Language,  Philosophy of Language,  Trinity,  Wittgenstein

Language, Mind(s) and Propositions in the Trinity

God speaks. The Bible records the first speech and God makes it. If the chronology of scripture is to be believed, God could speak prior to creation and, therefore, God can speak sans creation. He could use a language in eternity past. This seems clear: he is the first to utter a word (Gen 1); he determines the world and everything in it including all the languages, sentences, and what they mean prior to creation; and God, the Son, is identified as the “Word” that pre-exists creation (John 1). He doesn’t actually have to say anything, but he has to be able to express his thoughts in a language.

On one attractive picture, God is able to speak in virtue of an intra-Trinitarian conversation. The Triune God is a linguistically capable community of persons. As McCall suggests, Father and Son are “distinct in speech and action…The Father and Son are (or have) distinct centers of consciousness.”[1] The Son talks to his Father from his perspective. In order to have a perspective one must have a distinct center of consciousness that is distinct and belongs to the person who expresses the thought to the other.

On another attractive picture, God’s sentences have meaning in virtue of the propositions they express. His sentences about trees and fruit in the garden are meaningful not merely because God sees his creation and points to it. Rather, his sentences are meaningful because of the propositions that they express. According to a fairly traditional understanding, which I shall call the Augustinian view, God’s thoughts determine the meaning of his language. That is to say God’s mind contains comprehensive, exhaustive amount of thoughts that his sentences express. The Augustinian view implies a theory of meaning involving propositions that are identical to God’s thoughts. God need not have a tree in a garden in reality in order to know true propositions about that tree.[2]

The two attractive pictures answer two different questions in the philosophy of language. The first picture provides an answer to the following: In virtue of what fact about speakers are speakers able to express meaningful semantic content. The second relates to how languages are related to their content: what is it that makes a sentence convey a meaning?[3] While some advise treating these two questions separately,[4] what one holds in answer to one should not produce a contradiction when one attempts an answer to the other.

Is there, then, a problem with our two pictures? Perhaps there is. The conversation that we assume occurs in the Trinity must be tri-perspectival; it must be a conversation from three perspectives communicating propositions that are inter-subjectively available. But from where do the persons draw meaning for their sentences? Any declarative sentence made by one member of the Trinity to another member must be expressing a proposition that is available to each member of the Trinity. But, if propositions are divine thoughts then they belong in one mind. While intra-Trinitarian conversation speaks to the threeness of God, the Augustinian view of propositions as divine thoughts turns on the unity of God. The problem, though, is that there is an apparent contradiction: if there is language then there are plurality of minds but if the Augustinian theory of propositions is true then there is only one mind in God.

Depending on whether one holds to a Latin or Social view of the Trinity one might resolve this dilemma in a different way. I shall argue that both conditions can be met, that God’s equal unity and diversity can be maintained, and that a view of the Trinity which holds to God having one mind with three centers of consciousness amply meets the challenge, but must pay the price of rejecting God’s atemporality.

In order to solve the problem, however, some work needs to be done to understand it. Lets begin with the second picture and the accompanying question of what makes language convey meaning. A propositional theory of meaning states that sentences are made meaningful by the abstract entity, a proposition, which can be true or false. A declarative sentence, S, “is meaningful in virtue of expressing the particular proposition P.”[5] To be a realist about propositions is to believe that propositions are existing objects. According to the realist, propositions are “necessarily existing objects possessing alethicity (capacity to be truth valued) and doxasticity (capacity to be believed or disbelieved).”[6] Propositions are said to provide the meaning that sentences express. Though propositions are not sentences of natural languages (since a sentence in multiple languages can express the same proposition), they are what provide the meaning for sentences. Propositions “are language-independent and mind-independent abstract entities that function as the objects of acts of assertion/denial and acts of thinking; they are also the referents of the that-clauses; and they are the primary bearers of the truth values and, hence, the things that, in the first instance, enter into logical relations.”[7] On the proposition view, speakers express propositions about the world (and possible worlds) that is the common ground between speakers. They are what make speech meaningful and possible between persons: “They can be the common objects for different thinkers and speakers; and because they are, realists claim, communication and a shared conception of the world are possible.”[8] On the other hand, to be a nominalist about propositions, as the name suggests, is to believe that propositions, though useful, do not exist. Rather, sentences do all the work.[9]

