Thursday, April 23, 2020

Links for the lockdown


Thomas Osborne’s new book Aquinas’s Ethics, part of the Cambridge Elements series, is available online for free for a month.

How should a Thomist deal with a pandemic?  Robert Koons proposes some general principles, at Public Discourse.

At Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, Thomas Nagel reviews Richard Swinburne’s Are We Bodies or Souls?

C. C. Pecknold on Maritain versus De Koninck on the common good, at First Things.

At the Claremont Review of Books, Christopher Caldwell on the downside of the 1980s.

Mark Dooley on the last days of Roger Scruton, at The Critic.


Matthew Cobb on why the brain is not a computer, at The Guardian.

Ray Monk on forgotten philosopher G. E. Moore, at Prospect.

Mary Eberstadt’s new book on the sexual revolution and identity politics is reviewed at the Claremont Review of Books.

At The American Conservative, Bradley Birzer on jazzman Dave Brubeck.

New books: Aidan Nichols, The Theologian's Enterprise; Lloyd Gerson, Platonism and Naturalism; Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, Philosophizing in Faith; and Turner Nevitt and Brian Davies, Thomas Aquinas's Quodlibetal Questions.  Simpson, Koons, and Teh’s anthology Neo-Aristotelian Perspectives on Contemporary Science is now available in paperback.

Alex Byrne’s paper “Are women adult human females?” appears in Philosophical Studies.  At Quillette, a writer with gender dysphoria defends biological reality.  At Medium, philosopher Kathleen Stock defends free debate about transgender issues. 

Nerds on Earth on Jim Shooter, the controversial editor-in-chief of Marvel Comics during the 1980s who arguably saved the company.   But can comics survive the Covid-19 lockdown?

David Greg Taylor is a former underground comics artist with an interest in Aristotle and philosophy.  He is returning to comics with his series Blueboy Brown: The Adventures of a Family.


The Guardian takes a closer look at Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The New Republic asks: What happened to Jordan Peterson?


At Walking Christian, Gil Sanders comments on my recent debate with Graham Oppy.

At First Things, Michael Pakaluk and David Bentley Hart debate Hart’s book That All Shall Be Saved.  Pakaluk has more to say at The Catholic Thing, here and here.

Conversations on early modern philosophy.  At 3:16, Richard Marshall interviews philosophers Michael Della Rocca, Richard T. W. Arthur, and Charlie Huenemann.

Wilfred McClay on what Freud got right, at the Hedgehog Review.

At New Statesman, John Gray on John Cottingham’s new book on the soul.

185 comments:

  1. I'll also add that the discussion forum for fans of Dr. Feser's blog is now here: https://classicaltheism.createaforum.com/

    The previous forum is now defunct.

    Also, I enjoyed Gil's comments on the Feser/Oppy debate on actuals, potentials, and existential inertia. I recommend first checking out the discussion on youtube before reading Gil's take.

    ReplyDelete
  2. Dr. Feser, I hope this is considered on-topic: can we still expect a written-up response to Oppy's article criticizing your Aristotelian proof? Thanks.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes. Million things going on, but I will get to it.

      Delete
    2. Great to hear. And yeah I'm sure, I cannot fathom how you manage such a busy schedule and still maintain your output.

      Delete
  3. Great article from Michael Pakaluk.

    You can generalize that approach for all kinds of different topics for apologetics.

    Especially for someone who doesn't listen to the clear unchanging Tradition of the Church, like a lapsed Catholic or a Protestant.

    Are we really having to argue for the existence and occupancy and eternity of Hell?

    Why not ask if the saved in Heaven have a second chance to fall from grace? What if you got into Heaven and fell again?

    Both Heaven and Hell are both chosen by Free Will.
    What's the point of being holy the first time around if you can always take the Mulligan?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You do realise the universalists in the Orthodox tradition have answers to why there is an asymmetry between the damned changing to beatitude without the saved changing to fall? It's the distinction between the natural and gnomic will.

      I'm not completely convinced by the universalist position, but I find Pakaluk's bayesian reasoning poor. He wants to shoehorn the universalist hypothesis to make certain assumptions most dont (he doesnt take into account what universalists actually *do* say about punishment and its necessity) they also bring in other considerations like partial preterism and how that affects apocalyptic language.

      In other words, his approach is right but what he thinks you should expect on universalism is different to what universalists argue and so begs the question.

      Delete
    2. "Both Heaven and Hell are chosen by Free Will".

      Sure, some people really *do* prefer eternal suffering to eternal bliss.

      Keep telling yourself just that : one day it *might* actually sound vaguely intelligent (by God's Grace, of course).

      Delete
    3. Why do you think it implausible that some people would prefer to maintain their self-styled autonomy than say to God "Thy will be done"? It's not an uncommon attitude.

      Delete
    4. AJ dont forget the other view of hell - annihilation

      Delete
  4. Is it that mysterious what happened to Peterson? He went through a particularly badbenzo withdrawal. Benzos are some of the worst drugs in terms of physical dependency and withdrawal. Ask those who have been addicted to both benzos and heroin or meth, which had the worst withdrawal and most will say benzos. Like alcohol you can actually die from benzo withdrawal.

    ReplyDelete
  5. This comment has been removed by the author.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. From what I know, some trans rights activists find that account of trans identity objectionable.

      Delete
    2. As I understand it, the typically male aspects of the brain are due almost entirely to developmental results following the presence of the right amounts of testosterone during gestation. Which are due to the signals resulting from the Y chromosome starting at about 7 weeks gestation. The same chromosome that is largely responsible for the other male characteristics.

      Yes, it is possible for the process of producing testosterone to get messed up, so the brain fails to develop in a normal manner for males. And it is possible for the Y chromosome to fail somewhere else in the production of standard male equipment. But we can say these results are abnormal and unhealthy. There is nothing impossible about having the male chromosome and not developing properly as a male. That would make the person an imperfectly developed male. The only reason one might claim that this meant the person is a female is if one assumes something like "to not be fully developed as a male just is to be a female". I doubt most females, or even most feminists or most pro-trans advocates would be willing to say that.

      Delete
    3. Firstly, Aristotle did NOT think that the brain was the seat of human reason, but the heart. While he was mistaken, it seems that you haven't done your research on the authorities you're attempting to appeal to.

      Secondly, there's the problem that your argument is rather dubious and unsupported, or at least one that relies on very ambiguous wording. First off, what do you mean by "female-shaped"? Are all men's brains identical with all other men's brains, and all womens' brains likewise? If my brain is damaged and its shape changes, do I thereby cease to be male or female? Secondly, you're committing essentially the same mistake as the Progressives, by imagining that our "true" identity can be divorced from our bodies as a whole. Essentially, you've turned the brain into a kind of Cartesian soul, utterly unconnected to the body, capable of being "female" even if it's part of a body that's clearly male. But this is even more ludicrous than Cartesian dualism, because the brain is clearly not some mysterious immaterial thing, but is instead physical, and a part of the body, not something isolated from it.

      Delete
    4. There's no such thing as a male or female brain. This is why scientifically literate trans-activists, all seven of them, do not make this claim any more.

      Delete
    5. Which isn't the same thing....

      Delete
    6. @Anonymous

      Your points regarding how we can't ignore the rest of the biological makeup of a person in exchange for just the brain is worth reflection. But why or why not would someone with the neurological topology of a female but the rest of the male body qualify for some kind of hermaphroditism? Seeing that the brain is a primary sex organ.

      Delete
  6. Peterson's daughter recently posted a video of her father up and moving. Thank goodness. Dr. Peterson is one of my favorite speakers. Hoping he continues his recovery!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. All the best wishes to Jordan Peterson, but why is he one of your favorite speakers? Aside from being against SJW censorship (good for him) is there any issue where he has a clear and interesting opinion instead of a word salad?

      Delete
    2. For me, it's not that he revealed a specific piece of insight that I found unique, but rather, that he revealed to me how much insight there is to be had. How much mystery regarding life is still out there. He does often use a word salad approach, but it seems better than a cookie cutter "here is what you are allowed to think about XYZ" approach.

      Delete
    3. I like him also.Standing up for what is right is already by itself a good thing--even if he would have no other virtue

      Delete
  7. Thanks for the Blueboy Brown link. I'm hooked on the story so far and love the art. The blog posts about his creative process are fascinating also, given his decades of teaching art and understanding of how to use the medium to tell a story.

    I was also surprised to find he is pals with Rick Berry, who among other things drew the covers for Neil Gaiman's run on the Eternals--which I just finished reading a few days ago!

    ReplyDelete
  8. On Oppy's essay - This is a good point:

    Oppy claims: Potentials to remain unchanged do not require distinct actualizers;

    Walking Christian says: The First Way never says unchanged things need distinct actualizers, only that changed things need distinct actualizers. So it seems to me that Oppy’s objection is irrelevant.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It's not even clear whether Oppy is using the terms 'actuality' and 'potentiality' correctly.

      Delete
    2. I believe what Oppy was trying to say is that if something is already actual, then it doesn't need to change to remain actual. Thus, if it doesn't change, it doesn't need a distinct actualiser to sustain its actuality once actualised. But the First Way argues for an actualiser not just to actualise, but to keep them actual.

      Delete
    3. If I understand Oppy correctly, I think his objection completely misses the point. One should say that every potential only ever becomes actual if it is actualized by something already actual; in other words, that the actualization of potency must have an external explanation or cause. That's the basic. And potency is potency, whereas act is that which is actual, real.

      Then the thing is the muddle behind the idea of a "potential to remain unchanged". What is a "potential to remain"? Is it a real potential? Let's remember, for instance, that there is no (real) potential for non-existence. When something fails to exist, or stop existing, it is not as if there is some potential non-existence being actualized (though we might use the terms in language sometimes). Non-existence is nothing. Rather, what happens is that a potential for existence is not actualized. There is no actualized "potential nothingness", but unactualized potential something.

      Now, what is the potential to remain? Doesn't seem like a real thing. What the thomist is arguing is that contingent things don't have to exist by their own nature, so, as a corollary, they can fail to exist. If they can fail to exist, then even though they exist right now, they could at least possibly fail to exist in the next second without contradicting any metaphysical laws of reality. There is no "potential to remain or continue", there is just the potential to be, and this potential is actualized at t0 and, if it is to be actual at t1, it will also need a cause. This regardless of what theory of time is true, also. Under presentism, there is only the potential for existing (presently) in changing things which must be constantly actualized. Under B theory, there is only the potential to exist at every specific time slice, and if an actualized potency needs a cause at t0 it also needs one at t1.

      Delete
    4. Sounds like Oppy is making Craig's mistake. Confusing substantial change with Cambridge change?

      Delete
    5. I agree Oppy's objection misses the point, but I have not as yet found a counter to the following argument against the First Way.

      B moves A from potency to act. According to the First Way, B itself is moved from potentially moving A to actually moving A. So then B must be moved from potency to act by C. And so on (essentially, or hierarchically ordered series). This can't go to infinity, at least not if the series is temporally simultaneous. Thus, we must stop at a First Mover, whose change from not moving the next entity in the chain to moving it cannot be a real change from potency to act.

      So far so good, but the claim that this first mover must be purely actual and therefore God seems not to follow. Why can't B be a mover of A in virtue of its nature, and not merely some accidental quality? Whether B is moving A or not is merely a Cambridge property, and has nothing intrinsic to do with B.

      Delete
    6. "Why can't B be a mover of A in virtue of its nature, and not merely some accidental quality?"

      I'm no expert, but I am not sure how this is a counter argument .... B's nature needs a cause as well. The series does not merely involve A and B in terms of accidental change, but it also involves A and B in terms of essentially ordered change. And by essentially ordered change, I take that to also include the causes for A and B's natures.

      As you sure you understand the difference between accidentally ordered and essentially ordered? (No snark or mean spirits intended here - likely you are way more familiar with this stuff than I am. )

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Delete
    7. @Daniel,

      You're confusing "essential" and "accidental" in context. Every change in the First Way is one of accidental change. Something cold becomes hot; something red becomes green. What makes the series "essentially ordered" is that something causes the other something to become green; and something else causes that to cause the first thing to become green, etc. An "accidentally ordered" series is like that of parents and children; parents indeed cause their children's existence, but they do not cause their children to have children of their own.

      Indeed B's nature and existence need a cause, but under my scenario these are not things CHANGING, as the First way requires. The fact that B's nature and existence are not metaphysically ultimate (since B is composite) means there needs to be a metaphysical ground, and from there we can proceed to the existence of something metaphysically ultimate, which we call God. But this not the First Way.

