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

To Be or Not, to Sophianize or Not our human secondary nature: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (eternally self-determined)

In Conclusion –

Not as a systematic conclusion, but per my vague heuristics, it seems quite plausible that there’s no inconsistency between a proper libertarian conception of the will (e.g. those of Maximus & Scotus) and universal salvation (apocatastasis).

As long as we draw the necessary distinction between choosing “between” good & evil (being & nonbeing) and choosing “among” goods (on a Pareto front of equally optimal choices), along with the further distinctions of our essential & secondary natures (Scotus) and natural & gnomic willing (Maximus), apocatastasis can be conceived as sufficiently self-determinative.

Gnomic willing is what our one will, the natural will, does when epistemically-axiologically distanced, as it chooses to act or refrain from acting in accord with divine logoi, i.e. choosing or refusing participation in goodness & being, thereby forming or deforming one’s secondary nature as, in varying degrees, virtuous and/or vicious.

If we conceive our epistemic-axiological distancing in theotic terms, as our temporal journeying from image to likeness, our gnomic willing constitutes our co-creative participation in Being, beyond being, in Goodness, itself, beyond goodness. Our self-determined secondary natures, ad majorem Dei gloriam, will thereby gift us such holiness & beatitude that some souls will, indeed, outshine the sun.

I have insisted, for decades, inspired by something, per my dim recollection, that Hans Kung once suggested regarding eschatological anthropology (though I can neither cite nor recite it): that every beginning of a smile, all wholesome trivialities, every trace of human goodness, will be eternalized. Upon further reflection, consistent with those thoughts, it seems to me that every self-determined refusal to participate in goodness & being will be likewise respected, as any vicious aspects of our secondary natures transist into eternal nonbeing, as those temporal moments are essentially constituted by self-annihilations of our secondary natures.

I see no a priori reason that complete closures of each person’s epistemic-axiological distancing cannot be accomplished post-mortem, e.g. such as in instantaneous life reviews or via other such purgative vehicles, thereby eternally “fixing” our secondary natures and, definitionally, ending all gnomic willing.

If, in some unimaginable putative worst case scenario, a human person would transist into eternity with no measure of a virtuous secondary nature, no happy eternalizations, whatsoever, what might that entail?

There can be no eternal annihilation of a person’s essential nature, which will necessarily enjoy eternal being by virtue of its intrinsic goodness. That essential being can in no measure be diminished or demolished self-determinedly. No one conceives of a libertarian free will on such terms, especially those committed to the (theo)logical necessity of eternal fires & brimstone.

How, then, might we conceive this bare personal essence, bereft of a virtuous (and vicious) secondary nature? Well, following the conventional “age of reason” approach, which defines the threshold for the growth of rudimentary, self-determined secondary natures (moral & theotic), I conceive such an essential nature in terms of early childhood, as precious sacred faces, whose voices make such precious sacred sounds. And, in an eternal environs, no longer situated per an epistemic-axiological distancing, I envision those children of God & ourselves in pure delight & as wholly beloved. Now, if in holiness & beatitude, they present as tiny votive candles, thoroughly on fire with divine love, while others shine forth as this or that blazing helios, surely, that will not diminish their lovability? That others might be holier than us, O’ Lord, grant us the grace to desire it, provided we shall be as holy as you’d have us be!

What might constitute different degrees of beatitude? both of different measures of self-determined, virtuous secondary natures & of precious, sacred essential natures?

Different degrees of beatitude will be experienced commensurate with the self-determined ontological densities of each person, as measured in relative spiritual intensities (both moral & theotic) and experienced in degrees of expansive aesthetic scopes, that is in terms of the number of choices “among” eternal goods of which one has freely chosen to avail oneself. In this sense, the imago Dei will have grown in divine likeness, for, while the divine nature undergoes no change in perfection vis a vis aesthetic intensity, the divine will, esse intentionale, is ever “affected” in terms of aesthetic scope by our free, self-determined choices to participate in Being, in Goodness.

