Friday, December 13, 2019

Brungardt on Aristotle’s Revenge


At Thomistica, philosopher John Brungardt reviews Aristotle’s Revenge.  He provides a fairly detailed overview of its methods and contents, and judges it “a broad, substantive book” that “has gathered and ordered a nearly universal range of topics and contemporary sources in the philosophy of nature and science,” so that “it is essential reading for those interested in the topic of the perennial Aristotelian philosophy of nature and its relationship to the particular natural sciences.”

Brungardt writes:

One strength of the book is actually its negative character, that is, how it relentlessly considers and negates the possibility or plausibility of alternative principles. For first principles cannot be demonstrated, strictly speaking, from principles that are prior to them. They can only be manifested (e.g., using principles prior to us) or defended in some other way (for instance, recall Aristotle’s defense of the principles of non-contradiction in Metaphysics IV)… In Aristotle’s Revenge, Feser’s is a brilliant architectonic of retorsion and reductiones ad absurdam that gives no quarter to the metaphysical foes of the Aristotelian philosophy of nature.

Yet this extensive dialectical engagement with metaphysical enemies does not mean that Feser is unable to find any fellow travelers, allies, or friends of the Aristotelian metaphysical project. This is the other characteristic strength of the book

So, on the one hand, Feser frequently cites philosophers outside Aristotelian or Thomistic circles to show that arriving at Aristotelian or Thomistic positions requires no special school loyalty (among other examples: support for epistemic structural realism [158–64, 191–93]; reconciling relativity with the A-theory of time [273]; defense of color realism [351]; the defense of holism in biology [384–86]). On the other hand, there are others who philosophized better than they knew and ended up with virtually Aristotelian conclusions or rediscoveries of the Stagirite’s positions, if only their arguments were pressed a bit further, clarified, or seen in a more favorable Aristotelian light (to take a few prominent examples: the embodiedness of cognition [95–97, 97ff]; the neo-Aristotelian approach to understanding laws of motion [177–90]; the reality of motion [at 215]; problems attending denying the reality of temporal passage by making a metaphysics out of mathematical method [261–64]; computationalism and nature [see 369–71]; and arguments about teleology’s relation to natural selection [in particular, 416]).

End quote.  Brungardt also says that he “hope[s] to elaborate on some points of criticism of particulars of the book and its approach in later blog-posts.”

In related news, philosopher Rob Koons, physicist Steve Barr, and I had a very good exchange about the book at an “Author Meets Critics” session at the recent American Catholic Philosophical Association meeting in Minneapolis.  It looks like the papers will appear in a forthcoming issue of American Catholic Philosophical Quarterly.

Recently I called attention to the thoughtful criticisms of the book raised by Nigel Cundy and by Bonald at Throne and Altar.  I replied to some of Bonald’s criticisms in that post, and will post a response to Cundy within the next few days.

104 comments:

  1. What on earth is Brungardt doing? He is engaging the content and arguments of the book. Hasn't he learned from Ellmers and Wise that this is not the way to proceed?

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  2. I know you're not a star wars fan but I'm legitimately more excited about your post replying to Cundy than I am the new star wars film.

    I might have to buy those papers. The three of you (Barr and Koons) have the right amount of agreement to have interesting disagreement.

    Or maybe I'll email the three of you stressing the Christian virtue of charity and ask for a copy :)

    Seriously, this blog is my favourite.

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    1. "I know you're not a star wars fan but I'm legitimately more excited about your post replying to Cundy than I am the new star wars film."

      Isn't that a rather low bar to set as this point?

      In any case, I'll also be interested to see his reply to Cundy.

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  3. Thomistica, Throne and Altar, the American Catholic Philosophical Association.... These are interesting venues.
    Yet Professor Feser keeps insisting, a bit indignantly at times, that there is nothing distinctly Catholic about his book.
    Has it been positively reviewed in any non-Catholic publication?

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    1. It doesn't follow that just because Catholic publications review it positively, that it is a Catholic work per se. That's clearly an informal fallacy

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    2. What a blatant fallacy...

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    3. Glenn, why do you and Wise insist on digging this hole you've dug for yourselves deeper and deeper?

      Since you evidently have never taken a logic class, let me get you up to speed by pointing out that what you've committed here is what's called a "circumstantial ad hominem" fallacy. The irrelevant circumstance in this case being the fact that I happen to be Catholic.

      Now, because I happen to be a Catholic philosopher, other Catholics who are interested in philosophy are, naturally, going to take an interest in my work. This is similar to the way that Americans may take a special interest in American athletes competing at the Olympics, or the way Germans might have a special interest in German philosophers like Hegel and Heidegger. But just as it doesn't follow that only Americans could be interested in athletic events involving American athletes or that only Germans could be interested in the work of Hegel or Heidegger, neither does it follow that only Catholics could find of interest the ideas and arguments expressed in Aristotle's Revenge.

      There is also the fact that my book is an academic one rather than a popular one, and perhaps you do not realize that reviews in academic journals tend to take a long time to appear. For one thing, academic journals don't publish with the frequency that popular magazines do. For another, an academic book takes some work to read and think through, and so reviews can take a while to write. (You see, unlike you and Wise, most academic reviewers review what's actually in the book rather than just writing down whatever irrelevant crap pops into their heads.)

      Aristotle's Revenge came out earlier this year, and while, as it happens, I do know of some academic reviews in non-Catholic outlets that are set to appear, they are still in the pipeline. So, again, the fact that much of the attention the book has received so far has come from Catholics doesn't really mean anything.

      I am belaboring the obvious, I realize, for which I apologize to those among my readers with a grasp of the obvious. But poor Glenn Ellmers and John Wise do not, so...

      Anyway, the bottom line is this. If you and Wise are going to establish this silly thesis of yours that the arguments of my book rest on Christian premises, what you need to do is tell us all exactly which arguments rest on such premises, and exactly how they do so. Until you do that, you're just blowing smoke.

      For example, are you claiming that my arguments about the embodied nature of perception and cognition rest on distinctively Catholic premises? Or that my defense of presentism does? Or that my defense of PSR does? Or that my defense of epistemic structural realism does? Or that my analysis of computational notions in biology and cognitive science does? The minute we consider actual, specific examples like that, the ludicrousness of your claims, and Wise's, is obvious, for none of what I say about these matters -- which are, again, what the frickin' book is actually about -- have anything specifically to do with Catholicism. Indeed, as I note in the book, such ideas have many non-Catholic and non-theist defenders.

      I notice, by the way, that over at Facebook you show that you can't even read this current exchange between Wise and me correctly, let alone my book. I have never denied (contrary to what you say over there) that the views expressed in my book are Thomist. On the contrary, I acknowledged that they are. What I denied is that there is anything specifically Christian or theological about them. Thomists have a lot to say about subjects other than Christian theology, for goodness' sake.

