Robert Koons

Divine Persons as Relational Qua-Objects

Is the Christian doctrine of the Trinity consistent with a very strong version of the thesis of divine simplicity? Yes, so long as the simple divine nature is a relational nature, a nature that could be characterized in terms of such relations as loving, knowing, and executing. This divine nature functions simultaneously as agent, patient, and action: as lover and beloved, knower and known, effector and effected. We can then distinguish three really distinct aspects of the one simple reality: God-qua-loversimpliciter, God-qua-beloved-simpliciter, and God-qua-lover-cum-beloved, which can be identified with Father, Spirit, and Son, respectively. However, it would be a mistake to suppose that God-qua-lover loves but is not beloved, or that God-qua-beloved is loved but does not love, since it is essential that each of the three Persons both loves and is loved (knows and is known, effects and is effected). Instead, we must attach the qualifications also to the action and not just to the agent or patient. So, the Father (God-qua-lover) loves-qua-lover, and similarly the Spirit loves-qua-beloved. I will draw on Fine’s (1982, 1985) theory of qua-objects, on my own account of relational facts, and on recent work on the semantics of as-clauses to elucidate this model more fully.

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