Development of doctrine: it’s that time again

It has often been remarked, starting with C.S. Lewis I believe, that traditional Christians of differing ecclesial affiliations have much more in common with each other than with liberal Christians of the same ecclesial affiliations as they. That is not only true but offers the firmest basis for the sort of “ecumenism” enabling traditional Christians to work together toward common goals affecting the public weal. Intellectual leaders among traditional Christians are well-placed to recognize that and act accordingly. Some do. But I have found that, among those leaders, the biggest obstacle to greater ecumenism and cooperation is, surprise-surprise, an essentially theological disagreement. I don’t mean disagreement over this-or-that particular doctrine; those are well-known and needn’t inhibit the cooperation I’m talking about. Prescinding from any such particular doctrine or laundry-list thereof, what I have in mind is disagreement over the very nature of orthodoxy as opposed to heterodoxy. In practice as well as theory, that is a very serious problem indeed. I see my main contribution to ecumenism as that of addressing it constructively.

Among the people who read this blog because they care about my stuff, most know that I have spent a great deal of time, at my other blog, on the issue of development of doctrine (DD). I have done so because, over time, I have become convinced that DD is the issue separating traditional Christians from each other on the question of the nature of orthodoxy. And that seems to me a great shame. The whole topic is rife with assumptions that often aren’t clarified enough to be assessed properly, so that arguments based on them end up begging the question and the interlocutors end up talking past each other. In this post I want to start dealing with that.

Of course I’d really like to write a book about all this, and certainly have enough of my own and others’ material to do so already. Thus I’ve sent my little Development and Negation treatise to several Catholic publishers as a teaser, seeking a contract for a book of apologetics that would be suitable for adult catechesis in the Church. The answer I consistently get is that the material is more suited to an academic than a popular audience. But if I do an academic work, it would be worse than useless to stop with the sort of thing I do in that treatise. Without a full-scale, philosophically sophisticated treatment of the very concept of DD that is realized in the Catholic Church’s DD, such a work would only raise more and deeper questions than it answers, and wouldn’t even deal with some of the instances that are directly relevant. I’m not in a position to supply such a treatment just yet. So in this post I shall simply adumbrate one of the key points that would have to be, as it were, developed in such a treatment.

The point has been percolating in my head for some time now, but I needed a stimulus to force myself to formulate it clearly. I have found that stimulus in a post by Dr. William Witt, an Anglican theologian and seminary professor whom I’ve debated on occasion before. What WW does, in effect, is summarize the argument made in a book by John Henry Newman’s brother-in-law, J.B. Mozley, against the theory of DD that Newman had famously fashioned in his Essay on the Development of Christian Doctrine. (For my awareness of the post and the book I have “Ioannes” of Fides Quaerens Intellectum to thank.) Entitled The Theory of Development (‘TD’ for short), Mozley’s book has been largely ignored for a long time. Newman himself ignored it, apparently because he and Mozley decided to ignore each other’s stuff after Newman’s conversion, which deeply disappointed Mozley, a man whom Newman said didn’t have a Catholic bone in his body. I haven’t read enough of TD yet to discover truly good reasons for its having been largely ignored for over a century; so far, I’ve only read those sections which WW directly summarizes. But I certainly know what WW has got out of Mozley, and have read enough of Mozley already to be convinced that what WW has got out of him is there to be had. So in this post I shall stick to WW’s post, reserving any detailed treatment of Mozley for the book I’m wondering whether I’ll ever get a chance to write.

The part of WW’s post that most interests me comes right after he acknowledges, with Mozley, that there really is a legitimate kind of DD. That acknowledgment is important; in my critiques of Orthodox writers on this subject, I find that they often deny there is such a thing as legitimate DD, only to go on and concede substantively what they deny verbally. What they concede is what JBM and WW call “Development 1” and I shall call ‘DD-1’. Thus:

Mozley speaks of this kind of development in terms of what I will call “Development 1.” Development 1 adds nothing to the original content of faith, but rather brings out its necessary implications. Mozley says that Aquinas is doing precisely this kind of development in his discussion of the incarnation in the Summa Theologiae.

So DD-1 adds only “brings out the necessary implications” in the deposit of faith.

Now as a philosopher, my first question about that phrase ‘necessary implications’ is whether said implications are taken to be deductively necessary or something weaker. The use of the adjective ‘necessary’ suggests the former. That suggestion is reinforced by what comes next:

There is another kind of development, however, which I will call “Development 2.” Development 2 is genuinely new development that is not simply the necessary articulation of what is said explicitly in the Scriptures.

Classic examples of Development 2 would include the differences between the doctrine of the theotokos and the dogmas of the immaculate conception or the assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary. In the former, Marian dogma is not actually saying something about Mary, but rather something about Christ. If Jesus Christ is truly God, and Mary is his mother, then Mary is truly the Mother of God (theotokos). She gives birth, however, to Jesus’ humanity, not his eternal person, which has always existed and is generated eternally by the Father. The doctrine of the theotokos is a necessary implication of the incarnation of God in Christ, which is clearly taught in the New Testament. However, the dogmas of the immaculate conception and the assumption are not taught in Scripture, either implicitly or explicitly. They are entirely new developments.

The same would be true, of course, for the doctrine of the papacy. The New Testament says much about the role of Simon Peter as a leader of the apostles. It does not say anything explicit, however, about the bishop of Rome being the successor to Peter. The Eastern fathers, e.g., Cyprian, interpret the Petrine passages that Rome has applied to the papacy as applying to all bishops.

Other examples of Development 2 would include purgatory and indulgences.

Strangely enough, all the “classic examples” of DD-2 happen to be Catholic “distinctives” that Anglicans as such either reject outright or accept only as tolerable theologoumena rather than binding doctrine. It is said that those are not necessary “articulations” of anything “said explicitly in the Scriptures.” So I believe myself justified in concluding that JBM/WW call such developments “genuinely new” inasmuch as they are not deductively necessary consequences of what is said explicitly in the Scriptures. Accordingly, JBM/WW regard them as additions to the deposit of faith. By general agreement, even Newman’s, addition to the deposit of faith is not legitimate DD.

Now for some reason, JBM/WW (I know, I’m yoking them together the way Obama tries to do with Bush/McCain, but that’s OK for now) think that this result suffices to make their next move plausible. Thus:

Newman presents his argument for development as a dilemma. Anglicans (and Protestants in general) accept the dogmas of Nicea, of the Trinity, of Chalcedon, etc., but these are not taught explicitly in Scripture. They are developments. But Anglicans do not accept the doctrines of the papacy, the Marian dogmas, etc., which are also developments. Anglicans are accordingly inconsistent. To accept one development is logically to accept the others as well.

Mozley’s response is that Newman conflates two quite distinct kinds of development. Development 1 adds nothing new to the content of faith. Development 2 does. Accepting Development 1 is a necessary consequence of taking seriously what the New Testament actually says. Development 2, however, adds something genuinely new to the content of faith. Nicea is an example of Development 1, not Development 2. The infallibility of the papacy is an example of Development 2, not Development 1. Accepting Development 1 does not logically entail accepting Development 2. By not distinguishing between the two kinds of development, Newman commits a logical fallacy, and his argument collapses.

But if isn’t clear already, It ought to be clear that such a putative rebuttal only works if two assumptions be granted: (1) Legitimate DD consists, and can only consist, in inferences from what Scripture explicitly says; and (2) those inferences are deductively necessary consequences of the explicit Scriptural premises. By themselves, both assumptions beg all the important questions, and require support by argument to avoid doing so.

(1) begs the question whether everything God has revealed is recorded explicitly in Scripture. According to the Catholic and Orthodox churches, Sacred Tradition as a bearer of divine revelation is both wider and temporally earlier than the canon of the NT. It was Tradition that the Holy Spirit used to guide the NT writers in their compositions, and it was Tradition that he used to guide the Church in forming the NT canon by distinguishing authentically from spuriously “apostolic” writings. Catholicism and Orthodoxy both grant, indeed insist, that once the precise content of the NT canon became clear enough as such to function as a rule or “canon” of faith, Scripture came to constitute a norma normans for both Tradition and the teaching authority of the Church. But it does not follow that Scripture alone is either exhaustive or supreme as a rule of faith. Hence, it does not follow that legitimate DD must consist in deductively necessary inferences from what Scripture explicitly says.

That remains the case even if one believes, e.g. with Aquinas, that Scripture is “materially sufficient” for expressing the deposit of faith. Even if Scripture is materially sufficient, it does not follow that formal expression of everything materially contained in Scripture would consist solely in deductively necessary inference from what Scripture formally says. There are other forms of inference, and they might well be justified in other ways. That is the principle operative, e.g., in much of the allegorical interpretation of Scripture of which the Fathers were so fond. Much of that kind of interpretation contributed to DD; e.g., in his book Mary Through the Centuries, Dr. Jaroslav Pelikan, an Orthodox convert from Lutheranism, brilliantly demonstrated how the process worked in the case of Marian DD during the first millennium.  So (2) would beg the question even if (1) were true—and the truth of (1) is not something Newman would in any case have conceded.

