Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Is the argument for an unmoved mover circular?

I'm Skeptical wrote: 



I realize that classical theists have logical arguments to prove the existence of God. But you don't realize that they all presuppose the existence of God. So yes, they do take God as a brute fact, no matter how much they deny it.


Now, here is presentation of Aristotle's Unmoved Mover. I take it you are implying that this must be a circular argument. How so?

124 comments:

WMF said...

404 - Not Found

im-skeptical said...

Aquinas: "Whatever is moved is moved by something else."

This is where he slips the presupposition of God. But it is an unproved assertion. Knowing that he will argue that there cannot be an infinite regress, the "something else" ultimately comes down to God. Thus, the "conclusion" of the argument depends on the supposition of God in its premises.

Victor Reppert said...

I think I have the link working now.

WMF said...

Consider the argument

(1) All men are mortal
(2) Aristotle is a man
(3) Therefore, Aristotle is mortal

Premise 1 is where the person giving the argument slips in the presupposition of Aristotle's mortality. Knowing that he will argue that Aristotle must have been a man, the "mortal" ultimately turns out to be Aristotle. Thus the "conclusion" of the argument depends on the supposition of Aristotle's mortality in its premises.

im-skeptical said...

WMF,

Not a valid comparison. It is perfectly justified to say that all men are mortal, because it is fully supported by empirical evidence and science. It is beyond dispute. It can be stated without having Aristotle in mind.

The assertion that all things that are moved must be moved by another does not enjoy the same level of certitude. We don't know that there aren't spontaneous events. We can't say for certain that the universe hasn't existed (in some form) without beginning, and therefore must have been caused by something outside itself. Aquinas just makes this assertion without justification. And in doing so, he definitely has God in mind.

WMF said...

Seeing how there are people who do seriously believe that infinite regress is an alternative to an unmoved mover, this is simply not true.

BenYachov said...

Skepo is too stupid to realize what Aristotle means here is whatever goes from potency to act is made so by something else already in Act.

>We don't know that there aren't spontaneous events.

What does that have to do with anything?

You have to show us a potency made act by nothing. Wither it's foreseen or not is not the question.

Victor Reppert said...

If our opponents are in error, probably stupidity is not the best explanation for how that error could have taken place.

Very often our discussions talk past one another, and this gets frustrating.

im-skeptical said...

"You have to show us a potency made act by nothing. Wither it's foreseen or not is not the question."

Potency and act have nothing to do with it. That is Aristotle's archaic notion of how things work. It is completely irrelevant in the modern world of scientific understanding. On the other hand, if your theistic beliefs entail these notions, you are still making an assumption that has no proof. The ultimate "act" is God. Again, we are right back to the problem I stated.

BenYachov said...

Victor

>If our opponents are in error, probably stupidity is not the best explanation for how that error could have taken place.

I am willing to grant that charity to someone who is not familiar with the topic and has not yet been directed to the relevant literature on the subject. But idiots who keep repeating the same mistakes over and over in spite of correction are either stupid or they just don’t want to know.

>Very often our discussions talk past one another, and this gets frustrating.

Or maybe some people are dogmatic fun-dies who love their invalid arguments more then their alleged valid truth. Let’s face it Victor let’s take an example from the Theistic side. Some YEC’s are immune to any explanation as too why it’s a category mistake to claim the 2nd Law of Thermal-Dynamics renders Evolution impossible. The later would still be a category mistake even if somehow the World really was created a mere 6,000 years ago.

BenYachov said...

>Potency and act have nothing to do with it.

Which is like having a conversation on the mechanism of modern Evolutionary Theory with a YEC & having that chucklehead exclaim “Natural Selection has nothing to do with Darwinian Evolution!”.

How is this not stupid?

>That is Aristotle's archaic notion of how things work.

Aristotle’s Metaphysical description of the reality of change is archaic? Well then so is Skept’s Materialism & Atheism since it came from a contemporary of Aristotle’s named Democritus(who was a Flat Earther BTW. Just saying. Aristotle did believe in a round Earth).

>It is completely irrelevant in the modern world of scientific understanding.

That is true since it is a species of metaphysics. Materialism either reductionist or non-reductionist are equally irrelevant to scientific understandings of the world. Just as it irrelevant to ask the atomic weight of natural selection.

>On the other hand, if your theistic beliefs entail these notions, you are still making an assumption that has no proof. The ultimate "act" is God. Again, we are right back to the problem I stated.

What do the proofs of empirical verification have to do with the proofs of mathematics. logic, and or philosophy?

Fallacy of equivocation.

oozzielionel said...

I see two current ideas that directly conflict with Aristotle. First, there is a willingness to allow for infinite regression such as a cycling expanding and collapsing universe. The second challenge Is that there is no such state as rest. Everything is always in motion.

Steve Lovell said...

Hi Skep,

I don't think you're objections here to the Cosmological Argument are well served by introducing them under the rubric of "circular argument". In this case the circularity charge seems to be equivalent to complaining that the argument is logically valid, that the conclusion of the argument is "contained" in the premises. Which is true for all logically valid arguments. That doesn't make the arguments bad arguments, but of course the mere fact that an argument is logically valid (the conclusions follow from the premises) equally doesn't make the argument a good one.

The question is whether the premises are true, and you think that one of them isn't, or at least that we don't have sufficient reason for believing it.

That's something we can sensibly discuss, but it's quite different to the claim that the argument is circular.

Now, I should get back to work.

John Mitchell said...

It is a little off-topic but i have a question concerning one, in my view interesting, objection to the first and second way. it is alwas argued that there is a distinction between an essential and an accidental series of causes. Aquinas argues in the first way that the relevant chain of causes is an essential one. The example thats always given is "the hammer-nail series..." which "...is an essentially ordered series, in that each cause (the neuron firing, the nerve conducting, the muscle contracting, the hand moving the hammer, etc)". It is also claimed that in that sense each of these causes are simultaneous. But thats clearl incorrect. First the neurons are firing THEN the nerve conducting then the muscle contracting and then finally the hand is moving the hammer. So the question seems to be: is there really anything that can be called an essentially ordered series or are all causal chains actually accidental? Does it make sense to even speak of causation in a state of simultaneity?? To see where im going with this it is very important to understand that im not arguing that the series ges back to infinity in time because i clearly dont believe this is metaphysically possible, or at least it is questionable wether it is possible. The question is in this case if god really needs to be a sustaining cause of the world at any time and if he has to actualize change at any time. Because if the only thing there is is an accidental series going back to a temporal first cause then that cause could be a brute fact. If there indeed is something like an essential chain of causes it woud have to terminate in an ontological first cause and that would have to be the god of classical theism. So im interested wether or no the concept of an essentially ordered series of causes is intelligible. I have thought a long time about this question and i have nto been able to come up with a clear answer but i have remained sceptical of the concept of an essential series. I might be totally off here so i hope someone can point out something interesting.

BeingItself said...

John Mitchell,

That has been my biggest objection to these arguments.

If you read Feser's TLS, he makes a big deal of the distinction between essentially ordered causal chains and accidentally ordered causal chains. But then when he tries to give real world examples of essentially ordered series, they are all examples of accidental series!

It's hilarious! Feser is using imaginary physics to try and justify his metaphysical claims. But because he is so ignorant of physics, his attempt is disastrous.

Crude said...

John Mitchell,

Just ask your question over at Feser's blog if you'd like an informed answer to your question. It's one of a number that comes up at times.

The examples used are just toy models meant to communicate a concept, not concrete examples of the sort of series you speak of. A 'real world example' of the sort of series he has in mind would be 'everything' since everything is sustained moment to moment.

As for the OP, I'll leave Steve Lovell to the task of trying to patiently explain the issue to the critic in question, for all the good it will do. For everyone else, I just suggest appending 'We are Pakled!' to the end of each of Skep's posts. If nothing else, it makes 'em funnier.

Ilíon said...

"I'm Skeptical wrote"

Meh.

grodrigues said...

@John Mitchell:

"It is also claimed that in that sense each of these causes are simultaneous. But thats clearl incorrect. First the neurons are firing THEN the nerve conducting then the muscle contracting and then finally the hand is moving the hammer."

You are confusing simultaneous with instantaneous. Hume and many -- most? -- moderns with him do take temporal priority to be one of the key components in the notion of causation, but that is not the view of the Scholastics in general, or Aquinas in particular. For them causation is not a diachronic relation between events, but rather a synchronic relation, of ontological dependence, between substances.

A modern defense of simultaneity can be found in for example, Stephen Mumford and Rani Anjum's "Getting Causes from Powers", chapter 5 titled "Simultaneity".

"So the question seems to be: is there really anything that can be called an essentially ordered series or are all causal chains actually accidental?"

This -- or something like it -- is in my view a more plausible and viable objection to the cosmological argument from change (as opposed to hilarious charges of circularity or pig-ignorant buffoonery about "imaginary physics"), and is tantamount to *refuting* the whole metaphysical conception of causation on which the arguments rely. A Humean would certainly have to say this. Two points:

(1) The distinction is not arbitrary or ad hoc, but the result of a comprehensive analysis of motion or change.

(2) I would say accidental causal chains always resolve themselves in a composition -- broadly speaking -- of essentially ordered series. Think about a billiard ball hitting one ball and then the other, etc. The series as a whole is accidentally ordered, but each collision is in itself an essentially ordered series, albeit with only one link at the *level* where the analysis is being undertaken.

note: Crude's advice is a good one.

im-skeptical said...