Richard Kortum has offered an argument against such a view. Kortum argues that God could not be capable of speech. His argument is something like this:

(1) There can be no private language
(2) If the three persons are not individual agents then they cannot comprise a linguistic community.
(3) If they are three individual agents then they do not qualify as one perfect being.
(4) Therefore, “the Trinity… does not comprise a potential linguistic community.”[10]

What about (1)? Could God have a private language? A private language is a language comprised of words that “refer to what can only be known to the person speaking.”[11] Let us assume the one-mind view. God has comprehensive access to his inner thoughts and before creation there is no one else who thinks anything. Furthermore, the sphere of inner knowledge is necessarily accessed through introspection even if someone else was present. No one can think the thoughts of other minds unless they are communicated somehow. Furthermore, someone might know what those thoughts are, but cannot have those thoughts. Let’s say God creates another person with a mind. The other person could not, in principle, have access to God’s mind. God’s speech, then, would entirely refer or express what is solely accessible to himself and no one else. Wittgenstein argues that such a language is impossible. A language that only functions to refer to some thought, sensation or idea within the mind of the one speaking can have no public criteria for any other mind to access. And language, according to Wittgenstein, is not possible without public criteria.

But, what might such criteria involve? At the very least it would include publically knowable senses for the terms of a declarative sentence. Frege distinguished between the sense of a term and its reference.[12] According to Frege, a sense of a word can be understood without an object that is picked out. For example, the term “son” has a sense before anyone has pointed out that Ben is the son of Tim. Accordingly, and applied to the private language argument, when a person uses a language to express a thought the person relies on a public sense even when picking out a private reference. Wittgenstein uses the example of a private sensation. A pain is referred to by the speaker, but relies on a public sense known by other people in order to use the language. The sense of a term, once known, can be used to refer to a suitable entity.

It might be suggested that God is sensation free. He cannot, for example, have toothache. There are two responses to this concern. First, God would presumably have known, before creation, what it would be like for a human being to experience embodiment. God would have known both that human beings would experience pain and what pain would be like. The latter claim does not entail that God could feel pain without a human body. Of course, Jesus felt very real, physical pain during the crucifixion, but God, before creation, knew what pain would be like for human beings. It is best to consider God’s knowing what it is like to be in pain as God knowing all the information about human pain much like a blind man might know information about an object he cannot see that he could gain if he could see.[13] Likewise, if God knows what green is before he makes anything that is green he can communicate information about something green to another speaker only if the other speaker is able to understand what God has to say about green. In the same way a blind man is only able to get information about an object if he is able to understand the language in which it is given.

Second, God’s thought contains propositions that can presumably be expressed in declarative sentences that use terms with both a sense and a reference. God, when describing his plan for creation, had the thought: “a tree will be in the garden.” If merely describing his “vision” for his creation, God would utter the sentence, “there is a tree in the garden.” In order for this sentence to be intelligible to a hearer without the publically accessible tree, garden, and what it is for something to be “in” something else, the sentence would not communicate anything. The sentence might express a true proposition, one that, by day six of the creation week, would have a publically available reference. But it only succeeds in conveying anything if there is a public sense to the terms within the sentence and before creation, there is only a private sense, one within the divine mind.

