Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Ockham against Henry on the substratum view

Like Scotus, Ockham thinks Henry's model of material production is problematic, and like Scotus, Ockham thinks the main problem lies in the claim that the divine essence is the matter or quasi matter of the divine persons. Ockham's argument is, roughly, that we can take the claim that the divine essence is matter either literally or in an extended sense, and since nobody thinks the divine essence is literally matter, it must be matter in an extendend sense. But if that's the case, we could just as easily say that in an extended sense the divine essence is something else – form, for example.

Let's say that a statement that is literally true is TL, and let's say that a statement that is true in an extended sense is TE. Thus:
(P1) The statement 'x is y' is either TL, or TE.
(P2) Not TL.
(P3) Not TE.
(P4) Therefore, x is not y.
As for P2, it seems obvious that the divine essence cannot literally be matter, but Ockham does not shy away from giving a few reasons for this, if only just to show how absurd it would be to take Henry's claim literally. Two are worth consideration.

First, Ockham says that the term 'matter' is applied precisely to that which is in potency to some really distinct form. According to Ockham:
(T1) Matter is (i) really distinct from form, and (ii) in potency to form.
If, then, this is what 'matter' means, then to say the divine essence is matter is to say:
(T2) The divine essence is (i) really distinct from some form or forms, and (ii) in potency to those forms.
In the divine case, the 'forms' would be the personal properties, so it would follow that the divine essence would be really distinct from the personal properties and in potency to the personal properties.

Of course, Henry thinks the divine essence is in potency to the personal properties, so it might seem that Henry would be quite happy to agree that the divine essence is 'matter' in just this sense. However, Henry also thinks that matter and form are really distinct, even though he thinks the divine essence is really identical to the personal properties. So although Henry may want to say the divine essence is in potency to the personal properties, Ockham's claim is that simply being in potency to a form is not enough to merit the proper label 'matter' (A strolling Socrates is in potency to the act of sitting, but does that make him the 'matter' of an act of sitting?). To be called 'matter' literally, the divine essence and the personal properties would also have to be really distinct.

Second, Ockham thinks that if we divide and sub-divide the world up various categories, some of which are incompatible with each other, we cannot apply something from one category to something of another, incompatible category. But this is exactly the kind of thing that is happening when Henry says the divine essence is matter. If we divide 'being' into the categories of created being and uncreated being such that anything contained in the category of created being cannot be applied to anything contained in the category of uncreated being, and if we then classify 'matter' in the category of created being, it follows that 'matter' cannot apply to anything in the category of uncreated being. Like most Christian scholastics, Henry does think that matter belongs in the category of created being, since the doctrine of creation entails this, and of course he thinks God is the only uncreated being. Consequently, Henry cannot attribute matter to the divine essence literally, for matter belongs to a category that is fundamentally inapplicable to God.

One might object that this argument would apply to every predicate from the created order which we apply to God (e.g., 'wisdom', 'goodness', 'love'). Indeed, by standard medieval accounts, human concepts are acquired by emprical observation of created entities, and so by Ockham's reasoning, it should follow that every concept we wish to apply to God in fact cannot be applied to God, for such concepts belong to the category of created being. It would seem from this that if Ockham is to be consistent, then he cannot apply any creaturely-acquired concepts to God.

However, Ockham does not think that every concept humans acquire belongs to the category of created being. At the very least, Ockham thinks the concept of 'being' applies to both created and uncreated being, and perhaps one could argue that there are other concepts that apply universally (or even transcendentally) to created and uncreated beings. Ockham's problem with Henry's account is not that he is using a concept acquired from creatures to describe God. The problem is that 'matter' belongs exlusively to the category of created being. And it is important to keep in mind that Ockham is talking about literal predication here. The point, then, is that if matter is classed in the category of uncreated being, then it can be applied literally to created beings only, not to uncreated being.

In any case, if it's not P2, then it must be P3. The claim that the divine essence is matter cannot to be taken literally, so it must be taken in an extended sense. However, Ockham thinks that speaking of something in an extendend sense requires some common condition C on which the extension is based.
(T3) If the statement 'x is y' is TE, then (i) x is C, and (ii) y is C.
For example, the claim 'Paul is lightning fast' is based on the condition C of being able to travel at high speeds. Paul is C, and lightning is C, so we can say 'Paul is lightning fast' based on C. (Compare with 'Paul is turtle fast', which still is intelligible based on the condition of speed, and 'Paul is lamp fast', which is not intelligible because there is no condition to draw a likeness.) Thus, if Henry wants to say that the divine essence is matter in an extended sense, then there must be some condition which is common to the divine essence and matter.

Ockham points out that if C is common to not just x and y, but also some other z, then we could just as easily say 'x is z'. That is, if this condition is common not just to the divine essence and matter, but also to other things, then we end up with no reason to say that the divine essence is matter, for we could just as easily say the divine essence is one of the other things which share the same condition.

