Saturday, April 27, 2019

Open the thread!


It’s your opportunity lawfully to indulge your impulse to make those off-topic comments I’m constantly having to delete.  Do so in good conscience, because nothing is really off-topic in this, the latest open thread.  From Donald Fagen to Ronald Reagan, from the Black Dahlia to papal regalia to inverted qualia – discuss whatever you like.  As always, just keep it classy and civil and free of trolling and troll-feeding. 

Links to previous open threads can be found here.

228 comments:

  1. From Donald Fagen to Donald Kagan...

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  2. What is the natural law view of supposed natural immortality, and whether or not it's ethical?

    Natural law clearly allows medical treatments that may prolong one's life, and in general practices that fight diseases and keep one's physical being healthy. And natural immortality is something we also find in certain animals such as some species of jellyfish (where the jellyfish literally reduces itself to an infant stage to start life all over again, and can do so indefinitely if no predators eat it), lobsters (who only die because of exhaustion due to shell moulting and predators), and microscopic hydra (who naturally don't age and can in principle live forever).

    We also know that one of the reasons we as humans age is because of unrepaired DNA damage to the genome, and since we can actually repair that using a bit of genetic therapy, we do in fact have the ability to achieve indefinite youth and thus to technically live forever.

    But would that be something natural law would advise (especially from a Christian and Thomistic viewpoint)? Or would this in some way be unethical? Does giving oneself immortality through technology violate the bounds of human nature (perhaps as set for us by God), or is it something acceptable as an extension of the natural desire and potential to live?

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    1. Why?

      Why anybody would like living forever naturally?

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    2. I think the key is that although it will vastly increase your life expectancy, immortality is not achievable through any method, either medical or technlogical, period. My reasoning may be wrong, but I´m sure that I read something a year ago or so, that the because of the laws of physics, a disintegration of a physical system is ultimately inevitable.
      Anyway, I don´t think there is anything wrong from a thomistic perspective with life prolonging methods as long as it doesn´t threaten human dignity or counts as a violation of the human nature, no matter how big your expectancy becomes. Ultimately we will all have our creator, and he has got time to wait.

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    3. We have become so debauched that perhaps the average man needs some centuries to come to contrition.

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    4. The references to predators may be instructive here: if we were to advance medical science to the degree that one might plausibly expect to overcome all illnesses, the rate of "death by misadventure" would rise exponentially. Not per year, but since you would presumably expect to go on living without natural limit, the number of years under consideration would add to the risk of death by misadventure also without limit: SOMETHING would get you eventually. Either a mechanical accident, such as something blowing your head off, or a human accident, such as faulty repair of your medical robot that follows you around fixing you up each time you are injured, etc. Even if the risk of death from misadventure is very low, say 1 in 100,000 per year, then living 100,000 years would give a very high probability of dying in such a way.

      Dominick's final point is also relevant: whether it is delayed till tomorrow or for a billion years, Christ will come again and all men will be judged by their Maker. In having lived to the "end of time", it matters little (philosophically) whether you had just celebrated your 1 millionth birthday or your 10th: either way, you have to account for your life.

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    5. @Tony,


      There have been several TV programs over the years advocating for a type of science-based immortality.

      In general, they not only talk about various methods in which aging would be stopped, but also various technologies (stem-cells, nano-bots, artificial organs etc.) that would make other damages to the body non-threatening as well.

      As far as I know, the only thing that cannot be repaired with technology is the brain, which has a finite memory storage and will eventually stop functioning if it goes on for too long - and the repair suggested for THAT is basically eventually downloading yourself into artificial bodies that have unlimited memory storage, which has all sorts of metaphysical problems.

      But we may even in the future figure out a way to increase the brain's memory / stop the brain from being overloaded and thus avert this type of death.


      And as far as Christ's second coming is concerned, wouldn't the very idea of humans finding artificial immortality and indefinite life (and perhaps even unlimited entertainment to keep themselves happy or non-bored forever!) sound like something straight from eschatology?


      It's extremely easy and obvious to speculate that the end of the world or the coming of the Antichrist or whatever is nigh when humans finally defeated that one enemy only Christ is supposed to have defeated, namely death...


      And it really does sound like it's something that could be the sign that the world as we know it is ending. The very idea looks like something straight from Christian apocalyptic fiction books.

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  3. What is the Thomistic interpretation of the constants of nature everyone talks about in the fine-tuning argument?

    I've seen some Thomists reject the argument because their view of the laws of nature doesn't define the constants as being external accidents to the essences of things, but rather proper accidents which flow from the substantial form of things. Because of this, the value of a constant isn't something viable to lottery-type picking and choosing, but is something that belongs to a substance as such, and any change in constants requires changing the substance itself.

    But does an A-T view of nature necessarily push one to view the constants of nature as proper accidents that couldn't have been changed without thereby changing the substance what substance will exist, or can it accomodate the idea that the constants are external accidents that can be changed without thereby changing the substance altogether?

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    1. How exactly would the constants being "proper accidents" affect the fine-tuning argument? It would still be the case that we could have had different substances with different constants (in this case, different proper accidents). The question would then be: why do we have THESE substances, with proper accidents that just so happen to be fine-tuned for life (while any other substances with slightly different accidents would not have been life-permitting)?

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    2. Can you illustrate this view of physical constants as "proper accidents"?

      Which constant of nature can be viewed as a proper accident of which thing or substance?

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  4. What does Thomism have to say about the fact that two particles of light can share the exact same location in space?


    I've already mentioned this before a while back, and commenter Tony gave a few answers, but I'm wanting to see what others here can suggest with regards to this.

    Is boson-based matter (light) relevantly different from fermionic matter (rocks, trees, water etc.) such that it doesn't violate metaphysics in having two boson particles sharing the same place completely? What are the specifics?

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    1. Photons are entities defined in physics. I don't think they are "things" or "substances" in the sense of Thomism.

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    2. My impression of strings is that they do not have the same kind of relation to space and time as regular waves or particles.

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  5. I want the kindle version of your latest book

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    1. IDK about the first anon, but I'm not Luke Barnes and I want a Kindle edition as well!

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    2. Yeah I just said that because he was the only one I remember in the last couple of month explicitly asking for it.

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  6. Isn't Leibniz's Identity of Indiscernibles the same thing as verificationalism?

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  7. What books should I read to get a better understanding of the Natural Law tradition?

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    1. Anything by J. Budziszewski is readable and reliable.

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    2. David Novak is the best Jewish writer on the topic of Natural Law. Stephen J. Grabill's Rediscovering the Natural Law in Reformed Theological Ethics is an excellent work that shows how much of an outlier Barth was even in Reformed Theology.

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  8. Dr. Feser, I really appreciated your series of blogposts on recommended reading. It would be awesome of in the future you made a list of the best A-T manuals on psychology as well as political philosophy(in addition to the ones you have already mentionned in your previous post). Thanks and happy Easter

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  9. Ed once said he's not a fan of star wars. We know he's a fan of marvel but how excited is he for Godzilla king of the monsters and what does he think if the hellboy debacle?

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    1. I can't read western comic books without hearing a theremin playing an errie tune in my mind superimposed by a narrator with a nasally Mid-Atlantic accent.

      Annie May and manga are where it's at.

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    2. @Cogniblog,

      There's some good manga out there, and there's some bunk. Thankfully, we live in a world where Yu Yu Hakusho exists, which just inherently makes our universe a better place.

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  10. It is possible to defend the realism (form in thing = form in mind) of Thomistic epistemology from a modern biological or developmental perspective? In philosophy, i've seen good reducio ad absurdam arguments dealt to modern forms of "constructivist" epistemology, but it would be nice to have some kind of empirical data to show a positive form of the argument.

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    1. I mean, the only argument I've ever seen for simple apprehension of the forms is a negative one. Every other form of causal explanation for our knowledge is self-contradictory, therefore, simple apprehension (or Divine Illumination...).

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  11. Todoroki is lawful good. Bakugou is chaotic good. Deku is true neutral. Take me on.

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  12. How do Catholics reconcile predestination with free will? Seems weird to say that you freely chose to follow God when He decided ahead of time you would follow Him.

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    1. There are a few acceptable perspectives on this topic, but for a pretty well articulated Dominican/Thomistic viewpoint you should listen to this interview of Fr. Thomas Joseph White.

      https://youtu.be/0rjjve2NqOI

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    2. Also Father William Most's book on grace:

      Grace, Predestination, and the Salvific Will of God: New Answers to Old Questions

      It is very cautious, but also entirely sound (as far as I can tell).

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  13. Piggybacking off of the last few posts, I have a question on how “duration” works. Is this a fundamental constant determined by God?

    For example, on the presentist notion of time, time is (roughly) the relation of changes between substances. On the non-presentist theory of time, time is (roughly) like a spatial dimension where all things past, present, and future exist and the passage of time is illusory or at least does not imply that things that seem to no longer exist in fact no longer exist.

    My question is: In either of these systems, what determines how long it “seems” for X amount of changes to occur (or appear to occur)? On the non-presentist view you could ask: What sets the overall time-dimension and this the spacing between “changes”?

    That is to say, why is it not the case that everything seems to be going by ten times as fast or ten times as slow as it does in fact appear to us? In either case, the total number of changes is the same, but the perception of the changes could potentially be very different.

    It seems like this “problem” is faced by either theory of time. I am of the opinion that it is a fundamental constant determined by God (albeit one that cannot be mathematically represented as well as other fundamental physical constants).

    What are your thoughts? Is there a traditional A-T answer to this question?

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  14. Signs, miracles and wonders is not the whole Gospel, but the Gospel is not whole without them.

    Discuss.

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    1. About what exactly? Without them Jesus would have been an extremely sophisticated moral teacher because of the parables. A prophet at most, but nothing divine.

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  15. How subjective idealists(like Berkeley) explain how my body, who is nothing but a part of my experiences or sensations, alter my mind?

    Like, how can not sleeping well stop me from thinking well if there's no real body who needs to sleep to function? How a sensation of a damaged brain who is not real can disrupt my real mind?

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    1. My tentative answer:

      You are not taking idealism seriously when you ask this question. The body altering the mind is part of realist metaphysics and empirical natural philosophy. Idealism gives an alternative account of the same things: namely that what exists, exists because of the knowledge and will of God. This is sufficient of itself to cause things to be, by causing them to be perceived. This is precisely what being is. 'Esse est percipi', 'knowledge and being are the same thing'. On this account matter does not exist (we have no need of that hypothesis).

      But having said that, by all means we should make use of empirical natural philosophy because the things that it deals with are indeed real enough for our purposes, though not real in the way that a metaphysical realist would hold.

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    2. So in that case, the Incarnation of the Word was only to make us feel better since it would not really make much difference to people who aren't made of matter themselves.

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    3. Jonathan, i guess i screw up on the writing.

      The question is, how exactly can something like not sleeping well or being hit on the head disrupt my mind if there's nothing being really hurted?

      From what i understhand, Berkeley defended that, thought matter is not real, our minds are real. If that's the case, them how can our minds stop working right because of a perception of a damaged brain?

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  16. A youtuber attempts to put Feser and Ben Shapiro in their place (the vid has over 300k views):

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAHJM9TcoYg

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    1. At 10:37 RR misses the point of a supposed pure act actualizing a potential. So, Feser and more generally A-T already have that, supposedly, covered. RR does not address the incoherency of the term “pure act”, but that is another discussion.

      RR missed a few points at the outset by accepting the initial premise of A-T that things do not move themselves. On a large scale, which is the scale of examples such as your hand or a water cup or a candle, thing do move themselves. He later brings up this point, but, for some reason does not use it further.

      You move yourself, an amoeba moves itself, the sun moves itself. There is no outside mover evident to the senses moving these objects, so they very clearly do move themselves at our macro sensory level.

      At the molecular level and below we find that entities move each other. In the parlance of A-T, sub microscopic entities actualize each other, making the dichotomy of hierarchical regress arguments false, and the first and second ways invalid.

      At 14:18 RR gets at the concept of mutual causation by showing a representation of a circle of causation as opposed to a line of causation. This is actually a fair beginning to showing how A-T is fundamentally wrong.

      There is no call for an unmoved mover, or unchanged changer, or uncaused cause in a hierarchical present moment causal regress analysis, because the hierarchical regress terminates with entities that move each other, or in A-T words, actualize each others potentials.

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    2. Can you expand on why you say that the term (or notion?), "pure act," is incoherent?

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    3. Is it the Stardusty Psyche? The one Feser banned a while back?

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    4. Hi ficino4ml
      Actually, that is not my main point. But yes, to say "pure actuality" or "being itself" is really unintelligible. William Lane Craig goes into more detail as to why the Thomistic view of god is unintelligible.

      But, one can make that speculation if one wishes and it is not strictly disprovable so I don't typically argue that point.

      Mathoma made this reply to the Rationality Rules video which was itself a reply to the Feser-Shapiro show.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJDYPZYMt0Q

      So, for me, that sequence gets to the core subjects and is great food for thought. The real clincher, I think, is at 30:07 in the Mathoma video which I discuss in more detail in the comments there.

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    5. @Anonymous
      "Is it the Stardusty Psyche? The one Feser banned a while back? "
      Yeah, but Ed is not really the banning sort at heart, he seems to genuinely engage in counter argument, unlike PZ Meyers, Richard Carrier, and others who keep their blogs as little safe space bubbles.

      I got into a lot of other stuff for some years, then I saw Ed on the Shapiro show, and that sparked my interest to explore a new (for me) set of arguments I had recently developed.

      So, you might check out the Feser-Shapiro, Rationality Rules, Mathoma sequence...maybe read my comments on each, and see what you think about the validity or errors in the arguments.

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    6. No doubt Ed will be the banning sort if you don't behave yourself and learn not to be a total troll.

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    7. It is nice to see atheists becoming somewhat more civilized and respectful. But still, he is wrong on all accounts. Let me summarize his criticisms and offer some replies.

      1. "Premise 2 (i.e. the principle of causation) commits a black swan fallacy, since it is based on incomplete knowledge."

      Well, no. The guy in the video puts it like the principle of causation is a mere generalization from induction, but it is not. It follows from the meaning of the terms "potential" and "actual" themselves. Potentiality, although real, doesn't yet exist in a way that can do anything, so it can not cause something either. Feser explains it earlier in the book: "But the thesis that change requires a changer is not merely a generalization from the cases like these. It follows from what change is: the actualization of a potential. (...) [P]otential coldness can hardly do anything, precisely because it is merely potential. Only what is actual can do anything."

      2. "Premise 3 either states a law of non-contradiction or it is simply a false premise."

      Well, again, no. The so-called "premise 3" (actually not a premise but a further argument for the principle of causation) claims that nothing can be potential and actual in the same respect and at the same time. The supposed counterexample the guy gives just confirms this thesis: The rod that is hot on one end can make the other end hot if let alone, so, he concludes, the object can actualize or change itself. Well, he should read again the claim he is commenting, and notice especially the words "in the same respect". The rod is never both actually and potentially hot in the same respect. The same holds for all other supposed counter-examples to this principle (e.g. animals moving themselves, etc).

      3. "Premise 4 is an argument by assertion."

      No. Premise 4 states that chain of hierarchical causes can not be infinite. This is not a mere assertion, it is a conclusion of the argument and Feser spends some time to defend it earlier in the book. So, here we again see that the guy didn't bother to actually read the book and try to understand the arguments; he just looked at the formal summary of the argument, and without grasping the reasons for particular claims, just searched for shortcuts to try to disprove some of them.

      Basically, in a hierarchical series of causes and effects, all intermediate causes are such that they have only a "borrowed" causality from the earlier cause. Therefore there must be the first cause, otherwise no intermediate cause could have its causality. This reply equally refutes both the "infinite chain of causes" supposition as the supposed circular (or mutual causality). In the hierarchical causal series

      4. "The conclusion is the special pleading of the second premise."

      He totally misses the point here. It is not God that is changed in the creation, therefore he doesn't have to have any potentiality, therefore it is not special pleading to say He is pure actuality.

      5. "Even if the argument was sound, all it would prove is an unactualized actualizer and that's literally it. (Doesn't support theism.)"

      And as the guy himself admits, proponents of theism provide additional arguments to derive theistic properties of this unactualized actualizer, so it is not clear what is he objecting to here.

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    8. Let me just point out that I have not watched the video (I don't really have the patience for YouTube atheism anymore), but if (judging by the comments), THIS was meant as a criticism of the causal premise:

      "Premise 2 (i.e. the principle of causation) commits a black swan fallacy, since it is based on incomplete knowledge."

      Then I am simply shocked. I mean, the issue isn't just that the principle of causality is usually taken to be self-evident and not just an inductive generalization, but because there IS inductive support for the principle. The idea that there is a "black swan fallacy" of this crude sort would just block perfectly acceptable inductive generalizations. In the case of causality, we happen to have a well-supported inductive case, and this can't simply be ignored.

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    9. @StardustyPsyche:

      "Yeah, but Ed is not really the banning sort at heart, he seems to genuinely engage in counter argument, unlike PZ Meyers, Richard Carrier, and others who keep their blogs as little safe space bubbles."

      Were you banned or not? If you were banned, you are not welcomed. Is it your custom to intrude on a man's house uninvited and unwelcomed?

      It is true that Prof. Feser polices the place with a light hand. But then again, it is also true that you said of Pref. Feser that and I quote: "I don't respect Feser for the simple reason that his "arguments" are little more than scattershot assertions and he has proven himself to me to be a thin skinned petulant little twerp of a man completely incapable of engaging those who disagree with him on the rational merits." and then a little later: "That's how a man with strength of character responds to a direct challenge, he either engages directly, or lets it go, either way, it isn't temper tantrum time. Feser isn't like that. Feser throws little public hissy fits like a petulant child, and when a man continues to challenge him he just deletes the comments without ever engaging on the merits. That's what a thin skinned petulant little twerp of a man does."

