Tuesday, November 7, 2017

Dawkins vs. Aquinas on Pints with Aquinas (Updated)


UPDATE 11/14: Part two of the interview has now been posted.

Recently I was interviewed by Matt Fradd for his Pints with Aquinas podcast.  We talk a bit about Five Proofs of the Existence of God, but our main topic is Richard Dawkins’s critique of Aquinas’s Five Ways in The God Delusion.  We work through each of the objections Dawkins raises and discuss where they go wrong.  Matt is posting the interview in two parts, and the first part has now been posted.
 
Several other recent interviews about Five Proofs are linked to here.

222 comments:

  1. Excellent conversation.

    Dawkins' readers are mostly self-proclaimed critical thinkers (and often indulge in gross self-adulation). Evidently such people haven't even bothered to find out whether Dawkins knew what he was talking about. Such critical thinkers!

    The fact that Dawkins had no idea what he was talking about is disgusting in its own right. The fact that so many unwitting readers mindlessly accept what Dawkins says is the most damaging thing.

    It's not all bad, though. I'm noticing more and more people online (in the brief web surfing I do) defending classical arguments like Aquinas's.

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  2. I still cringe at the fact that my philosophy professor once quoted from The God Delusion to refute Aquinas.

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  3. I take GREAT pleasure in rubbing New Atheists' faces in Dawkins' lame ignorant objections.

    My opening salvo is always the same.

    "If I stopped believing in God tomorrow I would say till my dying day before Hell or the Void take me that if you attached a thermonuclear bomb to his so called `refutation'of Aquinas' five ways you could not vaporize any part of it worth saving. His rebuttal is pure s***e! Don't waste my time with it. Learn something correct about Aquinas before you bore me."

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  4. So The Last Superstition was quite welcome in 2008 even if it's approach was so polemical that it turned many away, but it's 2017 and no one, literally no one, cares about Richard Dawkins or his asinine ideas.

    http://i0.kym-cdn.com/entries/icons/facebook/000/013/003/dead-horse.jpg

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    1. I have to agree. New Atheism is definitely in decline.

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    2. There are many reasons for the decline of New Atheism. Some are good, but unfortunately an important one has been many leading Gnus fell foul of identity politics. Give me Dawkins over SJWs any day!

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    3. At least Richard Dawkins is qualified in something -- although it's neither religion or philosophy. It is still astonishing how many fanboys Sam Harris has. He almost has a cult-like following among some people. Kind of humorous as he is misinformed or wrong about just about everything and is an expert on nothing. At least Jordan Peterson is a qualified psychologist (although when he starts talking philosophy he is very confused half the time).

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    4. New atheism may have declined as a movement, but the damage it has done still remains with a lot of people in my age who are somewhat intellectually curious taking it as granted that science has somehow disproved religion.

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    5. dontfeedthetroll: I agree. There are so many people in their 20s-30s who are a little bit intellectually curious but not intellectually curious enough to get past the easy (read shallow) thinkers like Dawkins, Harris,Jordan Peterson, Hitchens, etc. because they think those thinkers are serious.

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    6. Why are you lumping Jordan Peterson alongside the rest of these?

      I mean seriously, one of these is simply not like the other. Peterson is diametrically opposed to the thinking of the New Atheists, criticising them for being, wait for it, shallow thinkers!

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    7. Wait a second, you guys constantly criticize Richard Dawkins for offering stupid opinions about a field he is ignorant of, why should you not do the same for Peterson? He's totally untrained and uninformed about philosophy but constantly gives philosophical opinions that are at best shallow. I guess you could do worse than to start here: https://www.reddit.com/r/askphilosophy/comments/6n6rhg/why_are_jordan_petersons_philosophical_opinions/

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    8. Jordan Peterson is as much as a pseudo intellectual as Sam Harris. I know that he may be expressing opinions and truths that need to be said (against political correctness etc) but when he comes to expressing his own ideas and when he tries to go into the area of philosophy he's as bad as Harris really.

      Even as far as the New Atheist issue is concerned, it's not like he has ever faced them head on exposing their bullshit about religion (like strawmaning all the traditional theistic arguments, using pseudo historical narratives like the "dark ages" or in any way showing how they are factually wrong. He's just trying to speak about how religion has some deeper meanings that shouldn't be lost and what about Jung and the archetypes and we shouldn't miss the allegories while in reality having conceded their basic positions which still remain unchallenged to a great degree.

      Now, I'm not saying that there is nothing valuable ever coming from his mouth, but the fact remains that he tries to speak on issues he has no knowledge about, acting as if he did.

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    9. Peterson may in the end be a pseudo-intellectual like Harris, but the fact is he is still far more correct about Christianity and politics than atheists are, so I think we should consider him a welcome allie, even if a mediocre best-seller type one.


      His well-spoken manner and his genuine insights into the allegorical truth of Christianity, as well as his psychological analysis of totalitarianism and the beneficiality of Christian religion,along with his correct criticisms of the New Atheists, are nevertheless an indispensible weapon in the culture war, especially when we consider how many atheists have either warmed up to Christianity due to his ideas or have even outright converted.

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    10. I'm with you JoeD. I've heard Peterson admit a number of times that he was speaking out of his depth. At the very least, at least he's honest.

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    11. One thing I noticed on the reddit discussion is that it seemed to be people who attacked Peterson's view of postmodernism, not philosophy in general. This makes sense in that it is the one point I've seen him speak forcefully and with a posture of certainty, in denouncing it.

      That's not the same as what Dawkins et al do. It would be more like attacking Aquinas, or Scotus, or Calvin, specifically, without talking about the others. DHHD* attack all indiscriminately.

      *Sounds like some malady for which the medicine is advertised on TV.

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    12. @George LeSauvage,


      So Peterson's criticisms and understanding of postmodernism is what's actually out of his depth then?


      I find this a bit hard to believe, quite frankly.


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    13. @JoeD


      Appendix to previous comment:


      What I meant to add, but unfortunately forgot to, was to mention that his lack of knowledge of postmodernism is in the same level as Dawkins' ignorance of Christianity.


      That is actually the part that I find a bit preposterous, not the mere proposal that he doesn't know much about postmodernism, but that his level of ignorance is so deep.

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    14. @JoeD: If you will notice, I did not endorse that view of Peterson. I merely pointed out that this is one case where Peterson speaks quite forcefully and decidedly on the subject. (Which is not at all how he usually speaks of philosophy, not even in endorsing, e.g., Dostoevsky.) In that sense, it makes sense that the pomos would attack him.

      That doesn't mean I agree with them. I don't. If you wanted to waste the time, to search my comments here, I'm sure you could find far more caustic and hostile statements about pomos, on my part. I just understand why they are attacking.

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  5. The late 2000s was the golden age for atheism/theism debates. The New Atheists had just finished publishing their books and were getting all the media hype at the time; by consequence, a new public interest was sparked for the philosophy of religion. William Lane Craig was everywhere, debating every single atheist thinker out there. Haldane also debated Hitchens. Feser published the Last Superstition and Aquinas. Pruss wrote his book on PSR and also his work on possibility and worlds. Oppy wrote Arguing about Gods. The Blackwell Companion to Natural Theology, an amazing volume, was published in 2009. It was all really exciting.

    But then it died out a bit, unfortunately. Atheism (or at least the "New Atheism") came to be seen as uninteresting and annoying. Now it's all about politics, politics, politics. Meh. I get the importance of the political and moral issues, but I miss the old days.

    It was an interesting time, lads

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    1. I think it says something about our culture that what ultimately defeated the New Atheists was not the critiques of Feser or Craig but that the likes of Dawkins and Harris dared to do things like apply the same criticisms they'd made of Christianity to Islam, or question taking every shibboleth of radical feminism as gospel.

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    2. It is sad, but it is also typical of new movements of ANY sort that achieve some success - they tend to breed arrogance and complacency and these contribute to their downfall. In this case, there was plenty of arrogance in people like Dawkins to begin with, which the popularity of the fawning media inflamed.

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    3. Politics and praxis are much more interesting than whatever the New Atheism was.

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  6. You have an "interesting" take on the Prima Via. Why not just call the two types of series: Temporal Infinite Regress and Simultaneous Infinite regress?

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    1. Because while essentially ordered series of causes can be said to occur in simultaneity, their main feature is not temporality at all, but the instrumentality of the secondary causes. The main thrust is ontological, not temporal; the causes only operate because of a first mover.

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    2. Miguel, you misunderstood. A temporal infinite regress is like that of father, son, etc., and proceeds backwards in time infinitely. I find that term to be easier to use than Feser's usage (and also less tinged by the baggage Analytical philosophy. A Simultaneous Infinite Regress is logically impossible because an infinite series cannot move simultaneously in a finite time.

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    3. It might even be easier to refer to one as a non-simultaneous infinite regress, and the other as a simultaneous infinite regress.

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    4. A Simultaneous Infinite Regress is logically impossible because an infinite series cannot move simultaneously in a finite time.

      jac, maybe you are right about the impossibility of an infinitely long (infinitely many members of a) simultaneous series cannot move "simultaneously in a finite time", but I don't see how Aquinas' proof either mentions this or bothers with the concept. Aquinas seems to imply, rather, that there cannot BE a series that is essentially ordered that has infinitely many members, but the reason he gives is this: we have right in front of us a definite moved thing right in front of us. In order for the series to be infinite, then, there must be no first member, for it is not infinite in the other direction. But in an essentially causal series, it is formally "the first member" that causes the second to be a mover, etc. It is a mover that moves ab origino that must be the first mover, because every following mover has received from another "to move" the next member. If there is no first member, there cannot be any other member of the series. He nowhere references the impossibility of the series not being able to "move in a finite time".

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    5. Read Bk. 1, Ch. 13 of the Summa Contra Gentiles, where Aquinas makes a much longer and more detailed argument ex motu.

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    6. Okayyy, I had not read the Summa Contra Gentiles in a long time, I must have forgotten that Aquinas does say that it is impossible for an infinite simultaneous series can be moved in a finite time.

      However, it is also true that in the very next paragraph, he makes the argument from "a ordered series of movers", and in that argument he does NOT rely on the impossibility of an infinite series moving in a finite time. He instead relies on the lack of a first, as I indicated above.

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    7. Honestly, I had tough time following what you were trying to say above in your post at 12:06 PM. You have to read these arguments in context. In para. 11, Aquinas is demonstrating that is not an infinite series of moved movers and he makes three arguments for this.

      In para. 12, he makes the argument about infinite number of movers moving in a finite time. In para. 13, he makes the "ordered series" argument to prove that there is not an infinite series because if all movers are intermediate movers, there will be no motion (which contracts the senses). In para. 14 he argues by instrumental causes to show that there must be a first instrumental cause, and thus no infinite series/regress.

      All three of the arguments in this part of SCG B.1, c. 13 are against a simultaneous infinite series/regress. "Quod autem sit impossibile quod infinita praedicta moveantur tempore finito...." ["Furthermore, that it is impossible for the abovementioned infinites to be moved in a finite time ...."]

      There are no issues (outside of Christian Revelation) that Aquinas has with a non-simultaneous infinite series/regress (which I've called a "temporal series."

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    8. I'm not sure "simultaneous" is right. (And I mean "not sure" literally here.) Why cannot the series of causes kick in sequentially in time, so long as A both precedes B and continues to operate so long as B does, etc?

      It seems to me that our resident troll got hung up on this, in that at a given micro level the causes wouldn't actually start to operate exactly at the same time. But isn't it enough that they continue over the same stretch of time. E.g., you can trace the physical act of playing a piano to a time (shortly) before the tune actually proceeds.

      Or am I missing something?

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    9. @George LeSauvage,

      I think you are right that the troll was confused by the term simultaneous.

      I also think you are right in your assessment that the essentially ordered series of moving movers occurs over time (motion occurs over time after all). The simultaneity of the series refers to the existence of the moving movers and not to any simultaneity in reference to time other than that.

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    10. bmiller November 10, 2017 at 6:56 PM

      " essentially ordered series of moving movers "
      --There is no such thing as an "essential" causal series.

      Change occurs over time. Zero change occurs in zero time.

      Every causal series is a temporal series, an "accidental" series.

      A "moving mover" is moving over time. Motion is necessarily a temporal process. No motion occurs in no time.

      The very notion of a simultaneous series of motions is absurd. A series of motions is necessarily temporal.

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    11. Many people seem to miss the point of the argument.

      Some potentiality, here and now, is being actualized (ultimately, the very existence of a material thing entails the actualization of a potential). And something here and now is actualizing it. Concurrently.

      And it is no good to posit that what actualizes that potential is something whose potential is being actualized by something whose potential is being....that merely multiplies the number of things that require actualization; none would account for how any such thing has actuality at all, here and now.

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    12. Before you go down the rabbit hole Jason. Stardustry is a troll. By his own admission he hasn't even read Dr Feser's books because he 'knows' that they are wrong, as soon as you nail him down on one point, he'll jump to another equally worthless objection ad an so own. He'll then bring up the original objection which he claims you haven't answered.

      I'm not sure if he's simply stupid, or is doing an andy kauffman spoof (instead of wrestling substitute crappy philosophy).

      To add to that he is rude, condescending and doesn't even know the subject matter.

      Just ignore him

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    13. Jason November 11, 2017 at 2:43 AM

      "Many people seem to miss the point of the argument.

      Some potentiality, here and now, is being actualized (ultimately, the very existence of a material thing entails the actualization of a potential)."
      --False.

      To use A-T jargon, material is already fully actualized in its existential respect.

      Material does not change in its existential respect. The existential respect of material stays the same, remains fully actualized, and need not be continuously actualized.

      In contemporary science this is called the conservation of mass/energy.

      E=mcc. There is no poof term, positive or negative.


      "And it is no good to posit that what actualizes that potential is something whose potential is being actualized by something whose potential is being....that merely multiplies the number of things that require actualization;"
      --Since there is no call for any regress of existential actualization there is no problem of the impossibility or an infinite regress of existential actualizations and therefore no call for a first existential actualizer in the present moment.

      There is no call for a first changer in the present moment to account for the persistent existence of material. Material simply does not change in its existential respect.

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    14. Remember, do not feed the troll.

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      Y'all know I'm a grown boy
      Your clique full of broke boys
      God ya'll some broke boys
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      We GBE dope boys
      We got lots of dough boy

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    16. @Just another mad Catholic

      Don't worry, I'm well aware SP is a troll. Whenever I post in the same thread as SP, it's for the other readers and commenters; not for SP.