For example, if there is some condition that applies to the divine essence, to matter, and to a goat, and if this condition is the basis by which one can say the divine essence is matter in an extendend sense, then one could just as easily say the divine essence is a goat. The point is that if we want to maintain in any non arbitrary way that the divine essence is matter in an extended sense, then the condition for that extended sense cannot be common to the divine essence, to matter, and to other things. It must be common only to the divine essence and matter.

But even if there is some condition that is common to the divine essence and matter, Ockham argues that if there another condition, D, that the divine essence shares only with something else, w, then we could also say 'x is w', and then we have no reason to choose y over w. For example, one could argue that there is some condition common only to the divine essence and to form, and that would be sufficient to allow us to say 'the divine essence is form' in an extended sense. And if we can say that in an extended sense, just as we can say 'the divine essence is matter' in an extended sense, why should we choose one over the other?

Ockham applies this argument in various ways to Henry's position. For example, Ockham rightly recognizes that one of the reasons Henry turns to material production is because the divine essence is included in the Son but is not produced in the Son, so Henry wants a model where some part of the product is not produced. In the realm of material beings, matter is just that: a part of the product that is not produced. But, Ockham argues, matter is the most obvious candidate here only because we are considering natural causes, and natural causes always presuppose matter.

But if we consider another cause such as God, then there is no reason to think that matter is the best candidate for the unproduced part of a product. After all, couldn't God create some matter under an already existing substantial form? In that case, the form would be the unproduced part of the product, so why don't we say the divine essence is form? Ockham does not see why Henry should say the divine essence is matter solely on the grounds that he is looking for a model that includes an unproduced part of the product.

Ockham also argues that we could say the divine essence is a hylomorphic composite just as easily as we can say the divine essence is matter. After all, a composite has per se unity, and neither the matter nor the form it is composed from has per se unity. Further, a composite is more perfect than either the matter or the form it is composed from. God is both per se and perfect, so why we not just say the divine essence is a hylomorphic composite instead of matter?

36 comments:

Scott Williams said...

You wrote: 'God is both per se and perfect, so why we not just say the divine essence is a hylomorphic composite instead of matter'

Is E here taken to signify all three divine persons, or just the common/communicable property of those three divine persons?

If E is taken in this sense, I can see why Henry might resist agreeing to it, b/c then the E would be form&matter, and THEN in addition would be the PPs, so you'd have 2 forms and 1 substrate/matter that constitutes one divine person, etc.

But, if E is taken to signify all three divine persons, then yes, Henry, as you have said in the past, would agree that E is a akin to a hylomorphic compound.

What is perhaps interesting, and baffling, is that Henry doesn't just think E is akin to matter (in potency to some form), but that this matter is an absolute 'thing' (res a ratitudine); and as an absolute 'thing' it can function as though foundation for a PP, which just is some relation (respectus) of that foundation. So, here we get into what a relation is, and why Henry thinks a relation is not really distinct from its foundation. In a nutshell, Henry thinks that if we want to say a thing 'has a relation', we want to say that it is the 'thing itself' being in a certain way toward another (esse ad aliud).

But still, why does Henry say 'materia' and not just 'res'? It seems he does this b/c he aims to show that ad intra production is 'possible' (with potency for production). Yet, this possibility is always actual(ized)-as he says, so what's the point of saying something 'was potentially x' if it always has and always will actually be x?

This, I think, begins to get at his thinking that theology is 'how we know about God'-- 'our way of knowing'. So, is he not serious that theology is a science? Well, he does seem to think it is; which means apparently for him that theology is _at least_ argumentative and that conclusions derive from premises, etc.

JT Paasch said...

Yeah, of course, it signifies the common property of those three divine persons. And of course Henry wouldn't agree that it's a hylomorphic composite, nor would he agree that it's form. That's Ockham's point. We could just as easily say the divine essence is a hylomorphic composite, or a form, as we could say it's matter. But that's absurd.

Ockham's argument is a little more sophisticated than that. What he actually does (which I didn't report in my post) is something like what Cowton does: take the material production model, then remove all the imperfections one by one, then apply the imperfection-free model to the divine essence.

(I should note that Henry does this too, and Cowton explicitly says that his abstract model is an explication of Henry's attempt to remove imperfections from his model. Well, Cowton is basically rehearsing Richard Connington's arguments.)

So that's what Cowton does, and Ockham does the same thing, both with form, with a composite, and even with a quality. He walks through the metaphysics of the model, then removes the imperfections, and lo and behold, the abstract, imperfection-free model works. I didn't explain all those particular models and steps to remove imperfections because I find it a little tedious and boring. The point should be obvious enough: we can say on exactly the same basis and form of argumentation as Henry and Cowton that the divine is form, a composite, or whatever. But that's absurd.

Or, as I like to put it, once we abstract all the imperfections, we're hardly left with a model at all, especially a material model. You know, we get a thin model.

I don't see how Henry could respond to this. Not unless he wants to say the divine essence is literally matter, which of course he doesn't. The only response is to say: 'okay, so the material model is just an analogy, and your other analogies (e.g., form, composite, etc.) work too.'

As for the 'res' or 'matter' thing, I don't really see why you're taking this where you're taking this. A foundation is in potency to its foundation, so we don't need matter/form just for that. Foundation/relation would do just fine.