It is in this sense that I would suggest that the difference between our essential & secondary natures might roughly map to such distinctions as we’ve always recognized in terms of, for example, imperfect & perfect contrition, eros & agape, early vs later stages of Bernardian love, illuminative & unitive ways, Ignatian degrees of humility and so on.

It has always been accepted that imperfect contrition and love of self for sake of self & love of God for sake of self are sufficient. Such “enlightened” self-interest has always been sufficient for parents? I fully expect it will remain sufficient for our Heavenly Father and that it will obtain for all the requisite conditions necessary for our own eternal beatitude. For, as DBH has so compelling argued, who could enjoy an eternal existence separated from those we’ve always loved and will always love unconditionally?

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

continued from here

Bottomline:
I could only ever conceive of a post-mortem annihilation of one’s vicious secondary nature, never of one’s essential nature (imago Dei), which would be held in existence b/c of its intrinsic goodness. I picture such a “mere” imago as a person of 7 or younger (not some horror!).

To be or not to be, who we really are, that is the question, as we freely choose to act in pursuit of options that we know to be good (all equally or each sufficiently so) or not to act in consideration of same.

One can act in an inconsiderate or thoughtless way, without considering the good, under some compulsion, hence exculpably, or after considering the good, sinfully, in both cases depriving one’s act and its effects of any distinctively human quality. One can, thereby, nihilate the very essence of one’s being in a de-privative act that can potentially render effects deprived of the good (privatio boni).

Habitual patterns of in/considerate acts yield our secondary natures, which can include varying degrees of both virtuous & vicious natures, hence degrees of likeness to our God, extrinsically, varying in moral & spiritual intensities, which proportionately gift expansions of freedom & aesthetic scope. Our essential nature, an imago Dei, though, remains intrinsically good.

It seems quite probable to me that every authentically free human act, participating in Goodness, itself, has an intrinsically eternal quality, that every trace of human goodness, every beginning of a smile, all wholesome trivialities, are sophianized, gifted an eternal aesthetic scope. Other acts are self-nihilations, diminishing our secondary nature’s likeness to God in varying degrees, while, intrinsically & inviolably, our essential natures remain a precious, sacred imago Dei, a durable aesthetic intensity.

We thus self-determine, in every act, how much of our secondary nature gets eternalized (as virtuous) or self-nihilated (as vicious), what degree of authenticity we freely will to realize.

My Universalist Account

Therefore –

What if God honored all freely refused participations in eternal goods as ordered toward our contingent being?

What if God honored all freely accepted participations in eternal goods as ordered toward our contingent being?

What if that part of the nature of our contingent being, as it was formed by such refusals of eternal goods or being, was allowed to lapse into nonbeing, precisely respecting one’s free choice?

What if that part of the nature of our contingent being, as it was formed by freely accepted eternal goods or being, was eternalized (becoming virtually essential being), precisely respecting one’s free choice?

What would transist into eternity, then, whether proleptically and/or eschatologically, would therefore be our intrinsically good essential being, with its fixed aesthetic intensity, and extrinsically good (virtuous) secondary nature with its self-determined aesthetic scope, but never one’s vicious secondary nature, lacking sufficient moral intensity & self-determinedly ordered toward nonbeing, hence annihilation.

Notes:

Concepts to be Expanded:

Emergence of probability

Via transmuted experience

In individuals as secondary nature, with a diversity of specific identities & uniformity of generals (Peircean)

In societies as culture, pluralistically, in particular religions & universal presence

Mediated or not, pneumatologically

Expressing or not, Maximian logoi

Further Discussion

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? Or, if also our secondary nature, only that level of goodness & being which emerged per Maximian logoi, never otherwise instantiating a privatio boni, which have no ontological reality?

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?

A post-mortem will that’s closed all epistemic & axiological distances and has been purged of any residual vicious secondary nature could only refrain from determining among the goods of an enhanced aesthetic scope, choosing not to grow one’s spiritual intensity. It would no longer be able to otherwise act inconsiderate of goods pertaining to temporal exigencies, due to having none, so, would no longer be able to sin, no longer able to vary its moral intensity.

