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Thursday, February 18, 2010

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Dr Vallicella,

Since you appealed earlier to authority on the scholastic view, I feel justified in pointing out that I have already mentioned that for Aquinas and others there is a distinction between individual nature and supposit even in ordinary creatures. The fact that historically the distinction first appears in a theological context does not mean that it has no use in non-theological philosophy. Quite to the contrary. Pace Van Steenberghen, it comes up all the time in scholastic literature apart from its relevance to the Incarnation and the Trinity.

For this see, for instance, John Wippel's "The Metaphysical Thought of St Thomas Aquinas," 242-245 etc, where he shows that in purely philosophical terms, for Aquinas, there is a real and meaningful distinction between nature and supposit in (at least) all material things and (depending on how you read certain texts) for spiritual creatures as well.

If it helps any, I note that Mgr. Wippel received his doctorate under Van Steenberghen's direction, and that I myself studied under Mgr. Wippel, who is on my doctoral committee. For Thomistic metaphysics Wippel is certainly the greater authority.

Michael,

All you have done is refer me to Wippel. If you have an example, I would like to hear it. Not much is accomplished with links and citations. You have to get down to brass tacks. Give me a nice clear nontheological example in which there is a distinction between existing individual nature and metaphysical suppositum.

You also misrepresent the nature of the problem. You speak of a "distinction between nature and supposit." The problem, however, concerns the distinction between existing individual nature and supposit. Obviously there is a distinction between universal nature and supposit! If that is all you are saying, then you haven't understood the problem.

" Give me a nice clear nontheological example in which there is a distinction between existing individual nature and metaphysical suppositum."

As I've already said, for Aquinas the distinction holds in, at least, all corporeal things. "Distinction" does not mean "actual separation", so the fact that there is a distinction does not mean that there is a clear nontheological example in which an individual nature exists *without* a supposit or vice versa. But then matter and form are really distinct while being mutually correlative as well. It would be a serious mistake to say that just because matter is always informed and form is always enmattered, that there is no distinction between them!

If you want the quote from Wippel, on page 244 he gives the following: "If a thing is such that something else can 'happen' to it which is not included in the definition of its nature, that thing and its 'what it is', or that subject and its nature differ. This follows because the meaning or definition of nature includes only that which belongs to its specific essence. But an individual subject includes not only this but other things which 'happen' to that essence. For this reason the subject (supposit) is signified as a whole, and its nature or quiddity as a formal part. This point, of course, is consistent with Thomas's earlier remarks concerning nature and supposit in material entities. They are related as part and whole, and they differ from one another." This is pretty much what I've been saying all along. I'd quoted Aquinas to this effect earlier in these threads before looking up the Wippel, but you ignored it.

You say, "You also misrepresent the nature of the problem . . . Obviously there is a distinction between universal nature and supposit! If that is all you are saying, then you haven't understood the problem."

That's clearly not all I'm saying, because the whole discussion has revolved around the individual nature. It didn't seem necessary to specify this once again since you obviously were aware of it, and because I'd already said "individual nature and supposit" in my first paragraph.

With respect, it seems to me that throughout this discussion you've been dismissing me as a dogmatist who doesn't understand the problem, while at the same time failing to read my comments at all carefully and so either misrepresenting or totally ignoring my points. This is rather insulting. From my perspective, frankly, you're the one failing to understand, and this seems to be either because you're not paying enough attention or because you're unwilling to try to think outside your own conceptual paradigm. It's all very well to mock scholastic "mumbo-jumbo," mock its "analytic rigor," and make jokes about "substance abuse," but doing so rings pretty hollow when precise distinctions and definitions are offered and you either ignore or fail to grasp them.

