Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Five Proofs on The Patrick Coffin Show


A few weeks ago, I was interviewed by Patrick Coffin before a live audience for a special episode of his show.  The subjects were my book Five Proofs of the Existence of God, atheism, and related matters.  You can now watch Part I of the episode at Patrick’s website or at YouTube.  Part II is a Q and A session that will be posted next week.

Other recent interviews include those on The Ben Shapiro Show, The Andrew Klavan Show, The Dennis Prager Show, The Michael Medved Show, and many others.  Further media appearances forthcoming.  Stay tuned.

70 comments:

  1. Can we all agree not to respond to SP at all in this combox thread? Let's not let him ruin another one. Show some discipline: except to tell him to go away, everyone please ignore him completely.

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    1. Yes, please, please self-police, people. I have asked people to do this many times, but for some reason some people keep feeding trolls. C'mon, already.

      I would rather not ban people and have only done so extremely rarely (maybe 4 or 5 times in almost 10 years). I'm especially reluctant to ban someone guilty not so much of being nasty but just of being unbelievably obtuse.

      Also, I am extremely busy -- extremely busy -- especially these days, and simply can't monitor all this stuff.

      So, again, I implore people just to ignore trolls and otherwise batty people. They get attention only if you stupidly give it to them.

      If I have to -- for example, if someone posts lots and lots of long, dumb comments that just clog up the combox -- I will delete things as I have time to do so. But it's better not to do this, and won't be necessary if people exercise self-control and stop encouraging foolish behavior.

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    2. I kinda feel sorry for the guy. Maybe I need to toughen up.

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    3. Also, I am extremely busy -- extremely busy -- especially these days, and simply can't monitor all this stuff.

      Dr. Feser, I think I speak for most users here in saying we're greatly appreciative of your work ethic.

      I'm somewhat conflicted: on the one hand, I want you to keep working and publishing excellent context, but on the other hand, I hope you get a nice break when needed!

      Cheers.

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    4. Oh yes, great advice for philosophers: Ignore one of the lone dissenters in the com boxes here, one of the lone voices who holds your feet to the fire, calls BS that is BS, and has intelligent critiques if you'd only try to listen and engage instead of shouting "troll".

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    5. Anonymous

      We called SP a troll for the simple reason that he failed to read (let alone engage) with the work of Professor Feser, who has answered his criticisms of the AT notion of causality and hylemorphism both in his published work, and the blog. There was also the straight personal abuse that he hurled around. Now I've been debating with a colleague of mine over whether a return to the gold standard would be desirable or not for the past 13 months. Yes we had to rein in our students who (being students), took it a little too seriously and started to form cliques and (figuratively) butt heads in the campus newspaper, but it's been enjoyable and I've learnt allot from our discussions. The difference between me and SP is that I respect my colleague, took the time to read her published work on the subject, understand her position and interact with it. I still think she's wrong but in no way is her proposal to return to the gold standard an irrational one.

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    6. Anon, you aren't fooling anyone who has paid the slightest bit of attention to SP and isn't completely biased. He is a rank troll of the first order. He pops up with a mixture of genuine but basic objections that have been answered many times before and pseudoscientific drivel. Yet he acts extremely arrogantly and clearly thinks he is some kind of genius despite all appearances to the contrary. This wouldn't be anything too bad if he actually debated with people, but he doesn't. There's little two way discussion with the guy. Even the usual idiot gnu is capable of some proper, if generally nonconstructive, interaction. SP isn't. You respond to his fallacies and silliness and you just get the same again, with interest.

      And dissenters often come here and aren't treated like SP.

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    7. Have you read some of his stuff: https://plus.google.com/107047964749829967879

      He's clearly no idiot.

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    8. I suspect Anon is Stardusty himself. How many people are there who generally critical of this blog, care enough to express this in and follows its comments, who also are both familiar with Stardusty and desire to defend his him--specifically his intelligence. I presume only one.

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    9. Modified, you'd be surprised. There are plenty of silly interbet atheists who would defend just for making noisy attacks on theism and A-T.

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    10. You have to admit stardust is a cut above that Santi character that I presume was banned?

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    11. Edward Feser October 24, 2017 at 8:05 PM

      "Yes, please, please self-police, people. I have asked people to do this many times, but for some reason some people keep feeding trolls."
      --This is the second time you have taken time from your extremely busy day to attribute to me the label of "troll".

