Saturday, January 21, 2017

David Haines' Defense of Aquinas' First Way

Here. 

3,162 comments:

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Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

SD: "Wood can only be moved from potential burning to burning in act by a thing that is already burning in act, a flame."

Translation: Wood can only be changed from potentially burning to actually burning by a thing that is already actually burning, a flame.

" This describes change as a potential state becoming actualized by something already existing. This is correct understandin of the argument."

No, mere existence is not sufficient, as Aquinas clearly states.

"Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. "
http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/aquinasFiveWays.htm

You can find essentially the same text in many places. Mere existence is not sufficient per the example of Aquinas. An actually hot thing, makes a potentially hot thing move to being actually hot.

Heat is motion.

The follow the example of Aquinas the first mover would have to be actually moving in order to change our universe from potentially moving to actually moving.

An actually hot thing makes a potentially hot thing change to being hot. A moving thing makes a stationary thing move. This is an argument from motion. The text is about motion. Heat is motion. A flame necessarily moves.

A flame is not an example of any old thing in existence, it is an example of a state of being in motion.


January 29, 2017 11:09 AM

SteveK said...

"actual motion is caused by something in actual motion"

No. Think of a train. The cars are not the cause of the motion, the engine is. The cars play a role in that they are act and serve to reduce potency to act.

SteveK said...

Let me guess. Your reply will be, but the engine is moving to which I will say, yes I agree. That means, according to Aquinas, that something else is moving the train (true) and so on and so forth unit we get to the terminal end point.

bmiller said...

@Stardusty Psyche,



"Nope, that is the example given by Aquinas himself in (2)d.i. Wood is moved from potential burning to burning in act by a thing that is already burning in act, a flame.

Aquinas clearly states this example, which is only common sense. Mere existence of of a thing is not sufficient to move wood to be burning in act. An actually existing rock, actually existing ice, actually existing water, are not sufficient to move wood to be burning in act. Only a thing that is already burning in act, a flame, is sufficient to move wood from potential burning to burning in act."

Again, the point is that an only an actual thing as opposed to a potential thing can cause another actual thing to change from what it potentially could be to a new state that was formerly potential and now actual. Period.

(2)d.i is an analogy to illustrate the premise and is not the premise itself. ( Footnote [8] makes this clear by the logic diagram.)
Now in this particular example an actual flame causes an actual “not-burning-but-potentially-burning-log” to change to an “actually-burning-log”.
However, you seem to take from this analogy that Aquinas holds that only a particular state of being of an agent can bring about the same state of being in a target.
But, there is no talk of any particular mechanisms of change anywhere else in the premises, so if one took the analogy to mean that, then the analogy would out of place and not make sense. Furthermore, it would be absurd to assume anyone would take the position that only a specific state of being could bring about the same state of being in another. A man who changes a pile of bricks into a house is not an actual house himself, right?

SP:” a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act.
motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality
(clearly the actuality under discussion is actual motion)
No. Per the statement, motion is reduction. Reduction from what? Reduction from potentiality. Reduction to what? Reduction to actuality. So Thing is in potential state P, but in actual state B. Then motion. Then Thing is in actual state P and no longer in state B.


SP:"But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality
(actual motion is caused by something in actual motion, which is plainly true in our common experience. Aquinas is not saying something stupid here, he is stating the obvious in an attempt to make a thorough argument)”
No, this is only saying that something actually existing (not something potentially existing or nothing at all) has to be responsible for the change. Please re-read footnotes [9], [10], and [12].

Cal Metzger said...

Apologists: "The First Way shows that a deity must exist."
Skeptics: "Actually, it looks like The First Way is irrational, unsound, and ad hoc."
Apologists: "Your determinations are not based on the actual argument."
Skeptics: "Um, we are basing our criticism on the actual argument. Is there a better version of the argument that Aquinas gave somewhere else?
Apologists: "In order to PROPERLY understand the argument, you have to understand all of Aquinas."
Skeptics: "Oh, do you mean this part, and this part, and this part? Because none of those seem to resolve the problems. At all."
Apologists: "No, we mean.. other parts."
Skpetics: "Which parts, exactly?"
Apologists: "OTHER! PARTS!"
Skeptics: "This is silly. If you think there is some way that Aquinas avoids the problems where the First Way is demonstrably irrational, unsound, and ad hoc, why won't you summarize them, with references? Isn't that what people do when they defend arguments."
Apologists: "Is it? We had no idea. I thought the point was to try to appear to agree that someone else knows the answers."



Stardusty Psyche said...

SteveK said...

SP "actual motion is caused by something in actual motion"

" No. Think of a train."
Ok, let's

" The cars are not the cause of the motion, the engine is."
Right, the (diesel, let's say) engine is in motion. It causes the generator to produce electricity, which causes the traction motors to move, which causes the locomotive to move, which causes the cars to move.

In each instance a moving thing causes motion. In no case does a stationary thing cause motion.

" The cars play a role in that they are act"
They are stationary in act until they are caused to move in act by a thing that is moving in act. Only a thing that is moving in act causes a stationary thing to move in act.

" and serve to reduce potency to act."
Right, the moving locomotive reduces the stationary car to be moving in act. A thing that is moving in act causes a thing that is potentially moving to be moving in act

Need I say, QED? I mean, for pity's sake, a stationary thing is caused to move only by a moving thing in all observations we have available to us.

Trains? Really?


January 29, 2017 5:43 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger bmiller said...

" (2)d.i is an analogy to illustrate the premise and is not the premise itself."
Ok, I guess Aquinas was too stupid to select an appropriate example. The example he selected does not really exemplify the principle he wished to explain.

But you have footnotes to show how stupid Aquinas was in picking such an inappropriate example for the principle Aquinas wished to explain.

You know from the footnotes that Aquinas really had in mind some bizarre notion that mere existence could cause wood to burn.

Gee, how wonderful to be in the light of your great insightfulness.


January 29, 2017 5:59 PM

bmiller said...

@Stardusty Psyche,

This exchange:
" (2)d.i is an analogy to illustrate the premise and is not the premise itself."
Ok, I guess Aquinas was too stupid to select an appropriate example. The example he selected does not really exemplify the principle he wished to explain.”

Well, since I explained how the analogy was supposed to work in the context of the OP, it does indeed explain the principle of movement from potency to act.
It’s possible that someone might misconstrue it to mean that there was only flame and wood in the universe too, but he probably didn’t think students who got this far in the university would make that mistake.

SP:”But you have footnotes to show how stupid Aquinas was in picking such an inappropriate example for the principle Aquinas wished to explain.”
The footnotes were in the OP, right? You didn’t read just (2)d.i did you?

SP:”You know from the footnotes that Aquinas really had in mind some bizarre notion that mere existence could cause wood to burn.”

The claim was only that actual things cause change to other actual things rather than “potentials” or “nothing”. People can know this from reading and understanding the OP. I have read other sources that are in general agreement with the OP, so it just confirms what I’ve read from the other authors, including Aristotle. If you wished to confirm, the first comment in this thread has a link to the Summa Contra Gentiles section that goes into the argument in more detail. Let me know if you need online links to the relevant sections in Aristotle’s works.

SP:”Gee, how wonderful to be in the light of your great insightfulness.”
I get that a lot :-)

bmiller said...

@Stardusty Psyche,

BTW, thanks for the link:
http://oregonstate.edu/instruct/phl201/modules/Philosophers/Aquinas/aquinas_five_ways02.html.

Did you click on the "diagram" link?

SteveK said...

"Need I say, QED?"

No, you can read my next comment though.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...


The claim was only that actual things cause change to other actual things rather than “potentials” or “nothing”.
Preposterous. Reading skills, develop them.


January 29, 2017 8:51 PM

Legion of Logic said...

SD: "In each instance a moving thing causes motion. In no case does a stationary thing cause motion."

A box of pizza will almost certainly cause me to walk across the room to get a slice once I notice it. The pizza is not required to be moving in order to alter my path.

It doesn't matter if there is not a single stationary thing in all of existence, that literally has nothing whatsoever to do with the argument. It deals with potential things being realized by actual things, thereby becoming actual things themselves.

"They are stationary in act until they are caused to move in act by a thing that is moving in act. Only a thing that is moving in act causes a stationary thing to move in act."

The argument in the train analogy would merely state that in order for the cars to go from potentially moving down the tracks to actually moving down the tracks, the realization of potential to act requires something that is already realized. Whether that something is a locomotive or a super duper magnet or gravity or an earthquake or telekinesis, it merely must be something that already exists, that is already realized.

The process by which reduction from potential to act actually occurs - whether through motion or pressure or heat transfer or chemical catalyst or my brain becoming aware of pizza and producing a new thought - is not relevant to potential things becoming actualized by actual things.

SteveK said...

Skpetics: "Which parts, exactly?"
Apologists: "OTHER! PARTS!"

We've been explaining those other parts for a while now, thus demonstrating that you were bluffing about knowing the argument. That's typical Cal.

Now we seem to have settled into an infinite loop of dumbassery where Dusty repeats the same mistake over and over and over again.

Stardusty Psyche said...

"Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it."

Reading skills, develop them.

Stardusty Psyche said...

"The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be "Godhttps://thelycaeum.wordpress.com/2012/10/14/thomas-aquinas-the-first-way/

Learn how to read for comprehension.


grodrigues said...

@@bmiller:

"But, there is no talk of any particular mechanisms of change anywhere else in the premises, so if one took the analogy to mean that, then the analogy would out of place and not make sense. Furthermore, it would be absurd to assume anyone would take the position that only a specific state of being could bring about the same state of being in another. A man who changes a pile of bricks into a house is not an actual house himself, right? "

In those "other parts" where the metaphysical ideas are explained, St. Thomas (and the Scholastics in general, this point is not specific to St. Thomas) *explicitly* distinguishes between the ways in which causal powers manifest themselves. To use the Scholastic jargon, if what is in the effect is not in the cause "formally", it must still be in the cause "virtually" or "eminently". But as you correctly note, these distinctions are largely irrelevant for the purposes of the argument.

Stardusty Psyche said...

grodrigues said...

@@bmiller:

". A man who changes a pile of bricks into a house is not an actual house himself, right? "

A man who moves bricks is moving himself.

Bricks do not move by themselves.

Any old thing in existence does not move a brick.

Only a moving thing can move a brick. This is like speaking to a 10 year old.



Reading for comprehension.


January 30, 2017 5:39 AM

Legion of Logic said...

SD,

What, specifically, is causing (tee hee) this hangup of yours regarding stationary things?

I'm going to take a stab at something, since you do seem to be stuck in a loop and are not attempting to explain yourself besides objecting to stationary things and insulting people.

Are you arguing that a first mover, were it to cause change, must itself undergo a change in order to go from not causing change to causing change? In other words, it must go from not causing change in act, to causing change in act, which would require a potential being realized if that were so? Is that your position, which has you so focused on the concept of a stationary thing?

If that's not what your objection is rooted in, then I have no idea what else it could be.

bmiller said...

@Stardusty Psyche,

SP:”Only a moving thing can move a brick. This is like speaking to a 10 year old.”

SP:”…If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover;…”

The argument shows that it is impossible for only changing things to change other changing things because it would posit an infinite regress which is impossible. Therefore there has to be something that is not changing to be responsible for any changes in an essentially ordered series.
There is no contradiction in the First Way since it explicitly allows for (unsurprisingly) an unchanged changer.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...


" The argument shows that it is impossible for only changing things to change other changing things"
That is the self contradiction of the argument. Aquinas argues against himself.

First he states this, which anybody with a reading comprehension level above that of a 10 year old understands to mean that only a moving thing causes a stationary thing to move, only a hot thing causes a potentially hot thing to get hot:
"a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot,"

Then he begs the question with this:
" But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover,"

Then he contradicts himself in his begging of the question:
"Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other"

The only mystery about this pathetic "argument" is why it sends otherwise intelligent adults into some sort of mental breakdown that has the outward appearance of regression to early childhood.

Well, I gotta jump off for a while, personal reasons. au revoir.


January 30, 2017 9:22 AM

SteveK said...

Dusty keeps insisting that Aquinas means X when Aquinas explicitly says, "No, you moron. I mean Y".
The infinite loop of dumbassery continues, put into motion by Dusty himself

Legion of Logic said...

SD, literally every point you made in your last post regarding the argument was wrong.

"Aquinas argues against himself." Wrong. Aquinas argues against an infinite regression of agents of change that themselves require other agents of change to enable them to become agents of change. That was fun to write.


"First he states this, which anybody with a reading comprehension level above that of a 10 year old understands to mean that only a moving thing causes a stationary thing to move, only a hot thing causes a potentially hot thing to get hot"

Wrong. The point is that only an already existing thing can cause a potential state to become actualized. Literal motion and burning are examples, not rules.

"Then he begs the question with this" Wrong. He points out the logical absurdity of believing there can be an infinite number of actual things that were once potential, but became actualized by actual things that themselves were once potential, and so on. In any series of causally linked events or objects, if there is no first mover, then no change will occur anywhere in the series.

"Then he contradicts himself in his begging of the question"

Wrong. He points out the requirement that there be a first mover as the ultimate cause of change. No first mover, no change.

"The only mystery about this pathetic "argument" is why it sends otherwise intelligent adults into some sort of mental breakdown that has the outward appearance of regression to early childhood."

Indeed, we are all amazed that you still are (intentionally?) not grasping a rather simple concept. Actually existing things are required to cause any change, which is the realization of a potential state to an actual state. If you are talking about stationary things, you are not talking about the premises of the First Way. "Actual", "potential", and "change" are the keys to understanding.

bmiller said...

@Stardusty Psyche,

SP:” Well, I gotta jump off for a while, personal reasons. au revoir.”

OK. I hope it’s nothing serious.

When and if you come back, here is my response:

This exchange:
" The argument shows that it is impossible for only changing things to change other changing things"
That is the self contradiction of the argument. Aquinas argues against himself.

First he states this, which anybody with a reading comprehension level above that of a 10 year old understands to mean that only a moving thing causes a stationary thing to move, only a hot thing causes a potentially hot thing to get hot:
"a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot,"”

From the First Way:
SP:”… It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, ….”

It is clear here that he is referring only to the class of things that are changing. But he goes on from this premise and the impossibility of an infinite regress to conclude there must be at least one thing of a different class. That thing is the unchanged changer.

SP:” Then he begs the question with this:
" But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover,"
But you have repeatedly agreed that there can be no infinite regress of causes in an essentially ordered series, so there must be a first mover.

SP:”Then he contradicts himself in his begging of the question:
"Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other"”

You want to change his premises from “Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another” to “Now everything is in motion and is put in motion by another”. That is a different argument than the First Way. Would a 10 year old understand the differences in the 2 versions? See how unhelpful that is?

Finally, the argument does not even ask the question of “how do things change?”, it just explores the fact that some do and of those that do, they can’t change by themselves, or from some internal potential, but only due to something else actually existing.

Some examples of things not changing yet causing change have been offered, but no one is claiming that this is exactly how things work, just that we can see things like this in our own experience.

Let me offer another analogy. Newton’s law of inertia was put forward as the cause of motion after a motive force was removed. The motion of the object continues in a straight line until other forces change it. Newton did not think that inertia was changed while it was changing the spatial position of the object. So here is another example of an actual thing, inertia, causing something to change while presumably not changing itself.

bmiller said...

Sorry, Legion of Logic. You type faster than me :-)

SteveK said...

"You want to change his premises from “Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another” to “Now everything is in motion and is put in motion by another”. That is a different argument than the First Way"

^^ This. THIS!!

The only remaining question is this: Can Dusty read and comprehend?

Cal Metzger said...

I'm tired of this one as well but I'll pick up where Stardusty left off as my own coda.

Although I agree with Stardusty's commonsense reading of Aquinas's First Way (basically, it takes an actually moving thing to move something), I don't think that resolving these little interpretations one way or another does much to salvage what the First Way is purported to do -- show that a deity must exist.

At its heart, the First Way still violates some version of its essential premise (that all moving things are moved by something else) to arrive at a valid conclusion:

Everything that moves is moved by something else, EXCEPT this one thing which is not. (This is separate from any quibbling over the nature of the actual thing doing the moving, etc.)

Following the violation of its essential premise, the First Way eliminates a possible conclusion (that existence is an infinite regress) not because an infinite regress violates one of the argument's premises, but because it violates the arguments conclusion ("But this [series of events] cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover...")

And after all this, we still arrive at the essential problem that an argument that is supposed to show that a deity exists merely asserts this as an ad hoc conclusion tacked onto the end.

The above are the problems that we have been pointing out consistently for many, many comments now, and no one seems to have found a way to resolve these basic problems that don't require special pleading, irrationality, etc.

SteveK said...

"...its essential premise (that all moving things are moved by something else)"
So far, so good.

"Following the violation of its essential premise"
What violation? Nothing in the premise says or suggests that ALL things move. Reading comprehension indeed.

Legion of Logic said...

"Although I agree with Stardusty's commonsense reading of Aquinas's First Way (basically, it takes an actually moving thing to move something)"

A factually incorrect reading could be common sense, I suppose, but it would still be factually incorrect. Such as SD's understanding of the argument. Your parenthetical description is not even remotely the premise.

"Everything that moves is moved by something else, EXCEPT this one thing which is not."

That is incorrect. You were right until you added the "except", and then you blew it. The entire point of the concept of the first mover is that it does not itself undergo change. Thus it does not violate the premise.

("But this [series of events] cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover...")

In any series of causal relationships, without an origin point of ultimate cause no further causes will exist because no changes will occur. Do you agree or disagree?

Cal Metzger said...

Me: ""Everything that moves is moved by something else, EXCEPT this one thing which is not."
Legion: "That is incorrect."

I think I see your point here. (I know, finally -- right?)

In the back and forth on the different versions I have been reading "is moved" and "moves" pretty much interchangeably when it comes to the term "actualize." And the point would then be that the thing that moves something else does not itself move (although I'd suggest this doesn't follow from a natural reading of the whole argument -- a hand that moves a staff is a moving hand, not a hand that magically beckons the staff to move without undergoing any change in position itself.) So, although I think it doesn't follow from the argument (with examples as provided by Aquinas), I can see where the argument can be devised fairly simply so that the actual thing that reduces a potential thing does not itself undergo any reduction in act itself (ugh). I'd have to think that over a bit longer, but that does make it more palatable as an argument, at least one that doesn't so nakedly violate its own premises.

Legion: "In any series of causal relationships, without an origin point of ultimate cause no further causes will exist because no changes will occur. Do you agree or disagree?"

I think it's perfectly tenable to say that in any sequence where an event is caused by a prior event, there's no reason to look for an ultimate cause unless we assume that there must be an ultimate cause. Think of an algorithm which always responds to the question of what precedes X by responding with X-1.



SteveK said...

I just fell out of my chair. Is that really you, Cal???

SteveK said...

"Think of an algorithm which always responds to the question of what precedes X by responding with X-1."

Not actually true. The "algorithm" in this case is searching for a Y to explain the existing motion/change of X. The response to this infinite loop is an error message, not an answer.

Martin said...

Cal Metzger,

>I think it's perfectly tenable to say that in any sequence where an event is caused by a prior event, there's no reason to look for an ultimate cause unless we assume that there must be an ultimate cause.

I thought I had explained this to you above...? About the clock analogy? Although there has been 200 comments since and I can't keep track anymore...

SteveK said...

Martin,
The fact that Cal cannot write a computer program that will produce an actual answer to the question "what causes X to move/change?", says everything. It's not "perfectly tenable". He's bluffing.

bmiller said...

Stardusty understands why an essentially ordered series of instrumental causes cannot regress infinitely, but that doesn't mean Cal has heard why this is not possible. It may take a while.


Martin, Is this the post you were referring to wrt to a clock?


January 27, 2017 10:46 AM>Clock Analogy

Martin said...

Cal Metzger and Bmiller,

Yes that's it, thanks. I was too lazy to try to find it.

Cal Metzger needs to show how his comment would apply to the clock:

>I think it's perfectly tenable to say that in a chain of gears in a clock, there's no reason to look for a motor or spring that is causing them to turn unless we assume that there must be an ultimate cause.

But that's not correct. The reason we would infer a motor is not necessarily because we understand how clocks work, but because we understand two facts:

* The clock hands are moving
* The clock hands do not have their own internal power of movement

In general, if X has A but A is not something inherent to X, then we can infer something in addition to X that is providing the A.

