Sunday, May 3, 2015

Animal souls, Part II


Recently, in First Things, David Bentley Hart criticized Thomists for denying that there will be non-human animals in Heaven.  I responded in an article at Public Discourse and in a follow-up blog post, defending the view that there will be no such animals in the afterlife.  I must say that some of the responses to what I wrote have been surprisingly… substandard for readers of a philosophy blog.  A few readers simply opined that Thomists don’t appreciate animals, or that the thought of Heaven without animals is too depressing.

Do I really need to explain what is wrong with this?  Apparently I do.  First, for one to deny that there will be non-human animals in the afterlife simply doesn’t entail that one must not appreciate the beauty of a horse or the cleverness of a dolphin or be capable of affection for dogs, cats, or other pets.  That’s a blatant non sequitur.  Second, that some might find the thought of Heaven without animals upsetting simply doesn’t entail that there will be animals in Heaven.  That’s a subjectivist fallacy -- a fallacy of mistaking one’s desire for something to be true for a reason to think it is true.  Third, I gave arguments in defense the claims that there will not be non-human animals in Heaven, and that this won’t bother us in the least when we’re in Heaven.  A rational and grown-up response would be to try to show what, if anything, is wrong with the arguments, rather than to pout and accuse Thomists of being mean.

Did I really need to explain that?

But there were more serious objections too.  For example, some readers pointed out that even if, as Thomists argue, the specific individual animals we know in this life cannot survive into the afterlife, it doesn’t follow that there will be no animals at all in heaven.  Now, this is true as far as it goes, though it’s hard to see how it could satisfy the emotions that lead many to want to believe there will be animals in Heaven.  If what you’re worried about is that you’ll never see your beloved dog Spot again, what does it matter if there’ll be some other dog in heaven, even one who looks and acts a lot like Spot?  You’d still never see Spot himself again.

But leave that problem aside, for there is another problem with the objection in question.  Even if there could in theory be non-human animals in Heaven, why should we suppose that there will in fact be any?  Some readers appealed to biblical passages in support of this supposition.  Hart did the same thing in his article, even accusing Thomists of placing the authority of Aquinas over that of scripture.  What he had in mind are passages like the reference in Isaiah 11 to wolves lying down with lambs, etc. 

But as Hart well knows, it is no use appealing to purported proof texts from biblical passages that are highly poetical in style, as that passage from Isaiah certainly is.  Otherwise we’d have to say, absurdly, that God literally has eyes and eyelids (as Psalm 11:4 would imply on a literal reading), nostrils and lungs with which he breathes (Job 4:9), and so on.  The same passage from Isaiah also speaks of babies and children frolicking with the animals.  So are we to suppose that there will be babies born, and children raised, in Heaven?  Yet as I pointed out in my Public Discourse article, Christ tells us that those in Heaven “neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matthew 22:30).  So where are all these babies and children supposed to come from?  (I imagine Hart would agree that fornication wouldn’t be permissible in Heaven any more than it is in this life.) 

Obviously, the biblical references to animals, no less than to babies, children, and divine eyelids and nostrils, are intended as merely poetical descriptions.  They give us no reason to think that there will literally be animals in Heaven. 

And what would be the point of there being non-human animals in Heaven?  It can’t be that we will miss the animals otherwise, because if we’d miss any animals at all, it would be those to which we are especially attached in this life.  And again, the Thomist argues on metaphysical grounds that those particular animals certainly can’t exist in the afterlife.  Furthermore, as I pointed out in the Public Discourse article, Christ’s own teaching implies that we won’t miss romance, lovemaking, and the psychological and bodily pleasures that go along with them.  Those are not only much more intense pleasures than those we get from interaction with animals, but they are much higher pleasures, because of their interpersonal character.  Sexual love involves a unique fusion of our corporeal nature with our higher intellectual and social nature, by which the spiritual union of two rational souls can find an intimate bodily expression.  If we won’t miss even that, then it is quite absurd to think we’ll miss playing Frisbee with Spot.

Some readers suggested that the reason there would have to be animals in the afterlife is that animals are good, and that God would not fail to preserve what is good.  But there are a couple of serious problems with this argument.  First, it would prove too much.  In particular, it would entail that God will preserve forever anything that is good.  But we know that that is not the case.  Again, marriage is good, but we have it on Christ’s own authority that marriage will not exist in the afterlife.  So, if this good will not be preserved in Heaven, why would a lower good like non-human animals be preserved?

Second, the supposition that non-human animals constitute a good too great not to exist in Heaven seems to rest on sentimentality borne of contemplating too selective a diet of examples. One meditates on the beauty of a horse or the faithfulness of a Labrador and asks “How could these creatures not exist in Heaven?”  But suppose instead we meditate on a fly as it nibbles on a pile of fecal matter, or a tapeworm as it works its way through an intestine, or a botfly larva pushing its breathing tube through the human skin in which it has embedded itself, or lice or ticks or bacteria or any of the many other repulsive creatures that occupy our world alongside horses, dogs, and the like.  These creatures are, in their own ways, no less good than the ones we are prone to sentimentalize.  But one suspects that those who insist that horses and dogs will exist in Heaven would be less certain that these other creatures will make it.  Flies munching on feces just doesn’t seem heavenly.  But what principled reason could one give for the judgment that there will be dogs but not flies in Heaven, if the purported reason for supposing that the former will be there is that they are good and God will forever preserve whatever is good?

Nor is this merely a matter of competing intuitions about the relative goodness of different animals (and appeal to intuition is not an argument strategy I would ever recommend).  Which brings me to a third point.  Given their nature, the good of living things is achieved at the expense of the good of other creatures.  It’s bad for the gazelle when the lion kills it, but it’s good for the lion.  It’s bad for the lamb when a tapeworm gets into its intestines, but it’s good for the tapeworm.  It’s bad for an animal when tuberculosis bacteria infect its lungs, but it’s good for the bacteria.  And so forth. 

Of course, some will appeal once again to the biblical passage about the wolf lying down with the lamb, arguing that God will miraculously cause creatures to survive without having to harm other creatures in the process.  So, will the tapeworm also lie down with the lamb?  Will the tubercle bacillus lie down with the lung?  But what on earth will tapeworms and tuberculosis bacteria be doing for eternity if they can’t get themselves into any other creature’s intestines or lungs, respectively?  What would be the point of forever keeping these things in existence when they would be prevented from acting in accordance with their nature and thus prevented from realizing what is good for them? 

It is no good to respond that God will change the natures of these things so that the activities in question won’t any longer be good for them.  This is muddleheaded, because the nature of a thing is what makes it the kind of thing it is, so that if you “change” its nature, you’re changing the kind of thing it is.   Hence if you “change the nature” of a tapeworm so that it no longer is naturally oriented toward invading intestines, you’re not really talking about tapeworms anymore, but some other kind of thing that only superficially resembles tapeworms.  In which case it isn’t really tapeworms that God would be preserving forever after all -- which defeats the whole purpose of the argument that God will preserve whatever is good.

So, the biblical passages in question, which are highly poetical anyway, should not be taken to be literal descriptions of the afterlife, any more than talk of God’s breath or nostrils should be taken literally.  And thus there simply are no good scriptural arguments, any more than there are good philosophical arguments, for judging that non-human animals will exist in the afterlife.

178 comments:

Daniel said...

Hart clearly rejects the Thomist account of soul-body relationship re the Intellectual Soul so is there any point in continuing this polemic until he lays his cards on the table and gives his own account?

Anonymous said...

The absence of marriage and sexuality has a specific explanation--God will have decided that there need be no more new human persons. But this does not make it unreasonable to suppose that heaven, like earth, will include subpersonal realities that contribute to the fulfillment of persons.If it is probable, for example, that we will perceive and appreciate purely material objects of beauty and utility (such appreciations seeming closely tied to our bodily nature, however transfigured) why not also suppose that we can contemplate objects with the additional excellence of animation? I suppose you could say that in heaven there will be nothing material that is not intimately connected to something personal, but that seems as much a sheer guess as its contrary.

In any case, I cannot understand Hart's passion on this point, which clearly does not matter. Heaven will not disappoint without animals, nor would their presence somehow mar the very idea of heaven. He needs to relax.

Banshee said...

Are we supposed to be taking "Heaven" and "the afterlife" as equivalent? Are we talking about "after the general resurrection and the general judgment, with the new heaven and the new earth" as being exactly the same as "in heaven without a body"?

My impression was that these things weren't all the same thing. Otherwise, Prudentius' hymn about the joyful reunion of soul with body was kinda a waste of time, right?

Also, if all Creation is groaning until it can be redeemed, what's the point if God then kills all Creation off, never to be seen again except in its representative, Humanity?

Clearly, something more than just humans is going to be present on the new earth. I'm not going to insist on bumper grape crops or anything specific here (a la St. Irenaeus' chiliasts), but the peaceable kingdom/Messianic kingdom imagery of the prophecies isn't really all that weird.

And if TB bacillus had some way to get along in Eden, presumably God will have at least as much of a place (or even better) for the redeemed TB that He had for the unfallen, Edenic TB.

Daniel said...

@Banshee,

One could argue that there is no problem in pathogens and parasites going about their normal lifestyle in the rest of the animal kingdom, just not with humanity, the representatives of which will have glorified bodies.

Banshee said...

Also, since humans were the ones who sinned and messed up Creation, but animals, plants, rocks, etc. all fell because of us, I would think that the redemption of Creation and its existence as the new earth would be an example of Christ's just judgment.

Obviously animals, plants, rocks, etc. can't have suffered as much from the Fall as humans did, but they were clearly wronged by us; and God would logically behave with generous justice and mercy toward them also. Since we don't see the wrongs of Creation being righted as of yet (except in minor cases as of saints showing righteous dominion over animals, and Jesus commanding fish and the waves and wind), this must be reserved for after the general judgment.

Jakub Moravčík said...

Also, if all Creation is groaning until it can be redeemed, what's the point if God then kills all Creation off, never to be seen again except in its representative, Humanity?

Very good point.

By the way, have anyone here read this book - and if so, could (s)he give his/her personal opinion on it?

Tyrrell McAllister said...

You make a good case that you aren't obliged to believe, on Thomistic principles, that Spot will be in heaven. And I think that I get the argument that, within Thomism, there is no known mechanism by which God could reincarnate Spot after his death.

But do you also claim to know with certainty that no unknown mechanism could exist for reincarnating Spot? If so, I don't see what could justify that certainty.

The argument, as I understand it, runs thus:

(1) All of Spot's observed operations are material. (In particular, Spot doesn't reason.)

(2) Therefore, Spot has no nonmaterial "component" that could survive his death.

(3) Therefore, even were God to make a dog indistinguishable from Spot after Spot's death, there would be nothing to "tie" that new dog to the pre-death Spot. There would be nothing in virtue of which the new dog would be Spot. Even God himself cannot simply declare the new dog to be Spot.

(4) Therefore, Spot is gone forever once he dies.

If this is your argument, then what justifies the inference from (1) to (2)? How can you be sure that Spot doesn't have unobserved nonmaterial operations? Let it be granted that there is no reason to believe that such operations exist. Nonetheless, that alone doesn't warrant certainty that they don't exist, does it?

For example, perhaps, for all we know, Spot has a nonmaterial operation consisting precisely in his ability to survive death. Naturally, this would mean that, like a person, Spot has a nonmaterial component. (I'll call such nonmaterial components "spirits", though I realize that I'm probably, out of ignorance, misusing the theological terminology.) Unlike a person's spirit, Spot's spirit doesn't confer the ability to reason. However, like a person's spirit, Spot's spirit can serve as a store of Spot's identity after his death.

Indeed, perhaps storing Spot's identity post-death is very nearly the only operation of Spot's spirit. Perhaps, after death, Spot's spirit just passively stores his identity, without engaging in any other operations. Perhaps the spirit consists only of whatever minimal metaphysical "stuff" is required for a nonmaterial thing to exist and store Spot's identity without being joined to Spot's body at the time. Then, in heaven, God adjoins a material dog body to Spot's spirit. The resulting dog is a perfected dog, once again possessing both the body and the spirit that is proper to a complete dog. Moreover, this dog is still Spot because it's spirit is numerically identical to the spirit that Spot originally had.

Again, let it be granted that I've given no evidence whatsoever for believing that Spot has such a spirit. Granted that none of Spot's observed activities indicate that he is capable of any nonmaterial operations at all. Granting all this, how can the possibility of unobserved operations be ruled out, or even dismissed with strong confidence? Perhaps Spot's one nonmaterial operation — namely, surviving death — just happens to be impossible for us to observe until we meet Spot again on the other side.

[Full disclosure: I'm a materialist. I'm just trying to understand your argument from within the Thomist point of view.]

Jakub Moravčík said...

So are we to suppose that there will be babies born, and children raised, in Heaven? Yet as I pointed out in my Public Discourse article, Christ tells us that those in Heaven “neither marry nor are given in marriage” (Matthew 22:30). So where are all these babies and children supposed to come from?

I think that the reply is simple. Where did Adam and Eve come from? Directly from God´s creational act (which leads me to the side question: if there, in the reservoire of possible worlds, are also "some other possible first people" (instead of A+E). If origin essentialism is true - I hope it isn´t - then it seems that there aren´t). And so God could create new persons directly by his creational act. Second question is, of course, why he would do it and if such a theses hasn´t any problems - I admit it has. But it leads me anyway to next question, what is the purpose of creating so many spontaneously-aborted babies and so such a filling of limbo (if it exists). I know it´s already far away from original topic but it led me to it. Well, maybe there wouldn´t be any spontaneous abortion if original sin wouldn´t have been committed ...

Jakub Moravčík said...

So, will the tapeworm also lie down with the lamb? Will the tubercle bacillus lie down with the lung? But what on earth will tapeworms and tuberculosis bacteria be doing for eternity if they can’t get themselves into any other creature’s intestines or lungs, respectively? What would be the point of forever keeping these things in existence when they would be prevented from acting in accordance with their nature and thus prevented from realizing what is good for them?

But I think that the same could be said about for example human genitals - their nature (to urinate and be active in sexual intercourse) will be completely kept away from being functional, but AFAIK, St. Thomas in fourth book of ScG says that our glorified bodies will have the genitals, although not functional. This seems to me as much less logical reply then to simply say that we won´t have them in heaven

Keen Reader said...

I think the biggest problem with Feser-heaven is that it's literally impossible to imagine.

Jakub Moravčík said...

And one more speculative point. Is it really sure - from the theological point of view - that tapeworms and tuberculosis bacteria would exist haven´t the original sin been commited? If no then there - at least theoretically - couldn´t necessary be a problem with dogs and cats existing in heaven and tapeworms not.

Keen Reader said...

To take an example of ill-thought-out Feser-heaven:

"Consider this. Christ tells us that there will not be marriage in Heaven, and the clear implication is that there will not be romance or sexual intercourse, either. Young people find it difficult to understand how we could fail to miss all of this, and anyone with an amorous disposition can sympathize. But, in fact, we will not miss it. That’s the thing about the beatific vision: it rather leaves everything else in its dust. And I submit that if you won’t miss sex when you’re in Heaven, it’s a safe bet that you’re not going to give much thought to Fido either."

Disappointingly, there's a lot of assertion here but almost no argument.

Scott said...

