Wednesday, July 20, 2022

The neo-classical challenge to classical theism

My article “The Neo-Classical Challenge to Classical Theism” has just been published at Philosophy Compass.  The article is a response to the critique of divine simplicity and other aspects of classical theism developed by self-described “neo-classical” theists like Ryan Mullins. Here’s the abstract: The classical theist tradition represented by thinkers like Anselm and Aquinas predicates several remarkable attributes of God, most notably simplicity or lack of parts of any kind.  Neo-classical theists have recently developed several lines of criticism of these attributes.  But these criticisms are not effective against the historically most influential way of spelling out classical theism, which is Thomism.

96 comments:

  1. Awesome! So glad it's open access - I look forward to reading it.

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  2. Regarding modal collapse, couldn't someone argue that God's act of creation, in order to be an act of creation, must have the intention of creating this specific world, and the intentionality of an act is intrinsic to the act?

    To say that God's will is intrinsic to Him, but the additional qualifier of it being a will to create is strictly dependent on the effects which appear, seems to imply a denial of predicating causal responsibility to God - one could easily describe this state of events as God's will existing necessarily, and a contingent world just popping into existence, since there is nothing intrinsic to God's will that connects it to creation.

    I remember Joe Schmid once made a similar objection as well.

    What do you think, Dr. Feser?

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    1. Be careful not to assume that intentional action for God is the same as intentional action for us. God is more unlike us than he's like us, yet it is still true to say he acts intentionally (he does things on purpose -- not acting randomly, arbitrarily, or haphazardly).

      For a conversation on God's intentional action, I'd recommend this episode with Gaven Kerr: https://www.classicaltheism.com/intentionalaction/

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    2. For what it's worth, Brandon briefly addresses the Schmidt article here: http://branemrys.blogspot.com/2021/07/the-fruitless-death-of-modal-collapse.html?m=1

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    3. Ack! Schmid, not Schmidt.

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    4. @ JoeD,

      "a denial of predicating causal responsibility to God"

      Responsibility to what?

      Tom Cohoe

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  3. Let the games begin! Is this just Neo Theism and Theistic Personalism re-packaged? Or an original challenge? I crave a challenge. One can only be bored to death by so much Gnu nonsense....

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    1. "Babble in, babble out" - as Aquinas basically said in Prima Pars, Question 1, Article 8, IAD in the Summa Theologiae beating by 7 centuries the computer guys who said the same thing, "garbage in, garbage out" before they went nuts and forgot how to think.

      Tom Cohoe

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    2. @Tom Cohoe it's well-known by all students of logic that formal, deductive logic manipulates false statements just as readily as true statements. Inductive logic, on this score, is better.

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    3. @ Infinite Growth,

      You have nicely illustrated Aquinas's point.

      Tom Cohoe

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    4. @Tom Cohoe Accusation is always projection. Young children discovered this with the nursery rhyme: "I'm rubber and you're glue: whatever you say bounces off me and sticks to you!"

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    5. @ Infinite Growth,

      "Accusation is always projection."

      Look in the mirror.

      Tom Cohoe

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    6. @Tom Cohoe

      "but whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of hell fire." (Matthew 5:22)

      You think calling me a mindless, irrational person is trifling sin, if not a virtue. Jesus said it is mortal sin. The kind of sin that, if you were to die on the spot without an act of perfect contrition, you would be tortured forever in Hell.

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    7. @ Infinite_Growth,

      This is not within your purview but it _is_ funny.

      Tom Cohoe

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    8. @ Infinite_Growth,

      This is not within your purview but it _is_ funny.

      Tom Cohoe

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  4. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  5. Divine simplicity raises a few issues. I am asking how these can be resolved. The first is whether the distinction between Divine Essence and Divine Energies (as strongly favoured in Eastern Theology) is compatible with holding that there are no distinctions within God.

    A second comes from God's absolute freedom to create or not to create. It is generally agreed that God is outside time. "There was no time when he was not" – used of the Logos as an anti-Arian slogan, but it gains its effectiveness from its general application to God. Since creation was not an event in God's timeline (because he has no timeline), there was no time when he was not the creator, which seems to me to collapse the freedom to create and freedom not to create into simply freedom to create. I think it was Augustine who said that God created the world 'with time' and not 'in time', but I am not convinced that this is a solution to the problem.

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    1. @Jonathan

      About the first point, this article can be useful: https://www.academia.edu/26922293/The_Flexibility_of_Divine_Simplicity_Aquinas_Scotus_Palamas_International_Philosophical_Quarterly_57_2_July_2017_123_139

      I admit that Palamas view on the energies being a real distinction or not is interesting. Perhaps he would agree with the "distinction, not division" slogan?

      About the second point, it is useful to look at this article of the Suma Theologie to get a thomistic answer: https://www.newadvent.org/summa/1019.htm#article3

      Sure, one could complain that it is a bit ad hoc, but i do find St. Thomas concept of free will vastly superior to the modern one and a omniscient being having to make choices does seem strange, so even the neo-classical theist would probably have his dificulties here as well if he does not follow the friar.

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    2. "There was no time when he was not" – used of the Logos as an anti-Arian slogan, but it gains its effectiveness from its general application to God. Since creation was not an event in God's timeline (because he has no timeline), there was no time when he was not the creator, which seems to me to collapse the freedom to create and freedom not to create into simply freedom to create.