Steve Lovell,

The statement I made is that the argument (to prove God's existence) presupposes God.

Consider Aquinas' premise: "Whatever is moved is moved by something else."

The wording immediately points to a God. "Whatever is moved" implies all things except God. "is moved by something else" denies the possibility of anything but a causal chain that leads to something that isn't moved. And we already know that everything except God has been excluded.

This is the kind of argument that is formulated in such a way as to exclude other possibilities by making assumptions that are not proven. As far as I can tell, all theistic proofs rely on some similar technique to rule out possibilities that shouldn't be ruled out.

im-skeptical said...

crude and grod,

Instead of your usual sniping, make a real argument to show that I'm wrong.

BenYachov said...

>they are all examples of accidental series!

Not at all "a Hand moving a stick moving a rock in Act" is an essential series since to remove even one of those elements causes it to cease to be an Act of "a hand moving a stick moving a rock".

Gnus keep repeating the same mistakes. Their version of Atheism is for the intellectually inferior.

Dan Gillson said...

Whatever is moved is moved by something else isn't a presupposition for God, it's an empirical, common sense premise: if something is moving, changing, or being made actual, then another thing is the source of the movement, change, or actualization. If a ball is rolling down a hill, I can safely assume that its current state is the result of a cause, e.g., a child kicked it. What the conclusion assumes, if anything, is that our ordinary perceptions of causes and effects are in working order, or suffice enough for metaphysical description. The existence of God isn't assumed in the premise.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"Instead of your usual sniping, make a real argument to show that I'm wrong."

You are not making any argument worth responding to because you are mistakenly saying that the First Way is committing the fallacy of circularity when *all* you have pointed is that for all *you* know, the principle of causality is insufficiently argued for. But one thing is to note that a principle is insufficiently argued for, quite another is for an argument to commit the logical fallacy of assuming what it set out to prove.

And of course, Aristotle, Aquinas, or pretty much everyone that studied in detail the arguments knows that the principle of causality is argued for -- it is in fact an analytical truth that follows from the given account of change and considerations in the philosophy of nature independently motivated and having absolutely *nothing* to do with the question of whether God exists or not.

But this has all been repeated countless times; it is in one ear out the other; it is futile. The simple matter of fact is, quite apart from your ignorance and dumbassery, you have no regard for the Truth or even so much in actually understanding what you are trying to refute -- *understanding*, not agreeing.

im-skeptical said...

"it's an empirical, common sense premise: if something is moving, changing, or being made actual, then another thing is the source of the movement, change, or actualization."

I disagree. Empirical evidence shows that things happen spontaneously, or of their own accord, without any "other" thing acting upon them. Consider the decay of an electron's orbit to a lower energy. What makes it happen? Can you honestly say that some other entity has acted upon it? That's not what observation tells us. Also, the physical world itself is not known to be caused by some other entity. That is nothing more than a supposition.

In order for me to accept Aquinas' argument, I need proof of his premises, and that proof doesn't exist, as far as I know.

Steven Jake said...

im-skeptical,

It should be articulated that the premise that anything moved is moved by another is not simply based on empirical observation, but by the relation of the metaphysical concepts themselves.

For something to be moved is for that something to have a potential actualized. But, if something does not need something else to move, then this means that it can actualize itself. But, this is not possible, since a potential is, by itself, nonexistent. A potential needs something actual before it can be actualized.

BenYachov said...

>Empirical evidence shows that things happen spontaneously,

How do you know the cause is non-existent and not hidden or unknown?

Where is your empirical or sense experience of "nothing" being a cause.

This is Hume's mistake & Anscombe PWND him good for it.

You are equating imagining a effect whose cause is unknown with imagining it un-caused but you can't rationally conceive it as such.

BenYachov said...

>Consider the decay of an electron's orbit to a lower energy. What makes it happen? Can you honestly say that some other entity has acted upon it?

You can't observe the sub-atomic world without changing it & you can't rule out a non-local hidden variable only a local hidden variable.

BenYachov said...

Or maybe Paley's stupid Theistic Personalist gap "god" did it?

Dan Gillson said...

Skep, are you saying that science proves that some effects don't have causes? Or are you saying that some natural causes aren't directly agentive? I'm really straining to see your point, especially since your rejoinder never engages with my point, and so never rejoins.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

"How do you know the cause is non-existent and not hidden or unknown?"

I don't know that it is uncaused any more than you know that it is. The difference between our positions is that I make no supposition about it.

Dan,

I'm saying that empirical evidence does not show that it is caused be something else. Nothing more.

Dan Gillson said...

... so there are causeless effects?

Dan Gillson said...

Or there are causes that aren't agentive?

BenYachov said...


>I don't know that it is un-caused any more than you know that it is. The difference between our positions is that I make no supposition about it

vs.

>I disagree. Empirical evidence shows that things happen spontaneously, or of their own accord, without any "other" thing acting upon them.

You just contradicted yourself.

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

I'm not convinced that all events have a cause that we can discern.

I'm also not convinced that the term 'cause' is meaningful in the sense that we typically use it, and definitely not in the sense (four causes) that Aristotle uses it. Observation shows us that agency need not be involved.

grodrigues said...

@BenYachov:

"You can't observe the sub-atomic world without changing it & you can't rule out a non-local hidden variable only a local hidden variable."

We do not even need to invoke non-locality -- which opens its own nasty can of worms. The simple matter of fact is that, as usual, im-skeptical has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in say, the *physics* of radiactive decay that contradicts in any way the Scholastic ideas about causation. What there is is bad metaphysics, but we already knew that.

Do a simple test. Google for Bohr's paper "Causality and Complementarity" from 1937, based on a lecture given the year before. Read it. have in mind that Bohr is not only one of the fathers of QM, with Heisenberg the one more closely allied with the so-called Copenhagen Interpretation (whose most notable feature is that it does not exist), and was heavily influenced by the positivism and neo-Kantianism of the time. Or read one of the several books on Bohr's philosophy, say Plotnitsky's "Niels Bohr and complementarity". And then come back to me and tell me if it is in any way relevant to the Scholastic ideas about causation (hint: it's not).

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

The day my wording becomes less precise than yours will never occur. But let me amend my statement to: "Empirical evidence does not show that all events happen as a result other things acting upon them".


OK?

BenYachov said...

How does one prove empirically something has happened without a cause?

With each post Skepo your are dragging down everyone's collective IQ.

BenYachov said...

>"Empirical evidence does not show that all events happen as a result other things acting upon them".

Empirical evidence CANNOT show this by definition.

Precise words my arse!

Sophistry & Assclownery!

im-skeptical said...

"How does one prove empirically something has happened without a cause?" - I'm not the one making the argument for an unmoved mover.

"Empirical evidence CANNOT show this by definition." - If your definition of "cause" includes notions like final causality. It is an unproved supposition on your part that there is any such thing.

And Ben proves my point. He makes presuppositions that entail his God. I don't.

amorbis said...

I'm just blown away by im-skeptical, really... It's just amazing that anyone could be this stupid, this intellectually incompetent, this dogmatically attached to atheism and to the idea that theists are idiots that he is INCAPABLE of even ATTEMPTING to understand theists' positions or arguments. It's just fascinating; I didn't even know people could be this willfully stupid until I came here.

Wow. Just wow.

amorbis said...

The most amazing part is that he's just so arrogant and cocksure of himself... it's fascinating; he's so obviously stupid and ignorant, but he's so sure that he's smart and that everyone else is stupid... again, just... wow.

BenYachov said...

Grod's right I mean why bother?

im-skeptical said...

"im-skeptical has absolutely no idea what he is talking about. There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in say, the *physics* of radiactive decay that contradicts in any way the Scholastic ideas about causation."

Well, someone doesn't know what he's talking about. I wasn't talking about radioactive decay at all. The energy level of electrons has nothing to do with radioactive decay, grod. But you worked on a physics project once, so you think YOU know all about it.

LOL

im-skeptical said...

Folks, this is a real pompous ass. Tosses around some random jargon from physics, and pretends that he's somehow refuting what I said, while depending on the fact that most people don't know what he's talking about anyway. This is genuine intellectual dishonesty.

BeingItself said...

Dan Gillson said:

"if something is moving . . . then another thing is the source of the movement"

That is just false.

It's false Aristotelian physics.

It's amazing that you guys are so clueless about this basic stuff.

Aristotle can be forgiven for getting almost every thing wrong about physics. But you guys need to read a book.

Samwell Barnes said...

Strange. I took a year-long, mathematically rigorous quantum mechanics course as an undergraduate, and neither in the lectures nor in the textbook was there anything that made me doubt the integrity of Aquinas' act-potency framework, anymore than there was anything which made me doubt Euclid's proof for the infinity of prime numbers. Physical discoveries and physical models seemed to me to be no more relevant to analytic metaphysics than to mathematics. Maybe I just wasn't paying enough attention?

im-skeptical said...

Samwell,

What I said was that there is no known cause for an electron to drop to a lower energy state. I didn't claim that this fact would cause you to doubt your Thomistic beliefs. But I did claim that it shows that the premise to Aquinas' argument is unproven. You and grod can talk about Heisenberg's uncertainty principle all you like, and put all the Thomistic spin on it you please, but it doesn't change the fact of what I said.

BenYachov said...