In a series of posts we bounced off each other a few years ago, Scott Carson and I discussed the concept of “ampliative” DD. I argued that ampliative DD is more than deduction but less than innovation; there is a “third way” between the two, and thus between the two models of DD that JBM/WW consider. What makes that discussion so pertinent here is that Scott himself, arguing for a purely deductive model of legitimate DD, was able to do so plausibly just by taking Tradition and early magisterial statements, as well as Scripture, as the inferential basis for later, distinctively Catholic dogmas. The lesson, I think, is that one can always adduce a purely deductive model of DD if one interprets Scripture and/or Tradition retroactively, by treating key terms they use as logical equivalents of terms that came later. But that isn’t even particularly explanatory, never mind persuasive. Were Arius, Nestorius, and other heresiarchs just too dull, or too blinded by ill will, to see the necessary deductive consequences of the explicit words of Scripture?  I can find no reason to believe that. Rather, by reflecting on all the sources taken collectively—those of Tradition, such as liturgy, oral tradition, and popular piety, as well as Scripture—the Fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries were able to come up with a orthodox hermeneutic which then enabled the Church to interpret the words of Scripture as though the conciliar dogmas followed from the words of Scripture.

Newman was the first to give a detailed account of what that looks like. His account was by no means perfect. But with the argument I’ve analyzed, JBM/WW have done nothing to undermine it.

55 Responses

  1. Thus I’ve sent my little Development and Negation treatise to several Catholic publishers as a teaser, seeking a contract for a book of apologetics that would be suitable for adult catechesis in the Church. The answer I consistently get is that the material is really more suited to an academic than a popular audience.

    This is a shame, it really is. Let’s not give the “populace” “academic stuff” but “popular stuff.” The Apostle Paul said that Christians start off with milk. Thankfully there are Catholic scholars building bridges over these gaps, e.g., Dr. Scott Hahn, and more recently, Dr. Brant Pitre, who is now releasing academic lectures via CD! Deo gratias! Anyway, this layperson looks forward to you work on development.

  2. Thanks, Kepha. I’m glad we were both able to get over the “heat of the moment” over at your blog.

    Best,
    Mike

  3. Hope you don’t mind if I ignore your essay and just say something🙂

    I was reading Mike’s debate with my former student Kevin Davis over at After Existentialism, Light. Just before that, I’d been looking at Fr Kimel’s description of his ‘path to Rome’ – I had thought ‘Pontificator’ came down, and didn’t know he’d put it back up.

    It made me think about why such debates between RCs and Catholics come to a deadend. Similarly, perhaps, on the canon thread with Graham from Ireland.

    RCs and high Church Anglicans in Mascall’s tradition worry about how to decide ‘what the Church should do’ in response to questions. In answer to that, the Protestants answer, ‘I can see perfectly well from Scripture’ – as Kevin put it, it’s unveiled to him, in Scripture in the light of Christ. Knowing Kevin, I can believe that a great deal of it is in fact ‘unveiled’ to him, personally, from Scripture. Without knowing Graham, I feel pretty sure of the same🙂 It is pointless then for RCs to ask questions like, ‘what should we do if a new question about God like that of Arius comes up now’, or ‘why didn’t all Christians come to the same answer about slavery – and used Scripture to prove different conclusions about it’ or ‘why can’t the Episcopalians come to a unitary decision from Scripture about homosexuality?’ The point is, even to be concerned about such questions, one has to have a sense of the ‘Church’ or of Christians as a ‘we’. I mean a sense of the Church as an historical body of Christians existing in history.
    Without that, that is, if one experiences one’s Christianity as an ‘I’, the question doesn’t seem to need answering.

    If debate is to be engaged, therefore, perhaps one needs to ask a different question – an earlier question. It has to be a question the two sides both think is important. For instance, ‘what are the implications of the Incarnation?’

    I’ve just been reading Newman on miracles, and he says the even though some Scriptural miracles are pretty weird, the fact of the resurrection gives credit for them all. That reminded me of how ‘incarnational’ Newman’s faith is.

  4. Dr. Liccione,

    I very much appreciate this post, and I hope you are able to pen and publish your contemplated treatment of development. Your remarks here bring to mind one of the things RJ Neuhaus spoke of in his comments on NT Wright’s latest book. He identified a knack–“a knack that some would say is more typical of British writers–of reworking the wissenschaftlich into a form that is generally accessible, even popular.”

    The main comment I would make right now concerns the idea of “ampliative” development. We have discussed this before, but by way of summary the difficulty I see lies in how to reconcile this variety of DD with the material sufficiency of scripture. You have in that past referred to an abductive model of inference in this connection. The primary example of abductive inference was the Christian reading of Is. 7:14. Yet this inference, as it has seemed to me, depended on a positive increase in the extent or material content of revealed truth (quoad nos if not in se), an increase brought about only with the advent and life of Christ. In other words, although before the incarnation the christological reading of Isaiah’s prophesy was certainly possible (consistent with the evidence), it was not necessary and obligatory. The truth of the Messiah’s virgin birth had indeed been adumbrated by the prophet, but it was not yet, strictly speaking, a truth positively revealed. To get from there to here, from Isaiah 7:14 to Matthew 1:22f, further revelation had to intervene in the coming and life of Christ. Presumably revelation like this ended with the Apostles [cf. the face value reading of Pastor Aeternus, Ch 4 (DS 1836) and Lamentabili Sane (prop. 21); see also Fr Bachofen’s commentary on the (pre-1983) canon law: http://tinyurl.com/5xascq%5D. Yet in the absence of such ongoing revelation, it seems with the instances of Development 2 (e.g. the assumption) that we are at most left in the situation of the Jews before Christ. That is, these developments may be consistent with the evidence (and thus allowable as theologoumena), but absent further revelation they are not necessary and obligatory (as dogma). The best way around this impasse might be to combine the NT with the evidence of church history (understood as evidence different in kind from new revelation) and then to invoke Newman’s illative sense. How that would work out for the Magisterium I don’t really know, but I’m just throwing out the suggestion.

    Best,

    John

  5. PS I plan to take a quick look at Lonergan’s Way to Nicea this evening before leaving the library. I’d like to finish my present reading in St Irenaeus before starting this volume, but will try to get to it soon. It looks compact, under 200 pages, so maybe I can take it up this coming week.

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  7. I think Francesca is getting to the heart of the matter. She claims to ignore the essay by saying something about the debate on sola scriptura, but I think she dovetails right into substantial disagreement between Protestants and Catholics. This is a disagreement that runs over into the debate on DD as well as the role of Scripture.

    As cliche as it sounds, it really is a debate over authority, and more specifically interpretive authority. And this is where I think Francesca is getting to the heart of the matter. Because Catholics think in terms or “we and Christ”, there must be an interpretive authority outside ourselves that hands the one faith down to “us” from age to age. For a Protestant this authority to interpret comes from the working of the Holy Spirit, and here Catholics can give a hearty amen! Of course, the disagreement lies in how this authority of the Holy Spirit manifests itself in our world – through me or through something outside of me (i.e. a Church).

    Protestants trade in a “supernatural pope for the supernatural book” as Kevin quotes P.T. Forsyth on his blog, but these are distinctions Catholics simply do not make. In the Catholic view, the authority of the pope and the authority of Scripture all come from the authority of Christ given to the Church. Scripture is not at odds with the pope. You don’t trade in one for the other. It’s not like Catholics give up the supernatural book by believing in a “supernatural pope”. That supernatural book came out of the supernatural Church, and both are still with us today. When the Magisterium of the Church interprets Scripture is does not do so at odds with the authority of the Holy Spirit. It is, in fact, the working of the Holy Spirit in the Church that makes the interpretation of the Magisterium authoritative.

    Perhaps (some) Protestants do not believe in authoritative interpretation of Scripture as such. If this is the case, then the disagreement is epistemological, as much as it is theological. I’ll leave that debate up to the philosophers.

  8. Francesca:

    I agree with Mark that you’re close to the heart of the matter. I quote in full my last reply to Graham Veale in the “Fallible Canon” thread:

    Reciprocating your “concessions,” I point out that I’ve already conceded that one can come to see, by the experience one can have of reading Scripture, that Scripture has divine authority. That is not a result of reason alone, but of grace. And yet, for reasons I’ve given and you have not gainsaid, such a result does nothing to settle the question how the authority of Scripture is related to that of Tradition and the Magisterium. One could just as well see the latter two as having divine authority, without thereby settling the question how the authority of Scripture is related to them. That was the path St. Augustine seems to have followed, which is why he could say that he would not believe the Gospels were it not for the authority of the Church.

    As Brandon has already argued, it comes down to the question how the Holy Spirit works through various authorities. In light of history, experience, and reason, Vatican II’s way of answering that question seems the most plausible to me. On that answer, neither Scripture nor Tradition nor the Magisterium, taken severally, are objectively self-authenticating; they stand or fall together. If that doesn’t seem plausible to you, perhaps that is because you’re at a point in your spiritual journey where what you get out of Scripture “alone” seems sufficient to you. That is the case for many people, which is perhaps the main reason they are Protestants. But at least as many people can say the opposite for themselves.

    .

    The question then arises whether there is some epistemic standpoint from which the two stances can be compared and assessed without begging questions. I believe there is. And the content of what I believe the answer to be explains why I am a Catholic not a Protestant.

    What one gets out of Scripture—or, for that matter, Tradition and/or the Magisterium—as an individual doing Spirit-guided study and meditation cannot, just in itself, be normative for the People of God, the Church. That holds even for graced private certitude about what is identifiable, on grounds other than private certitude, as de fide. What is normative for the Church as a whole can only be identified as such by collectively applicable criteria that no individual or sub-group in the Church is free to reject precisely as a member of the Church. The question then becomes whether those criteria are primarily scriptural or whether others, such as Tradition and the Magisterium, must be taken alongside Scripture—in such wise that the three sources are objectively and mutually authenticating, rather than any one of them’s being self-authenticating in isolation.