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:

[1] MM Adams re Scotus’ concerns re liberty of indifference, as she cites Duns Scotus, God and Creatures: The Quodlibetal Questions, translated with introduction, notes and glossary by Felix Alluntis, O.F.M., and Allan B. Wolter, O.F.M. (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1975), q.16, art. Il, 377-79·

[2] ibid The Problem of Hell by Marilyn M. Adams

[3] Dante’s Hell, Aquinas’s Moral Theory, and Love of God, Eleonore Stump, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16 (2):181-198 (1986)

[4] When God created us in the divine image, God intended us to be cocreators and participate in God’s plan. Hell may not be a literal burning fire, but does that mean it doesn’t exist?by Kevin P. Considine

[5] The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? By David B. Hart

[6] Bishop Barron

[7] John Anthony O’Brien, The Faith of Millions: The Credentials of the Catholic Religion, pp. 19–20

[8] from the Foreward to Dante, The Bible, and Eternal Torment by Jon M. Sweeney

[9] Sweeney ibid

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

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?

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Summary –

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Observations:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Scotus’ Univocity of Being Grounds a Metaphysics of Participation

anselmscotusmeme4605273249805958728.jpg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Semiotic Eucharistic Cycle

Liturgy of the Word

  • Iconic theo-poetic nomination of divine names

  • Indexic theo-logic attribution of divine locations

Liturgy of the Eucharist

  • Symbolic doxological & theotic engagement of divine participations

Offertory – Ecstasis & Proodos as self-transcendence

Communion – Enstasis & Mone as union

Post Communion – Epecstasis & Epistrophe as self-reception

Dismissal (Ecstasis & Proodos)

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

There’s Nothing Ontological About Scotus’ Univocity of Being

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s Nothing Esoteric About Apophasis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From a separate conversation, I’d written:

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

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

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

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

Dissimilarities abound!

Apophasis thus redounds!

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

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

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

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

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

Flipping the Semantic Script for Determinate & Divine Being

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

Determinate syllosistics are derived from divine syllogistics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Nuancing Apophasis

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

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

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

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

An Afterward Regarding Univocity, Analogy & Apophasis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a concrete application as an example:

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

Note re Thomist-Scotist “Impasse”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Note on Moderate Realism:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

My response:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Divine Names

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

How Scotus Might Gift Zizioulas Coherence

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

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

For example,

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

How might we best conceive such modes of identity?

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

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

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

A Scotus Glossary

divine realities

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

determinate realities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See:

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

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

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

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

How might one commence such a project?

A Proposed Relational Meta-ontology Glossary

Personhood – a cluster concept including communion & otherness

Essence or ousia – primary not secondary substance for divine realities

Divine person – exemplification of relational personhood & incommunicable

Human person – individual self-consciousness, communicable or predicable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Divine Oneness – can be expressed

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

After Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orthodox Dialogue on the Trinity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

A Brief Defense of Common Sense

Our “participatory imagination” engages “common sense.”

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Epilogue –

January 2020

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

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

A. John Sylvest.

B. Al Kimel

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

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

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

How Scotus’ Univocity of Being Grounds a Metaphysics of Participation

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

The Semiotic Eucharistic Cycle

Liturgy of the Word

  • Iconic theo-poetic nomination of divine names

  • Indexic theo-logic attribution of divine locations

Liturgy of the Eucharist

  • Symbolic doxological & theotic engagement of divine participations

Offertory – Ecstasis & Proodos as self-transcendence

Communion – Enstasis & Mone as union

Post Communion – Epecstasis & Epistrophe as self-reception

Dismissal (Ecstasis & Proodos)

Unitive Living (Enstasis & Mone)

ReturnIntroibo ad Altare Dei (Epecstasis & Epistrophe)

Liturgy of the Word – repeat the cycle

There’s Nothing Ontological About Scotus’ Univocity of Being

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

There’s Nothing Esoteric About Apophasis

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

From a separate conversation, I’d written:

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

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

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

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

Dissimilarities abound!

Apophasis thus redounds!