Positivism on Crack.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"Well, someone doesn't know what he's talking about. I wasn't talking about radioactive decay at all. The energy level of electrons has nothing to do with radioactive decay, grod."

What I wrote was: "There is nothing, absolutely nothing, in say, the *physics* of radiactive decay that contradicts in any way the Scholastic ideas about causation." You no what the "in say" is doing there? Is signaling that I am going to give an *example*. You do know what an example is, don't you? Want to talk about energy levels of the electron? Sure, let's. I have Merzbacher and the Landau-Lifschitz QM textbooks in front me, as well as the foundational texts of Isham, Jauch and Piron. Can get more from the library if my mood so inclines me. So go ahead. Oh, make sure you actually know QM, including the full mathematical apparatus of Hilbert spaces, self-adjoint operators and the algebras of such, spectral measures, etc. You know, the full shebang. Which I am sure you know like the back of your hand.

im-skeptical said...

grod,

You clearly said I didn't know what I was talking about, and then went on your irrelevant rant. Exactly what did I say that you think was wrong, and why do you think it's wrong?

Papalinton said...

It must be remembered that Aquinas's 5 ways were conceived within a theological framework, attempting to make a connect between god and physical existence, through some form of teleological projection.

Of course we know so much more physics, atsrophysics, astronomy, cosmology than Aquinas was ever privy to and over the intervening centuries his treatise now has far less influence, relevance and practical application in these disciplines today than when he formulated them at which time and context they made perfect sense.

Indeed the more we investigate and research, the possibility of Aquinas's 5-ways having any strengthening congruent role to play in these disciplines becomes remoter and less likely each day that passes, as each new experiment or verifiable observation is confirmed.

It is clear today, mindful of this scientific progress, that to say something is uncaused is no different than saying that it caused itself — or else never comes into a state of existence in the first place. It seems that at the nano-level of quantum mechanics things can and do pop into and out of existence without cause [at least not one that we can observe as yet].

In today's context we have two reasonable options. (1) We can either argue that if a series can begin uncaused [a la quantum mechanics], then we can just as easily begin with the universe itself popping into existence, without resorting to an uncaused God [Occam's Razor]. Or, (2) we could begin it with the cause of God, rather than with God. Either way the God hypothesis is a thoroughly add-on theological construct that has no bearing on discussion other than for its psychological placebo effect in filling the gap that science cannot yet fill.

The extraordinary track record of science and its explanatory power suggests that it and theology [knowledge and faith] are related as the scales of a balance; when one goes up the other goes down. [Schopenhauer, German philosopher]


BenYachov said...

Paps don't hurt yourself. Just go back to bonging some poor Kangaroo & leave the thinking to people with working brains.

(Putting aside the intrinsic logical contradiction in calling something "self-caused")

>to say something is uncaused is no different than saying that it caused itself.

If something is "uncaused" then logically it can't cause itself because then it would be "caused" not uncaused.

If nobody or nothing ever shoots me with a gun then I remain "un-shot".

But let us say in a fit of insanity brought on by the fact I will never ever meet a single intelligent or rational Gnu Atheist in my life I decide to take extreme measures by shooting myself in the arse.

I don't see logically how I can be "un-shot" and "self-shot" at the same time and in the same sense?

Gnu'Atheists!

This is all they are ever going to be capable of in terms of intellect.

This is why if I ever lost my faith I would NEVER be a fucking Gnu'Atheist.

I mean if I am going to burn in Hell for all eternity I see no reason to be a moron as well as damned.

Why add insult to injury?

im-skeptical said...

"if I ever lost my faith ..."

You wouldn't know what to do if you had to rely on reason. Just sayin'.

BeingItself said...

"Physical discoveries and physical models seemed to me to be no more relevant to analytic metaphysics than to mathematics."

Do you care whether your metaphysics is true?

Why do you think Aristotle thought that "whatever is moved is moved by another"? He thought that because it seems true from everyday observation (but it is not true).

Learn from Aristotle: your metaphysics should follow your physics. But, you have to start with physics of the real world, not the imaginary mistaken physics of Aristotle and Aquinas and Feser.

amorbis said...

I think if I truly believed that there was such a thing as Hell and that it really was being burned in screaming agony in a pit of fire forever, and that there really were people in it right now, I wouldn't be able to sleep at night. I wouldn't even be able to live my life; all I would be able to think about was that there were people suffering unimaginably forever and that they would never, ever get out of it, and I would be praying pretty much 24/7 begging God to put them out of their misery. I am completely, 100% convinced that NO ONE could ever possibly deserve something like the traditional conception of Hell, and I would rather no one had ever existed than for even one person to have to suffer unimaginably forever. I'm convinced that most people who believe in the traditional conception of Hell and don't have serious emotional problems because of it don't really comprehend the reality of what they believe in, because they have been taught it from very early childhood and have been conditioned to accept it as normal. The idea of Hell is what drove me from my childhood belief in Christianity (although it did NOT drive me toward either materialism or full-blown atheism at all).

BenYachov said...



Skepo writes:

>You wouldn't know what to do if you had to rely on reason. Just sayin'.

Says the brain dead moron who along with his fellow Gnu from down under thinks un-caused is synonymous with self-caused and still cannot comprehend the difference between Science, Physics and Metaphysics.

BTW Grod has a professional knowledge of actual science.

You clearly don't & neither does Kangaroo boy.

I don't either BTW but I have enough education and common sense to spot a faker when I see one.

Causes Itself writes:
>Learn from Aristotle: your metaphysics should follow your physics. But, you have to start with physics of the real world, not the imaginary mistaken physics of Aristotle and Aquinas and Feser.

K'ay.

Aristotle's Physics= A rock is pushed down a hill this actualizes it's momentum that temporary overcomes it's natural stasis till it returns to it's natural state of stasis and stops rolling. Any object will move as long as some acting object is causing the movement & then the object returns to it natural state of stasis once the act ceases.

Real Physics =An object placed in motion stays in motion till acted upon by an outside force.

Aristotle's Metaphysics - Whatever goes from potential to Act is accomplished by something already in act.

Newton;s Physics contradicts Aristotle's Physics but how does it follow "that whatever goes from potency to act is accomplished by something already in act" is refuted by Newton's Physics?

Indeed Newton presupposes Aristotle' s metaphysics since an object having it's potential to be in the Act of motion actualized will stay in it's act of motion till something else in act changes it.

Because if you throw out causality then there is no reason why the first law of motion should work at all.

>But, you have to start with physics of the real world,

What? Like what is first in the intellect must first be in the senses?

BI do yourself a favor. Stop faking it. You don't do it very well.

grodrigues said...

@im-skeptical:

"Exactly what did I say that you think was wrong, and why do you think it's wrong?"

Already did.

But since I am such a nice guy, and you are a bit on the slow side, here it goes for your edification (of course not; we two know that this is a futile exercise, engaged in just for the shits and giggles). The OP ended with a question: "I take it you are implying that this must be a circular argument. How so?". Yes, that was your claim. Have you even so much acknowledged your egregious mistaking a possibly unsound argument with a fallaciously circular one? Not a peep. Then in April 16, 2014 2:53 PM you say: "Aquinas just makes this assertion without justification." Which assertion refers to the principle of causality. And I said in April 17, 2014 9:49 AM:

"And of course, Aristotle, Aquinas, or pretty much everyone that studied in detail the arguments knows that the principle of causality is argued for -- it is in fact an analytical truth that follows from the given account of change and considerations in the philosophy of nature independently motivated and having absolutely *nothing* to do with the question of whether God exists or not."

So yes, justification is given, you are just ignorant of it. Since you do not offer any refutation of the justification, you try to do the next best thing: offer a counter-example. So you allude to quantum events, specifically to the electron transitioning around through different quantum states. But in April 17, 2014 3:36 PM, in response to Samwell Barnes:

"What I said was that there is no known cause for an electron to drop to a lower energy state. I didn't claim that this fact would cause you to doubt your Thomistic beliefs. But I did claim that it shows that the premise to Aquinas' argument is unproven."

Which, all things considered, is quite the concession. In fact, you do not even claim that said quantum events are a counter-example to the principle of causality, but rather it shows "that the premise to Aquinas' argument is unproven", which of course we already know it is false. So on your own concession, you do not even have a counter-example.

So this pompous ass rests his case.

Oh what the heck, here is one more thing. Your argument schematized takes the following form:

(1) X.

(2) There is no known cause for X.

(3) Therefore X is uncaused.

Let us alter the argument a little bit.

(1) X.

(2) There is no known cause for X.

(3) Therefore God did it.

And here is the final irony of your dumbassery: you are making the formal equivalent of an invalid gap argument.

note: you really should follow the advice Karl Grant gave you once: get your own insults. Be creative. Add to the entertainment value.

BenYachov said...

amorbis I have no hostility toward you since you have not (yet) done anything to earn my ire. So don't take what I am about to say as an attack.

Your an ex-fundamentalist. An Ex-Evangelical Protestant.

I am a Catholic and a Thomist & very much not a fundamentalist.

Just to warn you up front about 99.9% of whatever objections you had to your former faith are going to be complete non-starters for me. Just to let you know.

>traditional conception of Hell

You mean your fundamentalist Protestant view of Hell?

The Church Fathers where more sophisticated on Hell. The early Christian Mystics even more so.
In short I don't believe Hell is at all like a Clive Barker film(however entertaining that is if you can get past the subtle gay sado-masocist themes).