      Anyway, again, until you give us specific examples, you are just making a horse's ass of yourself. But if instead you guys wanna keep giving me rope, I'm happy to keep hanging you with it.

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    4. I think you've given away the game (so to speak) by comparing yourself to an athlete in the Olympics. Olympic athletes compete for a _team_. So Germans root for the German athletes on the German team. You are on the Catholic team, doing Catholic philosophy, so your fellow Catholics root for you. And now — at last — you’ve admitted that what you are doing in your book is specifically “Thomist” philosophy. Thanks for clarifying.
      I’m eager to see the reviews in mainstream, non-Catholic, academic journals. I’ll be keeping my eye out.
      Thanks for maintaining, as always, the gracious, high-minded tone.

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    5. Is it easier to attack Fesers religious convictions than engage with the real arguments within the book, because you have nothing constructive to add on the latter front?

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    6. Good God, Glenn - I hope you don't believe celebrities are astronauts because they're known as superstars.

      Feser also compared Eric's unwise arguments to saying that Tolstoy's War and Peace is misleading becuase it only deals with Napoleon and not other wars in general.

      Do you also believe this means that Feser is a crypto-poet and novelist, with a whole bind of his unpublished works bound to appear after he ceremoniously retires himself from philosophy by publishing a book on Pin-Dancing Angels?

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    7. Oh for heaven's sake, let this insanity stop. Glenn, you know damn well that the "team" aspect of the example is not the relevant part of the analogy. The quality of your sophistry is so low that I expect other sophists will soon complain that you are making them look bad.

      In any event, once again you avoid the only issue that matters, which is that unless you can point to specific examples of arguments from my book that rest on Christian premises, you're just wasting your time and mine. The reason you don't do so, of course, is that you can't, because there are no such arguments in the book. But like anyone who commits a sunk cost fallacy, you and Wise have now made such an emotional and public investment in this silly idea that my book is about a specifically "Christian science" that you simply can't let go, and continue to grasp at any straw you can lay hold of.

      And spare me the phony dudgeon about my "tone." Here you pretend to be civil while over at Facebook it's all snark of the sort that seems to be all that Facebook is good for. You're as transparent as tap water.

      Bottom line: If you don't want me to call you a horse's ass, stop acting like a horse's ass.

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  4. I’m not attacking anyone’s religious convictions!

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    1. I feel like I've entered the Twilight Zone, Glenn.

      On Facebook, you write: "How does anyone take this guy [Edward Feser] seriously?"

      Now, I wonder: are YOU being serious? For the sake of argument, let's say you're right that Dr. Feser is not as, so to speak, upfront about his placement among competing schools of thought and religion (which seems to me a totally absurd claim, however). What FOLLOWS FROM that? In what way is Dr. Feser not to be taken seriously? Are his actual arguments thereby invalid? Obviously, no.

      Do you even address ONE of his arguments in detail? What do you think of his argument for presentism? And why does being of such-in-such school of thought or religion have to do with the SOUNDNESS of that argument for presentism?

      Anyhow. . .with that said. . .

      WHEN HAS Dr. Feser not admitted to doing "Thomistic philosophy"? You're kidding, right? You've read his "Scholastic Metaphysics," correct? How is it not Thomistic? WHEN has Dr. Feser denied that? And for "Aristotle's Revenge," you do realize that Thomists generally consider their philosophy, in the broad outlines, as Aristotelian? To be sure, there can be debate about how faithful Thomism is to Aristotelianism, etc. But that debate is SEPARATE from, e.g., the argument for presentism.

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  5. Glenn, to oversimplify somewhat drastically, would you say that: Aristotle =/= Aquinas = Catholic
    And that further, since Aristotle's Revenge is really Thomistic instead of Aristotelian, it is thus Catholic as well? Because I'm not really seeing how the charge is supposed to land.

    Also, any thought on this Stephen Mumford tweet? Would he be considered Catholic too, given his comment in the tweet? https://twitter.com/sdmumford/status/500763511694589952

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    1. Roughly, yes. Contrary to Professor Feser’s fulminations, both Mr. Wise and I cited examples of how the book invokes specifically Scholastic ideas and doctrines that are in direct conflict with Aristotle. Since these modifications or departures were made by St. Thomas to accommodate Catholic theological doctrines, I think it is fair to say that in several places the book is Catholic, in direct contradiction to Aristotle.

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    2. You're generously assuming (at least for the sake of argument, I realize) that Ellmers and Wise have the foggiest idea of what they are talking about, or at least an interest in finding out -- which, as was clear from the beginning and is cringe-makingly obvious now, they do not.

      Hence, the current neo-Aristotelian revival in analytic philosophy represented by people like Cartwright, Mumford, Molnar, Nagel, and other non-Catholic and secular philosophers is something that they have absolutely zero knowledge of -- even though it's all right there in my book and what my book is about, for goodness' sake.

      Ellmers is not a rational person. You can keep trying to get blood from that stone, ccmnxc, but it ain't gonna happen.

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    3. There is a failure to draw a simple distinction.

      both Mr. Wise and I cited examples of how the book invokes specifically Scholastic ideas and doctrines that are in direct conflict with Aristotle.

      Now, this is an interesting point, and an attempt to show that this is so would be worthwhile. However,

      Since these modifications or departures were made by St. Thomas to accommodate Catholic theological doctrines,

      This is a separate point, and needs an independent argument. The fact that Aquinas's notion of, e.g. teleology, differs from Aristotle's is simply not evidence that Aquinas makes this departure for religious reasons. That's a gross non sequitur.

      You really cannot do so when such an explanation is more plausible at first light. For instance, Richard Hooker, though a Protestant, very often gives Thomistic arguments. But even in the case of his account of the Eucharist (which starts parallel to Aquinas's, then goes off in a different direction), you cannot just say "he did that because he was Anglican." No, that's Bulverism. The only correct way to analyse it is to look at the differences and evaluate them in their own terms.

      And that is the problem. I've noticed this among some (not all) Straussians, a tendency to read "this departs from the original author's understanding" (as the speaker has presented it) as meaning "this is wrong." It could as easily be that the new modification or development is an improvement on Plato, or Aristotle, or Machiavelli, or Locke, or whoever.

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  6. According to Professor Feser’s book, ice has a telos, a final cause, of “cooling its surroundings.” Likewise, he asserts that phosphorous exists “for the sake of” being flammable.

    While the teleology of living organisms is well explained by Aristotle on the basis of good arguments, these “just-so” contrived final causes for ice and phosphorous — which as far as I can tell, Professor Feser pulled out of thin air — are non-sensical notions that Aristotle clearly rejected. Final causes are supposed to be... causes. How does flammability _cause_ phosphorus? Why is the coldness of ice (as opposed to its relative density or any other attribute) the cause “for the sake of which” it comes to be?