      Arguments matter, personal attributions do not. Many words have been applied to me here, such as stupid moron idiot crap homo troll. How boring.

      Boredom of another sort, that of a one sided presentation of arguments, led you to engage in arguments you were at that time dismissive of. That led to a major shift in your life, by your own account in the OP youtube video and elsewhere.

      Apparently 10 years of interactions with your fellow atheists did not shed light on what you now consider the erroneous nature of your atheistic views. Of course, interacting with those who mostly agree is very unlikely to bring to light errors in one's own thinking.

      Engaging with those who agree is boring because it lacks intellectual stimulation, as do personal attributions. Such boring activities rarely lead to uncovering personal errors.

      A-T asserts that a hierarchical regress of changers terminating in a first changer is called for to account for continued material existence. You express this in the OP youtube video here:
      12:10 Regress...existence at any moment...water could blink out, it could be annihilated. It could go from existence to non existence.
      There must be something actualizing that water, keeping it in being.

      19:20 Coffin: The only reason we are not falling into the abyss of nothingness is that god is continuously willing us to be.
      Feser: That's right.

      However, continued existence of mass/energy is no change. This is known as conservation of mass/energy. If the mass/energy of an object stays the same it does not change.

      No change calls for no changer at all, much less a regress of changers terminating in a first changer.

      If the form of an object stays the same the form does not change. This has the truth of a tautology by synonym.

      If the mass/energy or form of an object were to transition from something to some other amount that would be a change calling for a changer, yet A-T asserts this would happen absent a changer. Under A-T the absence of a changer would lead to change.

      To persist in mass/energy and form is no change calling for no changer, yet A-T asserts the need for a changer to account for this absence of change.

      A-T has it back to front.



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    12. StarDust: You must realize they are no different here than at New Atheist blogs when a Theist comes on to challenge something at the heart of atheism. Dismissive, insulting, and anti-intellectual.

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    13. I don't think he's quite as bad as Santi, but he's not far off. There's definitely similarities. Apart from the ignorance and arrogance, they are both self-indulgant windbags with little interest in actuae two-way discussion.

      Anon, your pathetic attempts to defend SP are absolutely useless on anyone who has followed SP's posts and isn't woefully biased or wholly ignorant. If we are as you sat, please explain why it's only SP who gets this treatment.

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    14. Anti-SP October 25, 2017 at 11:21 PM

      “ He pops up with a mixture of genuine but basic objections that have been answered many times before and pseudoscientific drivel. “
      --Could you be so kind as to point out where I have gone wrong in this representation of A-T? (please reference 12:10 of the OP youtube video):
      A-T asserts that a hierarchical regress of changers terminating in a first changer is called for to account for continued material existence.

      “This wouldn't be anything too bad if he actually debated with people, but he doesn't. There's little two way discussion with the guy. “
      --Ok, maybe I missed your post and didn’t respond one time. Sorry about that.

      Could you please tell me where I have gone wrong below? Nobody else has been able to set me straight on this problem and I have been looking all over the place but nobody seems to have a response at all:

      Continued existence of mass/energy is no change. This is known as conservation of mass/energy. If the mass/energy of an object stays the same it does not change.

      No change calls for no changer at all, much less a regress of changers terminating in a first changer.

      If the form of an object stays the same the form does not change. This has the truth of a tautology by synonym.

      If the mass/energy or form of an object were to transition from something to nothing that would be a change calling for a changer, yet A-T asserts this would happen absent a changer. Under A-T the absence of a changer would lead to change.

      To persist in mass/energy and form is no change calling for no changer, yet A-T asserts the need for a changer to account for this absence of change.

      A-T has it back to front.

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    15. Go away. No one's biting, troll.

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    16. Or as my 2nd favourite Physicist would say........... Banzinga :)

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    17. Just another mad Catholic October 25, 2017 at 10:16 PM

      “We called SP a troll for the simple reason that he failed to read (let alone engage) with the work of Professor Feser,”
      --False. I have read a great deal of what Feser has written and listened to his lectures, and I have listened to a series of interviews including the OP youtube video, referenced by timestamp above.