Hell is not as bad as you think and paradoxically it is quite worst.

Still Hell is preferable to non-being. The thought of one day not existing is beyond horror to me. Because if that happens I might as well have not existed at all since at that point there would be no "I" to know the difference.

Give me Hell over non-existence any day of the week. At least I would have being and if I believe Mister Eckart I can still have a natural delight in that.

amorbis said...

Ben,

I actually was not raised as a fundamentalist growing up - with the exception of my early childhood, my family was never all that religious. My dad was, and he taught me stuff about Christianity all the time - I never really went to church or anything, except for a few times. My dad actually didn't believe in what I have called the "traditional" conception of hell, as far as I can tell - but popular culture drilled it into me so much that I ended up associating it with Christianity as a whole, and by my teen years I saw Christianity in a more or less negative light because of that.

My understanding is that Catholics still believe in a constant physical pain from burning in fire in Hell - certainly, Ed Feser seems to believe in that conception of Hell, at least after the Resurrection. And judging from what I've seen from historical sources, that's how Catholics have traditionally seen Hell since at least the middle ages - correct me if I'm wrong about that.

im-skeptical said...

grod,

"(3) Therefore X is uncaused."

I do not make that conclusion. Your reading comprehension appears to be lacking.

BenYachov said...

amorbis

>My understanding is that Catholics still believe in a constant physical pain from burning in fire in Hell - certainly, Ed Feser seems to believe in that conception of Hell, at least after the Resurrection.
And judging from what I've seen from historical sources, that's how Catholics have traditionally seen Hell since at least the middle ages - correct me if I'm wrong about that.

If there is physical pain in Hell then by definition it is the least of the pains. There is no one official dogmatic view other then these which I take from OTT. (Many Fathers believe there is spiritual pain in Hell which is worse then the mere physical).
1.The souls of those who die in the condition of personal grievous sin enter Hell. (De fide. )
2.The punishment of Hell lasts for all eternity. (De fide.)

Every Mystic, Scholastic Theologian, Church Father East or West I have ever read says the ultimate pain of Hell is the loss of the Beatific Vision. That is the loss of the Soul ever seeing God Face to Face. Since God is Being Itself and thus Goodness Itself rejecting Goodness Itself logically entails an existence of being in a privation of Goodness Itself for all eternity. Otherwise known as Hell. It’s simple divine physics(pun intended) if you reject eating you starve and no amount of screaming and yelling at food saying “It’s unfair I must ingest you to live why can’t you nourish me without my having to consume you?” will substitute for actual eating. In a like manner you cannot reject Goodness Itself and expect to have Goodness Itself.

The following Parable has always been a favorite of mine from THE FOUR LAST THINGS.


"There is therefore no doubt that nothing is a source of such anguish to the devils and the damned as being deprived of the beatific vision of God.

Consequently, if God were to send an angel to the portals of hell, with this message to the Damned. "The Almighty has in His mercy had compassion on you, and He is willing you should be released from one of the penalties you endure; which shall it be?" what thinkest thou would be the reply? They would all as one man exclaim. “Give us the Beatific Vision!" This is the one favor they would implore of God. Were it possible for them, in the midst of hell-fire, to behold the Beatific Vision, for the joy of it they would no longer heed the devouring flames. For the vision of God is so beauteous, so blissful, so full of rapture and infinite delight, that all the joys and attractions of earth cannot compare with it in the remotest degree. In fact, all celestial happiness of Heaven would be turned to bitterness if the Beatific Vision was taken away; and the redeemed would choose rather to be in hell, if they could there enjoy that beatific vision, than be in heaven without it. Just as the privilege of beholding the divine countenance constitutes the chief happiness of the blessed, the one without which all others would be no happiness at all, so it is the chief misery of hell, that the lost souls should forever be excluded from it. On this subject St. John Chrysostom says: "The torments of a thousand hells are nothing in comparison to the anguish of being banished from everlasting bliss and the vision of God.”END QUOTE

In short given the logic of all of Scholastic Theology, Doctrine and Philosophy a fate where I was subjected to every agony found in Clive Barker Hell(including Pinhead’s maudlin nonsense) but here I enjoyed the beatific vision would be an awesome fate vs all the other pleasures of this world and in Heaven without the BV.

Of course loss of existence would be worst because that would mean taking away the last good God gives me that is my being. The soul by nature was meant to exist forever. If God did annihilate that would subject it to something intrinsically un-natural too it and would be infinitely more painful then Hell and loss of the Beatific Vision. Sorry no thanks. I want to go to Heaven but I will take Hell over non-being.

BenYachov said...

amorbis

That is all I have to say on the subject as I don't wish to hijack the thread.

But enquire of me in the future & I will be happy to answer your questions.

Peace be with you.

BenYachov said...

Let me just re-write that last bit before I go to Youtube.

Of course loss of existence would be worst then Hell because that would mean taking away the last bit of good God has given me that is my being. The soul by nature was meant to exist forever. If God did annihilate it that would subject it to something intrinsically un-natural too and would be infinitely more painful then Hell and loss of the Beatific Vision. Sorry no thanks. I want to go to Heaven but I will take Hell over non-being any day of the week.

BenYachov said...

Parting dig at Skepo

>"Empirical evidence does not show that all events happen as a result other things acting upon them".

This is about as meaningful as saying "Experiments in particle accelerators don't show us Natural Selection is true."

Of course Natural Selection isn't the sort of thing you would try to prove with a particle accelerator or can prove using that devise.

In a like manner Metaphysical conclusions about observed reality are the results of reason and logical philosophical argument not empirical verifications.

But dumbass can't get out of his Positivism mentality.

im-skeptical said...

Good for you, Ben. Here's another one: Neither evidence nor logic shows that your God is anything more than a figment of your deluded brain. Aquinas' arguments are wishful thinking, based on unproven assertions.

BenYachov said...

Skepo

If you wish really really really hard I am sure you can make Positivism true.

Just close your eyes and click your heals.

Papalinton said...

Ben
"If something is "uncaused" then logically it can't cause itself because then it would be "caused" not uncaused.
If nobody or nothing ever shoots me with a gun then I remain "un-shot"."


If you shoot yourself, you would be shot. You would not remain "un-shot". Just as there is no need or requirement for an external "nobody or nothing" to do the shooting, it can be said to be uncaused by an external source. Therefore there is no qualitative difference between uncaused and self-caused. If something at the QM level can pop itself into and out of existence it is reasonable to suggest that it is 'uncaused; or 'self-caused'.

Papalinton said...

Being Itself
"Learn from Aristotle: your metaphysics should follow your physics. But, you have to start with physics of the real world, not the imaginary mistaken physics of Aristotle and Aquinas and Feser."

Amen to that.
Metaphysics must necessarily supervene on physics if one is to reflect, deliberate, consider, or contemplate intellectually.

To do otherwise is simply to imagine, dream or fantasize. To engage in metaphysics without it being properly grounded in 'physics' is tantamount to sailing without keel or rudder.

Ilíon said...

You know, American Catholics are such pussies. I mean, just look at this prancing fool, Son-of-Confusion, and the way he constantly misrepresents and slanders Protestantism, and Protestants. Or, to be more precise, look at the continuous silence of all the other Catholics in non-response to his slanders and misrepresentations.

But let someone offer a valid criticism of Catholicism, whether of its faulty theology or of its faulty sociology-and-economics, and then watch all the yowls of tails-under-rocking-chair-rails outrage.

Pussies!

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

> Aquinas' arguments are wishful thinking, based on unproven assertions.

This is the fallacy of ad lapidem:

"Argumentum ad lapidem (Latin: "to the stone") is a logical fallacy that consists in dismissing a statement as absurd without giving proof of its absurdity."

I see this fallacy committed all the time by gnu atheists. They seem to thrive on it.

So, be more specific about which premise is an "unproven assertion."

Martin said...

BeingItself,

>Why do you think Aristotle thought that "whatever is moved is moved by another"? He thought that because it seems true from everyday observation (but it is not true).

No, he thought this principle true because no potency can actualize itself. Why did he think this? Because a potency does not (yet) exist, and so if it could actualize itself, this would entail that it exists before it exists, which is a contradiction.

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

"No, he thought this principle true because no potency can actualize itself."

This is just part of the wishful thinking syndrome. Potency and act are meaningless concoctions. In ancient times, when people were ignorant of the principles of physics, they were invented as an explanation for how things work. Since then, they have been thoroughly debunked. However, before that happened, they were adopted by Christians, converted into "metaphysics", assumed as religious truth, and incorporated into their false logical framework that purports to give logical justification for their ridiculous system of beliefs.

Potency and act have no explanatory or predictive power. They are useless as a means to understand our world. The only purpose they serve is to help perpetuate the delusion of Christians. The believer desperately wants to show that his delusion id true, so he assumes the truth of these concepts and then uses them to "prove" his entire theology.

BenYachov said...

>Potency and act have no explanatory or predictive power.

Translation: They are not examples of empirically verified knowledge because I cannot think outside my kneejerk Positivism.


Yeh Natural Selection isn't a conclusion one arrives at because of experiments done with a particle accelerator.