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    17. George: The word "simultaneus" is from the text of Aquinas, which is why I used it.

      Stardusy Psyche: Since time is the measure of change, the two are forever linked in A-T thinking. Again, I bring up the notion of a "simultaneous series" because it's there in the text of Aquinas. Why ignore what Aquinas wrote when discussing an argument he made? That's all I've got to say to you otherwise.

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    18. jac November 12, 2017 at 11:28 AM

      Stardusy Psyche: Since time is the measure of change, the two are forever linked in A-T thinking. Again, I bring up the notion of a "simultaneous series" because it's there in the text of Aquinas. Why ignore what Aquinas wrote when discussing an argument he made? "
      --Because at the moment I have focused on what I think is a potentially more fruitful way to expose how erroneous medieval world views are embedded in the First and subsequent ways.

      If one has the view that motion ends, things come to rest on their own, if not acted upon then the First Way makes sense. If one thinks that objects will blink out of existence unless acted upon then further arguments of Aquinas make sense.

      But linear uniform motion continues because it is no change in mass/energy.

      Existence of material continues because it is no change in mass/energy.

      With these modern understandings of no change the Five Ways become meaningless nonsense. No changer in the present moment is called for to account for motion or continued material existence.

      As for the notion of a simultaneous causal series this again is due to erroneous medieval world views.

      There is no such thing as a rigid multibody system. We can imagine a row of bearing balls in contact such that we move one on one end and the ball on the other end instantaneously moves. That is not reality. The balls are elastic. Causal influences propagate, classically, no faster than c, and in solids the speed of propagation is much less.

      There is no such thing as an "essential" causal series. simultaneity of cause and effect, more properly mutual causation, does not extent beyond the limit as T goes to zero, within which no series of causes can be.

      The hierarchy called for by observed structure is not a causal hierarchy, rather, a hierarchy of abstractions, of human models, terminating in fundamental physics.

      The causal regress called for by observed motion is a temporal regress, the origin of which goes back at least as far as our big bang, some 13.7 billion years ago.

      There is no existential causal regress called for at all, because no change in the existence of material, no change in the amount of stuff, calls for no changer at all, much less a regress of changers.

      So, jac, it is not so much that I have ignored the subject of a simultaneous series in general, it is just I had not brought it up on this thread.

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    19. Don't feed the troll.

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    20. @jac: The fact that Aquinas (or more strictly, his translators) use "simultaneous" isn't the point. It's that it is confusing to current readers. This is common with older writers. "Cause" and "motion" are obvious examples; simply using the words, however justified their use, people misread them. (If you really want to see people misread Aquinas, see what they think he was talking about regarding "rape".)

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    21. George, the Latin text uses "Simul." There is not a lot of wiggle room for translation there (and I was reading the Latin). Do you have a better suggestion on how to read Aquinas, if not in the Latin? If someone reading Aquinas does not take the time to learn the basic concepts he used, then they will not properly understand Aquinas (whether they agree with him or not).

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    22. I don't suggest a better word, but I do suggest doing it as Ed does, which involves stopping to explain wherever these problems arise. The models are cases like "motion" as change, or pointing out that "evil" (malum) needn't involve moral evil. See my previous comment for the point about "simultaneous".

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    23. I guess I'm just missing the point on your post above, George.

      Aquinas very specifically says "simultaneous" to make a point (from Summa Contra Gentiles, B. 1, c. 13): "Furthermore, that it is impossible for an infinite thing to be moved in a finite time is so proved. The mover and the thing moved must exist simultaneously, as proved by induction in the various species of motion. But bodies cannot be simultaneous except through continuity or contiguity. Now, since, as has been proved, all the aforementioned movers and. things moved are bodies, they must constitute by continuity or contiguity a sort of single mobile. In this way, one infinite is moved in a finite time. This is impossible, as is proved in the Physics [VII, 1]."

      In Aquinas, once you remove that simultaneity in time, you move to a different part of the argument. For Aquinas, it is entirely possible to have a non-simultaneous series of moved movers, BUT you still need something outside of the series to explain the motion of the members of the series (there must be some first mover).

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    24. @jac,

      I think if you read George's first comment regarding "simultaneous" and following ones, you will see he is emphasizing that focusing on simultaneity rather than instrumentality could lead the discussion down a rabbit hole (and indeed has with certain people whose name we shall not speak).

      they must constitute by continuity or contiguity a sort of single mobile.

      It is due to the reliance of each member on the previous member for it's own particular movement in time that is relevant (whether that duration of movement in time is short or long.) They must all exist at the same time for this to occur, but the motive force does not have to propagate from the first member to all members simultaneously.

      The (intentional) confusion/assertion is that an essentially ordered series requires instantenous transmission of motive force otherwise it is an accidentally ordered series.

      Some will intentionally take the word in a sense not intended by the author just to pollute a combox. Better to follow the blog owner's wishes and not engage those individuals on this blog.

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    25. jac November 13, 2017 at 1:16 PM

      " The mover and the thing moved must exist simultaneously, as proved by induction in the various species of motion. But bodies cannot be simultaneous except through continuity or contiguity. Now, since, as has been proved, all the aforementioned movers and. things moved are bodies, they must constitute by continuity or contiguity a sort of single mobile. "
      --Here Aquinas commits the error of considering a rigid multibody system.

      In fact every causal series occurs over time. To ask what caused Z we examine Y previous in time. To ask what caused Y we examine X previous in time. This leads to a regress of causes in time going back at least as far as our big bang.

      Every causal series of changes is a temporal series, not a hierarchical series, thus there is no call for a hierarchical first mover in the present moment to account for observed motion.

      To account for present motion we must use a temporal regress, not a hierarchical regress.

      Any attempt to model a causal series of changes hierarchically is an erroneous oversimplification of what is in truth a temporal series. All the classic A-T examples of an "essential" series are such erroneous assertions.

      There is no such thing as an "essential" causal series.

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    26. bmiller November 13, 2017 at 7:21 PM

      "It is due to the reliance of each member on the previous member for it's own particular movement "
      --Ok, so we have a set of members, m1, m2, ... , mn.

      "in time that is relevant (whether that duration of movement in time is short or long.)"
      --Ok, so time may pass between the causal motion of m1 and the effect of motion upon mn. So we have.
      m1, t, m2, t, ...., t, mn

      " They must all exist at the same time for this to occur,"
      --ok, so material is allowed to enter into existence or pass out of existence during the time of this causal series.

      " but the motive force does not have to propagate from the first member to all members simultaneously."
      --Ok, restating, causal influences propagate over time, agreed.

      "The (intentional) confusion/assertion is that an essentially ordered series requires instantenous transmission of motive force otherwise it is an accidentally ordered series."
      --So by your reckoning, simultaneity of cause and effect are irrelevant to an "essential" series.

      How then does an "essential" series demonstrate a first mover in the present moment?

      consider
      t=1 second
      m1, t, m2, t, .... , t, m100,001

      In what sense is 100,000 seconds past this present moment?

      You have allowed that members of the causal series may impart their causal influence in the past. In doing so you have destroyed the argument of the First Way for a first mover in the present moment.

      By allowing for temporally past members of a causal series you no longer have a hierarchical regress, you have a temporal regress.

      Why stop with members of a solid object under consideration? You allow that it takes time for a man to pump the blood to move the muscle to move the tendon to move the hand to move this end of the stick to move the middle of the stick to move the end of the stick to move the rock to move the dirt to increase molecular motion of the dirt which propagates on and on and on without end in time.

      So it is only reasonable to regress with these temporal members as well.

      Prior to the heart pumping air was breathed and the material of the air still exists, prior to the air being breathed the air molecules were moved by other air molecules, which still exist. Prior to those, air molecules moving reactions in plants moved and that material still exists. Prior to the plants moving water fell on the plants and that material still exists. And back and back and back through a vast stretch of members going back at least as far as our big bang.

      This is all allowed because you allow for time to pass between the causal influence of the first member of your series and the last member of your series, making your choice for first and last member arbitrary, because there will always be another member in the series going forward in time, and upon an infinite past there has always been a prior member in the series in a temporal regress, or given a hypothesis of time beginning at the big bang the temporal regress stretches back 13.7 billion years.

      In any case, you have destroyed the First Way as an argument for a hierarchical first mover in this present moment by allowing for temporal propagation of causal influences at all.

      You have hoisted yourself upon your own petard.


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    27. Correction

      --ok, so *no* material is allowed to enter into existence or pass out of existence during the time of this causal series.

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    28. Just another mad Catholic November 11, 2017 at 7:57 AM

      "Before you go down the rabbit hole Jason. Stardustry is a troll. "
      --Then I suppose you agree with bmiller that a propagation delay between members of an "essential" series is no problem for the First Way?

      He asserts that the essence of an essentially ordered series is the instrumentality of each existent material mover, and not the fact that the motion of a mobile takes place over time.

      So, the blood is an instrument between the heart and the muscle. The tendon is an instrument between the muscle and the hand. The stick is an instrument between the hand and the rock. The rock is an instrument between the stick and the dirt. The dirt near the rock is and instrument between the rock and the dirt farther from the rock. And on and on and on as the motion gets transferred over time unending from molecule to molecule without any loss of mass/energy.

      And regressing as well, the heart was an instrument between the air in the lung and the blood. The air in the lung was an instrument between the air outside the body and the heart. And back and back and back in a temporal regress into the deep past.

      The observation of motion in the present calls for a temporal regress, not a hierarchical regress.

      Bmiller has destroyed the First Way as an argument for a hierarchical first mover in the present moment by allowing for propagation delay between members of an "essential" causal series.

      Bmiller killed the First Way.

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  7. Never knew about Pints with Aquinas. What a great podcast to have! And Matt is so clear and inviting to listen to.

    Ed, is he Aussie or Kiwi?

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    1. Cool.

      After listening to a few more episodes and seeing how he pronounces "answers" confirmed it for me haha

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  8. What is the role of "intention" in a hierarchical series of causes ordered per se? In what I've read of Aquinas' discussion of such series, he talks not only about the secondary causes' being instrumental, but he says that they are instrumental in carrying out the "intentio" of the first cause. Aristotle will talk about some causes in nature as though they have intention when intention does not entail that they have mind. But the UM is mind. So is "mind" built into the notion of a per se hierarchy already? And if it is not, why is it not? How exactly is Aquinas using "intentio"?

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    1. The UM is the Final Cause of all motion, i.e., that for the sake of which all motion occurs; and all final causes imply a mind.

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    2. 'Intentio' is just the Latin for 'tending' or 'being disposed' to something. It should not be confused with the English words 'intention' and 'intent' (although both of these would be particularly kinds of intentio). The same is true of 'appetitus', which in Latin is just an aiming-at, whereas 'appetite' in English is a particularly mental aiming-at.

      But the Fifth Way does argue that natural intentio does ultimately depend on intellectual intentio.

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    3. Brandon, you seem to be saying that in scholastic philosophy intelligence is not a necessary implication of intention, such that intelligence may be denied of having anything to do with it without rendering the term either unintelligible or equivocal. Certainly, defining the term "intention" as "being disposed to" renders it to be in no way necessarily implying intelligence, at least if the disposition in question is accidental. After all, something could be disposed to something else completely by chance. Could you provide an example where the term "intention" has been used in this sense?

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    4. But if the "intentio" is predicated of the head term in a per se hierarchical series of causes, the whole point of the series' being "per se" is that the causality is not accidental. The first sphere, or the sun, do their causal thing by nature, not per accidens. If something is disposed to something else completely by chance, such that it is a cause of an effect in that other thing, such a causal relation seems pretty clearly per accidens and not per se. Intentio is made by Aquinas a feature of a per se series.

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    5. In line with what Brandon said, Aquinas writes that "intentio primo et per se actum voluntatis nominat secundum quod in ea est vis intellectus ordinantis." "Intention in a primary sense and per se designates an act of will, according to which there is in it [sc. the intention] the force of the intellect that sets up the order." In II Sent. q. 38 q. 1 a. 3 co. But he also says things like "the intention of nature is principally toward conserving the species" (De Veritate q. 3 a. 8 co.), which is language we often find in Ari. He is explicit that in a causal series ordered per se, we have an "ordo," in which the "intentio" of the first is carried through to the last. In an accidental series of movers, the intentio of the first only extends to the proximately moved thing (De substantiis separatis 15; similarly in On De Causis 1). Aquinas' examples in the latter are of agents endowed with mind. Even in the case of nature, though, while it's an accident that a particular ovum was fertilized, semen's "aiming at" fertilizing the egg has to be in a per se order, I should think.

      Sorry for the rambling. I'm left thinking that the "intentio" feature is a requirement for a causal series to be ordered per se. If it's per se, then there's intentio. How far we go to say that "intentio" entails mind is a matter of further steps.

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    6. Ficino, I was just asking Brandon about how the word "intention" is used in philosophy. I wasn't suggesting that the causal series in question was accidental.

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    7. Cool, and I may have misunderstood your "intentio." I'm trying to get this stuff straight in my mind!

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    8. Brandon, you seem to be saying that in scholastic philosophy intelligence is not a necessary implication of intention, such that intelligence may be denied of having anything to do with it without rendering the term either unintelligible or equivocal.

      The progression of the Fifth Way shows how the word works very well: natural things act consistently in appropriate ways, which thus establishes they act ex intentione and not a casu -- that is, by disposition not by chance; but natural things cannot tend (tendunt, a related word) to an end unless directed by an intelligence -- i.e., they can be disposed to act according to a selected end (which is the intention), but they can't do the actual selecting. Note that the intelligence step is an extra step beyond the intention step. An arrow can itself have an intention to the target, without having any intelligence; it's when we ask how it does this given that it cannot pick out ends that we get an intelligent source.

      (I don't think you can get genuine dispositions by chance; but, in any case, to the extent that 'being disposed to' can be a translation of 'intentio', it requires a consistency that chance can't give.)

      The historical fate of 'intention', 'appetite', and 'final cause' is all the same: they included but were not limited to mental acts, but were narrowed and narrowed over the centuries until they were treated as entirely mental in character.

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    9. I'm not sure "directing" won't mislead people, too. I find often they see it in terms of driving a car, or something like that. Which isn't the point. And it can be hard to straighten this out, without being read as Paleyite. Partly, no doubt, it's because of a flaw in my presentation, but I think it's partly in the way they hear the words, and what they read into them.