      “ who has answered his criticisms of the AT notion of causality and hylemorphism both in his published work, and the blog.”
      --False. Neither Feser nor any person here has answered the above criticism. Why would the absence of a changer lead to a blinking out of material? Why would any changer at all be called for to account for continued material existence, which is no change in the amount of material?

      “There was also the straight personal abuse that he hurled around.”
      --False. I have been exceedingly polite in the face of continual personal attributions. Do a search on words such as “idiot”, “fuck”, “crap”, “stupid”, “lacks the intelligence” "homo" and on and on to see who is hurling them, who is not, and who is ignoring them. I see them, I am aware of them, but it is easy for me to ignore them because they are so boring.

      “ The difference between me and SP is that I respect my colleague,”
      --As you respect your fiancé, who you have chosen to describe to us, which is understandable, when a man loves a woman he wants to tell everybody about her, that’s human nature, and I wish you two all the best.

      You have an advantage of having a physicist you often communicate with. Have you had the opportunity to ask her some questions such as “for matter to persist moment to moment with the same mass/energy content is that a change?” “If mass/energy were to transition from existence to non-existence would that be a change?” “Can mass/energy simply disappear from existence or would that violate the principle of conservation of mass/energy?”

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    18. Pro-SP anonymous,

      Have you read any of Feser's books?

      Sp,

      Have you read Scholastic Metaphysics or Real Essentialism?

      Everyone else,

      Try not to be rude

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    19. Anonymous October 29, 2017 at 3:04 PM

      “Sp,
      Have you read Scholastic Metaphysics or Real Essentialism?”
      --No. Presumably you think I might benefit from doing so. Why? I find that prospect to be exceedingly unlikely. Perhaps you don’t.

      Since you mentioned them I did a quick search. Both are Aristotelian in foundation. Aristotle was a genius in his day. It turns out he was wrong about causality and physics.

      Here is one 20th century analysis of Aristotle:
      CHAPTER XXIII Aristotle's Physics
      IN this chapter I propose to consider two of Aristotle's books, the one called Physics and the one called On the Heavens…The historian of philosophy, accordingly, must study them, in spite of the fact that hardly a sentence in either can be accepted in the light of modern science.
      http://s-f-walker.org.uk/pubsebooks/pdfs/History_of_Western_Philosophy_Bertrand_Russell.pdf

      Do you have a link, or words of your own, that directly addresses this specific problem with A-T?:
      A-T calls for a first changer to account for continued existence moment to moment of mass/energy and form, yet continued existence of mass/energy and form are no change and thus call for no changer at all, much less a regress of changers terminating in a first changer.

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    20. Anonymous,

      Stop feeding the troll. Did you not read Feser's request?

      The time has come to be direct and even rude.

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    21. Anonymous October 29, 2017 at 4:41 PM

      "The time has come to be ... rude."
      --Well, perhaps we have discovered a form of communication in which you can excel :-)

      But how does being rude address this fundamental defect of A-T?

      To persist in existence of mass/energy and form is no change, calling for no changer, much less a regress of changers terminating in a first changer.

      To transition from an existence of mass/energy and form to nothing is a change, calling for a changer, yet A-T asserts this change would result from the absence of a changer.

      How does the absence of a change call for a changer?

      How does a change result from the absence of a changer?

      Does Edward Feser, you, or any other source of A-T argumentation have individual words or a link that directly and specifically answers these questions?

      Do you suppose rudely shouting "troll" is a rational argumentation response?

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    22. SP if you really are looking to debate then why not go to classical theism forum where you can discuss this further rather than here. A lot of the people here are also there.

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    23. Anonymous October 31, 2017 at 7:53 AM

      "SP if you really are looking to debate then why not go to classical theism forum where you can discuss this further rather than here."
      --I have seen threads go hundreds of posts long here. Are you suggesting this is not a place to discuss differing views on the subjects of the OP?

      I find that apparent assertion very curious indeed.

      This is taken directly from the OP youtube video:
      12:10 Regress...existence at any moment...water could blink out, it could be annihilated. It could go from existence to non existence.
      There must be something actualizing that water, keeping it in being.

      19:20 Coffin: The only reason we are not falling into the abyss of nothingness is that god is continuously willing us to be.
      Feser: That's right.