      You are a moral reprobate and crank; you stink up the place. But it is still baffling why you barge in the house of a "little twerp" and the other fine compliments you pay the professor.

      But do as you will, this is not my house and it is not my place to tell you what to do. Do not bother to respond as I have already told you everything I had to tell.

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    10. Some people don't seem to realise you can't literally ban people on blogspot as you can on a message board. You can only delete their posts, which is time-consuming. That SP and CR can still post here doesn't mean Ed welcomes them. I see no reason to think he'h reversed his previous positions on them.

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    11. To follow up, that means we all should be very cautious, at least, in interacting with them. If SP has turned over a new leaf, as unlikely as that is based on his past behavior, then we can discuss things politely with him, but if he shows himself to be the same troll and ignoramus as before, he should be ignored by all.

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    12. @Anon
      “The guy in the video puts it like the principle of causation is a mere generalization from induction, but it is not. It follows from the meaning of the terms "potential" and "actual" themselves. Potentiality, although real, doesn't yet exist in a way that can do anything,”
      But all of that is asserted inductively. We always observe effects having causes so definitions are made that describe this process, and we inductively apply those definitions.

      If intrinsic randomness is the case then our notions of cause and effect are wrong. I don’t think intrinsic randomness makes sense. I think its alternative, determinism, makes sense. But a great many physicists will say the universe doesn’t care what makes sense to me and intrinsic randomness is the case.

      So Rationality Rules is correct and Mathoma is wrong on this point. Until we make more progress toward a TOE we cannot be certain our notions of cause and effect are fundamentally correct, as persistently realistic as they may seem.

      Much more important though, is the error Mathoma makes at 30:07 in his RR rebuttal video https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJDYPZYMt0Q

      “the (circularly arranged) cogs must be turned by another, they cannot suddenly turn themselves.”
      Mathoma fails to realize, as do proponents of A-T generally, the cogs are already turning. This is a hierarchical causal regress in the present moment. All the “cogs” in the universe are already “turning”.

      All the molecules in a sealed container are already bouncing off each other.
      All the molecules in a rock are already vibrating against each other.
      Everything in the universe is already in motion.
      Everything in the universe is already in mutual causal relationships.

      At the base of the present moment hierarchical regress, in A-T parlance, X actualizes Y concurrently as Y actualizes X. In science nobody speaks of Act-Pot, rather there is just the functional description exemplified in the formulation of any 2 body mutual interaction system, or as Russell put it more succinctly, quoted in 5 proofs, “there is only a formula”.

      Thus, mutual causation terminates the present moment hierarchical causal series regression analysis, making the dichotomy false, the argument invalid, and with it the foundation of A-T.

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    13. @Miguel
      “Let me just point out that I have not watched the video (I don't really have the patience for YouTube atheism anymore),”
      Yes, atheists tend to feel the same about theistic videos as well, so I can relate.

      Maybe you would be more interested in a rebuttal to RR, in support of Feser, by Mathoma here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJDYPZYMt0Q

      “In the case of causality, we happen to have a well-supported inductive case, and this can't simply be ignored.”
      How well supported is the Act-Pot treatment of causality? It appears nowhere in modern science. Why is that?

      In fact, a great many physicists say that at base effects occur randomly, that is, without a cause. John Stewart Bell famously produced a very strong theorem showing local hidden variables of the EPR sort are ruled out, which many physicists take as showing intrinsic randomness is, at base, how the universe operates, although Bell himself seems to have favored abandoning locality instead.

      But more conventionally, yes, we very much have the sense that cause and effect are “self evident”. What A-T fails to account for in its Act-Pot treatment is that causation is fundamentally mutual. The 8 ball causes the cue ball to slow down just as surly as the cue ball causes the 8 ball to speed up. The assignment of a label of “cause” to one and “effect” to the other is arbitrary and misleading.

      The cue ball and the 8 ball are mutually and concurrently the causes and effects of the changes in each other.

      Thus, when Mathoma says in his video in support of Feser at 30:07 “the (circularly arranged) cogs must be turned by another, they cannot suddenly turn themselves” his arguments completely break down and fall apart.

      All the “cogs” of the universe are already “turning” because this is a present moment hierarchical causal series regression analysis wherein the universe is presupposed to exist with all its entities in place and in motion as we find them in a sort of snapshot of causation.

      The contrast between the linear cogs and the circular cogs that Rationality Rules depicts is really very good and I wish he would have placed his greatest emphasis on that point, because that is, in my view, the most fundamental of the defects in the first and second ways.

      The hierarchical series terminates with entities in mutually causal processes, or in modified A-T parlance, A is mutually and concurrently actualizing B as B is mutually and concurrently actualizing A. Thus, any further causal regression is temporal, not hierarchical, making the unmoved mover, or unchanged changer, or uncaused cause unnecessary.

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    14. I don't think mutual causation poses a threat to Aquinas' First Way (or Feser's first proof of God).

      As I see it, the real problem with the argument is that the attempt to establish the existence of a Being Who is purely actual and in no way potential only manages to establish the much weaker conclusion that there exists something which doesn’t need anything outside it to “hold it together” as a being, and which doesn’t need to be “switched on” (or actualized) by anything else, either (i) in order to exist, or (ii) in order to ground the existence of other things, or (iii) in order to actualize the potential of other objects – a description which could apply to simple material objects. I say more about this argument here: http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/flawed-logic-and-bad-mereology-why-fesers-first-two-proofs-fail/

      Now, Feser would surely reply that even a simple material object would still be a metaphysical composite of essence and existence, and would still require a cause. (This is the argument made by Aquinas in De Ente et Essentia.) But if that's his core argument, and if it works, then the first way is redundant. (For more on why I think this "core argument" doesn't work, see here: http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/fesers-fourth-proof-and-the-mystery-of-existence/ )

      From a purely tactical point of view, defending the first way is more hassle than it's worth, IMHO.

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    15. God bless, StardustyPsyche.

      I apologize if I forced myself into the conversation that you were having, but having read your last reply, I see numerous misconceptions about A-T and even philosophy in general that must be resolved.

      "How well supported is the Act-Pot treatment of causality? It appears nowhere in modern science. Why is that?"

      Misconception Number 1: in order for a metaphysical framework to be plausible, it has to be supported by science. This is completely false. Metaphysics operates on a MUCH more basic level than all modern natural sciences (in my opinion, it's even more basic than mathematics). While it is neat to have parallels to metaphysical concepts in science, this is but a trivial "add-on", so to speak.

      In fact, prof. Feser discusses the important role metaphysics plays in modern science. He briefly touched on this topic when debunking Hume in his Five Proofs of the Existence of God (I recommend it, it's an excellent read). But more importantly, he wrote a whole 500+ pages book on this very topic called Aristotle’s Revenge: The Metaphysical Foundations of Physical and Biological Science. I haven't read it yet but it's definitely on my wishlist. Judging by your comment you should read it too.

      A counterexample to your position: some of the fundamental building blocks of the scientific method are so fundamental that they are beynod the scope of science. An obvious example is the concept of 'being'. No scientist can adequately define what 'being' is, but no one complains when it is implicitly presupposed in EVERY scientific study (since natural science is concerned with the physical which exists, i.e. has being). Certain people only start making fuss about certain metaphysical concepts when their existence inevitably points towards a God. I am 99% sure that is actuality-potentiality distinction didn't lead to the proof of a God with monotheistic properties, you wouldn't have an issue with it.

      "In fact, a great many physicists say that at base effects occur randomly, that is, without a cause."

      Misconception Number 2: things that happen randomly happen without a cause. This is evidently false. An occurrence of an event which is purely random IS impossible to predict, but this doesn't mean that this event takes place without a cause. It just means that a certain event caused another event a property of which is that its outcome is impossible to predict. That's all.

      Let me put your assertion in a perspective: let's say that you won the lottery and got a million dollars. Surely, no rational person would say: "I got this money without a cause." Of course not! You got the money because you won, and by extension, because a certain company decided to organize the lottery in the first place. What you CAN claim is that it was impossible to tell whether or not you are going to win before the lottery took place.

      "The cue ball and the 8 ball are mutually and concurrently the causes and effects of the changes in each other."

      Misconception Number 3: two things can at the same time be (the real) causes of change in each other. The logical rebuttal of this idea is more elegantly laid out in prof. Feser's book Five Proofs of the Existence of God, so I will add only my personal observation. I claim that it is absolutely fallacious to think that reality can operate like "cogs".

      Consider the following: you are thinking with your brain, no? Therefore, we know the source of your deductive logical thinking. A logical process converts a set of claims (the contents of these sets) with truth values to another set with a content and a truth value assigned to that content via a certain set of rules (logical axioms). If, in your mind, there isn't a real, definite process which begins at proposition A and terminates at proposition B, then your reasoning is a delusion and useless.

      (To Be Continued...)

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    16. (Continued...)

      You hold that mutually causal processes exist. This means that we cannot ever pinpoint the true cause of anything (since everything, by your own conviction, is one enormous circle-jerk in which no elements are more fundamental than others). This includes your mind (which, by your own atheistic convictions, I suppose, relies on the brain to carry out logical operations). Therefore, your thought process is essentially worthless, as there is no objective criteria as what constitutes the PATH from premise A to conclusion B.

      Let me give you and example. Descartes boldly proclaims: "I think, therefore I am!" Someone of your conviction comes around the corner and replies: "That's false! You think because aliens don't wear hats!" Descartes has way of replying, because in your cog scheme, no cog is more fundamental to moving another, therefore ANYTHING can be claimed to be the ultimate and immediate cause of another thing, including the most absurd things.

      Your cog scheme introduces: brute fact, solipsism and utter unknowability of anything external at all (except the axiomatic presupposition that the cog scheme is the real one and that A-T is fake).

      These are the misconceptions I wanted to pint out. Consider the following an Addendum.

      "...the universe is presupposed to exist with all its entities in place and in motion as we find them in a sort of snapshot of causation."

      And why is that? De fide? Do you take this to be a brute fact? I am a firm supporter of PSR (Principle of Sufficient Reason), because, upon logical analysis, when just ONE thing in existence is inexplicable, NOTHING is explicable (I can elaborate on this point if you want). So, how do you explain the "intrinsic" property of movement in the universe?

      "The hierarchical series terminates with entities in mutually causal processes..."

      This is a sloppy and an imprecise claim at best. So you're saying that a series is ordered hierarchically at some point in its chain but then magically "enters" into the close loop of your cog system? How would one know when this "jump" from a nice linear series to a circle-jerk happens. I consider this claim to be a poor sketch at best, as it conjures up a magic "jump" from one system into another (with no obvious argument as to why this happens and how to locate the precise location of the "jump"). Furthermore, I claim that the cog system and the linear hierarchical system cannot both substantially exist alongside one another. One must be a mere illusion: either all of reality is a circle-jerk (and the so-called hierarchical series are but a semantic way of describing certain portions of reality for convenience's sake) or the whole of reality is TRULY hierarchically ordered (and the supposed circularity is only an illusion; e.g. Hume's example of bodies attracting one another).

      God bless and keep you always.

      Greg

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    17. Hi Greg, do you know which part of 'Five Proofs...' includes the discussion of two things changing each other? I'd like to read it but can't find it.

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    18. @StardustyPsyche first of all I visualize you as this bird.

      Second, what does it mean to "outgrow" something? I was thinking about what it means when adults like me say "I outgrew those childish things." And I realized that what it meant was that those things that I viewed as meaningful as a child later became meaningless as an adult. So outgrowing childish things is learning to see those things you did as a child as meaningless. Notice that if whatever you were doing as a child was meaningful, then it is impossible, by definition, to ever outgrow it.

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    19. @Ave Maria
      “God bless, StardustyPsyche.”
      I appreciate the sentiment, so thank you. Scanning down I see a long and thoughtful reply, I will do my best to respond in kind.

      “Misconception Number 1: in order for a metaphysical framework to be plausible, it has to be supported by science.”
      Act-Pot is an attempt to analyze material causation by what is evident to our senses, which is squarely within the realm of science.

      “natural science is concerned with the physical which exists, i.e. has being”
      Right, science studies what exists, science does not study what does not exist. That is just a tautology, true, but uninformative.

      “I am 99% sure that is actuality-potentiality distinction didn't lead to the proof of a God with monotheistic properties, you wouldn't have an issue with it.”
      I am glad you left 1% for me :-) Stuff does what stuff can do. Stuff doesn’t do what stuff can’t do. Ok, fine, another unhelpful truth (tautology).

      Material interacts in functional relationships with other material. Act-Pot is a clunky stepwise set of notions that only clog up and make difficult or impossible any realistic treatment of causality, quite apart from any conclusions about god one might derive from Act-Pot.

      “An occurrence of an event which is purely random IS impossible to predict, but this doesn't mean that this event takes place without a cause. It just means that a certain event caused another event a property of which is that its outcome is impossible to predict. That's all.”
      That conflates human prediction capacities with intrinsic randomness. Chaos is not random, but it is unpredictable.

      Intrinsic randomness requires effect without a cause. If there is a cause but humans are unable to predict the outcome then the process is chaotic, not intrinsically random, with chaos being deterministic but too complicated or fine scale for human beings to precisely model.

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    20. @Ave Maria
      “This means that we cannot ever pinpoint the true cause of anything (since everything, by your own conviction, is one enormous circle-jerk in which no elements are more fundamental than others).”
      That is a very colorful way of putting it! But yes, that’s about it.

      “Therefore, your thought process is essentially worthless, as there is no objective criteria as what constitutes the PATH from premise A to conclusion B.”
      Worth is relative and subjective. That doesn’t bother me. I live my life daily and hour by hour soaking up the wonderment of my own brief existence in this vast universe.

      Logic is not absolute; rather, it is founded on axioms that seem so incontrovertibly true to us that most of us join to provisionally agree to a convention of logic based upon those axioms. Objectivity of logic is not absolute but limited to the confines of this closed provisional conventional system.

      Indeed, mutual causation does lead to this state of affairs; all the more reason to realize mutual causation is, at base, the way causation occurs in our universe.

      “in your cog scheme, no cog is more fundamental to moving another, therefore ANYTHING can be claimed to be the ultimate and immediate cause of another thing, including the most absurd things.”
      That would imply discontinuities of causation that are not, to borrow the words of Aquinas, evident to our senses.

      We observe an orderly universe that progresses by functional relationships between materials over time. Not just any old thing is observed to occur. We have no identifiable absolute reference frame, but within any particular arbitrarily chosen reference frame material progresses by orderly mutual functional causal relationships.

      “"...the universe is presupposed to exist with all its entities in place and in motion as we find them in a sort of snapshot of causation."

      And why is that? De fide? Do you take this to be a brute fact?”
      The first and second ways take this as a precondition of their present moment hierarchical causal regression analysis.

      “when just ONE thing in existence is inexplicable, NOTHING is explicable”
      God is inexplicable, god exists, therefore nothing is explicable. But, with a little linguistic effort I am sure you could arrive at a special pleading wording for the case of god.

      “So, how do you explain the "intrinsic" property of movement in the universe?”
      It is evident to my senses. I give Aquinas a lot of credit for making that the foundation of his analytical method.

      “So you're saying that a series is ordered hierarchically at some point in its chain but then magically "enters" into the close loop”
      Remove the word “magic” and that is a fair summary of my point with respect to macro object to object causal analysis.

      “Furthermore, I claim that the cog system and the linear hierarchical system cannot both substantially exist alongside one another”
      Fair enough. In truth the hierarchical system is an illusion based on our propensity to assign causal roles to whole macro objects that are actually composed of a multitude of mutually interacting entities acting in a multibody problem of vast complexity over time.

      So I simplified things a bit to illustrate how the apparently hierarchical causal series eventually reduces to mutual causation instead of an uncaused cause.

      “Eventually” is typically only a single digit number in common examples. For example, rock-stick-hand-bone-tendon-muscle-cell-molecule. It’s a bit cumbersome to try to discuss every molecule along the way, so I used a transition from the traditional rock-stick level to the molecular level when we get to the actin and myosin. The molecular structures in the rock etc are also mutually interactive systems but they do not have a mechanism to translate motion through space in the way actin and myosin do.

      “God bless and keep you always.”
      Kind words in the true spirit of Christ, indeed. Thank you.

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    21. “Therefore, your thought process is essentially worthless, as there is no objective criteria as what constitutes the PATH from premise A to conclusion B.”
      Worth is relative and subjective. That doesn’t bother me.


      Issue isn't what bothers someone. Its just that when some piece of reasoning leads to such conclusions then it is evidence that it is flawed and must be rejected.

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    22. To StardustyPsyche.

      "Act-Pot is an attempt to analyze material causation by what is evident to our senses, which is squarely within the realm of science."

      No, that's not true at all. Immaterial things (like the mind) are also a mixture of actuality and potentiality. As we Thomists argue, the only thing that is truly out of realm of Act-Pot scheme is God Himself.

      Let me sketch you a proof of implicit use of Act-Pot distinction in the scientific theory. A scientist observes a phenomenon. If he wishes to draw any conclusions from the experiment, he MUST in some way find out how the observed thing acts on itself or other things. In other words, he analyzes something that is in actuality in some manner and tries to extract its possible potentialities. That's why I claim that the distinction itself isn't strictly an attempt to describe physical things but a much broader system.

      "Right, science studies what exists, science does not study what does not exist. That is just a tautology, true, but uninformative."

      My point was that science presupposes a vast number of metaphysical assumptions and doesn't even bat an eye. The example of 'being' I gave was just one of many such cases. I am not making an "informative" statement about what science does (we both know that already), I am just demonstrating to you that many metaphysical principles are already in IN the scientific method, which means that metaphysics is more fundamental than natural sciences.

      "Material interacts in functional relationships with other material. Act-Pot is a clunky stepwise set of notions that only clog up and make difficult or impossible any realistic treatment of causality, quite apart from any conclusions about god one might derive from Act-Pot."

