Problem with the Orthodox distinction between person and nature? A response to Nate Taylor

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Nate Taylor  has just argued in a recent post on “Reason from Scripture” that the Orthodox distinction between person and nature betrays the hidden nominalism of Orthodoxy. His argument reads thus:

P1: Nominalism is the view that general predications of individual things are merely names and not instances of universals.

P2: The Person is not a instantiation of a universal

C: All predications of a person are nominalistic

I will come back to this little argument but first I will move on to the main point of his argument.  The main point is that Nate is trying to make a tu quo que in regards to our assertions that Reformed views of the atonement and justification rely on a nominalist view of justice.  He wants to say that Orthodoxy has a nominalist view of persons and thus, the Orthodox are inconsistent when they have a problem with the nominalist view of justice held by the Reformed.

First of all, I don’t quite know what to make of his definition of nominalism.  Here’s a better one:  Nominalism is the thesis that there are no universals.  Given this definition, it is very difficult to see how Orthodoxy is nominalist.  We surely think that universals exist, we just do not think that hypostasis is a universal.

Instead, hypostasis is what gives reality to universals.  Hypostasis is the entity that instantiates a nature and thereby gives it a concrete existence, but obviously, an hypostasis is not merely the instantiation of a nature.  Hypostasis is not the kind of entity that could be a universal because it is inherently what gives a concrete PARTICULAR existence to a nature.  This particularity is key.  What is natural is what is held in common between the members of a natural class, but what is hypostatic is what is particular to the individual members of the natural class.  It is a category confusion to seek the universal hypostasis that every individual hypostasis instantiates.  The whole point of the category is to have a place for particularity.  If one denies this categorical distinction between hypostasis and nature then how does one establish the particularity of the members of a natural class?  More to the point, how does one establish the particularity of the members of the Trinity?

Justification for the categorical distinction between hypostasis and nature aside, even if everything Nate says is correct and compelling about the “nominalism of Orthodoxy” regarding hypostasis, this still provides no reason why the Orthodox cannot condemn the Reformed for having a nominalist view of justice.  We don’t have a nominalist view of justice because we the think that Scripture teaches to the contrary.   Does Scripture also teach that hypostasis is a universal?  I don’t think so.

Thus, Nate’s argument doesn’t succeed.  The point is Scripture teaches that justice is real and a universal, but the Reformed do not.  Scripture does not teach that there is a universal for hypostasis.  One reason for this, is surely that such a teaching would be committing a grave category mistake.  I mean, seriously, does Nate think that all realists must believe in a  Universal called “particularity” that all particulars must participate in?  Such a notion would be silly because of the obvious category confustion between universals and particulars.

To see how realists accommodate particularity and don’t have to make this category confusion, read Allaire’s “Bare Particulars” in the volume Universals and Particulars, and his response to criticisms in the same volume.

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56 Responses to “Problem with the Orthodox distinction between person and nature? A response to Nate Taylor”

  1. Nathanael P. Taylor Says:

    Here is my response Mark:

    http://reasonfromscripture.blogspot.com/2009/01/reformed-response-to-mark-krause-on.html

  2. David Says:

    Oopse…um…that was the link to THIS post. So….yeah….

    http://reasonfromscripture.blogspot.com/2009/01/reformed-response-to-mark-krause-on.html

  3. David Says:

    OK, I like to think of myself as a bright guy (my first error of the day). But I don’t get the significance of this debate. Apart from Nate’s charge that you’re being inconsistent by disliking Protestant Justification theory because it’s nominalist, but he claims the Orthodox position on person and nature might be classified as nominalistic.

    It seems the problem here is that neither of you are dealing with the actual judgment of truth or falsehood (or even useful/unhelpful) of the theories but are trying to gain philosophically superior rhetorical ground by throwing around a term “nominalism” (which I think neither of you uses correctly, in fact, it seems universally–if you’ll pardon the pun–a philosophical foil for just these sorts of arguments) which you can label each other’s position with.

    I find nominalism quite helpful despite the Medievalist objections. And if the Orthodox position (I’m a recent convert BTW) is that every hypostasis is non-repeatable that’s a nominalist position and a good one. I think this is the precise reason why person and nature are separated so that Christ’s taking on of our nature can restore it without interfering with our unique person-hood.

    What exactly is the problem? Being nominalist (or being able to interpret this as a nominalist) doesn’t have any effect on whether I’m right or not, or whether it’s useful to talk about the hypostasis this way.

  4. Krause Says:

    David,

    a) I know what nominalism is. I am using it correctly. Making off-handed remarks to the effect that I don’t understand the basic philosophical concepts being discussed in my own post on my own blog is something that I take a little seriously. I didn’t just decide to pick up a philosophy textbook yesterday, so if you’re gonna make an assertion like that, you need to explain yourself.

    b) believing that every hypostasis is unique and unrepeatable does not make one a nominalist. To think that is so is, as I’ve stated, to commit a grave category confusion between the universal and the particular. Universals are what things have in common, and particulars are what they don’t. Hypostasis is not the kind of thing that can be had in common. Human nature is a universal, and each hypostasis is a unique and unrepeatable individual way in which that universal has a concrete existence.

    Nate is making a grave category confusion. This is evident in that he wants to think that there is actually a universal for particularity! This is absurd. What is particular is what is not held in common. To say that there is a common universal of “not holding anything in common” between things that “do not hold anything in common” is ridiculous. It’s sophistry. What is particular is not held in common with anything else. Thus, if what is hypostatic is what is particular, then it is not held in common with anything else. Positing a universal for hypostasis is like trying to say: the only thing they have in common is that they have nothing in common! Having nothing in common cannot be thought of as a kind of property that things have in common in the same way red things have “being red” in common.

    c) There is a lot of background context to this post. I am not just using “nominalist” as an ad hominem. Being a nominalist in regards to justice is a grave charge from our perspective because there is no reason to think that nominalist legal theories had any influence on the Scriptures. Judaism and the kind of relevant Greek philosophy (platonism and stoicism) were not nominalist about justice. Nominalism is a theory about names and universals born out of medieval scholasticism. Why think that medieval scholasticism had any influence on the writing of the Scriptures? It seems much more reasonable to assume that the Reformers (late schoolmen themselves) developed a novel view of law and justice based on the philosophical views prevalent during their day. Why anyone would think such novel views legitimate interpretations of the ancient Scriptures is beyond me. Does that get your intuitions going a little bit as to why it’s a problem to be a nominalist about justice?

    d) In what ways do you find nominalism helpful david? What do you mean by nominalism? After I have tried to explain it a bit again, does it make sense why it would be a category confusion to accuse one of nominalism because he believed in the existence of particularity?

  5. David Says:

    a) fair enough saying I was off-handed, however, there’s a reason for this. most folks who are realists don’t see nominalism as even possible to rationally hold. they treat it like a foil. it appeared like the two of you weren’t interested in nominalism itself, but rather trying to use it to smear each other’s position as if by being nominalist it was necessarily bad.

    I suppose it’s a fair question. Are you trying to label Protestant Justification theory as nominalist in an attempt to discredit it? (moot question see below)

    b) I’m confused. you say you don’t see how one has to be a nominalist, but then go on to immediately admit there is no such thing as hypostasis-ness. my point was that nature is universal and hypostasis is not. Any collection of unique things presupposes a nominalistic approach.

    I’m a recent convert and this very line of thinking was very important to me getting over the whole essence/energies & God became man that man might become God thing.

    I equally agree that a universal particular is an oxymoron, I thought that was the point of my post.

    c) now that I reread this paragraph I’ll take you at your word that you weren’t trying to smear his position by labeling it nominalist. However, it’s my understanding that the patristic hermeneutic doesn’t really care much for “influences” in scripture other than the prefigurment of Christ. as I said, I’m a recent covert and I’m just trying to wrap my head around this stuff. I know some in the Orthodox world are more comfortable with textual criticism (it is certainly where I was coming from in my past) but it does seem like you’re playing the game (as it were) in the scholastics/reformationists field.

    I’m not sure what you hope to gain by that. But as you said there is alot of background here I didn’t dig into when I read just the immediate exchanges and posted my thoughts.

    I was under the impression that nominalism (the term) was invented by realists in the middle ages as a foil to their theories of universals. I see alot of nominalism in neoplatonic thought though it wasn’t called that then.

