Thursday, July 05, 2007

Open letter to Mike Liccione

I drafted the following as an email to Mike to thank him for his perceptive comment on the thread below, but I thought that others might benefit as well. The following is my missive:

I think I have completely got my head around your use of the spirituque now. It appears that the spirituque actually distinguishes the sense in which the filioque relationship is symmetrical from the sense in which it isn't (i.e., solely referring to the distinction between the persons). Filioque is thereby not intended (in the sense of origin) to convey the least sense of asymmetry in the modes of origin, and that is the work that the spirituque does. The filioque in the "from/not from" sense merely says that the poles of each relation are distinct, and it is not intended to say anything at all beyond that. But if it were mistakenly interpreted to imply that the modes of origin are themselves derivative, as in a subordinationist sense, then the spirituque would head off this misunderstanding. It effectively prevents anyone from thinking that the mere fact of relations connotes more, so that there is a sort of derivative divinity implied in "God from God."

I didn't initially see the point, but after Sceptre's questions, I realized that Patriarch Gregory's view was implicitly taking "origin" equivocally as between persons and divinity. In other words, he considered being the "source" of hypostatic existence and the "source" of ousia to be the same process (origin), just at different levels (personal existence, divine activity). But the whole point of the filoque is that nothing whatsoever is implied about the relations of origin other than the mere fact that there are such relations. Yet it appears that the monarchy of the Father at the theological level is understood to say more in the East than it is in the West, since in the West, it merely affirms that there is one and only one "from/from" term (the Father) without any additional connotations. Thus, you and Weinandy have introduced the spirituque to reinforce that the filioque in the West has none of the connotations of the type of relation that it might carry in the East.

The reason this was a light coming on for me is that the ordinary understanding is that the Latin view is the one that confuses personal origin and energetic procession, because Latin only has one word (processio) for what the Greek describes with two. But in terms of concepts, the Latin view is actually more sophisticated, because the Latin makes distinctions in the sense from (ex) is used that the Greek does not make with ek (as in ekporeusis). Thus, the Latin use of the filioque is not confused with connotations of "ek" that make its analogical use inappropriate (which is why the Greeks refrain from using a theological filioque, making it purely economic). It opens up a conceptual distinction that allows both theological and economic uses of the filioque, which the Greek view cannot allow on account of having a more limited notion of origin/aitia.

It really sunk in for me when I was re-reading sections of the Prima Pars for my discussion with Mark Thomas Lickona. The analysis of "ex" in "creatio ex nihilo" (Q.45, a.1, Obj. 3 and RO 3) drove home the conceptual versatility that St. Thomas has with the idea of "from-ness.":

Further, the preposition "from" [ex] imports relation of some cause, and especially of the material cause; as when we say that a statue is made from brass. But "nothing" cannot be the matter of being, nor in any way its cause. Therefore to create is not to make something from nothing.
...
When anything is said to be made from nothing, this preposition "from" [ex] does not signify the material cause, but only order; as when we say, "from morning comes midday"--i.e. after morning is midday. But we must understand that this preposition "from" [ex] can comprise the negation implied when I say the word "nothing," or can be included in it. If taken in the first sense, then we affirm the order by stating the relation between what is now and its previous non-existence. But if the negation includes the preposition, then the order is denied, and the sense is, "It is made from nothing--i.e. it is not made from anything"--as if we were to say, "He speaks of nothing," because he does not speak of anything. And this is verified in both ways, when it is said, that anything is made from nothing. But in the first way this preposition "from" [ex] implies order, as has been said in this reply. In the second sense, it imports the material cause, which is denied.

I realized that if one were to strip "from-ness" of ALL its causal connotations, as Thomas did in Q.45 with the association with material cause and Q.44, a.1, RO3 with efficient cause in mathematics, then one would simply arrive at Anselm's "from." So Brandon is wrong in thinking that this is a unmotivated deviation from the Fathers. Rather, it makes explicit the concept that the Fathers were implicitly invoking by refusing to affirm the filioque in terms of hypostatic origin, as Patriarch Gregory pointed out in his Tomus. It helps to make plain the *reasons* that the Fathers did what they did rather than blindly accepting the dogma. I think this could be of real utility in ecumenical discussions.