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

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

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

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

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

Flipping the Semantic Script for Determinate & Divine Being

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

Determinate syllosistics are derived from divine syllogistics.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Further Nuancing Apophasis

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

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

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

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

An Afterward Regarding Univocity, Analogy & Apophasis

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

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

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

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

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

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

Here’s a concrete application as an example:

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

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

How Scotus Might Gift Zizioulas Coherence

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

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

For example,

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

How might we best conceive such modes of identity?

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

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

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

A Scotus Glossary

divine realities

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

determinate realities

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See:

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

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

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

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

How might one commence such a project?

A Proposed Relational Meta-ontology Glossary

Personhood – a cluster concept including communion & otherness

Essence or ousia – primary not secondary substance for divine realities

Divine person – exemplification of relational personhood & incommunicable

Human person – individual self-consciousness, communicable or predicable

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Divine Oneness – can be expressed

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

After Thoughts

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

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

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

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

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

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

Orthodox Dialogue on the Trinity

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

A Brief Defense of Common Sense

Our “participatory imagination” engages “common sense.”

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

 

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

Divine Modes of Identity – Bulgakov, Balthasar & Bracken with Scotus & the Greek Fathers

Some analytic theologians would charge all trinitarian defenses with ad hoc philosophizing?

Nyet!

I intuit a general amenability of Abelardian-like syllogistics to reality writ large, i.e. beyond trinitarian logic.

It seems to me that essential, hypostatic & formal modes of identity could be applied in any noncomposite, monist ontology, e.g. materialist monism, pantheism or even a mereological panen-theism.

Aristotelian syllogistic logic can be recovered from the Abelardian-like approach precisely because the distinction between modes of identity & modes of predication collapse for composite realities, where all predications are of formal identity.

The more widely embraced pan-entheism, like classical theism, employs an ontological distinction between humans & God, where God donates & communicates creatively as we participate & are liberated imitatively.

The panen-theistic parsing employs a mereological distinction between humans & God, where God donates & communicates diffusively as we participate & are liberated substratively.

My own pan-semio-entheism, in bracketing ontology, conceives divine donation & communication both creatively & diffusively and creaturely participation & liberation both imitatively & substratively.

Because I precisely nurtured such intuitions in dialogue with Bulgakov, Balthasar & Bracken (due to my own sophiological, aesthetic & Peircean sensibilities), I was delighted to encounter Brandon Gallaher’s reflection:

The Problem of Pantheism in the Sophiology of Sergii Bulgakov: A Panentheistic Solution in the Process Trinitarianism of Joseph A. Bracken?’ in Seeking Common Ground: Evaluation and Critique of Joseph Bracken’s Comprehensive Worldview (A Festschrift for Joseph A. Bracken, S. J.), eds. Gloria Schaab and Marc Pugliese (Milwaukee: Marquette University Press, 2012), 147-167.

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In a divine syllogistic of modes of identity, we’ve conceived the individual essences of the divine hypostases as originating in the Father and interrelating – not causally, but – as essentially dependent, hence, not subordinationist.

[re: not causally, arche, when regarded as an hypostatic idioma of the Father, in my view, can felicitously be conceived in a causal sense; it would refer to a personal cause, paternally, i.e. ad intra, a person via nature causing persons & ad extra, persons via will causing energeia & oikonomia? To be avoided would be any misconception of an impersonal and/or abstracted essence as variously causal, as well as any conceptions of either cause or person that aren’t suitably nuanced, apophatically, analogically, etc, eg I like supremely personal, trans-causal & trans-formal! I shy away from qualifying divine causalities with “quasi,” e.g. quasi-formal. I prefer, instead, to imagine that it’s we contingent, determinate beings & realities who act “quasi” on the way to becoming authentic & eternal!

For, you see, the essential, personal & formal modes of identity of divine syllogistics reflect three integrally related types of divine unity – substantial, hypostatic & dynamical – each correlatively presupposing the others. And yet, it’s the Father, as absolute unoriginate, Who secures the Trinity’s unity?