But within it's own science and discipline it's still valid knowledge that comes from valid conclusions.

amorbis said...

im-skeptical,

You are unbelievable, you know that? You're so ignorant of everything having to do with philosophy, but you're just so arrogant, egocentric, and consumed in materialistic atheism that you not only believe you know more than people who actually study philosophy, but that philosophy is debunked by "science" and thus has no use. You're one of those people who thinks that science is the only legitimate form of knowledge, and that anything that's not scientific (doesn't have "predictive power" or "explanatory power" or whatever) is bunk. And you assume this without even taking the time to understand what you think you're debunking. You start with the assumption that anyone who doesn't buy into materialistic atheism is deluded and an anti-scientific idiot, and use that to evaluate your opponents' arguments instead of actually examining the arguments and evaluating them logically.

Your cognitive faculties do not work properly: you have a very strong emotional commitment to the idea that materialism just has to be true, that non-materialists and theists just have to be deluded and stupid, that people who don't take science as the only legitimate realm of inquiry just have to be irrational science-deniers, and that you're smarter than everyone else here because you believe in the "reality" that the physical is all there is. People like you are impossible to argue with, because you do not argue rationally. You make unproven assumptions that show very clearly that you do not know what you're talking about, and no matter how many times you get caught on it, you just keep on doing it. You're deluded into thinking you know everything just because you're a materialist/atheist, and your ego is so inflated that there's no way for anyone to make you see that you're not as smart as you think you are and that non-materialists and theists aren't as deluded and irrational as you think they are (even if we may not be correct).

You're at a point of no return because your ego can't handle the truth, because admitting that non-materialists aren't irrational and stupid and that you don't know anything would be such a blow to your ego and your cherished beliefs that you wouldn't be able to handle it emotionally. I don't expect you to admit it either - if I were in your position, I certainly wouldn't be able to - so I think the best thing for you to do in order to keep your dignity would be to just quietly back off and stop digging yourself deeper into this hole you've dug for yourself. You don't have to admit that you're wrong or anything; just stop posting and no one will even think anything of it - if anything, they'll respect you more. I'm not saying any of this out of malice toward you - I'm saying this because you need to hear the truth.

BenYachov said...

Skepo you do know amorbis is himself an Atheist and an ex-Christian?

im-skeptical said...

amorbis,

"You're at a point of no return because your ego can't handle the truth"

I'm here to learn. I'd be happy to hear your version of the truth. Seriously.

Karl Grant said...

amorbis,

It isn't just philosophy Skeppy is ignorant of. He is also ignorant of hard science (physics especially), advanced mathematics and history. This guy insisted Einstein's Theory of Relativity and Newtonian Mechanics are the same thing, C is only used to represent speed of light in physics equations (it is also used for speed of sound and heat capacity), thinks scientific and technological development didn't happen in Middle Ages Europe, etc... Hell, the guy classified a new age quack who, irony of ironies, thinks the Gaia Theory undermines both Darwinian Evolution and Materialism and who thinks Darwinism supports fascism as a reliable reference source. And before that it was an Illuminati conspiracy theorist website. And before that a book published by Jack Chick that he didn't know was published by Chick and refused to believe it even when the copyright page was shoved in his face.

Like you said, the guy is unbelievable.

BenYachov said...

He said this to me before & thus far has made little if any progress in understanding philosophy.

At the risk of psychoanalyzing him I suspect he is afraid to learn philosophy because he thinks it might lead him to believe in God & he doesn't want God to exist.

All his charges of "wishful thinking" are likely projections

Karl Grant said...

Ben,

He has said it, or a variation of it, to all of us at one point or another.

im-skeptical said...

amorbis,

I advise you to listen to Karl, because he knows what he's talking about. Honestly, he does. I swear. ;)

amorbis said...

I'm actually not an atheist (I'm agnostic and also not a materialist), but obviously I'm not a Christian either.

BenYachov said...

>I'm actually not an atheist (I'm agnostic and also not a materialist), but obviously I'm not a Christian either.

Good to know where you stand.

Of course most Gnus tend to count Agnostics as Atheists because of their kneejerk tendency to define Atheism negatively. They would say you "Lack god belief" therefore can be classified as an Atheist.

But I always thought this was just a rhetorical move on their part to shift the burden of proof.

Cheer man.

Ilíon said...

paraphrasing several comments simultaneously: "Ooooh! Aaaah! 'Agnostics' are such gentle souls, such thoughtful persons .... [snore]"

In actual fact, 'agnostics' are frequently even worse -- more irrational, more dogmatically hide-bound, more hostile -- than even Gnu 'atheists'.

This is because "strong agnosticism" isn't merely the position that "I don't know the answer to the question of God's reality" (*), but rather the universalist claim that "NO ONE can know the answer to the question of God's reality" (**). The 'atheist', if he's not playing the Let's Conflate Denial-of-God With Maintaining-Willful-Ignorance-About-God game, is at least acknowledging that the question is meaningful, important, and answerable.

Moreover, there is no one who behaves as though agnosticism were the proper-and-reasonable stance to take: it's impossible for any person to live his life that way. This is because "Is God?" is the First Question, the Base Question: for, all other questions one can ever ask about the nature of reality logically follow from the answer one gives to that question. So, while 'agnostics' may claim that they don't know the answer to that question, or may claim to see no way to begin to answer it, as a practical matter of getting on with life they answer "No" (***).

That is, 'agnostics' are really just God-deniers who don't want to own up to the 'atheist' label ... which does rather make the 'atheist' campaign to redefine "atheism" to mean "agnosticism" just too amusing.


(*) though, were the 'agnostic' honest with himself about the issue, such "weak agnosticism" *really* cashes-out as "I don't *wish to know* the answer to the question of God's reality"

(**) again, were the 'agnostic' honest with himself about the issue, such "strong agnosticism" *really* cashes-out as "I don't wish *anyone* to know the answer to the question of God's reality, or even to believe that the question is answerable or even meaningful"

(***) Or course, just like admitted 'atheists', the 'agnostics' both deny-with-their-mouths that God is and confirm-with-their-daily-behavior that they don't believe a word they just said on the issue.

Papalinton said...

Illion, I love you, man. You often do make me break out in smile and feel the better for it. You are the true contrarian, in thought and deed, unafraid to dish it out in spades-full to Yachov, to Amorbis, Skep, me, indeed everyone.

I enjoy reading your contributions even though I hardly respond to them. The world according to Illion is a fascinating one. You and I cannot be said to have much in common but I do enjoy reading your often cryptic but delightfully acerbic contributions.

Papalinton said...

Amorbis
Are you a psychologist by trade?

Crude said...

amorbis,

That was a pleasure to read. Perhaps the lesson will finally sink in.

...No, probably not. But a fine attempt all the same.

BeingItself said...

Martin,

This is what I think:

No borogove can mimsy itself. Why do I think this? Because a borogove does not (yet) exist, and so if it could mimsy itself, this would entail that it exists before it exists, which is a contradiction.

You can confect any amount of metaphysical gibberish you wish, but you cannot escape from the real world fact that the statement "whatever is moved is moved by another" is false.

Crude said...

You can confect any amount of metaphysical gibberish you wish

'No potency can actualize itself, because it would need to exist in advance' isn't metaphysical gibberish. It's actually pretty easy to understand, at least in a basic way.

If you can't get it, you may want to consider whether the problem is on your end rather than someone else's. Rather how 2 + 2 = 4 isn't pagan devil-magic if you can't grasp math - you just need help.

Martin said...

BeingItself,

>No borogove can mimsy itself.

What you are saying, I presume, is that the words "potency" and "act" have not been defined.

But of course they have been defined, and quite well. "Actual" means "real" or "existent." And "potential" means "ability to be."

You have a computer that is actually powered on right now, but has the ability to be turned off.

BeingItself said...

Martin,

"What you are saying, I presume, is that the words "potency" and "act" have not been defined."

No. That is not what I am saying.

What I am saying is that you have the historical reasoning all backwards.

Aristotle saw things being moved by other things. He also saw things being changed by other things. And from those experiences he built his metaphysics.

He did not come out of the womb with these ideas about potency and act. He did not buy these ideas at the metaphysics store.

He constructed his metaphysical from his understanding of the physical world.

An understanding of the world that as it turns that is wrong in almost every respect.

Martin said...

im-skeptical,

Where to begin...?

>This is just part of the wishful thinking syndrome.

This is a rude and unnecessary psychologizing of your opponent. "Oh, well you're just an XYZ. You just wish ABC." Extraordinarily arrogant and condescending. You should not have made this comment.

>Potency and act are meaningless concoctions.

Well, no, in fact they are perfectly meaningful. The word "actual" means "real" or "existent." The word "potential" means "ability to be." You have a computer that is really powered on at the moment, but has the ability to be powered off.

>In ancient times, when people were ignorant of the principles of physics, they were invented as an explanation for how things work.

First of all, act and potency are part of the philosophy of change, not of the science of physics. They involve an examination of what it means for something to change, regardless of what types of changing things actually exist, which would be the domain of physics. For example, what does it mean for something to change? What is the relationship between change and permanence? You'll note these are philosophical questions, not a physical ones. Philosophy examines the abstract questions of change and permanence in general, while physics examines and catalogs the types of entities that actually exist and are doing the changing. Physics might have discovered that yogurt is the fundamental stuff of the universe, but notice how that would not have affected the philosophy of change. The two fields are independent of one another.