      On the contrary, I claim that A-T Act-Pot is implicit in the scientific method (see Dr. Feser's Aristotle's Revenge) and that it is the ONLY framework which guards us from falling into total epistemic relativism (I will get to your cog scheme in a minute).

      "That conflates human prediction capacities with intrinsic randomness. Chaos is not random, but it is unpredictable."

      Please explain the difference between 'random' and 'unpredictable' because as I see it, the former is an essential part of the latter (addendum: by 'unpredictable' I mean ULTIMATELY unpredictable, not just in our current scientific framework). Also, you didn't respond to my criticism, which is: even IF there are truly random (or unpredictable) events, this does not harm hierarchical causality. This only means that there is such an event E in the universe for which it is impossible to temporally predict the outcome. That's all. You're making an elephant out of a fly, in my view.

      "Intrinsic randomness requires effect without a cause."

      Wrong. Refer to my lottery analogy. You completely overlooked it. Also, explain this to me: how would you PROVE that some event is truly intrinsically random and that there aren't some deeper underlying laws which again make the whole scheme well-defined and deterministic? I claim that this is impossible to achieve, be it from a philosophical or scientific standpoint.

      (End of response to your first comment. To Be Continued...)

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    23. (Continued...)

      "Worth is relative and subjective. That doesn’t bother me. I live my life daily and hour by hour soaking up the wonderment of my own brief existence in this vast universe."

      This kind of a response is sentimental and doesn't belong in the real of rigorous philosophical discussion. I though that you'd fight back and deny that your cog scheme introduces total unknowability of almost everything, but to my surprise, you embraced it. Well then, I have a few questions.

      "Logic is not absolute; rather, it is founded on axioms that seem so incontrovertibly true to us that most of us join to provisionally agree to a convention of logic based upon those axioms. Objectivity of logic is not absolute but limited to the confines of this closed provisional conventional system."

      Hold up, if this is REALLY what you think, then why did you even respond to me. By your own conviction, everything is relative and chaotic, therefore any argument and of us presents is ultimately nothing but senseless babble! It isn't even logically coherent to try to argue with me with this conviction in mind!

      I am not going to respond to your next paragraph, as you evidently just assert a position without any argumentation. Now that I think of it, I could just end the discussion here, since you evidently don't believe that any amount of (your or my) argumentation can lead anywhere.

      "The first and second ways take this as a precondition of their present moment hierarchical causal regression analysis."

      I criticized the fact of motion in your cog system, not in Aquinas's First and Second Way. It seems entirely logically coherent that all things are moving because a prime mover decides to move them, but a system of cogs that moves "just because" is superbly nonsensical.

      (End of the first part of the response to your second comment. To Be Continued...)

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    24. (Continued...)

      "God is inexplicable, god exists, therefore nothing is explicable. But, with a little linguistic effort I am sure you could arrive at a special pleading wording for the case of god."

      Wrong again. I REALLY urge you to read prof. Feser's Five Proofs of the Existence of God, especially the fifth proof (the rationalist proof) which directly contradicts your shallow conclusion. PSR (Principle of Sufficient Reason) states that: "each thing has an explanation either within itself or in another." The explanation of everything can be traced back to the source, which ISN'T inexplicable but IS the only thing that has its explanation within itself. This source is God. God is the only "thing" which has its explanation in His own being. Therefore, God isn't inexplicable.

      "It is evident to my senses. I give Aquinas a lot of credit for making that the foundation of his analytical method."

      Hold up. It is evident to you and Aquinas that things DO MOVE, but not the scheme in which they move. Big difference. I'm not asking you about how you came to believe that things do move, I'm asking you how you concluded that it is the intrinsic property of your cog scheme that it moves. This, it seems to me, is a brute fact. "It is evident to my senses," won't cut it, since we're talking about the whole system here, not the simple fact of movement.

      "Fair enough. In truth the hierarchical system is an illusion based on our propensity to assign causal roles to whole macro objects that are actually composed of a multitude of mutually interacting entities acting in a multibody problem of vast complexity over time."

      OK, so you basically affirmed my point. That was easy.

      I want to share my thought process of these subjects we are discussing. The MAIN reason why I believe that A-T metaphysics is true and that God exists is that EVERY OTHER SYSTEM immediately destroys any kind of rational basis for argumentation. You see this in your own example, when you dismissed logic. Furthermore, you dismissed your senses as well, as the cog scheme assures that nothing can be traced back to anything, including the fact of your perception. Anything at all could be causing your perception, therefore you can't trust it. In A-T on the other hand, perception is ultimately secured, as it terminates in a well-defined source, in God. A-T has no solipsism, no brute facts and no denial of logic. It's wonderful being a Thomist.

      God bless and keep you always.

      Greg

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    25. @AveMaria
      “If he wishes to draw any conclusions from the experiment, he MUST in some way find out how the observed thing acts on itself or other things. In other words, he analyzes something that is in actuality in some manner and tries to extract its possible potentialities.”
      Right, science tries to explain what stuff does. Stuff only does what stuff can do. Stuff doesn’t do what stuff can’t do. True, but uninformative, a mere tautology.

      Science determines mutually causal functional relationships between materials. Yes, the tautology of Act-Pot is implicit in such formulations. You are right; scientists do not bat an eye at this obvious but unhelpful tautology.

      “Please explain the difference between 'random' and 'unpredictable'”
      A deterministic system may be humanly unpredictable due to its complexity or fine scale, yet everything within it occurs by cause and effect. An intrinsically random system is also unpredictable, but for a different reason. It is imagined by many that in quantum mechanics at bass stuff just goes poof, things pop off in this or that direction at some time for no reason and by no deterministic mechanism.

      Intrinsic randomness seems highly offensive to reason yet there is a great deal of work to show it is the case.

      “explain this to me: how would you PROVE that some event is truly intrinsically random and that there aren't some deeper underlying laws which again make the whole scheme well-defined and deterministic?”
      Please see EPR, local hidden variables, John Stewart Bell inequalities. I don’t think Bell actually proved intrinsic randomness, but we might have to abandon locality.

      We shall see, because physics is at present highly incomplete. Irrespective, this is not my main point, it just kind of came up in our conversation.

      ”Hold up, if this is REALLY what you think (about logic), then why did you even respond to me.”
      Because I have joined the convention.

      “By your own conviction, everything is relative and chaotic, therefore any argument and of us presents is ultimately nothing but senseless babble!”
      Chaos is deterministic, so material does progress with discoverable regularities. I do not hope to discover the complete ultimate truths of our existence, rather, I will die having obtained only incomplete knowledge. But for me, to be a tiny spec in this vast universe that is capable of contemplating itself is a material fact of ongoing excitement and wonder, so I intend to learn much in my brief life.

      “all things are moving because a prime mover decides to move them, but a system of cogs that moves "just because" is superbly nonsensical.”
      Why is there a prime mover as opposed to nothing at all? Just because.
      Why is the prime mover necessary as opposed to nothing at all? Just because.

      Clearly, the universe does work by mutual interactions; just consider the motions of molecules of gas, or the planets, or elections, or any mutually interacting materials. Everything in the universe is, in fact, observed to be in perpetual, lossless, motion, causally and mutually interacting with other materials.

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    26. @AveMaria
      “The explanation of everything can be traced back to the source, which ISN'T inexplicable but IS the only thing that has its explanation within itself. This source is God. God is the only "thing" which has its explanation in His own being.”
      Mere assertion. Special pleading.

      What explanation does god supposedly have within itself? Mere definition, not an explanation.

      Fundamental material can be the essential being, and has the advantage of being very much evident to our senses, as opposed to god, which is nowhere evident to our senses.

      “I'm asking you how you concluded that it is the intrinsic property of your cog scheme that it moves. This, it seems to me, is a brute fact.”
      God is your invisible brute fact that is not evident to the senses. Mutually interacting material is my brute fact that is very much evident to the senses. My senses tell me you are just making god up out of your imagination.

      “It is evident to my senses," won't cut it,”
      Well, that may be unsatisfying but that is how we human beings get our information about the universe around us. We think about what we sense, if we wish to have some grounding in external reality. Else one can just close one’s eyes and dream up any old thing, which is ok if that is how you wish to live your life, I don’t.

      “You see this in your own example, when you dismissed logic. Furthermore, you dismissed your senses as well,”
      No, I realistically recognized that human reasoning and human sense experience are subject to error. Prudence dictates provisionally accepting what seems to be incontrovertibly true while keeping a little caveat placeholder open to future modification just in case it turns out most people were wrong.

      That has happened often in history, that the vast majority of human kind has turned out to be mistaken. I think it prudent to learn that lesson and consider human conclusions to be no better than provisionally true.

      “the cog scheme assures that nothing can be traced back to anything, including the fact of your perception.”
      It’s not so hopeless as all of that, and even if it were, that hopelessness would not make the “cog system” untrue. Nobody promised you a rose garden.

      “Anything at all could be causing your perception, therefore you can't trust it.”
      Human perception seems to be basically reliable. There are many known flaws to our perceptions and much of science is dedicated to identifying, cataloging, and compensating for these known defects. See, it’s not all just a hopeless free for all to be a materialist.

      “in God. A-T has no solipsism, no brute facts”
      God is your brute fact. Why is there god as opposed to absolutely nothing at all?

      “perception is ultimately secured, as it terminates in a well-defined source, in God. A-T has no solipsism, no brute facts and no denial of logic. It's wonderful being a Thomist.”
      I suppose if you imagine all those things to be the case that would bring you a degree of comfort.

      I prefer the challenge of sorting out reality absent an imaginary anchor of absolute truth.

      The OP of this sub thread referenced a video by Rationality Rules critiquing the Feser-Shapiro show. On that show Feser cited his first proof as his favorite or strongest. That proof is grounded in A but known mostly by the words of T. Hence my focus the First Way because it is the more manifest way, it is the foundation of A-T. The First Way is a very specific argument.

      Mutual causality clearly invalidates the First Way, and thus the foundation of A-T. It is evident to our senses that entities move each other, and many composite macro entities therefore move themselves.

      There is no necessity for an unmoved mover, because at base entities move each other. Causation is not fundamentally linear going down, as it were. Causation is fundamentally circular in its mutuality, thus negating the necessity of an unmoved mover in a linear causal series.

      “God bless and keep you always.”
      Thank you and best wishes to you as well.

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    27. Dear StardustyPsyche.

      "Chaos is deterministic, so material does progress with discoverable regularities. I do not hope to discover the complete ultimate truths of our existence, rather, I will die having obtained only incomplete knowledge. But for me, to be a tiny spec in this vast universe that is capable of contemplating itself is a material fact of ongoing excitement and wonder, so I intend to learn much in my brief life."

      You have one glaring problem: your cog scheme (as I have proven) utterly demolishes any hope of obtaining any true knowledge whatsoever. The most "valuable" kind of knowledge you are able to obtain in your system is utilitarian knowledge, i.e. "it's good/true because it benefits me". This vulgar point of view reduces science to inexplicable senseless juggling of material around until you get a neat thing that can drive you around. I claim the following: no system other than A-T is capable of producing a sound framework which doesn't presuppose utter logical, epistemological and ontological relativism.

      I will not respond to any of your other sentiments, because half of them are just axioms, stated de fide from your point of view and the other half are misinterpretations of my arguments (especially your objection of "tautology" which you so gladly throw at my laboured-for explanation why science proceeds from metaphysics and not the other way around; and by the way, the example of 'being' is just that: an example; I could give a plethora of other ones, to which I'm sure you'd respond with your worn-out "tautology" objection).

      The single biggest flaw in your reasoning which you have to resolve before I'm willing to proceed is logical relativism. Let me make this very clear: if you are merely debating with me because you "joined the convention" (you didn't BTW, as you are not willing to even consider any of my arguments and thus don't operate in an even similar logical framework), then I'm out of here, because my goal isn't to intellectually masturbate with you or breed sophistry, my goal is to bring you to Our Lord Jesus Christ who is the Truth. In other words, if you don't even believe that you can attain any truth (which I have proven is a necessity if you subscribe to the cog system), then sadly, this conversation is over, as it cannot bear any good fruit.

      The difference between you and me is that I start with plausible, logical axioms (which do not explicitly demand there to be a God but upon further analysis do implicitly contain proof of His existence) such as PSR (if you don't accept it, our conversation is sadly over, as it is impossible to do dialogical philosophy as a logical relativist), while you forcefully blend science and metaphysics into the same ontological category, use some very imprecise and vague language to describe your thesis and lastly, and most crudely, you smugly admit that you don't believe that you can attain truth anyway.

      My proposition to you is that you try to lay down some objective criteria of reasoning to which I will agree. Then we can continue our discussion.

      God bless and keep you always.

      Greg

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    28. @AveMaria
      “You have one glaring problem: your cog scheme (as I have proven) utterly demolishes any hope of obtaining any true knowledge whatsoever.”
      That depends how you define “true”. You mean absolutely provably true beyond any counter speculation no matter how fanciful. Yes, but you are in that boat too, we all are, it is in our limited nature to lack absolute certainty beyond our awareness of self.

      “The most "valuable" kind of knowledge you are able to obtain in your system is utilitarian knowledge, i.e. "it's good/true because it benefits me".”
      No, that’s not it at all. Things are true because they comport with reality. Reality seems to be discoverable using our senses while applying techniques to compensate for known sensory defects and limitations.

      “I claim the following: no system other than A-T is capable of producing a sound framework which doesn't presuppose utter logical, epistemological and ontological relativism.”
      That being the case dooms A-T to being mere wishful thinking because the universe operates by relations between materials. Change is relative. Motion is relative. Causation is relative.

      You are just in denial of the discoverable material facts of the universe because you don’t like the uncertainty inherent in that discovery. We materialists embrace those uncertainties as intrinsic to the real human condition.

      “"joined the convention" (you didn't BTW, as you are not willing to even consider any of my arguments and thus don't operate in an even similar logical framework)”
      Hmm…I can’t think of any axiom of logic, or mathematics, or geometry that I fail to provisionally accept. For example, the principle of non-contradiction seems incontrovertibly true.

      “my goal is to bring you to Our Lord Jesus Christ who is the Truth.”
      Ok, I suppose you feel you would be doing me a great service in doing so, so thanks for the effort, it seems unlikely.

      Aquinas attempted to do something like that, perhaps, for humanity in general with his 5 ways, the more manifest being the First Way. If you could remove the defects from the First Way I am sure you could bring a great many people to a god of some sort.

      “you smugly admit that you don't believe that you can attain truth anyway.”
      If you think you can, absolutely, and completely immune to counter speculation, about things beyond your self awareness, then I think you are kidding yourself.

      “My proposition to you is that you try to lay down some objective criteria of reasoning to which I will agree. Then we can continue our discussion.”
      Ok I agree with the foundations of logic as commonly formulated, the theorems derived from the axioms, the fallaciousness of commonly cataloged logical fallacies, the axioms of mathematics and the theorems derived from them.

      I agree with the basic reliability of the human senses and that some fair description, of continually improving accuracy, of the true nature of material reality is discoverable by application of sensory extension and compensation techniques.

      That’s how I showed the First Way to be invalid.

      Best wishes to you as well.

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    29. Dear StardustyPsyche.

      You simply do not understand. All of what you have written is utterly useless in terms of dialogue if you don't believe in objective logic. As you've shown that this is indeed the case with you, I am forced to end the conversation here. You still haven't grasped what I'm trying to tell you.

      Firstly, I have deductively logically proven that it is impossible to attain any knowledge whatsoever in your cog scheme. This does not mean that some truth is unattainable, it means that no truth is attainable. Everything from this point on is mindless babble, be it "reliability of senses", "materialism" or whatever. Anyone ought to oppose the system you propose, since it subverts the possibility of any kind of real rational reasoning. This is one simple fact which you simply ignore.

      As I have said in some of the replies to other people on this thread, it is impossible to talk to someone of your mindset, since you are so intellectually blind that you think that somehow you can consistently pair the reliability of your senses (or even pure intellectual reasoning) with mutual causality. This, as I have shown, is not the case.

      This is the last reply to you, since it is evident to me that you are a complete logical relativist and (paradoxically, but also fittingly for one) yet believe in epistemological structures which completely contradict the latter conviction. But before I go, let me try one last time.

      1. Proof of Logical Relativism in the Cog System

      In the giant circle-jerk, motion is a brute fact and there is no real source of this motion. Everything moves just because. Therefore, the identity of objects is also completely arbitrary and only there to help us distinguish; it is essentially semantical. Therefore, true identity is unknowable in the cog system. As a materialist, you believe that the operations of your mind completely depend on this cog system. But since real identity doesn't exist, there can be no real proposition A from which a logical process could proceed to conclusion B. Even if identity somehow could be magically established, there is still a deeper problem in the cog system. The process by which the mind would proceed from the proposition to the conclusion is itself completely relativized by the fact that everything (including the mind to all other physical things) is caught in the giant circle-jerk and therefore interdependent. The conclusion of such a cog-scheme mind is therefore logically circular and self-referential. Therefore, any kind of reasoning by a mind in a cog-scheme world is essentially useless and senseless. QED

      2. Another Refutation of Materialism

      Suppose for a moment that somehow, true non-relativistic reasoning is possible in your cog scheme. Even in this (impossible) case, materialism is still completely intellectually bankrupt. For your mind is entirely dependent on matter and the laws (whatever they might be) which govern it. Since you carry all of your reasoning with this part of matter of yours (the brain), your conclusions will necessarily be influenced by these laws of nature. Therefore, you have no guarantee that your reasoning is valid since the sum of your reasoning is nothing more than matter rearranging itself in essentially meaningless and "brute fact" fashions of movement. You cannot claim that your thought process is valid since you investigate and "come to know" various "laws" from your perspective, which is necessarily influenced by the real laws, which could be entirely different and the source of emulation of the "laws" you observe in your consciousness. This renders the entire cognitive process of argumentation essentially vain and without any real content.

