“For wherever we have a composite thing, a thing made up of parts, we have something that requires a cause of its own, a cause which accounts for how the parts get together.”
>>>Assertion. Is this an empirical observation? Does a hive of bees require another hive or another supra-bee to collect them together? If it is an empirical observation of things in-ousia, is this assumption not asserting the very thing it denies, that God is huperousia, and thus not capable of being known in essence or spoken about in essence? If knowledge is one thing for me and another for God, why would causality for me and causality for God be the same?
“This is obviously true of the ordinary things of our experience. For example, a given chair exists only because there is something (a carpenter, or a machine) that assembled the legs, seat, etc. into a chair. And the chair continues to exist only insofar as certain combining factors — such as the tackiness of glue or friction between screw threads — continue to operate. The point applies also to things whose composition is less crudely mechanical. A water molecule depends for its existence on the oxygen and hydrogen atoms that make it up together with the principles of covalent bonding.”
>>>This definitely seems to be where this is heading.
“But it is true at deeper metaphysical levels as well. Any changeable thing, the Aristotelian argues, must be composed of actuality and potentiality. For example, an ice cube melts because it has a potential to take on a liquid form that is actualized by the heat in the surrounding air.”
>>>But an ice cube is in-ousia.
“In any contingent thing, the Thomist argues, its essence is distinct from its existence. That is why a tree (say) can come into existence and go out of existence, since what it is to be a tree – a tree’s essence or nature — by itself entails nothing one way or the other about whether it exists. Whether it is, you might say, is distinct from what it is. Actuality and potentiality, existence and essence are thus components of any thing that has both — even if they are metaphysical components rather than material components — and their composition entails that such a thing depends on a cause, on something that actualizes its potentials, that imparts existence to its essence.”
>>>But a tree is in-ousia.
“So, whatever the ultimate source, cause, or explanation of things is — again, refrain from calling it “God” if you want — it cannot be made up of material components”
>>>I don’t believe in ADS and I don’t believe that Yahweh is made up of material components.
“or actuality and potentiality”
>>>I don’t believe that there are any historical existent potentialities in Yahweh.
“or existence and essence”
>>>I believe that existence and essence are distinct in Yahweh, not chronologically, but logically.
“Nor can it be composed of any other metaphysical parts — genus and difference, substance and properties, or what have you.”
>>>This is a conflation between the genus of being and the genus of epistemology. Genus is not a historical thing. Genus pertains to epistemology. That is genus informs us to the meaning of a historical thing. Genus is not a thing or a part of a thing.
“It cannot be an instance of a genus, for then it will require some aspect or other that differentiates it from other instances of that genus, and that entails having metaphysical parts.”
>>>You keep assuming that a Genus is some historical entity or being. The way you are using the word “require” does not pertain to the order of being but to epistemology. Yes, in order for a person to know the difference in meaning between the Father and the Son, the Father’s hypostatic property of supremacy and independence will need to be known.
“It cannot instantiate properties since that would, again, require some differentiating feature that sets it apart from other instances of those properties”
>>>There are no other instances of the Father’s properties. And you keep conflating historical being with epistemology. By “sets apart” are you referring to logical distinction? If so, you have admitted to a conflation between ontology and epistemology.
“which again entails having metaphysical parts.”
>>>A genus is not a metaphysical part.
“Naturally, if it is the ultimate source, cause or explanation of things”
>>>See, you just conflated cause and explanation.
“it is actual or existent”
>>>But if it is huperousia, the word existent for you means something different for “it”.
“ — it could hardly cause or explain anything otherwise — but it is not a compound of actuality and potentiality as other things are, nor a compound of existence and essence. It would have to be, always and “already” as it were, pure actuality rather than something that has or could have any potential in need of actualization.”
>>>You are conflating being and activity. A being does not have to be potential simply because it is logically distinct from its activity. Legs are not the same thing as running. Running is the activity of the legs. Does that mean that legs are only potential when they are laying still while you sleep and not actual? Do I actually only have legs when I am walking or running? Ridiculous!
“It would have to be, not “an” existent thing among other existent things, but pure being or existence itself. Anything less would require a cause or source of its own and thus not be the ultimate cause or source.”
>>>And here is the pantheism. All things are the ultimate cause in substance. The ultimate cause is existence itself. If you exist you must be the One that is existence itself. It is either God does not exist or you are God on this silly dialectical model.
“Note that on the classical theist view of ultimate explanation, there are no inexplicable “brute facts.” Things that require causes require them because they have potentials that need to be actualized and parts that need to be combined. To say of a thing that it has parts and yet lacks any cause which accounts for their combination, or has potentiality yet lacks any cause which actualized that potentiality, would be to make of it a “brute fact.” But that is precisely what the classical theist does not say about the ultimate cause of things. It says instead that, since it is purely actual (and thus devoid of potentials that could be actualized) and absolutely simple (and thus devoid of parts that could be combined), it not only need not have a cause but could not in principle have had one.”
>>>But since you conflate cause with explanation, the fact that you are having to explain it means that it must have a cause.
“It, and it alone, has its source of intelligibility in itself rather than in some external cause.”
>>>See, you did it again.
“So, whatever else we say about the ultimate cause, source, or explanation of things — and whether or not we want to call it “God,” whether or not we want to identify it with the God of the Bible specifically, and whether or not we think it has any religious implications in the first place — we are going to have to regard it as absolutely simple or non-composite, as pure actuality devoid of potentiality, and as being itself rather than something that merely instantiates being.”
“We are also going to have to regard it as immutable and uncaused, because only what has potentiality capable of being actualized, or parts capable of being combined, can be caused or undergo change, and the source or cause of all things must be devoid of potentiality or parts.”