      No individual, no blog post, and no writing on line that I have been able to locate addresses these specific points directly related to the OP:

      Blinking out of existence would be a change, indeed, a very dramatic change. If your spouse, or your car, or your wallet, or your house, or your child were to blink out of existence I dare say you would consider that to be a very substantial change.

      Why would the absence of a changer lead to such dramatic changes?

      Further, if you observe an object now, and then in the next second you observe that same object, it seems to have not changed. A rock stays a rock. A $100 bill stays a $100 bill. A penny stays a penny. Or so it seems.

      Why is any changer called for to account for these things that are apparently staying the same?

      I have been called a stupid idiot homo troll here. That means nothing to me. It is like when a 4 year old pounds on your thigh in childish frustration. It is of no consequence to man, except to feel a bit of pity for the child.

      No person here or any place else I have been able to locate can offer even a semblance of a coherent A-T response to these very clear questions I ask.

      Anybody?

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    24. Dear SPD I'm probably going to regret this later but......

      From reading your posts over the last month or so you seem to be confusing Aristotle's physics with his metaphysics and concluding that they stand or fall together. As to answering your objections I would suggest that you start by reading Dr Feser's published work, as in them he argues that Aristotle's physics and metaphysics stand / fall independent of one another and that the traditional objections to the Prime Mover do not hold muster. In both the Last Superstition and Aquinas, he looks at the objections from Newtonian physics, which is expounded upon in greater detail in Neo Scholastic Essays. In Scholastic Metaphysics he argues that likewise objections from Quantum Mechanics do not work either.

      Given its nature I don't think that FB or blog comboxes are the best place for extended debates as (a) the anonymity of the internet can lead to people hurling invective, (b) people with little or no grasp of the subject at hand can quickly be confused by the use of technical language which they may confuse with the same word used in a different way and (c) as a result clarity is lost.

      We have branded you a troll because you have so far refused to engage with Dr Feser's published work e.g. in the first post regarding a book review when you admitted that you hadn't read the book, and being rude, for example later on in the same thread you accused Dr Feser of wilfully misrepresenting Dr Rosenberg.

      As an academic I can say hand on heart that in the academy (here in Britain at least) such behaviour is not tolerated, we always give those who disagree with us the benefit of the doubt, critiquing the work and not the person. Admittedly scathing indictments are sometimes allowed for particularly bad pieces of literature aimed at the general public, or for someone attempting to write on a subject that is demonstrably outside their field of expertise and failing badly (I remember my roommate's philosophy journal allowing a particularly invective ridden review of Dawkins's book some years ago) but they are the exception rather than the rule. Violators of ettiqute are sent to Coventry in very short order.

      So the long and short of it is..... engage with Dr Feser's work and then come back and play nice.

      PS don't bother replying as I'll ignore any further post on this thread.

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    25. Maybe it would be easiest for Feser to answer StarDusty's objections rather than just ignoring them when they appear almost every blog post? If they are such elementary mistakes by stardusty, shouldn't that be easy to point out? Why beat around the bush calling the guy a troll etc when you can just disprove him with one blog post?

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    26. Because he's had his objections answered dozens of times. It makes no difference. Feser has replied to him personally. There is no intelligent discussion with the guy. Don't be fooled by the fact his posts sometimes look semi-coherent. Many have responded to him only to quickly come to regret it. There is a reason he is a renowned troll, here and elsewhere, and is frequently banned from places. Engaging him would only tempt him to haunt us further.

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    27. Also, if you mean Feser should devote an actual blog post, not comment, to SP, that seems wildly disproportionate. Feser is a busy man; he no doubt has much better things to do than respond in detail to all the moron objections of an internet troll.

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    28. Anonymous November 1, 2017 at 4:26 PM

      "Because he's had his objections answered dozens of times."
      --Please provide a link or a datestamp or some specific reference to any blog post, article, youtube video or any other internet accessible source that specifically and directly answers these objections:
      1. To blink out of existence is a change. Why would the absence of a changer lead to a change?

      2. To continue to exist is no change. Why would no change call for any changer at all, much less a regression of changers terminating in a first changer?

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    29. Just another mad Catholic November 1, 2017 at 2:40 AM

      "Dear SPD ... you seem to be confusing Aristotle's physics with his metaphysics"
      --No, it's not as complicated as that. Feser has made a simple claim, that the first changer he calls God is responsible for continued existence moment to moment. Without this first changer continuously acting to keep things in existence they would just blink out of existence.

