Thursday, April 04, 2019

Is this homophobia?

The position of the Catholic Church on this is interesting. They don't think, per se, that there is anything sinful about having a gay orientation. They just say that those who have such an orientation are called to a celibate life. 

362 comments:

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Starhopper said...

I am in no way equating homosexuality with alcoholism, but the analogy holds nevertheless. It is no sin to be an alcoholic, no more so than any other medical condition. But it would be a sin to, knowing you are an alcoholic, purposefully walk into a bar with the intention of getting drunk.

bmiller said...

I don't think the position is all that interesting.

We are all oriented toward sin as part of our fallen nature, but we are all called not to sin regardless of what our particular weakness it.

One Brow said...

Yes, it is homophobia, because the prescription against homosexual marriage is based on arbitrary determinations of the final cause of sex, and not on any sort of observable or measurable phenomenon.

To say that both homosexuals and heterosexuals are to make life-long, monogamous unions would not be homophobic.

Starhopper said...

We need to find some word other than homophobia to describe people's beliefs toward homosexuality. I doubt that there are many people out there who actually fear the condition, which is, after all, the meaning of the suffix "phobia".

bmiller said...

The OP did not mention anything about marriage. Just what was considered a sin.

But I agree with Starhopper. Slothophobic, Geedophobic, Lustophobic, Prideophobic....etc will all be coming down the pike.

SteveK said...

"arbitrary determinations of the final cause of sex"

Arbitrary? It's obvious what sex is intended for (final cause) - procreation. Do you question what the brain is for, the heart, the lungs?

One Brow said...

Starhopper said...
We need to find some word other than homophobia to describe people's beliefs toward homosexuality. I doubt that there are many people out there who actually fear the condition, which is, after all, the meaning of the suffix "phobia".

A phobia can be a fear, or ic an be a dislike. Francophobia is used to describe a dislike of French people, not a fear of them.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
The OP did not mention anything about marriage. Just what was considered a sin.

Unlike heterosexual sex, which is not sinful in and of itself.

SteveK said...
Arbitrary?

Yes.

It's obvious ...

The clause used by people about to say something arbitrary that can't be justified.

... what sex is intended for (final cause) - procreation.

It's more obvious sex is intended for bonding people closer together, from what I can tell.

Legion of Logic said...

It's more obvious sex is intended for bonding people closer together, from what I can tell.

Just to be clear, you are claiming that sexual reproduction evolved as a bonding mechanism between parent organisms, or was designed as such?

bmiller said...

Just to be clear, you are claiming that sexual reproduction evolved as a bonding mechanism between parent organisms, or was designed as such?


Couldn't have been "parenting organisms" since same sexes couldn't have been biological parents. So must just be bonding to something....maybe anything.

Legion of Logic said...

Couldn't have been "parenting organisms" since same sexes couldn't have been biological parents. So must just be bonding to something....maybe anything.

Good point. Simply because sexual reproduction first emerged in organisms that lacked any emotional bonding capabilities doesn't mean that bonding between organisms isn't the purpose of sexual reproduction. Front-loaded evolution, it was.

One Brow said...

Legion of Logic said...
Just to be clear, you are claiming that sexual reproduction evolved as a bonding mechanism between parent organisms, or was designed as such?

Well, as an atheist, the use of "intended" is metaphorical, and my statement is more one of challenge than of belief.

Looking at modern unicelluar organisms, such as bacteria, the reproductive activities are separate from the activities that share genetic information and bind a species together. If are ancestors were similar, that means we, as a population, used sex for gene transfer and species bonding long before we used it to reproduce.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
Couldn't have been "parenting organisms" since same sexes couldn't have been biological parents. So must just be bonding to something....maybe anything.

As an example, there is only one sex of banana slug, and they mutually impregnate each other in pairs. So, it is certainly possible for there to be just one sex.

However, I don't know that this description would fit any of our ancestors.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

From your viewpoint it doesn't really matter what we think our ancestors did or didn't do, does it? You don't believe in final causes, so why bacteria, slugs or humans do what they do is unknowable.

It's also unknowable if a particular specimen is healthy or ill since that would mean that we would have to know what a healthy specimen was supposed to embody. Which means we would have to know how it is supposed to function. But we can't know how it's supposed to function, because that would mean we would have think in teleological terms.

SteveK said...

“Well, as an atheist, the use of "intended" is metaphorical, and my statement is more one of challenge than of belief“

Which means your comment about final cause and bonding was a ruse.

It also means the heart isn’t for (final cause) anything either. The heart is equally for beating irregularly as it is regularly. Birth defects are metaphors because the body isn’t for anything.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
From your viewpoint it doesn't really matter what we think our ancestors did or didn't do, does it? You don't believe in final causes, so why bacteria, slugs or humans do what they do is unknowable.

