In Dialogue with Boyd on Hartshorne & Neville on Divine Freedom

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

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

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

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

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

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

C’est bon

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

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

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

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

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

So, my taxonomy of determinacies looks like this:

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

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

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

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

God’s freedom

ad intra predicated

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

ad extra – predicated kataphatically & hypostatically by

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

I recently observed:

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

See:

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

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

I think I suggested above – d’accord.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

See:

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

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

Important

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

Important

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

My own sophianic vision!

Where in the World is Sophia? —a Sophiological footnote

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

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

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

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

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

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

Re: dispositionality

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

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

Maritain, McInerny, Murray, MacIntyre, Milbank & a Medieval Integralist walk into a bar

Maritain, McInerny, Murray, MacIntyre, Milbank & a Medieval Integralist walk into a bar serving optimism & pessimism. Let Maritain & McInerny drive you home. The others are inebriated.

Regarding the following questions –What would Murray, MacIntyre, Milbank & Medieval Integralists Say?

Has a clearly successful civil polity (with articles of peace but not of faith) ever been founded in any pluralistic society based on some shared thematized natural law?

Has a fairly successful civil polity (with articles of peace but not of faith) never been founded in any pluralistic society, at least based on shared values, although not on shared justifications?

Has a lack of certain shared moral outlooks always necessarily ensued from some subjectivism, emotivism, voluntarism, relativism, utilitarianism, vulgar pragmatism, secularism or nihilism that precluded shared metaphysical commitments & axiological frameworks? What about Mortimer Adler’s account of humanity’s common sense & sensibilities and of certain self-evident prescriptive inferences that derive from our being immersed together in a similarly situated human condition, especially regarding major precepts?

Has a lack of certain shared moral outlooks never otherwise ensued from an ethical pluralism that included shared metaphysical commitments & axiological frameworks, but was derived with a suitable epistemic humility, metaphysical fallibilism & moral probabilism?

Murray, MacIntyre, Milbank or Medieval Integralists would each in their own way employ a theological anthropology that’s either excessively optimistic or pessimistic, based on (mis)conceptions regarding the relationship between nature & grace, variously implicating notions regarding the gratuity of grace.

A Goldilocks Theological Anthropology, neither too optimistic nor pessimistic, would be better reflected in the anthropology of Maritain, combined with Gelpi’s adaptation of Lonergan’s approach as modified by Gelpi’s account of grace as transmuted experience.

Per Maritain, humanity’s transcultural apprehension of the natural law is not robustly & discursively thematic but more so inchoately & connaturally intuitional. So, we can share evaluative dispositions, moral sensibilities & ethical intuitions that presuppose varying degrees of moral realism without sharing their justifications via deeper metaphysical commitments. Maritain would thus answer the above questions differently from his pub buddies.

If we adopt Gelpi’s Lonerganian adaptation in conjunction with Maritain’s account of humanity’s ubiquitous moral sensitivity to the natural law via connaturality, we can distinguish between the secular conversions (intellectual, affective, moral & sociopolitical) and religious conversion, whereby the former more properly reflect the gratuity of creation with its obediential potencies for grace, and the latter relate to the gratuity of grace, itself, to which one responds responsibly in faith (to some historical act of divine self-revelation & self-communication).

Certainly, from a pneumatological perspective, the secular conversions reflect the ordinary presence of the Holy Spirit in the world via its universality & prevenient connaturality. The particularity of the Holy Spirit’s action in the lives of Christian believers, however, reflects a radically transformative & extraordinary presence.

Afterthoughts

This does seem to be the crux. With Maritain we can’t deny that a prevenient connaturality hasn’t provided humankind’s inchoate realization of natural law via shared moral sensibilities & ethical intuitions, sufficient for a modicum of public peace, order, justice & morality? With Gelpi, we wouldn’t deny that humankind journeys more swiftly & w/less hindrance when secular conversions (intellectual, affective, moral & socio-political) are transvalued by religious conversions (radical & kerygmatic; yes, other religions w/degrees of truth & goodness) . So, no, there’s never been some edenic epoch of either a Whig Thomism (neocon or neoliberal) or an idyllic integralism (political Augustinianism). And monastic, anarchic & pacifist approaches have only ever been vocational & spirituality “options” not theopolitical norms (as in Augustinian radicalisms).

Too many conceive Catholic social & moral teachings as primarily intended to shape politics, reflexively thinking in terms of coercive polity in response to every papal utterance or episcopal exhortation, relegating their familial, social, civic & nongovernmental implications. They see government as the primary means of coordinating the initiatives of our better angels, which it sometimes can be, rather than for ameliorating the initiatives of our fallen angels. Gospel inculturation, moral enculturation & ministerial accompaniment aren’t coercive.