>>>So now, immutability is conflated with aseity. Thus the Son cannot be immutable and caused or eternally begotten. The “deity” of the Son now gets the flush.
“Whereas the classical theist’s philosophical analysis of the idea of God typically begins by thinking of Him as the ultimate cause of things, the theistic personalist begins instead by conceiving of God as a certain kind of “person.”
>>>Then both are wrong, because this contrast affirms that causality is distinct from personhood, whereas the Orthodox position sees causality as a personal property of the Father.
“One of the main objections theistic personalists often raise against the idea of divine simplicity is that it makes God out to be too abstract, and is irreconcilable with the idea that God is a person.”
>>> Agreed, but who is to say that the father and the son are different persons if causality is a divine attribute and divinity cannot be caused?
“Now classical theists, in general, by no means regard God as impersonal.”
>>>Smile and nod.
“They typically argue that when the notion of the ultimate cause of all things is fully developed, it can be seen that there is a sense in which we must attribute to this cause intellect and will.”
>>>No you cannot because intellect and will require distinction. That is why the nous is second place in Plotinus’ construction.
“But the meaning of these terms as applied to God must be very carefully unpacked, and anthropomorphism avoided. And it is definitely a mistake from the classical theist point of view to start with the idea that God is, like us, an instance of the kind or genus “person”.
>>>Person is not a genus. Humanity is a genus. Person is an instance of that genus.
“who instantiates some of the same properties that other persons do, but has them to a higher degree and lacks some of the other properties (such as corporeality).”
>>>Them? Can a monad possess them?
“There are various objections that can be raised against this approach, but the most relevant one for present purposes is that insofar as theistic personalism implies that God has parts”
>>>But I don’t accept the same definition of “parts” as you do. Your definition assumes that a genus is a historical thing/being/subject or a part of a thing/being/subject and that distinguishing being from activity implies potentiality. All unforgivably stupid.
“or that he is one instance among others of a kind, or that like those others he instantiates properties, etc., it makes theism simply unsuitable as a candidate for ultimate explanation.”
>>>Which would also make your explanation unsuitable because that would imply that you caused the One.
“For (as the classical theist sees things, anyway) it makes of God something essentially creaturely”
>>>It’s almost as if man was made in the image of God! Oh no Nigga, we can’t be havin that! If man got the idea that he was made in God’s image he might start excusing the intermediaries and flirting with heresies like the priesthood of the believer and private judgment! oh no nigga we can’t be havin that!
“– something which, like other composites, requires a cause of his own. Or if he doesn’t have one, he will simply be a brute fact and thus not an ultimate explanation at all — something which, like other things, is composite, but which merely happens inexplicably nevertheless not to have been caused. This opens theism up to New Atheist-style objections to the effect that God is a metaphysical fifth wheel — something which at best seems dubiously preferable to taking the universe as the ultimate brute fact, and at worst seems ruled out by Ockham’s razor.”
>>>Or you could distinguish being from activity and avoid the whole ocean of gobily-woop you have cooked up for us. Could it be that Ockham’s razor is what helped get you here in the first place? Maybe it is not such a good idea to conflate categories as a reaction to a multiplicity of entities?
“The question of whether a deity of the theistic personalist sort exists or not therefore does seem “eclipsed” by the question of why anything exists at all, and “not directly on point.” And that was precisely my point in offering my friendly criticism of John and Robert’s choice of selections for The Mystery of Existence. Given the book’s mission, it would, I argue, have been more appropriate to emphasize classical theist writers and give theistic personalist or neo-theist writers secondary consideration. But (as I have complained) the reverse course was followed.”
>>>Seeing that your view of ADS would logically preclude the existence of anything I fail to grasp the point. On your view the ultimate principle is a monad huperousia which would imply it does not exist in the same sense we understand existence. It also has no distinctions and so how any emanation of distinctions, implying the distinction-less One is one substance with distinctions, could be explained remains in the realm of squared circles and elephants dancing on their ears.
“The first thing to say in response is that it cannot be emphasized too greatly that divine simplicity is not merely Aquinas’s doctrine. It is by no means the eccentric teaching of a single thinker or two. Rather, it is the common heritage of the entire mainstream Western tradition in theology and philosophy of religion, endorsed by the major pagan, Jewish, Christian, and Muslim thinkers referred to above and incorporated into the official theology of Roman Catholicism.”
>>>Nonsense. Plotinus was very clear to make intellect and will a secondary being to the One.
“So, suppose we took God to be one instance among others of the kind or genus “person,” who thus instantiates the same properties we do — power, knowledge, goodness, etc. — just to a higher degree.”
>>>Ridiculous. Yahweh is eternal and omniscient; nothing of this pertains to us.
“Since what we call “power,” “knowledge,” “goodness,” etc. in us are obviously different properties”
>>>No. Power is an attribute, not a property. Knowledge is the activity of a being not a being itself. Goodness is also activity.
“then argues that what we predicate of this cause cannot, for that very reason, be exactly what we predicate of the things of our experience, but only analogues of what we predicate of those things (Summa theologiae I, q. 4).”
>>>Like all composed things require a cause?
“Hence when we say that God has power and knowledge (for example) we don’t mean that He instantiates the properties having power and having knowledge, just as we do. We mean that there is something in Him that is analogous to what we call “power” and “knowledge” in us, but that whatever this amounts to, it does not amount to his “having” just the same thing we do, or instantiating “properties,” or being a substance in which various distinct attributes inhere, etc.”
>>>Depends on what kind of analogy we are referring to.
“Hence there is nothing any more suspect about Aquinas’s procedure than there is in quantum theory.”
>>>Fine. I reject both.