Blosser (from earlier post):Blosser:Nice point, again. Analogies always work only to a point. Obviously a corporate legal 'person' is an eidetic abstraction (the adjective 'eidetic' here serving no purpose but to appeal to your salubrious nomenclaturological appetite) and not a concrete reality, as God is. The claim Volf is making is that gender presupposes biological specification, and from that I surmise that you're wishing to infer or argue that gender cannot be specified in any other way but biologically. Would that be fair?Foster:I believe Volf himself argues that a sexed body is requisite in order for gender to subsist. He most certainly denies that gender specificity obtains IN DIVINIS:"The ontologization of gender would ill serve both the notion of God and the understanding of gender. Nothing in God is specifically feminine; nothing in God is specifically masculine . . ." (Miroslav Volf, Exclusion and Embrace, 171-173).
Well of course that's because God isn't a species of anything, though we are. But why should we suppose that gender must be understood in terms relative to biologized human species? (Notice I'm not necessarily referring here to God, though the question of God is of course relevant.)Foster:
Gary Rosenkrantz and Joshua Hoffman similarly conclude:Blosser:"Indeed, assuming that God is nonphysical, and that a nonphysical being could not be biologically gendered,
it is impossible that God is biologically gendered" (The Divine Attributes, 2).
That's a moot point, though, isn't it; because I never disputed that a non-biological being couldn't be biologically gendered. I only raised the question whether gender necessarily is exclusively (or even ultimately, for that matter) biological.Foster:
John Cooper rightly observes that God's supposed genderlessness is based on a number of philosophical assumptions about ultimate reality (ENS REALISSIMUM). But he sides with those who eschew gender specificity in God because Cooper thinks that Christian believers customarily have confessed that God is not gendered. Moreover, he maintains that Scripture indicates God is neither masculine nor feminine.Blosser:
It would be interesting to know what he thinks those philosophical assumptions are (I don't have Cooper at hand.) His eschewing of gender specificity in God is the traditional view of Christian tradition, in any case. I don't necessarily disagree with that tradition. I like Kreeft's notion that God in Himself embraces whatever is in either human gender, since the original must logically contain everything that is in its image -- though Kreeft goes on, as you know, to insist that God is masculine in relation to us. There are both biblical and metaphysical arguments one could make, I would suggest, for that point (but we may have been through that together).Foster:
Finally, Kallistos Ware makes a case that God is genderless based on God's boundlessness or qualitative limitlessness (i.e. infinity):Blosser:"God in himself is neither masculine nor feminine, since he infinitely transcends any such categories. Yet it does not therefore follow that we are free to apply to him whatever symbols we please."
Timothy (or Kallistos) Ware would seem to agree with Kreeft here.Foster:
As far as I'm concerned, independent of special revelation, all we have to inform our concepts of God is our phenomenal experience.Blosser:
What about metaphysical (logical philosophical) reasoning? (I would have said "metaphysical speculation," but that usually gives non-Catholics unfamiliar with the tradition of scholastic speculation apoplexy.Foster:
. . . It is my belief that phenomena and special revelation should largely govern our view of gender IN DIVINIS. But you make an interesting comment above. Could you please explain what you mean by gender differences being expressed in one's psyche? I'm not sure that gender theorists would acquiesce to the notion that such differences are psychically expressed. For gender is considered a cultural taxonomy by most anthropologists. Volf ultimately contends that gender is rooted in a sexed body, but it is played out culturally or dynamically.Blosser:
Well, let's assume for the moment that Volf is right and gender is rooted in a sexed body. Furthermore, let's add to that the quite widespread rejection of Platonic or Cartesian dualism one finds in contemporary discussions of human nature. Then we've got a syllogism:Foster:
This would support such popular discussions as that found in the book, Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, the supposition being that, whatever connections these differences may have to biology (hormones, etc.), men and women have psyches that express themselves differently too.
- Major Premise: Biological gender is innate.
- Minor Premise: The psychological and biological are one, not two.
- Conclusion: Psyches must be innately gendered too.
One could of course deny the minor premise and still argue that psyches are in some way 'gendered' as well, though not by virtue of being rooted in a biologically gendered organism. For example, if one were to accept that the soul of a human being is capable of subsisting apart from the body in the 'intermediate state', as much of Christian tradition has assumed, then I think one could try to make the argument that the soul of, say, the apostle Luke is a masculine soul, whereas that of Lydia is feminine. If someone were to counter that such a difference were based solely on the soul's having been previously lodged in a biologically gendered body and its residual associations with that previous incarnation, I suppose one could counter with some notion of Creationism (as opposed to Traducianism) with respect to the origin of the human soul, where the identity is divinely determined independently of the biological process of organic generation and then (either simultaneously or subsequenly) infused into the biological organism. In that case, I suppose, one could argue that the identity of the soul -- including its gender orientation -- is something independent (even if concommitant with) biological gender -- perhaps somewhat as in Malebranche's doctrine of Occasionalism. But that's all another matter.
You raise some issues that would probably take us down familiar beaten paths. What is mind? Is it metaphysically possible for mind to exist independently of the body? Is it possible (logically speaking) to conceive of mind as gendered independently of the body? These are tough questions with no easy answers, from the vantage-point of logic.True. But that doesn't mean one can't build a decent metaphysical case for one view or another. Plato would have certainly thought the mind or soul capable of existence apart from the body. Aristotle was in two minds about the matter (no pun intended). On the one hand, he seemed to view the individual soul as the animating principle of the body, which would not survive the body. On the other hand, he seemed to accept the notion that the rational soul, or at least the rational part of the soul, is capable of subsistence independently of the body, though of course the question of whether such a rational soul could sustain a personal identity was moot for him. Coming up into the later Christian centuries, the notion of a soul that survives the body becomes somewhat entrenched, based on the tradition (found also among the Pharisees) that the body of the deceased would later be resurrected, and, thus, the emergent notion of an 'intermediate state' (see, e.g., Loraine Boettner's book Immortality, or, for that matter, the Catholic Encyclopedia entry on 'Immortality.'). I would also recommend the book with which you are familiar, John Cooper's book, Body, Soul, and Life Everlasting: Biblical Anthropology and the Monistm-Dualism Debate (2000).Foster:
Regarding your final sentence above, keep in mind that when Volf refers to God's lack of gender specificity, he probably has in mind God the Father or God the Son, not the risen and exalted "incarnate" Christ.Blosser:
The above reference to Volf raises interesting questions. For example, the question to what extent the identity of the Second Person of the Trinity as "Son" is dependent or independent of the biologically incarnate and physically gendered historical Jesus. Someone might want to argue that the question of gender as pertaining to the preincarnate Logos purely rests on incarnational associations. One might raise the counter-argument, however, that the identity of the historical Jesus is already fully established in the pre-incarnate Logos, but only comes to expression in His incarnate form in the historical Jesus. After all, the Second Person of the Trinity is understood to be the "eternally begotten" Son of the Father prior to His incarnation.