    I would agree that the middle ages was a fertile ground for novelty.

    It’s the realists that have a problem with justice in the scriptures. The scriptures present only one (can a collection of one be called it’s own universal?) justice. God’s. And there’s only two ways I can see it interpreted, patristically as “love that we misunderstand”, or as utterly capricious despotism. Not that I’m saying scholasticism leads to a despotic God…OK well maybe I am 🙂

    d) I find nominalism helpful because I spent most of my life constructing fanciful universals. If naturalist universals exists, and I suppose a few might, I have no way of discerning which one’s are illusions. my new discipline in Orthodoxy is to accept only revelation as a vehicle for authenticating a universal.

    I’m not sure I get the very last sentence, but I think that’s because I’m not good at this. I’m a self-taught philosopher and have a tendency to get misappropriate or misunderstand terms. I only posted because I’ve started following this blog and wanted to shake hands as it were about something that has meant a great deal to me. Universals are God’s business to reveal. For everything else I’ll assume particulars because it safeguards me from delusion.

    Maybe that’s overkill.

    Thanks for your patience and please pray for me.

  6. Nathanael P. Taylor Says:

    Nate is making a grave category confusion. This is evident in that he wants to think that there is actually a universal for particularity! This is absurd. What is particular is what is not held in common. To say that there is a common universal of “not holding anything in common” between things that “do not hold anything in common” is ridiculous. It’s sophistry. What is particular is not held in common with anything else. Thus, if what is hypostatic is what is particular, then it is not held in common with anything else. Positing a universal for hypostasis is like trying to say: the only thing they have in common is that they have nothing in common! Having nothing in common cannot be thought of as a kind of property that things have in common in the same way red things have “being red” in common.

    Response: I do not think you really understand my position very well, that is why as you said you think it to be “sophistry”. It seems to me that what one can at least glean out of these responses that eastern orthodox are good at calling names and short on arguments. Do you believe in relational properties Mark? Because it seems to me that the persons of the trinity would have similar accidental relations to the world. Now of course you can just use your nominalism and say that these are all fictional predication. Do you not think that all three persons have their own “source of action”? What is a person Mark? When each person gives reality to a particular, do they not seem to be serving a similar function and relation? So then how is it that a person can be truly unique in every sense if they have so much in common with one another and with other entities that have relational properties? Now let us return to you misunderstanding my position: I do think things are unique, however things can be unique and at the same time we do not have to predicate nominalistically of them. For example: You and I are both white males, so we instantiate the universal of white maleness, however, we instantiate other properties that give us uniqueness from one another, no single substance, instantiates all the same properties. This is how I have uniqueness in my metaphysic. Thus, I was not saying negative things are properties, rather negative predictions are just different ways of predicating positive properties in my view (as Scotus also held). But I have not really seen any argument against my position apart from name calling, so next time you make a post I would be more interested in your reasons rather than your convictions.

    NPT

  7. Perry Robinson Says:

    Nominalism entails the thesis that only sensible particulars exist. Last I checked, persons are not sensible particulars for just about anyone’s Christianity.

    2nd. The question is whether the denial that persons are instances of forms entails Nominalism. Simply having something in common with a view doesn’t commit you to that view. So far, I haven’t seen any entailment relation given here.

  8. David Says:

    Persons are precisely sensible particulars. Isn’t that right out of Zizioulas’s “Being as Communion”? I suppose I’m getting sloppy here, but a person is a hypostasis which is the basis of a sensible relationship.

    Even our nature has no universal, since it can’t have a universal if we all share the same “one” (St Gregory’s point: not assumed, not healed).

    Doesn’t taking a view necessarily indicate that you are best described as someone who takes a view? I mean, if I accept the validity of a nominalist position, is it that far off to call me a nominalist? If precision is required I could say I’m someone who sees the usefulness of nominalist position to resolve this theological controversy.

    I’m going to have to get a shirt that has bold letters on it warning folks that I’m a nominalist. It’s apparently a crime.

  9. Perry Robinson Says:

    Persons are sensible? Really? When was the last time you saw an object called a person? How much does a person weigh? Etc?

    the fundamental problem with nominalism from a theological pont of view is that it is incompatible with Trinitarianism and Dyophysite Christology.

  10. David Says:

    I’m sorry. I’m clearly missing something. You say something deliberately false and then you make a declaration with no substantiation.

    Either you’re just making fun of me, or these don’t mean what they appear to mean. It’s irrelevant as we aren’t communicating.

  11. Krause Says:

    David,

    I’m gonna be straight with you bud, you need to watch your tone a little. You’re coming off as condescending and obnoxious and, what’s more, you are clearly very confused about the issues you’re trying to talk about.

    Now I take myself to have a reasonable degree of competence in some of the basics of Philosophy and Orthodox theology. I’m no genius, and there’s a lot I haven’t read, but I’ve spent a couple years reading and interacting with older, more intelligent Christians to try to understand the issues I discuss on this blog. Thus, I expect a little bit of respect to be shown to me and the other authors on the blog.

    That said, I would expect more respect on this blog to be shown to Perry than myself. Perry is basically the intellectual godfather of this blog so I’m not really prepared to tolerate much more of your belligerent condescending remarks to him.

    Maybe you’re not meaning to come off like you’re sounding so I’m willing to grant you the benefit of the doubt, but I’m just telling you that you need to take it down a notch. No one is persecuting you here.

    Basically, you are clearly confused. Instead of making inflammatory statements like the ones found in your last comment, I suggest that you ask clarificatory questions so that you can understand what he’s saying and try to learn from him. Believe me, you can learn an awful lot from Perry.

    PS: By “sensible,” Perry means “sense-perceptible.” You don’t really think persons are sense-perceptible (as in perceived through the five senses) objects do you?

  12. David Says:

    I thought I was making my confusion and inadequacy clear. My apologies. I’m just a guy who stumbled on to an interesting website right into a conversation that caught my eye.

    I’m impulsive and direct, particularly when flustered. You don’t need to give me any benefit of any doubt, I’m a sinner, no doubt. If you mean that I’m not deliberately being obtuse, well I suppose I’m deliberately witnessing to my own obtuseness.

    I thought by admitting that we’re not communicating I was taking the best way out and avoiding taking or giving more insult.

    Last night I decided to run around the net (my own library at home has gone through many purges since college so it’s not much of a resource for this stuff) trying to figure out where I’m misunderstanding the both of you.

    After about an hour, I just gave up. I can’t find any indication that I’m mistaken about how I’m using these terms. I know that I occasionally over simplify (I remember specifically reading Lossky’s work and having to dumb down the vocabulary for myself otherwise I couldn’t follow it) and I know that some of that internal short hand can cause me problems.

    However, one of two things is going on, either your playing with me, or I’m missing something so completely basic that you can’t possibly believe I’m misunderstanding (this reminds me of the time in college when a group of friends refused to believe that I didn’t know the difference between a sweater and a sweat-shirt and so refused to tell me the difference).

    PS: Yes, I absolutely believe persons are sense-perceptible and have no idea how to conceive of an alternative. Perhaps it would be helpful to show me how they are not.

    PPS: If I’m just a distraction to the rest of your debate, feel free to dismiss me and move on. I’ll not take offense. I can get up tomorrow just fine thinking you folks are just smarter than me and that I had no business butting in. I really don’t have a horse in this race.

    PPPS: Sort of weird to have a debate online though if you expect no one else to interact with it, but I can see how my tone might be more the problem than even my confusion (as distracting as my confusion is).

  13. David Says:

    I’m sure you’d all get to this eventually, but as I have a hunch about where the problem lies, let me ask a question.

    David,

    When you say that “persons” are sense-perceptible, are you taking “person” to mean “an individual human being with a soul and a body”? That would be the more colloquial use. I believe that the term “person” is being used differently here (specifically, they are not referring to anything physical, and hence not sense-perceptible). I’ll leave it to Mark or Perry to define person for you (which I would have done sooner, rather than asking “You don’t REALLY think that, do you??” over and over [while we’re on the subject of condescending and obnoxious tones]).

  14. Ø Says:

    Just a little defense of David, since we’ve been kind of rough on him –

    It would seem that the Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy thinks that there is a kind of Nominalism that does not, in fact, commit you to rejecting abstract objects, as Perry alleges (see comment #9). I quote:

    “Nominalism comes in at least two varieties. In one of them it is the rejection of abstract objects; in the other it is the rejection of universals.”

