Sunday, February 10, 2013

Around the net


I’m a bit “Nagel-ed out” at the moment, but before long I’ll be writing up at least one or two more installments in my series of posts on Nagel’s Mind and Cosmos and its critics.  In the meantime, The New York Times has covered the controversy over the book, H. Allen Orr has reviewed the book in The New York Review of Books, and Mohan Matthen has reviewed it in The Philosopher’s Magazine.  In the blogosphere, we have commentary from Keith Burgess-Jackson and from Wes Alwan at The Partially Examined Life.  I’ll comment on some of this myself soon.

David Theroux reports that Alvin Plantinga has won the Rescher Prize.  Over at New APPS, Eric Schliesser has an interesting piece on the sensus divinitatis in Plantinga and Dutch Spinozism.

Andrew Sullivan and Christopher Hitchens, the lost conversation: read it here, here, and here.  Daniel Dennett interviewed.

If you don’t know about the Fordham University Press series Medieval Philosophy: Texts and Studies, edited by Gyula Klima, you should.  Find out more about it here.

A friend calls my attention to The Catholic Archive, a repository of rare or out-of-print books, dissertations, articles, and essays covering a wide variety of subjects in Catholic theology and philosophy.  Take a look.

53 comments:

Eduardo said...

LOL, wait Wes is basically saying:
"Yeah you could have teleology but that wouldn't really explain consciousness, because you know, it wouldn't be a mechanism!"

Basically Wes has absolutely no idea what teleology is, he seems to suppose that teleology is some form of material just like any other object, and that teleology would be part of scientific research, were science must find it's parts and how this newly found substance intereacts with the rest of the world.

Now I like how he says that logical judgements can not be grounded, soooooo yeah whatever, is just human wishful thinking, why the heck it matters Nagel is right or not, if it is only possible to have accurate logical judments, then I think we can safely say that is also pretty damn possible they are not and all we are doing, either it be philosophy or science or religion or whatever we come up with could be for all we know worthless!!!

...... wow me thinks it's a wrap gentleman.

Eduardo said...

Oh somebody has talked about you Doctor... you know what that shit means gentleman, prepare thy tongues because we will soon be flooded with worthless objections t_t.

BUT, AT LEAST, professor Feser is getting to discuss with new people! And we get to watch those exchanges U_U!

Still I am pretty damn worried of what will pop up in the combox...

dover_beach said...

Eduardo, given that Wes has worked with Coyne, we shouldn't be surprised. In fact, given this, I think the article was rather sympathetic even if philosophically thin.

dover_beach said...

Correction: Orr not Wes.

Eduardo said...

d_b

Oh I didn't read that one, my brain may fall apart considering how clueless the whole thing is.

Now Allen Orr, I think I know that name from one of those Cria/Evo endless debates XD. But anyways, if he worked with Coyne, I think it make lots of sense, if he reviews sucks XD.

-----------------------------------

But you know what... in Wes's blog that are not even one argument XD in the damn combox. U_U hmmmm where is all the Nagel's fans damn it XD.

Anonymous said...

I am a totally new anonymous

Actually, Orr is a very smart guy with good reputation. Plus, he is an agnostic and is willing to criticize and agree with pretty much anyone,depending on their arguments. I loved his review of "God Delusion" several years ago.

And I would love to see professor Feser address his criticisms of Nagel's book. In particular Orr's biologically based objections are particularly troubling to me.

Eduardo said...

Hmmm, Completely New Anon, what are the critiques XD???

Vincent Torley said...

Hi Ed,

FYI:

http://www.uncommondescent.com/intelligent-design/thomas-nagel-vs-his-critics-has-neo-darwinian-evolution-failed-and-can-teleological-naturalism-take-its-place/

Eduardo said...

Hey Doc, the Pope decided to give up XD.

What is your thoughts on that Doc?

BenYachov said...

>Hey Doc, the Pope decided to give up XD.

I humbly object to you stylizing Pope Benedict's resignation as "Giving up" this does not sound respectful IMHO since it can imply some sort of cowardice in the face of responsibility.

OF course in the spirit of charity I want to make clear I am not accusing you Eduardo of willful disrespect toward the Pope. It is possible I am over reacting since I am in a state of shock at this news.

