University of Washington
[Indented sections in the text contain explanatory comments on the meanings of terms or the implications of points in the argument of this paper. It is possible to follow the logical flow of the argument itself by reading only the unindented text.]
The purpose of this paper is to determine the logical meaning of the Chalcedonian Definition of the Faith and to show that the doctrine of the double procession of the Holy Spirit from the Father "and the Son" (Filioque) based upon the theory of psychological analogy is logically incompatible with it. The Chalcedonian Definition will be treated strictly as a proposition in dogmatics; that is, it will be considered as a text with a logical meaning of its own which may be inquired about as a distinct theoretical object. The meaning of the terms in which the dogma is stated will have to be determined in part by reference to the meanings of those terms in the prior and contemporary context of theological usage, but the principal focus of the paper will be not on historical questions but theological. The point of view, that is, is systematic and theoretical. The concern is not with what the delegates at the Council of Chalcedon (451 AD) may or may not have intended, but with the logical meaning of what they said.
It would not be unreasonable to assume that at least some of the council delegates meant what they said, especially since the propositions they formulated and affirmed now serve as the only evidence of their intentions, but whether or not they meant or fully understood the implications of what they said, it is the propositions they have left to us that express the doctrine they formally affirmed. To prove conclusively that the council delegates actually did mean what they said would be impossible in the absence of evidence other than that contained in the published acts of the council. The principle of parsimony requires, therefore, that such questions be set aside.Just as this paper's logical focus is not on the question of what the council delegates consciously intended but on what they said, neither is it on the question of the truth of what they said, but only on the meaning of what they said.
To show that the Chalcedonian theology (A) and the Filioquist doctrine (B) are logically incompatible, can prove only that it is not possible logically to affirm both as true. The logical possibilities, if A and B are indeed incompatible, are three:1. A is true and B is false;To prove that A and B are incompatible will not in itself prove that either is true. To prove that the two are incompatible can be accomplished through logical analysis of their meanings alone, simply by showing that both doctrines cannot be simultaneously proposed with logically coherent meanings within the same framework of linguistic usage, i.e., using the same terms with the same definitions. To prove that one of them must be false, it would be sufficient to prove that one of them is logically incoherent, since what is incoherent cannot be verified and rationally affirmed. To prove that one or the other is true, on the other hand, would require a procedure going beyond merely logical analysis to some sort of critical verification depending upon evidence. This paper will set aside the question of verification completely; it is concerned only with questions of coherence. The discovery of incoherence is sufficient logically to falsify an incoherent hypothesis but not to verify an opposing coherent one.
2. B is true and A is false;
3. A and B are both false.
One may distinguish between the explicit and implicit meaning of theological doctrine. Explicit meaning is that which is stated directly; implicit is that which may be logically derived from what is stated directly. This paper will consider as "the Chalcedonian theology" both what is explicitly stated in the dogmas affirmed by the Council and what can be logically derived from them. The focus, that is, will be on the theological position expressed in the dogmatic decrees of the council.
By a "theological position" is meant an interpretation of what may purportedly be known about God and his relation to his creatures. As a doctrinal statement a "theological position" must be expressed in a logically coherent set of propositions, each of which is:(A) composed of terms with specifiable meanings;A purported theological position that does not meet these criteria is in fact incoherent and cannot, therefore, be an actual theological position as that term is defined here. An actual theological position need not be true, but it must at least have a specifiable, logically coherent meaning.
(B) logically coherent in itself;
(C) logically coherent in relation to every other proposition in the set.
In the theoretical analysis of the meaning and implications of the Chalcedonian theology, certain analytic principles will be assumed. These are drawn in part from the cognitional theory of Bernard Lonergan, especially as described in his Insight and Method in Theology. Cognitional theory, as defined by Lonergan, is the answer to the question, "What am I doing when I am knowing." Lonergan's answer is that knowing takes place by the performance of three types of interrelated intentional operation, which may be designated as attention, understanding, and judgment, each of which has as its correlate a distinct type of intentional object.
"Attending" has as its object "experience," which, in the strict theoretical sense in which Lonergan uses the term, consists only of data (and not, as in ordinary, common sense usage, an amalgam of data and interpretation).
"Understanding" is a matter of interpreting or construing data in a pattern of meaning, i.e., a pattern consisting of elements and their relations to one another. This meaning, which is the object of the operation of understanding, is expressed interiorly and tacitly as the content of an "insight," but it may also be expressed for purposes of communication in a statement or formulation. Theological positions are composed of such formulations.
"Judging" has as its intentional object actuality. To the extent that the question of actuality has do with the correctness of understanding, judgment is a process of critical reflection upon the adequacy of an insight or formulation (normally by a careful comparison of the interpretation with the data it attempts to construe or explain), and it culminates in an affirmation or negation of the purported truth or correctness of the act of understanding. The proper object of the act of judgment, however, is not idea but reality or existence.
The "real," as defined in this context, is what is known not by "perception" (which tends to be an uncritical composite of experience and interpretation), but by understanding correctly. The real, in other words, is known by way of a judgment of truth regarding the adequacy of an interpretation.
For the sake of brevity, the operations of attention, understanding, and judging will sometimes be referred to in what follows as level 1, level 2, and level 3 operations respectively. They are related as levels of operation in that understanding presupposes that there are data to be understood and judging presupposes both attention and understanding as bases for its own specific act (since affirmation or negation requires that there be something to be affirmed or denied). The intentional object proper to the act of attention will be referred to as an "empirical" object. That proper to the act of understanding will be referred to as a "theoretical" object. Those proper to the act of judgment will be referred to as either "real" or "existential" objects. The difference between a "real" object of judgment and an "existential" object, as those terms are used here, is that the "real object" has an intelligible structure whereas an "existential object" does not. A "real" object is an actual "thing" of some sort. An "existential" object is the actual presence of a subject.
To speak of such operations as intentional implies that they involve both a subject and an object. The "subject," the agent of the operation, is the one who does the intending. The "object" is what is intended. The term "intentional" refers both to the presence of an object and the presence of a subject. The operation may be termed "intentional" in that its subject consciously performs it, i.e., experiences immediate self-presence in the operation and by this experiential self-presence controls and directs its performance. The term "consciousness" will be used in this paper to refer to the immediate self-presence of a subject in the performance of an intentional operation.
To say this is not to imply that the subject necessarily contemplates his or her own presence as an object or contemplates the operation as an object. To make such an assumption would be to interpret self-presence or operating as itself the intentional object of still another intentional operation, which would imply an infinite regress. A subject can reflect upon himself as an object but to do so is an introspective operation, which is itself analyzable into distinct intentional operations of the three types identified above.To be a subject performing an operation is neither necessarily nor ordinarily to introspect. It is simply to perform consciously the operation. To say this is to say that there is a distinction in intentional operations between the subject intending and the object intended. "In" or "by way of" the operation the object is present to the subject, and the subject is present to himself.
Each type of operation has a distinct type of intentional object correlative to it as explained above. The distinctness of the types of object is a logical implication of the analysis of the distinctness of types of operation. There is no logical implication, however, that the operations must have distinct subjects. There is no reason the same subject may not perform more than one operation. Indeed, if the higher levels of operation are cumulative (level 2 presupposing level 1, and so on), the possibilitiy of operations on the second and third levels logically requires that the subject of the operations on the higher levels also simultaneously perform those on the lower levels.
The fact that the subject may perform more than one operation either successively or simultaneously implies a distinction between the subject as "immanent" and the subject as "transcendent." The subject is self-present in each operation; in this sense the subject may be referred to as "immanent" in the operation, i.e., the subject is immediately self-present as consciously performing the operation. If a single, identical subject performs more than one operation, then the subject is "transcendent" in relation to each of the operations. The term "transcendent" as used here does not mean that the subject can stand apart from operations as such. On the contrary, to be a subject, as the term is used here, is to be the agent of at least one operation and possibly more.
To say that the subject "transcends" particular operations is only to say that the same subject may without change or loss of self-identity perform either that operation or another or several at once. To judge that the subject has changed identity in his different operations would require that some criterion of identity be applied. The criterion would have to involve some reference to distinguishable characteristics of the subject in the different operations. The operations themselves are distinguishable by characteristic features. The subject considered as immanent in the operations may be said to be characterized by the features of the operations. In this sense, but in this sense only, the subject as immanent may be said to have a particular identity as "immanent subject" by way of the characteristics of the operation; i.e., the subject may be "identified" or specified from the point of view of inquiry that takes the operations as evidence of the presence of that subject. In this sense one may speak of one subject (i.e., subject considered as immanent) per operation. To say this does not, however, imply that the subject "identified" or specified in this way is not exactly the same subject as the one that can also be identified as performing a different operation. This is evident from the fact that to identify any subject implies an operation of judgment, which logically requires the presence of a single, self-identical subject performing operations of attending, understanding, and judging simultaneously. For knowledge to be possible the subject considered as immanent in a single operation (e.g. attending to data, interpreting the data, verifying the interpretation and judging it correct) and the subject considered as transcendent in relation to each of several operations (those that make up the distinct levels of the composite operation of judgment) must be a self-identical subject who is both immanent in each individually and transcendent in relation to each.The subject as immanent can be the theoretical object of an act of understanding, but he is such only by way of his operations. Operations are intelligible in that they can be analyzed into elements and relations. Strictly speaking the subject as such cannot be directly the object of understanding, but only of judgment.
What "immanent in" means here is only that the subject actually performs the operation; it does not mean that he is "contained in" the operation as though it were a container. The operation is neither a thing nor a logical category; rather it is something the subject does.
The reason is that whereas an operation can be analyzed into subject, object, and relation, the subject cannot be analyzed into constituent elements. The object of an operation can ordinarily be analyzed into components, and the operation as performed may involve a number of steps or levels, but the subject is irreducibly elemental. The subject may be intended indirectly by way of the operation of understanding, but in this case the direct object of the operation is the operation by which the subject's presence is manifest.To say this is to say that the subject, strictly considered, can be "indicated," not defined. This is why in ordinary discourse subjects are given names; names do not define but indicate. Defining and indicating are two ways of "meaning" the object of an act of judgment. An object can be defined only in so far as it is an object not only of judgment, but also of intellection. To the extent that it cannot be the object of intellection the object can only be indicated: it is not described as "that kind of thing," but as "that individual thing."
What sometimes appear to be definitions of subjects are in fact descriptions of the subject's operations or relations. For example, to say, "He is my father," defines a relation; to say, "She is a teacher," defines a subject as performing certain operations in a certain institutional role.The judgment that there is a subject present affirms a proposition having to do with the presence of a source of intentional operations. What is affirmed, to be precise, is an interpretation of the operation as deriving from an immediately self-present source, the intending subject.
It is only by immediate experience of self-presence in his own intentional operations that any subject can perform the operation of judging that there is a subject present. This immediate self-presence on the part of the judging subject, precisely because it is immediate, is not analyzable into elements and relations and cannot therefore be an object of intellection. Where the judgment has to do with the objective presence of a subject, therefore, the experience of subjective presence on the part of the judging subject gives cognitive content to the object of the operation of judgment, but this is not intelligible content -- it is experiential content. Subjective presence, that is, may be the object of a level 1 or level 3 operation, but not of a level 2 operation. Such considerations have an important bearing on Trinitarian theology, especially as discussed by Athanasius and the Cappadocians, the fourth century figures who played the major role in giving specificity to the meaning of the creeds affirmed by the Councils of Nicea (325 AD) and Constantinople (381 AD).
An implication of the above analysis is that one may distinguish the object of the operation of judgment into theoretical object, real object, and existential object. The theoretical object is what is intended by the level 2 (i.e. intellectual) operation implicit within that of judgment. The real object is a thing with the intelligible content specified by the level two operation. The role of the theoretical object that is subsidiary in the operation of judgment is either to define the real object or else (when the object is a subject) its role is to direct attention toward an existential object. The level three operation involves both theoretical and either real or existential objects. The theoretical object of a level three operation is the adequacy of an interpretation to the data it explains. The real or existential object of the act of judgment is the actuality of that which is being interpreted. An existential object of a level three operation, for the reasons explained above, cannnot itself be an object of intellection. The theoretical object, however, must be, since what is affirmed in the judgment is the truth or correctness of an act of understanding.
The theoretical object of an act of judgment is truth; truth is a matter of correctness of understanding; and understanding can be stated and therefore defined. The existential object of an operation of judgment is the actual existence of a subject, and existence is not an idea and is therefore not definable. Rather the truth affirmed in the judgment that a subject is present may be said to "indicate," not "define" the existential object of the operation.
As understood in terms of the present theoretical framework, objective reality is that which may be known by way of a judgment of truth. The objective reality in question may or may not be the presence of a subject.
The paper you are now reading you can know to be objectively real, but it is only an object. The paper was written by a subject. This can be known by a judgment of probable truth. The evidence for this is that the words written on the paper are unlikely to have been produced in an accidental process. The paper is an object that is only an object; the author is an object who is also a subject.
As a further analytic principle it will be assumed that Michael Polanyi's distinction between focal and subsidiary awareness may be applied to this analysis of operations and their objects (1952:55-57).
Polanyi uses such examples as a lens and that which is perceived through the lens: in order for the distant scene to be the object of focal awareness, the lens must be in subsidiary awareness; to remove the eye from the eyepiece to direct attention to the lens itself will render the lens the focal object in place of the landscape it was used to view. Another example is the use of a probe to investigate an object. In the use of the probe, the awareness of the investigator is focused at the tip of the probe, not in the nerve endings at the tip of the fingers that hold it.The application of this distinction to the analysis of intentional operations is as follows. A grasp of intelligible form in an act of understanding does not dispense with the experiential data construed in that form, but as data they are not focal; what is focal is the intelligible form. Experience is carried forward into the act of understanding, but for that act it becomes experience articulated as intelligible. Similarly, in a judgment of the truth of a proposition, the proposition is intelligible, but what is of central concern in the act of judgment is not mere understanding but the correctness of understanding as an expression of an actual state of affairs. The judgment issues in an affirmation or negation, a "yes" or "no," with regard to that correctness. The focus of judgment is on the correctness or incorrectness, the actuality or lack of actuality of the state of affairs the proposition purports to describe. The intelligible structure of the proposition, of its terms and their relations, is subsidiary to the process of critical reflection and judgment; it is the question of adequacy that is focal. To state the matter in the terminology defined above, the empirical object that would be focal in a level one operation by itself becomes subsidiary to that which is focal in a level two operation, and the objects of both operations are subsidiary to what is focal in a level three operation. In the case of the level three operation, moreover, the theoretical object specific to that operation (truth) is itself subsidiary to a focus on the real or existential object. Truth, that is, is a medium by which the actual is intended. This is what it means to say that the proper object of a level three operation is actuality. The theoretical object involves intelligibility, which is "proper" to the operation of understanding. Actuality, on the other hand, is uniquely ("properly") the object of judgment.
The relevance of these analytic principles to the meaning of dogma lies in their ability to clarify ambiguity. Meaning is a matter of intention. The analysis of possibilities of meaning in terms of the intentional operations that might be involved and of the objects that might be focally intended can, therefore, serve to clarify possibilities of meaning.
To analyze the meanings of dogmatic statements in such a way does not imply a departure from the principle stated earlier that the focus of this paper is not on what the formulators of dogma intended but on the implications of what they said. The focus, that is, is on what intentions such statements may be used to express, whether or not any individual or group has ever actually intended them in that way. If a student were to state on a history examination that Caesar did not cross the Rubicon, it makes no difference to the meaning of the examination paper that he later explains that "not" was a slip of the pen; the statement said that Caesar did not do what he did in fact do, and it is therefore historically incorrect. If the formulators of dogma made ambiguous statements, then the statements they made have not one meaning but more than one, whatever any formulator may have intended or not intended, and it is essential in elucidating or resolving such ambiguities to determine precisely what possibilities of meaning could logically be intended by any individual who used the dogmatic formula to state an actually intelligible meaning.Such clarification of possibilities of meaning in turn requires the specification of what types of operation regarding what types of intentional object could be expressed in the language of the statement. If such analysis shows that a range of possible meanings could be intended, the ambiguity is not resolved but elucidated. If it shows, on the other hand, that some possible meanings would be logically incoherent in relation to the meanings stated in other dogmatic affirmations, then it is not the case that all of those meanings could be logically intended as simultaneously true. It is not possible by the intentional operations of understanding or judgment to intend what is incoherent or logically contradictory. By identifying such impossibilities of intention it is possible to determine what meaning a dogma can logically be interpreted as stating.
What, then, did the Council of Chalcedon say in its Christological dogma? To begin with, the council's decree starts by stating agreement with the original creed of Nicea (325 AD) and the supplemented version of that creed affirmed by the first Council of Constantinople (381 AD) and it goes on to say that these earlier formulas stated adequately the doctrines of the Trinity and the Incarnation (Percival:262-3). These may be assumed, therefore, to serve as a theological context for Chalcedon's own dogmatic definition, as may also the letter of Cyril to John of Antioch and the Tome of Leo to Flavian, both of which were read aloud in an earlier session and explicitly affirmed by the council. The particular significance of this is that where Chalcedonian terms are not fully defined in themselves, their meaning can be specified more exactly by referring to the meaning of those terms in the earlier usage that Chalcedon formally assented to.
The decree then goes on to state that the council intends to oppose what it declares to be the false theories according to which it could be believed that Jesus was not truly God incarnate or else that when Jesus suffered the divine nature suffered or that the divine and human natures were somehow mixed or confused in his person or that he was not truly human. The Chalcedonian Definition proper reads as follows:
We then following the holy Fathers, all with one consent, teach men to confess one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, the same perfect in Godhead and perfect in manhood; truly God and truly man, of a reasonable soul and body; consubstantial [homoousion] with the Father according to the Godhead, and consubstantial with us according to the Manhood; in all things like unto us, without sin; begotten before all ages of the Father according to the Godhead, and in these latter days, for us and for our salvation, born of the Virgin Mary, the Mother of God, according to the Manhood; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, to be acknowledged in two natures [en duo physesin], inconfusedly, unchangably, indivisibly, inseparably; the distinction of natures being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved, and concurring in one Person and one Subsistence [hen prosopon kai mian hypostasin], not parted or divided into two persons [prosopa], but one and the same Son, and only begotten, God the Word, the Lord Jesus Christ.... (Schaff:62)
The key terms in this statement that pertain to the question at hand are the same as those central to Trinitarian dogma: homoousion (and therefore ousia), prosopon, hypostasis, and physis. In the background of Chalcedon lay the fourth century councils and the writings of such figures as Athanasius and the Cappadocians, which collectively served to develop precise meanings for each of these terms.
The concept of "ousia" developed over time, and has taken on some ambiguous connotations (Prestige, 1952:190-92). The basic ambiguity has to do with whether "ousia" is to be interpreted as referring to some kind of ethereal "matter" or "stuff," (which could at least in principle, therefore, be the object of some sort of sense perception), or with an intelligible form or essential definition (the object of a level two operation), or with the presence of a subject (the existential object of a level three operation). These three uses of the term "ousia" can be termed "material," "generic," and "existential" respectively. There are examples in Patristic usage of all three meanings, but on the whole the divine ousia was identified primarily with that which is expressed not in a definition but in the divine "I Am," i.e., in a statement expressing the existential presence of the divine subject. The fundamental tendency in Greek Patristic usage, therefore, was toward the use of the term "ousia" in the existential sense, and such figures as Athanasius and Epiphanius explicitly rejected the generic sense in favor of the existential when applying the term to God (Prestige 1952;160,167).
By the fourth century no theologian considered the divine ousia to be composed of any kind of matter. There was less agreement, however, regarding the question of whether it could be the direct object of an act of intellection, i.e., whether the term "ousia" could be used theologically in the generic sense instead of or as well as the existential. The writings of Basil of Caesarea can serve as an example of the ambiguity of discussions regarding this point. On the one hand Basil could say that "the distinction between ousia and hypostasis is the same as that between the general and the particular; as for instance, between the animal and the particular man (Ep. 236,6; Stevenson:115). Basil's use of the term "general" here could imply either of two meanings: l) that the ousia is an intelligible form present in more than one concrete instance; 2) that it is transcendent (in the sense earlier defined) in relation to the particular instances in which it is manifest. The two meanings are not exclusive, but neither are they identical. The first meaning includes the idea of transcendental relation as well as intelligible form. The second, as was explained earlier in connection with the "transcendence" of the subject in relation to his different operations, does not necessarily imply the intelligibility of what is transcendent. That is, it does not imply that that which is transcendent is the object of a level two operation. If, when Basil wrote this he meant the analogy in the first way, then he was using the term "ousia" in the generic sense and conceived of the divine ousia as the potential object of a level two operation (as the relationship between "animal" and "man" as objects of intellection would seem to imply).
He would not have to mean by this, of course, that the divine ousia could be an object of human intellection; it would suffice if it could be an object of divine intellection. That aspect of the question, however, is not relevant to the present analysis, since to pursue it would require a theory of how divine intellection could take place. If God could become man, as the Chalcedonian theology affirms, then God could perform a human level two operation, and how he could do so would be a question no different from one about how any human level two operation takes place. How God operating in his divine nature could perform operations on any of the three levels involved in human cognition is an entirely different question, and to solve it would seem to demand conceiving the inconceivable, which would be a contradiction in terms and therefore could not lead to a reasonable affirmation of a supposed divine operation of intellection. To say this does not imply that God operating in his divine nature must be unconscious or ignorant, but it does imply that it is not possible with actual understanding to speak meaningfully of distinct operations of divine (in the sense of infinite and eternal) empirical, intellectual, and rational consciousness. Since Basil was writing in this letter to another potential human knower, it is clear that the relevant question for his purpose was that of the possibility of human understanding and knowledge of the divine ousia.If Basil meant the term in the second way, however, then it is possible he intended the divine ousia to be interpreted as the existential object of an operation of judgment rather than as the object of an operation of understanding. Basil's statement in this letter is clearly ambiguous, even if he may have intended a more precise meaning.
Basil did state explicitly and unambiguously in another place, however, that the divine ousia cannot be for us an object of intellection: "...we know our God from his operations, but do not undertake to approach near to his essence [ousia]. His operations come down to us; but his essence remains beyond our reach" (Ep. 234; Stevenson:116). The operations attest the presence of a subject as their source. We can know that he is, in other words, but except that he is judged to be a subject of operations, we do not know what he is. In the same place Basil also wrote against those who insisted on a statement of the intelligible form of the divine ousia, "if I confess I am ignorant of the essence, they turn on me again and say, So you worship you know not what. I answer that the word to know has many meanings."
Basil did not specify what those meanings might be, but what he says suggests the relevance of an analysis in terms of cognitional operations and their objects. It is one thing to know through immediate experience some datum of sense or consciousness. It is another to know by intellection and hence to know the intelligible purely as form. And it is something else quite different to know by judgment the existential presence of the divine "I Am," which cannot be expressed in any definition and does not answer to the question "what?" but only to the question "who?"
However Basil may have himself conceived of this issue, the association of ousia with the abstract universal did become a strand of trinitarian theology after Chalcedon in such figures as Leontius of Byzantium (see Prestige, 1952:270) and Anselm of Canterbury, but to the extent that such a way of thinking may have been present in Basil or other Greek Fathers in the fourth century it seems to have been more of an undercurrent. Although sufficient ambiguity regarding possibilities of meaning persisted to allow for the later development of consistently essentialistic interpretations of the concept of "ousia," the tendency of the fourth and fifth century discussion was towards a usage that implied an existential interpretation, i.e., one that interpreted the divine ousia as the existential object of a level three operation.
That "ousia" in the orthodox Trinitarian theology of the fourth century refers to the existential core of personhood rather than to categorial contents is clear from the way fourth century theologians conceived of the relation between ousia and "hypostasis," which came to be used to refer to the concretely objective presence of the subject who was the ousia. As Prestige described it in a discussion of the usage of Athanasius, "This term [hypostasis] ... is commonly translated Person, but it does not mean an individual person in the ordinary sense.... Applied to God, it expresses the idea of a solid and self-supported presentation of the divine reality. All the qualities which modern speech associates with personality, however, such as consciousness and will, are attributed in Greek theology to the complementary term of the definition; they belong to the divine substance [ousia], the single being of God, and to the several 'Persons' only by virtue of their embodiment and presentation of that unique being" (1948:92).
The term "prosopon" is closely related in that both it and "hypostasis" were used to refer to the same purported reality, but it was also sufficiently distinct in meaning to have been preserved in the Chalcedonian Definition alongside "hypostasis" as a separate term. According to Prestige, "strictly speaking, prosopon was a non-metaphysical term for 'individual' while hypostasis was a more or less metaphysical term for 'independent object'" (1952:179). The emphasis of "prosopon" (which could be translated by "face" as well as by "person") was on the objective presence as apprehended, i.e., as an object of experience or understanding. The emphasis of "hypostasis" was on the same concrete phenomenon as able to stand up to verification, i.e., as objectively real.
From the point of view of intentionality analysis, the relations between prosopon, hypostasis, and ousia in the Greek doctrine of the Trinity presupposed by the Council of Chalcedon, can be logically interpreted, in the following manner, as involving a successive series of steps in the penetration to the existential core of an instance of concrete, objective presence of the subject who is God:
"Prosopon" refers to the empirical perceptibility (in the case of the incarnate Son) and intelligibility (in the cases of each of the hypostases) of the divine presence as manifested in particular operations. In the terms of the theoretical framework assumed in this paper, the prosopon could be said to constitute the subsidiary "theoretical" object of the level three operation by which the concrete presence of the divine subject is known; i.e., it defines the point of focus of the operation of judgment. It was the operations of the Persons, for the fourth and fifth century Fathers, that distinguished them and rendered them individually identifiable. It was a commonplace that the characteristic operation of the Father was creation, that of the Son was revelation, and that of the Spirit was sanctification.
"Hypostasis" refers to the concreteness or objective actuality of this intelligible presence. It constitutes the "real" object of the operation of judgment -- objective in that it can be inquired into and known by way of intentional operations, "real" in that it is judged to be actual.
"Ousia" refers to the hidden inner core of subjecthood, the "I Am," which is wholly present in each hypostasis as the transcendent subject immanent in each. It constitutes the "existential" object of judgment that is affirmed when one judges that "this real object (the hypostasis) is true God." As that which cannot be defined but only named as God, the ousia transcends all intellection and is therefore undifferentiable according to any characteristics and unanalyzable into any elements.
This accords with Prestige's comment that "when the doctine of the Trinity finally came to be formulated as one ousia in three hypostaseis, it implied that God, regarded from the point of view of internal analysis, is one object; but that regarded from the point of view of external presentation, He is three objects; His unity being safeguarded by the doctrine that these three objects of presentation are not merely precisely similar, as the semi-Arians were early willing to admit, but, in a true sense, identically one" (1952:169). Or to put it another way, God could be discovered as an objective presence along three lines of inquiry reaching in distinct directions and terminating in three distinct objects of understanding and judgment. But considering him as subject there is no basis for affirming more than one subject who is present as a whole in each of the three objects of understanding and judgment. As Prestige phrased it, for the Greek Fathers, "as seen and thought, He is three; as seeing and thinking, He is one" (1952:301). To state the issue in the terms of the present theoretical framework: as "real object" God is three; as "existential object" God is one.
The idea that God is a single subject (existential object) who is nevertheless three real objects could perhaps sound implicitly Sabellian, but Basil himself argued against Sabellianism in a way that can help to clarify the central issue because it correlates closely with the terms of intentionality analysis as defined and applied in this paper. His objection was that "merely to enumerate the differences of Persons (prosopa) is insufficient; we must confess each Person (prosopon) to have an existence in real hypostasis. Now Sabellius did not even deprecate the formation of the persons without hypostasis, saying as he did that the same God, being one in matter (to hypokeimeno) was metamorphosed as the need of the moment required, and spoken of now as Father, now as Son and now as Holy Ghost" (Ep. 210,5; Stevenson:112). Basil argued, in other words, that neglecting the question of the actuality of the hypostases as real objects of an operation of judgment, Sabellius reduced the objectivity of the Persons to something merely phenomenal. He treated them, in other words, as objects only of a level two operation and not of a level three operation, which would affirm their real as well as existential objectivity. (For further discussion of Sabellianism, see Prestige, 1952:160-2.)
To state the more basic issue of the identity of ousia in the three objective hypostases in terms of the earlier distinction between transcendent and immanent subject (each of which may be the object of distinct operations of judgment), God, the one divine subject, considered as trinitarian Person or hypostasis is immanent in the hypostatic operations and is therefore intelligible as theoretical object by way of the characteristics he takes on as manifest in the operations. As the single identical subject of all the operations, on the other hand, he is transcendent in relation to the operations that distinguish the hypostases. In accord with what was said earlier, moreover, to say that the one divine subject is transcendent in relation to the hypostases is not to say that as transcendent he is a fourth something beyond or apart from the hypostases. Without operations he would not be a subject at all, as that term is used in this analysis, and therefore he could have no separate existence as subject apart from the hypostases. In the context of such an analysis, therefore, God must be interpreted as one subject who is objectively present in his entirety in the intelligible and affirmable reality of three distinct objective presences. This accords with Prestige's summary of the fully developed Greek Patristic position: "Thus when the doctrine of the Trinity finally came to be formulated as one ousia in three hypostaseis, it implied that God, regarded from the point of view of internal analysis, is one object [i.e. one subject]; but that regarded from the point of view of external presentation, He is three objects" (1952:169).
This consideration of the history of usage in the fourth century, then, makes clear what the Council of Chalcedon was affirming in its endorsement of the trinitarian teaching that came to it from the councils of Nicea and Constantinople, and it establishes the meanings of the terms homoousion, ousia, and hypostasis, in the Chalcedonian definition. "Ousia" developed in the Greek theological milieu into a technical term referring to the existential reality of the one divine subject manifest in each of three concrete presentations (the hypostases), each of which was not only phenomenally distinct as intelligible (the prosopon) but also distinctly knowable through a judgment of its substantial (hypostatic) objective reality. The term "homoousion," which Nicea had left undefined, took on in this context of usage the clear meaning of a reference to the single identity of the one transcendent subject in the three hypostases. There was one God, in other words, who was concretely present as a whole in each of three presentations, each of which could be individually considered, inquired into, understood and judged to be a real object (hypostasis) that was the actual presence of a single existential object (the ousia). The Father was known as the creator of the world and therefore the one who produced the objective state of affairs within which it became possible for both the Son and Spirit to operate in the world. The Son was the God-man in whom the one divine subject (ousia) became incarnate in an instance of humanity as the performer of human operations. And the Holy Spirit was the immanent presence of the same divine subject within him which he, operating as man, could reflect upon, inquire about, experience in immediacy, and judge to be the presence of God within him. The title "Christ" ("anointed") as attributed to Jesus was in Biblical usage a reference to the fact of the abiding presence of the Holy Spirit in him and was so understood in Patristic thought. The status of each of the trinitarian hypostases as objective reality lay in the fact that each could be known objectively by way of distinct lines of inquiry. For individual Christians, moreover, it was possible to replicate the inquiry that led to one and the same Spirit experienced immediately and known objectively as immanent presence within each believer making possible his own adoptive sonship in relation to the Father and brotherhood in relation to Jesus.
According to this way of thinking about the Trinity, which has to do exclusively with what later came to be called the economic Trinity, i.e., the Trinity as manifested in humanly knowable operations, there is no suggestion of anything like the western doctrine of double procession. The answer to the question of the cause of the objective presence of the divine ousia in the Son and the Spirit was in essence that it is due to the will of the Father (God considered as beyond the world altogether and operating only in the divine nature) that the Spirit is present fully in Jesus and to a degree in others and that Jesus is God incarnate. The answer to the question about the source of the presence of the Spirit in Christians generally could also be and frequently was that this presence derives in some way from both the Father and the Son in that the Son, by revealing the truth about human beings and their relation to God, delivered them from the illusion of autonomous human selfhood and thereby opened them to the presence of the Spirit as moving them in operations from within.
This was not, however, what was intended by the western doctrine of the Filioque. The distinctively western doctrine developed as an answer to the quite different question of what there could be three of in the one divine "essence." Considering this question, Augustine speculated by analogy from the various types of triplicity that could be discovered in a human individual, such as memory-intelligence-will, being-knowing-loving, lover-beloved-love, and so on. Since volition in any sense presupposed an initial cognitive apprehension, and since the Son was associated traditionally with the term "Logos," which could be interpreted at least in one sense as an act of intelligence, it was thought that if the Holy Spirit could be likened to volition or love and the analogy to human psychological operations were correct as depicting a similar set of relations within God, then it was logically implied that the Holy Spirit must be causally dependent on the Son.
The western argument for the Filioque has been that although it was not explicitly affirmed in the Creed of Constantinople or by any of the early ecumenical councils, it was implied. The argument of this paper is that not only was the theory of a double procession not explicitly stated but also that it could not be implied, since the implications of the Chalcedonian Definition conflict with it fundamentally. Some of the Greek Fathers themselves (e.g. Eusebius, Athanasius, Epiphanius, and Gregory of Nyssa, though not Basil) did have a concept of double procession, but it was subordinationist and derived from Origen and eventually died out along with Origenism. It was based on the neo-Platonist theory of emanations from the Absolute: the Father was the uncaused One, the Son was the first emanation from the One, and the Spirit in turn emanated directly from the Son and only indirectly from the Father and therefore was said to have proceeded "from the Father through the Son" or, less often, "from the Father and the Son" (Prestige, 1952:249-54). This was quite different from the Augustinian and later the Thomistic doctrine developed in the West and was never involved in the dispute over the Filioque clause that the West interpolated in the Creed. The present paper, however, is only concerned with the theory of the double procession based on the argument from psychological analogy.
With the meanings of the terms homoousion, ousia, hypostasis, and prosopon in the theological context of the Chalcedonian Definition made clear, it will now be possible to turn to the doctrine it formulates to see if it conforms to the pattern of the fourth century Greek Patristic analysis described above that treated the ousia as a single identical transcendent subject immanent as a whole in three distinct real objects (hypostases), each intelligible (as prosopon) by way of the characteristic features of its distinctive operations and affirmable as objectively real on the basis of the evidence of the operations.
The focus of the Chalcedonian Definition is not on the doctrine of the Trinity as such, which it simply presupposes, but on the Incarnation. The principal contribution of Chalcedon to the theology of the Incarnation lay in the clear distinction it made between physis and hypostasis. Its use of the term "hypostasis" in this connection was basically similar to the use of the term in the Trinitarian controversies of the preceding century. The only difference lay in the emphasis placed on the fact that the hypostasis was the presence of a subject. For the earlier discussion what was emphasized was that each hypostasis was an objective presence of the divine subject; for Chalcedon the emphasis lay on the fact that the second hypostasis was an objective presence of the divine subject. Chalcedon was concerned with the way in which one subject could become the point at which two natures became linked. The Chalcedonian explanation of the Incarnation was that one and the same real subject, objectively identifiable and knowable as the second hypostasis, could and did perform operations according to the operative capacities of both the divine and the human natures. The Chalcedonian Definition itself, however, does not state this in exactly this language. It will be necessary therefore to consider the possibilities of meaning implicit in the Definition itself especially with regard to the meaning of the term "physis" or "nature."
This term can be interpreted in two ways, one essentialistic and the other what might be called dynamic. In the essentialistic use of the term, the "nature" of a thing is equivalent to its intelligible form or "essence" (using "essence" to refer to that which could be expressed in an exhaustive definition). If one asks, for example, about the nature or essence of a triangle or an experiment or a chair, etc., one expects to get a description or definition. In this use of the term, "nature" is considered as the proper object only of a level two operation.
The dynamic conception of "physis" or "nature", on the other hand, is quite different. In this use of the term, the "physis" or "nature" of a thing is that which determines its operative capacity.
A certain kind of animal, machine, tool, etc., is capable of a certain kind of operation. A plant is capable of photosynthesis. An eye is capable of receiving visual stimuli. An animal is capable of locomotion. A human being is capable of intentional operations involving not only immediacy of experience but also understanding, critical reflection, judgment, decision, and intelligently purposeful action.
If "physis" is interpreted in the latter way in connection with the Chalcedonian Definition, then its reference to the human physis refers to the capacity for specifically human operations, i.e., operations determined by the limiting conditions imposed on an operating subject by the features of a human organism. Since for Chalcedon the doctrine of the Incarnation has to do not with concepts or definitions, but with actuality and with particular operations on the part of God become man, it is clear that the term "physis" here must be interpreted as referring to that which determines operative capacity.