    Would anyone here care to defend these propositions on the grounds of empirical natural science?

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    1. Do you have page numbers? The question of finality was addressed in scholastic metaphysics as well as it's relationship with efficient causation (which you seem to be reducing all causation to. I mean I suppose you think that criticism of final causes applies to material and formal causes too? How inconsistent was Aristotle?!)

      But more context would help. Are you sure Feser pulls them out of thin air? He's argued for the necessity of finality plenty of times. Here's an example, search this blog for 'Hoffmann'and you'll find a post commenting on and linking to a more modern (non-scholastic) philosopher arguing for finality.

      If he doesn't spend much time in Aristotle's Revenge that's because he's already done the work in the scholastic metaphysics. But I remain unconvinced. Page number please!!

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    2. Here's the post!

      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/09/the-return-of-final-causality.html?m=1

      The paper is linked and there's multiple books and articles cited and linked to non scholastic, contemporary philosophers who defend finality.

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    3. "Other examples include John Hawthorne and Daniel Nolan’s paper “What Would Teleological Causation Be?”; Thomas Nagel’s book Mind and Cosmos; the idea of “physical intentionality” in the work of causal powers theorists like George Molnar, John Heil, and U. T. Place; Monte Ransome Johnson’s book Aristotle on Teleology; and J. Scott Turner’s The Tinkerer’s Accomplice. And then of course there are defenses by self-consciously Thomistic writers, like David Oderberg’s “Teleology: Inorganic and Organic”; and my own books and articles, such as “Teleology: A Shopper’s Guide” and “Between Aristotle and William Paley: Aquinas’s Fifth Way” (the latter forthcoming in Nova et Vetera). "

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    4. The obvious question in reply to this question is: Didn't Glenn read the book he's citing from (wherein it would appear his questions have already been answered)?

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    5. Henry Veatch, for example, argues that Aristotle himself didn't just think of final causality as limited to living organisms. You're probably thinking of "causes" in a modern sense of that term.

      In any case, I thought the subject was supposed "Christian" premises? Where is the "Christian" premise as it pertains final causality?

      If an argument is wanted on final causality as such, fine and dandy; however, just as Thomism is larger than the man Aquinas, Aristotelianism is larger than the man Aristotle. So, for the sake of argument, if Aristotle didn't think of final causality exactly in the terms as Dr. Feser presents them, so what?

      But there's another problem.

      You write: "Would anyone here care to defend these propositions on the grounds of empirical natural science?"

      It makes me wonder, what do you mean by "empirical natural science"? For a major point of Dr. Feser's, and other philosophers of a similar mind, is precisely that the "empirical natural sciences" are **NOT** exhaustive. You cannot defend potency or act, e.g., just by contemporary physics; and likewise, you cannot defend final causality, e.g., just by contemporary physics.

      For the defense of final causality is a matter of philosophy: of metaphysics and the philosophy of nature (or what use to be called "cosmology," though presently that TERM is used by most people to mean something very different).

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    6. I had forgotten how frustrating is to have a discussion here. Could I have been any more clear that I _defend_ final casualty.... in its proper place, where Aristotle also defends it: for living things.

      To the degree that inorganic substances have a generic, collective teleology, it is simply as part of the telos of the cosmos: to be. Anything beyond that is hopelessly artificial and arbitrarily projecting our whims onto nature.

      Sorry, I’m not digging out the book to get page numbers.

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    7. Glenn Ellmers writes:

      According to Professor Feser’s book, ice has a telos, a final cause, of “cooling its surroundings.”

      That's not quite correct and indeed much too simplistic a way of putting it. Ice as such does not have a final cause. Rather, what I say is that water has a range of possible states and effects toward which its nature points or aims it, and which manifest under certain conditions. This "aiming" or "pointing" amounts to a very thin kind of teleology or finality.

      Does Aristotle himself affirm this specific, thin kind of finality? That's debatable. But Scholastic Aristotelians certainly did, and recent neo-Aristotelian powers theorists working in analytic philosophy (Molnar, Heil, Place, Hoffman, et al.) certainly do as well. And as I keep saying, and as is obvious to anyone who has actually read it, my book is not about exegesis of Aristotle's own texts but about the broad Aristotelian tradition.

      Would anyone here care to defend these propositions on the grounds of empirical natural science?

      Maybe not, but lots of people would defend the position I just described on philosophical grounds. Including the people I just mentioned, who, like lots of other contemporary philosophers I engage with in the book, have no Catholic or Christian or even Thomistic ax to grind at all.

      But wait, all of this is in my book -- which you presumably read, or at least reviewed. Indeed, it's a very big theme in the book. So why do you need it all explained to you here? Why do you make these silly comments that one would think only someone who didn't actually bother to read the book would make?

      Honestly, I feel like I'm in the Twilight Zone. You are obviously an educated and intelligent person, and yet you persist in acting like a complete nutter.

      I can only attribute it to the toxic nature of social media. People impulsively say stupid things loudly and publicly, and then it becomes psychologically impossible for some of them to take it back and just admit they flew off the handle. Instead they double down and double down again. I've seen it over and over and over. It's awful and depressing and scary.

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    8. Sorry, I’m not digging out the book to get page numbers.

      In other words, "I can't give you any actual evidence."

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    9. Inorganic substances, like all substances, have telos in the sense they can do things, or have possibilities attached to them.

      If you as much as say that ice CAN melt and cool it's surroundings, or that several possibilities are attached to ice, you're implicitly using telos.

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    10. I had forgotten how frustrating is to have a discussion here.

      Yes, I'm starting to gather that it must be a new experience for you to have people actually demand evidence and argumentation for the assertions you make, rather than just shouting "Amen!" at the ad hominems you and your pals fling at your opponents. It's called "philosophy."

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    11. To the degree that inorganic substances have a generic, collective teleology, it is simply as part of the telos of the cosmos: to be. Anything beyond that is hopelessly artificial and arbitrarily projecting our whims onto nature.

      This raises another point on which I have never been clear, going back to the original Ellmers review. Is Ellmers's notion of final causation (teleology) essentially a "design" feature of the cosmos? I find it hard to see whether the "telos of the cosmos" means; conscious intended purpose or something like "role in how the cosmos works as it does". If the latter, doesn't it make sense to look more closely at how it does fulfill this? And isn't this what Ed is doing here?

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  7. "Would anyone here care to defend these propositions on the grounds of empirical natural science?"

    We all agree here that it's the philosophy of science which justifies (successfully or not) the very ideas of causation? It's how we interpret empirical science to read off ideas of causation from its results. How do I distinguish between a Humean account of causation from an Aristotelian one just by looking at science?

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    1. Good point. I’m using empirical science broadly to mean natural philosophy. I think Humean epistemology/ontology fails for the same reasons Feser does. Contrary to what pepper might think, I consider myself 90% in agreement with him.