Peace be with you.

BLS said...

I think this is the key part of Orr's review:

"Nagel’s chapter on consciousness is a concise and critical survey of a literature that is both vast and fascinating. He further extends his survey to other mental phenomena, including reason and value, that he also finds recalcitrant to materialism. (Nagel concludes that the existence of objective moral truths is incompatible with materialist evolutionary theory; because he is sure that moral truths exist, he again concludes that evolutionary theory is incomplete.)

Nagel concedes that many philosophers do not share his skepticism about the plausibility of reducing mind to matter. And I can assure readers that most scientists don’t. I, however, share Nagel’s sense of mystery here. Brains and neurons obviously have everything to do with consciousness but how such mere objects can give rise to the eerily different phenomenon of subjective experience seems utterly incomprehensible.

Despite this, I can’t go so far as to conclude that mind poses some insurmountable barrier to materialism. There are two reasons. The first is, frankly, more a sociological observation than an actual argument. Science has, since the seventeenth century, proved remarkably adept at incorporating initially alien ideas (like electromagnetic fields) into its thinking. Yet most people, apparently including Nagel, find the resulting science sufficiently materialist. The unusual way in which physicists understand the weirdness of quantum mechanics might be especially instructive as a crude template for how the consciousness story could play out. Physicists describe quantum mechanics by writing equations. The fact that no one, including them, can quite intuit the meaning of these equations is often deemed beside the point. The solution is the equation. One can imagine a similar course for consciousness research: the solution is X, whether you can intuit X or not. Indeed the fact that you can’t intuit X might say more about you than it does about consciousness.

And this brings me to the second reason. For there might be perfectly good reasons why you can’t imagine a solution to the problem of consciousness. As the philosopher Colin McGinn has emphasized, your very inability to imagine a solution might reflect your cognitive limitations as an evolved creature. The point is that we have no reason to believe that we, as organisms whose brains are evolved and finite, can fathom the answer to every question that we can ask. All other species have cognitive limitations, why not us? So even if matter does give rise to mind, we might not be able to understand how.

To McGinn, then, the mysteriousness of consciousness may not be so much a challenge to neo-Darwinism as a result of it. Nagel obviously draws the opposite conclusion. But the availability of both conclusions gives pause."

BenYachov said...

On reflection I suppose it is for the best if His Holiness feels he is mentally and physically inadequate to the task of shouldering the burden of the Petrine ministry then he must resign. His health has gotten worst and in the end what matters is what is best for the Church.

In the past medicine being what is was Pope's didn't live that long but it is possible to sustain life these days into one's 90's.

This being the case we might see more resignations in the future due to age.


Eduardo said...

Well saying resignated U_U was no fun, and I was lost for words while writing so give up was the first and only option I had.

Now about cowardice, nahhhh, who knows what was going on in the Pope's life, I was surprised too to hear it, but I wouldn't accuse a man or woman of cowardice until I am sure they have made a cowardly decision XD.

Eduardo said...

Now that part of Orr's review seems to be going straight to Feser's argument that the success of materialism as a metaphysics is due to the fact that materialism simply sweeps under the rug called mind anything it can explain and leaves just the part that materialism CAN explain.

So going to counsciouness and doing the usual sweep anything that is not absolutely necessary may not work anymore.

James said...

@BenYachov:


“It is possible I am over reacting since I am in a state of shock at this news.”

Benedict’s resignation shocked me very much at first, but in retrospect, it can’t be too surprising. Modern medicine is very good at extending lifespan without much reducing the propensity toward frailty and dementia; I’ve seen the implications for the papacy pointed out before.

In any event — although I’m neither Catholic nor even religious, I do wish the best for His Holiness. May he remain in good health for the remainder of his life.

BenYachov said...

>Now about cowardice, nahhhh, who knows what was going on in the Pope's life, I was surprised too to hear it, but I wouldn't accuse a man or woman of cowardice until I am sure they have made a cowardly decision XD.

No worries brother I just didn't like the phrase "give up".

Peace be with you.

Nathanael said...

That was an interesting article about Plantinga and Spinoza. However, being a Reformed guy myself, I'd like to make a clarification about the relationship between the Reformed tradition and Spinozism.

