Monday, June 24, 2019

"On the same grounds"

Each of Alice and Seabiscuit is a human or a horse. But Alice is a human or a horse “on other grounds” than Seabiscuit is a human or a horse. In Alice’s case, it’s because she is a human and in Seabiscuit’s it’s because he’s a horse.

The concept of satisfying a predicate “on other grounds” is a difficult one to make precise, but I think it is potentially a useful one. For instance, one way to formulate a doctrine of analogical predication is to say that whenever the same positive predicate applies to God and a creature, the predicate applies on other grounds in the two cases.

The “on other/same grounds” operator can be used in two different ways. To see the difference, consider:

  1. Alice is Alice or a human.

  2. Bob is Alice or a human.

In one sense, these hold on the same grounds: (1) is grounded in Alice being human and (2) is grounded in Bob being human. In another sense, they hold on different grounds: for the grounds of (1) also include Alice’s being Alice while the grounds of (2) do not include Bob’s being Alice (or even Bob’s being Bob).

Stipulatively, I’ll go for the weaker sense of “on the same grounds” and the stronger sense of “on different grounds”: as long as there is at least one way of grounding “in the same way”, I will count two claims as grounded the same way. This lets me say that Christ knows that 2 + 2 = 4 on the same grounds as the Father does, namely by the divine nature, even though there is another way in which Christ knows it, which the Father does not share, namely by humanity.

Even with this clarification, it is still kind of difficult to come up with a precise account of “on other/same grounds”. For it’s not the case that the grounds are literally the same. We want to say that the claims that Bob is human and that Carl is human hold on the same grounds. But the grounding is literally different. The grounds of the former is Bob’s possession of a human nature while the grounds of the latter is Carl’s possession of a human nature. Moreover, if trope theory is correct, then the two human natures are numerically different. What we want to say is something like this: the grounds are qualitatively the same. But how exactly to account for the “qualitatively sameness” is something I don’t know.

There is a lot of room for interesting research here.

1 comment:

Philip Rand said...
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