One question: do you think that Henry thinks a relation is identical to its foundation because the divine essence is identical to the personal properties? Or does he have arguments for the identity of a relation and its foundation which are independent of the trinity?

Scott Williams said...

I'll get back to you re: your question; I know Flores discusses it in ch. 3 of his book. The discussion of relations is one that Henry fights with Giles of Rome, and others, about. Oddly, I think his argument is something like this: A thing is absolute. A relation is relative. Only a thing can be related. Therefore, the relation of a thing is identical with the thing, otherwise it wouldn't be the 'thing' that is related, but the relation would be related (which Henry finds problematic). I know there is more to the story, but as of right this sec., this is what I remember. But yes, what does it mean for a relation to be identical with its foundation? Well, Henry just seems to say it is a thing toward (esse ad aliud) another thing, as opposed to 'just a thing'.

I found some new Quodlibets that I hadn't read before, yesterday, and the topic of relation is among them. Mostly Quodlibets 11, 14, 15 (as Oxford doesn't have these so far as I could tell).

Scott Williams said...

One thing that just occurred to me. If Henry 'really' thinks the divine essence is matter in some extended sense, and he really thinks that the PPs are relations, is he then saying that the composite divine Person is matter + relation? That would seem to go very much against his theory of things and relations; and he does explicitly say E is a n absolute thing and PP is a relation.

Perhaps he makes the matter move b/c he wants to say that E is 'fecund' as had by the Father for the production of the Word/Son. If he said E was a thing (in this context), he'd be saying that a thing (+ the Father's relative property of 'generative + ungenerate') is fecund for the production of a relation.

Maybe matter, in the context of (material) production of the Son and Holy Spirit just means, fecund for production? Which, is another way of saying, the Son and Holy Spirit necessarily must emanate in God (if God is perfect).

JT Paasch said...

Hopefully I'll be revisiting Henninger's chapter on Henry sometime soon, but I'm almost certain that Henry arrives at the conclusion that a relation is identical to its foundation by at least some arguments which are independent of his trinitarian theology. Of course, Henry is very interesting in that his thinking on the metaphysics of relations seems more influenced by his trinitarian theology than some other thinkers of his day (or is it the other way around? bum-da-dum-dum-duuuuummmmmmm!)

As for why Henry goes for 'matter', I think the first reason he gives for it is probably the one: in divine production, the divine essence stays the same between producer and product, so we need a model where one of the terms stays the same. So we go looking in the created order for some kind of production like that. And we find material production. There, the matter is the same in the producer and the product.

Scott Williams said...

Just some rambling:

So, E qua matter is what explains why E is communicable from the Father to the Son. If E were only form, i.e. fully determined or fully actual in every way, then the communication of E would be to another instance of E, i.e. E as repeated (as Ockham might say, 2 infinite beings). Obviously Scotus rejects the notion that E is repeated in the Son, as though there were a numerical distinction btwn. the Father's E and the Son's E.

What is peculiar is that saying E is matter qua potency to a form is to say that prior to the production of the Son (produced form), E was in potency to the form, and via the production the potency was realized.

If Henry posits that the Father does some productive act, is this act an imperfect act until the product is realized? If we deny the imperfection of an act, and say it is a perfect act, then is this not to identify the product with the productive act itself?

In the creaturely model, following Aristotle, there is some bronze with a potentiality toward being Hermes shaped. Some agent acts on this bronze. This action is imperfect until the property 'being Hermes shaped' is realized. Once this property is realized, the act 'being Hermes shaped' is a complete act, and is the end of the imperfect act of 'shaping the bronze into Hermes'.

But in the divine case, there is no imperfect act, i.e. no motion. If there is no motion, but we still posit a potency for X, and the complete act (being X), what do we get?

Well, Henry says we get 'being generated'. Is this a product? Is this an act? It seems as though it is the latter, b/c if it is a product, then we'd have to posit some imperfect act that is completed in a perfect product. So, either we have an imperfect productive act and a perfect product, or a perfect productive act which just is the term remaining within the agent; and this last option seems to be what Henry says by saying that Son is an ad intra product?

Man, I need to review the passive potency article again. Now that I've got my Aristotle about clearer...

JT Paasch said...

Good ramblings. I think these are the right sorts of questions to think about.

Here's what I know on this. For Henry, the potencies are what prevent the action from being the term.

So first there's the action and the passion. These are correlatives, so acting is one term of the relation, and receiving is the other term of the relation.

(1) For any act A, there is a correlative passion P.

Notice that neither A nor P are the producer nor the product. These are just action and receiving.

But, there is a potency for A, and a potency for P. A potency for A, call it AP, is the capacity to perform an action. A potency for P, call it PP, is the capacity to receive (or undergo) an action.

(2) For any act A, there is a correlative potency AP.

(3) For any act P, there is a correlative potency PP.

So, we have three relations here:

(R1) A->P
(R2) AP->A
(R3) PP->P

So a passion (a receiving) is what terminates an action, an action is what terminates the potency to act, and a passion (a receiving) is what terminates the potency to receive.

