Friday, December 30, 2016

Auld links syne


Get your geek on.  Blade Runner 2049 will be out in 2017.  So will Iron Fist, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Alien: Covenant, Spider-Man: Homecoming, The Defenders, and Thor: Ragnarok.  Season 2 of The Man in the High Castle is already here.


The 2017 Dominican Colloquium in Berkeley will take place July 12-15.  The theme is Person, Soul and Consciousness.  Speakers include Lawrence Feingold, Thomas Hünefeldt, Steven Long, Nancey Murphy, David Oderberg, Ted Peters, Anselm Ramelow, Markus Rothhaar, Richard Schenk, D. C. Schindler, Michael Sherwin, Eleonore Stump, and Thomas Weinandy.
 
Prospect interviews David Oderberg on the subject of “three-parent babies.”

R. D. Ingthorsson’s book McTaggart's Paradox is reviewed at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

New from Encounter Books: Neven Sesardic’s When Reason Goes on Holiday: Philosophers in Politics.

Robert Heinlein and Arthur C. Clarke discuss the moon landings as they happen.  How Isaac Asimov was so prolific.

Lenin, Gramsci, and all that: Angelo Codevilla on the origins of political correctness, in the Claremont Review of Books.

If you really care about the poor, you should oppose the sexual revolution.  Dorothy Day knew that, as Dan Hitchens explains at First Things.

The First Aquinas Winter School organized by the Institute of Thomistic Philosophy will take place February 17 - 22 in Eichstätt, Germany.  The topic is Dualism and Hylemorphism in the Philosophy of Mind and the invited teachers are Uwe Meixner and Klaus Obenauer. 

 At Public Discourse, R. J. Snell on C. S. Lewis and natural law.

City Journal on the left-wing war on science.  Jerry Coyne on how his fellow leftists reject science when it conflicts with egalitarian dogma.


Also at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, Richard Cross reviews Jeffrey Brower’s Aquinas's Ontology of the Material World.

David Albert Jones on the injustice of destroying embryonic human beings, at Mercatornet.  David Mills responds to Jones’s critics at Human Life Review.

The College Fix reports that conservative philosopher Daniel Bonevac will, after thirty years, no longer be teaching his Contemporary Moral Problems course.  Interview with Bonevac at Fox News Insider.


Liberal professor Mark Lilla argues that campus identity politics is dooming liberal causes, at The Chronicle of Higher Education.  Lilla’s new book on reactionary politics is reviewed at The New Criterion.

Can a serious philosopher resort to humor?  Serious philosopher Susan Haack thinks so.

At The Washington Post, astronomer Howard Smith argues for the specialness of mankind.

The Weekly Standard on the failings of Evelyn Waugh.

It begins with butthurt and quickly progresses to complete disconnect from reality.  It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome (a “high energy” analogue of Bush Derangement Syndrome).  Get diagnosed by Roger Kimball at PJ Media or by Justin Raimondo at the Los Angeles Times

Speaking of complete disconnect from reality: what progressivism has come to, in a nutshell

The Claremont Review of Books on the elitism of art critic Robert Hughes.

Mike Flynn at The TOF Spot continues to blog the Crusades

In The Tablet, two articles by philosopher John Haldane on the election of Donald Trump.  (You’ll need to register to read them.)

55 comments:

Mister Jorge said...

I love Evelyn Waugh...

Evelyn Waugh in a hilarious interview with the BBC:

BBC: Have you ever brooded on what appears to be to you unjust or unfair criticism?

Waugh: No, I'm afraid if someone praises me I think, what an ass, and if they abuse me i think, what an ass.

BBC: And if they say nothing about you at all and take no notice of you?

Waugh: That's the best I can hope for.

BBC: Then why do you keep doing interviews with the BBC?

Waugh: Poverty.

Kiel said...

Happy New Years, Ed, to you and your family! Hope you're getting some great time in with them. Can't wait to buy and read your upcoming work in 2017.

Dianelos Georgoudis said...

