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Tuesday, October 18, 2016

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This connects with a question I am working on. For unique descriptions we can normally say that the individual satisfying it might not have satisfied it. The famous example is ‘Nixon might not have been the president of the US in 1970’. Is your point that there is some unique description G such the individual g who satisfies it in this possible world, satisfies it in every possible world? Isn’t this a kind of haecceity?

My point is clearly expressed. Read it again.

Well you say that ‘To be unique is to be one of a kind’, and then speak of the ‘divine kind’, which could be thought of as the conjunction of the divine attributes. So let the divine kind be what corresponds in reality to my G. Then you say that that God is not just essentially, but necessarily unique, and you add that in the patois of ‘possible worlds’, God is unique in every possible world in which he exists, and he exists in every possible world.

My question is whether this implies some unique description G such the individual g who satisfies it in this possible world, satisfies it in every possible world? I think it does imply it. Then I ask whether this is a kind of haecceity. I think it is. Not only God’s existence, but his singularity, follows from his essence (= divine kind).

I agree that the divine nature is an haecceity.

But you missed the main point, the more controversial point, which was to go a step further.

Nixon was contingently one of a kind: contingently pres. of U.S. in 1970.

The number 3 is necessarily one of a kind: necessarily the smallest prime greater than 1.

Now what about God? Plantinga et al. would say that God is necessarily one of the divine kind.

But I say that God is unique in a higher sense: he transcends the distinction instance-kind. There is no real distinction in God between his haecceity and him.

If God is simple, then he is uniquely unique: unique in a way different from the way every other necessary being is unique.

This is what you cannot accept. For if God is simple, then univocity is out the window. Univocity defenestrated!

So God's essence = God's existence = God's haecceity = God?

Exactly. Admittedly, a hard saying.

Otherwise, you make of God a being among beings.

In its crudest form: Russell's celestial teapot

http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2014/02/russells-teapot-revisited.html

But again we have the problem of the meaning of language. Aquinas (Summa I Question 2 a1) says that the proposition ‘God exists’ (or equally the proposition ‘God is good’) is self-evident to one who truly understands it, since the predicate is included in the subject (indeed is identical with it, if you are right). But he says it is not self-evident to us viatores, not in this life. So how are we to understand your claim ‘God is not just essentially, but necessarily unique’?

Is your point that there has to be some element of shared meaning as between 'good' in 'Socrates is good' and 'good' in 'God is good' and that this is ruled out by the radical uniqueness I am ascribing to God?

No, my point is that your proposition 'God is uniquely unique' is unintelligible in its intended sense (if we can even speak of an 'intended sense' here, but in its normal or standard dictionary sense does not carry the meaning you want. So it is either senseless or false, at least if Aquinas is right. What he says is quite clear!

>>No, my point is that your proposition 'God is uniquely unique' is unintelligible <<

Please explain why. Might be best to leave Thomas out of for the time being.

bed time. I shall pop round tomorrow.

Having slept on this I really do think we should include Thomas. He would say that your proposition ‘God is uniquely unique’ has two meanings. Under one the proposition is necessary, under the other it is contingent. The first meaning we cannot grasp in this life, the second we can.

So my questions to you are (1) do you agree with his distinction (2) if not, is your proposition necessary or contingent and (3) if you do, which of these readings is your intended one?

God is simple. This implies that "God is His own existence" q. 2, art 1. Respondeo. In this respect, God is unique: in every creature there is a composition of esse et essentia.

But to say that God is unique is not to say that God is the only one of the kind *simple being.* It is to say that God is uniquely unique, i.e., not unique like anything else that is unique, but unique in transcending the distinctions that apply to creatures such as instance-kind.

Presumably what you are worried about is whether the following propositions are intelligible to us in the present life:

*God is simple*
*God is uniquely unique*
*God is self-subsistent existence (esse)*

In one way they are. What Thomas writes is not gibberish. In another way they are not. The discursive intellect demands that the distinction between thing and property (and other distinctions) apply across the board, to anything we can talk or think about. So there is a sense in which it is nonsense to say that God is each of his attributes.