      Delete
    8. Responding to this "Every change in the First Way is one of accidental change." It is my understanding that the first way is exactly the opposite. It only has to do with essentially ordered change. In Ed's Five Proofs for the Existance of God, he mentions in the Aristotelian proof, the following

      Now it is this second, hierarchical sort of series that ultimately concerns us here, for it is more fundamental to reality than the other linear sort of series is. (Feser, Edward. Five Proofs of the Existence of God (p. 25). Ignatius Press. Kindle Edition.)

      Ed gives as examples of Essentially ordered change, something like this:

      1-The coffee rests on the table.
      2-The potential of the coffee to be where it is depends on the actualization of the potential of the table being where it is.
      3-The potential of the table to be where it is depends on the actualization of the potential for the earth to be where it is.
      4-All of these depend on the molecular structure of all the matter to be actualized the way they are (for example, the matter making up the table need not have been actualized the way it currently is actualized).
      5-All of this depends on the way the potential of sub-atomic particles are being actualized.
      6-This kind of regress cannot be infinite. It must terminate with a purely actual actualizer.

      This is an example of what Ed calls a hierarchically series (what he also calls an essentially ordered series in his footnotes).

      So as you can see, it is the nature of the coffee, the coffee cup, the table, the earth, the atoms, the subatomic particles, all the way down to the first cause.

      Does that help clarify? Anyway, that is the way Ed has presented the first way in his book, the Five Ways (he states that his version is basically a variation on Aquinas' First way). If my memory serves, this is also how he describes the first way in his book Aquinas. I'd be happy to be proven wrong, but I'm pretty sure I am right in this.

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Delete
    9. Another way to look at your statement here: "Why can't B be a mover of A in virtue of its nature" is in terms of powers. Lets say B is a person (with a nature) moving a stick A. Stick A only has power insofar as B is giving the stick its power. A's motion/change is essentially derived from B's power to make that motion possible in A. Thus A would not move/change without B's causing A to move or change.

      I think your point is, why not stop at B? Well, because B's potential to move A, is not absolute. It is dependent on powers inherent in a slew of other causes that must be actual for B to move A at all. This includes B and A's atomic structure (C). This includes B and A's subatomic structure (D). This includes all the properties and laws of physics that apply (E). These must be active in the very specific way they are active for B to be able to move/change A as it does.

      This series cannot go on to infinity. There must be some bottom level somewhere. Lopping back to Oppy's recent debate with Ed, Oppy sees this bottom layer as merely some brute "simple". Ed says it must be the unmoved mover/changer/first cause/pure actuality.

      Hopefully that was coherent. I am not an academic, so I may be inconsistent in my descriptions at time that likely make others on this blog blanch. But I think that is a good summary of the first way.:)

      God bless,
      Daniel

      Delete
    10. Lonely Professor: Indeed B's nature and existence need a cause, but under my scenario these are not things CHANGING, as the First way requires.

      Precisely: since you are not talking about the premises of the First Way, it simply doesn’t apply. If A by its nature causes B, then it is always causing B. And if B then causes C, it always causes C, and so on. So we have an unchanging causal series — but the First Way is about a series of changes. So your scenario is not a counter-example; it is simply an unrelated example that is completely irrelevant to whatever the First Way says.

      Delete
    11. "The First Way never says unchanged things need distinct actualizers, only that changed things need distinct actualizers."
      Right, which means that the First Way is not extendable to argue for a first sustainer to account for existential inertia, as Dr. Feser asserts.

      Material does not change in the aspect that it exists, therefore no changer is called for to account for no change, the First Way being an argument from motion, that can be generalized to an argument from change, since all change entails motion of material through space.

      However, the First Way fails for a variety of reasons. One being the false premise that macro objects cannot move themselves, as in the staff/hand example, commonly extended to the rock/stick/hand example. You move yourself, Aquinas moved himself, and there are countless examples of objects that move themselves, such as stars, clocks, rockets, and on and on.

      The First Way also fails because it presents a false dichotomy between an infinite linear present moment hierarchical regression of movers and an unmoved mover. In fact the reason so many objects do move themselves is because at base there is no such thing as a cause and an effect, only mutual interactions between beings that move each other.

      Mutual causation, or what Russel said rather more eloquently, "there is merely a formula", terminates finitely the hierarchical regression of movers in the present moment, thus invalidating the First Way, and by essentially the same reasoning, the Second Way.

      The First Way also fails because of another false premise Aquinas uses, "Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another", which, because Aquinas was arguing in the context of a present moment notion of a hierarchical series of movers, means he was asserting that what ever is observed to be in motion right now is being put in motion by another right now. This false premise of Aquinas is due to the false notion of Aristotle that all sublunary motion is in a medium that slows an object such that motion is lost.

      In truth, all motion is in space, which for motion is a lossless medium, and thus in terms of the motion of objects the functional equivalent of the void. Motion, or kinetic energy, is never lost as Aristotle and Aquinas erroneously based their arguments upon, rather, only transferred or transformed.

      Ironically, Aristotle had the concept of linear uniform motion within his grasp, as he stated in book IV of his Physics, where he described motion in the void as continuing ad infinitum. Unfortunately, Aristotle failed to advance on the work of his predecessors, the Greek Atomists, instead publishing his incorrect views on motion, that were then employed by Aquinas as false premises, and thus invalidate those arguments for the necessity of a first mover and a first cause.

      Delete
    12. Daniel,
      "5-All of this depends on the way the potential of sub-atomic particles are being actualized.
      6-This kind of regress cannot be infinite. It must terminate with a purely actual actualizer."
      Indeed, a linear hierarchical regress of movers cannot extend to infinity.

      The First Way presents a false dichotomy between such an infinite regress and an unmoved first mover. The finite terminus of this regress is what Scotus falsely asserted is not possible, but is in fact how modern physics is formulated.

      Causality is at base mutual, wherein there are no beings identifiable as a cause and an effect, rather as Russel put it "there is merely a formula", meaning, there is only causation in the sense of mutual interaction wherein the assignment of the titles "cause" and "effect" are arbitrary and therefore meaningless.

      But, in the colloquial manner of speaking, suppose for a moment that Y caused Z. So what caused Y? X, etc., perhaps ad infinitum, it might seem, but in truth the formulations of physics break that false dichotomy, described mathematically as "merely a formula".

      Y caused Z
      X caused Y
      W caused X
      X caused W
      Terminus, finitely.

      At base causation is circular. Scotus argued similarly to Aquinas, but Scotus saw the need to deny circular causation, so Scotus stated that denial as a premise to avoid just the disproof of the false dichotomy of the First Way I have illustrated above.

      But modern physics shows that at base the very notion of an identifiable causal agent, and an identifiable effected being is arbitrary and therefore false, which is one of several reasons the First Way fails as an argument for the necessity of an unmoved mover of any sort, let alone god.

      Delete
    13. For anyone with real questions, please don't be distracted by the Stardusty's metaphysical ignorance.

      Most students of Aquinas know that the examples SP gives are only loose notions of 'self-motion'.

      He fails to see that true "interaction" IS causation, otherwise x and y would just be doing their own thing at the same time, x would not be in any way "interacting" with y.

      He doesn't realize:
      1) Russell reversed his foundational position on math describing causation.
      2) That mathematical descriptions of reality purposely leave out notions of causation.
      3) Russell's whole reasoning that "causality" has to be no more than mathematical relations in the first place is based on his disagreement with three obscure DICTIONARY definitions of causation (none of which are anything close to Aristotelian). I'm serious, just read his On the Notion of a Cause where he presents his interpretation of causation.

      Delete
    14. Journey 516
      "Most students of Aquinas know that the examples SP gives are only loose notions of 'self-motion'."
      That statement is itself loosely worded. My examples are at the level Aquinas argued, the macro object level. Aquinas asserted that objects at that level only move by virtue of being put in motion by another. I then provided clear examples that show that premise to be false. There is nothing "loose" about disproving a premise by providing counter examples.

      "He fails to see that true "interaction" IS causation,"
      If you are going to claim to know what i don't understand you may wish to at least read my words carefully.
      I said:
      'Causality is at base mutual'
      'At base causation is circular'
      I have failed to see nothing in the respect you assert, it is you who have failed to read my words with understanding.

      "Russell reversed his foundational position on math describing causation."
      Interesting, can you provide a citation? you mention On the Notion of Cause, with Applications to the Free-Will Problem" BERTRAND RUSSELL available here:
      https://users.drew.edu/~jlenz/notion-of-cause/br-notion-of-cause.html
      But since Russell opens that paper by urging "the word "cause"
      is so inextricably bound up with misleading associations as to make its
      complete extrusion from the philosophical vocabulary desirable" your citation of that paper does not support your claim.

      " I'm serious, just read his On the Notion of a Cause where he presents his interpretation of causation."
      Ok, yes, I have, and in it he advocates for eliminating the notion of cause and effect altogether.

      I share his views that the assignment of the titles "cause" and "effect" are, at base, arbitrary and meaningless. In the paper you cite Russell provides various arguments to support that view I share.

      I don't think that means there is no such thing as causation at all, and as you point out, mutual interaction is causation.

      That is how real causation progresses, not with objects that have the titles "cause" and "effect", rather, as a multibody interaction of vast complexity.

      Causation is, at base, mutual and circular, not linear requiring an unmoved mover.

      If you can cite later papers wherein Russell changed his position please do so, that would be interesting. However, I do not ascribe uncritically to any particular philosopher or philosophical school, still referencing the views of others from time to time can provide some anchor points for discussion.

      I invite you to read my above posts and offer any specific refutations you can, on the merits of the arguments.

      Delete
  9. "Are We Bodies or Souls?" I'm pretty sure the answer is yes.

    ReplyDelete
  10. FWIW, I only really started to understand Hell after I read Lewis's "The Great Divorce".

    ReplyDelete
  11. Making arguments to authority and tradition simply doesn't solve the philosophical problem of hell and universalism.

    If theological compatibilism is true, salvation is metaphysically impossible (under the conditions) for those who are not saved, since God didn't will it, and His will is metaphysically prior to ours. Which means, God is commanding the impossible. Philosophers from Banez to Garrigou-Lagrange have attempted to evade the objection, but to no avail. Also, it forces the (at least a priori highly improbable) conclusion that X's punishment is a greater good (if X is damned) than X's virtuous behavior and subsequent reward.

    Therefore only a few die-hards adhere to Banezian Thomism today; most in fact accept libertarian free will. But this carries its own set of problems. If God's knowledge of human actions is metaphysically prior to those actions, then the exact same problem presents itself as in Banezian Thomism. Philosophers, of course, attempt to muddy the waters by claiming that God's foreknowledge does not predetermine those actions, just like my knowledge that it will rain tomorrow doesn't cause it to rain. But if God's foreknowledge is metaphysically prior, then it does in fact predetermine those actions. On the contrary, my knowledge that it will rain is metaphysically subsequent to the fact that it will rain. And thus, if God foreknows our actions because of those actions, than His knowledge is metaphysically subsequent to those actions, which is contrary to His aseity (nothing in God can be metaphysically subsequent to anything else).

    ReplyDelete
  12. If this is some kind of Open Thread, I must ask: how can libertarian free will be compatible with foreknowledge *and* presentism?

    By foreknowledge I simply mean the fact that God knows what we are going to do. I see no incompatibility between LFW and foreknowledge, because as long as our actions are contingent and caused by us as agents, they are free. So God just knows what our contingent, free actions will in fact be.

    But if presentism is also true, then the future does not at all exist. God cannot know the future as real later events; He must know the future by knowing the present. But if that's so, doesn't this affect LFW? How could God perfectly know what we will freely choose to do just by knowing our present will, if our present will still has multiple potential acts and choices?

    One alternative would be to adopt Open Theism (God doesn't perfectly know what we will do, since it is impossible to know that). Another would be to simply drop presentism and accept moving spotlight or B theory (so God can know all our contingent future actions because these actually exist at later times, even while our will at earlier times can still be undecided). Rejecting LFW is not an option for me, and I think it shouldn't be for any theist.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Right, but the claim is that there is incompatibility between LFW, foreknowledge, and aseity, regardless of what theory of time is correct. You can have two of the three but not all three.

      If God knows what our contingent, free actions are because we make them, then His knowledge is not a se, but metaphysically subsequent.

      If, on the other hand, His knowledge his metaphysically prior, then our actions are predetermined, and not free in the libertarian sense.


      Delete
    2. But that's not the problem I'm posing. I'm fine with God only knowing our actions subsequently if that must be the case to maintain their freedom; LFW is more inegotiable for me. Without LFW, absolute universalism immediately follows, and a particularly damning problem of evil emerges (since there can be no appeals whatsoever for free will defenses, which significantly weakens theodicies). I accept LFW and whatever it entails.