Ed,

Since it looks like you like reading I wonder what your thoughts are on superintelligence (which is also the title of Nick Bostrom's book). Most specialists think it is not a question of if but only of when a superintelligent machine will be around. We roughly define such a machine as one that will be functionally more intelligent than all of humanity put together (and assuming there is not limit to intelligence, it would become much more intelligent by the hour). Such a machine might dominate our species as we have pretty much dominated all other higher species on this planet. Most of the experts guess that superintelligent machinery will be here in next 50 years or so, and that one way or the other it will radically affect the evolution of human civilization. For example the price of material goods would plummet to effectively zero.

I have looked around your blog for a little while, and have come out with the impression that according to your understanding machine intelligent behavior is real but machine thinking (or perhaps consciousness) is not. I wonder what your thoughts are on the following issue: If such a superintelligent machinery came about it will probably work on all difficult problems there are, including the very difficult ones of philosophy. Thus it will tells us whether A-T metaphysics is right, and indeed about whether classical theism is true.

The Rambler said...

Does anyone have a link which deals in detail 3 parent babies from a Thomistic viewpoint? Additionally any on IVF would also be interesting

Craig Payne said...

The link to the work of David Albert Jones, and David Mills' defense of that work, is quite interesting. Pro-choicers are still making the same arguments they made back in the 1970s, no matter how many times those arguments have been addressed and refuted. Culturally, pro-lifers must continue striving to change minds, but philosophically, we won a long time ago.

Gottfried said...

That's a nasty little hatchet job on Waugh. His character flaws are well known, but reading that article you would think the author had never encountered the English taste for irony and over the top eccentricity. As Nancy Mitford once said, "everything with Evelyn Waugh was jokes. Everything. That's what none of the people who wrote about him seem to have taken into account at all".

I fear Valiunas reveals too much of his real motivation when he gets to dismissing Brideshead Revisited. Waugh's "soul-killing religious fever" forces his characters to renounce adulterous love and homosexuality, "the most life-enhancing love Waugh ever imagined. Because the church has rules about these things and souls must be purged of their dross." Right.

The reference to Gibbon reminded me of Valiunas' last piece to annoy me, a starry eyed encomium to Gibbon's magisterial classic of anti-Christian mythology. It would seem that he's one of those "conservative" champions of "Enlightenment values," whose attitude to (and knowledge of) religion is not much different from that of the new atheists.

George LeSauvage said...

Ed, thanks for another year of sanity. I've been unable to comment lately, but I still drop by several times a week. (And thanks to many of the regulars, too.)

@Gottfried: I was going to comment on the Waugh link, but you nailed it. I can only add that the writing was awfully slapdash, too. It had a high school feel about it.

Craig Payne said...

George LeSauvage, you wrote: "The writing was awfully slapdash, too. It had a high school feel about it."

I am not really a Waugh fan, but here is a bit of empirical evidence to support your intuition: Once the author gets past the introduction, which consists mainly of stories of Waugh's bad behavior, he reviews nine--that is to say, NINE--of Waugh's books in six short paragraphs. SIX (SHORT) paragraphs. Even high-schoolers are supposed to know better than that. If you're going to dismiss a book, let alone nine books, you at least spend a bit of time on the effort.

Mister Jorge said...

That review by Valiunas was pretty bad.
Those views on Brideshead Revisisted and Handful of Dust are the first I've ever heard.... at least amongst people familiar with Waugh's work.

On Handful of Dust Valiunas says "retails the haphazard adulterous collision of two nullities moved principally by boredom. The story is told in a leaden monotone that aspires to devastating irony but overdoes the moral emptiness.".... sure, on a very surface view of the story. It's about England losing its past identity: large, beautiful estates being converted into flats; irreverence towards commitments made. Tony Last is the victim of adulterous actions of his bored wife.... They're not both bored, irresponsible twits.
One of the most interesting images in the book happens deep in a Brazilian rain forest: a Mr. Todd, who rescues Tony Last, requesting Tony to read Dickens novel after Dickens novel to him. Mr. Todd is supposedly illiterate. I believe this is supposed to be a prefiguring on what lays ahead for England: an illiterate madman who wants to hear stories of what has been forever lost to him.