@Keen Reader:

Disappointingly, there's a lot of assertion here but almost no argument.

Does this help?

1. Christ tells us there will be no marriage in heaven.

2. What Christ tells us is true.

3. Therefore there will be no marriage in heaven.

4. If there is no marriage, there will be no romance or sexual intercourse.

5. Therefore there will be no romance or sexual intercourse.

6. In heaven we will enjoy the Beatific Vision.

7. When we enjoy the Beatific Vision, we will not miss what we do not have.

8. Therefore, in heaven we will not miss romance or sexual intercourse.

9. If we will not miss such great goods as romance and sexual intercourse, we will not miss such lesser goods as our relationships with our pets.

10. Therefore we will also not miss our relationships with our pets.

(10 actually follows directly from 7, of course, but Ed was making a point and not just an argument.)

Vand83 said...

So I guess we're just going to continue with the sub-standard responses then. How exciting.

Edward Feser said...

Evidently, "Keen Reader" is like the nickname "Shorty" applied to a seven foot tall man, or "Slim" applied to a fat man.

DNW said...

Keen Reader said...

I think the biggest problem with Feser-heaven is that it's literally impossible to imagine.
May 3, 2015 at 2:22 PM



Well, if it's not a matter so much of belief or affirmation as imagination, then, you could try imagining Dryhthelm's heaven by reading the account in Bede.

Or from the same thread, you could listen to Mary Neal's [apparently an orthodox Protestant Christian and orthopedic surgeon] account of her NDE.

You are not asked to believe, (at least by me) just to follow the account and to ask yourself if the imagination (or experience) of the protagonist seems impoverished in some respect by a lack of animal ornamentation.


By the way, and just to ante-up myself.

If I had ever imagined what a heaven would be, it would have as a child been the image I described in the earlier thread. Unutterably boring and rather humid like a late mass on an August Sunday, but at least fire free.

At college age it probably would have been even worse: some kind of ethereal atmosphere in which translucent prisms floated. Or something completely overwhelming.

What mystifies about some few of these NDE reports is the repeat emphasis on a hyper tangibility; and among the more normal (least neurotic) seeming Christians, the existence of a quite literal kingdom; gate-kept by a loving but in-arguably just Christ. If no Saint Peter at the gate, then many mansions, nonetheless.

That, and the terror for some, of facing what they had made of their existences; and the unalterable consequences for them should they have stayed dead.

Odd, that in some cases, uneducated modern hedonists and apostates, with only the scantest faith background in the first place, should come up with tales that so closely parallel certain Medieval ones.

The skeptic of course will say that half-grasped childhood encounters with mythology, run deeper and are more persistent than we thought.

Heaven as Candyland

http://cdn.screenrant.com/wp-content/uploads/candyland-movie-hasbro.jpg

or Oz.

But then the issue broached was framed as a matter of imagination, anyway.

DNW said...

"Disappointingly, there's a lot of assertion here but almost no argument."

Didn't you frame it only as a matter of plausible imagination?


Gotta go ... cookout

Anonymous said...

In “The Problem of Pain” (pp. 125-132 in http://www.gutenberg.ca/ebooks/lewiscs-problemofpain/lewiscs-problemofpain-00-h.html#chapter09) C.S. Lewis argues at length for animal immortality.
In his opinion it would be question of justice on the part of God.
His (not very serious) answer to the tapeworm problem: “Nor am I greatly moved by jocular inquiries such as ‘Where will you put all the mosquitoes?’—a question to be answered on it’s own level by pointing out that, if the worst came to the worst, a heaven for mosquitoes and a hell for men could very conveniently be combined.”

bmiller said...

Question to Prof. Feser or other experts regarding lions laying down with lambs.

"It is no good to respond that God will change the natures of these things so that the activities in question won’t any longer be good for them."

Since human nature will be changed in a way so radical that there will be no marriage in heaven, then isn't it possible that animal nature can be radically changed also?

Edward Feser said...

bmiller,

There are at least two problems with your proposed analogy. First, our not marrying in Heaven does not entail that human nature will be changed, any more than a priest's human nature is changed by virtue of his being celibate. Like anyone else, the priest is qua human being directed toward marriage as a natural end. It's just that that natural end is sacrificed for the sake of a higher, super-natural end. Same with the blessed in Heaven.

Second, though we are animals, we are distinctively rational animals. Rationality is our specialty, and its fulfillment is still possible even when certain lower, animal ends are left behind. By contrast, when you subtract from a tapeworm its end of invading another creature's intestines, it's hard to see what is left of the distinctively tapeworm form of life for it to pursue. Celibate human beings still live in a distinctively human-like way. Tapeworms that don't live like parasites don't live in a distinctively tapeworm-like way.

bmiller said...

Thanks Prof. Feser.

One more question.
If we have a resurrected body, similar to Christ's resurrected body it seems there were similarities and differences with our present bodies. One similarity was that Christ ate...fish for example.

If the resurrected body will eat, what is there to eat if not plants or animals?

Anonymous said...

This is Lewis's (platonic) answer to the problem of the lion and the lamb: It may even be that each species has a corporate self—that Lionhood, not lions, has shared in the travail of creation and will enter into the restoration of all things. And if we cannot imagine even our own eternal life, much less can we imagine the life the beasts may have as our ‘members’. If the earthly lion could read the prophecy of that day when he shall eat hay like an ox, he would regard it as a description not of heaven, but of hell. And if there is nothing in the lion but carnivorous sentience, then he is unconscious and his ‘survival’ would have no meaning. But if there is a rudimentary Leonine self, to that also God can give a ‘body’ as it pleases Him—a body no longer living by the destruction of the lamb, yet richly Leonine in the sense that it also expresses whatever energy and splendour and exulting power dwelled within the visible lion on this earth. I think, under correction, that the prophet used an eastern hyperbole when he spoke of the lion and the lamb lying down together. That would be rather impertinent of the lamb. To have lions and lambs that so consorted (except on some rare celestial Saturnalia of topsy-turvydom) would be the same as having neither lambs nor lions. I think the lion, when he has ceased to be dangerous, will still be awful: indeed, that we shall then first see that of which the present fangs and claws are a clumsy, and satanically perverted, imitation. There will still be something like the shaking of a golden mane: and often the good Duke will say, ‘Let him roar again’.

Edward Feser said...

Hello bmiller,

We won't eat, for the reasons Aquinas sets out in Summa Contra Gentiles:

http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles4.htm#83

(Yes, Christ ate, but for a particular special purpose, viz. to demonstrate to his disciples that he really was Christ resurrected, in the flesh, and not a mere ghost.)

Anonymous said...

Dr. Feser,

Doesn't the problem of animal suffering give us some reason to think there will be some (not all) animal species in heaven?

Trent Dougherty has recently argued for this possibility - see http://www.amazon.com/Problem-Animal-Pain-Creatures-Philosophy/dp/0230368484/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1430714465&sr=8-1&keywords=trent+dougherty

Anonymous said...

"I think the biggest problem with Feser-heaven is that it's literally impossible to imagine."

Does it not seem to you that the imagination, in its highest operations, is essentially symbolic? Compare the lowest operation of the imagination in mere memory and particular fancy with the highest use of the imagination in abstract and mathematical reasoning. To be most clear, observe the imagination in its use of certain symbolic images to represent general concepts or universals. The symbolic function of the imagination certainly seems to me to outshine the mere capacity to signify concrete particulars.

To use an old saying, "No one wishes to hear about that which they've already seen". Similarly, I would not wish to be capable of simply imagining my eternal end.

Greg said...

@ Tyrell

If this is your argument, then what justifies the inference from (1) to (2)?

I think we are assuming that we have a pretty good understanding of the powers of animals, and then applying the principle of parsimony. In a way, Professor Feser did answer your questions. If you grant that it would be entirely gratuitous to suppose that non-human animals really have subsistent souls, why are you still focusing on animals? If you concede that the immortality of animal souls would rest on something totally unrelated to their nature, then trees and stones might also have immortal souls, and the "argument from sentiment" lends the position no support.

Moreover, unless you have a whopping a priori argument for materialism, your argument would show that non-human animals possibly survive death even on materialism.

Pater Edmund said...

I agree with everything in this post. But, to play devils advocate for a moment. Consider the following passage of the Contra Gentiles (II,45):

« Since every agent intends to introduce its likeness into its effect, in the measure that its effect can receive it, the agent does this the more perfectly as it is the more perfect itself; obviously, the hotter a thing is, the hotter its effect, and the better the craftsman, the more perfectly does he put into matter the form of his art. Now, God is the most perfect agent. It was His prerogative, therefore, to induce His likeness into created things most perfectly, to a degree consonant with the nature of created being. But created things cannot attain to a perfect likeness to God according to only one species of creature. For, since the cause transcends the effect, that which is in the cause, simply and unitedly, exists in the effect in composite and multiple fashion—unless the effect attain to the species of the cause; which cannot be said in this case, because no creature can be equal to God. The presence of multiplicity and variety among created things was therefore necessary that a perfect likeness to God be found in them according to their manner of being. »

One could argue that since a multiplicity of creatures with different grades of being is good, it would be fitting if there were sentient non-rational creatures in heaven. These would not be the same animals as the ones we knew on earth, but they would be like (Like CSL's glorified lion), creatures which manifested all the perfections of the animals we know. (Presumably there would only be one per species, since they would be immortal).

An article in the Aquinas Review made this argument:

« When the world receives its new and eternal form it will be related to man in his new, resurrected state. The new form of the world will be a function of its new relation to man. Because the human body will be incorruptible, the practical services of matter will no longer be required. Man will not need to sustain himself through digestion and nourishment, nor will he need shelters to protect himself from an inclement environment. If, then, the purpose of the material world was merely to sustain man’s natural, bodily life, the physical universe would seem unnecessary after the resurrection. The enduring purpose of the cosmos must therefore be contemplative rather than practical. And the material world, being something less noble than man, is a proper object of contemplation insofar as it reflects or manifests something higher than man. Such was the motivation of Aristotle in his study of nature. “For,” he wrote, “if some [animals] have no graces to charm the sense, yet even these, by disclosing to intellectual perception the artistic spirit that designed them, give immense pleasure to all who can trace links of causation. . . . Every realm of nature is marvelous: and as Heraclitus, when the strangers who came to visit him found him warming himself at the furnace in the kitchen and hesitated to go in, is reported to have bidden them not to be afraid to enter, as even in that kitchen divinities were present; so we should venture on the study of every kind of animal without distaste; for each and all will reveal to us something natural and something beautiful.” »

Again, I think you are right, Prof. Feser, but I would be interested in hearing your answer to the above objection.

Daniel said...

It's at times like this that I wish this were a message board rather than a blog. Let it be announced that I intend to start a Quentin Smith 'But what about the Bambi deer!?' meme.

Given their nature, the good of living things is achieved at the expense of the good of other creatures. It’s bad for the gazelle when the lion kills it, but it’s good for the lion. It’s bad for the lamb when a tapeworm gets into its intestines, but it’s good for the tapeworm. It’s bad for an animal when tuberculosis bacteria infect its lungs, but it’s good for the bacteria.

By contrast, when you subtract from a tapeworm its end of invading another creature's intestines, it's hard to see what is left of the distinctively tapeworm form of life for it to pursue. Celibate human beings still live in a distinctively human-like way. Tapeworms that don't live like parasites don't live in a distinctively tapeworm-like way.

Ed, please do the world a favour - stop talking about Hart and start applying this logic to Draper and disciples crudely anthropomorphic 'Problems of Animal Suffering'? The 'these animals as icky' version of the POE is a typical example of modern over-blown emotivist rhetoric. I remember (this was long before I became a theist) reading Darwin's 'how could a benevolent God create a parasitic wasp which lays its eggs in live caterpillars?' and thinking 'Charles, you really are being a soppy Victorian moron in this instance, as a zoologist should know full well that a good wasp is one that successfully for fills its nature'.

Greg said...

@ Daniel

John Haldane develops a response to POE of that form in his book-length dialogue with JJC Smart.

Daniel said...

@Greg,

Cool, thanks for the info there (not normally a fan of published debates but I need to get that book at some point).

Irenist said...

Professor Feser, with his usual gift for lucidity, has made the reasons there cannot be irrational animals in Heaven quite plain.

But I think Banshee's point that it is important to distinguish Heaven in particular from the afterlife generally is important.

My understanding is that Heaven is where the souls of the just dwell until they take up glorified resurrection bodies at the Last Judgment.

I have always speculated (and frankly, assumed) that after the Last Judgment, the glorified resurrected saints will preside over a New Jerusalem that is some sort of restored Eden.

While of course there cannot be irrational creatures in Heaven, because it is immaterial, I had always assumed that glorified irrational animals and plants of some kind or other would be part of the new creation in Christ.

However, I am open to correction on this point. Can any Thomists tell me what, if any, the orthodox view is of this matter?

Anonymous said...

It sounds like Hart and his defenders on this point are just interested in "Creature Comforts" in heaven (pun intended)

Anonymous said...

Hi Professor Feser,
I agree with you that animals don’t have subsistent souls. But when it comes to resurrection, why couldn’t the continued existence of the animal’s soul/form in the Divine Mind and perhaps, as Lewis suggests, in the mind of its owner, be enough to guarantee the continuity between the living animal and the resurrected one? Then on death the animal would cease to exist as an ens reale but continue as an ens rationis, ready to be reconnected to it’s earthly matter. That is, of course, if it so pleases God.
Maybe this would be more a re-creation than a resurrection. But then, a resurrection too isn’t a simple “get up and walk”.

Greg said...

@ Daniel

Yeah, there is a lot of interesting material in that book. Unfortunately it is somewhat characteristic of Haldane that he offers suggestive sketches rather than full-blown accounts, so a lengthier treatment by Professor Feser would be nice.

John West said...

Anonymous,

Maybe this would be more a re-creation than a resurrection. But then, a resurrection too isn’t a simple “get up and walk”.

I can't speak for Professor Feser, but I think that's right and that it would be creation of a new entity, too.

Consider unicorns (or Pegasus, if you prefer). One sometimes hears people claim that “unicorns” exist. Until, upon insisting this is not so and pressing them for flesh and blood details, they say it's the mental unicorn-idea that exists, but a mental entity is not what people are talking about when denying that unicorns exist.

In On What There Is , Quine points out that this type of error becomes clearer when we ask people to think of entities like the Parthenon. No one “confuses the Parthenon and the Parthenon-idea. The Parthenon is physical; the Parthenon-idea is mental [...] The Parthenon is visible; the Parthenon-idea is invisible. We cannot easily imagine two things more unlike, and less liable to confusion, than the Parthenon and the Parthenon-idea.”

Similarly, a mental entity is not what Thomists have in mind when they say one's pet will cease to exist, and therefore as a matter of logic the pet cannot later be resurrected. In fact, if it were possible for the pet to also exist in minds for continuity, I think that would imply that during its life one's pet exists simultaneously in your mind, the mind of God, and concretely, in three different places at once. If the pet had multiple owners, he could even thereby be stretched across China, Europe, Saudi Arabia, and the US.

John West said...

Urgh. Omit the comma: "[...] exist and therefore [...]"

Scott said...

John West: If the pet had multiple owners, he could even thereby be stretched across China, Europe, Saudi Arabia, and the US.