Other examples:

* A lamp is lit but does not have a battery or source of power: we can infer a power source outside the lamp
* A spot of light is on the wall but the wall does not contain anything that would cause it to light up like that: we can infer a source of light somewhere outside the wall

I think the problem is that Cal Metzger is mixing up two completely different series, as betrayed by his comment "a prior event." That would indicate an ACCIDENTALLY ordered series he is thinking of, and indeed Aquinas agrees that such a series can stretch back into the past infinitely. An egg comes from a chicken, who was hatched out of an egg, which came from another chicken, and so on. The chicken/egg sequence may very well stretch infinitely into the past. Aquinas even uses a similar example:

"...it is NOT impossible to proceed to infinity 'accidentally' as regards efficient causes...as an artificer acts by means of many hammers accidentally, because one after the other may be broken. "

One after another may be broken. Each event of a hammer breaking causes the artificer to reach for a new hammer, and this could in principle have been going on from infinite past.

But this is different from an ESSENTIALLY-ordered series like the clock, wherein we have a situation where the middle elements in a chain are passing along an effect, rather than generating it themselves (motor passing along the turning motion through the chain of gears to the clock hands).

This type of series cannot stretch to infinity because if it did, then there wouldn't be a cause to account for the effect. E.g. the clock won't run with JUST gears; it requires a motor. If the gears are infinitely long, then by definition there is no motor.

It's just another way of saying that an effect entails a cause. In the First Way, the effect is "potencies being actualized" and the cause is "something without potencies."

Legion of Logic said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bmiller said...

@Legion of Logic,

If I may.

The First Way deals with what is happening at this exact moment as Martin describes it. It is concerned with the series of causes in the now, which is what the hand-staff example is referring to, or in other words, an essentially ordered series of causes where each is part of the series at this very moment.

It seems you are referring to an accidently ordered series which Aristotle and Aquinas both mention they are not referring to as part of the First Way. I'm concerned that this will add to the confusion.

Legion of Logic said...

You're right. That was my big picture outlook, and it did deviate. My apologies.

SteveK said...

The hand-staff analogy, or any other like it work very well to illustrate the problem. As many like Feser have said, making the staff infinitely long doesn't eliminate the inherent problem, which is the REQUIREMENT that there be an ultimate end to the series.

Legion of Logic said...

I deleted that comment since I did muddy things in it.

Cal Metzger said...

Martin: "This type of series cannot stretch to infinity because if it did, then there wouldn't be a cause to account for the effect. E.g. the clock won't run with JUST gears; it requires a motor. If the gears are infinitely long, then by definition there is no motor."

The way you've been explaining this seems unpersuasive to me; I see no reason why a series of related causes could not stretch on in an infinite progression as well.

Do you have a reference that maybe explains this in another way?

Martin said...

Cal Metzger,

I'm not sure what's unpersuasive about it...?

Let's say you are watching a puppet show. You can see the puppets, and the strings that go up towards the roof and out of sight. Based on the fact that you know the puppets can't move themselves, and that the string can't move itself, you can infer either a person, machine, or something off stage that is causing them both to move.

I see this as very strong reasoning, and you probably do it all the time without realizing it.

SteveK said...

"Do you have a reference that maybe explains this in another way?"

Yeah, common sense logic. Nothing moves itself. Zero movement multiplied by infinity is still zero movement until you add something new. An infinitely long chain of sticks can't move anything. Need we say more? I hope not.

grodrigues said...

@SteveK:

"Not actually true. The "algorithm" in this case is searching for a Y to explain the existing motion/change of X. The response to this infinite loop is an error message, not an answer."

That is all fair and good, but poor Cal, even though after 3 threads clocking at several hundred comments finally understanding that the First Mover has no potentiality in the first place, is still laboring under the egregious error to think St. Thomas is trying to prove that for a sequence of changers

... -> e_n -> ... -> e_0

that it must be the case that there is a head of the sequence, that is, the causal sequence must be of the form,

E ... -> e_n -> ... -> e_0

with E the First Mover, the first link in the series and the one that gets the "ball rolling" so to speak (e.g. "I think it's perfectly tenable to say that in any sequence where an event is caused by a prior event, there's no reason to look for an ultimate cause unless we assume that there must be an ultimate cause").

I stress that this really is an egregious error, as it gets not only the causal situation wrong, but more importantly, the relation of the First Mover to the created order *wrong*.

@bmiller:

"The First Way deals with what is happening at this exact moment as Martin describes it. It is concerned with the series of causes in the now, which is what the hand-staff example is referring to, or in other words, an essentially ordered series of causes where each is part of the series at this very moment."

I am going to regret writing this, because it will only give fodder to the dishonest ignoramuses, but:

You stress the simultaneous character of the causes, but I should note that it is not simultaneity that is doing the work, but rather the instrumental character of the changers. Simultaneity enters the discussion because it is *typically* associated with per se ordered series and other issues having to do with causation (e.g. Aristoteleans, like St. Thomas typically is with regards to causation, have an account of causation that views cause and effect as two sides of the same coin. This account differs from say, Humean accounts, and the points of contention typically revolve around simultaneity as Humeans deny it).

There is another point to be made about the infinity of the sequence and what St. Thomas means by "cannot proceed to infinity" (which is *not* what is typically made to mean -- blame Cantor that has changed our global consciousness about infinity in such a dramatic way), but I am tired by now -- but see this.

SteveK said...

@grodrigues
I agree with you, but that level of detail and nuance will get us so deep in the weeds that Cal will become strangled. I'm not as careful with the use of my terms as I should.

In my previous comment above I stated that "something new" must be added to the sequence, and my intent there was to bring subtle attention to the need for an ontological difference rather than merely a sequential difference of 'first'.

bmiller said...

@grodrigues,

"You stress the simultaneous character of the causes, but I should note that it is not simultaneity that is doing the work, but rather the instrumental character of the changers."

Of course you're right, but from the course of this discussion I can see that the notion of a sequential time ordered series ( or accidentally ordered series) is what keeps coming to mind in those unfamiliar with the topic. I think it's important to understand the distinction and which type of series is under discussion, the essentially ordered series.

SteveK said...

Cal & Dusty
You must understand that the First Way argument is a *metaphysical* argument.

The point the argument makes is NOT the subject of physics, sequences, mathematics or the mechanisms of causality. Some of these subjects are interwoven into the discussion, yes, but these subjects are not the main point.

The main point the argument makes is the subject of ontology - the nature of existence - what kind of things actually exist. The argument attempts to work this out logically, starting with what we know. Boiled down to it's basic core, the argument says:

>> There are 2 kinds existence: (1) beings with potency, (2) one being with no potency


(thanks to @grodrigues for the reminder)

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger Legion of Logic said...

SD, literally every point you made in your last post regarding the argument was wrong.

SP "Aquinas argues against himself." "
"Wrong. Aquinas argues against an infinite regression of agents of change that themselves require other agents of change to enable them to become agents of change. "
False dichotomy. He argues against himself in the sequence of various arguments.


SP "First he states this, which anybody with a reading comprehension level above that of a 10 year old understands to mean that only a moving thing causes a stationary thing to move, only a hot thing causes a potentially hot thing to get hot"

" Wrong. The point is that only an already existing thing can cause a potential state to become actualized. Literal motion and burning are examples, not rules."
Sorry, but the portion of the theistic brain that attempts to read Aquinas for comprehension unfortunately melts down to a level roughly equivalent to that of a 10 year old.

SP "Then he begs the question with this"
"Wrong. He points out the logical absurdity of believing there can be an infinite number of actual things that were once potential, but became actualized by actual things that themselves were once potential, and so on. In any series of causally linked events or objects, if there is no first mover, then no change will occur anywhere in the series."
Reading skills, focus on "because" in that passage.

SP "Then he contradicts himself in his begging of the question"

" Wrong. He points out the requirement that there be a first mover as the ultimate cause of change. No first mover, no change."
Reading skills. Later apologists have made attempts to fix the blatantly self contradictory language of Aquinas.

". Actually existing things are required to cause any change,"
How childish. Mere existence is not sufficient as the example Aquinas provides clearly illustrates.

A merely existing thing does not make wood hot, only a hot thing makes wood hot.

Let me know when you can read above a gradeschool level on this subject.


January 30, 2017 11:13 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

@Stardusty Psyche,

" SP:” Well, I gotta jump off for a while, personal reasons. au revoir.”"

" OK. I hope it’s nothing serious."
No, just pressing business, thank you for your concern.



"""" When and if you come back, here is my response:

This exchange:
" The argument shows that it is impossible for only changing things to change other changing things"
That is the self contradiction of the argument. Aquinas argues against himself.

First he states this, which anybody with a reading comprehension level above that of a 10 year old understands to mean that only a moving thing causes a stationary thing to move, only a hot thing causes a potentially hot thing to get hot:
"a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot,"”

From the First Way:
SP:”… It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, ….”

It is clear here that he is referring only to the class of things that are changing.""""
A glimmer of hope! Indeed, the actuality Aquinas is referring to is and actuality of change. Only an actually changing thing can move a potentially changing thing to become actually changing.

By George you've got it!



" But he goes on from this premise and the impossibility of an infinite regress"
He makes that declaration owing to its logical impossibility, but he does so by begging the question, failing to demonstrate that a logical impossibility must necessarily be physically impossible.


" to conclude there must be at least one thing of a different class."
That is the riddle, indeed, what is it that all of humanity has failed to grasp?


" That thing is the unchanged changer."
Which violates his own premise above! Aquinas just got through telling us that "nothing" can cause change except a changing thing. Now he contradicts himself, which is just as illogical as and actual infinite.

Aquinas merely asserts ad hoc that one illogical alternative is the case while another illogical alternative is not the case.

The truth is humanity is faces with only illogical alternatives to explain existence itself, yet something absolutely exists. Aquinas fails to answer the riddle, only ad hoc pick one in a self contradictory example of begging the question.


January 30, 2017 11:15 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

"""" SP:” Then he begs the question with this:
" But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover,"
But you have repeatedly agreed that there can be no infinite regress of causes in an essentially ordered series,""""
An actual infinite is illogical, but that is what the powerful evidence of conservation tells us is the case, in spite of our inability to comprehend it.

" so there must be a first mover."
Which is not only just as illogical as an actual infinite but worse, there is no evidence for any such thing.



"""" SP:”Then he contradicts himself in his begging of the question:
"Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other"”

You want to change his premises from “Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another” to “Now everything is in motion and is put in motion by another”. That is a different argument than the First Way. Would a 10 year old understand the differences in the 2 versions? See how unhelpful that is?""""
A 10 year old uderstands that a hot thing makes a cold thing hot. Ice does not make something hot. A rock does not make something hot. Any old thing does make something hot. Only a hot thing makes something hot. Yes, a 10 year old understands that. Based on your opening statements I think you may realize that Aquinas was making this very simple point, among other points.

The absurd events here are people so blinded to simple reading that somehow read
"a hot thing makes something hot" to mean
"an existent thing makes something hot.

Mere existence is not sufficient as Aquinas clearly states.


" Finally, the argument does not even ask the question of “how do things change?”, it just explores the fact that some do and of those that do, they can’t change by themselves, or from some internal potential, but only due to something else actually existing."
Darn, I you had my hopes up there. This is the theistic breakdown of logic. You just about had it at the outset, but then you slip back into this nonsense.

No, mere existence is not sufficient, as Aquinas clearly states and shows by example.

An actually hot thing moves a potentially hot thing to become actually hot.


January 30, 2017 11:15 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

" Some examples of things not changing yet causing change have been offered, "
???
Whoooohhh. Examples? Offered? By who? Where? When? What?

You have really gone off the deep end now. But by all means, please do give me an example of an unchanging thing causing change.


"but no one is claiming that this is exactly how things work, just that we can see things like this in our own experience."
???
I have never experienced any such thing. What in the world are you even talking about?


" Let me offer another analogy. Newton’s law of inertia was put forward as the cause of motion after a motive force was removed. The motion of the object continues in a straight line until other forces change it. Newton did not think that inertia was changed while it was changing the spatial position of the object. So here is another example of an actual thing, inertia, causing something to change while presumably not changing itself."
What is this unchanged thing called "inertia" that "causes" "change"? Is a moving object itself changing?

Consider a rock hurtling through space, does it "experience" change? What characteristics of the rock are changing? Mass, temperature, kinetic energy? All constant, ideally. To change something about the rock requires another changing thing. A moving object can cause the rock to change its kinetic energy. Absorption of traveling energy such as infrared radiation can change the temperature of the rock.

Only a changing thing can change the rock. The motion of the rock remains unchanged. Uniform motion continues unless acted upon.


Worse for your argument, Aquinas did not have the concept of inertia. Aristotle thought a continuoous force was needed for continuous motion, which is in fact a rough description of ordinary perception because on Earth all conventionally observed motion is accompanied by friction, but concepts like intertia and friction are absent from the First Way.


Aquinas makes a number of points. Among those points is that a thing is moved from potentially X to actually X by a thing that is actually X. This is a reasonable observation at the level of ordinary human perception, which is what the people of the 13th century had available to them.

The bizarre thing is to watch modern theists get their brains all twisted up in knots failing to read the very simple words of Aquinas for what they clearly tell us.


January 30, 2017 11:15 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

SteveK said...

""" "You want to change his premises from “Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another” to “Now everything is in motion and is put in motion by another”. That is a different argument than the First Way"

^^ This. THIS!!

The only remaining question is this: Can Dusty read and comprehend?"""


Here is a university level summary of the first way:


St. Thomas Aquinas:
The Existence of God can be proved in five ways.
Argument Analysis of the Five Ways © 2016 Theodore Gracyk


The First Way: Argument from Motion

1 Our senses prove that some things are in motion.

2 Things move when potential motion becomes actual motion.

3 Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion.

4 Nothing can be at once in both actuality and potentiality in the same respect (i.e., if both actual and potential, it is actual in one respect and potential in another).

5 Therefore nothing can move itself.

6 Therefore each thing in motion is moved by something else.

7 The sequence of motion cannot extend ad infinitum.

8 Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.
http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/aquinasFiveWays_ArgumentAnalysis.htm

But the theists here are not reading for comprehension at a university level, only a gradeschool level, and only on these particular subjects.

I avoid internet psychoanalysis, who knows what the other is thinking and why? But this case of extreme segmentation or bifurcation of the theistic brain process no doubt has some psychological explanation. You theists are surely bright and accomplished people in your lives generally, yet a score of sentences from the 13th century sends a segment of your brains into rational meltdown. I can only guess as to why you suffer from this highly selective mental breakdown so palpably in evidence.


January 30, 2017 11:45 AM

SteveK said...

Give it up, Dusty

bmiller said...

@Stardusty Psyche

First a joke:
A senior citizen was driving down the freeway when his wife called his cell phone.

"Herman, I just heard on the news that there's a car going the wrong way on Route 280. Please be careful!"

"It's not just one car," said Herman, "It's hundreds of them!"

This:
This exchange:
" The argument shows that it is impossible for only changing things to change other changing things"
That is the self contradiction of the argument. Aquinas argues against himself.

First he states this, which anybody with a reading comprehension level above that of a 10 year old understands to mean that only a moving thing causes a stationary thing to move, only a hot thing causes a potentially hot thing to get hot: "a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act.

Now everyone who has spent the time and effort over the last 2300 years to understand the argument (except you) disagrees with your analysis. It

This exchange:
“It is clear here that he is referring only to the class of things that are changing.""""
A glimmer of hope! Indeed, the actuality Aquinas is referring to is and actuality of change. Only an actually changing thing can move a potentially changing thing to become actually changing.

By George you've got it!”

By George you still haven’t got it! You are stuck to the idea that only changing things can cause change, which is precisely the idea the First Way disproves, leaving only an unchanged changer to resolve the issue. There is no contradiction if one understands the terms used in the argument and how to apply them.

bmiller said...

@Stardusty Psyche,

BTW, welcome back.

Your complaints amount to an exclusive focus on one of the 2 analogies that Aquinas used to help students understand the concept of how an actual thing causes change in another actual thing. It seems you’ve decided to disregard the entire rest of the OP and the rest of the First Way. That you confuse “in act” with “motion” is apparent to your opponents but not to you. You can continue to argue against something your opponents don’t hold (including Aristotle, Aquinas and all commentators over the history of the argument) if that makes you feel better, but it is still a fact that your argument is not against the First Way.
It would be interesting to see if you could argue against the actual First Way, but looks like we aren’t going to see that.

SP: " Some examples of things not changing yet causing change have been offered, "
???
Whoooohhh. Examples? Offered? By who? Where? When? What?”


Me:"It is simply not contradictory for something to cause change and remain unchanged itself. For instance a saucer of milk may be the cause of a cat to move across the room, just by the fact that it exists in the room."

LOL presented another analogy, but deleted the post, but another analogy would be how you could be attracted to your wife's side without her doing anything purposefully to draw you to her other than just being herself.

Of course these are just analogies to bring to mind that not all things are changed by things colliding with each other.

SP:”What is this unchanged thing called "inertia" that "causes" "change"? Is a moving object itself changing?

Consider a rock hurtling through space, does it "experience" change? What characteristics of the rock are changing? Mass, temperature, kinetic energy? All constant, ideally. To change something about the rock requires another changing thing. A moving object can cause the rock to change its kinetic energy. Absorption of traveling energy such as infrared radiation can change the temperature of the rock.

Only a changing thing can change the rock. The motion of the rock remains unchanged. Uniform motion continues unless acted upon.”

OK, if you want to maintain that inertia motion is not an actual change, then there is not even an apparent conflict with the First Way. If you want to maintain that inertia motion is indeed motion, then, you must admit that it is the cause of the rock’s motion and explain how it changes when the rock's motion in the x direction changes. Either way, there is no conflict with Aristotle’s or Aquinas’s unmoved mover argument.

Stardusty Psyche said...

SteveK said...

" Cal & Dusty
You must understand that the First Way argument is a *metaphysical* argument."
I feel a woo storm brewing...

" The point the argument makes is NOT the subject of physics, sequences, mathematics or the mechanisms of causality. "
Then it is a worthless argument for god from motion. The first way is an argument from motion. It is called the argument from motion. Motion is a subject of physics. If the argument from motion is not the subject of physics then you are just spouting woo.

"Some of these subjects are interwoven into the discussion, yes, but these subjects are not the main point."
Not the main point? The word "move" appears about 25 times in various forms. The example is of heat. Cause and effect are being argued. An infinite sequence is discussed. Yet these things are not "the main point"?


" The main point the argument makes is the subject of ontology - the nature of existence - what kind of things actually exist. The argument attempts to work this out logically, starting with what we know. Boiled down to it's basic core, the argument says:"
Which somehow is not "the subject of physics, sequences, mathematics or the mechanisms of causality"? Theists say the darndest things.


" >> There are 2 kinds existence: (1) beings with potency, (2) one being with no potency"
Which is a hopelessly primitive view of existence one would expect from a 13th century Aristotelian theist.


" (thanks to @grodrigues for the reminder)"
Oh, yeah, gee thanks a lot.


February 01, 2017 9:25 AM

SteveK said...

"Yet these things are not "the main point"?"

Haha, once again Dusty admits he doesn't know the argument. Give it up. It's beyond embarrassing now.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...


" Now everyone who has spent the time and effort over the last 2300 years to understand the argument (except you) disagrees with your analysis."
??? Aquinas wrote some 750 years ago, not 2300 years ago.

Aristotle and those who followed him, such a Aquinas, did not understand this argument because they had primitive views of physics



" By George you still haven’t got it! You are stuck to the idea that only changing things can cause change, "
Which is what the First Way states clearly at the outset.


"which is precisely the idea the First Way disproves,"
If by "prove" you mean a self contradictory ad hoc begging the question assertion, OK.

" There is no contradiction if one understands the terms used in the argument"
Ha Ha Ha. Do you understand the word "hot"? How about "flame"?

The theistic mind selectively melts down to the level of a child, again...


February 04, 2017 12:38 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

" analogies that Aquinas used to help students understand the concept of how an actual thing causes change in another actual thing. "
No, he said a changing thing causes change in another thing. Reading skills.



"It seems you’ve decided to disregard the entire rest of the OP and the rest of the First Way. That you confuse “in act” with “motion”"
No, a thing is actually hot or potentially hot, in the primitive language of Aquinas and the theists here.

A potentially hot thing is moved to be an actually hot thing by an actually hot thing, not merely an existing thing. Reading skills.

" OK, if you want to maintain that inertia motion is not an actual change, then there is not even an apparent conflict with the First Way. "
The primitive language of the theist is a barrier to any deeper understanding. I use only in the sense of speaking in the vernacular to the primitive mind.

When 2 things collide they change each other in a temporal process. They are mutually the cause and effect of the changes in each other in this process.


" Either way, there is no conflict with Aristotle’s or Aquinas’s unmoved mover argument."
Aristotle? How quaint.


February 04, 2017 1:20 PM

bmiller said...

@Stardusty Psyche,

Herman you’re breaking me up now.