    Perhaps these two varieties can be collapsed into one – which is what Perry seems to believe, from what I can tell – but it is not necessarily the case that they must be collapsed into one.

    In other news, I may regret stepping in here, since I often feel a little bit nauseous when engaged in any debate involving Nominalism.

  15. Ø Says:

    Also, from the Princeton’s WordNet search, Nominalism is “the doctrine that the various objects labeled by the same term have nothing in common but their name”.

    Although it may not be entirely true that individual persons have absolutely nothing in common, it is certainly true that persons are unique, unrepeatable, etc. It is possible that David may have been thinking of these qualities (for lack of a better word) when speaking of the doctrine of persons as nominalistic (see comment #7).

  16. David Says:

    This is getting much better, but we’re still not there (and seriously, I don’t mean to require an orthogonal discussion here for my benefit alone, but I appreciate the help in understanding).

    I guess I was thinking of a person as a particular hypostasis that has a soul and body (“has” is a very bad term here, because I don’t mean to imply “owns” but rather “exists as”). I don’t think of a person apart from their soul and body. A person without a soul and body (even if this body temporarily succumbs to corruption before being perfected) seems meaningless on face value. In my way of thinking, I can’t talk about a person without relating to them as an ensouled body or a embodied soul (to quote Fr John Hopko).

    Yes, there are two kinds of Nominalism. However, I think Princeton’s definition is a bit prejudicial. I was surprised when I looked up Nominalism on Wikipedia there was a short discussion of whether that article too was prejudicial. I guess there aren’t many Nominalists out there writing scholarly definitions of Nominalism so their detractors get to spin the definition. 🙂

    Where Princeton’s definition is a bit problematic is that objects might have common parts, features or attributes, but that those are also objects which means they are just a collection with a name as well. I tend to short hand this and simply fall back on objects being unique and so we simply use names to conveniently communicate about the set of unique objects we wish to discuss. There is no universal person, arm, mind or “strength”.

    #17 is essentially correct.

    I am less sure about a lack of abstract objects than I am universals. However, I can be stubborn and say that there is no such thing as the number 2 unless we are talking about apples. The abstract 2 is just a conveniently communicable name for me to describe the set of apples in front of me. Oh, but I think I’ll really get pilloried for that sort of talk.

    Is this fun or am I being annoying?

  17. Ø Says:

    In my opinion, you’re just fine.

    I guess David (Nilsen) was correct in wondering whether we all mean the same thing by “person”. As you have said, you think of a person as the unity of body, soul, and hypostasis. I believe, however, that Krause and Perry have meant person to mean simply hypostasis as distinct (but not separate) from nature (i.e. soul) and body.

    My question for you is this – how does your conception of person hold up when thinking of the Holy Trinity? I’m not sure what application can be made that might not be rendered problematic. If you also come to think this is so, perhaps you will see why Krause and Perry are wont to revert to a more technical talk of person. In any case, I am of the opinion that some of your observations about the doctrine of persons being nominalistic may still hold true under the more technical vocabulary.

  18. Perry Robinson Says:

    Krause, I can take a hit dude. Relax.

    David, my point was simple. persons are not quantifiable objects. When you look in a mirror or see another human, what you see is a body, not a person. The same is true for seeing a mind. You have never seen a mind in your life. No one has. Minds are not therefore sensible and neither are persons. We can’t limit persons to body-soul composites since angels for example are persons. The same is true of the Father, Son and HS. They are persons. If we limit persons to body-soul composites, we will deny the Trinity and the existence of angels-a double wammy.

    Nominalism is a taxonomic thesis, this is true, but the theory by and large entails that only sensible particulars are real and therefore universals are constructs made by us. This is very clearly spelled out in Locke and Hume for example, not to mention Kant. It also creates problems in modern logic. This is easily seen in Russell for example concerning the existential quantifier and propositions regarding the present kind of France being bald.

  19. Perry Robinson Says:

    Nate,

    Your ad hom aside, the Orthodox do not think of God having accidental relations to the world. That is part of the point of the doctrine of the energies, since it cuts across the taxonomy of essential and accidental. On the western gloss by and large, God has no real relations to the world since that would imply that God depends on the world, since real relations are constitutive. The world is really related to God, but God is only extrinsically related to the world via causation. The cause/effect dialectic is the anvil of the creator/creature distinction.

    A person may be a source of action, but it in no way follows that a person is reducible to the power of acting per se. If it did, it would imply tri-theism. Further, what the persons of the Trinity have in common are not hypostatic properties so it seems you are arguing from points not established. And you are unclear on relational properties. Do you mean extrinsic or intrinsic, that is constitutive relational properties?

    And while it may be true that negative predications can be ways of predicating other positive properties, it is restricted to things that be. God ad intra is not being so this is not applicable to God. Moreover, even if God were ad intra being, given ADS, God has no properties at all and neither is he a property.

  20. David Says:

    OK, more precision is required and in being more precise my explanation might cause as many problems as it solves. I’m perfectly happy with mystery, and a lack of precision might be more correct, even if less precise (part of the reason I went to the Eastern Church).

    It seems to me that hypostasis is a term which denotes personhood (or relatability). Internally, I’ve used terms like perspective, or point-of-view, or awareness, I deliberately leave it vague because I know I’m using a technical term that in some essay is being used technically. A nous is a nous, not a mind or a heart, but it helps me to think of it by phrases like “eye of the heart”. So it is with hypostasis.

    Yes, the Trinity is three hypostasis. Angels are hypostasis. We are hypostasis, but while we are all persons we don’t all share a nature (2nd Person of the Trinity excluded).

    I’ve never heard a detailed technical presentation of the nature of Angels. I’ve assumed they are souls without bodies, but there are problems with that assumption (because I don’t have a word for such a thing as I mentioned above). If our “nature” that the 2nd person assumed to save us is both soul and body, then I get all confused about what it means to the Angels that the 2nd Person of the Trinity shared “part” of their nature? This gets all sorts of messy thinking about what happens when Angels interact with the physical world, are they briefly human because they are briefly corporeal?

    I think not. Whatever way they interact with the physical realm must be different than becoming made of matter like we are. Perhaps a corporeal soul “nature” really has nothing in common non-corporeal soul “nature”, but I’m not that smart.

    I think I might have been misleading before. Maybe I should have said that our particular “kind” of hypostasis is an ensouled body and that there are more available “types” of hypostasis. God’s nature is infinite therefore all three hypostasis are one in essence. Our natures are finite therefore we are all separate and distinct in a way we that we can’t describe the Godhead. We share one nature but we do not share it infinitely.

    I don’t want to sound like a heretic (and sometimes the only way to avoid that is some of this precision which is so awkward for me to use) but it helps me to think of hypostasis as “basis for relationship” or “distinguishment.” I feel like I’m getting really close here to calling the persons of the Trinity “masks” and I don’t mean to do that. But I have three “relations” with God’s three “relatable” things that we know via relation.

    I only have one relatable thing. I exist as a single nexis of relationships of all who have related to me. There’s just three lines connecting God and I where people only get one line.

    Now somehow Christ sharing our nature makes one of those lines uniquely different from the other two, but I don’t understand what that is. The scriptures and the fathers as I understand them are clear that whereever the Father is, so is the Son and the Spirit, and whatever the Son does, the Father and the Spirit do that as well.

    But then I just want to sit in a corner in silence, because I’m trying to understand that which isn’t possible to understand. I should spend more time relating to God that analyzing my relationship.

    Yes, universals are linguistic assistants–a short cut to avoid pointing to all the particulars in a set–and Platonic ideals are hogwash. (See, I couldn’t finish a post without a little spat.) Modern logic isn’t. Please let’s not talk about Russell and Godel and all that. Thankfully the transcendence of God takes care of our incompleteness problem.

  21. David Says:

    I would say a person is reducible to the power of relating, acting being one type of relating. 🙂

    But then I think I’ve shown conclusively that I don’t know what I’m talking about.

    This brings up a question I’ve always had about the energies. We say we experience God’s energies but not His essence, but if the energies are infinite exactly how are we more able to relate to them? How are the energies more “approachable” or “communicable” or … oh I like this word best … “condescendable”!

