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Tuesday, December 02, 2014

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Just to keep my head clear - in non-technical language, is any of the folowing in dispute?
"Christ" is not a name; it is a title for the "Messiah". We all know this.
The messiah = the human being Jesus of Nazareth.
The messiah did not exist prior to Mary's conception.
Jesus did not exist prior to that conception.

The Logos, the Word, did exist prior to that conception.
At that moment, the Logos was made 'flesh' = a human being, Jesus.

I know we are getting more subtle than the above; I'm just asking for clarity's sake.

If we accept those things, then in essence is Tim saying that the human nature of Jesus - JHN - could exist unassumed in a merely possible world?

And I would still like some education on what 'assume' means in this context.
Thanks

The Son is not identical to his human nature. If he is, then there's no principled reason to deny that he is also identical to his divine nature. This in turn leads by the transitivity of identity to a pair of unorthodox results. First, that the divine nature is identical to (a) human nature; second, that the Son has one nature rather than two.

So what about the Kripkean argument? Yes, he (pointing at Jesus) exists in every possible world that the Son exists in (which is to say, all possible worlds, for the orthodox), but why must he exist as a two-natured person in all possible worlds? The 13th world chess champion exists in all the same possible worlds as Garry Kasparov, but he isn't the 13th world chess champion in all of them. It seems that the argument only works if one slides from using "Jesus" as a rigid designator to using it as a definite description, where that description includes having an instantiated human nature.

(I realize that having a nature is more metaphysically significant than having a property like being the world chess champion. [Barely.] But Christ's human nature is not supposed to be an essential property; indeed, the Word existed without it until around 2000 years ago. So the orthodox shouldn't be too troubled about this.)

Hi Bill,

I agree with your argument at the end of this post. I, too, take “Jesus” and “Son” as rigid designators that name the same thing in every world - the 2nd Person. And so I, too, deny that it is possible that Jesus not be identical to the Son.

Moreover, I deny the claim that you label TP here. I do *not* claim that there are some possible worlds where Jesus of Nazareth exists but is not identical to the Son of God.

What I *do* claim is that there are some worlds where CHN, that body/soul composite that the Word assumed, exists but is unassumed. That is not to say that Jesus exists in some worlds but is not the Son, because Jesus is not CHN. Jesus is a person “in” or “from” two natures, and CHN is one of those two natures.

My view, in other words, is that in all worlds, “Jesus” and “Son of God” name the same thing, a person. In some worlds, that person assumes CHN. In other worlds he does not. In some of the worlds where the person does not assume CHN, CHN exists. In those worlds, CHN fulfills the conditions for being a supposit, and also for being a supposit with a rational nature. And so, in those worlds where it is not assumed, CHN is a person. But then, 5 is false, since there are some worlds in which the individual human nature (CHN) assumed by the Logos in the actual world exists independently.

Best,
Tim

What does 'assumed' mean??

Dave,

In the Incarnation, the 2nd Person of the Trinity *assumed,* took on, human nature, an individual human nature, i.e., the 2nd Person became man, a particular man. Two things this does NOT mean:

a. It does not mean that a pure spirit acquired a human body. That's the Apollinarian heresy. Suppose I pre-exist my birth as a Platonic soul. Suppose I get curious and stupid and decide to enter the maelstrom of time and change, blood and guts, instead of staying put in the *topos ouranos* contemplating the Forms. That would be an incarnation of sorts in that I would go from being a pure spirit to being a pure spirit *con carne* if you will. The Incarnation -- majuscule 'I' -- is not like that. In the Incarnation a pre-existent pure spirit becomes a man, body and soul.

b. It is also not like demonic or angelic possession. The 2nd Person does not come to inhabit an already existing soul-body composite.

The idea is rather that at the time of Mary's becoming pregnant (via supernatural agency), a fully human individual begins to exist that is identical to God the Son. Christmas celebrates the birth of this fully human-fully divine being.

Dave,

If names are rigid designators, then I would say that 'Christ' is not a name, but a definite description. 'Christ' means 'the Anointed One.'

I take 'Jesus' to be rigid designator: it picks out the same individual in every possible world in which that individual exists. It is like 'Obama.' (You know, the dude who many think or used to think was a secular Messiah who would being peace and healing and the reconciliation of all our political differences.)

'Christ,' however, picks out different individuals in different worlds. The same goes for 'Messiah.' It is like 'the president of the USA in 2014.' Although Obama is the prez in 2014, there is a possible world in which Romney is the prez in 2014, and a world in which Giuliani is, and so on.