It is true that there have been some in the Reformed tradition who have embraced occasionalism and so endangered the classical understanding of the God/world relationship (Jonathan Edwards is one example). However, the majority of the Reformed tradition throughout the 16th and 17th centuries was firmly wedded to the classical understanding of God and the aristotelian notion of causality.

So, the majority of the Reformed tradition opposed Cartesianism in the 17th century. A good book on the subject is The Crisis of Causality: Voetius and Descartes on God, Nature and Change (Brill's Studies in Intellectual History). The gist of the book is that Voetius foresaw that Descartes' conception of natural causality would make it impossible for theologians to explain the relationship between God and creation in philosophical terms.

Anyway, my post has rambled on for long enough. I just thought it was necessary to point out that in general, the Reformed tradition has sided with Aquinas and Scotus, not Descartes and Spinoza.

Glenn said...

While the Pope's actual resignation may seem sudden, that it might occur is not:

Pope turns 85 amid speculation of resignation

VATICAN CITY — Pope Benedict XVI turned 85 on Monday (April 16 [2012]) amid renewed speculation about his declining health and possible resignation.

The German-born pope has appeared tired and fatigued in recent months and admitted at a morning Mass to being in "the final leg of the path of my life." But on Sunday, he signaled his resolve to carry on with his duties as leader of the world's 1.2 billion Catholics, asking the faithful to pray that he have the "strength" to "fulfill his mission."

This week will mark a double milestone for Benedict, with Thursday being the seventh anniversary of his election as pope.

Last October, Benedict started using a movable platform to carry him down the central aisle in St. Peter's Basilica, and he leaned on a cane before boarding the plane for a recent weeklong trip to Cuba and Mexico. He his now the sixth-oldest pope since at least the 1400s; the oldest, Pope Leo XIII, died in 1903 at age 93.

Talk of possible resignation has been swirling around the pope ever since his 2010 book, "Light of the World," in which he said that if a pope felt "no longer physically, psychologically, and spiritually capable of carrying out the duties of his office," he would have "the right, and in some circumstances the obligation, to resign."

Last month [i.e., during March 2012], prominent Italian journalists who are considered Benedict loyalists openly suggested that the pope might resign in the near future, adding new fuel to the rumor mill...

- - - - -

BLS said...

Couldnt Nagel say the same thing in response to McGinn? Nagel could counter by saying that there are teleological laws, but our incomplete evolution as a species is a reason why we have not uncovered such laws yet.

BenYachov said...

We need a separate Pope thread.

Dianelos Georgoudis said...

I haven’t read Nagel’s book, but I’d like to comment on Allen Orr’s review of it. First of all I think it is useful to separate the two questions under discussion, namely evolution and biological complexity on the one hand, and evolution and consciousness on the other. Here I discuss the first question.

Clearly Nagel accepts the facts of evolution, namely that our species evolved through the process that evolutionary science describes. The question at hand is whether the naturalistic interpretation of the science, namely that evolution is an *unguided* process, is reasonable or not. Orr accuses Nagel of making an argument from personal incredulity, and wonders why Nagel’s intuition should count for so much. But I think he misplaces the issue. It’s not Nagel, but naturalists who claim that unguided evolution works. Nagel has the right to be doubtful. The one who makes a claim has the burden of justifying it. Nagel points out that no such justification exists.

Further, Nagel explains why he is doubtful. Philosopher Keith Ward in his “Why There Almost Certainly is a God” raises the same doubt, and uses the very fact that Orr mentions, namely that evolution also entails complexity reversals, to argue that the great complexity needed for an intelligent species is unlikely to evolve by unguided means. I don’t know if Nagel uses a similar argument, but the argument is not trivial and is not easily answered.

How to proceed? Consider our universe with its laws and initial condition at some time near its start. Let’s call PUE (probability of unguided evolution) the probability that in the universe through unguided physical processes somewhere an intelligent species will evolve. Is current science capable of estimating the value of PUE? Absolutely not; no biologist has the slightest idea what the value of PUE might be, and that’s a fact. To estimate PUE is far beyond the capability of current science. On the other hand we can consider what the implications of various values of PUE are:

If PUE is small then naturalism has a problem in its hands, because it would seem that unguided evolution is unlikely to have produced us. The problem is not catastrophic, for the naturalist may suggest that there are many parallel universes and ours happens to be a lucky one. But if PUE is very small, say smaller than 10e-100, than things become strenuous, for by multiplying entities one can hold on to any belief. But perhaps naturalists will get lucky and the best model for cosmology would be one that fits.