“Aristotle and those who followed him, such a Aquinas, did not understand this argument”

Hahaha! The philosopher who codified syllogistic logic that all rational people use did not understand his own argument? You can’t make this stuff up!

Legion of Logic said...

Bmiller, very well played on the joke.

SD: "A merely existing thing does not make wood hot, only a hot thing makes wood hot."

Much like the bag of grapes I'm enjoying does not have a warning label to not inject poison into the grapes prior to eating them because they assume no one is stupid enough to require such a label, everyone from Aristotle to me never considered that anyone would interpret the argument to be saying that any existing thing can cause something to burn. I mean, really? This is either asinine nitpicking on a mythical scale, or a complete lack of intelligence.

SD: "If the argument from motion is not the subject of physics then you are just spouting woo."

The other possibility being that what you are claiming the argument from motion to be, is not what the argument is. A possibility that, in this case, coincides with reality.

SD: "Which is what the First Way states clearly at the outset."

And Tolkien wrote dozens of homosexual characters into The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, because everyone was gay and acted queer. I mean, that's what it says, right?

I'm not aware of any philosopher who would dare claim that the First Way argument is based upon things only being able to undergo change based on something else that itself must be undergoing change. Actual philosophers are generally too smart to make such a claim.

SD: "The theistic mind selectively melts down to the level of a child, again..."

I don't know how old you are, but I would be embarrassed that children are better thinkers than I was.

SD: "No, he said a changing thing causes change in another thing. Reading skills."

If by "changing thing" you mean "a thing that is changing something else", then you are correct. If you mean "a thing that itself is undergoing change", go get some reading lessons from 10 year olds to try to gain a little wisdom. They're ahead of you.

SD: "A potentially hot thing is moved to be an actually hot thing by an actually hot thing, not merely an existing thing. Reading skills."

Strawman.

SD: "I use only in the sense of speaking in the vernacular to the primitive mind."

Endless entertainment from the only person here that doesn't have the faintest clue about what we are talking about.

But please, continue being the dwarf calling the elves short. Your queerness makes us gay.


Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

SP “Aristotle and those who followed him, such a Aquinas, did not understand this argument”

" Hahaha! The philosopher who codified syllogistic logic that all rational people use did not understand his own argument? You can’t make this stuff up!"
Indeed, the notion that Aristotle or those who followed him understood their own arguments of motion is hilarious.

Newsflash, Aristotle was wrong. All the thousands or millions who believed and followed him for more than 1000 years were all wrong.

None of them understood their own arguments because they did not understand how wrong they were, including Aquinas, who did not understand his own arguments, obviously, just read the primitive and self contradictory ad hoc false dichotomy begging the question mess that is the First Way.


February 04, 2017 10:03 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

Bmiller, very well played on the joke.

SD: "A merely existing thing does not make wood hot, only a hot thing makes wood hot."

" Much like the bag of grapes I'm enjoying does not have a warning label to not inject poison into the grapes prior to eating them because they assume no one is stupid enough to require such a label, everyone from Aristotle to me never considered that anyone would interpret the argument to be saying that any existing thing can cause something to burn. I mean, really? This is either asinine nitpicking on a mythical scale, or a complete lack of intelligence."
I agree.
The mind boggles at how anybody could read the first 1/3 of the First Way and not realize that Aquinas is stating
"3 Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion."
February 04, 2017 10:08 AM
Yet the theists here keep telling me that this reading is somehow not the case.

Only an actually moving thing causes a potentially moving thing to actually move.
Only an actually burning thing causes a potentially burning thing to actually burn.

I agree LL, to assert any other reading is an indication of a lack of intelligence.


February 04, 2017 11:05 PM

Martin said...

Stardusty,

The premise is not "only an actually MOVING thing causes a potentially moving thing to move."

The premise is "only something actual (real, existent) can cause a potential to become actual."

Stardusty Psyche said...

Martin said...

""" The premise is not "only an actually MOVING thing causes a potentially moving thing to move."

The premise is "only something actual (real, existent) can cause a potential to become actual.""""

See LL? Lack of intelligence indeed, but I hasten to add, only in a selective sense. Martin is almost certainly a very competent individual generally with a life of many personal accomplishments and capabilities. Yet, when confronted with a score of sentences from the 13th century about god a portion of his intelligence melts down to mush.

We atheists often marvel at this segmented loss of reasoning so commonly on display by theists. We rationalists are continually on guard against our own defective reasoning, looking for any signs of our own confirmation bias, implicit assumptions, socialization effects, and fallacious argumentation.

Apparently the typical theist revels in these defects of argumentation selectively on the subject of god.

Martin "The premise is "only something actual (real, existent) can cause a potential to become actual."
The mind boggles at he inanity of this reading.

Only an existent thing can cause a potential to become existent? That is your reading? What does that even mean?

So, what is potential then, something non-existent? That would be oxymoronic.

So, an existent thing causes absolutely nothing at all to become existent? How ridiculous that would be.

An existent thing causes some other thing to move from potentially moving to existing? How bizarre.

Martin, "only something actual (real, existent) can cause a potential to become actual" is gibberish.

Aquinas, in the first 1/3 of his argument, is simply stating some obvious human observations. Something moves. Only moving things make things that could move actually move. Nothing moves itself.

Yet Martin and bmiller et al go into some sort of selective mental breakdown after reading a handful of sentences.


February 05, 2017 9:15 AM

Martin said...

>Only an existent thing can cause a potential to become existent? That is your reading? What does that even mean?

It's not my reading. That is what Aquinas means. It starts with Parmenides and the Eleatics, who divided concepts into existent and non-existent. An object either exists, or it does not. But for a change to occur, something non-existent would have to become existent; existence would come out of non-existence, which is impossible. Therefore, the Eleatics reasoned, change does not happen and any change you see is an illusion. You are perhaps familiar with a more famous Eleatic: Zeno, who provided famous paradoxes to try to prove that change does not occur.

Aristotle thought the Eleatics were wrong and that change does indeed occur, and provided the concept of potentiality as a sort of "in-between." Something existent has various potentials to be different than it is. The coffee I have in my cup right now, for example, has the potential to be drunk. This is rooted in the nature of coffee, and other potentials are rooted in the natures of other things: pizza has the potential to be eaten, a bird has the potential to fly away, a flashlight has the potential to be lit.

So the concepts of act and potency came via Aristotle to Aquinas. As Aquinas reasons, a potential does not yet exist; it only has the potential to exist. For example, the full coffee cup has the potential to be empty, but is not empty at the moment. The "emptiness" of the coffee cup is not something that exists yet. As something that does not exist (yet), a potential cannot cause itself to be actual. If it could, this would presuppose that it is already actual, which is exactly what a potential is not. For the "emptiness" of my coffee cup to cause itself to become empty, the emptiness would have to exist, in which case it would be actual, and not potential. Rather, to cause the cup to become empty requires something other than the emptiness to cause it, such as my (actual) arm lifting the cup to my lips.

So the premise is that only actual things can cause potentially existent things to become actual. Or, if you prefer, only causes that exist can affect anything.

There isn't anything about the premise that requires only actualized potentials to actualize other potentials. The thing doing the actualizing simply has to exist, and that's all. David Oderberg wrote an academic paper on this very premise.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Martin said...

" >Only an existent thing can cause a potential to become existent? That is your reading? What does that even mean?

It's not my reading. That is what Aquinas means. "
We have now fallen down the rabbit hole...

" You are perhaps familiar with a more famous Eleatic: Zeno, who provided famous paradoxes to try to prove that change does not occur."
Zeno was wrong, there is no paradox of infinite divisions of distance.


" So the premise is that only actual things can cause potentially existent things to become actual. "
Are you just trying to smuggle in an equivocation by changing the meaning of the term "actual" in mid sentence?

Become actual what? Become actually moving? Become actually hot? Fine, let's do a simple word substitution to your phrase.

"only actual things can cause potentially existent things to become actual."
"only actually hot things can cause potentially existent things to become actually hot."
"only actually moving things can cause potentially existent things to become actually moving."

Or is using the same definition for a word in a single sentence a bad thing down the theistic rabbit hole?


February 05, 2017 10:27 AM

Martin said...

>Are you just trying to smuggle in an equivocation by changing the meaning of the term "actual" in mid sentence?

No. "Actual" means "real" or "existent."

>"only actually hot things can cause potentially existent things to become actually hot."

That is not the premise. The premise is that only actual (real, existent) things can cause effects. But there is nothing in the premise that entails that the thing doing the causing must itself possess that effect. For example, striking flint can cause a spark, but the flint does not itself need to be a spark. The premise is that only an actual/real/existent thing cause can cause an effect, not that only a thing which is itself the effect can cause the effect.

bmiller said...

@Herman,

This exchange:
" Hahaha! The philosopher who codified syllogistic logic that all rational people use did not understand his own argument? You can’t make this stuff up!"
Indeed, the notion that Aristotle or those who followed him understood their own arguments of motion is hilarious.

Newsflash, Aristotle was wrong. All the thousands or millions who believed and followed him for more than 1000 years were all wrong.

None of them understood their own arguments because they did not understand how wrong they were, including Aquinas, who did not understand his own arguments, obviously, just read the primitive and self contradictory ad hoc false dichotomy begging the question mess that is the First Way."

Is this your idea of a rational discussion? Insisting that no one in history ever understood the argument including the author and that only you can?

Did you get this revelation while wearing your tinfoil hat?

Stardusty Psyche said...

Martin said...

""" >Are you just trying to smuggle in an equivocation by changing the meaning of the term "actual" in mid sentence?

No. "Actual" means "real" or "existent.""""
OMG. This is like talking to a child. I realize you are an intelligent adult in general, but faced with a handful of sentences from the 13th century your rationality melts down and all you can say is childish gibberish.

Your phrase:
"only actual things can cause potentially existent things to become actual."
translates to:
"only existent things can cause potentially existent things to become existent."
How inane.


" >"only actually hot things can cause potentially existent things to become actually hot."

That is not the premise. "
For pity's sake, you cannot even follow a simple word substitution.


"The premise is that only actual (real, existent) things can cause effects."
So you are equivocating.

At the beginning of the sentence "actual" means =existent".
At the end of the sentence "actual" means "effects".


" But there is nothing in the premise that entails that the thing doing the causing must itself possess that effect. For example, striking flint can cause a spark, but the flint does not itself need to be a spark."
Right, motion is required to cause motion. You just said it. Do you realize that? A spark is not a static object. A spark is a moving and changing object. Flint is a rock and in our ordinary perception is motionless. Striking is motion. The rock does not spontaneously start moving by have sparks leap off of it. A motion is required to generate the moving spark.

Your example is an example of:
"only actually moving things can cause potentially moving things to become actually moving."

That makes sense. The motion of the strike caused the motionless rock to produce a moving object, the spark.


February 05, 2017 11:23 AM

Martin said...

>How inane.

It's "inane" that only existent causes can cause things...? Explain.

>At the beginning of the sentence "actual" means =existent". At the end of the sentence "actual" means "effects".

No, it always means "actual." An "effect" is an actuality that was a potential. For example, if I fill the coffee cup from the Keurig, the coffee cup was potentially full and now becomes actually full. The new actuality (existent coffee in the cup) was once a potentiality. This transition is an effect of the Keurig, which caused it.

>Right, motion is required to cause motion.

In a lot of cases yes, but that is not entailed by the premise and you have not made that argument. The premise is that for something to cause anything, it must be actual/existent. There is nothing here to make us believe that causing an effect always entails the cause itself changing. This is the case inductively for many of the things we observe, but it is not necessarily the case.

SteveK said...

"Is this your idea of a rational discussion? Insisting that no one in history ever understood the argument including the author and that only you can?"

This is Dusty's tool of last resort. When everything else has failed him he resorts to arguing over dictionary definitions coupled with Dusty's own brand of over-zealous psychoanalysis.

What Aquinas means can't be found in his writings and the writings of people who knew him - no, no, no - it can only be found within the confines of Dusty's empty skull, here in the 21st century.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Martin said...

>How inane.

" It's "inane" that only existent causes can cause things...? Explain."
What is inane is the meaningless statement that comes by consistent application of your definition.
"only existent things can cause potentially existent things to become existent."
You said "actual" means "existent". The resulting sentence is meaningless. You might as well say "only stuff makes stuff become stuff". That is something a little kid would say.



>At the beginning of the sentence "actual" means =existent". At the end of the sentence "actual" means "effects".

" No, it always means "actual.""
Are you really this dense? I mean, honestly...

"The premise is "only something actual (real, existent) can cause a potential to become actual."
"The premise is that only actual (real, existent) things can cause effects."

In one case you equate "actual" with "existent".
In the other case you equate "actual with "effects"
You equivocate.


" In a lot of cases yes, but that is not entailed by the premise and you have not made that argument. The premise is that for something to cause anything, it must be actual/existent. There is nothing here to make us believe that causing an effect always entails the cause itself changing. "
How ridiculous.
The examples you gave and the example Aquinas gave show that a moving or changing thing is required to cause change.



Here is some text, try actually reading it for comprehension:
"The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it."

"That which is actually hot"
Did you get that? Do you have the capacity to understand that statement? The actuality is the actuality of being actually hot.

"makes wood, which is potentially hot"
Wood, not yet actually hot, only potentially hot.

"to be actually hot"
Now the wood is actually hot.

Did you get that sequence? An actually hot thing caused a potentially hot thing to become actually hot.

Aquinas did not say that any old thing makes wood hot. Only an actually hot thing makes wood actually hot.

See, LL was incredulous that I would suggest the "either asinine nitpicking on a mythical scale, or a complete lack of intelligence" on the part of anybody here.

I don't think Legion realized that Martin, bmiller, and others just cannot get it through their "asinine" and "complete lack of intelligence" to figure out that existence is not sufficient to cause motion and no reasonable person reads Aquinas that way.


Legion of Logic said...

Bmiller, very well played on the joke.

SD: "A merely existing thing does not make wood hot, only a hot thing makes wood hot."

Much like the bag of grapes I'm enjoying does not have a warning label to not inject poison into the grapes prior to eating them because they assume no one is stupid enough to require such a label, everyone from Aristotle to me never considered that anyone would interpret the argument to be saying that any existing thing can cause something to burn. I mean, really? This is either asinine nitpicking on a mythical scale, or a complete lack of intelligence.
February 04, 2017 11:05 PM



February 05, 2017 1:09 PM

Martin said...

Eh, I give up.

He's like skeppy, but even more densie.

bmiller said...

@SteveK and Martin,

"This is Dusty's tool of last resort. When everything else has failed him he resorts to arguing over dictionary definitions coupled with Dusty's own brand of over-zealous psychoanalysis.

What Aquinas means can't be found in his writings and the writings of people who knew him - no, no, no - it can only be found within the confines of Dusty's empty skull, here in the 21st century."

It looks to me more like he just invents arguments in his head and attributes them to others. No need to find out what the actual arguments are and so much easier to defeat.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Martin said...

" Eh, I give up.

He's like skeppy, but even more densie."

Translation, when confronted with the preposterous self contradiction of your statements you have no rational response. The reason is simple, your position is inherently irrational.

This is what a rational individual understands reading the First Way:
"3. Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion."
http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/aquinasFiveWays_ArgumentAnalysis.htm

If you ever choose to enter the process of rational analysis you will understand 3. above as I and the author does. It is not difficult once you rid yourself of the mental debilitation of theism.


February 05, 2017 7:34 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

" What Aquinas means can't be found in his writings"
The writing of the first third of the First Way is clear, only an actually moving thing can cause a potentially moving thing to actually move.

" It looks to me more like he just invents arguments in his head and attributes them to others. "
Oh no, you and Martin have invented a bizarre reading of what is clearly an argument from motion that makes several observations at the outset
Something moves.
Whatever is moved is moved by another.
Only an actually moving thing reduces a potentially moving thing to actually move.
Nothing moves itself.


"No need to find out what the actual arguments are and so much easier to defeat."
Neither you or Martin have provided actually sound arguments, only bizarre equivocations of the word "actual".

I am simply applying the definitions provided, and in doing so inevitably one gets a self contraction, equivocation, or meaningless gibberish.

On the other hand, when I read the plain text of the statements of the first third of the First Way we get a very reasonable set of statements that accurately describe what we all observe, which is why they remained so popular for so long.

The plain reading I have provided is not self contradictory, nor an equivocation, and not gibberish. It is what we all observe in every day life, and thus generally quite credible.

Your version and Martin's version is simply not credible. Unfortunately, that is the sort of thing theists are especially vulnerable to.


February 05, 2017 8:06 PM

bmiller said...

@Stardusty Psyche,

Everyone here has pointed out repeatedly how you misunderstand the 3 terms in question; “potency”, “actual” and “motion” as used in the argument. Now you are at the point that you’re claiming that you alone in the universe are the only one that understands it. This is clearly delusional.

SP:”This is what a rational individual understands reading the First Way:
"3. Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion."
http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/web%20publishing/aquinasFiveWays_ArgumentAnalysis.htm

If you ever choose to enter the process of rational analysis you will understand 3. above as I and the author does. It is not difficult once you rid yourself of the mental debilitation of theism.”
SP:” Your version and Martin's version is simply not credible. Unfortunately, that is the sort of thing theists are especially vulnerable to.”

But what does the author think? Well I asked him:
>>>
Hi Professor Gracyk,

I hate to bother you, regarding your post on the First Way argument of Aquinas, but I was hoping that you could clear something up for me.

Here is your analysis:
The First Way: Argument from Motion
1.Our senses prove that some things are in motion.
2.Things move when potential motion becomes actual motion.
3.Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion.
4.Nothing can be at once in both actuality and potentiality in the same respect (i.e., if both actual and potential, it is actual in one respect and potential in another).
5.Therefore nothing can move itself.
6.Therefore each thing in motion is moved by something else.
7.The sequence of motion cannot extend ad infinitum.
8.Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

Could item 3 be read to mean that only moving things can cause other things to move? If so, then wouldn't then the first mover also have to move? But if this is the case, then we have a paradox of things moving either without an unmoving first mover or an infinite regress of moving movers.
Thanks much for your time.
<<<>>>
The objection depends on the scope of the first 2 claims. My analysis follows Aquinas’ language (translated) fairly closely, without commentary, but I have always understood them to mean by “things” that we are talking about things that subject to human perception, that is, take “things” to mean “things in the natural order.”

If you take it that way, as is implied by the first step’s references to what our senses can observe, then that leaves God out of the scope of the principle set up as step 3.

So, we don’t have license to restrict non-natural causes in the same way (that is, causes “outside” nature) and so we can avoid the regress on the grounds that causes from outside nature may operate differently than those within.

I stress that, if you pursue other readings of Aquinas, you’ll encounter other ways to read him.

I hope that is useful.

Theodore Gracyk
Minnesota State University Moorhead

<<<

So you stand alone in Cuckoo land. Professor Gracyk agrees with the rest of humanity (rational humanity that is).

Also, the very first post on this thread is straight from the Summa Contra Gentiles which is a re-statement of the argument from Aquinas (complete with a link). If there is any question about how Aquinas understands the argument you can refer to it.


So Aquinas understands his own argument the same way as the rest of the literate world, that not all movers must be moving.

Go ahead and comb the internet again to try to find some representation of the argument that you can imagine agrees with you, but the fact remains that you cannot deal with the argument as we’ve presented it to you here. You must consider it so convincing that you simply cannot face it.

SteveK said...

If Dusty knows what Aquinas means better than Aquinas then it's likely that Dusty knows what Gracyk means better than Gracyk. I assure you, Dusty will find something in the dictionary that will prove Gracyk actually agrees with him.

bmiller said...

@SteveK,

Then it's just a short step for him to conclude that you actually agree with him too :-O

It's kind of amazing to see this level of cognitive dissonance.

Cal Metzger said...

I've been busy also but I just quick read.

Here's the money quote:

SD: "In one case you equate "actual" with "existent".
In the other case you equate "actual with "effects"
You equivocate."

SD is right. The First Way basically shell games the terms change and existence (actual), and misleads many readers by implying that a change is not really a transfer of a property or properties between two things that already exist, but an unfolding in which the change between two things brings something altogether non-existent into existence. But that's not really the case, is it? Getting up and leaving the room describes change, but it doesn't make getting up and leaving the room begin to exist in the way we mean when we're talking about the riddle of existence per se. Change is something that existence undergoes, but it's not something that can occur without existence itself.

So, saying that only an actual (existing) thing can bring about change doesn't really solve the problem, it just re-states the observation of what existence is -- real things, changing.

I think that's pretty much the heart of the problem of the First Way as a purported resolution to the riddle of existence -- equivocation. At its best, I can imagine re-arranging the First Way so that it basically describes the riddle, but I still can't see how it resolves the riddle. And that's aside from it's purported demonstration regarding a deity, etc.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...