For, is it not this very monarchy that, in principle, precedes (not temporally, but in the order of intelligibility) & makes meaningful perichoresis, in the first place (pun intended)? Over against any subordinationist charges, I would simply suggest that, if there is anything like that, it’s nothing personal & isn’t substantial (puns, again, intended!).]

We have acknowledged THAT this account has ontological implications without suggesting HOW.

In Abelard’s first two modes of identity, the essential & personal, paralogisms (modalism & tritheism) present if we conceive the hypostases & ousia, respectively, as primary & secondary substances in the same Aristotelian sense that we apply to determinate being.

Happily, in the third mode, formal identity, we do have an epistemic bridge between the syllogistics of divine & determinate being.

This has all been addressed here:
Gödel & the End of Physics and Abelard et al & the End of Trinitology

Having acknowledged that there must be ontological implications for the first two modes of identity, the essential & personal, can we similarly build a bridge between the syllogistics of divine & determinate being?

Scotus has already constructed that bridge & it rather uncannily accommodates the thought of the Greek Fathers!

I have previously addressed other resonances between, for example, Scotus & Palamas.

See:

How Gelpi’s Inculturated North American Theology “Graced” my encounter with Eastern Orthodoxy

My Mon-Arche-I-tectonic Shift

I’ve been through the Desert Fathers on an Ousia with No Name — It felt good to get out of the Reign (of Rationalism) with the help of the Cappadocians.

Simply Divine or a Divinity Fudge? Cooking with Dionysius, Scotus, Peirce, Aquinas & Palamas

But how might Scotus further resonate with the approach of the Greek Fathers, beyond my previous preoccupations with divine energeia & formal modes of identity?

How might Scotus demonstrate a resonance with the Greek Fathers for the first two modes of identity, also?

How, exactly, has Scotus bridged the syllogistics of divine & determinate being?

No one more elegantly answers that question than does Richard Cross:

Duns Scotus on Divine Substance and the Trinity

Cross asserts that, by employing a conception of the immanent universal, Scotus constructs an account of the doctrine of the Trinity that is conceptually compelling, philosophically coherent & closer to that found in the later Greek Fathers, from Gregory of Nyssa onward, than the Augustinian approach (predominant in Aquinas’ own) to the divine essence.

Per Cross, Scotus flips the metaphysical script in considering – not the divine persons, but – the essence as – not a secondary, but – a first substance.

In fact, Scotus doesn’t consider the divine persons substances at all, whether primary or secondary, because they are incommunicable.

The relations between the persons are nonetheless real – as exemplifications of the divine nature.

Thus, apart from the Scotistic insights into the divine energeia, economy & formal identities, which I’d focused on previously (the links above), Cross well articulates how Scotus’ doctrines also have intrinsic value & address the divine nature & persons.

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To me, the most interesting meta-metaphysical questions posed to any given metaphysic include –

Is reality, writ large,

  • 1) non|un/composite?
  • 2) non|in/determinate?
  • 3) non|in/finite?
  • 4) non|im/personal?

We can, a priori, envision (abductively) competing answers that are logically consistent & internally coherent, but, unavoidably incomplete, both axiomatically (deductively) & evidentially (inductively). Ergo, there’s an inevitable leap of faith involved in any existential opting for one or the other of these options.

What both religious & Enlightenment (e.g. Dawkins, Dennett) fundamentalists have in common is that they all fail to look over their epistemic shoulders to recognize their own leaps.

More concretely, then –

Some (e.g. materialist monists) view reality writ large as uncomposite & indeterminate, in the sense that, as a whole, the One’s simply brute & the Many dynamical causes just infinitely regress.

Others (e.g. idealist monist pantheists) view reality writ large as uncomposite & wholly determinate, in the sense that, as a whole, it’s sufficiently caused in a most thoroughgoing way. They answer the riddle of the One & the Many with The One “is” The Many.

Finally, there are various ontological dualists & pluralists, who are all over the map w/their, mostly both-and, answers to those questions & generally theistic. A lot of them are on Twitter & politely advocating all sorts of unitarian & trinitarian hypotheses!

My purpose in setting forth those meta-metaphysical questions in rather sharp relief was not just philosophical.