Anyone out there not already familiar with Jorge Luis Borges's "Tlön, Uqbar, Orbis Tertius" should Google the word hrönir. ;-)

DNW said...

Arguments on the nature of "souls" aside ...

From an emotional perspective, animals, especially pets or anthropomorphized creatures, are instances of what phenomenon, in human beings? Whence the urge?

Hypothetically, as instances of a certain human lack, or neediness, or privation; which finds partial and compensatory fulfillment through the presence and company of brutes ...

Or perhaps even inanimate objects or art works,

Where does granting this premiss lead?

Do we ask: what is the value of any potential afterlife without the presence of a Game Boy?

Extrapolate the rest for yourself.



A little humorous perspective. We wuv our kittys so vewy vewy much.

http://www.cracked.com/article/226_6-adorable-cat-behaviors-with-shockingly-evil-explanations/

DNW said...



I must say that some of the responses to what I wrote have been surprisingly… substandard ...

I think we've just been graded.

Back to the books I guess.

Thursday said...

J. Budziszewski has argued, in response to our host's original article, that traditional Thomist arguments only show that animals are not by nature immortal. But he says this doesn't preclude God from specially preserving them.

Thursday said...

1. It isn't terribly hard to find rational justifications for our intuition that the lion is a nobler beast than the tapeworm. Indeed, one could make a case that things like tapeworms and flies are only a very limited good (at best) in a fallen world. Other beasts, like lions and dogs, not so.
2. Since we will retain our sexual organs in our resurrected bodies even though we won't use them, I see no reason why a lion couldn't retain it's fangs, claws, etc. in the new earth without using them.
2a. A lion needs to hunt and feed on other animals to preserve its existence in this world, but that doesn't mean that hunting and feeding on animals are the ultimate telos of the lion.

Anonymous said...

John West,

If I know, say, an apple, isn’t the form of the apple existing in concreto in re and the abstracted form of the apple existing in mente one and the same? What else would knowing be like?
Now, when I die, my soul carries on, because it is subsistent. And the individuality of its existence is guaranteed by the fact that a human soul is by its essence supposed to be united to matter and in fact has been so. But, as Thomas says, I am not my soul.
Neither do I imply that it is my dog that survives, only its form/soul, as known to God. But God doesn’t only know the form of my dog in general, as the form of the species dog, but also as an individuated form, a form which, just like the human soul, is by its essence supposed to be united to matter and in fact has been so. He also knows to which matter the form was united. Hence it would be possible for him to recreate/resurrect that individual dog.
I’m just speculating.

Anonymous said...

John West,

And if the Parthenon collapses and I restore it to its original state using the same marble blocks, could I still call it the “Parthenon”? Or would it be the creation of a new entity?
But I don’t want to discuss the Ship of Theseus.

John West said...

Anonymous,

To clarify, you're asking if, even though the substance of Fido ceases to exist, his form might somehow subsist in virtue of it in some sense having being in people's or God's mind?

George LeSauvage said...

My problems with this:

a. I entirely agree with the base argument about animals not having subsistent souls. So far, so good. Where I always draw back, though, is in assertions about what the afterlife must involve. We just don't know enough. Jesus didn't tell us much, and the Apostles - who actually spend a fair amount of time with the risen Lord, didn't pass much on. The rest of scripture doesn't give much more.

So we're left with reasoning without much to build premises on. For an example, I don't hold that there are lions and lambs in heaven. I agree, it seems to be a symbolic statement. But then again, I cannot hold that too strongly; certainly if I were to get to heaven, and find them there, I won't be shocked.

b. It makes me wonder about animal souls. Anonymous at 10:56 touched on this. I cannot but wonder if Averroes may not have been right, if not about mens' souls, but about other animals. If their souls are non-subsistent forms, then do all of a species* all have one form, and hence, one soul? If not, why not?

c. One problem - not with anything Feser has said, but with some comments here and in pt I - is that the question of anthropomorphising animals is difficult. Yes, we do make that mistake, especially with dogs. (But then, I believe one of the reasons they are our closest animal companions is that this illusion works better with them than other species.) The trouble is that usually, when someone points out this error, there is a strong tendency to make them out as machines. They aren't that, either. They are animals, and to that extent, they are like us. Just not so much like as we often delude ourselves into believing.

d. I am very glad Ed pointed this out, that there is a big difference between our feelings here (natural to us) and our beliefs. Yes, our desire to have our pets is akin to our natural desire to remain married - understandable as a feeling, but no ground for belief. One part of the answer, which has not been pointed out explicitly, is that God is in fact the final cause of all our (non-sinful) desires and affections. As such, that which we love in our spouses, pets, hobbies, etc, is ultimately and more fully in Him, in the Beatific vision. So, I don't strongly expect there is actually music in heaven, but all I love in music, from the Magic Flute, through the Mikado, down to Weird Al, is in some way in heaven. Just not as I know it here. Does this make sense?

*I mean, of course, a metaphysical
species, which is not necessarily coextensive with a biological species.

Note: My eyes can rarely handle the captcha.

George LeSauvage said...

OT point I just couldn't resist, on the ship of Theseus:

It is the consensus of naval historians, that if the design is not changed (that is, the form, in our terms), she's the same ship, USS Constitution being the paradigm here. However, if it is not, then she is different, even if the material is much the same. USS Constellation is the prime example here.

Historically, "Great Rebuilds" of this sort have had vogues. The RN relied on them under the first 2 Georges, as Commons wouldn't pay for new ships otherwise. This showed up again in Victorian times in both the US and Austria.

OK, back off my hobby-horse, with apologies to all.

Sil Rayman said...

Everything you've said aside, it seems to me that there is one huge elephant in the room which you haven't discussed; sufficiently, at least. And it is this: it is too great a logical leap to say that because animals do not have rationality that, ergo, they do not have souls destined for Heaven. Perhaps you are right, animals do not go to Heaven. You certainly make an ostensibly solid case for the Thomistic position. But until this premiss can be proven, that only we as rational animals will go to Heaven grace a rationality, your argument suffers from quite a severe aporia.

Anonymous said...

John West,

To clarify, you're asking if, even though the substance of Fido ceases to exist, his form might somehow subsist in virtue of it in some sense having being in people's or God's mind?

More or less. If I understand Thomism correctly (but maybe I don’t), substance = form + matter. An animal is animated matter or enmattered soul. If I know a substance my mind (which can be all things) and that substance are informed by one and the same form. When form and matter get separated, the substance ceases to exist.

But I wouldn’t hold that the form “subsists in virtue of it having been in people’s or in God’s mind”, but that it subsists only as long as it continues to be in that mind. So if God somehow forgets about my dog, his form would be gone.

Anonymous said...

John West,

Sorry for my poor reading skills. I see now that I misread you: “having been” for “having being”.
“Having being” is exactly what I meant. So you summarized my question admirably.

John West said...

Anonymous,

So you summarized my question admirably.

Excellent.

If all we're saying is that God can precisely duplicate Fido as Fido was at his life's end, then I suspect God can. But it seems to me duplicate-Fido is insufficient for saying that Fido himself was resurrected and has an afterlife. It would be contradictory for someone to (for example) say that something can come back into existence, as if it were merely waiting somewhere in the meantime. It no longer exists. So, I would say that as a matter of logic, God can't resurrect Fido.*

As you imply in your comment to Ed, I think re-creation is a slightly different notion from resurrection.


*This is no more a problem for God's omnipotence than is the impossibility of creating a rectangular circle.

John West said...

Said differently, the recreated Fido (previously duplicated-Fido) would be qualitatively identical, but numerically non-identical.

Anonymous said...

'But suppose instead we meditate on a fly as it nibbles on a pile of fecal matter, or a tapeworm as it works its way through an intestine, or a botfly larva pushing its breathing tube through the human skin in which it has embedded itself, or lice or ticks or bacteria or any of the many other repulsive creatures that occupy our world alongside horses, dogs, and the like.'

Also suppose that certain behaviours were not always the behaviours of the creatures. Just as thorns come after the fall, so too can parasites by the fact that their original state has been damaged. See Answers in Genesis approach to Malaria.

Anonymous said...

Dr. Feser, I love your books and your blog. Thank you for bringing the light of the A-T tradition to the modern world in such a profound and persuasive way.

But I think many of your arguments in this post are off.
I do agree that our pets will not be in heaven, that you are right to point this out, and that the desire to see one’s pets in heaven is sentimentalism.
However, I think there is a good deal of evidence that animals, though of course not the animals we know and love, will be in heaven. There’s more evidence in favor of animals being in heaven than not as I see it.
My desire to see animals in heaven is, I think, based on my desire to know the truth, and to have as correct a view as I can about eternity with Christ. I mean it’s hard to know, I guess. But I think that’s why I think it.
As regards the biblical evidence for the view, I agree that Isaiah 11 doesn’t show that animals must be in heaven. However, I think there is strong evidence elsewhere that they are.
For we are told in Revelation that there will be a new heaven and a new earth. A new earth means a new creation. And this makes sense since we will have bodies and bodies must exist in place. So God will create a new place for us.

This place then will at least have non-living creation in it. And it would not be fitting if that non-living creation were to decay, would it? Surely, God would make it so that the non-living creation would endure so that our immortal glorified bodies would have a place.
And it wouldn’t destroy the nature of this non-living creation if God were to make it eternal. It would be a grace, it would change the things in some way, but it would not make them not themselves. Not every divine improvement must change the nature of the thing. St. Albert the Great was infused with knowledge. He didn’t stop being a man.
And this place wouldn’t be ugly, I presume. That just isn’t fitting for heaven. The new earth probably wouldn’t be just dirt. But even if we were in palaces made of diamonds, there would seem to be something lacking. Why would non-living creation be privileged with eternity over living creation? If there is a new earth, wouldn’t it have plants and trees? Wouldn’t it have flowers? If the lilies of the field are arrayed in more glory than Solomon, and if God wouldn’t want the place for our bodies to be beautiful, indeed more beautiful than the old earth, wouldn’t there be plant life? It would seem rather utilitarian of God merely to have merely non-living creation exist forever because he needs it when living non-rational creation is better. I mean the New Earth should be functional, don’t get me wrong, but shouldn’t it be a bit more than that? Shouldn’t it be beautiful?

Anonymous said...

Part 2
And here’s another consideration. Isn’t there something beautiful about different plant species that manifests God’s goodness and wisdom? Don’t plants contribute something important to the hierarchy of creation, an important middle step between the non-living and man?
You can see where I’m going with this. For the same reasons it would be fitting for plant life to exist, so it would also be fitting for animal life. Indeed, all the more so.
Your analogy between marriage and sex and animals falls flat in my opinion. Marriage and sex help us perpetuate our own species. We will be immortal in heaven and won’t need to perpetuate it through generation. Why couldn’t the same follow for animals? Again, aren’t animals a beautiful intermediate step in creation? Again, creation must exist in some form for all eternity, and some of it must be not us.
Your argument that if animals were exist in heaven so must tapeworms also falls flat. You ask for a justification as to why some animals would be in heaven and not others, and then you describe vividly flies eating fecal matter. Aren’t you there appealing to the obvious ugliness of that kind of creation? Wouldn’t that be the criterion? Beauty is not subjective. This is especially true if one holds the beauty, truth, and goodness to be convertible.
Anyway, these are my thoughts. I very much respect your work, but I respectfully disagree here.
Best,
Jeff

Anonymous said...

John West,

It would be contradictory for someone to (for example) say that something can come back into existence, as if it were merely waiting somewhere in the meantime. It no longer exists.

The thing, the substance no longer exists, but its form persists, in the mind of God. So it is waiting somewhere in the meantime to be united to its matter. Take the example of the collapsed Parthenon (granted, not a substance but an accidental unity): As long as somebody knows how it was constructed, it is possible to reconstruct it.

I speculate it is just possible that the cases of the resurrected human and that of the resurrected animal are analogous. In both cases they die. The form/soul is separated from its matter. The soul persists. The soul is reunited to the matter. Only the manner of the persistence of the soul is hugely different. The human soul is subsistent and exists as a diminished substance in the afterlife. The animal form has no real existence in the afterlife, but does persist in the Divine Mind. And that makes it possible for it to reinform its matter and be resurrected of the dead.

But it is getting late, and I have to walk my dog...

John West said...

Anonymous,

I speculate it is just possible that the cases of the resurrected human and that of the resurrected animal are analogous. In both cases they die. The form/soul is separated from its matter. The soul persists.

I think this may be where the problem is. The soul is the form of the physical matter, but the physical matter does not exhaust everything of which the soul is the form. In Was Aquinas a Materialist?, Ed explains:

But there is no inconsistency, because (1) simply does not entail (2), and Aquinas would reject (2).  For in Aquinas’s view, the human soul is the form of a substance, that substance is a human being, and a human being has both corporeal and incorporeal operations.  Hence the soul is not the form of a substance which is entirely bodily or corporeal.  Rather, it is the form of a substance which is corporeal in some respects and incorporeal in others.  Now, those corporeal respects are the ones summed up in the phrase “the body.”  Hence the soul is, naturally, the form of the body.  But it simply doesn’t follow that the soul is the form of a substance which is exhausted by its body, viz. by its bodily operations.

This is why there is nothing terribly mysterious about why the soul, as Aquinas understands it, can persist beyond the death of the body.  For the substance of which the soul is the form does not go out of existence with the death of the body.  Rather, the corporeal or bodily operations of that substance cease, while the incorporeal operations continue.  To be sure, the substance in question has been severely reduced or damaged; that is why Aquinas thinks of the disembodied soul as an “incomplete substance.”  But an incomplete substance is not a non-substance.  Thus, to say that the soul persists beyond the death of the body is not to say that the form of a substance persists after the substance has gone out of existence (which certainly would be a very mysterious thing for an Aristotelian like Aquinas to say!)

John West said...

Whereas, to add to that, for animals the soul is the form of the body or physical matter, and the body does exhaust everything of which the soul is the form.

John West said...

Or, on rereading your post, maybe I'm being oversensitive towards their being different kinds of 'matter" involved in "matter".

But it is getting late, and I have to walk my dog.

For what it's worth, I also like dogs and own one. While I'm not personally convinced our souls don't at some point after death flicker out of existence, I'm okay with possible finitude.

In Marcus Aurelius, Meditations Books XI and XII at Siris, Brandon puts it better:

The final note (36), which serves as a sort of end note to the whole book, as well, speaks of the end of our life. We are given a role in life. For some it may last for five years, and for others fifty; complaining that your subplot only lasts for three acts rather than five is to miss the point of being on the stage at all. What makes us come into life also sets for us a limit of that life, and the latter is no more a matter in our hands than the former: "So depart graciously, for he who dismisses you is also gracious."

ccmnxc said...

Two totally unrelated questions, one directly pertaining to the OP and one being a bit of a tangent:

1. I believe there are instances of birds who have been put into a Skinner Box who have been conditioned to push a button so as to be given food. However, when they are put into a different box with a different button, they treat this button the same as the other by pressing it for food. Could one argue from this that birds, for example, are able to think abstractly of "button" or is it merely recognizing similarities, and if so, how can it recognize similarities without having to abstract "round" or "red/blue/yellow", etc? Because if it does form abstractions, I think that would be in conflict with the OP.