Second of all, people did not invent act and potency as an explanation of "how things work". Rather, they were proposed by Aristotle as an answer to Parmenides, who said that everything is actual (no potencies), and therefore change does not occur. Aristotle thought that our senses are not tricking us: that change really does occur. In a sense, this debate could be seen to be the kickoff point of all of Western Philosophy. For example, Plato proposed the Forms as an answer to Parmenides, with the Forms being the permanence and the physical stuff that participate in Forms being the changing things.

[continued]

Martin said...


[continued]

>Since then, they have been thoroughly debunked.

No, in fact. The reality of change has not been debunked at all. Physics presupposes it, in fact. When you do an experiment, you set up the conditions, let the experiment RUN, and then see WHAT HAPPENS. I.e., what changes. At the LHC, they slam particles into one another to see what comes out. Obviously, a change occurs: the smashing, and then the observance of what particles were produced. So, I'm sorry, but science presupposes change and has not been debunked at all.

>However, before that happened, they were adopted by Christians, converted into "metaphysics"

This is utterly false revisionist history. Metaphysics is the study of existence in general, and was performed by the pre-Socratics, Plato, Aristotle, etc, long before Christians even existed. The philosophy of change is the philosophy of things that exist that change. The philosophy of change deals with a subset of what exists, so is not nor can be identical to metaphysics.

>...assumed as religious truth, and incorporated into their false logical framework that purports to give logical justification for their ridiculous system of beliefs.

It rather famously was not "assumed", but rather was argued, which is the opposite of an assumption. The Scholastic philosophers were quite good at debating each other and ripping each other's arguments apart. For example, see Aquinas criticizing the ontological argument; he doesn't just blindly accept any argument that is on his "side."

>Potency and act have no explanatory or predictive power.

Because not everything in reality is supposed to have explanatory or predictive power. Not everything is science. You could make an ethical judgment, or a statement about ethics in general (for example, that they are relative), and you would not be saying anything that has explanatory or predictive power. Assuming that everything must be like that is to be a positivist: the view that only science can give genuine knowledge. But this statement refutes itself, for the statement itself is not a scientific one. It is rather a philosophical statement, and hence to be a positivist (like the philosophy of change) is to implicitly acknowledge that philosophy is a valid form of knowledge seeking.

>They are useless as a means to understand our world.

Well, no, in fact they are quite useful when trying to hammer out the tension between change and permanence. You may agree with Parmenides that change does not occur, but you could still use the terms "act" and "potency" to argue why there is no potency. Or you could agree with Aristotle. Either way, an examination of change, what it means to change, and the relationship between permanence and change are pursuits that help us understand the world in which we live.

>The only purpose they serve is to help perpetuate the delusion of Christians.

No, in fact. This is a delusion of yours. You use the concept of "real" and "ability to be real" all day, every day. At some point I'm sure you are planning dinner. So you are not eating now, but will be eating later. During dinner, you might be planning what you are going to do after dinner. So you will be really eating, but have the ability to be finished eating. And so on. You use these basic concepts all day, ever day. You are embedded in them.

>The believer desperately wants to show that his delusion id true...

Again with the condescension. You really do need to be slapped. PLEASE STOP MAKING ARROGANT COMMENTS LIKE THIS.

>...so he assumes the truth of these concepts and then uses them to "prove" his entire theology.

Well, no, he doesn't assume them. He argues them, assuming we are talking about people like the Scholastics. And arguing is the opposite of assuming. The argument is that change does occur, contra Parmenides, because Parmenides missed the concept of "ability to be." This is argued by Aristotle.

Martin said...

BeingItself,

>Aristotle saw things being moved by other things. He also saw things being changed by other things. And from those experiences he built his metaphysics.

No, that's not how he came to the conclusion that "whatever is moved is moved by another." He came to that conclusion for logical reasons: no potency can actualize itself, because a potency does not yet exist; so if it could actualize itself, it would have to exist before it exists, which is a contradiction.

Just because Aristotle was wrong about his physics does not entail that he was wrong about his metaphysics, and pointing this out is just poisoning the well. "Look! Aristotle was wrong about X, so he must have been wrong about Z as well!"

This is fallacious reasoning, as you know.

BeingItself said...

Martin,

You seem to have completely missed the point of my previous nonsense statement.

The words borogove and mimsy have no meaning because they have no context. But if Aristotle came up with act and potency by pure logic then I could have come to borogrove and mimsy by pure logic also.

Act and potency only have meaning in the context of our naive experience of the real world.

The manifest image Aristotle used to construct his metaphysics is just false.

Aristotle cannot be blamed for this. He did the best he could prior to Galileo and Einstein and Heisenberg.

But you can be blamed for clinging to outdated metaphysics.

Martin said...

BeingItself,

>Act and potency only have meaning in the context of our naive experience of the real world.

Of course they don't. Act and potency are a response to Parmenides, who said that change does not occur because nothing cannot cause something.

>The manifest image Aristotle used to construct his metaphysics is just false.

It is false that your computer is powered on now, but has the ability to be powered off?

>But you can be blamed for clinging to outdated metaphysics.

You are equivocating here, between physics and metaphysics.

You know, for someone who hangs out on Feser's blog, you sure don't read much over there, do you? He explains the difference here

im-skeptical said...

Martin,

"PLEASE STOP MAKING ARROGANT COMMENTS LIKE THIS."

I only make such comments because that is the only thing many Christians hear or understand. And they are certainly no less guilty than I am. When they drop their arrogant attitudes and decide to have a rational discourse with me, I will happily do the same.

Dan Gillson said...

Holy shit, Skep - you're a little fucking brat. If you're at all over twenty-five you should be ashamed of yourself for being such a snotty little piece of shit; if you aren't I sure hope that the world slaps you in the face really soon. Seriously, what kind of immature fuckwit are you?

Dan Gillson said...

Before you get all self-righteous Skep: no, cursing people out isn't immature. What's immature is thinking that you're entitled to enjoy a rational discussion with anyone here when you've been repeatedly rude, obstreperous, and stubborn. So fuck you, dude. My response is entirely proportionate.

BeingItself said...

Martin,

Just so I understand you. Is this your position:

Metaphysical principles are derived strictly a priori.

Ilíon said...

hypocritical 'Science!' fetishist: "Potency and act have no explanatory or predictive power. They are useless as a means to understand our world. The only purpose they serve is to help perpetuate the delusion of Christians."

Martin has shown -- as have so many others -- that Im-full-of-shit is, well, full of shit. Allow me to rub his face in it --

From The Demon-Haunted World by Carl Sagan -- "Consider this claim: as I walk along, time -as measured by my wristwatch or my ageing process -slows down. Also, I shrink in the direction of motion. Also, I get more massive. Who has ever witnessed such a thing? It's easy to dismiss it out of hand. Here's another: matter and antimatter are all the time, throughout the universe, being created from nothing. Here's a third: once in a very great while, your car will spontaneously ooze through the brick wall of your garage and be found the next morning on the street. They're all absurd! But the first is a statement of special relativity, and the other two are consequences of quantum mechanics (vacuum fluctuations and barrier tunnelling,* they're called). Like it or not, that's the way the world is. If you insist it's ridiculous, you'll be forever closed to some of the major findings on the rules that govern the Universe.

*The average waiting time per stochastic ooze is much longer than the age of the Universe since the Big Bang. But, however improbable, in principle it might happen tomorrow.
"

So, where is the "explanatory or predictive power" of this 'Science!' thingie that these fools fetishize? How does this 'Science!' thingie that these fools fetishize help anyone "to understand our world"? How is this 'Science!' thingie that these fools fetishisze anything other than a broken reed that the God-haters use in their vain attempts to perpetuate their delusions?

Papalinton said...

"The believer desperately wants to show that his delusion is true...
so he assumes the truth of these concepts and then uses them to "prove" his entire theology."

Contrary to what Dan Gillson and Martin may think, this is a perceptive observation. Religious belief is being desperately held onto, massaged, kneaded and rationalized into a more generic and amenable form far removed from its earlier avatars despite science [the methodologies and tools of science] making such deep inroads into what is demonstrable 'truth'.

Indeed much and increasingly greater volumes of literature, be it historical, philosophical, sociological, scientific, and such, is being written about the reality of a delusion, the God delusion.

Carl Sagan notes eloquently:

"The major religions on the Earth contradict each other left and right. You can’t all be correct. And what if all of you are wrong? It’s a possibility, you know. You must care about the truth, right? Well, the way to winnow through all the differing contentions is to be skeptical. I’m not any more skeptical about your religious beliefs than I am about every new scientific idea I hear about. But in my line of work, they’re called hypotheses, not inspiration and not revelation."

He adds: "The truth may be puzzling. It may take some work to grapple with. It may be counterintuitive. It may contradict deeply held prejudices. It may not be consonant with what we desperately want to be true. But our preferences do not determine what's true. We have a method, and that method helps us to reach not absolute truth, only asymptotic approaches to the truth — never there, just closer and closer, always finding vast new oceans of undiscovered possibilities. Cleverly designed experiments are the key."

So to imagine someone as a 'snotty piece of shit' for challenging what is the epistemologically tenuous basis of religious belief is simply misplaced. The truth often appears offensive and insensitive to those who have an abiding conviction or deep personal investment in their belief. Skep has been measured and reasonable in his responses. Those that take offense are being driven by their highly-charged emotions and the insecure tenure of the claims they have staked out for themselves..





im-skeptical said...

