Transient Entity Trionism

[ I1 - I2 <= I3 ]

§1: classification

§2: pronoun schema

the I3, often a collective entity, interacts with the I1; and, temporarily creates a center of awareness, the I2. at the death of the I1, I3 withraws; and, I2 disappear --- like the droplet of water returning to the ocean; or, like the light in the refrigerator when the door is shut. while it experiences life, the I2 is real; but, as its substance is borrowed, condensed out of the substance of the I3, it is transient.

to arrive at a belief system consistent with this pronoun schema, the inquiring neutral skeptic must assume or conclude that there is an I3; and, that the I2 somehow emerges from the I3 and shares it substance --- but only for the duration of the life of the I1.

§3: family portraits

in the usual case, a collective or mass noun is mounted to the I3 while a particular noun is mounted to the I2.

§3.1: a christian family viewpoint

logical path from pronoun schema: mount 'spirit' (understood as a collective entity) to the I3 mount point; and, 'soul' or 'ego' to the I2 mount point. this produces the view that spirit penetrates matter and temporarily creates a center of awareness, the I2, which is labeled a 'soul' or 'ego' or both.

in Trinity of Man, Dennis Bennett, an episcopalian minister, and his wife Rita present their account of creation: God joins spirit and matter to create the 'living soul'. thus, there is a transient entity trionism:

the soul is the ego, the psychological nature, the center of personality. it's what we see and know about one another.1

the soul has three aspects: intellect, emotions and will. the Bennett's describe this arrangement as a 'trinity within a trinity'. at the death of the body spirit withraws and soul disappears; but while the body and soul live, the body passes sense impressions onto the soul, the subject of experience.

§3.2: Aristotle's viewpoint

logical path from pronoun schema: mount 'nous' (mind, understood as a collective entity) to the I3 mount point; and, 'soul' (anima) to the I2 mount point. when nous, the active intellect of aristotelian psychophilosophy, informs the material body, it individuates; thus producing the I2, an individual human soul whose identity and memories are lost at the death of the I1

... the notion of the unicity of intellect. This is the idea that the intellectual part of the human soul alone was immortal and that when surviving the death of the body it fully rejoined the Active Intellect, which was the source of all knowledge and ordered dynamic activity in the sublunar world. In so doing the individual intellect lost its personality and its individual identity both of which had been given to it by its connection with a particular body. The interpretation of the Active Intellect in Aristotle's De Anima involved in this story has a long history which we have no need to recount here.2

this interpretation of Aristotle, although not universal, is the most common; and, recurs time and again throughout psychophilosophical history.

in the early third century, CE, Alexander of Aphrodisias took up this theme:

He treats the human soul as the perishable form imposed upon the bodily elements to constitute a living human being, and argues that the intellect develops from an embodied intellect focused upon the material world to a state that eventually contains forms no longer embodied. He rules out personal immortality by identifying the active intellect at the same time with pure form and with God, the Unmoved Mover.3

in the middle ages, this interpretation of Aristotle was revived by Averroe:

The individual passive intellect in the individual man becomes, under the action of the active intellect, the 'acquired intellect', which is absorbed by the active intellect in such a way that, although it survives bodily death, it does so not as a personal individual existent, but as a moment in the universal and common intelligence of the human species. There is, therefore, immortality; but, there is no personal immortality.4

according to Elijah Delmedigo (a.k.a. Helias Cretensis, ca. 1458-93), a Jewish philosopher from Crete:

... the potential human intellect starts out as a mere disposition but becomes a nonmaterial subject by approaching closer and closer to the Active Intellect and finally achieves a conjunction with it. However, in so doing, it loses its particularity and is absorbed within the latter. This view stresses the ultimate unicity of the intellect.5

§4: differential classification

a transient entity trionism differs from a theology wherein soul is not naturally immortal in saying that the I2, named 'soul' in both belief systems, is made of a spiritual substance.

§5: commentary

advocates find it problematic to reconcile the viewpoints of clan TET with a belief in the survival of individuality after the death of the body. some may see this as a virtue; but, others see this as a defect. Descartes may have been motivated by the desire to contest this viewpoint and ended up conflating the I2 and the I3 to support the personal survival of the ( I2 ≡ I3 ) after the death of its body.


[1]: Bennet, Dennis and Bennet, Rita. Trinity of Man. Plainfield, NJ (USA): Logos International. p. 45. [Back]

[2]: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/delmedigo/#3 [Back]

[3]: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/alexander-aphrodisias/ [Back]

[4]: Copleston, Frederick. A History of Philosophy. Vol. II. p. 198 [Back]

[5]: http://plato.stanford.edu/entries/delmedigo/#3 [Back]