But what if PUE is large? What follows from that? It only follows that unguided evolution is possibly true. There is a huge epistemic difference between being possibly true and being actually true. After all, a large PUE does not falsify guided evolution, since if unguided evolution is possibly true so, with more reason, is guided evolution. So at best the advance of science can only show that the evolution of complex intelligent life does not present a problem for naturalism.

Neil Parille said...

I suspect that the Pope didn't want to have endless speculation about his health, contrary to what JPII got.

I had high hopes for Benedict, but he continued on the same road as the disastrous JPII (Assisi events, etc.).

Anonymous said...

A general question to the A-T people,

Is it possible to have an effect without a material cause? Does Aristotelian philosophy entail that all effects must necessarily have a material cause?

Anonymous said...

I am still the new anonymous.

Dianelos Georgoudis

I don't know. To me the crux of Orr's critique is Nagel's presentation of natural teleology without much meat around it. Apparently Nagel wants his natural teleology to be taken as a physical law, not much so as metaphysical. And in that case, it is Nagel's duty to anticipate and contemplate possible objections. It's not enough to say "Such a view of thinking is bad, so here's an alternative for ya" and leave without defending it properly.

In particular, Orr's objection regarding extinctions is painfully obvious. So why wouldn't Nagel address it?

Finally, I think that at the end of the day naturalists can easily bite the bullet and claim that development of consciousness was a freak accident. Very unlikely, but it happened. Just like the octopus Paul was unlikely to make such good predictions in football, but none of us thinks that he was a medium.

Scott said...

"Is it possible to have an effect without a material cause? Does Aristotelian philosophy entail that all effects must necessarily have a material cause?"

As I understand it, the Aristotelian fourfold account of causation is about things, not "effects." And yes, every thing has a material cause.

Scott said...

"Finally, I think that at the end of the day naturalists can easily bite the bullet and claim that development of consciousness was a freak accident. Very unlikely, but it happened."

The problemm is that it's not just "unlikely" but impossible in a world that doesn't already contain even the potency of consciousness.

Anonymous said...

@Scott

What about thoughts though? What would be the material cause of a thought?

I understand that the brain operates as a substratum of the intellect, but I'm not so sure if that can be appealed to as a material cause for thought.

What do you think?

BLS said...

"The problemm is that it's not just "unlikely" but impossible in a world that doesn't already contain even the potency of consciousness."

I wonder. Perhaps this may be a reason why our friend yair is a panpsychist. I have not read Nagel's book or past publications, but he should just flat out say what you have quoted, instead of opting for an EAAN style argument.

Anonymous said...

Another question for the students of Aristotle,

I have been reading several conflicting commentaries about Aristotle's view on God as the cause of the universe. Some say he is only the Final Cause while others say that he is both the Efficient and Final cause. The ones who maintain that he was not the Efficient cause claim that Aristotle believed it was the case because for God to be the Efficient Cause he had to be in movement. Did Aristotle truly believe that? If anyone has a direct citation from Physics or Metaphysics I would really appreciate it.

monk68 said...

Anyone else see David Hart's dissing of Natural Law theory in the last few pages of the most recent edition of "First Things" magazine? I usually like Hart, but this article seems to me a jumble of arguments with little coherence.

Scott said...

"What about thoughts though? What would be the material cause of a thought?"

I don't think a "thought" would count as an entity to Aristotle. Again, his fourfold account of causation applies to things.

Scott said...

"Perhaps this may be a reason why our friend yair is a panpsychist."

I can't speak for Yair, of course, but it's certainly one reason why I'm a panpsychist.

Crude said...

monk86,

Are you sure? Hart doesn't seem to be knocking final causes, but talking about the modern view.

monk68 said...

Crude,

Reading the article I really cannot tell where he stands.

