Retreblement – A Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology

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Our participatory imaginations gift us, integrally & relationally, unity, beauty, goodness, freedom & truth, forming our dispositions (senses & sensibilities) toward various ways of belonging, desiring, behaving, transcending & believing, as expressed in our attitudes regarding & personal commitments to others, the cosmos, God & even our own selves, as told & retold in our stories.

One, who’s thus properly disposed & committed, can then imaginatively engage others thru inspired storytelling, thereby, in turn, fostering others’ healthy participations, dispositions & commitments.

Such storytelling may, more or less, lend itself to a more rigorous cognitive map-making, foundationally, which is to say, historically, exegetically, scientifically, philosophically & metaphysically. Theologically, such foundations can then systematically underwrite our ecclesiologies, soteriologies, sacramentologies, sophiologies & eschatologies.

There are countless pastors, homilists & spiritual directors from diverse faith traditions, who’ve articulated robustly pneumatological ecclesiologies, radically inclusive soteriologies, profusely incarnational sacramentologies, remarkably polydoxic sophiologies & universally efficacious eschatologies – as awakened & enlivened by human solidarity & compassion & retold in personal stories, thus implicitly grounded in their collective participatory imaginations.

Some are better than others, when it comes to explicitly mapping such dispositions, systematically & foundationally. Make no mistake, though, it can be done, especially, it seems to me, by those who recognize certain resonances between Franciscan, Scotist sensibilities & Eastern Orthodox sophiological approaches.

For example, however harshly one might wish to critique certain of Fr Richard Rohr’s explicit foundational apologetics, far more importantly & deserving of way more emphasis, implicit in the collective oeuvre of his lifetime’s ministry, is precisely such an ecclesiology, soteriology, sacramentology, sophiology & eschatology that I would to defend in my Retreblement: A Systematic Apocatastasis & Pneumatological Missiology.

This is to suggest that one shouldn’t ever miss the concrete, dispositional, participatory theophanic, theopoetic, theopoietic & theotic forests for the abstract, propositional, cognitive theological, metaphysical trees. As it is, robustly metaphysical descriptions & rigorous theological formulations necessarily elude us, in principle, while vaguely semantical references & broad heuristical contours guide us, in practice. Following Ignatius, we must charitably presuppose the most orthodox interpretations of our theological interlocutors, not reflexively & habitually construing ambiguities & inadequate or inartful expressions against them.

Integrally, Fr. Rohr’s robustly pneumatological ecclesiology, radically inclusive soteriology, profusely incarnational sacramentology, remarkably polydoxic sophiology & universally efficacious eschatology are grounded in his Franciscan (common) sensibilities, Scotistic meta-heuristic (common) sensicalities & Eastern sympathies, both Orthodoxy’s sophiological tradition as well as the Orient’s nondual traditions. All of these presuppose, then, certain outlooks, theologically (i.e. paterological, Christological, pneumatological & Trinitological approaches) and anthropologically (as, continuous with all vestigia Dei & uniquely as imagines Dei, theotic intimacization invites each person to progress via similitudo Dei).

To wit:

A. implicatory trinitarian theology (of divine esse naturale):

  • 1) interpersonal propria
  • 2) intimate idiomata
  • 3) invitatory (ad intra ur-kenosis) relata

B. intertwined temporal missions of creation, conservation & consummation (mutually entailing acts of ad extra kenosis) via tri-personal presences (multi-form unitive revelations, i.e. mutual intimaci-zations not mani-fold encounters of separate exemplifications), where

C. inseparable “opera ad extra” are tri-personal while also especially revealing of particular exemplifications via their “proper roles” where the

D. immensity of the divine universal presence, which is variously im/mediate, in/visible & intense, the effects of which are tri-personally operative as well as personally appropriated in the theophanic operations of our creaturely “exitus” or production from God in divine creation, i.e. trinitologically & anthropologically … or as an

E. intensity of the particular divine presence via hypostatic extensions, the effects of which are – not only tri-personally operative & personally appropriated, but – personally “proper,” i.e. united to a given divine exemplification, in the theotic missions of our creaturely “reditus” or return to God in divine consummation, i.e. sophiologically & eschatologically … with the

F. immediacy (Emmanuel, God is with us!) of the divine mercy & urgency of its prompt succor, bringing about manifold & multiform proleptic creaturely realizations of the divine telos, as it’s entailed in these theotic missions. Such realizations anticipate & guarantee the divine missions’ universal efficacy, ecclesiologically & sacramentally, thereby effecting – in this eternal now – our creaturely salvation, redemption & reconciliation by God through divine conservation, i.e soteriologically.

G. implicated theological anthropology (of divine esse intentionale):

  • 1) indwelling vestigia
  • 2) imaginal uniqueness (essential nature of imago Dei)
  • 3) intentional & incremental theosis (dynamical & progressive intimaci-zation of secondary nature of kenotic similitudo Dei)

tags: interreligious dialogue, polydoxy, panentheism, pansemioentheism, retreblement, john sobert sylvest, richard rohr, universal christ, pneumatological missiology, apocatastasis, apokatastasis, david bentley hart, russian sophiology, joseph bracken, divine matrix, norris clarke, personalist thomism, charles sanders peirce, donald gelpi s.j., amos yong, palamas, duns scotus, logical problem of the trinity, richard rohr, michael morrell, perichoresis, universalism, universal salvation, free will, libertarian free will, cappadocians

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An account of Universal Salvation (apocatastasis) consistent with a Libertarian conception of the will

Not as a systematic conclusion, but per my vague heuristics, it seems quite plausible that there’s no inconsistency between a proper libertarian conception of the will (e.g. those of Maximus & Scotus) and universal salvation (apocatastasis).

As long as we draw the necessary distinction between choosing “between” good & evil (being & nonbeing) and choosing “among” goods (on a Pareto front of equally optimal choices), along with the further distinctions of our essential & secondary natures (Scotus) and natural & gnomic willing (Maximus), apocatastasis can be conceived as sufficiently self-determinative.

Gnomic willing is what our one will, the natural will, does when epistemically-axiologically distanced, as it chooses to act or refrain from acting in accord with divine logoi, i.e. choosing or refusing participation in goodness & being, thereby forming or deforming one’s secondary nature as, in varying degrees, virtuous and/or vicious.

If we conceive our epistemic-axiological distancing in theotic terms, as our temporal journeying from image to likeness, our gnomic willing constitutes our co-creative participation in Being, beyond being, in Goodness, itself, beyond goodness. Our self-determined secondary natures, ad majorem Dei gloriam, will thereby gift us such holiness & beatitude that some souls will, indeed, outshine the sun.

I have insisted, for decades, inspired by something, per my dim recollection, that Hans Kung once suggested regarding eschatological anthropology (though I can neither cite nor recite it): that every beginning of a smile, all wholesome trivialities, every trace of human goodness, will be eternalized. Upon further reflection, consistent with those thoughts, it seems to me that every self-determined refusal to participate in goodness & being will be likewise respected, as any vicious aspects of our secondary natures transist into eternal nonbeing, as those temporal moments are essentially constituted by self-annihilations of our secondary natures.

I see no a priori reason that complete closures of each person’s epistemic-axiological distancing cannot be accomplished post-mortem, e.g. such as in instantaneous life reviews or via other such purgative vehicles, thereby eternally “fixing” our secondary natures and, definitionally, ending all gnomic willing.

If, in some unimaginable putative worst case scenario, a human person would transist into eternity with no measure of a virtuous secondary nature, no happy eternalizations, whatsoever, what might that entail?

There can be no eternal annihilation of a person’s essential nature, which will necessarily enjoy eternal being by virtue of its intrinsic goodness. That essential being can in no measure be diminished or demolished self-determinedly. No one conceives of a libertarian free will on such terms, especially those committed to the (theo)logical necessity of eternal fires & brimstone.

How, then, might we conceive this bare personal essence, bereft of a virtuous (and vicious) secondary nature? Well, following the conventional “age of reason” approach, which defines the threshold for the growth of rudimentary, self-determined secondary natures (moral & theotic), I conceive such an essential nature in terms of early childhood, as precious sacred faces, whose voices make such precious sacred sounds. And, in an eternal environs, no longer situated per an epistemic-axiological distancing, I envision those children of God & ourselves in pure delight & as wholly beloved. Now, if in holiness & beatitude, they present as tiny votive candles, thoroughly on fire with divine love, while others shine forth as this or that blazing helios, surely, that will not diminish their lovability? That others might be holier than us, O’ Lord, grant us the grace to desire it, provided we shall be as holy as you’d have us be!

What might constitute different degrees of beatitude? both of different measures of self-determined, virtuous secondary natures & of precious, sacred essential natures?

Different degrees of beatitude will be experienced commensurate with the self-determined ontological densities of each person, as measured in relative spiritual intensities (both moral & theotic) and experienced in degrees of expansive aesthetic scopes, that is in terms of the number of choices “among” eternal goods of which one has freely chosen to avail oneself. In this sense, the imago Dei will have grown in divine likeness, for, while the divine nature undergoes no change in perfection vis a vis aesthetic intensity, the divine will, esse intentionale, is ever “affected” in terms of aesthetic scope by our free, self-determined choices to participate in Being, in Goodness.

It is in this sense that I would suggest that the difference between our essential & secondary natures might roughly map to such distinctions as we’ve always recognized in terms of, for example, imperfect & perfect contrition, eros & agape, early vs later stages of Bernardian love, illuminative & unitive ways, Ignatian degrees of humility and so on.

It has always been accepted that imperfect contrition and love of self for sake of self & love of God for sake of self are sufficient. Such “enlightened” self-interest has always been sufficient for parents? I fully expect it will remain sufficient for our Heavenly Father and that it will obtain for all the requisite conditions necessary for our own eternal beatitude. For, as DBH has so compelling argued, who could enjoy an eternal existence separated from those we’ve always loved and will always love unconditionally?

Divine Energeia & Simplicity

In affirming a weak DDS (Scotists), thin passibility (personalist Thomists) or essence-energy distinction (Palamites), one shouldn’t imagine this merely involves a Scotist formal distinction, Thomist metaphysically real distinction or Palamite denial of essential simplicity, all which refer to determinate realities & their un/realized potency.

Any distinction between the divine esse naturale & intentionale, then, must be trans-formal, i.e. beyond our determinate categories, marked by a wide analogical interval & long apophatic moment. This apophasis might less so involve a logocentric negation, speculatively, but more so a transrational, ineffable experience (Lossky) that encounters the divine – not so much inferentially, intuitively or even affectively, but – participatorily, as we act with God in a synergy, thereby coming to know the Author of such works (Bradshaw) & becoming more authentically oneself via deification (Cappadocian).

Indeed, such ineffable experiences would gift us with a transrational & trans-apophatic knowledge of God (Staniloae). We can conceive these relational, communal communications of knowledge in terms of divine manifestations of God’s activities i.e. divine energies, among which, according to Bradshaw, the Greek Fathers would count simplicity.

Bradshaw writes: As with any energy, God is both simplicity itself & beyond simplicity as its source. Just as the sun is simple & yet possesses an indefinite multitude of rays, so nothing about divine simplicity prevents God from possessing an indefinite multitude of energies. Likewise nothing prevents these energies from being affected by creatures.

A metaphysical notion of simplicity, again, such as could be made in reference to determinate realities vis a vis Scotistic & Thomistic distinctions (formal & metaphysically real), in principle, eludes us regarding divine realities, especially suitably predicated apophatically & analogically.

However, in a Maximian sense, regarding the “things around God,” simplicity would symbolically mean that “the one Logos is many logoi, and the many logoi are one Logos.”

Michael Horton writes: According to Bradshaw, what Palamas did was to synthesize the various strands of thought that existed in Eastern theology (the energies, the logoi, the “things around God”, and the divine “light”) and subsume them all under the term energeia.

So, if we are to truly “pray our ontotheology,” we must observe that apophatic moment – not just engaging in negations of our logocentric speculations, but – wherein, relationally, we participate in divine activities, choosing our every act in consideration of divine logoi, celebrating the ineffable divine manifestations of our own and others’ theotic self-realizations. Such deifying effects will present as proper to no known determinate causes as we faithfully pursue holiness as characters in search of their Author.

Law of Retreblement

– both traditions, when they talk about the un/knowability of the divine ousia or essentia, are for the most part talking pious nonsense
– no such ‘thing’ as the divine essence
– no divine essence understood as a discrete object unto itself
– any language that suggests otherwise, whether patristic, Thomist, or Palamite, is an empty reification

David Bentley Hart

The Hidden & the Manifest: Essays in Theology & Metaphysics

Pity the patristic scholar, Thomist or neo-Palamite, who’s, over a career, deftly navigated past the theological shoals of modalism, tritheism & subordinations, only to discover per DBH’s critique that her oeuvre’s washed up on the shore of some desert island of divine quaternity, b/c she unwittingly reified the essence or hypostasized energeia. Such charges can happen to the best of scholars, e.g. Peter Lombard.

I don’t intend to defend any given scholar or tradition, as I’m not sure who DBH meant to indict, in particular. But I certainly subscribe to his normative contours, generally.

Many certainly presuppose the ousia’s not a thing, even if their rhetoric doesn’t explicitly express same. Let me suggest that, in fact, most, whom I’ve studied, hermeneutically employ, even if only implicitly, a trinitological Law of Retreblement.

I discern a law of retreblement in play in all authentic trinitological discourse, derivable from St. Basil, where the essential, personal & relational must be always conceived together &, when articulated, if not explicitly expressed together, at least has been implicitly & mutually presupposed. Furthermore, I’d maintain, that, while trinitological propria, idiomata & relata (both ad extra & intra) are not merely logical but clearly onto-logical, they remain weak semantical references to, & in no way robust metaphysical descriptions of, divine realities.