So although Jesus is the Christ in the actual world, he might not have been.

I am afraid there is no avoiding the technicalities of the phil. of lang. if we are to press further in this discussion.

Into the labyrinth!

Thanks Bill. I've got no problems with the language, please carry on, the game's afoot.

Tim,

As I am sure you know, a rigid designator is not defined as a term that picks out the same object in every possible world, but one that picks out the same object in every possible world in which the object exists. So while we agree that 'Jesus' and 'Son' are rigid designators, that agreement papers over an important disagreement.

For you, 'Jesus' and 'Son' are coreferential across all worlds: both refer to the necessarily existent 2nd Person. For me, 'Jesus' refers to a particular man who, as such, is a contingent being. Hence for me 'Jesus' is weakly rigid while for you 'Jesus' is strongly rigid.

You are committed to saying that Jesus is a necessary being. But that makes no sense to me. No human being is a necessary being. A human being can exist only in a physical universe and there are possible worlds in which God creates no physical universe.

You view implies that the Incarnation is metaphysically necessary, that in every world God in incarnate. But surely the Incarnation is a contingent event.

I just clipped this from an Orthodox website:
"St. Paul tells us further that Christ assumed flesh and blood."

I don't know if that is what they meant, or if it was just sloppy. The LOGOS (not Christ) was MADE into flesh and blood, i.e., the anointed one, the messiah, the Christ.

I'm doing a little research on the concept 'assumed'. The 'was made flesh' in the NT is I think much more radical than 'assumed'. 'Assumed' fits the (mistaken, I believe) theory of the two natures.

(disclosure: I am a Unitarian, along the lines of Wm. Ellery Channing as presented here: http://www.transcendentalists.com/unitarian_christianity.htm. Just so you know where I'm 'coming from".)

Hi Bill,

We disagree on what the term “Jesus Christ” names, it appears. I take it to be a name of the Second Person of the Trinity. You take it to name a particular man who is a contingent being.

I believe I have the ecumenical councils on my side for the usage of the term. For no less than the Definition of Faith from the Council of Chalcedon says:

“We all in one voice teach the confession of one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ: the same perfect in divinity and perfect in humanity, the same truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and a body; consubstantial with the Father as regards his divinity, and the same consubstantial with us as regards his humanity…one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, only-begotten, acknowledged in two natures…the property of both natures is preserved and comes together into a single person and a single subsistent being; he is not parted or divided into two persons, but is one and the same only-begotten Son, God, Word, Lord Jesus Christ…”

I take that quotation, and others like it, to show that the Fathers meant “Jesus Christ” to name “one and the same only-begotten Son, God, Word.” I do recognize that others in the debate have used the term “Jesus Christ” to name different things. Brian Leftow has used it to name the mereological composition of the Second Person with the assumed body and soul. He takes “Jesus Christ” to name a whole of which the Second Person is a part. Anna Marmodoro and Jonathan Hill use the name to refer to “the human ‘part’ of Christ.” So they take it to name the nature, if I understand them correctly. Their interpretation looks to me the same as yours. But I think that these other uses only complicate the discussion, since they are not the traditional use, the use I prefer, which one also finds in the Catechism of the Council of Trent, and in Catholic dogmatic manuals.

On my usage of the term “Jesus Christ,” the term *does* pick out a necessary being, insofar as the only-begotten Son is a necessary being.

My view does not imply that the Incarnation is metaphysically necessary, as you say it does, though, because while it requires that Jesus Christ is necessary, it does not require that Jesus Christ assume a human nature in every world.

Best,
Tim

Bill and all,

I continue to appreciate this discussion. I believe the following would help: 1) list the properties we believe constitute human nature; 2) define these properties; and 3) ask if these properties really are essential to being human. E.g., start with “embodiment”, “materiality”, “physicality”, “rationality”, and “animality”.

What does it mean to be embodied? What is a body? What is matter? Do we even have a complete theory of matter? What is rationality? animality?

Are any of these properties inessential to being human? Why or why not?

I’d also like to elaborate on Bill’s reply to Dave:

“In the Incarnation, the 2nd Person of the Trinity *assumed,* took on, human nature, an individual human nature, i.e., the 2nd Person became man, a particular man. Two things this does NOT mean: (a) … and (b) ...”