Michael,

Let's analyze the quotation from Wippel sentence by sentence. Here it is:

>>If a thing is such that something else can 'happen' to it which is not included in the definition of its nature, that thing and its 'what it is', or that subject and its nature differ. This follows because the meaning or definition of nature includes only that which belongs to its specific essence. But an individual subject includes not only this but other things which 'happen' to that essence. For this reason the subject (supposit) is signified as a whole, and its nature or quiddity as a formal part. This point, of course, is consistent with Thomas's earlier remarks concerning nature and supposit in material entities. They are related as part and whole, and they differ from one another.<<

1. Subject and nature differ. Yes, of course.
2. The definition includes only what belongs to specific essence. Yes. E.g., Peter is a man. That he happens to be frowning does not enter into his definition.
3. There is more to an individual subject than its nature. No doubt.
4. The nature = quiddity is a formal part of the subject = supposit. No problem as long as 'part' is understood as 'proper part.'
5. (4) is consistent with earlier remarks of Aquinas. I don't doubt it.
6. Nature and supposit are related as part and whole, and they differ from one another. No problem at all.

As you can see, I have no objection to anything in the Wippel quotation. But the quotation does not relevantly bear upon the issue under discussion, and the fact that you adduce this quotation as if it somehow refutes what I say shows that you simply don't under the question, a question that I have clearly set forth in at least two posts by now.

Did you study the Klubertanz post? It could be clearer, but it is very clear, as Dale Tuggy comments at his blog. The question is not whether there is a distinction between Peter, say, and his nature. Of course there is. The question is whether there is a distinction between an existing individual nature together with all its accidental determinations (e.g. Peter seated here, frowning, having coffee poured on him by a careless waitreess, etc) and a metaphysical (as opposed to logical) suppositum. That is the question that you are not confronting. So, by adducing the Wippel passage, you commit a blatant ignoratio elenchi against me. Instead of attempting to refute what I said, you attempt to refute what I didn't say.

If you carefully study the last two substance and suppositum posts with an open mind, I think you will come to see what the issue is.

And by the way, it is blatantly obvious that a distinction does not imply that the items distinguished are "actually separated" as you put it. Why did you feel the necessity of pointing out something so obvious? if fear it is part of your ignoratio elenchi against me.

And finally, no one has yet met my challenge issued in above in the second entry in this comment thread.

"The question is not whether there is a distinction between Peter, say, and his nature. Of course there is. The question is whether there is a distinction between an existing individual nature together with all its accidental determinations (e.g. Peter seated here, frowning, having coffee poured on him by a careless waitreess, etc) and a metaphysical (as opposed to logical) suppositum. That is the question that you are not confronting."

Yes, it's true that I have not been confronting that question, and that I have not realized that that is the question. It's a question that I don't know any scholastic ever asked. It's a question that, given the framework of broadly Aristotelian scholastic metaphysics, doesn't make any sense.

The whole point of distinguishing between accidental and essential properties is that a given subject can exist without the former but not without the latter. Since the subject Peter can exist without any of the accidents you mention (sitting, frowning, stained), they must be distinct from him. *Him* - not simply his individual nature. It simply does not occur to the scholastics to ask whether what Peter *is* as a subject is a mereological whole whose parts are essential properties + accidental properties. Of course he isn't. Otherwise a new subject would come into being whenever an accidental property was gained or lost, and Peter standing, smiling, and clean, would not be identical with Peter sitting, frowning, and stained. But Peter *qua subject* is so identical. Here:

The Subject, Peter=A.
Peter’s humanity=b.
All Peter’s current accidents, (x, y, z)=c.
Accidents (~x, ~y, ~z) which Peter can, or did, or will have but doesn’t=d.

So: ~(A=b).

But also: ~(A=b+c). Otherwise in (A=b+c) and (A=b+d), it would be the case that ~(A=A). But (A=A), ergo, etc.

Michael,

You obviously don't understand what the discssion is about, which is rather strange. Maybe my further posts will help.

Hi Michael,

'Individual nature' does not mean the nature in an individual. As you point out, Aquinas would say that is a part of the whole individual. In this context, 'individual nature' means the individual's nature plus whatever other relevant individuating factors make the individual in question the particular individual that it is.

The problem that the Incarnation gives rise to is that Jesus has all those factors too -- e.g., he has a nature, he has a particular lump of matter, etc. etc. -- so the question is: why isn't that (i.e., Christ's human nature plus the relevant individuating factors) a distinct individual hypostasis, just as it is for Socrates?

