Sunday, September 7, 2008

A very brief summary of Henry's Ordinary Questions, art. 54, q. 3

(References to Badius, volume II.)

Does a second divine person emanate from the first unproduced person?
(Bad. 78vN-87rX)

/79rO/ This question asks whether there is an action within God by which a divine person is produced, and here we're taking 'production' broadly enough to cover both generation (the Son's production) and spiration (the Spirit's production). On this question, we need to follow Church doctrine, for it's difficult to grasp this mystery.

The first reason to say 'yes' to this question comes from the nature of a divine person. A produced person in God is constituted by a relation to another person, and this relation distinguishes it from that other person too. But this distinction can only be based on a production relation (i.e., x produces y), and a production relation requires some act of production (which remains in God, else we're talking about creation). Thus, we have to say that in God, one person produces another person, and these two persons remain within one and the same God. /79rO/ Further, the produced person must be subsistent. The reason is that no product can inhere in God, and since any production in God will be entirely perfect, the product must be entirely similar to the producer (for a diversity of natures arises from different ways that things are produced: better producers result in better products, and lesser producers result in lesser products).

/79vP/ The second reason to say 'yes' to this question comes from the nature of the DE (= divine essence), for the DE is the most active thing there is, and so it is more perfectly self-diffusive than anything else. Of course, the most perfect self-diffusion comes about by producing another person that shares the same nature. (Henry cites Richard of St. Victor, De Trin. 1.9 for this argument).

/79vQ/ [Response to the first objection.]

You might object that a necessary being cannot be multiplied, and so just as the divine essence cannot be multiplied, neither can a divine person. I respond that this is true for necessary beings of the same nature, but not for necessary beings with diverse natures. The being of the DE is the same in each person, so it cannot have different natures in each person. But the being of 'person' (i.e., subsistence) can have many natures (e.g., a father-wise nature, a son-wise nature, and so forth). Thus, although the necessary being of God cannot be multiplied on the part of the DE, it can be multiplied on the part of the persons.

/79vR/ [Response to the second objection.]

You might also object that something's necessity cannot stem both from itself and from something else. Now, there is no divine person in God whose necessity stems from another, because then that person would be only a possible being in itself. Therefore, there cannot be a person who has being from another in God.

To this, I respond as I did in the previous question. If we say that a being whose necessity stems from itself cannot have necessity from another, this is only true for the DE. It is not true for a divine person, since the necessity of the Son and Spirit stems from themselves formally, but not principiatively. (That is, the Son and have the divine essence formally, and so they formally have necessary being (along with every other feature of the divine essence). But the Son and Spirit did not produce themselves, and so they did not cause themselves to have the divine essence.)

/79vS/ [Response to the third through sixth objections.]

[Obj. 3] Further, you might object that if the first unproduced person produces another person, then that produced person either is God, or it is not God. We can't say it's not God, because it's produced in God, and there's nothing in God except God. Nor we can we say it is God, because then God would produce God, and nothing can produce itself.

[Obj. 4] Similarly, if God produces God, then the produced-God either is the Father, or it is not. If it is God the Father, then the Father produces himself, which is impossible. On the other hand, if it's not God the Father, then it's God, but it's not God the Father. Thus, there will be two Gods, which is also impossible.

[Obj. 5] You might also object that if the unproduced person produces God, then the unproduced person does this either because that's what God does, or because that's what an unproduced person does. If it's because he's God, then since the product is God too, it would produce yet another God (for that's what God does), and that God would in turn produce still another God, and so on forever. On the other hand, it can't be because because he's unproduced either. Productions in God are perfect, and so they result in most similar products. Consequently, the unproduced person would have to produce an unproduced person, but that's impossible. Therefore, the unproduced person cannot produce God.