There is a third thing this does not mean. In *assuming* an individual human nature, the divine 2nd Person did not *relinquish* His divine nature. Why not? God is necessarily divine. If a being is necessarily divine, that being is ~possibly ~divine. (As Bill noted, “Nec p is logically equivalent to ~Poss~p”)

Elliot,

You are quite right to point out that in the Incarnation -- understood in orthodox terms -- there is no relinquishment by the 2nd Person of the divine nature.

I might also point out that the Incarnation in no way actualizes an unrealized divine potentiality. It is not as if God needs to become man or must become man so as to 'be all that he can be.' That would be an Hegelian notion and not orthodox.

Elliot,

Sounds like you want a complete system of metaphysics. But your questions are good ones.

Let me just make a statement and you tell me whether you agree with it. 'Human being' picks out a zoological species; therefore, every human being is essentially an animal.

Dennis M writes:

>>The Son is not identical to his human nature. If he is, then there's no principled reason to deny that he is also identical to his divine nature. This in turn leads by the transitivity of identity to a pair of unorthodox results. First, that the divine nature is identical to (a) human nature; second, that the Son has one nature rather than two.<<

I suppose you mean after the Incarnation since before the Incarnation it is perfectly obvious that the Son does not have a human nature.

And please note the difference between an individualized human nature and human nature taken in the abstract. Socrates and Plato are both instances of human nature, but on an Aristotelian scheme there are in reality no universals. What you have in reality are two primary substances, each an individualized human nature.

In the Incarnation, the 2nd Person becomes identical to an individualized human nature, one that bears the name 'Jesus.'

Therein lies the puzzle. How is this coherently conceivable?

The Incarnation is not like this: There is this 'abstract object' -- in Quine's historically uninformed sense -- humanity, and this abstract object comes to be instantiated by the 2nd Person. It is rather like this: a concrete individual, the 2nd Person, with all of its divine features, and without relinquishing any of them, becomes identical to a concrete spatiotemporal individual with all its human features.

So, Dennis, I deny your very first sentence.

Bill, I’d love to have and to understand the complete system of metaphysics! But for now I’m trying to grasp this complicated topic, and I think some definitions would help. I agree that on an Aristotelian metaphysics, 'human being' is a zoological species and thus essentially an animal -- but also rational, and the only embodied rational being of which we know. Perhaps a deeper look into “rationality” would help.

But I’ve been wondering if, on a non-Aristotelian system, it would make sense to say that a human being is essentially “possibly embodied” or “possibly animal”, but not “necessarily embodied” or “essentially animal”. It seems to me that human beings are possibly unembodied, hence possibly non-animal, and that in the unembodied state the being continues to be human in some sense. If that is the case, then “embodiment” is not essential to humanity. If that is not the case, then at least the unembodied being continues to be a person with a personal identity and rational nature the same as when he was a human person. If this is the case, then perhaps a deeper exploration of “personhood” and “rationality” would be in order.

But I’m not wedded to this position. I am just exploring options and trying to evaluate them for coherence.

Why think that a human being who becomes unembodied continues to be human?

Here's a rough answer:

Consider the Potential Person Principle. A potential human person is such that it can develop into a complete human person, and thus has the rights of a human person. But a potential human person is such that it is not a complete human person while in the state of “potential person”. Yet in some sense it is a person: a potential one, or perhaps an “under-developed” one or a “person not fully actualized”. The potential human person has the seed of personhood.

Now, suppose a human person can exist unembodied. While in the unembodied state, the person is a “potential human person”. In a sense, the person is still something of a human, though not a complete human person. If the unembodied human retains a seed of humanity, then perhaps it is plausible to argue that “embodiment” is not essential to humanity.

Elliot writes,

>>It seems to me that human beings are possibly unembodied, hence possibly non-animal, and that in the unembodied state the being continues to be human in some sense.<<


I would put it like this. We are not just human animals, although we are human animals. We are also persons and it is possible that a person exist in an unembodied state.

Elliot again:

>> A potential human person is such that it can develop into a complete human person, and thus has the rights of a human person.<<

That's not quite right. A potential X is not an X. A potential person is not a person. 'Potential' functions here as an *alienans* adjective.

I would say the following. A conceptus whose parent gametes are human is of course itself genetically human and actually so: it is not bovine or lupine. It is not a person, but it has the potential to develop into a person, where a person is a being that is conscious, self-conscious, capable of reasoning, etc. The right to life is grounded in the potentiality of the conceptus to develop into a person.

I have detailed, rigorous posts on this in my Abortion category.