    That is the pivotal question which Protestants and Catholics answer so differently: the most common Protestant answer is the former, the Catholic is the latter. But whatever “the Church” may be, that pivotal question cannot be answered in a way that is normative for the Church just by citing individual experiences or journeys of faith, no matter how truth-bearing those may be for the individuals who undergo them. The question can only be answered in normative fashion if the answer is one that “the Church” consistently recognizes as accepts as such. So the next question becomes “What is the Church?” But that is a doctrinal question, specifically one of ecclesiology; therefore, it cannot even be relevantly answered unless one has already identified as such a body which claims divine authority to define herself as “the” Church.

    In other words, there is no way to identify the norms of Christian orthodoxy even relevantly, let alone reliably, without committing oneself to the ecclesiology of a clearly identifiable body that claims to be “the” Church, as distinct from just one church or denomination among others. Of course, the so-far uncommitted seeker of orthodoxy must eventually find himself in the position of having to exercise his own judgment about whose claim to be “the” Church is the most credible. He will have to decide for himself whether his judgment on that score is sufficient to render any ecclesiological commitment reasonable as distinct, of course, from proven. But merely to frame the question in that way is already to render irrelevant any claim to have hold of all the relevant truth simply as an individual guided by the Spirit in reading the Scriptures. A relevant, reasonable answer to the chain of questions leading up to this point cannot be in terms of “I” but only in terms of a certain sort of “we.” Given what’s at stake, individualism must in due course yield to collectivism. And that, to my mind at least, makes the Catholic answer more reasonable apart from any other considerations.

    Best,
    Mike

  9. John:

    I originally brought up Isaiah 7:14 as the chief example illustrating a comparison I wished to draw: namely, that the process by which divine revelation itself developed over time, as recorded in Scripture, is the model for how the Church’s assimilation of the completed divine revelation develops over time. Put more simply, the Church’s process of coming to understand what can be understood of the deposit of faith is analogous to how that deposit was vouchsafed to humanity in the first place. That, I believe, is what makes Newman’s organic metaphor for DD, such as that of a plant growing from a seed, so powerful.

    For such reasons, then, your criticism misses the mark. It would hit the mark if Newman or I were presenting authentic DD as continuing revelation, thus denying that revelation closed with the death of the last apostle. But we do not, and I’ve more than once explained why we do not.

    Best,
    Mike

  10. Mike L,

    You may have trouble in your reply to Francesca. As Kevin has commented on his blog, he (and those of like mind) believe Catholics are on the same epistemic ground as Protestants, and that (contra Newman) Catholics have no more certainty than Protestants regarding “true” teaching. This is certainly true from the standpoint that it takes as much faith to believe in the Church as manifested authority (via the Holy Spirit) versus the individual believer as manifested authority (via the Holy Spirit). We use the same gift of reason to arrive at two different conclusions. We are on the same ground. Or so it seems to me.

    I agree with you that the Catholic view is the more reasonable view. In fact, I believe it is the much more reasonable view, but it would seem there are those who disagree. I think you particularly hit the point when you say:

    “As Brandon has already argued, it comes down to the question how the Holy Spirit works through various authorities. In light of history, experience, and reason, Vatican II’s way of answering that question seems the most plausible to me. On that answer, neither Scripture nor Tradition nor the Magisterium, taken severally, are objectively self-authenticating; they stand or fall together.”

    For the Catholic, the Magisterium, Scripture, and Tradition stand and fall together. They cannot be separated in the Catholic mind. This is what I meant by “distinctions Catholics simply do not make”.

    To quote my closing comment to Kepha on the fides quaerens intellectum blog:

    “These things are worthy of discussion between Protestants and Catholics, but I have my doubts as to the outcome of such discussions. Many of our differences are axiomatic, as seen in the sola scriptura discussions going around the blogosphere within the last week.”

    At this point, I think we all feel like we’re talking to a wall🙂

  11. Put more simply, the Church’s process of coming to understand what can be understood of the deposit of faith is analogous to how that deposit was vouchsafed to humanity in the first place.

    But, professor, it seems like “in effect” than “analogous to.” Without question the Catholic Church believes that Revelation ceased with the death of the last Apostle, but this appears to be more a technicality than a practice. I don’t know if that makes sense, but this is how I think me and John (Iohannes) see it.

  12. Mark:

    I’m well aware of Kevin’s position, which is why I conducted a little debate with him over there.🙂

    It’s really easy to just throw up one’s hands and write the whole thing off as a clash of “incommensurable paradigms” (to borrow a phrase from the late philosopher of science Thomas Kuhn). But it’s so easy as to be too easy. What Kevin’s position shows, and Francesca knows quite well as his thesis director, is that somebody who is certain they have found God’s truth by reading Scripture without recourse to Tradition and the Magisterium is not going to have, subjectively, any reason to take the latter two sources into serious account. But it does not thereby follow that there is no reason, objectively, for them to do so. All that follows is that, if there is such reason, they won’t see it or care about it.

    The difficulty, accordingly, is not so much about objective truth but about how more much of it people can be persuaded of, given how much of it they have already learned. A paradigm such as that laid out by Dei Verbum just does give its adherents wider scope for moving beyond what they can glean as individuals from a book, even granted that the book is somehow divinely inspired. I explained why in my reply to Francesca above.

    Best,
    Mike

  13. Mike,

    I was actually thinking along the same lines. The Incarnation was not just a “deductive development”. The law of life is the Incarnation. Ergo…

    Or put it this way. The Incarnation continues today. The Incarnation is not a product of deductive development. So why think that our understanding should be deductive today?

  14. kepha:

    …this appears to be more a technicality than a practice.

    Such a criticism presupposes that there is no basis either in Scripture or in pre-canonical Tradition for inferring Catholic distinctives. My first instinct is to dismiss that as mere question-begging, but the issue is more interesting than that.

    The standard critique does not present Catholic distinctives as mere inventions. It presents them as speculations, opinions, which might be consistent with the fixed data of revelation but are in no way necessitated by them. But the point at issue is precisely what sort of inference, beyond deductively necessary inference from the explicit words of Scripture, would make it reasonable to find, or claim to find, such distinctives in nuce within the data. I’ve already explained in my post why it just won’t do, as a matter of history, to limit legitimate DD to formal deduction from Scripture. That’s just not how things worked. So the question then becomes where to draw the line between legitimate and illegitimate inference, and between that which may and that which may not form the basis of legitimate inference.

    According to my argument, the history of DD in the first millennium shows that the question where to draw the line is one which only the Church, whichever church counts as “the” Church, can answer over time. Without doubt a line has to be drawn somewhere; no pope, for example, could get away with defining: “If anyone says that the Theotokos disliked fried lentils, let him be anathema.” The Curia would quickly find a nice padded room somewhere for such a pope. No, a legitimate doctrinal development has to be something which, given what’s come before and been accepted as normative by the Church, makes some further sense of what’s been thus accepted. Thus, e.g., key aspects of Augustine’s concept of original sin made their way into Catholic dogma partly because they made sense of certain things in Scripture. But the Church never committed her full authority to his associated theory of massa damnata and now rejects it, so that we may conclude that the theory is not an instance of authentic DD, even though the dogma of original sin itself is. A line was drawn between legitimate DD and a false speculation. But it’s hard to say exactly what sort of inferences—inductive? abductive?—enabled the drawing of that line. The process took a long time to unfold, and there were errors aplenty along the way. Brandon Watson is right, I think, to argue that something more than inference, but less than mere speculation, is occurring in such cases.

    The same goes for a dogma which presupposes that of original sin: the Immaculate Conception. DIC could not even have been formulated prior to Augustine, and could not have been accepted by the Church with her full authority until certain philosophical ideas about temporality and causation were transcended. That he held such ideas is why Aquinas rejected the doctrine. Once such obstacles were removed, however, it became much easier to see how DIC cohered with and illuminated other doctrines. Just as the Church did not formally adopt the popular title “Theotokos” for Mary until Nicaea and Constantinople I had done their work, and Nestorius had made an issue of it, so the Church could not put her full authority behind the popular devotion to Mary as the Immaculate Conception until Bonaventura, Duns Scotus, and a few other theologians had done their own work.

    This whole business of “making further sense of” earlier norms must at the very least involve what philosophers call “abduction,” or “inference to the best explanation.” Abduction is what justified Matthew’s treatment of Isaiah 7:14, even if it did not actually cause that treatment. All I’m suggesting is that the same goes for the Church’s DD after public revelation is complete.

    Best,
    Mike

  15. Hey all. I’ve been gone all day, at work. I appreciate Francesca’s comments, and everyone else’s. I’m too tired to think right now, so I’m going to go to bed.

  16. Mike,

    One wrinkle to take into account with St. Thomas’s claim that the Scriptures are “materially sufficient” is that STA also claimed that everything de fide was contained in Scripture under the literal sense (Q. I of the S.Theo in a response to an objection on the four senses of Scipture- article 10?) . This is certainly now very doubtful given that the Assumption, for example, is de fide.

  17. Mike,

    oops, I left out a part of the argument: STA claims that the literal sense is the gound of all other senses, and that all that is de fide is in the literal sense. Such contraints do not seem correct in light of the de fide status of the doctrine of the Assumption, or even of the Immaculate Conception. In other words, the sense in which St. Thomas thought the Scripture was “sufficient” is one very small part of his teaching that even us thomists of the strict observance realize needs to be radically rethought… on thomistic grounds, of course.

