I think very much like you:
What you say is in fact the very consequence of Aquinas argument.
But this consequence remained hidden because: 1) the way Aquinas formulated things invoking causal chains; and 2) the general intuitive tendency to reduce causality to observable causal chains in time, tendency that became strengthened by the arrival and success of deterministic classical mechanics.
Thus, and most importantly, what Kant demolish in his CPR is the attempt to get to God by the road of “observable causal chains in time”.
Ironically, the arrival and success of “nonlocal quantum mechanics” help us to a deeper understanding of physical causality: The observable quantum correlations emerge from outside the space-time and in this sense can be considered to be an immediate effect (“in the present”) of an unobservable uncaused cause existing beyond space and time. Thus, quantum nonlocality and contextuality might re-open a road for accessing God as “unobservable uncaused cause” that sustains the observable world in being and lets the universe emerge as space-time fabric at the Big-Bang.
On the one hand, Kant proposed the necessity of God to found morality as the only valid proof of the existence of God. Thereby Kant was implicitly assuming that human beings have a dignity animals don’t have. And from this he concluded to God as “the moral author of the world” toward whom humans are accountable. But in assuming this he was also assuming human freedom as an axiom. And this means assuming that the movements we perform with our body are ruled from a cause acting from beyond the space and time. Since my free will is limited and not necessary, I must have my being (“in the present”) from a subsistent and necessary being, an uncaused cause (and this is basically the argument by Aquinas).
On the other hand, Aquinas by proposing a proof of the existence of God he is assuming the existence of human beings who will read his argument (as I am assuming that you and other readers in this thread will read the comment I am posting), and are free to accept or reject it. Thereby he is also assuming that human beings have a dignity animals don’t have, and in fact concluding that human beings are accountable toward God.
The important lesson of this debate is the importance of declaring the axioms you are assuming as the basis for your reasoning.
As you see the axiom of Aquinas and Kant (and in fact the axiom of every philosophy that aims the happiness of humankind) is the one established in Genesis 9:3,5-6: Human beings have a special dignity animals and machines do not have, because “God made humankind in the image of God.”
If you assume this axiom, at the end of the day you are assuming that humankind deserves a special dignity because God became man!
In my view, the problem with Kant is that he postulates a “religion within the boundaries of bare reason”: I can think about God, but “it is not allowed to me” to unfold a relationship of love with him through his Son Jesus Christ. Kant rejects prayer, grace, wonders, and mysteries. So he remains closed in the individualism characteristic of many modern thinkers: one damns himself to be alone, an individual who denies to become a person, a unity of love with God and the others forever.
There was a guest lecturer for the philosophy department at a prominent university nearby the not so prominent university where I did my undergrad in philosophy. During the time for comments from the audience, I stood up and said the metaphysical discussion begins with the objectivity of the world. There are a couple layers of irony in that statement, and it looked like it was the first time he heard it said that way.
I also said that there are only three possible statements to then explain the world.
I was listening to a conversation between Ken Myers and Vigen Guroian yesterday and thought about you. They were talking about the personalism of Berdyaev:
“What is divine in the human being is personality, and the image of God, ultimately, is spirit. Spirit and personality are closely related to one another, and personality is not reducible to individuality.”
Yes, my point is that ‘person’ does not reduce to ‘individual’, along the line of the conversation you refer to.
We are used to think that ‘individual’ comes first, and ‘person’ is a quality of the ‘individual’.
In fact, it is the other way around: The divine Persons (or relations) are first:
The relation of Paternity defines the Father as individual: The Father is individual because Father, individualized Paternity.
The relation of Sonhood or Filiation defines the Son as individual: The Son is individual because Son, individualized Filiation.
The relation of Love defines the Holy Spirit as individual: The Holy Spirit is individual because Love, individualized Love.
So, by calling us to share eternal life, God gives us the grace to participate in the relation of divine Filiation and thereby become one with Jesus Christ: It is because God the Son is individualized relation of Filiation, that I as individual can participate in the relation of divine Filiation, become a person; and the way to achieve this participation is fulfilling Jesus’ commandment to love each other as He loved us.