(Notice that the potencies are related to the acts of action and passion (action = the act of doing, passion = and the act of receiving), they are not related to each other. An active potency (the power or capacity to perform an action) is terminated by an action, not a passive potency (the power or capacity to receive an action).

Now put the producer x and the product y into it.

(4) A production =df a producer x produces a product y.

Since the producer is what performs the act of producing, the action belongs to x.

(5) For a production G, a producer x performs the action A of producing.

But since doing an action terminates a potency to act, then x must also have a potency to act:

(6) For a production G, a producer x has a potency AP to perform an action A of producing.

So, in x, there is a relation between the (active) potency AP and the action A.

Similarly, the same goes for whatever it is that receives the act of producing. Let's just assume that the recipient also turns out to be the same object that is the product (as when a lump of clay receives the act of producing a statue, the clay and the statue are the same object), so let's call it y.

(7) For a production G, a recipient y receives (P) the action A of producing.

And since receiving an action terminates a potency to receive, then y must also have a potency to receive:

(8) For a production G, a recipient y has a potency PP to receive (P) the action A of producing.

So, in y, there is a relation between the (passive) potency PP and the passion (the receiving).

Okay, that's how Henry explains it. So the production (the act of producing) will never just be the product. It requires a product as its term. Likewise, the action perfects the potency to act (active potency), and the passion perfects the potency to receive (passive potency).

The 'product' is the whole object that results from the production. So the action of producing is not the product, since any action will result in more than itself (namely, the passion, and in the case of production, a product made of, say, matter and form, or divine essence and personal property).

Um, I think I lost my train of thought now.

Scott Williams said...

I'll revieit Henry's text today to try to sort it out.

One problem that I see (though I'm sure can be sorted out), is that if the productive act results in a product, then this means that the productive act qua productive act is imperfect, precisely b/c it is not a complete act unless a product emerges, which product then is a complete act.

By denying motion, Henry denies that there is an imperfect act that terminates in some complete product. I.e. a productive act is a mean by which to achieve a certain end, the act itself in the process of achieving this end does not itself have the end actualized but is in potency toward this end, or as John of St. Thomas put it, it is part in potency to the end, and part achieving the end [though I wish I had his De Anima vol...).

So why precisely is Henry denying when he denies motion? He denies there is a process for achieving the end that does not itself fully include the actualization of this end. If the productive act is not imperfect, it is perfect and therefore the productive act has the ratio of an achieved end. If the productive act were not identical with the product, then the productive act would seemingly need to be imperfect b/c it must terminate in an act (e.g. 'being Hermes shaped) which we call the product which is the completion of that productive act.

This is all from Arist. Physics 2-3.

Does this make sense?

Scott Williams said...

This stuff about actor and patient, each having a potency for some end is clear enough. It is important to note that the productive act is not two acts (one by the actor and one by the patient)--acc. to Aristotle, but one act. Otherwise, we may fall liable to an infinite regress. If the actor has her own becoming actualized, and the patient has his own becoming actualized, then we need to posit what brings the actor into actuality, and so on down the line.

JT Paasch said...

Yeah, it's making sense. There wouldn't be any process here, because there's no time. Or, more accurately, all potentialities in God are, for Henry, actualized. In order for some act to be imperfect, it would have to be incomplete. If it's incomplete, then it's in potential to completion. But that can't be, because that potential would be completed. So there will never be a moment when it's not completed, and hence never a moment when the act will be imperfect.

Something you said is intriguing: the act would have the ratio of a completed end. That is, if the act is perfect, then it's completed.

Also, you write 'If the productive act were not identical with the product, then the productive act would seemingly need to be imperfect b/c it must terminate in an act (e.g. 'being Hermes shaped) which we call the product which is the completion of that productive act.' I'm afraid I don't see how this follows.

Scott Williams said...

Basically, if an act is perfect nothing else follows from it. If an act is imperfect, then something can follow from it, namely a product distinct from the act. So, this is a claim about productive acts in general. If an act (by an agent) is productive, it necessarily terminates in a product that is not identical with the productive act. If an (productive) act is complete, nothing else follows from the act b/c it is complete. If an act is incomplete, then some complete product is the term (completion) of that productive act.

But, if we say there is no motion, i.e. no imperfection, no incomplete act by which the agent produces a product, then the productive action is complete and nothing further need result (i.e. a product). If a productive act is perfect it has its end qua productive act. If a productive act is imperfect it does not have its end qua productive act, but will be completed in some product which does have the actual end.

This is some the basic machinary (acc. to M. Loux) from Arist.'s Physics 2-3.

So the net result from all the above is that 'by definition' a productive act is imperfect b/c the end of that productive act is not actual in the productive act itself. And so the productive act is imperfect.

But, if we want to map this model onto how the Father produces the Son, then we can't say that there is some productive act that is terminated in a product that has the actualized end of the productive act, otherwise we would posit imperfection in the productive act (b/c it doesn't have its actualized end unless there is a product that does have the actualized end of the productive act).