      Molinism/middle knowledge can help here (I think this is Craig's solution since he also believes in foreknowledge + LFW + presentism). But it would be nice if there were also a non-molinist solution.

      Delete
    3. But if God only knows our actions subsequently then His knowledge is not a se but metaphysically dependent. And if anything regarding God is metaphysically dependent then classical theism goes up in smoke.

      Middle knowledge does not help. It moves the problem from the actual world to possible worlds, but the problem still remains. Either God's knowledge that we would do X in situation Y is metaphysically prior, in which case it predetermines that we will do X in situation Y, or it is metaphysically subsequent to our (hypothetically) doing X in situation Y, in which case it is not a se.


      Delete
    4. Why does it go up in smoke? I'm not sure it's like that. If we bite the bullet and accept that God's knowledge of free acts is metaphysically dependent, this might still be compatible with classical theism. Maybe not the hardcore thomistic understanding of simplicity and classical theism, but some other view. God's intrinsic powers could all be simple and metaphysically prior to everything (such as his intellect; his knowledge of necessary truths; and even his capacity for knowing contingent free acts), but he might have contingent properties of knowing free acts. It is not immediately obvious to me that this is incompatible with God being purely actual in His nature and basic perfections.

      Delete
    5. First classical theism is broader than Thomism. Palamas and the Essence-Energies distinction makes it clear that God can be receptive.

      I disagree with the theological compatibilist point too. I'd say when you spell out the argument for God commanding the impossible it will rest on implicit promises the thomist willreject

      Second there are thomists who are libertarians who nonetheless argue that God coming to know contingent truths does not add a perfection to God (and it's the questions of perfection or potentials being actualised that does all the heavy lifting in the specific sort of aseity under discussion). Mark Spencer points out the later development among scholastics of a 'relation of reason'. Francis Feingold (an up and coming thomist to look out for) in his dissertation looks at the question of God's knowledge and change squarely within Aristotle and Aquinas.

      Delete
    6. Middle knowledge does not help. It moves the problem from the actual world to possible worlds, but the problem still remains.

      I think that's correct: Molinist middle knowledge - like ALL "solutions" relying on "possible worlds", misses the point that within the actual world, a person's actions still have to have an account. Either within the actual world, God causes the action, or He doesn't. Either the action is free and morally accountable, or it is not. Saying that God chose "that possible world" implies (without saying it), that God caused the action but that God did not: God caused it derivatively (from a distance, through layers and intermediate events), but that it was free at the proximate level. I think this is incoherent, or it resolves to compatibilism.

      Delete
  13. @Atno:

    Under Divine simplicity God's power to know contingent free acts can't be distinct from His actual knowledge of them. Because there can simply be no real distinctions in God.

    Unless you wish to argue that God's actual knowledge of contingent free acts is, not a real, but only a Cambridge property of God. In which case God's omniscience of contingent free acts would likewise be only a Cambridge property. Which means the classical philosophers were wrong and Open Theism is true. I have more than some sympathy for this point of view, but let's please not pretend this is in concordance with the traditional view of "classical theism".

    @Callum:

    I'm well aware the die-hard theological compatibilist Thomist simply has to throw out basic modal logic to maintain his position. But that's irrational, and those Thomists are wrong.

    And, if God can "come to know" contingent truths without adding a perfection, then Open Theism must be true. Yes?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'll be honest I'm struggling to see what your argument against theological compatibilism is.

      Open theism typically sees God as being in time whereas the theists I'm talking all see him as timeless.

      Delete
    2. I think his argument against theological compatibilism is that it would have to lead to radical universalism (and that is a problem for those who aren't universalists), since the idea that God would create beings doomed to hell with no power to even possibly choose God would be very implausible. I think a bigger problem is that theological compatibilism suffers from an even bigger problem of evil - if libertarian free will is really not a factor, then why and how could God create a world with so much sin and pain and suffering? Even soul building theodicies get affected without free will. The PoE is a lot stronger without LFW.

      I am inclined to bite the bullet and hold that some of God's knowledge is dependent on creaturely acts. God only knows I will do X tomorrow because I will do X tomorrow. I don't see why this would be so bad. Maybe it is incompatible with a hardcore thomistic doctrine of simplicity, but it's not clear it is incompatible with classical theism; God has a necessary nature with purely actual necessary basic powers all flowing necessarily from his nature/existence, but also flowing from these powers there is a capacity for knowing contingent free acts iff creatures choose those contingent free acts. Again, it might be incompatible with thomistic simplicity perhaps, but I don't see how it would contradict what we can know of God from the traditional proofs. I also don't see how open theism would immediately follow.

      Delete
    3. For instance according to Scotus there may be formal distinctions in God. It's not clear to me that by accepting some sort of dependent knowledge of free acts in God we are immediately rejecting all forms of classical theism or becoming bound to open theism.

      Delete
  14. @Callum:

    If theological compatibilism is true, then X repents of his sins if and only if God wills that X do so, and God's so willing is the cause (e.g. metaphysically prior) to X's repenting.

    Thus, if God does not will X to repent from his sins, it is metaphysically impossible (under the specific circumstances) for X to do so. God may command X to do so, but such command is (under the circumstances) impossible for X to obey. Thus, God commands the impossible.

    Regardless of what your understanding may be, or what other philosophers have said, the argument is sound.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sound means it is valid and the premises true. So you are declaring victory? You're right, we're wrong! How about you wait and see before you make such claims?

      Delete
    2. The argument IS valid and the premises ARE true. Therefore the argument is sound. The fact that many Thomists throughout the centuries from Banez to Garrigou-Lagrange refuse to admit it doesn't change the fact that the argument is sound.

      Delete
    3. I don't dispute that theological compatibilism is problematic. I think that without LFW we would have all these issues and complete absolute universalism would have to follow.

      What I don't see is how your argument about God's knowledge being metaphysically subsequent to free acts would entail an incompatibility with every classical theism out there, much less that it would entail open theism. That is far from clear to me.

      Delete
    4. LP, yes, that sounds like a great way to approach the topic. If you've discovered the truth already, why are you here? To preach to others? Declaring victory straight away won't win many over.

      It seems sound to you, but whether it is will come out in the testing. Be more humble. I have noticed before you seem to have a very high opinion of your knowledge and arguments to totally overthrow Thomism, despite just coming across as an averagely knowledgeable critic. This stance never ends well.

      Delete
    5. @Atno:

      The problem can be summed up like this. The free act is metaphysically subsequent to God, but God's knowledge of the free act is metaphysically subsequent to the free act, making God's knowledge of the free act metaphysically subsequent to God. But if anything in God is metaphysically subsequent to Himself, then He is not simple.

      The only way around this is to say that God's knowledge of a free act is not a real, but only a Cambridge property. But Cambridge properties can change over time without affecting anything intrinsic. Remember, the classic argument against open theism is that it would entail a change in God over time, what He knows and what He wills. But these things are only Cambridge properties they can change over time without affecting Him intrinsically. This argument I admit is not proof positive of open theism, but only of its possibility.

      @Anon:

      This debate is about hell/universalism, and thus sharing my knowledge on other related topics is germane. I'm not out to "totally overthrow Thomism", just those aspects which are obviously wrong and can only be defended by appeals to authority.

      Delete
    6. It might contradict thomistic simplicity, perhaps - if we reject Cambridge properties! -, but even then, not simplicity per se. This is related to the problem of God having intrinsic contingent properties. There can be many differences within classical theism; a Palamist view, for instance, says that there's God's essence but also His energies which interact with reality. It's a thorny, complicated issue so it's far from clear to me that we have a direct problem for classical theism.

      Also you just admitted that if we adopg Cambridge properties here, open theism isn't proved - just its possibility. I am fine with that (even if we grant open theism is not classical theism). Still doesn't decide between classical theism and open theism; perhaps the Cambridge properties response works and we can maintain simplicity and nevertheless God still has foreknowledge.

      By the way, my main problem with open theism is that it seems like it must presuppose presentism. If Moving Spotlight or B theory are true, it makes no sense to suggest God would not know the real "future" events, since He would also be their cause or at least have access to them.

      Delete
    7. The free act is metaphysically subsequent to God, but God's knowledge of the free act is metaphysically subsequent to the free act, making God's knowledge of the free act metaphysically subsequent to God.

      I don't see that a Thomist would have to accept those statements of which aspects of God's actions and knowledge are metaphysically prior or subsequent to the others.

      Delete
    8. A Thomist wouldn't accept that God's knowledge of the free act is metaphysically subsequent to the free act. He would accept the argument I just made as to why this contradicts Divine simplicity and aseity.

      Delete
    9. Thomism is a broader tradition than the major strand you're familiar with.

      As for the argument against the divine compatibilist, I've kept this thread in mind to give a response but I've been so busy I never got around to it.

      If this post stays active I'll come back to it, if not hopefully Lonely Professor sticks around and we can pick it up on another post when it's relevant.

      For now, I'll leave a discussion by Taylor Patrick O'Neil to give his defence of Banezianism for those to get a flavour of how thay type of thomist would respond.

      Delete
    10. https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=7FGa1-wRqFE

      Delete
  15. I don't want to go too off-topic, but Feser you should really talk to Matt Walsh. He's a Catholic and defends the existence of God, but he keeps butchering arguments for God's existence. He thinks the cosmological argument is weak, but equated it to the idea that everything has a cause, as well as to the idea it would require scientific study to prove this.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Ed has already talked with the Daily Wire people at least twice, and I doubt has time to do it again, so you might have to contact Matt yourself. In general, those guys just don't have the philosophical background to defend classical theism so what you are saying doesn't surprise me.

      Delete
  16. I just want to stop by and ask if anyone could recommend me books or articles, that are good intros for philosophy. Like stuff that goes over terms and different things.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. See Ed's post on his"Scholastic Bookshelf"

      Delete
    2. In general, the Stanford encyclopedia of philosophy has lots of introductory articles.

      For AT-Metaphysics, Feser has recommended:

      John McCormick's "Scholastic Metaphysics"

      Richard Phillips "Modern Thomistic Philsophy" available here: https://archive.org/details/modernthomisticp01phil/page/252/mode/2up

      And also Ed's books: "Five Proofs of the Existence of God" and "Aquinas" are good starting points.

      The Aquinas 101 youtube series is a great introduction to Aquinas.

      https://yourlogicalfallacyis.com/ has a bunch of fallacies that are important to be aware of.

      Delete
    3. Ed's book "Philosophy of Mind". Getting into the Philosophy of Mind is by itself a great way to get into philosophy in general. First of all it's full of issues that you may already find interesting (perception, consciousness, rationality etc). Furthermore due to the work that has been done in that field and the lively debate, getting into it is a good intro to many philosophical issues, like conceivability as a guide to possibility, the nature of matter itself, the role of thought experiments, the nature and types of explanations in general. All that aside, concerning the book itself it is pleasantly readable, Feser has a rare ability to break down and explain philosophical concepts and he presents different and opposing views lucidly and in a fair way. Of course that can also be said about his other books like Scholastic Metaphysics, but his Philosophy of Mind had the benefit of introducing many different philosophical approaches, so I think it works great as an intro.

      Delete
  17. @ George LeSauvage

    If these people you're talking about *knew* Hell really exists, then they wouldn't sin.

    The main reason why people sin (sometimes gravely) is because they do *not* know whether Hell is real or not - and this applies to believers as well since even personal certainty doesn't constitute knowledge at all.

    If Hell really exists and everyone *saw* it for exactly what it is, I'm pretty sure no one would commit grave sins ever again and everybody would be leading much holier lives (except perhaps for mentally deranged people).

    Furthermore, you cannot choose something you do not even know exists.

    Hence, it doesn't make sense to say that people *choose* Heaven or Hell : that's bollocks.

    It's also very convenient to (psychopathically, sorry not sorry for saying it) affirm that people *deserve* Hell up until *you* (or someone you love) end up in Hell.

    Then, all of a sudden, Hell appears to be what it so *obviously* is : unfair.


    @ Callum

    Sounds much fairer than eternal damnation, already - even though temporary suffering *before annihilation* would seem even fairer (to me) for the worst of us.

    I cannot imagine Hitler or Mao being simply destroyed without first suffering at least a little bit for what they inflicted upon tens of millions of people.

    In any case, annihilation has not been much affirmed in the history of Christianity except for some marginal groups such as the despicable Jehovah's Witnesses and the 7th Day Adventists (I believe), so it's not really an eschatology I tend to consider - just like most of you Christians.