      I don't see that you have stated a real problem. Since God is logically prior to time, it is a mere accidental fall-out of his choosing to create a temporal universe that means "there was no time he was not the creator". That is, the "problem" being cited requires, first, that he create. (And no, not "first" as a matter of time.) Once you grant the logical priority of his act to create in order to get a time, there is no remaining logical problem with his act being free.

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    3. I found Jay dyer orthodox vs Trent horn debate interesting because jay attacks Trent with divine energized doctrine.

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  6. It is nice that it seems that the name "neo-theism" won, it is way better than the rest!

    And the short article is cool, but i just don't see how the reply to the modal colapse objection by itself work. Creating is a action, so it, prima facie, looks like the sort of thing that could not be a mere cambridge property.

    Perhaps there is more to it, but the response on the article seems to me incomplete.

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    1. A Cambridge property is a realtional property that is due to a change that is not in any way dependent on you. My son is now 10 cm taller than me, but of course he used to be smaller than me.
      So, I now have the Cambridge property of being smaller than my son, although my height did not change.
      But being a creator is not independent of God. Creation could be Cambridge change only if things started popping up around God without God having anything to do with it.
      In that case the state God with creation would be a Cambridge change from the state Gid without creation, but then there would be no real creation at all.

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    2. Exactly, Walter! A cambridge property does not seems like what we should look for here.

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    3. @ Talmid,

      Oh! Nicely turned phrase.

      Tom Cohoe

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    4. I don't think that a Cambridge change indicating a change that does not occur inside you means that it must happen completely independent of you.

      What about something like "becoming an adoptive father"? If I were to adopt a child, nothing internal to me changed from before the adoption to after it, yet the the nature of the change itself still requires my buy in. You can't say that becoming an adoptive parent is totally independent of you.

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    5. Becoming an adoptive father is not a Cambridge change because it requires an activity by the person.

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    6. What about something like "becoming an adoptive father"?

      I fear that this is a terrible example: you have to ACTIVELY choose to take on the role of "adoptive father" in order to become one, it doesn't just happen One might just as plausibly say it of being a biological father: nothing internal to me has changed if my sperm does, or does not, interact with an egg to bring about fertilization and offspring. Being an adoptive father is NOT an example of a cambridge change.

      Maybe you could use "becoming a father-in-law" as a cambridge change. That's more plausible.

      a change that is not in any way dependent on you. My son is now 10 cm taller than me, but of course he used to be smaller than me.

      Walter, I don't think that characterizing cambridge changes as requiring something "not in any way dependent on you" is entirely satisfactory. The change from "smaller than" to "larger than" is in SOME way dependent on you, in that it could not have been so (a) if you didn't exist; nor (b) if your size was 20 cm higher than it is. The issue of the change in the property is that it did not require any intrinsic change in SIZE in you to achieve the change of "larger than" to "smaller than". Obviously, the change in the relational property denoted as "larger than" and "smaller than" is dependent on you in some way, but the NOT in the way of a change in your size.

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    7. What I mean by not dependent is that it is not dependent on any sort of action, oor even intention by me.
      But that does not and cannot apply to creation. Being a creator is by definition An action and also An intention.

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    8. @Walter

      You're merely restating the position I am taking issue with.

      @Tony

      To become an adoptive father, you need the act of wanting to be an adoptive father, but you do not need to change from not wanting to be an adoptive father to wanting to be an adoptive father, or any other internal change.

      I don't see why Cambridge changes can't involve acts, they just can't involve internal change.

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    9. Because if an act isn't necessary, it always entails an internal change.
      Unless you have always wanted to be an adoptive father and have always been acting in the very same way according to yourt desire to be one, there is an internal change.
      And even if you havealways been acting in the very same way, the act involves powers that are internal to you to have effects externam to you. IOW, the powers have to 'leave' you and that is an internal change because some powers that were 'in' you, are now 'outside' you.

      And that is one of the main problems with classical theism. God's powers, if they are to have any effect at all, somehow hve to go from completely 'inside' God to, at least partially, 'outside' God.
      And that is a change.

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    10. @Walter, it seems to me that you are making an unjustified generalization from physics into metaphysics.

      I do not see how a particular power being actualized at a particular time necessarily requires that power to "leave" or stop being internal to you.

      Indeed, the qualifications you stated "unless you always wanted to be an adoptive father and we're consistently acting the same way according to your desire..." seem to me to be just the kind of conditions that are very plausibly in play when discussing the case of a necessary being's act of creation outside of time.

      If a power is inside you at time a and then at time b it is still inside you but then also outside you, then you did not undergo any internal change.

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    11. What I mean by not dependent is that it is not dependent on any sort of action, oor even intention by me.

      That's better, Walter. Thanks for clarifying that.

      Because if an act isn't necessary, it always entails an internal change.

      I am not seeing that. Borrowing from your comment about the adoptive father: If God (freely) always intended to create, and (at all times) wills the created order, and (at all times) then where is the change?

      IOW, the powers have to 'leave' you and that is an internal change because some powers that were 'in' you, are now 'outside' you.

      That's just what is at issue here. In creation, if creation is even possible, it is not at all clear that "some powers that were "in" you are now "outside" you. (Yes, I believe that you object to creation on this very ground, but that just means we dispute the point - it does not constitute an argument that your position is right.)

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    12. Yes, I should have said, 'if an act isn't eternal, it always entails a change'.
      That powers are now outside God is obvious, since creation is not internal. If it we're, that would he even more problematic.