      (To Be Continued...)

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    30. (Continued...)

      3. Why God is not A Brute Fact

      PSR clearly states: everything has its explanation either within itself or in another. You overlooked this point and affirmed that God is self-explanatory "just because". This is false. The most prominent philosophers and theologians wrestling with this question never asserted that God must be the self-explanatory thing and then proceeded. Rather, they arrived to this conclusion by logical deduction. We presuppose:

      1. The validity of PSR (without it, no rational discussion is impossible).
      2. Non-material hierarchical series (two things cannot explain each other — this would be a contradiction; therefore, all explanations can be traced to the Ultimate Explanation, the thing which has its explanation within itself; in other words, all explanations are hierarchically ordered; note that this is not the same sort of a hierarchical series as the one we've been disputing over; it has nothing to do with the material universe even existing, it's a purely logical entity).

      Note that this proof does not involve any special pleading, contrary to your accusation. We start by two simple premises (which also happen to be two among the most fundamental axioms of logic) and arrive at a conclusion. We are simply forced to admit that there really is a thing which has its explanation within itself, and we call this "thing" God. No special pleading, we're only being faithful to the above two premises. Therefore, your accusation that God is my brute fact is vain. I didn't start with God's existence being an absolute fact, I arrived to that conclusion via logical reasoning.

      4. I positively urge you to read Five Proofs of the Existence of God

      Seriously, if you would just read that book! You wouldn't be saying half of the things you're saying because prof. Feser deals with 80% of your objections in his book (the other 20% is incomprehensible and you won't find any response to your "objections" in any serious philosophical work). Read it, it's not that expensive, here, I'll even link it to you (Book Depository is better because it has free shipping for all books).

      Rebuttal of Hume's Objection To Hierarchical Series of Motion

      Hume claimed that Newton's equations which describe motion of objects on grounds independent of the notion of causality disprove Aristotelian hierarchical series of motion. I claim, however, that he is mistaken. Entertain the example he himself first proposed: two "moving" each other in vacuum (like planets or something). This does not prove that there just isn't a hierarchical principle of causation and that the objects are truly acting no each other by virtue of themselves. Not at all! In fact, we've discovered the governing principle which moves them both: gravity. Therefore, it is more suitable to think of the two planets as distinct ends of the same "stick" rather than two truly distinct entities exerting real inner power to influence each other. Granted, this is not proof that my proposition is the case, and it doesn't try to be. What I'm trying to demonstrate is that Newton's formulas don't damage hierarchical series in the slightest and that we have to be careful before we take something as "evident to our senses" (to quote your classical line). After all, you've observed a phenomenon and concluded that it must be so because it is "evident to your senses". Well, it was "evident to people's senses" that the Earth is flat, yet it isn't. That's why I value logical and metaphysical arguments over empirical ones.

      (To Be Continued...)

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    31. 6. Conclusion

      I've dealt with all main objections worth considering (I will not dive, as I've mentioned earlier, into pseudo-philosophical blending of metaphysics and natural sciences which you exercise so eagerly and frequently). Now it's time to bid farewell. If our ways on this blog cross again someday, I will be more than happy to converse with you, provided that your intellectual dispositions won't be self-refuting (I pray for that to be the case). Otherwise, I can only ask our good Father in Heaven to enlighten you.

      I truly hope that you find God, for He alone can satisfy the yearning of human hearts. I will offer up a decade of the Holy Rosary for you today, for your intellectual clarity and conversion to reason and Faith. I recommend you to the tenderness of our Holy Mother, Virgin Mary, to Her immaculate heart. I sincerely hope that you do not perish in the fires of Hell but that you attain beatitude in the eternal happiness in Heaven.

      Jesus saith to him: I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No man cometh to the Father, but by me. — John 14:6

      God bless and lead you to the most sacred heart of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man. Amen.

      Greg

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    32. My point was that science presupposes a vast number of metaphysical assumptions and doesn't even bat an eye. The example of 'being' I gave was just one of many such cases. I am not making an "informative" statement about what science does (we both know that already), I am just demonstrating to you that many metaphysical principles are already in IN the scientific method, which means that metaphysics is more fundamental than natural sciences.

      This is really important point. though the sense of fundamental here is difficult to grasp.
      I think there is reason to think that not paying due attention to metaphysics and simply relying on verificationist epistemology actively leads to wrong sort of ontology. Biggest case in point, Relativity and Time. While the picture of time provided by relativity might be ultimately correct, establishing that can't be simply done by the physical theory itself.
      The fact that different theories of Fundamental physics sometimes leads to contradictory metaphysical theories is also well studied in contemporary philosophy of science, then there is no correct completely scientific ontology of the world on offer.
      A combination of scientism and above concern is what motivates several sort of eliminativisms.
      Ontic structural realists or some versions of it at least eliminate the very notions of Substance, Individuals, Material or Objects.
      The world then according to this picture and its conception of scientific reality, a sort of mathematical-relational/structural construct.

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    33. @Ave Maria
      “All of what you have written is utterly useless in terms of dialogue if you don't believe in objective logic.”
      Why? My system of reasoning is self-consistent. Logic is built on axioms which cannot strictly be proved, but seem so incontrovertibly true that we accept them, well, axiomatically.

      “it means that no truth is attainable. Everything from this point on is mindless babble, be it "reliability of senses", "materialism" or whatever. Anyone ought to oppose the system you propose, since it subverts the possibility of any kind of real rational reasoning. This is one simple fact which you simply ignore.”
      No, I am well aware that absolute certainty about the nature of physical reality is not available to human beings. That just doesn’t bother me. If you think you have arrived at some means of deducing absolute truth about your outside reality you are kidding yourself.

      I am not ignoring your words, I am contesting them.

      “you think that somehow you can consistently pair the reliability of your senses (or even pure intellectual reasoning) with mutual causality. This, as I have shown, is not the case.”
      Sorry, I missed where you showed that. Mutual causality is the observed fact of the universe, from gravitational interaction, charged particles, and the whole of the standard model. Where did you show all of that to not be the case?

      “This is the last reply to you, since it is evident to me that you are a complete logical relativist and (paradoxically, but also fittingly for one) yet believe in epistemological structures which completely contradict the latter conviction.”
      My epistemology is in agreement with relativism, so I don’t know how you came to that conclusion either.

      “In the giant circle-jerk, motion is a brute fact and there is no real source of this motion.”
      The primordial cause of motion in the distant past, at least billions of years ago, is an unsolved riddle, but not relevant to the First Way.

      “But since real identity doesn't exist, there can be no real proposition A from which a logical process could proceed to conclusion B.”
      Logic is an idealization. A logical proposition is an idealization, and in that sense not real.

      “The process by which the mind would proceed from the proposition to the conclusion is itself completely relativized by the fact that everything (including the mind to all other physical things) is caught in the giant circle-jerk and therefore interdependent”
      Objectivity of a prepositional conclusion is possible because it is limited to the closed confines of an agreed upon logical system.

      “The conclusion of such a cog-scheme mind is therefore logically circular and self-referential.”
      Logical conclusions refer back to the axioms they are derived from. How is that a problem?

      Allow me to link a use of logic by a Thomist. He and I agree on the validity of analyzing a written argument syllogistically. Since he and I agree on the same set of axioms, the same set of symbology, the same criteria for a valid versus invalid logical argument, he and I have a common language of communication and reason, which, I think, is a good thing, it’s a start, anyhow.
      http://iteadthomam.blogspot.com/2011/01/first-way-in-syllogistic-form.html

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    34. @Ave Maria
      “you have no guarantee that your reasoning is valid”
      Neither do you. If you think you have such a guarantee you are engaged in folly. A wise man is ever mindful of the potential for his own error. Only a fool considers his own reasoning to be guaranteed valid.

      “You cannot claim that your thought process is valid”
      Within the closed system of logic founded on agreed axioms there can be an objective standard, which is quite distinct from absolute objectivity, all of which is entirely self consistent with the “cog system”.

      “1. The validity of PSR (without it, no rational discussion is impossible).”
      Then perhaps no rational discussion is possible. You may want rational discussion to be possible but your personal desires are irrelevant.

      Your first presupposition is thus axiomatic, not provable. You are already in the same boat with the rest of us.

      “two things cannot explain each other — this would be a contradiction”
      Why not, and what contradiction? Why did skater A go thisaway? Because skater B pushed on her. Why did skater B go thataway? Because skater A pushed on him.

      Mutuality is the observed fact of the universe, so your 2nd presupposition is observationally false.

      “We start by two simple premises”
      The first being axiomatic and the second being false. You are not on a solid foundation to arrive at any sort of certainty or absolute truth, or guarantee about anything.

      Thus god remains an invisible assertion of a brute fact.

      “I positively urge you to read Five Proofs of the Existence of God
      Seriously, if you would just read that book!”
      I have read sections of it and every time I do I immediately read so many assertions similar to yours that are so patently flawed that there just doesn’t seem to be any point in wading through the whole thing word for word.

      That’s why I focus on the First Way, because it is based on applying commonly accepted rules of logic to what is evident to our senses.

      “it is more suitable to think of the two planets as distinct ends of the same "stick" rather than two truly distinct entities exerting real inner power to influence each other”
      Ok, then the whole universe is just one big stick. I am OK with that because a stick is actually a very complicated composite object made up of continuously moving and mutually interacting entities, really quite analogous to the whole universe in that respect.

      “What I'm trying to demonstrate is that Newton's formulas don't damage hierarchical series in the slightest”
      I take it you consider the stick to be a clear example of a hierarchical series sort of structure. What you have actually demonstrated is that the universe is essentially one big stick, so somehow bodies interacting with causal influences propagating over billions of years actually constitute a hierarchical series.

      Thus, on your anti Hume quasi proof the per se/accidens distinction is false since the entire universe is one big per se series.



      “God bless and lead you to the most sacred heart of Jesus Christ, true God and true Man. Amen.”
      I am sure that for you that is an expression of sincere hopefulness for my future well being so all the best to you too.

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    35. @Ave Maria
      Regarding the “cog” system, here is a nice little illustration of it, and an example of how a Thomist attempt to consider it.
      Rationality Rules Tries to 'Debunk' the Argument from Motion and the Aristotelian Proof
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJDYPZYMt0Q&t=1796s
      29:40
      “Cogs have the sort of secondary causal power hat Feser describes, they must be turned by another, they can’t just suddenly turn themselves.”
      Here Mathoma fails to understand the First and Second ways. The “cogs” are already turning because the First and Second ways are a present moment hierarchical analysis.

      There is no call for the “cogs” to “suddenly turn themselves”, they are already turning in perpetual, lossless, motion. That is what we observe at the molecular scale and below, there is no net loss as entities continuously interact with each other.

      “So what he’s proposing here is an infinite series of cogs, each cog turning another and only being able to turn insofar as it itself is being turned expecting any of the cogs to be able to move. “
      No, that is what A-T proposes as the only alternative to an uncaused cause. Mathoma is looking at the wrong diagram, apparently so stuck on linear thinking that even when presented with a circular diagram Mathoma seems incapable of absorbing it.

      Reality progresses as a finite series of mutually interacting entities or “cogs” in a fundamentally circular series of “cogs” that is in perpetual motion of moving each other because mutual interactions at the molecular scale and below are net lossless.

      How or why all this motion got started at least billions of years ago is irrelevant to the First and Second ways, because these arguments are present moment arguments based on what is evident to our senses right now.

      What is evident to our senses right now is that at base, materials move each other losslessly, terminating any proposed hierarchical series as a finite series with mutual causation at its base, thus demonstrating the fundamental dichotomy of the First and Second ways to be false, the arguments invalid, and with thems, the foundation of A-T is proved to be invalid.

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    36. @ErotemeObelus April 29, 2019 at 7:49 PM
      “@StardustyPsyche first of all I visualize you as this bird.”
      Ok, thank you, kinda cute.

      “So outgrowing childish things is learning to see those things you did as a child as meaningless.”
      Yes, that would be one way of describing how I outgrew religion and any notion of god.

      Did you have a chance to see Feser and Ben Shapiro as discussed by RR here?
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KAHJM9TcoYg

      Maybe you would be more interested in a rebuttal to RR, in support of Feser, by Mathoma here https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZJDYPZYMt0Q

      When Mathoma says in his video in support of Feser at 29:40 “the (circularly arranged) cogs must be turned by another, they cannot suddenly turn themselves” his arguments completely break down and fall apart.

      Mathoma forgets the key aspect of the First Way causal analysis, that it is an attempt at a present moment hierarchical causal regression analysis wherein the universe is presupposed to already exist with all the “cogs” already in place and already “turning”.

      Thus, the real world mutuality and circularity of causation means there is no call for an uncaused cause, or unmoved mover, or unchanged changer because, at base, material moves each other and many composite objects therefore do move themselves.

      Since the present moment hierarchical causal regress analysis Aquinas uses in fact terminates finitely with mutual causation between entities interacting net losslessly, the dichotomy between an infinite regress or an uncaused cause terminator is made false, the First and Second ways invalid, and with them the foundation of A-T.

      Delete
  17. Has someone written on extraterrestrial life from a thomistic point of view?

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  18. Hi,

    Would you be able to do some articles on the so-called-Enlightenment?

    My Copleston's history of philosophy understanding is that the whole house of cards rests on the premise that we don't actually see reality or think reality, but only the ideas of reality. Which I think a lot of people would reject if they were just educated about what these guys were actually saying, (e.g.are you saying that I'm not really seeing that table, but only the idea of a table?) Would I be right when I say that Locke came up with the theory of "ideas", Berkeley brought it to its logical conclusion(absurdity) and Hume, well he just copped out by agreeing with Berkeley but then said somehow we should act like there is a physical reality even though you cant really prove it ('let's be practical') but then somehow acting on or thinking about contradictions(metaphysics) isn't practical? What does Kant even say other than "I metaphysically proved that you can't prove metaphysics." (That and that you shouldn't feel happiness in doing something good, ba!humbug!).

    Think of all the controversy, coverage, and web hits you would get if you showed that John Locke really wasn't all he's cracked up to be vs. Aquinas' Phantasm. :-) Modernism, secularism, scientism, etc, etc. are based on the enlightenment right? Even bamboo will go away when you apply Roundup to its roots...

    Have a great week everyone!

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    1. Feser did write an entire book on Locke, in which he does a thorough job showing that Locke indeed "really wasn't all he's cracked up to be". It's pretty good, though hard to get. Critical, but fair (for example, Feser defends Locke from objections that he doesn't think work). He also traces the logical development of Locke's thought through Berkeley and Hume.

      You can also search the blog for posts that Feser has written critical of the liberal tradition tracing back to the Enlightenment (try searching 'Locke' or 'Hobbes' perhaps).

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    2. Ausgezeichnet! Thanks for the info!

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  19. Has anyone else here seen David Bentley Hart's piece in the NYT advocating for socialism?

    https://www.nytimes.com/2019/04/27/opinion/sunday/socialism.html?fbclid=IwAR2E6L3n8_EuNBzh29REKj1EDjcZonMms8-N8yrrPxa0EnyeWnePnBhKBZQ

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    1. He gets the definition of socialism wrong. The standard dictionary definition is: "a political and economic theory of social organization which advocates that the means of production, distribution, and exchange should be owned or regulated by the community as a whole." Hart's watered-down definition is: "sane and compassionate governance of the public purse for the purpose of promoting general welfare and a more widespread share in national prosperity." That's not socialism. That's welfare spending - something which even a capitalist can countenance.

      And speaking of bad definitions, why is it that practically every papal document discussing capitalism (with the sole exception of Centesimus annus) equate it with a pure and unfettered free market, instead of defining it as "an economic and political system in which a country's trade and industry are controlled by private owners for profit, rather than by the state," as normal people do? What the Popes call capitalism is really libertarianism. Bizarre.

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    2. That was a bizarre piece. It reads like he has a literal crush on AOC. And, even acknowledging partisan lens, she comes across as nothing if not intellectual vacuous and silly. And given that she's already had an expense scandal, she hardly seems especially morally upstanding.

      I am something like a Distributist, so I agree with him that traditional Christianity (and, indeed, traditional conservatism) shouldn't be lazily equated with classical liberal economics, but neither should they be lazily equated with run-of-the-mill social democracy or state (even democratic) socialism either. He doesn't mention perhaps the best examples (perhaps deliberately), like Chesterbelloc or Massingham or E. F. Schumacher, but the hallmarks of the British anti-capitalism he mentions are things like decentralism, agrarianism, critiques of technophilism, etc. This is a world away from the kind of centralised, bureaucratic socialism or social democracy represented by Sanders, AOC, Corbyn, or (despite the influence of Ruskin and Morris) the Atlee government. It is a shame that Hart has lost all discernment on this subject.

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    3. Just came across this article in the National Catholic Register:

      What Is Wrong With Socialism?
      www.ncregister.com/daily-news/what-is-wrong-with-socialism

      Well worth reading. Lots of good quotes from papal encyclicals.

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    4. Whilst what that article was true in its claims about the Papal encyclicals and socialism, it does admit a salient fact - the same encyclicals are almost as scathing in their condemnation of classical liberal economics. For example, Leo XIII and Pius XI, drawing from what was already Church teaching for centuries, clearly repudiate such basic classical liberal notions as that, in a free and open market, the just price or wage is necessarily the market one, and, hence, their is negne a moral duty to pay more than the market will bear.

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  20. O have been thinking recently about how to make a rational case for Catholicism and a question came to my mind with respect to how certain we can be about Dogmatic Theology. (A post related to this topic which some of you may already know http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2014/05/pre-christian-apologetics.html?m=1)

    There are things we know for certain (mathematical truths for example) and things which we know that are probably true (best explanations for example). Metaphysics work with the former type of truth, science and history work with the latter. A consequence of this (one that Ed has already repeated many times) is that the truths of metaphysics are more certain than the truths from those other fields, given that they only give us what is PROBABLY true instead of CERTAINLY true, which only logic (and as a consequence metaphysics can give us). This means that claims like “the earth is spherical”, “evolution is true” or “Plato was an ancient philosopher” are claims about probability, about what is probably true (even though each one of them is VERY LIKELY to be true).