Tim,

Thank you for the your last comment and quotation. I confess to not being up on the most recent literature. Leftow's suggestion sounds decidedly odd. 'Jesus Christ' refers to a mereological sum one member of which is the Second Person and the other is the assumed body-soul?? Wouldn't that make the connection between Assumer and assumed way too loose? The connection is more like identity, perhaps contingent identity (some philosophers have toyed with the notion of contingent identity in other contexts).

My approach seems similar or the same as that of Marmadoro and Hill as you explain it.

We agree that the 2nd person is a necessary being and that the Incarnation is a contingent event. Now let me ask you this: would you say that when the 2nd Person becomes man he becomes identical to a concrete flesh and blood, body and soul, particular man? Or would you say that the 2nd Person acquires a sort of property? If so, what sort of property?

I honestly don't see how how 'Jesus' can be used to refer to a necessary being if you grant that the Incarnation is contingent. Or do you think that Jesus, flesh and blood, body and soul, already in some fashion existed before the Incarnation and in possible worlds in which there is no Incarnation?

The quotation is not helpful since it merely formulates what puzzles me.

<>

The above is a small part of BV's answer to my question: 'what does "assume" mean'?
And without committing myself to the reality of the Incarnation, if it means anything, I think it means what Bill spelled out. If that is what people mean when they say that the Logos *assumed human nature*, fine; but a number of comments I've come across elsewhere use 'assumed' to mean 'clothed' or 'put on' - which is considered heretical.

Having said that, I wonder if the pure pre-existent spirit became a human being, body and soul - - without any remainder? Without, that is, anything withheld - was it a COMPLETE becoming - to speak in human terms, did 'all of' the Word become flesh?

Upon further reflection, regardless of whether or not a potential x is an x, God is not a potential man. It's not the case that God has an actual potentiality to be man, but needs to assume a body in order to realize that potential.

Elliot,

You're right: God is not a potential man. If God, or the Second Person, before the Incarnation had the unrealized potentiality to become a man, then he would not be *actus purus,* pure act. As purely actual, God has no need of Incarnation. The latter is a purely gratuitous self-donation. I think it would be in keeping with orthodoxy to say that while God is not potentially a man, he is possibly a man. (If he is actually a man, then he is possibly a man; and if he is not actually a man, then he has the power to become one, which implies that it must be possible for him to become one.)

But surely a potential F is not an F. An acorn is a potential oak tree, but not an oak tree. A potential marathoner is not a marathoner. A marathoner who is potentially running is not running.

Don't confuse potentiality and possibility. If I am possibly running then I may well be running. But if I am potentially running, then I am not running.

>>Having said that, I wonder if the pure pre-existent spirit became a human being, body and soul - - without any remainder? Without, that is, anything withheld - was it a COMPLETE becoming - to speak in human terms, did 'all of' the Word become flesh?<<


We would have to look into the notion of kenosis.

But as I understand Chalcedonian Christology, the Word becomes a man, body AND soul. He doesn't merely 'clothe' himself in flesh, or even in animated flesh: he becomes a gen-u-ine man with flesh, blood, guts, intestinal contents, and a rational soul. The whole shot. Penis, seminal fluid, sexual temptations. But without ceasing to be wholly divine! Therein lies the rub of course.

So it is not as if the Word empties himself of his divinity so as to become a man. God incarnate is both God and man, wholly divine and wholly human!

An amazing idea. If I am right it cannot be grasped by the discursive intellect -- whether we employ Aristotelian conceptuality or some other type. Tim Pawl will of course disagree with the immediately preceding sentence. But I think he will agree with my other sentences.

What say you, Tim?

Hey Bill et al,

Bill, you ask: “would you say that when the 2nd Person becomes man he becomes identical to a concrete flesh and blood, body and soul, particular man? Or would you say that the 2nd Person acquires a sort of property? If so, what sort of property?”

I do not say that he becomes identical to a composite of body and soul, flesh and blood. The thing that is the body and soul composite is the assumed human nature, CHN. And it is contrary to orthodox doctrine to say that Christ became identical to CHN. Rather, he entered into the Hypostatic Union with CHN.

I also deny that he merely acquires a property of a sort. He does acquire new properties (he becomes fleshy, or hairy, or localized, or swaddled, etc). But becoming incarnate is not merely gaining a new property. It is gaining a new nature, where nature is understood to refer to a composite that, as St. Cyril says, is “flesh enliven by a rational soul.”