  18. thomist:

    the sense in which St. Thomas thought the Scripture was “sufficient” is one very small part of his teaching that even us thomists of the strict observance realize needs to be radically rethought… on thomistic grounds, of course.

    Of course.

    Would such a “development” entail negation?😉

    Best,
    Mike

  19. I’ve wondered about those statements by St. Thomas over the course of the discussion since the ‘fallible canon?’ discussion. He does certainly seem to have thought that anything in doctrine is literally in Scripture.

    I thought about this when I cajoled my four Protestants to say they accepted Confessions / subordinate Standards – they all wanted to make it clear that the C/ss is an explication of Scripture. That’s very much Thomas’ view as well. I had a discussion with one of them about this, and we agreed that, in fact, the pre-Vatican II doctrine of RCs on tradition and Scripture was closer to the Protestant view than the current common theological line. One still meets, mainly in America, old fashioned Catholics whose view of Scripture and tradition sounds effectively Protestant to someone whose Catholicism from VII and its main interpreters, from Ratzer on. The older RC view is perhaps Thomistic, the newer one has incorporated Newman into that.

    To clarify: what I mean by the ‘older RC view’ is an idea of Scripture as inerrant, plus we also have ‘tradition’, which is understood as stuff the Apostles knew but didn’t write down. Plus, in addition, there’s the Church. The legitimacy of any interpretation of Scripture is tested over against the Church, which stands metaphorically ‘above’ any reading of Scripture. In what I’m calling the post VII view is, rather, an idea of reading Scripture *within* the Church. Here Scripture and Church are not pictured as two separate entities standing in any position of ‘above or ‘below’ or outside. Meantime, small t tradition as the stuff the apostles didn’t write down has disappeared into large T Tradition, which is not quite identified with the Church (Ratzer emphasies this in his commentary on Dei Verbum), but which sort of flows out of it.

    The reason Thomas Aquinas and modern old fashioned RCs seem closer to Calvin and some modern Presbyterians than to post VII RCs is that both the Thomists and the Calvinists see Scripture and tradition as separate entities, and neither has a very much of a conception of the historical development of doctrine.

  20. A point I’d add to the above is that there is no question in the Summa Theologiae on the Church. There isn’t a formal doctrine of the Church literally in the Summa Theologiae, in the sense there is a doctrine of the Trinity or the Incarnation or the Eucharist.

    Of course one can get one out of it, but that’s like getting homoousios out of the NT🙂

  21. Dr Liccione,

    The difficulty I have suggested (following Owen Chadwick in From Bossuet to Newman) is not that authentic development is put forward by RCs as new revelation. Rather, the heart of the criticism is that Newman’s theory, although its proponents disclaim ongoing revelation, nonetheless presents a scenario in which there is something like ongoing revelation in all but name. If legitimate developments need only to be consistent with the deposit as recorded materially in scripture, but not of necessity entailed by it, then the resultant instances of Development 2 are only verbally different from new revelation.

    Rightly you have called attention to the nature of the requisite necessity. The point of bringing up abduction appears to be to propose a tertium quid, the possibility of a form of reasoning weaker than deduction that still results in what are (practically speaking) irresistible conclusions. ‘Abduction’ (Peirce’s notion?) is in this way quite like Newman’s ‘illative sense’.

    It seems, however, that this just recasts the problem. For it must be asked what exactly makes the conclusion irresistible. With Isaiah’s prophecy it is the new revelation of Christ’s advent and life that makes the Christian reading irresistible. Absent further revelation, the evidence for DD-2 dogmas like papal infallibility must be of a different sort. But for these doctrines as for others there must yet be something that takes us beyond the realm of possible interpretations to the firmer ground of necessary (or, if one prefer, irresistible) interpretations. That something must be more than the pronouncement of the Magisterium, unless one will take a view like that of Suarez, who seems to have admitted that definition by the Church was ‘equivalent’ to new revelation.

    As this in effect returns us to the nature of necessity, I suspect it may be helpful to think of the issue in very general terms. A development is necessary and thus legitimate if in the end its acceptance is inevitable given the acceptance of the body of truth set down materially in scripture. By inevitable is meant that affirmation of the belief cannot be avoided by one who wishes to hold together in its integrity the whole of apostolic teaching recorded in scripture. This inevitability is often best demonstrated negatively by way of contradiction. If to deny a putative development one must deny apostolic teaching or render it incoherent, then, because we accept the apostolic teaching, we ultimately must also accept the development.

    Four examples from the Marian doctrines should clarify this approach:

    (a) Theotokos. To deny that Mary is the Mother of God is to deny the gospel proclamation about who Jesus is. If we will preserve the gospel intact, we must therefore inevitably recognize Mary as Theotokos (that is, when this development is proposed, we cannot avoid it; our allegiance to the apostolic gospel makes the development irresistible).

    (b) Perpetual Virginity. Mary as ever virgin is so well attested that we might agree no one should presume to deny it. It is, however, not a teaching positively recorded in apostolic scripture, nor does its denial undermine the gospel. Unlike belief in Mary as Theotokos, belief in her perpetual virginity (even if in important ways recommended and endorsed) is not strictly obligatory as dogma.

    (c) Assumption. The Assumption of Mary appears consistent with the gospel and in itself may be quite plausible. It does not, however, inevitably follow from the apostolic teaching, so that to deny it would imperil the gospel. The attestation for it, indeed, is much weaker than that for the perpetual virginity, being no so much historical (that it was so) as speculative (that it seems right for it to have been so). The Assumption belongs therefore to the category of theologoumenon, not dogma.

    (d) Immaculate Conception. Belief that Mary’s life was free from actual sin is similar to belief in the perpetual virginity or the Assumption. The Immaculate Conception, however, might be a different kind of belief, one that might in fact contradict apostolic teaching about man and about the salvation wrought by Christ. If inconsistent with the gospel proclamation it would, of course, be neither dogma nor an appropriate subject for pious opinion.

    I hope these comments will be of some use for finding both where we have common ground and where we disagree. I would be interested, too, to hear from an Orthodox reader about the extent to which the view sketched here lines up with the Eastern understanding of development and dogma.

    Best,

    John

    PS Yesterday evening I left a (much too rambling) comment at Kevin’s blog that, in light of how things are ‘developing’, may be relevant to the discussion here.

  22. (a) Theotokos. To deny that Mary is the Mother of God is to deny the gospel proclamation about who Jesus is.

    I don’t agree, unless a Chalcedonian definition of who Jesus is is strictly included in ‘the gospel proclamation’ (which, strictly or verbally, it is not). The idea that Christ is two natures inseparably united in one person took a lot of reflection on ‘the Gospel proclamation.’ We’re all agreed here, I’m sure, that an Antiochene understanding of Christ, in which the the human nature is kept at a little distance from the divine nature, so that one can call Mary mother of the man, but not of the Logos, is not the fullest explication of the Biblical Testimony. But it took a lot of thought by the Alexandrians etc to work this out.

  23. […] epistemology. This debate on sola scriptura leads quite nicely into the issue of authority and the development of doctrine. The debate of the canon, the nature of authority, and the development of doctrine flowing from […]

  24. The difficulty I have suggested (following Owen Chadwick in From Bossuet to Newman) is not that authentic development is put forward by RCs as new revelation. Rather, the heart of the criticism is that Newman’s theory, although its proponents disclaim ongoing revelation, nonetheless presents a scenario in which there is something like ongoing revelation in all but name

    Response:
    This is really ridiculous. A woman marries a man. The woman then finds out that her husband snores a lot. This is development. That what happens when *persons* are involved. When persons are revealed, one does not understand them by deductive development. There is *freedom*. The deposit of faith is a Person.

    Take this into real life. Christ said he has given you everything. He said he will give you abundant life. He said his grace is sufficient. Don’t tell me that whenever you gain patience at work you don’t learn something new about Christ. It’s not that Christ is new, but he always points to the ever-greater.

    I find it ridiculous how theories like development, sola scriptura, etc. just does not correspond to human experience, to human life.

    Plus, St. Paul says

    “but whenever a person turns to the Lord the veil is removed.
    17
    Now the Lord is the Spirit, 12 and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is freedom.
    18
    13 All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit.” (2 Corinthians 3)

    Now, of course revelation means “unveiling.” So here we see that there are two ways of understanding revelation. One is God manifesting Himself and the other God unveiling our faces (the two are never separated). God came *in Person*. So, there is nothing left to be said. But it does not mean that the Spirit does not unveil us from glory to glory.

  25. John:

    …Newman’s theory, although its proponents disclaim ongoing revelation, nonetheless presents a scenario in which there is something like ongoing revelation in all but name. If legitimate developments need only to be consistent with the deposit as recorded materially in scripture, but not of necessity entailed by it, then the resultant instances of Development 2 are only verbally different from new revelation.

    I have not yet read Owen Chadwick’s book, but I have every intention of doing so in the next few weeks, when I finally get my S.U. library access nailed down. In the meantime, allow me to offer a preliminary response to the above.

    As you know, Newman himself disclaimed “ongoing revelation,” not just those who followed him. What makes that relevant is that Newman, unlike some who speak approvingly of DD, actually applied and formulated criteria for distinguishing “genuine” developments from “corruptions.” In order for a proposed doctrinal development D to satisfy those seven criteria or “notes”, it isn’t enough that D merely be “consistent” with the deposit of faith “recorded in Scripture,” if by ‘consistent’ is meant ‘logically consistent’. Since all truths are logically consistent with each other, any truth not found in Scripture is consistent with the truths found in Scripture; so the mere fact that D is logically consistent with Scripture is no evidence that it belongs to divine revelation understood either as definitive or as “ongoing.”