Ben said...

The Waugh piece makes perfect sense if you have no sense of the spiritual dimension of existence.

Scott W. said...

A family member gave us a gift certificate to the movies, so we went to Rogue One. I had low expectations so I was pleasantly surprised even if much of it was forgettable. What was excruciating however was sitting through a half an hour of previews for yet another pile of hollow super-hero movies. I not a film buff, so I couldn't date precisely when American cinema bottomed out culturally, but seeing the vapidity stacked one after the other like that really drove it home.

Bobcat said...

I don't know the precise date American cinema bottomed out, but it's revelatory to look at this year's top ten film lists. In most cases, most (I mean, about 8 of 10) are films I've never heard of, which is usually because they are foreign films or very small releases.

Bobcat said...

On another note, does anyone know anything about canon law? If so, what do you make of this article by Professor James Taylor at Bleeding Heart Libertarians?

http://bleedingheartlibertarians.com/2016/12/no-gays-catholics-allowed/

Timocrates said...

@ Scott W.

Rogue One is cultural bait & switch so they had to a decent job. But don't kid yourself the people in charge of that franchise now are extreme leftists. Both of the last movies were inspired by Feminist ideology and it will likely only get much worse.

I wouldn't support the disemboweling of an American cultural classic. But it's a free country.

doubter said...

We roughly define such a machine as one that will be functionally more intelligent than all of humanity put together

You mean, it's not sufficient for such a machine to be more intelligent than any 10 human geniuses? Or 100? Or just as intelligent, but 1 million times faster?

(and assuming there is not limit to intelligence, it would become much more intelligent by the hour)

Who is assuming there is no limit? And why? And, what would it mean to "become" much more intelligent by the hour - adding fundamental capacity, or merely adding more facts?

Such a machine might dominate our species as we have pretty much dominated all other higher species on this planet.

Or, such a machine might figure out that "dominating humans" is a low-return prospect, and go off to do much better things with its mind.

For example the price of material goods would plummet to effectively zero.

Only if this intelligence were benevolent to us. What if it were malevolent (cf, Terminator world's super machine, Skynet). What if indifferent?

And, not if there are absolutely basic limits to energy extraction / consumption that cannot be circumvented no matter what - thus limiting (perhaps) materials production to prevent global meltdown. Or any of half a dozen other limits: it doesn't matter how perfect a machine is, it cannot make food for 7 billion people out of 10 pounds of potatoes.

Don Jindra said...

"Or, such a machine might figure out that 'dominating humans' is a low-return prospect, and go off to do much better things with its mind."

LOL!

Brandon said...

Bobcat,

The obvious problem with Taylor's argument is that spiritual marriage is not marriage in the same (or in as fundamental) sense as natural or sacramental marriage; it's as if one were to say that a rule requiring that people be given something healthy to eat allowed cannibalism because athletes, for instance, are healthy people. But the subtler problem is that the spiritual marriage between consecrated virgins and Christ is not a 'polygamous union'. All nuns, for instance, insofar as we say they are 'married to Christ' are merely representing the unified Church itself, and its union with Christ. The union of the Church and Christ is talked about in marriage terms because it is what sacramental marriage, as a sacrament, is a sign of. It's thus inconsistent with the actual nature of spiritual marriage to treat it as polygamous.

Edward Feser said...

...American cinema bottomed out...

Oh please. I love it when this kind of snootiness comes from people who presumably think the Chronicles of Narnia, Tolkien, etc. are profound stuff.

Not to knock Lewis, Tolkien, et al. in any way, mind you. And I'd be the last to deny that lots of superhero and SF stuff is crap.

The point is that no one who thinks that the fantasy genre is capable of conveying important and interesting ideas should dismiss the superhero and SF genres, which are no less capable of doing that.

And the fashionable notion that the large number of superhero movies in recent years is somehow driving out other genres is laughable, especially in the age of Netflix, Amazon prime, AMC, etc.

ASV said...

