Spit, Spat

Here is my part of an exchange with Calvinist Steve Hays. Hays’ comments can be found http://triablogue.blogspot.com/2006/03/tightening-nous.html

No, I am stating a historical fact, which is why I gave the historical reference. Augustine picks up his Christianized Platonism via Marius Victorinus largely. The earlier stage in reference to Augustine distinguishes the One, Nous and Life. Augustine collapses the first two hypostases (which is the fundamental basis for the Filioque). That is just a fact. Read Bonner, Testke, or any other major Augustinian scholar on the point. Nous and the One identified for Augustine which is why writes that God is “absolutely simple” and why God is identified with being. In middle and late Platonism, the One was beyond being or hyper-ousia, following Plato’s lead at Republic 509b, while Nous was at the level of being. (De Trinitate 5.2)

Plato admits of more than three domains, since Life or Soul is included, which is neither mind nor matter nor an abstract universal. And the Forms are not abstract objects. Plato is very clear, they are powers. Abstract entities do nothing, but the Forms are active-they produce things in the world. As for Matter, matter for Plato and middle and late Platonists has no existence properly speaking. To be is to be one and matter is not one in any sense. Therefore matter has no existence. Bodies come to be when the forms act on matter by imposing unity through their specific characteristic.

In any case, your appeal to the divine ideas is still a relic of middle and late Platonism. You can find it in Proclus, Porphyry, Plotinus, and a host of others. The divine ideas are the objects of non-discursive Intellect or Nous. This is why Nous is plural metaphysically because thought requires a plurality of objects, though not necessarily considered discurssively, which is what takes place at the level of Soul. This is why Nous is produced by the One.

Since Platonism came in lots of varieties, Augustine move isn’t especially unique since other Platonists made the same move before him and after him apart from any influence from him.

Plotinus thought of the Christians as Gnostics and he doesn’t spare any effort in arguing against them. To argue for cross pollination isn’t very plausible with Plotinus. Moreover, many of the same doctrines that Plotinus puts forward are made by earlier Platonists who weren’t or couldn’t be influenced by Christian theology. Cross pollination by and large comes latter when Damascius, aka Ps. Dionysius, converts to Christianity.

The problem is that you are thinking of Platonism as a static position, rather than a family of views that develop over time. Even if true that Augustine’s identification of Nous with the One furnishes him with metaphysical resources unavailable to Plato, it doesn’t follow that Augustines move is not Platonic or isn’t also made by middle and late Platonists before, during and after Augustine.

FYI, I am Perry. Duh.

I have already stated some of the problems with ADS, but you seem not to grasp them. The doctrine of ADS is not scholastic and the scholastics didn’t have one monolithic view of the matter. If you think so you need to read some Aquinas and Scotus. ADS is Augustinian, or more specifically Platonic, coming up through Origen to Augustine. The Reformed generally endorse either a Thomistic or Scotistic. Compare Turretin with Hodge for example. Turretin is Thomistic and Hodge Scotistic. Muller has a decent discussion of it in vol.3 of Post Reformation Reformed dogmatics. So just because you aren’t committed to one specific gloss on Augustine’s doctrine of ADS, doesn’t mean you aren’t committed to the view. Go back through your own archives-

It’s pretty obvious that you’re committed to the Platonic doctrine of ADS.

The point about God was that if God is actus purus, then the divine ideas are actual since they are identical with God. If they re not actual, then they are potentia and then God isn’t actus purus. So if God is the exemplar, then he is a potentia, not act. If he is act, then he is not an exemplar. You haven’t grasped the point, since it doesn’t turn on thinking of the divine ideas as logically antecedent (what the heck does “over and above God?” Like God is such and so height?) to God. It turns on the difference between potentia and actus. If they are unexemplified then they are potentia and then God is not pure activity.

As to versions of ADS, any version you wish to bring forward will still suffer from the kinds of problems I have pointed out, whether Thomistic, Scotistic, or practically any other version. My objections are not garnered from Plantinga because I don’t claim that ADS commits one to the idea of God being an abstract property. See Leftow, Is God an Abstract Object? Wolterstorff’s, Divine Simplicity, Phil Perspectives 5. My approach doesn’t turn on his metaphysical outlook since it doesn’t deny ADS based on a specific notion of properties. Try again.

In the context of Idealism, you referred to Idealism plain and simple. I can give other examples from the period you mention in any case. The point still holds since your claim isn’t true of Idealism per se.

Berkeley is an empiricist for a simple reason-he thinks all knowledge comes from sensation. Empiricism doesn’t entail, or at least not obviously so, materialism. Berkeley can’t be classified as a rationalist because he doesn’t think that all knowledge either begins with or is derived from reason. And he isn’t a coherence theorist since the truth maker for propositions isn’t coherence but correspondence to a sensation.

Uh, yeah, Berkeley says God could have willed things differently and in fact does do so, which is why some sensations cease to be. This is what explains the passage of time. Its another form of Platonism, which is why matter for Berkeley has no existence. Round and round we go. Perhaps you should read some Berkeley beyond snippets in intro-texts.

Yes it is essential to his idealism since if God did not in fact will otherwise, there would be no time, no repeated or new cases of perceptions.

God could have and does will things differently, which is what we experience as time, and the coming to be and the passing away of things, for Berkeley. Happy now?

I and Berkeley both agree with the difference between the compounded and divided sense of temporality in reference to God. God wills X at T1 and At T1, God wills X. Obviously for those who hold to either simultaneity or complete timelessness, the former is acceptable and the latter is not.

Properly speaking, negation could qualify the divine will, depending on which view of God one endorses. Just because you are only familiar with the Latin take doesn’t mean that you can translate it across traditions and therefore make universal claims. Try again.

As for mismatching, I made a mistake and mistyped. If you were disposed to give your opponent a charitable read, perhaps you could figure out what I meant. So let me restate it correctly as I intended.

“As for coherence theory and correspondence theory, the former does not necessarily pair off with truths of reason. Of the defenders of coherence theory left many of them are empiricists, not rationalists.”

Caveat or not, it is still false.

As for mistyping things, you wrote,

“iii) In addition, I was offering a normative statement, not a descriptive statement, that a certain ontological logically selects for a certain epistemology, and vice versa.”

Perhaps you mean here not “ontological” but ontology. See, that’s how you act charitably. I don’t disagree with the theses in any case. I disagree with your characterization of coherence theory. What you should have written was that rationalist coherence theory selects a specific metaphysic.

Comments are closed.

%d bloggers like this: