Paul Thom

in The Logic of the Trinity

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print August 2012 | ISBN: 9780823234769
Published online January 2013 | e-ISBN: 9780823240746 | DOI:

Series: Medieval Philosophy: Texts and Studies


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Augustine aimed to construct a rational account of the doctrine of the Trinity which he found in the Scriptures. His account combines elements of Platonic philosophy with material derived from Aristotle's Categories filtered through the neo-Platonic tradition. Assuming a distinction between a thing's essence and its relativities he thinks he can show the logical consistency of believing in three distinct Persons each of which if God, where God is a unique and simple essence. The Persons are distinct from one another because of their distinct relativities, but each is essentially God. Thus there is one God, not three. God is simple in the sense that each one of the divine perfections (His greatness, His goodness etc) is not something distinct from God. An analysis of this account is given in a formal theory of the relations of substantial predication, correlativity, and abstraction connecting members of a domain, one of which is a substance, and three of which are non-substances. The name ‘God’ applies essentially to the substance. The names of the Persons apply non-essentially to the three non-substances. The substance is abstracted from itself, and is essentially predicated of the non-substances, which are connected to one another as correlatives.

Keywords: Augustine; Essence; Substance; Person; Correlatives; Abstraction; Simplicity; Trinity

Chapter.  8045 words.  Illustrated.

Subjects: Philosophy of Religion

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