Such semantical references include:

  • essentially, denominative & connotative propria (iconic, lexical-iconic, metaphorical & analogical kataphases);
  • personally, determinative & denotative idiomata (existential, quantitative, locative & numeric apophases); and
  • relationally, connotative-denotative experiences through participatory synergies, which manifest effects, both soteriological & sophiological (theotic), as would be proper to no known causes, donatively gifting – not only inferential, intuitive & affective intelligibilities, variously inchoate & adequate, but – a robustly relational knowledge that’s trans-kataphatic, trans-apophatic, trans-rational & trans-formal, hence ineffably unitive via the Energeia, i.e. the logoi, the things around God, the Light.

Norris Clarke succinctly emulates this retreblement: “To be [being] is to be substance-in-relation.”

Even Aristotle’s conceptions of ousia, since they can variously refer to arche (ground), substance (entity) or form (im/material quiddities or generalities), anticipate & evoke the triadic inseparability of the divine realities’ essential unitary arche, personal hypostatic unicity & relational unitive forms.

This retreblement further evokes a mutual entailment of the divine realities revealed in the:

  • Monarchy of the Father, essentially, personally & relationally per propria;
  • generation of the Son & procession of the Holy Spirit, personally, relationally & essentially per idiomata; and
  • mutual revelation of the energeia manifested (ineffably but participatively) in every divine-creaturely act of synergy in both the gratuities of creation (by imagines vestigia dei) & of grace (by theotic oikonomia), relationally, essentially & personally per relata.

This mutual entailment avoids – not only modalism, tritheism & subordinationism, but – any quaternities, whether of a reified essence or hypostasized energeia (including Sophia).

Some may recognize in this divine semi-formal retreblement heuristic the same triadic categories & semantic rules we use for determinate realities. Those otherwise differ, however, by admitting acts in limited potency in each such category and by affording, in the category of formal relata, a connotative-denotative generic determination, i.e. a quiddity not accessible for the incomprehensible divine essence. As such, divine propria, idiomata & relata only semantically refer to divine realities but simply cannot collapse modally into the properties, entities & relations of determinate realities, which otherwise afford robust metaphysical descriptions.

Exploring the Other Side (well, one part, anyway)

continued from here

Bottomline:
I could only ever conceive of a post-mortem annihilation of one’s vicious secondary nature, never of one’s essential nature (imago Dei), which would be held in existence b/c of its intrinsic goodness. I picture such a “mere” imago as a person of 7 or younger (not some horror!).

To be or not to be, who we really are, that is the question, as we freely choose to act in pursuit of options that we know to be good (all equally or each sufficiently so) or not to act in consideration of same.

One can act in an inconsiderate or thoughtless way, without considering the good, under some compulsion, hence exculpably, or after considering the good, sinfully, in both cases depriving one’s act and its effects of any distinctively human quality. One can, thereby, nihilate the very essence of one’s being in a de-privative act that can potentially render effects deprived of the good (privatio boni).

Habitual patterns of in/considerate acts yield our secondary natures, which can include varying degrees of both virtuous & vicious natures, hence degrees of likeness to our God, extrinsically, varying in moral & spiritual intensities, which proportionately gift expansions of freedom & aesthetic scope. Our essential nature, an imago Dei, though, remains intrinsically good.

It seems quite probable to me that every authentically free human act, participating in Goodness, itself, has an intrinsically eternal quality, that every trace of human goodness, every beginning of a smile, all wholesome trivialities, are sophianized, gifted an eternal aesthetic scope. Other acts are self-nihilations, diminishing our secondary nature’s likeness to God in varying degrees, while, intrinsically & inviolably, our essential natures remain a precious, sacred imago Dei, a durable aesthetic intensity.

We thus self-determine, in every act, how much of our secondary nature gets eternalized (as virtuous) or self-nihilated (as vicious), what degree of authenticity we freely will to realize.

My Universalist Account

Therefore –

What if God honored all freely refused participations in eternal goods as ordered toward our contingent being?

What if God honored all freely accepted participations in eternal goods as ordered toward our contingent being?

What if that part of the nature of our contingent being, as it was formed by such refusals of eternal goods or being, was allowed to lapse into nonbeing, precisely respecting one’s free choice?

What if that part of the nature of our contingent being, as it was formed by freely accepted eternal goods or being, was eternalized (becoming virtually essential being), precisely respecting one’s free choice?

What would transist into eternity, then, whether proleptically and/or eschatologically, would therefore be our intrinsically good essential being, with its fixed aesthetic intensity, and extrinsically good (virtuous) secondary nature with its self-determined aesthetic scope, but never one’s vicious secondary nature, lacking sufficient moral intensity & self-determinedly ordered toward nonbeing, hence annihilation.

Notes:

Concepts to be Expanded:

Emergence of probability

Via transmuted experience

In individuals as secondary nature, with a diversity of specific identities & uniformity of generalIn societies as culture, pluralistically, in particular religions & universal presence

Mediated or not, pneumatologically

Expressing or not, Maximian logoi

A Consistent Trinitology & Robust Pneumatology?

What might draw one to Scotus re trinitology? So as not to be coy, I’ll tell you why & where the choice matters to me (& doesn’t).

If there’s no “substantive” difference, only terminological, between Scotist & Thomist accounts of nature & persons, and nothing separating either from the Capps re MOF, then, whatever motivates one to prefer one or the other account won’t involve concerns related to tritheism, modalism or subordinationism.

Such a motivation could derive from one’s idiomatic preferences, finding one idiom more felicitous than the next, for whatever reason. That (& Franciscan sensibilities) first drew me to Scotus b/c his approach had influenced Peirce w/whom I resonated. Beyond that, systematically, I later discovered certain nuances of the “subtle” doctor that resonated w/my pneumatological sensibilities.

While working w/Amos Yong, he reinforced why a proper approach to the filioque, & how an engagement with certain Orthodox emphases, might help me better articulate my pneumatology, which was concerned – not only with the Spirit’s particular activity in the gratuity of grace, but – the Spirit’s universal activity in the gratuity of creation.

Both how one articulates the MOF & how one appropriates the DDS could have implications for how one conceives ad extra divine interactivity, i.e. how pervasively indwelling is the Spirit in creation and how profusely intimate is the Spirit in theosis?

I consider the East & West, Byzantine & Latin, views of the Spirit’s eternal procession to have been largely reconciled through terminological disambiguations & in ways not just congenial to the stance of Maximus but which would’ve been satisfactory to both Mark of Ephesus & Palamas, even while I remain sympathetic to Zizioulas’ call for further clarification.

Still, in asking just how pervasive might be the Spirit’s creaturely indwelling & profusive the Spirit’s theotic intimacy, we must inquire into the DDS & more precisely define impassibility. And here’s my Thomistic rub, my pneumatological nub and the theological hub, where the Franciscans (Scotus & Bonaventure), Maximus, Mark of Ephesus, Palamas and the Capps all seem to converge, as ISTM, their stances entail a weak DDS, not inconsistent w/a thin passibility, none of this incongruous w/certain open conceptions (not to be coy, I’m thinking of Tom Belt). I should note, Norris Clarke, a personalist Thomist, was receptive to this approach.

Some might insist that the MOF differentiates the Persons only logically, that w/o robustly causal explanations it lacks intelligibility. Properly conceived, though, the MOF has definite ontological & causal implications, so, while wholly incomprehensible, it remains eminently & infinitely intelligible.

Still, for certain analytic types, there’s no analogical interval too wide or apophatic moment to long to break their kataphatic stride. Because they misappropriate idiomata & propria, which are inherently limited in modelling power, their trinitologies will inevitably stall, epistemically, from the inordinate theo-ontological freight they’re expected to haul. These same analytics complain of Thomism’s strong DDS, often on the same grounds of unintelligibility. While I’m sympathetic to that charge, I reject their radically kataphatic solutions and resist their facile causal models, which prove too much.

Contrastingly, what the East has consistently & properly held, in my view, is an appropriately (vaguely) causal MOF and suitably weak DDS. This remains congruent with the thin passibility that underwrites my robustly pneumatological intuitions of a Spirit, Who pervasively indwells in creation & profusely “intimacizes” in theosis.

Further Discussion

Scotus locates the will in efficient causation. For many, this represents a conceptual relocation from the formal. Conceiving the free will as efficient cause (in limited potency to material) implicates a volition that determines only WHETHER one exercises (or refrains therefrom) one’s will but not to WHAT it chooses, i.e. it must not refer to why this or that is chosen but only to why the will wills at all, because it does remain free not to act.

As such, the will refers to the sole rational potency, never acting without the intellect, which is co-causally operative (in bringing the Maximian logoi to bear) even though not finally determinative.

The will determines neither the act of existence in potency to essence nor the formal generically determinative act in potency to one’s final cause, which makes a human existent what one truly is, e.g. a human person, the symbolic species, an imago Dei, a beloved child of God, a sister of Jesus, a brother of the Cosmos.

Taken seriously, this has enormous soteriological and sophiological implications, which is to say, regarding redemption, justification & sanctification, i.e. intiation into communion, adoption into the Kingdom, on one hand, and, on the other, beatitude & glorification, i.e. ascetically & mystically or theotically, further establishing the Kingdom via communal collaboration.

In my view, Scotus would worry about the risk of any full blown liberty of indifference [1], i.e. including not just one’s aesthetic scope or efficient acts in limited potency to divine logoi, materially, but also, vis a vis aesthetic intensity (ontological density), existential acts (self-annihilation) in limited potency to divine logoi, essentially, as well as formal acts (generic self-determination) in limited potency to divine logoi, finally (as if we could become other than what we already are, what C.S. Lewis might call a “dismantling of humanity”). This amounts to what M. M. Adams would call a low doctrine of human agency [2], although I am not wholly familiar with her precise formulation and how it might comport with my own, above.

Any such exercise and actualization of rationality makes one’s efficient acts good and increases the being of the Kingdom, ecclesiologically, both proleptically & eschatologically. But does that also increase one’s own being, intrinsically, as per a Thomistic metaethic, per se changing one’s esse naturale per a generic determination? [3]

Or does it only change, per an agential extrinsic denomination, one’s esse intentionale?

Does moral evil frustrate an increase in the being of one’s esse naturale, even to the point of its full diminishment, so to speak undoing one’s intiation into communion and adoption into the Kingdom, denying one’s very aesthetic intensity & ontological density?

Rather, might it frustrate an increase in being only vis a vis one’s esse intentionale, foregoing further communal collaboration in the Kingdom, restricting one’s aesthetic scope, limiting one’s ecclesiological participation, as one neglects spiritual exercises and practices of presence? [4]

I’m not suggesting my anthropological categories & applications measure up with anthropological rigor or even capture the points of disagreement between, for example, Eleonore Stump & Marilyn M. Adams. Even if they amount to an ahistorical, eisegetic account of Aquinas & Scotus, though, perhaps they still have some normative integrity all their own?

If stable dispositions, derived from habitual spiritual exercices and practices of presence, to act in accordance with or contrary to one’s nature, i.e. virtues or vice, do produce second natures, whether virtuous or vicious, do those ontologically negate or just phenomenologically mask our primal human nature, hide the imago Dei?

In my view, our primal being and goodness is both unalienable, due to divine esse intentionale, & inalienable, not a capacity of determinate esse intentionale.

Eternally, are we dealt with in accordance with both or either of our natures, primary &/or secondary, however one conceives these volitional loci, as esse naturale or intentionale?

If the goodness of our being is thus light, will our existence in Hell thereby be unbearable?

Let’s consider Hart:
[T]he wrathful soul experiences the transfiguring and deifying fire of love not as bliss but as chastisement and despair. [5]

Does not this refer to the transformative & theotic dynamisms that I addressed, above. Will not those dynamisms cease post-mortem or in some eschatological closure of epistemic distance, such as in a particular judgment & life review? Hart doesn’t take this into account, when describing the tortures of hell, but only because he otherwise ultimately rejects an infernalist stance, not inconsistent with Bulgakov’s surmise that those dynamisms might continue post-mortem, finally rejecting eternal torment as a moral absurdity.

So, if those dynamisms terminate post-mortem, wouldn’t we necessarily only be dealt with in accordance with our primary nature, which would comport with Maximian being, eternal being and well-being? Or, if also our secondary nature, only that level of goodness & being which emerged per Maximian logoi, never otherwise instantiating a privatio boni, which have no ontological reality?

Might ill-being only ever be a transitory, purgative state? Or even a misconstrual of an eternal esse intentionale, which remains volitionally indifferent to any aesthetic scope, beyond its original endowment, not inconsistent with a Scotistic free will, located in efficient not telic causes?

A post-mortem will that’s closed all epistemic & axiological distances and has been purged of any residual vicious secondary nature could only refrain from determining among the goods of an enhanced aesthetic scope, choosing not to grow one’s spiritual intensity. It would no longer be able to otherwise act inconsiderate of goods pertaining to temporal exigencies, due to having none, so, would no longer be able to sin, no longer able to vary its moral intensity.

Bishop Barron [6] writes: If there are any people in Hell (and the church has never obliged us to believe that any human is in that state), they are there, not because God capriciously “sent” them, but because they absolutely insist on not joining in the party.

This isn’t wholly inconsistent with the view of volitional indifference to a self-constrained aesthetic scope, but, again, what of my point that human volition is not otherwise constituted by self-constraints regarding aesthetic intensity (ontological density), existentially or generically, regarding THAT one is or WHAT one primally is (whatever one believes regarding self-constructed secondary natures)?

How, then, would we psychologize that eternal disposition? I’m asking for a friend, who’s a social wallflower, who prefers to watch the mirrorball & swirling dervishes beneath, who doesn’t mind others coming over to sit in silent presence (90% is showing up, only 10% is dancing, perichoretically or otherwise?), while they keep the finger sandwiches & beers coming. One person’s modus ponens is another’s modus tollens?