Dan,

If you've been around this forum as long as I have, you must know that my attitude about discussion with the people here has changed over time. You must know that all this belligerence was not my favored approach. It was theirs. You must know that the rudeness, the arrogance, the name-calling, the swearing - these are things that I didn't bring to the table. They are what I have encountered. I agree that my behavior has not been praiseworthy. But it's a reaction to the way I have been treated. So go ahead and join the crowd. But I still think your umbrage is very selective.

Dan Gillson said...

Holy shit ... quit being a crybaby turd and MAN. THE FUCK. UP. You aren't a fucking victim, so quit acting like one; you're some gen-Y brat who's upset because other people don't recognize you for the special snowflake that you think you are.

im-skeptical said...

Dan,

I'm all for a return to civility around here. Why don't you come back when you sober up?

Dan Gillson said...

Alright Im-a-special-snowflake: I'll play nice now because you're ready to act like a grownup.

im-skeptical said...

I read this today. Seems to hit the mark.

http://www.skepticink.com/atheistintermarried/2014/04/20/edward-fesers-imaginary-knockout-of-new-atheism/

Ilíon said...

I'm-a-hypocritical-little-pussy: "If you've been around this forum as long as I have, you must know that my attitude about discussion with the people here has changed over time. You must know that all this belligerence was not my favored approach. It was theirs. You must know that the rudeness, the arrogance, the name-calling, the swearing - these are things that I didn't bring to the table. They are what I have encountered. I agree that my behavior has not been praiseworthy. But it's a reaction to the way I have been treated. So go ahead and join the crowd. But I still think your umbrage is very selective."

On the other hand, "if you've been around this forum as long as I have", you understand that the only thing about Im-pretend's "attitude about discussion with the people here [that] has changed over time" is that his attitude has become blatantly obvious of late. This is not his first post here, but it is an early one, from August 2012 -- "The wording of the kalam argument is strange, "everything that began to exist..." It was constructed that way by theists, I think, to avoid the obvious objection: "But you claim that God exists..." The argument hinges on a beginning. That's what is in debate. Perhaps what is needed is a definition of 'begin' that everybody agrees upon."

Translation: the kalam argument is fallacious ... and is, in fact, intentionally fallacious. For, after all, 'theists' are dishonest, simply because they are 'theists'. It is sooo dishonest of 'theists' to purposely construct this argument which distinguishes "coming into being" from "being", when eliding the distinction would be so much more helpful to the anti-God cause.

This fellow has *never* been other than intellectually dishonest. But, in the past, he was more careful to disguise his intellectual dishonesty to a degree that those who refuse to acknowlege that some people really are just intellectually dishonest were able to pretend that he is honestly mistaken in his stances.

Papalinton said...

Skep posted THIS SITE

The sense and substance of this review pretty much reflects what is generally perceived about any influence Feser might imagine he peddles within the wider, 'more read' community. The impact is minimal at best and at the margins, much of it gratuitous verbiage against a New Atheism he simply does not understand or of the groundswell of public sentiment contra religion in the public forum that he is yet to grasp.

The most telling point and sharp end of the piece:
"Furthermore, Feser’s attitude is all wrong: one should not aim to “defend” presuppositions but should instead seek to examine and update them in light of new evidence from the physical world. So there you have it: Feser has lost his battleground—metaphysics—and his thinking about one what can do with metaphysics is parochial and outmoded. To complete the Rocky analogy, when Apollo Creed steps in the ring with the Ivan Drago in Rocky IV, he takes a fatal beating because he misreads the fighting situation (Creed thinks it’s an exhibition) and he doesn’t account for the training and strengths of the opponent. If I may advise Feser on how to improve, I counsel him to update his model of the nature of metaphysics, and to put his metaphysics in better contact and conversation with physical evidence."

Indeed.

As so eloquently noted by Samuel P Putnam, author and poet, and a former Congregationalist minister:
"The last superstition of the human mind is the superstition that religion in itself is a good thing."

Feser preaches to the converted happy to huddle together to assure each other in comforting tones that it is OK to believe in supernatural superstition.

im-skeptical said...

"This fellow has *never* been other than intellectually dishonest."

Translation: Ilion is incapable of comprehending what he's saying, so whatever it is, it must be something stupid.

Ilíon said...

me: "This fellow has *never* been other than intellectually dishonest."

That fellow: "Translation: Ilion is incapable of comprehending what he's saying, so whatever it is, it must be something stupid."

Well, yes. As we all know, I'm breathtakingly stupid; I'm incapable of understanding most things, and certainly incapable of doing other than I do.

On the other hand, 'I-don't-exist-and-how-dare-you-say-that-I-do' is *not* breathtakingly stupid. In fact, he's not stupid at all. He's just dishonest and intellectually dishonest (the latter is a special subset of the former).

So, I wonder, which is worse? to be stupid, or to be ignorant, or to be dishonest, or to be intellectually dishonest? Myself, I'd say that the last is worse, by far. But, what do I know, I'm stupid.

Which reminds me -- can you believe that 'I'm-selectively-hyper-skeptical' picks on stupid people?

im-skeptical said...

I'm quite happy to leave the stupid people alone until they decide they're on some kind of crusade against me. As for you, I usually ignore your ranting and raving.

BenYachov said...

Skepo

You will note I tend to ignore Ilion but you not so much.

You should be happy for the left handed complement here.

BenYachov said...

>Furthermore, Feser’s attitude is all wrong: one should not aim to “defend” presuppositions but should instead seek to examine and update them in light of new evidence from the physical world.

So the guy just has his fingers in his ears shouting "I do believe in Positivism! I do! I do! I do!"

This reminds me of Fundamentalist Protestants who say to me "The issue is not wither or not the Bible teaches Sola Scriptura or not but wither or not you can show there is a source of revelation other then the bible".

Beg & defect the question much fundies and Gnus?

BTW Rocky still beat the shit out the the Russian Guy in the end.

Papalinton said...

"So the guy just has his fingers in his ears shouting "I do believe in Positivism! I do! I do! I do!""

Better a positivist than a negativist.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

You keep yammering about fundies. You do realize, don't you that you are the biggest fundamentalist here. In your case it is Thomism. But make no mistake, nobody is more fundie than you.

Ilíon said...


===========
Son-of-Confusion, the prancing fool: "This reminds me of [actual Christians] who say to me "The issue is not wither or not [you can misrepresent 'Sola Scriptura' so as to demand that it requires that] the Bible [must in just those words] teach[] Sola Scriptura or not but wither or not you can show there is a [standard by which to judge claims, traditions, and purported doctrines concerning God and man and salvation] other then the bible (sic)"."

There, fixed it for ya'

The Bible tells us to "test the spirits" and to test those who purport to speak for God and to test the doctrines they teach ... by what is already known ... through Scripture. How are we to test them, if not by the Scripture we already have? With a "burning in our hearts", like the Mormons do? Or do we have some objective standard, some standard that is (relatively) fixed and public, open/accessible to all to see what it is?

You (vainly) assert that that standard is the Mysterium (that's intentional) of The One True Bureaucracy; I (correctly) assert that that standard is the Bible.

So, is the Bible the Word of God, or is it not? Is the Bible the public record of what God has revealed of himself to us, or is it not? The answer to both questions is, of course, yes. One simply cannot rationally claim to be a Christian while denying either of those claims.

Does the Bible teach falsehod-as-truth? And if it does, well then, goodness! what hope has *anyone* to know anything more about God than what unaided reason can tell us?

Is Christ the full self-revelation of God to men? And if Christ is the full self-revelation of God to men (as he is), where is the public record of that revelation? It is in the Bible, and no where else.

What of the Mysterium of The One True Bureaucracy; is it in any way the Word of God, or in any way the self-revelation of God? No, it is neither, of course. So, what is it? It is a collection of things various men have reasoned and/or asserted concerning God's self-revelation as recorded in Scripture ... and, more importantly for the present context, it is a collection of the assertions of universal authority over the souls of all men that these men have made over the past 1400 or so years.

And where are these assertions of universal authority over the souls of all men grounded? Well, they are actually grounded in nothing more than the assertions themselves ... but they are claimed to be grounded in the Bible.

All of the content of the Mysterium of The One True Bureaucracy is claimed to be grounded in the Bible. Every question that has lead to an expansion of the Mysterium of The One True Bureaucracy is claimed to have been resolved either by direct reference to the content of the Bible or by validly reasoning from that content; every statement or claim/assertion contained within the Mysterium of The One True Bureaucracy is claimed to be fully in accord with the Bible; every statement or claim/assertion contained within the Mysterium of The One True Bureaucracy is claimed to be in no wise contrary to the Bible.

So, even The One True Bureaucracy -- which explicitly teaches its adherents to mock 'Sola Scriptura' and implicitly teaches them to *never* honestly consider what it is that they are mocking -- claims to be grounded 'Sola Scriptura'.

Or, prancing fool, do you wish to assert that any claim or doctrine of the Roman denomination contradicts the Bible?

You're a fool, but you're not that great a fool, are you?

So, given that *every* claim and doctrine of the Roman denomination is claimed to be grounded in the Bible -- which means that claim or doctrine that the Roman denomination has every made or will ever make is *judged* and validated (or invalidated) by reference and appeal to the Bible -- then just who in the hell are you to mock me because I explicitly appeal to 'Sola Scriptura'?

Papalinton said...