One might wonder why God could not have a private language to speak about his own thoughts. A common objection to the private language argument is that it seems we can imagine a Robinson Crusoe figure that is placed on an island and develops a language only known to him.[14] Perhaps, but the point is not about an island, a public environment accessible to anyone who might be living on it; instead it is about entities only accessible to the speaker. In respect to divine thoughts, all thoughts are within the divine mind. They are inaccessible to any other mind. In order to be known by another mind the thoughts of God must be expressed. And if God wishes to do this before he creates what is in his mind he must do it with a language or some other communicative medium.[15]

The crux of the private language argument is that language only works if there are publically known rules according to which a given language conveys that information. Wittgenstein argued that this would be impossible for a private language. Crucially for this discussion, Wittgenstein argued that language obeys a set of rules and that those rules are publically known. Wittgenstein argues that if meaning is primarily seen in terms of use then its comprehensibility relies on an implicit convention between speakers about the correct and incorrect use of terms and syntax. It is not that Wittgenstein is holding up a set of rules. Rather, Wittgenstein is suggesting that the necessary condition for the possibility of a correct or incorrect judgment in language use is found in some fact about language users. The fact, it seems, is that users of language enter into a game with a plurality of speakers who all agree to a set of conventions.[16] Roger Harris suggests that we consider the convention to be a normative agreement between speakers not merely what happens to be the way language users do in fact agree on rules.[17] In other words, there is a criterion for use that presupposes a correct and incorrect use of terms. Wittgenstein argues that such criteria are not possible if what one is expressing is only internally known. Whatever term is used seems right and there is no way to tell the difference between what seems right and what is actually the correct way to use a term.

Let us assume that God’s thoughts amount to what we call propositions (the Augustinian view). From all his propositions, let us consider those that are about creation.[18] Prior to creation, God’s thoughts would have been about creation, but without an actual creation to point to. When he created humans, God could speak to them and tell them about his creation. His propositions about creation, once only known to him, are made public and attach to the world due to the world being exactly as he had determined it to be.[19] Whether or not God taught the first humans to speak or created them with an innate capacity for speech does not matter. What matters is whether or not it is possible for God to have a language prior to creation. Since all the entities that are truth-bearers are only known to the mind of God there is no public criterion for communication, no way another mind can access those propositions, without access to the mind of God. But since only God exists, there is no possibility of such a criteria and therefore no possibility of language.

Does the private language argument succeed against God? I’m inclined to say it does. It at least cannot be dismissed out of hand and if we want to hold to the Augustinian view (our second attractive picture) we must give some kind of response.

What about (2)? Can an Augustinian view of God be a linguistic community? Although I think that is possible and will show how in due course, there is another way to respond to the premise. Perhaps, unlike human beings, God is in no need of language. Greg Welty hints at such a suggestion. Welty expounds an Augustinian view of propositions called Theistic Conceptual Realism (TCR) and argues that the unity of God’s mind underwrites the possibility of human knowledge. He argues that what we call propositions are actually divine thoughts. The objective reality available to a realist about propositions is achieved if “objectivity is secured by there being just one omniscient and necessarily existent person whose thoughts are uniquely identified as AOs [abstract objects].”[20] Propositions, then, are “necessarily dependent on God, in virtue of their being uncreated divine ideas that “play the role” of AOs with respect to all created reality.”[21] God’s unity of thought is a reflection of his singularity of mind. Aquinas argues that no individual can share singularity with others. One reason Aquinas gives is that God’s perfection implies that he cannot lack any comprehension of himself:

God comprehends in Himself the whole perfection of being. If then many gods existed, they would necessarily differ from each other. Something therefore would belong to one which did not belong to another. And if this were a privation, one of them would not be absolutely perfect; but if a perfection, one of them would be without it.[22]

The necessary condition for the objectivity of propositions is amply taken care of if thoughts of one divine mind are what is required. The explanatory power is obvious: one can argue for the unity of divine mind from the rationality of the universe, its coherence and uniformity. Notice also the point Aquinas makes about ownership of thoughts. Thoughts “belong” to God. They are his thoughts. Dr. Welty hints that, on his view, language is unnecessary in the Trinity: “Theists who are realists can infer propositions from (because they are required for) human engagement with language and meaning. But God takes his cognitive content “straight up,” as it were, no chaser.”[23] God, unlike human beings, does not have to “grasp” a proposition.[24] He does not stand in a relation to the proposition. God’s beliefs are identical to true propositions.[25] As Aristotle argued, “divine thought and its object will be the same…. The thinking will be one with the object of its thought.”[26] Propositional attitude is the attitude an individual has towards a proposition. An individual believes a proposition.[27] However, on the Augustinian View, God’s propositional attitude is not toward a separate object in his mind. They are one and the same. The relationship between the speaker and the propositions must be in some stable relation and it can’t get more stable than identicality.[28]