On the traditional usage of the term “Jesus,” it is a name of a person, the person who pre-exists the incarnation, the 2nd person of the Trinity. That person, as you say, existed before the incarnation after a fashion, and exists in worlds without incarnations. Being incarnate is not essential to the person named by the name “Jesus.” Recall that the Nicene creed, when saying what it says of the 2nd person, predicates it to him under the name “Jesus Christ”. “I believe in one Lord Jesus Christ…born of the Father before all ages, God from God,…begotten not made…” They don’t take the name “Jesus” to refer to something only if it is flesh and blood, body and soul, as you are seeming to use the name in your earlier comments.

Concerning whether ‘all of’ the Word became flesh without remainder, the Fathers say that “while remaining what he was” he became flesh. For the fathers at the early councils, the Word and the divine nature are both impassible and immutable. The Word doesn’t become man by mutation of what is already there, but by addition of something new, the human nature. I agree with Bill that the 2nd Person becomes a genuine man, but I understand that becoming in a different way. Bill understands it by way of the Word’s becoming identical with what I call CHN. I understand it as I expressed it above.

I wonder: have you guys read the decrees of the first 7 Ecumenical Councils? They aren’t too long - the Tanner translations has them in 126 pages, and most of those pages are only half full of text, given how the facing translations work in the volumes. You could read it in a few hours. If you skip the parts about church politics (e.g., simony, authority structures, etc), it wouldn’t take more than 1.5 hours to read it all, I bet. I found those texts really useful for getting an understanding of how they understood what happened in the incarnation, and of what they think you have to say, and can’t say, about Christ. They are all available online, too: http://www.papalencyclicals.net/Councils/index.htm.

Best,
Tim

Thank you, Tim.

'Hypostatic' from *hypostasis,* *suppositum.* Can you explain in more detail how a hypostatic union of x and y differs from an identity of x and y? What are its logical properties? Is it an equivalence relation? If it holds, does it hold of metaphysical necessity? What are the relata of the relation?

>>But becoming incarnate is not merely gaining a new property. It is gaining a new nature, where nature is understood to refer to a composite that, as St. Cyril says, is “flesh enliven by a rational soul.”<<

But a definite quantity of flesh enlivened by a rational soul must be an individual concrete substance, right? A primary substance, a subject of predicates that cannot itself be predicated of anything. So it is not a nature in abstraction from a substance having that nature.

I don't understand how, if the 2nd Person becomes incarnate, it can not become numerically the same as the primary substance just mentioned.

Hi Bill,

The early councils call the hypostatic union ineffable. But they didn’t mean by that term that they could say absolutely nothing truly of it, as some interpret that term. They say fairly little about it, but here are some things I know they say about it. Before I begin, I want to note that in my previous comment I said the Son hypostatically unites to CHN; but I misspoke. I prefer keeping the term “hypostatic union” as a name for the relation between the natures, and “assumption” as the name for the relation between the 2nd Person and CHN. That’s how I interpret some dogmatists’ to use the terms.

Some things true of the Hypostatic Union. It holds between two natures: CHN and the Divine Nature. It is *in* one person, the 2nd Person. It is not equivalence, since those two natures are not equivalent, and at least the Divine Nature can exist without CHN existing. It is metaphysically contingent, since the Son need not have assumed CHN, and also because CHN is contingent. The relata are the natures. It is because of the Hypostatic Union that the communication of idioms holds; that is, that we can predicate of the one Person predicates from either nature, and we can predicate them of that one person even using a referring term from the other nature. For instance, when Paul says that they crucified the Lord of Glory, the subject (the crucified one) is a subject term apt of the 2nd Person due to the human nature, but the predicate term is apt of that same person due to the divine nature. Or, to use a stark example from the manualist Pohle, “a man created the stars,” which is true, when “a man” is taken to refer to the supposit (the 2nd Person). It is because of the Hypostatic Union that things done to the human nature are done to the Person. For instance, Leo says in his Tome that the assumed human nature hangs bleeding on a cross. Because of the hypostatic union, the Person who hangs there is the 2nd Person. I should note, in this paragraph I don’t take myself to be saying anything inventive or non-traditional. I take this to be the doctrine, and not my own personal interpretation of it.

I agree that the assumed human nature is an individual concrete substance. Aquinas, too, says as much (ST III q 16 a 12 ad 2). It is a singular composite of matter and substantial form. It is not the sort of thing that can inhere in another, or be instantiated in another, etc. It is not a nature in abstraction, but an individual, fleshy thing.

The 2nd Person takes on / assumes such a individual, concrete, singular substance. But he doesn’t become (identical to) it. I don’t see how you could think that “the 2nd Person becomes identical to an individualized human nature,” given that you think that identity is necessary.

Best,
Tim

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