffiths speculatively refer, denotatively & putatively, to finite, determinate human realities in terms of physical primitives, i.e. mass, energy, gravity & space-time, it seems to me that he’s certainly employing the necessary parsings & nuances. For example, implicitly, his use of prefixes like im-, non-, dis- , ir- and in-, and suffixes like –less introduce the requisite apophatic bracketing. Explicitly, his citing of dis/continuities and drawing of eternal-temporal distinctions properly advert to reality’s unavoidable analogical intervals.

So, that’s all to say that I don’t see anything, a priori, logically inconsistent or internally incoherent, metaphysically.

Theologically, his eschatological anthropology remains within traditional contours, historically & exegetically, dogmatically & liturgically, pastorally & theotically, although I see a workaround in the distinctions between esse naturale & intentionale vis a vis our eternal realizations of aesthetic intensities vs scopes, where he could affirm rather than deny Greogory’s epektasis.

Systematically, though, Griffith’s work is very highly speculative, because he’s boldly conjectured beyond the vague categories of hylomorphism using a scientific idiom that remains very much a moving target, e.g. the nature of space-time or his timespace, as we’re nowhere near articulating a Theory of Everything.

As I’ve written, previously, our minimalist transcendent methodology would interrogate physical reality, for example, asking such questions as whether it’s NECESSARILY

  • volumetrically in/finite,
  • geometrically un/bounded or un/closed,
  • topologically un/re/curved,
  • spatialized temporally,
  • temporalized spatially,
  • essentially or emergently spatio-temporal,
  • a/symmetric,
  • essentially non/inflationary,
  • quasi/exponentially expansionary
  • dimensionally 2/3/4/more-D,
  • homo/hetero/genous,
  • an/isotropic,
  • uni/multi/versial,
  • with dimension/less physical constancy,
  • with non/universal constancy,
  • nomologically im/mutable

and on and on and on.

Answers to certain of these questions will necessarily implicate answers to certain others.

Suggested Reading:

I resonate more with much in the following accounts, all consistent with my Scotistic sensibilities articulated above, than with Griffith’s, but certainly consider his equiplausible versus them, metaphysically.

Thomas M. Ward, John Duns Scotus on Parts, Wholes, and Hylomorphism, Brill, 2014, Review by Robert Pasnau

Why I – rather naturally – Have No Metaphysic

B.P. Prusak, Bodily Resurrection in Catholic Perspectives, Theological Studies 61, 64-105.

Relevant Twitter Thread by John Sobert Sylvest

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?

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.

Gödel & the End of Physics and Abelard et al & the End of Trinitology

In my trinity-talk, I try to mindfully inhabit one mode of discourse at a time.

I approach creedal trinitology as a rather formal subject, where there seems to be a great deal of consensus, phenomenologically, regarding the requisite vague categories and their rules of predication (e.g. essence, existence, hypostasis, person, relation, energeia, oikonomia, univocal, analogical, distinctions: real, conceptual, formal; causes: formal, final, efficient, material; determinacies & necessities, etc). This consensus sets our theological contours, metaphysically, without specifying a given metaphysic.

In a systematic trinitology, staying with those contours, many specify a given metaphysic employing an apt root metaphor: substance, process, experience, social, relational, etc All such metaphors eventually collapse & paradoxes ensue. This is no less unavoidable in trinitology than it is in quantum interpretations or philosophies of mind. Alas, we press on in search of that meta-idiom.

Most of us, beyond our essential creedal formulae, engaged liturgically & explicated catechetically, are otherwise familiar with what I call trinitophany or trinity-talk in various common sense idioms, which are largely informal. In our local idioms, we employ metaphors but not as root metaphors and not in any formal syllogistic sense. Here our metaphors cascade & collapse and usually, but not always, change from one to the next. Here our discourse is poetic, celebratory, prayerful. Trinitophanies don’t aspire to universal models, only believable imgages.

In the consideration below, I’m trying to focus on a creedal trinitology.