      A power that is inside me and then is both inside me and outside me definitely is a change, because the power 'inside' you is part of you and (some of) it stops being part of you

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    13. IOW, the powers have to 'leave' you and that is an internal change because some powers that were 'in' you, are now 'outside' you.

      No, I don't think that it means that. You seem to be using "power" as implying something of a numerical identity feature: In order for God to be, say, sentient, and then for an animal to be sentient, is for the animal to acquire part of God's own sentience. Or that's sure what it sounds like to me. But that's not in the least what Thomists say. It is true that an animal receives its sentience from God, but certainly NOT by sharing in God's OWN (numerically individual) sentience: God creates utterly distinct sentience that is (all) the animal's own. God's sentience absolutely does not stop being part of God or his sentience (using "part" utterly metaphorically, of course) it remains utterly God's and not part of the animal's sentience. The animal's sentience is only ever LIKE TO God's, like in character, not in number.

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    14. No, that is not what I am saying. What I am saying is that in order for God to create something from nothing (which to me is an insane idea anyway, but let's assume for the sake of the argument that it s possible) or to actualize a potential in some existing thing, God must use a power and that power, which is internal to God has to move to something that is not God. Unless you believe creation is in God, which would make you a panentheist, creation happens 'outside' if God.
      Let it be noted that I use 'power' 'inside' 'outside' etc. in an analogous way.

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    15. God isn't made out of regular energy though, there's no part or initial state from which something like activity could flow from one place to another . Additionally since pure actuality is always acting, it needn't change.

      God doesn't give anything he possesses and then looses, even if he would have infinite of it. The activity is just the unification of the properties in every individual, an act that makes them exist and be dependent upon him. Additional premises are needed to make this into a real problem instead of a mere problem of conceivability

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    16. to create something from nothing ...or to actualize a potential in some existing thing, God must use a power and that power, which is internal to God has to move to something that is not God.

      Well, that helps me a bit, on one hand, but then I think it makes it worse on the other hand. I would agree that in order for God to create some other real being, there has to come to be some reality (i.e. some actuality) outside of God that didn't used to exist. Yes, that much I agree with.

      But earlier: because the power 'inside' you is part of you and (some of) it stops being part of you

      And no, this is where it falls apart. The actuality of that new thing that now exists outside of God isn't THE SAME (numerically one) ACTUALITY that earlier existed inside of God, it's a new actuality that was neither "inside" nor "outside" God beforehand, it was not. Period. Wasn't anywhere, neither inside nor outside nor anywhere else.

      Let me return to the second part of your example, "or to actualize a potential in some existing thing, God must use a power and that power, which is internal to God has to move to something that is not God.

      Yes, the power internal of God may cause something external to God to move. But this does not require movement of God, any more than creation does. God's causality is more foundational than the kind of efficient causality we see in physical beings, where the movement of one is what causes the movement of the effect, i.e. where the effect is of the same basic order as the cause. This does not HAVE to obtain even in worldly causes, like in the case of final causality where an animal moves itself toward food because it wants the food: the food isn't a cause by reason of being in motion causing the animal to be in motion. The food's causality doesn't require the food to walk over to the animal and kick it into motion, the food causes under a different mode than by being in motion itself, and none of the food's nature or power or being has to leave it in order for the food to cause the animal to move. The food doesn't need to impart its own movement in order to cause the animal to move. God's causality is even more so, able to move the creature to come to an actuality it didn't have without any movement on God's part.

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    17. Dominik

      I have never claimed that God is made out of regular energy, but He does use some power to create something brand new that is not internal to him. If you can even in principle show how God can just unify the properties in every individual without using a power that doesn't remain internal to Him, then I'll admit I am wrong.
      But, until then, your claim is completely meaningless.

      Tony

      I have never claimed that the actuality of that new thing that now exists outside of God is THE SAME (numerically one) ACTUALITY that earlier existed inside of God, my claim is that in order for this new actuality to exist, God uses a power to actualize it and that power is not acting internal to God, so it (partially) goes from 'inside' God to 'outside' God. that is a change, no matter how you look at it.
      Your second part comes is a variation on the 'we can be moved by a beautiful painting' argument. It is based on an equivocation of what it means to 'be moved'. In the case of the painting 'to be moved' actually means 'to move oneself as a reaction to something'. IOW, the person is the active part in the motion.
      When God creates or actualizes a potential, He is the active part of the motion. That is a fundamental difference and your argument fails to account for the second meaning of 'to be moved'.
      And, as I have argued before, food cannot have the effect of an animal moving itself towards it without changing. Without the food changing, the animal cannot be aware of the food. There have to be 'signals' from the food that reach the animal.
      Likewise, if God doesn't change He cannot possibly have the effect of something moving itself towards it.

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    18. @ Walter Van den Acker,

      "What I am saying is that in order for God to create something from nothing (which to me is an insane idea ...) ..."

      Easy to model. Let infinity operating on nothing be represented as

      INF × ZERO which can be calculated to be something finite by a standard limiting process:

      INF = (lim x->0) 1/× and
      ZERO = (lim x->0) x

      INF × ZERO = (lim x->0) x/x = 1.

      This is not insane.

      The rest of your commentary, that God cannot influence Creation without something changing in God is similarly easy to show as wrong.

      Tom Cohoe

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    19. "Let infinity operating on nothing be respresented as inf X zero".
      No, I won't "let" that, because that is not what creating from nothing means. This is a reification of nothing.
      If "God cannot influence Creation without something changing in God is easy to show as wrong" then please show this, without question-begging. I have never read or heard anything that shows it's wrong, let alone it would be easy.
      But, please, show me wrong.

