University of Notre Dame
The Logical Problem of the Trinity</h1>.
Degree: PhD, Philosophy, 2014, University of Notre Dame
The doctrine of the Trinity is central to
mainstream Christianity. But insofar as it posits “three persons”
(Father, Son and Holy Spirit), who are “one God,” it appears as
inconsistent as the claim that 1+1+1=1. Much of
the literature on “The Logical Problem of the Trinity,” as this has
been called, attacks or defends Trinitarianism with little regard
to the fourth century theological controversies and the late
Hellenistic and early Medieval philosophical background in which it
took shape. I argue that this methodology, which I call “the Puzzle
Approach,” produces obviously invalid arguments, and it is unclear
how to repair it without collapsing into my preferred methodology,
“the Historical Approach,” which sees history as essential to the
debate. I also discuss “mysterianism,” arguing that, successful or
not, it has a different goal from the other approaches. I further
argue that any solution from the Historical Approach satisfies the
concerns of the Puzzle Approach and mysterianism anyway.
I then examine the solution to the Logical Problem of the
Trinity found in St. Gregory of Nyssa’s writings, both due to his
place in the history of the doctrine, and his clarity in
explicating what I call “the metaphysics of synergy.” I recast his
solution in standard predicate logic and provide a formal proof of
its consistency. I end by considering the possibilities for
attacking the broader philosophical context of his defense and
conclude that the prospects for doing so are dim. In any case, if
there should turn out to be any problem with the doctrine of the
Trinity at all, it will not be one of mere logical inconsistency in
saying that “These Three are One.”
Advisors/Committee Members: Richard Cross, Committee Chair, Fr. Brian Daley, SJ, Committee Member, Peter van Inwagen, Committee Member, Ted Warfield, Committee Member.
Subjects/Keywords: Philosophical Theology; Analytic Theology; Patristics; Trinity; Gregory of Nyssa; Logic
to Zotero / EndNote / Reference
APA (6th Edition):
Branson, B. (2014). The Logical Problem of the Trinity</h1>. (Doctoral Dissertation). University of Notre Dame. Retrieved from https://curate.nd.edu/show/j386057684n
Chicago Manual of Style (16th Edition):
Branson, Beau. “The Logical Problem of the Trinity</h1>.” 2014. Doctoral Dissertation, University of Notre Dame. Accessed November 12, 2019.
MLA Handbook (7th Edition):
Branson, Beau. “The Logical Problem of the Trinity</h1>.” 2014. Web. 12 Nov 2019.
Branson B. The Logical Problem of the Trinity</h1>. [Internet] [Doctoral dissertation]. University of Notre Dame; 2014. [cited 2019 Nov 12].
Available from: https://curate.nd.edu/show/j386057684n.
Council of Science Editors:
Branson B. The Logical Problem of the Trinity</h1>. [Doctoral Dissertation]. University of Notre Dame; 2014. Available from: https://curate.nd.edu/show/j386057684n