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    10. So far the Fifth Way seems question-begging to me. That's because it works from an A-T conception of natural processes, on which they aim at "the best" under some description. But we don't know that a natural process aims at any "best." So we don't know that what we think is the final cause is legitimately so characterized. Aquinas' example of the arrow is not the greatest, because in the example we are told that the archer has an goal in mind for the arrow's flight. We don't know that biological processes seek out any "best." Why does the human eye have a blind spot? We see A regularly follow upon B in nature, but we don't know that it couldn't have followed upon C with some variations. So I'm left thinking that "final cause" is our construct after the fact, not a given. We don't really know that nature functions under "gubernatione" and that things without cognition operate "propter finem." The "propter" part conceals premises that I think render the argument a petitio.

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    11. I'm not sure "directing" won't mislead people, too. I find often they see it in terms of driving a car, or something like that.

      "Directing" is a good term, and "the arrow and it's target" is a good analogy. They have to be understood in the right sense, though. To take them in a Paleyite sense would indeed result in an imperfect and overly anthropomorphic understanding of natural teleology. But the real author of the soul-destroying idiocy we see all around us with respect to this issue is not Paley, but Darwin, and his disciples. Attempting to grasp Thomas's fifth way while, at the same time, adhering to Darwinistic notions is like trying to swim with fins of lead.

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    12. @ficino4ml:

      "That's because it works from an A-T conception of natural processes, on which they aim at "the best" under some description. But we don't know that a natural process aims at any "best." So we don't know that what we think is the final cause is legitimately so characterized."

      That natural substances have as immanent goal their own good being characterized as "the best" (square quotes and all) is your own misreading of what Aristotelean-Thomists say. We do know that natural processes (sticking to living organisms) do aim at the good and flourishing of the whole -- if that were not so, medicine would be a rigorously redundant and useless field of knowledge. And so it follows that yes, we can know final causes, in the same way we know everything else, by a combination of observation and reasoning. And more to the point, we can know that final causes are a real, objective feature of reality, whether we can know them in any specific case or not -- by the argument St. Thomas gives.

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    13. @ grodrigues, most of what you say amounts to assertion or restatement of what Aquinas wrote. But your post indicates that you fail to understand Aristotle's philosophy of nature. Nature always makes the best of what is possible, De Caelo II.5, 288a3-4. Continuous motion has a goal and final cause, but it is the best, not just any ending, Phys. II.1, 194a27-34. The end of motion is also the best with respect to the substance of each thing, πρὸς τὴν ἑκάστου οὐσιαν, 198b9. “... in everything nature always desires (ὀρέγεσθαι) the better" (GenCorr II.10, 336b27-28). There are many other such passages.

      I think we shall agree that things without mind do not form intentions, so things in nature in nature seem to come about as though for an end, Phys. 198b27-36. For example, among plants, beneficial things happen for the end, e.g. leaves for the sake of a covering of the fruit, Phys. II.8, 199a24-25. Within Aristotle's whole system, though, as you know, the highest causal agents do have mind. Entities lower in the scala naturae are moved/actualized by higher ones. Aquinas' commentaries on Aristotelian works like the De Caelo or Physics take up this conception of all of nature seeking, as it were, the best in some ontologically higher level beyond its own.

      So I stand by what I wrote, that in an A-T conception of natural processes, "best" is an attribute of ends in nature in general. But that evaluative claim needs to be demonstrated, not merely derived from the way nature is defined. We don't, I think, know that things in nature are ordered toward any best. it would be tautologous simply to define ends in nature as the best and then say that things which attain some end therefore attain the best.

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    14. ficino, I'm not sure you're not conflating two things. In recognizing final causes, it would seem necessary only that things act in predictable ways; that they act for some end. In saying that this is "for the best" A&A are saying something further about final causes. But it's not clear that the latter is key to the 5th way; the former would be enough.

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    15. I don't think I'm going crazy YET, tho' of course, would I know it if I were? Anyway, I'm not making up this stuff about "the best." It's right at the center of Thomas' argument for "governance of things" in the Fifth. He says it's apparent from the fact that things w/o mind operate in the same way always or for the most part, so that they may attain (consequantur) that which is best. From THAT it's clear that they reach the end, not by chance, but "ex intentione."

      Leaving "intentione" untranslated for now, I still am forced by Aquinas himself to stick with my conclusion that when we say, "the natural process took place on account of an end" (propter finem), the "propter finem" part rests on a premise that the "best" determines the efficient causality that aims at it.

      So I think this is question begging. It's not obvious that an asteroid is set into motion to crash into earth in order that some "best" end in nature be achieved.

      Well, I love this stuff, anyway.

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    16. @ficino4ml:

      "most of what you say amounts to assertion or restatement of what Aquinas wrote."

      "So I stand by what I wrote, that in an A-T conception of natural processes, "best" is an attribute of ends in nature in general."

      If what I wrote is a "restatement of what Aquinas wrote", and since A-T is an acronym for Aristotelean-Thomism, the second sentence cannot be true. So there are two questions possible left. The first is whether St. Thomas is reading Aristotle faithfully. But even if this were not the case (and I have to go back to Aristotle, as I am not an expert nor even close, and it has been a long time since I last looked at it), your claim would still be irrelevant, because as George LeSauvage points out, the central point is that final causes are real objective features of the world, not that they are best (whatever that is supposed to mean -- and the fact that you cannot tease out what this is supposed to mean should tell you something). The second question is whether Aristotle's talk of "best" supports your claims -- I do not see where you argued that in any way whatsoever, but as I said I would have to go back to Aristotle.

      "He says it's apparent from the fact that things w/o mind operate in the same way always or for the most part, so that they may attain (consequantur) that which is best. From THAT it's clear that they reach the end, not by chance, but "ex intentione.""

      I do not know Latin, so I am not going to wrangle with you on proper translations; what I will say, is that in some cases a "best" is recognizable, in others there simply is no such thing. If it were always such the case, there would be a best possible world, but there is no such thing for God to actualize. And any talk of final causes as Good is best restricted to living things; inanimate things are not substances for which a concept of flourishing makes much sense.

      There is a further ambiguity that I think you are falling into: best is *not* an attribute of the end, but when St. Thomas says "so that they may attain (consequantur) that which is best" should be read as that to attain the proper ends as set by their nature is what is best for them, not that the end is the best, whatever that is even supposed to mean.

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    17. Just for now, I suggest that you read what I wrote more carefully, for I didn't attribute to you the words that you suggest I did. You may also want to get back into Aristotle, whose philosophy of nature is more imbued with the notion of "the best" than you acknowledge. Every process by nature tends toward that, in the measure suited to each thing, and each thing contributes to the best for the whole when it is actualized, in entelechy. There is a "best" even in nature's structure, for the higher is better than the lower in the universe, i.e. top of heaven better than earth, more honorable, more divine, De Caelo II.5, 288a4-6. The front is superior to the back, and the right is superior to the left, 288a5-8. Even though fire and earth are inanimate, it is best for them to be in their natural place farthest from or closes to the center within the sublunary zone.

      It's a beautiful conception, and Aristotle's notion of final causes is impoverished if this value-laden side of it is elided. Aquinas talks about all these things throughout his corpus, as far as I've read, though of course with theological differences.

      I think further examination will reveal that this value-laden aspect of the notion "for the sake of an end" is present in Ari and Aquinas. And as I said to George, it's right there in a step in the Fifth Way.

      I cannot make sense of your last paragraph. Can you explain how it is best for a thing to attain its proper end but that end is not best? Aquinas does not tell us, "cui bono," so I would guess, as you say, that being fully actualized is best for the substance and for all of nature of which it is a part. It is best for the arrow to complete its trajectory and for the archer to drive it into the target he has determined. And so on.

      The problem for the Fifth Way is to show how the notion of governance of nature by mind is not already implicit in the notion of things' operating "on account of an end" (propter finem). In the Fifth Way, Aquinas gets to "operate on account of an end" from (quod apparet ex) the premise that things operate in order to (ut) attain what is best. There are undemonstrated hidden premises in there.

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    18. ficino4ml November 11, 2017 at 2:42 AM

      "So far the Fifth Way seems question-begging to me. "
      --Indeed.
      "The fifth way is taken from the governance of the world. We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result. Hence it is plain that not fortuitously, but designedly, do they achieve their end. Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer. Therefore some intelligent being exists by whom all natural things are directed to their end; and this being we call God."
      http://iteadthomam.blogspot.com/2011/03/fifth-way-in-syllogistic-form.html

      --Aquinas merely asserts
      1.Objects act toward and end.
      2.Objects act to obtain a best result.
      3.Objects act by design.
      4.Acting toward an end requires intelligence.
      5.Therefore there is an intelligent being directing all natural things.
      6.Humans call this being God.

      The 5th way is blatant question begging.

      Here is what is manifest and evident to the senses.
      1.Materials act in particular fundamental ways.
      2.The aggregate actions of submicroscopic materials account for the actions of macro objects we observe with our senses.
      3.This aggregate simply turns out to be whatever it turns out to be with no need for it to act toward any best result in any sense.
      4.No directing intelligence is called for to account for the actions of the objects we observe with our senses.

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    19. ficino4ml November 9, 2017 at 1:09 PM

      "But if the "intentio" is predicated of the head term in a per se hierarchical series of causes, the whole point of the series' being "per se" is that the causality is not accidental. The first sphere, or the sun, do their causal thing by nature, not per accidens."
      --Every causal series is "accidental".

      The sun is not a single object with a causal nature. The sun a collection of objects continuously in motion, a temporal process. What we think of as properties of the sun are actually the aggregate actions of the constituents of the sun as they act "accidentally".

      The solar system is a mulibody system of mutual temporal causation.

      There is no such thing as an "essential" causal series. Causal influences propagate, classically, no faster than c. Every changer is itself changed in the process of imparting change, so the labels of cause and effect are arbitrary.

      Every process of causation is an "accidental" temporal multibody system of mutual causation.

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    20. @ficino4ml:

      "Just for now, I suggest that you read what I wrote more carefully, for I didn't attribute to you the words that you suggest I did."

      Likewise.

      Let us start with what I objected: '"best" is an attribute of ends in nature in general.' There is not a single argument for this in your first three paragraphs, and what you wrote is not only perfectly consistent with what I said, it is what Aquinas says. What is best for a thing is to follow its proper ends as set by its own nature. Then you ask:

      "I cannot make sense of your last paragraph. Can you explain how it is best for a thing to attain its proper end but that end is not best?"

      It is me that cannot make sense of your question -- but given that you maintain that "best" is an attribute of the end I understand why you make it. The ends are natural and immanent to a thing, so what can you possibly mean they are "best"? To say they are best there must be a term of comparison, so it follows that a thing's nature could have other proper, natural ends which are somehow "worse". But this of course, makes absolutely no sense. I know of no other possible reading of saying that "best" is an attribute of the end itself, and it is an absurdity. Do you have another one?

      "In the Fifth Way, Aquinas gets to "operate on account of an end" from (quod apparet ex) the premise that things operate in order to (ut) attain what is best. There are undemonstrated hidden premises in there."

      I do not understand what possible link is there between this objection to what I responded in my first comment which was: "That's because it works from an A-T conception of natural processes, on which they aim at "the best" under some description. But we don't know that a natural process aims at any "best." So we don't know that what we think is the final cause is legitimately so characterized."

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    21. (continue)

      So the key phrase is: "Now whatever lacks intelligence cannot move towards an end, unless it be directed by some being endowed with knowledge and intelligence; as the arrow is shot to its mark by the archer." And your objection is that this is insufficiently argued.

      Prof. Feser explains in his book "Aquinas" thus:

      "Consider those cases where goal-directedness is associated with consciousness, as it is in us. A builder builds a house, and he is able to do so because the effect, the house, exists as an idea in his intellect before it exists in reality. That is the way in which the house serves as the final cause of the actions of the builder even as those actions are the efficient cause of the house. Indeed, that is the only way the house can do so. For a cause, to have any efficacy, must in some sense exist; and if it doesn’t exist in reality, then the only place left for it to exist (certainly for Aquinas, who as an Aristotelian does not accept Plato’s notion of a “third realm” beyond the natural world and the mind) is in the intellect.

      What then of the vast system of causes that constitutes the physical universe? Every one of them is directed towards a certain end or final cause. Yet almost none of them is associated with any thought, consciousness, or intellect at all; and even animals and human beings, which are conscious, are comprised in whole or in part of unconscious and unintelligent material components which themselves manifest final causality. But given what was said above, it is impossible for anything to be directed towards an end unless that end exists in an intellect which directs the thing in question towards it. It follows that the system of ends or final causes that make up the physical universe can only exist at all if there is a Supreme Intelligence or intellect outside the universe which directs things towards their ends. Moreover, this intellect must exist here and now, and not merely at some beginning point in the past, because causes are here and now, and at any point at which they exist at all, directed towards certain ends (otherwise, for reasons examined already, they wouldn’t on Aquinas’s analysis be true efficient causes at all)."

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    22. (continue)

      Garrigou-Lagrange expounds the proof here.

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    23. "We see that things which lack intelligence, such as natural bodies, act for an end, and this is evident from their acting always, or nearly always, in the same way, so as to obtain the best result."

      My point is simple enough. If you leave off the last clause above, the argument remains. The case for final causation, IN ITSELF, is not dependent on it's working "for the best". Or, more precisely, on what is meant by "for the best". The regularity is enough.

      That in no way denies that Aristotle thought that it did. It merely argues that, in attacking that belief, even successfully, you have not gotten rid of the case for final causes.

      It seems to me akin to disputing the filioque, and in so doing, arguing that the Catholics therefore don't believe in the Trinity. No, we may have gotten on thing wrong about it (from the Orthodox perspective). But we don't disbelieve in the Trinity, simply speaking.

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    24. @ficino4ml:

      I said:

      "It is me that cannot make sense of your question -- but given that you maintain that "best" is an attribute of the end I understand why you make it. The ends are natural and immanent to a thing, so what can you possibly mean they are "best"? To say they are best there must be a term of comparison, so it follows that a thing's nature could have other proper, natural ends which are somehow "worse". But this of course, makes absolutely no sense. I know of no other possible reading of saying that "best" is an attribute of the end itself, and it is an absurdity. Do you have another one?"

      To stave off a possible objection, I am well aware that both Aristotle and St. Thomas speak of a hierarchy of ends. But that is precisely part of my point, the ends are related in a *hierarchy*, so those lower on the hierarchy are subservient to those higher and are not strictly part of the thing's essence. So there is no term of comparison between them and it is misleading to speak of the ultimate ends as "best".