As John O’Brien observers: Concerning the detailed specific nature of hell … the Catholic Church has defined nothing. … It is useless to speculate about its true nature, and more sensible to confess our ignorance in a question that evidently exceeds human understanding. [7]

Fr Richard Rohr writes: To be frank, I think that perhaps no single belief has done more to undercut the spiritual journey of more Western people than the belief that God could be an eternal torturer of people who do not like him or disobey him. And this after Jesus exemplified and taught us to love our enemies and forgive offenses 70 x 7 times! The very idea of Hell (with a capital ‘H’), as Jon Sweeney explains in this magnificent book, constructs a very toxic and fear-based universe, starting at its very center and ground. Hatred, exclusion, and mistreatment of enemies is legitimated all the way down the chain of command.” [8]

Jon Sweeney writes: “Ultimately, I choose not Dante’s vengeful, predatory God who is anxious to tally faults, to reward and to punish. Instead I choose the God who creates and sustains us, who is incarnate and wants to be among us, and the God who inspires and comforts us. That God is the real one, the one I have come to know and understand, and that God has nothing to do with the medieval Hell.” [9]

Conclusions

Following Scotus, I intuit that no eternally self-constrained aesthetic intensity is possible, neither existentially (THAT) nor generically (WHAT).

And with Rohr & Sweeney, I’ll simply insist, apophatically, on what an eternally self-constrained aesthetic scope simply must NOT be like.

Then, with O’Brien, I’ll confess ignorance, kataphatically.

Notes:[1] MM Adams re Scotus’ concerns re liberty of indifference, as she cites Duns Scotus, God and Creatures: The Quodlibetal Questions, translated with introduction, notes and glossary by Felix Alluntis, O.F.M., and Allan B. Wolter, O.F.M. (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1975), q.16, art. Il, 377-79·[2] ibid The Problem of Hell by Marilyn M. Adams[3] Dante’s Hell, Aquinas’s Moral Theory, and Love of God, Eleonore Stump, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16 (2):181-198 (1986)[4] When God created us in the divine image, God intended us to be cocreators and participate in God’s plan. Hell may not be a literal burning fire, but does that mean it doesn’t exist?by Kevin P. Considine[5] The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? By David B. Hart[6] Bishop Barron[7] John Anthony O’Brien, The Faith of Millions: The Credentials of the Catholic Religion, pp. 19–20[8] from the Foreward to Dante, The Bible, and Eternal Torment by Jon M. Sweeney[9] Sweeney ibid

To Be or Not, to Sophianize or Not our human secondary nature: The Unbearable Lightness of Being (eternally self-determined)

In Conclusion –

Not as a systematic conclusion, but per my vague heuristics, it seems quite plausible that there’s no inconsistency between a proper libertarian conception of the will (e.g. those of Maximus & Scotus) and universal salvation (apocatastasis).

As long as we draw the necessary distinction between choosing “between” good & evil (being & nonbeing) and choosing “among” goods (on a Pareto front of equally optimal choices), along with the further distinctions of our essential & secondary natures (Scotus) and natural & gnomic willing (Maximus), apocatastasis can be conceived as sufficiently self-determinative.

Gnomic willing is what our one will, the natural will, does when epistemically-axiologically distanced, as it chooses to act or refrain from acting in accord with divine logoi, i.e. choosing or refusing participation in goodness & being, thereby forming or deforming one’s secondary nature as, in varying degrees, virtuous and/or vicious.

If we conceive our epistemic-axiological distancing in theotic terms, as our temporal journeying from image to likeness, our gnomic willing constitutes our co-creative participation in Being, beyond being, in Goodness, itself, beyond goodness. Our self-determined secondary natures, ad majorem Dei gloriam, will thereby gift us such holiness & beatitude that some souls will, indeed, outshine the sun.

I have insisted, for decades, inspired by something, per my dim recollection, that Hans Kung once suggested regarding eschatological anthropology (though I can neither cite nor recite it): that every beginning of a smile, all wholesome trivialities, every trace of human goodness, will be eternalized. Upon further reflection, consistent with those thoughts, it seems to me that every self-determined refusal to participate in goodness & being will be likewise respected, as any vicious aspects of our secondary natures transist into eternal nonbeing, as those temporal moments are essentially constituted by self-annihilations of our secondary natures.

I see no a priori reason that complete closures of each person’s epistemic-axiological distancing cannot be accomplished post-mortem, e.g. such as in instantaneous life reviews or via other such purgative vehicles, thereby eternally “fixing” our secondary natures and, definitionally, ending all gnomic willing.

If, in some unimaginable putative worst case scenario, a human person would transist into eternity with no measure of a virtuous secondary nature, no happy eternalizations, whatsoever, what might that entail?

There can be no eternal annihilation of a person’s essential nature, which will necessarily enjoy eternal being by virtue of its intrinsic goodness. That essential being can in no measure be diminished or demolished self-determinedly. No one conceives of a libertarian free will on such terms, especially those committed to the (theo)logical necessity of eternal fires & brimstone.

How, then, might we conceive this bare personal essence, bereft of a virtuous (and vicious) secondary nature? Well, following the conventional “age of reason” approach, which defines the threshold for the growth of rudimentary, self-determined secondary natures (moral & theotic), I conceive such an essential nature in terms of early childhood, as precious sacred faces, whose voices make such precious sacred sounds. And, in an eternal environs, no longer situated per an epistemic-axiological distancing, I envision those children of God & ourselves in pure delight & as wholly beloved. Now, if in holiness & beatitude, they present as tiny votive candles, thoroughly on fire with divine love, while others shine forth as this or that blazing helios, surely, that will not diminish their lovability? That others might be holier than us, O’ Lord, grant us the grace to desire it, provided we shall be as holy as you’d have us be!

What might constitute different degrees of beatitude? both of different measures of self-determined, virtuous secondary natures & of precious, sacred essential natures?

Different degrees of beatitude will be experienced commensurate with the self-determined ontological densities of each person, as measured in relative spiritual intensities (both moral & theotic) and experienced in degrees of expansive aesthetic scopes, that is in terms of the number of choices “among” eternal goods of which one has freely chosen to avail oneself. In this sense, the imago Dei will have grown in divine likeness, for, while the divine nature undergoes no change in perfection vis a vis aesthetic intensity, the divine will, esse intentionale, is ever “affected” in terms of aesthetic scope by our free, self-determined choices to participate in Being, in Goodness.

It is in this sense that I would suggest that the difference between our essential & secondary natures might roughly map to such distinctions as we’ve always recognized in terms of, for example, imperfect & perfect contrition, eros & agape, early vs later stages of Bernardian love, illuminative & unitive ways, Ignatian degrees of humility and so on.

It has always been accepted that imperfect contrition and love of self for sake of self & love of God for sake of self are sufficient. Such “enlightened” self-interest has always been sufficient for parents? I fully expect it will remain sufficient for our Heavenly Father and that it will obtain for all the requisite conditions necessary for our own eternal beatitude. For, as DBH has so compelling argued, who could enjoy an eternal existence separated from those we’ve always loved and will always love unconditionally?

Exploring the Other Side (well, one part, anyway)

continued from here

Bottomline:
I could only ever conceive of a post-mortem annihilation of one’s vicious secondary nature, never of one’s essential nature (imago Dei), which would be held in existence b/c of its intrinsic goodness. I picture such a “mere” imago as a person of 7 or younger (not some horror!).

To be or not to be, who we really are, that is the question, as we freely choose to act in pursuit of options that we know to be good (all equally or each sufficiently so) or not to act in consideration of same.

One can act in an inconsiderate or thoughtless way, without considering the good, under some compulsion, hence exculpably, or after considering the good, sinfully, in both cases depriving one’s act and its effects of any distinctively human quality. One can, thereby, nihilate the very essence of one’s being in a de-privative act that can potentially render effects deprived of the good (privatio boni).

Habitual patterns of in/considerate acts yield our secondary natures, which can include varying degrees of both virtuous & vicious natures, hence degrees of likeness to our God, extrinsically, varying in moral & spiritual intensities, which proportionately gift expansions of freedom & aesthetic scope. Our essential nature, an imago Dei, though, remains intrinsically good.

It seems quite probable to me that every authentically free human act, participating in Goodness, itself, has an intrinsically eternal quality, that every trace of human goodness, every beginning of a smile, all wholesome trivialities, are sophianized, gifted an eternal aesthetic scope. Other acts are self-nihilations, diminishing our secondary nature’s likeness to God in varying degrees, while, intrinsically & inviolably, our essential natures remain a precious, sacred imago Dei, a durable aesthetic intensity.

We thus self-determine, in every act, how much of our secondary nature gets eternalized (as virtuous) or self-nihilated (as vicious), what degree of authenticity we freely will to realize.

My Universalist Account

Therefore –

What if God honored all freely refused participations in eternal goods as ordered toward our contingent being?

What if God honored all freely accepted participations in eternal goods as ordered toward our contingent being?

What if that part of the nature of our contingent being, as it was formed by such refusals of eternal goods or being, was allowed to lapse into nonbeing, precisely respecting one’s free choice?

What if that part of the nature of our contingent being, as it was formed by freely accepted eternal goods or being, was eternalized (becoming virtually essential being), precisely respecting one’s free choice?

What would transist into eternity, then, whether proleptically and/or eschatologically, would therefore be our intrinsically good essential being, with its fixed aesthetic intensity, and extrinsically good (virtuous) secondary nature with its self-determined aesthetic scope, but never one’s vicious secondary nature, lacking sufficient moral intensity & self-determinedly ordered toward nonbeing, hence annihilation.

Notes:

Concepts to be Expanded:
Emergence of probabilityVia transmuted experienceIn individuals as secondary nature, with a diversity of specific identities & uniformity of generalIn societies as culture, pluralistically, in particular religions & universal presenceMediated or not, pneumatologicallyExpressing or not, Maximian logoiFurther Discussion

Scotus locates the will in efficient causation. For many, this represents a conceptual relocation from the formal. Conceiving the free will as efficient cause (in limited potency to material) implicates a volition that determines only WHETHER one exercises (or refrains therefrom) one’s will but not to WHAT it chooses, i.e. it must not refer to why this or that is chosen but only to why the will wills at all, because it does remain free not to act.

As such, the will refers to the sole rational potency, never acting without the intellect, which is co-causally operative (in bringing the Maximian logoi to bear) even though not finally determinative.

The will determines neither the act of existence in potency to essence nor the formal generically determinative act in potency to one’s final cause, which makes a human existent what one truly is, e.g. a human person, the symbolic species, an imago Dei, a beloved child of God, a sister of Jesus, a brother of the Cosmos.

Taken seriously, this has enormous soteriological and sophiological implications, which is to say, regarding redemption, justification & sanctification, i.e. intiation into communion, adoption into the Kingdom, on one hand, and, on the other, beatitude & glorification, i.e. ascetically & mystically or theotically, further establishing the Kingdom via communal collaboration.

In my view, Scotus would worry about the risk of any full blown liberty of indifference [1], i.e. including not just one’s aesthetic scope or efficient acts in limited potency to divine logoi, materially, but also, vis a vis aesthetic intensity (ontological density), existential acts (self-annihilation) in limited potency to divine logoi, essentially, as well as formal acts (generic self-determination) in limited potency to divine logoi, finally (as if we could become other than what we already are, what C.S. Lewis might call a “dismantling of humanity”). This amounts to what M. M. Adams would call a low doctrine of human agency [2], although I am not wholly familiar with her precise formulation and how it might comport with my own, above.

Any such exercise and actualization of rationality makes one’s efficient acts good and increases the being of the Kingdom, ecclesiologically, both proleptically & eschatologically. But does that also increase one’s own being, intrinsically, as per a Thomistic metaethic, per se changing one’s esse naturale per a generic determination? [3]

Or does it only change, per an agential extrinsic denomination, one’s esse intentionale?

Does moral evil frustrate an increase in the being of one’s esse naturale, even to the point of its full diminishment, so to speak undoing one’s intiation into communion and adoption into the Kingdom, denying one’s very aesthetic intensity & ontological density?

Rather, might it frustrate an increase in being only vis a vis one’s esse intentionale, foregoing further communal collaboration in the Kingdom, restricting one’s aesthetic scope, limiting one’s ecclesiological participation, as one neglects spiritual exercises and practices of presence? [4]

I’m not suggesting my anthropological categories & applications measure up with anthropological rigor or even capture the points of disagreement between, for example, Eleonore Stump & Marilyn M. Adams. Even if they amount to an ahistorical, eisegetic account of Aquinas & Scotus, though, perhaps they still have some normative integrity all their own?

If stable dispositions, derived from habitual spiritual exercices and practices of presence, to act in accordance with or contrary to one’s nature, i.e. virtues or vice, do produce second natures, whether virtuous or vicious, do those ontologically negate or just phenomenologically mask our primal human nature, hide the imago Dei?

In my view, our primal being and goodness is both unalienable, due to divine esse intentionale, & inalienable, not a capacity of determinate esse intentionale.

Eternally, are we dealt with in accordance with both or either of our natures, primary &/or secondary, however one conceives these volitional loci, as esse naturale or intentionale?

If the goodness of our being is thus light, will our existence in Hell thereby be unbearable?

Let’s consider Hart:
[T]he wrathful soul experiences the transfiguring and deifying fire of love not as bliss but as chastisement and despair. [5]

Does not this refer to the transformative & theotic dynamisms that I addressed, above. Will not those dynamisms cease post-mortem or in some eschatological closure of epistemic distance, such as in a particular judgment & life review? Hart doesn’t take this into account, when describing the tortures of hell, but only because he otherwise ultimately rejects an infernalist stance, not inconsistent with Bulgakov’s surmise that those dynamisms might continue post-mortem, finally rejecting eternal torment as a moral absurdity.

So, if those dynamisms terminate post-mortem, wouldn’t we necessarily only be dealt with in accordance with our primary nature, which would comport with Maximian being, eternal being and well-being? Or, if also our secondary nature, only that level of goodness & being which emerged per Maximian logoi, never otherwise instantiating a privatio boni, which have no ontological reality?