If this is true, that a perfect productive act can't, by definition, produce a product really distinct from the productive act (otherwise the productive act is imperfect for the above reason), then we must say that the product and the productive act are identical. Basically, the Father produces an act (not an object)--and this, interestingly enough--so far as I recall, is Scotus's view!

So, we have to deal with the fact that Henry does say there is a productive act and there is a product from this act. So, either Henry is making a mistake here, or has some qualification as to how a perfect (i.e. actually having the end for which the agent is in potency toward) productive act can result in a perfect product. How can we say some act which has it fully actual end terminates in a product distinct from the act itself and also is a perfect product (i.e. actually have the end for which the agent was in potency toward). If this is right, then the Father produces (a) an act, (b) a product distinct from (a). Curiously, (a) and (b) would both have the identical actualized end, and given the indiscernibility of identicals, (a) and (b) are identical. Though, I imagine Henry would say (a) and (b) are distinct secundum rationem, maybe not. I recall that Cross wasn't sure whether Henry thinks the mental Word is an act or an object. Maybe (i) Henry wasn't clever enough to know there was a problem--though doubtful, (ii) Henry wasn't sure what position to take and so left the question unanswered, or (iii) Henry's actual view is as I've stated above, that (a) and (b) are identical.

JT Paasch said...

Whoa whoa, slow down here turbo. Think about production for a moment. I don't even know where to start. Hmm...maybe the simplest point is where to start.

A productive act, by definition, is productive. So it produces something, and whatever is produced is a product. So there can't be a productive act that doesn't produce something. If it didn't produce anything, it wouldn't be a productive act, it'd just be an act. That's basic stuff.

Transfer this over to the divine case. If the Father's act of production is perfect, then it won't have a product. So it won't be a productive act, it will just be an act. So nothing would be produced. The Son would thus just be the Father's act of thinking (an operation). That's absurd.

For these reasons, none of the boys we study would think anything like this. Scotus, more explicitly than any of them, thinks the act has to be productive, perfectly so, and therefore not just an (operative) act, because otherwise there wouldn't be a product. The product may be an act itself, but that's still produced.

I mean, it's just basic stuff. Productive acts require products, otherwise they're not productive, so it makes no sense to talk about 'productive acts' that don't have products.

I guess my point is that even if Aristotle really thinks something like what you say he does, then our boys wouldn't accept it. What about producing heat? What about the sun producing light? What about God creating the world? Would that be an imperfect act? It's got a product, so it must be. But the paradigm case of where our medievals don't accept this idea that a productive act has to be imperfect is in the trinity: producing the divine persons is productive, they are products, and those productions are perfect.

JT Paasch said...

One other thing about the potencies/acts. You wrote:

'If the actor has her own becoming actualized, and the patient has his own becoming actualized, then we need to posit what brings the actor into actuality, and so on down the line.'

This doesn't sound quite right. The actor and patient aren't actualized. Their potencies to act and receive are actualized.

And yes, those potencies are actualized by something actual (since every potency is actualized by an act). In the patient, the potency to receive is actualized by the receiving (which is, in turn, caused by the action). In the actor, the potency to act is actualized by the actor (who exercises the power to act).

The idea here is that there's nothing beyond the actor and the patient that explains the action. The actor has the sufficient power to act, and the patient has the sufficient capacity to receive.

JT Paasch said...

Man, we're having quite the discussion here, eh?

Scott Williams said...

Right, what you say about productive acts sounds right to me. If the acct. of Arist. that I gave is correct (following M. Loux), then mapped onto the divine case, the Father performs an operative act, and the Father performs a productive act. With the former, the act remains within the agent (i.e. the Father thinks), in the latter, the act terminates outside the Father. But what is the product that is produced? It is an act that is produced. That's all I was saying. Cross used to say this to me, 'an act gets produced' and that always baffled me b/c I kept thinking that a productive act by definition has some object that is produced. But I was, without realizing it, supposing that a productive act that produces an object is an imperfect act, precisely b/c the productive act (for an object) itself does not have its realized end, but only in the object-product.

And yes, I agree with you that the potencies get actualized, for the agent and the patient. That's standard and clear enough.

So, I think my story still holds; an imperfect productive act will terminate in an object. a perfect productive act will terminate in the act itself. The former product is an object, the latter product is an act.

Does that make sense?

Yes, quite a conversation. It's just a consolation prize for not being able to meet you at Nero's anymore.

FYI: I'm starting a reading group for Richard St. Victor's De Trinitate with Cross, Goehring (a prof. who just wrote his thesis on Henry's acct. of mental representation), and some grad. students.

JT Paasch said...

I disagree with this claim: 'a perfect productive act will terminate in the act itself'. My point is that by definition, such would not be a productive act. If there's no product, it's not a productive act. It's just an act. I.e., it's a contradiction to say that a productive act terminates in the act.

Scott Williams said...

I agree, a 'productive act will produce an object-product'. But, 'productive' here must mean 'an imperfect productive act'. But, if we say this productive act is 'perfect', then the end of the productive act is achieved in the act itself and not some further object.