      But as I have already said, repeating George LeSauvage, even granting that I am misinterpreting Aristotle, the central point is that final causes are real objective features of the world. This is standard Aristotelian fare and since you know your Aristotle well I do not need to point you to the relevant passages. That things act towards certain ends implies that they are being directed to those ends by an Intellect is the crux of the Fifth Way, and is explained by both Prof. Feser and Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange explain. All this talk of "best" and the objections attached to it (e.g. the epistemological objection) are just a distraction.

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    25. @George LeSauvage: this afternoon after writing to grodrigues I was thinking over just what you suggest, does the Fifth Way need "ut consequantur id quod est optimum"? Are you proposing to amend or seek to repair the Fifth Way without this element? It would be interesting, if so, to see what you come up with.

      You suggest that regularity by itself is sufficient evidence of governance by mind (correct me if I misread you). That's clearly not how Aquinas argued, since he did include the "so that..." clause.

      What are the needs and consequences of an argument from Governance without that clause? The fact that Aquinas thought he needed it makes me at first suspicious that it can be dropped.

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    26. @grodrigues: I'm not trying to do anything deep with "best". It seems intuitive that if it is best for a thing to achieve its natural end, its natural end is the best thing for it to achieve. That's all.

      I am getting the vibe from both you and George that you think it's off base to press Aquinas on "so that they may attain the best." It's Aquinas who thought it necessary to write that, not me! In interpreting texts, surely we generally try to consider all that is there. Some pieces of a text can reveal cracks in a writer's thinking. I believe this does, as does "propter finem," "for the sake of/on account of an end."

      To see the Fifth Way as question-begging is not unique to me. Robert J. Fogelin, for example, wrote of the Fifth Way, "As a response to natural teleology this is, of course, baldly question-begging" ("A Reading of Aquinas' Five Ways," AmPhilQ 27 [1990] 305-13 at 306).

      It doesn't help to say that final causes are real objective features of the world. We all know that both Ari and Aq teach this. We know they teach that an efficient cause finds its explanation in a final cause. What is in question for the Fifth Way is whether the argument goes through as it stands. You have not shown that the notion of purposiveness is not contained in its premises, as I've set forth.

      I hope you were able to paste the quotation from Feser's Aquinas rather than retyping the whole thing! In fact, that very book is on my reading stand a foot in front of me, and I've been rereading Feser's discussion of the Fifth Way.

      I presume that Aquinas thought his readers would already have signed on to Aristotle's notion of final causes in nature, so he doesn't argue for them here. But Feser too agrees that the notion of governance by mind is implicit in the notion of final causes: "But given what was said above, it is impossible for anything to be directed towards an end unless that end exists in an intellect which directs the thing in question towards it" (p. 117, which you also quoted above). That is the very point at issue. The defender of the Fifth Way has to show that the conclusion, "they're directed toward an end by mind," is not implicit in the premises.

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    27. 'Nature acts for the optimum' was a common expression; when Aquinas glosses it elsewhere, he treats it as equivalent to 'order with defect or failure' (e.g., ST 1.103.1; compare SCG 1.1.1, 2.39.7, 3.69.17).

      The defender of the Fifth Way has to show that the conclusion, "they're directed toward an end by mind," is not implicit in the premises.

      I think you need to be more precise about what your criticism is here; all non-ampliative arguments are such that their conclusions are implicit in their premises -- they are only question-begging when a much stronger set of conditions obtains. (As far as I can see, your quotation of Feser, for instance, only establishes that he thinks you can conclude intelligence from direction to an end, which is not the kind of implicitness needed for arguing that concluding intelligence from direction to an end is question-begging.) What both grodrigues and George Le Sauvage have been doing is arguing that you can construct an interpretation of the argument that does not depend on the interpretation of 'best' you suggest; this is usually all that would be needed to address a charge of question-begging. What more you are asking does not seem very clear.

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    28. Sorry, that should be 'order *without* defect or failure'.

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    29. Thanks, Brandon. I have nothing to add to that.

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    30. Aquinas in the Fifth Way works from assumptions that he discusses in more depth, and argues for, in his commentary on Aristotle's Physics. Even the example of the arrow is there. When I say, "argues for," I speak loosely, because strictly speaking, Aquinas is commenting on Aristotle's arguments. But since he accepts almost all of them, and lets his audience know when Aristotle must be opposed, I take it as safe that we can draw illumination from his Aristotelian commentaries as we do from other parts of the Thomistic corpus.

      In his discussion of Book II, Aquinas pretty clearly accepts that final causes are defined, not only as intended outcomes (leaving aside, intended by "whom"), but also as necessarily realizing what is good or best (leaving aside, "for whom"). Aristotle himself defines the final causes so in Physics 195a22-26: “ the others are causes in the sense of the end or the good of the rest [sc. of the other causes]; for 'that for the sake of which' means what is best and the end of the things that lead up to it. (Whether we say the 'good itself or the 'apparent good' makes no difference.)”

      In Aquinas' sentence, "ut consequantur id quod est optimum" (so that they may attain that which is best), is offered as part of the basis on which we should conclude that even mindless things in nature operate "propter finem" (for the sake of an end) when they operate in the same way always or for the most part.

      This seems important to me because it seems as though the natural events in question are being defined in a way that already entails they or their outcomes are products of a mind.

      So far two main challenges have been made to my challenge - unless I've missed something.
      1. the parts about "best" etc. can be dropped. If George or others would like to propose a different version of an argument from Governance, lacking this value-laden criterion, it would be interesting to look at. For starters, I think it's clear that such an argument would not be Aristotle's or Aquinas'. It's instructive to reread Aquinas Commentary on the Physics, say from C181 to at least C273. Especially in his discussion of the earlier parts of Physics Bk. ii, and in Aristotle himself, it is both good for a thing to attain its end and its end is a good (or an apparent good). So something has to be done with this value aspect of Aristotle's and Aquinas' philosophy of nature.
      2. Does the above value aspect already entail Mind, so that the Fifth Way becomes viciously question begging? As I said, there are others besides me who think so, and I understand that you don't, Brandon. That's a fruitful area for further discussion.

      I am tempted to think we ought to start a thread on the Fifth Way over on the classical theism forum, as Jeremy did for SDP's thread, so we (or I) don't gum up this thread too much. Thoughts?

      BTW I am honored to be suspected as a sock puppet by one of the anonymi, but no, I am neither sock nor puppet.

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    31. Brandon, I will get to your SCG passages later, must sign off now. I'm having trouble finding the words you quote in ST I.103.1. May I trouble you to ask for the actual quotation? Tx

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    32. I didn't quote ST 1.103.1; the single apostrophes are concept-markers not quotation marks. The argument of the article requires the equation of 'optimus' with 'melius', 'certus ordo' and 'consecutio finis', and the equation of 'optimus' with unwavering order is quite consistent throughout Aquinas's work.

      So something has to be done with this value aspect of Aristotle's and Aquinas' philosophy of nature.

      'Value' is a useless, and I think seriously misleading, word here; neither Aristotle nor Aquinas thinks of goodness as a 'value', which is an entirely modern notion. This way of stating things also seems to get things backwards (ignores the point that I made previously about subjective interpretations being modern narrowings of originally broader terms): 'good' is itself understood in terms of 'final cause', and by the very way in which Aquinas sets up the connection, both have to be attributable to things that aren't minds, in themselves.

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    33. Brandon, so as to try to be sure I do not misunderstand you, are you denying that:
      1. the Fifth Way is an inductive argument? if you are so denying, what kind of argument do you think it is?
      2. that something that is good is desirable/wanted or the equivalent, sc. "appetibile"?
      3. the "is" of predication and the "is" of identity do different work?

      Thanks, f

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    34. Interestingly, this chap boils "optimum" out of the Fifth Way and reduces it to an argument from regularity in nature. I think that fails to capture what Aquinas wrote, of course:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=v0iq5kR81MM

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    35. are you denying that:
      1. the Fifth Way is an inductive argument? if you are so denying, what kind of argument do you think it is?


      Why would anyone think the Fifth Way itself is intended as an inductive argument? It doesn't have the structure an Aristotelian like Aquinas would identify as inductive.

      2. that something that is good is desirable/wanted or the equivalent, sc. "appetibile"?

      I already noted the historical change of meaning of 'appetite' in the comment at November 9, 2017 at 5:25 PM.

      3. the "is" of predication and the "is" of identity do different work?

      Not only did I not deny this, I don't even see the relevance of this.

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    36. Ficino4ml: It's not obvious that an asteroid is set into motion to crash into earth in order that some "best" end in nature be achieved.

      Recall that the superlative in Latin can be translated not only as "most", but also as "very". In the context of ends, the point is that certain things not only tend [have intentio] towards some behaviour, but that they do it well, fittingly, efficaiously. You might be able to bash a screw into a piece of wood using a hammer, but clearly a hammer does not have the driving of screws as its end the way a screwdriver does. And the natural way to express or recognise this is by noting that the screwdriver does very well what the hammer does poorly. Or in the case of the asteroid, it doesn't just wander about the heavens (or else it would be a planet not an asteroid, ha!) but moves according to very precise patterns; its crashing into the Earth is not a good in itself (it may have good effects or bad) but it is directed (literally) towards the Earth in a precise and unerring way. In other words, the ends referred to are not achieved accidentally or coincidentally or haphazardly, but rather certain causes really are specifically pointed towards certain effects.

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    37. ficino:

      There are two questions here.

      1. Whether "the best" is essential to the argument for final causes.

      2. What "the best" means. Note the passage you quoted:
      ' Aristotle himself defines the final causes so in Physics 195a22-26: “ the others are causes in the sense of the end or the good of the rest [sc. of the other causes]; for 'that for the sake of which' means what is best and the end of the things that lead up to it. (Whether we say the 'good itself or the 'apparent good' makes no difference.)” ' (emphasis added).

      Note that "the best" is seen as the same as the natural end of the causes leading up to it; it has no reference whatsoever to the idea of "good for someone (or something)" in the sense you seem to mean. Rather, it is just a matter of fulfilling it's nature. Thus, the answer to your question about an asteroid would be "Yes, its continuing on its natural path, and destroying the earth, would be best in this sense."

      It has nothing to do with whether someone likes it. (I suppose you could say that one could "like it" in the sense of admiring the orderly way nature works, but that's about it.)

      Now there are some things I notice about this.

      a. I can see that you might argue that this is tautologous, in that when the final cause is "for the best" one is simply saying that it just is the final cause.

      b. It is, as a matter of fact, true that for organisms, this does actually relate to the modern use of "best" you are pushing. E.g., in Ed's example of the toothpaste-addicted squirrel, you have a squirrel who's going to die early.

      Now, regarding (a), I'd be inclined to say that achieving it's final cause is what we mean by "best"; that is, "best" being defined in terms of final causes, rather than the other way around. That A&A use expressions that sound a bit odd, to us, if taken in that sense, doesn't trouble me. That's common enough with old writers. (This attitude was hammered into me in the Meno, the first time I read a literal translation of the slave boy proof. And again with Euclid's actual definition of the Parallel Postulate. No one today would ever say either in anything like that way.

      Another point here is that I have to question whether saying it is a tautology is simply grounds to reject it. To say that B can be defined in terms of A could be a valuable formulation or discovery, could it not?

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    38. @Brandon:
      1. We may have used different defs of induction. I was thinking about the Fifth Way as inductive because its supporting propositions appear presented as though generalizations from experience. But in the sense of inductive as an argument intended only to reach a probable conclusion, I agree that it’s not inductive. Aquinas is aiming at a demonstration.
      2. I see that you mentioned appetite in your 5:25 post, thanks.
      3. I shall try to explain this in a subsequent post to you and George.

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    39. @ Brandon and George and grodrigues et al.: this will be a bit long so I’ll split it. I'll understand if it's TLDR. Here goes.
      3. I had asked about “is” of predication vs. “is” of identity. My reason was because I understand both of you to be saying that the premise, “inanimate bodies operate so that they may attain/achieve that which is best” is equivalent to “[they] operate so that they may achieve an unwavering order” or “… attain their natural end,” or the like. While Aristotle and Aquinas predicate "best" of a natural process’ end and/or its attainment of that end, I don’t believe the semantic range of “best” [and its cogeners] is exhausted by “attaining the end w/o defect,” such that the two terms are equivalent and one can be substituted for the other.
      Let’s say they are equivalent or biconditional. Then, “ut consequantur id quod est optimum” would just mean something like “so that they may attain their natural end”. Aquinas would be giving, as a reason how we know that natural bodies operate for an end, the fact that they operate so that they may attain their end. Such substitution leaves the “ut … optimum” part doing no work, tautologous.
      So I don’t agree with an Identity Thesis of these two expressions, though I agree that it is best for bodies to attain their end. George, I agree with you that “Good” doesn’t just mean “liked by someone,” though it will be true that if something is desired, it is taken as a good. So what DO I think is going on with “ut consequantur id quod est optimum” in the Fifth Way?
      It seems clear to me that in it we have an axiological aspect which Aquinas injects into the argument in order to prove that natural processes not only exhibit and obey final causality but are guided by Mind. Without the “optimum” clause, I hypothesize, Aquinas thinks he has have enough to get to a natural final causality but not enough to get to Gubernatio, “governance,” which is exercised for benefit. Without the “best” clause, his opponents might be able to stick with a claim that nature is regular simply by necessity. Attaining a natural end is best, not just because it is the end, but for a further reason: it is the most beneficial state.
      Back in Aristotle, to use the words of Monte Johnson, the Stagyrite imparts an "axiological" aspect to his doctrine of final causality: "What the contrast with μηδὲν μάτην [nothing in vain] shows is that things that are ἕνεκά τινος [for the sake of something] are complete and functional entities, rationally explicable, non-random, and which somehow manifest axiological predicates, like 'better' [snip Greek] and 'finest' [snip Greek]." (Aristotle on Teleology [Oxford 2005] 82).
      The point matters because Aristotle was arguing against the view that Necessity is sufficient to explain natural processes. He insisted that nature seeks and attains, not just any outcome, but the best one it can. Aquinas picks this up by arguing that a mind is needed if processes will be reliably beneficial. That’s the whole point of nature’s being under “governance.”