At a general level, we can draw any number of distinctions between X and Y within ordinary human persons. But assuming that Christ is fully rather than partly human, all that stuff will be there in him too. Yet we somehow don't get a discrete human person in Christ, whereas we do get a discrete human person in every other case.

(Btw, good to see you here. We should have coffee someday; I didn't realize you were in the DC area too.)

Lukas' reply would be:
because The God of Son and Jesus share the relevant individuating factors, in particular that factor which determins the numerical identity of a suppositum, that is the suppositality. The number of supposita = the number of suppositalities, there is 1 person because there is 1 suppositality
just as in the triune God there are 3 persons because there are 3 suppositalities.
Socrates is 1 suppositum (person) not because he has 1 individual nature but because he has 1 suppositality.
Jesus is 1 suppositum (person) not because of his natures (which in fact are 2) but because he has 1 suppositality (borrowed from the Second Divine Person; or better it's the Son of God who contingently assumed the human nature and made his suppositality available for Jesus)
The problem I see here is that it's hard to understand in which sense Jesus is fully human if one of his constituents (namely his suppositality) is borrowed by the Son.
Maybe I too don't see Bill's point :)
regards

JT Paasch,

You understand the problem! (I often ask myself why I allow comments at all given how uncomprehending many of them are.) But then I get comments like yours which show that there is some value in having the ComBox open.

As you say: "why isn't that (i.e., Christ's human nature plus the relevant individuating factors) a distinct individual hypostasis, just as it is for Socrates?" That is one form the question I am posing takes.

The scholastic answer of Novak and Co. is that in this one case we have a primary substance which is not a suppositum. This is why they distinguish between primary substance (existing individual nature) and suppositum.

Now the challenge that I put to Sullivan that he didn't understand and didn't answer is simply this: Give me some nontheological examples which show the necessity of making the primary substance - suppositum distinction. If such an example can be given, then the distinction in question has independent warrant and can be used to explain the Incarnation in a non ad hoc way.

So I'll ask you: can you think of a nontheological example of the distinction in question?

And if you can't, do you see that an explanation of the Incarnation in terms of it is ad hoc?

Aresh -- You say, 'The problem I see here is that it's hard to understand in which sense Jesus is fully human if one of his constituents (namely his suppositality) is borrowed by the Son'. That's interesting. Could you say a bit more about that?

Bill -- I can't think of any non theological examples myself, but then again, I think the distinction is ad hoc too.

JT Paasch,
I was just wondering what Novak (or maybe Sullivan) would say about "Jesus is fully human" or "fully man".
I assume that if "A is fully B" makes sense then it must also make sense "A is partially B".
For example one could be half divine and half human, so partly human and partly divine, if he had a human body but divine nature, or human nature but divine powers. If it so, what would be like to be "fully divine" and "fully human"? Maybe to have 2 natures, both the divine and the human. Fair enough, but how do these natures play their role in one and the same person at the same time? I would say that if a person is human then an ontological part or constituent of that parson, namely his human nature, determins a set of predicates necessarily true of him as of all other human persons (predicates establishing what a human necessarily is and is not, can or can not). That's precisely the role played by a given nature in a given suppositum.
Now Sullivan (in another post) says the "difference between Jesus and John the Baptist is not that John the Baptist has some special supposit-making property which Jesus lacks, but rather that John's human nature (and his other human properties) are all there is to John, and that when John was conceived a new person was conceived; whereas for Jesus the human nature (and related properties) are not all that there is to the person Jesus, and that when Jesus was conceived no new person was conceived, but rather an already-existing person was conceived."
Even though in this passage the divine nature seems to be an additional feature of Jesus, which doesn't compromise the role played by his human nature, there is something true of Jesus (to be conceived as "an already-existing person")
that CAN'T be true of any other human persons. But if what one can or can not, must be determined by his nature,
than in this case Jesus is not determined by his human nature, but by his divine nature. The 2 natures don't play their role at the same time. To put it differently, the human nature is something that even though it plays a role, it can be "switched on/off" thanks to Jesus's divine nature. Thus it would be preferable to explicitelly say that the human nature in Jesus instead of hsi divine nature is the additional feature.
But that triggers some questions of course:
- How can be Jesus "fully human" or "fully man" if he can do things that human beings can't because of their nature?
- Which conceptual distinctions within the supposita ontology guarantee that some predicates are true of Jesus because they are determined by his human nature and nothing else ("full man") instead of being just contingently determined by a divine nature which has provisionally assumed a human appearance and other accidental properties ("half man") ?
regards

Maybe this is too simplistic, but how about this: to be a mere part of a larger suppositum is not what it means to be a human person. Oh I don't know, but suppose I were hooked up to provide some of the functionality for a big cybernetic machine. Would I then be fully human?

