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Suppose that there is an actus purus, a being that is entirely active, impassible (nothing happens to this being), and which has no proper parts (its only part is itself entirely), not even abstract parts. It would be hard to deny all distinctions to it, e.g. if we said that the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction doesn't apply to it, then all its otherwise internal reality is also its external reality, or even none of it is interior or exterior at all to its identity (which is hard for me to think through, though). But perhaps the general/particular distinction is one that doesn't hold for it, or at least not in the normal way (or: its degree of generality is somehow equal to its degree of particularity and it is "equigeneous" or "equimorphic" or something).

Now, could such an entity issue multiple commands? Often we think that such beings might create multiple objects, but is a command more like an object created, or more like the act of creating? (The poesy of various scriptures betimes likens the act of creation to the issuance of a command, e.g., "Let there be light.") If commands are creatable, then it would seem as if such a being could issue multiple commands; however, suppose this being's will is not created, and is an example of the extremely unified being's extreme unity. Then its will can be expressed by only one command, or not?

Does extreme monotheistic divine-command theory require that its ultimate agent ever issue only one specific command? If the simplicity at stake concerns also the general/particular distinction, would it be better to say that this deity can issue a single equimorphic command, which being general in its (the command's) own way (as well as uniquely specific) then has other commands subsumed under it? Or is it a proper test of a proposed divine-command theory that it should have but one real precept to its (the theory's) name, with other moral commands not falling out of the system as inferences from the one precept but as commands that are consistent expansions on the precept's side?

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    From whose perspective? Recall the Trinity and eternity. Who is to say that the one command will not be "particularized" into many by discursive creatures who perceive one as three and actus purus as succession. "Plurality of divine ideas... exist indistinct in act in God, and are known by him in all of their diversity in a single act of comprehension or intuition corresponding at once to the simplicity of the divine nature and to the multiplicity of its relations to creatures," Emery.
    – Conifold
    Sep 9, 2023 at 16:53
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    There's a Sufi doctrine that says all God's commands emanate from one command and similarly all His creations emanate from one.
    – infatuated
    Sep 9, 2023 at 17:22
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    I think the distinction is part of the problem. Deriving is what Kant's discursive intellect does, because its way of grasping is to dissect and assemble. Intuitive intellect intuits the whole at once, general/specific, direct/indirect are indistinct to it. The one command individuates and specializes only as it relates to the multiplicity of creatures and contexts, but it is not like discursive creatures can grasp the source, classify it as general/specific, and then emulate its relating by their deriving. No multiple commands are issued, general or specific, yet both kinds are received.
    – Conifold
    Sep 10, 2023 at 10:25
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    Starting from "Let there be light", and because everything is convertible to and from light, I imagine that one single command to start things off with a bang would be sufficient (and all the rest without it would never be enough). Consider Vivekacudemani #515
    – Scott Rowe
    Sep 10, 2023 at 12:08
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    As I read the first paragraph, I thought 'I wonder if Kristian wrote this'! I have upvoted for its sheer Kristianishness. Oct 1, 2023 at 7:22

2 Answers 2

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To answer this, we need to clarify what is meant by an "extremely unified being" and a "command".

If by "extremely unified being" we mean a being that is completely singular and unified in its thoughts and actions, and by "command" we mean a directive or instruction issued by this being, then it becomes a matter of debate.

From a logical perspective, if a being is completely unified, it could issue more than one command if these commands are aligned with its unified nature. If these commands are different ways of expressing the same fundamental directive or are different aspects of the same basic command, then issuing multiple commands would not contradict the being's unity. For instance, a parent might give their child multiple commands (e.g., "Do your homework", "Clean your room", "Respect others"), but all these commands can be seen as different aspects of the single, unified directive to "grow and develop into a responsible person".

On the other hand, if the commands are contradictory or in conflict with each other, then issuing more than one command might suggest a lack of unity in the being. For example, if the commands were "Do your homework" and "Don't do your homework", these would not be consistent with each other or with a singular, unified directive.

In conclusion, whether an extremely unified being can issue more than one command depends on how we interpret "unity" and "command". If the commands are consistent and aligned with the being's unified nature, then it is possible. If the commands are contradictory, then it would suggest a lack of unity in the being.

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  • I meant unified as in the more extreme flavors of divine simplicity, total partlessness (or having one part, itself as a whole, so there is no part/whole distinction itself, here). It seems to me that such a being could command only one exact thing from within itself, although we could go on to attach other commands from outside, to the divine one, I suppose. Oct 1, 2023 at 17:23
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It is impossible to come across extremely unified being because all beings are made up of conditional combination of entities. All commands are conditional. If there is darkness then let there be light works if entities involve agree. Similarly If there is light then let there be darkness command can be given if entities involved agree.

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