The argument for this interpretation is reinforced by the context as well. Part of the context is the Tome of Leo, which speaks of Christ as in two "forms" (i.e. natures) while "each 'form' does the acts which belong to it, in communion with the other; the Word, that is, performing what belongs to the Word, and the flesh carrying out what belongs to the flesh; the one of these shines out in miracles, the other succumbs to injuries" (Percival:256). This statement lacks precision, since in the case of the human nature ("the flesh") it could on the face of it be interpreted as though it meant the nature were the subject of the operations, but it is also clear from the available context that what Leo actually intended was the idea that there is one divine Person ("the Word") who as subject performed operations by way of the human nature as well as by way of the divine nature. Leo stated this more clearly in a subsequent letter (after the Council) explaining the meaning of the Tome and trying to win support for the Chalcedonian Definition: "...the actions were of one Person all the time...but we perceive from the character of the acts what belongs to either form" (Stevenson:344).
An additional part of the context is the use of the term "physis" among the Cappadocians, for whom, according to Prestige, the term was descriptive and bore on function, as compared with "ousia," which was more metaphysical and bore on reality (1952:234). In the sixth century an essentialistic conception of physis did become prominent along with a similarly essentialist conception of ousia, with which it came to be treated as virtually synonymous, but that was a later development (Ibid.:273-5). At Chalcedon it is clear both that physis had to do with operative capacity and that it was distinct from ousia. (That the use of the term physis in this dynamic sense did not altogether die out after Chalcedon, moreover, can be seen from the use of the term in precisely this way by John of Damascus in De Fide Orthodoxa, III, ch. 15).
It is also clear from both the Definition itself and its context that its meaning cannot be accounted for by an essentialistic framework of interpretation. The characteristic of essentialism is a focus on objects of intellection. Since the Chalcedonian Definition focuses on the questions of truth and actuality, the intention expressed in it culminates in the operation of judgment and finds its focus on a purported real and existential object. The object of intellection (the intelligible form or "essence") is therefore subsidiary to that focus. Whatever future role essentialistic attitudes may eventually have come to play in the interpretation of Christian doctrines, it is clear that they are not expressed in the Chalcedonian Definition itself.
What can be meant specifically by the concept of the divine physis, if physis is interpreted as the determinant of actual operative capacity? In the case of the human physis of Christ, what is referred to is the possibility for the divine subject to perform human operations. God operating as man in Jesus was able, this would imply, to perform cognitive operations, asking questions and seeking answers, moving from ignorance to knowledge by rational operations, and also to suffer bodily pain as well as experience bodily pleasure, emotional satisfaction or distress, and so on. It was such a capacity in Jesus that the Chalcedonian Definition affirmed by the phrase "truly man, of a reasonable soul and body." To operate according to the capacity determined by the divine physis, on the other hand, is to operate without such limitations. The term "divine nature," in other words, refers to the absence of limiting conditions.
Like any other term that may be used to refer to the theoretical object of an act of judgment, the meaning of the term may refer either to the object as intelligible or to the object as actual. In the first case the term will designate a category; in the second it will designate the existential object. In the terminology of the Chalcedonian theology as explicated in the present analysis, when the term is used to refer to the divine nature, "divine" implies categorization: there is a category labelled "natures," with such subcategories as "divine," "human," "animal," etc. When used to refer to the existential object, on the other hand, the term "divine" refers to the subject of the operations manifested in the hypostasis. Since this subject is interpreted not only as immanent in particular operations, but also as transcendent in relation to each one, there is a single identical subject who is the agent of each. This means that it is one and the same subject who is the subject of operations that are divine in the categorial sense (i.e., operations according to the capacity of the divine nature) and human operations. The central ambiguity of the term "divine" in discussion of the Chalcedonian Definition lies in the possibility of applying it to the divine subject considered as the agent of human operations. What can logically be meant by that usage is not that the human operations are divine operations in the sense of being operations of the divine nature. This is what the Definition excludes when it speaks of "the distinction of natures" as "being by no means taken away by the union, but rather the property of each nature being preserved...." What it can logically mean, however, is precisely what is implied by the continuation of the statement just quoted: "...and concurring in one prosopon and one hypostasis, not parted or divided into two prosopa...." "Divine," in other words has one meaning in reference to the divine nature and another in reference to the subject of both divine and human operations. The first is categorial; the second what might be called "nominative" or "indicative," i.e., it names the subject as "God" and thereby indicates him without defining him.To make the meaning of the term "divine," unambiguous in subsequent uses in the present analysis it will be helpful to define its possible meanings and to indicate exactly which is intended in any given statement. The term has two possible meanings, depending on whether it refers to the divine subject or the divine nature. Let these be designated as follows:
To use the categorial meaning with reference to the subject would be to fall into the error of essentialism, i.e., to confuse an object of intellection with an object of judgment, a theoretical object with a real or existential object. It would also undermine the central point of the Chalcedonian theology, which is that God, the transcendent divine subject, could and actually did become man. The reason he could is that he is not limited to operating only according to the capacity of the divine nature, i.e., to performing only unlimited operations. The Chalcedonian affirmation is that the same transcendent subject who performs divine operations could and actually did perform genuinely human operations, i.e., operations in which he operated not "as God" (i.e., via the divine nature) but "as man" (i.e., via the human nature).
divine (sense A) = of or pertaining to the subject indicated by the name, God;Thus one would say that the Chalcedonian theology holds that one and the same divine (sense A) subject performs both divine (sense B) operations (infinite) and human operations (finite)
divine (sense B) = of or pertaining to that same subject's capacity for performing unlimited operations.
As was stated earlier, it is an assumption of the present theoretical framework that consciousness is the experiential self-presence of a subject in operations. Applied to the Chalcedonian theology, this would imply that operating as man the divine (sense A) subject is humanly conscious. It would also imply that operating as God (i.e., in a way that is not subject to limiting conditions) the divine (sense A) subject is divinely (sense B) conscious. A subject is conscious in his operations (i.e., he operates consciously), and therefore he is conscious in a way determined by the character of the operation. This implies that the subject is distinct from the particular consciousness he has in his operations. The subject is conscious, but is not consciousness; rather he has consciousness, and to the extent that he does so it is by way of individual operations. Consciousness, in other words, belongs to the subject as a function of the subject's operations and therefore of the "nature" according to which they are performed.
This point has an important implication for the psychological analogy on which the Filioque is founded. This is that if the present analysis of the conceptions of subject, operation, and consciousness implicit in the Chalcedonian Definition is correct, the psychological analogy is fundamentally misconceived and therefore methodologically unsound. In order to suggest what there might be three of in the one God, the argument by way of psychological analogy argues from the distinctness and relatedness of knowing and willing as human operations (which the present analysis also presupposes) to a supposed parallel distinctness and relatedness of elements within God.
It is generally acknowledged among theologians who adhere to the doctrine of the Filioque that this is not verifiable but must be believed "on faith." In itself the fact of unverifiability would place the method of psychological analogy in conflict with the principle of parsimony, although the appeal to authority sets that canon aside. The present point, however, bears on another aspect of the issue. It is not simply a matter of the unverifiability of the analogy, but of its meaningfulness. A supposed analogy between human consciousness and divine (sense B) consciousness (i.e., between conscious operations supposedly distinctly performed according to human and divine [sense B] natures) is not an analogy between man and God, because according to the implications of the Chalcedonian theology, God as subject is distinct from all of his operations, both human and divine (sense B), and therefore from the consciousnesses that he has by operating in the different natures. If God were not distinct from the divine (sense B) nature, then it would not be possible for the one God (i.e., the one transcendent subject immanent in the Trinity of hypostases) to operate as subject of human as well as divine (sense B) operations, which is the central point of the Chalcedonian Definition.