3.Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion.
" Professor Gracyk agrees with the rest of humanity (rational humanity that is)."
On step 3, indeed, Gracyk stands by his wording.

"Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion."
Thank you for getting the professor to confirm that Aquinas says this, contrary to the arguments presented by the theists here.


February 07, 2017 11:25 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger SteveK said...

" If Dusty knows what Aquinas means better than Aquinas then it's likely that Dusty knows what Gracyk means better than Gracyk. I assure you, Dusty will find something in the dictionary that will prove Gracyk actually agrees with him."
Indeed, Gracyk confirms that his wording of 3. is correct.
"Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion."

Gracyk confirms personally that those are the words of Aquinas in the First Way.


February 07, 2017 1:57 PM

Legion of Logic said...

Cal: "The First Way basically shell games the terms change and existence (actual), and misleads many readers by implying that a change is not really a transfer of a property or properties between two things that already exist, but an unfolding in which the change between two things brings something altogether non-existent into existence."

I may be wrong, but this objection seems to conflate the First Way with something like the Kalam cosmological argument.

bmiller said...

@ Stardusty Psyche ,

SP:”The writing of the first third of the First Way is clear, only an actually moving thing can cause a potentially moving thing to actually move.”

Me to Prof Gracyk:” Could item 3 be read to mean that only moving things can cause other things to move?”

Prof Gracyk:” If you take it that way, as is implied by the first step’s references to what our senses can observe, then that leaves God out of the scope of the principle set up as step 3.

So, we don’t have license to restrict non-natural causes in the same way (that is, causes “outside” nature) and so we can avoid the regress on the grounds that causes from outside nature may operate differently than those within.”

I am gratified to see that you have no disagreement with Professor Gracyk’s reasoning, that the only possible conclusion one can reach is that God is the unmoved mover.

Cal Metzger said...

Me: "Cal: "The First Way basically shell games the terms change and existence (actual), and misleads many readers by implying that a change is not really a transfer of a property or properties between two things that already exist, but an unfolding in which the change between two things brings something altogether non-existent into existence."
Legion: "I may be wrong, but this objection seems to conflate the First Way with something like the Kalam cosmological argument."

Well, it seems to be a problem imbued in the First Way, because that's roughly been the defense of the argument here by apologists.

For instance, we see it in full bloom in comments like this one: "Indeed, the actuality Aquinas is referring to is and actuality of change. Only an actually changing thing can move a potentially changing thing to become actually changing."

bmiller said...

@Cal Metzger,



"For instance, we see it in full bloom in comments like this one: "Indeed, the actuality Aquinas is referring to is and actuality of change. Only an actually changing thing can move a potentially changing thing to become actually changing.""

That has been a claim made by Stardusty Psyche, not by anyone familiar with the First Way.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

" I am gratified to see that you have no disagreement with Professor Gracyk’s reasoning, "
Finally you realize you were wrong!!! It's about time.

3.Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion.

You now understand that this is the correct reading of 3. An actual motion is required to reduce potential motion to actual motion.

Since you now admit your error on that specific point I wonder if Martin and the rest of the misinterpreters here will follow your courageous example and admit their error on this particular point also?

Now that we all agree that I was correct all along about that point and all my detractors on that point were mistaken on that point the time is appropriate for me to educate you on how wrong you and Aquinas are on further points.

God must be a thing. God is something, else god is nothing. God cannot be nothing, so god cannot be no thing. Since god must be some thing Aquinas contradicts himself in the end of the first way.

God is said to be a mover, so either god has always been moving, or god was motionless and then began to move.

If god was always moving Aquinas contradicts himself having previously stated motion cannot extend to infinity.

If god was motionless and then began to move Aquinas contradicts himself because he says only a thing in actual motion can reduce a thing to actual motion, in which case god was not the first mover.

Aquinas fails by self contradiction.


February 08, 2017 8:23 AM

Chris said...

On the AT view, God is " pure act". Does that necessarily mean "pure change" or "eternal motion"?

bmiller said...

@ Stardusty Psyche,

Sorry, but the professor you sited has graded your argument as failing.

Maybe you think you can change that F to an A but we're watching :-)

Like I said. You must find the actual argument terrifying.

bmiller said...

@Chris,


This is a pretty good place to start to understand act and potency.

Legion of Logic said...

Chris,

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Actus_purus

Being "in act" in this terminology means to exist, basically. Peanut butter and bread can potentially be a sandwich. Of you put the peanut butter on the bread, the peanut butter sandwich is "in act".

God is said to be "pure act" because unlike you and me, there are no potential states that he can take. Humans are a mix of act (actuality) and potency (potential) and - we can die, we can age, get fatter, break a bone, change our minds, etc. God has no potential states to be realized - what he is, is what he is

Chris said...

Legion,

I am trying to figure out if Stardusty's objections actually have bite- I am not sure. Based on the premises of the First Way, I think that the objections basically boil down to the impossibility of a changeless changer because only something changing can bring about change.

Legion of Logic said...

"I think that the objections basically boil down to the impossibility of a changeless changer because only something changing can bring about change."

I see what you mean by that from premise 3 of the layout bmiller posted, and I'll confess that from reading the original translated text of the argument, I sure can't derive that premise anywhere. Bmiller, which part of the original text is supposed to correlate with premise 3?

bmiller said...

@Chris and Legion of Logic,

"I see what you mean by that from premise 3 of the layout bmiller posted, and I'll confess that from reading the original translated text of the argument, I sure can't derive that premise anywhere. Bmiller, which part of the original text is supposed to correlate with premise 3?"

Here is the background:
Stardusty searched the internet to find some phrasing of the First Way that he could use to support his erroneous claim that the argument contradicted itself. He found a post by Professor Gracyk and wanted to use that post to support his claim. If you look back you can see the link SP posted to Dr Gracyk's list.

Now if you go to that link and to Dr Gracyk's home page and look at his publications, you will see that his area of interest is mostly the Aesthetics, not Thomism. So we should cut him some slack if he did not phrase his analysis the way an A-T philosopher would. He probably just passed over it briefly in his Philosophy 101 course as a filler.

So, since SP claimed that Dr. Gracyk's #3 proved that the First Way meant that only moving things could cause things to move, I emailed Dr. Gracyk and included his own analysis and asked him directly if that was what he meant to convey in his analysis. What you saw in my post up there was the email I sent to Dr. Gracyk and his response to me. As you can see he did not mean to convey that only moving things can cause other things to move.

However, I can see that SP's main goal of bloviating as much BS as possible to sow confusion is somewhat working since Cal mistook SP's arguments for those explaining the First Way and apparently even others are having a hard time following who is saying what.

bmiller said...

@Chris,

If you are confused about that the First Way says, you can read the link posted by Victor Here

Here is the version of the argument from the Summa Contra Gentiles so you can compare.

"Everything that is moved is moved by another. That some things are in motion—for example, the sun—is evident from sense. Therefore, it is moved by something else that moves it. This mover is itself either moved or not moved. If it is not, we have reached our conclusion—namely, that we must posit some unmoved mover. This we call God. If it is moved, it is moved by another mover. We must, consequently, either proceed to infinity, or we must arrive at some unmoved mover. Now, it is not possible to proceed to infinity. Hence, we must posit some prime unmoved mover."

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chris said...

" I am trying to figure out if Stardusty's objections actually have bite-"
The First Way is self contradictory in any era and in the very end as applied in modern times factually incorrect.


" I am not sure. Based on the premises of the First Way, I think that the objections basically boil down to the impossibility of a changeless changer because only something changing can bring about change."
That is what Aquinas clearly states in the first 1/3 of his argument. He later contradicts himself.

To avoid this obvious self contradiction the theists here try to re-define the words of Aquinas to mean what they do not say at the outset of his argument.

An example is intended to illustrate a point. Aquinas was not stupid, just mistaken about motion as all people were in the 13th century. He chose and example to explain his previous words. He used the examle of a flame setting a piece of wood on fire. If you have ever seen a flame you know that the moving and hot flame causes the apparently motionless wood to burn and thus move. A clear example of only a thing actually moving causing motion.

Later, Aquinas contradicts himself. So, the theists here do all manner of mental gymnastics in a vain attempt to salvage the pathetically defective First Way.


February 09, 2017 3:24 PM

Legion of Logic said...

Bmiller,

I do have trouble following SD's quoting system. I had never seen his version of the argument, which seems to include an additional premise that a thing must itself be undergoing change in order to change.

Chris,

The vast majority of philosophers who know what they are talking about understand "motion" to be roughly analogous to change in general, not just physical movement. Remember, Aquinas wrote in Latin, so translation also has to take into account context. SD refuses to allow any other interpretation, much like the Bible HAS to be understood literally.

That's why there is such a discrepancy between what we say and what SD says. He has a bizarre notion that we have a brain disease called theism that ruins our ability to think. We present the argument as maintained by the professional scholars who study the writings of Aristotle and Aquinas in depth, and thus know what they are talking about. As SD's version deviates from the experts, we have maintained he has no idea what he is talking about, an impression he has done everything in his power to cultivate.

So, it's SD's interpretation vs Aristotle, Aquinas, and the majority of scholars, historians, and philosophers. You're welcome to analyze whichever version you wish. I recommend the original text, as understood by those why have studied Aristotle and Aquinas.

Chris said...

So, at the end of the day, it seems to me that there is a contradiction only if it is assumed that human sense perception exhausts the totality of reality. IF that is assumed, then it appears that argument stalls and we must conclude that real change is impossible- and therefore illusory. But surely, that doesn't work either.

bmiller said...

@Chris,

"So, at the end of the day, it seems to me that there is a contradiction only if it is assumed that human sense perception exhausts the totality of reality. IF that is assumed, then it appears that argument stalls and we must conclude that real change is impossible- and therefore illusory. But surely, that doesn't work either."

Let me see if you agree with this. “if it is assumed that human sense perception exhausts the totality of reality” is not in the premises of the argument. If that assumption is not in the premises, then there is no contradiction. One could argue that the argument fails by allowing for things outside of human sense perception to exist, but that would still not make the argument self-contradicting…only unsound.

However, as you note, if there is no unchanging changer then we can have no intelligible universe since either change is an illusion or change happens for no reason at all (thing must move themselves). Now some people have come to this conclusion, but it also makes science unintelligible and so science cannot be rationally used in an attempt to refute the First Way.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chris said...

" So, at the end of the day, it seems to me that there is a contradiction only if it is assumed that human sense perception exhausts the totality of reality. IF that is assumed,"
I don't see how you arrived at that conclusion.

The First Way simply is logically self contradictory. Aquinas clearly states
Something moves
Nothing moves itself
All that moves is moved by another
Only a thing in actual motion reduces a potential motion to actual motion

So far so good. That makes sense. Those things match our common observations. For the first third of the argument Aquinas lays out reasonable observations.

Then he goes haywire begging the question:
Motion cannot go back infinitely BECAUSE then there would be no first mover

This is clearly begging the question because he attributes as a reason for a premise the conclusion of his argument. Further, while it is illogical that motion continue to infinity it does not follow that it must be physically impossible, (particularly given that is what the physical evidence of conservation demands) as that is the great existential riddle that Aquinas did not solve and nobody has solved to this day.

Then, after begging the question, he states ad hoc that there must be a first mover, moved by no other.

Here he contradicts himself logically. God supposedly moved the universe, and he stated that only a moving thing causes motion so god is moving. But he said all that is moving is moved by another, so god cannot be the first mover.

Or, maybe god was always in motion? That would also be a contradiction of his statement against an infinite regress of motion.

Finally, whatever the audience of Aquinas may have been in the 13th century the last statement is simply false, because I am somebody and I do not understand this to be god. That is just a ham handed ad hoc falsehood slapped on at the end with no support.

So, Aquinas is just all screwed up. Any person who does not understand that after having carefully studied the argument is suffering from a selective mental breakdown, which is a common ailment that afflicts theists generally.
.

February 10, 2017 7:11 AM

Legion of Logic said...

Chris (and anyone else crazy enough to still be reading this)

Here is a summary of the First Way argument by someone who studies Aquinas' works and philosophies. http://www.aquinasonline.com/Topics/firstway-analysis.pdf

He shows the English translation of Aquinas' writings, and then explains what Aquinas is saying in the context of the thought system that Aquinas and Aristotle maintained regarding act, potency, and motion - which are not synonymous with how we use them today. I would point out a few things.

One, you will notice that SD's premise of "Only a thing in actual motion reduces a potential motion to actual motion" is not contained within Aquinas' presentation of the First Way argument. At no point in the argument does Aquinas state that a thing must be in actual motion (which would mean that it must itself be undergoing change, transitioning from a potential state to an actual state) in order to move (change) something else. Any argument SD bases off of this premise is a strawman, and can and should be dismissed as irrelevant. The argument requires that a first mover of any essential series of causes not be itself being changed, otherwise it is not the first mover of the series.

Two, SD misunderstands (or misrepresents) what Aquinas is saying here: "But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand."

This is not begging the question. As the website I linked states: "Now at this point Aquinas is not describing the motion of the whole universe, but the general properties of any series of "per se" causes of motion. (His mention of a first mover, then, is not a reference to God. If it were, Aquinas would indeed be engaged in a circular argument.) Indeed, he is talking about any system of effects essentially subordinated to simultaneously acting causes. Whenever we know that effects are the result of the simultaneous motion of prior causes which are themselves the effect of prior moving causes, there must be something driving the motion of the system."

And then he goes on to use cogs or train cars as an example. One cog or train car pushes or pulls the next, but they are able to affect change only so far as they themselves are put into a state of motion by another cause - they do not have the ability to cause themselves to move. In a cog series, the motor-driven gear is the first mover, and in a train, the engine is the first mover.

At the end of the essay, the author also addresses SD's silly objection about "everyone" understanding it to be God. Obviously, the "everyone" was the Christian audience learning about logical proofs to support God's existence. The argument itself is aimed at demonstrating a first mover, but the Christian would call the first mover "God".

My advice to any remaining readers would be to ignore SD's strawman arguments and mind-warping anti-religious bigotry, and perhaps consider what Aquinas actually wrote and meant, as understood by those who study Aquinas and Aristotle professionally.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

" One, you will notice that SD's premise of "Only a thing in actual motion reduces a potential motion to actual motion" is not contained within Aquinas' presentation of the First Way argument. "
Yes, it is, you just are not reading clearly. Possibly because you realize that to read clearly you will eventually get to a self contradiction, so some aspect of your reading for comprehension capacity breaks down in anticipation of the consequences of reading accurately.

The professor I cited above reaches the same conclusion I do, as any reasonable reader does.


"At no point in the argument does Aquinas state that a thing must be in actual motion (which would mean that it must itself be undergoing change, transitioning from a potential state to an actual state) in order to move (change) something else."

***But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in
a state of actuality.***

***Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it.***

Aquinas clearly states that a state of actuality is caused only by a state of actuality. It says it right there plain and simple "nothing...except by something in a state of actuality. "

That means "only" to anybody who is not suffering from a selective mental breakdown.

But what "actuality"? That should be obvious, but just to be clear Aquinas gives a clear example "actually hot...makes...actually hot". The meaning is obvious to anybody not suffering from a mental breakdown. A hot thing "such as a flame" moves. We all know what happens when a flame is used to make wood hot, the wood is set on fire and burns, and thus moves as Aquinas clearly states "and thereby moves and changes it. ". The example of the wood is an example of his exclusive property, and is an example of motion making motion, clearly to anybody not suffering a mental breakdown.


" This is not begging the question. As the website I linked states: "Now at this point Aquinas is not describing the motion of the whole universe, but the general properties of any series of "per se" causes of motion. "
Which is how he is begging the question.

"(His mention of a first mover, then, is not a reference to God."
Doesn't matter if it is a reference just to god specifically, he is making an argument for a first mover by introducing a premise that has as its justification that there must be a first mover, clearly begging the question.

" If it were, Aquinas would indeed be engaged in a circular argument.) "
He is arguing for a first mover using a premise of a first mover, clearly a circular argument. God is just slapped on the end ad hoc.


"Indeed, he is talking about any system of effects essentially subordinated to simultaneously acting causes. Whenever we know that effects are the result of the simultaneous motion of prior causes which are themselves the effect of prior moving causes, there must be something driving the motion of the system."
That is the conclusion he is trying to demonstrate, yet he uses this as a premise as well, making a circular argument.


February 10, 2017 9:33 AM

bmiller said...

@Legion of Logic,

Thanks. That's a good summary of the situation. SD seems to have tuned out all others and has retreated to his room to beat up the straw man he has created.

Time to discuss "The Second Way" eh? :-)

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

" And then he goes on to use cogs or train cars as an example. One cog or train car pushes or pulls the next, but they are able to affect change only so far as they themselves are put into a state of motion by another cause - they do not have the ability to cause themselves to move. In a cog series, the motor-driven gear is the first mover, and in a train, the engine is the first mover."
No, the locomotive also has causes for its motion, and on and on and on back to infinity as evidenced by conservation.

However, the human brain is not able to conceive of how such an infinite regression of causes could be possible, nor can we conceive of creation ex nihilo, so the simple fact is that nobody has solved this ancient riddle.


" At the end of the essay, the author also addresses SD's silly objection about "everyone" understanding it to be God. Obviously, the "everyone" was the Christian audience learning about logical proofs to support God's existence. "
Nope, the First Way is being presented as a general argument today, not as an argument valid only in the 13th century.

To have value in the 21st century the argument must be valid given modern knowledge and a modern audience, making the closing sentence of the First Way particularly absurd.


February 10, 2017 9:33 AM

Legion of Logic said...

"Yes, it is, you just are not reading clearly."

You have no idea what you are talking about.

"Possibly because you realize that to read clearly you will eventually get to a self contradiction, so some aspect of your reading for comprehension capacity breaks down in anticipation of the consequences of reading accurately."

Projection.

"Aquinas clearly states that a state of actuality is caused only by a state of actuality. It says it right there plain and simple "nothing...except by something in a state of actuality. "

This directly contradicts your position. You don't realize that, because not only do you not know what you are talking about, but you can't stand the thought of being wrong. Try reading the commentary on the site I linked.

"The meaning is obvious to anybody not suffering from a mental breakdown."

Agreed. There is one person here who does not understand the meaning.

"The example of the wood is an example of his exclusive property, and is an example of motion making motion, clearly to anybody not suffering a mental breakdown."

That is not even remotely his point. You have no idea what you are talking about, and your inability to recognize even the possibility of you being wrong is perhaps the sign of a mental breakdown.

"Doesn't matter if it is a reference just to god specifically, he is making an argument for a first mover by introducing a premise that has as its justification that there must be a first mover, clearly begging the question."

This just shows that once again, you don't understand the argument, unlike everyone else here.

"No, the locomotive also has causes for its motion, and on and on and on back to infinity as evidenced by conservation."

Hence why it is called a series.


"Nope, the First Way is being presented as a general argument today, not as an argument valid only in the 13th century."

You mispelled "yep". The very last sentence is not part of the argument structure, as it comes after the conclusion of the necessity of a first mover. That's like saying the transcript of a conference on some scientific discovery is invalid if someone in the room is mentioned by name.



Look, trading insults is fun and all, but you obviously have no interest in anything except trying really hard to be right (not hard enough obviously). When you demonstrate that you at least understand the terminology as understood by knowledgeable people, I might come back. As is, you offer nothing but projection of your fears of admitting being wrong, strawman arguments, insults, and ignorance. You obviously have some intelligence, so please remove whatever biases you have that are preventing you from growing intellectually, and then see what happens. It might be profitable for everyone, not just yourself.

Last word is yours.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

SP "Aquinas clearly states that a state of actuality is caused only by a state of actuality. It says it right there plain and simple "nothing...except by something in a state of actuality. "

" This directly contradicts your position. "
Nope. Aquinas provides an explanation of "actuality" in the very next lines clearly supporting my plain text reading.


"The example of the wood is an example of his exclusive property, and is an example of motion making motion, clearly to anybody not suffering a mental breakdown."

" That is not even remotely his point."
Hot makes hot is not his point? All can do is suggest you read the words on the page.


SP "Doesn't matter if it is a reference just to god specifically, he is making an argument for a first mover by introducing a premise that has as its justification that there must be a first mover, clearly begging the question."

" This just shows that once again, you don't understand the argument, unlike everyone else here."
Vapid response noted. You even admitted it was circular reasoning with respect to a first mover.

SP "No, the locomotive also has causes for its motion, and on and on and on back to infinity as evidenced by conservation."

" Hence why it is called a series."
For which the locomotive is not the first mover, as you said it was.