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    2. Thanks for clarifying Glenn.

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    3. Yes, thanks for clarifying. But then, the answer to your earlier question is obvious from my book, since I have a lot to say about why someone would argue for teleology on natural philosophy grounds.

      Honestly, Glenn, how can you possibly be surprised that I am harsh with you when you keep making these bold accusations while ignoring what's actually in the book that you reviewed?

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    4. And of course, we're all still waiting for this big, damning evidence that the arguments of my book depend on specifically Christian premises. So where is it, Glenn? What is the specifically Christian premise that underlies my claim that water and other natural substances exhibit this thin kind of teleology? -- this premise that secular academic neo-Aristotelian philosophers like the ones I mentioned above are presumably implicitly committed to?

      You think I am being mean to you, and I am, because you asked for it. If you are going to keep making these assertions, back them up. And if you are not going to back them up, then retract them.

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  8. First of all, calm down. My life does not revolve around this blog. On the one hand, you demand page numbers, and at the same time, you want an instant response. Cool your hot temper, Professor. I'm getting to it.

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    1. I think the words you're looking for are something more along the lines of "Fair enough, I jumped the gun. Let me try to find a way to back up that bold claim I rashly made without any specific evidence in mind."

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  9. Glenn, will you retract? :)

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  10. I do think that Ellmers and Wise made one interesting point each, which could use development. Ellmers's was that Aquinas's idea of teleology differs from Aristotle's. He implied he was working on showing this. I do hope he does. That would be valuable in itself. Of course, that would not, in itself, show which view is better.

    Wise's was the point about Einstein acknowledging that space might be real after all. There too it would be useful to see the point developed.

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    1. I think we should see what sort of thing Ellmers will try to dredge up in support of his original assertions, before we start helping him move the goalposts or change the subject.

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  11. https://www.newscientist.com/article/mg24432601-100-were-beginning-to-question-the-idea-of-species-including-our-own/

    Modern nominalism

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  12. I've been asked for a detailed reply, but the word limit for a comment is quite strict. I'd rather not post in numerous little chunks. Any suggestions?

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    1. Actually, what you were asked for is even one example of a position defended in my book that rests on a Christian theological premise. Surely you can give us that consistent with the word limit?

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    2. I mean, you've had a few hours now since your previous post to look. Though, surely, when you made the accusation you already had something specific in mind. So let's hear it. Don't leave us hangin'!

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    3. Ah, the man who vents his every indignant thought at interminable length, and spews out constant personal invective, says I can't reply in any detail to the various challenges and questions that have been thrown at me? Hilarious.

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    4. Great, whatever. Now, back to the actual subject. Give us an example, Glenn, of some Christian theological premise that any of the positions I defend in the book are based on. No details needed. Just one example.

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  13. Contrary to what you seem to think, the world does not revolve around you Ed. Sorry I haven't contorted myself into the precise response you want. There isn't a doubt in my mind that if I just quoted little snippets from your book I would be accused at ripping your arguments out of contexts. So I quoted rather large chunk to let people see. And now I'm told the response I've prepared isn't welcome. Ok

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    1. Got it. Now, give us that example of a Christian theological premise that any of the positions I defend in my book rests on. You don't have to do into detail. Just briefly give us an example to consider. Just one. Let's hear it.

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    2. Or post the long one, in snippets. I don't care. Just wanna see something. Let's hear it.

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  14. I’m trying. I put some effort into setting off the block quotes and putting some text in bold, but all that gets lost when I cut and paste. I don’t really use Blogger. Is there a way to keep the formatting?
    (Is my response the only thing you have going on in your life?)

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  15. I’m not going to post some vague response without a detailed argument, just so you can swat it away. Are you really not interested in a serious discussion? It astonishes me that a respected scholar conducts himself the way you do.

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  16. Glenn,

    I'm working at my desk right now on an article. So it's very easy to pop over here for a moment now and then to see what's up. Takes about a second.

    I am indeed interested in a serious discussion. That's why I keep asking you for an example. You and Wise keep asserting that my book rests on Christian theological premises. So I keep asking for a specific example of a claim or argument I present in the book that rests on a Christian theological premise, and what that premise is exactly. I don't see why you are treating this as a request for some long drawn out response. It's a very simple question that should take a moment to answer.

    If you've got some passage in mind that you want to post here, just post it. Cut and paste. In several chunks if you need to. Though I cannot fathom what you have in mind that requires that. Just state exactly what position or argument of mine it is that you have in mind, and what the specific Christian theological premise is that you think it rests on. Or give us the page numbers. What's the problem with that?

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  17. It really seem like you want a few undeveloped sentences that you can swat away. That is not a serious discussion.

    You made some arguments about the nature of teleology that I think are wrong, and that derive from Aquinas' modification of Aristotle. Those modifications were driven, in part (I believe) by Thomas's need to accommodate Church doctrine. That is the crux of my argument the theological basis, but I can't explain this in one paragraph.

    You asked for citations from your book demonstrating the positions that attributed to you (which you deny). Did you forget that? Did you just want a list of page numbers?

    I have a three page response. But it's formatted in a way that I want to retain.

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  18. Glenn,

    Why are you going back to the teleology example? We've already been over that. It's no example at all. As several people, including me, pointed out in the thread above, there is nothing about the specific kind of teleology in question that requires a Christian theological premise, or indeed any theological premise at all. That's why there are even contemporary secular philosophers who defend that kind of teleology on entirely non-theistic philosophical grounds (e.g. Nagel, Molnar, Heil, Hoffman, Place, et al.).

    So we're back where we started. Again, what position do I take in the book presupposes a specifically Christian theological premise? Just give one example already. Or retract the claim. Your choice.

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  19. This is hopeless. You don't even listen when someone is trying to talk to you. You've been abusive and personally insulting all day. Now you demand that I respond to your challenges in the way you define and circumscribe.

    I think your book makes some assertions that are questionable, and that derive from Aquinas' difficulty in merging Aristotle's rationalism with the Church's revealed doctrine.

    I'm prepared to make an intelligent argument about that. Most serious scholars actually welcome criticism. But all you do persist in telling me how dumb and wrong I am, and how I should supply you with a simplistic, shallow straw man that you can readily dismiss.

    I'm giving you your Pyrrhic victory. Congratulations. You drove me away. You win. Callicles would be proud. (Have you ever the Gorgias?)

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    1. Glenn, I'd like to read your 3 pages of argumentation. Put them in a Google doc and post the link here.

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    2. Glenn in one word: disgusting

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    3. What a shameless, dishonest piece of human garbage. Yes, please, do go back to the troll infested swamp you emerged from.

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    4. I mean Google docs says hello. You could have even emailed Feser a copy of your formatted response to have him post here and reply to. Honestly these are issues that every undergraduate has solved when they have to turn in homework.