  22. Krause Says:

    Perry,
    I know your skin is pretty thick. I guess the way I worded that made it seem like it was more about you than I meant it. It wasn’t about protecting you, it was about enforcing blog etiquette cause I was getting pissed off.

  23. David Says:

    I must sincerely and completely apologize. It was never my intention to cause anyone the slightest distress. This was my responsibility.

    I know I enjoy a bit of a verbal tussle sometimes, but I didn’t think I had let my guard down. I’ll have to watch myself as I’ve been posting around on alot of blogs lately.

  24. Nathanael Taylor Says:

    Perry,

    Your definition of nominalism is mistaken given the academic citations above by the other commentors on this blog. It is the rejection of universals and that all that is in common is a name with many partiulars. I meant extrinisic relations, that is the way the members of the trinity relate to one another and the world, which you have to hold to a view of merely nominal predication of the members of the trinity and their relations. I believe God does have real relations, extrinisic relations that is. I reject ADS but you already know that given our previous discussions. I do not really see how God would be metaphysically dependent on the world if there were merely extrinsic relations to it. Lastly, I was not giving an Ad homs. I was merely describing the conduct of eastern orthodox people in debates.

    NPT

  25. Perry Robinson Says:

    David,

    In answer to your question on the energies, the answer is quite simple. The logos of our nature, its plan, what God predetermined it to be is an energy of God. Secondly act = be-ing. Be-ing is a verb, not a noun.The energies are acts, so they be, and we also be, which addresses your worry about our relation to them.It is not an experienceofj the energies per se. These aren’t impersonal emanations of God, rather personal acts in which we act with and are united to God.

    I hope that helps.

  26. David Says:

    Sure. Thanks.

  27. Krause Says:

    David,
    no worries, you’ve been much nicer. I’ve seen a lot worse on this blog and I may have admittedly overreacted due to other factors. I’m happy to have you reading and commenting here. Thanks for taking the time to read what I write and think about it 🙂

  28. David Says:

    You’re in my Google RSS Reader until you stop posting or tell me to go away. 🙂

  29. MG Says:

    Nate–

    You defined nominalism as follows:

    “P1: Nominalism is the view that general predications of individual things are merely names and not instances of universals.”

    What do you mean by “merely names”?

    You wrote:

    “If a person does not instantiate any universals then what is predicated of the person is merely a fictional title or a title based on names alone.”

    Why does it follow that the titles are merely fictional? What do you mean by “merely fictional”?

    You wrote:

    “You are saying that persons give particularity to everything and because of that it does not need to instantiate a universal. I do not see how giving the persons of the trinity this unique role that therefore we are able to be nominalists with regards to persons.”

    What do you mean giving the persons of the Trinity a unique role? Krause is saying that natures are made concrete by means of their connection to (instantiation in) hypostases (particulars).

    You wrote:

    “Another problem remains: mere human beings also have persons but they do not give concrete existence to everything, yet your view of personhood would still require you to have fictional predications of human persons. This seems inconsistent because you are saying the persons of the trinity cannot be instantiated because they give things particular existence, but mere human persons do not do that so there is no reason to have merely names or fictional predicates for them.”

    Actually Krause is saying that human persons give concrete existence to something—human nature. A human person is a created hypostasis (a unique and unrepeatable thing) that has the human set of causal powers and liabilities (human nature) instantiated in it.

    You wrote:

    “Why couldn’t the nature of God establish particularity after he has chosen freely to create?”

    The nature of God is not the kind of thing into which human nature could be given particular existence. Human nature can’t be instantiated into divine nature, because then divinity would be human.

    You wrote:

    “Why could not a person be an instantiation of a universal and also give particularity to everything else?”

    I assume you mean “why can’t a person be an instantiation of a universal, and cause the existence of each other particular?” If you’re asking this about the persons of the Trinity, you might wonder the following:

    Say that a universal is a divine concept (I assume you would accept this premise) in God’s mind. So universals depend for their existence on God’s act of conceptualization. Now, I also think you would agree that the divine nature is an instantiation of a universal, and each person of the Trinity is an instantiation of a universal. Whether you locate God’s mind in the persons of the Trinity or the divine nature, you’re going to have to say that either the persons or the nature conceptualizes universals. If so, how is it possible for universals like personhood and nature to start getting instantiated? For surely a conceptualist would think that a universal would have to be conceptualized in God’s mind first before it could actually be instanced and able to unify things. But entities in God’s mind depend on God’s mind to exist. And God’s mind (whether located in person or nature) depends on universals to exist (because it is an instance of a universal). This leads to the following chain of ontological dependency:

    instantiation of the universal “personhood” → concrete existence of person → person conceptualizes universal → instantiation of the universal “personhood”

    On your view, it seems like we have a vicious circle of explanation. So my question is, on your view, what is the order of being? Which entity comes first, and how does it explain the existence of the rest of beings? In other words: which came first, the chicken(s) (divine persons or perhaps divine nature) or the egg (universal of personhood or nature)?

    You wrote:

    “In addition, why could not the members of the trinity be distinct and yet at the same self-instantiate personhood in all three instances of the divine persons?”

    What would individuate them if this were true? What would make them ontologically distinct?

    You wrote:

    “Well I obviously I think that scripture does teach an extrinsic, nominalistic view of justification, but I do not see any reason for thinking that Reformed folks have to hold that there is no universal for justice whatsoever. I simply hold to nominalism with regards to justification and not for justice.”

    Is a justified person just?

    You wrote:

    “In this case the imputation is still just because Jesus Christ made a covenant and earned righteousness that he did not need so that he can give it to us legally. The act is allowed under the exception of an agreement between it’s just members (the trinity). It seems to me that since the Father and Son made such an agreement that this exception makes a lot more sense than saying a person gives particularity and this somehow excludes it from real predication.”

    I don’t see how treating the guilty as though they are not guilty, or treating the not-guilty as though they are guilty, is something just. Making an agreement to treat moral realities as though they are otherwise, and proceeding to engage in activities that treat those realities falsely, doesn’t seem just to me.

    You wrote:

    “Response: I actually think there is a universal for particulars, I agree with Scotus on this point. I see no reason for doubting this. I think that justice is a universal but with regards to covenants and believers’ justification one can predicate nominalistically about a believers’ status in some sense, but the righteousness is a real righteousness (namely it is Christ’s righteousness that is merited for us). I will make a future post arguing for this view from scripture alone.”

    If particularity is a universal, then if two things have all the same intrinsic properties, including particularity, what makes one ontologically distinct from the other?

    Consider the smallest particle of matter (whatever it is, regardless of how sub-sub-sub-atomic it may be). What individuates one of these from another?

    You wrote:

    “Response: I do not think you really understand my position very well, that is why as you said you think it to be “sophistry”. It seems to me that what one can at least glean out of these responses that eastern orthodox are good at calling names and short on arguments. Do you believe in relational properties Mark? Because it seems to me that the persons of the trinity would have similar accidental relations to the world.”

    Why think that similarities require their own universals in order to be real?

    You wrote:

    “Now of course you can just use your nominalism and say that these are all fictional predication. Do you not think that all three persons have their own “source of action”? What is a person Mark?”

    Just because not every predication corresponds to a universal doesn’t mean that the predications are necessarily fictional, depending on what we mean by “fiction”. Again, what do you mean by “fictional predication”?

    You wrote:

    “When each person gives reality to a particular, do they not seem to be serving a similar function and relation?”

    What if they do so in a completely unique way?

    You wrote:

    “So then how is it that a person can be truly unique in every sense if they have so much in common with one another and with other entities that have relational properties?”

    How I approach this question will, in large part, depend on your answers to my other questions.

    What do you mean by “have so much in common”?

    You wrote:

    “Now let us return to you misunderstanding my position: I do think things are unique, however things can be unique and at the same time we do not have to predicate nominalistically of them. For example: You and I are both white males, so we instantiate the universal of white maleness, however, we instantiate other properties that give us uniqueness from one another, no single substance, instantiates all the same properties. This is how I have uniqueness in my metaphysic. Thus, I was not saying negative things are properties, rather negative predictions are just different ways of predicating positive properties in my view (as Scotus also held). But I have not really seen any argument against my position apart from name calling, so next time you make a post I would be more interested in your reasons rather than your convictions. ”

    Again, what would individuate two things that have all the same intrinsic properties, like two of the smallest particles of matter? Or would you say they do not have all of the same instinsic properties?