Illion: "What of the Mysterium of The One True Bureaucracy; is it in any way the Word of God, or in any way the self-revelation of God? No, it is neither, of course. So, what is it? It is a collection of things various men have reasoned and/or asserted concerning God's self-revelation as recorded in Scripture ... and, more importantly for the present context, it is a collection of the assertions of universal authority over the souls of all men that these men have made over the past 1400 or so years."

Just say it like it is. The role of the magisterium? "We'll tell you how to think and what the Bible says. Your personal revelation about the Bible must be channelled through the Magisterium. To do otherwise is to blaspheme or to commit a heresy.

Remember Illion, you are talking of a multinational corporation here, and the Magisterial Board of Directors are the legitimate officers that determine policy and and the strategies impacting company business.

BenYachov said...

>You keep yammering about fundies. You do realize, don't you that you are the biggest fundamentalist here. In your case it is Thomism. But make no mistake, nobody is more fundie than you.

Sorry Skepo but then that just trivializes the definition of a fundamentalist as anyone with a strongly held set of beliefs.

No a fundie is a person who holds to their invalid arguments at all costs even at the expense of their valid truth.

Example; a non-fundie Atheist would know better then to claim the Potency and Act distinction is some type of empirical science or physics. He would argue against it via a rigorous philosophical defense of let us say Parmedides then make such an embarrassing category mistake.

On the other side a non-fundie ID advocate would never claim the 2nd Law of Thermal-dynamics renders evolution impossible.

You are too intellectually inferior Skepo to even formulate a basic philosophical argument against A-T metaphysics. Your default point is your mindless knee-jerk Positivism.

im-skeptical said...

Ben,

I earlier pointed out Aristotle's own words regarding the distinction between physics and metaphysics. You will see that these Catholic sources agree.

http://www.deadphilosopherssociety.com/2009/05/12/act-and-potency/

http://thomism.wordpress.com/2008/07/27/on-physics-borrowing-from-mathematics-and-metaphysics/

BenYachov said...

Skepo you are intellectually inferior.

QUOTE from the Just Thomist website "The first inquiry into nature began in opposition to metaphysics. Aristotle took it on himself to show that a science of nature was possible, contra Plato and Parmenides. In order to found the science, Aristotle had to borrow various terms which belong to metaphysics. When these terms are used in the context of physics, the terms are natural, and not metaphysical (the “act” and “potency” used in the definition of motion are borrowed, but in physics they only extend to mobile being, not to being as such).END QUOTE


Quote"Aristotle resolved a dilemma in early Greek thought that was in itself quite an accomplishment. Parmenides had argued against the cosmology of the Ionian philosophers by saying that true change was impossible. His argument is a masterpiece of logic. Being is. Non-being is not. For something to change means that what is not becomes what is. However, from nothing comes nothing. Thus change is impossible.
Perhaps this seems trite. However, Parmenides created such a formidable argument that both Plato and Aristotle, who are considered the two most eminent philosophers who ever lived, both devoted considerable time to answering him. Aristotle’s physics is a response to Parmenides. Aristotle claimed that Parmenides was pretty much right, but he added an additional layer of distinctions that makes the matter more comprehensible. It is definitely true that being cannot come to be from non-being. However, nonetheless, things do change. Thus there must be both something that comes to, and a subject of the change that persists through the change.END QOTE

Neither says anything Feser hasn’t already said but you would be hard pressed to find where they claim Aristotle made no distinction between natural sciences vs metaphysics.

>I earlier pointed out Aristotle's own words regarding the distinction between physics and metaphysics. You will see that these Catholic sources agree.

Nothing you have cited proves Aristotle made no distinction between physics and metaphysics nor prove your wacko jacko fundie Gnu claim modern science disproves Aristotle’s metaphysics. It can’t anymore then it can prove or disprove the metaphysics of Democretus or Parmenides. Or use a law of Thermal-dynamics to disprove a biological law.

What can I say to you but this:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qro7oBzUBos

im-skeptical said...

"Nothing you have cited proves Aristotle made no distinction between physics and metaphysics."

That's not what I said, you imbecile. The passage you cited says exactly what I've been saying all along. I've said the same thing over and over. Aristotle did make a distinction between physics and metaphysics. It's you who insist on blending them into a single thing. In Aristotle's physics, act and potency explain how things move. His metaphysics is about being, and about the ultimate source of motion, not (primarily) about motion itself. Modern Thomists insist on talking about act and potency as if it's all metaphysical.

But you've done this more than once. Every time I say that Aristotle's physics has been incorporated into Thomistic metaphysics, you come out with this stupid misrepresentation of my words.

BenYachov said...

>It's you who insist on blending them into a single thing.

You are such a pathological liar at this point Skeppy. You’re the one who has said over and over that modern science & or modern physics has refuted Aristotle’s metaphysics.

>In Aristotle's physics, act and potency explain how things move. His metaphysics is about being, and about the ultimate source of motion, not (primarily) about motion itself.

Act and potency are in physics “metaphysical descriptions” the source you cited to me which you claim agrees with your nonsense(which you are now doing a 180 on it seems) said Aristotle borrowed the language from metaphysics. He was describing the reality of motion vs Parmenides(whose famous disciple was Zeno) who denied motion and change where real. This is all Feser 101 which you claimed to have read but as we both know at best you have skimmed.

>Modern Thomists insist on talking about act and potency as if it's all metaphysical.

It pretty much is in that it's purpose is to show either physical movement or change in general is real.

>But you've done this more than once. Every time I say that Aristotle's physics has been incorporated into Thomistic metaphysics, you come out with this stupid misrepresentation of my words.

You are a terrible liar Skeppy. It was me who up front never denied the mechanics of Aristotle’s physics (i.e. the belief physical motion needed to be constantly actualized or an object returned to it’s natural state of stasis vs Newton’s correct view on inertia) was incorrect but his metaphysics are solid. You’re the wackjob who claimed modern physics and science refutes Aristotle’s metaphysics. Wither it was your lame attempt to claim Quantum events are scientific evidence for uncaused events (which you had to back track when called out on it) or your other Positivist nonsense.

You are not fooling anyone Skepo.

Like I said.
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qro7oBzUBos

im-skeptical said...

"You’re the one who has said over and over that modern science & or modern physics has refuted Aristotle’s metaphysics. "

Again, you misrepresent my words. I have said all along that Aristotle's physics (which explain motion in terms of act and potency) is archaic. But Aristotle was much smarter than any modern Thomist. His physics and his metaphysics were in harmony. Even Aquinas himself based his metaphysics on what was still the current understanding of how things work in the physical world (Aristotelian physics). The modern Thomist is stuck in a medieval time warp. He insists that these archaic concepts are completely separate from physics - that they are purely metaphysical. In the modern age of science, the Thomist is faced with fact that his metaphysics is completely divorced from physical reality. He must hold to the notion that metaphysics is some separate realm of reality, disconnected from what we experience in our physical world, and that it does not follow from any scientific understanding.

BenYachov said...

>Again, you misrepresent my words.

No you are back peddling because you can’t ever admit your are wrong.

>I have said all along that Aristotle's physics (which explain motion in terms of act and potency) is archaic.

Wrong the potency/act distinction is the metaphysical description of change and is applied to physics in order to tell us that physical movement is real. His archaic physics is his claim moving objects need to be continuously acted upon or they return to their natural state of stasis. Newton got it right.

> But Aristotle was much smarter than any modern Thomist. His physics and his metaphysics were in harmony.

This is as trivial a statement as saying Physics and Natural selection are "in harmony”. What does one have to do with the other? Aristotle’s Physics and Parmenides Metaphysics are in harmony. Aristotle’s Physics and Democretus’ metaphysics are in harmony. Out of one side of your mouth you claim to understand the distinction between physics and metaphysics out the other side you are equating them.

Pathetic!

>Even Aquinas himself based his metaphysics on what was still the current understanding of how things work in the physical world (Aristotelian physics).

No he based it on a moderate realistic view of change & trusting his senses in a realistic way vs a non-realistic way. Parmenides taught change was not real so our senses in his view didn’t sense anything real. You would have known that if you read Feser’s blurb in TLS on Realism, Conceptionalism and Nominalism.

You just keep making up your own shit & expect those of us who have done the reading to ignore it.

> The modern Thomist is stuck in a medieval time warp. He insists that these archaic concepts are completely separate from physics - that they are purely metaphysical.

Clearly the Laws of Thermal-dynamics (something you also have trouble understanding) are laws of physics not metaphysics or biology so you can’t apply them to Evolution. Act and Potency are clearly from Aristotle to Aquinas metaphysical principles only. Your own link which you claimed agreed with you sad so opposite your claims.

> In the modern age of science, the Thomist is faced with fact that his metaphysics is completely divorced from physical reality.

Like clockwork you fall back too your unexamined knee-jerk positivist metaphysics & keep repeating the same category mistakes.
Dude you can’t fake your way out of this.

> He must hold to the notion that metaphysics is some separate realm of reality, disconnected from what we experience in our physical world, and that it does not follow from any scientific understanding.

You really have no concept of what metaphysics is do you Im-Durpt? Saying only material things exist is a metaphysical statement. Saying change is real by using the act /potency distinction is a metaphysical statement.
Saying change is not real is a metaphysical statement. Saying whatever is in motion stays in motion till acted on by an outside force is physics. Saying energy runs out in closed system is a statement on physics.

Are you really this simple minded?