[Obj. 6] Finally, you might object that since nothing in God is contingent, then whatever is true in God is also necessary. Now, if God generates God, then it will be necessary if it's true that 'God generates God', and then one could not affirm the contrary, namely that 'God does not generate God'. However, 'God generates God' is true if the subject stands for the Father, but not if it stands for the Son or the Spirit. Therefore, God does not generate God.

/79vS-82vZ/ To these, I respond that the produced person is God, and we should concede that 'God produces God'. The word 'God' signifies the DE, simply speaking, but it's a concrete term, so it signifies the DE as a suppositum (just as 'tiger' signifies a particular tiger, not tiger-ness in general). Thus, 'God' signifies a divine suppositum (a person), and so it can stand for any divine suppositum (though we cannot say the essence produces the essence). To signify a specific person, we need relative terms like 'producer', 'Father', or 'person'.

[What I have just said is a very brief summary of a very long digression in Henry's text. In this digression, Henry talks about the various grammatical and logical rules that determine the meaning of the traditional phrase Deus generat deum. This particular topic is usually discussed in book I, distinction 4 of the Sentences commentaries, but in Henry's Ordinary Lectures, it happens here in 54.3. I have skipped most of the details in this long digression because I find it very boring, but Stephen Brown wrote a helpful article on this topic. It's got a title like 'Medieval Suppositon Theory in its Theological Context', and it can be found somewhere in Medieval Philosophy and Theology 3 (1993). If you want to take a crack at the text here, I suggest starting with 81vY-82vZ.]

/82vA/ [Response to the seventh objection.]

[Note: Badius' marginal note says this is a response to the fifth objection, but it's really a response to the seventh.]

You might object that 'to produce' and 'to be produced' are opposite relations, and so they entail distinct terms. Thus, if God produces God, the two would be distinct, but this is obviously false.

I respond to this in the same way that I responded to the third through sixth objections. The term 'God' signifies supposita, not the DE.

/82vB/ [Response to the eighth objection.]

You might also object that if God produces God, then this is either by free will, by nature, or by necessity, for there are no other ways to do something. It can't be nature or necessity, because these are not done by free will, but God is the most perfect agent, and the most perfect agent must be in control of its actions. However, it can't be by free will either, because then it would be contingent, and everything in God must be necessary.

In response, I say that 'by free will', 'by nature', or 'by necessity' can be taken nominally or adjectivally. If they are taken nominally, then they indicate some other necessary co-actor, and God does not produce God with another necessary co-actor. If they are taken adjectivally, then they only indicate the manner of production. But no matter what manner of production we're talking about, God does not produces God out of some need. Nevertheless, we can distinguish two kinds of necessity here. One is natural necessity. For example, fire necessarily heats because that's what fire does naturally. The other is conditional necessity. For example, you are necessarily spoken to when I speak to you. This second kind of necessity can occur without the first, but the first can't occur without the second. /83rB/ In the first way, God produces God necessarily. But if we take 'by nature' and 'by free will' adjectivally, then the Son is produced in both these ways, and so is the Spirit. That is, every divine person is produced both by nature and by will, for God's nature and will are essentially identical, so it's impossible for God to produce God by nature but not by will. /83rC/ Nevertheless, although nature and will concur for each production in God, they do so in different ways. In the production of the Son, nature is primary and the will is secondary, but in the production of the Spirit, it's the reverse. Thus, in every production in God is necessary, natural, and free.

However, one might think that nature/necessity are the opposite of the will, and so they cannot both concur in the same action. To this, it should be said that the will operates either voluntarily in the absolute sense [libera absolute], or as free will [libera arbitrio]. In this second way, nature/necessity and the will [do not] concur in the same action, for in this way, God does nothing by [free] will within himself (God only acts that way with creatures). /83vC/ But in the first way, nature/necessity can certainly concur in the same action.

/83vD/ If you said that God cannot produce God by will because such a production cannot not be, then I could respond in the way I just did.

[Response to the ninth objection.]

You might object that if God produces God, then the product-God must be produced either (a) from nothing, (b) from the producer-God's substance, or (c) from some other substance. Not (a), because then it would be a creation, and that would make the product-God a creature. Not (b), because if some product is made from some substance, that that substance had the potential to become what was made from it, but there's no potentiality in God. Nor (c), because then there'd be two divine substances. Therefore, God cannot produce God.

I respond to each of these possibilities. As for (a), Anselm gave us three different ways to understand 'from nothing'. In the first way, something is 'nothing' when it simply doesn't exist (as when I am not speaking at all, I say nothing). In the second way, something is 'from nothing' because it has no cause (e.g., the Father is from nothing because nothing produces him). In the third way, something is 'from nothing' either in the sense that it is made from no material parts (that is, it is created instead of being constructed from material parts), or in the sense that it acquires being after it did not have being before (as when something did not exist at one moment, but then did exist at a later moment). No produced divine person is 'from nothing' in any of these ways.

/84rE/ As for (b), the product-God can, in fact, be produced from the substance of the producer-God. If we think of the divine essence as 'matter', and if we think of the personal properties as 'forms', then we can easily understand how the Father produces the Son: the Father produces the Son by instantiating the Son's personal property (the 'form') in the divine essence (the 'matter'), and then the divine essence and the personal property together constitute a divine person. The three divine persons are like three composites of matter and form, it's just that they all share the same matter. Thus, the Son is made from the 'substance' (or 'matter') of the Father, much like how a clay statue is made from the 'substance' of a lump of clay.

/84vG/ If you object that the divine essence is totally actual and has no potentiality, I say that when some x has the potential to become y, either x and y are distinct in a real or intentional way, or they are distinct only conceptually. If they are distinct really or intentionally, then x can only become y by really changing into y, and in that way x changes from a potential y into an actual y. For example, a lump of clay is not the same thing as a statue, and so when a lump of clay is molded into a statue, the clay really changes from a potential statue to an actual statue. But if x and y are only conceptually distinct, then there cannot be any real change from a potential y into an actual y, for x and y are really just the same thing (though this only happens in the Trinity, for only there does the DE have the potential to be, say, a Son, even though that potential is eternally actualized because it eternally is a Son).

However, despite the similarity, divine generation is far better and more noble than creature generation. A creature is generated from an imperfect substance (namely, matter), but the Son is generated from a perfect substance (namely, the DE). Thus, divine generation is like a regular change in creatures – for example when Socrates gets a tan – because in such a regular change, the substrate (Socrates) is a complete substance. Still, the substrate (Socrates) is really distinct from the quality it acquires (a tan color), but in God the DE is really the same as the Son's personal property. Consequently, divine generation is like the production of a species. For example, when animality (a genus) acquires rationality (a specific difference), animality is only intentionally distinct from rationality. Nevertheless, divine generation is still different: (a) a genus is incomplete until it acquires a specific difference, but the DE is complete irrespective of the personal properties; (b) a genus is only conceptually common to many species, but the DE is really common by many divine persons.

/84vH-85vN/ [Henry gets into more stuff about the grammatical and logical rules for talking about the Son being produced 'from the substance of' the Father. Henry also indicates what the Latin prepositions a, ab, de, and ex signify. Not surprisingly, de signifies the material cause. In any case, since I'm not looking at logic issues here, I'm going to skip this stuff.]

/85vO/ One might argue against me further that if God produces God, then the producer-God either produces the product-God always, or not always. To this, I say first that divine production occurs within God, it is eternal, and it persists without beginning or end. Indeed, when a producer starts or stops producing, it changes from having activated powers to having dormant powers (or vice versa), but since God cannot change, he must always be producing. Also, when a disposed patient and agent are close to each other, an action necessarily occurs, but since the Father (the agent) and the DE (the patient) are properly disposed and close to each other (they are, in fact, united as one), the Father's act of producing the Son necessarily occurs, always.

/85vP/ One might think that the production never ceases because the product is never perfectly achieved (like when an artist continually works on a piece of art because it's not yet perfect). However, although all productions cause some product to have being, there are some productions where the product acquires being after it doesn't have being (where 'after' can refer to time or to nature), but there are some productions where this does not happen. /86rP/ [Henry then goes into some stuff about production that happens slowly and production that happens instantly, he goes into the production and conservation of a product, and he also goes into some stuff about Avicenna on the eternal dependence of the world on God. But I really can't follow it.] In God, a divine person is produced in the latter way. The produced person does not 'come into being'. Rather, the production is just sharing the being and essence of the Father. I deny Avicenna's claim that the world depends on God for its being eternally. That sort of thing only happens in the Trinity. The reason is that the 'matter' (= DE) in divine production has being from itself and not from another. For Avicenna, it's the other way around: the world's matter has being from another, not from itself. [I don't quite get why this matters. I guess I'd have to look at Quod. 1.7-8 to figure it out.]

/86vQ/ You might object that if God produces God, then this is either by the DE or by a suppositum (person). To this, I say that the principles and terms of actions belong only to supposita. But if you point out that divine supposita are relative, and in Physics 5 Aristotle says that relations cannot be the principle or term of an action, I say that this is true if we are talking about the nature of relations by themselves, but it is not true if we are talking about the nature of a relation's foundation (which in this case is the DE). When the DE has the character of one relative property, it is the principle of that by which it is formally, and when the DE has the character of another relative property, it is the the principle of that by which it is materially.

/86vR/ [Response to the tenth objection.]

You might object that acts are most noble because of themselves and not because of something they produce. God's internal (essential) action has the divine essence as its object, and that's the most noble thing of all. Therefore, God's internal divine action is most noble on account of itself, and not on account of something it produces.

To this I say that actions and operations are different, and each has its own kind of perfection. An operation gets its perfection from its object (the more perfect the object, the more perfect the operation), but an action gets its perfection from its product (the more perfect the product, the more perfect the production). Thus, God's (essential) operations like thinking and loving are most perfect because their object (= DE) is most perfect. Likewise, God's actions like producing the Son and Spirit are most perfect because their products (= Son and Spirit) are most perfect.

/86vS/ [Response to the eleventh objection.]

If you object than 'emanation' signifies some becoming or motion or coming out of, and none of that belongs to God, I say that this is true in creatures, but these concepts fall short when we try to apply them to God.

/87rT/ [Response to the twelfth objection.]

You might object that if one divine person emanates from an unproduced person, then it emanates by changing either (a) from non-being to being, or (b) from being to being – in which case it would either change (c) from the same being to the same being, or (d) from one being to another being. Not (a), because the Son does not begin to be, and everything that changes from non-being to being begins to be. Not (b), because that would be a proper change, and there are no proper changes in God. Nor would it be (c) or (d), because then it would exist before it was produced, which is impossible.

To this, I say that every divine person has aseity formally in the sense that the divine essence is the form of every person and the divine essence has aseity. Thus, even the persons that are produced have aseity formally, because although they are produced, the divine essence is shared with them. Creatures, on the other hand, do not have aseity formally. This is why created forms are multiplied. When parents make babies, the parents' forms are replicated in the babies, so new forms come into being with each baby. And since each new form is new, it depends for its existence on something else and therefore does not have aseity.

/87rV/ And when it is said in your objection that when a person is produced, there is either a change (a) from non-being to being, or (b) from being to being, I say that the word 'from' can indicate either the matter from which the product is produced, or the order/origin from which the product comes. In the divine case, the matter of the persons is the DE, and it exists in itself, so it's true that the produced person goes from being (= DE) to being (= produced person).

/87rX/ When it is further said in your objection that a produced person either goes (c) from the same being to the same being or (d) from one being to a different being, I say that it is not (d). On the contrary, it's (c), because the DE is the same in the Father and in the Son. But this is impossible in creatures.

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