Might ill-being only ever be a transitory, purgative state? Or even a misconstrual of an eternal esse intentionale, which remains volitionally indifferent to any aesthetic scope, beyond its original endowment, not inconsistent with a Scotistic free will, located in efficient not telic causes?

A post-mortem will that’s closed all epistemic & axiological distances and has been purged of any residual vicious secondary nature could only refrain from determining among the goods of an enhanced aesthetic scope, choosing not to grow one’s spiritual intensity. It would no longer be able to otherwise act inconsiderate of goods pertaining to temporal exigencies, due to having none, so, would no longer be able to sin, no longer able to vary its moral intensity.

Bishop Barron [6] writes: If there are any people in Hell (and the church has never obliged us to believe that any human is in that state), they are there, not because God capriciously “sent” them, but because they absolutely insist on not joining in the party.

This isn’t wholly inconsistent with the view of volitional indifference to a self-constrained aesthetic scope, but, again, what of my point that human volition is not otherwise constituted by self-constraints regarding aesthetic intensity (ontological density), existentially or generically, regarding THAT one is or WHAT one primally is (whatever one believes regarding self-constructed secondary natures)?

How, then, would we psychologize that eternal disposition? I’m asking for a friend, who’s a social wallflower, who prefers to watch the mirrorball & swirling dervishes beneath, who doesn’t mind others coming over to sit in silent presence (90% is showing up, only 10% is dancing, perichoretically or otherwise?), while they keep the finger sandwiches & beers coming. One person’s modus ponens is another’s modus tollens?

As John O’Brien observers: Concerning the detailed specific nature of hell … the Catholic Church has defined nothing. … It is useless to speculate about its true nature, and more sensible to confess our ignorance in a question that evidently exceeds human understanding. [7]

Fr Richard Rohr writes: To be frank, I think that perhaps no single belief has done more to undercut the spiritual journey of more Western people than the belief that God could be an eternal torturer of people who do not like him or disobey him. And this after Jesus exemplified and taught us to love our enemies and forgive offenses 70 x 7 times! The very idea of Hell (with a capital ‘H’), as Jon Sweeney explains in this magnificent book, constructs a very toxic and fear-based universe, starting at its very center and ground. Hatred, exclusion, and mistreatment of enemies is legitimated all the way down the chain of command.” [8]

Jon Sweeney writes: “Ultimately, I choose not Dante’s vengeful, predatory God who is anxious to tally faults, to reward and to punish. Instead I choose the God who creates and sustains us, who is incarnate and wants to be among us, and the God who inspires and comforts us. That God is the real one, the one I have come to know and understand, and that God has nothing to do with the medieval Hell.” [9]

Conclusions

Following Scotus, I intuit that no eternally self-constrained aesthetic intensity is possible, neither existentially (THAT) nor generically (WHAT).

And with Rohr & Sweeney, I’ll simply insist, apophatically, on what an eternally self-constrained aesthetic scope simply must NOT be like.

Then, with O’Brien, I’ll confess ignorance, kataphatically.

Notes:[1] MM Adams re Scotus’ concerns re liberty of indifference, as she cites Duns Scotus, God and Creatures: The Quodlibetal Questions, translated with introduction, notes and glossary by Felix Alluntis, O.F.M., and Allan B. Wolter, O.F.M. (Washington, D.C.: The Catholic University of America Press, 1975), q.16, art. Il, 377-79·[2] ibid The Problem of Hell by Marilyn M. Adams[3] Dante’s Hell, Aquinas’s Moral Theory, and Love of God, Eleonore Stump, Canadian Journal of Philosophy 16 (2):181-198 (1986)[4] When God created us in the divine image, God intended us to be cocreators and participate in God’s plan. Hell may not be a literal burning fire, but does that mean it doesn’t exist?by Kevin P. Considine[5] The Doors of the Sea: Where Was God in the Tsunami? By David B. Hart[6] Bishop Barron[7] John Anthony O’Brien, The Faith of Millions: The Credentials of the Catholic Religion, pp. 19–20[8] from the Foreward to Dante, The Bible, and Eternal Torment by Jon M. Sweeney[9] Sweeney ibid

Ur-kenosis & Ur-analogy in a Trinitarian, Kenotic Panentheism – Bracken’s Peircean approach can bring Hegel, Bulgakov & others together

One might appropriate Hegel & Bulgakov through Peircean lenses, using, for example, Joe Bracken’s panentheism.

One can thereby also avoid any apparent (Hegel) or latent (Bulgakov) nominalist tendencies (thick in Whitehead, thin in Hartshorne) and affirm a robustly Trinitarian & kenotic panentheism.

Hegel (too deterministic? I’m not so sure. See thought experiment, below.), perhaps, needs an appropriation of Peirce (no nominalism) & Schelling (personalist, more freedom) for his panentheism to be distinguished from Aurobindo’s, and to conform more to Bracken’s panentheism, which is more consistent with Classical Theism.

The following makes sense within such a stance:

Clayton cites Hegel’s recognition that the logic of the infinite requires the inclusion of the finite in the infinite and points towards the presence of the world in God (Clayton 2004b, 78–79). Clayton, along with Joseph Bracken (1974; 2004), identifies his understanding of panentheism as Trinitarian and kenotic (Clayton 2005, 255). It is Trinitarian because the world participates in God in a manner analogous to the way that members of the trinity participate in each other although the world is not and does not become God. God freely decides to limit God’s infinite power in an act of kenosis in order to allow for the existence of non-divine reality. The divine kenotic decision results in the actuality of the world that is taken into God.
https://stanford.library.sydney.edu.au/archives/spr2012/entries/panentheism/

It seems that, as long as we don’t misconceive Logos & logoi (e g. of Maximus, Neo-platonists, etc) as universals, thoughts or ideas, i.e. abstractly, in essential or formal terms, but think of them in concrete terms of a freely acting Person with intentions or wills, reasons or purposes, to Whom some end is “fitting,” —

Then, we can apply the Anselmian principle, potuit, decuit, ergo fecit: ‘twas possible & “fitting,” ergo accomplished – to all Trinitarian missio ad extra, both vestigia of the gratuity of creation and oikonomia of soteriology & theosis of the gratuity of grace, without attributing such contingent effects to a *necessity* as would be grounded in God’s nature, divine esse naturale, but, instead attributing same to an *inevitability* grounded in God’s Will, divine esse intentionale.

As a thought experiment, how might Hegel’s determinism be cast in (or reconciled to) Maximian terms of logoi, Peircean realist (not nominalist) terms & a Scotist libertarian will, all in defense of a strong apocatastasis, e.g. consistent with Hart, perhaps.

If one conceives of both Scotus & Maximus as libertarians, for whom the intellect’s necessarily operative but not wholly determinative in volition, where self-determinative volitional acts remain limited in potency to the logoi of being, well-being, and eternal being, then, the creature self-determines – not its depth, but – its breadth of being.

The creature self-determines the kenotic scope of its theotic participation (perhaps even choosing to annihilate much of it), while God, alone, determines the kenotic intensity of that participation (in an aesthetic teleology).

Whatever one’s eschatological anthropology, any irreversibility could only refer to one’s self-determination of scope, i.e. in terms of foregoing superabundant being. Existence, itself, abundantly & gratuitously, partakes of being over against nonbeing, limited in potency to divine logoi (rather than, e.g. merely uncreated essences or universals).

If appetitive movements cease in some instance, e.g. due to closure of a creaturely epistemic distance, at some moment like a particular judgment, then, per the determinative Maximian logoi, this could not entail a cessation of ardor vis a vis the depth of one’s desires & loves, i.e. the very fact that one desires & loves per an intrinsic orientation, but only could refer to a self-determination regarding the breadth of those ardors.

Some may call this eternal ill-being, if they must, but ill*being* would strike me as a paragon of oxymorons, i.e. once considering the intrinsic goodness of any and all participation in Being, itself, beyond all being.

The thought that some of us might populate the firmament like a tiny votive candle, while others might shine forth like a blazing helios, would not likely be off-putting to anyone, who’s ever been a parent, whose love for each child knows no bounds, no limits, and differs in neither depth nor breadth, intensity nor scope, from one to the next, however much they participate or reciprocate in family-being, however differently abled regarding, or disposed toward, same.

So, as parents, we’ll always pray: That our children & grandchildren may become holier than us, provided that we may become as holy as we should, Jesus, grant us the grace to desire it.

At any rate, that’s where I was headed, when suggesting:

I conceive the afterlife as a state wherein the will remains, eternally, in relation to an extrinsic aesthetic scope, however otherwise unsurpassable the realization of one’s intrinsic aesthetic intensity. (This is an imago Dei riff on the divine esse intentionale.) This requires a conception of volition, whereby one, while only ever freely willing that which is suited both to one’s advantage & justice (& never freely pursuing privatio boni or evil for evil), also enjoys the radical freedom to choose – from among the infinity of aesthetic options as they’ll lay before us in eternity, none, in any way, suboptimal (an eternal Pareto Frontier). This requires my Scotist conception of quasi-libertarian freedom, which would include the power to refrain from willing one optimal choice, while willing another (equally optimal), both choices self-interested & both just.

O Jesus! meek and humble of heart, Hear me.
From the desire of being esteemed,
Deliver me, Jesus.
From the desire of being loved…
From the desire of being extolled …
From the desire of being honored …
From the desire of being praised …
From the desire of being preferred to others…
From the desire of being consulted …
From the desire of being approved …
From the fear of being humiliated …
From the fear of being despised…
From the fear of suffering rebukes …
From the fear of being calumniated …
From the fear of being forgotten …
From the fear of being ridiculed …
From the fear of being wronged …
From the fear of being suspected …
That others may be loved more than I,
Jesus, grant me the grace to desire it.
That others may be esteemed more than I …
That, in the opinion of the world,
others may increase and I may decrease …
That others may be chosen and I set aside …
That others may be praised and I unnoticed …
That others may be preferred to me in everything…
That others may become holier than I, provided that I may become as holy as I should…

Litany of Humility
Rafael Cardinal Merry del Val (1865-1930),
Secretary of State for Pope Saint Pius X

A Further Defense of my Eschatological Anthropology

In further defense of this apocatastatic hypothesis, let me further defend its eschatological anthropology, which employs an analogy of divine and determinate esse naturale & intentionale, the determinate as imago Dei.

By aesthetic depth or intensity, I refer to the ontological density of the human person’s essential nature, which, in the great chain of being, transcends (but includes) all teleo-potent, teleo-matic, teleo-nomic & teleo-qualic realities as a teleo-logic reality, as the symbolic species.

From the anthropological account of a Peircean axiological epistemology, this entails an holistic epistemic suite, marked by an aesthetic primacy (no more voluntarist than the Scotist’s primacy of will). As such, we distinguish the determinate esse naturale and intentionale only formally, as integrally related, inseparable aspects of the human person.

God gifts this reality, an imago Dei, an absolute, intrinsic value, the perfection of which cannot be enhanced or diminished by extrinsic changes in the aesthetic scope of its esse intentionale.

Aside from the gifts of its existence & redemption, where this makes some sense, what are we to make of theotic realizations, of Lonergan’s secular & religious conversions, of our journeys to Authenticity & Sustained Authenticity, of mystical theology’s Ways of Perfection, of Ascetic Theology’s path from the false to True Self, where this makes less sense?

In other words, to what does Transformation refer in terms of any reality’s movement from vestige to image to likeness?

Transformative movements, in my view, refer to all manner of self-transcendence, a by-product of which is self-actualization.

Such movements, per Bernardian love, move us from

  • love of self for sake of self,
  • love of God for sake of self,
  • love of God for sake of God, to
  • love of self for sake of God.

Ignatius similarly gives account of this journey in his Degrees of Humility.

More simply put, we move from imperfect to perfect contrition, from the eros of self-enlightenment to the agape of Gospel love.

Imperfect contrition is necessary and sufficient, however, for increased beatitude!

Even love of self for sake of self, that most basic of desires, the storge’ & eros of Lewis’ Four Loves, remains both necessary & sufficient in a human reality that’s already essentially & absolutely, intrinsically valuable to God, as an imago Dei, which comprises a perfection, which cannot be enhanced or diminished by such extrinsic changes as could never increase its dignity or worth, only its beatitude.

We might, therefore, introduce a distinction between more perfect redemptions & salvations (as Scotus introduced for the Immaculate Conception, which I, then, analogously applied to post-mortem, eschatological anthropology) and more perfect creatures, in and of themselves, ontologically. The former apply, beatitudinally, while the latter would apply, essentially & existentially, except for the fact that it does not, since the intrinsic value of persons is already & ever absolute.

Transformation, therefore, refers to sanctification & glorification, growing as holy as He would desire & passing from glory to glory in eternal beatitude, as one’s will might self-determine vis a vis its desired aesthetic scope.

Does this trivialize mortal sin? Does it sanction quietism? Does it amount to an insidious indifferentism? Does it obviate soteriological discourse?

Let’s foreground the distinctions I’ve introduced above.

As St John of the Cross pointed out, God’s creatio continua holds the soul in existence even in mortal sin. What’s placed in jeopardy is never the absolute intrinsic value of the person’s existence, only its own extrinsic realizations of other values (that are also of absolute intrinsic value, in and of themselves, i.e. Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Love & Freedom, the pursuits of which are their own rewards).

Here, the quest, itself, becomes one’s grail, the journey – one’s destination, the sitting – one’s consolation.

This is because, naked personal existence, itself, only ever pursues any values, via transformative value pursuits, because, in and of itself, it already constitutively & necessarily possesses them in goodly measure, precisely by already abundantly participating in that & Whom it would to possess, but is already possessed by. Thus it’s really only aspiring to be (and do) who it abundantly is already, only ever more fully, i.e. superabundantly.