Clarifying the ambiguity regarding the use of the term "divine" should make it easy to understand the logical incoherence of the doctrine of the Filioque, at least when its meaning is explicated in terms of the Chalcedonian framework of thought. Its methodological fallacy in its use of the psychological analogy was just explained as founded on a confusion between subject and consciousness: the confusion makes the analogy meaningless because it attempts to extrapolate from human consciousness to the divine subject, which would be possible only if subject and consciousness (and operations and nature) could be identified. The fact that the method of inquiry is flawed does not by itself, however, prove that the Filioque is logically incompatible with the Chalcedonian theology, only that it is unprovable by way of the psychological analogy. The elements of the proof that the Filioque is not only unprovable but incompatible with the Chalcedonian theology have, however, already been brought into focus in the analysis of the intelligible content of that theology. It only remains to summarize them and make their implications somewhat more explicit.
The doctrine of the Filioque initially developed, as was just mentioned, out of Augustine's attempt to answer the question about what there might be three of in God. To connect this question with the Greek Trinitarian theology presupposed by the Council of Chalcedon, this would have to be phrased as a question about how there can be three hypostases in the one divine (sense A) ousia.
Augustine's question was based on the assumption that the tradition of the Catholic Church required belief that in the one God there were three Persons. Since the doctrine of the Trinity as it developed among Greek thinkers in the fourth century, as was explained earlier, was not the teaching that there were three hypostases in one ousia, but that there was one ousia in three hypostases, his question would seem, as has often been suggested, to have grown out of a misunderstanding (probably not unique to Augustine among Latin Christians) of the pattern of analysis expressed in the formulations of the predominantly Greek councils of Nicea and Constantinople. To say that there is one ousia in three hypostases and to say that there are three hypostases in one ousia are to state two entirely different meanings. To say that one logically implies the other is something like saying that the fact that it can be meaningful to speak of one wine in three bottles implies that it must be meaningful to speak of three bottles in one wine.The question about how there can be three hypostases in the one divine ousia depends for its meaningfulness on the possibility that one can meaningfully say that there are three hypostases in the one ousia. It should be clear that if the term ousia is interpreted (as at Chalcedon) as referring to the one transcendent subject who operates as immanent subject in the three objectively real presences that are the hypostases, the proposition must be meaningless. The reason it must be meaningless is that from the point of view of the Chalcedonian theology the subject as subject is unanalyzable. The reason the subject as such is unanalyzable is that according to the distinctions implied in that theology the subject is distinct from his operations, from the consciousness he has in those operations, from the objects he intends by way of his operations, and from the effects of his operations. It might be possible to analyze (i.e., discern elements and relations in) operations, in consciousness, or in objects or effects of operations, but since the subject as such is not an object of intellection but only of judgment, the subject cannot be analyzed into elements and relations. Analyzing is a level two operation; judging is a level three operation. Analyzing has as its object intelligible form, i.e., the essential (in the generic sense); judgment has as its proper object the real or the existential. The divine ousia in the hypostases is known not as an idea but as "He who is" -- not as the theoretical object of a level two operation, that is, but as the existential object of a level three operation. To attempt to analyze the divine ousia would, therefore be to attempt to analyze the unanalyzable. This, however, is logically contradictory. Consequently it is clear that from the point of view of the basic theoretical framework of the Chalcedonian theology the statement that there are three hypostases (real objects) in the one ousia (transcendent subject) cannot be intelligently intended, which is to say that it is meaningless. It is logically incompatible, that is, with the meanings of the terms used in the Chalcedonian Definition.
What cannot be intelligently intended, however, cannot be rationally affirmed.
Since the Filioquist position itself denies that its own dogma can be rationally proven, the latter point may not be significant to its adherents. It will not be significant if it is claimed, in keeping with Tertullian's "Credo quia absurdum est," that to be believed a statement need not be free from logical contradiction. Augustine and the other principal expositors, such as Aquinas, of the Filioquist doctrine of the Trinity have not generally adopted an anti-rationalist methodology, but have generally assumed that although the propositions assented to not by reason but by faith could not be rationally proven they also could not be shown to be logically contradictory. Therefore the fact that the question about three hypostases in one God is logically contradictory (from the point of view of the theoretical framework of the Chalcedonian theology) may not be irrelevant to at least some adherents of the position that favors the Filioque. Whether or not it is relevant to a theologian who does not believe that logical contradiction is an impediment to belief, however, it is directly relevant to the thesis of this paper, which was to show that the Filioque was logically incompatible with the Chalcedonian theology as implied in the statements of that council.
The logical incompatibility, moreover, goes beyond the question of the meanings of the Chalcedonian and Filioquist terms and of the possibility of using the Chalcedonian terms either to ask the Filioquist question or rationally to affirm the Filioque as an answer to such a question. There is also an incompatibility with the positive content of the belief that the Chalcedonian Definition affirms. The idea, that is, that the divine ousia could be analyzed in any way at all (so that the relations between the hypostases could be interpreted as relations within the divine ousia) conflicts radically not only with the use of terms in the Chalcedonian theology but also with the central dogmatic proposition those terms are used to state. It is only by way of drawing those terminological distinctions, by which it becomes clear that the subject or ousia who is God is distinct from everything that is analyzable, that the Chalcedonian Definition can logically formulate and affirm the proposition that the one transcendent subject who is God could actually become man and thereby be, in the words of the Definition, perfect in divinity and also perfect in manhood, truly God and truly man, of a rational soul and body; consubstantial with the Father according to his divinity, and consubstantial with us according to his humanity, and like us in every way apart from sin.
Therefore it is clear that not only does the Filioque imply both a question and an answer that are meaningless in Chalcedonian terms, but it also implies a negation of the fundamental principles according to which in the Chalcedonian theology the Incarnation of the one God as the man Jesus Christ can be rendered genuinely intelligible and explicitly believable.
This proves the thesis of this paper, which was that the Chalcedonian theology and the Filioque are logically incompatible. They are not compatible because it is not possible in a logically coherent way to state and affirm the doctrine of the Filioque using the terms for ousia, hypostasis, and physis as they were used in the Chalcedonian Definition.
It is difficult to avoid wondering how the doctrine of the Filioque could ever have developed if it is so obviously, in terms of the framework of thought that was current in its day in the Greek theological milieu, simply nonsensical. Augustine and those who later took up the doctrine of the Filioque on the basis of his influence would not seem to have been entirely lacking in rational capacity, and since the doctrine is still the official teaching of the western Church, it seems worth asking what interpretation might be given the Filioquist conception of the Trinity that could explain how it could have arisen.
This question cannot, however, be explored with the same logical rigor that was intended in the main body of this paper, since it bears directly upon what individuals such as Augustine and others might actually have meant by their conceptions. What follows is only intended as a brief exploration of possibilities of meaning that would seem to agree with the tendencies of linguistic usage prevailing in Latin Christianity between the time of Augustine and that of Aquinas.