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Regarding a Supposed Natural Law Impotence

Impotent natural law arguments nonvirtuously cycle abductive hypothesizing and deductive clarifying without the benefit of inductive testing, unlike the church’s highly esteemed social teaching with its NL plus personalist approach. Too many NL theorists employ abstract, aprioristic, deductivistic, rationalistic, biologistic arguments that bear little resemblance to the concrete, lived experiences of people. Church social teachings have employed triadic inference w/inductive, personalist approach+NL and are widely received. For some, NL hasn’t been tried and found wanting but hasn’t even been tried. When it has been done properly, it has been highly esteemed and widely accepted. Flawed methodologies need fixing. Shared inchoate NL sensibilities and intuitions suffice for public order, public peace, public justice and public morality in a secular governmental polity. More robust NL methods are of course required for thornier moral objects (e.g. bioethical). The latter methods can result in an ethical pluralism due -not to relativism, but- metaphysical fallibilism and moral probabilism, ie epistemic humility not HUBRIS!
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Does faith shape our politics or is it too often the other way around?

From a formative spirituality perspective, “other way around” may happen more often among those in earlier stages. If we view progressive & traditionalist sensibilities as charisms of pilgrims & settlers, later on our faith journeys, those gifts may well shape our political ministries.

It does also seem that, even within denominations that accommodate a plurality of theological opinions regarding nature & grace, where one stands on the optimism-pessimism spectrum of theological anthropology (depravist & exclusivist vs inclusivist) often seems to shape political approaches.

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Yes, moral realities are transparent to human reason without reference to special revelation. BUT Prudential judgments evaluate conditions of MORAL legitimacy, presupposed within an established framework of values and priorities. For example, coercive measures mustn’t produce evils & disorders graver than the evil to be eliminated!

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I was heartened when the Religious Freedom Restoration Act here in US bolstered 1st Amendment protections regarding federal statutes (states would have to effect their own). While a generally applicable law advancing a compelling government interest could burden consciences, strict scrutiny requires that be done with the least restrictive means practicable.

The US approach to the Enlightenment employed a secularist political strategy that fairly well strengthened the influence of religion in citizens’ lives. On the Continent, however, a militant secularism marginalized religion; beyond a mere political strategy, it was driven from other spheres – civil, social, economic & cultural.

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Maritain recognized that prudential judgments must discern which civil polity is optimal from one location and concrete set of circumstances to the next, even from one epoch to the next. As the degrees of successful Gospel inculturation & moral enculturation thus vary, strategies advancing human dignity, common good, justice & peace must adapt.

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Throw tribalistic cultures into the mix, along with recent results regarding neoconservative democratization “strategies” (e.g. war) & Arab Springs unsprung, is it not clear that no one political shoe will fit all peoples?

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Prior to any political theology, one needs a Goldilocks theological anthropology, i.e. neither too optimistic (eg transcendentalistic) nor pessimistic (eg dialectical imagination or depravity), so, I commend the thoughts of my late fellow Yat (N’orleanian). For the convenience of any who may be interested, Don Gelpi on grace pt 2

Finally, I commend Amos Yong’s In the Days of Caesar: Pentecostalism & Political Theology, where he writes: Catholic Social Teaching is important less because of specifiable political proposals but because it articulates a theological vision of social & economic justice that has broad political implications.

I commend Yong’s book as in continuity with Gelpi’s theological anthropology and Maritain’s political philosophy.

From an anonymous reviewer:

Our political interaction, as expressed in our many different modes of public interaction, takes on a contextual expression that responds to the particular instances in light of the work of Christ. With this in mind, then, a Pentecostal political theology does not mandate a specific response that must be applied in all settings, but rather builds a framework of values and priorities which give freedom to those in each setting. This framework is not a wishy-washy approach, suggesting that whatever is done is always baptized in the Spirit, but instead offers freedom within the context of responsibility. We who are Christians, who seek to participate in this world in the power of the Spirit, do so in light of Christ’s own calling, and it is as such that Yong formulates his constructive theology.

Finally, I commend The Conservative Pragmatism of Charles Peirce by Thomas Short.

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Catholic Social & Moral Teaching – provides a framework of values & priorities to advance human dignity & the common good. Within that framework citizens apply their best prudential judgments to optimally realize those values & priorities. Such liberative strategies are not first and foremost coercive or political, but, when they do resort to political solutions, those have included most of the following:

Il-Liberalism

Integralism & Political Augustinianism

Augustinian Radicalism

Classical Liberalism

Neoconservatism

Neoliberalism

Libertarianism

Paleoconservatism

Political emphasis on negative rights & free exercise

Social, Economic, Fiscal, Political & Cultural conservatisms

Modern Liberalism

Social Democracy

Social Liberalism

Economic Statism & Keynesian Economics

Political emphasis on positive rights & nonestablishment

Social, Economic, Fiscal, Political & Cultural progressivisms

Socialism

Fascism

Communism

Totalitarian

Nontotalitarian

Just how could such manifold & varied political strategies, almost all, ever be deemed largely compatible with Magisterial teachings from place to place & time to time? That will be the subject of my next tweet, which I’ve been working on for the past decade. Since I’ve recently been afforded 280 characters, though, it’s going to take me a bit longer to compose it. I’ll give you a hint. Each of the above represents an ideology that variously over- and/or under-emphasizes one aspect of Church teaching or another. Foundationally, they can also be overly optimistic or pessimistic regarding their preconceptions of nature & grace vis a vis their implicit theological anthropologies.