4 Comments:

At 8:07 PM, Anonymous Raymond Maxwell Spiotta said...

Wow. I shall require time in digesting this whole spirituque thing.

For now, let me pose a few basic questions about the filioque, and about some of things you wrote in your post "Spirit as Divine Substance."

First, I've seen it claimed by an RC apologist that "the Roman position has never changed. The Father is the sole Cause (Aition / Principium) of the Holy Spirit." The Vatican Clarification of the Filioque states: "The doctrine of the Filioque must be understood and presented by the Catholic Church in such a way that it cannot appear to contradict the Monarchy of the Father nor the fact that he is the sole origin (ἀρχὴ, αἰτία) of the ἐκπόρευσις of the Spirit."

But I fail to see how these assertions lock in with the Florentine definition, i.e. "we declare that what Holy Doctors and Fathers say, namely, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, tends to this meaning, that by this it is signified that *the Son also is the cause,* according to the Greeks, and according to the Latins, the principle of the subsistence of the Holy Spirit, as is the Father also."

Shed some light on this, please.

Secondly, you wrote, "To be strictly correct, the Latin view says nothing about the soure of existence of the Persons qua Persons; it doesn't address the question of aitia or arche at all because it only deals with the Persons as manifested."

Do you think this assertion controversial? Not being very familiar at all with Latin Triadological literature, I can only ask you to elaborate on what you mean by 'manifestation' as opposed to other aspects one might easily confuse the Latins of addressing, to pinpoint where you see this expressed (esp. in the De Trinitates of Ss. Augustine and Hilary), and possibly to forestall any preenvisioned objections to your characterization of the Latin non-interaction with the question of the Father as arche. To make sure, are you saying that St. Augustine's predication of the Father as 'principaliter' is not equivalent to the Cappodocian's predication of Him as arche/aitia?

Thirdly, the RC with whom I interacted objected to your claim that 'procedere' "lies exactly between [ekporeusis & proienai]," claiming in his turn that procedere is a word that simply encompasses the two, not occupying any medial position between the two, as you seem to suggest.

If you have time, I would also be interested in seeing where you derive your approximate equivalence of 'substance/essense' in the Latin view with 'immanent energies' & the 'uncreated Glory'.

Sorry for the unfocused nature of these questions. I do not have the foundation I would like from which to frame them, but this itch for translingual metaphysical correpsondence needs to be scratched, and I think you're the one fit for the task.

God bless

 
At 1:13 PM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

Ad the first:
But I fail to see how these assertions lock in with the Florentine definition, i.e. "we declare that what Holy Doctors and Fathers say, namely, that the Holy Spirit proceeds from the Father through the Son, tends to this meaning, that by this it is signified that *the Son also is the cause,* according to the Greeks, and according to the Latins, the principle of the subsistence of the Holy Spirit, as is the Father also."

Shed some light on this, please.


It seems that this must certainly be wrong if taken literally, as what the Greeks meant by aitia clearly does not mapt onto what the Latins meant by principle, and it never did as far as I can tell. What this really means is to convey that how Rome has consistently interpreted what the Greeks have said is the same as what the Latins have said. Now the East could (and did) protest that this is not what they actually meant as a historical matter, but my rejoinder would be that those differences are dogmatically immaterial, because neither the Latin nor the Greek view endorses anything contrary to any dogma. So even if it is factually not correct that the Greeks meant the same thing, it does indicate concurrence on what the dogma is intended to prevent (Arianism, Eunomianism, etc.).

That might be even more confusing, but dogmas are not infallible in matters of historical scholarship and the like, and indeed, they should rarely be understood as assertions of historical fact. I would say the same thing about the dogmatic statements on papal infallibility, the Assumption, and the Immaculate Conception. If you regard statements about doctrines "always being taught" as historical fact, then it seems obvious that they are inaccurate, but it seems equally obvious that they are not intended as statements of historical fact. What matters is that whatever dogmatic truth being asserted as part of the body of revelation serves a dogmatic function logically connected to whatever else has been revealed. IOW, saying that this doctrine has been "taught" in the Church is not meant to imply that it has been thought out in all its implications.

Ad the second:
Not being very familiar at all with Latin Triadological literature, I can only ask you to elaborate on what you mean by 'manifestation' as opposed to other aspects one might easily confuse the Latins of addressing, to pinpoint where you see this expressed (esp. in the De Trinitates of Ss. Augustine and Hilary), and possibly to forestall any preenvisioned objections to your characterization of the Latin non-interaction with the question of the Father as arche.

"Manifestation" might even be misleading, because it could have other connotations. "Revealed as existing" might be more to the point. In other words, it is a bare affirmation of the existence of the persons and their distinction, stripped of all other causal connotations, which is what I mean when I say that it does not deal with what the Greeks have in mind by arche/pege/etc.

In the Neoplatonist regime, the term is not entirely removed of its causal connotations. I've written some about why I think there is a difference, in that the Stoic background of Latin theology appears to have had a different concept of knowledge and knowability, which was amenable to being reconciled with the Aristotelian concept of knowledge as real union with the other as other. The metaphysical background was simply different, and the differences were somewhat poorly understood.

To make sure, are you saying that St. Augustine's predication of the Father as 'principaliter' is not equivalent to the Cappodocian's predication of Him as arche/aitia?

Yes, that's what I am saying. Augustine was not the Platonist that the Cappadocians were by a long shot. In fact, I think that there have been some major errors regarding Augustine's philosophy and its evolution (including by historians of the caliber of Peter Brown and Etienne Gilson) that remain uncorrected even now. The Western "Platonism" was a complicated synthesis that seems to have significantly reinterpreted even those few Platonic sources that were known to it, and some of the major sources and their influences on subsequent writers (particularly Marius Victorinus and Boethius) are barely even understood. To try to map Ambrose, Simplicianus, Augustine, Jerome, or Anselm onto the Eastern landscape is a daunting task, fraught with the possibility of error.

Thirdly, the RC with whom I interacted objected to your claim that 'procedere' "lies exactly between [ekporeusis & proienai]," claiming in his turn that procedere is a word that simply encompasses the two, not occupying any medial position between the two, as you seem to suggest.

What I really mean by "lies exactly between" in this context is that its meaning not only encompasses both but that it is at a higher level of abstraction conveying MORE than either of these terms do. In other words, it conveys not only the meaning of both words but also the abstract concept that unites the two. It is a higher meaning that bridges both, rather than simply being the sum of both or some tertium quid between the two. Thus, ekporeusis is procedere applied in the sense of being drawn into existence from something and proneia conveys the sense of something like being emitted from an existing thing, but procedere really extends to any sort of "from" relation at all, of which the other two terms are merely special cases.

If you have time, I would also be interested in seeing where you derive your approximate equivalence of 'substance/essense' in the Latin view with 'immanent energies' & the 'uncreated Glory'.

It would probably be clearer to say that there is no difference between participation in the uncreated glory and vision of the divine essence (or mystical experience) in the Latin view. The difference is in what is meant by an "intellectual vision" in the West and participation in the East. In the West, distinct degrees of intellectual vision do not require any real distinction in the object (and likewise, distinct finite objects of the divine will do not require real distinctions in God either). In the East, there has to be a real distinction, because Platonic metaphysics take a much more literal view of the identity of knower and known (you either know it, or you don't, and in the case of the divine essence, to know it is to be it). I don't think there is any great dogmatic importance in that difference, but it is a difference.

 
At 4:59 PM, Anonymous Raymond Maxwell Spiotta said...

Thanks so much for taking the time with me, Jonathan. Your responses are always so on target & articulate.

 
At 10:35 PM, Blogger CrimsonCatholic said...

Well, I'm not always great at articulating myself (see the attempted discussion with Mark Thomas Lickona for an example), but I do try, so thanks!

 

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