    I don’t think anyone can disagree with what I said above, but a logical epistemological consequence of this is that we ought to remember that claims about science and history are not 100% chance of being true, and therefore we ought to give claims of logic a higher epistemological status.

    All of this said we can turn to the rational case for Catholicism. The most tradicional view is that a miracle is the only thing that is able to confirm that a revelation has occurred and the way we confirm such a miracle have occurred is by historical methods (arguments for the Ressurection). But if those arguments are historical the most they can give us is that the Ressurection VERY LIKELY occurred, which means there is still a very small probability of it not having happened. And given that all the rest of the building is sustained by this proposition all of it becomes only VERY LIKELY TRUE. Even if we could prove logically that God cannot lie (and therefore all that He tells us is logically CERTAINLY TRUE, as opposed to only PROBABLY TRUE) we still would not be able to tell with certainty whether He did indeed revealed something to us. This means that all of Dogmatic Theology is based not in LOGICAL CERTAINTY, but on VERY HIGH PROBABILITY.

    This is where the problem arises, given that this means that claims from metaphysics and natural theology have a higher epistemological status than claims from Revealed and Dogmatic theology. This does not seems a very orthodox view to hold and I think the Church would condemn it. Another problem is that the church asks us to have certainty that its teaching is true and this would not be possible given what I said above. I don’t know if we have a practical problem also (I don’t think we have, for it to be ALMOST CERTAINLY TRUE that Catholicism is true seems enough for a religious life and religious commitment).

    William Lane Craig talked about something very similar in here https://afterall.net/quotes/william-lane-craig-on-faith-and-mere-probability/ (in his case I think the problem is much bigger given that almost all of his arguments rest on probability and inductive reasoning)

    Any thoughts??? Is there a deductive way to account for Catholicism true??? Is there any problem in the reasoning I did above??? Something I have though about is that the fact the Revelation is something God does freely there is not any logical and deductive way to arrive at it.

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    1. The First Vatican Council teaches:

      "The same Holy mother Church holds and teaches that God, the source and end of all things, can be known with certainty from the consideration of created things, by the natural power of human reason…

      If anyone says that the one, true God, our creator and lord, cannot be known with certainty from the things that have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema."

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    2. "This is where the problem arises, given that this means that claims from metaphysics and natural theology have a higher epistemological status than claims from Revealed and Dogmatic theology."

      Never, in my whole life, have I ever heard anyone claiming such a thing. I have no idea where you got that idea from.

      Assuming the arguments from natural theology, it is obvious that Revelation will always have a lower epistemic probability than theism (except, perhaps, for those who witness a miracle first-hand, like the Apostles? Speaking for myself, I am very confident in the metaphysical arguments for God, but not to the point of a mathematical certainty and I'd probably be even more confident if, say, I had been there around 33 AD and saw Jesus rising from the dead...)

      Arguments for Christianity (which by the way go way beyond arguments from miracles) include miracles, religious experience, and many general philosophical arguments to the effect that Christianity is a plausible view of theistic reality (the beauty and propriety of the Christian story, the Incarnation, the idea that God would share our pains with us, etc), etc. Barring, perhaps, some special mystical experiences, none of these will have the same strength as a deductive metaphysical argument. These are abductive and inductive arguments, and they are meant to make Christianity more probable - not certain.

      And this is not a problem. Nor have I ever met anyone who considered it a problem. I find the suggestion that it wouldn't be "orthodox" to be bizarre, in fact. Since when does the Church hold that Christisn Revelation can be proved rationally with deductive certainty, or that it is just as certain as theism?

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    3. "This does not seems a very orthodox view to hold and I think the Church would condemn it. Another problem is that the church asks us to have certainty that its teaching is true and this would not be possible given what I said above."

      I mean this is what I have never seen anyone saying in my whole life. Never saw anyone claiming that revealed theology has to have the same epistemic certainty as natural theology.

      Is there any living Catholic (barring some mystics, perhaps) who could say they are absolutely certain that the Trinity is true? I don't think so. We can and should say that the Trinity is certainly true *if* the Revelation is true. As Catholics, we believe in the Revelation. So all revealed truths follow deductively from all that it implies. But the dogmas themselves won't have 100% *epistemic* probability, precisely because we cannot prove Revelation is true with certainty. Whatever God reveals, we can be sure that it is 100% true, but when it comes to the epistemic probability we first need to establish the conditional (that X is, in fact, a revelation from God), and it does clearly seem that we cannot do that with the same confidence we get from pure metaphysics. And yes, thst would imply that, epistemically, knowledge of theism that can be achieved through natural theology is stronger and more certain than knowledge of dogmas. I have no idea what would be controversial about this, or why it would be a problem, much less "non-orthodox".

      Now for something a little more speculative:

      Personally, I think the Vatican I declaration about knowing God's existence does not have to be interpreted as meaning that we can be "100% sure" that God exists. I think it just means that we can be sure God existe *beyond a reasonable doubt*, which in common language often constitutes certainty. We cannot know that the external world exists with mathematical certainty, but most people would accept that we are *certain* that it exists, in a qualified sense. The same holds for many common abductive inferences, too. So maybe we need not hold that natural theology proves God in the same way that we prove things in mathematics. We might hold that the best arguments of natural theology prove God beyond a *reasonable* doubt. But that is my personal intepretation, I've never checked how the declaration has really been interpreted traditionally.

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    4. Jaime:

      I do think we can prove claims from natural theology with mathematical logical certainty, my problem is with claims from Revealed Theology.

      Miguel:

      I will not touch on your interpretation of the passage quoted by Jaime or whether claims from natural theology are mathematically certain. I think that if i’m wrong in saying that the position that claims from Revealed Theology have a lower epistemic status than claims from Natural Theology is no a “non-orthodox” claim than there is no problem at all to still be solved. But the reason why I made that claim was both that the definition of faith as “Certainty of the things we don’t see” seems to imply a kind of deductive certainty about the claims of Revealed Theolgy.

      Either way it may be the case you are right and claims from Revealed Theology do have a lower epistemic status and my claim that such a position in non-ortodox is simply wrong.

      I would like to see Ed’s opinion or that of some professional catholic philosopher on this. This seems a worth porsuing topic (especially if it turns out that such a position is indeed non-orthodox and we ought to justify the Ressurection claim with deductive certainty)

      Anyone who knows this topic in depth feel free to reply...👍

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    5. If the question pertains to the statement that fauth is "certainty of the things we don't see", I would, once again, suggest a common understanding of "certainty" that is different from Cartesian certainty. After all, we can't have Cartesian certainty even of the things we do see.

      An evil demon could be deceiving you right now and maybe all your memories are false. Or perhaps you are a brain in a vat. You cannot prove these scenarios are absolutely false. You can't prove the sun will 100% rise tomorrow, either - even assuming final causes. We don't have Cartesian certainty in any of these cases. But is any reasonable person not going to say they are "certain" that the crazy skeptical scenarios are false?

      There is this ordinary sense of certainty which attaches to data we can gather from our senses (things we see, as the definition of faith itself puts it) and common abductive or inductive inferences. It is not Cartesian certainty, but a practical certainty, one which is beyond a reasonable doubt.

      Faith could be "certainty" in this more modest sense.

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    6. Any deductive way to account for Catholicism would probably start with the 5 ways, Augustin's CITY OF GOD, and Aquinas' SUMMA CONTRA GENTILES.

      The bigger issue would be Divine Grace. As it says in scripture; No one can say "Jesus is Lord!" accept by the Holy Ghost.

      Two people can see the same miracle happen right in front of them and either believe or disbelieve depending on whether they accept the Grace of God.

      One will say: So! There IS a GOD!

      The other will say: There are many things I can't explain, but I don't think myths will help.

      People of good will, aided by Grace, will accept the five ways plus the timeless and Holy Traditions of the Church as sufficient reason to make an act of Divine Faith.

      Keep in mind we have free will as it were because we have free minds so to speak, and it always takes a choice to accept God's existence or any proof of it as fact. God does not force either our mind or will and any proof can be rejected.

      Pride is a big reason for that rejection, as is ignorance.
      "The fool sayth in his heart, There is no God. "

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    7. Tim the White:

      I agree with you that Faith is a gift from God and that we are free to accept or reject the truth. What I don’t see is how can that help answer the issue I raised.

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    8. The Thomist guy

      What you say seem to imply that the mistery of the Holy Trinity is less certain than, say, God's existence but I think we can give to the mistery the same epistemic status.

      Whatever God reveals is true but God has revealed the mystery of the Holy Trinity therefore this mystery is true. The major premise is indubitable and intrinsically evident to reason; the minor premise is also true because it is declared to us by the Church, and also because, as the Vatican Council says, "in addition to the internal assistance of His Holy Spirit, it has pleased God to give us certain external proofs of His revelation, viz. certain Divine facts, especially miracles and prophecies, for since these latter clearly manifest God's omnipotence and infinite knowledge, they afford most certain proofs of His revelation and are suited to the capacity of all." Hence St. Thomas says: "A man would not believe unless he saw the things he had to believe, either by the evidence of miracles or of something similar" (II-II:1:4, ad 1).

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    9. "What you say seem to imply that the mistery of the Holy Trinity is less certain than, say, God's existence but I think we can give to the mistery the same epistemic status."

      This makes no sense, unless you are assuming God's existence is being established through a miracle that is simultaneously proving the Revelation claim.

      Whatever God reveals is true - that is correct, and we can be sure of that.
      God has revealed the Trinity - this very claim requires the existence of God, so how on earh would you give it the same kind of epistemic confidence that you could have in theism, apart from a situation where your only evidence of God happens to be a miracle directly related to that Revelation?

      And as far as certainty goes, it is clear that, perhaps barring some kind of mystical experience, we cannot have anything close to Cartesian certainty that God has revealed the Trinity to be true. It's not something that can be proved. You can argue for it, you can make numerous arguments that raise the probability of this claim - such as arguments form miracles - but you cannot deductively prove with certainty that God has revealed the Trinity.

      I thought it was common knowledge that religious claims (which go beyond bare theism) are not known with complete certainty. I am surprised some people even think this might be an issue. All the rational cases we can make for Revelation are probabilistic in nature.

      If the issue is with the word certainty, again, in my own view we can be certain of Revelation to the extent that we can also be certain about the external world, or that the sun will rise timorrow. We don't know any or these things with certainty, but they are so strongly plausible to us that we might say we know them and we can have no *reasonable* doubt.

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    10. Miguel

      I don't think a Christian can live without certainty if we take into account how a christian ought to live and what he must sacrifice.

      "This makes no sense" what makes no sense is the Catholic's claim of infallibility given your reasoning...

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    11. Jaime,

      If by certainty you mean something like Cartesian or mathematical certainty, then your conclusion is simply that Christianity is inherently irrational and unlivable. Because it is clearly obvious that neither Christianity nor any other religion could ever be demonstrated to be true with Cartesian or mathematical certainty.
      All we can hope for are probabilities. And what is the issue with that? A rational person will believe what appears more likely than not. A rational person won't require deductive proof as a justification for every single belief. And - to repeat myself for the fourth time - there is a kind of epistemic certainty that is compatible with claims that are taken to be merely very probable. I mean, do you really entertain any doubts that you're dreaming right now, or that you are a brain in a vat and all your memories are fabrications? Do you?

      As far as infallibility goes - it's not like that. The dogmas are infallibly true, and I hold them as such, but this is perfectly compatible with someone assigning an epistemic probability lower than 1 to the claims. Because infallibility is CONDITIONAL. The idea is that IF Catholicism is true, then (for example) the Trinity follows deductively and infallibly. But that does not mean we will be de facto certain that the Trinity is true, because we will have reasons to believe in it only insofar as we have reasons to believe Catholicism is true.

      Now, I believe Catholicism is true. But I'm not as sure of it as I am that 2 + 2 is 4. I could in principle be mistaken about it - it might turn out that Catholicism is false after all -, but I can't be wrong about 2 + 2 being 4 (or at least I think so). And I would be much more surprised to find out that (say) theism is false than that Catholicism is false, because even though I am Catholic, I am much more confident that (at least) there is a God.

      That being said, I believe Catholicism is true; I think it is very probable (and some people might even say they are "certain" that it is true). And so I also believe all the dogmas follow - because they infallibly follow from Catholicism being true. But this is not the same as saying that I have some kind of mathematical certainty that the dogmas are true, because my belief in the dogmas are conditional upon Catholicism being true (which I am not mathematically certain of).

      In fact, this is what faith is all about - having indirect grounds for believing in a proposition that we cannot directly prove, but that nonetheless follows from another proposition which we have good reasons to believe in (in this case, Revelation).

      And, quite obviously, you don't need any type of certainty in order to live the life of a Christian. You just need enough confidence in it to the point where it makes sense to you to be a Christian. This may vary from person to person, as well as the reasons one might have for thinkint Christianity is true. There can be all sorts of evidence: personal religious experience, providential occurrences, arguments from miracles, philosophical arguments or convictions to the effect that Christianity makes better sense of reality, etc.

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  21. In short what i’m saying is that

    1. Claims that are proved inductively have a lower epistemological status than deductively proved ones, however high their probabilty is;
    2. The Resussurection is proved via historical arguments and therefore is a inductively proved claim;
    Conclusion: the Ressurection and everything build upon it has a lower epistemological status than claims from philosophy and nature and metaphysics (deductively proved claims)

    By epistemological status I mean how certain we can be about the truth of a proposition.

    As a Catholic I have problems with the conclusion and think any coherent Catholic should have

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    1. Well, I think your issue is really with the perspective of the observer which tries to epistemologically deduce evidence for Christianity.

      We can logically prove that God (with his various monotheistic attributes) exists. If we suppose that Jesus Christ is God, this mean that there DOES exist a purely deductive proof of Christ's Resurrection, we just don't know it. Therefore, the weakness is only temporal, and not ontological in nature

      The bottom line is this: if there is a sound logical deductive argument for Christ's divinity, then there exists a sound deductive logical argument for His Resurrection.

      I'm not saying that I possess anything of the sort and I agree that simply pointing out the "if then" relation between these propositions is NOT proof in and of itself (it's circular reasoning). The moral of the story is that we are dumb and we will just have to deal with weaker proofs until "the veil is lifted".

      God bless and keep you always.

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    2. The Thomist Guy:

      "For we walk by faith, not by sight." (2 Corinthians 5:7)

      Doesn't that say it all? And shouldn't that be enough for us?

      Ave Maria:

      You assert that: (1) we can prove God exists; (2) Jesus is God; therefore (3) there is a proof that Jesus rose from the dead, even if we haven't discovered the proof yet.

      Your conclusion is a non sequitur. All that follows is that Jesus could (at some future date) prove to us that He rose from the dead, if He wished to do so.

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    3. To Vincent Torley.

      You misinterpreted my point. In my comment, I never claimed that we can prove Jesus' divinity (though I firmly maintain that we can). I laid out an epistemological framework which states that IF we were able to deductively prove that Jesus is God, THEN it would also mean that there exists a deductive logical proof of His Resurrection. In fact, let me quote myself:

      "I'm not saying that I possess anything of the sort and I agree that simply pointing out the "if then" relation between these propositions is NOT proof in and of itself (it's circular reasoning)."

      I readily admitted that simply pointing out that (when all is said and done), the logical proof of Jesus's divinity and the proof of His Resurrection are on the same epistemological level is NOT the proof itself. In fact, what The Thomist Guy was requesting is a reconciliation between lower and higher levels of epistemological inquiry, NOT the proof of Jesus's divinity or even the existence of God.

      God bless you and keep you always.

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    4. Vincent Torley:

      You seems to be avoiding the question by merely pointing out that we don’t need any logical reason to belive. Even if you succeed in avoiding the problem, it seems you end up suceding with a kind of fideism. And I don’t think the Passage you quoted implies fideism. We can easily interpret it as saying that we ought to trust in God, levying the question of whether this trust ought to be reasonable or not open.

      Ave Maria:

      I think I got what you are saying, but merely saying that there may be a dedutive argument “out there” but that we don’t know abou is not enough to justify certainty in its conclusion, we would have to first find it and then to problem I pointed out would be solved.

      And it seems to me impossible for there to be a deductive argument for the Resurection, since it is not a claim about logic or metaphysics, about how things HAVE TO BE. The Incarnation and all of Salvation is something God does freely and not out of necessity (this I think can be proven metaphysically) and therefore when we claim that the Ressurection did happen we are claiming something that is some sense contingent. It would not be contradictory for God to not have done any Revelation at all. Even if we can know with logical and deductive certainty contingent facts of our sensory experience (and I leave that question of whether this is the case open), given that the Ressurection is something that happened in the past, we can only ever know if using inductive methods.

      So it seems none of you two have solved the problem

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    5. We have to remember that there is a real difference between Natural Theology and Supernatural or Revealed Theology.
      That there is a God as proposed by monotheistic religions, can be proved by rational thought. That God is a Trinity, that Jesus Christ is the eternal Father's Son, that there is such a thing as a Holy Ghost, that Jesus is the Messiah, that He died on the Cross and thus merited us redemption and salvation, that He rose from the dead on the third day, that He instituted a Church, that He instituted the Eucharist, and that the Catholic religion is the only true religion, cannot be proved by rational thought, but is contained in Revelation given by God. Had God not revealed this, there would be no way to know this - which makes Catholicism a religion rather than a philosophical school. However, the articles of Faith are d'accord with rational thought insofar as they don't contradict eachother (which makes sense, because Faith comes from God just as reason does, and science as well).
      The Proofs for God's existence by Thomas are not proofs for the truth of the Catholic religion. In fact, no document of Holy Church claims that the Catholic religion can be proved by the natural light of pure reason.
      The Thomist Guy is spot on.