"Nope, the First Way is being presented as a general argument today, not as an argument valid only in the 13th century."

" You mispelled "yep". The very last sentence is not part of the argument structure, as it comes after the conclusion of the necessity of a first mover. "
Right, it is a slap on to try to make it an argument for god, and a false statement as applied to a modern audience, which is what is being attempted by all the theists here.


February 10, 2017 3:09 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

" Look, trading insults is fun and all,"
I realize that you feel insulted by the term "selective mental breakdown". It is not intended as an insult even though I realize it will typically be received as one.

It is not unusual for atheists to consider religion a disease, or theism a form of insanity or stupidity or irrationality. In truth theists can be highly accomplished individuals, some much more so than I am, but in spite of, not because of, their theistic views.

For the theist to become a success in science and technology the theistic thought processes need to be bottled up, compartmentalized, isolated, and kept away from the work at hand. That is because the theistic portion of the human brain is inherently irrational, illogical, and suffers from a breakdown of mental capacities.

So, I am not saying any of the theists here are in general mentally retarded, just their thought processes when attempting to analyze even something as blatantly fallacious and idiotic as the First Way.

"Selective mental breakdown" is just my way of being as compassionate as I can be about the whole theistic person while being honest about the asinine argumentation that invariable is employed in defense of the indefensible, the First Way.


" but you obviously have no interest in anything except trying really hard to be right"
Indeed, I always try to be right. I never try to be wrong.


" When you demonstrate that you at least understand the terminology as understood by knowledgeable people, I might come back."
Terminology of knowledgeable people? That is a laugh. I am only speaking in the native primitive vernacular here for the sake of engaging in a conversation. In truth the ancient notions of series, actuality, potentiality, causation, and motion are hopelessly ignorant and divorced from modern science.


" As is, you offer nothing but projection of your fears of admitting being wrong, strawman arguments, insults, and ignorance."
I realize you feel that way. In truth I have both selfish and altruistic reasons for engaging with those who disagree with me.


February 10, 2017 3:09 PM

bmiller said...

Hermon says:"That is because the theistic portion of the human brain is inherently irrational, illogical, and suffers from a breakdown of mental capacities."

Cal Metzger said...

Stardusty: "Doesn't matter if it is a reference just to god specifically, he is making an argument for a first mover by introducing a premise that has as its justification that there must be a first mover, clearly begging the question."
Legion: "This just shows that once again, you don't understand the argument, unlike everyone else here."

Well, no. There are still multiple, multiple discussion going on around Aquinas's silly conclusions regarding his awkward argument here.

As I mentioned above, I can agree that one can fashion a version of the argument that doesn't immediately violate its premises (by ignoring some problematic passages in the original, that Stardusty has correctly pointed out require some pretty serious contortions to avoid), but in so doing this just makes the argument more toothless. Fire makes wood burn. How? According to proponents of the First Way, not only should we pretend that we don't know, but we must conclude it's magic.

Fire real. Wood real. Wood burn now! Yay, god! Really, that's the argument.

If, on the other hand, the First Way is actually supposed to talk about interactions between things (after all, it is called the Argument from Motion, or the First Mover, etc.), then it can't avoid recognizing that not only are forces transferred between these real things, but that this is best described through modern physics.

In other words, in order to avoid recognizing that the First Way quickly violates the premises it attempts to set up, the apologist has to fashion an argument that, at best, is an incredibly awkward phrasing of an ancient riddle that we can much more precisely describe with modern, scientific language. So what's the advantage of describing this riddle through antiquated and obscure and imprecise language?

I wonder if it could be related to helping apologist pretend that their silly beliefs are in some way (that they can't quite put their finger on in a tractable, productive way) respectable?

SteveK said...

"I am only speaking in the native primitive vernacular here for the sake of engaging in a conversation"

Just like you do with scripture in order to distort the meaning. We get it. We get it

Cal Metzger said...

I think this should go without saying, but I also realize that many things that I think are obvious aren't so obvious to others.

Why does anyone still study Aquinas? There's only one good reason: to understand the thinking that influenced other thinking that influenced other thinking that influenced other thinking, etc., and that has gotten us to where we are now.

That's it. We don't read Aquinas to understand how the world really is; we read Aquinas to get some perspective on how our minds work when face with far less understanding than we have now. Aquinas does not represent the height of intellectual achievement; his writing is a cautionary tale for how stunted our understanding would be were we as ignorant of the knowledge we all take for granted today.

To imagine that Aquinas has much to teach us about physical reality today is just a kind of pretending. Those who fashion themselves Thomists or whatnot are nothing more than denialists, or, at best, primitivists who imagine they would be happier in a simpler and less complicated time.

bmiller said...

@Cal,

"In other words, in order to avoid recognizing that the First Way quickly violates the premises it attempts to set up, the apologist has to fashion an argument that, at best, is an incredibly awkward phrasing of an ancient riddle that we can much more precisely describe with modern, scientific language. So what's the advantage of describing this riddle through antiquated and obscure and imprecise language?"

I've read this a couple times and can't understand what your point is. If you've followed along, read the OP and most recently LOL's link, you have the explanation of the terms and expert analysis of the argument in modern day English. So everyone should be able to judge if the argument is valid and sound.

If your complaint is that First Way is old and therefore is wrong then you are guilty of the genetic fallacy and your complaint fails as prejudice.

But you say that the First Way is an "awkward phrasing of an ancient riddle that we can much more precisely describe with modern, scientific language."

Please go ahead and phrase it in "modern, scientific language" for us then. But I advise you to take a physics course before you do, because it doesn't look like you have from your post.

Legion of Logic said...

Cal: "Well, no. There are still multiple, multiple discussion going on around Aquinas's silly conclusions regarding his awkward argument here."

Those discussions are ongoing because Stardusty doesn't know what he is talking about. When I wrote that, you had been gone for a while.

"by ignoring some problematic passages in the original, that Stardusty has correctly pointed out require some pretty serious contortions to avoid"

Or, as I have correctly pointed out, requires knowledge of Aristotle, Aquinas, and Latin. Thomists and the like are experts in Aquinas' thoughts in more than simply the isolated First Way, so I tend to trust them more than Stardusty. Stardusty would claim everyone in the Lord of the Rings was homosexual, because Tolkien clearly states they are gay or queer all the time. Or, you know, languages change, and translations are not always precise.

"How? According to proponents of the First Way, not only should we pretend that we don't know, but we must conclude it's magic."

Strawman.

"Fire real. Wood real. Wood burn now! Yay, god! Really, that's the argument."

I suspect that's as close to understanding the argument as Stardusty has reached, as well.

"If, on the other hand, the First Way is actually supposed to talk about interactions between things (after all, it is called the Argument from Motion, or the First Mover, etc.), then it can't avoid recognizing that not only are forces transferred between these real things, but that this is best described through modern physics."

Okay.

"In other words, in order to avoid recognizing that the First Way quickly violates the premises it attempts to set up, the apologist has to fashion an argument that, at best, is an incredibly awkward phrasing of an ancient riddle that we can much more precisely describe with modern, scientific language."

Modern physics and the First Way deal with the same thing in the sense that chemistry and criminology both deal with drug manufacturing. Same basic source material, different angles and different concerns.

"I wonder if it could be related to helping apologist pretend that their silly beliefs are in some way (that they can't quite put their finger on in a tractable, productive way) respectable?"

Given that the premise is untrue, I doubt that it is related to something that only exists in the minds of people who don't understand the argument.

"Why does anyone still study Aquinas? There's only one good reason: to understand the thinking that influenced other thinking that influenced other thinking that influenced other thinking, etc., and that has gotten us to where we are now."

It's called "philosophy". Many atheists do not see any value in studying the nature of knowledge, instead only caring about SCIENCE!!! Of course, that gets them in trouble when they begin realizing that science can't prove scientism, and there is very good reason to dismiss scientism as a school of thought.

"Aquinas does not represent the height of intellectual achievement; his writing is a cautionary tale for how stunted our understanding would be were we as ignorant of the knowledge we all take for granted today."

Aquinas did indeed get many things wrong. Of course, I still see cringeworthy nonsense coming out of the mouths of intellectuals today. Stephen Hawking says some embarrassing things. All the New Atheist authors embarrass themselves every time they write an op-ed, blog post, or yet another dreaded book that spouts the same gibberish as all the others.

Goes to show, being alive does not seem to be a bulwark against being very, very wrong.

"Those who fashion themselves Thomists or whatnot are nothing more than denialists, or, at best, primitivists who imagine they would be happier in a simpler and less complicated time."

Do you have any evidence for this, or are you pretending to know what you don't know?




Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

" It's called "philosophy". Many atheists do not see any value in studying the nature of knowledge, instead only caring about SCIENCE!!!"
I never heard of any such atheist. Who? Science is a method for obtaining knowledge, and the nature of knowledge is an integral part of science, so, your statement is nonsensical.


Cal "Aquinas does not represent the height of intellectual achievement; his writing is a cautionary tale for how stunted our understanding would be were we as ignorant of the knowledge we all take for granted today."

" Aquinas did indeed get many things wrong."
There is hope!!! Indeed, his views of causality are hopelessly ignorant, his argumentation is self contradictory and circular, and his final declaration is an ad hoc slap on non-sequitur statement that is today blatantly false.


" Of course, I still see cringeworthy nonsense coming out of the mouths of intellectuals today. Stephen Hawking says some embarrassing things."
Agreed. His use of a theory that is known to fail under the conditions he is applying it is idiotic.


" All the New Atheist authors embarrass themselves every time they write an op-ed, blog post, or yet another dreaded book that spouts the same gibberish as all the others."
Such as?


Cal "Those who fashion themselves Thomists or whatnot are nothing more than denialists, or, at best, primitivists who imagine they would be happier in a simpler and less complicated time."

" Do you have any evidence for this, or are you pretending to know what you don't know?"
This blog is clear evidence.

Denialist is a good term for every theist here who has sought to salvage the First Way.

The obvious truth is that the ancient notions of actuality and potentiality are hopelessly ignorant notions. Anybody who is not aware of this simple fact is simply an ignorant individual, and in this era of readily available scientific knowledge that level of ignorance is best explained by a denialist mindset.

The structure of the argument is obviously self contradictory, circular, and non-sequitur. These blatant defects are so obvious that later apologists have attempted to clean up the language to avoid getting knocked down immediately on the plain language defects of the First Way.

Only denialism could explain the dogged adherence displayed here by modern people for a grossly defective medieval argument, the First Way.


February 11, 2017 10:04 PM

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty Psyche,

“The structure of the argument is obviously self contradictory, circular, and non-sequitur. These blatant defects are so obvious that later apologists have attempted to clean up the language to avoid getting knocked down immediately on the plain language defects of the First Way.

Only denialism could explain the dogged adherence displayed here by modern people for a grossly defective medieval argument, the First Way.”

What an excellent summary of the full range of fallacies and ironies you’ve sputtered forth in this thread.

Irony for claiming your opponents are in denial when the only (only!) reference you mustered as evidence for your claims told us personally that the First Way had no contradictions. You still insist on using a clinging to your strawman. You are still in denial.

You admit there logically can be no infinite series of moved movers, but at the same time maintain that it must in fact be the case. You are living in contradiction.
You’ve been shown multiple times by your opponents, the OP and the latest link by LOL the context of the last phrase of the First Way, but simply ignore it. More denial and straw.

But throughout it all, you think your best case is that the argument is “ancient” and therefore wrong. You boldly proclaim the genetic fallacy and wear it like a badge of honor.

If you think anything in modern physics refutes the First Way you have given us zero evidence of that. None. I’ve been waiting for this evidence from you, but all we’ve seen is baseless assertions. Nothing burger.

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: “I've read this a couple times and can't understand what your point is. If you've followed along, read the OP and most recently LOL's link, you have the explanation of the terms and expert analysis of the argument in modern day English. So everyone should be able to judge if the argument is valid and sound.”

Then it is an argument about motion, or change (still not sure which) that fails to recognize let alone describe something as simple and straightforward as force. This is like suggesting that you have an excellent theory of disease that avoids recognizing or acknowledging bacteria, viruses, and genetic alterations. It’s breathtakingly ignorant.

bmiller: “If your complaint is that First Way is old and therefore is wrong then you are guilty of the genetic fallacy and your complaint fails as prejudice.”

As Stardusty would say, “reading comprehension.”

Legion: “But you say that the First Way is an "awkward phrasing of an ancient riddle that we can much more precisely describe with modern, scientific language." Please go ahead and phrase it in "modern, scientific language" for us then. But I advise you to take a physics course before you do, because it doesn't look like you have from your post.”

Like I’ve said before, you don’t seem to have ever been exposed to basic science education. This is from beginning high school physics. Maybe middle school now. “When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.” You can also read about the different ways that mo-men-tum is described here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momentum But, as I've explained many times now, the problem with your thinking doesn't seem to be fixable through reference to a formula; it's more that you seem to be unaware of basic scientific principles, like the role of observation, the law of conservation, etc.

Cal Metzger said...

Legion: “Those discussions are ongoing because Stardusty doesn't know what he is talking about. When I wrote that, you had been gone for a while.”

I think anyone reading Stardusty’s posts can see that he does indeed know what he’s talking about, and that the apologists here are either ignorant of basic scientific principles (which includes foundational philosophy) or incapable of applying them, or that the apologists here are under the impression that an appeal to authority can fix an argument that is primitive, self-contradictory, circular, and ad hoc. As if.

Legion: “Or, as I have correctly pointed out, requires knowledge of Aristotle, Aquinas, and Latin. Thomists and the like are experts in Aquinas' thoughts in more than simply the isolated First Way, so I tend to trust them more than Stardusty. “

This makes you aggressively gullible. You seem to be saying that the valid criticisms of the First Way that have been raised here over and over can be ignored because someone more knowledgeable than you has assured you that these identified problems don’t exist. You appear to be embracing the role of a courtier, who nods his head that the naked emperor is indeed most resplendently dressed.

Thinking for yourself doesn’t mean seeking out consoling thoughts. It means thinking for yourself.

Cal Metzger said...

Me: “"How? According to proponents of the First Way, not only should we pretend that we don't know, but we must conclude it's magic."
Legion: Strawman.

If it’s a strawman, please quote me the part of the argument that describes how it is that fire makes wood burn.

Cal Metzger said...

Legion: “Modern physics and the First Way deal with the same thing in the sense that chemistry and criminology both deal with drug manufacturing. Same basic source material, different angles and different concerns.”

I agree that the First Way is a criminally bad argument.

Funny that you appear to be running away from the very first premise of the First Way — that we observe real things, in motion. If you don’t think that’s better described by modern Physics than the version of the First Way that apologists are trying to portray (fire make wood burn, but apparently not through any observable process whatsoever), well, then, I think that you can’t be helped by anyone but yourself.

Legion: “It's called "philosophy". Many atheists do not see any value in studying the nature of knowledge, instead only caring about SCIENCE!!! Of course, that gets them in trouble when they begin realizing that science can't prove scientism, and there is very good reason to dismiss scientism as a school of thought.”

Ha.

Legion: “Aquinas did indeed get many things wrong. Of course, I still see cringeworthy nonsense coming out of the mouths of intellectuals today. Stephen Hawking says some embarrassing things. All the New Atheist authors embarrass themselves every time they write an op-ed, blog post, or yet another dreaded book that spouts the same gibberish as all the others.”

All the more reason to recognize gibberish for what it is, rather than pretend that gibberish is not gibberish because of some purported authority to whom you’ve ceded your critical thinking.

Legion: “Goes to show, being alive does not seem to be a bulwark against being very, very wrong.”

All the more reason to recognize gibberish for what it is, rather than pretend that gibberish is not gibberish because of some purported authority to whom you’ve ceded your critical thinking.

Me: “"Those who fashion themselves Thomists or whatnot are nothing more than denialists, or, at best, primitivists who imagine they would be happier in a simpler and less complicated time."
Legion: “Do you have any evidence for this, or are you pretending to know what you don't know?”

Evidence = all of what we observe, as it relates to an explanation. It should be obvious to you that the evidence you ask for is the persistent and unjustifiable defense of Aquinas’s muddled argument, which is best explained by my comment above.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

" the First Way had no contradictions. "
I hope one day you will cure yourself of your theistic segmented mental deficiencies. I have done my civic service by presenting you with clear explanations as to why this medieval argument is hopelessly defective. I realize change does not come easily, especially for the mentally debilitated, but I am hoping one day your rational capacities will overcome your theistic mental illness.


" You admit there logically can be no infinite series of moved movers, but at the same time maintain that it must in fact be the case."
No, you still don't realize that this is an unsolved problem. It is a riddle. It is an enigma. No human being has ever solved this problem and published that solution into general circulation.

Conservation tells us that stuff does exist infinitely into the past, yet the human brain fails to comprehend that or any other potential solution, thus the problem remains unsolved.



" but simply ignore it."
Nope. I have refuted those erroneous defense attempts of the indefensible again and again. You are just too blind to see, sorry, I am content that I have spread a bit of reason in the world, it is up to you to free your mind enough to absorb it.


" But throughout it all, you think your best case is that the argument is “ancient” and therefore wrong."
Strawman. Your words, not mine.


" If you think anything in modern physics refutes the First Way you have given us zero evidence of that. None. "
Wrong again. The notions of series, potentiality, and causation of Aquinas are primitive and hopelessly unscientific.


February 12, 2017 8:31 AM

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "But throughout it all, you think your best case is that the argument is “ancient” and therefore wrong. You boldly proclaim the genetic fallacy and wear it like a badge of honor."

Apologists: Disease comes from demons because that's what prior generations thought and someone else tells me they were right.
Those who incorporate knowledge available today: Disease can be caused by microorganisms, genetics, chemical changes, etc.
Apologists: Genetic fallacy!

Get your head out of the sand. Try and think for yourself, instead of rationalizing and projecting. It's all on you.

bmiller said...

@Cal,

“Like I’ve said before, you don’t seem to have ever been exposed to basic science education. This is from beginning high school physics. Maybe middle school now. “When one body exerts a force on a second body, the second body simultaneously exerts a force equal in magnitude and opposite in direction on the first body.” You can also read about the different ways that mo-men-tum is described here: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Momentum But, as I've explained many times now, the problem with your thinking doesn't seem to be fixable through reference to a formula; it's more that you seem to be unaware of basic scientific principles, like the role of observation, the law of conservation, etc. “

Yes, I know classical physics. Tell me exactly how the classical concepts of force and momentum contradict the First Way.

According to Newton, when a motive force is impressed on an object that overbalances the frictional and intertial forces of the static object a spatial translation of object occurs. Now if that moving object impresses the motive force on a 2nd object and both of them translate position in space they form an essentially ordered series. But if there were no first force impressed on the series there would be no motion.

Does that sound familiar? It should by now. It is a confirmation of the First Way.

Legion of Logic said...

SD: "Indeed, his views of causality are hopelessly ignorant, his argumentation is self contradictory and circular, and his final declaration is an ad hoc slap on non-sequitur statement that is today blatantly false."

Unfortunately for you, any gains you might conceivably show for your understanding of the argument would be demolished by your insistence that the very last line is part of the argument, which it is not.

"Such as?"

For example, anything I've ever read by Peter Boghossian or Jerry Coyne regarding religious topics. Dawkins and Harris aren't much better. Full of fallacies and ignorance.

"This blog is clear evidence."

Circular reasoning.

"Denialist is a good term for every theist here who has sought to salvage the First Way."

You misspelled "Knowledgeable person".

"The obvious truth is that the ancient notions of actuality and potentiality are hopelessly ignorant notions. Anybody who is not aware of this simple fact is simply an ignorant individual, and in this era of readily available scientific knowledge that level of ignorance is best explained by a denialist mindset."

The obvious truth is that not only do you have no idea what you are talking about, but you have in interest in learning.

"These blatant defects are so obvious that later apologists have attempted to clean up the language to avoid getting knocked down immediately on the plain language defects of the First Way."

False accusations are another way of you being able to maintain your strawman First Way. You have built up quite the formidable wall.

New Atheism really does discourage critical thinking. This is an amazing display.


Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger Legion of Logic said...

SD: "Indeed, his views of causality are hopelessly ignorant, his argumentation is self contradictory and circular, and his final declaration is an ad hoc slap on non-sequitur statement that is today blatantly false."

" Unfortunately for you, any gains you might conceivably show for your understanding of the argument would be demolished by your insistence that the very last line is part of the argument, which it is not."
Wrong. The argument is an argument for god, not merely a first mover. Prior to the ad hoc slap on non-sequitur falshood of the last line the First Way is an invalid and unsound argument for a first mover, after that it is an invalid and unsound argument for god.