Lawrence Feingold -- attending the Dominican Colloquium -- has a series of recorded theology lectures up online for free. Just search "Association of Hebrew Catholics, Mystery of Israel and the Church." It should be the first one if you're using Google. Alternatively, one can search for his profile at the St. Paul's Center website and look under "Conferences and Talks" in his CV, where one will find the link. He's been very kind to have those put up. It's probably close to 100+ hours of material, if not more!

Although it's been quite a while since I've looked at any of his works, he's certainly a good Thomist. One of his very good works is a criticism of the 20th century theological anthropology promoted by Henri De Lubac, et al.: The Natural Desire to See God According to St. Thomas and His Interpreters. The only "non-Thomist" position I can remember him taking is the Molinist position (or something very much like it) in the Banez-Molina debate. Nevertheless, I think it might be difficult to deny that there is absolutely nothing problematic about the standard Thomist-Banezian presentation, as Ludwig Ott points out.

(That always makes me think, though... what kind of metaphysical system could even in principle go beyond the Thomist system without contradicting the veracity of its integral parts? -- so as to avoid theological problems later on down the road, as we see in the Banez-Molina debate? Where could we even possibly go next? I digress...)

Go listen to Dr. Feingold!

Scott said...

Not to knock Lewis, Tolkien, et al. in any way, mind you. And I'd be the last to deny that lots of superhero and SF stuff is crap

That's rather my point. A 30-minute barrage of eye-rolling crap. Netflix, Amazon productions just prove my point. Ten minutes of picking through the slagpile of stream productions can usually yield something watchable. Driving to a theater and plunking down a pile of cash is almost always a waste.

Thursday said...

And the fashionable notion that the large number of superhero movies in recent years is somehow driving out other genres is laughable, especially in the age of Netflix, Amazon prime, AMC, etc.

The complaint is mainly about feature length movies in theatres, which are almost all sequels and reboots, often of comic book material, but also of various other lowbrow sources. Some of these are ok, but they're kiddie/adolescent level stuff. These are crowding out more original productions. You don't see much adult stuff anymore, like The Godfather or Lawrence of Arabia or Saving Private Ryan anymore.

High artistic achievement tends to concentrate in the feature length film. Low budget TV shows tend to peak at the "watchable timewaster" level. (Not that there's anything wrong with that!) It's tough to sustain audiovisual storytelling at the highest level over even 5 - 10 episodes.

I'll also note that superheroes tend to be far less complex symbolic figures than the gods and monsters of traditional mythology. At least some fantasy authors are able to tap into that older tradition.

Thursday said...

Waugh peaked with Scoop, his nigh apocalyptic satire of British journalism and African politics.

BTW, lots of people find the later novels sentimental and rather thin on characterization. Waugh was a great satirist, which relies on types, but not much of a social novelist, where you need persuasive, rounded characters.

Andrew Preslar said...

There might be some good superhero books out there (other than comics), I don't know. But comparing movies to movies, I'd rate some of the X Men films and the Batman movies by Nolan way above Chronicles of Narnia and Lord of the Rings. Regarding books, Lewis's and Tolkien's fantasy works are wonderful, deeply moving and soul-forming (in my experience and in various ways) in part because they are not high-brow or elitist. They are popular and traditional. As for Waugh, there should be no disagreement; he was (and for all we know still is) both a subtle, eccentric, satirist and an ass hole.

Don Jindra said...

Thursday,

I see about 50 movies in theaters every year, and about 50 more on dvd. Plenty of movies are released for an adult audience and that was true this year. While I rarely see a superhero movie I like, and have low expectations going into one, I rarely see any movie I rate more than mediocre. I keep going for those rare jewels. I don't care which genre it happens to come from. This year has been particularly bland, imo, with no movie I can say stands out. But I haven't seen everything yet.

Anonymous said...

Call me naïve, but is it even necessary to see the relationship of Charles and Sebastian as homosexual? This is certainly not explicit in the book, as far as I can recall, and it can just be seen as a close male friendship. I suppose many have an assumption such a friendship must be homosexual (many historians assume the same).

Anonymous said...