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    6. Let me just quickly jack this thread to make a few comments on specifically Christian arguments (as opposed to theist arguments):

      1- it is obvious that there can be no deductive proof of Christianity; no argument that could establish the sort of hard certainty that we get in mathematics or perhaps metaphysics. But there are good inductive and abductive arguments for Christianity.

      2- and a historical argument for the Resurrection is not the only argument. A lot of people seem to think that we can only argue for Christianity on the basis of a historical case for the Resurrection, but that is not true. I think a good case can be made for the Resurrection of Jesus purely on historical grounds (the more recent work of Timothy McGrew on miracles, probability, undesigned coincidences and the gospels, etc, is especially recommended here). But there are many different arguments for Christianity, with differing strengths:

      A) the providential story of the conversion of so many peoples to Christianity;
      B) Religious experiences and the testimony of many mystics and saints;
      C) A confluence between Christianity and natural law or objective morality;
      D) A confluence between Christianity and some metaphysical conclusions (e.g. The general Resurrection and the nature of the soul and immortality)
      E) The intrinsic plausibility of many Christian claims and how Christianity arguably makes the best sense of theism. This I think is an extremely underrated line of argument which I find very powerful. Some contemporary big names have written on some of it (Swinburne argues for the intrinsic probability of the Incarnation, for instance; if I remembr well Fr. Spitzer also gives some similar arguments), but it needs more attention. Really, once someone is convinced that God exists, it is important to consider what is a more plausible view of God's relationship with creation. I think Christianity not only has a lot of intrinsic plausibility with such claims as the Incarnation, Sacrifice and Redemption, but it also has advantages in solving the problem of evil and hiddenness.

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    7. And, of course, the (obvious) fact that we cannot establish Christianity to be true with mathematical certainty should not be a problem to any Catholic.

      I guess a few people can sometimes get a little anxious about the possibility that they are brains in vats, or that they are being deceived by evil demons, or that their memories are all false and just came into existence 5 minutes ago - but most people don't get very troubled about not being able to give a deductive proof for our everyday beliefs...

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    8. Religious experiences are not deductive, but inductive. That's the whole point of Modernism.
      Roberto Bellarmino has written a tractate on the truth of the Catholic religion, giving arguments such as the magnitude of the Church, the existence of miracles etc., but they are all inductive.

      That the Catholic religion goes perfectly with Natural Law is also an inductive argument. There is no necessity of the Catholic religion, but Natural Law is necessary. It could be pure coincidence that the Catholic religion matches so nicely, but after all, Judaism does as well. But Judaism is not the only true religion, since a "supplanted" form of Judaism is, namely Catholicism. Judaism in this regard is lacking. Those are all inductive arguments, though.

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    9. Who said religious experiences and confluence with Natural Law are deductive arguments? Who are you responding to? I said they are all abductive or inductive arguments. And what does this have to do with modernism? I was presenting arguments for Christianity.

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    10. Hi Miguel,

      I strongly agree with your point that the historical arguments isn't the only argument for the Resurrection. I think C), D) and E) which you listed above are very powerful arguments. Thus I am not arguing for a fideistic position on the Resurrection.

      Re historical arguments: I suggest readers have a look at this video on why memories can't be trusted:

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=td13Zz1z3LA

      There's more. Science shows people regularly remember things that didn’t happen:

      https://thefederalist.com/2018/10/04/science-shows-people-regularly-remember-things-didnt-happen/

      Now, bear in mind that the Gospels were written 30 to 60 years after the Resurrection, by unknown authors (see https://infidels.org/library/modern/matthew_ferguson/gospel-authors.html ) who may or may not have interviewed the apostles. Put all these facts together, and we can see why it's impossible to mount an effective historical case for the Resurrection, in the 21st century. Instead, we have to look at the fruits of Christianity, rather than relying on the historical evidence. My two cents.

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    11. Vincent,

      People don't remember Ressurections when they didn't happen.

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    12. The key to Christianity has *always* been evidential and evidentialism was the modus operandi of Christian apologetics since the very beginning, with natural theology arguments such as cosmological, neoplatonic, teleological, and arguments from eternal truths being a staple from very early time.

      You can also prove A-T to the extent that many of its postulates are either self-evident or have very powerful abductive arguments in its favor.

      A-T does not posit a God in violent opposition to the God of the Bible. It proves the *only* God there is, and it is not "the A-T" God, as there are other classical traditions that, although not strictly A-T, are in basic agreement over God being absolutely simple, for example. If you say there is an opposition between the God that we can demonstrate and the God of the Bible, you are pretty much arguing against the Bible.

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  22. I have an article for anybody interested in true philosophy: "Christ the Logos, Font of Greek Philosophy"
    https://www.academia.edu/1619469/
    Yep, Jesus Christ, the Logos, is the font of Greek Philosophy. St. Paul states it in Corinthians (11:14): "What does Nature teach".

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    1. Question: if people can only become as good as their nature allows them to, then is that cause for despair? But how do you reconcile that with what the great St. Francis De Sales wrote?

      "Since the goodness of God is so great that one single moment suffices to obtain and receive his grace, what assurance can we have that a man who was a sinner yesterday is so today?"

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    2. ErotemeObelus, I have no idea. The "Nature" I'm referring here to, is Physis, or Cosmos, the Created world, the NATURAL ORDER, not the "nature of humans" or morality, or salvation, and the workings of grace. My comment is strictly on the true origins of Philosophy and what is True Philosophy---not the bastardized modern philosophy that is nothing more than sophistry. I mean Plato states it clearly in the Timaeus: "...nature of the universe is where we have derived philosophy". Plato is writing down what was delivered to him by Socrates and Socrates was an adherent, disciple and admirer of Sparta. This info is being suppressed by philosophy departments across the West! Don't trust modern books.

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  23. Jesus is fully Man and Fully God. Catholicism caches this out as that in the carnation the second Person of the Trinity has 2 full natures, human and Divine, two intellects and 2 wills. William Lane Craig rejects the view that the second person of the Trinity has 2 separate intellects and wills because that would make him two separate persons. Put another way, with the Catholic position, what is it that makes Jesus one person?

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    1. My take on this.

      Premise 1: God the Son is in the Holy Trinity
      Premise 2: God the Son is truly one person.
      Premise 3: God the Son is identical with Jesus Christ.
      Premise 4: There are precisely three Persons in the Holy Trinity.

      Conclusion: Jesus Christ is truly one person.

      Note: all of the premises I listed are (almost) universally accepted by all of today's Christians, regardless of denomination. So this logical argument is rooted in dogma. If you'd like a more "general" form of the "proof" (only semi-dogmatic), you can request it. For the time being I'm going to assume that you agree with the four premises I listed above.

      The "proof": God the Son is identical with Jesus Christ. Being identical to something also means having all essential properties of that particular thing. The Trinity consists of three Persons, therefore it is a essential property of God the Son to be a person. Therefore, it is also an essential property of Jesus Christ to be truly one person. QED

      The alleged confusion which two intellects and two wills bring to the table is irrelevant, as we're forced by logical deduction to affirm that Jesus Christ is truly one person. Of course, we could explore the machinations of what it means to have "two intellects" and "two wills", but since the above four premises are essential to the Christian faith, any (non-heretical) Christian is forced to admit that Jesus Christ is truly one person. In other words, the premises are essential to the Christian faith and thus override any lack of understanding one might have about the compatibility of oneness of personality and multiplicity of wills and/or intellects.

      God bless and keep you always.

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    2. To anon about what makes Jesus one person when having two natures within. First, Jesus Christ, the Logos, existed before He was incarnated! Jesus Christ had a will, intellect, nature when He was delineated.

      Then, by the Power of the Holy Spirit, incarnated and there, took up the Will, Intellect and Nature of Man.

      What happened is that the Divine parts of Will, Intellect, Nature, worked with the Materialist Human Will, Intellect, Nature. Jesus is One Being that had elements of Divine Will, Intellect and Nature and elements of Human Will, Intellect and Nature that worked together.

      Just as a human being is created by a male sperm and a female ovum to create one, Jesus had Divine God-being ingratiate itself into a female ovum and they worked in conjunction.

      Because of Original Sin, we have two natures as straight human beings, one good and one bad. Because the BVM was free of original sin, what happened to Jesus was that one good nature (divine Jesus) combined with good nature of material humaness of the flesh of the BVM.

      Any human today has Two natures, one evil and one good that fight each other. As Clinias in Plato's Laws attests to: "Each person is in a state of internal warfare with himself".

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    3. Hi W.LindsayWheeler!

      Please don't say that humans have two natures. This claim is philosophically incoherent and heretical. Humans are created as good by God Himself (they have one, good nature), but after original sin, we have a tendency towards evil. By trusting in God and obeying His commandments, we can (not by the virtue of our own effort, but in congruence with His Grace) overcome our defects of original sin and get to Heaven.

      God bless and keep you always.

      Greg

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    4. Ave Maria, St. Peter said in II Peter 1:5 "SUPPLEMENT THE FAITH WITH VIRTUE..".

      God helps those who help themselves! In its two thousand year history of the Church---IT HAS NEVER PUT THAT INTO PRACTICE! I had 12 years of Catholic elementary and high school education---and NEVER heard the word Virtue!!!! Grace alone? Like Sola Scriptura? or like Sola Gospel? All heresies. Why the Church is suffering today is that there is NO Virtue anywhere in the Church! Sola Gracia is a heresy. Please explicate a small dissertation on what sophrusyne means. Please. Show your erudition and Christian education! [sarc]

      All things are By Nature! And the Instinct of Good is only gotten by habitualization.

      Sola Gracia, Sola Scriptura, and Sola Gospel are all heresies.

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    5. Hi Lindsay.

      I agree, Sola Gratia and Sola Scriptura are heresies. I am Catholic.

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    6. Sola Gratia is in no way an heresy.

      Our initial salvation is *by* Sola Gratia; you can't do anything to merit that.

      I'm catholic too.

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    7. I suppose that you are correct. The thing that I wanted to point out is that the doctrine of "grace alone" is often abused by Protestants to imply predestination or salvation WITHOUT good works.

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    8. Dear Gerald Haug.

      I understand Protestant theology perfectly well, that's why I completely reject it. its teaching is demonic and false.

      Catholic theology (the only correct theology) firmly holds that while some of man's functions became corrupted in the Fall (superior intellect, superior language etc.), his nature remained intact. In fact, it wouldn't be rational for God to continue to support something which has in its very essence deviated from His design — in other words, if our very nature were corrupted, we wouldn't be human in the true sense of the word, but some other, depraved creature.

      The passages you cite above only show how damaged man's faculties are. The saints throughout history have firmly held that one of the effects of Original Sin is inclination to evil. This does not mean that the very nature of man was corrupted.

      A Logical Refutation of the Protestant Position

      Jesus Christ incarnated as a man to redeem us. In order for Him to truly be a man, he had to unite His divine nature to human nature (hypostatic union). We agree, and holy Faith tells us, that Jesus Christ was, is, and always will be perfect. Therefore, two options are at hand now:

      1. Jesus Christ truly united Himself to the human nature, meaning that the very human nature is in its essence perfect, uncorrupted, as God created it.
      2. Human nature is corrupted, therefore Jesus Christ united Himself to a "new" human nature, making Him not truly human as we are human.

      The second option is blasphemy, for we know de fide that Jesus Christ is human, just like you and me, but not only human, He is divine as well. He is "true God and true Man." The only remaining option is the first one, which affirms my position that human nature truly is uncorrupted.

      Conclusion: if human nature were corrupted the Incarnation (into a human nature) of God the Son would be impossible. Fortunately, human nature remains uncorrupted.

      Protestantism is an ape of true Christianity. I urge you to reconsider your position and come home to the Catholic Church. As I have demonstrated, Protestant theology blasphemes Christ with its preposterous claims.

      God bless and keep you always.

      Greg

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  24. If the human soul can subsist without body, and it is a form, then it follows that at least a few forms can exist without a corporeal grounding of their state at least for some period of time. This is not a radical view in case one is Christian and might be applicable to wide variety of ethereal beings like angels, demons, ghosts and of course God.
    Similarly, if God created the world from the word, i.e., the "logos" and something cannot come from nothing, could it be that the form vs. matter distinction is actually the distinction of spirit vs. matter and the spirit or form that exists ultimately from eternity and till eternity that is the primal part of the existence as it is, points to idealism?
    Of course, if 'X' is borne out of 'Y' then 'X' must be of 'Y' and "creation ex nihilo" suggests that matter is if form of God or God's power.

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  25. Thank you Prof Feser for this blog .

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  26. This is not directly relevant to topics on this blog, but since it’s an open thread, I can ask it. What are your favorite interpretations of QM? I am a Bohmian (or de Broglie-bohmian), for the simple reason that John Bell put very well:

    ”While the founding fathers agonized over the question 'particle' or 'wave', de Broglie in 1925 proposed the obvious answer 'particle' and 'wave'. Is it not clear from the smallness of the scintillation on the screen that we have to do with a particle? And is it not clear, from the diffraction and interference patterns, that the motion of the particle is directed by a wave? De Broglie showed in detail how the motion of a particle, passing through just one of two holes in screen, could be influenced by waves propagating through both holes. And so influenced that the particle does not go where the waves cancel out, but is attracted to where they cooperate. This idea seems to me so natural and simple, to resolve the wave-particle dilemma in such a clear and ordinary way, that it is a great mystery to me that it was so generally ignored.”

    Anyway, an aristotelian should certainly oppose the incoherent Copenhagen interpretation.

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  27. Hi Tuukka!

    In my opinion, Aristotelians and Thomists (and for the record, I am one myself) are too scared of the notion of probability. Perhaps they think that probability would introduce brute facts into our world and therefore topple the elegant hierarchical series (to which we are intellectually committed), but that's just not true for the following two reasons:

    1. Even IF it were true that reality is in some was truly random, this would not remove the causal hierarchical chain. It would only mean that there is such a (contingent or non-contingent — God) being which causes such an event whose properties are that it is impossible to temporally deduce its outcome. That's all. We must think of probability (randomness) as a property of some thing/event, not some metaphysical addendum which fundamentally changes A-T metaphysics.

    2. Probability can never be proven empirically. Of course, we have definitions of probability and randomness in mathematics, but these definitions are all contingent on certain axioms, which (evidently) aren't random, as they don't "change". In science, probability can only be established when no other explanation is at hand (in fact, you will notice that most old scientific findings are completely devoid of the notion of probability while the cutting-edge science always has that "probability" thrown in as a kind of an excuse for our lack of knowledge). There is always a chance that QM will be explained in non-probabilistic terms but the reverse doesn't work: we don't think that its "probable" that water's molecular structure is H2O, we are certain of it. In conclusion, scientific progress is a one-way street for hypotheses which are based on the notion of probability: once a system is explained in non-probabilistic terms, there is no way to reintroduce probability back into it (except maybe by arguing that the system itself is but a portino of another bigger system whose nature IS probabilistic — but you get my point).

    God bless and keep you always.

    Greg

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    1. Hello Greg,

      the problem with Copenhagen isn’t indeterminism. I’m fine with probabilities, I agree with you. The problem is that Copenhagen is just incoherent. Spontanious collapse theories, for example, are probabilistic, but clear and coherent. So indeterminism is not the issue. The reason why I prefer Bohm is that it is a clear and coherent theory, which explains the wave particle duality, and also makes sense with regards to entaglement.

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    2. Ah, OK. Sorry, if you are looking for someone who has real exhaustive scientific knowledge of QM, that's not me. I just like to analyze various scientific hypotheses with A-T principles.

      I find it incredibly ridiculous when someone claims that QM MUST CERTAINLY be probabilistic as if they have some preternatural insight into all of its underlying variables.

      The funny thing is that a vast number of interpretations (of certain scientific phenomena) are philosophically motivated — anything to push God out of the picture! I've always found it amusing how atheists will affirm the most absurd things, like brute facts (sorry Bertrand Russel, PSR holds), just to get away from God. They are truly terrified of Him.

      In some debates I've had, the sense of fear was so extreme that this alone is a kind of a (personal) proof that God really exists.

      Sorry for my rambling, had to get it off of my chest.

      God bless and keep you always.

      Greg

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    3. "They are truly terrified of Him."

      Oh my Jesus, forgive us our sins, save us from the fires of Hell, lead all souls to Heaven, especially those in most need of thy mercy.

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  28. A bit embarassing questions:

    1 - Is the Ethics of Care compatible with Virtue Ethics?

    2 - There is such a thing as "feminist catholicism"?

    I was thinking about these things while reading Erika Bachiochi:

    https://www.firstthings.com/article/2016/10/embodied-caregiving

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    1. These are potentially tricky questions, because it can depend on how you understand them.

      (1) I teach ethics of care as a minor unit in my Ethics courses. There is considerable controversy, both inside and outside ethics of care, as to the relation between ethics of care and the major approaches to ethics, including virtue ethics. There are three common positions taken:

      (a) The most common is to regard ethics of care as a form of virtue ethics, or at least structured in such a way that it most naturally conforms to virtue ethics. However, if it is a kind of virtue ethics, then it is probably grouped more neatly with sentiment-based or moral-sense-based versions of virtue ethics (e.g., David Hume) than reason-based versions (like Aristotle and Aquinas).

      (b) Probably the second most common view is that it is just a different approach from the major approaches (consequentialism, deontology, virtue ethics). If this is the case, there are many questions about how it relates to virtue ethics that are not clearly answered yet.

      (c) The third option you commonly see, although it doesn't seem as popular as the others, is that it is a form of consequentialism, with care being what distinguishes good and bad consequences. This would make it a very unusual form of consequentialism. (Most consequentialisms are utilitarian, i.e., they focus on happiness rather than care.) If this is the case, it might be a form of character consequentialism, which is a kind of consequentialism that has a lot of similarities to virtue ethics, but unlike virtue ethics treats consequences as more fundamental than character.