On TCR, God has no need for a language.[29] He has immediate access to the full range of propositions without a medium of communication. Human beings, according to Welty, are required to gather beliefs about propositions through language. An “act-object” theory proposes divine experience of an object, in this case, propositions, as they exist in the divine mind, and that that experience represents properties to a subject such that the subject is aware of those properties.[30] Dr. Welty’s suggestion is that we take God’s experience to be adverbial: there are no objects of God’s experience even if God’s thoughts serve as objects of human experience. God knows without knowing an object because, Dr. Welty argues, God knows the range of his powers.

Why should we think of God as a linguistically capable being? The reason is that minimally God has to be able to express propositions in a natural language in order to create the world with linguistically capable creatures in it. If God could not express his thoughts in a natural language he could not determine (or intelligibly foresee) human beings using natural languages to communicate with one another. Since God did plan the world to contain human beings with languages (not to mention God’s use of human languages, Hebrew Aramaic and Greek, to communicate with human beings), he must have been able to use those languages before he created the world. In order to do so God must have been a linguistically capable being. Again, he does not actually have to utter a word, but he must be able to should he so choose.

Perhaps there is another answer available, one mentioned by Wittgenstein himself. “Is thinking a kind of speaking?” Wittgenstein asks.[31] “When I think in language, there aren’t ‘meanings’ going through my mind in addition to the verbal expressions: the language is itself the vehicle of thought.”[32] Perhaps, at least for God, there is no thought without language.[33] While, for human beings, language expresses propositions, for God thoughts may already be in a natural language, call it “God-ese.”[34] God-ese might require not a public object of thought but the right relationship between the speaker and the object. In God’s case, however, the object is identical to the attitude. The problem with this view is that human expression of propositions can amount to little more than translating from God-ese to a given human natural language. But that is not what we seem to do. It does not seem that our knowledge of the world is made up of a set of translated sentences from one language into many.

Vern Poythress argues that the Trinity is a linguistic community: “Language does not have as its sole purpose human-human communication, or even divine-human communication, but also divine-divine communication.”[35] But Poythress argues that divine-divine communication is not merely in the sense of a three-way conversation. Rather, “God the Father is speaker, God the Son is the speech, and God the Spirit is the breath carrying the speech to its destination.”[36] On Poythress’ view, the Spirit is the “hearer” of the Father’s speech made through the Son. If language requires an audience it only requires one speaker. The Father, then, holds all the thoughts. The Son is the expression of those thoughts, especially the thoughts about himself, and the hearer and bearer of those sentences to human beings is the Holy Spirit. Likewise, the Spirit bears the message of the Father to human hearers. It is the Father’s thought that is in the Son and the Son, being the Word, is in the Father. Poythress constructs a picture of perichoresis that is centered on communication: “The Spirit receives the Word, and with the Word receives the message and mind of the Father. The Spirit thus shares in the message of the Word and of the Father, and this sharing is an aspect of the mutual indwelling of the persons.”[37] What might it mean for the Son to be the word, or expression, of the thoughts of the Father?

On Poythress’ view, God does not have to be multiple agents, but only one, while being distinguished in personhood functionally. God the Father begets the Son eternally in his act of expressing his thoughts in the Word to the Holy Spirit who eternally hears the Word. Augustine considered Christ to be the light of the world “because he is the source of its intelligibility, of its order and of its beauty.”[38] If Christ is the expression of the thoughts of God then in his communication of the Father’s thought Christ is the interpretive key to all creation. Christ is the resemblance of the Father in a speech-act, perfectly communicating the mind of the Father.

The problem with Poythress’ view is that it is difficult to discern more than one agent. The Son is little more than the set of signs chosen by the Father to express his thought and the Spirit amounts to not much more than a kind of divine medium for writing and speaking those signs.