Some of my favorite thinkers wonderfully integrate dogmatic, philosophical & sacramental-poetic discourse and/or creedal & systematic trinitological and theophanic approaches, e.g. Bulgakov & von Balthasar.

When we use concepts like consubstantial to refer to determinate secondary substances or essences, all 3 modes of being are in play, temporal acts in potency – of existence to essence and efficient to material & formal to final causations. There’s a LOT going on!

But we must check ALL of that conceptual baggage at the epistemic door, as we board the divine essence sleeper car, meta-ontologically, or we’ll derail our trinitarian train of thought, for NONE of that is going on!
None of that needs to go on for divine realities b/c they ALREADY ARE whatever they’re willed to be, while we are, instead, BECOMING what we’re willed to be.
We can thus identify & refer to an object as God if we know either its essence OR its person OR its energeia-oikonomia.
To completely identify & describe a determinate creature, we must know its essence AND its haecceity AND its relations (e.g. generalities, regularities, in/determinacies).
Note: Both determinate modes of being & meta-ontological modes of identity remain irreducibly triadic, the former an ontological subcategory of the formal mode of identity, which applies to both divine & determinate realities.

###############

The meta-ontological modes of identity in divine syllogistics merely assert (analytically) THAT there’s 1 ousia & 3 hypostases.

Unlike the modes of being in Aristotelian syllogistics, neither the essential propria nor the hypostatic idiomata of the divine modes of identity intimate (ontologically) HOW divine realities are variously nondeterminate, self-determinate, noncomposite, unoriginate, begotten, etc.

Tritheism, subordinationism, modalism & various paralogisms can appear as valid conclusions when ontological rather than meta-ontological categories are applied to classical trinitarian discourse. They thus amount to category errors.

A separate concern typically arises regarding the degree of intelligibility conveyed by modes of identity & it must be conceded that they gift us far more dispositionally than propositionally. Such gifts, however, remain eminently actionable, existentially, and particularly indispensable, theopoetically & theo-poi-etically.

**************

Consider 5 major aporia of determinate reality re types of origins: quantum, cosmic, life, consciousness & language. Not only do they defy explanatory adequacy, physically, they resist any adjudicatory attempts between competing metaphysical heuristics.

Still, even without a specific ontology or metaphysic, meta-ontologically, we can reasonably infer & successfully refer to such realities in terms of putative unknown causes.

From definitive determinate effects, which are proper to no known causes, we can identify such putative causes even though we’re unable to comprehensively describe them.

We vaguely refer to quantum gravity, dark matter, hidden variables, qualia & such, not unreasonably speculating that, like the long-hypothetical Higgs boson, those or related hypotheses could be experimentally confirmed (or not).

Such inferential, metaphysical reasoning from known effects to unknown causes (via relational reality) refers to a meta-ontological mode of – not being, but – identity, specifically, the mode of formal identity.

Formal identity thus includes both robust descriptions & vague references. Some such references (e.g. quantum gravity) have perennially resisted, while others (Higgs boson & field) have eventually yielded to, comprehensive description in terms of meta/physical properties (e.g. precise quiddities & specific regularities).

This meta-ontological, formal mode of identity maps to that relational, ontological subcategory, which, in a modal ontology, would include those laws, regularities & in/determinacies that mediate between quiddities & haecceities, possibilities & actualities, essences & substances.

This formal mode of identity applies, meta-ontologically, to both the divine syllogistics of nondeterminate & self-determinate realities as well as the Aristotelian syllogistics of determinate realities. Its ontological subcategory applies to all determinate effects, whether their putative causes are, themselves, determinate, or otherwise non- or self- determinate.

In addition to formal identity, nondeterminate & self-determinate divine realities exhibit two other modes of identity: the essential (re ousia) & personal (re hypostases). These apply ONLY in the syllogistics of divine realities, meta-ontologically, but do not map, for example, to such ontological subcategories of determinate realities, where, per Aristotelian syllogistics — re: essences, the act of existence remains in potency to essence; re: hypostases, efficient acts in potency to material causes; & re: relations, formal acts in potency to final causes — all such temporal dynamics are totally foreign to divine ousia & hypostases, which are eternal.