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    20. @ Walter Van den Acker,

      "But, please, show me wrong."

      ZERO (not 'zero') is no more or less a reification than your word 'nothing'. I guess you can't talk about what you deny either. Either that or yelling out 'reification' is just a question begging excuse for being unable to answer me.

      We 'reify' all day long so that we can talk in our finite way about things we cannot otherwise express. You'll have to excuse us for being mere humans. ;-)

      Tom Cohoe

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    21. And, as I have argued before, food cannot have the effect of an animal moving itself towards it without changing. Without the food changing, the animal cannot be aware of the food. There have to be 'signals' from the food that reach the animal.

      I accept the fact that when the light strikes the food and reflects off of it, the light undergoes a change and the food undergoes a change. OK. But when the light reflecting off the food goes out, it has gone out whether it ever strikes an eye or not. The event or not-event of reaching the eye of an animal does not change the food, it remains the same regardless. So, the specific animal's activity of receiving the reflected light does not involve a change in the food.

      Yet the animal moves toward the food. Final causality is a different kind of causality than efficient causality, and trying to force it into the mode of efficient causality constitutes a form of begging the question against Thomism.

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    22. Tom

      I guess your post comes down to an admission that it is not so easy to show that God influencing creation without anything changing in God is possible. Otherwise, you would have done so already.
      And I did answer you. That you are unable to understand my answer is not really my fault. In short, if 'zero' or ZERO is not treated as something, there is nothing to operate on, so it cannot be multiplied by infinity.

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    23. Tony

      The specific information that there is food does change the food. That's the point. But this is only a minor point.
      More.important is that you are equivocating on the meaning of 'to be moved'
      Your claim comes down to 'since a chess player can 'be moved' by watching a recording of a Bobby Fisher game without thr recording changing, a pawn can be moved' by the chess player without any change in the player.

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    24. @ Walter Van den Acker,

      Nope to all that rationalization. ;-)

      I haven't admitted anything to you. You just claim to set the rules. You can 'reify' and I can't. You can talk about infinity and nothing and I can't. How do you reify nothing anyway? You can't since there's nothing to reify. And that it follows that I have admitted that God must change is as bogus a concatenation of words pretending to be reason as I have ever seen.

      You demean God without an ounce of a clue what you are doing. Babble in babble out - a paraphrase of Summa Theologiae (not Summa Contra Gentiles) First Part, Question 1, Article 7 or 8, IAT - perhaps the most important teaching of Aquinas.

      Say, I believe that God created mathematics and logic. That's not what Aquinas and 99.9999 percent of Catholics would say, but I can talk rationally, but with no authority, about it.

      Yep, God created logic and you aren't using it. :-)

      You are just authorizing what people can say, standing in for God. Say, are you a priest? :-)

      Tom Cohoe

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    25. Tom

      If course you can't reify nothing because there is nothing to reify.
      That's the whole point.
      And I am still waiting for your easy demonstration that God influencing creation without anything changing in God is possible.

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    26. Walter Van den Acker,

      "there is nothing to reify"

      What do you mean "nothing"? You can't talk about it! Except that we do in our inadequate, creaturely way. It is the same with talking about "God". But our knowledge that God exists is based on a 3 legged stool (borrowing this metaphor from Catholic catechesis): induction, reason, and reliable witness from the life and resurrection of Christ and Sacred Scripture (counting Christ and Sacred Scripture as one leg because I want a 3 legged stool. :-) )

      How God influences Creation with nothing changing in God is easy, but not simple (again, because I am a finite creature). It is based on an image of infinite God, an infinite, unbiased, sequence of 50/50 probability, binary digits or bits. Then, every finite subsequence, in the infinite limit, must appear at the correct rate (or it is not made of unbiased bits - and this works only in the infinite limit). Now I can get 2 directions in the sequence by specifying that bits in the even places represent the forward direction and in odd places represent the reverse direction.

      I specify that this sequence never changes. Beginning to get the idea?

      This is just the beginning, in brief. The non-simplicity will get worse.

      Tom Cohoe

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    27. Tom

      You said that there is nothing to reify and i agreed to that. Nothing is the absence of anything at all.
      It isn't possible to operate on nothing at all.
      And God isn't an infinite, unbiased, sequence of 50/50 probability, binary digits or bits. even if this is jjust an analogy it fails miserably, because God is simple.
      But even if your analogy were acceptable, it does not explain any influence on creation.

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    28. @ Walter Van den Acker,

      Ridiculous.

      You are talking about "nothing", but rule that no one else can ( if you don't like the result).

      "God isn't an infinite, unbiased, sequence [blah, blah, blah].

      It's an image of God. I am so sorry that you can't entertain anything but your own ideas. :-)

      "God is Simple"

      Images of God are not, so so what. You can't talk about God without your talk actually being about an image, hopefully not unnecessarily complicated. But a random sequence is about as simple an image as you can get, there being no rules that specify the bits, far simpler than your talk about God, which is also a sequence with many rules needed to take meaning out of it which meaning you then think is about God (my talk is about the image).

      "even if"

      You sure have set up a whole series of roadblocks to understanding anything I am saying. :-)

      "does not explain any influence on creation"

      It does, but you don't seem to want to see my explanation. What are you afraid of? I said there was more to come but stopped because exchange is better than monologue.

      Is there any point in continuing or are you too close-minded and fearful to pay any attention?