Maybe I should translate John of St. Thomas re: the definition of motion here?

After all, when we say 'productive act' what we are talking about is kinesis (motus, motion).

An agent has potency for X.
A patient has potency for X.

An agent actualizes X.
X is realized in the patient.

In order for the agent to make X actual, it must move, i.e. produce. This motion itself is not perfect b/c it itself is not X qua complete/actual. But when X is achieved the imperfect motion is no more.

JT Paasch said...

Well, I guess if you want to pursue this you can. Your argument here reminds me a little of the paradox of always traveling half way to the destination and thus never reaching the destination.

JT Paasch said...

So I suppose you'd be arguing that there cannot be a perfect production in the divine case.

JT Paasch said...

Or better: the claim that the production of a divine person is incoherent.

JT Paasch said...

Opps, correction:

Or better: the claim that 'the production of a divine person is a perfect production' is incoherent.

Scott Williams said...

I disagree:

'Or better: the claim that 'the production of a divine person is a perfect production' is incoherent.'

The divine product is an act, which if we look at further, we see is a relatedness (respectus) (in Henry's technical sense).

I'm just trying to investigate how use of Aristotle's agent/patient and productive act (motion) plays out in explaining the production of the Son from the Father.

Perhaps what needs to be further discussed is the difference btwn. a 'produced act' and a 'produced object'. What then is the difference?

Is it:

1. a produced-object is really distinct from the agent and the produced-act is not really distinct from the agent.

2. a produced-object is really distinct from the agent and the produced-act is really distinct from the agent; therefore 'produced-object (2)' is identical with a 'produced-act'.

3. a produced-object is not really distinct from the agent and the produced-act is not really distinct from the agent.


It couldn't be (1) b/c then the Son wouldn't be really distinct from the Father.

It could be (2) b/c then the product is really distinct from the agent.

(3) clearly can't be the right distinction or identification of object and act, b/c the Son (product) is really distinct from the Father (agent).

So it seems that (2) is the right way to go.

But, then we ask, what is the means by which the Father produces the product? Clearly, Henry and Scotus say it is some intellectual act. And this productive act is a constitutive personal property of the Father (actually generating). So the productive act is identical with the Father and not identical with the Son. But from above, if the productive act just is the act (and not something different from the productive act itself), then it seems the Father and Son just are identical.

This is a problem, unless we say that 'produced-object' is not identical with the productive act. And thus, the 'produced-object' is not a 'produced-act'. This would seem to get Scotus in trouble, and show Henry makes the right move.
But is this really the case?

Scott Williams said...

sorry, (1)-(3) was badly formed. the distinction should've been btwn. the product and the act by which the product is produced, which is what i discussed below (1)-(3). so just ignoe (1)-(3).

JT Paasch said...

It seems to me that your argument depends entirely on motion. A productive act will be incomplete only if there is some time t at which the action is not yet completed by the term. But of course that doesn't apply to God. All Henry or Scotus has to do is say to you: I deny that there's motion in Son's production, and then your argument doesn't go through. So how exactly are you trying to make this motion-based argument work in the God case?

Scott Williams said...

First, I'm sort of hoping that Henry or Scotus are right. I'm just playing devil's (or Jehovah Witness') advocate.

Second, I suppose the argument would go. Suppose motion is defined as imperfection b/c at t1 the end is not actual, but at t4 the end is actual. So, if we take out time from the equation, then there is no time for imperfection to occur in which the productive act doesn't have its actual end, which is the produced product.

But, even supposing that in the God case there is no time involved and that we have an eternal productive act that is terminated in a product, does this really deny _all_ imperfection(s) in the productive act. What if we said in addition to time as an imperfection in a productive act, that qua means to some end, the productive act itself is imperfect? Even if there is no time at which the productive act does not have its actual end (the product), is not the productive act itself a means for something other than the agent to come about?

So, basically, is time the only imperfection of a productive act, or is it not also the feature that it is a means to a certain end? The means itself is not the actual end, but some product brought about by the agent?

So, the question is, does a productive act qua means to a certain end count as an imperfection, precisely b/c the productive act itself is not complete, but rather it is complete in virtue of the produced product? So by definition the productive act itself is not complete, but only in virtue of the product. So the 'perfection' of the productive act is dependent on the product, rather than itself being formally perfect/complete?

JT Paasch said...

I'm not sure I agree with the way you're putting things. It's not that the productive act itself is imperfect, and the product is perfect. I would prefer to put it this way: a productive act would not be complete (perfect) if it didn't have a product. Thus, if a productive act results in its intended product, the productive act is perfect. One needs to be careful not to confuse final with efficient causality.

JT Paasch said...

Oh, and yeah, you're right, time is not the only imperfection of motion. I take it that the major imperfection of motion is the change from potentiality to actuality. That's what I was referring to when I said 'at time t', i.e., the potentiality.

Scott Williams said...