" For example, anything I've ever read by Peter Boghossian or Jerry Coyne regarding religious topics. Dawkins and Harris aren't much better. Full of fallacies and ignorance."
Those are some specific names but no specific assertions.



SP "This blog is clear evidence."

" Circular reasoning."
Nope. Denialism by theists is clearly in evidence at length here.

SP "Denialist is a good term for every theist here who has sought to salvage the First Way."

" You misspelled "Knowledgeable person"."
Do you equate spelling errors with errors of reasoning? If so, you are a petty individual.

" The obvious truth is that not only do you have no idea what you are talking about, but you have in interest in learning."
I have actually learned to memorize the many defects of the First Way here.



" New Atheism really does discourage critical thinking. This is an amazing display."
Ha Ha Ha. The First Way is self contradictory, circular, a non-sequitur, and factually incorrect, as well as being based on ignorant ideas about motion, series, and causality. Given these clear facts, what do you have so invested in defending it?

February 12, 2017 11:52 AM

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "Yes, I know classical physics. Tell me exactly how the classical concepts of force and momentum contradict the First Way."

Seriously?

By its apologist defenders here insisting that the First Way does not argue that a force is not necessary to propel something into motion, only a thing itself (absent of forces acting on it).

It's like you don't even understand what it is that you've gotten yourself twisted into arguing for.

Oh, that's right.

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,

This exchange:
“"Irony for claiming your opponents are in denial when the only (only!) reference you mustered as evidence for your claims told us personally that the First Way had no contradictions. "
I hope one day you will cure yourself of your theistic segmented mental deficiencies. I have done my civic service by presenting you with clear explanations as to why this medieval argument is hopelessly defective. I realize change does not come easily, especially for the mentally debilitated, but I am hoping one day your rational capacities will overcome your theistic mental illness.”

Ah yes, one more fallacy to add to the list: ad hominem. Why leave that one out.
I’m sorry Hermon, that the rest of the world, including the professor you cited as support, agrees that you’re wrong. Please tell me when you are out there driving….I’ll pull over till you go by.

This exchange:
Me:"You admit there logically can be no infinite series of moved movers, but at the same time maintain that it must in fact be the case."
SP:”No, you still don't realize that this is an unsolved problem. It is a riddle. It is an enigma. No human being has ever solved this problem and published that solution into general circulation.

Conservation tells us that stuff does exist infinitely into the past, yet the human brain fails to comprehend that or any other potential solution, thus the problem remains unsolved.”

I realize that you embrace a contradiction and have shown us that you still do not understand that the First Way is not talking about an infinite past. The series of movers under consideration in the First Way is about now, at this very moment and has nothing to do with the past.
It’s as if I’m having a discussion with a hypnotized person who reads different words than those that are written.

This exchange:
“You’ve been shown multiple times by your opponents, the OP and the latest link by LOL the context of the last phrase of the First Way, but simply ignore it. More denial and straw.”
SP:”Nope. I have refuted those erroneous defense attempts of the indefensible again and again. You are just too blind to see, sorry, I am content that I have spread a bit of reason in the world, it is up to you to free your mind enough to absorb it.”
You have presented no evidence from any source other than your own opinion. Experts say your opinion is wrong. You have refuted nothing.

This exchange:
" But throughout it all, you think your best case is that the argument is “ancient” and therefore wrong."
Strawman. Your words, not mine.


" If you think anything in modern physics refutes the First Way you have given us zero evidence of that. None. "
Wrong again. The notions of series, potentiality, and causation of Aquinas are primitive and hopelessly unscientific.”

You’re the gift that keeps on giving. The very next sentence after you deny employing the genetic fallacy, you claim the without evidence (again) that notions in the First Way are wrong because they are primitive.
You have brought forth zero evidence from science to back up any of your claims. Nada, nothing burger.

Legion of Logic said...

Cal: "I think anyone reading Stardusty’s posts can see that he does indeed know what he’s talking about, and that the apologists here are either ignorant of basic scientific principles (which includes foundational philosophy) or incapable of applying them, or that the apologists here are under the impression that an appeal to authority can fix an argument that is primitive, self-contradictory, circular, and ad hoc. As if."

I'm somebody, and I can state with reasonable certainty that Stardusty doesn't have the first clue what he is talking about.

Which scientific principles are we ignoring? How is considering and ultimately agreeing with explanations from the most reliable authorities on a subject automatically an appeal to authority? (There goes science). And we've shown that the claims of being contradictory, circular, and ad hoc result from ignorance, so at this point I see no reason to keep addressing those claims until the ignorance is corrected.


"You seem to be saying that the valid criticisms of the First Way that have been raised here over and over can be ignored because someone more knowledgeable than you has assured you that these identified problems don’t exist."

I don't agree that valid criticisms have even been raised, though this is based on trying to remember everything that's been covered in nearly a thousand posts between the two threads. The current crop of criticisms seem to be based entirely on ignorance, but perhaps there is a criticism that hasn't been sufficiently fleshed out yet.

When reading up on the First Way, people professionally familiar with the philosophies of both Aristotle and Aquinas (who was himself heavily influenced by Aristotle) state that both men are speaking of more than physical motion, and they give examples. The changing of one's mind, gaining weight, getting a tan, etc are all covered by the concept of "motion", and it's reasonable to conclude that change is what it means for something to move from potential to actual. So, given that the experts who are familiar with the entire bodies of work from both men claim that "change" better captures the essence of the argument, and given that my own reading confirms that it is true as far as I can tell, then I have no reason to disagree with them.

Thinking for oneself means considering the input from those most knowledgeable to determine if it seems reasonable. Agreeing with them, when merited, is what a thinking person does, and in this case they appear to be correct, so I agree with them.



"Then it is an argument about motion, or change (still not sure which) that fails to recognize let alone describe something as simple and straightforward as force."

If the argument being made is that an eggshell can potentially be broken, but only if it is caused by a different object or energy, then why does this require a scientific treatise on force, tension, internal pressure, etc? If an eggshell is not able to break itself, then the manner in which an outside force breaks it is irrelevant to the argument's point.



"I agree that the First Way is a criminally bad argument."
Chase him off stage!


"Funny that you appear to be running away from the very first premise of the First Way — that we observe real things, in motion."

Motion covers more than physical movement in the argument. Changing one's mind is also an example, and that's typically not covered in Newtonian physics. Even if I was only talking about pool balls rolling or something like that, the First Way would state that the cue ball could not cause itself to move, but the point is not how the motion works, any more than an explanation of how a gun and bullet function is not required to consider a murder case.

bmiller said...

@Cal,

"By its apologist defenders here insisting that the First Way does not argue that a force is not necessary to propel something into motion, only a thing itself (absent of forces acting on it). "

No one has argued that. Read this again carefully.

"Everything that is moved is moved by another. That some things are in motion—for example, the sun—is evident from sense. Therefore, it is moved by something else that moves it. This mover is itself either moved or not moved. If it is not, we have reached our conclusion—namely, that we must posit some unmoved mover. This we call God. If it is moved, it is moved by another mover. We must, consequently, either proceed to infinity, or we must arrive at some unmoved mover. Now, it is not possible to proceed to infinity. Hence, we must posit some prime unmoved mover."


Meanwhile, I'm waiting for you Cal, to explain carefully how classical physics proves the First Way wrong.

Legion of Logic said...

SD: "Wrong."

Do some research and get back to us. Please cite your reference.

SD: "Those are some specific names but no specific assertions."

Peter Boghossian says faith is "pretending to know what you don't know". This has been widely ridiculed, and not only by theists. Out of curiosity, how many examples am I going to have to give?

Legion: "Circular reasoning."
SD: "Nope."
Legion: Yep.


"I have actually learned to memorize the many defects of the First Way here."

You should have them memorized, since you're arguing against something that you invented.

"Ha Ha Ha"

I think it would do your reasoning abilities a lot of good to move away from New Atheism. Even if you find theists unpalatable, there are many intelligent, reasonable atheists who also ridicule the New Atheist movement for their ignorant, ideological tendencies.



Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

SD: "Wrong."
" Do some research and get back to us. Please cite your reference."
Don't be daft, the 5 Ways are arguments for god. Do your own research. Oh by the way the sky is nominally blue and no, I am not going to spoon feed you the scientific reasons for that either.


SD: "Those are some specific names but no specific assertions."

" Peter Boghossian says faith is "pretending to know what you don't know". This has been widely ridiculed, and not only by theists."
Theistic faith is a make believe mindset, yes. If Boghossian was asserting some sort of intentional self delusion that would not be universally applicable. Most theists live in their god fantasy quite sincerely, it seems to me.

" Out of curiosity, how many examples am I going to have to give?"
Well your fist try was quite weak, so feel free, by all means.



" I think it would do your reasoning abilities a lot of good to move away from New Atheism. Even if you find theists unpalatable, there are many intelligent, reasonable atheists who also ridicule the New Atheist movement for their ignorant, ideological tendencies."
I am not a part of an ideological movement. I do not have a holy book or prophet to follow or worship or adhere to or obey.


February 12, 2017 12:29 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

SD: "Wrong."
" Do some research and get back to us. Please cite your reference."
Don't be daft, the 5 Ways are arguments for god. Do your own research. Oh by the way the sky is nominally blue and no, I am not going to spoon feed you the scientific reasons for that either.


SD: "Those are some specific names but no specific assertions."

" Peter Boghossian says faith is "pretending to know what you don't know". This has been widely ridiculed, and not only by theists."
Theistic faith is a make believe mindset, yes. If Boghossian was asserting some sort of intentional self delusion that would not be universally applicable. Most theists live in their god fantasy quite sincerely, it seems to me.

" Out of curiosity, how many examples am I going to have to give?"
Well your fist try was quite weak, so feel free, by all means.



" I think it would do your reasoning abilities a lot of good to move away from New Atheism. Even if you find theists unpalatable, there are many intelligent, reasonable atheists who also ridicule the New Atheist movement for their ignorant, ideological tendencies."
I am not a part of an ideological movement. I do not have a holy book or prophet to follow or worship or adhere to or obey.


February 12, 2017 12:29 PM

Cal Metzger said...

"Everything that is moved is moved by another. That some things are in motion—for example, the sun—is evident from sense. Therefore, it is moved by something else that moves it. This mover is itself either moved or not moved. If it is not, we have reached our conclusion—namely, that we must posit some unmoved mover. This we call God. If it is moved, it is moved by another mover. We must, consequently, either proceed to infinity, or we must arrive at some unmoved mover. Now, it is not possible to proceed to infinity. Hence, we must posit some prime unmoved mover."

Okay, this is the "strong" form of the argument -- the one that actually acknowledges that the argument is about movement, and real things, and not (as apologists have said here as well) merely a metaphysical, or philosophical, argument.

Is this the argument you want to stay with, or are you going to try and switch it back to one where moving things don't mean moving things?

Asking for a friend.

Cal Metzger said...

"Everything that is moved is moved by another. That some things are in motion—for example, the sun—is evident from sense. Therefore, it is moved by something else that moves it. This mover is itself either moved or not moved. If it is not, we have reached our conclusion—namely, that we must posit some unmoved mover. This we call God. If it is moved, it is moved by another mover. We must, consequently, either proceed to infinity, or we must arrive at some unmoved mover. Now, it is not possible to proceed to infinity. Hence, we must posit some prime unmoved mover."

So, here are some problems. Still. Same as it’s been since day one.

1. “Everything that is moved is moved by another. That some things are in motion—for example, the sun—is evident from sense. Therefore, it is moved by something else that moves it. “

You know that the earth revolves around the sun, right? I mean, that is something that you accept? I am only half serious here, but I am starting to wonder how deep this rabbit hole really goes.

2. “This mover is itself either moved or not moved. If it is not, we have reached our conclusion—namely, that we must posit some unmoved mover.”

The above is a tautology. It’s circular. If something is the unmoved mover, it is the unmoved mover. Gee, how enlightening.

3. “This we call God.”

No, we don’t.

4. “If it is moved, it is moved by another mover. We must, consequently, either proceed to infinity, or we must arrive at some unmoved mover. Now, it is not possible to proceed to infinity.”

It’s not? Why not? An infinite past is no less plausible than an unmoved mover.

5. “Hence, we must posit some prime unmoved mover.”

If that’s the conclusion we want to reach beforehand, without any justification, then, yup, I guess so.

So, for the umpteenth time, you have this smorgasbord of problems with this form of the argument:

1. Antiquated understanding of motion (and physics in general).
2. Circular reasoning.
3. Ad hoc reasoning.
4. Unsupported assertion.
5. False conclusion (based on 4).

After all this back and forth, you dust off the strong version, which is the easiest to refute, as it’s truly a resplendent bouquet of fallacies.

Cal Metzger said...

Legion: “I’m somebody, and I can state with reasonable certainty that Stardusty doesn't have the first clue what he is talking about.”

Reading comprehension.

I said, “I think anyone reading Stardusty’s posts can see…” Which, anyone can see. I didn’t see they must, or will.

Me: Anyone can choose to take a right turn.
Gotcha man: I didn’t choose to take a right turn. Ha!

I think you are so upset over having to defend Aquinas’s undefendable, “And this everyone understands to be god.” that you are too eager to find the same problem with others. This is a sign that you are not able to think clearly on this topic. I think you should consider, after you’ve finished participating here, coming back to these series of posts (in a year or so) and try reading them fresh. I think you might find them different than they seem to you now.

Legion: “Which scientific principles are we ignoring? How is considering and ultimately agreeing with explanations from the most reliable authorities on a subject automatically an appeal to authority? (There goes science).”

One scientific principle is that things are NEVER true merely because someone says they are true. Science is about verification, repeatability, and objectivity. So, in your very question about what scientific principles you don’t understand, you seem to think that science is about confirming what you already think based on the opinions of others. So, your question contains its own answer, I think.

Legion: “And we've shown that the claims of being contradictory, circular, and ad hoc result from ignorance, so at this point I see no reason to keep addressing those claims until the ignorance is corrected.”

As I have pointed out here yet again (just upthread, to bmiller), this is false. You are confusing that fact that you keep repeating the same mistakes, and that other apologists echo your mistakes, as a valid defense against the refutations we keep providing over and over and over.

Seeing as how the First Way is ultimately a metaphysical argument, it’s easy to pretend that its problems we keep pointing out are immaterial, because there’s no real consequence to digging in your heels and declaring a metaphysical argument valid and sound when it is clearly not.

bmiller said...

@Cal,
Let me check if to see if you still understand that the argument does not violate it’s premises and allows that an actual thing can cause change without changing itself.

Cal:”I think I see your point here. (I know, finally -- right?)
… I can see where the argument can be devised fairly simply so that the actual thing that reduces a potential thing does not itself undergo any reduction in act itself (ugh)….”


I will assume that you still understand this much of the argument.

Cal: “Okay, this is the "strong" form of the argument -- the one that actually acknowledges that the argument is about movement, and real things, and not (as apologists have said here as well) merely a metaphysical, or philosophical, argument.

Is this the argument you want to stay with, or are you going to try and switch it back to one where moving things don't mean moving things? “

"After all this back and forth, you dust off the strong version, which is the easiest to refute, as it’s truly a resplendent bouquet of fallacies."



First, I posted this as the very first comment on this thread. It is merely a re-phrasing of the argument from the Summa Contra Gentiles as opposed to the version in the Summa Theologica. If you’re doing textual analysis, it helps to find the author stating the same argument differently to help eliminate possible confusion don’t you think?

Both forms are about “real things” so I don’t know how you thought differently.
No one argued “where moving things don't mean moving things? “. Both versions use the term motion in the wider sense of change. The A-T term for what we now call motion would be described by them as “local motion”.
I’ll respond to your points regarding the Summa Contra Gentiles version separately.

Chris said...

I'm not sure, but I think that the objections cited in this thread to the First Way miss their mark because they attack accidentally ordered series, not essentially ordered ones. As I understand it, an essentially ordered series features instrumental causality, NOT principal causality. Am I on the right track?

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chris said...

" I'm not sure, but I think that the objections cited in this thread to the First Way miss their mark because they attack accidentally ordered series, not essentially ordered ones. As I understand it, an essentially ordered series features instrumental causality, NOT principal causality. Am I on the right track?"
Your question comes under the classification of
"1. Antiquated understanding of motion (and physics in general).
February 12, 2017 1:29 PM"

The atheists here have been using the antiquated language of Aquinas only in the interest of having some sort of conversation. Actually, those medieval notions of actuality, potential, essentially ordered, accidentally ordered, instrumental causality, principle causality and a variety of underlying Aristotelian ideas about how the physical world works..well, they are quite primitive relative to modern science.

Everything in the observable universe is in motion, from the most fundamental level we know of (quarks, electrons, neutrinos, traveling waves), up to the largest structures we know of (the expansion of the observable universe).

Everything is in a continual or continuous interacting process with everything else in range of effect mutually forming a vastly complex system of mutual causes and effects of each other.

To do useful work we can approximate our notions of larger scale objects as being causes and effects, but must always keep in mind that we are only doing just that, approximating.

Aristotle was wrong, OK? Can you theists just start with that? I mean, honestly, you guys are still arguing with language that was scientifically obsoleted centuries ago.


February 12, 2017 4:49 PM

bmiller said...

@Cal,

Point by point:

Regarding 1.
Cal:"You know that the earth revolves around the sun, right? I mean, that is something that you accept? I am only half serious here, but I am starting to wonder how deep this rabbit hole really goes."

I believe in Heliocentrism as well as General Relativity. It's true that Geocentrism has been replaced by Heliocentrism but of course the idea that moving things have to moved by something else is the point of this premise. I'm pleased to see that you understand this.

Your conclusion:
1. Antiquated understanding of motion (and physics in general).

Oops. I guess I was wrong. So you must think that things move themselves? Otherwise your conclusion is irrelevant.

Regarding 2.
2. “This mover is itself either moved or not moved. If it is not, we have reached our conclusion—namely, that we must posit some unmoved mover.”
Cal:"The above is a tautology. It’s circular. If something is the unmoved mover, it is the unmoved mover. Gee, how enlightening."

No it is not circular. Some mover is either moving or not. If not, we have a conclusion. Nothing circular here.

Regarding 3.
"This we call God"

Cal:"No, we don’t."

Notice how it doesn't say "this everyone calls God"? It's because the Summa Contra Gentiles was written to defend the faith against those outside the faith whereas the Summa Theologica was written for theology students inside the faith. In this case, the "we" refers to those inside the faith to explain what they hold to be God not those outside the faith. Check out the intro to the Summa Contra Gentiles here:
Introduction to the Summa Contra Gentiles

Regarding 4.
Cal:"It’s not? Why not? An infinite past is no less plausible than an unmoved mover."

One more time. The argument has nothing to do with an infinite past. Please just stop it! The argument is referring to the series of movers that is causing something to move at this very instant. There cannot be an infinite series of moving movers at this very moment for a large number of reasons. If you click the link I included in the first comment, you will see 2 reasons why this cannot be. The first has been covered here ad nauseum relating to no matter how many things you line up that can't move themselves, they won't move unless there is some first thing to get them all moving. The second involves the fact that since motion happens in time, motion could never cover an infinite distance in a finite amount of time. I can give you even more reasons.

Regarding 5.
Cal:"If that’s the conclusion we want to reach beforehand, without any justification, then, yup, I guess so."

Your conclusion:
5. False conclusion (based on 4).

The conclusion follows from the premises that things move, nothing moves itself, and there cannot be an infinite essentially ordered series of moving movers, leaving only an unmoved mover as the logical conclusion.

bmiller said...

@Chris,

"I'm not sure, but I think that the objections cited in this thread to the First Way miss their mark because they attack accidentally ordered series, not essentially ordered ones. As I understand it, an essentially ordered series features instrumental causality, NOT principal causality. Am I on the right track?"

That is one of the many facts the atheists misunderstand. As you can see, the 2 atheists here can't grasp the argument has nothing to do with the past, infinite or otherwise.

You are on the right track though regarding causal series. You can't do better that referring to Edward Feser on infinite causal series to get a firm understanding.

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: “Both forms are about “real things” so I don’t know how you thought differently.”

Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because apologists here are not corrected by other apologists when they write silly things like:

Apologist here: “You must understand that the First Way argument is a *metaphysical* argument. The point the argument makes is NOT the subject of physics, sequences, mathematics or the mechanisms of causality. Some of these subjects are interwoven into the discussion, yes, but these subjects are not the main point.”

Etc.

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: “No one argued “where moving things don't mean moving things? “. Both versions use the term motion in the wider sense of change. The A-T term for what we now call motion would be described by them as “local motion”.”

It’s supposed to be an argument about motion, right?