      (2) In some senses of the term, there are certainly feminist Catholicisms. Edith Stein's writings in Essays on Woman would be a good example. There are certain very general things associated with some forms of feminism -- recognizing men and women as equally human, trying to make sure more justice is done to women, trying to take into account the perspectives of women -- which are entirely consistent with Catholic moral theology. On some understandings of the term, however, it implies things that are inconsistent with Catholic moral theology -- e.g., taking abortion to be morally permissible. Obviously, if we mean it in these senses, we run into problems almost immediately, and we have good reason to think that 'feminist Catholicism' in these senses are incoherent.

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  29. Anyone else having problems to get the "Faith and Reason" book? I ordered it at the end of March, should have received it today, but it has been delayed for at least another month according to the mail I got just a few hours ago. High demand or problems with the production?

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  30. Wondering if anyone can point me in a good direction with this, what's a Thomist account of the "Self" look like? Or a good refutation of the no-self account posited by Thomas Metzinger or Anil Seth? Or even a view about the self dissolving under psychedelic drugs?
    I'm tempted to think these views of self are a Cartesian hangover, and I should be viewing the self as my continuous existence as an animal, rather than as something the brain does, and the language is limited to express this. I'm just dipping my feet into Philosophy, slowly getting through Revenge, so I'm probably missing something obvious.

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    1. Hi Andrew! YOu´re back!
      Well what Seth or Metzinger are proposing is pretty much an eliminative materialist position (of course I don´t have to mention, that they can´t defend their position philosophically to save their lives, do I?), so, if you haven´t done already, read Feser´s series on Rosenberg´s "The Atheist Guide to reality". Here´s the round-up:

      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/05/rosenberg-roundup.html

      "I'm tempted to think these views of self are a Cartesian hangover"

      Correct. Ed pointed it out in his lecture on the Immateriality of the mind, if you are interested, read some Erwin Schrodinger, since he realized that the modern conception of matter gave necessarily rise to cartesian dualism. I have found the great physicists of the last century to be worth reading on their philosophy, especially Heisenberg, Schrodinger, Planck and to some extent Pauli. Compare that to the philosophical knowledge circulating in modern day physicists academia and you put your face in your hands.

      God bless!

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    2. I suppose it's interesting that human knowledge has grown so vast and enriched our lives to the extent it has. But people get so focused, perhaps unavoidably, in one discipline that they know next to nothing about anything else.

      Then you get capable biologists writing idiotic refutations of Aquinas, lol.

      I've read a smattering of Heisenberg and Schrodinger, and they certainly had a more well rounded educational upbringing. I believe it was Heisenberg that likened quantum physics to Aristotle's notion of act and potency. Aptly so.

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    3. Exactly, that´s why I mentioned him first. Heisenberg is my favourite from that time.

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    4. Hey Dominik! I never left, I just retreated into the shadows while soothing my worries with a healthy dose of correspondence from other commenters via email, and plenty of reading, listening and learning. I'm at the point where I think Descartes has a lot to answer for. Smart guy, just maybe poisoned the well. I'll be adding those physicists to my reading list! At the very least so I can understand exactly how small Planck measurements are. Something along the lines of my beer money after the mortgage, but a tad larger I assume!

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    5. Andrew, I think I found something that summarizes the philosophical illiteracy in the field of neuroscience pretty well. Sadly, the link for the scientific article doesn´t work anymore, but at least I have this blogpost with some quotes from it:
      http://atheism-analyzed.blogspot.com/2009/04/your-wisdom-spot.html

      What I especially want to point out is the part where the researcher (arguing for deterministic, eliminative materialism) says that it may be unsettling for some that conscioussness or the appearance of free will are based on the brain structure rather than metaphysics. The last part already tells us everything we need to know, Jeste couldn´t make a coherent statement about metaphysics if you would point a gun to his head. Apparently he thinks that metaphysics aren´t describtions of the underlying principles of reality but spooky supernatural stuff which we apparently believe make our mind work. I think this is a good pointer at how big the problem really is. If your convictions aren´t philosophically sound, they can´t be true. And Jeste´s illiteracy represents a similar illiteracy from Seth, Metzinger and whoever became their science popstar in the last few years. I think the public does the same mistake as it did when Stephen Hawking said anything, well because he was a great physicist, everything he said had to be right, correct? We see the same with Hawking, as with those neuroscientists: Only because you are good in your field doesn´t enable you to make exhaustive statements about objective reality other than in the very narrow field you are researching in. Step out, and you make a fool of yourself!

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  31. Hello Andrew.

    I ordered my copy of Faith and Reason as well on Amazon. Demand seems to be high as Amazon informed me that I will probably receive my book in about 3 months. The book itself was outsold on Book Depository in just a couple of days. Yikes!

    On the other hand, I take in joy in the knowledge that more and more people are becoming aware of classical theism and that our cause is prospering.

    God bless and keep you always.

    Greg

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  32. Hi Tarudo.

    I can't answer the first question, however I can contribute some insight regarding the second one.

    To answer your question: just look at Our Blessed Mother. Is she a feminist? I don't think so. Throughout her entire earthly life, she was the most perfect example of humility, subordination and meekness. This, I observe, is what most modern women lack. God created nature with a certain order in His Divine Mind (natural law). Men have a specific role in this order and the same goes for women. If a creature strays from this order, bad things happen — that's the essence of natural law. Just look at the Fall, for example. It was Adam's role to lead and protect Eve. She stepped from underneath his authority when she listened to Satan (she didn't obey God, she didn't fulfill natural law), and then... Well, you know what happened afterwards.

    In conclusion: if by the term 'feminism' is used to denote treating women with dignity respect and love, I'm all for that. But if this term is meant as most modern feminist activists use it, i.e. usurping man's rightful place in the society, other immoral activities such as contraception and abortion etc. then no, I'm NOT for that. Such 'feminism' is immoral, and gravely sinful as well.

    God bless and keep you always.

    Greg

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    1. Feminism in either form is a satanic ideology. What women need, especially in the Third World, is not feminism (an ideology that derives from the "Enlightenment", the French Revolution, and Marxism), but divine Truth as taught by Holy Church. In the eternal teachings of Her, there is everything we need for treating women as they are supposed to be treated: With respect, and as creatures of God with an inherent dignity. You suggest looking to the Theotokos. That's exactly what we should do. Just say "no" to feminism. It is never about women's "rights". It is an ideology. And when we can chose between an ideology, and the Catholic Church - I will always take the latter.

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    2. Randolph, I agree with you completely. Just look at Our Holy Mother. Is she a feminist? No. "May your word to me be fulfilled."

      Feminism truly IS satanic and it's no coincidence that it first reared its ugly head in arguably the most sinful century in human history.

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  33. What are some arguments to suggest that a composite thing cannot be necessary? Presumably one that can get around the following objection: why can't it be that a composite things parts are necessary, and necessarily arranged as such, making the whole of a composite thing necessary?

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    1. Read Feser's books on Aquinas and the Five Ways. It's perfectly explained there.

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    2. Let us make a distinction between essential composition and ontological composition. All things possess both of these.

      Essential composition is the arrangement of the parts that make up a substance of a thing. Tautologically, a thing only exists as that particular thing if the specific arrangement is present. For example: atoms in the dog Fido are of the essential composition so that Fido even exists AS A DOG. Without this arrangement, Fido wouldn't exist as a dog. So essential composition is in some way necessary for things to exists AS THEMSELVES.

      Ontological composition is more fundamental. Everything that exists has its own existence and essence. Note that essential composition is a subset of ontological composition. For a truly incomposite being this would necessarily entail that its existence is equivalent to its essence, since there can be no division in a truly incomposite being. Existence (equal to being for simplicity's sake) is the most fundamental property of any thing. Therefore, while there might be some things that exist eternally like numbers, for example, they STILL aren't necessary in the ontological sense, since they comprise of existence and their essence. Only a purely simple being which just IS existence itself is truly necessary and not subordinated to any category whatsoever. This being is God.

      Take number 2 for example. I'm certain that you'd agree with me that number 2 exists, and does so outside of time (it's eternal). But its existence is not equivalent to its essence. The essence of number 2 is strictly determined: "the quantity of two something." Even though it exists eternally I wouldn't say that it is truly necessary, since there is a genus under which it falls and there is only one "thing" which possesses this utmost high genus itself: this is existence itself, being itself, the only TRULY necessary being, truly incomposite, and this being is, as I have said previously, God.

      God bless and keep you always.

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    3. I know that to be truly simple, one must lack form-matter compositition, an essense-existence distinction, etc, but what arguments could you give me to suggest that a necessary being must be simple? If its existence were necessary, then it would have no unactualized potencies, but not in the sense that God would. I don't know if thats entirley incoherent.

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  34. Dr. Feser, I was analyzing your article on retorsion arguments and how you show that they do not commit the tu quoque fallacy. I agree with you, but the best way to demonstrate this is to write it out as a formal mathematical proof.

    1. Assume that no proposition outside of the scientific method can be true.
    2. Let P be the proposition that "no proposition outside of the scientific method can be true."
    3. P itself is outside of the scientific method.
    4. Therefore P is false, which contradicted our assumption that P was true.

    Then I would ask you opponent to point out on which specific step the tu quoque fallacy was invoked. Because no step uses the pronoun "you," you can see that it is impossible for you to have invoked the tu quoque fallacy at any step.

    Formal logic can be metaphysically neutral... if you know what you are doing. But how many people know how to use formal logic correctly? Outside for a few mathematicians and computer scientists, nobody at all. The kind of "formal logic" they teach at philosophy departments is completely alien to mathematicians and computer scientists, and it is likely this kind of "formal logic" that is loaded.

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  35. What are legal or philosophical terms for the principle according to which a person who hires another to commit murder is more culpable for the crime than the hit man who actually pulls the trigger? This is such a common element in courtroom dramas that I feel there has to be a legal term for it, but my lawyer acquaintances can't think of one. Is there a philosophical term for it? It seems to be implicit in our collective moral reckoning.

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  36. What is given in the senses that we can synthesize phantasms and then abstract from them?

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  37. In considering a potential teaching ex-cathedra, what counts as evidence that something is being taught *definitively*, other than merely stating such?

    I'm looking for a rigorous account of the distinction between solemnly *teaching* and solemnly *defining* a teaching.

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    1. There are many ways of teaching, such as teaching by example.

      When teaching by speech, many methods can be used, such as composing and relating parables. Teaching by parable could be fairly solemn if so intended and stated. (The "solemness" would need to be clarified for theological purposes.)

      To solemnly define a teaching, as is it is usually understood, you teach not by some other method like those above, but by proposing a binding definition that meets all the requisite criteria.

      The teaching so defined may have been essentially taught in other (usually less specific) terms before, or with less solemnity.

      Delete
    2. Edward Peters, RC canonist, treats the issue of infallibility and solemn definition of a dogma. His blog is: https://canonlawblog.wordpress.com/

      Basically, infallible teaching happens when a doctrine is repeated continuously by the Supreme Authority, which would be the Pope, but also Councils. Consider that teaching X appears 300 times in official documents, going back to Pope Anicetus, and most recently being repeated by Benedict XVI, then it is safe to say that this is a doctrine of the faith, although it has not been formally defined as such. This would be the normal way of teaching. An example would be that the priesthood is reserved for men, which has been repeated by John Paul II. It is not a solemnly defined dogma of the Church, but it is a continuously taught doctrine, making it an infallible doctrine of the Church. This case is somewhat special since John Paul II uses a language that indicates he intended it to be a formal definition. He invokes his supreme Apostolic authority, which is usually done when a dogma is defined ex cathedra. But this does not matter since the doctrine is infallible either way.
      The "just stating such" can be observed under Francis, who states many suches. When a teaching has no precedent, it cannot be part of the depositum fidei, and thus is not part of the Catholic Faith. Even though, as has been the case when it came to the Argentinian bishops' interpretation of Amoris Laetitia, Francis "wants" it to be a part of the Faith from now on, he cannot do that in any way, since a Pope can never define new teachings, only profess eternal truths. A definition is not the creation of new articles of faith, but simply a binding formulation for an article that didn't have one before, but existed since forever (that the Pope is infallible under certain circumstances has been believed and accepted by the earliest Christians).

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  38. What are some good responses to Scotus' argument against analogical predication?

    Scotus essentially says that, although analogical predication tries to find a middle ground between univocity and equivocity, this isn't actually possible. I got the rest of my comment from here: https://wmpeople.wm.edu/asset/index/cvance/univocal

    For instance, consider the following argument:
    1. Socrates is a human.
    2. All humans are mammals.
    3. Therefore, Socrates is a mammal.

    Here, ‘human’ is the so-called “middle term” of this argument. If it is used univocally,
    then the argument is valid. But, if it is used equivocally, then the argument is invalid:
    1. Everyone at the meeting was a chair (of some department).
    2. All chairs were designed to be sat on.
    3. Therefore, everyone at the meeting was designed to be sat on.
    2. Against Analogical Predication: Aquinas’s analogical terms fail the test for univocity.
    (1) First, pairs of analogical predicates CAN be both affirmed and denied of the same
    thing without contradiction. For instance, Socrates is wise (in the way that the
    term applies to humans), but is NOT wise (in the way that it applies to God).
    (2) Second, pairs of analogical terms can NOT be used to make valid arguments:
    1. If something is good (divine sense), then it is morally perfect. (TRUE)
    2. Socrates was good (human sense). (TRUE)
    3. Therefore, Socrates was morally perfect. (FALSE)
    The conclusion SHOULD follow from the premises, if the terms were univocal, but
    they do not—so the terms are equivocal.

    So, there is no way for the terms to be analogical!

    What is the Neo-Thomistic response to this?

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    1. (1) That's true. It doesn't refute analogical predication, though. It just shows that analogical predication is different from univocal predication.

      (2) "The conclusion SHOULD follow from the premises, if the terms were univocal, but
      they do not—so the terms are equivocal."
      The conclusion not following from the premises does show that the terms are not univocal, but concluding that the terms are equivocal from that is only valid if you've already ruled out that they could be analogical. It's begging the question.

      So in summary, all those arguments show is that analogical predication is not univocal predication, and that is indeed true.

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  39. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  40. How would one attack a radical skepticism/solipsism? Would we even need to attack it?

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    1. Dear Nate.

      If one is a radical skeptic/solipsist, then intellectual logical, philosophical discussion with him is impossible. We can only strategically ask some questions which will produce a self-evident answer which might seem plausible to them

      An example (S: solipsist, T: Thomist).

      T: "How do you differentiate between what you truly know and what illusory?"
      S: "My existence is certain, but my perception is relative, illusory."
      T: "How did you come to believe that?"
      S: "Well, my existence precedes my other (possible) attributes, such as my senses, therefore it is the only fundamental and certain thing."
      T: "But you used a dynamic logical process which carried out this reasoning of yours. How can a dynamic logical process be a part of one's existence. Isn't existence necessarily static?"
      S: "..."

      At this point, you could be able to convince a solipsist that his "being" isn't merely being as such, but that it has real dynamic components, such as the will, the intellect etc. At the end of the day, you'd at least be able to convince him that he is a kind of "spirit".

      God bless and keep you always.

      Greg

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    2. @Ave Maria
      “If one is a radical skeptic/solipsist, then intellectual logical, philosophical discussion with him is impossible.”
      For you personally, that seems to be, at base, the case. You do indeed seem incapable, thus far in your life, of grasping the skeptic's position and how to find a common language of logical discussion with him.

      “How can a dynamic logical process be a part of one's existence. Isn't existence necessarily static?"
      “One’s” existence, very self evidently, is not static. I perceive myself changing. Perhaps I am god and you are all figments of my divine imagination, but then it is god’s imagination that is changing.

      “At this point, you could be able to convince a solipsist that his "being" isn't merely being as such, but that it has real dynamic components”
      No need to be convinced, the dynamic aspect of my existence is self-evident.

      “At the end of the day, you'd at least be able to convince him that he is a kind of "spirit".”
      Well, depends what you mean by “spirit”. Terms like “immaterial existence” or “existent non-material” are incoherent. Things exist. Non-things don’t exist. Things are material. How could a thing be said to exist if it were not material?

      But, when I drop a brick on my toe it seems very real. I can speculate that it is all part of the hallucination of a brain in a vat, or whatever science fiction scenario one wishes to formulate, but with such a preponderance of seemingly real experiences in my view the most likely explanation is that I am not god or a brain in a vat, but rather more or less as I perceive myself, a living animal on the surface of a planet.

      From there we find that we agree on the axioms of logic, mathematics, and the process of forming or invalidating a logical argument. We might agree on them for different reasons, and to me the notion that some invisible omnipotent being has bestowed them upon our existence is absurd, but, whatever the source of those axioms we can at least agree to proceed functionally on their basis.

      My reasoning is self consistent, in that I make no claim to deduce absolute truth by the application of reason to what is evident to the senses, rather, I only claim to objectively prove or disprove arguments within the objective standard agreed upon by convention.

      It’s a big old world, Greg, filled with billions of people with a great many perspectives. Maybe one day you will learn to look for where the Venn diagrams intersect and build from there.

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    3. Nate,

      Check out "phenomenal conservatism".

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    4. @Nate,
      Yes, phenomenal conservatism is in line with provisionally accepting the basic reliability of the human senses.

      There are very good reasons to conclude, on reductionist materialism, that our brain function has a high degree of order, and our internal models are strongly correlated to an external reality, and our thought processes are not uncontrolled babble.

      Material does order itself, in the atom, molecules, crystals, solar systems, galaxies and natural patterns of regularity of many sorts. If the brain did not form internal models with a high degree of correlation to an external reality we would not survive long in the harsh and unforgiving natural environment. We have to be able to recognize what is edible and what is poisonous, members of our own species versus others, predators versus prey, danger versus safety. We do that by converting incoming signals into a sort of controlled hallucination, as is described well here:
      Your brain hallucinates your conscious reality | Anil Seth
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lyu7v7nWzfo

      One problem is defining words like “knowledge”, “known”, “truth”. If one insists on absolute certainty then solipsism is the case, we arrive at cogito ergo sum, we only know for certain that we are experiencing the experiences we experience ourselves having.