Nonsense. We know that that they do what they do because their ancestors laid the groundwork for it and out-breeded other ancestors who did differently (not necessarily due to any specific behaviors).

It's also unknowable if a particular specimen is healthy or ill since that would mean that we would have to know what a healthy specimen was supposed to embody.

We know if they have parasites or not, whether temperatures are within a range where body processes function optimally, whether they have growths that shorten lifespan. However, deviations from the typical can be useful in some situations, so the notion of an ideal form interferes with understanding the organism more than it helps such understanding.

Which means we would have to know how it is supposed to function. But we can't know how it's supposed to function, because that would mean we would have think in teleological terms.

Since a detriment in one environment can be an asset in another, saying that one way is how it is supposed to function can also wind up limiting our understanding.

SteveK said...
Which means your comment about final cause and bonding was a ruse.

No, demonstration. A ruse would indicate I was saying something untrue. If I were to assign final causes, I find the argument for bonding being the final cause for sex as persuasive as anything other putative final cause.

It also means the heart isn’t for (final cause) anything either. The heart is equally for beating irregularly as it is regularly.

Organisms want to live. If the heart doesn't beat, the organism doesn't live. That seems like a straight-forward purpose without attaching any mystical add-ons.

Birth defects are metaphors because the body isn’t for anything.

Autism is caused at least in part genetically. Is autism a birth defect? How about dyslexia?

Both conditions involve different sorts of perception, which are sometimes very useful, from how most people are born. So, how do you determine the proper neural stimulation response form?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Me:
You don't believe in final causes, so why bacteria, slugs or humans do what they do is unknowable.

You:
Nonsense. We know that that they do what they do because their ancestors laid the groundwork for it and out-breeded other ancestors who did differently (not necessarily due to any specific behaviors).

You start out disageeing with what you thought I wrote but ended up apparently agreeing with what I actually wrote

We know if they have parasites or not,

How do you know if that good or bad for an organism that doesn't have a purpose?

whether temperatures are within a range where body processes function optimally,

How do you determine what is optimal for an organism that doesn't have a purpose?

whether they have growths that shorten lifespan.

How is a short or long lifespan relevant to an organism that doesn't have a purpose?

so the notion of an ideal form interferes with understanding the organism more than it helps such understanding.

Right. So you apparently think that understanding how most of a population of a particular organism actually functions reduces our understanding. That's interesting.

Have you ever sought medical help then? Doctors think they are in the business to understand what healthy specimens are supposed to look like, detect unhealthy specimens and help them reach a healthy status. Do you think Doctors who study medicine have reduced understanding of health?

Since a detriment in one environment can be an asset in another, saying that one way is how it is supposed to function can also wind up limiting our understanding.

How about if one takes into account the particular environment when determining the best way for an organism to behave? Like telling your children to remember to breath most of the time but not to breath in certain circumstances....like when they're under water for instance. Isn't this just common sense?

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
You start out disageeing with what you thought I wrote but ended up apparently agreeing with what I actually wrote

I don't see how "the why is the success of the ancestral breeding" agree with what you wrote.

How do you know if that good or bad for an organism that doesn't have a purpose?

You confuse purpose generally with a specific type of purpose determined by arbitrary standards. I don't see how arbitrarily imposed standards get us any closer to a purpose.

How do you determine what is optimal for an organism that doesn't have a purpose?

Same way you do for an organism you assign an arbitrary purpose to.

How is a short or long lifespan relevant to an organism that doesn't have a purpose?

I find the length of my life relevant.

Right. So you apparently think that understanding how most of a population of a particular organism actually functions reduces our understanding. That's interesting.

Not the understanding of how they function, but the assignment of proper functioning to any majority property.

Have you ever sought medical help then? Doctors think they are in the business to understand what healthy specimens are supposed to look like, detect unhealthy specimens and help them reach a healthy status. Do you think Doctors who study medicine have reduced understanding of health?

Did you know one of the trends in medicine is individualization?

How about if one takes into account the particular environment when determining the best way for an organism to behave? Like telling your children to remember to breath most of the time but not to breath in certain circumstances....like when they're under water for instance. Isn't this just common sense?

If your children try to breathe underwater without being told not to, they won't live very long.

I note your pass on responding to autism and dyslexia.

SteveK said...

One Brow:
"If I were to assign final causes, I find the argument for bonding being the final cause for sex as persuasive as anything other putative final cause."

When you play make-believe and imagine a final cause, it can be whatever you imagine. We don't live in a world where imagination creates reality so your opinion is meaningless.

"Organisms want to live. If the heart doesn't beat, the organism doesn't live. That seems like a straight-forward purpose without attaching any mystical add-ons."