So, while there’s a semantical univocity & minimalist analogy of the meta-ontological categories of being, realities & relations, which apply in both created & Uncreated spheres, the modes of identity for the Uncreated categories of being (ousia) & realities (hypostases) not only do not map to any ontological subcategories in the sphere of creation but also remain silent, ontologically, in the Uncreated sphere.

Any univocity and/or analogy of beings & realities, created vs Uncreated, remain strictly meta-ontological in both essential & hypostatic/personal modes of identity.

A univocity and/or analogy of relations, however, can map, ontologically, the determinate effects within a modal ontology to putative causes, both created & Uncreated, and do so, meta-ontologically, via the formal mode of identity.

Thus natural theology reasons from the divine vestigia in the gratuity of creation back to certain attributes or propria of a divine essence and/or idiomata of, for example, a pneumatological hypostasis.

Thus special revelation reasons from divine theotic effects in the gratuity of grace, from the energeia back to the propria of divine ousia & from the oikonomia back to the idiomata of trinitological hypostases.

While such divine propria & idiomata successfully refer to putative causes of Uncreated realities, non- & self-determinate, those realities remain, at once, utterly incomprehensible & infinitely intelligible.

This is not unrelated to the constraints we encounter for determinate realities:

Some people will be very disappointed if there is not an ultimate theory that can be formulated as a finite number of principles. I used to belong to that camp, but I have changed my mind. I’m now glad that our search for understanding will never come to an end, and that we will always have the challenge of new discovery. ~ Stephen Hawking

See:

http://www.hawking.org.uk/godel-and-the-end-of-physics.html

A more concrete take on the practical upshots of divine essence-talk might unpack these dense theoretical abstractions.

In our temporal reality, however it may be that we conceive essences, universals, properties, ie as nominalists, conceptualists, realists, etc, we can still manage to successfully describe realities & reason formally about them with terms, sentences & propositions. One mustn’t imagine that – by invoking a univocity & analogy of being, even mindfully tending to apophatic vs kataphatic predications – we can similarly reason about the Trinity.

We aspire, then, not to robustly ontological, theoretical descriptions w/propositional significance for divine-discourse, but to merely semantical, heuristical references w/dispositional impetus for divine-intercourse.

So, even without fully comprehending what it could possibly entail to be infinite, unoriginate, nondeterminate, noncomposite, etc vis a vis being, truth, beauty, goodness, freedom, etc, these otherwise meager conceptions can help properly dispose us – theopoetically, in our life of prayer, liturgies & devotions, also theo-poi-etically, fostering our ongoing theotic transformations.

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For starters, one mustn’t confuse meta-ontological phenomenologies and metaphysical ontologies, or quite simply that which is beyond being & being.

For another, one mustn’t confuse epistemic attributes and ontic properties.

Importantly, one must also not confuse nondeterminate, self-determinate, kenotically determinate & contingently determinate realities. In that regard, it might be best to engage Divine syllogistics by speaking in terms of essences, hypostases & formalities, while, analogically, employing quiddities, haecceities & quasi-formalities, when engaging Aristotelian syllogistics.

That’s pretty much it.

One can dig deeper, though.

To wit:

Meta-ontological categories of modal identity apply to nondeterminate, self-determinate & kenotically-determinate objects and include the essences, hypostases & telicities of such necessary realities.

This could include the ens necessaria of any meta-architectonic (e.g. materialist, pantheist, panentheist, classical theist, etc).

Such a necessary object can be identified either essentially or hypostatically or telically (formally) as attributes of any of those categories are, alone, sufficient to successfully identify such objects.

For determinate realities, only the meta-ontological category of telic (formal) modal identity applies. To successfully identify such contingent objects, essential, hypostatic & telic properties are all necessary, none – alone – sufficient.

For nondeterminate, self-determinate & kenotically-determinate objects, essential & hypostatic properties are epistemically unavailable, ontically occulted, in principle.