    A lot more is necessary, and I’m not sure Newman got all of it quite right. But one thing necessary is definitely what Newman called “logical sequence.” His use of that phrase, though, isn’t meant to suggest that D must be a “necessary entailment” of some explicit statement(s) in Scripture. Necessary entailment is deductive necessity, which is a technical concept in formal logic; and no doctrine which follows from some explicit statement(s) in Scripture just by virtue of their logical form would require any other justification. Yet for reasons I gave in my post, the claim that genuine or legitimate DD does or must consist in formal, straightforward deduction from the words of Scripture isn’t “even explanatory, never mind persuasive.” The real work of DD comes in the form of deep reflection on Tradition as well as Scripture; and only after such reflection bears fruit can the words of Scripture then be retroactively interpreted so as to yield D by deductive necessity. That is precisely what happened in the 4th and 5th centuries. That is precisely why Newman found it necessary to formulate the criteria he did.

    So, if the criterion of “logical sequence” is not that of deductive necessity, or could be made so only ex post facto in the manner I’ve explained, in what sense is it “logical”? If Newman wasn’t talking plain old deduction, what was he talking about? Well, I’ve written a few sketchy things about “abduction,” otherwise known as “inference to the best explanation.” I stand by that, but it isn’t enough. Newman’s epistemology is far richer, and there are several regular readers of this blog better qualified than I to discuss it. But the details of Newman’s epistemology are not the heart of the issue anyway. The heart of the issue lies in the question: Even supposing that some D satisfies all seven of Newman’s notes, what of it? How would one distinguish D from an instance of ongoing revelation?

    Well, Newman designed and applied his notes on the assumption that divine revelation is definitive and closed, that the faith has been “once-delivered.” And it isn’t just that Newman’s strictures would be far too narrow without that assumption; they only make sense on that assumption. For the faith has yet not been fully delivered, and its contours are thus not yet certain, it would be risible presumption to lay down epistemological criteria that the rest of God’s public communication with us must satisfy. On the other hand, if the faith has been once-delivered, then anything new which comes to be taught as part of it has to point reliably to a reality that the deposit of faith contained materially all along. That’s what Newman’s notes are designed to help us identify. That they are much richer than deductive necessity is a sign of sober realism, not of a spirit of innovation.

    Best,
    Mike

  26. “That is precisely what happened in the 4th and 5th centuries.”

    Complete question begging.

    Was it by Athanasius, the Cappadocians, and Cyril? Or was it by Arius, Eunomius, Apollinarius, and Nestorius?

    That assumption only attains if you start with philosophical concepts from paganism as a handmaiden to explain the faith.

    Photios

  27. Photios:

    In my post, I wrote:

    …by reflecting on all the sources taken collectively—those of Tradition, such as liturgy, oral tradition, and popular piety, as well as Scripture—the Fathers of the 4th and 5th centuries were able to come up with a[n] orthodox hermeneutic which then enabled the Church to interpret the words of Scripture as though the conciliar dogmas followed from the words of Scripture.

    That’s the reality I was referring to in the combox remark of mine you object to. Since I have good reason to expect John to read me in context and charitably, I saw no need to repeat myself in the combox. I forgot that others are not quite so well-disposed.

    Best,
    Mike

  28. Michael
    I found this piece very helpful and thought provoking. It is disheartening that you were unable to find a publisher.
    Francesca
    Again very helpful comments.

    I would make a few points. I also want to push out a view of DD to see if it will fly.
    1) I don’t experience Christianity as an “I”. Evangelicals draw on traditions to the extent that I feel that some Reformed folk should just “come out” and admit they believe that the Westminster Divines were Infallible.
    2) Part of the purpose of Doctrinal Development is to offer definitions that protect the teachings and assertions of Scripture. DD functions to safeguard the incarnation from Docetism, for example.
    3) DD also states what must be the case if the assertions of the Bible are true. Systematic theology acts as a “control” on our reading of Scripture. The assumption is that the Bible presents a coherent picture of God and his works. DD aims to preserve that coherence.
    4) So there is a picture of DD that is not “ampliative” – at least not in the sense described by Michael. This seems in keeping with DD1, but adds an aim. We do not aim to discover new truths, but to protect the truths contained in Scripture.
    5) By necessity the experience of the Church and reason become part of DD. I can’t see any way to rule his out, and surely the Protestant doctrine of the canon becomes incoherent otherwise. (Perhaps some of the Prod posters can spot a flaw here).
    6) I’m not sure that if Catholic theology teaches that there is “one deposit” of Divine Truth we’re not back to self-authentication. I didn’t make this point at all clear earlier.
    7) Surely the canon is relativised by making it part of one divine deposit.

    8) The post was on what we held in common. For evangelicals this will have to come back to the Gospel. Essentially individuals need to hear the call of God to trust Christ. Certain truths about humanity, God and his work will be presupposed, and holiness of living must follow.
    (I should add that raising your hand at a meeting does not qualify as acceptance of the Gospel – yet many evangelicals accept this type of evangelism as Biblical. But surely this is a greater problem than the assumption of Mary? Isn’t the “health and wealth” gospel a greater heresy than monothelitism?)
    Various interpetations of Trent seem viable within the Roman Catholic community. As long as total dependence on Christ, and acceptance of Christ as Lord and God, is the outcome of the Roman Catholics views then there shouldn’t be a problem. But mere assent to “Orthodoxy” or “Mere Christianity” cannot be enough.

    Graham Veale

  29. ‘Yet for reasons I gave in my post, the claim that genuine or legitimate DD does or must consist in formal, straightforward deduction from the words of Scripture isn’t “even explanatory, never mind persuasive.” ‘

    The persuasion is through demonstration that philosophy was the source of confusion from the beginning. Without the mixture of theology and philosophy that started with the Gnostics, some of the Apologists, and Origen, Nicea would have been unnecessary.

    Photios

  30. Once again, Photios, you’ve missed my point. The Fathers who contributed to formulating Nicene/Chalcedonian orthodoxy thereby forged, among other things, a hermeneutic for Scripture, which was then applied so as to “deduce” orthodox conclusions from Scripture. Part of that patristic process of DD consisted in refuting some opponents who were motivated, again in part, by philosophical errors. But that was only part of the positive process of DD. Much of it relied on grace-filled meditation on data of a Tradition that was older and wider than what is explicitly written down in Scripture.

    Best,
    Mike

  31. Graham:

    I can heartily embrace much of what you say, including your (1)-(3). There are aspects of legitimate DD that are not “ampliative” in the sort of way I advocate. But of course it does not follow that DD needn’t also be ampliative. That would only follow if DD had to use Scripture as its primary point of departure, which of course is precisely what’s at issue.

    Our discussion seems to be moving along nicely. I would love to teach a course somewhere on DD and have students like you in it. Of course I’d have to get a graduate degree in theology first; perhaps a papal “licentiate” (STL).

    Francesca, what say you?

    Best,
    Mike

  32. I got a bit behind with this. I’ll read it all through tomorrow and check in.

  33. Dr Liccione,

    For the sake of clarity I will attempt to move in order along what look to be the main points of your response.

    (1) The seven tests recognize a need to separate authentic development from corruption. Yet to recognize a need is easier than to answer it. The tests are more or less an appendage to the theory and in practice they are extremely difficult to apply. Chadwick begins to discuss the topic on page 143 with these words: “Newman provided certain tests for distinguishing between developments, tests which convinced no one and which he himself once admitted to be incapable of performing their ostensible purpose. But the existence of these ‘tests’ blinded some critics, and at times (perhaps) even Newman himself, to the basis upon which they rested.”

    (2) No one of course believes that consistency with the truths of faith as recorded in scripture is by itself a sufficient condition for authentic development. An explanation in terms of sets may save space. Let A be all truths consistent with scripture. Let B be all doctrinal formulations necessarily (in the sense of inevitably) entailed by scripture. Let C be all authentic developments. A obviously does not equal C. C is contained in A. C contains B. But under the development hypothesis there exist some elements in C that do not belong to B, i.e. the elements corresponding to DD-2.

    (3) It is very difficult to pin down just what ‘logical sequence’ means. During the summer I posted Chadwick’s account of the concept. To this should be added his endnote on the place of logic in more recent thought about development. The problem he suggests there was also raised by Fr Boyer, who insisted that between the original revelation and later dogmatic statements there must be a “logical connection, which not only exists in itself [i.e. is logical in se] but which can be traced by our means of investigation [i.e. is rational quoad nos].” For, “How could we say that revelation was closed at the death of the last of the apostles if a subsequent belief were not connected to it by a truly rational and logical bond?”

    (4) It is indeed good to consider what happened in the fourth and fifth centuries. Let us again take for an example the Theotokos decision of Ephesus. What Boyer says is that “The development of a truth can only follow a logic, and this path, at least the point of arrival, must be perceptible.” The title ‘Theotokos’ had a place in Christian piety before Nestorius objected to it. That Nestorius was upsetting piety may help explain orthodox indignation against him. But when the orthodox condemned him, they presumably did not act merely because Nestorius was stirring up discord. It seems rather more likely that they believed the truth piety had anticipated was nonetheless demonstrable by clear and irrefragable reasoning from the apostolic deposit. Hence, although the historical course of the development in pious devotion may be hard to chart, the development’s logic was nevertheless perceptible (rational quoad nos) after the fact.