      Well? It's your choice.

      Tom Cohoe

      PS - the main takeaway here is that I talk about an _image_ and I make it as simple as possible. You [think you] talk about God, and your talk is far from simple. - TC

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    29. Your claim comes down to 'since a chess player can 'be moved' by watching a recording of a Bobby Fisher game without thr recording changing, a pawn can be moved' by the chess player without any change in the player.

      Walter, it appears that your claim comes down to the assumption that all forms of causality are reducible to efficient causality. Maybe there is an argument for this, but you haven't offered one. In that absence, my contention that there ARE different forms of causality, not reducible to efficient causality, is not an absurdity.

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    30. Tony


      No, I am not assuming that all forms of causaliy are reducible to efficient causality, but God is an efficient cause,

      Tom

      If you want to explain how a simple God can do something you cannot have an explanation that requires complexity.
      So if you want to continue you may do so, but so far you haven't even begin to explain anything.
      But, who knows, you can do netter.






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    31. @ Walter Van den Acker,

      "If you want to explain how a simple God can do something you cannot have an explanation that requires complexity."

      If that is true then you cannot have an explanation how a simple God *can't* do something either, if your explanation requires complexity, and yours does too. Fortunately, it's not true.

      "But, who knows, you can do netter."

      Can you explain what this sentence means? Rewrite it. As it is, I can't tell if this is supposed to be encouragement to continue or discouragement. Perhaps it is just clever, I cannot tell, but I would like to know.

      Now don't be a recalcitrant student and put some liniment on that stiff neck :-).

      Tom Cohoe

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    32. Tom

      My explanation does not require complexity. It starts from God as an ultimately simple being with no inherent distinctions, no 'sequence', no properties, etc.

      My sentence should have been 'who knows, you can do and it is meant to be an encouragement for you to not just accept what has been told but to take a critical look at what you believe.Not assume you cannot be wrong and then bend over backwards to prove (mainly to yourself) that you are right.

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    33. @ Walter Van den Acker,

      Skipping out a lot (because of your discouraging resistance) creation has a lot of conditionals as part of it. Depending on whether George makes free will choice A or free will choice B (or C, or D, or …), a or b (or c, or d, or …) happens with no change in the Creator.

      I'm not "proving" anything to anybody. I'm showing you something but you seem not to be willing to entertain it. Please pay attention and we might yet get there.

      BTW, you can get a 50/50 sequence of bits by a physical process of observing the sequence of decay time intervals in a sample of radioactive material, it will only be a finite sequence, but the uncertainty of the interval between decays illustrates randomness built into the rules of quantum mechanics.

      Tom Cohoe

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    34. @ Walter Van den Acker,

      I have to say that your words "an ultimately simple being" do not capture the simplicity of God and are not really about God.

      Tom Cohoe

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    35. Tom

      Yes, if LFW is true, then George can choose A or B or C. That is, if God created the universe and LFW, then the universe can play out indeterministically, which is exactly what Joe Schmid argues.
      What I reject is God directly causing, as an efficient cause, something without changing at all.
      And yes, you can get a 50/50 sequence of bits by a physical process of observing the sequence of decay time intervals in a sample of radioactive material, but that is because that material is not immutable. If it were, there wouldn't be any sequence.
      That's my point.

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    36. An of course "an ultimately simple being" does not capture God's simplicity, but it is a close enough analogy.

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    37. [continuation]

      @ Walter Van den Acker,

      The radioactive decay sequence does not give the infinite random sequence. It only shows the conceptual possibility. That it is material is otherwise irrelevant. But this randomness is everywhere - in everything - in creation, and since science is always based on a finite inductive operation, we cannot say that what we sense when we study creation is not randomness operating in the world as God's will the way we can see that any finite ordered subsequence must occur in the random image.

      That's enough for now.

      Tom Cohoe

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    38. @Walter Van den Acker,

      "a close enough analogy"

      I cannot write down an infinite number so I have to talk explicitly about my image, but it is closer to Divine simplicity than your "analogy" because the random image, per se, has no rules just as the Divine simplicity is without response to rules, and because, the random image is infinite, which is closer to the Infinity of God than your analogy.

      Still, the random image is infinitely far from the Divine Infinity. It is as 10 is closer to infinity than 5 is, in the sense that 10 is greater than 5 but not closer to infinity. We have been given the capacity to reason, so from the pov of the random number image, it might be possible to see things that are wrong from the pov of your analogy. If I am closer to London than you, you might say it's an easy road to London whereas I know that there is a hole in front of you.

      Now I believe that we have free will in the sense that we can choose between right and wrong, but I do not think that, except in the trivial sense that nothing impedes our choice _right now_ (which is not what libertarians mean) that we get satisfaction, in the end, unless we make the right choice. If we do not choose later to correct our bad choice, we will pay for it sooner or later. The A->a, B->b, C->c, ... world unfolds according to God's all encompassing will, which is Love.

      By studying properties of the random image, which is a complex study from our pov, I can see that 2+2=5 is not wrong in creation by some necessity in God, and correct logic as we have learned in creation is not so by some necessity in God. They are so by the will of God, but by the will of God, they could cease to be so. They are so because of Divine Love.

      [to be continued]

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    39. Tom

      If you truly believe that logic is what it is by the Will of God, then we had better stop this discussion right now, I Mean, you have every right to believe this, but it ends every possible discussion.

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    40. @Walter Van den Acker,

      "If you truly believe [etc. ...], but it ends every possible discussion."