Hence, only vague attributes can be applied, such as, for example, divine propria, essentially, or divine idiomata, hypostatically.

For nondeterminate, self-determinate, kenotically-determinate & contingently determinate objects, telic (formal) attributes & properties afford, respectively, successful references & descriptions.

Hence, vague attributes can be applied, such as, for example, divine energeia, essentially, or divine oikonomia, hypostatically, in order to successfully refer to divine realities.

Also, for contingently determinate objects, precise essences & specific telicities can be applied in order to properly identify the (meta)physical properties that are necessary to successfully describe individual hypostases.

For such objects, beyond their modal identity & description, a dynamical modal ontology can be applied as various ontological categories represent different temporal acts in potency, for example, 1) hypostatic act of existence in potency to essence; 2) hypostatic efficient causation in potency to material causation; 3) telic formal causation in potency to final causation.

For nondeterminate, self-determinate & kenotically-determinate objects, beyond their modal identity & reference, their determinate effects ensue – not from acts in potency, temporally, but – from eternal acts.

Because of these distinctions, I prefer to distinguish eternal necessities from temporal contingencies by referring to the former in terms of essences, hypostases & telicities or formalities, the latter in terms of quiddities, haecceities & quasi- telicities or quasi-formalities. This approach flips that script which refers to divine telicities as quasi-formal (e.g. Rahner). It renders our metaphysical-talk metaphorical & our meta-ontological references as primally real. The path to authenticity thus involves eternalization or the transformation of quasi-telic temporal ends to the eternal ends of Divine Telos.

Amplification:

I think of modal identity in primarily epistemic terms, but it certainly also entails at least some vague ontological specifications (even when only via apophasis) & imparts some dispositional axiological implications.

This is to say that I believe that divine syllogistics regarding essential propria (e.g. truth, beauty & goodness) & hypostatic idiomata (e.g. Father, Son & Spirit) very much matter for our worship, our transformation & such.

Meta-ontologically, I conceive divine being as nondeterminate and/or self determinate, while contingent being presents as variously (in terms of degrees) in/determinate. I categorize in/determinate realities per a modal ontology, which recognizes its radical temporality.

Divine syllogistics & Aristotelian syllogistics intersect determinately, only in the category of formal modal identity. Otherwise, regarding modal identities, it’s a clear category error to equate divine essences & hypostases, for example, with contingent quiddities & haecceities, because they are otherwise distinguished as eternal vs temporal, as non- & self-determinate vs variously in/determinate, and so on.

In the category of formal modal identities, however, we can consider determinate effects, whether their causes are nondeterminate, self-determinate or in/determinate. Even allowing for divine determinate causes, still, those would be distinguishable from ordinary contingent determinate causes by their kenotic natures.

Divine determinate causes would include incarnational realities.
Divine determinate effects would originate from divine realities, including nondeterminate, self-determinate & kenotically determinate and would include, for example, vestigial effects in the gratuity of creation & theotic effects in the gratuity of grace, such effects as would otherwise be proper to no known contingent, determinate causes & which would be communicated via general & special divine revelations.

The Word remained what he was when he became flesh so that he who is over all & yet came among all through his humanity should keep in himself his transcendence & remain above the limitations of creation…he was alive even when his flesh was tasting death. (Cyril of Alexandria)

In the –

paterological ur-kenosis, the Father remained what He was in the generation of the Son & procession of the Spirit;

pneumatological kenosis, the Spirit remained the Holy Breath, when immanentized/presented in the gratuity of creation;

Christological kenosis, the Son remained divine, when incarnated/presented (via dyo/mia-physitism) in the gratuity of grace.

So kenosis has only ever entailed a qualified self-limitation or tzimtzum (not self-annihilation but self-contraction).

Formal identities of divine determinate realities (e.g. oikonomia & energeia) present via kenotic & synergistic trinitarian acts of the divine hypostases (personal identities), whether unoriginately nondeterminate, eternally self-determinate &/or kenotically determinate.