This sort of dorm-room speculation is probably the stuff that some would disagree with, but I just mean to illuminate the basic idea. Would this be something you're getting at? Or am I way off the mark?

Regarding "fullu human": Jesus is fully human and fully divine. Jesus is not PART of the suppoosit, he IS one.

Being fully X means having the full X-ity, being the subject of X-ity in the full sense. Jesus is fully human because he has everything that is there to human nature.

Being "fully human" does not imply that one cannot do things that other human beings cannot because of their nature. Being fully human implies that one can do everything that human being can due to their nature. "Full man" does not mean "man and nothing else". It means "nothing short of a man".

One belated comment on "existing nature".

I have a problem with this expression, suddenly so dwelled-upon by Bill. We all agree on the distinction between universal and individual nature. We agree that the problem concerns the individual nature and its distinction from the suppositum.

But now Bill seems to have made a short circuit as to equate "individual nature" with "existing nature" and "existing nature" with "nature+all the accidents". This, strictly speaking, does not make sense.

First of all, a nature (and I am always speaking of the INDIVIDUAL nature, lest there be any misunderstanding), taken strictly as a nature, cannot be "existing". What exists is a being. A nature is not a being, it is a principle of being. A being is "id quod est", "that which is/exists", whereas the nature is "id quo (aliquid) est", "that in virtue of which (something) is". Cf. Aquinas, De esse et essentia 1,8 "essentia dicitur quod per eam et in ea ens habet esse". So when esse or existentia is ascribed to a nature, "nature" is taken in a different sense - namely in the sense of an individual possessing that nature. Or "existing nature" can mean "the nature in an existing individual".

Second, the individuality of a nature is not "made" by received existence or esse (or at least not evidently so, pace the existential Thomists, so we cannot assume it as a platitude) - as though "nature" without qualification were always universal, whereas "individual nature" could only be thought of as existing. Clearly actual existence or esse and individuality are different things: we can think of possible individuals (at least Aquinas certainly does). So the important difference is not between universal nature and existing nature, but between universal nature and individual nature, irrespective of existence on both sides.

Third, the individuality of a nature has nothing to do with the accidents of the individual bearing that nature. Accidents cannot be the principle of individuation, since in order to be capable of receiving accidental forms, a being must already (logical priority) be individual, because it must already exist and only individuals can exist. So there must be some individuating principle within the essence or nature, an individual difference - be it Aquinas's materia signata, or whatever.

Hence it makes sense to speak of an individual nature as such, with abstraction both from existence AND from individual accidents. (In truth, the accidents are beings in their own right, with their own respective essences and individualities).

So the only relevant question that makes sense is: what is the motivation behind the distinction between thus conceived individual nature and the supposit? And the answer is very simple: the motivation is that a supposit is the subject of the nature. The supposit is a subject, the nature is not a subject but is in a subject. The subject is that which is and is capable of receving accidental forms, whereas the nature is that in virtue of which the supposit is and is capable of receiving accidental forms. The supposit and not the nature is that which operates (walks, eats, is born, dies). Socrates is eating, his individual human nature is not eating. Etc. Once recognised, this disctinction cannot be plausibly denied.

Now it is possible to say along with the Scotists and Michael Sullivan that in created beings the supposit does not really add anything to the individual nature, that that which distinguishes a supposit from its individual nature is something merely negative, the fact that the nature is not received in any other subject. If we say so, then in created beings that have just one nature the nature will be really identical to the supposit.

