"One of the best contemporary writers on philosophy" National Review
"A terrific writer" Damian Thompson, Daily Telegraph
"Feser... has the rare and enviable gift of making philosophical argument compulsively readable" Sir Anthony Kenny, Times Literary Supplement
Selected for the First Things list of the 50 Best Blogs of 2010 (November 19, 2010)
interested in other translations of my books: The
Last Superstition has been translated into Portuguese,
and German. Philosophy
of Mind is available in German. A book of some of my essays is available in Romanian.
I can't say enough good things about the Five Proofs book. I appreciate natural theology very much, and wish I had had a better grasp of hit many decades ago when I first started studying Christianity and religion in general.I found the Aristotelian-style argument the most direct and compelling.(Side comment: I'll never be able to wrap my mind around divine simplicity; I don't think it is false -- I agree that God must be simple and not composite -- but some of implications of simplicity go beyond any creaturely analogy that I could construct, much more so than contemplating the Trinity. The reason this does not bother me is that there are plenty of mathematical objects that I can construct, yet there is absolutely no way of visualizing them in any intuitive way, e.g. a non-measurable set or other things constructed via the Axiom of Choice. But still, it is difficult to really think hard about it on my end.)
I believe the way to think about Divine Simplicity is in the negative - that is to say, God does not have physical or metaphysical parts.
There is a good paper on Divine Simplicity and Triangle centers. It explains the analogy that a thomist tried to explained to William Lane Craig in a panel disscusion on Divine Simplicity.
I forgot the link: https://drive.google.com/file/d/1vfmVXd8R-wMiwdSd5dlZWh0tF03lRyXA/view
Thanks for the reference; I see it is mathematical, which is up my alley.
I have heard of German speaking philosophers learning English so that they could read Kant in translation where they had a better chance of understanding his thoughts. That is one thing you do not have to worry about, Ed.
As a Spanish native speaker, this is great news. I often have problems with giving books about some topics to family and friends because they don't know English. I spend my life translating but you can't translate an entire book.
Joe schmid refuted you
When can we expect the immortalizing Latin translation?
When can we expect your next book?
Hi Dr. Feser, will you be responding to Joe Schmid's video on your Aristotlean argument? He makes many good objections to the argument.
Several anonymous people (or maybe it's just one person) seem to have a Joe Schmid obsession and keep asking about this. I'll get to it when I get to it. I've got a million other things going on, including work on a book that is way behind schedule, alongside the usual other deadlines.
Alright. Looking forward to your upcoming books! Thank you.
Also, these Anon seem to be too lazy to analyze the so called objection to the argument...Ol
Yeah, I keep finding commenters on here fawning over him. But what I've seen from him myself, he's offered no truly "good" objections. So it's strange to see such incessant mention of him, as though his work merited such exaggerated regard. All the same, I don't deny that he deserves to be engaged with, and I agree that it will be worthwhile to see how Dr. Feser responds when the time comes.
Hi Archstanton,Here are 3 objections from him that I find strong, let me know what you think.1. Aquinas’s De Ente argument argues that there can't be two beings whose essence is identical to its existence since there would be nothing to differentiate the two. But why can't one being be a trinitarian being and the other a binatarian being? The classical theist has to show why a being whose essence is identical to existence can only be trinitarian. 2. On classical theism, anything other than God is created by God. But this means abstract objects aren't necessary beings, which seems obviously false. If we say that abstract objects are divine ideas, this also seems implausible, for given divine simplicity, every divine idea would be identical to every divine idea, and so the number one would be identical to the number seven, which is false.3. God could have refrained from creating anything. In such a world, God knows that I don't exist. But this is a contingent truth. If so, then God has contingent knowledge in this world, which goes against his being purely actual. Extrinsic models of divine knowing don't work here since, before creation, there is nothing extrinsic to God.- ML
"1. Aquinas’s De Ente argument argues that there can't be two beings whose essence is identical to its existence since there would be nothing to differentiate the two. But why can't one being be a trinitarian being and the other a binatarian being? The classical theist has to show why a being whose essence is identical to existence can only be trinitarian."The Trinity is an article of faith. You can attack this dotrine to attempt to disprove Christianity, which is fine, but even if you succeeded, you would not disprove the existence of God. What Christians do when they argue for the Trinity is to show that it is not contrary to reason to affirm a trinity of persons in one substance or essence. That is as far as we can take it or want to take it. If revelation showed that God was a quaternity of persons, then we would have to accept that on faith, and the same types of arguments we use to show that a Trinity of persons is not contradictory to a oneness of essence would apply.