    (5) The problem with ‘abduction’ as a weakened form of logic in the matter of development is that it cannot capture the whole of what happens when a doctrine is defined. Because it is ampliative, an ‘inference to the best explanation’ will yield a probable, not a necessary or certain, conclusion. As such the conclusion can be revisited. Once made, however, a definition cannot be revisited. And so, for example, the Assumption of Mary is now beyond question. If the pattern of reasoning that led to this development was analogous to abduction, then given this reasoning the Assumption was at most probable. Something further must therefore have intervened in the process of development to carry us beyond possibilities and probabilities to a kind of certainty. If what intervened was solely the pronouncement of the Magisterium, then the definition of the Church has as it were compensated for the weakness of the rational case. According to Chadwick this leaves us with a view like that of Suarez, in which the Magisterium’s definition is in effect equivalent to revelation; for the definition serves to render what before was at most probable now certain. Thus something can be seen after Magisterium’s approval that could not be seen before, i.e. that a certain pious speculation is not just plausible or likely but in fact is certain to be true.

    (6) For us to get around this scenario there must be something else prior to the definition that takes the development from probability to certainty. All agree that it cannot be additional revelation that does this. Still, I honestly do not know how one could arrive at certainty about, e.g., the Assumption of Mary without going outside the apostolic teaching set down in Scripture. Even with recourse to Newman’s illative sense the burden seems too great. One could say that there is some body of doctrinal truth available outside of scripture that can be brought in to strengthen the case where the scriptural evidence is insufficient. This is, however, all but to abandon the material sufficiency of scripture. It would also have to be asked whence this extra-scriptural doctrinal truth comes. St Irenaeus did not view favorably the Gnostic claim that Christian truth had been transmitted viva voce beyond what is found in scripture. I suspect he would have agreed with Photios J. that “what the apostles wrote is what they preached.” Alternatively one could appeal to a sort of charismatic intuition or supernatural consciousness that enables the Magisterium to discern in the deposit even what is otherwise (humanly speaking) in no way demonstrable as belonging to it. De Lubac, as Kepha has shown, came close to doing this in his treatment of development when he said that the Church ultimately decides by interrogating her conscience; and that consequently “the Church has no more need, for example, in favor of the Immaculate Conception, to receive a true ‘proof’ by means of a theological conclusion than she has need to receive from scholars an irrefutable historical attestation of the belief of the faithful in this truth since the beginning.” I would appreciate learning whether you agree with De Lubac on this.

    Best,

    John

  34. Michael
    Actually, you need a graduate degree in Theology to teach Religion in Northern Ireland – or a graduate degree in Education, specialising in Religion.
    I shouldn’t comment on the quality of Protestant Theological Studies in the North of Ireland. Put it this way – a lot of us would have preferred to study in the States.

    Graham Veale

  35. Or to put it another way, I’ve heard of Protestant RE teachers who have discussed Adam’s navel (or the lack thereof) in class.

    G Veale

  36. I’m a little puzzled by the claim that it’s “very difficult to pin down just what ‘logical sequence’ means” in Newman’s account of development, since the notion is quite straightforward, despite Chadwick’s obviously muddled account of it. The logic that Newman, and almost anyone in England writing prior to Boole’s Laws of Thought, would have had in mind would have been that advocated by Whately — not “a vague but general intellectual coherence,” as Chadwick puts it, but a tracing of consequences from principles, or of finding of principles underlying facts, using analogy, congruence, antecedent probability, syllogism, and the like, all of which have fairly developed accounts in the aftermath of the Whately revival of logic.

  37. Brandon,

    Do you have access to a copy of Chadwick? The reason I ask is that C. talks specifically about Newman’s reaction against the logic of Whately. See pages 111 and 155ff, and compare pages 48, 169, and 191f (references are to the 2nd edition).

    Best,

    John

  38. John:

    Part of the difficulty I’m having here is that, lacking a copy of Chadwick, I don’t have his actual argument in front of me to respond to. The link you posted didn’t work. Brandon does have it, so you might want to have the side discussion about Chadwick with him. In the meantime, all I can do is offer a few general considerations as a reply to your previous comment addressed to me.

    It would be a category mistake to imagine that Newman’s seven notes are useful as part of a description of the actual, historical process of DD-2. (Since DD-1 is irrelevant for reasons I’ve stated, I shall leave it out.) No council, pope, or theologian ever sat down and decided to use such a checklist in order to evaluate and certify Catholic “distinctives.” Newman’s notes are at least potentially useful, however, as part of the process of defense of instances of DD-2. To borrow another distinction from the philosophy of science, Newman’s notes belong to the context of justification, not to the context of discovery. This point is important because it helps us to determine what “logical sequence” might mean. It also raises the question whether inference of any form is enough to yield instances of DD-2.

    In fact, the more I think about this, the more it seems to me that inference not only isn’t enough but couldn’t be enough. For if inference were enough, there would be no need to settle doctrinal disputes by the exercise of ecclesiastical authority—whatever such authority might be thought to consist in. One would simply apply a mechanical decision procedure to the data and crank out a result. But that’s not how things have ever worked. And that holds as much for deductive as any other kind of inference; for the relevant deductions only go through after the hard work of DD is done. Within the context of justification rather than of discovery, applying something like Newman’s notes is a way of exhibiting an instance of DD-2 as rationally intelligible rather than as logically necessitated. Since that, by definition, does not afford “proof,” but only argumenta ad convenientiam, the need for the charism of living authority in the Church can hardly be dispensed with. But it does show how the exercise of such authority is tied to the data and is thus far from arbitrary.

    Intelligibility short of necessitation is what I called, in my doctoral thesis, the “positively mysterious.” The mysteries of “special revelation” are all like that. Hence, exhibiting the rational intelligibility of a proposed instance of DD-2, relative to undisputed truths of faith, is no different in principle from how the connections among those truths are themselves exhibited by theologians and the experience of the faithful. Brandon has an excellent proposal for reworking Newman’s notes along these lines. See “An Exuberance Exceeding all Questioning”.

    Best,
    Mike

  39. Hi, John

    Thanks for the references; it has been a while since I’ve read Chadwick, so I’ll have to go back and read them. Taken straightforwardly, it’s clearly false to say that Newman reacted against Whately, if this is taken to mean he was proposing a completely different approach to logic rather than advocating one that put syllogisms less front and center; a difference of emphasis hardly is enough to make the notion of ‘logical sequence’ obscure. But I’ll have to read Chadwick’s exact argument on the point.

  40. Hi, John,

    I’ve just looked up the Chadwick references you gave and I don’t see how they are supposed to be relevant at all. There’s a vague reference to Newman reacting against Whately, and some statements about his distrust of the term ‘logic’. The latter is a pretty obvious point about Newman, and clearly what is relevant is not whether Newman reacted against Whately, but whether he did so in some fundamental way so that the sort of work on logic done by Whately and his successors (including Newman in his early years) was no longer in view. And this is not very plausible; at least, the evidence would have to be good for it. Newman continues to use Whatelyan terms — ‘antecedent probability’, for instance — and he is quite aware that he is doing so.

  41. Dr Liccione,

    Sorry about the links. They were mostly functional last night; all that was needed was to delete the extra ” at the end of the addresses. I had posted a note about this, and apparently someone has since kindly tried to fix the links. It seems that in the process of the fix the addresses got completely erased. Here they are again, now as TinyURLs:

    Chadwick’s account of logical sequence in Newman:

    tinyurl.com/3naz9a

    His endnote on the role of logic in more recent thought about development:

    tinyurl.com/4ut3cr

    Kepha’s post on de Lubac and development:

    tinyurl.com/54o7na

    The first two links should furnish the relevant material from Chadwick.

    I will hold off on responding to most of your reply till you are able to look at the links. But one preliminary comment right now:

    For if inference were enough, there would be no need to settle doctrinal disputes by the exercise of ecclesiastical authority, such as ecumenical councils or unilateral papal acts of definition.

    This does not follow. That a juridical authority is needed to apply the tradition so as to deliver an enforceable verdict in specific cases does not mean that the correct decision could not be identified with confidence by an informed person apart from the authority’s verdict. As I suggested on Kevin’s blog, to understand the difference between classical Protestant and RC views on the authority of tradition it may be helpful to think about the difference between civil law and common law systems, and about the old Western tradition that laws are found, not made. For a concrete example (one Kepha suggested over the summer) look at our legal system in the US. The courts make an verdict about the law in specific, concrete cases. But the law is the law quite independently of what the courts (even the Supreme Court) say. In practice what the courts decide is what gets enforced. Yet we are free to scrutinize judicial decisions and thereby to reach our own private conclusions about whether they are really correct. The arguments for a given verdict can be rigorously investigated, and an informed person can independently conclude with the fullest confidence that the courts got it wrong. And so looking at our legal tradition I am free to decide for myself that Roe v Wade was decided wrongly (for legal, not just for moral reasons). No judicial authority needs to intervene for me to have the utmost confidence in this truth. What the courts can see is in principle no greater than what I can see–the legal tradition is public in the fullest sense.

    After you have an opportunity to look at the links, I would still like to know whether you believe that that the Magisterium has a supernatural ability to locate with certainty in the deposit even what (humanly speaking) can in no way be independently proved to belong to the deposit.