Essence, Hypostasis, Person, Relation, Energy & Economy

Many New Testament statements by Jesus are interpreted by some in terms that are – not just ontological and/or economical, but, also – relational (e.g. mutual interabiding or indwelling). In my tradition (informed by the Pontifical Biblical Commission), when in doubt, even re John 10, for example, they assume no one in the NT is talking metaphysics, in general, much less a substance ontology, in particular. Rather, they say such verses refer to economic mission & relational indwelling, i.e. w/implications for us. Even conceding that, all such verses when taken together in their NT context as well as in early liturgical traditions will certainly have metaphysical implications, theologically. Most Fathers thought they were ontologically suggestive (&, I’d add, meta-ontologically decisive)?

Hypostatic Asymmetries & Subordinationism

There’s an asymmetry of the homoousion imputed to Athanasius that, seems to me could, involve the distinction between individual vs general essences, qualities that identify hypostases vs properties that identify ousia, any asymmetry applying only hypostatically. Athanasius didn’t employ Cappadocian-like nuances, so, if we plausibly interpret him as talking about individual essences, hypostatically, that asymmetry isn’t truly subordinationist, because such an essential dependence is – not causal, but – merely definitional.

It seems that hypostatic order or taxis, for some, won’t involve originations &/or causes but – ways of self-revealing. For example, maybe active/passive revelatory “images,” while unique for each hypostasis, needn’t entail unique “ways of relating” to the essence. Whatever the case, hypostatic idiomata, whether originationist or revelatory, might best be interpreted in definitional terms of essential dependence & individual essence, not without ontological implications but merely metaphysically (meta-ontologically), bracketing any specific metaphysic (ontologically).

One practical upshot of trinitarian modes of identity seems to me to be that hypostatic asymmetries needn’t imply subordinationism because essential dependencies aren’t causal (not saying they don’t have other ontological implications).

Preserving analogy does seem indispensable to any theotic approach that suggests we can participate in or partake of the divine nature? And, of course, it implies, also, dissimilarities, since divine realities “be what they are” & we “become” what we are. What about dissimilarities between hypostases in relating to essence?

Hypostatic Kenoses

For Bulgakov & Balthasar’s kenotic models, the same activity engaged by each hypostasis would be possession through dispossession. That hypostatic activity can otherwise be uniquely identified as we consider whether a given relation is active, passive, mediated, inverted, etc? Such essential dependencies & interdependencies could still be expressed in terms of individual not general essence.

We have to distinguish between ontological attempts to describe how the hypostases might variously relate to the divine nature & meta-ontological references to same.

The former employ root metaphors of substance, process, social experience or other relations & are less interesting to me because they aspire to say more, in principle, than we can prove. But I affirm those who strive to formulate better idioms.

The latter are “merely metaphysical” and more “vaguely phenomenological.”

I can’t always readily tell which approach people are taking.

For example, Neville’s hypothetical neo-Whiteheadian process approach seems clearly ontological; it would interpret the divine nature, itself, as a product of the Father’s creatio ex nihilo – a rather radical conception of principium sine principio?

In a merely metaphysical approach (perhaps), von Balthasar would kenotically differentiate the hypostatic relations to the divine nature in terms of 1) stripped of 2) thankful for and 3) bridged by, respectively, Father, Son & Spirit.

See: https://mobile.twitter.com/John_S_Sylvest/status/1084862911758168064

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In what amounts to my pan-semio-entheistic theory of truth, I conceive five transcendentals per terms of an Ens Necessarium as Necessary Truth, Necessary Beauty, Necessary Goodness, Necessary Unity (Love) & Necessary Freedom. These five categories map to my conceptions of Lonergan’s conversions & imperatives as well as to a fivefold missiology, both pneumatological & Christological.

This is neither a Kantian nor transcendental Thomist approach, however, but grounded in a semiotic realism and advanced abductively from that naturalized epistemology, deriving from those participatory engagements with reality that rely on an axiological epistemology (per my Peircean-like theory of knowledge).