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    40. Continued:

      So I disagree that there is no direct beneficiary of inanimate bodies’ motion. On the contrary, ensouled beings are ultimate beneficiaries of all processes of inanimate things. Aquinas himself says this in his commentary on the De Anima: “Moreover the soul is the end not only of living bodies, but also of all sublunary natural bodies. For it is evident that all such bodies are, as it were, instruments of ‘soul’—not only of animals’ souls but of the plant soul as well. Thus men turn to their own, purposes both animals and inanimate things; animals make use of plants and inanimate things; and plants of the inanimate things which support and feed them. If then the action of things is an index to their nature it seems that all inanimate bodies are naturally instruments of animate things and exist for their sake. And, incidentally, the lower animate things exist for the higher.” (II.7 C322, tr. Foster/Humphries)

      We have a whole cosmos governed by a mind. Necessity might be able to grind out regularity in nature. Only a mind can assure benefit as fits each constituent of the cosmos. That’s why Aquinas includes the “ut… optimum” premise. Benefit is implicit in the arrow example. The archer does not shoot the arrow just so it can fulfill being an arrow; he seeks some benefit for himself or other ensouled beings by firing it at a target. Creation itself is the prinicipal “beneficium,” benefit/doing of good, by God (ST 1a 2ae q. 100 a. 5 ad 2).

      This is a wondrous conception.

      But it’s why the Fifth Way strikes me as question begging. The premise that inanimate bodies operate so as to achieve what is best—benefit for something, even if not principally for them—is as much in need of proof as the conclusion. Conversely, once that premise is admitted, governance by mind is virtually admitted.

      This is why I’m interested in what I took to be your (pl.) suggestion that the Fifth Way can go through without “ut consequantur id quod est optimum.” My other thought, though, is to wonder whether there’s milage in purely naturalistic finality.

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    41. Let’s say they are equivalent or biconditional. Then, “ut consequantur id quod est optimum” would just mean something like “so that they may attain their natural end”.

      This is not right; equivalence (and indeed identity as usually understood) is not intensional, and so the fact that A and B are equivalent does not imply that A 'just means' B. And an intensional difference for coextensive descriptions is not substitutable salva veritate for distinct modal contexts (without additional assumptions)-- including epistemic ones. In other words, one can first know that something acts with unfailing order, and only on that ground come to conclude that it has a natural end, based on the fact that if-unfailing-order-then-natural-end-and-vice-versa, without any begging of the question.

      It seems clear to me that in it we have an axiological aspect which Aquinas injects into the argument in order to prove that natural processes not only exhibit and obey final causality but are guided by Mind.

      The problem with this is that 'axiology' is a twentieth century concept, not a thirteenth century one, and therefore you have to show how this cashes out in Aquinas's Aristotelian philosophy. But your entire attempt to do this seems to rest on nothing but hypothesis. Aquinas regularly talks about 'good' in terms of a perfectly general conception of final causation as selection of effect, and of 'optimum' in terms of order. But an argument merely by hypothesis cannot establish that an argument is question-begging.

      And indeed, the gubernatio simply underlines this point, since Aquinas always means by the term the actualization of providence, and he consistently understands it in terms of completeness of order (e.g., SCG 3.73.2) and drawing something to an end (e.g., SCG 3.73.4). (Nor is necessity a problem here; given the scope of what he takes the argument to establish, as is clear from his discussions of providence, he already takes it to apply to things that act by natural necessity.)

      The problem is not so much with thinking in terms of benefit -- benefit, properly understood, is just a kind of completion -- but not thinking more broadly in terms of completeness of order.

      Benefit is implicit in the arrow example. The archer does not shoot the arrow just so it can fulfill being an arrow; he seeks some benefit for himself or other ensouled beings by firing it at a target.

      This is very definitely not the case, and involves, I think, a pretty clear equivocation. It doesn't matter whether the archer is shooting for a benefit; perhaps the archer is perversely malicious and is shooting to destroy himself and others, i.e., the archer's goals are things that will not only not benefit himself and others but the reverse. It would not change the arrow example, because the end of the arrow in itself is not benefit but simply the target. And there's no useful sense in which the arrow is 'benefited' by hitting a target; it just achieves what it was aimed at. (Note, for instance, SCG 3.2.2.) We cannot slip back and forth between the ends of the archer and the ends of the arrow as if they were exactly the same thing.

      This is why I’m interested in what I took to be your (pl.) suggestion that the Fifth Way can go through without “ut consequantur id quod est optimum.”

      This is somewhat misleading because nobody is claiming that it can go through without it; they are claiming that it does not have to be understood in the sense that you seem to be understanding it, and that Aquinas seems to be thinking about it in terms of nondefective order.

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    42. Regarding the question about induction:

      the Fifth Way starts out with “some things that lack cognition, namely natural bodies.” Its penultimate conclusion extends to “all natural things.” Where are the middle terms that authorize this conversion of “some” into “all”? I don’t see them. So the argument looks inductive to me.

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    43. Where are the middle terms that authorize this conversion of “some” into “all”?

      There is no problem here. It starts out saying that some things (aliqua) lack cognition, namely, corpora naturalia. This just explains what we are talking about (not everything, but those that lack cognition). The rest of the argument is only about those particular things that were just mentioned, the things that lack cognition; it is about all of those.

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    44. @Brandon,

      Earlier you wrote, "neither Aristotle nor Aquinas thinks of goodness as a 'value', which is an entirely modern notion." Now you say that "axiology" is not a thirteenth century conception but a modern one. So was it a fourth century BCE conception after all, or not so? If not so, your evidence?

      These assertions need to be supported. I do not "work on" the thirteenth century, though I have read more Aquinas than most educated people have done. I have worked on a hugely larger amount of 4th century material than most. It is not the case that thinkers of the fifth and fourth century BCE in Greece had no axiological concerns. Quibbling over "axiological" is a distraction; all eras recognize what they hold dear and what they abhor. The onus of specification and demonstration is on you to show that it is false to think that earlier ages had axiological concerns.

      A word study of ἀγαθόν in Plato, for starters, will reveal a wider semantic range than you seem to be willing to grant. What are some other predicates that are linked with ἀγαθόν by Greek writers?

      But this may not matter for the Fifth Way. The argument starts out, "We see that some things that lack cognition operate on account of an end... so that they may attain that which is best." Convince us that the above is the case in nature. Lots of us see that disorder happens, that life goes on with what is good enough for survival. Why do something like 70% of fertilized human ova fail to issue in pregnancies that make it out of the first trimester? Those of us who are not Thomists need to be convinced that what we see in nature can only be the produce of an omni-mind. So far all I've gotten here is definitions.

      I don't mean to sound negative toward you. You have made many valuable points, especially about logic, in which I had only one semester (tho' I won the university prize, heh heh). My background is in classics, esp. textual criticism. If you can support what you assert about axiology, I will profit from your exposition.

      Meanwhile - if you guys want to continue this, should we not take it over to the classical theism forum? This thread on Edward Feser's blog is getting long.

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    45. "There is no problem here. It starts out saying that some things (aliqua) lack cognition, namely, corpora naturalia. This just explains what we are talking about (not everything, but those that lack cognition). The rest of the argument is only about those particular things that were just mentioned, the things that lack cognition; it is about all of those."

      Negative. "omnes res naturales" does not mean "omnia quae cognitione carent." Its extent is wider. You deny that natural substances that have cognition are also governed by God? Animals are "res naturales." And Aquinas makes clear elsewhere that humans benefit from them, under God's governance.



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    46. Quibbling over "axiological" is a distraction; all eras recognize what they hold dear and what they abhor. The onus of specification and demonstration is on you to show that it is false to think that earlier ages had axiological concerns.

      This is blatant nonsense; you are using concepts that simply did not exist at the time you are talking about, which is, when it is not outright sloppy, absolutely dangerous, inviting equivocation because baggage gets carried over by anachronism. Say what you actually mean rather than lazily relying on anachronism.

      Convince us that the above is the case in nature.

      This is an entirely different criticism from claiming that the argument begs the question, and if it is the criticism that you intended to make, it is the one you should have given in the first place.

      I don't mean to sound negative toward you.

      I'm afraid that I, on the other hand, am meaning to sound negative on these points, because you keep not addressing most of what's been said, but are acting as if none of it actually affects anything.

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    47. Negative. "omnes res naturales" does not mean "omnia quae cognitione carent." Its extent is wider. You deny that natural substances that have cognition are also governed by God?

      There are two clear mistakes here, a historical and a logical mistake.

      (1) The use of 'natural' in distinction to 'intelligent' when applied to substances is one standard way of talking in Aquinas's day.

      (2) From a proposition whose logical substance is "things that lack cognition" you can draw no conclusions whatsoever about those that don't lack it.

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    48. @ficino4ml:

      Here is the dialectical situation as I see it. Your (original) objection can be encapsulated in:

      "That's because it works from an A-T conception of natural processes, on which they aim at "the best" under some description. But we don't know that a natural process aims at any "best." So we don't know that what we think is the final cause is legitimately so characterized."

      So final causes are "best" under some description or other, and that at least implicitly sneaks in Mind in the argument, and on those grounds you charge St. Thomas with question-begging. I objected, loudly, to this reading as making no sense and antithetical to what St. Thomas is getting at. Brandon piped in and made the elementary logical point that for a charge of question-begging to go through it does not suffice to establish that there is some reading of the argument under which the fallacy is committed. He also (the man really has some mad skillz), along with others like Mr. Green, offered a reading of "best" as ordered without defect. When pressed by me on what "best" could mean, you said and I quote:

      "I'm not trying to do anything deep with "best". It seems intuitive that if it is best for a thing to achieve its natural end, its natural end is the best thing for it to achieve. That's all."

      What the...?

      I also gave one quote, one from Prof. Feser, and a link by Fr. Garrigou-Lagrance (who most likely knew the Saint's work better than all of us put together) where "best" as you read it, does not even appear under the radar, much less does any work to propel the argument forward. To summarize Prof. Feser: final causes, to be real and efficacious, must exist somewhere, and since St. Thomas rejects Platonism there is only one place for them to exist, an intellect, that then directs things to their ends.

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    49. (continue)

      You even added that this reading is not particular to you, and mentioned Robert J. Fogelin's paper"A Reading of Aquinas' Five Ways," AmPhilQ 27 [1990] 305-13 at 306. I got a hold of a copy of the paper and Fogelin, at the passage:

      Nothing however that lacks awareness tends to a goal, under the direction of someone with awareness except and with understanding; the arrow, for example, requires an archer. Everything in nature, therefore, is directed to its goal by someone with understanding, and this we call God'. (la, 2, 3)

      Fogelin balks at this passage and comments: "As a response to a natural teleology this is, of course, baldly question-begging." and a little latter adds "Furthermore, read as a freestanding demonstration of the existence of God, the argument is just awful." These are bold words indeed. Especially when Fogelin shows no awareness of the underlying metaphysical ideas, does not engage with anything whatsoever that Aquinas wrote elsewhere on the subject or even with any of the secondary literature (to his credit, he does a bit better when discussing the Second Way). He even follows it with the stock objection: even if we granted everything Aquinas wanted us to accept, it still would not follow that the directing intellect has all the attributes of "a traditional Christian deity".

      I am no philosopher; my expertise, if I can claim any, is in Mathematics, and to a lesser degree in Physics. Fogelin's pedestrian exercise strikes me as completely pointless and only fit to pad CV's.

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    50. "Fogelin's pedestrian exercise strikes me as completely pointless and only fit to pad CV's."

      It's just embarrassing how poor and ignorant these criticisms of Aquinas, teleology, scholasticism, and classical theism, are the rule and not the exception. When you have the litany before you you can only wonder at the extraordinary restraint Feser shows these critics in works like The Last Superstition.

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    51. @Brandon:
      1. if you can supply some documentation that value- or axiological criteria were not concepts that existed in Aristotle's and/or Aquinas' time, it will help. So far I have no idea why I should accept that what I wrote on this score is blatant nonsense except that you say it is.
      2. there are a good number of passages where Aquinas characterizes the goal of goal-directed operations in terms different from "attaining the end without defect" or the like. I can cite some of these if you like, though I assume you are already familiar with them.
      3. I grant that the reference of "omnes res naturales" at the end of the Fifth Way might be simply natural bodies that lack cognition. Perhaps Aquinas is being loose in his wording. Since animals act on natural impulses but have cognition (cf. ST 1a 2ae q. 11 a. 2), they seem to be "res naturales" but not comprised among the "aliqua" at the beginning of the Fifth Way. In SCG the bifurcation of agents is between those with intellect and those that lack intellect, but here it's between those that lack cognition and agents that act with cognition and intellect. It's also not obvious that "aliqua quae cognitione carent, scilicet corpora naturalia," is a universal claim and not a claim only about some natural bodies. Are we sure that there aren't other natural bodies that don't display the regularity that Aquinas appeals to? If there are, are we sure that the whole universe is guided by one mind?
      4. So far I am not convinced that your interpretation of the Fifth Way saves it from the problems that seem to me to be there, but because I have not agreed, it does not follow that I am not taking what you write seriously. You've spurred me at the least to do a lot more digging.

      @grodrigues:
      Fogelin FWIW is actually sympathetic to Aquinas' Ways. The point he argues is that they should be seen as 'vindications' more than as demonstrations.
      As I said, it's not just me who thinks there is question begging in the Fifth Way. Richard Swinburne as well was emphatic: "“… clearly as it [sc. the Fifth Way] stands it is guilty of the grossest petitio principii. Certainly some things which tend to a goal, tend to a goal because of a direction imposed on them by someone ‘with awareness and with understanding’. Did not the archer place the arrow and pull the string in a certain way the arrow would not tend to its goal. But whether all things which tend to a goal tend to a goal for this reason is the very point at issue and that they do cannot be used as a premiss to prove the conclusion.” “The Argument from Design,” Philosophy 43 (1968) 199-212 at 203. The Polish Dominican and logician, Joseph Bochenski, symbolizes the argument and concludes, "The quinta via is not logically valid, nor is its conclusion ... derivable with the assumptions ... [he suggests some auxiliary assumptions]. .. Moreover, the evidence for the supplementary assumptions is doubtful." In The Rationality of Theism, ed. by Adolfo García de la Sienra (Amsterdam/Atlanta 2000) 85. I have not the competence in symbolic logic to check Bochenski's analysis.

      I can say more about "best." I remain convinced that its semantic range is wider than "ordered without defect" or the latter. I've already quoted a good number of passages, and as I said to Brandon, I can supply more. If it turns out I am misinterpreting all of them (and misinterpreting most of what I thought I'd seen in Greek philosophers), then I shall profit from correction.

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    52. So now we have someone with a bee in his bonnet about intention, just as Red does about time, and the same obtuseness as Red. Interesting.