    Best,

    John

  42. Brandon,

    Thanks for looking into Chadwick. I am having trouble identifying what you think is muddled about C.’s treatment of logical sequence. This is what he says:

    The ‘logical sequence’ of Newman is not the ‘logical implication’ of the scholastics, though the latter might be a part or aspect of the former. It means rather a subsequent perception of a harmony or congruity or ‘naturalness’ in the way in which ideas have developed.

    Is that materially different from what Dr Liccione said above?

    Best,

    John

  43. John:

    “deliver an enforceable verdict in specific cases does not mean that the correct decision could not be identified with confidence by an informed person apart from the authority’s verdict. As I suggested on Kevin’s blog, to understand the difference between classical Protestant and RC views on the authority of tradition it may be helpful to think about the difference between civil law and common law systems, and about the old Western tradition that laws are found, not made. For a concrete example (one Kepha suggested over the summer) look at our legal system in the US. The courts make an verdict about the law in specific, concrete cases. But the law is the law quite independently of what the courts (even the Supreme Court) say. In practice what the courts decide is what gets enforced. Yet we are free to scrutinize judicial decisions and thereby to reach our own private conclusions about whether they are really correct. The arguments for a given verdict can be rigorously investigated, and an informed person can independently conclude with the fullest confidence that the courts got it wrong. And so looking at our legal tradition I am free to decide for myself that Roe v Wade was decided wrongly (for legal, not just for moral reasons). No judicial authority needs to intervene for me to have the utmost confidence in this truth. What the courts can see is in principle no greater than what I can see–the legal tradition is public in the fullest sense.”

    However, this completely dismisses the idea that The Church was divinely instituted by Christ.

    Not to mention the fact that if the individual himself (or herself — whatever the case might be) was the Sole Arbiter of Truth, then who is to say that any of those folks who were proponents of such heresies as monothelitism were actually wrong and their ideas heretical?

    Such a notion completely disregards, among other verses, the scriptural passage of Mt 18:17-18, which looks to The Church for final resolution.

  44. Philos,

    Do you believe the idea of a common law system based largely on precedent is incoherent? That the individual can independently investigate and scrutinize a legal decision hardly makes him sole arbiter; for it does not lessen the right of the duly empowered authorities to enforce a formally delivered verdict. Lest there be doubt, I readily own that the ministry is divinely appointed by Christ (not just by congregations acting on their own). I do not believe any organ of ministerial juridical authority is de jure infallible, but as I have said before, I would not have a problem acknowledging that parts of tradition are so fixed as to be de facto infallible (in that it is inconceivable for them to be in error). But this is to stray a good distance from the original topic.

    Best,

    John

  45. You forget that the individual is not a “Law Unto Himself”.

    Also, you seem to have neglected the fact that the individuals who advocated such heresies as monothelitism (as well as their subsequent derivatives) were quite informed individuals.

    The fact that they indepedently came to and, consequently, held such notions of heresy should teach the very lesson that such matters cannot be left to the individual alone.

    (If that were the case and if you truly feel that such decisions are left best to the individual, no verdict of right or wrong, orthodox or heretical can ever be levelled against such persons & their ideas — for who, exactly, is to say they’re wrong? They become their own Judge under such a notion & their doctrines might well as be declared as “infallible” as any other.)

    I believe this is why Christ had made The Church the final arbiter of such decisions as illustrated in the passage of Mt 18:17-18. I also believe this is why members of the early church consistently held to such a belief as well in their local tradition, as can be demonstrated by the historical records for the Apostolic and Post-Apostolic periods.

    There is also an entirely other matter concerning modern Christians working from the comfortable place of “hindsight”, where those who hold to similar notions as yours easily take for granted the Christological formulations that came as a result of the ecumenical councils.

    If you sincerely believe that such matters are best left to individuals themselves and that these conflicts would have been similarly resolved; you have missed the very reason why these conflicts came about in the first place.

    The underlying cause of such conflicts being the very one I alluded to earlier in my comment — that such conflict was the very result of individuals themselves who indepedently came to their own Christological understanding.

    And as in the Past, it takes The Church to provide final resolution, backed by Our Lord with The Promise he made in Mt 16:18.

    God bless.

  46. Philos,

    You wrote:

    The fact that they indepedently came to and, consequently, held such notions of heresy should teach the very lesson that such matters cannot be left to the individual alone.

    (If that were the case and if you truly feel that such decisions are left best to the individual, no verdict of right or wrong, orthodox or heretical can ever be levelled against such persons & their ideas — for who, exactly, is to say they’re wrong? They become their own Judge under such a notion & their doctrines might well as be declared as “infallible” as any other.)

    Let us consider another fact, to wit, that some individuals choose to commit murder. When the individual commits this offense, he is liable to be brought to court to answer for it. The court will deliver its verdict. That verdict will be enforced. The verdict will also create a precedent.

    Individuals are able to scrutinize the court’s verdict and thereby to decide for themselves whether it is justified. They can do this because the legal tradition is public. In principle what the court can see is no different from what any informed individual can see. This is why, for example, I can conclude with the utmost confidence that Roe v Wade was decided incorrectly. What the Supreme Court decides is what will be enforced. But that the Court says it and that it is enforced does not make it the law. The law exists and can be investigated independently of the actual interpretation and application made by a court.

    Thus it is that, yes, on this understanding, the condemned murderer can always opt to reject the verdict in the belief that he acted justly. It hardly follows, however, that no verdict can ever be rendered against such a person. That the individual is justified in his own eyes does not change the fact that he is condemned by the court. Jack Kevorkian no doubt believed it was just to practice euthanasia. This belief did not prevent the court from enforcing its verdict.

    In ancient times the condemned was often given the option to accept banishment or exile as his punishment. Something like exile is what happens when the church excommunicates a heretic. The body condemning the heretic cuts off communion with him. It would take too much time to explain here, but in the case when the condemned are baptized Christians, I would think of the excommunication as analogous to divorce a mensa et thoro rather than divorce absolutely or a vinculo. If you would be interested, we can talk another time about how this relates to the problem of schisms.

    I hope this makes my position a little clearer. If you disagree, you are free to do so. I would only ask that you make sure you understand what I have said before you reject it.

    God bless,

    John

  47. […] Comments Iohannes on Development of doctrine: it…WLindsayWheeler on The Eucharist as the Church…Drew on Essence and EnergyDrew on Essence […]

  48. John,

    First, let me just address what I perceive (though I could be wrong and, therefore, welcome correction) to be a planted axiom of your previous comments that I feel needs to be explored out in the open: that even in the scenario before us, there needs be a magisterial court to begin with, carrying the full weight of authority for which any such official decision is to be rendered accordingly in the first place pursuant to the Laws of the Land and not the individual. For instance, I don’t see how folks can, by their own authority, hold court upon any individual citizen & assume the role of Judge over him/her and deliver any sort of official verdict by their own power. As mentioned, Man cannot be a Law Unto Himself.

    In principle what the court can see is no different from what any informed individual can see.

    I respectfully disagree.

    If an individual were to merely take on the role of critic, in order for such an individual to make even a judicious opinion on the case at hand (certainly, depending on the particulars of the case, the more complex the case, the greater need be that person’s capacity to deal with it; intellectually, etc.), in addition to knowing the merits of that case, he must be well versed in The Law & the Practice of it, which no lay person, unless educated in The Law, can do.

    (e.g., I don’t think the lay person would be able to judge particularly complex cases unless naturally skilled & having expert knowledge of the Law in whatever area of the Law — specialty? — that case specifically pertains to.)

    For both of the aforementioned reasons, I doubt any ordinary Christian can assume either the role of ecumenical council unto himself or even that of critic when hardly any lay Christian (esp. nowadays) has the slightest clue about Theology & the deep theological reasoning behind even the fundamental tenets of the Christian Faith — most especially, if they are without the guidance of Tradition & the venerable ecumenical councils.

    This is why, for example, I can conclude with the utmost confidence that Roe v Wade was decided incorrectly.

    When wrestling with explored Truths of the Christian Faith, there is that aspect of faith not only in God but also that stalwart belief that the Holy Spirit will faithfully guide His Church, for which no decision as abhorrent as the Roe v. Wade travesty in secular society could ever be possible — especially when it comes to His Church, which is divinely instituted as opposed to a man-made judicial system which delivered a horrible precedent as RvW.

    This, of course, depends on the extent of one’s faith in Christ & His Promise.

    To be fair though, what I do admire about your comments is the underlying conscientious reasoning that operates behind the scenes which refuses to accept matters of the Christian Faith as is.

    Perhaps if more believers examined their Faith in like manner & explored them in such a conscientious fashion, it would become what they believe rather than something that was simply spoon-fed to them either by their parents or by those who converted them to the Faith.

    As my other 2 comments, this was similarly hastily drawn up. Apologies in advance for any short-comings.

    It’s been a long day.

    God Bless.

  49. Hi, John,

    I’m not sure where in the ‘above’ you mean when you ask whether it is the same as what Mike said above. As to what is muddled about Chadwick’s account of logical sequence, here is what I would say:

    (1) Chadwick suggests that “Newman’s language, and the historical examples which he offered, prove without a shadow of question that when he talked about the Church perceiving a logical sequence, he was not using logic in the sense in which the logicians and the mathematicians would use it.” If “the logicians and the mathematicians” means those of Newman’s time, this is not true, since they would have had a Lockean (and Whatelyan) view of the general practice of logic; it is even less true since. Contrary to Chadwick, ‘logic’ does not merely mean ‘logical implication’ in the strict sense (monotonic, as we would say today). Indeed, it never has meant merely that. Chadwick is importing his own notion of logic into the term.