There’s a leap of faith required, to be sure, at an existential disjunction where nihilism, pantheism & classical theism present.

see Note Below
See: https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/12/04/classical-theism-doesnt-really-compete-tautologically/

Can one take my pan-semio-entheistic leap, within the contours of a classical theism, employing a logic that wouldn’t be considered adhocery & unamenable to normal syllogistic logic?

I believe so.

Conceiving my approach as a fallibilist abduction, then formalizing its phenomenology via a consistent predicate & propositional logic, employing modes of identity, we could establish that its reasoning regarding existents (creatures) would be a special case or reduction of the phenomenological syllogizing of my putative transcendentals.
Put more simply, creature-talk would employ metaphors of our normative Creator-talk, not vice versa.

My five transcendentals, then, will be imported into a classical trinitology. The conceptual bridges between it and Aristotelian logic have already been built by Sara Uckelman.

See: Uckelman, Sara L. (2010). Reasoning About the Trinity: A Modern Formalization of a Medieval System of Trinitarian Logic. In Logic in Religious Discourse. Schumann, Andrew Ontos. 216-239.

I will try to summarize her discourse below & apply it to my heuristics.

In avoiding both modalism & tritheism, while remaining consistent in trinitarian predication, one must recognize three modes of identity. Unlike modalism, which refers to a single object existing in one of these modes, a modal identity entails one object as being the same as another object in one of the modes of identity.

  • Essentially identical objects share the same essence (extensional identity).
  • Personally identical objects share the same properties & definitions (intentional identity).
  • Formally identical objects share a genus, sufficiently similar to be placed therein.

(Abelard originally distinguished extensional from intentional identity.)

The above modes of identity can be applied to the trinitarian logic of the Athanasian Creed, but this divine syllogistics collapses when applied to existents, where Aristotelian syllogistics, instead, apply.

My modal schema, influenced by Peircean categories, where

Being > Reality > Relations > Existents

roughly & analogously maps to these modes of identity

Essential | Personal | Formal | Creatures

employing a predicate or propositional logic, which is meta-logical (while Aristotelian syllogistics employ a term logic).

See:
https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/08/26/simply-divine-or-a-divinity-fudge-cooking-with-dionysius-scotus-peirce-aquinas-palamas/

Also see:

So, Trinitarian discourse can be affirmed as formally consistent and roughly maps, heuristically, to our meta-logical categories.

Still, that affords us only analytical conceivability, a rather minimalist intelligibility?

Can a bridge be constructed to Aristotelian syllogistics? that we might gain some additional modicum of intelligibility?

Yes.

First, we would recognize that, for existents (creatures), only the formal mode of identity obtains and essential & personal predications do not (i.e. in Aristotelian syllogistics).

So, can Aristotelian syllogistics yet be extracted from the mode of identity framework mindful of where such predications obtain or not?

If so, our trinitarian logic needn’t be considered adhocery & unamenable to normal syllogistic logic. Instead, our reasoning regarding existents (creatures) would be a special case as a reduction of trinitarian syllogizing.

We should remain mindful that, in relating propria of the essence, idioma of the hypostases & energeia of the Trinity, per Abelardian modes of identity (essentially, personally & formally), even if we suitably predicate these realities using apophasis, analogy, gerundives & such and remain otherwise consistent —-
still, because we only ever use partial references and not exhaustively complete definitions, a radical incompleteness will still afflict our trinitarian discourse.
For example, even when we’ve managed to avoid paralogisms by properly attending to our modes of identity, in order to disambiguate our categorical predications of divine terms (thereby making explicit identity types essencialiter vs personaliter vs formaliter), while we will have saved some of our most meaningful intuitions, still, mystery will perdure.

While our Peircean-like categories analogously map to our Aristotelian, Scotist & Thomist categories (like quiddity, haecceity, ousia, hypostasis and such), it’s not counterintuitive that the dissimilarities — between all of our approaches to temporal being (Peirce, Scotus, Thomist, etc) and our approach to nondeterminate & self-determinate being (with three modes of identity) — will be located essentially & hypostatically vis a vis the modes of identity.

