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Saturday, June 07, 2014


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David Bentley Hart's new book 'The Experience of God' contains an outstanding (though brief) exposition/defense of divine simplicity. If you're interested in interacting with various understandings/critiques of simplicity, this blog is a good source and interacts with some of your own writing: http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2010/03/07/could-a-maverick-go-east/

Thank you very much.

I read that post years ago and even began a response to it. But I never finished it.

In line with Perry Robinson's "eastern" critique you might want to check out David Bradshaw _Aristotle East and West: Metaphysics and the Division of Christendom_ (Cambridge University Press, 2007).

A section interacting with John Duns Scotus' view of divine simplicity would be nice since the current entry largely interacts with Aquinas' conception and those more influenced by the Thomistic understanding of the doctrine (e.g. Barry Miller). There's a section on Scotus' views in Richard Cross, _Duns Scotus on God_ (Ashgate, 2005) and Lee Faber and Michael Sullivan have some good posts on Scotus and Divine simplicity at http://lyfaber.blogspot.com/ (Scroll down and on the right side under "Fundamental Positions of Duns Scotus" there are several posts).

Dr. Vallicella,

You might take a look at James Dolezal's book, God Without Parts: Divine Simplicity and the Metaphysics of God’s Absoluteness (Pickwick, 2011).

Thanks, gentlemen.

Dolezal's books is very good. I've read most of it and the title will be added to the bibliography.

It is true that the present SEP entry is slanted toward Aquinas. I'll think about that and try to get hold of Bradshaw and Cross.

Perhaps you could include Duns Scotus' views on the formal distinction to explain the attributes of God and Divine simplicity.

Here are some articles of the predominantly Scotist website, The Smithy:

Divine simplicity and the formal distinction part one: http://lyfaber.blogspot.com/2010/02/divine-simplicity-and-formal.html

Part two: http://lyfaber.blogspot.com/2010/02/divine-simplicity-and-formal_20.html

There's also an ongoing polemical article reviewing Feser's Scholastic Metaphysics, there's a very clear explanation of the formal distinction in it.


Antoine Vos' book on Duns Scotus gives a great explanation of divine simplicity and the formal distinction.

I apologize if this is not what you mean by modern scholarship. I have read your excellent article on divine simplicity several times, but I am always slightly disappointed that Duns Scotus, who spilled much ink on divine simplicity, is ignored. In addition it would show that there's more to the middle ages on divine simplicity than Thomas Aquinas.

Thanks, Daniel. That is helpful, and I probably should at least make mention of Scotus.

Your name sounds familiar. Did we meet at Biola in March?

Here's a footnote from James E. Dolezal's excellent *God without Parts,* p. 29, n. 95:

It is worth observing that one discovers the same sort of ontological univocism in the thought of Duns Scotus and his followers. To this extent the Scotist version of the DDS appears open to many of the criticisms surveyed in the previous section. [Plantinga-style objections.]For Thomas Aquinas's denial of univocity between God and cteatures see ST I.13.5

Another source is Steven J. Duby, "Divine Simplicity, Divine Freedom, and the Contingency of Creation: Dogmatic Responses to Some Analytic Questions" Journal of Reformed Theology 6.2 (2012): 115–142.
Here is the abstract: http://booksandjournals.brillonline.com/content/journals/10.1163/15697312-12341234

The author just finished his dissertation at St. Mary's College, the University of St. Andrews (Scotland) on divine simplicity as well.

In your divine simplicity article you draw a helpful comparison toward the end between trope theory and divine simplicity. However it left me wondering in what way the claim that

1) God is simple

differs from the claim that

2) God is just a trope of divinty?

Dr. Vallicella,

Since Dolezal's book has come up, you might want to take a look at his recent article in defense of the compatibility of the DDS with the doctrine of the Trinity:

Dolezal, J. E. (2014), Trinity, Simplicity and the Status of God's Personal Relations. International Journal of Systematic Theology, 16: 79–98. http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1111/ijst.12016/abstract


Glad to see you are still around. I wrote a separate post in response to you.


Very helpful. Thanks. I'll add that item to the bibliography.



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