      The human brain has evolved to function absent certainty. We form internal models and assign probabilities to the likelihood that our model comports with an external reality. Like it our not, our knowledge is a probability estimate of proposition models being realistic.

      That just doesn’t bother me. But, that uncertainty seems to bother a great many people, many of whom respond by asserting they have somehow deduced some set of absolute knowledge of external reality, and they have a line on a perfect source of absolute truth. Such people are just kidding themselves, perhaps as an emotional defense mechanism against an uncertain reality that is for them personally unacceptable.


      Delete
  41. From a Thomistic point of view, what should happen if we could use something like a Star Trek teleporter?

    Like that: https://www.iflscience.com/physics/are-star-trek-transporters-actually-suicide-booth/

    Would we just die and our bodies fall down after the process? Would our souls go back to our bodies? Would our bodies take some not rational form? Would the bodys take new rational souls created by The Lord on the spot?

    Now, since our souls and our bodies are way, WAY more close that in
    the Cartesian view, options 3 and 4 seems impossible and really weird, but between 1 and 2, i don't know exactly what would happen.

    Also, is not funny that materialists seems to defend that what would come back won't be you but most find the idea of somehow transfering your mind to a robot a way of living forever, not just creating a copy of you?

    What's the diference for they i don't know.

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  42. A question for people who believe Thomas Hobbes was right: the King (not Elvis or Michael Jackson) issues an order that all Black people in Cowboyistan have to sit at the back of the bus, can't get any represemtation in government, and has to pay three times in taxes than white people. According to Hobbes, this is justice. Do you believe him?

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    1. Is there anyone who believes Hobbes was right?

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    2. @DonJindra everyone on the extreme right (not conservatives)

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    3. Switch "black" with "white" and you will get a substantial support by Buzzfeed readers. But of course what Hobbes writes is nonsense

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    4. I don't think you'll find anyone here who believes Hobbes was right. (Well, maybe some fundamentalist protty troll if you're lucky?)

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  43. How are the contracts of Roman Law and developed in the Catholic Moral Theological tradition related to modern contracts? Has anyone taken on the challenge of relating the contracts of that tradition (societias, mutuum, census, etc.) to modern finance arrangements?

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  44. Dear Prof Feser,

    Does your new book touch on Noether's theorem, and the way it relates conservation principles with symmetries via the arguably teleological Principle of Stationary Action?

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  45. The Thomist Guy wrote above: "This is where the problem arises, given that this means that claims from metaphysics and natural theology have a higher epistemological status than claims from Revealed and Dogmatic theology."

    Metaphysical certitude is what it is, but the fact that logical certainty exists does not mean that we can trust just anyone's logic to come up with it (what St. Thomas said about the few, the difficulty and admixture of error). When God speaks to us through revelation, the Church, we have absolute certainty. This is he meaning of true religion.

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    Replies
    1. We do not have absolute certainty, strictly speaking. We have absolute certainty in the sense that revealed claims follow deductively and infallibly from the ultimate source (God) Who cannot lie. But epistemically, we do not have absolute certainty, at least not the kind of Cartesian certainty that was being discussed. You are not as sure about Catholicism being true as you are about the basic truths of arithmetic, or the principle of non-contradiction.

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    2. Yes, we are absolutely certain. The knowledge that comes from God speaking to us through Revelation is more certain than human science. Religious certainty is the greatest.

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    3. Religion is not a science, it is a relation, hence the absolute certainty.

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    4. We do not have absolute certainty. God cannot lie and whatever he reveals we can be certain of its truth, but this is conditional on there being a God and there being reasons to believe God is revealing anything.

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    5. Religion is not a science, it is a relation based upon supernatural certitude, not primarily on human reason, which is fallible. We have absolute certitude because God has spoken.

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    6. St Thomas Aquinas clarifies this in the ST Prima Pars, Q I, Art. v.

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    7. Are you as sure of Catholicism being true as you are that 2 + 2 = 4? No, you're not.

      Delete
    8. I was hoping you would deal with the teaching of St. Thomas concerning this: "It may happen that what is in itself the more certain [the articles of the Faith] may seem to us the less certain on account of the weakness of our intelligence" "... this science [theology] surpasses other speculative sciences; in point of greater certitude, because other sciences derive their certitude from the natural light of human reason, which can err; whereas this derives its certitude from the light of divine knowledge, which cannot be misled..." This science " accepts its principles immediately from God, by revelation." He has answered your question.

      Delete
  46. I'll ask the same question I asked on the last post, see if anyone will bite:

    What does it mean to exist or to be real? And are these two terms synonyms?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. If you're interested in what Aquinas thought you can read De Ente et Essentia (https://dhspriory.org/thomas/english/DeEnte&Essentia.htm) or almost anything written by John Deely.
      Aquinas makes the distinction ens reale and ens rationis, or real being and beings of reason. John of St. Thomas calls this the difference between mind-independent being and mind-dependent being. So, your cat is real but your concept of cat-ness is not real though both exist.

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  47. Just got my copy of Aristotle's Revenge. I appreciate the clarification that Ed is not a Laval/River Forest or Maritain Thomist, (Philosophy of Nature is the same species as natural sciences/Philosophy of Nature is the same genus as natural science) but sees Philosophy of Nature as a branch of Metaphysics. Does this put Ed in the same camp as Etienne Gilson?

    I appreciate the final comment on page 9

    Hence a fully adequate philosophy of nature will certainly have to be informed by natural science. And when it is so informed, it is hardly surprising if the relationship between the two fields of inquiry might seem as close as the Laval/River Forest School and Maritain took it to be.

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    Replies
    1. I guess I'd like to know where Ed falls on the spectrum of Thomisms he outlined back in his 2009 post on the Thomistic Tradition:

      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/10/thomistic-tradition-part-i.html

      1. Neo-Scholastic Thomism: Garigou Legrange
      2. Existential Thomism: Gilson
      3. Laval or River Forest Thomism
      4. Transcendental Thomism
      5. Lublin Thomism
      6. Analytical Thomism

      .... on further reading, I can see that this was answered in Part II.

      In the interests of full disclosure, I might mention that my own understanding of Aquinas has been influenced most by the work of writers in the Neo-Scholastic, Laval/River Forest, and Analytical schools (especially the third category of analytical Thomism that I distinguished). In particular, I follow these approaches in reading Aquinas as the pivotal figure in an ongoing “Aristotelico-Thomistic” tradition, a “perennial philosophy” which has its roots in the best of ancient Greek thought and continues to this day.

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    2. I'd say he is an Analytical Thomist - of the kind that is more "thomist" than "analytical", but an analytical thomist nonetheless.

      Delete
  48. Aquinas, being a Aristotelian, defended the idea that all of our knowledgment comes from the senses: https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Peripatetic_axiom

    Seeing that Plato defended the opposite and that this(the existence of inate ideas) was part of the modern discussion between empirists and rationalists, i ask: There is good arguments for that or it follows from his epistemology?

    I remember a book i read some time ago about philosophy and the author(a kantian) did mention something about empirists having problems to explain how knowledgment is trustworth and rationalists having problems about how we could determine what are inate ideas(since Plato and Descartes seemed to get in error, can't remember the examples).


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  49. Libertarian free will is incoherent, since there's no reason why you do one thing rather than another. It's randomness.*

    Feser's god puts coins in people's brains, and if it lands on the wrong side, you go to hell forever.

    I hope the great Graham Oppy crushes him in July.

    *If a libertarian says explanations don't need to be contrastive, then they've (by definition) admitted that they can't explain the contrast: why one reason prevails over another. It's to admit that it's random. The agent has no antecedent determining control -- how he exercises the 'control' is a matter of luck. You have two different intentions that can pop into the same mental state, and the agent is blind to the outcome until it's already happened.

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    Replies
    1. There is so much non-sequitar, it´s a miracle that it all fits in one comment

      Delete
    2. On 4chan there was an infamous meme where the guy would leave a cold "GOD EXISTS. PROVE ME WRONG." (IN ALL CAPS was part of the meme).

      Congratulations for raising the decorum on here to the level of 4chan.

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    3. It's nice to see Counter Troll is still begging the question against agent explanations; the last paragraph is particularly rich as he assumes that if the explanations are not contrastive, then the contrast cannot be explained except by randomness - but that is obvious question begging against the notion of free agent choice, which is neither random nor deterministic.

      I advise other posters to just ignore the guy, he is a disturbed individual whose well-being depends on libertarian free will being false - hence why he won't stop begging the question and framing any issue in a question-begging way.

      Better to pray for him.

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    4. I don´t understand that strange enphasis on the debate, as if it would be any important. It isn´t like I would become a personalist like Craig, just because he is the best debater

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    5. Miguel,

      I notice that you still can't give me answer as to why the agent chose A over B, so you keep pulling the same nonsense by accusing me of a fallacy I'm not committing. I fully grant that given libertarian free will, the agent can choose either A or B. (So there's no question-begging.) The question is: in the given case where A is chosen rather than B, *why* did the agent choose A over B? Just saying "the agent" doesn't tell me why, since the existence of the agent, his power, and his reasons are consistent with both outcomes. You have the same input (the agent, causal power, and reasons) leading to different outputs. I want to know why one state of affairs transpired rather than the other, and you refuse to tell me.

      If I ask why one set of events happened over a different set, and the answer you give me is consistent with both events, then you haven't answered the question.
      Would anyone else like to tell me why A was chosen?

      Your well-being seems to be founded on dodging the question, and ironically, being a massive troll. It's a very simple question, but you refuse to answer and waste all our time accusing me of stuff I'm not doing.

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    6. Counter Troll,

      The problem is you keep framing the issue in such a way that the libertarian agent action can never work as an answer. You keep begging the question. I can give you an answer as to why the agent chose A over B, and that answer is, quite literally, that the agent chose A over B (probably because A seemed better to him, but that doesn't imply determinism).
      You beg the question when you insist that an explanation will have to either be deterministic or random. It doesn't seem to cross your mind that the libertarian can insist there is another kind of explanation, sui generis, that cannot be captured by either random or deterministic analyses. Free agent causation. Notice how your "objection" begs the question by implicitly ruling out free agent explanations the moment you say "just saying the agent doesn't tell me why, since the existence of the agent, his power, and his reasons are consistent with both outcomes" right, that could be a problem if you only accepted deterministic or random analyses of causation, but the whole point a libertarian might want to stress is that there is a category of action which is sui generis. You then proceed to try to fit this sui generis action into categories that the libertarian just rejected - randomness and determinism. You *are* begging the question.
      I don't refuse to tell you. I do tell you: this state of affairs transpired because the agent freely chose to carry out that action. You cannot reduce this into either deterministism or randomness, and that's the point. And you cannot attempt to refute it by claiming (as you repeatedly do) that it doesn't make sense because it doesn't fit your accepted frameworks of determinism or randomness.
      It's like the libertarian gives you a round peg, but you can't fit into either a triangle hole or a square hole, and you conclude the peg just doesn't work. No, the problem is you're trying to fit the peg in the wrong holes, and you can't see there is a round hole available.

      To be fair, the best you could do here is claim that your intuitions tell you there is no round hole. This of course will be useless against a libertarian who does not share your intuition. You might perhaps use it to justify it to yourself, in the absence of defeaters (and we both know you mainly need to justify it to yourself, since you're a disturbed individual whose well-being depends on this thesis - but I know it's hard, so I'm sorry), but you cannot use it in a dialectical context to "refute" a libertarian.

      Pace your insistence, most people will quite readily grasp that there is a kind of action that is different from both randomness and determinism. If we can't fit into either a deterministic framework or a random framework, so much the worse for this kind of reductionism; it is a free action and there is nothing logically incoherent about it.

      This is why no libertarian philosopher will ever be impressed by your repetitive question-begging assertions. It's just that: question-begging. "This isn't random or deterministic, it can't explain anything!"

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    8. Miguel,

      "I can give you an answer as to why the agent chose A over B, and that answer is, quite literally, that the agent chose A over B"

      Even I could give a better answer than the one you gave. If I were a libertarian, I'd say the agent chose A because of his agent-causal power (the how) and his reasons for doing A (the why). The problem is that that explanation is only a partial one, since it would still be present had the agent chosen B. The reasons and power are a necessary condition for the outcome, but they don't ultimately tell me why A transpired rather than B. Six being on the die is necessary for rolling six, but the outcome is still random since the same outputs --1 through 6--are compatible with the same die and its being thrown. The presence of 6 and the throw explain 6 coming up, but it's still random.

      Imagine two possible worlds that run the same until a certain time t. In one world, t-1, containing Michael Dimond, his power, and his reasons, it transitions to Mike agent-causing throwing an ice cube at Peter Dimond. In the other world, t-1 transitions to t, where Michael* agent-causes speaking "I think Francis really is the Pope" to Peter*. (And Peter* loses his temper.) Nothing about Michael and Michael* explain why it went one way over the other, since they both had the same mental state until t transpires. The intention suddenly pops into the head, with no prior definitive intention for it to pop in there. Yes, you could point to Michael*'s reasons (perhaps he did some soul-searching), but that doesn't tell me why the soul-searching took priority over his animal urge to throw an ice cube. It's a matter of luck.

      So even if agent causation exists, the agent is simply acting randomly with respect to his reasons, since there's no further reason for doing one particular thing. It's inexplicable, which is what randomness means. So you're taking random eventuation and just rubber stamping the word "free," and acting like the agent is responsible for it. T-1 just happened to transition over to t rather than t*.

      "[Y]ou mainly need to justify it to yourself" It's not all about me. I want you guys to leave the Catholic Church so A: Young boys (and to a lesser extent, girls) stop getting abused by priests and B: We legalize euthanasia and quit torturing the elderly, sick, and depressed. (How sad you guys have more respect for dogs than humans.)

      "this state of affairs transpired because the agent freely chose to carry out that action."

      You're explaining what happened in terms of what happened; the output happened because of the output. That is explanatory solecism, to use phraseology from the man who will put the overweight Ed Feser in his place, Graham Oppy. The agent's choosing A at t *is* the state of affairs.

      People are incredibly prideful and want to feel morally superior to others, so of course they'll keep defending libertarian free will even after it's shown to reduce to randomness. Catholicism is about working your way to heaven, but then ten days before you die, you commit a mortal sin and go to hell, so all that work was for nothing.

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    9. A Counter Rebel: you're using the exact same form of arguments eternalists use against presentists. So Failure Is The Only Option.

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    10. Counter Troll,

      I know your psychological well-being is dependent on free will being false (and I can sympathize, as I've had the same urge many times before, but I was never able to fool myself into denying free will), but I don't see the point in you repeating the same question-begging assertions over and over again. You assume that an explanans can only explain the explanandum if it somehow determines it - otherwise it is random - and that just begs the question against libertarian free will. As I said, you keep complaining that, because you can't fit a round peg into either a square hole or a triangle hole, the round peg doesn't exist.

      You keep repeating yourself and it's just tiresome. No serious libertarian philosopher will ever be worried about your "argument" because it is not an argument, it is simply question-begging. You complain that we can't explain why an action occurred by citing the agent-causal power and the reasons, because such an explanation would not be deterministic or random. Great fucking argument, the only problem is that this simply ignores the sui generis free agent causation that the libertarian (and the majority of common folk, as well) defends. An explanans does not need to necessitate the explanandum in a deterministic manner, and that wouldn't necessarily make it random either. You simply avoid the alternative of free agent action and claim it cannot explain anything because (duh) it doesn't fit into a reductionist model of deterministic/random explanans-to-explanandum.

      Again, being charitable, the best thing you can hope for is to justify this mess to your own view. You may perhaps be able to *personally* justify your rejection of free will because you simply don't understand free agent causation; you don't grasp what is an obvious possible sui generis explanatory action for many philosophers and common people. That may be fine and could be all you need, since you have a desperate need to reject free will in order to lessen guilt and relax your (badly damaged and disturbed) psychological status, but don't expect your question-begging to impress any good libertarian philosophers.

      I also don't get the random troll attacks on Feser, or the bizarre displays of envy towards people who are luckier and more successful than you are, but that wouldn't surprise me since (as I said) you are a sad, disturbed individual whose life has been damaged by moral failure and guilt. I hope you'll feel better personally soon, that your life improves, and that your mind gets better - it's hard -, but you would be doing philosophy a favor if you stopped advertising question-begging as "airtight refutations" of consistent positions.

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    11. Miguel,

      Once again, you say I'm begging the question when that's not the case. I don't assume that explanations must entail the explanandum. All I'm saying is that if the explanation is compatible with two different explanandum, then nothing about the explanation (the input) explains why one choice-reason pair transpired rather than other. There's no accounting for it. You have two different state of affairs actualized from the same prior state. Yes, the explanation explains it, but there is an element of randomness, since nothing about the input explains why we got *specifically* A. If nothing explains why got one over another, then it's random. Just like with a die roll -- yes there's a cause, but it's only a partial one. It would be like saying the roll of a 6 isn't random because there was a die roll. Even if there is an agent-causal power that you label "free," he is still exercising it randomly, as there is no basis for going one way over another.

      Putting randomness inside a mind doesn't change the fact that it's randomness. And it doesn't make the agent responsible in a deep sense. It only makes the agent causally responsible.

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  50. In this paper, Jeremy Koons argues against the response to the Euthyphro Dilemma, that God is pure Goodness. To summarize, his argument is that virtues (honesty, justice, charity) are always prior to Goodness.

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    1. Here is the paper:
      https://philpapers.org/archive/KOOCGG.pdf

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  51. Can anyone point me to a good refutation or take on process theology/metaphysics, particularly from an Aristotelian-Thomist perspective?

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