« Fetal Rights and the Death Penalty: Consistent or Inconsistent? | Main | Is Art Political? »

Sunday, June 26, 2022

Comments

Feed You can follow this conversation by subscribing to the comment feed for this post.

Hello Bill, thank you for answering my question. As someone who is very influenced by the likes of Lloyd Gerson I'm appalled by the way contemporary Platonism is classified. I fear that due to the rise of Aristotelianism, and by extension thereby Platonism, in contemporary philosophy, much time will be wasted on the simple definition of words.
I have no follow-up question, only much to think about.

Dominik,

Did you find what I said clear?

Which works of Gerson have you read, and which would you recommend?

Does Gerson in any of his works comment on either of the two books on Plato by J. N. Findlay? I am a student of the latter.

Does Gerson comment specifically in any of his works on the use of 'platonism' in contemporary analytic philosophy?

Bill,

Given the Doctrine of Divine Simplicity that we find in Aristotelianism, it seems it runs into a problem when one looks at the Principle of the Indiscerniblility of Identicals. If essence and essence are identical in God, and God contains no potentials, then God as the first thing would have no way of conceiving a difference between them. If God has no way of differentiating between them, since it would violate P.I.I. and He cannot violate logical principles, then the Aristotelian DDS would seem to leave God impotent. Am I missing something?

Richard,

Well, that's interesting. You seem to be arguing as follows:

1.In God, essence = existence. So:
2. God cannot discern a difference between his essence and his existence. So:
3. God violates Indisc. Id.

Is that your argument? If yes, it's a non sequitur. How did you get from (2) to (3)?

I would instead say this:
1. In God, essence = existence. So:
2. God cannot discern a difference between His essence and His existence. So:
3. God cannot individuate existence and essence, as they have no potential to be distinguished from one another.

Bill, I will reply via mail as soon as possible.

As for Richards argument, I don't see where God's impotence is supposed to come from. Of course, his whatness and thatness are indistinguishable in himself, but why should it follow that he thereby were incapable of knowing it to be different in the objects dependent upon him? In fact if existence is truly the fullest property, containing every other property actualizable in possible individuals, wouldn't knowledge of himself give God knowledge of the difference between essence and existence in every being that is not himself?

I actually don't like arguing in this territory since existence is a barely visible limit case, but I don't quite understand what exactly the problem is.

Dominik and Richard,

Richard's second comment suggests to me the following question: if God is simple, how can he be aware of himself? If God is aware of himself, then there is in God subject-object duality. God as subject is aware of himself as object. So if God is self-aware, then he is not simple. On the other hand, if God is not self-aware, then he is not omniscient, for then he does not know himself.

Very interesting, thank you. I don't mean to suggest that there's an answer to the question I'm aware of, but you yourself meditated upon similar topics numerous times. In the ultimate, the object-subject distinction (among many others) must vanish on pain of an unaccounted for complexity. We have an aporia here, though I prefer the DDS solution due to explanatory power, even though it entails apophatic theology.

The minimal complexity Plotinus accused Aristotle of in conceiving of pure actuality as Thinking thinking about thinking led him to remove mental activity from the One and positing every such acts in the demiurge. However nonetheless, as you conclude in your book, the ultimate must at least be minimally mind-like. And even though it's the demiurge that is the Intellect, it's emanated by the One, which suggests that it has to have some kind of mental nature. This however will eventually only be understood if we understand the ultimate in itself.

In conclusion I don't think there's an answer to Richard that will show the argument to be a non-issue. However the idea that the lack of subject-object distinction were problematic would only be given if God's mind were in some way comparable to ours. He's no individual though, but a nature. And I don't see a reason to assume why the distinction is a logical or metaphysical necessity

Dominik,

You definitely have a head for metaphysics. Du bist ein Luftmensch. Ich auch!

>>The minimal complexity Plotinus accused Aristotle of in conceiving of pure actuality as Thinking thinking about thinking led him to remove mental activity from the One and positing every such acts in the demiurge.<<

Where does Plotinus say this in the Enneads? I would like to write a separate post on this.

>>He's no individual though, but a nature. And I don't see a reason to assume why the distinction is a logical or metaphysical necessity.<<

Well, God is not an individual among individuals, but he is an individual, or rather THE individual, the absolute individual who is also identically a nature, the divine nature. Of course, this is unintelligible to the discursive intellect except as a limit which the discursive intellect approaches but never reaches -- like an asymptote in mathematics.

I suppose you could say that God's self-awareness is non-dual. It is awareness of itself which is (identically) itself. But this too is unintelligible to the discursive intellect except as a limit toward which we grope.

On a doctrine of analogy, God's mind would have to be in some ways comparable to ours, nicht wahr? Have you read Erich Pryzswara's ANALOGIA ENTIS? Not very helpful!

Bill and Dominik,
As per your comment just after my last, Dominik: We must have a general distinction before we get to specific distinctions re: this or that contingent creature. Those creatures cannot supply their own sense of the distinction, since their existence is dependent upon it being made first. If it is knowledge of God as Himself that supplies the distinction, then it seems to simply beg the question for God to supply this distinction since it is not in Him.

It should also be clear that God relating to Himself is something that He cannot do, as God's activity is exhausted by terms like omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, and these terms deal only with contingency as they are defined. So I don't know if we've reached an aporia so much as we have reached logical contradiction.

Bill,

I will answer the rest of your comments via mail, I have to check whether the points about Plotinus have been made by Lloyd Gerson or Etienne Gilson.
The point about limit cases is essential to this debate. I agree with the points you made. I'm not familiar with the book.

Richard,

logical contradiction is a strong term and definitely not something that can be established by your points. The details about the omni-attributes, although it's understandable what they're conveying, aren't clear at all. Just consider the debate about knowledge of contingencies in God, what can be intrinsic, what extrinsic and what not. Or the manifold different definitions about omnipotence.

Note just for the sake of it, that strictly speaking we don't admit of the distinction between God, God's acts and God's knowledge of himself, adherents to DDS conclude that this distinctionless result is necessary in every ultimate being, just so you know where we're actually standing. I'd therefore model what the omni-attributes amount to, to make it compatible with the afromentioned conclusion, not the other way around.

To answer your points I'd simply construct the story that God by knowing himself as Existence knowledge all the ways in which existence can be limited in particulars (though not that he knows the non-existent partuculars). He knows by them being created that they are not him, thus the limits of the beings, their nature, and their actual dependence upon him, their existence, seem to be things that God can know must be distinct in everything that isn't him. I don't see how this would be problematic if he knows of no such distinction in himself. In fact his knowledge of such distinction by introspection seems to entail his own dependence upon something he owes his existence to.

The comments to this entry are closed.

My Photo
Blog powered by Typepad
Member since 10/2008

Categories

Categories

September 2022

Sun Mon Tue Wed Thu Fri Sat
        1 2 3
4 5 6 7 8 9 10
11 12 13 14 15 16 17
18 19 20 21 22 23 24
25 26 27 28 29 30  
Blog powered by Typepad