You wrote:

'a productive act would not be complete (perfect)'

Isn't it that the potencies in the agent and the patient for X become actual, and so the perfection is for the agent and patient, not for the productive act itself. The productive act itself is a means, the product is the goal of the agent & patient's potencies. So the agent and patient are what become perfected, not the productive act.

Ok, now you shoot at me.

JT Paasch said...

I think it depends on the act in question. When it comes to the production itself, then the product is the end. When it comes to the patient's potency for X, the becoming X is the end.

The patient could, presumably, become X by another act (say, another sculptor could make the clay into a statue). But the product could not be that product without the production.

JT Paasch said...

But on my last post there, that's my guess. I don't know for sure whether that's what Aristotle (or Scotus or Henry) thinks. It's my guess, and I'd suspect it was a better guess about Scotus than it would be about Aristotle. I have no idea whether Aristotle thinks productive acts are just means and have no intrinsic teleogolical features of their own.

Scott Williams said...

Re: Aristotle, acc. to M. Loux, Arist. does think that productive acts have teleological aims. They find their 'end' in a product.

So agent A has potency for X.
Patient B has potency for X.
A acts on B,
B comes to be X.

The 'comes to be' is the productive act, in B's coming-to-be-X it is in potency toward X and (acc. to John of St. Thomas) in part actually X. It is only with the product, X, that B is actually (fully) X. So 'comes to be' itself is not perfect but is directed toward an end (X), it is the means by which A acts on B for B to comes to be X.

Acc. to Arist. we couldn't talk about the productive act unless we have in mind the agent with potency for X, and a patient with potency for X. So, when the agent does the productive act to actualize X in B, the act itself aims toward X, but itself isn't actually-X but becoming-X in the patient.

Perhaps I'll find something useful in Scotus's Metaphy. Quest. on Arist. or De Anima.

It is an interesting question, I think.

I did read Henry saying that the productive act is perfect and the product is perfect, and he does seem to think of the Word as product not identical with the productive act, but the result/product of that productive act which the Father does.

The question is, what precisely does he mean by a 'perfect productive act'? Is it just that the productive act always is perfected in the product which is eternal? And, perhaps this is sufficient for saying the productive act is not 'imperfect', b/c an imperfect productive act is 'partly potentially X, and partly actually X'. But, then the question is, why is the product distinct, or how is the product distinct from the productive act if the productive act itself is perfect? ..which brings us back to my original query.

JT Paasch said...

For the most part, we're saying the same things. I agree with your description of production being x causing y to become F by actualizing y's potency to be F. And I agree that such acts are imperfect when there is any point where y is at any time potentially F but not actually F.

The places I disagree are two.

First, it seems to me that you are saying that a productive act is not aimed at an end, viz. the product. And I fundamentally disagree with this.

Consider this:

'Acc. to M. Loux, Arist. does think that productive acts have teleological aims. They find their 'end' in a product.'

I'm not sure just how to take this. It sounds like a contradiction. It sounds like you're saying that on the one hand, productive acts don't have teleological ends, but on the other hand they do, viz. the product. So which is it?

I myself think it would be madness to say that, for Aristotle, a productive act does not have a teleological end in the product. Of course a productive act is aimed at resulting in a product. That's what a productive act is.

(As I've been saying: a productive act is terminated in a product, an operation is terminated in itself. If a productive act isn't aimed at a product, then I can't imagine how I would possibly understand such an act to be 'productive'.)

So my claim is that this is unintelligible:

(P1) A productive act does not have a product as its end.

The reason is this:

(PA) A productive act =df an act that has a product as its end.

So, substitute that definition into P1:

(P2) An act that has a product as its end does not have a product as its end.

And that's clearly a contradiction, so it's unintelligible. As far as I can see, if someone wants to insist on P1, the only way to avoid P2 is to deny PA, but I'm not sure how else one would define a productive act for Aristotle.

Or, at least, if one wants to make such a seemingly contradictory claim, they'd better have some detailed exegetical and/or philosophical analysis of Aristotle's texts to back it up. But even then, I'd be suspicious.

Second, it seems to me that you are saying that it is possible for a product to be identical to the productive act. I disagree with this too. I think this is never possible (or better: the medievals think this is never possible).

You say:

'what precisely does he mean by a 'perfect productive act'? Is it just that the productive act always is perfected in the product which is eternal? And, perhaps this is sufficient for saying the productive act is not 'imperfect', b/c an imperfect productive act is 'partly potentially X, and partly actually X'.'

Yes, I think that's exactly right. Dead on.

However, it does not follow that the product is identical to the productive act. If the product is identical to the productive act, then we have the problem of P1 all over again.

Here's why. In a production, there is the producer x, and the producer performs a productive act P, and P brings about a product y. So:

(PR) x -> P -> y.

You're suggesting that the product is identical to the productive act P. So:

(P3) P = y

Now, substitute that into PR, and you have

(PR') x -> P

But now we've got an agent, x, performing an act P, that does not have a product term. And according to the definition of PA, that does not count as a productive act. So, if one wants to insist that this is a production (i.e., that a productive act does not have a product as its end), then we're back at P1.

(It doesn't matter if y is an act, or an object, or whatever. The logic is the same however you want to construe it.)