But even then the Scotists would claim that there is at least a semantic distinction in a "mode of signification" (modus significandi), which forbids us from transfering the predicates from one to another. "Socrates" and "Socrates' humanity" signify ultimately the same thing, but the mode of signification is such that in the latter case the thing signified is signified with exclusion of its subsistence/suppositality (which is, according to our assumption, something purely negative); that is, with exclusion of its capability to serve as a subject. For that reason we cannot say that "Socrates' humanity is sitting" even though Socrates is sitting, for by the subject expression in that sentence Socrates is singified in a way that excludes true predication of "sitting", that is, "subject of the accidental form of sitting" of him.

At any rate, regardless of whether the Scotists are right or wrong, the conceptual distinction between a supposit and an individual nature is as clear as something can be; and there is no manifest way how being a supposit is entailed in being an individual nature or vice versa. Given that, it is a gratis assumption that any individual nature is a supposit. The burden of proof lies on those who wish to employ such an assumption, not on those who reject it. Quod gratis affirmatur gratis negatur. The charge of "ad hocness" of the distinction seems to be just an illegitimate attempt to shift the burden of proof on those who deny the truly "ad hoc" assumption that any individual nature necessarily is a supposit.

Put in other words: The Trinitarians are not obliged to prove anything. They just present and explain their doctrine. If anyone claims that the doctrine is inconsistent, it is his task to produce arguments. If he needs to assume in his arguments that any individual nature is a supposit, it is his task to prove it; this assumption cannot be justified by merely saying that the distinction between nature and supposit is "ad hoc". Pointing to the fact that in all things met so far there was just one nature in a given supposit is not sufficient: this is a mere inductive argument which can only yield probalbe conclusion, and even its "probabilistic" force fails when we are dealign with such exceptional cases as God and Christ. "All substances so far met are material, so God is material as well"??? What is needed is an a priori deductive argument. Without it, the doctrine of Trinity cannot be said to be evidently inconsistent, because the equivalence of the concepts of supposit and individual nature has not yet been brought to evidence.

Lukas,

You know I agree with you. Yet, I'd like to be more clear on several points.

You say:

"Pointing to the fact that in all things met so far there was just one nature in a given supposit is not sufficient: this is a mere inductive argument which can only yield probable conclusion, and even its "probabilistic" force fails when we are dealing with such exceptional cases as God and Christ."

Now, I ask myself, and I ask you:
-- How do we know, in the given case, how many supposits the substantial thing has? (For instance, how do we know that all known animals have, individually, exactly one supposit?)
-- How do we know, in the given case, how many natures the supposit has?
-- Is there some a priori argument for the conclusion that God cannot have infinitely many (or even all) natures?
(For instance, is there some a priori argument against the version of Christological pantheism which claims that the Son is all people and all things? Indeed, there were such hypotheses in the history of theology.)

Probably, my questions are silly, but I would like to know your answers. Even brief ones are enough, of course!

Lukas,

Here's another issue concerning the probabilistic case for the TRUTH of the Trinity doctrine and of the Incarnation doctrine. More precisely, the issue is a tentative argument of mine for the conclusion that there is a severe epistemological limit for apologetics pursuing Cartesian certainty: more precisely, traditional meta-theory of the Trinity (and of the Incarnation) seems inconsistent with EVIDENT non-zero probability of orthodox Christianity.

This comment is lenghty, but at the same time construed in such a way that it requires only a brief answer of yours.

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Firstly consider these statements:

I. The Trinity doctrine is consistent.
II. The Trinity doctrine cannot be evidently consistent (at least to humans in this life and without special revelation).
III. The Trinity doctrine cannot be evidently not analytically false (at least to humans in this life and without special revelation).
IV. The Trinity doctrine cannot be evidently true (at least to humans in this life and without special revelation).

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The scholastics standardly embrace (I)-(IV). Even the RC church seems to do so.

Cf. your comment:
http://maverickphilosopher.typepad.com/maverick_philosopher/2010/02/materialist-mysterianism.html?cid=6a010535ce1cf6970c0120a893a34b970b#comment-6a010535ce1cf6970c0120a893a34b970b

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I take it the same could be said about the Incarnation doctrine.

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Now, consider the following argument from (II) to (III) and (IV), but also to the claim that, on the standard, modern, philosophical probability, it cannot be evident that the Trinity doctrine (or any form of Christianity entailing the Trinity doctrine) has non-0 probability.

