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The Greek emphasis on a simple first principle figures prominently in the revival of classical Hellenistic philosophy at the close of the ancient world. Philo is drawing on philosophical accounts of a supreme unity in describing God as uncomposite and eternal.
Christianity is in its infancy when the Jewish theologian Philo of Alexandria (c. He identifies this simple first being of the philosophers with the personal God of the Hebrew Scriptures who consciously creates things modeled after the divine ideas.
The bulk of the rest of the article sketches some common responses to these objections.
The responses invoke aspects of the doctrine’s original context to further understanding of it.
Its presence reverberates throughout an entire body of thought.
Medieval debates over simplicity invoked fundamental problems in metaphysics, semantics, logic, and psychology, as well as theology.
Thus, the entirety of God is whatever is attributed to him.
The following discussion will suggest that disagreements over simplicity tend to reflect prior theological disagreements over the fundamental character of God and what language about God can or cannot imply.Consequently it is unknowable and inexpressible (1962, V.3.13, VI.9.3).Plotinus voices an argument for the One’s simplicity that will emerge as a standard line of argument in later thinkers: Even in calling it The First we mean no more than to express that it is the most absolutely simplex: it is Self-Sufficing only in the sense that it is not of that compound nature which would make it [emphasis added]; it is the Self-Contained because everything contained in something alien must also exist by that alien.This treatment will mainly discuss objections to the doctrine’s internal coherence.Problems involving the compatibility of simplicity with another particular teaching generally require highly individual treatment beyond the present scope; this is also so with revealed matters such as the Trinity or Incarnation.
But it will be necessary to refer to its main outlines if one is to capture the basic sense of the doctrine in its original setting.