This is why the medievals repeatedly say 'nothing can be the [productive] term of itself'. This is the reasoning they are employing. So maybe, in Loux's mind (although I'm not convinced that he's actually saying this), it may be that a productive act doesn't have a product as its end, but if so, certainly the medievals explicitly deny that.

Excursus:

One might think: what's the problem with PR'? Suppose that some agent performs an act. Isn't there some sense in which that act is produced?

Well, the medievals would say no. The reason is because something is produced iff it depends causally and existentially on the production. In other words, P causes y to exist. So:

(P4) If there is a product y, then it is caused by a production P.

That is, if we have a product y, then we have P -> y.

One might disagree with it, but our medieval boys state it over and over again in their discussions of internal divine production, so it's a principle for them.

In any case, P4 is what prevents PR' from being a production. Here's PR':

(PR') x -> P

Now, if we want to say that the productive act is produced, then P is a product. And if P is a product, then by P4 it is caused by a P. So the product P is caused by another P:

(PR'') x -> P -> P

But again, we ask if the product is identical to the production. If it is, then that production has to be caused by a P (by P4), and so on ad infinitum.

The point of this is that one cannot say that the productive act itself is produced, for if it is produced, then it is produced by another productive act, and if that is produced, then it is produced by another productive act, and so on ad infinitum.

Thus, acts -- productive or otherwise -- aren't produced. They are just elicited (perhaps this is what 'elicited' is supposed to mean).

(Btw, I'm almost certain that Aristotle distinguishes between doing and making in just the way that Scotus does: making (poiesis) has a term in the product, doing (praxis) has no term other than the act itself. And because of this, I'm almost certain that Aristotle says doing and making are 'generically different'. The problem is, I can't remember where he says this.)

Scott Williams said...

Important clarification. M. Loux did not say (as you suspected) that for Arist. productive acts are products. He only was saying that productive acts have their completion in some object/product, as we have been agreeing on.

So, why did I ever say 'productive acts are identical with the product in the divine case'? Well, I was extrapolating what the criteria is for regular (creaturely) productive acts and their products and applying it to the God-case. And so, from there I unfortunately found a controversial conclusion, that a divine ad intra productive act is identical with the product. It is unfortunate, b/c it entails certain problems, e.g. the Father would be identical with the Son, supposing the productive act is identical with the Father (being productive) and the Son (being produced), and as we have both pointed out on different occasions, there is an infinite regress problem for this rendering of productions.

So, I need to re-read some Scotus to see what he says on this.

Also, Arist. does, of course, distinguish between praxis (e.g. morality) and productive acts (e.g. poetry, ship-building), and speculative knowledge (physics, mathematics, wisdom-metaphysics).

So, is it enough then that if an agent's productive act (always) has its actual end that the productive act is counted as perfect? Supposing not time is involved does this deny (enough) imperfection to the productive act? Supposing a productive act is by definition 'being a means' and without regard to temporal sequences, is 'being a means' an imperfection per se or per accidens? In other words, is the question of the perfection or imperfection of a productive act answered by whether the relevant product has always been actual?

Scott Williams said...

Question: When Scotus says the Father produces the Son, what precisely counts as the patient in this production?

JT Paasch said...

1. I would guess there are two perfection relations here. The first is how perfectly the productive act achieves its end. If I attempt to produce a statue in some clay, I can do so better or worse. My statue might be just an odd lump that barely resembles what I had in mind, and that would be an imperfect achievement of the end. Or perhaps I created the perfect statue, exactly what was in my mind. So one kind of perfection for productive acts is how perfectly the act achieves the intended end.

The second kind has to do with the perfection of the production in relation to other productions. There are two relations here that I know of. First, there is the perfection of the product in relation to other products. Some products are better than others. Producing a living creature is better than producing a mere image, so one would be more perfect. Second, there is the perfection of the productive act. Some productions require more effort than others. Creating something ex nihilo is the classic example of a production which requires more effort than other productions.

2. Scotus says there is no patient in divine production. A patient is not required in a strict generation. In creatures, it's required only because of their limitation/imperfection, but a patient (or substratum, or matter, or anything that persists between the producer and the producer) is not included in the formal definition of a production.

3. I like your question about whether being a means is an imperfection per se or per accidens. That seems a more fruitful question. The medievals say that an internal divine production is perfect if it accomplishes its achieved end (a perfect product), but perhaps you could attack such reasoning on the grounds that a productive act is only a means. I suppose a productive act would not count as an instrumental cause, so you'd have to pursue it along different lines. Perhaps chase up your idea of asking if 'being a means' is an essential property of a productive act. At the very least, it would help clarify exactly those conditions which are sufficient for a productive act being perfect. And that, it seems to me, is the real question here: what are the conditions that must be satisfied for a productive act to be perfect? And do the theories of Henry, Scotus, Ockham, et al. meet those conditions consistently?

Scott Williams said...

Yep. I think 3 indicates what I'm after here. Sorry it's taken awhile to work up to this. But hey, we're just doing some discursive reasoning!