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    5. I second the suggestion to put it in a Google Doc or something and post a link.

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  20. Glenn,

    You showed up here and at Facebook and made some bold claims. No one forced you to do it. You did it of your own free will. And I asked you several times to back those claims up. I didn't say "Go away." I didn't block my ears. I said, over and over again, that I wanted to hear your evidence. That's precisely me welcoming criticism. That's precisely me listening.

    Meanwhile, you have repeatedly failed to provide this evidence. And I rightly objected strongly to that, because scholars shouldn't make bold claims they can't back up. I have called on you either finally to provide the evidence, or to retract the claims. And rather than do either of those things, you have simply stomped your feet and complained that I am being mean to you. That's precisely a case of you failing to welcome criticism. That's precisely you not listening.

    If you don't like people pointing out that you can't back up what you say, then don't say it.

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  21. Glenn, just post your "intelligent argument."

    If not for Feser, then for everybody else to read and judge.

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  22. Glenn, I just bought the Aristotle's Revenge ebook so I could read it for the first time - after I read your comments. No bias here, but so please provide page numbers so I can follow along.

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  23. Let's say that some of Aquinas's developments or changes to Aristotle were in part motivated by theology. After all, the whole notion of nature and supposit finds its greatest development in his Christology.
    If this is all that is being claimed when Glenn is saying that there are some Catholic aspects to Aquinas's thought, then this is true, but I am not sure it is particularly interesting. After all, at least for the stuff Ed defends in Scholastic Metaphysics and Aristotle's Revenge, even if there might be particular adaptations used to the benefit of Catholic thought, there are still independent philosophical grounds for holding them.

    Now, if the point is that Feser's arguments actually rely upon some unstated Catholic assumptions or premises, then that is an interesting charge, but it merits, as Ed has said many times here, specific examples and a clear account of what the premise is and how the argument requires it.

    All this is to say, the claim that there are distinctly Catholic elements in Aristotle's Revenge is either true but not particularly interesting (e.g. describes the historical genesis and motivation for some position) or damaging...or they are interesting but require precisely the evidence Ed has been calling for.

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  24. The Rambam [Maimonides] held that Aristotle was certainly right in everything he said and wrote about things on earth except about the eternity of matter. Muslim philosophy before him also was very much Aristotelian.[Al Farabi. Ibn Rushd, et. al.]

    But Christian Philosophy was for almost a thousand years Neo Platonic. Until Aquinas. My impression is that he changed from Plato to Aristotle for good reasons.

    Then at some point around 1600 people started noticing problems in Aristotle. This is the theme of Novum Organum [1620] by Francis Bacon.

    So Dr. Kelley Ross (of the Kant Fries School of thought) said at that point it would have made sense to get back to Plato.

    But Dr. Feser suggests that Aristotle is still better.


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  25. Dr. Kelley Ross [Kant Fries School] mentions that when natural science dropped "telos" it lost something valuable. [Clearly biological organisms have goals. Just like you can not have a science of Physics that holds there is no such thing as matter.] And that would be according to both Aristotle and Plato. "Telos" in this case does not need intention or intelligent design. It means some future cause instead of a past cause. It is something pulling things toward it. [As opposed to a past cause pushing thing forward.] In any case Telos to me seems important since in Physics things tend to go towards a state of least energy. And most of Physics in fact is based on this idea. [This does not contradict Newton but it is simply how the Physics works out.] And I might mention the little electron that knows whether there is one slit or two. So it knows where to go. It is like matter that always seems to know where to go based on the state of least energy.

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    1. In my study of physics I can't recall where the postulate "matter exists" (in a sense that would contradict, e.g., Berkeley) was ever posited as being necessary for there being any "science of Physics."

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  26. Glenn Ellmers,

    FWIW, a few commenters (Anonymous, Pl0, ccmnxc) have already expressed interest in your response. I'm commenting at Prof. Feser's blog (for the first and probably only time) in the hope that my comment and others' might motivate you to publish your response. Pl0 already suggested using Google Docs, if you're not familiar with Google docs, I would volunteer to help you publish your response and preserve the formatting.

    I'm particularly interested in your argument (and any supporting evidence) that some of Prof. Feser's ideas contradict Aristotle.

    I haven't read Aquinas or any Thomistic philosophers (including Prof. Feser) for that matter. but I have read the majority of Aristotle's surviving works firsthand. I can sympathize with your frustration that Prof. Feser's arguments are not strictly derived from the texts of Aristotle, which makes them difficult to engage with on textual ground, so to speak. On the other hand, I'm very curious why you're so certain that Prof. Feser's arguments contradict Aristotle. After all, Aristotle writes in Metaphysics (if memory serves), "It is the mark of an educated mind to be able to entertain a thought without accepting it.” He often makes very reasonable arguments from many different perspectives, and I think the rationale is that unless one can make the best possible defence of a position, he hasn't really demonstrated that he understands it well enough to refute it. So it is definitely no easy task to establish a position as Aristotle's own, which is, again, why I'm very keen on seeing how you do it.

    Nemo

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  27. Science is not about purpose. It's just "do this, this happens". Even scientists' speculation about cosmology have no value. There could be an unlimited number of factors they don't know about that alter the whole picture of the past. Again, science is about action, not purpose. "Put this together, this happens." Will it always happen? Maybe not. There are too many factors. It's just about trial and error. Teleology is philosophy, not science. People like Feser who are obsessed with trying to prove there is a God are obviously weak in faith

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    1. You are equivocating on the term "purpose". Science, in biology or in another senses in physics, is always about finding regularities. If such regularities exist, we have real knowledge about the nature of an object, its telos. This is always what is maintained here, nothing more nothing less. That there are too many factors playing into e.g. a specific cause is no argument against it, it would only show that our finite minds can´t grasp the whole of reality, but epistemic limits aren´t controversial.

      The last sentence is just a display of fideistic nonsense. It is sad that people hold onto that.

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    2. Well, science is about final causation if efficient causation is part of the scientific picture and efficient causation cannot be properly conceived of without final causation.

      But here's the thing: The final cause of all living beings is death. Death is the ultimate end of all humans. If you're not a Christian and belief otherwise, how is it possible to build ethics on that?

      God love you,
      Bob

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    3. Why do you have to be a Christian in order to believe in philosophy? What about all the other religions?

      Donald Hoffman has written a book (and has lots of videos) on the idea that evolution has conditioned us to see none of reality. Rather Kantian. He doesn't realize that he is putting out a philosophical interpretation. He is doing philosophy, just like Feser. This is not science. There are competing opinions of free will. Apparently Augustine believed in compatabilism. If that opinion is true, than could not fate exist in matter? We can learn from Hume that unless we are
      directly experiencing a force, we do not know for sure where the cause is coming
      from. All this goes to show that science is simply about action. It doesn't deal
      with truth! It doesn't say it can predict the future. It TRIES to predict and it has
      been successful in making things. But all talk of purpose and ends is philosophy, and has nothing to do with the scientific endeavor

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    4. "All this goes to show that science is simply about action. It doesn't deal
      with truth!"

