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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 9:37 am 
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The Persons in the Trinity are made individuals, but not at the level of substance. They are made individuals at the level of relationship. They are distinct individuals at the level of relation. So each Person is an individual, but not an individual being.


Great topic...I'm absorbing it all and find it fascinating.

So if a Person is an individual substance or rational nature...and the three persons are persons, then it would follow that they are of individual substance (which you say is not the case)

Now obviously this is a flat out and out denial of the deductive logic (all x are y, z is x, and yet z is not y).

Is this explained further in a dogmatic way, or is this kind of thing simply held up as the kind of thing that happens when you are dealing with a mystery?

In other words, I don't accept the denial of deductive logic in my life, but when dealing with what is essentially mystery, I'm willing to accept it on faith.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 11:00 am 
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Tex wrote:
So if a Person is an individual substance or rational nature...and the three persons are persons, then it would follow that they are of individual substance (which you say is not the case)


They are individuals and they are substantial, so the definition works. They just aren't individuals at the substantial level. I went into this a little more for Christopher on the previous page, so if you're still confused, look there first.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 11:10 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
BobCatholic wrote:
A person is a human being. Period.


So the Three Persons of the Trinity are human beings?


So an angel, also considered as a person, is a human being?

Perhaps we should define a person as a living being not an animal nor a plant. There are three kinds of a person: divine, angelic, and human.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 11:13 am 
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Angels are persons.

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Perhaps we should define a person as a living being not an animal nor a plant.


Perhaps. But, while we aren't just animals, we humans are animals. So we need some way to distinguish us from them, or (as Christopher suggested earlier on) we need to say that animals are persons. Which way shall we go?

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 11:20 am 
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OK, I'd say a person is a being that has a mind and a will.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 11:26 am 
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lbt wrote:
OK, I'd say a person is a being that has a mind and a will.


Can you define your terms more specifically, please?

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 11:40 am 
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lbt wrote:
OK, I'd say a person is a being that has a mind and a will.
My Dog has a mind ( the evidence being that she can learn) and a will (the evidence being that she disobeys). To all appearances she seems to have Mind and Will. She has emotions also as evidenced when she shows happiness or sadness or fear or embarrassment.

I think the only thing that really distinguishes Humans from the lower animals is in the area of abstraction. We can attain thoughts and ideas of a creative nature which have no connection to reality. I believe "Creative Imagination" is part and parcel to the "Image of God" in which we were created.

It is a great blessing. The Lord said of Man "nothing will be restrained from them, which they have imagined to do."

It is also our greatest curse for He said this about us at Babel.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 12:13 pm 
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metal1633 wrote:
My Dog has a mind ( the evidence being that she can learn) and a will (the evidence being that she disobeys).



Not to derail the thread, but I don't think a dog's disobedience is indicative of a will. Most animals (chimpanzees and dolphins aside) function purely on instinct. Pain avoidance is a learned behavior, but the primary motivation remains instinctual. When your dog misbehaves, chances are you punish her, either by yelling, rubbing her nose in poo, etc. The dog learns that she doesn't enjoy the consequences and her brain is sufficiently devleoped to draw the necessary connection between the behavior and the result. Hence, if properly trained, she avoids certain behaviors out of fear of punishment. Any disobedience is more properly attributed to an inadequate amount of learned aversion through discipline rather than indicative of a will. Human beings, on the other hand, are capable of overriding their instincts. (For example, a dog will never fast...humans can.)

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 12:22 pm 
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Animals do posess a certain capacity for abstraction. The mereability to weigh possible actions with the intent of determining a particular desired outcome illustrates this.

The question then becomes is the difference one of degree or kind.

For the definition Geoff is presenting to work, I think the difference must be shown to be one of kind, not merely of degree.


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Tex wrote:
Animals do posess a certain capacity for abstraction.


How so?

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 1:30 pm 
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Max Majestic wrote:
metal1633 wrote:
My Dog has a mind ( the evidence being that she can learn) and a will (the evidence being that she disobeys).