For sure, many “leap” existentially past materialist & pantheist construals because the first does violence to our innate aspirations to enduring values, the latter – to our universal volitional experience, each nihilistic (but in a various senses).

I want to further suggest that our philosophical categories of non|un/composite & non|in/determinate remain very much in play, theologically, for the trinitarian tensions that present, as we strive to defensibly thread the needle between tritheism & modalism.

Tritheism presents obvious problems as, exegetically & historically, we’re precommitted to the One (noncomposite deity). The more stringent a strategy for avoiding tritheism, however, the more a spectre of modalism will threaten one’s trinitology.

It is less obvious how a modalist (determinate) deity would necessarily do violence to our notions of divine & human volition, however, especially granting that the deity, modally, would still be self-determinate, humans contingently so. But, again, exegetical & historical contours circumscribe for us a much more eminent conception of the divine will, which is to say, with an intrinsically nondeterminate aspect to the divine nature that, certainly, constitutively entails self- determinate attributes, but in a way that’s essentially kenotic.

That kenotic aspect affords us a much more robust notion of freedom vis a vis the divine will & a much more eminent conception of the divine nature?

At stake in each metaphysic, then, whether philosophically or theologically, are conceptions with practical implications for the logical consistency (exegetical & historical), internal coherence & external congruence of our creedal stances toward the One & the Many (divine & determinate) and of all authentic conceptions of Freedom (divine & human).
Pneumatological kenosis: the Spirit immanentized in the gratuity of creation & Christological kenosis: the Son incarnated in the gratuity of grace, both, implicate a Paterological ur-kenosis of the Father in the generation of the Son & procession of the Spirit.
ur-kenosis entails an unoriginate, nondeterminate, principium, an idioma of the Father, eternally self-emptying in (self)determinate relating thru eternal generation of Son & procession of Spirit. Nothing modal. Hypostatic & personal in gratuitous ad intra & ad extra dynamism.

Father-Son-Holy Spirit [FSH]

FSH denotations, while epistemic denotations, have ontic not modal connotations (neither phenomenal nor noumenal).
A concurrent noumenal modalism suggests that the Persons are “three ways that God really is.”
Rahner’s “distinct manners of subsisting” derives from the Summae’seach of them subsists distinctly from the others in the divine nature” and in continuity with Gregory of Nyssa.

Hence, there are three subsistences, lacking the same formal identity, not one formal identity taking on three different manners of subsisting, i.e. ‘three ways that God really is.”

FSH denotations refer to divine hypostatic realities or idiomata like nondeterminate persons (EO), exemplifications (Scotist) or subsistences (Thomist) that are analogous to determinate persons (psychological), haecceities (Scotist) or instantiations & primary substances (Thomist).
FSH denotations do not refer to divine substantial realities or propria like nondeterminate ousia, essence or primary substances (Scotist) that are analogous to determinate essence, form, quiddity (Scotist) or secondary substances (Thomist).

As the most fecund metaphysics have rejected this phenomenal-noumenal distinction, the best systematic theologies have, too.

Such classical, disjunctive, dyadic conceptions as the phenomenal vs noumenal, epistemic vs ontic, essentialism vs nominalism, idealism vs realism, logical vs efficient causes, etc all represent two sides of the same bankrupt coinage of our metaphysical realm. If it has no metaphysical currency, that’s precisely because it presupposes the impossibility of metaphysics.

In the most robust metaphysical systems (classical realisms), the structures of objective knowledge remain – not dyadic, but – irreducibly triadic, introducing a third category – mediation (variously, but indispensably, accounted for & articulated). I’ve no space to explicate that here, but, classically, we encounter this triadicity in Aristotelian-Thomist & Scotist accounts and, more recently, in Peirce’s semiotic realism. Various triadic thought systems have indeed presented ubiquitously across cultures & throughout history.

The chief problem with any radically apophatic, trinitarian ignosticism is that it’s epistemically corrosive. It inevitably & successively will reduce to theological & metaphysical ignosticisms, which, in turn, will, necessarily & correlatively, also annihilate our highly speculative theoretical sciences.