That is precisely my worry. Let sense 1 be the sense of the wayfarer, in which 'God' propositions are contingent. Let sense 2 be the sense of the blessed, in which the propositions are necessary.

Then my worry is that in sense 1 these propositions do not convey what they are intended to convey, but in sense 2 they are unintelligible (to us).

I was reading Mill last night, where he talks about the proposition 'Gold is yellow'. This will mean something different (he claims) to a child as to an adult scientist. In the child’s sense it is contingent. In the scientist’s sense (where gold is the substance with the relevant atomic and electronic structure and light-emitting properties) it is necessary.

Perhaps that distinction will help. But I am not sure it does. The true analogy would be a child trying to express what a scientist understands by ‘Gold is yellow’. But of course he can’t, on the supposition that he understands it as a child.

I don't know why you bring contingent and necessary into it.

The structure of *God is simple* prevents it from conveying what it is intended to convey. The structure of the proposition implies a distinction between individual and property. But if God is simple, then there can be no distinction between God and the property of being simple.

It may be that the viator is bound to tread the via negativa. When he utters the sentence he means that God is no way complex.

He is using language to POINT to a reality that he cannot express or SAY. Presumably he cannot SHOW it either since God as conceived by Aquinas et al is beyond both sense and intellect.

The trouble with an approach like that of Plantinga's is that it objectifies God, making him just another object.

The trouble with what I am saying, if trouble it is, is that it tapers off into mysticism.

>>I don't know why you bring contingent and necessary into it.
You are right, the distinction Aquinas speaks of is between propositions where ‘the predicate is included in the essence of the subject’ and propositions where this is not the case, so he is distinguishing analytic from non-analytic propositions. But then they are still different propositions, right?

>>The structure of *God is simple* prevents it from conveying what it is intended to convey.
Right.

>>The trouble with what I am saying, if trouble it is, is that it tapers off into mysticism.
Er, yes.

This reminds me of a discussion I had with a well known theologian. He said we should not ‘reify’ God, and I disingenuously asked what ‘reify’ meant. He replied ‘Making something that is not a thing, into a thing’. I then asked what ‘something that is not a thing’ was, and he changed the subject.

Theologians tend not to be logically sharp and so you got the better of him. But I would have shot back: you are begging the question. You are assuming the unrestricted validity of the Discursive Framework when God, who is absolute, cannot be located within that framework.

We then get a stand-off, rather than the theologian 'losing.'

For you, everything that has any reality at all must be a thing among things, some thing. And if not then nothing. Can you prove that? No.

Aquinas would agree that the only adequate knowledge of God is the mystical knowledge of God. Why are you biased against mysticism?

Aquinas' discussion of propositions, self-evidence, and inclusion is murky and unacceptable as it stands. It also seems to conflate propositions and truth makers. The simple God in whom essence and existence are one is not a proposition even if existence is included in his essence. So talk of analytic and synthetic cannot be applied to God.

Do you want to say that *God exists* is synthetic for the viator but analytic for one enjoying the visio beata? But there is no proposition for the latter.

>>Theologians tend not to be logically sharp and so you got the better of him.
He was a Marxist theologian to boot.

>>It also seems to conflate propositions and truth makers.
Quite.

>>Do you want to say that *God exists* is synthetic for the viator but analytic for one enjoying the visio beata? But there is no proposition for the latter.

Why no proposition for the latter?

>>you are begging the question. You are assuming the unrestricted validity of the Discursive Framework when God, who is absolute, cannot be located within that framework.<<
I wonder if we could park this for now, while I think about it. If one is begging the question, there has to be a question, right?

There is indeed a question. In one formulation: Is God a being among beings? You just assume, uncritically, an affirmative answer while ignoring an ancient and noble tradition (Plotinus, Aquinas . . .) in dissent.

>> Is God a being among beings?

This is ambiguous between God being a being in the physical world, and God being subject to quantification. Clearly there is no problem with the former. It is the latter that is the problem. If we are talking about 'absolutely everything that there is', totally unrestricted quantification, then is God included in that?