    Also, the fact that (some) Christians *only* seem to present that alternative eschatology as a *serious* possibility to be considered to non-Christians *exclusively* when said non-Christians start attacking the traditional view of an eternal Hell... is intellectually dishonest, I think.

    If you do not actually consider it to be a serious possibility year-round, it doesn't magically become one all of a sudden when people start attacking the infinitely unfair view of infinite torment.

    At the end of the day, buddhist and hindu eschatology seem much fairer to me.

    You sin, you pay for it.

    Just not eternally.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. "You sin, you pay for it.

      Just not eternally."

      I do not intent do jump onto the fray because among other things, I have no intentions of dissecting what you personally find fair or unfair, but just as a doctrinal matter the eternal punishment of Hell is not *merely* because of the mortal sins committed in this life. In other words, it seems to me that you are operating under a fundamental misunderstanding of the doctrine, of why it is necessary, and why it has always been affirmed by the Church.

      Delete
    2. The main reason why people sin (sometimes gravely) is because they do *not* know whether Hell is real or not - and this applies to believers as well since even personal certainty doesn't constitute knowledge at all.

      A bizarre statement. It seems to assume that only someone on the level of Aquinas can sin, as the rest of us don't have knowledge.

      If Hell really exists and everyone *saw* it for exactly what it is, I'm pretty sure no one would commit grave sins ever again and everybody would be leading much holier lives (except perhaps for mentally deranged people).

      Unless you define people like Sartre as deranged, I don't see how that works. "I'm pretty sure" doesn't amount to an argument. In fact it's not uncommon to meet people who think Satan the hero of Paradise Lost.

      It's also very convenient to (psychopathically, sorry not sorry for saying it) affirm that people *deserve* Hell up until *you* (or someone you love) end up in Hell.

      Then, all of a sudden, Hell appears to be what it so *obviously* is : unfair.


      You are making an assumption about my own view that is unsupported. Personally, I've always believed I deserve damnation, though also that I'm likely to get better than I deserve. Your sort of argument is very common, but it amounts to a purely subjective response. And of course a variety of Bulverism.

      The real question is whether I am unwilling to give up the sins which make it impossible for me to be in heaven. This would apply even if I were to realize that they were sins. If they are dearer to me than God, then I cannot be saved.

      Delete
    3. AJ

      I would disagree. Most of the church fathers in the early - mid second century were annihilationist. It was by the early third century that the ECT ciew came to be in the majority.

      A defence of the NT view of annihilationist hell;

      https://m.youtube.com/watch?v=WM4bpDQPtxs

      Church fathers views on hell;
      http://rethinkinghell.com/2014/10/11/hell-in-the-times-were-the-early-church-fathers-vague-in-their-support-of-conditional-immortality/

      Orthodoxy never ruled out annihilation in favour of ECT.

      Catholicism did centuries later.

      Delete
    4. I never understand why most proponents of universalism go overboard and think that either Hitler and the worst possible serial killers out there must be saved, or else there can be no hope whatsoever. And they all seem to ignore what I call semi-universalism.

      Semi-universalism is the view, probably, the vast majority of people go to purgatory and are eventually saved, while a very small minority goes straight to heaven, and another very small minority goes to hell. It appears to be espoused in Benedict XVI's encyclical "Spe Salvi", where the pope tells us that while some people are so holy that they go straight to heaven, and some are so terribly wicked that they might have realistically completely closed themselves off to God, experience tells us that the majority of people are neither one nor the other, and have at least an inchoate love of God and truth requiring purification from their many sins and compromises with evil.

      Under semi-universalism, hell is a real possibility founded in human freedom. The human person has the radical freedom to completely reject God and therefore embrace hell. Everyone can possibly end in this situation. But in all likelihood, - and given God's desire for the salvation of all - the vast majority of people will be saved. If anyone ends up in hell, it is only those who were really extremely, incredibly obstinate in their sins (and very likely only a very small number of people). God cannot force someone to love Him, though He always tries everything He can to convince everyone to choose Him until the very end.

      It makes sense of human freedom and moral experience, as well as the ingenuity and power of a loving and omnipotent God. We can be optimistic that God won't fail to save at least the vast majority of people. And we can also maintain the possibility, and even plausibility, of some people going to hell by their own free choice.

      To use one of Hart's thought experiments, imagine it is only one person - a terribly wicked person - who goes to hell, and that's the "price" for creating a universe in which everyone else is saved and experiences eternal bliss and joy and love. I really don't have a problem with that so long as it was a free choice on the part of the wicked. Why should God deprive everyone of heaven just because one terribly wicked person *freely* consciously insisted, absolutely, in completely rejecting God and all that is good and true?

      At this point, the universalist may argue that it doesn't make sense that anyone would freely, consciously choose hell for themselves. And bring up the distinctions between gnomic and natural wills. All well and good, but these are metaphysical constructs for explaining something deeply complicated that may be beyond our intellectual prowess. Given our experience, however, some really wicked people *DO* make serious, conscious free choices that are as comparably absurd as that of choosing hell for themselves. If Hitler or Mao were able to devise plans for culpably torturing and cruelly murdering millions of innocent people, what is so absurd with the idea that they might also freely, consciously choose hell? They kinda already did that. And remember, I am not saying ordinary people would do that. SEMI-universalism, remember.

      Delete
    5. Atno,

      Those are good points, and part of why I myself am a semi-or soft universalist. But I think it worth pointing out many of us soft universalists, who respect the importance of human choice in the matter, tend to question why that choice should end at death. So Hitler and Mao may well choose hell, but we are inclined to agree with C. S. Lewis that the doors of hell are locked on the inside, and the inhabitants haven't irredeemably mislaid the key.

      Delete
  18. f Hell really exists and everyone *saw* it for exactly what it is, I'm pretty sure no one would commit grave sins ever again

    Well, that pretty much runs directly in the face of the Christian view of what Lucifer did. Lucifer, an angel and (before his sin) with perfect capacity of an angelic intellect untrammeled by sin, knew perfectly well the main feature of hell (the loss of God), and chose it, because he would not submit to God. He, at least, knew what he was doing and chose Hell because he didn't want to be with God if that meant submission.

    Our own experience with weak-willed humans is that we DO sometimes choose things that we know will land us in some evil. Take a thief who has already been in prison once, and who returns to stealing knowing full well what prison is like. In the heat of a moment, a person has the capacity to ignore the knowledge he has of consequences, by an act of the will to disregard some results and focus only on other results (the pleasure or the money or whatever) - this is entailed in the very meaning of the freedom of the will, for we would be unable to sin deliberately if we were unable to disregard part of what we know habitually. It follows that even if God showed each of us what hell is like, we would remain able to disregard that knowledge and sin, and (probably) some would sin anyway (even if far fewer).

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. That's good. But I would add one thing, which is the sinner's adherence to some lesser good over God. (And remember, "over God" is not to be taken in a personalist or polytheistic sense, as it often is. Rather, it means "over the greatest good.") In a sense, all sins break the First Commandment; they involve having "another god before me."

      Delete
    2. God is the transcendent good towards which all free acts of the will are necessarily oriented. The good that we seek in each lesser good is but a sliver of the the true good that is God himself. To say that someone could choose not-God over God would mean that they could change their transcendental orientation from good to evil, but that is clearly not possible. To be perfectly free is to be unimpeded in reaching the good ends entailed in one's essence. This means that our perfect freedom is found only in our union with God, which obviously means not sinning. In the case of the choice of hell over God, the decision is not a calculation of relative goods, but quite literally between infinite pain and infinite bliss. Between all that is good for you and all that is noxious. You can't make much sense of freedom if it necessarily involves the ability to look at that choice and see some rationale for choosing the infinite loss.

      -MH

      Delete
    3. Sure, but if someone can consciously and culpably choose to torture and murder an innocent person, they sure can also choose eternal separation from God. If they can see a good in the first horrendous action, they can also see one in hell - such as pride -, even if irrationally. If your model of gnomic and natural wills doesn't comport that, maybe we need a new model.

      Delete
    4. To say that someone could choose not-God over God would mean that they could change their transcendental orientation from good to evil, but that is clearly not possible.

      That's certainly not the way St Thomas saw it. Anything one chooses as an end must been seen as good in some aspect. (Really, infinite evil is impossible, to Aquinas.) What you are choosing is a lesser good.

      So even the torturer Atno cites would be choosing to torture for some reason as asserting his autonomy, or out of simple masochistic pleasure.

      That is what makes it a kind of idolatry.

      If you so define it that everyone must have perfect knowledge in order to sin, then of course, no one can sin. No human, anyway. But since that is not what Thomists are saying, then it takes you no where.

      Delete
  19. The discussion here about the First Way reminds me of an apparent puzzle in one of it's premises in contrast to observation.

    If God is the only mover who is not Himself moving, what do we make of apparent examples of physical bodies causing movement without undergoing movement relavent to causality. Of course, a hand needs to undergo movement insofar as it is causing movement in a stick, but a red-hot brick doesn't seem to need to undergo movment in order to heat whatever it touches. The same applies for things like gravity: a falling brick undergoes movement downward on account of the Earth dragging it down by gravity, but is there a way in which the Earth is changing in order to do that?

    I don't think this necessarily invalidates the First Way, but I'm curious how this conflict is resolved. Thanks for reading!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. It seems that the brick IS changing insofar that it is transferring energy by heating up something colder than it.

      But let's say, for the sake of argument, that the brick (or gravity) is able to change things without itself undergoing any change. Even here, these things underwent change at some point in the past: the brick was heated by something else, and gravity was created by objects contain mass pulling on eachother. In both cases, the question remains "how is it that these things exist at all?"

      The Aristotelian Argument from Motion (the first proof in Feser's book) claims that material objects have no intrinsic power to exist, but rather derive the ability to exist from something that is itself pure existence (the prime mover or "pure actual actualizer").

      Delete
    2. Thank you. Yeah it seems that Feser's argument just side-steps the whole issue of movement in the First Way. It's probably more concise, but I'm more interested currently in Aquinas' argument that motion requires movers who are usually themselves moving and this leads to an unmoved mover.

      Delete
    3. If God is the only mover who is not Himself moving, what do we make of apparent examples of physical bodies causing movement without undergoing movement relevant to causality.

      I think it has to do with the idea that motion is being used in broader sense to include things being in motion that we would not typically think of as needing to be in motion.

      Of course, a hand needs to undergo movement insofar as it is causing movement in a stick, but a red-hot brick doesn't seem to need to undergo movement in order to heat whatever it touches.

      Its atomic/subatomic particles must be in motion, right?

      The same applies for things like gravity: a falling brick undergoes movement downward on account of the Earth dragging it down by gravity, but is there a way in which the Earth is changing in order to do that?

      You have to apply the Aristotelian criteria of act/potency here to understand what he is saying.

      1-The potentiality of the brick to be pulled down is being actualized by the earth's gravity.
      2-The potentiality of the earth's gravity to pull down the brick must be actualized by powers of the atoms that make up the earth (which we characterize in terms of laws of physics).
      3-In the same way, the potentialities of the atoms to behave the way they do is further grounded in the actualities inherent in subatomic structures.
      4-This regress cannot go on to infinity. There must be a first mover that powers the potentialities being actualized in all of these layers required for the brick to be pulled down towards the earth.

      Does this help?

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Delete
    4. Daniel,

      Yeah it does, but I think I'm going to have to just read more philosophy in order to really get what's going on here. Just ordered a copy of Aquinas' commentary on The Physics, which is pretty much as in-depth as I can currently imagine one dicussing what movement is on the metaphysical level haha.

      I see your point, again it's very close to what Feser is saying. I wonder if Aquinas' First Way is targeting sensible change as I thought, or just any actualization whether it be over a duration of time or in an instant. Now that I'm thinking about it, you've brought up a good point I haven't considered: that Aquinas is not talking about change over time, but possibly just causation in general.

      Thanks again,
      God bless

      Delete
    5. Glad to be of service (If only to parrot out stuff Ed has already said elsewhere:))!

      Yes, I believe Aquinas gets it most right when he talks about the metaphysical layer where he is talking about very generally applicable principles. He gets in trouble when he moves into question of a scientific nature.

      The first way depends on the generally applicable principle that whatever is moved is moved by another. That principle may appear to be violated by things like Newton's first law, but Newton's first law is purely descriptive in nature. It does not explain why an object in motion behaves the way it does. But if you are a believer in science, you will be able to produce a whole slew of factors that have to be in place for Newton's first law to be active.

      But let's say we believe Newton's first law is better explained by magical causes. Those magical causes would still need to be operative for Newton's first law to be activated.

      As scientists or magicians, we never just say that there is no causes for the behaviors we see in nature. There are a heck of a lot of unknown causes.

      Same thing for gravity or spooky action at a distance. There must be some underlying factors that must be active to explain/cause what gravity or spooky action at a distance are describing.

      Delete
    6. Another thing Ed says in Scholastic Metaphysics in defence of the principle of wimimba is that it isn't limiting itself to just one kind of change, such as the locomotive change described by Newton's first law or changes in location caused by gravity. He is talking about change of any kind, whether quantitative, qualitative, or changes from on substance to another. The most general way that change can be described at this level is by looking at any change using the language of act and potency. That is the best language to use when trying to understand what Aquinas is saying in wimimba.

      And this is inline with what Ed says about act and potency in Scholastic Metaphysics in the chapter on act and potency.

      "The first of the famous 24 Thomistic theses reads:

      Potency and act are a complete division of being. Hence whatever is must be either pure act or a unity composed potency and act as its primary intrinsic principles."

      Delete
  20. Hello! I have been thinking about something. How could one argue that the universe is not a necessary being? If some atheist claims that it is?

    Thanks for the help!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hey Finn,
      I'm going to make an assumption that you're in a similar boat I was not so long ago. It's very common that philosophers will begin any cosmological argument with an explanation of why something needs a cause or explanation at all before going on to say God is the ultimate cause or explanation. This is only an objection that could be made by someone who doesn't understand why the cosmological argument is being made at all. Because of this, I'm going to suggest you just take the time and really dive into philosophy. Getting a quick answer isn't really going to help as much as studying it for yourself will. Think of the "teach a man to fish" saying. God bless!

      Delete
    2. I recommend you to read the books "How reason can lead to God" by Joshua Rasmussen and "who designed the designer?" by Michael Augros. They are simple, easy to read, and explain why the First Cause/Necessary Being must be God and not some naturalist posit like "the universe".

      But in short I can give a very brief summary of some reasons: 1) the universe isn't something over and above material things, it just is the collection of all physical things and events. And physical things are all contingent; changing; and so on, not necessary; 2) the universe could have possibly have had a beginning, as the big bang shows. Notice that even if the universe IS in fact eternal, it could still have *possibly* had a beginning, a beginning big bang model is a possibility, but that is enough to rule out the universe as necessary, since a Necessary Being by definition cannot even possibly have a beginning or fail to exist; 3) the "universe" or any naturalist equivalent would fail to fully explain all the properties and richness of our contingent reality. Contingent reality includes consciousness, intelligence, personhood, etc., so these must somehow be present in the Source or Necessary Being. But then the Necessary Source must be personal, unlike the universe; 4) likewise, an unintelligent thing like "the universe" would not be able to explain the orderliness and regularity of contingent reality; theism is a better explanation here.

      Delete
    3. “ physical things are all contingent; changing; and so on, not necessary”
      Ad hoc non sequitur.
      If anything can be necessary a changing thing can be necessary. That thing simply could not not be as it is now, and it could not not be as it was, and it could not not be as it will be.

      “2) the universe could have possibly have had a beginning, as the big bang shows.”
      Fallacy of reification.
      Just because you can imagine a thing, just because a thing is logically possible, in no way necessitates that it be existentially possible. Wishing does not necessarily make it so.

      3) the "universe" or any naturalist equivalent would fail to fully explain all the properties and richness of our contingent reality. Contingent reality includes consciousness, intelligence, personhood, etc., so these must somehow be present in the Source or Necessary Being.
      Ad hoc nonsense.
      That is like saying a snowflake must be present in a water molecule, or a star must be present in a hydrogen atom.

      4) likewise, an unintelligent thing like "the universe" would not be able to explain the orderliness and regularity of contingent reality; theism is a better explanation here.
      What explains the orderliness of god?
      If god can be a brute fact of orderliness then it is mere special pleading to assert material cannot be a brute fact of orderliness.

      On the Thomistic notion of a perfectly simple god, divine orderliness is incoherent.

      How can a perfectly simple thing be itself ordered at all to be the source or orderliness, much less order something else?

      Delete
    4. A very simple argument against Thomism is this.
      Reality is changing so it can't be immutable.

      Delete
    5. Thomists express the fact that everything is changing with the first of the famous 24 Thomistic theses, which reads:

      Potency and act are a complete division of being. Hence whatever is must be either pure act or a unity composed of potency and act as its primary intrinsic principles."

      Anything that is a combination of potency and act, must, by definition, be subject to change. And that change needs to be grounded in something that does not change, that is only act. This is a middle position between Zeno (change is an illusion) and Heraclitus (all things are constantly changing.) It is the tension between unity and multiplicity.

      The question is, what is it that grounds that changing universe we live in? It is best characterized by permanent brute "simples" as Oppy called it? Or is it better described as pure actuality? So for the Thomist, the changing universe is by no means an argument against Thomism, but a building block of its arguments for the necessity of the existences of God.

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Delete
    6. Thanks for you replies!

      It's true that if the universe is the sum total of the contingent things, the universe as a total must be contingent. Good point!

      I have thought about some arguments myself also, why the universe cannot be eternal.

      If the universe is eternal, shouldn't all suns have burnt up a long time ago?

      If the universe is eternal, it would be hard to imagine a linear time conception. Every event leading up to the present moment must have happened an infinite time ago, but that means we would never have reached the present moment. Yet here we are.

      If the universe is eternal it would be useless to try to measure its length.

      If the universe is eternal all potentialities should already have been actualized, including that everything would cease to exist. Yet here we are yet.

      Would you agree with me on these arguments?

      Delete
    7. So yes, change exists, but it is always change directed towards some actuality. Such that H2O can either change to form two Hydrogen atoms and one oxygen atom or some other compound. An actual thing, such as H2O only has a limited number of potentials that it can be directed towards. Those are its potentialities. Those potentialities are grounded in its current actuality. Such as H2O could never become, say, a chicken.

      All things that change can be characterized in a similar fashion. What is is right now (what is actually there) versus what it could potentially become given the right conditions (what it could potentially become).

      But a thing's actuality is more primary than a thing's potency, because a thing's potency only exists in relation to a thing's current state.

      Thus, being and potency divide reality and are essential when describing changes of any sort. But actuality is primary, not potentiality.

      Delete
    8. There is also the point Al-Ghazali made. Neptune travelse with the speed of 12,253 mph around the sun. Earth's speed is 67,000 mph. So in three hours Neptune has travelled 36 759 miles and Earth 201 000 miles. But if the universe is eternal, both planets have travelled the same distance anyway, an eternity. And yet they have different speeds!

      Delete
    9. Daniel,
      "change needs to be grounded in something that does not change"
      Ad hoc.

      At base change is mutual and circular, wherein assignment of the titles "a cause" and "an effect" are arbitrary, therefore meaningless and false.

      Thomists think of change and causation as a line segment that must have a stationary anchor point.

      In reality change and causation are circular with no beginning point and no need for a stationary anchor.

      At base beings are all changing each other. That is how physics is formulated, mutual interactions that terminate finitely a regression analysis, thus invalidating the First Way and the Second Way.

      Delete
    10. Daniel

      I was not talking about the changing universe but about changing reality.
      If reality is fundamentally immutable, as Thomists claim, there cannot be any change.

      Delete
    11. Hi Walter,

      Sorry, I don't follow. Reality isn't a term that Thomists use. Maybe we can exchange definitions?

      Thomists typically use Essence (sort of like nature or form) and Existence (esse or "to be") as the most fundamental components of substances. I believe that reality would be governed by the term essence, and a Thomist would agree that essences are mutable. But esse is not. A thing either exists or does not. Common esse is the primary constituent of reality and is what God directly creates.

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Delete
    12. If the universe is eternal all potentialities should already have been actualized, including that everything would cease to exist. Yet here we are yet.

      Great points Flying Finn! I agree! I've always thought about this when I hear scientists talk about the eventual heat death of the universe. It makes me wonder what injects all the creative energies (the actualities) we see in the universe.

      Take the big bang, for example: We start off with this plasma we don't know much about (say, pure potentialities - almost something like prime matter), then that condenses into the lighter elements (the potentialities get actualized with a form that characterizes these elements), then through time an the creation and decay of stars, heavier atoms start to be created (take on new and more complex forms/actualities), eventually leading to the formation of our solar system and planets (new forms with new actualities and potentialities), then the first life (substances/forms/actualities), then humanity (substances/forms/actualities).

      How best to characterize this amazing avalanche of becoming? By focusing on its potency or on its actuality? We need both, for sure, to help us differentiate one thing from another. The potencies in a thing are what distinguish one actuality from another. But the actuality is what is real. Primer matter, as pure potentiality, needs something to cause it to differentiate itself into first the simple actualities, followed by the more complex actualities. Even if you start appealing to laws of physics operative in the formation of the universe, you still need to account how those actualities came about (and still come about in every instance).

      Delete
    13. Daniel

      It doesn't really matter whether it is called 'esse' or 'reality' or 'being'.
      My point is that fundamentally, reality is immutable. Fundamentally, there is only 'Being', or 'Esse', or 'Existence' or 'Reality', whatever you wish to call it.
      What matters is that, if this Being is immutable, then there cannot possibly be any sort of change.
      The fundamental flaw in Thomism is that it reifies nothing as some kind of state that somehow 'exists' and from which some things can be created.
      But at the ground level, there is only Being, and there is nothing else. There is no such thing as 'non-being', in fact, non-being is logically impossible.
      Hence, if we accept that there is change, it is Being itself that must change, whi-hc contradicts Thomism.

      Delete
    14. Finn,

      I think these arguments are interesting. The point here, however, is much weaker than the Kalam: even if our universe happens to be eternal, if it's even metaphysically possible for it to have had a beginning instead, it cannot be necessary. Because a necessary being cannot even possibly have a beginning. In this case I must say that absolute beginning models in cosmology certainly appear to be *possible*, even if false. So the universe cannot be necessary.

      Though speaking for myself, I am very convinced that the universe did in fact have a beginning, mainly because of the second philosophical argument Craig often employs in defense of the Kalam. This is the argument to the effect that an actual infinity of past events would have to have been "reached" through successive addition. But it's impossible to get to an actual infinity through successive addition. This has also been defended by Saint Bonaventure, Kant, etc. I see no way around it. It is clear to me that the series of temporal events go through by successive addition, and yet if that were the case then we would never have been able to "reach" the present day. An infinity of real events would have to have elapsed, yet that is impossible (that was also one of Zeno's famous paradoxes, but more serious, since not even differentiating between potential and actual events could help us since we are only considering actual temporal events). If you think about it, you can grasp it as an insight - it is impossible that an actual infinity of past events has occurred before the present moment. And if, per absurdum, it were possible, it would lead to all sorts of bizarre paradoxes (it would be like a man counting all natural numbers "backwards" and finishing today - even if he could finish it, it would be inexplicable why he would have finished it today instead of yesterday or tomorrow, for instance). An infinite series of past events is way too paradoxical.

      I must say, however, my main reason for holding that the Necessary Being is not the universe lies in the principle of proportionate causality. The NB must be a cause of every contingent perfection/irreducible property, including Consciousness, Intelligence, Personhood, etc. It must therefore be a personal being. There is no way something impersonal like "the universe" could explain the existence of persons, or even the orderliness of nature.

      Delete
    15. Walter,

      Lets make this slightly more Aristotelian in terminology because I prefer it and it makes things clearer I think. If there is being-in-act, and being-in-potential, then these are both being.

      Change in a substance is the movement in the substance from being-in-potential to being-in-act. A substance can change without being-in-potential or being-in-act themselves changing, correct? You can pour water from one glass to another without having either glass differ.

      Or are you making a modal collapse argument? I do agree however that an object cannot be in a state of non-being.

      Delete
    16. Thanks for your thoughts Atno!

      Delete
    17. Michael

      That is exactly what I think the problem is.
      You are now reifying 'nothing' as 'being-in-potential', and that may even make sense on Aristotelianism, because Aristotle did not believe in creatio ex nihilo.
      I am not, however, talking about Aristotle, who believed in 'prime matter', which could be described as 'being-in-potential', I guess. I am talking about Thomas of Aquino who rejects prime matter and opts for creatio ex nihilo.
      In short, positing 'being-in-potency' denies that God is the creator of everything. The notion of 'being-in-potency' posits a state n-between being and non-being that is inexplicable.

      Delete
    18. Michael

      As to your last question. No, I am not making a modal collapse argument (here).