Not to derail the thread, but I don't think a dog's disobedience is indicative of a will. Most animals (chimpanzees and dolphins aside) function purely on instinct. Pain avoidance is a learned behavior, but the primary motivation remains instinctual. When your dog misbehaves, chances are you punish her, either by yelling, rubbing her nose in poo, etc. The dog learns that she doesn't enjoy the consequences and her brain is sufficiently devleoped to draw the necessary connection between the behavior and the result. Hence, if properly trained, she avoids certain behaviors out of fear of punishment. Any disobedience is more properly attributed to an inadequate amount of learned aversion through discipline rather than indicative of a will. Human beings, on the other hand, are capable of overriding their instincts. (For example, a dog will never fast...humans can.)
I don't think this is true of all higher animals. Especiallythe ones we have domesticated. WE have changed them. I think (but cannot prove it of course) that we have given our animals a certain conciousness of Self that they would not otherwise have.

EDIT. And this is not a derailing of the thread. Any functional definition of "Person" would need to distinguish Man from Beast.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 1:33 pm 
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metal1633 wrote:
EDIT. And this is not a derailing of the thread. Any functional definition of "Person" would need to distinguish Man from Beast.


Agreed. And the discussion is proceeding along very helpful lines.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 1:34 pm 
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Max Majestic wrote:
Tex wrote:
Animals do posess a certain capacity for abstraction.


How so?
But can they take it to the next step? Dogs look up into the sky and howl at the moon. Whatever it is they are thinking at that moment, they are not thinking "outside the box" and trying to figure out how to go there.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 1:39 pm 
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Ok here goes an attempt at a non technical definition of "Person".

A Person is a living individual capable of "Thinking outside the box". having the capability (whether realized in action or not) of expanding its dimensions beyond that which is inherent in its nature.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 2:07 pm 
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Duh, do we know what a person is yet? i've been fishing.....

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 2:10 pm 
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With regard to animals and abstract reasoning it seems to me (after mulling over this for a couple of days), that we need to make a distinction between two types of abstract thought. The first is based on some physical object. For example, a dog who uses several boxes as stepping stones to reach a counter where a cat is perched. I would guess most problem solving activities animals engage in would fall under this heading.

The second is thought freed from physical referents. Mathematics comes to mind. However, I think pure rationality of this sort is rather rare, and is probably found mixed with the first type of abstract thought. For example, a man who invents a new type of sword uses both his memory of swords he has seen along with abstract ideas involving his improvements.

Ultimately, I would say that it is this second type of thought which separates us from animals. I also have an intuition that this type of thought is related to man being the image of God, and so provides the reason why persons are due to increased respect - why, that is, it is morally acceptable to have a hamburger but not to be a cannibal. I can't seem to articulate this intuition very well, however.

-- Christopher


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 2:13 pm 
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mots137 wrote:
Duh, do we know what a person is yet? i've been fishing.....



Not yet. I'm arguing that animals lack the cognitive abilities and the will necessary for personhood.....I sure hope I'm right, otherwise you may have committed murder by catching those fish. :D

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 2:21 pm 
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How about an analogy:

You can go go bowling with a watermelon...but that is not what watermelons are for, and so they ultimately don't perform very well.

Bowling balls are created for bowling...it is part of their essential character. For this reason it is not surprising that that perform much better than watermelons.

Similarly:

Animals can exhibit some behaviors that show they are capable of abstract reasoning at a certain level...but animals are not essentially reasoning creatures.

Humans were created as essentially reasoning creatures. We reason naturally, becasue it is part of out essential character. Reason is what we do, because it is part of who we are.


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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 2:37 pm 
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Tex wrote:
Animals can exhibit some behaviors that show they are capable of abstract reasoning at a certain level...but animals are not essentially reasoning creatures.

Humans were created as essentially reasoning creatures. We reason naturally, becasue it is part of out essential character. Reason is what we do, because it is part of who we are.



While I understand where you're going with this, it'll take more to convince me. What behaviors you may attribute to the ability to reason abstractly (albeit on a much different level than humans) I attribute to instinct. Take your example of the dog using the boxes to get to the cat. Instinct tells the dog that he needs to get closer to something he desires. He desires to get to the cat, therefore he climbs whatever is available to get to the cat. I agree, however, that if the dog moved or aligned the boxes in such a way as to make it easier for him to get to the cat, then that would indicate some abstract cognition.

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PostPosted: Fri Jul 08, 2005 2:41 pm 
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What about the building of nests or dams by birds and beavers?

It seems to me that instinct can account for what animals do, but not always for how they do it.

-- Christopher


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