By contrast if I reject this call, I condemn myself to remain alone forever, an individual without name outside God’s knowledge. This was Nietzsche’s choice: To declare God dead in him and reduce himself to an individual who renounces to speak with God (to pray), “an individual closed in himself”. The result is “a living dead”, “an earthly eternity”, “an existence in emptiness”.
The “oneness” I am referring to is the “personal oneness” characterizing the “complete unity” in the Holy Trinity according to the teaching of Jesus in John 17:20-23:
I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. […] I have given them the glory that you gave me, that they may be one as we are one— I in them and you in me—so that they may be brought to complete unity.
In my view, the philosophical truth about human beings and humanity is basically “personal” and not merely “ontological” or “covenantal”.
Yes, a personal or relational oneness is another way to see it.
However, a covenant presupposes a relationship. So I wouldn’t see a relational oneness as a higher form over mere covenantal oneness. A marriage relationship is also a covenant, and the relationship is often mimicked outside of marriage.
For me it is crucial to distinguish between “individual” and “person”: “Personhood is not reducible to individuality”, as you have very well stated in a previous post.
So I think it is fitting to state:
A) “The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three distinct persons but only one God.”
By contrast it is not fitting to state:
B) “The Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are three different individuals but only one God.”
Statement A) highlights that it is relation what defines the divine persons. In other words, you cannot have a “person” alone: you can have a person only if you have several persons in relation with each other. God is a “relational oneness” or “personal oneness”.
By contrast, statement B) suggests that the Holy Trinity emerges through the agreement between three autonomous “selves” (each with his own will) who decide to build sort of an association or corporation. In other words, the “individuals” would be first, and the Holy Trinity result from a “social contract” between them. The Father would be an “individual oneness”, and similarly the Son, and the Holy Spirit. According to this picture the Holy Trinity would be the result of a bond or social contract between three autonomous “selves”.
The light of the Holy Trinity allows us to see the full truth about humankind:
Marriage starts as “covenant between individuals”, a “covenantal oneness”, but it is called to become a “relation between persons” a “personal oneness”. Marriage and work are the means God wanted in order human individuals unfold their relational capability and flourish as persons.
I have no disagreement with distinguishing between our individual and personal nature, but we don’t stop being individuals either.
It’s seems like it will only be a matter of time before AI technology advances to the point that computers will take on an individual nature, but I don’t think we have it in us to create personal machines. Even though we will be tempted to relate to them in that way.
The Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit are persons, but are also individuals distinct from each other:
Each person of the Holy Trinity is an individual related to other two individuals:
The Father is a person because He is an individual defined by the relation of paternity, which includes generation of the Son and spiration of the Holy Spirit as his love to the Son.
The Son is a person because He is an individual defined by the relation of Filiation, which includes being generated by the Father and spiration of the Holy Spirit as his love to the Father.
The Holy Spirit is a person because He is an individual defined by the relation of Love between the Father and the Son.
Each of us is an individual called to enter into the relation of divine Filiation by becoming one with Jesus Christ through the action of the Holy Spirit. This transformation into Jesus-Christ takes place progressively by unfolding webs of love to the others in the context of family and work, and will be fulfilled after the last Judgement: then (hopefully!) I will be a full person, have a name, be someone forever.
I can frustrate this vocation I am called to by deciding to remain alone forever: each sin amounts to such a decision in the end. By deciding to remain alone as an individual forever, I reduce myself to an non-personal selfish animal (Nietzsche’s “individual” or “philosophical animal”) or AI (Harari’s “Homo Deus”). As you very well say, “computers may take on an individual nature”, but “we haven’t it in us to create them to persons” because this would mean to order them to share eternal life as children of God, and only God can do this.
In the light of the Holy Trinity the basic categories to explain humanity (and even the world) seem to be “individual” and “relationship”. Each divine Person is an “individual relation” or a “relational individual”, and this means to be “fully personal”.
We are persons because we are called to enter into the relation of divine filiation, become imbued by it, and thus be one with Jesus Christ, Jesus Christ himself.
So this means that after the last judgement the saints and the angels in heaven will remain distinct as individuals but be bound together in God the Son, Jesus Christ. It looks like in eternal life we will be integrated into the Holy Trinity by becoming somewhat the second Person as Jesus Christ will be the head of both, humankind and the angels: In this sense one can consider that in the definite celestial stage the Son of God will consist in many individuals building a single congregational person.