      That is the A-T position as explained by Feser many times, for example 12:10 and 19:20 of the OP video.

      " Violators of ettiqute are sent to Coventry in very short order."
      --Ok, by that reasoning every person who has hurled stupid idiot moron homo troll at me should be sent to Coventry. Your statement is obviously irrelevant here, and I really don't care about those sorts of juvenile attributions.

      "We have branded you a troll because you have so far refused to engage with Dr Feser's published work "
      --False. I have provided citations of the publication of Feser, such as the OP for example.

      " engage with Dr Feser's work and then come back and play nice. "
      --You claim to be an academic but you don't seem to realize that by citing the publications of Feser and providing specific arguments against them I am engaging his work.

      How about you engage his work? Go to 12:10 and 19:20 and listen for yourself to see if my transcripts are good representations of what Feser actually said.

      Feser commonly uses ordinary objects such as a book or a rock or a stick in his examples. A rock, by our ordinary observation, does not seem to change moment to moment.

      Given those assertions of Feser wouldn't a rock blinking out of existence be a change? Why would the absence of a changer lead to a change? Wouldn't the absence of a changer lead to no change?

      Further, for a rock to persist in existence seems to be no change. Why would a changer be called for to account for no change?

      In the spirit of engaging with the published assertions of the OP what answer do you propose for the Feser blink out contradiction?

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  2. Yes I agree. The dude is a total troll.

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  3. Loving this recent flurry of Feser content.

    Also, agree with anon above. Don't let SP clog another comments section.

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    1. Y'know, if I wasn't so damn busy producing content, I'd have more time to produce content. Or something like that...! ;-)

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    2. Darn, that's just the sort of thing that ole' whatsisname woulda said.... Oops.

      You know what I always say: set your Phaser on stun, and let 'er rip! :-)

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  4. Great video. I’m absolutely going to get this book.

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  5. I just watched the video. I liked how Feser spoke about his conversion to Christianity in general and Catholicism in particular. I wish he would write a book about the "motives of credibility" required for faith in the Catholic Church.

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    1. I will. It's on the agenda, though that's about four books ahead. There's a long range plan -- kind of like the Marvel Cinematic Universe, you might say. Meanwhile, I do have a forthcoming essay on my conversion to Catholicism, specifically. More info on that in time.

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    2. His next one is on the Philosophy of Nature.

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  6. Glad to see your notoriety rising, Ed. You deserve it and more. Your writings actually get results.

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  7. Four books ahead?! Let's see. I already have the philosophy of nature book at the top of my waiting list. Didn't you drop a hint about a book on the soul? Now that I am looking forward too!

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  8. Dr. Feser,

    When can we expect to read something from you on the philosophy of time (sometime before the release of your upcoming book on the philosophy of nature)?

    Thx,

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    1. Anon,
      You can read a little about his forthcoming article on the topic here.

      https://www.academia.edu/33303662/Neo-Aristotelian_Perspectives_on_Contemporary_Science

      You would need to scroll down.

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    2. Thanks for that, Red. I need that book, but maybe the paperback copy!

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    3. Thank you Red. Despite that relevant part being only a very brief overview on his tackling of this subject, it still appears quite interesting and refreshing, as expected. I just wish he writes more about it here and not wait for his book to come out.

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    4. I'm looking forward to that one, hoping it will confirm and expand on several ideas that arose from reading Scholastic Metaphysics.

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  9. Re: women atheists, the one who came immediately to mind for me was Ayn Rand.

    I've been reading Five Proofs, I'm on the chapter on the divine attributes now. Excellent.

    Did Prof. Feser get all this media attention for his previous books or is this exposure a new thing?

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  10. Did I hear Patrick Coffin wrong? Or did he use the example of fathers begetting sons as an example that could not technically go back in time infinitely? Not that fathers and sons do go back in time infinitely.... but that's a series of cause and effect ordered accidentally; which is conceivable to go back infinitely.

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  11. and even if Sola Scriptura were in the Bible, that would be circular

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  12. I have to be honest, I'm not sold on the usual Catholic arguements against Sola Scriptura. It seems to me that they conflate two very different claims:

    1. X is the only rule of faith

    2. Only X can say that X is the only rule of faith.

    Sola Scriptura, the way I would defend it, is in the first category here.