We will return to (2) as I think there is a way for a proponent of AV to have his cake and eat it. However, let us consider (3). (3) is aimed at one who holds to a social view of the Trinity, one which would have no trouble affirming the conclusion of the private language argument, but may have more trouble with the thoughts which God’s language might express. On a social view each person of the Trinity is a distinct agent and has a distinct center of consciousness.[39] The Trinity of persons is like a family or community united in love. Richard Swinburne’s argument from love shows that without plurality of individual conscious centers love is not plausible. He concludes that conceiving of the Trinity as a community of individual agents with distinct consciousness is the most plausible way to conceive of an intra-Trinitarian love.[40] Analogously, on this view, the divine community is a speech-capable community. If speech is only possible if there are multiple agents with distinct centers of consciousness then the Latin view is false. However, as I will argue, the Augustinian view of propositions is, given our social picture, difficult to hold.

How do those who hold to a social view account for the unity of thought within the Trinity? Tom McCall suggests that three distinct centers of consciousness does not entail that each center of consciousness does not have access to the others’ thoughts. On McCall’s view each agent’s thoughts comprise of both first person perspectives and a comprehensive knowledge of one another’s thoughts without first person perspectives. “On this model, there are some things that only the Father knows first hand (‘I am the Father’ would be a good candidate)… and each divine person knows through their perichoretic communion what the other divine persons know first-hand.”[41] Thoughts, then, are had jointly by each member of the Trinity, but are had from first person perspectives. Perichoresis allows each person direct access to the thoughts of other minds without the need for language, but also allows for the possibility of language.

Perichoresis, however, is not a clear concept. Consider the social view of three minds or three sets of intellectual equipment.[42] What the view entails that is that each member of the Trinity has certain thoughts that are accessible to the minds of the other members of the Trinity. However, thoughts are not merely known or accessed, but are owned by one mind or other. If there are three minds, three speakers, but one set of propositions then there is one set of propositions intersubjectively available to all three members of the Trinity. The problem is that the set would have to exist outside the divine minds or in one of them. Alternatively all three minds would have an incomplete set of propositions. “I am the Father of the Son” for example, is only thought by the Father and not by the Son even though known by the Son. Perspective does not entail singular mind. The distinction is ownership. The question is: whose thoughts are they? Thoughts, on Wittgenstein’s view, are private if a person has them. Thoughts are had by one person of the Trinity while being known by other members of the Trinity. Recall that this is how Aquinas conceives of divine knowledge:

God comprehends in Himself the whole perfection of being. If then many gods existed, they would necessarily differ from each other. Something therefore would belong to one, which did not belong to another. And if this were a privation, one of them would not be absolutely perfect; but if a perfection, one of them would be without it.[43]

Consider two minds, A and B. Imagine if A could access all B’s thoughts without B having to use language to communicate what he thinks (and vice versa). Whose thoughts are they? If they are A’s thoughts then B cannot be said to have those thoughts. If, however, those thoughts do not belong to either A or B then they are not thoughts, but entities outside the mind of both A and B. If they belong to both A and B then it is unclear that A and B are indeed two minds.

If propositions are the thoughts of God (as on Augustinian view), then who has those thoughts? If the thoughts are identical for each agent then there is only one agent. This is perfectly fine for human beings. We can believe the same propositions and yet not become one agent. But if the members of the Trinity have all the same propositions, then there is only one mind. And if all the persons have only one mind then all the persons turn out to be only one person. If, on the other hand, each member has thoughts independently without the other’s necessary knowledge of those thoughts, then no member of the Trinity has necessary omniscience. If no member of the Trinity has necessary omniscience then God is not necessarily omniscient.