You're talking about function, not purpose. A heart that produces very little blood flow functions differently than a heart that produces enough flow for the body to sustain life. Without final causality there can be no way to know which one is the defective heart. Doctors claim to know. You claim to know. Everyone claims to know. Is everyone lying or are final causes real?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

You confuse purpose generally with a specific type of purpose determined by arbitrary standards. I don't see how arbitrarily imposed standards get us any closer to a purpose.

Same way you do for an organism you assign an arbitrary purpose to.

I find the length of my life relevant.

These 3 responses did not answer my questions. You seem to be accusing me of applying arbitrary standards when all I'm doing is asking you to explain why you think your standards are not arbitrary.

First:
so the notion of an ideal form interferes with understanding the organism more than it helps such understanding.
Then:
Not the understanding of how they function, but the assignment of proper functioning to any majority property.

Who do you think is doing an "assignment of proper functioning to any majority property"? And what does that even mean? Also how does that clarify your first statement?

Me:
Do you think Doctors who study medicine have reduced understanding of health?
You:
Did you know one of the trends in medicine is individualization?

You simply dodged the question.

I note your pass on responding to autism and dyslexia.

Why should I address your response to SteveK?

But both of us are pointing out that you have been implicitly smuggling in final causality into your arguments while denying final causality.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
When you play make-believe and imagine a final cause, it can be whatever you imagine. We don't live in a world where imagination creates reality so your opinion is meaningless.

Yeah, that's my point. Neither of our imaginations about what a final cause would be creates reality.

You're talking about function, not purpose. A heart that produces very little blood flow functions differently than a heart that produces enough flow for the body to sustain life. Without final causality there can be no way to know which one is the defective heart. Doctors claim to know. You claim to know. Everyone claims to know. Is everyone lying or are final causes real?

Neither. Living things want to live, so for them, the heart that doesn't support their ability to live by creating blood flow is the defective heart. Function is more than sufficient to differentiate between a defective and non-defective heart.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
These 3 responses did not answer my questions. You seem to be accusing me of applying arbitrary standards when all I'm doing is asking you to explain why you think your standards are not arbitrary.

Any application of a final cause is arbitrary.

Who do you think is doing an "assignment of proper functioning to any majority property"?

The people who assign formal causes to such properties.

And what does that even mean?

It means that people take what is common and assume it is what is meant to be.

Also how does that clarify your first statement?

You were speaking of formal and final causers as if they aid understanding of things, when all they are doing is taking the most common properties and putting them forth as the correct situation, as opposed to a situation.

You simply dodged the question.

Did I? My point is that doctors are starting to note that medicine is better performed by looking at each patient and helping that patient get to what works for that patient, rather than achieve some ideal form.

Why should I address your response to SteveK?

My apologies. Slip of the memory.

However, I would like to hear how you can decide whether having dyslexia is the proper form or not. That could be illustrating.

But both of us are pointing out that you have been implicitly smuggling in final causality into your arguments while denying final causality.

If final causality was merely function, I would not object to it at all. Then again, you would likely agree that a function of sex is bonding, and so not be opposed to homosexual marriage, if final cause were nothing but function.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Any application of a final cause is arbitrary.

OK, so I take it that you are admitting that your standards are arbitrary.

You were speaking of formal and final causers as if they aid understanding of things, when all they are doing is taking the most common properties and putting them forth as the correct situation, as opposed to a situation.

No. I only observed that you apparently think that understanding how most of a population of a particular organism actually functions reduces our understanding. It still appears that that is what you are arguinig.

Did I? My point is that doctors are starting to note that medicine is better performed by looking at each patient and helping that patient get to what works for that patient, rather than achieve some ideal form.

Yes, you did dodge the question and you're doing it again. You implied that doctors who study how normal human bodies work are actually reducing their understanding of human health. A curious position indeed. If we took this approach to studying physics, then we might as well give up since it would be impossible to complete experiments assuming that there is no such thing as normal behavior. And making the assumption that there is would actually decrease our knowledge of physics.

If final causality was merely function, I would not object to it at all.

I don't really know what you think final causality is. You seem to accept it and reject it at the same time.

SteveK said...

"Yeah, that's my point. Neither of our imaginations about what a final cause would be creates reality."

You say final causes are imaginary and yet you go on and on about what various things ARE (nature), and what they are FOR (final cause). Your words betray you.

1) You know a heart that fails to pump blood is STILL a heart by nature - a defective heart - and not something entirely else. How do you know it isn't a different organ in the body?

2) You know a heart is FOR pumping blood, and that this purpose is not arbitrarily chosen by your imagination. It's reality.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...


OK, so I take it that you are admitting that your standards are arbitrary.

Some of my standards are arbitrary. I'm not sure how this applies to this discussion, since none of my standards are about final causes.

No. I only observed that you apparently think that understanding how most of a population of a particular organism actually functions reduces our understanding. It still appears that that is what you are arguinig.