    Here is how I would put it: "The only thing in out possession that is God-breathed, revealed to us through special revelation, is Scripture. Therefore, Scripture should be the only rule in matters of faith."

    Fallible humans have disagreed about what exactly Scripture is or what it means, but that doesn't in any way refute Sola Scriptura as a general rule. And even if we admit for the sake of the argument that Scripture doesn't teach SS, either explicitly or implicitly, it still doesn't follow that the rule is self-refuting. That would be like saying that

    Am I missing something here?

    And I don't see the similarity with scientism either. Sola Scriptura, the way I would defend it, doesn't claim we can't look for knowledge outside Scripture. It doesn't even claim we can't look for knowledge about God outside Scripture.

    I think the self-refutation claim really doesn't hold water.

    Besides, if I could point to Magisterial teachings that I can show to be clearly false, wouldn't that in itself refute any statement of Magisterial infallibility? I can think of one or two from the top of my head.

    Not to mention the completel uselessness of the doctrine of papal infallibility when speaking ex cathedra. Imagine the Pope says something that is simply unacceptable to Catholics. Well, they'll be saying he's really heretic and not the Pope in no time. So what's the point of the doctrine?

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    1. You sound circular. So you are telling us sola scriptura is not "sola" after all?? What a blind protestant you are.

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    2. Fallible humans have disagreed about what exactly Scripture is or what it means, but that doesn't in any way refute Sola Scriptura as a general rule.
      That does refute sola scriptura in other words you neeed something else you blind protestant

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  13. Fallible humans have disagreed about what exactly Scripture is or what it means, but that doesn't in any way refute Sola Scriptura as a general rule.

    Matjaž Horvat, perhaps I can take a small bite at the apple.

    John thinks Scripture consists of Genesis and Exodus, nothing else. Jim thinks it consists of Leviticus and Numbers, nothing else. And Jane thinks it consists in Samuel 1 and 2, nothing else. Because there is nothing in those books that tells us what Scripture consists in, none of them can tell the others "you're wrong, because Scripture says..." Yet there is 0 overlap in what they consider scriptural. And as a result they come to diametrically opposed conclusions, that "X is the right moral act to do" and "X is the wrong moral act to do", pointing to their own "Scriptures".

    Of what use is there being a category of "God-breathed, revealed to us through special revelation" words if nobody who God hasn't (interiorly, through personal revelation) can tell which words they are? And which words are NOT them?

    A person can say "the whole code of the moral and spiritual order is written in the stars if you only had the cipher to translate it", but it doesn't do any GOOD to say that.

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    1. I think I could do a decent job at arguing for which words are inspired. Some other people could do a great job at it. But I certainly wouldn't make any kind of infallible list of them or claim that I'm a representative of God. I'm not arrogant enough to put myself on the same level as God. I think that we should be modest enough to say that all we can have is a fallible list of infallible texts (in their original, anyway).

      Especially considering that anything else essentially collapses into Sola Ecclesia. And even if we look at the Catholic canon, the Apocrypha wasn't even declared sacred until 1546. So why should I trust Rome in these matters?

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    2. By the way, here's an interesting debate on this topic, if you have 3 hours of spare time: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=nxTEtArbCgs

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  14. I wonder what Feser thinks about arguing for PSR in the way Lagrange and Sullivan do--that is, that any given being exists insofar as it has an act of being. Therefore, a PSR-defiant being would be a contradiction because it would be a being that has no act of being--i.e a being that is nothing. ~PSR would entail, then, that there could be beings who exist without an act of being responsible for their existence, which is absurd. I'm still mulling over this argument.

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    1. @RomanJoe,


      One thing that I've also noticed that is connected to this type of argumentation is how a denial of PSR would likely commit one to believe things are actually being created out of nothing.

      Remember how the Aristotelian and Thomistic arguments both affirm creatio ex nihilo and how something cannot come from nothing?

      They basically conclude that God is constantly creating things out of non-being, but this is because God has the causal power to do such a thing. A brute fact view would basically commit one to beliving that all of reality is constantly defying the void and being created out of nothing essentially. Because the ultimate source of reality under the brute fact view is in fact nothing in particualar.


