Aseity and Abstract Objects

A good number of philosophers since Plato have thought that reality is not only comprised of corporeal and sensible objects, but that alongside the physical universe, there exists an invisible realm of abstract entities like properties, numbers, propositions, sets, and the like. Among other things, Platonism, seems to provide a unified account of predication so that for something like

1) Socrates is white,

there is a subject, “Socrates,” and a real abstract entity, the property “whiteness,” distinct from and exemplified by Socrates.
A subject has its properties either essentially or accidentally. The essential properties of a subject are called its essence or nature.

Now theists have long confessed that a Perfect Being must be completely self-sufficient and depend upon nothing for its existence. This notion is often expressed in the statement, ‘God exists a se,’ that is, of Himself. Hence the aseity thesis:

2) Necessarily, God depends on nothing distinct from Himself for His existence.

A problem seems to arise, however, when we think of God and abstract objects. If God has a nature, then how should we understand His properties? Take the property omniscience which God has essentially, how should we understand God’s relationship to this entity? Plantinga wonders,

If that property didn’t exist, then God wouldn’t have it, in which case he wouldn’t be omniscient. So the existence of omniscience is a necessary condition of God’s being the way he is; in this sense he seems to be dependent upon it (Plantinga, Does God Have A Nature?).

God it seems, must exist in an asymmetrical relation of dependency on His properties for while say, the property omniscience is a necessary condition for His existence, it does not seem that His existence is a necessary condition for the existence of omniscience. But what of the aseity thesis? If God is dependent on the property omniscience, then it seems that He does not exist a se after all. Should theists then reject the aseity thesis?

5 Responses to Aseity and Abstract Objects

  1. Jason $ says:

    Xavier,
    Remember when we played the Baptist Bookstore? Now that was fun!

  2. Xavier says:

    I would have been a lot “funner” if you had learned to play the bass like I taught you.

  3. attilla says:

    i think both of you shld stick to reading….

    im inclined to say the theory still stands. i get what the p-master is saying but im not convinced that we arent just distinguishing particulars that arbitrary. ie. – we say omniscience for the sake of our own understanding.

    maybe if i put it this way it will make more sense: X is God/man or man/God… but really neither he is 100% both at the same time – a logical impossibility, but yet true. we only discuss his diety or humanity in order for us to understand some issue or attribute etc. so, im not convinced we dont do the same with God and his attributes….

    yeah – im probably way out in left field.

  4. Xavier says:

    I don’t know if you’re out in left field (yet). I’m not sure I understand you here. Can you put it another way?

  5. attilla says:

    ok, another try.

    in short: how is omniscience distinct from God… its our word. its our defintion. its our attempt at understanding him.

    i know the term is not the real issue. im talking in abstracts as well. thats why i brought up x. maybe i mean: why do we distinguish ‘properties.’ is that artificial.

    this isnt coming across. call me some time and i will try to explain.

    ps. im having a boy. . . ‘atticus tillery.’

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