Big fan of this author and blog, however, have a question. How can an immutable God be compatible with the Christian God which intervened in time?

Craig Payne said...

Dear Anonymous: At newadvent.org, in the Encyclopedia section under "God: Attributes of," there is a quick but helpful discussion of your question on immutability.

If God is eternal and unchanging, then whatever God is, He always is; whatever God does, He always does. To us, in our time-locked condition, God's action looks like an ad hoc "intervention in time." From the Divine perspective, these interventions are simply God's unchanging Divinity as we perceive its manifestations. The Divinity is unchanging; what changes is our perception of its appearance in history.

Anonymous said...

Thank you for the reply Chris Payne, I will check out the website!

I'm to sure I understood your post. So could you explain it this way; God wants to cure a woman at Lourdes. 'God always does' - so God has willed since eternity that that women gets healed at that specific time?

I fail to see how this isn't a case of change, though? Wouldn't the actual event of God causing the miracle be an act of change?

Feser has used great examples like miracles simply being analogus to a change in a song from the normal pattern of a song (to highlight that God isn't intervening as every moment is sustained in existence by Him) to a different note. But this still seems to be a kind of change, at least if the analogy is taken seriously. I don't see how pure actuality that is immutable and imparts existence to everything else, can alter how it sustains the world whilst remaining unchanging?

John West said...

Poor Chris. :-)

John West said...

Feser has used great examples like miracles simply being analogus to a change in a song from the normal pattern of a song (to highlight that God isn't intervening as every moment is sustained in existence by Him) to a different note. But this still seems to be a kind of change, at least if the analogy is taken seriously. I don't see how pure actuality that is immutable and imparts existence to everything else, can alter how it sustains the world whilst remaining unchanging?

It's worth drawing a distinction between symmetrical and asymmetrical relations.* A relation is symmetrical if and only if whenever x bears a relation, R, to y, y bears R to x; it's asymmetrical if and only if whenever x bears a relation R to y, y doesn't bear R to x. Distance is a symmetrical relation; causation is an asymmetrical relation. (if I'm two feet from you, you're two feet from me; if, however, the throwing of a stone caused a window to break, then the breaking of the window did not cause the stone to be thrown.)

Now, a lot of historical believers in Divine Immutability would say that (efficient) causation just is the bringing about of change.* If they're right then since causation is asymmetrical, God's causing something else, a, to change doesn't require that he changes. All it requires is that a change.


*There are also nonsymmetrical relations, but we can leave those aside for our purposes here. Even if causation is nonsymmetrical, a similar reply can be given.

*”An efficient cause is that which brings something into existence or changes it in some way.” (Scholastic Metaphysics, p. 88) Both disjuncts involve some change in the world.

Craig Payne said...

Dear Anonymous: You wrote, "So could you explain it this way; God wants to cure a woman at Lourdes. 'God always does' - so God has willed since eternity that that women gets healed at that specific time? . . . . Wouldn't the actual event of God causing the miracle be an act of change?"

Yes to your first question, no to the second. To us, it is a change if X at noon is different than X at one o'clock (let's say X receives a miraculous healing). X has changed in the passage of time. However, in God's timelessness, or we could say, God's eternal present tense, God sees right now X at noon (infirm) and He also sees right now X at one (healed). His eternal will (that X at one is different than X at noon) doesn't have to change; hence, both his will for the miracle to happen to X at one and his knowledge that the miracle does happen to X at one do not change. X changes, in time, when the miracle happens, but God has not changed at all.

Hope this helps.

Anonymous said...

Thanks John West!

That was a great point. If God is conserving existence and in its natural order from t1 to t10, only then to suspend said natural order to act out a miracle at t11, would you have to say that God has always been causing, and causing all events (even purposively different events as a miracle) in one unchanging state?

Would something like this by Eleonore Stump be what you are getting at? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nKnjhR5xa_o

She argues that God being in a timeless eternity still 'interacts' with the world but without standing in temporal relation and addressing Nelson Pike.

I think that may capture a part of my concern. Wouldn't causal interaction with the world indicate some symmetry insofar as it is temporal symmetry (or perhaps just some temporal relation).