      Delete
    19. @Wather van der Acker:

      "My point is that fundamentally, reality is immutable. Fundamentally, there is only 'Being', or 'Esse', or 'Existence' or 'Reality', whatever you wish to call it. What matters is that, if this Being is immutable, then there cannot possibly be any sort of change. The fundamental flaw in Thomism is that it reifies nothing as some kind of state that somehow 'exists' and from which some things can be created. But at the ground level, there is only Being, and there is nothing else. There is no such thing as 'non-being', in fact, non-being is logically impossible. Hence, if we accept that there is change, it is Being itself that must change, whi-hc contradicts Thomism."

      "I am not, however, talking about Aristotle, who believed in 'prime matter', which could be described as 'being-in-potential', I guess. I am talking about Thomas of Aquino who rejects prime matter and opts for creatio ex nihilo."

      Your rush in trying to prove St. Thomas wrong has reached such a high fever-pitch that, at this point, I am at a loss for words.

      Potency is posited by Aristotle precisely to explain change, because otherwise we do fall into the absolute Parmenidean dichotomy between being and non-being and no change can happen. St. Thomas takes the distinction between potency and act wholesale from Aristotle and then adds to it. This is simply a factual matter; take for example the time to read say, a commentator of St. Thomas like Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange in his "A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought". St. Thomas does not reject prime matter but rather, once again takes it from Aristotle and defines it as "that which is in potency to substantial being" and "substantial" is here doing real work, because the main explanatory job of Prime matter is to account for *substantial* change. Once again this is a simple factual matter. Check Fr. Garrigou Lagrange, check Prof. Oderberg's "Real Essentialism", check Prof. Feser. Nowhere does St. Thomas reify non-being, this simply your imagination running wild. As far as potency to existence, that is mere possibility, and is the only thing needed to ground creation -- once again, this is a simple factual matter, it can be checked in the already cited treatise by Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange. Your so-called argument that Thomists must reject change is... Ah no use in going on, by now my point should be clear.

      Delete
    20. Hi Walter,

      I am not, however, talking about Aristotle, who believed in 'prime matter', which could be described as 'being-in-potential', I guess. I am talking about Thomas of Aquino who rejects prime matter and opts for creatio ex nihilo.

      It is my understanding that Aquinas taught that creation ex nihilo was an article of faith that could not, in principle, be proved philosophically or scientifically. He certainly believed in prime matter.

      I believe he did address the issue of what God creates primarily in the act of creating, which is common esse, as opposed to his own divine esse. But I suspect this is more in the realm of theological speculation. As far as I can tell, he does not elaborate much on how common esse differs from divine esse, except in a few places. He also talks about what it means to create from nothing, and from what I understand, I think this is just short form for creation sustained by his power.

      Unless you have something more specific you can point to that we can look at?

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Delete
    21. Walter,

      As others have said, Thomas believes in prime matter, though it is concreated, not created by him. What does that mean exactly? I take it to be that it is a secondary effect from creation.

      Now, creation-ex-nihilo is very bizarre and unnatural to me, and seems only to be so that God rules over everything, So I'm not going to defend it, but I think that change should theoretically be still possible. Yes, there is no actualizing of potentials in creation, because potentials are in substances, and there are no potentials in God, so where could the potentials be prior to creation? So the Thomist says that objects are virtually in God, and that creation is accidental to God's will (though still grounded in God's will. The question of why this world rather than another is a contrastive question that doesn't seem to need a sufficient reason), and creation is conversion of virtual distinctions in Pure Act to real distinctions. I do feel like the Thomist is trying to have it both ways. It is very difficult to come up with a coherent account of the possibility of creation-ex-nihilo. But I don't see how change is impossible so long as prime matter present alongside creatures.

      Delete
    22. grodigues
      For someone who is 'at a loss for words' you certainly seem to use a lot of words.
      Just to clarify. Aristotle viewed prime matter as something that was not created by God and as such, this could be described as being-in-potentiality.
      Aquinas takes the ambiguous position of treating prime matter as created by God together with form. Prime matter for Aquinas is neither being nor non-being.
      The problem with this is that, unless one reifies nothing, there is no room for this mysterious "that which is in potency to substantial being". It posits something that is not really being but not really non-being either alongside Being (which is God).
      The same holds for "Potency to existence" or "mere possibility", that cannot reside in God because in God there are no potencies. Hence, it must reside 'somewhere else'.
      And that is why this is a reification of nothing.
      I know that Thomas nowhere explicitly reifies non-being, but that doesn't change the fact that his theory entails this reification.

      Delete
    23. Daniel

      Yes, Thomas believed in Prime Matter, but Prime Matter to him was created (or concreated) by God, which, as i explained to grodrigues, leads to a reification of non-being.

      Delete
    24. Michael

      I believe my answers to you are implied in my replies to Daniel and grodrigues.

      Delete
    25. Yes, Thomas believed in Prime Matter, but Prime Matter to him was created (or concreated) by God, which, as i explained to grodrigues, leads to a reification of non-being.

      Thanks for clarifying. I also believe that God creates prime matter. I don't think he would agree with you that this reifies non-being. As I said, it is God's power that is the true foundation.

      Are you a pantheist? Would you prefer to equate being with God alone?

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Delete
    26. Daniel

      No, I am not a pantheist, but, a consistent application of Thomism IMO entails that being is fundamentally God alone. That is, unless nothing is reified, it is wrong to say that 'sans' creation there was being and non-being. Sans creation there was being, and since being is immutable, there can be no change.
      that's my argument.
      And I also think that Thomas would not agree that his view reifies non-being, but there would probably be lots of things that Thomas and I would not agree about.
      The question is: is Thomas justified in not agreeing with my conclusion, and if so, which argument can be brought up against my conclusion?
      So far, I haven't heard or read any that would lead my to reconsider my view, but maybe I have overlooked something. If that's the case, I invite everybody here to offer a counter argument.

      Delete
    27. Here, I think, we are getting into the question of whether the term being can be applied to God uni-vocally, such that the being of a cat or an apple is identical to the being we ascribe to God, or analogously, such that the being of a cat or an apple is only analogous to the being we ascribe to God. Would it be fair to say that you believe any analogous understanding of the term "Being" leads to reification, in your judgement?

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Delete
    28. @Walter van der Acker:

      "For someone who is 'at a loss for words' you certainly seem to use a lot of words."

      'at a loss for words' is me trying to be polite and not having to qualify the situation; the length is inversely proportional to your knowledge and mental grasp of the subject.

      "Prime matter for Aquinas is neither being nor non-being."

      Once again this is false -- you acknowledge it yourself by following it with "Aquinas takes the ambiguous position of treating prime matter as created by God together with form". God creates beings, not non-beings which are nothing, or something in between being and non-being which is also nothing. The paragraph that follows the quoted sentence is just you (1) misunderstanding Aristotle's argument against Parmenides and (2) either misunderstanding or begging the question against St. Thomas. St. Thomas is not affirming that there is this thing in the middle of being and non-being, since he accepts the dichotomy between being and non-being as absolute. What he denies is that there is only one mode of being or the univocity of being -- this is a more characteristically Thomistic way of putting things, but for the present purposes it hardly matters as it is lifted directly from Aristotle, and where Aristotle differs (e.g. he does not think Prime matter as created) is irrelevant. Once again this is a purely factual matter that can easily be checked by say, flipping through Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's "Synthesis".

      "The same holds for "Potency to existence" or "mere possibility", that cannot reside in God because in God there are no potencies. Hence, it must reside 'somewhere else'. And that is why this is a reification of nothing."

      This simply does not follow. Possibilities are in God in the sense that God's omniscience encompasses and knows all possibilities as finite limitations of Himself as pure act. You can stomp your feet and say that these are "Potencies in God" but they are not, this is simply misunderstand what a potency is. Or you can shout that these possibilities must be grounded in something other than God because possibilia are potencies and some such and round and round we go. Once again this is a purely factual matter that can easily be checked by say, perusing Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's "Synthesis" who, fairly explicitly, makes this point.

      Honestly, go read a book, I am afraid teaching you anything is impossible for me. And I bow out of this particular discussion, lest you exhaust my patience or I exhaust yours.

      Delete
    29. Grod,
      " Possibilities are in God in the sense that God's omniscience encompasses and knows all possibilities as finite limitations of Himself as pure act. "
      So, literally all possibilities are already actualized in god, and god knows all possibilities throughout the universe for all time past, present, and future.

      God also "knows" all these possibilities as finite limitations of himself, parts of himself, subdivisions of himself.

      Yet god is perfectly simple?

      How does god know literally everything about everything yet have no differentiation himself? Can you explain how that works?

      In what sense is your sentence anything other than a combination of mutually exclusive terms, and thus incoherent and therefore devoid of any rational value?

      Delete
    30. Daniel

      My argument is that if we treat "being" analogously, so that the being of a cat is not the same as the being we ascribe to God, we end up with a reification of non-being.
      The Thomist, IMO, cannot avoid the fact that "creatio ex nihilo" entails a situation of Being (God) and non-being, like an island of Being floating in a sea of non-being.
      But on the radical view that God is Being itself or Pure Act, that view is wrong. God is the whole of Being, or, as I originally put it the whole of Reality. That means that created reality cannot come from nothing, because there is no nothing, hence it has to come from Reality. But that entails a change.
      Stage 1: Only Reality (God)
      Stage 2: Reality(God) --> Reality(God) + reality (creation).

      Or, to put it in an even more simple way
      Since everything exists, nothing can be added. There cannot be more esse than the fullest of esse.

      Delete
    31. Great suggestions Grodriges! I'm personally interested in this topic, so I'll root around in the Synthesis to see if I can answer some of Walter's questions, if only to clarify my own understanding.

      Article One: Potency Really Distinct From Act

      According to Aristotle, [149] real distinction between potency and act is absolutely necessary if, granting the multiplied facts of motion and mutation in the sense world, facts affirmed by experience, we are to reconcile these facts with the principle of contradiction or identity. Here Aristotle [150] steers between Parmenides, who denies the reality of motion, and Heraclitus, who makes motion and change the one reality.

      Parmenides has two arguments. The first runs thus: [151] If a thing arrives at existence it comes either from being or from nothing. Now it cannot come from being (statue from existing statue). Still less can it come from nothing. Therefore all becoming is impossible. This argument is based on the principle of contradiction or identity, which Parmenides thus formulates: Being is, non-being is not; you will never get beyond this thought.

      Multiplicity of beings, he argues again from the same principle, is likewise impossible. Being, he says, cannot be limited, diversified, and multiplied by its own homogeneous self, but only by something else. Now that which is other than being is non-being, and non-being is not, is nothing. Being remains eternally what it is, absolutely one, identical with itself, immutable. Limited, finite beings are simply an illusion. Thus Parmenides ends in a monism absolutely static which absorbs the world in God.


      Great description - I know Ed covers the same ground in his book on the metaphysics. But looking over some of your comments, Walter, it seems like you would claim either that Thomas and Aristotle failed to refute Parmenedies' static monism, or they secretly espoused it. Or at least Thomas did because of his doctrine of Creation out of nothing.

      Delete
    32. Daniel,
      "Therefore all becoming is impossible."-Parmenides

      Right, no new material ever comes into existence, nor does any material ever cease to exist, per all scientifically verified observation.

      Change of the amount of material in existence is both rationally and observationally impossible.

      What people think of a new being, a new object is only a re-arrangement of existent material. Material is continuously or continually changing arrangement, but never the fact that the same amount of material exists as time progresses.

      Because all change entails the motion of material, and all motion is in space, which is a lossless medium, no first mover is called for to account for change in arrangement of material, and no first sustainer is called for to account for existential inertia.

      "it seems like you would claim either that Thomas and Aristotle failed to refute Parmenedies' static monism, or they secretly espoused it."
      All 3 were wrong. Aristotle failed fundamentally by asserting that all sublunary motion is in an impeding medium such that absent another mover an abject will slow and stop and its motion will be lost. That led to several critical errors by Aquinas.

      Aquinas asserted that every object observed to be in motion right now is being moved by another right now, which would have made sense if Aristotle had been correct about motion in a lossy medium, but both Aristotle and Aquinas were wrong, all motion is in space, so motion is never lost, only transferred or transformed.

      Change clearly is possible, but not by any new material coming into being, rather, by re-arranging existent material into collections we abstract as objects. A common mistake is in thinking that when we observe what we call a new object that means something new has come into being, it hasn't. Our observation of what we consider to be a new object only means that existent material has been re-arranged into a collection that we abstract as a new whole.