With respect to the reality and knowability of natural law per se, he seems to argue against the possibility of deriving an *is* from an *ought*, irrespective of whatever metaphysical picture of nature applies, for he appeals to Hume against the is/ought distinction and says (paraphrasing) "Nature tells us nothing . . .". Yet, in other parts of the article (which you probably have in mind) he says "so far so good" respecting the metaphysical argument chain that reaches to final causes. He also writes that IF we happened to live in a culture committed to a Platonic, Aristotelian, or Christian metaphysic, then natural law arguments might be persuasive (but even so he brings up the case of the radical moralist who, while recognizing final causality, responds: "so what, I'm going to rage against the machine” - so to speak). So maybe I am reading him insufficiently, but he seems to take away with one hand what he grants with the other. He does not seem to be arguing that is worth engaging modernity’s metaphysical mechanism in order to breathe new life into traditional natural law theory.

With respect to the practical *usefulness* of natural law theory, he does seem to argue that it has no useful appeal within modern culture. Rather, he seems in favor some broader appeal to a more comprehensive religious vision as the most useful way to approach morality within modernity. While the best approach to moral dialogue within modernity may certainly depend upon the particular audience with which one is conversing; surely it is at least as difficult to establish the grounds of religion (of whatever variety) as a prelude to moral dialogue, as it is to refute the epistemological and ontological errors which undermine a natural law basis for morality. The advantage to the later approach, of course, is its reliance upon epistemic and ontic grounds which may be dialectically championed on grounds which are ostensibly open to all, without recourse to the data of any purported revelation.

I read through it once last evening just before midnight, so perhaps I am misconstruing his overall point. I will give it another run through this evening.

-Pax

BLS said...

"What about thoughts though? What would be the material cause of a thought?

I understand that the brain operates as a substratum of the intellect, but I'm not so sure if that can be appealed to as a material cause for thought."

Although this is more of an A-T approach rather than a purely Aristotelian approach, you could give Oderberg's paper a look to see if it clarifies some issues for you.

http://www.davidsoderberg.co.uk/

Look for 26. 'Hylemorphic Dualism'

Also, try the search bar to see if Feser has any posts on this form of dualism. If he does, it will probably be an easier read.

Scott said...

"I have not read Nagel's book or past publications, but he should just flat out say what you have quoted, instead of opting for an EAAN style argument."

He does, in a famous paper called "Panpsychism." It's been years since I read it, but it was specifically offered as an argument against emergentism.

Anonymous said...

Thanks BLS.

c emerson said...

@Dianelos,
To add a bit of grist to your mill, consider Ernst Mayr's 1987 analysis of the very low probability that 'genuine intelligence' would evolve on even one planet (ours) let alone in a relevant way in a relevant time period on more than one planet (the SETI debate). Part of his essay as first published is here:

http://books.google.com/books?id=EH86AAAAIAAJ&pg=PA24&lpg=PA23&ots=YkxPmSSYro&dq=ernst+mayr+probability+extraterrestrial&output=html_text

The relevant pages are from bottom of page 25 to bottom of 27. You might think Mayr was laying the groundwork for an argument for fine-tuning, but his primary purpose (besides objecting to SETI expenditures) is to engage in battle against 'naive' determinism, as advanced by physicists vis a vis evolutionary indeterminism. Mayr says, bottom of p.24: "Why are those biologists, who have the greatest expertise on evolutionary probabilities, so almost unanimously skeptical of the probability of extraterrestial intelligence? It seems to me that this is to a large extent due to the tendency of physical scientists to think deterministically, whereas organismic biologists know how opportunistic and unpredictable evolution is."

Now Mayr, an admirer of Aristotle (as one of the first biologists), distinguishes Aristotelian teleology from evolutionary teleonomy on the grounds that natural selection looks backwards historically for its cause rather than forward towards a natural end. See Mayr's Toward a New Philosophy of Biology (1988: p.24-65). That is, living organisms, through the operation of natural selection, preserve unplanned fruitful changes, rather than being goal-directed toward them. Yet, here Mayr clearly lays out his view showing how low a probability he believes there actually was for a genuinely intelligent animal to have evolved.

[I'm road tripping in case I don't respond further. Cheers]

c emerson said...