    So when you say “Joe is a particular man” and “Bob is a particular man” what you really mean is “Joe has at least one intrinsic property that Bob does not have” or “Bob has at least one intrinsic property that Joe does not have.” But then, it seems like there isn’t actually a property “particularity” that you would say Bob has, or a property “particularity” that Joe has.

    I’m curious, then, in what sense you consider “particularity” to be a real predication. It surely doesn’t denote a specific property called “particularity”. So in what sense is it real?

  30. Nathanael P. Taylor Says:

    What do you mean by “merely names”?

    Response: Names is what each particular has in common.

    Why does it follow that the titles are merely fictional? What do you mean by “merely fictional”?

    Response: That any sort of sameness predicated of the persons is unreal.

    What do you mean giving the persons of the Trinity a unique role? Krause is saying that natures are made concrete by means of their connection to (instantiation in) hypostases (particulars).

    Actually Krause is saying that human persons give concrete existence to something—human nature. A human person is a created hypostasis (a unique and unrepeatable thing) that has the human set of causal powers and liabilities (human nature) instantiated in it.

    Response: I thought he was saying that members of the trinity give particularity to everything in the world and that therefore they are allowed nominal predications of. But I see now, given what you have said, how one might interpret what he said differently. In that case you would not need the persons to ground uniqueness because you could just have differing instances of properties in each substance and that would seem to ground individualization fine.

    The nature of God is not the kind of thing into which human nature could be given particular existence. Human nature can’t be instantiated into divine nature, because then divinity would be human.

    Response: It is hard to see why not…the divine nature could simply cause properties in each human to be different and thus grant uniqueness I see no entailment here between confusing the human-divine natures.

    I assume you mean “why can’t a person be an instantiation of a universal, and cause the existence of each other particular?” If you’re asking this about the persons of the Trinity, you might wonder the following:

    Say that a universal is a divine concept (I assume you would accept this premise) in God’s mind. So universals depend for their existence on God’s act of conceptualization. Now, I also think you would agree that the divine nature is an instantiation of a universal, and each person of the Trinity is an instantiation of a universal. Whether you locate God’s mind in the persons of the Trinity or the divine nature, you’re going to have to say that either the persons or the nature conceptualizes universals. If so, how is it possible for universals like personhood and nature to start getting instantiated? For surely a conceptualist would think that a universal would have to be conceptualized in God’s mind first before it could actually be instanced and able to unify things. But entities in God’s mind depend on God’s mind to exist. And God’s mind (whether located in person or nature) depends on universals to exist (because it is an instance of a universal). This leads to the following chain of ontological dependency:

    instantiation of the universal “personhood” → concrete existence of person → person conceptualizes universal → instantiation of the universal “personhood”

    On your view, it seems like we have a vicious circle of explanation. So my question is, on your view, what is the order of being? Which entity comes first, and how does it explain the existence of the rest of beings? In other words: which came first, the chicken(s) (divine persons or perhaps divine nature) or the egg (universal of personhood or nature)?

    Response: Well I would say that the a nature is a property set in a substance and that there is a property set called: divine nature, human nature, person F, person S, person H. All of these properties are instances of universals from the divine mind. God is only depedent on God and so God self-instantiates himself (the divine concept and then the instance of the particular). I do not see any problem with this, this is just as odd as a claim as God having libertarian agency of being a uncaused cause or a unmoved mover.

    You wrote:

    “In addition, why could not the members of the trinity be distinct and yet at the same self-instantiate personhood in all three instances of the divine persons?”

    What would individuate them if this were true? What would make them ontologically distinct?

    Response: The Father is not beggotten, The Son is, The Spirit proceeds from Both; these essential relational properties do the trick of individuation. I wrote a post on this on blog on how the West can actually necessarily and esstential distiguish between the three philosophical and that the east cannot.

    Is a justified person just?

    Response: Nope, it is legal transaction, but sanctification brings about the actual just to complete at the eschaton.

    I don’t see how treating the guilty as though they are not guilty, or treating the not-guilty as though they are guilty, is something just. Making an agreement to treat moral realities as though they are otherwise, and proceeding to engage in activities that treat those realities falsely, doesn’t seem just to me.

    Response: I think it is perfectly just if you have a basis for that justice and that basis is Christ alone.

    If particularity is a universal, then if two things have all the same intrinsic properties, including particularity, what makes one ontologically distinct from the other?

    Response: There is a universal for every possible particular substance is what I was trying to say here. No substance is entirely alike and no universal for that substance is entirely alike. I already gave my account of particularity above.

    Consider the smallest particle of matter (whatever it is, regardless of how sub-sub-sub-atomic it may be). What individuates one of these from another?

    Response: Relations.

    Why think that similarities require their own universals in order to be real?

    Response: To ground predication as much as theologically and philosophically possible.

    Just because not every predication corresponds to a universal doesn’t mean that the predications are necessarily fictional, depending on what we mean by “fiction”. Again, what do you mean by “fictional predication”?

    Response: Responded above.

    You wrote:

    What if they do so in a completely unique way?

    Response: They might so. But they at least have a suffcient amount in common enough to call it a relation and as a result you would need a universal for that.

    How I approach this question will, in large part, depend on your answers to my other questions.

    What do you mean by “have so much in common”?

    Response: Having more similar property sets than not.

    Again, what would individuate two things that have all the same intrinsic properties, like two of the smallest particles of matter? Or would you say they do not have all of the same instinsic properties?

    Response: I would say that they do not have the same instrinsic and essential and non-esstential extrinsic properties.

    So when you say “Joe is a particular man” and “Bob is a particular man” what you really mean is “Joe has at least one intrinsic property that Bob does not have” or “Bob has at least one intrinsic property that Joe does not have.” But then, it seems like there isn’t actually a property “particularity” that you would say Bob has, or a property “particularity” that Joe has.

    Response: Yeah when we predicate particularity I believe the referent to be that such and such has different properties than such and such.

    I’m curious, then, in what sense you consider “particularity” to be a real predication. It surely doesn’t denote a specific property called “particularity”. So in what sense is it real?

    Response: The above should explain that and yes I do consider it to be real.

    I hope that helps…I would encourage you to find problems with what I am saying.

    God Bless,

    NPT

  31. Nathanael P. Taylor Says:

    Oh yeah and Michael, there was another thing I realized….if you say that a person is necessary for there to be particularity in a individual substance then what about non-personal substance or non-human or divine natures do they lack a sort of particularity? If they do then my theory better accounts for the particularity in non-personal objects but if not then you do not really need persons to individualize in the first place and thus the whole reason for allowing nominal predictions of persons becomes arbitrary and inconsistent.

    Thanks again for your time,

    NPT

  32. MG Says:

    Nate—

    You wrote:

    “Response: Names is what each particular has in common.
    Response: That any sort of sameness predicated of the persons is unreal.”

    Okay. Perhaps, though, names might be accurately picking out features of reality that are held in common between things. But these features of reality may not be multiply-instanced universals. In this case, it wouldn’t be the case that what is in common between particulars is “merely names”. Nor would it be the case that what is in common between particulars is just multiply-instanced properties (universals). This would be neither nominalistic nor purely realist (where the only things that exist are instantiated universals).

    You wrote:

    “Response: I thought he was saying that members of the trinity give particularity to everything in the world and that therefore they are allowed nominal predications of. But I see now, given what you have said, how one might interpret what he said differently. In that case you would not need the persons to ground uniqueness because you could just have differing instances of properties in each substance and that would seem to ground individualization fine.”

    First, this doesn’t rule out our proposed metaphysics as a possibility; at most, it undercuts the argument for it (based on the need to ground particularity).

    Second, it seems like there are some things that have all the same intrinsic properties (like the smallest particles of matter). And if so, we can’t appeal to their intrinsic properties as a way to individuate them.

    You wrote:

    “Response: It is hard to see why not…the divine nature could simply cause properties in each human to be different and thus grant uniqueness I see no entailment here between confusing the human-divine natures.”

