Although the concept of divine simplicity is so poetic that I almost wish I could believe it, as it turns out, I can't believe it. Here's my argument:

  1. [Assumption for reductio] The creatrix is a se and the creatrix is not simple.
  2. The creatrix is not simple because if She were, She would not be a se, because She would depend on Her parts to exist as Her total self.
  3. Therefore, the creatrix is a se because She is simple.
  4. Also, therefore, the creatrix is simple because She is a se.
  5. But aseity is independence, and the above facts are not simple.
  6. Therefore, if the creatrix is a se and simple, She is neither a se nor simple.

This argument only tells against the "no conceptual parts" version of the simplicity claim. I fully hold that the divine nature is not divisible into changeable parts. But these are the only parts that would violate aseity for the divine nature to have; a deeper "no essence/existence distinction" form of simplicity is impossible (QED).

My question: this argument seems too good to be overlooked for hundreds of years. Is it really new or is it an echo of possible others from before?

EDIT: Also, if there's a better StackExchange for this, I'll switch it. The SEP is loaded with theology articles, including one on this very subject, which has loads of philosophical flare to it regardless, so that's why I started here...

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    I'm a new user and was wondering what se, creatrix, reductio mean.... also simple? asiety? I feel like there is a contradiction in point 3. because you say she is simple, but in point 1, you say she is not simple. – Shadowzee Aug 21 '19 at 6:16
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    I would also like more clarification. It's a nice question but I can't address it as it stands. – user20253 Aug 21 '19 at 11:13
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    @Shadowzee "Aseity" probably means "the quality of being a se". – Geremia Aug 21 '19 at 18:05
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    Isn't "is not a se or simple" (not "neither a se nor simple") the contradictory of "is a se and not simple"? – Geremia Aug 21 '19 at 18:10
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    Your 5. equivocates on "simplicity". Even if the Divine nature is simple (whatever that means) facts about it (for humans) need not be. Just as the soul was taken to be "simple", but the scholastic talk about it was anything but. Kant pointed out the equivocation in the second paralogism: formal features of our concept are confused with metaphysical features of its object. – Conifold Aug 22 '19 at 0:16


...'aseity' shall be used to underline the divine immunity to external influences, since a being that is wholly a se or self-caused (is 'pure act' in the Thomistic sense), cannot be open to such influences, cannot be made to be what or how it is by anything other than itself. (Robert F. Brown, 'Divine Omniscience, Immutability, Aseity and Human Free Will', Religious Studies, Vol. 27, No. 3 (Sep., 1991), pp. 285-295: 285.)

It is not clear to me that you use 'aseity' in this sense. Perhaps you do; or perhaps you don't and Brown has got it wrong. To avoid wading through the reeds, I avoid the term from now on.

Simplicity, complexity & parts

The creatrix is not simple because if She were, She would not be a se, because She would depend on Her parts to exist as Her total self.

Simplicity correlates with complexity; and the connection between complexity and having parts is a separate matter. Complexity might relate to properties and corresponding predicates rather than to parts. Frege is of help here.

Help from Frege

In a fregean manner, one can say God is absolutely simple and differences between predicates do not imply any sort of composition or complexity in God. If someone attributes different predicates to God, it is not because God has different properties. All the predicates have only one reference and that claim is perfectly compatible with a real distinction between the meanings of the different predicates. Despite the fact 'being perfectly good' and 'being omniscient' have different meanings, they can refer to the same entity, that is God's perfection or God Himself, instead of God's different properties. The different meanings of different predicates express different concepts that we develop about God but their reference is an unique property, a super-property or God Himself. (Yann Schmitt, 'The deadlock of absolute divine simplicity', International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Vol. 74, No. 1 (August 2013), pp. 117-130: 118.)

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