Second and rather unrelated, though still talking about souls. Could one quickly describe how the human soul does not violate the principle that "Everything that is moved is itself moved by something external to it," in its volition?

Thanks.

Scott said...

@ccmnxc:

Could one argue from this that birds, for example, are able to think abstractly of "button" or is it merely recognizing similarities, and if so, how can it recognize similarities without having to abstract "round" or "red/blue/yellow", etc?

I don't see why a bird can't use real universals in much the same way that a dog can use the geometric fact that in a Euclidean plane, a line is the shortest distance between two points. (In somewhat similar fashion, you don't have to solve a differential equation every time you catch a baseball.)

The essential thing, or so it seems to me, is that the "form" of the button in some way enters into the bird's perceptual experience. So far as I can see, it needn't abstract that form in order to respond to something else of the same or a similar form in the future.

But that's a pretty rough-and-ready answer.

Anonymous said...

John West,

The soul is the form of the physical matter, but the physical matter does not exhaust everything of which the soul is the form.

Not in the case of humans, no. But in the case of animals it does. And if anything, I would say it makes it easier to resurrect them.

When Captain Kirk is being beamed up, for a short while he ceases to exist. His matter is disintegrated, but everything what is needed to know in order to reconstruct him (form and accidents) is stored in Scotty’s computer. Now for humans this process would be clearly impossible (notwithstanding Star Trek), because the computer couldn’t possibly capture Kirks immaterial aspects. But for animals? Why not, at least in principle?

So if God knows everything there is to know about late Fido (his canine form, all his accidents and the details about the matter which was informed by these forms), he could, if it pleases Him, reconstruct/re-create/resurrect Fido. Would resurrected Fido be identical to his old self? Probably not entirely. Maybe he even would have a glorified body. And so would humans. But as in the case of the collapsed Parthenon, where I reconstruct the Parthenon specifically and not just any old Greek temple, I would say the identity is sufficient to recognize in the dog my dear old Fido.

Scott said...

Not in the case of humans, no. But in the case of animals it does.

Yes, John West has acknowledged that.

And if anything, I would say it makes it easier to resurrect them.

Whereas I would say that makes it impossible unless there's some way to preserve the form of a dead animal apart from its matter. A couple of interesting suggestions have been made as to how that form might persist after all, and there may be others. But the heart of the matter is that unless something like that is possible, once Fido dies, his form is just gone.

Would resurrected Fido be identical to his old self?

Formally, yes; numerically, no. He'd be another dog that was an exact copy of the old one.

Anonymous said...

If the beatific vision leaves "everything else in its dust," why stop at sex and Fido? Why not also assert (unproblematically) that we will have no interaction with any of our family members or friends? If it leaves everything else in its dust, then it renders everything else otiose and pointless. We won't miss human interaction, and indeed we cannot. Heaven will just be a person and his or her vision of God.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

He'd be another dog that was an exact copy of the old one.

I tend to agree. But mark that he wouldn't just be formally, but also materially identical.

...some way to preserve the form of a dead animal apart from its matter.
If the form as known and the form united to matter in a substance are one and the same, I still fail to see how this could be a problem given the persisting Divine Mind.

Jakub Moravčík said...

Anon:

If the beatific vision leaves "everything else in its dust," why stop at sex and Fido? Why not also assert (unproblematically) that we will have no interaction with any of our family members or friends? If it leaves everything else in its dust, then it renders everything else otiose and pointless. We won't miss human interaction, and indeed we cannot. Heaven will just be a person and his or her vision of God.

Exactly - this is correct reasoning of next results. That's why the part of the credo "I believe in companion of saints" is problematic and I once reformulated it as "I believe in purely arithmetical summary of totally isolated kierkegaardic individuals eternally being in absolute relation to absolute".

And it could be led even further. We may even say that we will not miss even knowing that we exist, i.e. that we even won't have consciousness. For example because consciousness is the return of reason to itself, self-intending of reason, but this could be labeled as "selfishness" or "spiritual lechery" because the part which reason devotes to itself in consciousness could be devoted to vision of God. So ontologically we will be individuals in heaven (refutation of monism or pantheism) but we will not know it, so we will not be them epistemicaly.

Daniel said...

If the Beatific Vision is a direct intuition and participation in the Divine Essence then it doesn't seem implausible that it should then be a participation in God's knowing and God's love. So one would love all those one loved before and more, the entire of Creation more (if one wants to put this in specifically Christian terms one might say that our love and communion with overs will be akin to that of the Persons of the Trinity).

And it could be led even further. We may even say that we will not miss even knowing that we exist, i.e. that we even won't have consciousness.

For us that would not be possible. To be conscious of anything is an intentional nexus of Ego-Act-Object.

For example because consciousness is the return of reason to itself, self-intending of reason, but this could be labelled as "selfishness" or "spiritual lechery" because the part which reason devotes to itself in consciousness could be devoted to vision of God.

Re 'the return of reason to itself', though we might need reflection to 'objectify' our own thoughts and mental acts we are still necessarily aware of those acts as our own as per apperception Despite what a few interpreters might say Thomas himself never denied this, and even if he did he would have just been wrong.

Daniel said...

Edit: That should read 'to know or experience anything'.

Anonymous said...

John West & Scott,

I’m still fretting whether my resurrected/re-created/reconstructed Fido really is my old dog. You say numerically it isn’t.

Now take my camping tent standing there by the river. I disassemble it. In Thomistic terms it loses its accidental form (category figura) and ceases to be an accidental unity. To the material parts (fabric, rope, poles and pegs) I assign new duties. I use the pegs for roasting satés, the poles as walking sticks and so on. There is no more tent. On my new camping site I get all this gear together and set up my tent again. I inform the material parts with the accidental form of the tent, which has been conserved in my mind all day. Numerically this would be a different tent from the one I used the night before, but materially and formally it would be the same. Should I worry about this numerical difference?

Now the case of resurrected/re-created/reconstructed Fido is of course different. Here we have not an accidental unity but a substance. I do think however that the cases are analogous, mutatis mutandis and given an all-powerful God. Saying that resurrected Fido is numerically different from the old one is just admitting that there has been a hiatus in his real being, which I never denied, anyway.

What do you think?

Brandon said...

ccmnxc,

Could one quickly describe how the human soul does not violate the principle that "Everything that is moved is itself moved by something external to it," in its volition?

Because it is moved to its end by the first mover, and everything it wills occurs within that primary movement as means to end.

Brandon said...

Anon,

If it leaves everything else in its dust, then it renders everything else otiose and pointless.

This simply doesn't follow; the Beatific Vision can't render things pointless because it literally involves the Point of everything, and it doesn't render anything otiose, any more than the existence of God renders creation otiose (and for exactly the same reasons). The reason sex and Fido are being talked about is that there is independent reason to think they might not exist in the world to come. No such independent reasons apply to family members or friends. What the Beatific Vision does render otiose is appeal to sentiment or rhetoric about how we somehow need Fido or sex in the world to come because of how we are now -- how we are now is fragmented, incomplete, and broken, but by definition in the Beatific Vision we will be unified, completed, and healed. We will not cling to goods, trying out of craving to make them what they are not, but love them for the goods they actually are. So the only real question is: what are they, actual.

Jakub,

We may even say that we will not miss even knowing that we exist, i.e. that we even won't have consciousness.

This doesn't even make sense. Why do you think it is called the Beatific Vision? And the whole point is that everything we will know we will know in God, in the same way (and for the same reason) that everything we will love we will love in God. But we will know them and love them for what they are, precisely because we will know them and love them in God.

So the only question of any relevance is what their natures actually are.

John West said...

Anonymous,

But would you say the same were the tent atomized into quarks? I think there's an important distinction between a composite artefact, like a tent, and a natural object, like Fido, that evinces a disanalogy. The composite artefact is typically, to some degree, designed to be at least capable of disassembly and reassembly (sometimes in virtue of people having to assemble it a certain way in the first place, sometimes for portability, sometimes for cleaning, etc.) If a composite artefact is designed to be at least capable of disassembly and reassembly, it is more proper to say that it continues to exist provided that its parts have not been incorporated into other, fully assembled things. Hence, it is more proper to say that the composite artefact continues to exist, than that it comes back into existence. The tent is a composite artefact. Hence, it is more proper to say that the tent continues to exist (which explains our intuition about its disassembly and reassembly).

In contrast, if we disassemble the body parts of a non-human living organism, the organism does not survive.

Incidentally, I also think necessity of origins problems (which humans get around in virtue of surviving immaterial parts) crop up with second-time-created-Fido.

Brandon said...

Hmm. The 'actual' at the end of the paragraph should be way up above, in "it doesn't render any actual thing otiose"; I'm not sure why I put it at the end of the paragraph; perhaps wires got crossed with the last sentence of the post.

George LeSauvage said...

@Brandon: Thank you. You said something I was trying clumsily to get at.

There is only one point I question:
how we somehow need Fido or sex in the world to come because of how we are now -- how we are now is fragmented, incomplete, and broken

I think I get it, and I agree with this, except that it seems to imply that our needs for animal companionship, and for sex, would not be there if we were not broken - that is, if not for the Fall. I am sure you don't mean this, but I'm not sure how you'd fit the above into a prelapsarian scenario.

Daniel said...

Sorry to high-jack but I want to bring up a related issue about Accidental Forms re Anon's tent question.

Though pieces of canvas may have the accidental forms 'stretched' or 'rolled' I doubt tent qua tent has even an accidental form (to give a more classical example a lump of bronze can have the accidental spatial form of a sphere or a more complex spatial form that happens to be human shaped but not strictly speaking the form 'statue'). Unlike determinate Natural Kinds like Dogs, Yellow or Hydrogen we designate something a tent, bucket, axe or a ship if it can serve a certain use for us - the existential status of such things can be solved solely by appeal to convention along the lines of Wittgenstein’s 'Games' example.

So in regards to the ship of Theseus: our ontology simply doesn’t contain any ships.

John West said...

Hence, it is more proper to say that the composite artefact continues to exist [provided that its parts have not been incorporated into other, fully assembled things], than that it comes back into existence.

Not that it effects anything, but on second thought I should probably explicitly carry over the "provided ..." part. I originally left it out the second time for brevity, to avoid a run-on sentence (but see the edit), before the instantiation to the tent (which of course, isn't being recycled into new objects or anything in your example).

George LeSauvage said...

One question about our sentimental desire for pets and marriage: Might it not be that, in heaven, we would have a clearer view of creation than we now do? I don't see how this would be incompatible with the Beatific Vision.

If so, mightn't this be enough to satisfy what is lastingly valuable from our lives? We recall, or even see, our marriages, and playing fetch, with a clarity we didn't have when they happened. This, if true, would involve other pleasures from life: e.g., I could recall the best bridge hand I've ever played (candidates are rare) without my ego swelling. Of course, this wouldn't be a big part of the BV, but still, it would mean we would wholly lose the good in our lives.

Joseph Mazzara said...

My only issue with this is that part of our material aspect is run and maintained by other living organisms, unified by our form. Are those organisms going to exist? What about Christ drinking wine with us in Heaven? Didn't he say something to that effect, or was that poetic?

Joe Calandrino said...

Edward:

I usually just read your blog, but I do find myself objecting to the argument against non-rational creatures entering the beatific vision.

How would a good Thomist argue for excluding humans with global aphasia, or advanced dementia (which will affect many humans) from the beatific vision? Or are all resurrected humans, de fide, rational?

I have a sense of how you might respond, but could you sketch it out for me?

Scott said...

If the form as known and the form united to matter in a substance are one and the same, I still fail to see how this could be a problem given the persisting Divine Mind.

Then here's something else to consider: Why does God have to wait until the dog is dead in order to recreate him from this form? Surely God has Fido's form in the Divine Mind now, so what happens if He unites it to matter while Fido is still alive? In that case, don't we clearly have two different dogs? And if so, why are things different after Fido is dead?

John West said...

Scott,

Then here's something else to consider: Why does God have to wait until the dog is dead in order to recreate him from this form? Surely God has Fido's form in the Divine Mind now, so what happens if He unites it to matter while Fido is still alive? In that case, don't we clearly have two different dogs? And if so, why are things different after Fido is dead?

I think Anonymous is claiming that, after Fido's death, God is going to use the same fundamental particles, or something like that, but couldn't before Fido's death because Fido has them.* I'm not sure that is quite what Thomists mean by matter, but that's what I glean from Anonymous's posts.


*Since our cells (thereby atoms) are all recycled during our lifetime's, even this strikes me as a somewhat odd claim.

John West said...

"*Since our [and most mammals'] cells (thereby atoms) are all recycled during our lifetime's"^

Scott said...

@John West:

I think Anonymous is claiming that, after Fido's death, God is going to use the same fundamental particles, or something like that, but couldn't before Fido's death because Fido has them.

That occurred to me as well, and so did the obvious problem that you raise in reply.

(I almost wrote that it would surely be possible now (or at least at some stage of Fido's life) to make a whole new Fido out of matter that had formerly been part of Fido. But I decided not to complicate things at this stage and instead to wait and see what Anon said.)

Gene Callahan said...

Davidson's case also rests on the confusion of verbal thought and thought itself. What we have is verbal thinkers insisting that they way they tend top think is equivalent to thought! Einstein (who said he first got his theories kinesthetically) and Temple Grandin (who thinks first in images) would disagree. I tend to get my programming ideas first as geometrical pictures, and let me guarantee you, they are, indeed, thought, merely not verbal thought.

Scott said...

@Joe Calandrino:

I know your question was directed at Ed, but I hope you won't mind a reply or two from other quarters.

How would a good Thomist argue for excluding humans with global aphasia, or advanced dementia (which will affect many humans) from the beatific vision? Or are all resurrected humans, de fide, rational?

This is a false alternative. Humans, with or without global aphasia or advanced dementia, are rational by nature even when we're not able to express or manifest that rationality fully; faith has nothing to do with it. And surely a resurrected human won't suffer from such impediments and deprivations.

So there's no need to argue that (what are now) imperfectly rational humans will be excluded from the Beatific Vision. Thomism implies no such thing and indeed denies it altogether.

Anonymous said...

John West

But would you say the same were the tent atomized into quarks?

I don’t know about quarks. And I rather steer clear of the uncharted quantum deep. But take water. That would count as an example of a natural substance. Let’s assume for the sake of the argument that it is possible to disassemble 1 single water molecule in hydrogen and oxygen atoms. Let’s also assume that not only it is possible to reassemble these components back to water again, but that I am capable of doing it in such a way that the original configuration of protons, neurons and electrons, the momentum of the particles and whatever constitutes the identity of a molecule is restored to the same state as before the disassembling. A huge assumption, but remember, we’re speaking here not about my fallible faculties but about the powers of God Almighty. Now I grant that the water molecule before disassembling and the water molecule after reassembling would be numerically distinct. But formally and materially they would be the same. And what is more, the continuity between the two molecules would be guaranteed 1) by my causal and teleological powers (“Trust me, I know what I’m doing.” and 2) by the fact that during the period of being disassembled (when there is no water molecule but only hydrogen and oxygen) all the relevant information about the disassembled water molecule (exact configuration of protons, neutrons and electrons, momentum and so on) are stored in my mind as an exemplar.

Scott & John West

I think Anonymous is claiming that, after Fido's death, God is going to use the same fundamental particles, or something like that, but couldn't before Fido's death because Fido has them.