    Okay—if you mean that the nature of God establishes the existence of particulars by means of causing particular things to exist, sure that is a possibility. I was objecting to the idea that the principle of individuation for each particular thing is the divine nature, so that the question “what makes thing x distinct from this thing y” is “the divine nature”. This would be a problem, because then in order to be particularized a human nature would have to be predicated of the divine nature.

    The causal explanation of the origin of particulars is not the same as an explanation for how it is possible for particulars to exist in the first place. I realize that of course you try to deal with the issue of how it is possible for there to be particulars elsewhere in this comment, so I will reserve my comments on that for now.

    You wrote:

    “Response: Well I would say that the a nature is a property set in a substance and that there is a property set called: divine nature, human nature, person F, person S, person H. All of these properties are instances of universals from the divine mind. God is only depedent on God and so God self-instantiates himself (the divine concept and then the instance of the particular). I do not see any problem with this, this is just as odd as a claim as God having libertarian agency of being a uncaused cause or a unmoved mover.”

    So you’re saying God’s mind pre-exists his nature, and all three persons of the Trinity?

    But doesn’t there have to be a universal “the divine mind” in order for the divine mind to exist? And if so, where is that universal located?

    I don’t think libertarians are claiming that God causes his own existence by exercising libertarian freedom. They are saying that God exists and has libertarian freedom, and then he exercises that freedom. How is this similar to saying God has the ability to ground his own existence?

    You wrote:

    “Response: The Father is not beggotten, The Son is, The Spirit proceeds from Both; these essential relational properties do the trick of individuation. I wrote a post on this on blog on how the West can actually necessarily and esstential distiguish between the three philosophical and that the east cannot.”

    Doesn’t “being related to” presuppose “being distinct from”? In other words, doesn’t it seem that in order for it to be possible for there to be two related things, it has to be possible for there to be two things? And if so, how can “being related to” ground “being distinct from”?

    You wrote:

    “Response: Nope, it is legal transaction, but sanctification brings about the actual just to complete at the eschaton.”

    So when Scripture says “the just shall live by faith” its not actually referring to justice?

    You wrote:

    “Response: I think it is perfectly just if you have a basis for that justice and that basis is Christ alone.”

    Why and how would Christ be a morally-justifiable basis for treating the guilty as though they are not guilty, or treating the not-guilty as though they are guilty, especially if making an agreement to treat moral realities falsely, and proceeding to engage in activities that treat those realities falsely, would result in consequences that are objectively wrong (even if they are right within the context of an agreement)?

    You wrote:

    “Response: There is a universal for every possible particular substance is what I was trying to say here. No substance is entirely alike and no universal for that substance is entirely alike. I already gave my account of particularity above.”

    Doesn’t it seem like there can be things that have all the same intrinsic properties?

    You wrote:

    “Response: Relations.”

    Again, doesn’t it seem like “being distinct from” is ontologically prior to “being related to”?

    You wrote:

    “Response: To ground predication as much as theologically and philosophically possible. “

    Do predications have to pick out properties, necessarily?

    You wrote:

    “When each person gives reality to a particular, do they not seem to be serving a similar function and relation?”
    What if they do so in a completely unique way?

    You wrote:

    “Response: They might so. But they at least have a suffcient amount in common enough to call it a relation and as a result you would need a universal for that.”

    Why think that any ascription of commonality actually denotes a property? Is it possible for things to resemble each other even if this isn’t because they have properties in common?

    Again, what would individuate two things that have all the same intrinsic properties, like two of the smallest particles of matter? Or would you say they do not have all of the same instinsic properties?

    You wrote:

    “Response: I would say that they do not have the same instrinsic and essential and non-esstential extrinsic properties.”

    Doesn’t it seem possible for two distinct things to exist that have all the same intrinsic properties?

    You wrote:

    “Response: Yeah when we predicate particularity I believe the referent to be that such and such has different properties than such and such.”

    But you seem to be saying that particularity is not actually a distinct unit of reality that exists in multiple things. Particularity is not itself a single common property that is picked out by the name “particular”. It seems, however, that on your view there is something common that makes things particular in your view of predication. It’s just not a distinct unity of reality that gets multiply-instanced. Rather it is a pattern of relationships—the recurring pattern of “having at least one universal that is different from the set of universals instanced in other beings”.

    Am I understanding you correctly?

  33. Nathanael P. Taylor Says:

    Okay. Perhaps, though, names might be accurately picking out features of reality that are held in common between things. But these features of reality may not be multiply-instanced universals. In this case, it wouldn’t be the case that what is in common between particulars is “merely names”. Nor would it be the case that what is in common between particulars is just multiply-instanced properties (universals). This would be neither nominalistic nor purely realist (where the only things that exist are instantiated universals).

    Response: Well you do not reject universals, but you allow a sort of nominalistic predication and rejection of universal sameness with respect of persons so I would say with regards to persons there is a sort of nominalism involved but with respect to natures there is not. So you are not a half way house rather with one sort of thing you are realist but with a other sort of thing you are a nominalist. But this is what I have been saying all along, I think.

    You wrote:

    “Response: I thought he was saying that members of the trinity give particularity to everything in the world and that therefore they are allowed nominal predications of. But I see now, given what you have said, how one might interpret what he said differently. In that case you would not need the persons to ground uniqueness because you could just have differing instances of properties in each substance and that would seem to ground individualization fine.”

    First, this doesn’t rule out our proposed metaphysics as a possibility; at most, it undercuts the argument for it (based on the need to ground particularity).

    Response: Of course, so that reason then for allowing nominalism with persons then is insuffcient.

    Second, it seems like there are some things that have all the same intrinsic properties (like the smallest particles of matter). And if so, we can’t appeal to their intrinsic properties as a way to individuate them.

    Response: I thought about this more and I think that one could say that the particles of matter are had by substances and thus this would allow for substance individuation, but perhaps as you have said, you could have complete identity between two properties, but there would still be individuation with substances and the intrinsic properties therein.

    You wrote:

    “Response: Well I would say that the a nature is a property set in a substance and that there is a property set called: divine nature, human nature, person F, person S, person H. All of these properties are instances of universals from the divine mind. God is only depedent on God and so God self-instantiates himself (the divine concept and then the instance of the particular). I do not see any problem with this, this is just as odd as a claim as God having libertarian agency of being a uncaused cause or a unmoved mover.”

    So you’re saying God’s mind pre-exists his nature, and all three persons of the Trinity?

    Response: No aspect of God pre-exists any other aspect of God.

    But doesn’t there have to be a universal “the divine mind” in order for the divine mind to exist? And if so, where is that universal located?

    Response: The universal of the divine mind is in the divine mind. The divine mind is located in each of the three persons, they all have a distinct mind and these minds are all connected to help form abstractions and divine concepts. This I believe accounts for the problem of the one and the many.

    I don’t think libertarians are claiming that God causes his own existence by exercising libertarian freedom. They are saying that God exists and has libertarian freedom, and then he exercises that freedom. How is this similar to saying God has the ability to ground his own existence?

    Response: Oh I was just saying how it is like libertarian free will in that it is sort of hard to describe how a sort of being can just move himself to action without anything prior causing him. Likewise, it is sort of hard to describe and grasp how a divine mind self-instantiates. Like a being self-causes himself to act.

    Doesn’t “being related to” presuppose “being distinct from”? In other words, doesn’t it seem that in order for it to be possible for there to be two related things, it has to be possible for there to be two things? And if so, how can “being related to” ground “being distinct from”?

    Response: I would disagree that it presupposes that because all three members ground their particularity in each other

    So when Scripture says “the just shall live by faith” its not actually referring to justice?

    Response: It is refering to Christ’s real justice that we apprehend by faith and that is legal imputed to us.

    Why and how would Christ be a morally-justifiable basis for treating the guilty as though they are not guilty, or treating the not-guilty as though they are guilty, especially if making an agreement to treat moral realities falsely, and proceeding to engage in activities that treat those realities falsely, would result in consequences that are objectively wrong (even if they are right within the context of an agreement)?

    Response: I think that God is gracious necessarily and as result I think that legal imputation is the only way to save us given that we have sinned in the past and a just God would have to punish us for that. Now Eastern Christian deny that problem and they say God just forgives for no basis, but western christians look for a basis and that is Christ. Thus, given God higher purpose of manifesting his divine attribute of grace he would have to send his son and impute our sins to him and his righteousness to us or else we could never be saved. Given these assumptions it is perfectly good and just.

