I was reading back over some of Vanhoozer’s articles-turned-chapters in First Theology the other day and came across his use of supervenience. I recall that he has affinity to the term in Drama of Doctrine as well. It has been a long time since I’ve looked at Drama but I do recall not liking his use of supervenience there, thinking that he moved to philosophical constructs too quickly, and that, ultimately, supervenience works against theology rather than for it. For all the Vanhoozerites out there (and we know you’re out there!), I was wondering what you think of this. Do you find this term helpful? What do you think it allows him to do? In First Theology (chapter on efficacious call), he doesn’t employ it as much as use it, but even there I didn’t find it particularly helpful.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with supervenience, it is often employed in naturalistic arguments in Philosophy of Mind to explain emergent properties, in that case, mental properties (but not limited to that discussion). Therefore, naturalistic philosophers can talk about true mental activity that is beyond reductionistic explanation. If I recall correctly, which I may not be, Vanhoozer seeks to use it in Drama to explain how the divine and human word interrelate. In my mind, the term supervenience is solely used as a bottom up explanation and has no real use for any top down work – which I think theologians should be more concerned with. I might be mistaking his usage though. Any thoughts? Is this term helpful, useful or total rubbish?