      Delete
    33. @Stardusty Psyche:

      I am only going to say this once: I will not respond to your dumbass stupidity, so it is futile to address me. What I had to tell you, I already did, and in no uncertain terms. Do us all a favor and go away. You have been banned, have some respect for the owner of the house.

      Delete
  21. Daniel

    I agree with Parmenides that there is no middle ground between being and non-being, but I don't agree that being remains eternally what it is, identical with itself, immutable. And that is because I believe change is real.
    And yes, I would claim that Thomas unknowingly (I would not use 'secretly')espoused Parmenides' view, because Thomas, like Parmenides he thinks that Being is eternally what it is, identical with itself and immutable.
    I translate this as "Reality is eternally what it is, identical with itself and immutable".
    To then claim, as Thomas does, that nevertheless there is change is a clear contradiction. The only way out of this is to treat reality as comprising both being and non-being. And that is IMO, a reification of nothing.
    Aristotle, on the other hand, says the reality consists of Pure Actual Being alongside Prime Matter.
    Although I don't agree with Aristotle, this makes somewhat more sense and is not blatantly contradictory.
    On the other hand, Thomas doesn't think immutable and identical with itself equals static. But if that is true, Thomas should, IMO, espouse Heraclitus who held that Being is necessarily changing.
    So, it is in fact a combination of a failure to refute Parmenides, combined with a sort of implicit espousing of certain aspects of Parmenides'view.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hi Walter,

      I agree with Parmenides that there is no middle ground between being and non-being, but I don't agree that being remains eternally what it is, identical with itself, immutable. And that is because I believe change is real.

      I see. You are collapsing all created being mutable being into the enteral immutable being of God. Sort of affirming that because we Christians say these things about God, then they must apply to all created being as well. Thus your phrase "reality is eternally what it is, identical with itself and immutable."

      To then claim, as Thomas does, that nevertheless there is change is a clear contradiction. The only way out of this is to treat reality as comprising both being and non-being. And that is IMO, a reification of nothing.

      I think you are approaching the question from the wrong end. The path towards God does not start from God, but starts from an analysis of changing being (reality). He characterizes changeable being as a composition of a static element, which is existence (esse), and a changeable element, which is essence. This leads Aquinas to identify more and more universal levels of being, up to a point where we can identify common being - the most universal, but also the most undifferentiated level of being. That is the level of being that is common to us all.

      And that most universal undifferentiated level of being common to us all needs a correspondingly universal cause (from the principle of proportionate causality, I think). From this he argues:

      "Being as being is the most universal of effects. Hence the production of being as such, of the whole being (even of the tiniest thing): must come from the supreme cause, which is the most universal of causes. As only fire heats, as only light shines, so that cause alone which is being itself, existence itself, can produce the whole being of its effect. The adequate object of omnipotence is being, the whole being, and no created power can have an object so universal."

      In every finite thing being as such is the proper and exclusive effect of the supreme cause. Saint Thomas states:

      "The poorer is the matter to be transformed, i.e.: the more imperfect is passive power, the greater must be the active power. Hence, when passive power is simply nothing, active power must be infinite. Hence no creature can create."

      Cheers - and more to follow after the kids are to bed :),
      Daniel

      Delete
    2. Being and reality aren't the same thing though. Your arguments runs on constant conflation of both.

      Delete
    3. "existence itself"-Aquinas

      What is existing in "existence itself"?
      Nothing? Then in what sense do you say that nothing exists at all?

      Something? Then the existence is not of itself, rather, of that something.

      Thus, "existence itself" is an incoherent, meaningless term, merely two disjoint words placed adjacent to each other to form a term with no rational value whatever, much less of any value as a descriptor of anything real.

      Delete
    4. Daniel

      It's precisely because I start from from an analysis of changing being that I conclude that the ground level of this changing being cannot be immutable.
      A very imperfect analogy. suppose we see a piece of ice melting. Is it, according to you, reasonable to conclude from this that the ground level of this melting ice cube is an immutable piece of ice?
      I understand the Thomists claim that the ground level of a changing thing is not in the changing thing itself, but somewhere external to this thing.
      But if we now look at this external ground, we can only conclude from the way it is described that there cannot be anything external to this ground because this ground is identical to Being (B). the only thing that could be external to Being (B)would be either (1) some other kind of being (b), which would mean that Being is not the ground of being(b) or (2) non-being.
      (1) is something along the lines of what Aristotle thought and since I am not trying to refute Aristotle here, I am not going to discuss it.
      Which leaves us (2) which is a clear reification of nothing. And that is, IMO, what Thomas does, although of course he doesn't realize this and would probably deny it, just like most modern Thomists deny this. I am well aware of that, but I am not aware of any serious argument against that position.
      Of course I may have overlooked something since I haven't read everything on Thomism, so if someone does produce a convincing argument against my position, I shall stand corrected.

      Just to answer your first question, it is not because Christians say these things about God, then they must apply to all created being as well, it's because of my analysis above.
      Of course this analysis is partially based on what Christians (especially Thomists) say about God.

      Delete
    5. Red

      I am not conflating Being and reality. Just read my reply to Daniel.
      My arguments my be faulty, but they do not run on such conflation.

      Delete
    6. Interesting quote from Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange's Synthesis, from which I have been more or less paraphrasing above:

      Creation ex Nihilo.

      Creation from nothing means a productive act where there is no material cause,
      no subject matter to work on, so that the entire being of created things comes from their creative cause.
      Before creation, nothing of the created thing existed, not even its matter, however unformed you may suppose it.
      This production of the entire created being [463] has indeed an efficient cause and a final cause and an exemplary cause (the divine idea): but no material cause.

      St. Thomas [464] shows that the distance is infinite between creation from nothing and production,
      however masterly, of something from preexisting matter.
      The sculptor makes the statue, not from nothing, but from pre-existing marble or clay.
      The father begets the son from the pre-existing germ.
      The thinker builds a system from pre-existing facts and principles.
      Our will produces a free act from its own pre-existing power to act.
      The teacher fashions, he does not create, his pupil's intelligence.
      No finite agent can create, properly speaking, it can but transform what pre-exists.
      Creative power, says St. Thomas, [465] cannot, even by miracle, be communicated to any creature.
      This conclusion, he says, follows from the distinction between God and the world.
      Since in God alone are essence and existence identified,
      God alone who is essential existence can bring forth from nothing participated existence,
      a being composed of essence and existence.
      Though that creature be merely a particle of dust, God alone can create it.
      Those who, like Suarez, [466] follow notably different principles regarding essence and existence,
      are much less clear and affirmative in their doctrine on creation.


      Delete
    7. Daniel

      It don't see how your quotes from Garrigou-Lagrange have anything to do with my objection.

      There is also something very strange in
      "that the entire being of created things comes from their creative cause".
      If the being of created things comes from the creative cause, that would be creatio ex deo, which would indeed lead to either pantheism or panentheism.
      Moreover, if the being (esse) comes from God, where does the essence of a created thing come from? Surely not form God, because God has no essence other than His Esse.

      Delete
    8. Creation from nothing means ... things comes from their creative cause.
      Things come from nothing means things come from the creative cause.
      (Things come from) nothing = (Things come from) the creative cause.
      nothing = the creative cause.
      Therefore the creative cause is nothing.
      Nothing means an absence of all existence.
      Therefore the creative cause does not exist.
      Hence, god does not exist.

      Delete
    9. Which particular reply you're taking about. I don't your latest addresses this problem.
      Part of the problem is it seems even after multiple attempts at clarification it doesn't seem that anyone but you really get your argument.

      Delete
    10. you said this for example.

      " I would claim that Thomas unknowingly (I would not use 'secretly')espoused Parmenides' view, because Thomas, like Parmenides he thinks that Being is eternally what it is, identical with itself and immutable.
      I translate this as "Reality is eternally what it is, identical with itself and immutable".



      Delete
    11. Hey Walter,

      I posted my previous post before seeing your response. To respond to this:

      A very imperfect analogy. suppose we see a piece of ice melting. Is it, according to you, reasonable to conclude from this that the ground level of this melting ice cube is an immutable piece of ice?

      No.

      I understand the Thomists claim that the ground level of a changing thing is not in the changing thing itself, but somewhere external to this thing.

      I wouldn't put it like that. I would say that the changing thing participates in existence, just like any changing thing that is here today and gone tomorrow. I would say that existence is not something necessary to is current configuration... its essence. Therefore existence is not identical with its essence.... is not necessarily attached to its essence.

      But if we now look at this external ground, we can only conclude from the way it is described that there cannot be anything external to this ground because this ground is identical to Being (B). the only thing that could be external to Being (B)would be either (1) some other kind of being (b), which would mean that Being is not the ground of being(b) or (2) non-being.

      Well, there is God's power acting as cause, such that common being is the effect. This is what Aquinas claims. So I guess you could say it is 1. I would differentiate the two by calling God's being as uncreated and the common being as created and sustained by God's power.

      (1) is something along the lines of what Aristotle thought and since I am not trying to refute Aristotle here, I am not going to discuss it.

      Rather, I would say the difference between Aristotle's God and Aquinas' God is that Aristotle's universe is some sort of necessary emanation from God. Aquinas affirmed that there is no such necessary connection between God and creation. There is no proportionality between the finite universe and God's infinite being.

      Which leaves us (2) which is a clear reification of nothing. And that is, IMO, what Thomas does, although of course he doesn't realize this and would probably deny it, just like most modern Thomists deny this. I am well aware of that, but I am not aware of any serious argument against that position.

      If you read Aquinas more closely, you will see that my description is the third option you are not considering.

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Delete
    12. Hi Walter,

      "that the entire being of created things comes from their creative cause".
      If the being of created things comes from the creative cause, that would be creatio ex deo, which would indeed lead to either pantheism or panentheism.


      Fantastic! So have I convinced you that Aquinas is not reifying nothing? If yes, we can move on towards a consideration of his reasons for refuting pantheism, if you'd like.

      Moreover, if the being (esse) comes from God, where does the essence of a created thing come from? Surely not form God, because God has no essence other than His Esse.

      LOL - why is it all or nothing for you? Either God's esse is identical to God or nothing. No middle ground for you. Same thing now for essence!

      Anyway, I can certainly talk about this if you are willing to agree with me about Aquinas' position above.

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Delete
    13. Walter,

      I do not see how this solution leads directly to pantheism or panentheism. I find creatio ex deo to be comprehensible. God is infinite, and so while creatures would share in His being they would only share it finitely, and this doesn't deify creatures, at least in my understanding.

      Delete
    14. Michael,
      " I find creatio ex deo to be omprehensible."
      Well, at least creatio ex deo is not immediately incoherent such as the words of Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange:
      'Creation from nothing means a productive act where there is no material cause, no subject matter to work on, so that the entire being of created things comes from their creative cause.'

      RG Lagrange contradicts himself within the space of a single sentence, and is thus making an incoherent claim.

      He equates creation from nothing with creation from something within the same sentence.

      Delete
    15. Red

      "I translate this as "Reality is eternally what it is, identical with itself and immutable"."

      I also translate it that way. And I have also said that Being is the same as fundamental reality, which is standard Thomism. My argument starts from there.
      And maybe my argument goes wrong somewhere, but not because I am conflating Being and reality.

      Delete
    16. Daniel

      Common being as the effect of God's power fails for the reason I have given.
      I have argued for why there cannot be anything external to fundamental reality, so there is literally nowhere for God's power to have any effect.
      That's why creatio ex deo inevitably leads to pantheism of panentheism.
      So, yes, if Thomas is talking about creatio ex deo (but he isn't), then he isn't reifying nothing, but he's become a pantheist or a panentheist instead.


      Michael

      God's being is simple and immutable and cannot be 'shared' or 'participated in'.
      To participate literally means to take part, but there are no parts to take.

      Delete
    17. For those who don't get my argument, I'll put it in a very concise from.

      Can there by anything external to fundamental reality (AKA "Being")?

      If the answer is yes, that is a reification of nothing

      If the answer is no, then there is creatio ex deo and, consequently pantheism or panentheism.

      Not that difficult to get, I would think.

      Delete
    18. But then I don't see your argument succeeding. There seems to be no contradicting in holdi that fundamental reality doesn't change while reality as a whole does.

      Delete
    19. Red

      Your use of "reality as a whole" is precisely what I mean by a reification of Nothing.

      Delete
    20. How though? It doesn't seem that way to me.

      Delete
    21. Red

      What is the difference between fundamental realty and reality as a whole?
      Reality as a whole seems to be
      fundamental reality + something else

      If fundamental reality is simply Being (which I think would follow from Thomism), then in order for change to occur, this being must change.
      But that is impossible given Thomism.