That occurred to me as well, and so did the obvious problem that you raise in reply.

(I almost wrote that it would surely be possible now (or at least at some stage of Fido's life) to make a whole new Fido out of matter that had formerly been part of Fido. But I decided not to complicate things at this stage and instead to wait and see what Anon said.


Yes, that is what I am claiming. A whole new Fido created out of matter that had been formerly part of Fido would bring us back to the Ship of Theseus. But I don’t think Ship of Theseus problems affect substances, only accidental unities.

Scott said...

A whole new Fido created out of matter that had been formerly part of Fido would bring us back to the Ship of Theseus. But I don’t think Ship of Theseus problems affect substances, only accidental unities.

And so the answers to my questions are…?

Joe Calandrino said...

"Humans, with or without global aphasia or advanced dementia, are rational by nature even when we're not able to express or manifest that rationality fully; faith has nothing to do with it. And surely a resurrected human won't suffer from such impediments and deprivations.

So there's no need to argue that (what are now) imperfectly rational humans will be excluded from the Beatific Vision. Thomism implies no such thing and indeed denies it altogether."

Fair enough, Scott, and I anticipate that Edward would take a similar approach; yet Edward has stated elsewhere that something survives death, and I wonder what that would be, not just in aphasic patients, but in patients who by their very nature are without rational capacity---genetically programmed at conception to have profound defects in the faculties of rationality---those whose essence is exactly, by Thomistic standards, 'vegetative' and 'animal.' I thought that Edward would come from that direction, and even anticipate some of the 'slippery slopes' implied here. I think the Thomistic response would be rest in the concept of potentia, rather than actualities. Morally speaking, the answer must also explain why, for example we do not countenance the abortion of anencephalic fetuses. So, then, is the 'something' that survives something other than a soul? Is it the intellectus? Thomas had little patience for Plato.

Anonymous said...

Daniel,

Unlike determinate Natural Kinds like Dogs, Yellow or Hydrogen we designate something a tent, bucket, axe or a ship if it can serve a certain use for us - the existential status of such things can be solved solely by appeal to convention along the lines of Wittgenstein’s 'Games' example.

I don’t disagree. But then, if I visit a wholesaler in building materials, his merchandise wouldn’t count as a house. Nor would a fabric, rope, pegs and poles constitute a tent. I can sleep in my tent, not in a pile of fabric, rope, pegs and poles. Actually, I could. But it would not be very comfortable.
And maybe the case of humans and artifacts, and that of God and natural entities are not completely dissimilar.

John West said...

Anonymous,

In reply to Daniel: I don’t disagree. But then, if I visit a wholesaler in building materials, his merchandise wouldn’t count as a house. Nor would a fabric, rope, pegs and poles constitute a tent. I can sleep in my tent, not in a pile of fabric, rope, pegs and poles. Actually, I could. But it would not be very comfortable.

Sure you can. I take it Daniel's point is that a tent just is objects like fabric, rope, pegs and poles arranged tent-wise, but that the tent has no ontological status qua tent.

Anonymous said...

Scott

Surely God has Fido's form in the Divine Mind now, so what happens if He unites it to matter while Fido is still alive? In that case, don't we clearly have two different dogs? And if so, why are things different after Fido is dead?

Since matter is the principle of individuation, this scenario would be possible. But I don’t see how this affects my position.

And so the answers to my questions are…?

Either God can resurrect two or more Fidos out the material which previously belonged to the deceased Fido or he can’t. If he can, my point is proven, because if he can resurrect two Fidos, he certainly can resurrect one. If he can’t, this does not disprove my claim that he can resurrect only one.

Scott said...

@Joe Calandrino:

Edward has stated elsewhere that something survives death, and I wonder what that would be, not just in aphasic patients, but in patients who by their very nature are without rational capacity---genetically programmed at conception to have profound defects in the faculties of rationality---those whose essence is exactly, by Thomistic standards, 'vegetative' and 'animal.' I thought that Edward would come from that direction, and even anticipate some of the 'slippery slopes' implied here. I think the Thomistic response would be rest in the concept of potentia, rather than actualities.

There seems to be some fundamental confusion here.

No human being whatsoever lacks rational capacity "by nature" or has a vegetative or animal "essence." Rationality is part of the nature/essence of any human being, even if it can be only defectively expressed.

And that, of course, is where the potencies come in: even the most defective human being is potentially rational even if that potency can't be actualized because of some genetic defect/privation.

As for what survives death, that is of course the immaterial soul; genetically defective human beings have them as surely as you and I do. Why would you think they don't (or that Ed would think they don't)?

Scott said...

Either God can resurrect two or more Fidos out the material which previously belonged to the deceased Fido or he can’t. If he can, my point is proven, because if he can resurrect two Fidos, he certainly can resurrect one.

If He can, your point is disproven, because the "two Fidos" are numerically distinct animals and can't both be the original Fido.

You're masking this fact by misunderstanding or restating my question. The circumstance I described was God's taking matter formerly belonging to Fido and "informing" it with Fido's form (which persists in the Divine Intellect) while the original Fido is still alive. In that instance it seems perfectly obvious to me that He's just made a copy of Fido and that the still-living Fido is the sole original.

Brandon said...

I think I get it, and I agree with this, except that it seems to imply that our needs for animal companionship, and for sex, would not be there if we were not broken - that is, if not for the Fall.

The 'fragmented', 'incomplete', and 'broken' were intended as distinct, rather than three ways of saying the same, and the third was the only one dealing with the Fall; even without the fall we would need to be integrated and completed in God. The prelapsarian state is still an incomplete one, still in the process of drawing together in the world basically as we know it; whereas the Beatific Vision is precisely an inexhaustible completeness and integrity of life, and resurrected body is in a new heaven and new earth that is made so as not to pass away. We are in our current state closer to Eden than to life in the world to come.

Anonymous said...

Scott

The circumstance I described was God's taking matter formerly belonging to Fido and "informing" it with Fido's form (which persists in the Divine Intellect) while the original Fido is still alive. In that instance it seems perfectly obvious to me that He's just made a copy of Fido and that the still-living Fido is the sole original.

God could take matter formerly belonging to you, inform it with your essence as known to Him and so duplicate you. Of course you would be the original and the copy the copy. But how does this affect the case of poor deceased Fido?
Suppose Fido has had 7 masters. They have died one after the other and passed Fido on. Suppose also that there are 7 different new earths and every one of the masters is assigned to a different one. Now God could re-create 7 numerically distinct Fidos, one for each of his former masters. All 7 would be formally and materially identical to each other and to the deceased Fido and would come with a guarantee of identity issued by God along the lines I sketched in an earlier reply.
I conceded long ago the numerical difference. But I still hold that the fact that deceased and resurrected Fido are formally and materially identical (or materially quasi-identical in the scenario of 1=7 Fidos) and that they are linked by a causal and exemplary chain is enough to say that they are the same.

Natural Mind said...

Am I fairly correct in making the following Feserian/Thomist paraphrase?

"Animals will not make it to heaven because only truly non-material aspects of being -- in particular, the property of rationality unique to human beings –– are eternal."

Replies much appreciated (sorry for late entry into this discussion).

Joe Calandrino said...

Very good, Scott. I don't know if it's 'confusion,' but it certainly is the core of the matter.

The Thomistic argument, then, in your version, is ontological. And that does solve the conundrum.

This is not about, then, any individual 'virtual residue' entering the beatific vision, but only pure essences, which are identical---what survives is not substance, it is not of an unique individual, but something essentially human.

John West said...

what survives is not substance, it is not of an unique individual, but something essentially human.

The soul is the form of the substance. Since the substance is not wholly material, the substance survives. It's the -- in this case defective -- corporeal part of the substance that fails to survive.

George LeSauvage said...

I have a question about "the same matter". If that means "the same atoms", well, OK, although it does raise the question of which atoms, when, given that they do change over time.

But for a Thomist, if you go deeper, and think of the prime matter, after it has been separated from its form, then does the concept of "the same" even make sense? Prime matter, in the absence of form, is very nearly nothing - pure potentiality, so can one even speak of "this prime matter as opposed to that prime matter?"

John West said...

George LeSauvage,

Prime matter, in the absence of form, is very nearly nothing - pure potentiality, so can one even speak of "this prime matter as opposed to that prime matter?"

It's worse than that.

On Thomism, while prime matter exists, as pure potency for receiving form, prime matter existing by itself would be in no way actual and therefore non-existent. In short, prime matter cannot exist without form.

Scott said...

God could take matter formerly belonging to you, inform it with your essence as known to Him and so duplicate you. Of course you would be the original and the copy the copy. But how does this affect the case of poor deceased Fido?

The same way it affects you. If God resurrects "you" by informing some matter (formerly belonging to you or otherwise) in such a way that all that results is a copy distinct from you, then you aren't being "resurrected" at all. Your personal continuity ends at your death, and the new fellow is just somebody else who happens to be formally identical to you.

Likewise Fido. The question has never been whether God can make an exact copy of Fido to keep you company in the afterlife; of course He can. The question is whether this Fido is really the original Fido or just a newly minted copy. You seem to be conceding that it's the latter, so I think that's that.

I still hold that the fact that deceased and resurrected Fido are formally and materially identical…and that they are linked by a causal and exemplary chain is enough to say that they are the same.

John West has already dealt with the question of "material," so I'll leave that aside. The rest depends what you mean by "the same," which doesn't always mean "identical" in the sense relevant here.

If I make a mold of a cast-iron sculpture and then use the mold to make copies out of cast iron, I'm still obviously just making copies of an original. Sure, they're all "the same," but there's still just one original and the rest are numerically distinct copies. So being linked by a causal and exemplary chain doesn't appear to be sufficient for copies to count as originals.

Scott said...

@Joe Calandrino:

[W]hat survives is not substance, it is not of an unique individual, but something essentially human.

John West has already given a partial reply, but I'll add the following:

You're right that what survives is not full-blown substance, but it is (as John says) defective substance and (this is the bit I'm adding) it is most certainly a unique individual. What survives your bodily death is specifically your substantial form. Sure, it's incomplete until it's joined with a body to make a complete substance again, but if all that survived was just some generic "human essence," there'd be no resurrecting anyone in particular; heaven would be populated by a host of exact copies.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

If I make a mold of a cast-iron sculpture and then use the mold to make copies out of cast iron, I'm still obviously just making copies of an original. Sure, they're all "the same," but there's still just one original and the rest are numerically distinct copies. So being linked by a causal and exemplary chain doesn't appear to be sufficient for copies to count as originals.

Now you’re making a travesty of my argument. What you’re describing here is just making copies of accidental forms.
In my opinion re-created Fido wouldn’t even be a mere copy of the old one. Copying a substance would mean making a new substance with the same substantial form as the old one but with different matter. And I hold all along that re-created Fido has the same form and the same matter as the old one. I probably even conceded too much, when I said that the two Fidos are numerically distinct. How can they be, if they have the same form and the same matter?
Neither did I claim that a causal and exemplary chain is sufficient to claim sameness. But I do claim that when two substances existing at different times 1) have the same form and the same matter and 2) are linked by a causal and exemplary chain, this would be enough to say they’re the same.
Now problems of identity are famously difficult and ambiguous. What constitutes the identity of a human being before and after death is the continued presence of his substantial form. In the case of re-created Fido we have to take in account the fact of his discontinued existence. So seen in that light he would not be the same old Fido but a re-created one. But re-creating is not copying. To use an analogy, I’m speaking here about reconstructing the Parthenon, using the original plans, the original blocks and on the exact same spot. You imply I’m making plaster casts and am shipping them to Las Vegas.
The problem with doubling or tripling Fido is a red herring. Yes, God could use the opportunity of his re-creating Fido to double him. So what?

My use of the term “resurrection” was needlessly complicating things. So now I’m sticking to “re-creation”.

Scott said...

I probably even conceded too much, when I said that the two Fidos are numerically distinct. How can they be, if they have the same form and the same matter?

Then perhaps we should shift focus to John West's remarks about what "the same matter" means (or could mean). Are you thinking of something like God's restoring the soul (substantial form) to Fido's dead body shortly after it dies (and presumably "fixing" whatever was wrong that made him die)? Or is that at least an example of the sort of thing you have in mind?

Anonymous said...

Scott,

No, I’m speaking about the resurrectio mortuorum... euh... recreatio mortuorum on the Day of Judgment.
The proximate matter of Fido would be his body, but that would probably be long gone. So ultimately we’re speaking about prime matter, whatever form it would have by then.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

So ultimately we’re speaking about prime matter, whatever form it would have by then.

Or better, about materia signata. But here I must admit being out of my depth. Should I reread Oderberg?

Scott said...

No, I’m speaking about the resurrectio mortuorum... euh... recreatio mortuorum on the Day of Judgment. The proximate matter of Fido would be his body, but that would probably be long gone.

Would you agree, though, that your position does commit you to the conclusion that if God reanimated Fido's still-warm corpse, the result would be Fido and not a mere copy?

Suppose, for example, that the Day of Judgment comes just moments after Fido dies, and God "re-creates" Fido using the very same physical matter that, just shortly ago, constituted Fido's living body. It would surely at least follow from your view that this "re-created" Fido would not just be a copy. Is that right?

(I may have to continue this tomorrow; it's getting late here.)

Anonymous said...

Would you agree, though, that your position does commit you to the conclusion that if God reanimated Fido's still-warm corpse, the result would be Fido and not a mere copy?

Yes

Suppose, for example, that the Day of Judgment comes just moments after Fido dies, and God "re-creates" Fido using the very same physical matter that, just shortly ago, constituted Fido's living body. It would surely at least follow from your view that this "re-created" Fido would not just be a copy. Is that right?

Yes

Daniel D. D. said...

Can someone trained in mathematics explain to me the "Square Circle" objection here, please:

http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/2014/07/against-rationalism.html

Christi pax.

E.Seigner said...

Daniel D. D.

Can someone trained in mathematics explain to me the "Square Circle" objection here, please

Not trained in math, but the objection relies on something like this http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/thumb/0/08/Manhattan_distance.svg/200px-Manhattan_distance.svg.png

In this kind of geometry, each square is considered a unit of distance, thus a certain count of squares in any direction means equidistance.

The objection also states that this redefinition of distance does not matter, because the preference for the Euclidian definition relies on empiricism only.

Now to my objection to the objection. The definition matters because, when circles and squares are taken according to the Euclidian system, then distance must be defined according to the same system.

Systematic definitions matter. It's incoherent, inconsistent, unsystematic, and irrational to change the definition of distance to a system where circles don't exist and then conclude that square circles exist.

Daniel said...

@Daniel D,

That point serves as no 'objection against rationalism', whatever that might mean, since if a so called 'square-circle' is true on a given mathematical topology then it is necessarily true given the details of that topology.

It's akin to trying to claim that the necessary truths we knew as pertaining to triangles e.g. their internal angles adding up to 180 degrees a are false because this does not hold for Non-Euclidean formulas. Since we had as yet no knowledge Non-Euclidean triangles of all our historical statements about triangles remained specific to the Genus Euclidean Triangle where they remain true*.

In short the only way for a 'sceptic' to rebut these accounts of Necessity is with further accounts of Necessity, in which case their actions become a celebration of that which they wish to over-throw.