To reach a unified terminology, I will henceforth say “the Trinity proposition” instead of “the Trinity doctrine.”

The argument runs as follows.

1. If some proposition cannot be evidently consistent, then the proposition cannot be evidently not analytically false. (Premise.)

Why (1)?

For if some proposition can be evidently not analytically false, then the proposition can be evidently consistent. For, evidently, every not analytically false proposition is consistent. (Denied by some Aristotelians.)

That every not analytically false proposition is consistent is embraced by many modern philosophers. (But denied by those Aristotelians according to whom it is not enough for a proposition not to be analytically false in order to be consistent.)

In brief, it is evident that every not analytically false proposition is consistent. Thus (arguably), because of that, if some proposition can be evidently not analytically false, then the proposition can be evidently consistent. Which entails (1).

2. The Trinity proposition cannot be evidently consistent. (Premise. II above.)

So,

3. The Trinity proposition cannot be evidently not analytically false. (From 1 a 2. III above.).

4. If some some proposition cannot be evidently not analytically false, then the proposition cannot be evidently true. (Premise.)

Why?

For if some proposition can be evidently true, then the proposition can be evidently not false. And if it can be evidently not false, then it can be evidently not analytically false. For, evidently, every true proposition is not false and every not false proposition is not analytically false.

E. g., if scholastic theism cannot be evidently not analytically false, then scholastic theism cannot be evidently true. For if scholastic theism can be evidently true (say, the some scholastic theistic proof), then scholastic theism can be evidently not false. And if scholastic theism can be evidently not false, then classical theism can be evidently not analytically false.

That every true proposition is not false and that every not false proposition is not analytically false is embraced

by most philosophers.

In brief, it is evident that every true proposition is not false and that every not false proposition is not analytically false. Thus, because of that, if some proposition can be evidently true, then it can be evidently not analytically false. Which entails (4).

5. The Trinity proposition cannot be evidently true. (From 3 and 4. III above.)

6. If some proposition cannot be evidently not analytically false, then the proposition cannot evidently have non-0 probability. (Premise.)

Why?

For if some proposition can evidently have non-0 probability, then the proposition can be evidently not analytically false -- for evidently, every proposition with non-0 probability is not analytically false. Why? Because, evidently, every analytically false proposition has 0 probability.

That every analytically false proposition (objectively) has 0 probability is embraced by the standard, modern, philosophical theory of probability.

In brief, it is evident that every analytically false proposition has 0 probability. Thus, because of that, if some proposition can evidently have non-0 probability, then it can be evident that the proposition is not analytically false. Which entails (6).

7. The Trinity proposition cannot evidently have non-0 probability. (From 3 and 6).

8. If some proposition cannot evidently have non-0 probability, then any proposition entailing the first proposition cannot evidently have non-0 probability. Premise.

Why?

For if some proposition entailing some other proposition can evidently have non-0 probability, then

the entailed proposition can evidently have non-0 probability. Why? Because, evidently, every entailing proposition has probability equal to or lower than the probability of the entailed proposition.

That every entailing proposition has probability equal to or lower than the probability of the entailed proposition is embraced by the standard, modern, philosophical theory of probability.

In brief, it is evident that every proposition entailing other proposition has probability equal to or lower to the probability of the entailed proposition. Thus, because of that, if some proposition can evidently have non-0 probability, then it can be evident that every proposition entailing it has non-0 probability. Which entails (8).

9. The orthodox Christian creed includes the Trinity proposition as a conjunct or entails it in some other way. (Premise.)

10. The orthodox Christian creed entails the Trinity proposition. (From 9.)

11. The orthodox Christian creed cannot evidently have non-0 probability. (From 8 and 10.)

Thus,

12. If (2) or (3), then (11). (From 1-11.)

Thus,

13. If it is evident (to some human in his life and without special revelation) that the orthodox creed has non-0 probability, then (2) or (3) is false. (From 12 and the premise that is conceptually entails can.)

Which means that, paradoxically, if someone succeeds in reaching the evidence (clear and distinct grasp/intuition) that orthodox Christianity or the Trinity doctrine has non-0 probability, then what seems to be the traditional doctrine about the Trinity doctrine (that is, II and III) is false.