A person, eternally being, could never be annihilated through self-determination & wouldn’t so be since the divine fiat, which has deemed it intrinsically good, has already deemed its existence fitting per divine esse intentionale. In so doing, such a personal act of existence was limited by divine logoi, one of which mirrors, via its determinate esse intentionale, a radical freedom – not of ontological density or aesthetic depth or intensity, but – of aesthetic breadth or scope.

Whether or not, after having crossed a sufficient (or even closed an essential) epistemic distance, this aesthetic scope remains irrevocably intact (a Maximian hypothesis) or irreversibly frozen (a Thomist hypothesis), the naked personal existent nevertheless “enjoys” its constitutive & abundant possession of and participation in Truth, Beauty, Goodness, Love & Freedom, by virtue of an essential (naturale) participation, always journeying (intentionale) in Being, itself, beyond all being, because it’s never self-determined in its esse naturale, whether or not it happens to also be self-determined in its intentionale (via irrevocability or irreversibility).

It would seem exceptional, when anyone would forego (or appear, somehow, indifferent to) superabundance, settling into a quietistic stance. At the same time, a nevertheless abundant life would be sustained precisely by the soteriological efficacies that reach all, for all have been redeemed. Some do enjoy, via a self-determined aesthetic scope (limited in potency only by divine logoi) a superabundant beatitude.

What, then, of mortal sin? Even if that state somehow irreversibly freezes one’s determinate esse intentionale (foreclosing the possibility of any expansion of an essential, minimalist aesthetic scope), such as via an epistemic closure in a particular judgment, it cannot annihilate one’s essential existence or its absolute intrinsic value, personal dignity & extrinsic worth, as eternally loved by God & others, all expecting absolutely nothing in return.

Primal ur-kenosis, ad extra kenosis and the kenotic self-emptying of parents & lovers has always been this way?

We even recoil at every insidious form of ableism, which would value our children based on developmental milestones or setbacks, whether due to genetic, perinatal or accidental dis-ease, whether from deformative influences or the pangs of addiction, whether due simply to age or through their unfathomable dispositions & puzzling personality differences.

Who values a child at 20 more than one at 2?

Who loves a child, who’s a model of social grace, athletic grace or academic grace, more than one who’s on some spectrum, physically awkward or mentally struggling?

It’s all grace!

Who tells a child, if you don’t come to Thanksgiving Dinner, I will hire a hit man to take you out? Well, yeah, right. I guess that has been done, in so many ways, but it was with the best of intentions and highly nuanced.

No, I can buy that some will be votive candles in eternity, on fire with the same flame, ontologically, as others, who’ll outshine the sun. After all, life seems very much like that here and now. A lot of us quite rather be votive candles, truth be told. And I imagine that some earthly luminaries, who compete with the stars, themselves, may well be but votive candles in eternity, once their dross burns off.

What I can’t imagine is that any fire, whomsoever, will be extinguished, by one’s self or Another’s determination.

See ya on the other side.

Exploring the Other Side (well, one part, anyway)

Scotus locates the will in efficient causation. For many, this represents a conceptual relocation from the formal.
Conceiving the free will as efficient cause (in limited potency to material) implicates a volition that determines only WHETHER one exercises (or refrains therefrom) one’s will but not to WHAT it chooses, i.e. it must not refer to why this or that is chosen but only to why the will wills at all, because it does remain free not to act.

As such, the will refers to the sole rational potency, never acting without the intellect, which is co-causally operative (in bringing the Maximian logoi to bear) even though not finally determinative.

The will determines neither the act of existence in potency to essence nor the formal generically determinative act in potency to one’s final cause, which makes a human existent what one truly is, e.g. a human person, the symbolic species, an imago Dei, a beloved child of God, a sister of Jesus, a brother of the Cosmos.

Taken seriously, this has enormous soteriological and sophiological implications, which is to say, regarding redemption, justification & sanctification, i.e. intiation into communion, adoption into the Kingdom, on one hand, and, on the other, beatitude & glorification, i.e. ascetically & mystically or theotically, further establishing the Kingdom via communal collaboration.

In my view, Scotus would worry about the risk of any full blown liberty of indifference [1], i.e. including not just one’s aesthetic scope or efficient acts in limited potency to divine logoi, materially, but also, vis a vis aesthetic intensity (ontological density), existential acts (self-annihilation) in limited potency to divine logoi, essentially, as well as formal acts (generic self-determination) in limited potency to divine logoi, finally (as if we could become other than what we already are, what C.S. Lewis might call a “dismantling of humanity”). This amounts to what M. M. Adams would call a low doctrine of human agency [2], although I am not wholly familiar with her precise formulation and how it might comport with my own, above.

Any such exercise and actualization of rationality makes one’s efficient acts good and increases the being of the Kingdom, ecclesiologically, both proleptically & eschatologically. But does that also increase one’s own being, intrinsically, as per a Thomistic metaethic, per se changing one’s esse naturale per a generic determination? [3]

Or does it only change, per an agential extrinsic denomination, one’s esse intentionale?

Does moral evil frustrate an increase in the being of one’s esse naturale, even to the point of its full diminishment, so to speak undoing one’s intiation into communion and adoption into the Kingdom, denying one’s very aesthetic intensity & ontological density?

Rather, might it frustrate an increase in being only vis a vis one’s esse intentionale, foregoing further communal collaboration in the Kingdom, restricting one’s aesthetic scope, limiting one’s ecclesiological participation, as one neglects spiritual exercises and practices of presence? [4]

I’m not suggesting my anthropological categories & applications measure up with anthropological rigor or even capture the points of disagreement between, for example, Eleonore Stump & Marilyn M. Adams. Even if they amount to an ahistorical, eisegetic account of Aquinas & Scotus, though, perhaps they still have some normative integrity all their own?

If stable dispositions, derived from habitual spiritual exercices and practices of presence, to act in accordance with or contrary to one’s nature, i.e. virtues or vice, do produce second natures, whether virtuous or vicious, do those ontologically negate or just phenomenologically mask our primal human nature, hide the imago Dei?

In my view, our primal being and goodness is both unalienable, due to divine esse intentionale, & inalienable, not a capacity of determinate esse intentionale.

Eternally, are we dealt with in accordance with both or either of our natures, primary &/or secondary, however one conceives these volitional loci, as esse naturale or intentionale?

If the goodness of our being is thus light, will our existence in Hell thereby be unbearable?

Let’s consider Hart:
[T]he wrathful soul experiences the transfiguring and deifying fire of love not as bliss but as chastisement and despair. [5]

Does not this refer to the transformative & theotic dynamisms that I addressed, above. Will not those dynamisms cease post-mortem or in some eschatological closure of epistemic distance, such as in a particular judgment & life review? Hart doesn’t take this into account, when describing the tortures of hell, but only because he otherwise ultimately rejects an infernalist stance, not inconsistent with Bulgakov’s surmise that those dynamisms might continue post-mortem, finally rejecting eternal torment as a moral absurdity.

So, if those dynamisms terminate post-mortem, wouldn’t we necessarily only be dealt with in accordance with our primary nature, which would comport with Maximian being, eternal being and well-being?

Might ill-being only ever be a transitory, purgative state? Or even a misconstrual of an eternal esse intentionale, which remains volitionally indifferent to any aesthetic scope, beyond its original endowment, not inconsistent with a Scotistic free will, located in efficient not telic causes?

Bishop Barron [6] writes: If there are any people in Hell (and the church has never obliged us to believe that any human is in that state), they are there, not because God capriciously “sent” them, but because they absolutely insist on not joining in the party.

This isn’t wholly inconsistent with the view of volitional indifference to a self-constrained aesthetic scope, but, again, what of my point that human volition is not otherwise constituted by self-constraints regarding aesthetic intensity (ontological density), existentially or generically, regarding THAT one is or WHAT one primally is (whatever one believes regarding self-constructed secondary natures)?

How, then, would we psychologize that eternal disposition? I’m asking for a friend, who’s a social wallflower, who prefers to watch the mirrorball & swirling dervishes beneath, who doesn’t mind others coming over to sit in silent presence (90% is showing up, only 10% is dancing, perichoretically or otherwise?), while they keep the finger sandwiches & beers coming. One person’s modus ponens is another’s modus tollens?

As John O’Brien observers: Concerning the detailed specific nature of hell … the Catholic Church has defined nothing. … It is useless to speculate about its true nature, and more sensible to confess our ignorance in a question that evidently exceeds human understanding. [7]

Fr Richard Rohr writes: To be frank, I think that perhaps no single belief has done more to undercut the spiritual journey of more Western people than the belief that God could be an eternal torturer of people who do not like him or disobey him. And this after Jesus exemplified and taught us to love our enemies and forgive offenses 70 x 7 times! The very idea of Hell (with a capital ‘H’), as Jon Sweeney explains in this magnificent book, constructs a very toxic and fear-based universe, starting at its very center and ground. Hatred, exclusion, and mistreatment of enemies is legitimated all the way down the chain of command.” [8]

Jon Sweeney writes: “Ultimately, I choose not Dante’s vengeful, predatory God who is anxious to tally faults, to reward and to punish. Instead I choose the God who creates and sustains us, who is incarnate and wants to be among us, and the God who inspires and comforts us. That God is the real one, the one I have come to know and understand, and that God has nothing to do with the medieval Hell.” [9]

Conclusions

Following Scotus, I intuit that no eternally self-constrained aesthetic intensity is possible, neither existentially (THAT) nor generically (WHAT).

And with Rohr & Sweeney, I’ll simply insist, apophatically, on what an eternally self-constrained aesthetic scope simply must NOT be like.

Then, with O’Brien, I’ll confess ignorance, kataphatically.

Notes:

In saying THAT, in creating & incarnating, the Divine Will is Nonarbitrary, we want to thread the needle between a vague, Logical Defense that merely refers to WHO & HOW God Is & a precise Evidential Theodicy that clearly describes WHAT God is & WHY He creates & incarnates

From divine energeia (vestigia & oikonomia), effects proper to no other known causes, we can indeed refer (via semantical univocity, ontological analogy & apophatic predication) to the divine esse naturale/intentionale

a) determinatively, denotatively & indexically, in 1 existential, 2 numeric, 3 quantitative & 4 locative senses,

i.e. 1 THAT 2 One 3 Infinite 4 Eternal cause did create & incarnate, as well as

b) denominatively, connotatively & iconically, in 1 qualitative, 2 implicitly metaphorical & theopoetic, & 3 explicitly analogical & theological senses,

i.e. WHO & HOW of idiomata & propria.

But we cannot describe, in
c) denotative-connotative pragmatic sense, either 1 generically or 2 contextually,
1 WHAT (naturale) created & incarnated or 2 WHY (intentionale).

We can know the creation & incarnation are nonarbitrary, denominatively & connotatively, because of WHO gifted the divine vestigia & oikonomia and HOW it all donatively presents in such a profound aesthetic harmony, but not because we know WHAT or WHY, generically or determinatively.

WHY did we come home to a locked house? I don’t know the reason but my Father always has loving purposes, so He locked it lovingly. Perhaps he had set off a poisonous pesticide bomb? Was that necessary? No, for he’s obscenely wealthy. We could’ve just moved to another house with no roaches. Or any number of other choices available on a Pareto Frontier of otherwise equal optimalities.

We could say we know THAT an act was purposeful & nonarbitrary because we know WHO authored it and HOW they always act (a defense), even as we insist we don’t know WHY (a theodicy).

While we don’t eschew vague answers (defenses) to the logical problem of evil, we resist specific answers (theodicies) to evidential problems of evil.

Deeper into the logic:

For determinate syllogistics, think 3 modes of being: essential, personal & formal; 1 of identity: formal.

For semantics of this modal ontology, think possibilities, actualities & probabilities, where, respectively: NC folds, EM holds; NC/EM hold; NC holds, EM folds.

Actualities/Persons in potency to Possibilities/Essences; Efficient in potency to Material for actualities; Formal in potency to Final for probabilities. Respectively, Acts of Being (naturale) & Willing/Becoming (intentionale).

For divine syllogistics, think 3 modes of identity: essential, personal & formal, as w/o modal ontology or potency, but w/immanent universal, i.e. pure act of being, self-subsisting esse naturale, essentially – like a primary substance & personally – an exemplification, semantically referenced, respectively, by propria & idiomata.

How would we analogically differentiate, though, divine from determinate esse intentionale?

For determinate rational beings, willing (intentionale) always entails becoming, either more or less, what the divine will intends them to be (naturale), as we freely (willingly) participate or not (willfully) in acts of being & willing per potencies or limitations as divinely willed.

Human persons are thus adequately but not fully determined, free to become or not, in degrees, only who we were intended, to participate or not, per divinely willed limitations or potencies, in being. We are free to be & to will to become walking self-contradictions.

For divine being, intrinsically, noncontradiction obtains essentially, personally & formally for esse naturale, as nondeterminate being.

For kenotic divine being, when self-determinate in extrinsic relations to determinate being via divine esse intentionale, excluded middle folds in that (noncoercive) space, where rational determinate beings participate or not in gratuitous divine acts, whether of creation or of grace.

What’s the difference between so called weak (Scotist) vs strong (Thomist) conceptions of DDS?

The “weak” DDS employs univocity with a formal distinction, semantically.

The “strong” DDS employs apophasis with analogia, ontologically.

The weak version chastens radical apophaticism, the strong – radical kataphaticism.

There are distinctions between the divine essence, energy & operations, the nature & will, formally & semantically, that gift a modicum of intelligibility, denominatively & connotatively, via revelation.

Ontologically, though, we predicate the DDS apophatically & analogically, gaining a modicum of intelligibility, determinatively & denotatively, i.e. locatively eternal, quantitatively infinite, numerically One & existentially necessary, although nothing can be known generically (what?).