      Hence, there must be something in fundamental reality that allows for change. But this supposes that fundamental reality is seen as consisting of Being and non-being.
      And that is a reification of non-being.

      Delete
    22. "If fundamental reality is simply Being (which I think would follow from Thomism), then in order for change to occur, this being must change.
      But that is impossible given Thomism"

      Why would this being need to change for change to occur in reality as a whole?

      Delete
    23. Red
      What else is there that can change?

      Delete
    24. The non-fundamental beings.

      Delete
    25. Red

      There are no non-fundamental beings in fundamental reality.
      And there is no 'place' for them either, because there is nothing but fundamental reality.

      Delete
    26. see this is what I meant by you conflating being with reality.

      What does it even mean to say that there is nothing but fundamental reality?

      Perhaps you are just using the word fundamental in a very different way.

      Delete
    27. I mean it seems obvious that there are non fundamental beings

      Delete
    28. Red

      Of course there are non-fundamental beings, but, if Thomism is consistently applied, there should not be any.

      And, no I am not conflating being with reality, all I am saying that fundamental reality is Being, which is a straightforward Thomist concept.

      So, sans creation, there obviously is nothing but fundamental reality.

      Now, I feel we are not going to make any progress here, so it's time for me to bow out.
      That you for the interesting discussion.

      Delete
    29. Hey Walter,

      Before moving on, I wanted to address your argument here:

      Argument 1For those who don't get my argument, I'll put it in a very concise from. Can there by anything external to fundamental reality (AKA "Being")?If the answer is yes, that is a reification of nothing

      So I believe I have done an adequate job of pointing out that Aquinas explicitly rejected creation out of nothing in the sense of the reification you imply here. For Aquinas, there is an efficient cause to creation, there is a formal cause, and there is a final cause, but no material cause.

      Argument 2If the answer is no, then there is creatio ex deo and, consequently pantheism or panentheism.

      You are simply asserting monism here. You have not proved it. The other options are monotheism and dualism, so your argument is simply a false dichotomy. In my next few posts, I will explore how Aquinas and other refute your monistic claims.

      Cheers!
      Daniel

      Delete
    30. Daniel


      I know that Aquinas explicitly rejects that it is a reification of nothing, but my argument is and has always been that Thomism implicitly entails a reification of nothing.
      I still haven't heard any argument against this and an assertion by you, Aquinas, Garrigou-Lagrange , Feser or whoever really doesn't mean anything to me.

      I am not asserting monism at all, I am simply working from Thomist concepts like immutability, simplicity etc.

      Now, you can write as many posts as you like, but, as i said, i am not interested in assertions, only in arguments, and specifically in arguments against my position, not against some strawman version of them, such as me making monistic claims. I don't.

      Delete
    31. Hi Walter,

      I know that Aquinas explicitly rejects that it is a reification of nothing, but my argument is and has always been that Thomism implicitly entails a reification of nothing.

      No, you have merely asserted this. I have clearly maintained that God creates out of his power. You have not given any reason why creation is outside of the scope of God's power. You have merely asserted it.

      I am not asserting monism at all, I am simply working from Thomist concepts like immutability, simplicity etc.

      None of these concepts are violated by God's creating act. The act of creating by an infinite being cannot be exhausted by any of his acts of creation. There will always infinitely surpass his creation. Creations will always remain finite with respect to God in the sense that they are created.

      Now, you can write as many posts as you like, but, as i said, i am not interested in assertions, only in arguments, and specifically in arguments against my position, not against some strawman version of them, such as me making monistic claims. I don't.

      Panthiesm is a form of monism. I did not straw man you.

      Cheers,
      Daniel


      Delete
    32. Daniel

      Unless you are planning to address my actual arguments, I see no point in continuing this discussion any further.

      Delete
    33. Fair enough. I felt like you ought to have acknowledged at least that Aquinas never reified non being, and that at least we could talk about how creation from God's power, such that it does not entail pantheism. But I guess that is too much to expect.

      Fair well my friend!
      God bless,
      Daniel

      Delete
    34. Walter,

      I still am not understanding it and I think this is the part I am confused with.

      "Of course there are non-fundamental beings, but, if Thomism is consistently applied, there should not be any.

      And, no I am not conflating being with reality, all I am saying that fundamental reality is Being, which is a straightforward Thomist concept.

      So, sans creation, there obviously is nothing but fundamental reality."

      I guess I am just not certain why this is a problem. I do not see why this is an issue. There is no change prior to creation or any change in fundamental reality, but there is change in creatures, which are non-fundamental. Why would there be no change in creatures?

      Delete
    35. Michael

      Because there are no creatures in fundamental reality. The very existence of creatures is a change in fundamental reality, so it doesn't seem to make sense to say that because there is change in creatures, the origin of change is explained.

      The reason why I see it as a problem that sans creation, there obviously is nothing but fundamental reality is that if there is anything else beside fundamental reality it can only be the result of a change in fundamental reality. That would be creatio ex deo and leads to either pantheism or panentheism, as e.g. William Vallicella also acknowledges.
      Unless, of course, one holds that fundamental reality actually consists of Being and non-being, but that is what I call a reification of nothing.

      Now, perhaps you have no problem with panentheism. In that case, indeed, there is no problem and my objection does not apply to your view.

      Delete
    36. Of course there are non-fundamental beings, but, if Thomism is consistently applied, there should not be any.

      How? This isn't something that seems to follow from anything you've said here.

      This is where your argument doesn't make sense.

      " if there is anything else beside fundamental reality it can only be the result of a change in fundamental reality."

      Why think that?

      Delete
    37. This is again where your argument doesn't make sense.

      " if there is anything else beside fundamental reality it can only be the result of a change in fundamental reality."

      Why think that?

      Delete
    38. Red

      I bowed out of this discussion with you.

      Delete
    39. Here is a brief post on Pantheism, even if I am only talking to myself. I wanted to round this discussion out.

      Here I take panthiesm to be the idea that all beings are mere manifestations of the divine being... masks the the divine being puts on and then takes off.

      Objection 1 to this idea is that the attributes of God - such as infinity, omniscience, omnipotences, and so on, are never found in creation. All creation is finite, and so therefore finite being never reaches to the level of the divine being.
      The rock's being is only analogous to the plant's being. The plant's being is only analogous to the animal's being. The animal's being is only analogous to a human's being, and the human being is only analogous to God's being.
      Here we have gradations of perfection in being. Therefore they God's being and creation's being are not the same being.

      Objection 2 to this idea is that the very concept of God built up in Aristotle and Aquinas is that he is not composed of parts, but purely simple. But all created being is a composite of parts. Therefor the being of God cannot be the same being as is found in creatures.

      Objection 3 the way in which the created universe images God in its highest form is in the intellect and will of human beings. But this intellect and will is imperfect and always in process of improving itself. The very concept of God developed by Aquinas and Aristotle ascribes to God perfect intellect and will. Thus to maintain that God is somehow the being of imperfect creatures contradicts this understanding, and so cannot be true.

      Delete
    40. Daniel,
      "God perfect intellect and will"...are incompatible with simplicity and eternal immutability.

      To have an intellect is to think thoughts. Thoughts are necessarily a time sequence of different things, which is incompatible with divine simplicity.

      To have a free will requires the possibility to do otherwise. Since god has always existed exactly as he is now and will always be then there was never any possibility and will never be any possibility for god to do otherwise, thus he cannot have free will.

      Delete
    41. Daniel

      I don't want to start this discussion all over again, but I could agree with everything you said about pantheism, and it wouldn't have the slightest impact on my argument.

      Delete
    42. Here is the picture, without creation there is nothing but fundamental reality. But with creation there is fundamental reality + non-fundamental reality. Why is it true that second case can only happen when fundamental reality changes?

      I think reality as a whole can possibly consist of just fundamental being but it isnt as a whole essentially identical with it. as a whole it can change. Whats wrong with this?

      Delete
    43. Red

      I don't want to start this discussion all over again. I have already said, more than once, what is wrong with that. I shall spell it out for you for the last time: it is a reification of nothing.
      I know you don't believe that, and that's fine with me, but I don't feel like repeating myself over and over again.

      Delete
    44. Hey Red,

      Here is another point that I think Walter is missing - God is not composit, meaning he is not composed of parts. He is immaterial. I suspect that Walter is imagining God's being as a kind of God like perfect stuff that is infinitely large in extension. But that is not the kind of being God is.

      Cheers
      Daniel

      Delete
    45. We can conceptualize something, like triangularity, and we know conceptually that this will apply to an infinite number of instantiations of triangularity. That concept is not diminished or increased in any way by the addition of however many more instances of triangles appear in the real world. I think creation is like that for God. The appearance of instances of what is in the divine intellect can be forever multiplied in however many number of created instantiations. It has no impact on God. It adds nothing to God and it take away nothing from God. And, for his power to instantiate them or now adds nothing to the divine intellect either.

      God bless,
      Daniel

      Delete
    46. ...or not adds nothing to the divine intellect.

      Delete
    47. Daniel,
      "That concept is not diminished or increased in any way by the addition of however many more instances of triangles appear in the real world. I think creation is like that for God."

      Agreed, instances of creation by god are like instances of triangles in the real world.

      Triangles do not appear in the real world. There is no such thing as a real triangle. No real object is triangular.

      A triangle is an abstraction that cannot, even in principle, be instantiated in the real world. To claim the instantiation of a triangle in the real world is to commit the fallacy of reification.

      Yes, god's creations are just like that, I agree.

      Delete
    48. Look Walter, I'm sorry if my inability to grasp your point is annoying. I don't intend it that way but I just don't understand how there is any reification of nothing. There doesn't seem to be any causal powers or properties attributed to nothingness that I see. Perhaps I am just stupid here. IDK

      Delete
    49. Red

      My point is that there is no nothingness and there cannot be any nothingness. It has nothing do do with causal powers.
      It's not that I find it annoying, but at this point I simply don't see what else I can say.

      Delete
    50. Hey Red,

      Walter has simply failed to convince us about what he is claiming.

      For my part, I have appreciated the conversation because I now have a better understanding of what creation out of nothing means for Saint Thomas.

      Walter has provided his argument, which appears to be either reification of nothing or pantheism.

      From my perspective, I think it is clear that Aquinas accepted that nothing comes from nothing. Creation is from God's causal power.

      Walter has claimed that this means pantheism and does not appear to want to entertain the discussion beyond this point.

      By the way, I have always enjoyed your posts Red. You always make interesting points and ask intelligent questions.

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Delete
    51. @Daniel:

      "Walter has simply failed to convince us about what he is claiming."

      I have a harsher view. Walter has gone from not knowing what he is talking about to outright inventing stuff about what St. Thomas claims. But then again, I am not the most charitable person on earth, to put it nicely.

      Delete
    52. I just want to put one thing straight. I have never claimed that this means pantheism.

      Delete
    53. You said it:

      If the being of created things comes from the creative cause, that would be creatio ex deo, which would indeed lead to either pantheism or panentheism.

      Delete
    54. Honestly Walter, you can't just claim you didn't claim something when you claimed in in this very thread! I want to give you the benefit of the doubt, but I'm starting to side with Grodrigues here. Are you just trolling us?

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Delete
    55. Oh for crying out loud. That is a nonsense point to make. If you had an ounce of honesty, would have understood I was simply summarizing your point. You are trolling at this point Walter.

      Cheers,
      Daniel

      Delete
    56. Here is a non-trolling format you could have used: "Yes Daniel, I can see why you could have drawn that conclusion, but here is what I really meant....". Or "Daniel, you used the term monism. But I used the term Panthiesm or Panenthiesm. I prefer using those more specific terms." At the most, I would have thought you were shifting the goal post, but the above is just trolling at this point.

      Delete
    57. Daniel

      Unlike grodrigues, I think of myself as a reasonably charitable person, but it is now clear to me that the reason you do not understand my argument is simply because you cannot read.
      I said that it would lead to either pantheism or panentheism.
      Do you honestly think that if I said his cat was either black or white, I claim that his cat was black?

      Delete
    58. Right - you are a troll. I'm not responding to you anymore Walter.

      Delete
  22. "Thomas, like Parmenides he thinks that Being is eternally what it is, identical with itself and immutable. I translate this as "Reality is eternally what it is, identical with itself and immutable"."

    Curious. I do not know the original Latin but I would translate it as St. Thomas believing that reality is a giant rainbow breathed by a pink unicorn with wings. But to each his own, I guess.

    ReplyDelete