*of course can be mistaken in our reasoning due to imprecision in calculations et cetera.

grodrigues said...

@Daniel D. D.:

"Can someone trained in mathematics explain to me the "Square Circle" objection here, please:

http://outshine-the-sun.blogspot.com/2014/07/against-rationalism.html"

The objection is based on the following: there is a very general notion of metric space, and in these metric spaces some ordinary geometric notions like circles and lines still make sense, but of course they are not what we have come to expect. So for example, in the plain with point pairs (x, y) of real numbers, we can define Manhattan or taxicab metric and a little bit of thought will tell you that the unit circle not only has the shape of a square, it instantiates the definition of a square.

The relevant paragraph is:

"“Woah! Stop right there!” says the apologist. “You equivocated on the meaning of distance!” To which I respond, by what right do you privilege one meaning of “distance” over another? Our use of the Euclidean distance as the common meaning of the word is not based in logic but experience; Euclidean distances model the physical world exceptionally well at human scales, so we naturally assume that's the intended meaning; but this is an a posteriori fact, not available to the Rationalist."

But of course, the OP is equivocating, as by changing the metric midway he is changing the referents of the definitions; saying that the preference for the Euclidean distance over the taxicab one is a matter of experience is simply missing the force of the point, since the point is a purely *logical* one.

The answer in itself is rather baffling: all these different metrics amount to different metric spaces, with different geometries. What these different geometries are is a mathematical fact that does not depend on the a posteriori fact of what geometry our space-time has, or if this way of framing the question bothers you, what models it best -- why should a "Rationalist" be bothered with this? That this question can only be decided if we actually look at reality? Is a "Rationalist" committed to holding that every possible question under the sun has an a priori answer? And what is this vaunted superiority of the "Empiricist"? In order to know that one of the two geometries fits best the actual spacetime, the Empiricist already has to know that the two are distinct quite apart from experiential considerations. So if the Empiricist damns the Rationalist for having to concede that the answer to one question can only be gotten by experience, the Rationalist can damn the Empiricist for the exact reverse.

This wholy fictional debate between an imagineary Empiricist and a Rationalist sounds like a fight between paper tigers.

John West said...

I'm always baffled by some people's talk of axioms, as if axioms are these strange, brute-fact-like notions, without reasons, that can be dismissed by an airy wave of the hand.

Greg said...

To which I respond, by what right do you privilege one meaning of “distance” over another?

They really have an adorable amount of confidence over there.

Glenn said...

Anonymous,

Be nice.

Now you’re making a travesty of my argument. What you’re describing here is just making copies of accidental forms.

Scott was illustrating a point you yourself had implied when previously saying, "God could take matter formerly belonging to you, inform it with your essence as known to Him and so duplicate you. Of course you would be the original and the copy the copy."

It well may be that after having "conceded long ago the numerical difference," you had a change of mind and decided, "I probably even conceded too much, when I said that the two Fidos are numerically distinct." If so, then it is you altering your argument, and not someone else making a travesty of it.

Certainly, one can change his argument; there is no law against that.

But it isn't nice to characterize a response to a pre-modified argument as making a travesty of the argument in its modified form -- at least not when the modification was subsequent to the response.

Scott said...

@Glenn:

Thank you.

@Fido Anonymous:

Okay then. Let's carry on from there (and for now we don't need to worry about what it could mean to be made out of "the same" prime matter).

Now, the Thomist says that once Fido dies, Fido's substantial form is gone—and therefore that even if God uses the same physical atoms to "reconstitute" Fido, the result is a new Fido, "the same" as the old Fido in the sense that the two are "exactly similar," but they are still numerically two. The new Fido is not in continuity with the old Fido.

That means the Thomist is committed to the view, odd though it may seem, that even if Fido is "reconstituted" in this fashion from Fido's own fresh carrion, the result is nevertheless a copy and not the original Fido. Once Fido's substantial form goes poof!, there's no bringing him back even though it's possible to make an exact duplicate of him out of his own former body.

Your objection/counterargument, as I understand it, is that Fido's individual substantial form can (and does) persist in the Divine Intellect, and this persistence provides enough continuity that when Fido is reconstituted from the same physical matter, the result is Fido himself and not just a brand-new Fido who happens to be entirely like the old one.

I take it we're also agreed that if this counterargument can be met in the case we're discussing here—i.e., if it can successfully be argued that even reconstituting Fido out of his own still-warm corpse isn't sufficient to bring Fido himself back—then the more general counterargument will have been met as well.

Okay so far?

Anonymous said...

As usual, I am very late for this dance. If I am repeating anything someone else has posted, or ignoring it, I sincerely apologize. My time is limited.

However, I did post earlier that God will never destroy that which is good. I want to clarify what I wrote.

Either God is the source of ALL goodness, or God is NOT the source of all goodness. We can't have it both ways (though that may simply be a limitation of HUMAN logic). So if God IS the source of ALL things that are good, AND God is simple (not composed of parts), then there is no way to destroy good, since that would be to destroy part of God.

Maybe the way around this is to say that since God is the SOURCE of all that is good, that doesn't necessarily mean that God IS ALL that is good. Maybe He has the ability to create good things that are separate from Him. That, at least, would give God the ability to "destroy" good things.

However - and this isn't a knock on Thomists or any other "ists" for that matter, I choose to believe (strictly because I CHOOSE to - nothing pithy here) that God will not destroy anything that is good. Maybe He just absorbs it? Maybe He just "transforms" it into something else good? And yes, I include "marriage" in that, if it is truly something that exists as a "good" thing.

But if I assume that God actually DOES allow the destruction of something good, how does that work? Is there just less good in existence? If the goodness of my pets is just "missing" in Heaven, does that mean I'll just have to miss my pets? Or will I be caused to just forget them?

Finally - let's not forget that however we may bicker on this subject, we can be thankful that our salvation does not hinge on being right or wrong.

Scott said...

@Fido Anonymous:

In the interests of time (and so that things aren't confused by too many intervening posts), I'll proceed to the next step without waiting for your reply to my previous post.

Let's now suppose that Fido lives to such a ripe old age that his body at the time of his death has no physical atoms in common with the body he had as a six-month-old puppy. Let's further suppose that God collects all of those "Fido-puppy atoms" and, using Fido's substantial form as it persists in the Divine Intellect, "reconstitutes" Fido as a puppy.

By your argument, this puppy too is Fido himself, not a mere copy or exact duplicate. So now we have a curious situation in which there are two different dogs, each of which is the original Fido.

And we needn't even wait for Fido to die in order to generate this situation. Suppose God reconstitutes "puppy Fido" the day before Fido dies (by which time, we'll assume, Fido has already divested himself of all of his "six-month-old puppy atoms"). Now we have what all sides would agree is an unquestionably original Fido as an old dog, and a newly reconstituted six-month-old Fido puppy that, according to your view, is also the original Fido.

Now, I don't say that there's necessarily any contradiction in there being more than one original Fido at a time; I merely note that this possible coexistence of multiple originals appears to follow from your argument and I ask whether you accept this consequence. Would you agree that, on your reasoning, each of these Fidos is the original?

Anonymous said...

Glenn & Scott,

Be nice.

The “travesty” was a bit over the top. I apologize.
But I did think my views were inadequately represented. Now I admit this was probably just a consequence of the fact that I expressed them poorly in the first place. It’s not easy to discuss complicated philosophical questions in a foreign language.


Scott,

Okay so far?

I’m still with you.
But I’m a bit worried about your dichotomy: Fido himself and a copy of Fido. My point is that we have to make here some distinctions. But I’ll wait and see.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

Would you agree that, on your reasoning, each of these Fidos is the original?

No, I wouldn’t, because here comes the materia signata into play. The “reconstituted” puppy Fido would be a mere copy of Fido, not Fido himself. To re-create Fido, it wouldn’t be enough to use any discarded matter that once belonged to Fido. One would have to use the matter that constituted Fido’s body at the time of his death.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

Now to forestall the objection that I changed my original position, I didn’t. My scenario with the original Fido and his 7 re-creations is different from yours. I assumed original Fido was dead and God used 1/7th of his body in order to re-create each of the seven re-creations. As in the case of a genuine human resurrection, it isn’t necessary to use every and each part of the dead body, but just enough to assure that the resurrected/re-created body is the same body that was informed ante mortem.

Scott said...

@Fido Anonymous:

Okay, then let's cleave Fido's carcass in twain and add some other matter to each half in order to make two Fidos. Am I right (based on your seven-Fido scenario) that we now have two original Fidos and no mere copies?

Scott said...

And if your answer to that question is "Yes," then my next question is: why won't the same thing work with human beings? Or will it?

Anonymous said...

Scott,

Am I right (based on your seven-Fido scenario) that we now have two original Fidos and no mere copies?

You’re right that we don’t have mere copies. But I wouldn’t go so far as to say that we have two original Fidos. Here I think we have to make some distinctions. I hope my Parthenon analogy can convey what I mean.
We suppose that the Parthenon has been hit by an earthquake. Now let’s consider some possible scenarios.
1) The Parthenon has been badly damaged but enough of it has been left standing in order to say that the Parthenon has survived. Repairs are in order. This would be a restoration.
2) We’re left with a pile of rubble. Luckily the original plans have survived as have most of the building blocks, statues, roof tiles and so on. We can rebuild the Parthenon.
3) The earthquake was a long time ago, we have no plans and few original building materials. We can try to reconstruct the Parthenon, on the spot, using what is left, or on paper or on screen. This would be a reconstruction.
4) We’re not interested in the Parthenon as such, hit by an earthquake or not. We want to build an attraction in Las Vegas. So we construct a replica of the Parthenon on the Strip.
Now I would argue that in the first case, that of the restoration, we can say that the restorated Parthenon is the Parthenon tout court. In the second case, that of the rebuilding, I still would maintain that the rebuilt Parthenon still is the Parthenon, but with the important qualifier that it has been rebuilt. In the fourth case, that of the replica, we have a mere copy, and not the original Parthenon. The third case, that of the reconstruction, is difficult. Much would depend on the manner and certainty of reconstruction. But for our purpose, we can forget about it.
Now you see we’re I’m going. I would say that a resurrected body is like the restoration and resurrected Socrates would be Socrates pure and simple. Re-created Fido is like the rebuilt Parthenon. For all practical eschatological purposes he is Fido, but he has been re-created. All other scenarios using different combinations of Fido’s soul as known to God and matter that never belonged to him in the first place or matter that was discarded by him would be mere copies.

And if your answer to that question is "Yes," then my next question is: why won't the same thing work with human beings? Or will it?

It wouldn’t work with humans because in their case we start with only one subsistent soul.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

I would say that a resurrected body is like the restoration and resurrected Socrates would be Socrates pure and simple.

Mark: Even resurrected Socrates wouldn't be the "original" Socrates but Socrates that has been resurrected(hopefully for him with a glorified body).

Anonymous said...

Completely off topic. It's been on my mind the last couple days:

What do Thomists think about tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, epidemics, etc., that cause many human casualties? In a Thomistic framework, are these natural events evil, are they good, or are they morally neutral?

Scott said...

@Fido Anonymous:

Okay, thanks for the clarifications.

I'll have to give your suggestion some thought. On the face of it, it seems that two of your "rebuilt Fidos" are supposed to be somewhere in between numerically identical and formally but not numerically identical, and I'm not sure there is anything in between those two.

But I don't really have any objection to a series of "rebuilt Fidos" if none of them is supposed to be a true original. In fact my initial inclination is to call that a special case of what Ed was arguing for in the first place.

Scott said...

What do Thomists think about tsunamis, hurricanes, tornadoes, epidemics, etc., that cause many human casualties? In a Thomistic framework, are these natural events evil, are they good, or are they morally neutral?

They're natural or physical evils.

Scott said...

(But they're not moral evils, so in that sense they're morally neutral.)

Anonymous said...

Scott,

...somewhere in between numerically identical and formally but not numerically identical, and I'm not sure there is anything in between those two.

While walking my dog, I thought it over and it seems to me the problem is more apparent than real. We are forgetting about matter.
What do we normally mean when we speak about numerically identical and formally but not numerically identical? We are thinking of things like copies of books. Two copies of a book are formally identical but numerically different. In Thomistic terms: they have the same form but different materia signata. The materia signata individuates the form. An example of something numerically identical would be the copies of Scholastic Metaphysics on my desk yesterday and today. They are numerically identical because they are materially and formally identical. That would be the normal case.
Now while I was walking my dog, the copy of scholastic metaphysics was lying on my desk. In comes Harry Potter. He transfigurates the book into a rabbit. The rabbit and the book are materially identical, but formally different, so they are numerically different. Hermione Granger changes the rabbit back into the book. Same story: material identity, formal difference and so numerical difference. In come I again. The book now and before my walk is materially and formally the same, so for all I know, the book now and the book then are numerically identical. Except they aren’t. The embarrassing episode with the rabbit is enough to constitute numerical difference.
You see the parallel with Fido. Forgetting about all the niceties, God just creates him two times. Mark: it is Fido he creates two times, formally and materially the same. No copy. But numerically different, because of the fact that there has been a time he was not.
I see now I have to retract my retraction.
The thing in between we were looking for is formally and materially, but not numerically identical.

Scott said...

The thing in between we were looking for is formally and materially, but not numerically identical.

That seems to me to be just a special case of formally but not numerically identical; I don't see that the common material adds anything significant. But I'm happy with this resolution if you are.

Thanks for the interesting discussion.

Anonymous said...

Scott,

That seems to me to be just a special case of formally but not numerically identical

No it isn't, not if you take Aquinas' theory of designated matter seriously. But maybe you're more of a Scotist. If I understand their individuation theory correctly (probably I don't), they would say you were right. Well, as long as we agree on the res, who cares about the verba.

But it really has been an interesting discussion. Thanks.

Bobberson said...

Dr. Feser, I greatly appreciate your work. Here are some objections to your post.

Objections:

1. There will be a new earth at the end of time. Therefore, some new matter will be created, and indeed we will need matter to store us since we will have resurrected bodies. Consequently, new non-living substances will come into being. It seems likely that such substances would not corrupt (as all substances do over time), but that it would be fitting for God to sustain them eternally. Why would God privilege this new non-living matter with eternity, and not plants or animals?

2. Presumably, the new earth will be beautiful. After all, beauty is objective since the beautiful is convertible with the good which is convertible with being. But many animals are beautiful. Therefore, it would be fitting for God to preserve the beautiful animals for all eternity in heaven. (This sort of mode of arguing about the afterlife, namely from fittingness and beauty, has precedent. This is how St. Augustine argues in the City of God)

3. Your claim that it would change the nature of animals for God to sustain them eternally doesn't seem to follow. For God will miraculously preserve the matter of our bodies forever without changing our nature.

4. It also seems like it would be fitting and beautiful for God to miraculously preserve for all eternal two kinds of creation, or at least the beautiful examples from those kinds, which fill up the hierarchy of being. It would be fitting and beautiful for God to keep around both plants and animals for this reason.

Tony said...

I think the biggest problem with Feser-heaven is that it's literally impossible to imagine.

"Keen", let us admit that Feser-heaven is unimaginable. Why would you call that a problem? I call that a "feature", not a bug.

St. Paul couldn't imagine it either: "as it is written: 'What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived' -- the things God has prepared for those who love him"

People, take a step back for a second, and realize something: if you get there, you will be in heaven FOREVER. Now, think of the fact that EVERYTHING that you do normally gets dull or boring after a while. Or at least less exciting. Now extrapolate to...forever. Not just a looooong time. Forever means forever. You have just watched your 10 trillionth sunset, and it is hardly dissimilar to one about 47 million times ago. You play cards with friends for 24 hours straight, for the 7th gajillionth time, and you got EXACTLY the same cards as one time back around 2.546 gajillionth.

And yet heaven CAN'T have room for being bored. Or even just ho-hum.

Normal stuff won't cut it! Heaven has to be radically different. So different that, well, we can't imagine it now. If we thought we could imagine it now, we would have to suspect that imagining as possibly a fraud.

Scott said...

@Fido Anonymous:

Well, I don't intend to be Scotist; on the contrary, I'd agree with Aquinas (if I understand him correctly) that designated matter is what individuates each the various Fidos and therefore precisely what accounts for their being numerically distinct.

But yes, let's leave the resolution as it is and perhaps revisit the subject if it ever comes up again.

Scott said...

…each of the various Fidos.

Arthur said...

'I think the biggest problem with Feser-heaven is that it's literally impossible to imagine.'

If that really is 'the biggest problem with Feser-heaven', then Feser can take that as a compliment. Since when did everything need to be imaginable? You can't imagine The Grand Unifying Theory, can you?

I suspect you don't know the difference between Imagination and Conception.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

One little query is of course where the horses in Apocalypse 19 come from.

Blessed souls of horses? Resurrected horses?

Or simply raptured horses, like the two witnesses were raptured to Heaven before returning for an office and for martyrdom?

Horse used to be hippos in Greek, but is now "alogo" = "irrationale", since only irrational animal documented as coming in any sense of the word "from Heaven", I might suppose?

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Oh, Scott, I think you can be Scotist.

Bishop Tempier was proto-Scotist and believed hecceitas to the point of saying God very definitely COULD have created all angels same genus.

Condemned proposition 81 (or VII:16):

Quod, quia intelligentie non habent materiam, deus non posset plures eiusdem speciei facere.

Perhaps CLOSEST Bishop Tempier came to contradicting St Thomas. But he didn't quite.

1) St Thomas said God in fact created each angel its own species.

2) Bishop Tempier did not say God in fact created all or several angels same species. Only he could have.

This can be taken stronger or weaker.

Stronger take is, he believed hecceitas.

Weaker, see what follows:

3) St Thomas said angels could not be in same species.

4) Bishop Tempier said God could create them different species.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Index in stephani tempier condempnationes : Capitulum VII Errores de intelligentia uel angelo

ccmnxc said...

Sorry for the belated reply:

Scott, thanks for the answer, I'd say that answers my question to my satisfaction.

Brandon, thank you as well. Do you know where I might be able to read up a little more on your answers?


Unrelated, but was the release date for Neo-Scholastic Eassys pushed back? Amazon said sometime this month up until recently, where it was pushed to June 30th. Does Amazon just not know what's going on or has something changed?

Scott said...

@ccmnxc:

Amazon said sometime this month up until recently, where it was pushed to June 30th.

Hmm, I'm seeing that too and I pre-ordered it some time ago. I have no idea what's going on.

Tyrrell McAllister said...

@ Greg

I think we are assuming that we have a pretty good understanding of the powers of animals, and then applying the principle of parsimony. In a way, Professor Feser did answer your questions. If you grant that it would be entirely gratuitous to suppose that non-human animals really have subsistent souls, why are you still focusing on animals?

I'm interested in the problem as a test-case for understanding Thomist metaphysical epistemology.

What degree of confidence in animal non-immortality do Thomist principles warrant, once they are granted? If they warrant certainty (as they do about human immortality), then no new evidence could ever make a difference. Any revelatory text that seemed to indicate animal immortality, no matter how explicitly, would have to be interpreted as somehow not-to-be-taken-literally. But if Thomist principles only warrant a presumption of animal mortality, then ambiguous revelatory text could shift the balance of evidence towards animal immortality, even if the final conclusion is still "probably not".

More generally, when we are not entitled to perfect certainty on a metaphysical question (e.g., animal immortality), what constitutes epistemically valid reasoning about that question?

From my perspective, this seems to be an area where Thomists should be doing something like Bayesian updating. They should be expressing a roughly quantifiable degree of confidence about animal immortality. If their confidence is something short of perfect certainty, then they should be thinking about how much this or that divine revelation ought to shift their confidence in this or that direction. In general, they should have explicit tools for reasoning under conditions of metaphysical uncertainty in a rigorous way.

If you concede that the immortality of animal souls would rest on something totally unrelated to their nature, then trees and stones might also have immortal souls, and the "argument from sentiment" lends the position no support.

Just to clarify my hypothesis, I'm describing a scenario in which immortality is part of animal nature. It's just a part of their nature that we don't have the opportunity to observe under normal circumstances.

Thus, my suggestion is that animals might have "hidden natures" (hidden from us under current circumstances). As you say, this raises the question of whether trees and stones might have hidden natures, too. There should be formal tools for evaluating the strengths that these "might"s should have, at least in a roughly quantifiable way. There should be a "logic of uncertainty" that can be applied to reasoning about uncertain metaphysical matters.

Bayesianism is often pitched as a "logic of uncertainty". I'm trying to understand the extent to which Thomists recognize the need for something like this in their domain.

Anonymous said...

Banshee makes the most important point: there is a difference between Heaven and the new heaven and the new earth. There may not be animals in Heaven, but there most certainly will in the new heavens and the new earth: http://dhspriory.org/thomas/QDdePotentia5.htm#5:9. I am,

Anonymous

Daniel D. D. said...

@Scott and Anon

I just went to the chapter of Scholastic Metaphysics, and Dr. Feser writes that St. Thomas didn't think prime matter was the individualizing aspect, but rather matter with quantitative aspects, in particular dimension. Dr. Feser writes:

"This set of spatial dimensions is essentially different from that one...(199)"

"...prime matter as designated or marked-off as being here rather than there - that individuate stone material substance from another (199)"

I understand the main Scholastic views on individualization as such:

Thomas: matter (dimension) is the principle;

Scotus: form (haecceity) is the principle;

Suarez: substance is the principle.

Is this correct?

Christi pax.

Greg said...

@ Tyrell

Let me start here:

Just to clarify my hypothesis, I'm describing a scenario in which immortality is part of animal nature. It's just a part of their nature that we don't have the opportunity to observe under normal circumstances.

Understood. I obscured this point in my response, but my point still stands. If animal souls have a sort of brute immortality that is unrelated to the powers of their souls with which we are familiar, then their immortality would be totally gratuitous. The "argument from pet-owners' sentiment" (or any argument from qualia or intentionality) would not support the thesis that any animals are immortal.

You, of course, are not contending that the argument from sentiment has anything to do with this.

What degree of confidence in animal non-immortality do Thomist principles warrant, once they are granted?

To be clear, the thesis is not animal non-immortality, but non-rational animal immortality.

But I would say that it the confidence is basically proportionate to the Thomist's confidence that such animals don't possess a power (like rationality) that entails immortality of the soul. The Thomist would be open to evaluating the claim that there is some other power that entails immortality, though (to put my own vote on record) I have trouble imagining what it would be.

Could animals have a sort of "brute immortality"? Maybe. Should that decrease the Thomist's confidence that animals are mortal? I do not see why it should. The possibility is entirely gratuitous, so considerations of parsimony tell against it. Moreover, since (the Thomist argues) there is no connection between those observable animal powers and this brute immortality, the brute immortality would seem to be in vain. Perhaps the Thomist could claim that an animal lacking something like rationality is unsuited to what would be a purely intellectual disembodied subsistence; I don't know.

For the same reason, I don't think the materialist's confidence in the non-subsistence of animals should be shaken by such considerations as well. For it is consistent with the materialist's worldview that an immortal soul supervenes on every animal; by hypothesis, it doesn't affect anything that is within human power to observe.

The Thomist would agree that animals have "hidden natures," of a sort. They would agree that everything has a "hidden nature," or, as James Ross has called them, transcendent overflow conditions.

I am not sure what to make of the suggestions about revelation and Bayesianism. I don't know what I would make of a revelation that dog souls survive death, just as I don't know what I would make of a revelation that the pope can never speak infallibly ex cathedra. I don't think the question of animal immortality is seriously 'open' given the revelation that we have.

I have said before on this blog that I think applying Bayesian principles to most philosophical theses is a hopeless endeavor. For example, you talk about "how much this or that divine revelation ought to shift their confidence in this or that direction." But just before that, what you claim to have in mind are "ambiguous revelatory text[s]." What sort of helpful probabilities are you going to ascribe to the correctness of any number of interpretations of a text? Is it just a 10% that the lamb and the lion are literally to lay down, and 90% figurative? What's the prior probability that animal souls have brute principles of immortality, for which their other powers provide no evidence? Now, compute for me the conditional probability that animal souls have brute principles of immortality given that the lion literally lays down with the lamb.

Scott said...

@Daniel D. D.:

St. Thomas didn't think prime matter was the individualizing aspect, but rather matter with quantitative aspects[.]

Right. That's what "designated matter" means.

Scott said...

You're also correct about the broad categories of Scholastic views on individuation, but the actual history is rather more nuanced and complicated. Here's an excellent book on the subject.

Daniel said...

So anyone want to give straight into the deepest and murkiest of metaphysical waters and debate whether such-and-such Scholastic was a Constituent or an Instance Ontologist? No introductory text-books, either classical or modern, to help us here.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Answering "There may not be animals in Heaven, but there most certainly will in the new heavens and the new earth" by "Anonymous":

The reference is not really apt for the purpose.

Probably you looked at the list of contrary reasons which, as was his habit, introduced his explanation.

Even "tree of life" which I took to be one of the two trees in Eden was in his view Christ, and not a plant.

Glenn said...

Anonymous,

Banshee makes the most important point: there is a difference between Heaven and the new heaven and the new earth. There may not be animals in Heaven, but there most certainly will in the new heavens and the new earth: http://dhspriory.org/thomas/QDdePotentia5.htm#5:9.

This seems to imply an answer of 'yes' to each of two questions:

1. Whether there will be animals in the new heaven and the new earth; and,

2. Whether in QDP 9.5 St. Thomas himself holds that there will be animals in the new heaven and the new earth (in such a way that it will be possible to, e.g., frolic with Fido).

Of these two questions, it is the second question which seems to be the most amenable to an answer which is both correct and non-controversial.

The correct, non-controversial answer to the second question, however, is not 'yes' but 'no'.

Scott said...

Hans Georg Lundahl writes:

The reference is not really apt for the purpose.

That's an understatement. Aquinas says pretty much the diametrical opposite of what Anonymous says he does.

Glenn said...

(Oops. Somehow I got something backwards: s/b "Whether in QDP 5.9...")

Glenn said...

(Yikes. I also overlooked the fact that Hans Georg Lundahl had already said something.)

Anonymous said...

WHY IS THERE SUCH A BIG DEAL OVER ANIMAL SOULS ANYWAY. THE Soul is fake AND YOU ARE ALL WASTING YOUR TIME. IN FACT I CAN PROVE THE SOUL IS FAKE.
MOST OF YOU ASSUME THAT FROM SUPPOSED IMMATERIAL ASPECTS OF THE MIND, THERE IS A SOUL. WELL THAT'S FAKE. A LOT OF YOU GUYS ATTEMPT TO SAY THAT MENTAL PROPERTIES ARE SUBJECTIVE PHYSICAL ARE OBJECTIVE, WELL MENTAL STATES ARE ALSO OBJECTIVE. SAY FOR EXAMPLE I HIT MY HAND AND FEEL A THROBBING FEELING IN IT WHICH I CALL PAIN. AT THE SAME TIME MY FRIEND ALSO HITS HIS HAND ON THE TABLE AND GETS HURT. I TELL HIM I'M IN PAIN AND THAT I FEEL A THROBBING FEELING IN MY HAND AND HE TELLS ME THAT HE FEELS A THROBBING FEELING AS WELL. WE LATER BOTH GO TAKE A LIE TEST AND IT SHOWS THAT WHEN WE BOTH SAY THAT WE FEEL A THROBBING FEELING, We ARE TELLING THE TRUTH. THEREFORE WE KNOW THE OTHERS SUBJECTIVE EXPERIENCE AND MENTAL STATES ARE OBJECTIVE LIKE PHYSICAL STATES AND THE MIND IS PHYSICAL. STOP WASTING YOUR TIME, EVERYTHING IS PHYSICAL. I KNOW NONE OF YOU CAN REFUTE MY ARGUMENT THAT I JUST MADE.

John West said...

Greg wrote: I have said before on this blog that I think applying Bayesian principles to most philosophical theses is a hopeless endeavor.

I think it worth mentioning that there are fields where, the answer to uncertainty isn't inductive reasoning. It's to keep looking for a deductive proof.

young and rested said...

Maybe I'm missing something here or haven't read carefully enough, but it seems to me like saying that animals are entirely corporeal is a little like an argument from silence. I get that humans are believed to have incorporeal properties because you can at least supposedly show that they perform certain things like rational thought that cannot be accounted for in purely material terms. What I don't get is how you can argue that animals are entirely physical just because you can't name anything that shows that they aren't. I don't see why the door can't be left open on this.

I'm a total novice here so I apologize if I've used terms improperly or was not clear in what I was trying to say. If anyone can offer a brief answer I'd be appreciative.

Thanks.

Greg said...

@ young and rested

Maybe I'm missing something here or haven't read carefully enough, but it seems to me like saying that animals are entirely corporeal is a little like an argument from silence. I get that humans are believed to have incorporeal properties because you can at least supposedly show that they perform certain things like rational thought that cannot be accounted for in purely material terms. What I don't get is how you can argue that animals are entirely physical just because you can't name anything that shows that they aren't. I don't see why the door can't be left open on this.

Take a look at Tyrell's posts in this comment thread and my responses. He was asking about what you are suggesting: some unknown factor by virtue of which, it turns out, non-human/non-rational animals are immortal.

The short answer is that the assumption would be gratuitous, if what one is suggesting is that non-human animals have some property 'inaccessible' to humans. Why believe it is the case with animals rather than with trees or rocks? This, by the way, has nothing to do with Thomism. If the possibility of an undiscoverable factor that determines immortality is a problem for Thomism, then it's a problem for materialism and probably everyone else as well. But it's not a problem for Thomism.

The reason it feels like there might be such a factor with animals is probably that one is still feeling about the ways in which animals are special relative to rocks and trees. They possess qualia, as well as some sort of proto-intentionality, perhaps. But the Thomist claims that these don't imply immortality because they don't amount to the same power for 'becoming all things' that the human sort of intentionality does. (And this is the case even if these things are problematic for strict materialism. For qualia-related considerations, at least given the backdrop of contemporary materialism, only doubtfully support anything more than property dualism.)

Anonymous said...