Anonymous said...

That was a much clearer post Chris, I think i can grasp what you are saying. Can i just ask, is this essentially, or even somewhat, the thesis put forward by Eleonore Stump in the 80's? Are you familiar with Craig's rebuttal of it on his website?

John West said...

Would something like this by Eleonore Stump be what you are getting at? https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=nKnjhR5xa_o

I haven't looked at the video, but that sounds fine.

As a B-theorist, I'm inclined to do away with all this talk about the objective present, distinguish temporal relations from causal relations, and say that God lacks temporal relations to the world but has causal relations to it.*

But presentists may have an easier reply. Since on presentism only the present moment exists and relations require relata, it's not clear to me that on presentism there even are temporal relations.* Simultaneous causation, however, means that presentists can have causal relations. So they can say that there are no temporal relations, but that God has causal relations to creation.

(I'm not familiar with Pike's work. I, however, also suspect that even most naturalist realists about causation would want to affirm at least the conceptual or narrowly logical possibility of atemporal beings causing things (similar to how they want to affirm the possibility of non-spatial tropes). I can see why they might have denied it back, before the '80s, when Humean Regularity theories of causation dominated the academy. But not now.)

That leaves "substantival" theories of time. I, however, don't see why causal relations couldn't relate an entity “outside” substantival time with one "in" it.

*Thomists are going to want to reconstrue my relations as res respectivae and divvy them up. They would say that since causation is asymmetric, the non-God relata have causal respectives pointing to God, but God has no corresponding causal respective to creation. (To borrow Geach and Miller's term, God's relations to creation are “Cambridge”.) For more about differences in how medievals construe relations, see this old post.
*Not even reducible ones.

John West said...

That was a great point. If God is conserving existence and in its natural order from t1 to t10, only then to suspend said natural order to act out a miracle at t11, would you have to say that God has always been causing, and causing all events (even purposively different events as a miracle) in one unchanging state? 

Not sure about the stuff about suspending the natural order (laws of nature?) to cause a miracle. It's probably worth reviewing the powers theory of laws and seeing if the idea of “suspending the laws”, rather than just unproblematically causing the miracle, still makes sense. (See, for example, here, if I recall right.)

I can see why suspending the natural order would make sense on, say, Armstrong's theory of laws. Not sure about the powers theory, though.

Craig Payne said...

Dear Anonymous: The argument I presented is a basic "classical theism" argument. As such, it is probably close to anything Eleonore Stump (whom I admire) has written about these matters. I believe she does hold to God's immutability.

I am not familiar with William Lane Craig's work as much (or William Lane Chris, as we call him). :) What I have read of his work revolves mostly around his argument for God's existence, which did not entirely convince me.

Anonymous said...

Thanks for both of your replies John and Craig! Can't believe ive been constantly getting your name wrong! Sorry pal.

Craig Payne said...

No problem, friend. Happy New Year to all, a bit late.

Vishal Mehra said...

John West,
You describe presentism as the idea that only the present moment exists. But time does not exist in the same sense as the things that exist do. I would rephrase it as "present things exist in the present moment and past things exist in the past"- a tautology since there is hardly anything more to be sensibly said on the point.

The B-theory seems just a use of spatial metaphor for the temporal reality. Are there any particular insights or claims to be have had from the spatial metaphor?

Callum said...

This year's films are going to be so good! However, you didn't mention Star Wars VIII, which makes you a heretic.

Happy new year to all posters here, and especially to our host who is making a Thomist out of me. You don't take requests do you Dr. Feser? ;) I would be so happy to see a post on whether the modern Fine tuning argument can be compatible with A-T metaphysics and philosophy of nature. The posts on ID haven't helped me much when looking at fine tuning (which I think has something going for it).

John West said...

You describe presentism as the idea that only the present moment exists.

That's right. It's not just the theory that there is an absolute, privileged present—A-theory. (There are even eternalist versions of those.) It's the theory that only the present moment exists. :-)

(Incidentally, I'm not sure you meant to write “exist in the past”.)