Taken together, these versions aren’t in opposition but, indeed, emulate different steps in Dionysian logic:

God is | x | is true kataphatically & trans-analogically; as a simile, whether analogically & literally or metaphorically & nonliterally;

God is | not x | is true apophatically & literally; and

God is neither | x | nor | not x | is true relationally & really.

Those who affirm these types of distinctions will be able to reconcile Thomist, Scotist & Palamite approaches, Latin & Byzantine logics.

Some refer to extrinsic denominations & Cambridge properties in the context of categorial discourse, as they make connotative & denominative semantic claims about realities that are signified in terms of their relation to other realities, such as in a analogies of attribution, e.g. First Cause or Creator.

Even when considered semantically, such extrinsic denominations of contingent relations would still have metaphysical implications, for, as long as one hasn’t otherwise reduced any such reference to metaphor, as analogies, they’re predicated literally of their subjects.

Such predicates don’t describe a subject’s real properties, but are appropriate, i.e. make their subject intelligible, by virtue of the real properties of any realities to which the subject’s in relation.

As such, the extrinsic denominations & Cambridge properties of God discourse ad extra, e.g. creation, redemption & theosis, naming God’s contingent relations (gratuities of creation & grace), don’t compromise DDS or Actus Purus.

Layers of Analogia in Eschatological Anthropology

The musing, below, was evoked by Resurrection Prolegomena at Fr Kimel’s Eclectic Orthodoxy.

I post it here so as to avoid being inapposite to others’ more pressing concerns (as I tend to digress) and to avoid sucking the participatory oxygen out of another’s forum (as what I usually lack in general accessibility is too often only made up for by my long-windedness).

When I (most vaguely) consider the possibility of a post-mortem discarnate soul, even as somehow embodied, even with an identity as somehow constituted of different types of form, including unitary, plural & partial …

it occurs to me that Bonaventure may have well been correct in that “every act of cognition must be theology’s slave” …

because such a metaphysical anthropological account as that above, which eclectically incorporates Thomist (unitary), Bonaventuran (plural) & Scotist (partial) conceptions of forms

even if does not necessarily presuppose an eschatological, theological anthropology

does implicitly recognize that Aristotelian syllogistics, alone, cannot metaphysically account for anthropological realities to the same extent or with the same facility that it does regarding other finite determinate realities.

When we (e.g. Abelard) bridge the modal ontology of our Aristotelian syllogistics with the modal identities of our divine syllogistics, we unavoidably must employ an epistemic approach that integrally intertwines univocal semantic, analogical ontic & apophatic conceptual strategies.

The alert metaphysician, especially emergentist, semiotic realists (whether Augustinian, Bonaventuran, Scotist, Neo-platonist, Thomist, classical or process, even naturalist but, sorry, not Cartesian) recognizes that …

For finite determinate realities, we unavoidably must bridge the logics of end-stated and end-purposed realities (the merely teleomatic & teleonomic) with those of end-intended realities (the clearly teleo-logic), similarly, employing an epistemic approach that integrally intertwines univocal semantic, analogical ontic & apophatic conceptual strategies.

As epistemology models ontology, there are, unavoidably, layers of analogia required to model reality’s layers of complexity, all characters in search of their Author, all complexities in search of the Simplicity, all determinacies in search of the Ens Necessarium, as “omnes cognitiones theologiae famulantur” (every act of cognition is theology’s slave).

So, when braver (incarnate) souls than I, e.g. Paul J. Griffiths, speculate regarding eschatological anthropology, I adopt a posture of charitable interpretation that presupposes their recognition of & attendance to those requisite analogical intervals & apophatic predications that will integrally relate to & qualify their otherwise univocal semantic references.

And I expect those, who employ robustly personalist stances, both divine & human, to draw such distinctions as between esse naturale & intentionale.

Then, regarding the natures, energies & wills of divine hypostases, when incarnated, due to those analogical intervals, ontologically, they’ll necessarily refer to them only in terms of, respectively, dyophysitism, dyenergism & dyothelitism, or, at least, a properly nuanced miaphysitism.

I would expect them to apply the same degree of nuance & same deliberate parsings to the plural & partial forms that constitute human hypostases, respecting the analogical intervals & employing suitable apophatic predications between those aspects of our identities as they variously correspond to our teleomatic physicality, teleonomic physiology & teleologic intentionality.

Specifically, then, when philosopher-theologians like Griffiths speculatively refer, denotatively & putatively, to finite, determinate human realities in terms of physical primitives, i.e. mass, energy, gravity & space-time, it seems to me that he’s certainly employing the necessary parsings & nuances. For example, implicitly, his use of prefixes like im-, non-, dis- , ir- and in-, and suffixes like –less introduce the requisite apophatic bracketing. Explicitly, his citing of dis/continuities and drawing of eternal-temporal distinctions properly advert to reality’s unavoidable analogical intervals.

So, that’s all to say that I don’t see anything, a priori, logically inconsistent or internally incoherent, metaphysically.

Theologically, his eschatological anthropology remains within traditional contours, historically & exegetically, dogmatically & liturgically, pastorally & theotically, although I see a workaround in the distinctions between esse naturale & intentionale vis a vis our eternal realizations of aesthetic intensities vs scopes, where he could affirm rather than deny Greogory’s epektasis.

Systematically, though, Griffith’s work is very highly speculative, because he’s boldly conjectured beyond the vague categories of hylomorphism using a scientific idiom that remains very much a moving target, e.g. the nature of space-time or his timespace, as we’re nowhere near articulating a Theory of Everything.

As I’ve written, previously, our minimalist transcendent methodology would interrogate physical reality, for example, asking such questions as whether it’s NECESSARILY

  • volumetrically in/finite,
  • geometrically un/bounded or un/closed,
  • topologically un/re/curved,
  • spatialized temporally,
  • temporalized spatially,
  • essentially or emergently spatio-temporal,
  • a/symmetric,
  • essentially non/inflationary,
  • quasi/exponentially expansionary
  • dimensionally 2/3/4/more-D,
  • homo/hetero/genous,
  • an/isotropic,
  • uni/multi/versial,
  • with dimension/less physical constancy,
  • with non/universal constancy,
  • nomologically im/mutable

and on and on and on.

Answers to certain of these questions will necessarily implicate answers to certain others.

Suggested Reading:

I resonate more with much in the following accounts, all consistent with my Scotistic sensibilities articulated above, than with Griffith’s, but certainly consider his equiplausible versus them, metaphysically.

Thomas M. Ward, John Duns Scotus on Parts, Wholes, and Hylomorphism, Brill, 2014, Review by Robert Pasnau

Why I – rather naturally – Have No Metaphysic

B.P. Prusak, Bodily Resurrection in Catholic Perspectives, Theological Studies 61, 64-105.

Relevant Twitter Thread by John Sobert Sylvest

The Trinity, Monarchy & Filioque Implicate Scotistic Free Will

To say or not of G_d?

1philosophically
a that
b when-where
c how
d why
e what
2 theologically
a economic
b immanent
3 semantically who
4 cardinally & 5 ordinally
a hypostatic being
b essential being

MOF says there is (2b) a sole personal (4a) source (5a), Who (3) is the original (5a) freely-loving-willing One (4a).

In the MOF, the name, Father, names (3) neither the essential being (4 or 5 b) nor the economy (2a) but a relationship (5a).

The (in obliquo) unity of the essence (4b) can be deduced (in recto) from the relationships (2b) initiated (5a) by the willing One (4a).

Did Augustine, from that unity (4 & 5 a) & unicity (4b), deduce the plurality of relationships (2b), & even conceptually relate the economic (temporal missions – 2a) to the immanent (eternal processions – 2b)?

Yes.

Indeed, Augustine conceived the Spirit’s eternal procession (5a & 2b) as gift, love itself, economically (2a), & seems to infer the filioque from the homoousion, all with an aim of further emphasizing both the personal unity (4 & 5 a) & essential unicity (4b) of the Trinity.

What Augustine did NOT do was deduce from the unicity (4b), alone, the plurality of relationships (2b), e.g. ignoring the hypostatic unity (4 & 5 a).

Nor did Augustine logically derive the immanent (eternal processions – 2b) from the economic (temporal missions – 2a).

Augustine was, instead, constructing, as a supplement, a theophanic pneumatology to further illuminate the Spirit’s procession.

Did it threaten the MOF or subordinate the HS?

No.

Does it constitute the S as aition?

No.

Does it necessarily methodologically invoke a strict correspondence between the immanent & economic?

If received as theologoumenon, no.

However, hermeneutical questions regarding whether a Scriptural term or text applies to God’s economic activity ad extra or to His inner life, ad intra – absolutely to God’s being, in a dogmatically normative way, that best be discerned ecumenically & formulated conciliarly?

Yes.

Now, insofar as we are imago Dei of the freely-loving-willing One, wherein absolute freedom & love are inseparable aspects of the pure act of willing, would not our own freedom be similarly constitued, as it grows in that likeness?

Our freedom would thus not be constituted of that license to do merely what we want (Lord Acton) via a libertarian capitulation to the passive inclinations of our natural will (Scotus) with its necessary affections to our own advantage (albeit epistemically & axiologically distanced).

Our freedom would be constituted of that authentic liberty to do what we clearly must (Acton), as a volition that, while so free it can abstain from willing, when it does choose to will, cannot not will the highest good per its free appetite, which is actively inclined by affections toward justice, as always driven, in friendship & love, by desire of something for the sake of another (Scotus).

This Scotistic conception of free will (radically) relocates it from a telic (per Thomistic naturalism) to an efficient cause.

Scotus views moral goodness aesthetically, as a beauty of the soul, in line with sources in Platonic & Neoplatonic traditions, further evident in later Middle Ages thanks to Augustine, Dionysius, etc

Not arbitrary, but beyond the rational, divinely legislated moral laws harmonize with aesthetic patterns pleasing to God.

See: Bychkov, Oleg. (2014). “In Harmony with Reason”: John Duns Scotus’s Theo-aesth/ethics. Open Theology. 1. 10.2478/opth-2014-0005.

Human moral & theotic realizations embody aesthetic patterns pleasing to a God, Who “is truly, `really’, personally related to the world by relations of knowledge & mutual love.” And, because of this, through such embodiments of those aesthetic patterns, God’s “affected in consciousness, but not in abiding intrinsic perfection of nature,” that is in aesthetic scope, but not intensity.

[passibility phraseology borrowed from Norris Clarke ]

Definitions

The coherence of any conceptions of divine freedom, human liberty and evil (ontological privation) are at stake.

Regarding human liberty, terms like voluntarist, intellectualist, compatibilist, determinist & libertarian have become so fraught as to be unhelpful.

The free will, generically speaking, inheres in human nature, formally, and is expressed as an efficient cause via active potency. As such, it’s a phylogenetically emergent reality. It represents a teleologic, sapient intentionality that’s distinct from and transcends our teleo-qualic sentience, teleo-nomic biological processes & teleo-matic physico-chemical constitution, all which contribute to what we refer to as our natural will.

The free (teleologic) will grows the strength of its inherent autonomous nature through habitual virtuous exercise. This growth in volitional virtue is enhanced as intellectual, affective, moral & social conversions transform our natural will, taming its teleo-matic, -nomic & -qualic passive potencies, formatively & developmentally, harnessing, then redirecting, their energies, in the service of ongoing religious conversion, as expressed in the love of God, others, cosmos, even self. With Bulgakov, there’s no reason this dynamic must necessarily cease post mortem.

In some sense, then, the ontogenetic development of the free will, analogously, recapitulates its phylogenetic emergence. It’s constitutive of, not added on to, human nature via the gratuity of creation and can be superabundantly elevated via the gratuity of grace, in both cases animated by the presence of the Spirit.

The free will also resembles God’s will, growing from image to likeness.

If we conceive God’s choices in terms of those that, on one hand, are logically necessary 1) as strict natural laws via 2) per se nota propositions 3) exercised in perfect goodness & 4) chosen with superabundant efficiency, on the other hand, represent choices on a multiversal Pareto frontier, allowing for diverse, harmonious aesthetic patterns to be realized, then no arbitrariness obtains. So, too, then for the human will, which can be either logically constrained, volitionally, or aesthetically equipoised, although any superabundant sufficiency is manifestly inferior in finite beings. Intelligent creatures remain always volitionally positioned with not choosing as an option.

To avoid a collapse into determinism & problems of evil, a proper tehomic panentheism can be invoked, which I have introduced elsewhere previously, a creatio ex profundis, where an ex nihilo conception still obtains via the invitation to novel teloi. Also, a neglected divine omnipathy of how creatures will have felt, given the illumination of final beatitude in the balance with lifetime sufferings, plays a role.

To imagine an exercise of the free will as independent of existential telic orientations is nonsense.
Volition involves the intellect & will. Any “libertarian” aspect of the will must not refer to why this or that is chosen but only to why the will wills at all, because it does remain free not to act. The will refers to the sole rational potency, never acting without the intellect. So any “voluntarist” aspect of the will must refer to such a primacy of the will that presupposes the intellect. Scotus meets these criteria, so could only be characterized, at most, as moderately libertarian and moderately voluntarist and most definitely not determinist.

Excerpts From:

Medieval Philosophy and Theology 10 (2001), 173–216. Letting Scotus Speak for Himself, MARY BETH INGHAM

The intellect always functions in tandem with the will as partial co-cause for volition.

We have to look not at why the will wills this or that, but rather why the will wills at all. In Scotist terminology, this means looking at the act of velle/non velle, not the act of velle/nolle, where Scotus holds that the non velle is indeed an act: it is an act of self-restraint within the will. This act reveals the will’s relationship to itself and, ultimately, why, when all conditions are present, the will is free not to act. One cannot, then, make the libertarian connection between the divine and human wills on the basis of the choice between “this or that” (in other words, the velle/nolle distinction). Any libertarian claim to be made from this sort of analysis would have to be moderate.