To be clear, I did not say that St. Thomas says there will be plants and animals in the new heavens and the new earth. He demonstrates that, though, when he demonstrates that the heavens will stop. The heavens will stop, not because of any rational proof, but because the Bible says so - St. Thomas says that in article five of the same question. It is a matter of faith, not reason. St. Thomas then quotes in article nine, and others have quoted elsewhere, Scripture after Scripture after Scripture that says there will be bodies - spiritual bodies, but bodies nonetheless - and lions, lambs, trees, fruit, worms, everything God has made, gardens even, in the world to come. These Scriptures come from the same accounts, poems, visions, &c. that clearly demonstrate the heavens will be stopped. These same Scriptures also demonstrate, then, that the heavens will be started again, their motion being necessary to plants and animals. I am,

Anonymous, and not a philospher, just a simple farmer loving what God has made, and hoping He makes it again

Glenn said...

Anonymous,

1. To be clear, I did not say that St. Thomas says there will be plants and animals in the new heavens and the new earth.

It is true you did not explicitly say, "St. Thomas says there will be plants and animals in the new earth." But it is also true you implicitly said as much (at least insofar as animals are concerned):

"There may not be animals in Heaven, but there most certainly will in the new heavens and the new earth: http://dhspriory.org/thomas/QDdePotentia5.htm#5:9."

2. He demonstrates that, though, when he demonstrates that the heavens will stop.

Shall we take your word that that is so? Or consult what St. Thomas wrote to see if it is so? Let's give the benefit of the doubt, then check with St. Thomas just to be sure:

"In plants and animals to be is to live, and in corporeal things this cannot be without movement. ... Now these things have no moving principle that is not dependent on the first movable: since the very souls of animals and plants are wholly subject to the influence of the heavenly bodies. Therefore when the heavenly movement ceases it will be impossible for them to retain movement or life. It is evident then that at the renewal of the world the aforesaid things will be unable to remain."

(Why might this not likewise apply to rational animals, such as humans? St. Thomas addresses this question in a separate article.)

3. The heavens will stop, not because of any rational proof, but because the Bible says so - St. Thomas says that in article five of the same question.

Once again, St. Thomas does not say he has been said to say.

He does not say in article five of the same question that the heavens will stop because the Bible says so, but that "following the teaching of holy men we hold [i.e., subscribe to the belief] that at some time the celestial movement will cease[.]"

Further, St. Thomas is quite clear, elsewhere, that he believes the stoppage of the heavens will occur neither naturally nor because the Bible said they will, but due to an act of God, i.e., "as a result of the will of God".

- - - - -

Etc., etc.

- - - - -

I am, Anonymous, and not a philospher, just a simple farmer loving what God has made, and hoping He makes it again

One can be a simple farmer, love what God has made, and hope He makes it again, without allowing his simpleness, love or hope to unfittingly arbitrate what other people have actually said.

Glenn said...

(s/b "...does not say what he has been said to say.")

Glenn said...

(s/b "...does not say what he has been said to say.")

Anonymous said...

Glenn, thank you for your reply. To be clear, St. Thomas does not say there will be animals, or plants, in the new heavens and the new earth, he says the opposite; but I do think he shows it. And maybe I’ve written too colloquially. I apologize. Please, let me try again.

In his answer in article five of question five of his Disputed Questions, St. Thomas quotes Apocalypse 10:5,6, Job 14:12, Romans 8:22, and St. Isidore then says, “I answer that following the teaching of holy men we hold that at some time the celestial movement will cease, although this be a matter of faith rather than of demonstration by reason.” In article five, St. John, Moses, St. Paul, and St. Isidore are read plainly and literally.

In his objections in article nine of the same question, St. Thomas quotes Ecclesiastes 3:14, Romans 1:20, Apocalypse 22:2, Psalm 10:7, Isaiah 66:24 and St. Augustine, but either reads them equivocally - there is some hidden Aristotelean meaning - or metaphorically, and even says “Other expressions, if there be any, should be interpreted in the same way [metaphorically].” And of course, there are other expressions in Scripture and the Fathers. There are even those that say there will be time, Isaiah 66:23 for example. But here Solomon, St. Paul, St. John, David, Isaiah, and St. Augustine are not read plainly and literally. But I follow St. Thomas’ earlier example, and do. This is how I think he shows or demonstrates, not purposely, that there will be animals, and plants, and also bacteria, fungi, viruses, &c. in the new heavens and the new earth.

So, I agree with St. Thomas “… that following the teaching of holy men… at some time the celestial movement will cease...” I continue to follow the teaching of holy men, though, in saying that there will be plants and animals - and even new celestial movement - in the new heavens and the new earth. And like St. Thomas says of the ceasing of the heavens, I say this cannot be demonstrated by reason, it is a matter of faith. The fact that it is called a new earth says as much too - what is an earth without soil, without earthiness, without its nature? That is not an earth. And we know, at least farmers know, there is no soil without plants and animals. One objection I could think of, is that there will be no seas, and you might ask, what is an earth without seas? But this earth did not have seas in the beginning, when it was good, according to Scripture. So maybe that is not really much of an objection to the point of soil.

And to be clear, when I say he says it will be so because the Bible says so, I am not suggesting he attributes this ceasing to the will of the Bible or holy men, or some natural process. It will all be as a result of the will of God. I hope this was clearer. And thank you again for your replies. I will not respond again, because I am not well in my mind and should never have read a philosopher’s blog to begin with. My wife has scolded me. In my case, thinking about a future without plants or animals is literally depressing. Please, keep me in your prayers. I am,

Anonymous

Glenn said...

Anonymous,

Thanks for taking the time to lay out the lines of your reasoning in an orderly manner; I now have a better understanding of your some of comments.

For St. Thomas (and others (such as, e.g., St. Augustine)), metaphor is included in the literal sense. This may seem somewhat unusual (of course it does), but when he contrasts the literal sense of Scripture with its spiritual or mystical sense, it then becomes clear why metaphor is included in the literal sense.

And when it is understood that St. Thomas includes metaphor in the literal sense, then it'll likely no longer appear that St. Thomas inadvertently showed or demonstrated something he explicitly denied.

At any rate, if thinking about a future without plants or animals induces depression, then it's probably a (very) good idea not to be thinking about it. ;)

God bless.

young and rested said...

This may be poorly conceived, but is it possible for an animal to be wronged according to this view? It is well known that animals undergo pain and suffering, so I guess my question here is whether or not the suffering of animals is considered to be any sort of evil for which God would 'need' to "compensate" them? If I torture Fufu to death, is justice achieved by punishing me? Wouldn't the evil experienced by Fufu be something that cannot be righted since Fufu no longer exists? I'm wondering if it is considered mere sentimentalism to think that animal suffering requires some kind of divine action.

Thanks for being patient with me. As I mentioned before, I'm pretty new to philosophy and have nothing by way of a formal education in it aside from an intro to logic undergrad course.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

To an anonymouse (if I may say so) who had said:

A LOT OF YOU GUYS ATTEMPT TO SAY THAT MENTAL PROPERTIES ARE SUBJECTIVE PHYSICAL ARE OBJECTIVE, WELL MENTAL STATES ARE ALSO OBJECTIVE. ... STOP WASTING YOUR TIME, EVERYTHING IS PHYSICAL.

1) You are confusing Thomism, which is stating certain aspects of reality are not material, with Locke's or perhaps even earlier distinction between quantitative aspects being objective and qualitative aspects being subjective.

Whether redness of a rose really is redness in the rose (objective redness, contrary to Locke) or only becomes red when I or you or other person sees it (subjective quality as Locke said), the fact of SEEING is a mental fact, as opposed to redness simply being there perhaps objkectively which is a material and bodily one.

2) Less important, in passage I left out, you think lie-detector tests can prove you lie or prove you don't lie. They can't.

Chesterton wrote an excellent story with Father Brown about the lie detector superstition.

Captain Peabody said...

Well, as is his wont, St. Thomas here (http://dhspriory.org/thomas/QDdePotentia5.htm#5:9) gives both sides of the argument, as well as his resolution. His replies to the objections here are almost all based on the arguments he lays out in favor of his position. The strength of his position is thus based almost entirely on the arguments he gives in resolving the question. In this case, his arguments are essentially (1): Animals and plants are ordained to the completion of the universe only in relation to the mobile nature of the world and in relation to man, (2): Animals and plants as material entities contain an active principle of corruption within themselves that could not be offset by an essentially external source without violence to their natures, (3): Animals and plants are moved entirely by the motion of the heavens and the stars, and so could not continue once the heavens cease moving in the new creation. These are Aquinas' essential arguments, and his position stands or falls with them.

Of the arguments, #3 seems to me the weakest, since it is essentially based on both the discredited philosophical idea that the motions of the stars are what moves creatures on the earth, which no longer possesses any philosophical force. #1 is stronger, but certainly very debatable, since it is essentially an argument as to the ultimate value and significance of animals and plants within the created order. Since Aquinas himself acknowledges that serving man as food is not the primary or sole motive for the existence of animals and plants, this part of the argument is decisive only when taken in conjunction with the other. This argument, then, hinges on the claim that there will be no motion within the new heavens, which has its persuasive aspects but is (despite arguments to the contrary) not remotely de fide.

The #2 argument is by far the most convincing and the most cogent. One possible objection that occurs to me is that Aquinas assumes here that the material heavens and the elements are incorruptible (which is what exempts them from these considerations and allows them to endure into the new heavens and new earth), which we know now is obviously not the case. To follow Aquinas' argument all the way here, then, would seem to necessitate the denying any material existence to the new heavens and the new earth at all, which is obviously contrary to the de fide teaching of the Scriptures and Church Fathers. This is a pretty straightforward reductio ad absurdum, or argument by contradiction. Another way to get out of this argument would be to say that God might be able to give the animals an inner source of preservation rather than an external one, in an analogous way to that done with man and his own material existence (though it's hard to see how this could be). Or it could be argued that viz a vis animals (as opposed to human beings), an external source of preservation would not constitute violence, since (per Aquinas) animals are already moved and constituted through an external source, which must thus be natural to them. Thus, animals could be preserved through their relationship with man, or the heavens, or God.

#2 really is a strong argument, though, and it cuts to the core of all three arguments, which is the fact that animals by nature are extremely tied up with the changeable, corruptible, material nature of the current world, such that it is very difficult to see how they could possibly continue in any meaningful sense to exist in a new heavens and earth that is (per Paul) essentially incorruptible. In a sense, modern evolutionary theory has only underscored this reality. It's difficult to conceive of an animal as it is now understood that is not intimately tied up in seemingly all aspects of its being with a cycle of corruption and change. This is not inescapable, per se (there are other ways to conceive of animal and plant life), but it's still very compelling.

Captain Peabody said...

Speaking personally, I have few real dogs in this fight--I definitely agree with Brandon and Dr. Feser that the question hinges on the natures of animals and plants, not on any sentimental question of human completeness and incompleteness relative to the Beatific Vision--but I do tend to think that Aquinas' arguments here are not ultimately conclusive, at least per the existence of some sort of animal and plant life in the new creation. Aquinas does seem to indicate that such life would have to be rather different, to say the least--but per our current understanding, that is equally true about the heavens and the elements as well. This gets to the larger question of how we can both affirm a new heavens and a new earth with Isaiah and Revelation, and affirm with Paul that creation will be freed from all corruption. This is very hard for us to conceive of, living as we do in a world intimately tied up with corruption on almost every level--and indeed, since this new world involves specific, creative divine action, since it is essentially a supernatural creation, it is even harder to anticipate. There are not, nor will there be, many certainties here.

More broadly, I think both sides are being occasionally somewhat facetious here. There are certainly arguments for the existence of animals and plants in the new creation that do not involve appeals to sentimentality or human completeness--indeed, Aquinas gives a number of them in his objections, as do many others, and they by no means lack persuasive power. Likewise, as both Brandon and Dr. Feser point out, the question is not whether God loves animals or not, or whether God wants us to be happy, but solely whether the natures of animals as they currently exist are compatible with the next life as we know it, and to what degree animals and plants are of necessity, fittingness, or benefit to the perfection of the new creation. Either way, God's goodness, and our happiness, is assured. Likewise, it is better in my experience to try to engage directly with Aquinas' arguments and ideas, rather than to stay at a distance and merely state what Aquinas says either to affirm or refute. The great thing about Aquinas is the way he lays out his arguments for you, inviting you to understand and to critique, and even providing you ammo to do so. Even where (by the doctrine of the Church or scientific knowledge) we now know he was dead wrong, he almost always gives you everything you need to know exactly *how* he went wrong. The same is true when he is right. It is great fun and greatly educational to watch Aquinas reason--not least of all because, unlike the Church, he is not remotely infallible.

Irish Thomist said...

I have imagine conscious experience in animals as immaterial. I wonder what peoples thoughts are on that?

Irish Thomist said...

@young and rested

There would indeed be a deprivation in the experience of the sensitive faculties of the creature, thus a wrong. However intent would also play a major role. In the case of non-rational creatures we apply a completely different philosophical backdrop to our application of ethics. It's wrong, in a different way and is of a different kind because the lack of the self reflective philosophical potentialities of animal forms.

Correct me if I am wrong.

Sami said...

I don't know if it is necessary at all, but I think it's plausible that different animals might exist in heaven. Tapeworms don't have much of a point if thy aren't tapeworming, but if heaven is a physical place at all, which it must be if we're in it, it doesn't stand to reason that God would quit his hobby of making non-rational animals just because the animals in our corrupted world all eat and poop. Maybe animals in heaven just sing and dance or something.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

"I have imagine conscious experience in animals as immaterial. I wonder what peoples thoughts are on that?"

Depends a bit on what matter is.

But as ordinarily understood now, yes.

Etzelnik said...

Regarding the Isaiah verses, Maimonides is quite clear. The verses are an allegory to all the nations of the world dwelling together in peace.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

Patristic interpretations are not quite totally different.

There was universal peace around the time Christ was born.

But a more lasting fulfilment is that barbarians and very civilised and gentle men had peace together, even if the number of nations was limited.

Clovis and Remigius etc.

Anonymous said...

Belief in the afterlife is nothing more than wishful thinking. Why are people still debating this? There's nothing to see here, nothing to discuss. When you die, that's it - you're gone, forever! End of story.

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

It seems believers in DiaMat have a preference for anonymity.

Why is that?

In order to not expose themselves to the kind of persecution they wrongly THINK would come on an outspoken adherent of DiaMat?

Or in order so that a few of them may look out where I commented and so persecute me with repetitions of a few slogans over and over again, under where I commented?

In that latter case, believing in DiaMat is not all of their story, I would say.

Anonymous said...

I thought that the Thomistic proof of an unmoved mover could be applied to creatures with intelligence in order to prove that every living and aware thing has an immaterial soul (for every living thing's actions there is an immaterial source of such actualization, just bound to the ultimate source of actualization being God). Am I wrong in thinking of applying certain aspects of this argument to prove the soul of every living thing?

Hans Georg Lundahl said...

I think not.

The soul is not a completely unmoved mover, but a mover which is moved per accidens (transported with its body) and by final causes, but it is unmoved in relation to the movement it is causing.

Craig V said...

I'm not sure how we get to the position that God can't grab the same material that made up ol' Spot in the first place and put him back together, infusing the same sense memories he had when he died.
Of course Our Lord is under no obligation to do so, and for the time being, old Spot is really gone.
I'm just not getting the argument that it'd just be another Spot, not the same Spot. As if God were not outside of time and couldn't simply bring the dog back if He willed it
Not that He would, or that it would be necessary for Heaven to be perfect. I'm just looking at that one small part of the argument here.