God is not a person

International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 85 (3):281-296 (2019)
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This paper transforms a development of an argument against pantheism into an objection to the usual account of God within contemporary analytic philosophy. A standard criticism of pantheism has it that pantheists cannot offer a satisfactory account of God as personal. My paper will develop this criticism along two lines: first, that personhood requires contentful mental states, which in turn necessitate the membership of a linguistic community, and second that personhood requires limitation within a wider context constitutive of the ’setting’ of the agent’s life. Pantheism can, I argue, satisfy neither criterion of personhood. At this point the tables are turned on the Swinburnian theist. If the pantheist cannot defend herself against the personhood-based attacks, neither can the Swinburnian, and for instructively parallel reasons: for neither doctrine is God in the material world; in the pantheist case God is identical with the world, in the Swinburnian case God transcends it. Either way both the pantheist and the Swinburnian are left with a dilemma: abandon divine personhood or modify the doctrine of God so as to block the move to personhood.



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Simon Hewitt
University of Leeds

Citations of this work

Wherein lies the debate? Concerning whether God is a person.Ben Page - 2019 - International Journal for Philosophy of Religion 85 (3):297-317.
An Introduction to Thinking about Personal and A-Personal Aspects of the Divine.Simon Kittle & Georg Gasser - 2022 - In Simon Kittle & Georg Gasser (eds.), The Divine Nature. New York: Routledge. pp. 1-20.

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A World of States of Affairs.D. M. Armstrong - 1997 - New York: Cambridge University Press.
Naming and Necessity.Saul Kripke - 1980 - Philosophy 56 (217):431-433.
Naming and Necessity.S. Kripke - 1972 - Tijdschrift Voor Filosofie 45 (4):665-666.

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