@Scott,
> The problemm is that it's not just "unlikely" but impossible in a world that doesn't already contain even the potency of consciousness.

Could you elaborate here? Not sure if you are accepting that there is such potency and therefore are objecting to "unlikely" in some way ... that is, you italicized "impossible" but then qualified it with a "that doesn't already contain ... potency of ... " I'm not picking, just don't get your meaning.

Eduardo said...

Imagine a box with only blue balls... There are no red balls and no way to change the color of the balls. Within that system and because of the lack of the potential to turn things red, you will never get a red ball. Got it?

Scott said...

"Could you elaborate here?"

As Eduardo correctly explains, I was disagreeing with emergentism. (just as Nagel does elsewhere on the same grounds).

My statement was in reply to the suggestion that the emergence of consciousness could be regarded as a perhaps very unlikely accident. Basically I was saying that in a world that didn't have any consciousness (or the potency thereof) in it in the first place, it's no more possible for consciousness to "emerge" than it would be for a two-dimensional universe suddenly and accidentally to sprout a third spatial dimension out of nowhere and nothing. The appearance of consciousness in a world/universe/cosmos initially without it is, in my view (and in Nagel's, though I don't know whether he expressly reiterates that view in his new book), not merely unlikely but impossible.

c emerson said...

@Eduardo,
& Scott,
Thanks for posting.

Let me pose this scenario: Take two of Eduardo's blue balls and put them together (ouch) - and - presto - you get ONE large RED ball.

What would you call this process, and what you call this new thing? I know I would be comfortable calling the process a 'chemical' process; and I would be comfortable calling RED (the new thing) an 'emergent' property.

Where's the potency? And if you decide to say the 'potency' was hidden from view, or was some kind of 'hidden variable', then kindly tell me how you know that?

And, oh, btw, how might you describe the whole event, especially if the blue balls were scattered out VERY FAR. from each other and two came together only once in a blue moon by 'chance': wouldn't you call that 'an unlikely accident'? Cheers.

Anonymous said...

I would call that process as something that has the same likelihood of occurring as a two-dimensional universe suddenly and accidentally to sprout a third spatial dimension out of nowhere and nothing.

Heck, even virtual particles come from something. Virtual particles are disturbances/fluctuations in quantum fields. Obviously, you can't have a disturbance in a quantum field if there is no quantum field to begin with.

Eduardo said...

Well if that is the case then there was the potencial toget red balls by getting two blue balls together.

Well yeah the potency was hidden because let's I might have never seen two balls together XD. Probably A-T would call it a formal cause the appearing of the red ball.

Now onto the hidden potential XD, A-T defends as far as I have understood here, that knowledge about these things comes primarily from experience. So the potential of the blue balls may not be known because of our limitations even we know they have potential.

..... That last part.... I have no idea how to respond, because I feel like you are talking about something I don know hahaahahahahh so sorry.

Scott said...

"Where's the potency? And if you decide to say the 'potency' was hidden from view, or was some kind of 'hidden variable', then kindly tell me how you know that?"

I honestly don't see what could possibly be unclear about this. If a big red ball genuinely emerges causally from the interaction of two blue balls, then the two balls were able to combine to make one red ball, and whatever that "ability" consists of, they must have had it before they were combined; the ability to generate redness, and therefore the potency/potentiality of redness. must already have been part of their nature. Were that not the case, the cause of the red ball would be, or at least involve, something other than just the two blue balls and the causal power to produce the big red ball would lie at least partly elsewhere.

We're talking about causal powers here, of course, not a secret redness "hidden" inside of blue balls. If you don't accept the existence of real causal powers, then your own account of emergent properties may be non-causal. But either way, the argument is metaphysical.

"And, oh, btw, how might you describe the whole event, especially if the blue balls were scattered out VERY FAR. from each other and two came together only once in a blue moon by 'chance': wouldn't you call that 'an unlikely accident'?"

I might call their encountering one another at all an unlikely accident, but I probably wouldn't describe the causal generation of the red ball that way.

If I did, it would be in some context other than the present discussion, where the metaphysical point at issue is why naturalists can't "easily bite the bullet and claim that development of consciousness was a freak accident" and nothing else. In the sense required by this response, I don't think it is.

