Sunday, September 7, 2008

A very brief summary of Henry's Ordinary Questions, art. 54, qq. 1-2

(All page references to the Badius edition, volume II.)

Is there an unproduced divine person?
(Bad. 77vA-78rH)

/77vB/ Richard of St. Victor (De Trin. 5.3, at the beginning) says there must be some first substance that is not produced by anything else. Likewise for the divine persons: there must be one divine person that is not produced by another. Otherwise, we'd have a chain of producers that would go on forever -- unless we claim there is a circle of producers, but that would mean the same person produces itself, which is impossible. Besides, something that's produced by another can't be the source of itself. We couldn't even grasp such a thing, and it's impossible anyways. Consequently, we cannot say there are an infinite number of divine persons.

/77vC/ Every being must either be (i) eternal and not produced, (ii) eternal and produced, or (ii) not eternal and produced. /78rC/ (A fourth option might be (iv) not eternal and not produced, but that's impossible, for everything that is not produced by anything else must be eternal.)

/78rD/ If you object that an unproduced divine person will have aseity (i.e., subsist/exist solely by itself), I say this is true formally, but not effectively (or, more properly, productively). A divine person who is not produced is not produced by itself, nor is it produced by anything else. The DE (= divine essence) is like this. This same reasoning can be applied to the divine persons.

/78rE/ Your objection assumes that whatever has aseity is an absolute thing, and this is not true. Something can have aseity in two ways. In one way, something can have absolute aseity when (a) nothing else causes it to subs-/exist, irrespective of (b) its relation to anything else. (Absolute things bear no essential relations to anything else, hence (b).) In God, only the DE has absolute aseity like this. /78rF/ In another way, though, something can have relative aseity when (a) nothing else causes it to subs-/exist, but it subs-/exists (b) only in relation to something else. The Father has relative aseity in this manner. He is not caused to subs-/exist by something else, but he only is Father with respect to the Son.

/78rG-H/ You might also object that there can only be one necessary being. In response, I say that if we take this essentially, then it's true that there is only one necessary being, namely God (the DE). If we take this personally, then we need to be careful, for your objection assumes that what is unproduced is a necessary being, but this is not always true. It's true that there's only one unproduced person in God, namely the Father, but it's not true that there's only one necessary person. On the contrary, there are three.

Is there only one unproduced divine person?
(Bad. 78rI-78vM)

/78vK/ Richard of St. Victor says that to be unproduced is not a shareable feature, for it can't belong to many things (De Trin. 5.3). Richard shows this (in 5.4) by appealing to the nature of the power for producing something. When something has this power itself (rather than having this power because it participates in something else that does have this power itself), it has this power fully. [Then there's something I don't understand, which concludes:] Thus, there can only be one such thing. In my Quod. 6, I also provided another argument for this same conclusion which appeals to the nature of relations (which multiply divine persons). Thus, there cannot be more than one God in the universe, and likewise, there cannot be more than one unproduced divine person in God.

/78vL/ You might object that since every production requires a terminus ad quem and a terminus a quo (a term 'to which' and 'from which'), and since there are two productions in God (that of the Son and Spirit), there must be two terms 'to which' and two terms 'from which', and so there must be two unproduced persons in God. To this I concede that every production requires a term 'to which' and 'from which'. But it does not follow that just because there are two products, there must also be two producers.

/78vM/ You might also object that since it is a perfection in God that there are many produced persons, then it should also be a perfection in God that there are many unproduced persons. To this, I concede that many produced persons is a perfection in God, but it does not follow that many unproduced persons in God is also a perfection.

No comments: