Friday, July 31, 2009

Richard of St Victor on the Trinity

Over at, I began a series of posts on Richard of St. Victor's argument that God must be triune. It's a famous argument, or at least the argument Richard gives in book 3 of his De Trinitate is famous, and it's been taken up by a number of people in the 20th century, perhaps most notably by Richard Swinburne. For the first post of this series, see here, but keep an eye out for the rest of the series by myself, Scott Williams, Joseph Jedwab, and Dale Tuggy (the series is ongoing, so these cats haven't all posted their thoughts yet).

Basically, Richard argues that perfect love requires sharing it with another person, and perfect love between two requires loving for the sake of a third. And since God has perfect love, there must therefore be three persons in the Godhead. In my posts for this series, I argue that Richard probably begs the question: if we insist that perfect love requires, by definition, sharing it with another person, then we've already assumed from the start what we're trying to prove, namely that there is more than one person.

But hey, there are a lot of defenders of Richard out there (or perhaps they should more accurately be described as lovers of Richard, and therefore said lover(s) and Richard both exist -- studio audience laughter should be heard at this point), so my view will probably take some criticism.


Mike said...

Understanding perfect love requires a taste for the sacrilicious. Swinburne lacks the taste for the sacrilicious. Ergo, Swinburne doesn't understand perfect love.

Just working to get that term into the vernacular, don't mind me.

JT Paasch said...

How about: 'She is a McSacrilicious with special sauce'?

Dennis said...

Howdy. Appreciated your views on R.St.V. Do you know where I can get an English version of his De Trin, books 4 and/or 5? I know they are floating around with someone at

Thanks for any help.

JT Paasch said...

Hi Dennis,

I don't remember any of us at having an English translation of anything but Book 3. Scott did have the critical edition of books 4-5, but that's in Latin rather than English. There's a French translation, but sadly, I don't know of any English translations. We sure need one though.