      Absolutely wrong. Can we not simulate on a computer a world where neither logic nor arithmetic work as we experience them in reality? Put a marble in an empty bag, take two out. Move away from something but always get nearer to it. Computer games do this all the time. There is an underlying logic inherent in the machine, but the program simulates, at a higher level, the illogical and unmathematical behaviour of things in particular situations. Similarly, if God underlies everything, then that logic and arithmetic work is merely a gift ordered to effect, but not necessarily to final end.

      Tom Cohoe

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    41. Tom

      Without logic we cannot conclude whether God exists or not. All arguments for or against God use logic to derive a conclsuion.
      If, as you claim, logic is what it is by the will of God, then without God there would be no logic, which means that without God everything would be possible, including something pmopping into existence for no reason at all.
      The claim that God is necessary is a claim based on logic. If logic depneds on God, it makes no sense to say God is necessary.

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    42. @ Walter Van den Acker,

      We have logic and math and we had better use them, but we can see that there is nothing necessary about it. The random number image contains subsequences in which logic and math work, even though they are random. We could put a particular sequence that would work as a game into a computer and run it. We can see from computer games that particular places and times can have failures of logic or math in the game. By choosing the origin (remember I showed you how an infinite random sequence can have two directions) the sequence could be one where the logic order suddenly ends, or it could be one where it goes on indefinitely (an origin can always be chosen such that logic and math continue for any sequence length specified).

      It is God's gift to us, unearned and undeserved, that logic and math work, but it is not necessary. We have been given logic and math because God loves us as God loves all of creation.

      We call things where in a particular time and place logic and math cease to work ... miracles.

      Tom Cohoe

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    43. Tom
      As I said, if you believe that, there is no point discussing anything with you.
      If Ed believed this, he wouldn't write any books and would close this blog immediately.
      I am not being sarcastic here, and I wish you all the best.

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    44. @Walter Van den Acker,

      You provide no argument. What Ed would do or say? There's logic, but it's a gift, so God couldn't work that way? I guess your super understanding of God is contradicted so it couldn't be, but you haven't shown anything wrong with it. God could work, no doubt does, differently than what the image shows but what it shows is that neither logic or arithmetic are necessary and should be regarded as a gift.

      Your arguments limiting God fall to pieces under this demonstration, and you haven't done anything but cast it as amazing stupidity or something. Like it or not, God is not limited by logic or arithmetic. You cannot say what God cannot do because you cannot understand how God "thinks". I have shown, not what God cannot do, but what God can do, because He is greater than any image and the image God already can create logic and arithmetic as not necessary but willed. The computer serves as creation which runs as God wills and there is obviously no necessity for it to run on any particular finite subsequence but the one God wills.

      BTW, how do you know what Ed would do? I am sure that he is so petty as to give up over seeing sense in my words. I am only superficially opposed to him and he just has a different, not a wrong, approach to the same thing. I even included a throw out to Infinite_Growth where he said induction was better than reason. He was right about induction but it is useless without reason.

      But, whatever, here comes a cliche. You can run but you can't hide.

      Now have a good day.

      Tom Cohoe

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    45. @Walter Van den Acker:

      which means that without God everything would be possible

      Wrong conterfactual. You can not imagine an scenario where 'Existence Itself' (God) could not exist. That's like trying to imagine 'what if a square where a circle' or what if 'nothing were everything'?

      Maybe next time, Walter :)

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    46. @Walter Van den Acker:

      If you truly believe that logic is what it is by the Will of God, then we had better stop this discussion right now

      And if you truly believe that logic is what it is by the inexistent Will of your mechanistic goddess "Natural Selection", then you really are out of your epiphenomenal mind...

      Some Plantinga ("EAAN") and C.S. Lewis / Victor Reppert ("Argument From Reason") will cure you of your maladie.

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    47. I have no idea what you van imagine or not, but I can most certainly imagine a scenario where God doesn't exist.but that's not the Point. The point is that if logic depends on God's Will, God can make square circles He could also make existence not exist.
      So, logic is not what it is by the Will of God, nor is it what it is by evolution.
      No serious philosopher, theist or non- theist, believes this.

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    48. @ Walter Van den Acker:

      I have no idea what you van imagine or not, but I can most certainly imagine a scenario where God doesn't exist.

      It depends of course on the concept of God that you have in mind (pun intended). The Thomistic one, certainly not. Because God IS Existence Itself, so please do tell me what kind of mental imagery can you entertain about 'Existence being non-existent'.

      The point is that if logic depends on God's Will, God can make square circles He could also make existence not exist.

      God is Being/Existence Itself. Therefore God can not (obviously) make Himself (existence) not exist. (!?) That's an absurdity and a metaphysical impossibility. That would be akin for the materialist to saying that the Universe (which the materialist poses as eternal and a 'brute fact' and therefore is a god although a lesser one) can 'go out of existence'. Then it would not be eternal and that's another contradiction/ absurdity. The Thomistic God can not make Himself not exist per impossibile. Neither can the god of the materialist (the 'Universe') be timeless while stop existing.

      So, logic is not what it is by the Will of God, nor is it what it is by evolution.

      So what makes logic to be what it is?

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    49. @ Walter Van den Acker,

      " I can most certainly imagine a scenario where God doesn't exist but that's not the Point"

      Actually, this is your objective above any other goals you have here. You just want to spew doubt.