    Doesn’t it seem like there can be things that have all the same intrinsic properties?

    Response: No.

    Again, doesn’t it seem like “being distinct from” is ontologically prior to “being related to”?

    Response: No.

    Do predications have to pick out properties, necessarily?

    Response: No, I think both Eastern Christians are justified in their views of persons given their views of revelation and that Protestants are justified in thier views of imputation given their views of revelation. That was the point of my original post.

    You wrote:

    “When each person gives reality to a particular, do they not seem to be serving a similar function and relation?”
    What if they do so in a completely unique way?

    You wrote:

    “Response: They might so. But they at least have a suffcient amount in common enough to call it a relation and as a result you would need a universal for that.”

    Why think that any ascription of commonality actually denotes a property? Is it possible for things to resemble each other even if this isn’t because they have properties in common?

    Response: I would think that if something has any sort of sameness about it then it ought to be explained through some sort of universal, so yes and no.

    Again, what would individuate two things that have all the same intrinsic properties, like two of the smallest particles of matter? Or would you say they do not have all of the same instinsic properties?

    Response: I answered this above.

    Doesn’t it seem possible for two distinct things to exist that have all the same intrinsic properties?

    Response: No.

    You wrote:

    “Response: Yeah when we predicate particularity I believe the referent to be that such and such has different properties than such and such.”

    But you seem to be saying that particularity is not actually a distinct unit of reality that exists in multiple things. Particularity is not itself a single common property that is picked out by the name “particular”. It seems, however, that on your view there is something common that makes things particular in your view of predication. It’s just not a distinct unity of reality that gets multiply-instanced. Rather it is a pattern of relationships—the recurring pattern of “having at least one universal that is different from the set of universals instanced in other beings”.

    Am I understanding you correctly?

    Response: Yes, in a sense. I would just emphasize that I would never think of particularity in terms of properties but as something predicated of substances that have properties.

    I hope that clears things up…God Bless,

    NPT

  34. photios Says:

    “It is a category confusion to seek the universal hypostasis that every individual hypostasis instantiates.”

    Brilliant. I’ve seen this done time and time again. There is no such thing as a person *in general*. There is not a universal concept of person that can be applied to everyone. My hypostasis–my Photios Jonesness–is individually unique to your hypostasis and so on. Compare this understanding to Boethius where this confusion is most profound.

    Photios

  35. photios Says:

    I couldn’t follow Nate’s response to you. It was frought was so much philosophical and theologcial misunderstanding that I wonder if he is certain that he understands what he is actually saying. Perhaps, I’m wrong and what is in his head isn’t getting written down properly or something but I didn’t think his response was capable of being followed rationally.

    Photios

  36. photios Says:

    “So then how is it that a person can be truly unique in every sense if they have so much in common with one another and with other entities that have relational properties?”

    Because the properties that you are thinking of that we share in common amongst *persons* are properties ‘of the nature’ or properties that are *rooted* in the nature, but what can’t be said of more than one person, is the irreducibly unique property (e.g. my Photios Jonesness). There is no analog or identity for it. It’s something that is irrepeatable (the Son’s generation).

    Photios

  37. photios Says:

    “Consider the smallest particle of matter (whatever it is, regardless of how sub-sub-sub-atomic it may be). What individuates one of these from another?

    Response: Relations.”

    This is not an answer. I’ve seen this type of answer from filioquists before, that there is such a thing as a relational property prior to and apart from individuation. You need to give an account of what grounds the relation and how it stands. You are simply stating your conclusion to ground individuation.

    That there are relations and that relations are properties, nobody would dispute, but you must give an account of where and how that relation is rooted.

    Photios

  38. photios Says:

    One note on justification:

    1) Why can’t the justice that we have be uniquely Christ’s and Christ’s alone?

    It seems to me that the Reformed and Lutheran exegesis of the Pauline texts is quite sound in this regard.

    But,

    2) Why does the justice that we apprehend by faith have to be extrinsically related (a legality that doesn’t ontically exist in the subject)? Why can’t the justice be by dint of our union with Christ’s? Is Christ related to humanity extrinsically (Nestorianism) ? Was Abraham just when he believed God and God declared him righteous? Was his act of believing righteous? Was that righteousness and act of obedience a type of Christ’s? It seems the recapitulational aspect is being missed here. That types and motifs have the ability to be repeated later in another’s life. My faith is Christ’s, because it recapitulates what he does.

    3) I don’t see any problem of thinking that the righteousness that I am saved is solely in Christ and his righteousness alone and thinking it is equally mine by dint of Christ’s humanity.

    4) It doesn’t seem to me like the problem is so much Reformed exegesis but the apparatus (system? metaphysic?) that that exegesis is being plugged into.

    5) Of course, as you all know I see this faulty apparatus as being “Augustinism.”

    6) It appears that Maximus the Confessor can take into account Reformed concerns on justification but has the better apparatus for maintaining christological orthodoxy.

    Photios

  39. Krause Says:

    Thanks for commenting Photius. I couldn’t really follow Nate’s responses for too long either so I just let Garten handle it 😛

    By the way: Blessed Name Day to You!!! Many years Photius!

  40. Nathanael P. Taylor Says:

    Because the properties that you are thinking of that we share in common amongst *persons* are properties ‘of the nature’ or properties that are *rooted* in the nature, but what can’t be said of more than one person, is the irreducibly unique property (e.g. my Photios Jonesness). There is no analog or identity for it. It’s something that is irrepeatable (the Son’s generation).

    Response: If you think that in a person is were the source of action is located as 6th E. council teaches and that is something shared by all persons then it seems that there is something in common. But aside from that all persons would have a relation to the nature, but again you can just deny that and say that these predications are nominalistic.

    One note on justification:

    1) Why can’t the justice that we have be uniquely Christ’s and Christ’s alone?

    It seems to me that the Reformed and Lutheran exegesis of the Pauline texts is quite sound in this regard.

    But,

    2) Why does the justice that we apprehend by faith have to be extrinsically related (a legality that doesn’t ontically exist in the subject)? Why can’t the justice be by dint of our union with Christ’s? Is Christ related to humanity extrinsically (Nestorianism) ? Was Abraham just when he believed God and God declared him righteous? Was his act of believing righteous? Was that righteousness and act of obedience a type of Christ’s? It seems the recapitulational aspect is being missed here. That types and motifs have the ability to be repeated later in another’s life. My faith is Christ’s, because it recapitulates what he does.

    3) I don’t see any problem of thinking that the righteousness that I am saved is solely in Christ and his righteousness alone and thinking it is equally mine by dint of Christ’s humanity.

    4) It doesn’t seem to me like the problem is so much Reformed exegesis but the apparatus (system? metaphysic?) that that exegesis is being plugged into.

    5) Of course, as you all know I see this faulty apparatus as being “Augustinism.”

    6) It appears that Maximus the Confessor can take into account Reformed concerns on justification but has the better apparatus for maintaining christological orthodoxy.

    Response: I shall give a defense of the legal view of justification on a future post on my blog. This is another issue about the biblical grounds for why I believe in the Protestant view of justification. I would like to stay on topic. The rest of things that were brought out by you are things I have already responded to or they were just insults….both of which are entirely unhelpful at this juncture. I do not know why every Eastern Orthodox I meet, aside from Michael, have this sort of compulsion to insult when discussing theology and philosophy.

    But apart from the negative stuff, thanks for your comments.

    God Bless,

    NPT

  41. Photios Jones Says:

    “Response: If you think that in a person is were the source of action is located as 6th E. council teaches and that is something shared by all persons then it seems that there is something in common. But aside from that all persons would have a relation to the nature, but again you can just deny that and say that these predications are nominalistic.”

    Again, I can’t make sense of what you are trying to say here. You need to state more clearly what the problem is and how you think I’m stuck with a problem.

    For example, The 6th Ecum. Council does not teach Person is the *source* of action. In other words, action is not *rooted* in the person. I’ve written a specific paper about this topic on Maximus the Confessor, so it’s not clear to me at all that you are grasping my position or putting forth effort to understand it succinctly. I would recommend you do so (btw-that’s not an insult, so stop saying that).