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    53. @ficino4ml:

      "As I said, it's not just me who thinks there is question begging in the Fifth Way. Richard Swinburne as well was emphatic:"

      Richard Swinburne is not a classical theist, and is equally ignorant (judging from the passage quoted alone; will not say anything about Bochenski because I am completely ignorant of what he wrote) of the reasons St. Thomas adduces (elsewhere) to think what he thinks. People keep forgetting the explicit aim and intended audience of the ST; and when they try to read it as the definitive and complete expression of Aquinas' thought they quite naturally find it wanting. Color me impressed by their disappointment.

      This counting of rifles is also getting ridiculous. If that is the game you want to play, I am enjoined by Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange and the entire Thomistic commentary tradition and you will loose. Badly.

      "I can say more about "best."

      No, you can't, at least not anything actually relevant to the argument in question. Let us leave aside your own inconsistency when, as I quoted previously, you said "I'm not trying to do anything deep with "best". It seems intuitive that if it is best for a thing to achieve its natural end, its natural end is the best thing for it to achieve. That's all.", which reduces "best" to little more than a paraphrase, certainly not anything able to sustain the reading you want to inject in the argument.

      It does not suffice to produce a passage where the expression in question has a "wider semantic range"; what you have to show is that such a wider semantic range is doing actual work in the argument in question, and doing so in a question-begging way, and you have not given any reason to think so. Neither will you ever accomplished that much, because the defender of the Fifth Way can simply say: "Look, forget these exegetical niceties. Here is the argument (whether this was what the historical Aquinas meant or not). There is no question begging of the sort you hypothesize. Period, end of story."

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    54. @grodrigues: I have already posted what you're asking for in your last paragraph. I can refine and amplify, but your imaginary Thomistic defender's words make me think the effort in posting that material here may be wasted.

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    55. @ficino4ml:

      "I can refine and amplify, but your imaginary Thomistic defender's words make me think the effort in posting that material here may be wasted. "

      And I think you are right; there is only so much patience I have for your imaginary responses and your imaginary charges of question-begging imagined out of a fevered mind filled solely with irrelevant, linguistic minutiae.

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    56. Ficino = Red = Romanjoe = Iwpoe

      Poe, you really need to do more to make your alteregos realistic. Banging on obtusely about some issue won't work.

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  9. How many New Atheists imagine God in Theistic Personalist terms?

    I am thinking pretty much all of them.

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    1. Walter, but you're an idiot.

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    2. I'd go further. I think they're really thinking in polytheistic terms, the sort of ideas Alan Arkin expresses so well in "Joshua Then and Now". "There were a lot of contenders in those days."

      (Couldn't find a clip.)

      Walther: Just what do you mean by "Theistic Personalism", in denying it?

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    3. Well, I am simply an idiot, so there is no reason to belive anything i say, but for me theistic personalism is the veiw that God is a being among other beings, who has infinite powers etc.
      That is not only the view of most New Atheists (for the record I am an atheist but not a new one), but it is the view of most monotheists, including the vast majority of Catholics, by which I mean those who haven't been educated in philosophy.

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    4. Glad to hear that you're not a "new" atheist, Walter. I'm not new either, sigh (aching knees and all that say 'Memento mori').

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    5. Walter, I can buy your definition of TP, but I have to question "it is the view of most monotheists, including the vast majority of Catholics, by which I mean those who haven't been educated in philosophy."

      Saying that is like attributing to me some position on fashion. I have none; I don't know enough to side with A over B. (I can't even give you names of the relevant opinions.) My wife eventually figured out that, much of the time, even asking me if some dress is attractive really amount to asking if I think the model is.

      The most that can be said is that people have vague notions, often confused, unless they've actually thought about it.

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    6. "I'm not new either"

      Poe, again?

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    7. That is true to some extent, but in this case it's not just a matter of people who haven't thought about it. Granted, the vast majority of people haven't thought about it, but there are also prominent philospohers who hold to TP. WL Craig, Alvin Plantinga, Richard Swinburne etc. don't strike me as uneducated people who "haven't thought about it".

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    8. George, very true. I think most theists don't have a developed philosophical position at all. On the one hand, they might imagine God in vaguely personalist terms, but most traditional Christians, Muslims, and Jews would also affirm of him attributes that are not personalist.

      Walter, you seem in agreement with Ya'kov.

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    9. Walter, there is nothing in your most recent comment which contradicts my preceding one. I never said a word implying that NONE who have thought about it were personalists.

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    10. Those names surely represent a minuscule minority of Abrahamic theologians and philosophers over the centuries, the vast majority being classical theists (as is the orthodox position in Christianity, Islam, and Judaism). Also, it is interesting Red made very similar comments once.

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    11. It may be true that those names represent a minuscule minority of Abrahamic theologians and philosphers but they do represent how most people nowadays and in the past imagined God.
      I think it is important to distinguish between what someone imagines about God and what peole's developed philosophical position is. I may be true that most traditional Christians, Muslims or Jews affirm attributes that are not personalist, but they still imagine God as personalist, because the God of classical theism is very hard to "imagine".

      Who is "Red", BTW?

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    12. I would say the average thrust over the centuries has imagined and conceived of God as possessing classical theist attributes and also as being personal. Classical theism affirms,or at least can, God is personal. Some average theists have interpreted this personal aspect in vaguely theistic personalist terms, whereas others have not. It is telling that when the Church and other official organs of monotheism, as well as theologians and philosophers, have given expression to their beliefs, they have overwhelmingly been classical theist.

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    13. Theist, not thrust. Darn autocorrect!

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    14. I would say the average theist over the centuries has no idea what classical theist attributes actually are. Some of the average theists may have heard about such attributes, but I very much doubt they have any idea what exactly they are.

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    15. What do you mean by classical theism and theistic personalism? They certainly were aware God is immaterial, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, the cause of all, etc. They didn't think of him as the Mormons think of God. They may not have considered divine simplicity, but it is telling that almost always the official expressions and thinkers of the Abrahamic faiths extolled classical theism. Abd these representatives gave expression to the undeveloped impressions of average theists.

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    16. Theistic personalism is not what "the Mormons think about God". that would classify as a kind of material theism, I guess.

      Delete
    17. Then what do you mean by it? If you just mean a rejection of divine simplicity and the like, I don't think average theists took a position one way or the other, even vaguely and implicitly. The theism of the man in the street down the centuries has combiined, in a vague and implicit way, aspects of classical theism with something like the Mormon view of God or even how the Greeks see Zeus.

      Delete
    18. Apart from a rejection of divine simplicity, which is a crcuial part of classical thiesm, a thiestic personalist also thinks of God as very special type of being, while classical theism descrinbes God as being itself. Theistic personalists don't see god as completely immutable, etc.
      The bottom line is that there is no such things as combining some aspects of CT with whatever other view. CT comes as a package, you either accept it or you don't. Merely accepting some/ many aspects of it doesn't make any sense.

      Delete
    19. Anonymous November 12, 2017 at 10:21 PM

      " If you just mean a rejection of divine simplicity and the like, ... even how the Greeks see Zeus. "
      --I've been listening to David Bently Hart talking about classical theism, and he uses Zeus as an example too.

      Of course the average Christian person thinks of god in personal terms as a complex being. The bible is full of stories of god creating a complex universe, god having conversations with people, god bringing down plagues, god coming to Earth as a complex man.

      Obviously, god must be extremely complex. God is said to know all. Where is this knowledge stored? No place?

      How does a being with no complexity, no structure, no segmentation, no variation in parts, somehow possess knowledge of the entire universe and every human being's thoughts and have the capacity to act in all the complex ways described in the bible?

      Dawkins is quite right, the notion of a simple bible god is incoherent and absurd.

      Delete
    20. Walter: "The bottom line is that there is no such things as combining some aspects of CT with whatever other view. CT comes as a package, you either accept it or you don't. Merely accepting some/ many aspects of it doesn't make any sense."

      This is where your argument fails. The fact that it doesn't make sense is quite simply irrelevant to what you are arguing. People in fact do hold - often - contradictory views. An atheist would likely say that both the classical and personalist views are senseless; that doesn't mean that no one believes either.

      I'll stick with what I said earlier. Most people have notions of God which are a compound of conflicting images. Hell, I'd bet that is true of most of us here, so far as imagination alone is concerned. It's a stew (to use Tolkein's image on stories) of paintings, poems, prayers, stories (biblical and otherwise); images of all kinds. The difference is whether one takes them seriously when discussing the matter philosophically.

      An example: the Paley view of God as architect wasn't the medieval view; that didn't prevent actual architects and painters from using that motif as an image of creation. They did. That had no doctrinal significance. (If it had, there'd have been charges of heresy, something they weren't shy about making in those days.)

      Another point: it is not necessarily true that a theistic personalist will regard God as mutable. Some will, some won't. At most, it's a tendency. (And again, one can always argue that is what it entails, logically, without holding that is what he who holds it actually believes.)

      Delete
    21. George

      What I am arguing is that some sort of TP is not only the view of most New Atheists (for the record I am an atheist but not a new one), but it is the view of most monotheists, including the vast majority of Catholics.
      Nothing in what you say gives me any reason to alter my view on this.

      Delete
    22. So you are saying that they are consistent theistic personalists? Not that their views involve some aspects of TP, mixed with aspects of other notions?

      You will have to give some reasons for that.

      Delete
    23. "Dawkins is quite right, the notion of a simple bible god is incoherent and absurd." - obviously Dawkins has never read anything a Thomist has written.....

      Delete
    24. No I am not saying they are consistent TP's, but they do imagine God in Theistic Personalist terms.
      The point is that the vast majority of momotheist are not consistent classical theists. CT is a view shared be only a tiny minority of monotheists. Which doesn't mean it's wrong, of course.

      Delete
    25. Just another mad Catholic November 13, 2017 at 2:34 PM

      SP"Dawkins is quite right, the notion of a simple bible god is incoherent and absurd."

      "- obviously Dawkins has never read anything a Thomist has written....."
      --Given that the OP refers to the comments of Dawkins upon reading Aquinas your comment is absurd.

      Delete
  10. Oh God, prof Feser is really good explainig and using analogías. Igual really wait for his book on Catholicism.

    ReplyDelete
  11. I ordered Five Proofs on 31 OCT; still waiting for a ship date from Amazon. To whet my appetite, I've almost finished re-reading The Last Superstition.

    Many thanks, Dr. Feser!

    ReplyDelete
  12. Hi Mr. Feser,

    If you are interested in making your blog more helpful, would you be willing to delete some of the dead links on your blog roll on the side bar? As I'm sure you can imagine, it is quite annoying for your readers to think they are going to be introduced to an interesting and insightful thinker, only for the link to 404. Otherwise, keep up the good work!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. He may still leave them there as "recommended philosophers". If someone can't access David Braine's page anymore (for instance), at least they can learn his name and maybe google him and look for his work.

      Delete
  13. I'm dreaming of a stardustry free comments section

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. A good part of the blame lies with other posters. If they had a bit of self-discipline and stopped making any substantive responses to SP, he'd leave. He'd probably up his trolling for a little while to try to get a response, but then he'd get bored and leave.

      So, everyone, stop feeding him!

      Delete
    2. I have a possible solution. SP can come to classicaltheism.boardhost.com

      He can have his own thread and those whi wish to debate him can do so there. He would be free to post outside said thread, but trolling posts would be deleted.

      Delete
    3. I went ahead and started a thread for critiquing him, so those who can't resist can go there rather than do it here. Hopefully he will join in.

      Delete
    4. Here is that thread:

      http://classicaltheism.boardhost.com/viewtopic_mobile.php?id=927

      Delete
    5. Jeremy Taylor November 11, 2017 at 9:54 PM

      Here is that thread:

      http://classicaltheism.boardhost.com/viewtopic_mobile.php?id=927
      --That's very thoughtful of you, Jeremy, to provide another venue for people to call me a stupid troll, but it seems they are too busy doing so here to go over there to do so. More's the pity.

      I just can't seem to get anybody anyplace to answer my very simple questions...

      Why is a changer called for to account for no change? Isn't it more reasonable to say that no change calls for no changer at all?

      I have X amount of stuff now. Time passes. I still have X amount of stuff. Ok, I say the amount of stuff didn't change so that is just all there is to say, it stayed the same, no change, so I have no reason to go looking for a changer at all to account for no change in the amount of stuff.

      The Thomist says no, there is an invisible being, and that invisible being is changing stuff all the time in just the right way so it appears to be unchanged.

      Say whaaaa?

      How about it Jeremy, could you throw a poor dumb troll a bone here? This should be an easy one, I am sure you have heard my question a gazillion times and have a quick answer for me. The rest of the folks here and everywhere I know of seem to be too busy telling me what a stupid troll I am to provide any sort of rational answers, so what say you just put this matter to rest and tell me why any changer is called for to account for no change in the amount of stuff?

      Delete
    6. Our host has asked us not to engage you. I have no intention of disobeying him. I'm suggesting a way you might get to have your questions answered, whatever good it does you. But its up to you.

      Delete
    7. Strawdusty,

      Go read "existential inertia and the five ways" and leave us alone. And if you already "read" it, read it again because you must not have understood it. That's all, shoo

      Delete
    8. Miguel November 12, 2017 at 4:11 AM

      Strawdusty,

      "Go read "existential inertia and the five ways""
      --"Go read an article" is not an argument, but it is a common theistic diversion when the individual has no rational response to offer.

      "And if you already "read" it, read it again because you must not have understood it. "
      --Actually, I have read a number of articles on existential inertia as opposed to the doctrine of divine conservation. One can read descriptions of various flavors of DDC on Stanford, and WL Craig has written on the subject.

      Feser has made blog posts on the subject but he never provides any answers as to why existential inertia cannot be the case or why DDC is necessary.

      Every article I have located except the WL Craig piece is just a survey of unsupported opinions and dogma.

      You, and every person on this blog, most especially the owner, have presented no arguments whatsoever against this simple argument of mine:

      The amount of stuff stays the same.
      Therefore, the amount of stuff does not change.
      Therefore no changer is required to account for no change in the amount of stuff.

      Pretty simple. Why are you unable to easily point out the flaw in my argument?

      Delete
    9. I thought my last comment sounded a bit rude and misleading, so I deleted it.

      Anyway, I don't "point it out" because I don't think it would be productive; the last time we had a discussion you seemed to ignore my arguments and it ended up being fruitless. So I rest content with just recommending you to read Feser's article.

      And not understanding existential inertia is the least of your problems: your main mental confusion is your denial of PNC as a necessarily true and self-evident principle. Which is why you end up saying so much nonsense.