      "But all talk of purpose and ends is philosophy, and has nothing to do with the scientific endeavor"

      You just gave two philosophical arguments about the scientific method in order to prove that science is not about philosophy. You played yourself.

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    5. The final cause of all living beings is death. Death is the ultimate end of all humans. If you're not a Christian and belief otherwise, how is it possible to build ethics on that?

      @ Bob:

      It is true that the last event for a human's corporeal life (or for any living thing) is its death. In THAT SENSE of "end", death is the end of each life here on Earth. It does not follow that death is the last thing tout court for each human: there are lots of religions that believe each human person persists after death (some teaching there is some non-corporeal life, some teaching that there is a reincarnation, and some having various other options).

      And aside from that: even disregarding life after death, it is still an error to call the last event in a human's life, the event that eradicates that life, the "final cause", and it is an equivocation to refer to it as the "end" in the sense of final cause. The final cause is some actuality, some good, not the cessation of actuality.

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  28. There is nothing contradictory about using philosophy to show that science is not philosophy. Most modern philosophy is reductionist. Only a few basic truths withstand scrutiny.

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    1. Reductionism is a philosophical position. And with huge implications to science.

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    2. It also often hasn't withstood scrutiny.

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    3. I never said there was anything wrong with philosophy. I said that science isn't philosophy. Saying that meaning is part of science is philosophy, not science. That is rather obvious. Feser is adding mystical stuff to science. He sees final causality in everything and thinks he has an argument therefore for God. It ultimately fails. If Aristotle is right and there is no absolute time and space, than we can say time started from motion. The first cause would be gravity and there would be no before the big bang or whatever you want to call it. Without absolute time and space there is no need for a God, and existentialism will rule supreme. Yes, a philosophy. I noticed right away when I first saw videos of Feser that he is upset people don't understand his "proofs" for God. This is not about fideism. He doesn't seem to have a real relationship with Jesus. Notice how he said "yes I'm being mean to you" above

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    4. Anon,
      you started promising in the first three sentences. Then you fell off a cliff.

      Let´s grant something to you at first. Let´s assume that the universe is indeed eternal. We don´t need the premise of the Kalam argument that there was a beginning. For the sake of argument we can assume that it fails.

      We haven´t made any loss here. Aristotle believed that the universe was eternal. Aquinas assumed it for the sake of argument. And Avicienna, people are free to correct me here, catergorically denied that God was the efficient cause of the universe. Fesers argument, or rather the "Aristotelian proof" only relies on the reality of change, which cannot be coherently denied even if space of time were absolute. The idea is that everything with potencies is dependend on something more actual, which leads us to pure actuality, from which the divine attributes can analogically be derived from. Space is an abstraction, what time is I don´t know, but neither have the required attributes. The idea that gravity brought everything about is derived from Hawking and Krauss and if you take the time to look it up, you´ll see that even secular physicists (David Albert for example) tore them apart.

      As to your very first part, it is true that science and philosophy are distinct. But every time you go beyond "Molecule A moved B to C" you quickly enter the realm of philosophy. Fesers thesis is that science can´t be made sense of, if final causality isn´t presupposed. A denial of it would really leave regularities to become "happy accidents". The constant of the electric charge would thus become no constant at all. The sentence "The heart is for pumping liquids" or "The testicles are for reproducton" would become no objective fact, but rather a statement which can´t be said to be true for even the next individual you study. It is clear that this has nothing to do with with scientific practice, where regularities are the core of every progress.

      For the last part, many people, me included couldn´t think about accepting truth claims of religions, without having a strong metaphysical backbone. After all, if I wasn´t sure or even negative about the existence of God, what would I care for Jesus (Except of course I had an experience, but that is a different category? So before even thinking about having a relationship, many need a rational foundation for theistic convictions first. This is what Fesers proofs are for. Nothing more, nothing less.

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    5. "If Aristotle is right and there is no absolute time and space, than we can say time started from motion. The first cause would be gravity and there would be no before the big bang or whatever you want to call it."

      This is complete, utter rubbish, from the point of view of physics (it is even more idiotic, if that is possible, philosophically speaking).

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    6. Anonymous,
      First, there is nothing mystical about the teleological cause. Aristotle clearly accepted that living beings have a teleological cause and that is all that is needed for Aquinas's "Fifth Way" argument to proceed--that argument does not depend on non-living things also having a teleological cause.
      Second, in his Five Proofs of God's Existence book, Ed Feser does not employ the "Fifth Way" argument. None of his arguments in that book depend on there being a teleological cause.
      Third, and this dovetails with Dominik Kowalski's reply, there are many people for whom the key Christian claim "God raised Jesus from the dead" is a non-starter unless one has reason to believe in the existence of God. Thus theistic arguments can play an important role in bringing people eventually to Jesus.
      Fourth, it is a non sequitur to draw from the premise "X was mean to Y" the conclusion "X does not have a relationship with Jesus." And you and I should both be grateful that it is a non sequitur.

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    7. How many times must Galileo drop the balls before he knows he found a universal law? There is no answer to the question because everything in science is about contingent knowledge. Only philosophy is about absolute truth. Hawking's position on there being no time before the big bang is a hypothesis, one that gives an alternative to theism. It doesn't say the world was eternal because there is no before the big bang. If the world is eternal, there would be absolute time, and therefore God. But change doesn't prove there is a God. Things change and we can draw the line of causality, hypothetically, to the first motion at the big bang. Any attempt beyond this is right brained fantasy. You think God must exist because I can paint a chair? What utter nonsense! There is no evidence the world is contingent in the sense that it needs a necessary being. Aquinas thinks change and division of matter is the evidence, but he is wrong. There are holes in all his reasoning

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    8. Look, we can put it all in much simpler terms. Every position that one takes comes with some costs. You cannot reject Aquinas's proofs for God without incurring in some costs. That is the whole point of arguments. It is not possible to simply float above them and fail to accept Aquinas's reasoning without somehow committing oneself to a position which will have costs. It is up for every rational person to assess the costs and see whether they are willing to accept them.

      The totality of dependent, contingent things needs a cause or explanation.
      Either you accept this, OR you incur the cost of being open to the possibility that a totality of contingent things can just exist inexplicably. Personally, the idea that a totality of contingent things can exist without an external cause is absurd to me. I am not willing to pay that cost. The fact that you might be willing to pay it, or that some people are okay with it, doesn't change that for me. It is not a cost I am willing to pay. Suspending judgment is not a position I am willing to take seriously here - it strikes me as irrational.