For Scotus, the divine nature is simple and the will is the sole rational potency. Therefore, any interpretation that either denies the will’s access to reason or attempts to defend a notion of freedom that does not entail rationality cannot be faithful to Scotus. For him, the will (whether human or divine) enjoys a freedom that is undetermined by external factors precisely because it is rational.

In the Lectura, Scotus presents this solution of partial cocausality as moderate, rejecting both the extreme voluntarism of Henry of Ghent and the extreme intellectualism of Godfrey of Fontaines. In this way, he attempts to save free will from the blindness of Henry’s position and the intellectual determinism of Godfrey. It is important to note that Scotus’s understanding of the will as sole rational potency is key to the sort of voluntarist he is.

Not Mutually Exclusive Conceptions for my Tehomic Pan-semio-entheism
Essential Elements:

Griffin’s creatio ex chaos (uncreated & prevenient)

Bracken’s divine matrix [a Peircean corrective to nominalism Whiteheadian (thick) or Hartshornean (thin)]

Clarke’s thin passibility of esse intentionale

Neville’s creatio ex nihilo & Tillich’s ground for nondeterminate divine being

Orthodoxy’s Monarchy of the Father for – Unoriginate Indeterminate Divine Being

Classical Theism’s Immanent Trinity – Indeterminate Being or Peirce’s Ens Necessarium

Peirce’s Being > Reality > Existence

Classical Theism’s Economic Trinity – Self-determinate Being

Meta-nomological Reality & Meta-ontological Existence

In/Determinate Reality – Peircean Thirdness

In/Determinate Existence – Peircean Secondness

Peircean Firstness – of both an Extreme Scotistic Realism for immanent universals & Moderate Scotistic Realism for universals

Keller’s creatio ex profundis (created chaos) which can exist along side Griffin’s uncreated prevenient chaos

Oord’s creatio ex amore, which as creatio continua (consistent w/conceivable cyclic cosmogonies) interacts with prevenient chaos (created & uncreated)

Scotistic Volition – moderately libertarian & moderately voluntarist free will

Scotism generally – cf Nielsen, Ingham, Cross, Wolster, Horan, Kappes

Theological Anthropology of Lonergan as corrected by Donald Gelpi replacing Transcendental Thomist approach with Peirce’s pragmatic semiotic realism

All as generally set out:

https://independent.academia.edu/SylvestJohn

https://paxamoretbonum.wordpress.com/2019/04/13/to-say-or-not-of-g_d/

https://www.scribd.com/document/264943358/Systematic-Theology-of-John-Sobert-Sylvest

U-turns and Transcendentals

https://wp.me/pZJmO-76L

Because comments are closed, above, to wit:

It recent reading regarding free will, both temporally & in the eschaton, a thought occurred to me.

Temporally, the issue of being equipoised deliberatively arises, raising a concern of arbitrariness.

Eschatologically, the nature of deliberation, itself, is questioned, presumably, because of a lack of dispositional potencies.

Now, in my view, our freedom necessarily derives precisely from both epistemic AND axiological distancing, both temporally & eternally.

Therefore, even when one realizes a given divine telos, precisely attaining its divinely specified epistemic-axiological intensity, whether that value-realization has gifted one a temporal equi-positioning (chocolate or vanilla?) or even an eternal dis-positioning (God or God?), that need neither, in the former case, implicate arbitrariness, nor, in the latter, obviate deliberative willing.

Why?

Because aesthetic intensity, alone, needn’t exhaust our notions of intentionality, whether temporally or eternally, whether of human volition or of the divine esse intentionale.

Integral to any coherent notion of intentionality, one must include the conception of an aesthetic scope, even if a relatively thin notion of post-mortem human enrichment, as one has thus happily moved from image to likeness (vis a vis our thin notion of divine passibility, as has been well articulated & defended by folks like Norris Clarke & Greg Boyd).

The human will thus perdures deliberatively, temporally & eternally, epistemically & axiologically distanced, varying aesthetically in scope even when not in intensity, appropriating novelty & enjoying diversity, moving from glory to glory to glory (hence nonarbitrarily choosing now vanilla, now chocolate, unless C.S. Lewis was correct regarding our heavenly desires for sex and ice cream).

Regarding those post-mortem, who’ve not thus closed their epistemic-axiological distance, haven’t been glorified, they, too, remain irrevocably deliberatively engaged, so to speak, on purgative & illuminative paths toward unitive beatitude.

Not to adopt Pastor Tom Belt’s irrevocability thesis but to embrace various irreversibility theses does violence to our common sense & sensibilities regarding personhood.

The Trinity and Apocatastasis

Cardinal Dulles describes Balthasar’s stance toward universalism as leaving the question speculatively open, which has different practical implications than altogether refusing the question?

The former creates a right, conceivably a duty, to hope for universal salvation.

It seems Balthasar’s positive theology & pastoral strategy conspired to defend hope from either despair or presumption, either of which he considered a type of hope-less-ness.

Does that conclude our inquiry?

Hardly, for one must next argue whether a given proclamation of apocatastasis meets the criteria of presumption.

Our duty to hope & pray that all may be saved implicates the prohibition against proclaiming whether any or which are damned.

Indeed, after Balthasar’s exercise in positive theology, historically & exegetically, he reasonably inferred that the evidence for God’s desire to save all clearly outweighed any suggesting the factual damnation of some.

If one thereby chooses to either merely stipulate to or even clearly affirm apocatastasis as theologoumenon vis a vis belief, what adiaphora of praxis might that implicate?

Here we next encounter a question of theological anthropology:

How might we account for the way temporal human beings know & embrace the eternal order?

While there can be a fragility to any given hope that remains poised between despair & presumption, if we’ve successfully obviated presumption vis a vis apocatastasis, in particular, as mysterium, next we’ll encounter a polar relationship between tupos (figure, type) and aletheia (truth).

Semiotically, what figures or signs could make present any putative truth of a universal salvation?

How might such a sign participate in the efficacy of such a truth as it shapes – not only how we tell the story (cf Kimel), but – moves beyond a mere eschatological proclamation regarding what the future holds to a question of present praxis regarding how that future will necessarily shape our worship & theosis, i.e. liturgically & devotionally, formatively & pastorally.

What semiotic reality could make such a mystery, apocatastasis, proleptically present, thereby mediating a confident assurance in the object of our hope & via what form of temporal participation in our eschatological consummation?

Here, we recall the tripartite trinitological dynamism (ad intra processional & ad extra cosmic) of emanation, exemplarity & consummation, as well as the tripartite exemplars of vestige, image & likeness, as we present Origen’s tripartite division of shadow, image & truth as all signs of the Good News point to individual, ecclesial & cosmic conversions, transformatively (theotically), and a final consummation, apocatastatically.

I have borrowed the terminology of de Lubac’s “Corpus Mysticum” to frame up the questions above, wherein de Lubac explicated the underlying anagogy of his sacramental theology. For him, any knowledge of the Christian mystery requires a participatory approach, which transforms the believer by subjectively uniting her with the mystery’s objective content. Thus de Lubac provides an anthropological heuristic for spiritual understanding.

But, for a truly coherent accounting of an apocatastatic anagogy, we still need a more robustly detailed account of how we enjoy such proleptic tastes of any future perfections?

For that, we can turn to the Syrian, Isaac.

Unable to comprehend such mysteries through mere temporal reasoning & logic, according to Isaac, it’s a mind standing on eschatological thresholds in the state of astonishment, who’s further graced with wonder, who can embrace the ecstatic experience of the future world in the present, in a now moment.

For an account of Isaac’s sources, see Jason Scully’s Isaac of Nineveh’s Contribution to Syriac Theology: An Eschatological Reworking of Greek Anthropology

For an account of de Lubac’s anthropological heuristic for spiritual understanding, see Joseph Flipper’s Sacrament and Eschatological Fulfillment in Henri de Lubac’s Theology of History

Oh, did I forget to mention that de Lubac articulated his account of spiritual understanding and anagogy vis a vis the sacraments using Origen’s eschatological account and anagogia, i.e. how we might taste & see the truths regarding apocatastasis? Cf. Flipper

Prologue as Afterward

We must set aside the indefensible notion that the human will is either absolutely free or positively determined, whether scientifically, philosophically or theologically.

We can then ask “which aspects of human volition need to be free to what degree?” in order to be consistent with both our moral instincts & intuitions and common sense & sensibilities.

The answers to that question, by its very construction, will not be strictly formal & propositional (neither descriptively nor normatively deductive), but will be propositionally informal (abductively & inductively) and evaluatively dispositional.

Put more concretely, any answer to “which aspects of human volition need to be free to what degree?” will, in large measure, boil down to “how much constraint on human volition are you willing to acknowledge & accept?” before you would declare human moral obligations a dead letter?

Certainly, there’s an acceptable range & not just a jumping off point regarding what degree of human autonomy must be enjoyed if we are to be bound by moral obligation?

And the propositional views and evaluative dispositions of most of us, due to our shared moral instincts & intuitions and common sense & sensibilities, will fall safely within such a range.

However, some seem evaluatively disposed to assert the highest degree of autonomy conceivable (and in near absolutist libertarian terms) as being necessary in order to morally bind a human person to any meaningful degree.

BUT this begins to sound like something that would come from one who’s far more invested in his own WILLFULness than in growing her WILLINGness, for …

as Chris Green points out: Speaking of our freedom as absolute and supreme means (a) that freedom-from-God is itself the greatest good God can give us and/or (b) that our freedom is ultimately self-grounded and our destiny self- determined.

The Problem of Hell and Free Will
by Chris Green, Ph.D

Recent Musings:

Below are excerpts from “The Population of Hell,” First Things 133 (May 2003): 36-41.
In a reverie circulated among friends but not published until after he died, Maritain included what he called a conjectural essay on eschatology, in which he contemplates the possibility that the damned, though eternally in hell, may be able at some point to escape pain.
Karl Rahner held for the possibility that no one ever goes to hell. We have no clear revelation, he says, to the effect that some are actually lost. … Rahner therefore believed that universal salvation is a possibility.
The most sophisticated theological argument against the conviction that some human beings in fact go to hell was proposed by von Balthasar, who said we have a right & even a duty to hope for the salvation of all.
Edith Stein , now Saint Teresa Benedicta of the Cross, defends a position very like Balthasar’s & finds it possible to hope that God’s omnipotent love finds ways of, so to speak, outwitting human resistance. Balthasar says that he agrees with Stein.
Avery Dulles : This position of Balthasar seems to me to be orthodox. It does not contradict any ecumenical councils or definitions of the faith.
————————————————

Video of a 45 min lecture by Dulles in NY given Nov 20, 2002 & entitled The Population of Hell
Excellent responses to Dulles’ Population of Hell lecture / article.

From science & philosophy we know humans aren’t absolutely free but “adequately determined.” What about theologically? Freedom’s not absolute there either.

A single will to raise up the image, but two to make the image into a likeness. ~ Lossky

See: The Problem of Hell and Free Will at afkimel.wordpress.com

The practical takeaway is that modern categories (libertarianism & compatabilism) don’t measure up to Thomistic & Scotistic accounts. A human freedom constrained in some ways & degrees won’t obviate moral responsibility. Only absolutist conceptions need, in principle, reject universalism?
While I haven’t moved from my long & steadfast practical (Balthasarian) – to an in principle or necessary theoretic – universalism, I’ve been persuaded, by the collective cogency of many Orthodox approaches, that it can’t be a priori or in principle or necessarily ruled out.

The Thin Passibility of the Eternally Deliberative Human Will

https://wp.me/pZJmO-76L

Because comments are closed, above, to wit:

It recent reading regarding free will, both temporally & in the eschaton, a thought occurred to me.

Temporally, the issue of being equipoised deliberatively arises, raising a concern of arbitrariness.

Eschatologically, the nature of deliberation, itself, is questioned, presumably, because of a lack of dispositional potencies.

Now, in my view, our freedom necessarily derives precisely from both epistemic AND axiological distancing, both temporally & eternally.

Therefore, even when one realizes a given divine telos, precisely attaining its divinely specified epistemic-axiological intensity, whether that value-realization has gifted one a temporal equi-positioning (chocolate or vanilla?) or even an eternal dis-positioning (God or God?), that need neither, in the former case, implicate arbitrariness, nor, in the latter, obviate deliberative willing.

Why?

Because aesthetic intensity, alone, needn’t exhaust our notions of intentionality, whether temporally or eternally, whether of human volition or of the divine esse intentionale.

Integral to any coherent notion of intentionality, one must include the conception of an aesthetic scope, even if a relatively thin notion of post-mortem human enrichment, as one has thus happily moved from image to likeness (vis a vis our thin notion of divine passibility, as has been well articulated & defended by folks like Norris Clarke & Greg Boyd).

The human will thus perdures deliberatively, temporally & eternally, epistemically & axiologically distanced, varying aesthetically in scope even when not in intensity, appropriating novelty & enjoying diversity, moving from glory to glory to glory (hence nonarbitrarily choosing now vanilla, now chocolate, unless C.S. Lewis was correct regarding our heavenly desires for sex and ice cream).

Regarding those post-mortem, who’ve not thus closed their epistemic-axiological distance, haven’t been glorified, they, too, remain irrevocably deliberatively engaged, so to speak, on purgative & illuminative paths toward unitive beatitude.

Not to adopt Pastor Tom Belt’s irrevocability thesis but to instead embrace various irreversibility theses does violence to our common sense & sensibilities regarding personhood.

The Critical Importance of a Normative Account of Affective Conversion in the Authentication of any Doctrine of Apocatastasis

While pastoral concerns, as communications, do emerge last in the functional specialties (per their progressive nature), the theological task is not complete without a proper authentication of doctrines, which is where I locate Fr Kimel’s concerns.

In that context, a normative account of affective conversion matters greatly! All the more if his stance is a theolougemon in his tradition.