"2. On classical theism, anything other than God is created by God. But this means abstract objects aren't necessary beings, which seems obviously false. If we say that abstract objects are divine ideas, this also seems implausible, for given divine simplicity, every divine idea would be identical to every divine idea, and so the number one would be identical to the number seven, which is false."Aquinas discusses this here in his article on the names of God: https://www.newadvent.org/summa/1013.htm#article4 You should probably read all 12 articles in section on the Names of God. Its really good. Also the articles on Ideas, of course: https://www.newadvent.org/summa/1015.htm"3. God could have refrained from creating anything. In such a world, God knows that I don't exist. But this is a contingent truth. If so, then God has contingent knowledge in this world, which goes against his being purely actual. Extrinsic models of divine knowing don't work here since, before creation, there is nothing extrinsic to God."Again, Aquinas addresses this. https://www.newadvent.org/summa/1014.htm#article13 Does Schmid actually engage with these articles?
These objections are not new, i saw they all before*. Don't get me wrong, Anon, Joe is clearly a very smart guy but there is no urgency here. If you want something NOW, the guys at the Classical Theism Podcast did interact with him sometimes, they are not Ed but Joe(the owner) knows some academics. *the first one was not used against catholic christianity, though
Here is a massive Classic Theistic response to Joe Schmid a philosophy student, undergrad and religious skeptic who is trying to specialize in polemics against Classic Theism.I give him props for at least trying to take on the actual Classic Theistic conception of God instead of pretending Classic Theistic God is merely univocal with the Theistic Personalist/Neo-theistic view that so many boring Gnu Atheists seems to channel.So good on him for that. http://www.classicaltheism.com/plethora/If Dr. Feser answers him I doubt it will be an original response. I think the above link responds to him completely IMHO.Cheers.
The Trinity cannot be known to be true apart from divine revelation & cannot be known to be true via natural reason alone. There is no form of natural reasoning by which we can conclude the divine essence contains mysterious but really distinct subsisting divine relations that are neither real physical nor real metaphysical distinctions in the divine essence. We don't know what a mysterious divine relation is other than revelation tells us it is not really identical to its opposite in some mysterious way. To put is simply the Father is not the Son in some mysterious way even thought they are both the same One God(divine essence).Schmid's error here is to equivocate between the divine attributes and the divine relations. They are not the same apart from both of them subsisting in the divine essence. Except divine attributes are not really distinct from one to another except in the logical or notional sense not the real sense. Otherwise God would forgive with His Justice and condemn with His Mercy.That is the flaw in his whole argument. It is a big category mistake. Since we cannot know threw natural reason alone God is a Trinity we cannot in principle threw reason alone know God, if He exists in the Classical Sense, is not a Trinity.The only way you can overthrow the Trinity is indirectly. That is if you can make the case God hasn't given us any divine revelation or that the NT isn't an authentic written revelation then you can safely doubt the Trinity. But that is the only way. Any philosophical argument you attempt is in principle a category mistake and a non-starter objection.So no philosophical argument Schmid ever puts forth can ever in principle succeed even if no gods exist.He never stood a chance.
This issue with abstract objects is a sad state of affairs nowadays. To make one thing abundantly clear:Platonism doesn't equal Platonism. Augustine, Plotinus, J.P. Moreland and Lloyd Gerson are traditional Platonists. Their position is unlike Bob Hale's who is a modern platonist. Unlike his claim, only the modern form of Platonism is incompatible with the Augustinian proof. We can keep a Platonic realism about abstract objects, universals, propositions, etc. The difference is easily appreciated. The claim that abstract objects are necessary is an obvious equivocation that sticks out like a sore thumb to everyone who engaged with the topic of existence, for its claim to necessity can at most be in terms of quantity of possible worlds in which they are instantiated. What metaphysics is more concerned with though is aseity. There is an obvious gap between claiming abstract objects exist in every possible world and that they possess aseity, for the latter is reserved to something who differs in its mode of being compared to other entities. Reflection upon a commitment to a PSR lead to the conclusion that existence of a necessary being is prior to the rest of its nature, it's the base property. It follows immediately that existence is concrete and that only one of its kind could exist (O'Connor, 2008). A recommendation for one of the clearest expositions of uniqueness is Maimonides, but realizing that existence provides the basis should suffice by itself. It seems that modern platonism crucially depends upon a thin theory of existence, and this is its Achilles heel. For on the thick theory its dependence upon more fundamental principles, ie. an intellect, are obvious. Thoughts like these, as well as considerations of how required such abstracta are for genuine knowledge (*not* mere justified belief), rather show that considerations of abstracta as isolated within a third realm with no unifying, underlying principle, is rather unintelligible. A recommended article is Gersons "Why the Intelligibles are not outside the Intellect".