It would seem that the origin of the Filioquist conception must have lain in some alternative choice regarding the meanings of the terms that were currently being used in Greek and Latin theological discussion. The term "ousia" was sometimes translated into Latin as "essentia" (which would be etymologically the closest to the Greek, both being translatable most closely into English by the term "being") and sometimes as "substantia." "Hypostasis" was sometimes Latinized as "substantia" (its etymologically closest equivalent) and sometimes as "subsistentia." "Physis" was consistently translated as "natura."
It is significant, however, that whereas in Greek, as has been explained, these terms became each quite distinctive in use, in Latin they tended for most purposes to be almost equivalent. Their near equivalence consisted in the fact that each was used to refer to something inherently definable (i.e., an object of a level two operation). This tendency of meaning can be seen from the fact that in subsequent Latin theological usage generally, the terms were traditionally defined in more or less the following way: .lm 15
Essentia -- "what" a thing is, its intelligible structure, that about it which could be expressed in an exhaustive definition.From the definitions it is easy to see that each of the terms as conceived of in this way expresses an essentialistic framework of thought. What constitutes essentialism fundamentally is a blurring of the distinction between level two and level three operations, with an attendant blurring of the distinction between their objects. Anselm is the classic example in the Latin tradition of an essentializing of existence -- in his famous "ontological proof" of the existence of God from the fact that his existence is included in his definition. Here God's existence is treated entirely as the object of a level two operation. Neither Augustine nor Aquinas was so consistently essentialistic (Aquinas even refuted Anselm's proof), but neither were they consistently existential.
Substantia or subsistentia -- an actually existing thing, composed of its essence ("what" it is) and its act of existence ("that" it is).
Natura -- the essential structure of a thing considered as determining its operative capacities.
To the extent that essentialism was prevalent in Latin Christian theological discussion, the Latin theoretical base contrasted decisively with the existential framework that gradually became predominant in Greek theological discussion during the fourth century and which subsequently made it possible to draw the sharp distinction the Chalcedonian Definition did between the divine (sense A) ousia and the divine (sense B) physis. An essentialistic theology could not draw this sort of clear and definite distinction between essentia and natura, because from its point of view the nature of a thing is virtually equivalent to its essence considered in its aspect of determinant of operating capacity.
It has been suggested that the principal difference between Augustine and the Greeks was that Augustine began his reflection from the idea of the unity of "nature" in God -- a phrase that could only make sense if "nature" were treated as equivalent in meaning to "essence" -- and this fact has itself been explained as deriving from the influence on him of the neo-Platonism he espoused before his conversion to Christianity. Olivier du Roy has said that Augustine discovered the Trinity in Platonistic writings before he discovered the Incarnation from reading St. Paul (cited in Congar,1980:121). Whatever the origin of the essentialistic habit of conception in Augustine, however, its presence in his writings is clearly evident.
The important question regarding the role of essentialism in Filioquist Trinitarian theology is that of what implications it could have for the conception of what is meant by the term "God." In the existential framework in Greek thought, "God" is not really a term at all, but rather a name, since as the existential object of a level three operation God is not definable in any sense but can only be indicated as the subject of operations. In the existential usage "God" must therefore be absolutely distinct from anything whatsoever that can be analyzed into elements and relations (i.e., be the proper object of a level two operation). In an essentialistic framework, however, God must be definable at least in principle, since in that framework he is conceived of as a substance with an essence that is his nature. To say as Aquinas later did that God's essence and existence are identical is not necessarily to say that he has no essence (i.e., analyzable structure), but only that in him the essence and nature are totally identical with his existence. (In the essentialistic framework it becomes natural to speak of "contingent" beings in which essence and existence are not identical -- i.e., beings that do not exist of necessity -- and to contrast their ontological status with that of God, who because of the identity of existence and essence exists of necessity.)
What is the basic implication of identifying God with his nature? It is that God is identical with his infinity. Unlimitedness, that is, becomes virtually his definition. This, of course, should imply that God could not possibly really become a man, since to do so would have to involve his performing operations such as questioning, thinking, judging, deliberating, etc., that cannot be performed except under conditions of limitation; one cannot question, etc., unless one is genuinely in ignorance regarding the answer that one will try to reach through critical reasoning. The incompatibility of this with the doctrine of the Incarnation is obvious in terms of logical analysis, but even in an essentialistic theological milieu there can be a way around logical contradiction: one can speak of the Incarnation as a "paradox." The incompatibility of the essentialistic conception of God with the doctrine of the Incarnation, therefore, does not have to prevent an essentialistic theologian from affirming it; it only prevents him from doing so logically. (This fact may itself have a great impact on religious culture, however, since it must inevitably give rise to the idea that religious belief cannot be an act of intelligent and reasonable assent to what is genuinely understood and known to be true on the basis of reasons that are themselves understood to be sufficient to justify assent. Out of this way of thinking can come quite naturally the idea that religious belief is a matter of "taking" something "on faith.")
If one considers the issue in the light of the Greek doctrine of the Trinity as analyzed in the main body of this paper, there is also a further implication that must follow from the identification of God with his unlimited operating capacity. This is that God as such must be identified with what in a consistently existential conception can only be the hypostasis of the Father, if it is assumed that it is the Father alone among the hypostases who consistently performs only operations that are without limiting conditions. It will be remembered that in the existential conception as presented above, God as such is the transcendent subject of the operations that characterize and distinguish his hypostases. He is not a fourth something beyond the hypostases, but is wholly present in each; God simply is the Trinity, and the Trinity is not a sum of parts, but is the one God, who is the Father, and who is the Son, and who is the Spirit. In this conception, the Father is the one transcendent divine (sense A) subject operating in his divine (sense B) nature (which on this view is not an intelligible structure, but is only the absence of limiting conditions that would otherwise give a finite character to his operations) and thereby performing the operations that characterize him as a distinct hypostasis. And the Son is the very same transcendent divine (sense A) subject operating in the human nature he has assumed. The Spirit, furthermore, would have to be considered the same transcendent divine (sense A) subject operating in whatever ways might be appropriate to his function as the agent of sanctification of finite natures from within. All three hypostases must, in the existential view, be considered as sharing as subject a single divine (sense A) operation, which is eternal existence (love), and thereby a single divine (sense A) consciousness (the loving enjoyment of eternal life), but in the operations proper to their hypostatic functions they would be distinct and would operate in the natures proper to those functions and in those operations would be conscious in distinct ways.
The reason each of the hypostases can be said to "have" the divine (sense B) nature is that each hypostasis is as existential object the actual presence of the one transcendent subject who exists absolutely and eternally. This is what somewhat later than Chalcedon came to be called the principle of "perichoresis" or "coinherence." In an essentialistic framework, coinherence must defy intellection and is commonly spoken of as "mysterious." In a consistently existential theological framework, however, the principle can be stated in such a way that its meaning is fully specified. An essentialistic framework, when used to express traditional Christian doctrines, has an enormous need for mystification of meaning, since it conflicts fundamentally with the basic tenor of the Christian faith, which is completely existential. For an essentialistic thinker to say that God became man, he must either interpret the term "man" to refer to an abstract essence (which conflicts too obviously with real temptation, real moral decision and obedience, real suffering, and real flesh nailed on a cross) or he must fall back on the idea of paradox and "take it on faith." The Christian faith has at its heart an affirmation (that God became concretely a man) that can be intelligently and reasonably intended only from the point of view of the existential framework of thought outlined in this paper and clearly implicit, even if not perhaps consciously realized in a fully explicit way, in the thought of the Greek Fathers of the fourth and fifth centuries.
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