    Photios

  42. Nathanael P. Taylor Says:

    That is fine. So then what is the relation between action and will and the person in eastern theology? And you still did not deal with what else I have said: “But aside from that all persons would have a relation to the nature, but again you can just deny that and say that these predications are nominalistic.”

    God Bless,

    NPT

  43. MG Says:

    Photios–

    If Nate is confused in saying “a person is a source of action” then the confusion can be credited to me. I told him this explicitly.

    I think we actually agree, and I’m sorry if my language of “source” has introduced confusion. All I’m really trying to do is agree with what you say in your paper on free choice in Maximus in this quote here:

    “Christ then freely wills the salvation of the world without any determinism, since the choice is between two good courses of action. We see so far in this analysis of St. Maximus that the natural will does not do the choosing, but it is the hypostasis that particularizes or enhypostasizes these things in a unique and irreducible manner. Maximus’s answer to Monotheletism is not one sided, the will is not solely natural. Otherwise, Christ by taking on a natural human will would drag every person to an apokatastasis of ever-well-being in the same manner if the will is solely hypostatic (i.e. if the will is rooted in the hypotasis). This would collapse person and nature.1 The natural will presents possible courses of action to the hypostasis that then—in the personal mode of willing—chooses to employ the natural will toward an object that it [the natural will] is directed to.”

    “Synergy in Christ According to Saint Maximus the Confessor”, p 11

    available at http://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2005/05/04/synergy-in-christ/

    (I hope you don’t mind that I quoted you; if so, I’ll take the quote down)

    When you say that the natural will does not do the choosing, that’s what I mean by the person being the source of action–that the person acts. If you could clarify what you find unclear or false about saying that a person is a source of action, I would appreciate it.

  44. photios Says:

    MG,
    I think it can lend itself to confusion by saying *source*. Person is what gives the will it’s shape and determinacy. But it’s not the source of the activity. Think about it in terms of the Trinity. If the 3 persons create, then we have a common activity, which means that the ultimate source of the activity is not rooted in the person, but in the nature. With respect to us, Resting-Motion is a property of our nature. I think you are using source in a looser sense to me that (or Who) which brings something about to pass. I would stay away from using *source* in that sense, to stay more consistent with the language of traditional dogma. I try to avoid that language for that very reason. Hope that helps.

    Monergism is a difficult doctrine to refute, because it seems so natural (no pun intended) to think of the will as hypostatic, because its the person that DOES the choosing. The ironic thing is that they have an element of truth in saying so (which makes it that much harder).

    Photios

  45. MG Says:

    Photios–

    Ah, alright. That makes sense–I understand your apprehensiveness now, and agree with you that the most appropriate theological terminology would be to say that natures are the source of activities. But indeed, the specific way that activities are done is up to the particular person that has these natural activities.

    And I definitely see what you mean when you say that we have to make fine decisions to differentiate Orthodoxy from monergism/monoenergism. I picked that up from reading Batrellos and Farrell too.

  46. photios Says:

    Speaking of Farrell and Batrellos. Though a good book, I thought Batrellos completely goofed on the gnomic will being solely a consequence of fallen hypostasis instead a condition of created hypostasis. I saw one article in a journal stating that Farrell’s position on that question was far superior both exegetically (if we take the final development of Maximus) and theologically.

    Photios

  47. MG Says:

    Photios–

    I don’t remember him saying that; but if he did, I definitely agree with you that he got it wrong. I don’t know why people give Farrell such a bad rap sometimes. And of course it would be difficult to explain how there could be a fall were it not for the gnomic will being proper to created hypostases.

  48. Photios Jones Says:

    It’s because he’s “non-canonical” and challenged the powers that be.

  49. Ø Says:

    You don’t think it has anything to do with his (seemingly) crazy alternative history/science theorizing?

    (Just to be clear, I think that stuff is awesome. It does seem, however, like it could damage his credibility for people who are more “mainstream” than myself.)

  50. MG Says:

    Photios and Zakk–

    Yeah those are good points. I have a very easy time separating a scholar from his or her work, and assessing arguments regardless of whose mouth/pen/keyboard/ass they come out of. It seems to me like many academics settle for ad hominem–if not explicitly, at least implicitly.

  51. Ø Says:

    I don’t know that what I said has to be an ad hominem. It could just be that alt. history/science theorizers are notoriously unreliable, so it is prudent, probabilistically speaking, to hold his work in doubt. Most of us would do the same thing if, say, a practicing Amish person were to start instructing us how to fix our computers. The probability of a practicing Amish person having any idea how to fix our computers is extremely low, so it is prudent for us to ignore him–if, of course, we do not intend to worsen our computers’ plight.

  52. photios Says:

    MG and Phi,
    Here’s the real kicker about Farrell’s alternative research. 1) His science is more mainstream in Russia (i.e. the physics of the physical medium, aether, Einstein’s (unfinished, yet engineerable) Unified Field Theory papers). Joseph thinks this is the science of the ancients, and I agree with him. Go back and look at Copplestone’s charts on Plato’s Cave. It looks A LOT like the forms are not really a “super chair” or some sort but really the topological principles of reality. The Greek Fathers thought that Neoplatonism was trying to describe “sensible things.” Well perhaps the One is not some God, but rather a *physical* -though popularized Hermeticism-description of an undifferentiated medium (i.e. the aether). Any light bulbs coming on? What does that make of the doctrine of divine simplicity? Was Neoplatonism the assurance of the survival of this “sacred science” ? Maybe Neoplatonism is all true, and what is passed for in the schools is just a bunch of academic hoo-ha. That’s the real ironic thing about me, I aim hard at Neoplatonism, but the fact is–I believe it’s all true. I just dont think it has a thing to do with religion. I think it has an esoteric agenda.

    Nah, Joe started writing about this stuff and finally putting it down on paper long after he left Tikon’s. Joseph took a very strong Orthodox stance, regarding many things, liturgy, the canoncial problem, dogmatics, how to really inculturate the gospel here in America (one only has to look at his Celtic Orthodoxy to witness what he thinks). My inquiry of the evidence of what happened seems that Joseph was in the right by my judgment in the way he was treated. But he’s a Bishop with a real succession line, so not much they can do about it but to deny his credibility. But they’ll never be able to touch his character, his intellect, or dogmatic sense. I know that he has been approached by many Traditional Orthodox groups to teach Patristics-as he is told he’s the only one that they would trust with handling the texts (ironic indeed).

    Photios

  53. photios Says:

    Thoughts gentleman? The controversey aside, it’d be fun to delve into the issue of “sacred science” (i.e. Hermeticism) and talk about it. Gets me out of the grumpiness of always having to answer protestant and RC objections.

  54. Ø Says:

    Honestly, I didn’t understand your point in the previous comment. The information was interesting–especially about Neoplatonism as science–but it didn’t seem to have a particular thrust. MG and I both agree with you that Dr. Farrell is a good scholar; we were just discussing reasons why people might give him “such a bad rap”.

    Perhaps you could capitulate to my ignorance a little and explain what you were getting at a little more clearly . . . ?

    In any case, I’d be interested in jumping into a discussion of Hermeticism, though I’m sure I wouldn’t be the most knowledgeable interlocutor.

  55. photios Says:

    Oh, well I was jossling a few ideas there.

    I believe Farrell’s bad rap starts back when he was at St. Tikon’s. He had that I believe years before he penned the alternative research stuff. The stuff now is just “piling on” to the bad rap in the eyes of his detractors, but the roots of the bad rap start a long time ago. There’s no doubt the new stuff is much more speculative, but they are just as well researched as any of his other works.

    Oh and then my thoughts on Neoplatonic hermeticismm,.Like Joseph, I think it is less about metaphysics and religions and more about physics-though it is in the language in the former to keep its esoteric agenda.

    And here’s a funny thing, I think Western Esotericism has moved in a rather strange historiographical path like an Origenistic Fall and Return:

    Science (High Civilization) —> Metaphysics (the Philosophers) —> Religion (paganism) —> Metaphsyics (Scholastics) —> Science (Enlightenment,Modern Period)

    Photios

  56. A Reformed Response to Mark Krause on the Person/Nature Distinction « Reason From Scripture Says:

    […] blog “The Well Of Questions” by Mark Krause. Mark’s full response can be found here. First of all, I don’t quite know what to make of his definition of nominalism. Here’s a better […]

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