As to the claim that ideas must be identical to each other, this is a strawman. You'll also be hard pressed to find any classical theist arguing for that. To illustrate, conceive of ontology as layer cakes, to use Armstrong's terminology. On the very fundamental level there is just pure existence, that what we describe as God. The ideas have a dependence upon him and thus aren't identical to him. Consider the idea of the number 2 and a dog. It would be ridiculous to assume that both ideas are identical in God, but this is also not the claim. Rather both ideas have their existence in common, which means that the prior principle of both ideas are identical. However once we're talking about particular ideas we have already left the fundamental level and moved up, on the level of ideas where concrete content, e.g. in ideas of forms, can be found. We only go back to God once we leave the content behind and concentrate on that on which the idea is dependent, and that is existence. Considerations such as these make it easier to understand why essences are considered limitations of existence. Both ideas have essences, namely the respective natures they represent, and are thus individuated by that. But on the level of essences, we aren't talking about God anymore
3. Tomaszewski and Sanders provided some ideas against that, especially referring to the work of Trenton Merricks and his engagement with absences and their ability to ground truths, thus providing a way for an extrinsic model. But more importantly it's merely an argument based on Christian doctrine. It doesn't affect Platonists like myself who belief that God as the Good is necessarily diffusive and thus always creates. That's also a position found in Norman Kretzmann, Eleonore Stump or Timothy O'Connor. It's no argument against Classical Theism
Dominic Kowalski - According to classical theism, God didn't have to create, so it seems your position is a departure from classical theism.-ML
Son of Ya'kov - What do you think of Schmid's reply to the link you shared from De Rosa's website?— ML
Well it is massively long but I note in the combox over at Classic Theism De Rosa is unimpressed.I read his response to arguments against the Trinity. IMHO they are bad. He is a nice guy and he is trying to understand so I give him props for that but his response is a fail.Schmid writes:>But once again, my argument doesn’t require or need the distinct features or attributes to be constitutive of the shared Divine nature. All the argument requires is that there is a multiplicity of really distinct non-Canbridge attributes in God, regardless of whether such really distinct non-Cambridge attributes are constitutive of the shared nature. This alone seems enough to threaten absolute simplicity.Called it! He thinks the subsisting divine relations are equivalent to divine attributes(they are not). Also he for some mad reason ignores the definition of divine simplicity(which is ironic because I do recall in earlier attempted objections he gives the correct definition. Now he has gone all ambitious?) He keeps going on about "absolute simplicity"(whatever that is?) but the doctrine of divine simplicity merely means in God there are no real physical distinctions (like parts of a physical body) nor metaphysical ones (passive potency which is made Act by something already in Act which is impossible given God is Pure Act). The real distinctions between the subsisting divine relations are mysterious in nature & neither really physical nor metaphysical distinct from one another. We cannot even know they exist unless divine revelation tells us and we cannot know anything positive about them other then they compel us to say things like "The divine person of the Father is a distinct divine person/relation from the Son but not distinct as God".Also it is an ancient analogy to compare the Trinity to the Divine Thinker <>The Divine Thought<> and the Divine Love between them. But like all analogies in this case it is not to be taken literally anymore then the comparison between the Trinity and a Shamrock is to be taken.The doctrine of the Trinity is purely an apophatic doctrine. Schmid treats it as a doctrine that makes positive claims. It is just a giant argument made from a fallacy of equivocation. It is a giant non-starter.Yep.
ML, there isn't *THE* classical theism, it's the description of several traditions that vary greatly. I in fact hold creation to be free, but in a different sense. For one on pain of absurdity, there is nothing that could compell the ultimate being, for it would then act upon itself. What I mean is that it would create the reasons that compell itself to act a certain way, thus creating an explanatory circle of embarrassingly short diameter (shoutout to Vallicella for that terminology). I follow Barry Miller that choosing is foreign to God, but willing isn't. If your requirement is that God's way of choosing must be like ours, then he doesn't have free will, but I reject that requirement. Kretzmann in his article, as does O'Connor, describe how choosing (in a more univocal sense) between different possible worlds are compatible with simplicity, nonetheless God must create at least some world. These are all positions in the Classical tradition. So is the Platonist position that the Good is necessarily diffusive. The argument relies upon the Christian doctrine which I don't need to accept when doing natural theology
I might as well give this Schmidism a shot as nicely summarized by anon. >1. Aquinas’s De Ente argument argues that there can't be two beings whose essence is identical to its existence since there would be nothing to differentiate the two. But why can't one being be a trinitarian being and the other a binatarian being? The classical theist has to show why a being whose essence is identical to existence can only be trinitarian?David Hume strikes again! That I can imagine different understandings of the inner life of the One Divine Essence who is not really distinct from the One Divine Being is trivial but in principle it is still incoherent to claim there is more than one Classic Theistic God. Consider this analogy.There is one Queen Regent of England right now. If I erroneously believe Her Majesty is now presently a 19 year old leggy Blonde and you correctly know she is a silver haired elderly 95 year old former Brunette in thought, we can differentiate between these two ideas of what the Queen is like. The former thought is objectively in error and the later is correct but that doesn't mean we can say there are now two Queens?What is this sophistry of an argument? We cannot know by any natural rational means apart from divine revelation that the Divine Essence contains a Trinity. We also cannot positively say what the divine essence is as a divine essence. If God Himself threw revelation tells me He is a Trinity in His inner life in the Divine Essence then I can safely conclude that whatever a divine essence is then it is not possible for it to exist as anything other that something that contains a Trinity. Being a Trinity is clearly an essential feature of it.This mixing and matching of revealed theology with natural theology is knackered. Category mistakes abound.......