Yet,

14. According to the scholastics, it is evident (to some human in this life and without special revelation) that the orthodox Christian creed has non-0 probability. (Premise.) Cf. Joseph Gredt, Die aristotelisch-thomistische Philosophie, 1935, par 566f. (Czech translation 2009, ibid.)

Thus,

15. If the scholastics are right, then (2) or (3) is false. (From 13 and 14.)

-------------------

If one dislikes (11), (13) or (15), a way out is to doubt, refute or disambiguate some of the following statements:

(evidently) every not analytically false proposition is consistent;
(evidently) every analytically false proposition has 0 probability;
(evidently) every entailing proposition has probability equal to or lower than the probability of the entailed proposition;
according to the scholastics, it is evident (to some human in this life and without special revelation) that the orthodox Christian creed has non-0 probability.

Now, my question is: which strategy would you prefer?; is there some other viable way out?

Hi Vlasta,

I think that the problem lies in the equivocation of "evidently". Either you mean just internal (internalist) evidence, or you mean all kinds of evidence, for example the evidence yielded by an absolutely reliable authority. This is the certainty of faith, clasically.

What is denied in case of the Trinity is mere internal evidence of its consistency and truth. This does not rule out the possibility that the truth (and hence consistence) of the Trinity proposition can be ascertained on the basis of a testimony of an evidently very reliable authority. In fact, it seems to me that the Trinity proposition, just like any de fide proposition, has 100% epistemic probability, but not due its internal evidence, but due to the evidence of the fact that it has been revealed by an absolutly reliabile epistemic authority.

Arguing in form, the premises up to (6) are acceptable only in the sense of "internal" evidence, whereas (6) is only true in the sense of any kind of evidence being considered. So the argument breaks up at (6).

Thanks, Lukas!

I do mean any kind of evidence.

----------------

"... the truth (and hence consistence) of the Trinity proposition can be ascertained on the basis of a testimony ..."

Yet, cf. Gredt, pars 566-567, on faith: he seems to imply that it is not evident (in any way) that the content of faith is true; it is only evident (by the way of the available evidences of testimony of the Church) that the content of faith is probably true. He also seems to suggest that the available evidence of testimony does not make the content 100% probable.

(Of course, IF God revealed that X, then, with 100% probability, X is true. However, whether God revealed that X is attended by the evidences of testimony, and these evidences do not seem to guarantee, with 100% probability, that God revealed that X. One could also say: both God and the Church are infallible, yet, only God guarantees with 100% probability. In other words, any revelation God would do is true. Any de fide proclamation the church would do is true. At the same time: any statement X has 100% probability given that God revelaed that X; but it is not true that any statement X has 100% probability given that the Church proclaimed de fide that X.

B. C. Butler in his classical Catholic response to the Anglican G. Salmon defends the thesis, which seems to be embraced also by the Cardinal J. H. Newman, that the Church's infallibility is probable but not certain on the converging available evidences -- cf. chs. 2-3 of http://www.bringyou.to/apologetics/num11.htm )


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"What is denied in case of the Trinity is mere internal evidence of its consistency and truth."

Is there some evidence for this in the Magisterium and in the scholastic texts?

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Could I ask for a reply to my Wednesday, February 24, 2010 at 04:30 AM comment above?

Thank you very much!

A corrigendum

-- If you look at ch. 2 of Butler, it seems that BEFORE the de fide proclamation of the church's infallibility (Vatican I), Newman viewed the church's infallibility as epistemically merely probable and not certain. Yet, esp. looking at ch. 3, it would seem that after the proclamation he viewed it as "certain" (but in which sense?).

-- Gredt does seem to suggest in par 566 that the available evidence of testimony of the Church does not make the content of faith 100% probable. Yet, in par 568 he seems to implicitly suggest it does.

-- Anyway, after consulting Cardinal Dulles's History of Apologetics -- section on Baroque scholasticism (your favourite period), pp. 150ff, available at Google Books -- Gregory of Valencia, Suarez, Caspar Hurtado, and Banez seem to me to concur that it does not.

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