      And you should probably stop this insistence, as most people here don't take your posts seriously and don't think it's fruitful to discuss with you.

      Delete
    10. Miguel November 12, 2017 at 8:10 AM

      "Because I am convinced you are intellectually incapable of understanding this shit, "
      --Spoken like a true gentleman and scholar, uplifting prose indeed.

      " I don't intend this as an insult,"
      --Oh no, perish the thought!

      "You were not even capable of understanding why one can't say "God is a brute fact"
      --God is a brute fact. Theists don't like this obvious point so they try to define their way out of it, to say god is defined as the thing that is necessary. That is nothing more than a cheap parlor trick of argumentation that fools only the gullible.

      By that reasoning one can define material as the necessary thing, the thing that cannot fail to exist, and therefore to ask why material exists is nonsense because it has been defined as the thing that cannot fail to exist.

      The simple truth is that material is the brute fact of the materialist and god is the brute fact of the theist.

      " So I don't think you'd be able to understand why existential inertia is not possible."
      --Thus far, between us, I am the only one who has presented arguments. You are just calling names and pointing vaguely into the distance claiming the answer is out there.

      " Recommending an article is charitable enough."
      "Gee, whatever happened to giving me your coat as well?

      " Your main mental confusion is your denial of PNC as a necessarily true, self-evident principle. "
      --Not proved, only postulated because it seems to make sense and I cannot imagine a way it could not be true. Nobody I know of can think of an alternative to the PNC that makes any sense, but that is not a proof.

      "Your subsequent views are an incoherent madness as a result."
      --I am willing to move forward on the stipulation that the PNC is true, unless and until somebody can demonstrate otherwise, at which time I might change my view on the subject.

      "Now buzz off, seriously, people don't take you seriously here and don't want you here; you're wasting time and comment space. "
      --You make a lot of noise and wave your arms about vigorously, but I see no substantial counter argument.

      To continue in existence is no change in the amount of stuff in existence.
      No change calls for no changer.

      Surly you can quickly put this matter to rest, it being such a simple argument, and your mental capabilities being so much greater than mine. What I stated is impossible, you say, but why?

      Delete
    11. Please don't feed the trolls.

      Delete
    12. Anonymous November 12, 2017 at 12:47 PM

      "Please don't feed the trolls."

      A troll is thought of as a person who states obviously false notions just to create trouble, out of a perverse pleasure derived from the display of displeasure that ensues.

      How you conclude that about me from my writing is a mystery to me, although I have my suspicions about potential defects in your personality and thought processes, I don't want to play internet psychoanalyst and assert any particular hypothesis.

      In any case, wouldn't it be simpler to just slam dunk my stupidity with your towering logic? I mean, just give me the logical smack down my absurd assertions call for.


      To continue in existence is no change in the amount of stuff in existence.
      No change calls for no changer.


      That's a very simple argument. If it is wrong it should be very easy for such a smart guy like you to point out my obvious error.

      Here, I will give you some hints...

      Aquinas said:
      "Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality."

      The average person reads that and thinks of an object standing still and then getting pushed. Things don't just start moving by themselves. That is because the average person knows things just keep moving on their own in space, and grew up with a modern worldview of motion.

      But Aquinas meant something else. He meant that an object in motion is being continuously pushed along, as it were, and absent being acted upon it would stop.

      If that medieval worldview of motion was correct the First Way would make sense. But it isn't, so it doesn't.

      Aquinas also said:
      There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause."

      Again, the average person brings the modern worldview to this text and thinks Aquinas is talking about cause and effect over time, and is thus making a sort of Kalam cosmological argument from first cause in the deep past.

      Acutely Aquinas had the notion of a sustaining cause, that the very existence of a thing needed to be sustained, and without this the object would simply cease to exist.

      If that were true then the Second Way would make sense, but it isn't, so it doesn't.


      Existential inertia is the case for the simple reason that it is no change. We don't need a changer to account for no change.

      To cease to exist would be a change. If something were to cease to exist that would call for a changer.

      Now, I have heard it said that Feser has addressed the issues of uniform linear motion inertia and existential inertia. I have read what I can find on line on the subjects and nowhere have I found Feser, or any other Thomist, address this simple logic.

      To continue in linear uniform motion is no change in the mass/energy of the object in uniform linear motion.
      Therefore no changer is called for to account for linear uniform motion.

      To continue in existence is no change in the mass/energy of the object in existence.
      Therefore no changer is called for to account for continued existence of an object.

      Delete
    13. Stardusty, that you have been given a place where you can freely make your criticisms and yet choose to stay somewhere where you're clearly not welcome, rather adds to the impression you are a troll.

      Delete
    14. Stardusty is a homo and not in the fun way Milo is a homo.

      Delete
  14. Speaking of New Atheists, Bill Nye the Condescending Guy just did an Ask me Anything on reddit and got some basic science facts totally wrong. I bet he regrets doing an AMA now.

    Karma.

    ReplyDelete
  15. Likely sock puppets:
    .
    Romanjoe
    Red

    Very possible sock puppets:

    Ficino
    Tyler/USAdawg
    Walter

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Well, I guess it would be beter if everybody here posted under the veil of "Anonymous"

      I am sure calling someone an idiot while remaining anonymous is a very comfortable position.

      Delete
    2. No. For instance, Walter and ficino take very different stances. It's too easy to attribute bad faith to those one disagrees with. None of the 5/6 names strikes me as a troll.

      Delete
    3. Thank you, George.
      Yes, my position is not the same as Ficino's and I don't have any idea what exactly the position of the rest of the names is. Anyway, I have no problem with people disagreeing with my position, but if the only thing someone can say is "You are an idiot", or "You are a troll", I really can't appreciate that.

      Delete
    4. Walter Van den Acker November 12, 2017 at 12:30 AM

      "Well, I guess it would be beter if everybody here posted under the veil of "Anonymous"

      I am sure calling someone an idiot while remaining anonymous is a very comfortable position."


      George LeSauvage November 12, 2017 at 6:48 AM

      " It's too easy to attribute bad faith to those one disagrees with. "

      --I think these 2 handles are sock puppets:
      Walter Van den Acker
      George LeSauvage

      My evidence is that you posted together and applying the science of stylistics each has such level headed, thoughtful, and reasonable things to say!-)

      Although, Walter, I do think that some people are concerned about being exposed somehow, and even picking a pseudonym as I have done can seem to make one an identifiable target. By posting as Anonymous it makes tracking the individual much more difficult, so I am not judging people for choosing to do so, but it does make having identifiable conversations with individuals more difficult.

      ficino4ml used to post as Anonymous and I appreciated his thoughtful responses so I told him it was a bit difficult to follow a conversation with that handle.

      Dawkins is a scientist and like most of us he grew up with the notions of inertia and conservation of mass/energy as a given, simply a natural world view since childhood.

      We all know the old paraphrasings of Newton and Einstein, that a body in motion tends to stay in motion, and that mass/energy are never created or destroyed, only transformed according to E=mcc.

      So, when we read Aquinas we bring that worldview to the plain text. The conclusion is obvious, that Aquinas was arguing along the lines of the Kalam Cosmological Argument, examining the concept of an infinite regress.

      That is why Dawkins says the first 3 ways are basically the same, because they argue on the basis of an infinite regress of one sort or another.

      But medieval people had a different worldview. In the view of many medieval people things naturally stop when one stops pushing on them. Stuff could just disappear from existence on its own.

      Aristotle had a somewhat complicated view of motion involving different sorts of motions at different places, but the notion that things would stop on their own unless continually acted upon, and they could just blink out of existence, were notions of that day.

      To a person with that world view, the First Way makes sense. Stuff will stop moving unless it is continually pushed along, as it were, so something must be moving any moving object, so something must be moving that, and so forth, but this cannot go on to infinity.

      Further arguments of Aquinas apply similar logic to existence, leading to the conclusion that things would just blink out unless continually acted upon.

      What the medieval thinkers did not realize is that motion continues because continued motion is not a change in mass/energy for the object in motion. Existence continues because continued existence is not a change in mass/energy for the object in existence.

      Existential inertia is the case simply because no change in the existential respect of an object, its amount of stuff, is just that, no change, and therefore calls for no changer at all.

      Uniform linear motion inertia is the case, again, because it is no change in mass/energy of the object in uniform linear motion, so no change calls for no changer.

      Dawkins simply did not consider that the plain text of Aquinas makes sense if one has an erroneous world view.

      But, given the obvious fact that I am a stupid idiot moron homo troll I am sure a couple of reasonable guys can set me straight on all this, don't you agree?

      Delete
    5. George, Red and Romanjoe are almost certainly sockpuppets of Iwpoe. There is, shall we say, inside information to support this. It is part of the fun to have different personalities for them.

      Delete
    6. I did say very possible only for Walter. It is getting hard to guess who is and who isn't.

      Delete
    7. It's also getting hard to guess who is Anonymous and who is Anonymous, but it shouldn't be hard for somebody who really knows what he/she is talking about to respond to arguments instead of making ridiculous claims about sockpuppets.

      Delete
    8. How do you know they are ridiculous claims? The poster in question talked about doing this. I didn't say you were definitely a sockpuppet, just a possible one, given you posted something very similar to Red.

      Delete
    9. Because I know I am not a sockpuppet and even if all the names you gave were actually sockpuppets, this has nothing to do with the quality (or lack thereof) of thier arguments.

      Delete
    10. Few want to discuss things with fake accounts, especially when they aren't even giving their real views necessarily.

      Delete
    11. Walter, have you considered that you and I are really sock puppets who don't know it? I think that's what the Anonymi may believe.

      Delete
    12. George, Poe stated he would create sockpuppets with characteristics like Romanjoe and Red, and lo and behold such posters appeared. Is it so silly to think they are sockpuppets? Or that certain others, with strange mannerisms or bees in their bonnet might also be?

      Delete
    13. Who knows, maybe the Anonymi are all my sock puppets?

      Delete
    14. Whatever. I tried to warn you. Poe said he was going to set up sockpuppets with the characteristics of Romanjoe and Red, right down to Red's suddenly abandoned use of ... between sentences. Hardly seems ridiculous to think these posters might not be what they claim.

      Delete
    15. Dear old RomanPoe. :-)

      Seriously, if you're right, iwpoe is almost single-handedly responsible for keeping the classical theism forum alive since I left.

      Delete
  16. "Change" is an illusion. Things reform or deform over time, but "nothing changes on New Year's Day." -U2

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I disagree. Do you want me to change my mind? :-;

      Delete
    2. the staff at the national history museum in London would disagree :)

      Delete
  17. Dear Catholics,

    I'm coming from non Catholic background and trying to learn to understand Catholic creed.

    Here are some questions, which puzzle me. If someone can enlighten a bit it would be great. I watched the interview and these are loosely related. Cheers in advance!

    1. In the Bible Jesus goes many times against complaints about his follovers not holding up traditional (jewish) man made rules (not included in Torah). How do those situations differ from going against Catholic rules not mentioned in the Bible?

    E.g.
    Matt 15:1-14
    Mark 7:1-13


    2. Aren't all humans fallible and sinful and therefore there is always risk of misjudgment? Doesn't this go against papal infallibality?

    E.g.
    Aren't Moses' horns translation error?
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Moses_(Michelangelo)


    3. In relation to former - what kind of mistakes Catholic church (Vatican) can do? Which part of the creed will not change in any case and why?


    4. I appriciate a lot the discussion going round over here. It's high level argumentation. It seems however really technical. If I compare it to the Bible... well in my opinion the Bible describes humans who are quite lost and make lots of big scale errors (e.g. Epistles). Pretty similar to these days I guess.

    From the perspective of an outsider the whole seems quite crazy - in one place you have precise rational analysis about angels and in the other you have nasty banking and hopefully mostly past sex related scandals.

    Is the Catholic Church in crisis? And is that the reason why professor Feser wrote pro capital punishment book, is the thought behind the work that Church should be more strict also towards the insiders? Some rules should not be not broken, there should always be compassion and mercy but in addition Church must also support punishment of wrongdoers? E.g. there could be situation where the Church supports harder penalty than profane law?


    5. Matt 22: 34-40 vs. Amoris laetitia - do you see any major errors?

    --

    Yours faithfully,
    Lurking Reader

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear Lurking Reader

      This isn't the best forum for such comments, I would suggest you try Catholic Answers.

      Delete
  18. Dear Just another mad Catholic,

    thnx! I'll check.

    Btw. Feser's author analogue in the interview was golden. But Dawkins.. damn you, why to waste bullets to such a low life creature. He's a conman and arguing with such bullshitter is just waste of time.

    The game of Dawkins and his cabal is persuation not the truth. And there will always be rotten apples like he, wrong enemy! Watch this and think if there would be some other possible approaches https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sILr5-qb6Rw&t=155s

    Positive view of the future with intellectual honesty - that's what people are looking for. Martin Luther used hammer, paper, nails and kept it short. He might have lacked some intellect (probably in good faith, he wasn't so much to scholastics) put ever pondered why he was so successfull?

    --
    Copywriter between branches is shared. There might also be some good tips for both.

    24 You blind guides! You strain out a gnat but swallow a camel.

    25 “Woe to you, teachers of the law and Pharisees, you hypocrites! You clean the outside of the cup and dish, but inside they are full of greed and self-indulgence.

    26 Blind Pharisee! First clean the inside of the cup and dish, and then the outside also will be clean.

    (I've lived in a Catholic country before and it really is so terrible when people in Protestant countries see Catholics as corrupted molesters. Don't give them any reason for that!)

    Godspeed,
    Lurking Reader



    --


    ReplyDelete
  19. What happened to Umberto Eco?

    My guess.. he intellectually accepted Aquinas, but the whole cathedral of ideas in combination with corruption (which was real. Remember, he was Italian and knew thing or two) just felt too heavy.

    -> Go else.

    Fight with happy hart and strong spirit. And remember who are your neighbors.

    Best regards,
    Lurking Reader

    ReplyDelete
  20. The problem, as I have observed it, is not any particular arguments SP has wrong (even though several have been addressed, such as the "mindless robots" claim in a previous thread). The problem, and what differentiates him from a serious questioner, is that IT DOES NOT MATTER what anyone will say or not say in reply or rebuttal. He will simply re-assert the previous comments as though nothing substantive had ever been posted in reply. In fact, he will assert that no one has been able to answer any of his objections, even as he repeats them. After a while, it gets tiresome.