The categories of essential-hypostatic nondeterminate being (ad intra), where an act-potency distinction will not obtain, simply will not, by definition, correspond to temporally modal categories of essential-hypostatic determinate being.

It makes perfect sense, otherwise, to draw on the formal mode of identity to locate the similarities between, on one hand, the determinate effects of the divine energeia (essentially or substantially of ousia) & economy (personally or hypostatically of haecceities), and, on the other, those of created, determinate beings.

Is that not precisely what we find in the Palamitic distinction between essence & energies, Thomist distinction between esse naturale & intentionale, Scotus’ formal distinction and Peirce’s thirdness?

There’s a divine-creaturely nexus, a semiotic locus, where we can reason, abductively, from effects that are proper to no known causes, to putative causes, whether the Actus Purus of nondeterminate & self-determinate divine causes, or the acts in potency of in/determinate creaturely causes, both physical & metaphysical.

While we are often epistemically constrained, methodologically, unable to exhaustively define such putative causes, whether divine, metaphysical or even physical, this moderate realism affords us the prospect of nevertheless, really, making successful references – per a univocal mode of identity vis a vis effects.

That’s what my project has been about — establishing that our God-talk, including a classical trinitology, remains robustly intelligible & coherent:

See:
https://independent.academia.edu/SylvestJohn

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/12/03/how-gelpis-inculturated-north-american-theology-graced-my-encounter-with-eastern-orthodoxy/
https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2018/12/04/classical-theism-doesnt-really-compete-tautologically/

Note re: leaps of faith

Monist
nihilism
pantheism

Dualist
panen-theism (dipolar or whole-part relation)
classical theism (created tehom – staged vs lapsarian)

Pluralist
pan-entheism (uncreated tehom)

Appendix – application to physical systems

1ns, 2ns, 3ns applies to particles & to systems, or to particles as triadic systems, and to systems of systems or meta-systems

As isolated quanta variously rest & interact, isolated systems variously rest & interact, formatively (1ns – entropic), trans-formatively (3ns – telic) & in-formatively (2ns – equilibric).

1ns or the virtual or intrinsic characteristics of an energy system = system energies’ “forming” = system energies’ intrinsic spontaneous changes of placement and/or of time = spatio-temporal waveform-ing or self-visualization or self-potentialities; approaching & realizing massless energy

2ns or the actual or characteristics of an energy system = system energies “resting” or existing or being or instant-aneously at an “instant” in time & place in space or materio-energetic characteristics (efficient/material) or self-actualization or self-actualities of authenticity of Here I Am, Lord or nonstrict identity; approaching nonenergetic mass but there is no energyless mass (asymmetry there, converse or transitivity not in play as energy is THE fundamental)

3ns or the real or extrinsic characteristics of an energy system = system energies “interacting” or “trans-forming” or be-coming or system energies’ extrinsic con-temp-oraneous changes of placement and/or of time or relating or the invitatory-participatory or spatio-temporal characteristics (formal/final) or “hold on, I’m coming!” or “I be coming!) as the I = true self or self-real-ization or self-realities of sustained authenticity of “I will go, Lord” or ultimate eternalization; approaching unique or designated mass-energy specifications

energy system = wave-particles
isolated, resting together, interacting

massless/massive particles

1ns isolated = no signal, only carrier or baseband-ing or pure potentiality or epistemically unmanifest &/or ontically isolated; approaching massless energy (e.g photon) – no frame in which an isolated photon has mass, i.e. no rest mass & no rest energy

2ns resting = signal or decoding or demodulation or epistemically manifest & ontically actual or acting/efficacious or approaching nonenergetic mass (e.g. rest mass or invariant mass) — all relative to an observer

3ns interacting = signal + noise or disturbance or modulation, or codes & errors, encoding or epistemic-ontic omelet of in/determinacy; eternalized as near-pure act or quasi- actus purus vis a vis approaching unique or designated materio-energetic specifications (e.g. )