      God gave us a world where geometry works but did not by necessity have to be as he created it, and he created the logic where you can posit clauses with contradictory subject and predicate to say in a sentence that "this couldn't be", but he did not.

      These things were given because He loves Creation.

      There is nothing in your post that addresses what I have shown you above. False authority, argumentum ad populum, and outrage are not enough.

      Why are you bringing this up again? I am not UncommonDescent, whose weak damns and sarcasm don't appeal to me.

      You cannot tell us what God cannot do. That is something you cannot do.

      Tom Cohoe

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    50. Tom

      I was not responding to you but to UncommonDescent.
      As I said , there is no point discussing anything with someone who believes this, that holds for you and also for UncommonDescent.

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    51. @ Walter Van den Acker,

      I wrote "[...] but he did not."

      Somehow the final four words of the sentence got dropped.

      It should have read "[...] but he did not create it by necessity."

      Tom Cohoe

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    52. @ Walter Van den Acker:

      As I said , there is no point discussing anything with someone who believes this, that holds for you and also for UncommonDescent.

      Thanks for your tacit acknowledgment that you have lost. Argument by dismissal means 'I have nothing but despair'.

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    53. @ Walter Van den Acker,

      "[...] there is no point discussing anything with someone who believes this, that holds for you and also for UncommonDescent"

      Without ill will towards you, I have to say that this is funny.

      Do you think your fiat is some rule that all who think and dialogue with one another must follow or be suitable only for dismissal? Your rule here is for you only and for no one else.

      It would probably be best for your ability to persuade others to your way of thinking if you refrained from publishing words that cast you as someone wishing to dictate how others must think.

      Tom Cohoe

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    54. Tom

      I am not a Catholic, so I don't wish to dictate how others must think.
      If someone else wants to use logic to discuss things with people who think logic is variable, then that person is free to do so.
      'My way of thinking' in this respect is nothing that I need to persuade others to, as there is virtually no serious philosopher, who 'thinks' otherwise.
      I am sure Ed Feser agrees with me. I would suggest you ask him, but I don't think,he is going to answer, but you can still try.


      UncommonDescent

      You can have the last word on this if you so wish. Then, if i don't reply, you can say you won. If that makes you feel better, I will be glad, because i always wish everyone the best.

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    55. @ Walter Van den Acker,

      "I am not a Catholic, so I don't wish to dictate how others must think."

      It follows from that that if you do wish to dictate to others how to think then you are a Catholic. This exclusiveness to Catholics of what you preach is hateful. You cannot arrive at hate through good thinking. Therefore you are not a good thinker.

      God gave us, out of love, not necessity, a logic that cannot lead to hate, so something has corrupted your logic and causes you to think badly. However it is not too late for you to change.

      "If someone else wants to use logic to discuss things with people who think logic is variable, then that person is free to do so."

      I do not think that God gave us a logic that is "variable". Your statement is irrelevant. It is just a weak and misleading throwaway. God gave us free will, allowing us to choose corrupt logic and to think badly. It is not too late for you to change.

      The rest of your post to me is your usual appeal to exclusive authority and a desperate attempt to enlist Ed to save you. Ed cannot save you. Only God can.

      Tom Cohoe

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    56. Tom

      I don't need Ed to save me. I know I a correct on this, but since you don't believe me, maybe you will believe him.
      But, since I do not want to dictate what you should think, you are free to think whatever you wish, except of course thé things the Catholic Church doesn't want you to think

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    57. @ Walter Van den Acker,

      "I know I a correct on this".

      Yes, yes. You just know.

      One thing that's obvious is that you hate the Catholic Church. Only corrupt logic leads to hatred. Ergo, you use a corrupt logic.

      Only God, with your freely chosen acceptance, can return you to the ability to use the logic that he created for you out of love. Pray for your salvation.

      Tom Cohoe

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    58. Tom

      I don't hate the Catholic Church.
      There's lots of things about the CC I love.
      But it is a fact that a Catholic is not free to think whatever he wishes to think.
      As for praying for salvation, either God has always wanted my salvation or He has never wanted it.
      Since God is immutable, there is nothing prayers can do about it.

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  7. It seems to me very problematic to say that we are truly loved of God, but God only Cambridge-loves us. (So also with creation, for that matter.)

    I'm sympathetic to divine simplicity. This is only to say that I feel strongly these criticisms. I'm not sure where to go with this.

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    1. @ SMack,

      Rest assured. There is nothing in what he says that would distinguish God from a finite creator, so it does not apply to the unlimited God we know. It is just confusion for the masses.

      If I leave out that a particular car runs on gas, it doesn't make it correct for me to say that it can't work because it has no electric motors on the wheels.

      It is easy to introduce confusion but often hard to see what is false in it. So beware. Don't be led by the blind.

      Tom Cohoe

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    2. Thank you for the reply, Tom. I'm afraid I don't entirely follow what you are saying. What in your view is the solution of the puzzle?

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    3. Well, don’t forget that God does know us and love us in Himself! That is, He knows who we are through knowledge of the infinite being that is within Him.

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    4. Could you elaborate on why you think it's a problem? If we say that God wills our good and that He desires union with us (both of these constituting His love for us), why do we need to say God stands in real relation to us? Acknowledging that to stand in real relation to something entails we can be changed by or stand in passive potency to that thing, why would one need to say that for God to love us, He must be able to be changed by us?

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    5. @SMack,

      The solution to the "puzzle" is that it applies to a creator who is finite, to a creator who is either created or is imaginary.