John West said...

The B-theory seems just a use of spatial metaphor for the temporal reality.

People say this, but it's not true: B-theorists don't even need to put space and time are in the same category. They can, for instance, be substantivalists about space and relationalists about time.*

Are there any particular insights or claims to be have had from the spatial metaphor?

Well, people like Richard Taylor argue at length that there is (e.g. see his Spatial and Temporal Analogies and the Concept of Identity). I'm remaining neutral for the purposes of this post. (See my previous paragraph.)

*Not that it's a big deal even if space and time are in the same category. Saying space and time are both relations no more spatializes time than saying horses and sharks are both animals equinizes sharks (hat tip: Alexander Pruss).

Greg said...

@ John West

Not sure about the stuff about suspending the natural order (laws of nature?) to cause a miracle. It's probably worth reviewing the powers theory of laws and seeing if the idea of “suspending the laws”, rather than just unproblematically causing the miracle, still makes sense.

One of the theological motivations for a concurrentist account of God's power is the miracle in Daniel. The most plausible reading of the miracle, it is suggested, is that while continued to cause the existence of the fire, he temporarily ceased to concur in its usual effect of burning those humans which come into contact with it.

That wouldn't be a suspension of the laws of nature exactly, since fire elsewhere behaves as always, though it would be a divine licensing of an exception to a law of nature.

John West said...

One of the theological motivations for a concurrentist account of God's power is the miracle in Daniel. The most plausible reading of the miracle, it is suggested, is that while continued to cause the existence of the fire, he temporarily ceased to concur in its usual effect of burning those humans which come into contact with it.

That makes sense. God could just not concur with the fire's effect coming into existence.

I'm inclined to think examples like this prove Mumford's thesis that there are cases of contingent causation (the standard, non-Divine example being Geach's match).

Vishal Mehra said...

John West,
"You describe presentism as the idea that only the present moment exists."

But do moments exist? OR do things exist?

This is my point. That it is equivocal to say that "the present moment exists". It is rather that certain things ("present things") exist at the present moment.
Why must this curious and non-obvious phrasing -"only the present moment exists" be adopted?

Even my re-formulation is inadequate. The "things" are perduring entities. To say that a certain thing exist at a present moment is truth but not the whole truth.

Essentially, I would argue that the talk of moments or time (present, past or future) existing is misleading. We must talk about the things that may be existing in the present, the past and the future.

Eduardo said...

Hey guys, Off-Topic here, but I was wondering what the heck happened to machinephilosophy, does anyone knows what happened to the guy? Anyone still talks to him?

There is this site here related to his account: http://supervisorycriteria.blogspot.com/

U_U the argument in there need sooo much more though.

John West said...

This is my point. That it is equivocal to say that "the present moment exists". It is rather that certain things ("present things") exist at the present moment.

Time isn't a cabbage or a horse, but surely you don't want to say it doesn't exist at all either.

If time exists in any sense and isn't God, it falls into a category. If it falls into a category, it can be accounted for by either properties (i.e. relations or qualities), or one or more substances. That's all presentists need to uphold their thesis.* *

(I didn't discuss any reductionist or mental entity options, but short of eliminating (and, perhaps, replacing) time altogether those also yield entities under the aforementioned categories.)

I think I see what you're trying to say, but I wasn't thinking of time in the coarse-grained way I suspect you think I was. If I didn't give a lengthy analysis of its nature, it's because I didn't have to. The objection Anonymous asked about fails even on the most robust, non-reductionist accounts of time.

*The properties, relations, substances, whatever, would constitute time. (They wouldn't, of course, be “in” it. Temporal entities would be.)
*You could try making time a sui generis entity—Wuellner lists it as a unique category of accident. I, however, would need some identity conditions before we could get too serious about that. And again, it squares up fine with the presentist thesis.

Gyan said...

John West,
"you don't want to say it doesn't exist at all either."

Does time exist? Time isn't a thing that may be said to exist. Rather, things exist in time.
To summarize, this thing -this univocal predication of existence to time made in the A and B theories of time, I think it is a confusion of language.