Though more could be said from a social perspective, let us return to a Latin view. On the Latin view there is no trouble with God’s unity of thought. Consequently, one might hold to a view like Dr. Welty’s conceptual realism. However, what the private language argument shows us is that in order to have a linguistically capable God one must find some way either to defeat the private language argument or to ascribe three centers of consciousness to one divine mind. The following suggestion from John Feinberg takes both the unity of mind and the distinction of centers of consciousness into account. Feinberg argues that it is plausible that God’s comprehensive knowledge does not entail that God is equally conscious of all that he knows. God may be consciously aware of only some of his knowledge. This does not imply any lack of knowledge in God since what God is not consciously aware of at any given moment he retains as part of what he knows. God could, if he wanted, be consciously aware of all his knowledge. If knowledge does not entail conscious awareness there is no reason why God could not have one mind with three centers of consciousness. One member of the Trinity is able to talk about what he is thinking and draw others’ attention to it: “if the members of the Godhead are not always consciously thinking of everything they know, then conversation, drawing of attention to one particular truth they know, and fellowship are possibilities.”[44] This does not entail any lack in God any more than it would in human beings. We would not accuse anyone of not knowing what 6×6 is just because they are not thinking about it at a given time. The same is true of God. It does not appear to demonstrate any deficiency in God’s omniscience just because no member of the Trinity is attentive to the fact that a particular raindrop landed in the place we call Seattle at 5:45am on Jan 1, 1250.

This view successfully answers each condition for both objectivity and linguistic capability. First, the view entails a one-mind view of God. If God has one mind then all the thoughts are his thoughts, they are owned by one mind and logically cohere with one another. Second, the three persons of the Trinity can be three centers of consciousness without having three minds or invoking the mysterious concept of perichoresis. There are not three minds that have access to each other, but one mind with three centers of consciousness. Each center is attentive to some of the total thoughts of the divine mind. If it is possible that each center of consciousness is attentive to some thoughts that another person is not attentive to then the centers of consciousness are distinct. Third, the language community condition is met. Each person in the Trinity can be aware of thoughts that other members are not (though they could be) and are able to the others’ “draw attention” to those thoughts. The thoughts are public in that they are knowable by each center of consciousness and yet are not independent of God’s mind since there is only one mind in which every possible thought inheres. Since each center of consciousness has access to the full array of possible thoughts the condition for criteria for terms is met. Words can have meaning since they can express propositions and can be used in multiple ways obeying criteria for sameness of use. There is, in other words, a genuine community of language users. Even on the strictest views of the impossibility of a private language this view meets every demand. Feinberg notes that this view commits one to the view that God is a temporal being. In other words, for God to be consciously aware of p at t1 and not at t2 God cannot be atemporal. To be atemporal, God would be more likely to have to be consciously aware of all his knowledge. If this is not an unpalatable cost, then the suggestion is plausible.