    So I am taking the pledge: Professor Feser, I apologize for not following your directive regarding SP, and I promise not to engage him in discussion any more.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Craig Payne November 14, 2017 at 8:36 AM

      "even though several have been addressed"
      --You confuse "addressed", as in "you are a stupid idiot moron homo troll" with an actual rational counterargument."

      " IT DOES NOT MATTER what anyone will say or not say in reply or rebuttal. "
      --The typical "rebuttal" is to call me names, which besides being utterly boring, have no rational argumentation value.

      So I ask again

      Why does no change call for a changer at all?

      The existential aspect of material does not change moment to moment, so why call for a changer to account for no change in this existential aspect of material?

      I ask the question over and over because nobody here has provided an answer that rises above the level of "you are an idiot troll"

      You certainly have not answered that question in any meaningful way.

      Delete
    2. SP: Why does no change call for a changer at all?

      The existential aspect of material does not change moment to moment, so why call for a changer to account for no change in this existential aspect of material?


      Because every thing is some thing. And the existence of any one something presupposes its potential to exist is being actualised by another thing already actual, or that our one something is purely actual.

      You go wrong because you contradict yourself (e.g., elsewhere you pose your challenge as "nothing changes [and] time passes" - well, which is it?), and you contradict yourself because that is a predictable pitfall of your extreme realism.

      You've been dismissed as a troll because of your superior manner and tiresomely repetitive misunderstandings of a metaphysics you claim to have studied. Unfortunately your not inconsiderable intellect is bound to see only what your will seeks - and that is not Truth, sadly. You and everyone else would benefit if you became a humble truth-seeker, but if you can't do that then at least just stop pretending this entire blog doesn't answer every one of your objections in some post or other.

      Delete
    3. Stop feeding the troll. Any substantive interaction simply encourages him to stay around.

      Delete
    4. Anonymous November 16, 2017 at 8:29 AM

      SP: *Why does no change call for a changer at all?

      The existential aspect of material does not change moment to moment, so why call for a changer to account for no change in this existential aspect of material?*

      "Because every thing is some thing."
      --That is a mere tautology.

      " And the existence of any one something presupposes its potential to exist is being actualised by another thing already actual,"
      --Begging the question. Why does an existent thing need to be actualized into existence?

      An existent thing is already actually existent, not potentially existent.


      "You go wrong because you contradict yourself (e.g., elsewhere you pose your challenge as "nothing changes [and] time passes" - well, which is it?)"
      --The passage of time does not change the existential respect of material.

      All material is already fully actualized in its existential respect.

      Actually existent material has no potential to become non-existent. But even supposing actually existent material somehow did have the potential to become non-existent. Something would need to actualize that potential to become non-existent.

      Thus, to transition from existence to non-existence would require a changer, but A-T says this would happen absent a changer, so A-T has it backwards.

      To "transition" from actually existent to actually existent is not really a change in its existential respect and thus requires no changer, but A-T says it does, so again A-T has it backwards.

      "You've been dismissed as a troll because of your superior manner"
      --I know these issues and have written thousands of very detailed words on them. The manner you sense is what you feel, fine, but that does nothing to demonstrate any logical error on my part.

      " and tiresomely repetitive "
      --I consistently demonstrate A-T errors. Those demonstrations are repetitive because A-T is consistently erroneous.

      "misunderstandings of a metaphysics you claim to have studied."
      --Not only does A-T have critical concepts back to front but its practitioners have personally engaged those errors of analysis.

      " You and everyone else would benefit if you became a humble truth-seeker,"
      --Seeking truth is good in my sensibilities, agreed.

      " but if you can't do that then at least just stop pretending this entire blog doesn't answer every one of your objections in some post or other."
      --Never. Not once. I have searched back a half dozen years, people have sent me links and I have read them and they are all riddled with errors of reasoning.

      Never has anybody answered this simple question in any meaningful way:
      Why does no change call for and even necessitate a changer?

      Material does not change in its existential respect. That is manifest and evident to the senses. A rock seems to stay a rock. Just stomp the pavement beneath your feet. If there is anything obvious about this world it is that material persists.

      We never observe material persistently blinking out of existence, or persistently blinking into existence.

      We always observe material persistently remaining in existence, the amount of material in existence remains constant.

      The amount of material in existence does not change to either increase or decrease.

      Since we observe no change in the amount of material why would you or anybody else imagine that a changer is needed to account for this aspect not changing?

      How does that make any sense to you of any kind?

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    5. What do you mean by existential respect?

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    6. Anonymous November 17, 2017 at 11:15 AM

      "What do you mean by existential respect?"

      Aquinas said in the First Way:
      *Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved,*

      --I prefer the word "aspect" but "respect" is the more common Thomistic word choice so that is what I use in this context.

      One source gives us "feature, facet, side, characteristic, particular, detail"

      "Existential" means pertaining to existence.

      Material does not change in its existential respect. In other words, no change in the existence of material ever occurs.

      If a change in existence of material were to occur then there would be more material or less material than there had previously been in existence.

      Since there is never observed an increase or a decrease in the amount of material in existence material does not change in its characteristic of existence.

      Material does change in its structure, in its form, in its state, but these changes are no change in the existential respect, no change in the amount of material in existence, only the shape or form or structure of the same amount of existent material.

      Since material never changes in its existential respect, or aspect, or characteristic, then no changer is called for at all, much less a regress of changers terminating in a first changer.

      I advise against paraphrasings of the First Way. Here is one translation that seems to me to be well done, but if you have a slightly different version in mind, I would be interested in that link
      http://iteadthomam.blogspot.ca/2011/01/first-way-in-syllogistic-form.html

      The First Way makes sense on the world view that motion ceases when a moving object is no longer acted upon. This turns out to be false, and thus the First Way turns out to be false.

      The Second Way can be found many places, for example here
      http://iteadthomam.blogspot.com/2011/03/second-way-in-syllogistic-format.html

      The Second Way makes sense on the worldview that material would blink out of existence on its own. That turns out to be false, and thus the Second Way turns out to be false.

      Existential inertia is the observed fact of our existence. Existence persists.

      The persistence of existent material is manifest and evident to the senses.

      Material does not change in its existential respect, and therefore no changer is required to account for persistent material existence.

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    7. Its still not clear what you mean by existential respect the text you quote from Aquinas simply never mentions such a thing .

      in that case I think all your criticism simply miss the mark.

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    8. Seriously, stop feeding him.

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    9. SP: Never has anybody answered this simple question in any meaningful way:
      Why does no change call for and even necessitate a changer?


      I just answered it for you. You chose to demonstrate your misunderstanding of A-T concepts (again) by claiming I begged the question and talking about the “existential aspect of material.”

      On A-T analysis if change is a real feature of the world then the reduction of potential to actual is a real feature of the world. You’re stuck thinking change must be “now-is/then-is-not” when “now-is” suffices and implies “then-is-not.” Your rock actually exists; it needn’t exist and at some time won’t; therefore it exists because its potential to exist is being actualised by something already actual.

      Note “is being actualised” not “has been actualised.” The pluperfect would signify the potential is not *now* being actualised and therefore the rock would not be actual. Note also that if you suppose the rock has no potential to exist because it is already actual, the rock now cannot not exist. For the rock to remain contingent, on your analysis, it would now need the potential to not exist. That potential would have to be actualised by something already actually not existing. Hopefully you see the absurdity of your position. Actually not existing (or not-is is) is a contradiction. There is no such thing as nothing. And a thing must be before it can be the cause of anything else.

      However, you equivocate between things (your rock) and material. What you dismissed as tautology is meant to draw your attention to the distinction. The question is whether there exists some contingent thing, like your rock, which came into being and can cease existing, or only some necessary thing, your material. If the latter, you may think you’re terribly modern and informed by recent scientific discovery but in fact you’re no more novel than Democritus and the Atomists and your position, in answering Parmenides and the Eleatics, shares the same problems (e.g., minimum magnitude, indivisibility of magnitude, the necessary reality of non-existence, etc.)

      If though you accept that your rock exists as a rock, but didn’t once and one day won’t, then the rock is not necessary. It exists because its potential to exist is being actualised by something already actual. And when/if that already actual thing is removed then the rock would cease to exist.

      I notice by the way that you haven’t once posted at the forum dedicated to you at classicaltheism. Several others have posted there, and I would respond to you there. But apparently your end is simply to sow misunderstanding, ignorance, and insults in this combox. If you’re not a troll, prove it by taking your questions and comments to classicaltheism and leaving here till you have respect for the positions you’d like to criticise.

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    10. Anonymous November 17, 2017 at 10:09 PM

      "Its still not clear what you mean by existential respect"
      --I just gave you a long explination using many synonms. If that is not clear to you all I can suggest is that you read "Stardusty Psyche November 17, 2017 at 7:53 PM" several times until you understand the meaning of those 2 words. It is only 2 words. I dedicated many paragraphs to explaining just 2 words to you and you still do not understand. That is on you.


      " the text you quote from Aquinas simply never mentions such a thing ."
      --The text I quoted uses the word "respect" 3 times. From that you can gain understanding of what is meant by "respect" in this context.

      I gave you synonyms as well and explained the meanings of each of the 2 words. I can explain it for you but I can't understand it for you.

      "in that case I think all your criticism simply miss the mark. "
      --Since you are unable to understand the meaning of just 2 words after a long explanation of what they mean it is not surprising you do not understand the argument.

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    11. Anonymous November 18, 2017 at 1:27 AM

      SP: Never has anybody answered this simple question in any meaningful way:
      Why does no change call for and even necessitate a changer?

      "I just answered it for you."
      --Not in any meaningful way. With so many Anons it is somewhat difficult to follow who is saying what. But if you don't understand just 2 simple words after many paragraphs of explanation it is not surprising that you don't understand the argument and you don't understand how you have failed to address the argument.

      "On A-T analysis if change is a real feature of the world"
      --Change is not a real independent existent thing. There is no such thing a pure change. Change is a temporal process of material altering its structure.

      "it needn’t exist and at some time won’t; therefore it exists because its potential to exist is being actualised by something already actual. "
      --This is where you beg the question. You assume material need not exist and that its natural state is to not exist so it must be continuously changed to make it exist.

      What is manifest and evident to the senses is that material is already fully actualized in existence. Material does exist. For material to continue to exist is no change in its aspect of existence. No change calls for no changer.

      "Note “is being actualised” not “has been actualised.” "
      --Material simply does actually exist. There is no call for material to be actualized continuously because it already actually exists.

      "Note also that if you suppose the rock has no potential to exist because it is already actual, the rock now cannot not exist."
      --The potential of existent material to exist is already actualized. To state that existent material exists is a tautology. The Thomist demands an explanation for this tautology. That explanation is that an invisible being is continuously changing material so that it appears unchanged. That explanation is not necessary and is superfluous.

      " The question is whether there exists some contingent thing, like your rock, which came into being and can cease existing,"
      --The structure of the rock is demonstrably contingent. The material of the rock did not come into existence at the formation of the rock and will not go out of existence if the rock is pulverized and dissolved away. The material will remain in existence even though it is no longer structured as a rock.

      " It exists because its potential to exist is being actualised by something already actual. And when/if that already actual thing is removed then the rock would cease to exist."
      --The material of the rock will not cease to exist, rather, it will change in structure in a temporal process that calls for no hierarchical changer in the present moment.

      "I notice by the way that you haven’t once posted at the forum dedicated to you at classicaltheism."
      --I went there and a few people had posted basically nothing. What's the point?

      "If you’re not a troll, prove it"
      --I have no need to prove myself to you.


      The amount of material never changes. Therefore no changer is called for to account for no change in the amount of material.

      Existential inertia is the observed fact of material that is manifest and evident to the senses.

      Objects at our naked eye level, the A-T level, form and pass away as recognizable objects. That is real change of real material in a temporal process that calls for no hierarchical first changer in the present moment.

      The material of an object does not change in its existential respect, it does not change in the amount of material in existence, it does not change in its characteristic of being existent material.

      Thus, no changer is called for, no changer is necessary to account for the persistence of existence of material. Hence, the Second Way is false, A-T is false, and the assertion by Feser and other Thomists that a hierarchical first changer is necessary in the present moment or material would just blink out is false.

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  21. If SP is so bad, why doesn't the host ban him?

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    Replies
    1. Because the host is a Christian, and patient, perhaps?

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    2. Also I am not sure you can ban someone in blogspot. You would have to just keep deleting their posts. But I may be wrong.

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    3. The only good thing I have to say about Stardusty is that he makes Lawrence Krauss look slightly less obnoxious by comparison.

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  22. Just another mad Catholic November 14, 2017 at 2:26 PM

    "The only good thing I have to say about Stardusty is that he makes Lawrence Krauss look slightly less obnoxious by comparison. "
    --Krauss had been a fine public servant for reason for many year, an admirable man indeed.

    Then he lowered himself to charlatanism with his absurd assertion of something from nothing. His book, and his many public speakings on the subject are nonsensical equivocation and rationally bankrupt.

    I lost respect for Krauss when he cashed in on the woo monger trade.

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    Replies
    1. I am convinced Strawdusty probably has some mental issues. Number one, he does not take the principle of non-contradiction to be a self-evident truth that could never even in principle turn out to be false. A sign of enormous mental confusion.

      Number two, and quite more telling, he *insists* on posting here even though 1) pretty much no one takes him seriously; 2) people don't even care to read his full posts anymore; 3) no one thinks it's fruitful to engage him in argument; 4) people have repeatedly asked him to get out, repeatedly told him that this is not the place for him and that he's just being annoying and clogging up comments. Even the host is not amused and has asked us not to seriously respond anymore.

      Now, it could be that he is a troll, and so his intention really is to annoy us. So he doesn't care about the fact that we don't take him seriously or don't bother arguing anymore -- his intention is mainly to annoy us. So what's the issue?

      Well, if he is a troll, then we have to consider that he's been trolling here for a long time. And he seems to bother posting every single day. What kind of person insists on trolling the same place every day after people have repeatedly asked him to move on?

      Strawdusty, man, you need to find something better to do. Go read a book. Or watch a movie, perhaps. Go out with family? Friends? Think about something else? Or just study physics for the sake of it, since you deny that it opens up serious existential questions ("brute facts!!!"), just go study it for what it's worth for you. Anything. Stop trolling a thomistic blog you don't like, filled with people who don't take you seriously, perhaps just for the eventual anonymous poster who will simply say "yrah cool, but y do u not respond t starsdty", or for getting a ruse out of us. You're here every day pretty much, and have been wasting time here for months and months.

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