      Tom Cohoe

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    6. @ccmnxc, The issue I think is that it seems (on this view) that "God loves ccmnxc" is not truly a statement about God at all; it does not say anything about God that would be false if God did *not* love ccmnxc. Rather, it is the statement, "ccmnxc is loved by God." But then, I'm not sure what that means anymore, given what I just said.

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    7. At the risk of sounding patronizing but wanting to make sure we're clear, are you keeping in mind that "real relation" is a technical term strictly pertaining to causality?:

      X is in a real relation with Y if and only if X can be causally acted upon by Y such that X stands in passive potency to Y.

      Applied to your example then, saying God loves me is not an issue at all, because I do stand in real relation to God; God can act upon me and change me with His love.

      Conversely, if we say I love God, this is true, but not such that my love acts upon God to the extent that some potency in God is reduced to act.

      Perhaps if we were to try to rephrase things, to be in real relation to something is to be in passive potency with respect to it.

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    8. @ccmnxc

      That makes sense! Iadmit that i founded the view a bit strange but now you said clearly what i understood more implicity.

      God does know that we exist, but not because we changed Him. It is rather because He affect us that He knows us and He affect us, give us being, because He love us.

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  8. Hi Ed,

    I'm glad that you declared in your article that perfect being theology is "an unsound approach to understanding the divine nature." I fully agree.

    You state that on Aquinas' view, "whatever is composed of parts in any way... possesses passive potentiality insofar as its existence depends on the parts being combined." But that only follows if the parts in question are parts of its essence. The argument fails to rule out the possibility of God having non-essential accidents.

    Famously, Aquinas also argues that "anything whose essence and existence are distinct requires a cause." However, even among Scholastic philosophers, it is disputed whether there is a real distinction between a thing's essence and its existence. In any case, I have already critiqued the traditional arguments for a real distinction here: http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/fesers-fourth-proof-and-the-mystery-of-existence/#A2e

    You write that "the created world, as God's effect, bears a real relation to him. But it does not follow that he bears any more than a Cambridge relation to it." In plain English, what that means is that you have a personal relationship with God, but God does not have a personal relationship with you. When one puts it as baldly as that, the appeal of what you call "personalistic theism" immediately becomes apparent. Most people want a God who has a personal relationship with them.

    Finally, I put it to you that your statement that "[t]he created world's relation to God is like the relation between observer and observed, but God's relation to the created world is like the relation between the observed and the observer" is fundamentally misconceived. The created world does not and cannot observe God. If anyone is the observer, it is God, Who according to Boethius' analogy of a watcher on a high hill, timelessly observes the world. Cheers.

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    1. What is wrong with perfect being theology? I find St. Anselm aproach(and his argument too!) Quite interesting, even if i admit i don't know if i would use it alone.

      Now, your first point is well taken as a response to the article and the third and the fourth one too, so lets leave these at that.

      About the second one, i read the article and it has several things to comment, but let gets at what pluzzed me: you defend that universals like dogness, goldness or appleness are contingent?, i understood you as saying that God has to choose to create this or that universal. I don't think heard that view before.

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    2. (Cont)
      And also, your point about existence being indefinite instead of unlimitated is very interesting! It reminded me of Nietzsche criticism of Parmenides(not that you are a nominalist, i'am not that mean!). Something to think about.

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  9. I prefer the height analogy. It seems to me that if we look at someone or something we are actualising their intrinsic visual features so that seems to be some kind of change.

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    1. I am not sure I understand: if some animal somewhere sees the light of a star, then that star's "intrinsic visual features" are being actualized, and this changes the star somehow? But during the millions of years before there were animals to have eyes, since nothing noticed the star's intrinsic visual features, the star did not undergo any change in respect of its visual features?

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    2. I don't think seeing actualized thé intrinsic visual features of the star, but being visible is, in and out of itself An actualisation of it's visual features.

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    3. Hello @Tony!

      Nice point!

      Yes now that you mention it, it does seem to be a little suspicious.

      I never thought about it using the star analogy. It also just occurred to me that that the light from the stars take billions of years to reach us, by the time it reaches us the star is already dead. So on that account it is impossible for us to be causing any change in the star just by observation.

      Hello @Walter Van Den Acker
      Yes! What you say, makes sense!

      Perhaps, ya'll two can help me make sense of this paragraph from Prof Feser's post on naive color realism.

      "Now, in an analogous way, I would suggest, the something-that-resembles-RED that is in red can both be grounded in mind-independent reality and at the same time depend in part on the mind for its existence. It might really be there in red objects and be irreducible to what physics has to say about red, even if it is only actualised when a perceiver perceives it. "

      Thank You guys for your replies by the way! I really appreciate the interaction.

      I sometimes feel sad that I discovered this blog a little bit late! Prof. Feser seemed much more active in the com box atleast untill 2020. He got little busy I guess afterwards. Ya'll have been here from the start ?

      Cheers:)




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    4. Aquinas would refer to visual features as sensible forms. In his book on thomistic philosophy Fr Brock says that the form by which the object is observed and the "form by which the perceiver perceives, is one and the same form,

      The only difference is that the form exists in the object and perceiver in different ways. It exists in the object as a feature that allows it to be seen according to its material conditions and it exists in the perceiver as that by which the perceiver sees the object but without the matter of the object. (qualia of conscious experience).

      So perhaps in that paragraph, by actualisation Prof.Feser just means that the form begins to exist in the perceiver as the qualia of conscious experience and there is no change in the object.

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