[1] Tom McCall, Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of Trinitarian Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2010), 64.
[2] The desiderata of this paper are that both pictures turn out to be true and compatible.
[3] Jeff Speaks, “Theories of Meaning”, The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Fall 2014 Edition), Edward N. Zalta (ed.), URL = .1-3.
[4] David Lewis, “General Semantics” Synthese 22, (1970): 19.
[5] William Lycan, Philosophy of Language: A Contemporary Introduction (New York: Routledge, 2007), 81.
[6] Greg Welty, “Theistic Conceptual Realism,” in Beyond the Control of God? Six Views on the Problem of God and Abstract Objects ed. Paul Gould (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014), 83.
[7] Micheal Loux, Metaphysics: A Contemporary Introduction (New York: Routledge, 2006), 121.
[8] Loux, 126.
[9] Richard Swinburne holds to both a nominalist view of propositions and a social view of the Trinity: Richard Swinburne, The Christian God (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 96-122; 170-191.
[10] Richard Kortum, “The Very Idea of Design: What God Couldn’t Do,” Religious Studies (2004), 81-96.
[11] Ludwig Wittgenstein, Philosophical Investigations (Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice House, 1958) §243.
[12] Gottlob Frege, (1948). “Sense and reference” Philosophical Review 57 (3):209-230.
[13] John Feinberg, No One Like Him (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001), 307.
[14] Simon Blackburn, Spreading the Word (Oxford: Oxford University Press 1984).
[15] Recall, I am assuming the one-mind view at this point.
[16] This is an argument extended by Kripke whose version of the private language argument concludes that there are no fact about what a speaker means by an expression. Saul Kripke, Wittgenstein on Rules and Prvate Language (New York: Blackwell Publishers, 1992). Cf. Bob Hale, “Rule-following, Objectivity and Meaning,” in A Companion to the Philosophy of Language eds. Bob Hale and Crispin Wright (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1997), 370-374.
[17] Roger Harris, “The Private Language Argument Isn’t As Difficult, Nor As Dubious As Some Make Out.” Sorites: An International Electronic Magazine Of Analytical Philosophy 18 (2007), 98-108.
[18] There are possibly many thoughts God has that no one outside God will ever know. For those thoughts there need be no language. However, when God “speaks” creation into existence we can be sure that God knew how to communicate what was in his mind so that other persons would understand it.
[19] His propositions also include how the world could have been had he chosen to make it that way. Perhaps possible worlds include worlds that are only conceivable by God, but unintelligible to us. Perhaps all possible worlds are this-world relative in God’s mind. Either way, the once private set of propositions becomes, in part, public after God has created human beings.
[20] Greg Welty, “Theistic Conceptual Realism,” in Beyond the Control of God ed. Paul Gould (New York: Bloomsbury, 2014), 88-89.
[21] Welty, 81.
[22] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 11. 3.
[23] Welty, 187.
[24] G. E. Moore, Some Main Problems of Philosophy (London: Unwin, 1953).
[25] Alvin Plantinga, (1982). How to be an Anti-Realist. Proceedings and Addresses of the American Philosophical Association 56 (1): 47–70.
[26] Aristotle, Metaphysics, Book 12. 1975a. As Davies comments, Aquinas thought similarly: “God and what God knows are indistinguishable.” Brian Davies, The Thought of Thomas Aquinas (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1992), 130.
[27] Mark Richard, “Propositional Attitudes,” in A Companion to the Philosophy of Language eds. Bob Hale and Crispin Wright (Oxford: Blackwell Publishers, 1997), 197.
[28] As Jerry Fodor argues, “communication between speaker and hearer requires, roughly, that the hearer should be able to infer what the speaker believes from what the speaker says.” Jerry Fodor, The Language of Thought (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1975), 71 footnote 9.
[29] Dr Welty is also unconvinced by the private language argument. Consequently, his view is unproblematic. However, if one accepts the conclusions of the private language as I am doing it is significantly more difficult to hold to TCR. Although, as I will argue, not impossible. Personal communication with Dr Welty.
[30] Michael Penlebury, “In Defense of the Adverbial Theory of Experience,” in Thought, Language and Ontology eds. F. Orillia and W. J. Rapaport (Dordrecht: Kluwer Academic Publishers, 1998), 97.
[31] Wittgenstein, §107e I. 330.
[32] Wittgenstein, §107e I. 329.
[33] Donald Davidson expands on this argument that thought is language dependent. Donald Davidson, “Thought and Talk” in Mind and Language ed. Samuel Guttenplan (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1975), 7–23.
[34] This could either be conceived as a natural language or a language akin to Jerry Fodor’s “mental-ese,” a language operating in purely mental terms like the language of a computer. Jerry Fodor, The Language of Thought (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell Company, 1975).
[35] Vern Poythress, In the Beginning was the Word: Language: A God Centered Approach (Wheaton: Crossway, 2009), 18.
[36] Ibid., 21.
[37] Ibid., 22.
[38] Etienne Gilson, History of Christian Philosophy in the Middle Ages (New York: Random House, 1955), 72.
[39] Tom McCall, Which Trinity? Whose Monotheism? Philosophical and Systematic Theologians on the Metaphysics of Trinitarian Theology (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2010), 14.
[40] Richard Swinburne, The Christian God (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1994), 170–191.
[41] Tom McCall, “Trinity and Creation: Why Kortum’s Argument Fails,” Heythrop Journal (2007), 262.
[42] McCall, Whose Monotheism, 12–19.
[43] Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, 11. 3. Emphasis mine.
[44] John Feinberg, No One Like Him (Wheaton: Crossway, 2001), 319.

Assistant Professor of Philosophy and History of Ideas at Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary and The College at Southeastern.