@Son of Ya'Kov, why do you consistently spell 'through' 'threw'?
@Bill it is a combox not a term paper. I misspell & I dina fash.Cheers.
Here is a simple refutation of Schmid on the divine simplity vs the Trinity.Schmid says:>All the argument requires is that there is a multiplicity of really distinct non-Canbridge attributes in God.Putting aside wither or not divine relations are equivalent to divine attributes.I submit to show the divine simplicity is at odds with the Trinity one has to show these real distinctions are either real physical distinctions and or real metaphysical ones. But since divine revelation tells us the subsisting divine relations are mysterious distinctions that are neither physical nor metaphysical then in principle the Trinity cannot be against the divine simplicity anymore than 2+3 can fail to equal 5.I wonder what Schmid would say to that?
@Ed FeserIn Schmid's defense, he's not accusing you of dodging him. Some of his followers certainly have, but Schmid was quick to slap that down. He says that he respects you and is fully aware how busy you are.
In Schmid's defense, he's not accusing you of dodging him. Some of his followers certainly have, Seriously? Some readers might not realize this, but what is in the forefront of their minds is not in the forefront of mine. No offense at all to Schmid, but I have not even read anything he has written or watched any of his videos. So I don't even know what his arguments are, apart from second-hand references like the ones people make here in the combox. And frankly, I haven't even given him any thought except to note with some puzzlement that a few people keep frantically bringing him up here in the comboxes -- usually in occasional spurts of anonymous comments that have made me suspect sock-puppetry.Again, I intend no offense to Schmid. As I've said, I'll get to reading and responding to him at some point. Since I have a paper on classical theism I have to get done for an anthology by the end of the summer, I'll try to read some of his stuff soon. But if I immediately replied to everyone who writes something about me, I'd be doing nothing else. And as it happens, I've got a long paper on Oppy's critique of the Aristotelian proof coming out in the next issue of Religious Studies, and after finishing that I was frankly a little burned out on the topic of the Aristotelian proof and keen to get on to other things. Most centrally, that would be the book on the soul that I am currently working on and way behind schedule on, and that's where my mind is at right now (along with other article commitments for which I've got deadlines). And naturally, I've got to keep varied blog content going. Again, I'll get to Schmid's stuff at some point. People really need to mellow out.
@Proffessor FeserI did post one of my criticisms of Schmid over at Classictheism dot com and Mr. DeRosa responded to me with this "So, you should know this post is a bit outdated and we have all developed some of these positions more significantly since then. For some of Schmid’s more recent arguments against the Trinity,".That might suggest some of these arguments the Anon is pushing might have been abandoned by Schmid? Or the Classic Theists responding to him might have revised their views? Either/or?My post is here under my other nom de plume Jim the Scott(those last two words are redundant actually) for context. http://www.classicaltheism.com/plethora/Anyway should you ever decide to answer that ladd I would be interested. He seems a nice sort which is always lovely in an Atheist critic.Till then good luck with the Book on the soul. I will save my money to get a copy.Cheers guy. Work hard.
At last I will be able to enjoy this great book. Thank you, Dr. Feser, for writing that book and making it a very enjoyable read.
The Last Superstition has a portuguese translation but no spanish one and things get reverse on Five Proofs.That is quite funny. Which one got the better one?
It's better in English.
I meant: which language got the better book? Portuguese got TLS and spanish got FP, which book is cooler?
Both are great, but if I had to choose one, I would choose 5 Proofs, I feel that this book is a classic of theology.
@ El Filosofo......IMHO, I had to appreciate the basics of the Last Superstition when new to moderate realism (and the writing of Dr Feser) prior to appreciating the nuances with the 5-Proofs.
Excellent! This will be a great resource to share in latin american Catholic circles!