      Then the same goes for the arguments that establish the First Cause, or the Necessary Being that is the cause of the totality of contingent things, is God. It's all about assessing positions and their costs.
      The idea that the universe might be necessary is not a cost I am willing to pay. You may be fine with it; good for you, but I cannot commit myself to such a possibility.

      The First Cause must have the powers/perfections of all things it produces, since nothing comes from nothing. That includes intelligence. The first cause must therefore have intelligence.
      I could reject this, but in doing so I would have to open myself to the possibility that either intelligence is not a perfection, or that it can arise from nothing and not be traced back to the First Cause. Can you or an atheist accept this cost? Good for you! I can't. A lot of people can't.

      And so on.

      At the very least, presenting such arguments shows people what costs they have to incur for holding (or withholding) the positions in question. Wanna be a non-theist? You gotta be able to pay the price, then; accept possibilities such that PSR might be false, or that the order in the universe might be a result of chance, or that intelligence might have come from nothing, or whatever.

      So whenever you say "there is no evidence that such and such", you are just biting a number of bullets and accepting some costs. That's your choice, man. Not everyone is willing to bite the same bullets you do, or to pay the same costs. That's what this is about. One could go on and on about what really is public evidence and what people "must" believe or what people don't have to believe. But whatever the case, none of that changes the fact that arguments for God's existence (including Aquinas's) present us with a series of COSTS that someone must be willing to incur in if they wanna remain unconvinced.

      I don't care whether you think or say "there is no evidence the world is contingent in the sense that it needs a necessary being". What I care about is assessing the costs and rationality of such a view for myself. And I (and many people) find out that I cannot take seriously the possibility that a contingent universe exists with no explanation; or that intelligence is not a perfection or it came from nowhere; or that the order in the universe is not the result of an intention, or whatever.

      At the end of the day everyone has to adopt some positions and their epistemic costs (including the radical skeptic). You are not in a position to pontificate on what my positions should be. And that's all. We're not gonna drop our arguments, because all we're doing is showing the costs involved in rejecting their conclusions - and if you might be okay with these costs, other people might not be. Who are you to criticize any of this?

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    9. There are costs to the Aristotelian view too. Besides being influenced by Plato, Aristotle didn't believe in the reality of matter. He essentially agreed with Parmenides via Zeno except that for him the One was multiplied according to form. There is an absurdity in this, namely, that things have parts only potentially. The fact that the parts are infinite are besides the point. That's a question for math to answer. Aristotle believed forms to be undividable. A simple pointing out of the parts refutes this.

      The world is fundamental. I has all the reality it needs to exist on its own.

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    10. So it seems to me that the works of Aquinas are just all mysticism. On the other hand, for me to believe objects are both finite (limited) and infinite (endless points), I need to posit other dimensions. So at the end of the day maybe I need my mysticism as well. But don't you judge mine? Gregory

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    11. "There are costs to the Aristotelian view too", of course (though not those associated with your somewhat bizarre comment), especially since it involves commitment to a pretty robust metaphysics. I am willing to pay that price, in view of the arguments.

      "The world has al the reality it needs to exist on its own" to me that is impossible unless "the world" is modally necessary; its essence is existence; it is purely actual, and so on. Because I believe strongly in a PSR which requires external causes for all modally contingent things, things which are mixtures of act and potentiality, essence and existence, etc. The rational costs of not accepting this PSR are too high in my estimation. And it seems to me that attributing this kind of robust existence to "the world" is too high a cost, one I cannot take.
      And necessary first cause (whatever it is; there must be one, in my estimation) must be in an important sense Personal and Intelligence, since it is the cause of personhood and intelligence and these are perfections/purely positive. And because of teleological arguments and other arguments. Again, I am forced into my own views because of the costs of denying them.

      You are free to have your fideism, but I and many others cannot follow you. It seems clear to me God's existence can be rationally established, because the costs of rejecting the arguments are way too high. If you're fine with those costs and with biting the bullets, good for you, but don't try to speak for me or others or lecture us on how we (supposedly) cannot show God exists or anything. We can. To ourselves, because we see the costs of rejecting such and such arguments, and they are way too high for our minds. And you're really in no authority to tell us we should be okay with incurring such high, extreme costs such as thinking intelligence is not a perfection or that it can derive from a first cause with no intelligence, or whatever. It's almost as if you're annoyed at the fact that people see God's existence as being rationally demonstrable to themselves.

      You accept your costs and we'll accept our costs.

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    12. Why do you bother with these doofuses (doofi?)? The guy is clearly a jackass, who doesn't know what he's talking about.

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    13. "The guy is clearly a jackass, who doesn't know what he's talking about."

      The second sentence must be stressed. As far as physics or mathematics (which is what I can assert a modest acquaintance with), it is nothing but pure unmitigated rubbish. And just so that this is not mere whining, here is an example:

      "On the other hand, for me to believe objects are both finite (limited) and infinite (endless points), I need to posit other dimensions."

      This is absolute, complete crap uttered by someone who does not have the least clue about mathematics. Not to mention physics (hint: matter is *not* conceived as "infinite (endless points)").

      And another:

      "Aristotle believed forms to be undividable. A simple pointing out of the parts refutes this."

      Huh... forms do not have parts...

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    14. Most mathematicians consider Zeno refuted by saying an infinite sum can equal a finite amount. Most philososphers disagree. How is it possible for an infinite sum of spatial parts to equal an finite part of spatial reality? I've never seen answer to this from mathematics. They even get into Banach-Tarski from this. Zeno's cube is interesting too. Aristotle's answer was literal nonsense. It is potentially infinitely divisible? Does it have infinite parts or not? Aristotle had no answer so he mumbled rubbish.

      Of course if Christians get on atheists forums "in the name of the Lord" they aren't jackasses. Oy vey

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    15. Here's the relevant information. The last one is from a mathematician fascinated by Zeno. Get educated. There some koans for you Thomists! Aristotle was a moron on this question, as most modern thinkers admit

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=s86-Z-CbaHA

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

      https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=numberphile+zeno&&view=detail&mid=547ECDB7884F7787FB08547ECDB7884F7787FB08&&FORM=VRDGAR&ru=%2Fvideos%2Fsearch%3Fq%3Dnumberphile%2520zeno%26qs%3Dn%26form%3DQBVDMH%26sp%3D-1%26pq%3Dnumberphile%2520zeno%26sc%3D3-16%26sk%3D%26cvid%3DACA787C05E424FDD9BE14BAA2FC924B0

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    16. Believe it or not, this is addressed in the introduction to Aristotle's Revenge.

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    17. Aristotle's answer to Zeno explains that parts of things are only virtually there, not actually there, so there is no need to explain an infinite number of actual parts. From an aristotelian point of view, hydrogen and oxygen only exist virtually, not actually in water, which is why the properties of hydrogen and oxygen dont arise, so there is no need to explain those parts since what exists actually is only the water itself.