John West said...

Does time exist? Time isn't a thing that may be said to exist. Rather, things exist in time.

I'm not sure things can be in something that doesn't exist, but I digress.

To summarize, this thing -this univocal predication of existence to time made in the A and B theories of time, I think it is a confusion of language.

I didn't say anything about univocal predication, and nothing univocal need follow from both time and cabbages existing. (It's, for instance, not clear that substances and accidents have the same mode of being.) :-)

Anyway, lots to do this week, and the discussion seems to have run its course. Happy new year, guys.

Tony said...

*You could try making time a sui generis entity—Wuellner lists it as a unique category of accident. I, however, would need some identity conditions before we could get too serious about that. And again, it squares up fine with the presentist thesis.

I don't know why you make heavy weather out of this even being a possible position. Aristotle has it as one of his 10 categories:

The expressions which are in no way composite signify substance, quantity, quality, relation, place, time, position, state, action, or affection.

Not that I am holding for presentism as identified above.

Does time exist? Time isn't a thing that may be said to exist. Rather, things exist in time.
To summarize, this thing -this univocal predication of existence to time made in the A and B theories of time, I think it is a confusion of language.


Do "qualities" exist? Or rather, is it not that THINGS have qualities? The whole point of identifying different categories of being than substance is to posit that there modes or manners or senses of "being" that are distinct from the "being-ness" we mean about primary beings, like substances. Being "hot" is a manner of "being" but in an equivocal sense compared to a tree's "being". This is not to say " 'hot' isn't being", it is to demand one pay attention to the distinct sense in which "being" is there used. Given that, it is perfectly acceptable to say "time exists". It doesn't exist in the sense "dog exists", it exists in that special sense in which "time exists".

I suspect that both A and B theories are deficient, and the truth is something that partakes of aspects of each but is synthesized differently. For instance, given that even so simple an assertion as "the dog exists" is impossible to make without having a verb tense - which implies time - it might be necessary to develop a working language form that has verbs without tense to state the matter well. Something like relying on infinitives, but proper grammatically. (We cannot correctly say "the dog 'to be' "). I cannot say that I think this a probable development.

Can i just ask, is this essentially, or even somewhat, the thesis put forward by Eleonore Stump in the 80's? Are you familiar with Craig's rebuttal of it on his website?

I always end up unsatisfied with Craig's arguments, when you sift them down into their core elements, the nitty gritty. I think his overall perspective is relatively OK - the direction of his larger conclusions is usually pretty sensible - but how he gets there is troubled. I just don't think he has actually thought through the root principles very carefully or clearly. At least, that's my sense. YMMV.

John West said...

Aristotle has it as one of his 10 categories

That's why I mentioned Wuellner, though I should have also mentioned I'm talking about the Aristotelian one he includes on page 18 of his Dictionary of Scholastic Philosophy.

John West said...

s/b "the Aristotelian [tree]"

Martin said...

>It begins with butthurt and quickly progresses to complete disconnect from reality. It’s called Trump Derangement Syndrome (a “high energy” analogue of Bush Derangement Syndrome). Get diagnosed by Roger Kimball at PJ Media or by Justin Raimondo at the Los Angeles Times.

There's also the opposite of this, Trump Stockholm Syndrome, wherein completely valid criticisms of Trump as an immoral person and not someone who upholds Christian values are chucked aside and he is blindly supported anyway no matter what he does. As he said, he could "shoot somebody in the street and wouldn't lose any voters," and I think he's absolutely correct.

Anonymous said...

I agree with Martin. While some criticism of Trump may be over the top a LOT of allegations/criticism of him(racism, sexism, Islamophobia, etc) has truth in reality, AND if you voted for him, these things weren't a deal breaker for you. There really is no way of sugar-coating this. I'll always be indebted to Dr. Feser for introducing me to classical theism, and saving me from intelligent design/atheism, but I have to part ways with him VERY sharply here.

Anonymous said...

Trump has a lot of flaws, but surely his sins against identify politics, for the most part, aren't the most important of them?