And you wrote this, right:

bmiller: “But, there is no talk of any particular mechanisms of change anywhere else in the premises, so if one took the analogy to mean that, then the analogy would out of place and not make sense. Furthermore, it would be absurd to assume anyone would take the position that only a specific state of being could bring about the same state of being in another. “

I read this to mean that it would be absurd to think that only momentum could be transferred from something to another thing. But that is exactly, and only, what we observe. In other words, there is no magic; only conservation.

So, what’s your point? That the forces described by modern physics are wrong — that magic happens, and that momentum isn’t transferred from one object to another, in precise, reliable, verifiable, and objective ways?

Oh, do tell.

bmiller said...

@Cal,
This exchange:
bmiller: “Both forms are about “real things” so I don’t know how you thought differently.”
Cal:” Oh, I don’t know. Maybe because apologists here are not corrected by other apologists when they write silly things like:

Apologist here: “You must understand that the First Way argument is a *metaphysical* argument. The point the argument makes is NOT the subject of physics, sequences, mathematics or the mechanisms of causality. Some of these subjects are interwoven into the discussion, yes, but these subjects are not the main point.”


Where does the “Apologist” say that metaphysics is not about “real things”?

I understand his point to be that that metaphysics is considered more primary than the other things he mentions. Since it is more primary, no matter what new scientific theory regarding the particular mechanism of change is considered in vogue, it remains unaffected and in fact provides a framework within which science can logically operate.

bmiller said...

@Cal,


bmiller: “No one argued “where moving things don't mean moving things? “. Both versions use the term motion in the wider sense of change. The A-T term for what we now call motion would be described by them as “local motion”.”

bmiller: “But, there is no talk of any particular mechanisms of change anywhere else in the premises, so if one took the analogy to mean that, then the analogy would out of place and not make sense. Furthermore, it would be absurd to assume anyone would take the position that only a specific state of being could bring about the same state of being in another. “

Cal:"I read this to mean that it would be absurd to think that only momentum could be transferred from something to another thing. But that is exactly, and only, what we observe. In other words, there is no magic; only conservation."

If you read the context of the second statement you quoted, the topic was not conservation of momentum. It was Strawdusty's claim that the First Way only allowed for effects to "formally" be in the causal agent rather than "virtually" or "eminently" as grodrigues pointed out. It was about fire and wood. My point was that effects do not formally have to be present in the causal agent(s) just like water does not have to be present in hydrogen, oxygen and a spark to have the outcome of water.

I still don't get even from that how you took away "“where moving things don't mean moving things? “

If you want to confine our discussion to merely "local motion" that's fine. I don't get where you think anyone here disagrees with modern physics, except maybe Strawdusty.

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: “I believe in Heliocentrism as well as General Relativity. It's true that Geocentrism has been replaced by Heliocentrism but of course the idea that moving things have to moved by something else is the point of this premise. I'm pleased to see that you understand this.”

Actually, it sounds like you don’t still understand non-Aristotitlean physics. Moving things aren’t necessarily being moved by something else. The moon isn’t being moved by some invisible force propelling its orbit right now; it is a mass, whose orbit is (primarily) a balance of its momentum and the effect of earth’s gravity. I am still not sure you understand this.

bmiller: “Oops. I guess I was wrong. So you must think that things move themselves? Otherwise your conclusion is irrelevant.”

Nope. Aquinas didn’t understand very basic, modern physics. Your writing consistently demonstrates that you don’t either. Still, you pretend.

bmiller: “No it is not circular. Some mover is either moving or not. If not, we have a conclusion. Nothing circular here. “

You evidently don’t know what circular reasoning is. Reasoning introduces new elements that refine our understanding of other premises and lead toward a conclusion. Circular reasoning simply introduces a premise that is not affected by any of the other premises. You should work on understanding this, because until you do you will continue to be fooled by shoddy arguments.


Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: “Notice how it doesn't say "this everyone calls God" “

Okay. I appreciate that this form of the argument doesn’t repeat the confusion found in the ST.

bmiller: “One more time. The argument has nothing to do with an infinite past. Please just stop it! The argument is referring to the series of movers that is causing something to move at this very instant. There cannot be an infinite series of moving movers at this very moment for a large number of reasons.”

Trying to understand present events divorced from past event is, well, ridiculous. Real things don’t propel themselves because something is pushing them now; they are in motion only because of prior events, going back and back and back and back.

There is no “moon pusher.” There was (most probably) an event in the past of our solar system where a large object collided with earth and the resulting debris formed the large satellite that is our moon. That event is the explanation for what we observe — a satellite, orbiting our planet, which means a mass, having a certain momentum, at a distance from our planet’s gravity in which those two forces have created the balance we see in an orbit.

bmiller: “The conclusion follows from the premises that things move, nothing moves itself, and there cannot be an infinite essentially ordered series of moving movers, leaving only an unmoved mover as the logical conclusion.”

Your repeating this, ad infinitum, doesn’t make the problems I’ve described in the First Way magically disappear.

I don’t know who you think you’re fooling.


Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "If you want to confine our discussion to merely "local motion" that's fine. I don't get where you think anyone here disagrees with modern physics, except maybe Strawdusty."

LOL.

bmiller said...

@Cal,

”Actually, it sounds like you don’t still understand non-Aristotitlean physics. Moving things aren’t necessarily being moved by something else. The moon isn’t being moved by some invisible force propelling its orbit right now; it is a mass, whose orbit is (primarily) a balance of its momentum and the effect of earth’s gravity. I am still not sure you understand this.”

So your position is that the moon is not moved by any force? When in the next phrase you say it is moved by the force of gravity? Where did you say you studied physics? Magic U.?

bmiller: “No it is not circular. Some mover is either moving or not. If not, we have a conclusion. Nothing circular here. “

Cal:” ou evidently don’t know what circular reasoning is. Reasoning introduces new elements that refine our understanding of other premises and lead toward a conclusion. Circular reasoning simply introduces a premise that is not affected by any of the other premises. You should work on understanding this, because until you do you will continue to be fooled by shoddy arguments. “

If A then B.
If not A, then C.
Not A.
Therefore C.

Not circular.

bmiller said...

@Cal,

Cal:“Trying to understand present events divorced from past event is, well, ridiculous. Real things don’t propel themselves because something is pushing them now; they are in motion only because of prior events, going back and back and back and back.”

Yes, real things are in motion now because there is a real force that is present now. No real force now, no motion.


Cal:” There is no “moon pusher.”
Do you think gravity is not real? Are you Harry Potter?

bmiller: “The conclusion follows from the premises that things move, nothing moves itself, and there cannot be an infinite essentially ordered series of moving movers, leaving only an unmoved mover as the logical conclusion.”

Cal:” Your repeating this, ad infinitum, doesn’t make the problems I’ve described in the First Way magically disappear.

I don’t know who you think you’re fooling.”


Let me see. It seems that now you’ve settled on attacking the premise that “nothing moves itself”. Maybe you should try to cast a spell against logic with your magical wizard wand.

bmiller said...

@Cal,

bmiller: "If you want to confine our discussion to merely "local motion" that's fine. I don't get where you think anyone here disagrees with modern physics, except maybe Strawdusty."

Cal:"LOL."

:-)

I'm not quite there yet, but I'm leaning in that direction.

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "Yes, real things are in motion now because there is a real force that is present now. No real force now, no motion."

LOL. You'd fail high school (middle school) physics with the above statement. You don't even understand Newtonian physics.

Stop pretending.

Stardusty Psyche said...

Cal Metzger said...

" bmiller: "Yes, real things are in motion now because there is a real force that is present now. No real force now, no motion.""

Aristotle was wrong, OK? No, continued motion does not require continued force. Newton built upon Galileo to show that uniform motion continues unless a force is applied.

"For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction" Of course, Newton invented calculus as well as overturning Aristotle and put his principles of motion into formalized mathematical form, which the quoted phrase is just a simplified summary of.

The above popularization shows that objects are causes and effects of each other. Later work in the study of processes in detail over short periods of time show that interactions do not happen instantaneously, rather, they are a temporal process. Even two steel balls colliding do so over a period of time.

The old language of Aristotle and Aquinas is an impediment to understanding reality. If you want to learn about cause and effect you need to let go of the intended meanings of ancient writers and start studying modern physics.

Causation is a subject of modern physics, and you will not find the language of Aristotle or Aquinas employed because those concepts were obsoleted centuries ago.


February 13, 2017 6:45 AM

bmiller said...

@Cal,

bmiller: "Yes, real things are in motion now because there is a real force that is present now. No real force now, no motion."

Cal:LOL. You'd fail high school (middle school) physics with the above statement. You don't even understand Newtonian physics.

OK, I can see that I didn’t qualify my statement sufficiently. Under Newtonian physics, gravity is considered a force and causes acceleration. Violent motion that causes an acceleration is considered also considered a force. The apparent constant velocity of an object once having had a force impressed on it and released is called the property of inertia. Inertia is not considered a force, but an inherent property of massive objects under Newtonian physics that preserves a particular state of motion unless disrupted by a force. I assume this is your complaint.

So I will amend my claim to “real things are in motion now because there something real that is present now causing them to move. No real cause, no motion. Under Newtonian physics, inertia is considered that real cause of motion.”

Now an A-T philosopher would view a force as something actualizing the potential of an object to change it’s actual state of motion. If a force is applied, the change of motion occurs (acceleration) until the force is removed (new state of motion).

However, the actual point we were discussing was that the First Way is discussing only what is happening now and not in the past. Students of physics start out their studies using point particles and vector force diagrams. They use this to predict the resultant forces impressed on the object and whether or not change of motion will occur. They do not trace historical chains of events from exploding stars that no longer exist.

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "So I will amend my claim to “real things are in motion now because there something real that is present now causing them to move. "

No, you still don't understand physics as its been (better) understood since the time of Newton.

Why don't you take this opportunity to study and learn, rather than embarrass yourself further by struggling to learn high school (middle school?) physics in front of us all.

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "Students of physics start out their studies using point particles and vector force diagrams. They use this to predict the resultant forces impressed on the object and whether or not change of motion will occur. They do not trace historical chains of events from exploding stars that no longer exist."

LOL. Reading this reminds me of a flat earther explaining how he thinks observations confirm the flatness of our earth.

Until these latest comments from you I hadn't truly understood how truly hamstrung you are by Aristotitlean physics.

Home schooled?

bmiller said...

@Cal Metzger,

Cal:"No, you still don't understand physics as its been (better) understood since the time of Newton."

The examples you provided to me for discussion were classical physics examples, were they not? If you think that modern physics conclude that things move themselves and causation is no longer a foundation principal then you need to provide evidence of that claim.

It seems all I get from you and Strawdusty is a lot of hot air and hand waving. It’s almost a tropical storm now! Oh yes, and the constant drumbeat of genetic fallacy.

bmiller said...

@ Cal,

I think you've never even talked to anyone who took a Physics course now.

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "I think you've never even talked to anyone who took a Physics course now."

mkay. Funny, though, how I'm not the one writing things like this:

bmiller: "So I will amend my claim to “real things are in motion now because there something real that is present now causing them to move."

This statement would fail high school (middle school) physics.

bmiller: "Students of physics start out their studies using point particles and vector force diagrams. They use this to predict the resultant forces impressed on the object and whether or not change of motion will occur. They do not trace historical chains of events from exploding stars that no longer exist."

This is kind of the only thing that (astro)physicists study.

By all means, though, keep on doubling down. I don't want to stand between a man and his shovel when he demands it.

bmiller said...

@Cal,

bmiller: "So I will amend my claim to “real things are in motion now because there something real that is present now causing them to move."

Cal:"This statement would fail high school (middle school) physics."


Did your middle school tell you that things move by themselves? That would explain a lot. Did they teach you, force, inertia and Voldemort were responsible for motion?


bmiller: "Students of physics start out their studies using point particles and vector force diagrams. They use this to predict the resultant forces impressed on the object and whether or not change of motion will occur. They do not trace historical chains of events from exploding stars that no longer exist."

Cal"This is kind of the only thing that (astro)physicists study."

Careful reading doesn't seem to be in your wheelhouse does it. Beginning physics students use force diagrams to study sum and resultant forces on objects. I've used this fact to show you that it is commonplace in the study of physics to study forces and motion at a "frozen" moment in time.....an essentially ordered series. They simply don't start out studying the history of the Big Bang.

Now, that you understand what an essentially ordered series is in modern parlance (or do you), please do not continue to conflate it with past events.

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: ""So I will amend my claim to “real things are in motion now because there something real that is present now causing them to move."

This is a failing answer in physics class. Until you demonstrate that you understand this, you are not equipped to understand criticism of the First Way. I can't help you learn some classical physics. But you should try if you want to discuss these things like an adult.

bmiller: "I've used this fact to show you that it is commonplace in the study of physics to study forces and motion at a "frozen" moment in time.....an essentially ordered series. They simply don't start out studying the history of the Big Bang."

The best explanation for your continual misunderstandings is that you don't understand (very) basic physics, where simple formulas like D = R * T are indeed taught, but have wide applications in things like astrophysics.

bmiller: "Did your middle school tell you that things move by themselves? That would explain a lot. Did they teach you, force, inertia and Voldemort were responsible for motion?"

Like a child, you seem to think that implying that I am as confused as you are (if that's what I am, then what are you!) should distract from your patent ignorance. I don't think you're fooling anyone.

Chris said...

Thank you for the referral to Edward Feser's blog. It was very helpful. The conversation in this thread seems to be merely dancing around what I think is the key issue: It is not the case that,

".... Aquinas was concerned to show that if you lay out a series of causes per se in a straight line, the line will necessarily have a beginning....As Thomists sometimes point out, it wouldn't change things in the least if we granted for the sake of argument that a series of causes ordered per se might loop around back on itself in a circle, or even that it might extend forward or backward infinitely. For the point is that as long as the members of such a circular or infinite chain of causes have no independent causal power of their own, there will have to be something outside the series which imparts to them their causal efficacy. Moreover, if that which imparts causal power to the members of the circular or infinitely long series itself had no independent causal power, then it too would of necessity also require a principle cause of its own, relative to which it is an instrument. This explanatory regress cannot possibly terminate in anything other than something which has absolutely independent causal power, which can cause or 'actualize' without itself having to be actualized in any way, and only what is purely actual can fit the bill."

So the "First Cause" is not "first" as in first in a line, but rather that which is metaphysically ultimate.

Cal Metzger said...

Chris: "For the point is that as long as the members of such a circular or infinite chain of causes have no independent causal power of their own, there will have to be something outside the series which imparts to them their causal efficacy. "

No, this pretends to admit that an infinite causal chain could exist, but not allowing that it, well, could exist.

By definition, an infinite causal chain simply stretches to infinity. If you then say that this infinite causal chain has an ultimate cause, you have denied what you said you allowed. For a ultimate is an end -- and infinity's our without end.

So, this objection fails to understand the refutation -- that the absurdity of an infinite past is no less likely than the absurdity of an unmoved mover. Hence, a riddle which is NOT solved. Hence, an argument which does not conclude what it's proponents say it does.

grodrigues said...

After several threads, clocking several hundreds of comments, we have Mr. Metzger writing:

"So, this objection fails to understand the refutation -- that the absurdity of an infinite past is no less likely than the absurdity of an unmoved mover,"

that is, he is *still* laboring under the idea that the First Way is concerned with temporal beginnings. When this was explicitly denied by everyone here, is explicitly denied by St. Thomas and all his commentators. All, without exception. St. Thomas even wrote a little tract explicitly arguing that it is *impossible* to prove that the universe was *not* infinite in the past. And Aristotle (you know, the inventor of the First Way) actually held that the universe was indeed infinite in the past. And *then* he writes to bmiller such stuff as:

"Like a child, you seem to think that implying that I am as confused as you are (if that's what I am, then what are you!) should distract from your patent ignorance. I don't think you're fooling anyone."

I have met my share of delusional morons haunting the internet, but man....

Legion of Logic said...

Chris,

I would like to commend you on so quickly grasping the point of the argument. It shows you were genuinely curious and wanted to learn what it means, as opposed to others on this thread who are only interested in attacking it based on strawman arguments and have no interest in learning anything not popular on atheist websites.

bmiller said...

@grodrigues,

"I have met my share of delusional morons haunting the internet, but man....

It seems that actually holding in their minds the relatively simple premises of the First Way creates such cognitive dissonance that it causes them to hallucinate. They can read the words "not concerned with temporal beginnings" but they register it as "is concerned with temporal beginnings".

It's really interesting seeing the reactions against grasping it.

Cal Metzger said...

Um, the First Way is about events, and events occur in TIME.

To say the First Way is not concerned with temporal things is to say the First Way is not concerned with any thing.

Talk about your mass delusions.


grodrigues said...

@bmiller:

"It's really interesting seeing the reactions against grasping it."

On reading your response, something dawned on me. You notice the sentence I quoted about Mr. Metzger? I will quote it again with * for emphasis:

"So, this objection fails to understand the refutation -- that the *absurdity* of an infinite past is no *less likely* than the *absurdity* of an unmoved mover,"

So Mr. Metzger seems to think that a universe infinite in the past is, wait for it, an "absurdity". It is just equally absurd as "unmoved mover". And Mr. Metzger, that world expert on calculating probabilities of "absurdities", even adds, "no less likely". Now, could it be that Stardusty and Mr. Metzger are really this stupid? Well, I went back and re-read a few bits and pieces (don't, for the love of your sanity and everything that is holy, don't follow me), and it seems that yes, they do think that a universe eternal in the past is an "absurdity", or a "riddle" to be solved. It must be and yet it can't be. And that the First Mover is an ad hoc postulate that does not solve the riddle. Or at least not to their satisfaction. Or something.

I am laughing my pants off. But let me not be too harsh; they could use our prayers. And possibly some psychiatric help (bhawhahaha).

grodrigues said...

"To say the First Way is not concerned with temporal things is to say the First Way is not concerned with any thing."

Translation: to admit that I do not have the least idea of what I am talking about, that this whole time I have been lying and pretending, is too much even for for a fraudulent coward like me, so I know what I will say. I will say that it is either what I have said all along it is or that it is meaningless. Yeah, that will surely stump those apologists. Talk about mass delusion! What a bunch of medieval rubes.

Cal Metzger said...

Grod: "So Mr. Metzger seems to think that a universe infinite in the past is, wait for it, an "absurdity". It is just equally absurd as "unmoved mover". "

That's correct. It seems that our limited minds can't really fathom what it would mean for either of these to exist -- the mind reels at either option. Hence, absurd. And that is why it remains the great existential question, or, as we have been calling it, a riddle.

Grod: "It must be and yet it can't be. And that the First Mover is an ad hoc postulate that does not solve the riddle."

Reading comprehension. The First Mover is a violation of the First Way's premise (that all things are moved by something else). On top of that, the First mover additionally being a deity is what's ad hoc. This has been explained over, and over.

grod: "I am laughing my pants off. But let me not be too harsh; they could use our prayers. And possibly some psychiatric help (bhawhahaha)."

Apparently the mind of the apologist lashes out when persistently confronted with the hollowness of its cherished beliefs. Who knew? Who?!?!?


Cal Metzger said...

Me: "To say the First Way is not concerned with temporal things is to say the First Way is not concerned with any thing."
Grod: "Translation: to admit that I do not have the least idea of what I am talking about, that this whole time I have been lying and pretending, is too much even for for a fraudulent coward like me, so I know what I will say. I will say that it is either what I have said all along it is or that it is meaningless. Yeah, that will surely stump those apologists. Talk about mass delusion! What a bunch of medieval rubes."

Apparently the mind of the apologist lashes out when persistently confronted with the hollowness of its cherished beliefs. Who knew? Who?!?!?

Notice how my simply pointing out the obvious -- that if the First Way is about real things (those things we observe in motion, in its first premise), then it MUST be about time. After all, if there is no time, there is no motion.

And yet, when confronted with this simple fact, the mind of the apologist seems to go into paroxysms of terror, and flings out half-baked insults and condemnations.

I wonder why that should be. Grod mentioned cowardly above -- I can't think of why cowardice would be tied into skeptics pointing out the obvious problems of the First Way. And so it occurs to me that the mind of the apologist recognizes its own fear when confronted with this threat to its cherished beliefs, and it lashes out by projecting.

Arm chair psychoanalysis, I know. But sometimes there is something to armchair psychoanalysis.

Legion of Logic said...

"The First Mover is a violation of the First Way's premise (that all things are moved by something else)"

MLK: "I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character."

Atheists: "You're so ignorant."

MLK: "What?

Atheists: "Color and content are not conscious, so they can't judge anything. In addition, character is not a medium or a container that can have content."

MLK: "I don't..."

Atheists: "If you would just free yourselves from the brain rot that is theism, you could open your eyes and experience reality as it is, instead of being forced to live in your magical dream world where colors and content walk around judging people."

