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Whether this Word ‘Person’ Signifies Relation?

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cf., Sent.I.D23.Q1.A3, Sent.I.D26.Q1.A1, QDePot.Q9.A4


Lastly, we ask ourselves the question, after in A.1-2 we determined the signification of person and in A.3 its fittingness as predicated of God, of what in God is signified by this term "person." 


The difficulty comes from the fact that the term "person" is used to refer to all three persons. In this way, should it not be an absolute term?


To understand this question, it is important to note that when we ask the question of what "person" signifies in God, we are asking the question of what is included in its signification AND what is the relation between the terms included, or the term and the non-excluded term. The first is "what is signified" and the latter is the "mode of signification." Thus, it is not as simple as asking "does it signify relation or substance," but, rather, 1. Does it signify relation, substance, or both?, and 2. What is the mode of signification?


If it signifies both, there are two options, which are listed as the second and third in this article, 


2. "Person" directly (*in recto*) signifies the Divine Essence, but indirectly (*in obliquo*) signifies relation

3. "Person" directly (*in recto*) signifies relation, but indirectly (*in obliquo*) signifies the Divine Essence.


St. Thomas denies this position, arguing that, 


> Neither opinion solves the difficulty, for if it signifies the essence directly, it should not be predicated in the plural, and if it signifies the relation directly, it should not be predicated in reference to itself, nor of each person. (QDePot.Q9.A4.C.5)


Thus, we are left with asking whether it signifies the substance or relation. Yet, in terms of the mode of signification, it can either be after the mode of what is absolute or after the mode of what is relative. Thus, we have four options, which are listed in Sent.I.D23.Q1.A3,


1. Signifies the absolute according to the mode of the absolute 

2. Relation through the mode of relation 

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