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    18. What you said Billy has support in that the quantum realm things seem less real. But this is about geometry and the paradox that was found in it

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    19. Geometry seems to support nominalism, since every form is an indeterminate form (as seen from its parts). The value is infinite. Zeno, through history's Pyrhonnians, probably led to Spinoza, which certainly was the downfall of the scholastic edifice. Kant turned Spinoza's God into the unknowable, and Marx demystified the world by taking out anything that wasn't based, in principle, on matter. Then came Einstein who said there is no time without motion (much like there is no will without reason and no reason without will). And finally there is Hawking, who points out there is no eternity outside of this universe for God to even act in. That seems like the truest position to me

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    20. But you're clearly a dunderhead. You're summary of the history of philosophy reads like a C grade high school junior's.

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    21. But, as I said, there is no problem with an infinite number of spatial points in a finite space precisely because there simply isn't a infinite number of actual spatial points. That is where Zeno goes wrong.

      As an analogy, this would be like claiming a circle is composed of an infinite number of straight sides, then saying its a paradox because those sides won't have any length. The answer to that paradox is to point out that a circle simply isn't composed of an infinite number of straight sides in the first place.

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    22. "Here's the relevant information. The last one is from a mathematician fascinated by Zeno. Get educated. There some koans for you Thomists!"

      I do not know if this, as well as the previous post, was intended as a reply to me. Well, if it was, it is a complete failure because it does not address any single point I made.

      And I have a phd in mathematics and a solid education in physics, so I do know what I am talking about. For example, the Banach-Tarski paradox is only a paradox in an informal sense as it is a theorem of ZFC. So unless you are claiming you have found a contradiction in ZFC (in which case what are you doing here? write that paper, get the accolades. And the chicks), just shut up about it. And about the purported inconsistency with Aristotle -- nah, not going down that hole with you, just not worth it.

      It is also completely irrelevant to the reality of matter as we know it: not only is the partition of the ball non-constructive (the degree of non-constructiveness can be made very sharp), but to repeat myself, matter is *not* viewed as solid continuum bodies, so it is not made up of points, infinite or otherwise.

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    23. I think it's obvious that geometry applies to volume and volume applies space, and space applies in principle to objects. Regardless of what Aristotle thought. If all objects have an infinity of points, Banack-Tarski makes a lot of sense. In fact, you can take two lines, one longer than the other. Put the longer one as the hypotenuse and a one to one correspondence suddenly happens between the points. All objects have an uncountable amount of points forming the. If you cross a bridge, you don't just cross a bridge. You cross every plank and it's half.

      Russell's "The Principles of mathematics":

      "Leibniz’s—and his successors’—attempts to save infinitesimals were bound to come to naught, because 'infinitesimals' as explaining continuity must be regarded as unnecessary, erroneous, and self-contradictory"

      Hegel, btw, thought the world contained a contradiction. It's like an Escher painting

      Here's an article for those who have a PHD in math: https://www.academia.edu/343657/Inevitability_of_infinitesimals

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    24. "Pierre Bayle’s 1696 article on Zeno drew the skeptical conclusion that, for the reasons given by Zeno, the concept of space is contradictory... In the early 19th century, Hegel suggested that Zeno’s paradoxes supported his view that reality is inherently contradictory." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

      Calculus says infinite series can have a finite sum. But I don't think it has explained how this works in space; how the unlimited can be in the limited, spatially.

      I'll let you guess of the last words.

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    25. Of course math applies to the material universe! It is abstracted from it in the first place. Marx’s mathematical studies compose 1,000 pages. Engels said Marx knew more than most about math, and Marx said Hegel knew more than most about it. I've read a lot of philosophy of nature from Marxists. "The turning point in mathematics was Descartes’ variable magnitude. With that came motion and hence dialectics in mathematics ..." (Dialectics of Nature, Engels)

      If you take a string that is a foot long and make it into a circle, miraculously the length can be then found through pi. That number goes on forever though. It's rounded one way or another to a foot long, but this shows that 12 inches can be subdivided infinitely. I do not have a PHD in mathematics. I took pre-calculus in high school (16 years ago) and geometry in college. But I know that there is no answer to Zeno's riddle. When I say that 1 foot is equal to the sum of its parts, I mean that every term in the amount of parts represents something in space. If a length were found by an irrational number, the decimal series correlates to space. Mathematics that starts with a contradiction is actually a thing:

      "The first to suggest paraconsistency as a ground for inconsistent mathematics was
      Newton da Costa in Brazil in 1958. Since then, his school has carried on a study of
      paraconsistent mathematics. Another school, centered in Australia and most associated with the name of Graham Priest, has been active since the 1970s. Priest
      and Richard Routley have forwarded the thesis that some inconsistent theories are
      not only interesting, but TRUE; this is dialetheism... A systematic study of these
      (inconsistent) pictures is being carried out by the Adelaide school..." Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy

      Also, Hume essentially replaces Allah in the Islamic occassionalist system with matter as the prime mover. With an infinity of possible forces involved in any action, science seems to be rather occultic. This is because it's not about truth.

      I'll read with interest your guys responses, but this is all I wanted to say

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    26. Marx contributed nothing to metaphysics. He just assumed materialism. He also was learning calculus when he died, so hardly seems to have pushed out the frontiers of mathematics.

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    27. "Calculus says infinite series can have a finite sum. But I don't think it has explained how this works in space; how the unlimited can be in the limited, spatially."

      Mathematics, as it relates to physics, is an abstract formalism to get predictions out of a theory. The deeper story, the metaphysical entailments (if any) cannot be read off fro the formalism.

      In general relativity, space-time is modeled as a "classical" 4d Lorentzian manifold. But there are other ways to do differentiual geometry which do *not* involve points (or even set theory) -- e.g. topos theoretic models of synthetic differential geometry. But in a somewhat technical sense, this is irrelevant (basically, under some hypothesis and/or restriction, they all prove the same statements, at least as it regards your garden variety physics which can, for the most part, be formalized in fragments of second order arithmetic).

      But this is all pointless, because not even a single one of my points was addressed, so here is my last word: fortunately what a random internet know nothing "thinks" is irrelevant to how mathematics or physics works.

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    28. It doesn't even mean anything to say an object is infinitely divisible but not actually divided, because it's the same size whether it's divided or not. A smallest length is a contradiction in terms. What Aristotle thought is irrelevant. George Berkely in the Analyst refuted the idea that a point is actually zero as well. Zero can't add up to anything spatially.

      Kant was a smart guy and believed that Zeno's paradox was unsolvable (second antimony). Have a good Christmas. I've written enough on this blog.

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  29. Personally, I'm very disappointed in the review. He was reviewing a book on supposedly "Aristotelian" philosophy of science, but he didn't really engage with *Aristotle's* works much at all. Shouldn't he have called his review something else?

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