MLK: *scratches head*



If the atheists in my scenario seem like complete idiots to you, then you will understand what it's like dealing with the continued and apparently intentional refusals to understand the First Way argument by the atheists in this thread.

I'm done with being the biologist trying to explain why the theory of evolution is not threatened by the objection "If humans came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys??" Cal and SD's willful ignorance will never be overturned, so I'm out.

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "“Everything that is moved is moved by another. That some things are in motion—for example, the sun—is evident from sense. Therefore, it is moved by something else that moves it. “
Me: "The First Mover is a violation of the First Way's premise (that all things are moved by something else)"

Legion: "If the atheists in my scenario seem like complete idiots to you, then you will understand what it's like dealing with the continued and apparently intentional refusals to understand the First Way argument by the atheists in this thread....Cal and SD's willful ignorance will never be overturned, so I'm out."

mkay.





bmiller said...

@Cal,

This exchange:
bmiller: "“Everything that is moved is moved by another. That some things are in motion—for example, the sun—is evident from sense. Therefore, it is moved by something else that moves it. “
Me: "The First Mover is a violation of the First Way's premise (that all things are moved by something else)"

From my comment: February 12, 2017 4:48 PM
“@Cal,
Let me check if to see if you still understand that the argument does not violate it’s premises and allows that an actual thing can cause change without changing itself.

Cal:”I think I see your point here. (I know, finally -- right?)
… I can see where the argument can be devised fairly simply so that the actual thing that reduces a potential thing does not itself undergo any reduction in act itself (ugh)….”

I will assume that you still understand this much of the argument.”

And so we are back at Groundhog Day. Again.
Remember Cal? You told us you understood this?

Note to self: Remember to make a charitable contribution to the Alzheimer's Foundation.

bmiller said...

@grodrigues,
“So Mr. Metzger seems to think that a universe infinite in the past is, wait for it, an "absurdity". “

It’s probably the result of a modern liberal arts education. They’ve been told that since there is no meaning, that reason is absurd and so is life. So they must make meaning for themselves.

Kinda sad that they’ve chosen to find meaning by arguing with other’s about a science they themselves think is absurd and don’t understand.

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

" However, the actual point we were discussing was that the First Way is discussing only what is happening now and not in the past. "

Another theistic mental breakdown. This is a whack-a-mole discussion. Your attentions span is so short, it is like talking to a little kid.

Gee, I guess you missed the part about one thing moving another, going back to infinity, arriving at a first mover...oh, but it's all about the present...


February 13, 2017 8:44 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chris said...

" This explanatory regress cannot possibly terminate in anything other than something which has absolutely independent causal power, "
This is a non-sequitur and a strong claim of impossibility of the physical by virtue of our inability to logically conceive of it.

Just because a thing is logically impossible it does not follow that it must me physically impossible.

Something irrational must be the case because all alternatives are irrational. The notion of an uncaused cause is just special pleading for a special unknown that is allowed to be irrational, and thus solves nothing.


" So the "First Cause" is not "first" as in first in a line, but rather that which is metaphysically ultimate."
God would have to be physical else god is nothing. Since god is not nothing, then god is something, some thing, a thing.


February 13, 2017 2:12 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

rodrigues said...

" So Mr. Metzger seems to think that a universe infinite in the past is, wait for it, an "absurdity". It is just equally absurd as "unmoved mover". And Mr. Metzger, that world expert on calculating probabilities of "absurdities", even adds, "no less likely". Now, could it be that Stardusty and Mr. Metzger are really this stupid? "
Both simply are irrational. That is why no human being has solved this problem and published the solution into general circulation.


" I am laughing my pants off. "
I hope you are not in a public place where you might get arrested.


February 13, 2017 3:56 PM

bmiller said...

@Strawdusty,

Gee, I guess you missed the part about one thing moving another, going back to infinity, arriving at a first mover...oh, but it's all about the present...

Gee, I guess you still do not understand the words that you are "*still* laboring under the idea that the First Way is concerned with temporal beginnings." (HT grodrigues).

Seriously. Do you not understand the meaning of the words *now* or *simultaneous*. These are descriptive of the type of causal series the First Way is referring to. Why is this so hard for you?

bmiller said...

Wow. Only an hour after I posted about atheists embracing the irrational, we get this:

Me:”It’s probably the result of a modern liberal arts education. They’ve been told that since there is no meaning, that reason is absurd and so is life”

Strawdusty:”Something irrational must be the case because all alternatives are irrational.”

Stardusty Psyche said...

Legion of Logic said...

" I'm done with being the biologist trying to explain why the theory of evolution is not threatened by the objection "If humans came from monkeys, why are there still monkeys??" Cal and SD's willful ignorance will never be overturned, so I'm out."

Translation, you are clinging to an argument based on long obsoleted physics, hopelessly ignorant notions of causation, and so badly constructed that later apologists have gone to great lengths to fix the glaring defects of the plain text of the argument.

Since you cannot possibly use rational argumentation to defend this mess you cling to like a cult zombie, you resort to bizarre strawman conversations with yourself and then depart.

Come back when you can form a series of rational arguments and follow them step by step like a mature adult in possession of all your reasoning faculties.

The First Way is an argument for god. The final line that attempts to achieve this fundamental purpose is in fact a slap on non-sequitur that is factually false in the 21st century.

As a general description of our common observations the First Way succeeds for about the first 1/3. Aquinas then goes on to contradict himself because he used very sloppy terms at the outset. Later apologists have at least repaired those glaring defects of language, but the original wording of Aquinas remains pathetically self contradictory.

I am reminded of the Bryan inspired character in Inherit the Wind, faced with the inescapable error of his faith based superstitious, unable to cope with reality, he suffers a public mental breakdown.

I wish you all the best in overcoming your selective mental retardation.


February 13, 2017 5:29 PM

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "Let me check if to see if you still understand that the argument does not violate it’s premises and allows that an actual thing can cause change without changing itself....Remember Cal? You told us you understood this?"

Actually, here's how the exchange went:

bmiller: "Yes, I know classical physics. Tell me exactly how the classical concepts of force and momentum contradict the First Way."
Me: "Seriously? By its apologist defenders here insisting that the First Way does not argue that a force is not necessary to propel something into motion, only a thing itself (absent of forces acting on it)."
bmiller: "No one has argued that. Read this again carefully. / "Everything that is moved is moved by another. That some things are in motion—for example, the sun—is evident from sense. Therefore, it is moved by something else that moves it. This mover is itself either moved or not moved....some prime unmoved mover."
Me: "After all this back and forth, you dust off the strong version, which is the easiest to refute, as it’s truly a resplendent bouquet of fallacies."

So, I am sorry that I took you to mean what you wrote -- that I was to understand that you were defending the strong version of the argument, one that recognized how physical forces actually work in reality. What I think you meant was you want the weak version of the argument to be thought of as compelling, when instead it just trundles out a long ago abandoned (because it's mistaken) notion of physical interaction.

Back and forth here? The constant equivocation like yours above is the explanation for this incessant whack-a-mole campaign. The only reason it's gone on as long as it has is because both Stardusty and I seem to feel stubbornly compelled to refute nonsense, and the apologists here can't bear the thought of questioning the cherished beliefs.




grodrigues said...

"Just because a thing is logically impossible it does not follow that it must me physically impossible.

Something irrational must be the case because all alternatives are irrational."

And here we have it, ladies and gents.

Stardusty actually agrees with the conclusion of the Kalaam argument (although strictly speaking, Craig does not argue that a universe eternal in the past is a logical impossibility, but a metaphysical one, so Stardusty is going beyond even what Craig argues) -- it is just that he thinks that logical impossibilities are physically realizable.

Stardusty, the master ignorant crank, has just declared null and void all modern, empirical science.

Amazing, truly amazing.

grodrigues said...

By "conclusion of the Kalaam argument" I mean the proposition "The universe is finite in the past", which, strictly speaking is not the conclusion of the Kalaam, so apologies for the mistake.

Chris said...

I am certainly no expert on these lofty matters. But it seems to me that it is illogical to dismiss logic because of a dogmatic commitment to philosophical materialism.

bmiller said...

@Cal

”So, I am sorry that I took you to mean what you wrote -- that I was to understand that you were defending the strong version of the argument, one that recognized how physical forces actually work in reality. What I think you meant was you want the weak version of the argument to be thought of as compelling, when instead it just trundles out a long ago abandoned (because it's mistaken) notion of physical interaction.

Both the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles make the exact same argument. If you think they are saying different things then you misunderstand.

Let me repost this exchange one last time:
This exchange:
<<<
bmiller: "“Everything that is moved is moved by another. That some things are in motion—for example, the sun—is evident from sense. Therefore, it is moved by something else that moves it. “
Me: "The First Mover is a violation of the First Way's premise (that all things are moved by something else)"
>>>

My point is that you’ve changed the premise just like you did with the version from the Summa Theologica.

Let’s walk through this slowly:
“Everything that is moved” means something different than “all things are moved”.
“All things” refers to things that are moved as well as things that are not moved.
“Everything that is moved” is a subset of “Everything” or “all things”.
A thing that is “not moved” is not part of the set of “Everything that is moved”. So there is no violation of premises.

You claimed you understood this January 31st here:
”And the point would then be that the thing that moves something else does not itself move”

It’s been less than 2 weeks. Come on already.

bmiller said...

@grodrigues,


"it is just that he thinks that logical impossibilities are physically realizable.

Stardusty, the master ignorant crank, has just declared null and void all modern, empirical science."


Yes and on top of that he claims that modern science (you know the thing he's just declared void/magical) somehow proves the First Way wrong.

Can't make this stuff up.

Cal Metzger said...

bmiller: "Both the Summa Theologica and the Summa Contra Gentiles make the exact same argument. If you think they are saying different things then you misunderstand."

I thought you meant what you said, following this exchange:

bmiller: "Yes, I know classical physics. Tell me exactly how the classical concepts of force and momentum contradict the First Way."
Me: "Seriously? By its apologist defenders here insisting that the First Way does not argue that a force is not necessary to propel something into motion, only a thing itself (absent of forces acting on it)."
bmiller: "No one has argued that. Read this again carefully:...."

I expected that you meant that version you provided should be interpreted in support of your claim -- that this version acknowledged that force IS necessary to propel something into motion, and not only a thing itself (absent of any forces acting on it). I didn't think that you would just repeat the exact same argument whose flaw I had just pointed out, as if the exact same argument overcomes the problem by repeating the same problem I had just pointed out, and that you denied.

bmiller: "You claimed you understood this January 31st here:"

I said that I could see where a version of the argument could be formed so that it didn't so quickly deny its own premises. I think that would be an improvement over a commonsense reading of Aquinas's words and his examples, but that this argument still has the other problems I've pointed out -- that it doesn't relate to what we observe happening with real objects here in reality, where something doesn't magically move something else without itself having momentum (which means it is moving).






bmiller said...

@Cal,

Cal:”I expected that you meant that version you provided should be interpreted in support of your claim -- that this version acknowledged that force IS necessary to propel something into motion, and not only a thing itself (absent of any forces acting on it). I didn't think that you would just repeat the exact same argument whose flaw I had just pointed out, as if the exact same argument overcomes the problem by repeating the same problem I had just pointed out, and that you denied.

No one claimed a physical object does not require a force or inertia for local motion under Newtonian physics. So if you are only concerned about physical objects and local motion under Newtonian physics then a force is necessary to change the state of local motion of a physical object (with all the qualifications regarding inertial reference frames or what have you).

But local motion is not the only kind of change according to A-T philosophy. The term motion in the First Way includes all types of changes not just local motion. I understand that it’s confusing to read “motion” in the First Way and mentally translate it to “change”, but if you want to understand it that’s what you have to do. The idea that encompasses all types of change is that of the act/potency distinction.

That’s why you see 2 examples in the Summa Theologica:
One shows that an actually thing is causing potentially burning wood to become actually burning wood (not local motion but a change none the less).
The other shows how an actual hand is causing a potentially moving stick to become an actually moving stick (local motion and also illustrates the essentially ordered series of movers he has in mind).

But the First Way is agnostic with respect to the favored theory of physics of the day. In the past it was compatible with the various different theories of physics developed under Western Civilization just as it is today. That’s because it is based on the same premises that all successful Western theories of physics are based on.

It looks like we’ve rolled off the front page again and we’re close to 400 comments.
Want to call it a day?

grodrigues said...

"this argument still has the other problems I've pointed out -- that it doesn't relate to what we observe happening with real objects here in reality, where something doesn't magically move something else without itself having momentum (which means it is moving)."

In the proper reference frame of a massive object like a star, the star has zero (linear) momentum (and angular as well if non-rotating), and yet it moves other objects by exerting gravitational pull. In the proper reference frame of a point-like electric charge like an electron, the electron has zero momentum and it still moves other objects because it creates an electromagnetic field. The point is that momentum is not an invariant quantity (it depends on the reference frame), something that any first year physics student knows. Neither moving other things (that is, interacting with other particles) is essentially connected with having momentum or not, but a matter of interacting with the right fields (or in QFT speak, exchanging bosons). Neither is any of this remotely relevant to the First Way because -- oh why do I bother.

The point is that we have what must be the two Platonic exemplars of Ignorant Buffoonery that cannot shut up about Science! On how antiquated Aristotle is, on how bmiller is vastly ignorant, etc. and etc. and yet do not have the least clue about physics besides hastily googling talking points with which to refute an argument they do not know or care to know.

By this point I should not longer be surprised by this. And yet I am.

Cal Metzger said...

Me: "this argument still has the other problems I've pointed out -- that it doesn't relate to what we observe happening with real objects here in reality, where something doesn't magically move something else without itself having momentum (which means it is moving)."

Grod: "In the proper reference frame of a massive object like a star, the star has zero (linear) momentum (and angular as well if non-rotating), and yet it moves other objects by exerting gravitational pull. In the proper reference frame of a point-like electric charge like an electron, the electron has zero momentum and it still moves other objects because it creates an electromagnetic field."

And this relates to my point how?

Grod: "The point is that momentum is not an invariant quantity (it depends on the reference frame), something that any first year physics student knows. Neither moving other things (that is, interacting with other particles) is essentially connected with having momentum or not, but a matter of interacting with the right fields (or in QFT speak, exchanging bosons). Neither is any of this remotely relevant to the First Way because -- oh why do I bother."

Because I thought you were trying to make a point regarding my comment above. Apparently, not.

Oh, wait, You go on. But not to make an actual point. But to do what you do, which is drone on with misplaced invective.

grod: "The point is that we .... do not know or care to know."

Really, your comments read almost like a plea for help, that someone could rescue you from your conflict of intellectual aspirations and self-loathing.

I should tell you what wise man told me once, a long time ago: "When you are teenager, you care deeply what everyone thinks about you. When you are in your twenties, you learn not to care what anyone thinks of you. If your thirties and beyond, you learn that no one was ever thinking about you to being with."

I am sorry that you apparently feel compelled to defend foolishness, but your obligation is almost certainly less than you imagine.



Stardusty Psyche said...


Blogger bmiller said...

" Seriously. Do you not understand the meaning of the words *now* or *simultaneous*. These are descriptive of the type of causal series the First Way is referring to. Why is this so hard for you?"

It is hard for me to understand how you can speak so childishly.

Motion is change in position over time. Motion is a temporal process. The first way is an argument for god from motion.


February 13, 2017 8:58 PM

Stardusty Psyche said...

grodrigues said...


" Stardusty actually agrees with the conclusion of the Kalaam argument"

1 Whatever begins to exist has a cause;
2 The universe began to exist;
Therefore:
3 The universe has a cause.

Premise 2 is ad hoc, thus the conclusion is unjustified.


" Stardusty, the master ignorant crank, has just declared null and void all modern, empirical science. Amazing, truly amazing."
Another theistic mental breakdown. Get a grip G. If you have an argument to make, fine, but you are just babbling now.


February 14, 2017 6:44 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

Chris said...

" I am certainly no expert on these lofty matters."
Don't worry, Chris, there are no scientific authorities. If you can put together a reasonable argument it stands on its merits, not who wrote it.


" But it seems to me that it is illogical to dismiss logic because of a dogmatic commitment to philosophical materialism."
Logic has quite apparently served us well, yet no human being has published into general circulation a logical solution to the problem of the origin of existence.

All proposals end in illogic, yet an existence is absolutely certain. Clearly, human logic fails to account for at least one thing.


February 14, 2017 8:35 AM

bmiller said...

@grodrigues,

Nice try.

When someone says that only something moving can move something else, and you give him explicit examples where this is not the case but then he doesn't understand how your response is relevant, you have done all you can.

At least, some people have actually read the First Way and tried to think about it. I don't think that's a waste.

Stardusty Psyche said...

grodrigues said...

" By "conclusion of the Kalaam argument" I mean the proposition "The universe is finite in the past", "

In that case no, I do not agree with that proposition as a matter of certain fact.

Conservation is powerful evidence that the stuff of the universe is infinite in the past. Yet an actual infinite time sequence of events is irrational.

So let's suppose the stuff of the universe is not infinite in the past, in that case it poofed into existence ex nihlio, but that is also irrational.

Then let's suppose a special something that exists forever poofed the stuff of the universe into existence. That is just as irrational because that something is some thing, a thing, and that thing acted in a time sequence of events, so it requires the same explanation as just plain old regular stuff, and serves no logical purpose, solving nothing.

All attempts at reasoning our way to a solution to the problem of the origin of existence fail, yet an existence is absolutely certain, so it must be that we fail, we human beings fail, our logic fails, since existence itself cannot fail, it simply exists.


February 14, 2017 6:49 AM

Stardusty Psyche said...

bmiller said...

" When someone says that only something moving can move something else, and you give him explicit examples where this is not the case"

Yet another theistic mental breakdown.

By all means, please do give an example of a motionless thing that was caused to move by some other motionless thing.

Ha Ha Ha. Grow up.


February 14, 2017 9:18 PM

grodrigues said...

@bmiller:

"When someone says that only something moving can move something else, and you give him explicit examples where this is not the case but then he doesn't understand how your response is relevant, you have done all you can."

Oh, I am under no illusion that Mr. Metzger or that Psycho mental case will understand anything whatsoever, whether it is about the First Way or about Physics.

As I have already said several times, there is no open-minded dialog, where the two opposing parties search for clarity and truth, happening here. Anything I write is for the benefit, if any, of the people of good intellectual will, the occasional lurker, and an happy occasion to deliver a well-placed and well-deserved insult (yeah, I should be more charitable in my dealings with these idiots. Pray for me).

Stardusty Psyche said...

grodrigues said...

@bmiller:

"When someone says that only something moving can move something else, and you give him explicit examples where this is not the case but then he doesn't understand how your response is relevant, you have done all you can."

Oh, I am under no illusion that Mr. Metzger or that Psycho mental case will understand anything whatsoever, whether it is about the First Way or about Physics.

" As I have already said several times, there is no open-minded dialog, where the two opposing parties search for clarity and truth, happening here. Anything I write is for the benefit, if any, of the people of good intellectual will, the occasional lurker, and an happy occasion to deliver a well-placed and well-deserved insult (yeah, I should be more charitable in my dealings with these idiots. Pray for me)."

You did not provide an example of a motionless thing causing some other motionless thing to move. Got one handy?

Here is how to deal with we "idiots", argue rationally. If you make an assertion or you agree with somebody else's assertion (as above) provide sound arguments and clear examples of your points.

I am waiting for an example of a motionless thing that causes some other motionless thing to move. Tick tock.


February 15, 2017 4:00 AM

Cal Metzger said...

Stardusty: "I am waiting for an example of a motionless thing that causes some other motionless thing to move. Tick tock."

I am guessing that this is where, after what, more than a 1,000 comments, the apologists here will suddenly claim they are too busy, tired, exasperated, whatever to provide what they say they have provided.

That's the shell game, isn't it?

Skeptics: On what do you base your claim?
Apologists: I won't tell you because I already told you before.

The skeptic lifts every shell. There's nothing under any of them.

And that is the whole game.

bmiller said...


@Strawdusty,

”Motion is change in position over time. Motion is a temporal process. The first way is an argument for god from motion.”

Translation. “I refuse to understand the definition of an essentially ordered causal series” We know, we know.

”By all means, please do give an example of a motionless thing that was caused to move by some other motionless thing.”

I’ll let grodrigues speak for himself, but I wonder why you’ve changed the premises…again.

In the meantime, you have not given us evidence to support your assertions. Tick tock.
Me:”If you think anything in modern physics refutes the First Way you have given us zero evidence of that. None. I’ve been waiting for this evidence from you, but all we’ve seen is baseless assertions. Nothing burger.”

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