(1) If yes, then habeo propositum.

(2) If no, then God is not included within the range of everything that there is, which seems odd. Have we captured absolutely everything, have we got it all. ‘Yes we have, except we haven’t captured God. God is beyond all that’. ‘Ah right, so if we haven’t captured God, then we haven’t captured everything there is’. ‘Oh yes we have. We have captured everything there is, apart from God’. ‘OK, so why can’t we capture God too?’ ‘Because God is ineffable. We can’t capture him within the range of quantification’. ‘But then we haven’t captured everything there is, because we haven’t captured God’. ‘Oh yes we have’ etc.

You will probably object to the mini dialogue above because it is framed within the ‘discursive framework’, yes?

There is no ambiguity as I have defined 'being among beings.'

Again, you are just begging the question by assuming that everything that is real must be a being among beings.

I can’t find any definition in your post or in the comments of ‘being among beings’, although you do write ‘So God cannot be relative to anything or dependent on anything or immanent to anything as he would be if he were just one more being among beings’. Does that mean you are defining ‘being among beings’ as ‘relative to anything or dependent on anything or immanent to anything’? If so, how does that relate to the quantification point. Do you mean that anything within the domain of quantification is relative to something (the domain)? I take this to mean that God is outside the domain of quantification. So you are saying both that the domain is unrestricted, and that not everything lies within it.

>> Again, you are just begging the question by assuming that everything that is real must be a being among beings.
I am not assuming this. Note that you use the word ‘everything’ here, which is a quantifier. So omitting the ‘real’, which is otiose, you are saying that not everything is a being among beings. But then it’s still not clear what ‘being among beings’ means.

Definition here: http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2016/10/thinking-and-speaking-about-the-absolute-three-views.html

Your definition here:

to say that God is a being among beings is to say that God is no exception to the logical and ontological principles (pertaining to properties, property-possession, existence, modality, etc.) that govern anything that can be said to exist. It is to say that God fits the ontological or general-metaphysical schema that everything else fits. It is to say that God is ontologically on a par with other beings despite the attributes (omniscience, etc.) that set him apart from other beings and indeed render him unique among beings.

OK. So God is within the range of quantification after all. You claim that God is an exception to the logical and ontological principles that govern anything that can be said to exist. Therefore it is not the case that everything is bound by those logical and ontological principles, i.e. the range of the quantifier ‘everything’ can extend outside the domain of beings that fit the ontological or general-metaphysical schema that everything else apart from God fits.

I follow your clever little argument in the same way that I follow the clever arguments of Plantinga in Does God Have a Nature? and elsewhere.

But do you really think an argument like this is going to budge a guy like me, or to take a rather more distinguished personage, a guy like Maimonides?

You are begging the question by refusing to allow that God might lie beyond the range of the discursive intellect. You are refusing to allow that God might be absolute and transcendent in the way that Maimonides and Aquinas et al. thought he was.

You are also assuming that if I say: not everything lies within the DF, that my assertion is intended by me in the same sense it has within the DF. It may be a heuristic use of words that points us beyond that framework.

If I say: not everything is an object among objects over which one can quantify, you will respond: Then something, some object, is an object over which one cannot quantify.

But this is a contradiction only within the DF.

>>If I say: not everything is an object among objects over which one can quantify, you will respond: Then something, some object, is an object over which one cannot quantify. But this is a contradiction only within the DF.<<

Ok that sums up the disagreement well (if that is what it is), and I thought your reply would be that.

The problem is that this subverts all logic. For example, one recognised method of proof is the reductio. Make a set of assumptions, and if these lead to contradiction, then conclude that at least one assumption is false. But this method of argument is invalid there a certain things which aren’t really contradictions, or are ‘a contradiction only within the DF’.

You said earlier that I hadn’t responded to your argument, or were unable to. Well of course. Any logical argument whatsoever that I give you will ‘refute’ because it assumes the validity of the DF.

So I cannot possibly win against any of your arguments. I concede defeat.

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