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Metaphysical Account of Substantial (Being or Esse) & Hypostatic (Existant or Subject) Modes of Determinate Being
Modal temporality categories include possible, actual, probable & necessary.
Modal adequacy categories include mereological (whole/part/noncomposite) & non|in/finite.
Modal ontology categories include descriptions & references to specific hypostatic realities (determinate persons, instantiations or haecceities or primary substances) with attributions to their precise properties (determinate essence, form, quiddity or secondary substance).
Semantic Univocity & Ontic Analogy of Being
logical categories for dogma e.g. ‘distinct manner of subsisting’ (subsistenzweisen)
ontic categories for systematics
Metaphysical Account of Substantial (Being or Esse) & Hypostatic Modes of Identity of Nondeterminate Being
Modal indentity categories include apophatic references (idiomata) to specific hypostatic realities (nondeterminate persons, exemplifications or subsistences) with apophatic attributions (propria) to their precise properties (nondeterminate ousia, essence or primary substance)
Formal Modes of Identity of Nondeterminate & Determinate Being
Theopoetic Account of Substantial (Being or Esse) & Hypostatic Modes of Nondeterminate Identity
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Oremus – The Who, What & How of God-talk or Let Us Pray!

Our scriptures, sacraments, sacramentals, psalmody, hymns, liturgies, devotionals, oblations, works of spiritual & corporal mercy, when all embodied, dispositionally, in the unitive strivings of our sophiological trajectories, will grow our loving intimacy with God, others, the cosmos and even each in our relationship to one-self!

Little of that growth requires a depthful propositional grasp, onto-theologically or theo-ontologically, beyond the barest common sense understandings of our creeds, dogmas & general precepts, which certainly impart some meta-ontological implications per their general contours, though nothing requiring a specific ontology or given metaphysic.

Meta-ontologically, for those who do like to “go there,” while I could not begin to relate what Scotus, Palamas, Aquinas & Peirce ever really said or intended, for me these definitions will apply:

Freedom as authenticity, infinitely realized or progressively actualized

Univocity as semantic, applied to Peircean 1ns, possibilities (not real actualities), where noncontradiction folds but excluded middle holds in an indeterminacy of vagueness.

Formal distinction as applied to Peircean 3ns, probabilities, a final cause (potency) & formal cause (act), where noncontradiction holds but excluded middle folds in an indeterminacy of generalities.

Actualities as Peircean 2ns, a material cause (potency) & efficient cause (act), where noncontradiction & excluded middle hold

This modal ontology with its grammar applies to determinate realities that participate in being, reality & existence, where freedom & authenticity are temporally & progressively realized and potencies actualized.

Freedom & authenticity are infinitely realized only in the reality of the Ens Necessarium to which only a trans-formal distinction would successfully refer (as neither an act of existence nor other act-potency dynamics would apply).

Syntactical categories of essence (ousia or what?), esse (hypostases or who?) and activities (e.g. divine energies or how?) could successfully refer to both the Ens Necessarium & determinate realities and a semantic univocity even applied to their essence-talk, allowing for a modicum of meaningful, theopoetic God-talk (an infinite intelligibility), while otherwise precluding all but apophatic references (not only vis a vis who? & what? but also how? in an utter incomprehensibility) both onto-theologically & theo-ontologically, especially given our lack of a successful root metaphor, metaphysically (e.g. whether substantialist, personalist or relationalist).

It does seem that there’s a wealth of things we can meaningfully say metaphorically & theo-PO-etically, especially as we attend to the works & activities of God (esse intentionale) theo-POI-etically, as we participate in the manifold ways & means fostered by the activities of Uncreated Grace (esse naturale), observing how they transmute our experiences by infusing created grace, all ordered to theotic ends.

Primarily, then, what we can meaningfully say … are our prayers!

For those who do like to “go there,” seldom will you come across blog discussions better than these:

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2016/06/27/the-essenceenergies-distinction-and-the-myth-of-byzantine-illogic/

https://afkimel.wordpress.com/2017/10/02/theosis-and-the-palamite-distinction-questions-concerns/#comments