Don Gelpi, The Authentication of Doctrines: Hints from C. S. Peirce, Theological Studies 60:261-293 (1999)

The Trinity is a Mystery to be Lived & Not a Problem to be Solved

Something tells me that, if the Trinitarian accounts of Origen, Maximus, the Cappadocians, Thomists, Scotists & Palamites reconcile using the rubrics, below, as I’m confident they do, one shouldn’t approach the Mystery of the Trinity as a problem to be solved but as a divine reality to be lived, participatorily, via prayer & theosis.

If that approach does not suffice for one, existentially & speculatively, they could find themselves in real existential jeopardy of suffering the practical consequences of gravity, because they could very likely be among those withholding prudential judgments regarding same, while awaiting the speculative resolution of its mysterious relationship to quantum mechanics!

Here’s where the Trinitological Hullabaloo begins:

In a meta/ontology concerned with non/determinate realities, the equivocal predications of “is” must be disambiguated, because they can refer to logics of predication (properties), identity (objects) or temporality (relations).

Certain relational meanings of “is” specify realities as present (now), atemporal (timeless), omnitemporal (always), transtemporal (persistent in present period), nontemporal (now potentially temporal) or eternal (meta-temporal).

A couple of examples:

In physics, spatialized time could refer to a nontemporal reality, for example, if a given symmetric equation would suggest a potential temporalization of space (from 2-D to 3-D).

In personal identity theory, explanatory principles must ground both synchronic & diachronic individuation, often mapping the identities of non/determinate persons both eternally and temporally (including a-, omni-, trans- & presently), for example, regarding divine persons, in trinitology, human persons, in eschatology.

Neither reductionist (somatic or psychological) nor dualist (Cartesian) approaches can provide such principles without doing violence to our common sense & sensibilities and sacrificing narrative coherence & moral intuitions.

Why surrender those intelligibilities, sensibilities, coherencies & intuitions to such speculative ontologies, when more modest meta-heuristics can sustain them, while, at the same time, robustly fostering ongoing metaphysical explorations?
Such meta-heuristics include a variety of scholastic, pragmatic & analytical realisms, mostly consistent with Aristotelian-like syllogistics, which work rather well with determinate modes of being & formal modes of identity.

Those syllogistics can be derived from that logic of modal identity, which applies to nondeterminate realities (e.g. necessities, singularities, boundary & limit conditions, and other meta-nomicities).

While successful references to nondeterminate realities, in addition to formal modes of identity, include those of essences (e.g. properties) & existents (e.g. persons), those latter modes of identity are only analogous to essential & personal modes of being.

The exemplarist accounts of Scotus (e.g. immanent universal) & Origen (e.g. Platonic reversal), as well as the substantialist accounts, where the Godhead & persons relate like secondary & primary substances, function as meta-heuristics, which meta-ontologically gift us semantical & analogical intelligibility for realities, which cannot, in principle, be generically specified, ontologically.

Some label such approaches radically apophatic or mysterian. Others fail to note the analogical interval between essential & personal modes of identity & being, then mistakenly characterize them as modalist, tritheist, subordinationist, univocist, equivocist and so on. Either way, they’re critiquing caricatures.

The Mystery of the Trinity does not present a logical problem vis a vis consistency, as long as we properly attend to the equivocal predications of “is” and avoid conflations of determinate & nondeterminate realities, as they employ distinct, but related, syllogistics regarding their modes of being & identity.

The Mystery of the Trinity presents, rather, an ontological problem in that we cannot, in principle, successfully describe (via connotative-denotative generic specification) —

WHAT so loved the world THAT … … John 3:16 et cetera etc etc

Deo gratias, we do know Who!

A Glossary of Predications for Determinate & Nondeterminate Realities (not necessarily pertaining to divine realities but even pertaining to, for example, materially monist conceptions & other non/reductive metaphysical accounts)

An essential nature or esse naturale can be a non/composite nature w/ or w/o formal distinctions, where the 3 meanings of “Is” include:

  • Properties
  • Objects
  • Temporalities

Other predications made for realities concurrent with but not identical to a nature (esse naturale), which necessarily inhere, characterizing but not defining it, naming but not describing it, include univocal semantic references & analogical predications of meta-ontological & meta-nomological realities:

  • Propria – predicated essentially re: attributes
  • Idiomata – predicated personally re: exemplifications, hypostases
  • Epinoia – predicated relationally of kenoses, oikonomia, operations, energies, actions & apophatic attributes as non- & self-determinate sources (e.g. internal paterological ur-kenosis, external christological kenosis of incarnation & pneumatological kenosis of creating and trinitological transforming economy, whereby each creature’s resplendently transfigured & persons theotically so)

An esse intentionale via accidental properties can include volitional & intellectual relations to external realities, i.e. Cambridge properties that represent real but contingent relational changes, both:

  • External – via creation
  • Internal – via a thin passibility in aesthetic scope

as determinate effects (creative & theotic, i.e. vestigia, images & likenesses) ensue from transcendently non- & self-determinate sources

More Trinitarian Reflections:

DDS, MOF & Filioque

The filioque doesn’t, per se, implicate simplicity. It reconciles with the MOF & the formulation that the Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son.

For irenic accounts, see:

from a Catholic take:
Mark J. Bonocore

from an Orthodox stance:
Peter Gilbert

For what’s at stake, see:

Cardinal Dulles

Maximus acknowledged the Latin introduction of the filioque was done “in order to manifest the Spirit’s coming-forth (προϊέναι) through him and, in this way, to make clear the unity and identity of the essence.

Some worried, however, that, when coupled w/an emanationist interpretation (precisely imputed to an Augustinian DDS), the filioque’s logic of processions would yield an infinite causal chain of persons (it doesn’t due to distinctions like mutually opposed relations, active & passive spiration, principium/aition & causa, etc) and would compromise divine freedom. They were further concerned that natural rather revealed theology grounded its conceptions of nature & persons.

The DDS turns out to be a much stickier theological widget than the MOF, which I receive as dogmatic, or the filioque, which I accept as theolougemon.

A good DDS could accomplish a great deal of heavy lifting, idiomatically, while a bad one would be a dead weight. What we need, therefore, is a Goldilocks DDS, a metaphysical gruel that’s not so thick that it nullifies divine freedom or trivializes divine personhood & love, but, not so thin that necessary distinctions between determinate & nondeterminate realities disappear.

I would insist w/ D. B. Hart that we need some DDS & w/Norris Clarke that a thin divine passibility’s defensible, agree w/W. L. Craig that Clarke’s approach threatens many commonly understood Thomistic notions of same, disagree w/Perry Robinson that Thomist approaches are as incompatible w/some Eastern approaches as he imagines but agree w/his depiction of the coherency of those Eastern approaches, and have especially enjoyed reading the online irenics/polemics re: DDS of Michael Liccione, Edward Feser & Thomas Hopko.

In the end, surely we’ll need distinctions like un/conditional necessity, esse naturale/intentionale, inentionale as aspect of naturale, change in intentionale as thin passibility.

Norris Clarke actually contends that, in order to make intelligible the belief that what happens in the world does make a significant, conscious difference to God, the Thomistic metaphysical doctrine of no real relations in God to the world should be quietly shelved because it is no longer illuminating. Norris Clarke explains that the term `real relations’ carries a narrow technical meaning for Aquinas, one implying intrinsic change in the real intrinsic, nonrelative perfection of the subject of relation and the independent existence of the other term. Since neither of these requirements can be applied to God, Aquinas allows ‘intentionality relations’, in the purely relational order of knowledge and love in God towards the world, but technically refuses to call these `real relations’. Whilst defensible on technical grounds, Norris Clarke believes this perspective to be so narrow and incomplete, so difficult to convey, that this point of conflict with Process thought should be dropped. Norris Clarke affirms that it should be unambiguously stated that God is truly, `really’, personally related to the world by relations of knowledge and mutual love and affected in consciousness, but not in abiding intrinsic perfection of nature, by what happens in the world. ~ Robert Connor

Below, in no particular order, are some of my favorite online reads re: DDS, MOF & Filioque:

https://web.archive.org/web/20041021103955/

http://www.ctsfw.edu/library/files/pb/1232

http://catholicbridge.com/orthodox/catholic-orthodox-filioque-father-son.php

https://www.apostolicpilgrimage.org/dialogue-documents/-/asset_publisher/8wpOCc78agHw/content/the-filioque-a-church-dividing-issue-an-agreed-statement-of-the-north-american-orthodox-catholic-theological-consultation-saint-paul-s-college-october

https://bekkos.wordpress.com/2008/01/21/st-maximus-on-the-filioque/

http://robertaconnor.blogspot.com/2005/05/fr-clarke-sj-and-i-on-person-as.html?m=1

https://www.reasonablefaith.org/writings/question-answer/divine-simplicity

https://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/category/divine-simplicity/

https://energeticprocession.wordpress.com/2009/07/16/saint-cyril-on-divine-simplicity/

http://mliccione.blogspot.com/2005/06/robinson-blosser-debate-on-divine.html?m=1

http://www.whatswrongwiththeworld.net/2010/05/divine_simplicity_and_divine_f.html

http://www.anthonyflood.com/clarkedivineideas.htm

http://catholicbridge.com/downloads/response-on-the-filioque.pdf

https://www.ancientfaith.com/podcasts/hopko/the_filioque

https://web.archive.org/web/20041021103955/

http://www.ctsfw.edu/library/files/pb/1232

http://lonergan.org/2008/08/12/st-thomas-on-why-there-are-only-three-persons-when-there-are-four-mutually-opposed-relations-in-the-trinity/

https://fordham.bepress.com/dissertations/AAI3201137/

https://easterncatholic.wordpress.com/

The Monarchy never entailed subordination

Nor Simplicity modalism

And a new filioque collaboration

Could end a thousand year schism!

What’s Athens to do with Jerusalem?

Or Rome with Constantinople?

Whether one reads Hart or Avery Dulles

She can be apokatastatically hopeful!

Theory of Everything: Successful References, Definitions & Descriptions as criteria for degrees of Explanatory Adequacy

Outline to be fleshed out later:

Distinguish between

Exploration

Reference

Definition of Terms & Concepts

Dogmatic, heuristic, theoretic & semiotic

Indeterminacies

  • Overdetermined possibilities from vague to precise
  • Determined actualities from ambiguous to clear
  • Underdetermined probabilities from general to specific & regularities vs necessities

Classify the extent indeterminacy is epistemic and/or ontic, in/determinable and/or in/determined

Description

Explanation

Scholastic Notation

  • Un/certain
  • Im/probable
  • Im/plausible
  • Im/possible

Ir/rationality refers to sapient realities in degrees of epistemic virtue re metanomological heuristic

Adsurdity refers to metaphysical realities in degrees of un/friendliness to rational creatures in terms of excess of meaning re truth (sufficient nomicity) & surplus of beauty & goodness or suffering & pain, abundance & superabundance (existential sufficiency)

Occam’s Razor in terms of abductive facility plus multiplication of ontologies only adjudicating between models that enjoy explanatory adequacy

Evidentiary standards

Normative justifications

Practical reasoning under speculative uncertainty

Equiplausibility & equiprobability principles

What about a Theory of Everything?

Presently, it seems that a TOE is most generally understood to involve the construction of a model that describes both quantum mechanics and gravity. It remains quite the challenge but the research is driving remarkable technological advances. Perhaps such a TOE would

1) describe the origins of

2) all quantum and thermodynamic realities,

3) accounting for all of the initial, boundary, limit, intermediate & final conditions of

4) all of their properties, existents and relations, using the

5) same concepts & terms for them all.

One might imagine that, theoretically, “everything” could refer to more of reality than just quantum mechanics & thermodynamics. Perhaps such a TOE would

1) describe the origins (inductively & statistically) and predict the behaviors (deductively & probabilistically) of

2) all quantum and thermodynamic realities as well as all living, sentient and rational beings,

3) accounting for all of the initial, boundary, limit, intermediate & final conditions of

4) all of their properties, existents and relations,

5) using the same concepts & terms for them all.

While conceivable in theory, I don’t see that happening for all sorts of reasons, due mostly to practical constraints but some theoretic as well.

In my view, there will never (strong philosophical claim, n’est pas?) come a time when any given observer would not be epistemically entitled to posit vis a vis reality’s furnishings (being or meta-ontological heuristic), an Analogia Entis, and/or their arrangement (necessity or meta-nomological heuristic), an Analogia Axiomata.

An observer could, in principle, always further probe reality and holistically ask descriptive, evaluative, normative, interpretive, transcendent and explanatory questions, while respectively positing various cosmological, axiological, teleological, ontological, existential (soteriological) and epistemological proofs and arguments.

What would keep one within their epistemic rights, in addition to humanity’s requisite shared epistemic virtues, would be any significant and unique personal experiences with respect to which many others may not be similarly situated. Thus it is that accepting one’s reasonableness, as they articulate some reasonable stance regarding reality writ large within their given epistemic rights, must be distinguished from imagining that such a stance would necessarily move others with any general normative impetus.

Humanity’s relationship to God, as a meaningful philosophical concept, hypothetically, and as a leap of faith, existentially, can never be demonstrated as unreasonable, neither a priori, in principle or theoretically, nor a posteriori or for all practical purposes.

So, even as we heed the methodological admonition to not place God in our metaphysical gaps, that doesn’t mean that Nietzsche gets to stand guard at reality’s perimeter.

Note: Proofs are derivable from the primal causes (reality’s primitives).

An observer could, in principle, always further probe reality and holistically ask descriptive, evaluative, normative, interpretive, transcendent and explanatory questions, while respectively positing various cosmological (primal support & efficient), axiological (primal order & formal), teleological (primal goal & final), ontological (primal being & material), existential (primal source & existential in potency to essential & soteriological) and epistemological (primal ground & semantic/proportionate metaphysical ground plus PSR or metanomological heuristic) proofs and arguments.