      I'm still thinking this through, but I think such a refutation of ~PSR on the grounds that it absurdly & impossibly holds that things are constantly popping out of nothing could indeed work.

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    2. JoeD,
      How would it follow from ~PSR that things are constantly popping out of nothing?
      All that seem to follow from ~PSR is that some things don't have an explanation.

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    3. @RomanJoe,


      Well, in the case of the existence of the universe, the arguments above demonstrate that it would disappear into nothingness if it wasn't conserved by God.

      Since a rejection of PSR implies that the universe is there for no reason, it stands to reason that the universe is being conserved in existence for no reason.

      This means that the existence of it at every moment in time is produced for no reason, and it's appearance is therefore from nothing.

      So when I say that things are constantly popping out of nothing, what I mean is that the continued existence of things is from nothing and by nothing. There is no reason why anything is conserved in being, and thus nothing that is constantly conserving it.

      The only conclusion then is that the universe is constantly popping out of nothingness in order to exist.

      The necessary rule that something cannot come from nothing is spontaneously violated.

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    4. Yes JoeD, I think you're on to something. One could look at it like this too, in a ~PSR world there is, fundamentally, no reason for the existence of any causal chain. A causal chain in which each member derives existence from a prior one would ultimately rest on a brute fact. The entire causal chain merely has derivative existence and it is, ultimately, deriving that existence from nothing--a brute fact, no explanation. But if this is the case then we either conclude that being can come from non-being (and it continually does so from moment to moment) or we conclude that nothing exists because there is no Existence, no Being, to derive existence from. Both options seem absurd.

      Lagrange makes this same point about derivative when he says that something can only be in being if it is in relation to being (and ultimately Being).

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    5. @RomanJoe,


      Another interesting thing is the fact that, when one takes into account the Thomistic argument, every single thing that exists would have to be a brute fact.


      This was first pointed out in October of 2014 by former commenter Scott Ryan, here is the thread: http://edwardfeser.blogspot.hr/2014/10/could-theist-deny-psr.html


      He points out in his comment that "...it does seem that even if it were admitted arguendo that there might be some brute facts, the classical theist could argue to God as long as there was at least one fact that was not brute. Then, having established the existence of God, the classical theist could turn around and argue that no facts can be "brute" after all.


      Now, his argument seems to be that absolutely all facts would have to be brute, not only all things that exist, but even those we think are not-brute.

      But it's still an interesting point nonetheless.


      But one other thing I've been thinking about is how there is a fundemantal uncertainty on the brute fact view of the world.


      If the universe exists for no reason now, it could also stop existing for no reason after a certain amount of time.

      And what's worse is that there is absolutely no way you could have confidence that the universe or anything in it will continue to exist because probability analysis is basically obliterated on a brute fact view.

      What we are left with is basically the equally likely possibility (I know that probability analysis doesn't work on brute facts, but I do think that, because it is no more likely the universe will continue to exist than that it will stop existing, my claim here does seem correct) that the universe will stop existing in the next 5 seconds, as it is that it will continue to exist.

      This is a type of existential uncertainty that the majority of reasonable people shouldn't be able to accept, and it amplifies the manifest irrationality and absurdity of the brute fact position.

      The only reasonable response to this objection would have to be that the classical theist position also commits us to this massive uncertainty because God could in principle have willed from eternity to erase the universe at some arbitrary point in time.

      But I don't think that this response is any good, because classical theism also accepts the idea of Divine Providence, which states that there is a reason why God decided to create everything.

      This means that God would not erase the universe at some random point in time for the same reason a skilled and masterful painter wouldn't arbitrarily plan to create a wonderful and complex painting, only to erase it and put all of his effort to waste.

      In fact, the existence of final teleology would along with arguments for the existence of Divine Providence seem to almost guarantee that such a thing most likely won't happen, especially considering how being is convertible with goodness, and God erasing the universe would go against the good which his Rationality decided to instantiate and would thus go against his nature as a Creative Agent.

      Combine that with St. Gregory of Nyssa's theory that the creation of the world has a certain moral significance and quality to it and the argument seems solid, at least to me.








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    6. @RomanJoe,



      Yet another problem with a denial of PSR that I've been thinking about is how it goes against all of the other evidence we have of the rationality of being.

