Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Aquinas’s Fifth Way in Nova et Vetera


My article “Between Aristotle and William Paley: Aquinas’s Fifth Way” appears in the latest issue (Vol. 11, No. 3) of Nova et Vetera.  The article is fairly long and is by far the most detailed exposition and defense of the Fifth Way I’ve yet given, going well beyond what I say about it in The Last Superstition and Aquinas

The section titles will give a sense of what the article covers:

I. Introduction

II. Nature versus Art

III. Aristotle contra Anaxagoras and Plato

IV. From William of Ockham to William Paley

V. Aquinas’s Middle Position: First Stage

VI. Aquinas’s Middle Position: Second Stage

VII. Thomism versus the “Design Argument”

VIII. Immanent Teleology in Contemporary Philosophy

13 comments:

Martin said...

Not again! Arrrrrghhh! All these articles and no way to read them! Or, there is, but one must spend $50,000,000,000 per article to do so!

There must be another way!

zmikecuber said...

@Martin

My thoughts exactly.

If I could pull out the cash and physically get it in a book form or something, I wouldn't have second thoughts, because I'd be happy to help the good Professor...Maybe it's just because I don't like buying online unless I really have to. Ah well..

Peter DO Smith said...

I also detest paywalls, which seem so contrary to the spirit of openness that ushered in the Internet.

I suspect though that this is a device to exclude riffraff like the atheist fundamentalists who only poison the discourse.

Chris Burgwald said...

I was happy to see this article when I got my copy of NetV a week or so ago... it prompted me to find your Philosophia Christi article on teleology (also well done, fwiw).

These and some other things I've been reading of late have solidified my philosophical concerns with the ID movement. I laud them for raising some good questions about neo-Darwinism, but -- as you indicate -- they seem to presume the same mechanistic philosophy of nature, objections to the contrary notwithstanding.

zmikecuber said...

I was recently discussing the fifth way, and ran across this weird objection...

First of all, I presented the argument thus:

P1: If causal regularities exist, then finality exists.
P2: If finality exists, then either the form of the intended effect is included in the cause, or exists in an intellect which directs causes towards their effects.
P3: Causal regularities exist.
P4: The form of the intended effect is not included in the cause.
.'. There exists an intellect which directs causes towards their effects.

Is this a correct formulation of the argument?

The objection goes something like this...

" the world has encoded lots of A -> B, in the form of physical law. So when anyone causes A, then the material world knows A -> B, then produces from it the event B...to say the laws are in the thing in someway is different to saying that events are inside each other...But even a naturalist could agree with that. But they just minds as another type of mind less machine... you do not really need a mind to make sure casual relations hold. Well no for the program that counts through programs, it would produce a program where bricks thrown at windows produce anything and everything... including breaking the window as in our reality."

I was rather confused at this point and didn't quite understand the objection or know what to say, but the objection seems to be... Why can't the "director" just be a naturalistic, mindless director, which unintentionally creates causal regularities?

If this is a stupid question, please forgive my ignorance... I was thoroughly confused myself, but it seems to attack premise 2.

PatrickH said...

zmike,

Sounds like the multiverse evasion. I am not sure what else to make of the phrase "...the program that counts through programs... would produce a program where bricks thrown at windows produce anything... including... our reality."

zmikecuber said...

Patrick,

It reminded me of something like that too, but he didn't really make it clear, and didn't even specify which premise he attacked... In fact now that I think of it sometimes it sounded like he was agreeing and sometimes disagreeing. Due to this confusion, I'm not entirely sure if his objection was even a valid one.

Bobby Bambino said...

Professor Feser,

Are there page numbers for this article yet? I'd like to request it through my school's interlibrary loan, but they need page numbers and the contents of V11 I3 does not seem to be on Nova et Vetera. Would this also be 2013? Thank you.

Anonymous said...

Profeser,

i have an aporia to register, after having read your article.

one of the main distinctions between natural and artificial things is that the former have an internal or immanent principle of motion and rest, i.e., of their characteristic activities, while the latter do not. this is what Aristotle says 'nature' is at II.1.192b9-23 of the Physics.

however, at VIII.4.255b30-1, in order to secure the universality of the 'everything in motion is moved by another' premise, he reaches the conclusion that, at least in the case of non-living natural things, 'nature' is a principle not of their motions/activities but rather of their passivity, i.e., a principle of their being able to suffer motion (or, more generally, be affected).

the problem then is that distinction between such (presumably natural) things and artificts collapses; for the latter just as much as the former have a principle of being affected in various ways.

Scott said...

Sorry, I'm not understanding the problem here. Of course living things can be "moved unnaturally" (passively); Aristotle even says so himself in the second passage you've cited. That doesn't mean they don't also "have in themselves a principle of motion or change" that non-living things lack. Can you elaborate on what the problem is supposed to be?

Anonymous said...

Scott,

sorry, let me clarify.

the problem isn't that living things don't also have a principle of motion/action(they clearly do). the problem is that, if the internal principle of motion of non-living natural things just means their capacity to be affected (i.e., not their capacity to act), as Aristotle argues at VIII.4, then the distinction between such things and artificial things collapses. for the latter just as much as the former have a principle of being affected in various ways.

Scott said...

Okay, I think I see your point. Thanks for clarifying.

I don't think the distinction quite collapses, though. An artifact wouldn't have a single internal principle of motion because it isn't a unified "thing" (substance) in the first place; "it" would just have all the principles of its parts. A non-living natural substance, by contrast, would have a single such principle.

I do grant you that that leaves us with a difficult question about when something counts as a "natural substance" rather than just an assemblage of such substances. I'd expect that to be a relatively unimportant empirical question, though.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

"[...] An artifact wouldn't have a single internal principle of motion because it isn't a unified "thing" (substance) in the first place; "it" would just have all the principles of its parts. A non-living natural substance, by contrast, would have a single such principle."

but that's not what Aristotle says accounts for the difference between an artifact and a (non-living) natural substance at II.1 and VIII.4. in both places doesn't seem to say anything about how many such principles each has but only that in the case of the latter, its internal principle of motion is a principle not of causing its (distinctive) motions/activities but rather of suffering motion. in this regard it would seem to be no different than an artifact.