Scott said...

Moreover, I would say that no matter where the red ball "comes from" causally, redness itself must have existed at least as a possibility, even before the interaction occurred. There may well have been some object that was really and truly the first "red" object in the entire history of the physical universe. But I don't know how to deny that in that case, some. sort of potential or potency for redness must have been there all along; it just hadn't been expressed or actualized yet.

Even if I wanted to deny the existence of causal powers altogether (which I don't), I'd probably still think it existed as some sort of abstract or timeless logical possibility.

c emerson said...

@anon, Eduardo & Scott,
> If you don't accept the existence of real causal powers, then your own account of emergent properties may be non-causal. But either way, the argument is metaphysical.

Yes, either way the sudden, never-seen-before appearance of REDness would seem to require a metaphysical proposition (MP). (This would be true, of course, even if there was a testable scientific theory that tested positive as an explanation for REDness in this situation, but bear with me for a moment).

AT metaphysics:
MP #1. ALL never-before-seen properties of material objects have causes outside of that which is changing.
MP #2. For any property of a material object to come into being, the potential for that property to come into being already exists outside of that which is changing.
MP #3. All such causes and said potential will be located within the existing material world and not outside of it.
MP #4. Such causes and potential may be the result of combining more than one cause and more than one potential (principle of proportionate causality).

Do I have that right? If not, let me know. Now ....

Non-AT metaphysics:
MP #1. ALL never-before-seen properties of material objects have causes outside of that which is changing.
MP #5. All such causes will be located outside of the existing material world and not within it.

Now tell me, what logic defeats the Non-AT metaphysics and requires the AT metaphysics to be true?

[Note: I am avoiding the question of uncaused events for now to simplify the distinction].

c emerson said...

Just for clarity, in my hypothetical Non-AT MP #5 (which replaces AT MP #2 thru 4), the phrase "All such causes" refers only to the 'emergence' of 'never-before-seen' properties of material objects (such as my REDness example). It does not refer to any other cause (like gravity or billiard ball collisions, etc, where no new properties 'emerge'. That was probably obvious but I just want to limit my hypothetical out-of-this-world non-AT metaphysical system to just so-called 'emergent' properties. [Must travel all day tomorrow by car, so will respond to any posts as soon as I can later]. Peace

Eduardo said...

I think MP#1 is correct.

MP#2 seems incorrect, the potential doesn't have to exist outside, it can exist just in the object that will change. Like object A has potential A, B and unkown potential C. This also seems to talk about virtual properties that I have no idea where to begin talking about it man XD.

MP#3 seems incorrect too, because all the potencies exist in God's mind, hence the basis of all being.

MP#4 seems to be within A-T I think...

----------------------------------------------------

I think this has something to do with the metaphysical work aquinas and aristotle did, the reason must be there.

c emerson said...

@Eduardo,
I noticed your post just as I was getting ready to shut down. Your comment about MP #3 I can accept, by restricting MP #3 to after the (AT postulated) creation event. Unless I am wrong, AT holds that God does not actively interact in the material world (with the exception of infrequent miracles), so I hereby restrict MP #3 to the post-creation situation and excluding any miracle situations.

I must think about your comment about MP #2 awhile. If the potency for REDness can be in the object that forms as a result of two objects coming together without that potency existing in the two objects prior to that, then that seems like a form of 'emergence' all by itself - ie, emergence of the potency rather than emergence of the now visible property. [I will ponder that; must sign-off, but thnx for the post].

Eduardo said...

God's interaction is just different in A-T.

This is even more complicated XD, then the rest I think.

Anonymous said...

"Unless I am wrong, AT holds that God does not actively interact in the material world (with the exception of infrequent miracles), so I hereby restrict MP #3 to the post-creation situation and excluding any miracle situations."

I'm not an expert, but I think A-T would argue that God is always "interacting" or "doing" in some way because God is maintaining the existence of things. Feser might have blogged about it before, and I know he has a paper on "Existential Intertia." I also think he provided a link where it could be read for free, but I can't remember the details. "Keeping things real" sounds like a "full-time job."

Anonymous said...

Typo, I meant "Existential Inertia"