    (2) From this Chadwick concludes, “Logical sequence meant a vague but general intellectual coherence.” But this is not the case at all. For one thing, while a lot of things can contribute to logical sequence (analogy, antecedent probability, etc.), there is nothing vague about it: particular forms of inference can be identified. For another, it is not “general intellectual coherence”, for the same reason. Consider scientific argument: argument for and against a scientific theory uses a number of the mechanisms that Newman identifies as contributing to logical sequence. This does not mean that acceptance of a scientific theory is based on “a vague but general intellectual coherence”: quite the opposite. Evidence can be precisely identified, forms of inference can be precisely identified, the whole argument can be traced if you had the time. It’s true that from case to case the precise details will change, but the precise details can still be recognized in every case. Newman believes that rationality is not reducible to simple, basic forms of inference that lay things down in one universal way for every situation; but it doesn’t follow that he thinks that rationality is just “vague but general intellectual coherence.”

    (3) Chadwick misrepresents the St. Justin and St. Irenaeus example. Newman’s point is that you can find in both a recognition of “the fault of our first nature and the responsibilities of our nature regenerate”, even though neither of them gives any explicit reasoning-out of these ideas. Similarly, Newman says, St. Athanasius gives us “statements and expositions” more than close argumentation; and some saints have been granted by God recognition of truths that they themselves did not reach by reasoning. And we could add a great many more examples. You will not find all of St. Gregory Palamas’s conclusions about the divine energies explicitly stated by the Fathers, for the simple reason that the latter weren’t involved in the direct task of defending them, but were doing other things; but Palamas’s argument for these conclusions on the basis of what the Fathers said is a masterpiece of logical reasoning.

    (4) It is true that you can characterize Newman’s view of logical sequence as “a subsequent perception of a harmony or congruity or ‘naturalness’ in the way in which ideas have developed,” as Chadwick does — as Newman says, it is seen in the “equable and orderly march and natural succession of views”. But Chadwick up to this point has implied that this is an ersatz logic, which it is not, that it is vague, which it is not, that it is merely a general view, which it is not. The harmony, congruity, and ‘naturalness’ are not to be contrasted with logic, but are themselves logical (albeit in a wider, and much more standard, notion of ‘logic’ than Chadwick himself uses).

  50. Philos and Brandon,

    Thanks for the responses. I will take your comments into consideration when writing the reply to Dr Liccione’s new post “Development of Doctrine II”. A couple brief comments are due here before I can shift over to the other thread.

    Philos,

    I agree with you that private individuals cannot “by their own authority, hold court upon any individual citizen & assume the role of Judge over him/her and deliver any sort of official verdict by their own power.” The ministry is, I believe, divinely instituted and invested with authority from Christ. Going into details about my views on ecclesiology right now would sidetrack us, but if you would like more background, I have sketched some of my views before in another conversation.

    Brandon,

    After looking again at your comments, I think there are two separate though related issues in play: (a) Chadwick’s presentation of Newman’s notion of logical sequence; (b) C’s opinion about the cogency of this test of logical sequence. When you call C’s account obviously muddled it looks to me like you are taking up issue (a). Your subsequent comments seem to be directed to issue (b). It seems quite possible, however, that C. accurately understood and represented N’s test of logical sequence, and that the difference between you and him is not over this but over the related matter of your respective judgments about the cogency or usefulness of the test.

    Best,

    John

  51. Hi, John,

    I don’t think C. can be said to have accurately understood and represented N’s test of logical sequence, given that several of his claims simply fail to fit the evidence well at all. I suspect, rather, that C’s evaluation of the usefulness of the test has interfered with his ability to represent it fairly; for instance, it’s simply not a fair characterization of Newman’s notion of logical sequence that it is ‘vague’ when Newman explicitly lists examples of some of the specific forms of inference that can be involved, and the misinterpretation of the St. Justin and St. Irenaeus example was easily avoidable by considering that at that point in the section Newman was pretty clearly dealing with a different topic, i.e., pointing out the fact that what follows by logical sequence need not be explicit in the original, nor indeed always completely obvious, because the original may not have laid out the whole logical sequence itself. But I do agree that there are two distinct issues here, and I didn’t want to imply that they were the same.

  52. There has been many interesting issues being thrown around for the past couple of days on the topic of development of doctrine. This is what I got out of it.

    Doctrine= understanding Christ. But in what way and how does this occur?

    1) All recognize that the apostles passed on the deposit of faith. What exactly is the deposit of faith? We read in Acts: “They devoted themselves to the teaching of the apostles and to the communal life, to the breaking of the bread and to the prayers” (2:42). We recognize, then, that what the apostles handed on what not simply teachings about Christ. What the apostles passed on was life. This is really crucial because we think that doctrine is somehow separated from our lives. Rather, what the apostles passed on, because they have received it, is a new creation. This “new creation” is a lived communion (1 Jn. 1). Pope Benedict emphasized in his encyclical on hope that what we expect from the Church is faith, that is, the certainty of our destiny, the certainty of He who is with us even unto death. This faith comes from the Church, that is, the People of God in communion with the Father of Jesus Christ.

    2) So what the apostles gave us is communion. Here is the next step: there can be no truth without communion. Truth, then, cannot be attained without communion. This communion comes from the fact that God has entered human history in the person of Jesus Christ. Communion presupposes revelation and revelation also presupposes a receiver of revelation. This is analogous to the giving and receiving of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit to each other, the continual “Yeses” of each Person to Another.

    3) Revelation is closed the same way the relationship between a husband and wife is “closed”; that is, there is an exclusive relationship between them. This does not, however, take away the transparency of each person to another. The marital act is a great example of this since it is there that we understand what it means for God to fully disclose Himself to another. In the marital act, each person is nakedly giving themselves. There is nothing much to give because each person receives and gives continually without reserve. But the continuous act is always revealing and ever-new. (For more on the topic of closed revelation, see http://civilizationoflove.wordpress.com)

    4) A person is not bound to laws. Although he has laws, he cannot be reduced to them. When it comes to persons, we must take into account freedom. Freedom is the adherence to the good. Again, even in the Triune love in God, there is a continual newness in their “Yeses.” To say “Yes” is not a law but is rooted in their infinite freedom.

    5) Revelation frees the person. The marital act again is a great example because it is there that the person feels and experiences himself as he or she is. St. Paul describes it this way, “Now the Lord is the Spirit, and where the Spirit is, there is freedom. All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is Spirit” (2 Cor. 3:17-18). N.T. Wright, in Climax of the Covenant, remarked that this passage is actually Christians turned *toward each other* and this is when they are transformed into glory. To understand Christ, then, to perceive doctrine, is to be in relationship with the Church. Again, #2 is clear now.

    6) Revelation, then, presupposes relationship with others.

    Now, having said all of this, can we say, knowing that relationship with others is never static or bound by some kind of axioms, can we accept a development of doctrine that is limited to a deductive consequence of propositions?

  53. Gentlemen,

    I would like to move the discussion over (as much as possible) to the current post or, when it is published, to the new post Dr. Liccione is going to write. At the same time I don’t want to neglect your comments here.

    Brandon,

    Thanks for your response. I think the reason C. is unsatisfied with the test of logical consistency can be seen from Dr L.’s words:

    Within the context of justification rather than of discovery, applying something like Newman’s notes is a way of exhibiting an instance of DD-2 as rationally intelligible rather than as logically necessitated.

    I’m pretty sure C. would agree. But to C., exhibition of this kind of rational intelligibility is not enough to avoid the seeming difficulty with which he concludes his study, i.e. “in what meaningful sense may it be asserted that [new developments] are not ‘new revelation’?” From a comparison with the note on p. 211, it appears that C. has in mind more or less the same criticism as Fr Boyer (at least as De Lubac represents that criticism). B’s case is the one I have tried to put forward, most recently in my response last night to Dr. L’s post.

    Apolonio,

    I agree with much of what you have said, but I have trouble seeing how it answers the problem Fr Boyer and others have raised. ‘Revelation’ is one of those tricky abstract nouns derived from verbs that my Latin prose comp professor (quite vigorously) advised his students to avoid. His reason was partly that with words like this distinctions often get blurred. Here I would suggest thinking in terms of three separate but related categories: (a) the object of revelation, i.e. the object that is being or having been revealed; (b) the revelation of the object, i.e. the unveiling or revealing of the object; (c) the apprehension of revelation, i.e. the subject perceiving and apprehending the object that has been revealed or unveiled.

    We might agree that (a) is the Incarnate Word of God and as such the object is fixed and stable. (b) for those on this side of glory was objectively completed with the apostles. (c) goes on to this day in the experience of Church as illuminated and guided by the Spirit. Yet what the Church as subject perceives and apprehends must as object already have been revealed or unveiled (perception presupposes that the object is there in such a way as to be perceived by the subject). The center of the difficulty proposed by Boyer and others concerns how the Church can (c) subjectively perceive, based on what has (b) been objectively revealed, that a putative development authentically pertains to (a) the object of revelation. My comment last night should explain more clearly what is meant by this.

  54. […] Posts Development of doctrine IIEssence and EnergyDevelopment of doctrine: it’s that time againThe Eucharist as the Church’s only ordo theologiae…Obedience and DevelopmentAboutAre universes […]

  55. […] of whole cloth, that there was a tradition in place long before 1950. But this tradition was, as I noted earlier, not so much historical, i.e. that it was so, as speculative, i.e. that it seems right for it to […]

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