      The laws of logic, for example, are self-explanatory because to deny them you would have to assume them in the first place. They thus have a necessity that follows from their nature.

      To now say that the existence of things is fundamentally irrational and to deny the existence of a self-explanatory being would go against the nature of being as inherently intelligible to the intellect, which is clearly shown in the laws of logic.

      In fact, because the laws of logic are self-explanatory, it seems more likely and more fitting that there should be a necessary existent who is also self-existing and is the explanation for why things exist. This necessary being would also be pure actuality and Existence Itself, and would thus also be the ground of the laws of logic that are self-explanatory.

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  15. I've been promoting Dr. Feser's very accessible work for years. Tried to give Ted Cruz a copy but it didn't work out. I've been requesting him to various interviewers. Like Dave Rubin. That would be an excellent audience to introduce to Dr. Feser.

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  16. Guys, I have to ask this here.

    Universals exist and we think of universal concepts. We use them in thought and they are necessary for valid reasoning, even. But how do we come to know universals? I find the theory of abstraction to be very problematic when it comes to explaining our knowledge. It cannot be that the intellect somehow "extracts" the universal from particular beings by attending to what is common and essential to all of them, because, as Peter Geach argues, in order for our intellect to selectively extract what is the essential F in a being, leaving aside its accidents X, it must *already* be able to identify F in opposition to X. Abstraction of the essential pressupposes that the intellect already knows what is going to be essential (to be picked out) and what is going to be accidental. Geach argues that Aquinas's view of abstraction in his mature thought is not like that, but more akin to a light that creates the concepts. But I cannot find any clear exposition or explanation of this process.

    Duns Scotus's own account of abstraction revolves around the idea that the intellect does not "extract" the universal from a particular being, but rather that it "universalizes" the "common nature" in a particular being (and that occurs concurrently with the provision of the "common nature" by a particular image). The common nature in itself is neither universal nor particular. What the intellect does is universalize the common nature.

    One problem I have with this is that to me, it seems like common natures *must* be universal. I don't quite understand how it can be neutral between universal and particular. But it seems to help with abstraction, as in this case it's the intellect that universalizes a (otherwise) netural nature, instead of universalizing a particular (??) or somehow selectively extracting universals from particulars without first knowing the universals.

    Some authors argue that Aquinas also thought essences in themselves were neither universal nor particular. This thought goes back to at least Avicenna. It just seems strange to me.

    I really don't want to hold to a Divine Illumination theory. I'd rather not invoke God as a direct explanation for our knowledge, if possible. But I can find no clear discussion of this problem.

    Please share your thoughts and reading recommendations.

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    1. I would recommend you look st this problem away from Scholastic accounts. The general situation we have is that we perceive instances of properties and through them recognise the properties (universals) themselves. This is the basis of a Constituent Ontology.

      With this in mind i would strongly recommend you read Edmund Husserl’s Logical Investigations, which contains some quite detailed accounts of the intentional processes involved in the cognition and perception of universals (as well as some welcome arguments against Nominalism and Humean Imagism).

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  17. Hi, Dear Dr Feser,
    I don't know how to tell you this properly, but let me try. So, I am 25 years old, I want to tell you that I have been studying Islam and its Religious thoughts for the past 6 years, while studying Islam, i became fairly atheistic, Now in this year I have came across some problems (moral conundrums) in my search for a Godless world. Consequently I tried to review my position on Atheism....I came across Prof. Jordan Peterson (psychology Professor University of Toronto) who fairly smashed my superstitions...when I read your book, "The Last Superstition" It fully made me a religious person. I am very glad that my theist position is not some dogma or clueless hypothesis. I am now fully converted to Catholic Christianity (though I hide this from my Muslim friends in public). I am very glad that I came across your work. You are the beacon of hope for countless individuals throughout the world. I can proudly say that I am a Medievalist.
    God Bless You.
    Shehzad Ali
    BS-POLITICAL SCIENCE,
    University of Peshawar, Pakistan.

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    1. Shehzad

      As another former atheist welcome to the club.

      Jack

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    2. Shehzad, you probably do not want to publicize your name and information like that. This coming from someone who has lived in Pakistan as a minority christian. Keep safe and May God Bless you too.

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