Understanding what most of a population does or has (unloess you have a better term, "the majority properties") is a great tool for understanding how that population, as a whole, interacts with the surrounding environment. It has some, but limited, utility in telling us how having or lacking the majority properties affects the life of an individual in the population.

Yes, you did dodge the question and you're doing it again.

The question being, "Do you think Doctors who study medicine have reduced understanding of health?"? Yes, I think studying medicine improve knowledge of health. I was not aware that was a serious topic of discussion.

You implied that doctors who study how normal human bodies work are actually reducing their understanding of human health.

See, this is what I was trying to respond to, your implied point, not the actual question, which had no relevance to this discussion.

Doctors who focus on "how normal human bodies work" (whatever "normal" is supposed to mean) and try only to restore their patients to "how normal human bodies work" are not doing as much good as doctors who try, for each patient, to improve the function of that body for that patient, even when these attempts take that body away from "how normal human bodies work".

A curious position indeed. If we took this approach to studying physics, then we might as well give up since it would be impossible to complete experiments assuming that there is no such thing as normal behavior.

If you make the assumption of normal behavior and what constitutes it, there is no need to do the experiment in the first place. Physicists look for repeatable behaviors in controlled conditions, without any assumption of what is "normal".

I don't really know what you think final causality is. You seem to accept it and reject it at the same time.

Possibly. It's been a while since I read Feser's book. Do feel free to offer corrections, as you can.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
You say final causes are imaginary and yet you go on and on about what various things ARE (nature), and what they are FOR (final cause). Your words betray you.

You are not reading carefully. There is a difference between saying, "a living thing wants its heart to pump blood" and saying "a hear is for pumping blood".

1) You know a heart that fails to pump blood is STILL a heart by nature - a defective heart - and not something entirely else. How do you know it isn't a different organ in the body?

Depends on the body. The types of connections to blood vessels, is the tissue the type of tissue found in other hearts, etc. How does adding in a final cause for the heart help identify whether a piece of tissue is a heart?

2) You know a heart is FOR pumping blood, and that this purpose is not arbitrarily chosen by your imagination. It's reality.

I know that hearts pumps blood. I have no reason to say that hearts have a final cause of pumping blood.

I will also say that, considering hearts perform only this one function, they make a poor comparison to a multi-function activity like sex.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Some of my standards are arbitrary. I'm not sure how this applies to this discussion, since none of my standards are about final causes.

It is relevant since you implied that parasites, non-opimimal temperatures and shortened lifespans were *bad* for an organism. For something to be *bad* for an organism, it implies the organism has some purpose that would be frustrated by the things you mentioned. Or in other words, that the organism has (a) final cause(s) (although you don't want to use the phrase). These were examples you gave indicating you *know* whether a speciman is healthy or not in reply to my observation that you cannot make that claim and be consistent that "final causes" don't exist or are arbitrary.

See, this is what I was trying to respond to, your implied point, not the actual question, which had no relevance to this discussion.

You said so the notion of an ideal form interferes with understanding the organism more than it helps such understanding. You made the question relevant with that statement. So, since you answered that studying medicine and how the normal human body works helps doctors understand health more than it interferes with that understanding I will assume that statement is retracted.

Doctors who focus on "how normal human bodies work" (whatever "normal" is supposed to mean) and try only to restore their patients to "how normal human bodies work" are not doing as much good as doctors who try, for each patient, to improve the function of that body for that patient, even when these attempts take that body away from "how normal human bodies work".

Maybe you dream that there exist in the world someplace doctors who would refuse to prescribe artificial limbs or pacemakers because that's not "how normal human bodies work", but really, do you think you are making a good argument? These fantasy doctors do not actually exist.

If you make the assumption of normal behavior and what constitutes it, there is no need to do the experiment in the first place.

Whoever behaved like this? Who ignores (ignored) empirical evidence other than Parmenides and Zeno?

Physicists look for repeatable behaviors in controlled conditions, without any assumption of what is "normal".

Not exactly. They usually have a hypothesis that they set out to prove or disprove by experiment. They determine normal behavior from the repeatability of the observations. This is what final causes are...just the result that always or for the most part occurs (for the most part since there could be unaccounted for noise factors).

SteveK said...

One Brow:
There is a difference between saying, "a living thing wants its heart to pump blood" and saying "a hear is for pumping blood".

I'm not a subjectivist when it comes to biology. The heart exists in the body before bodily awareness exists. Is a fetus' heart biologically defective if it fails to pump blood? Yes. Objectively, yes. This is a biological fact that first year med students learn in science classrooms every single day.

I know that hearts pumps blood. I have no reason to say that hearts have a final cause of pumping blood

You are saying exactly this when you say: "the organ that is not pumping blood is a heart that is biologically defective."

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
It is relevant since you implied that parasites, non-opimimal temperatures and shortened lifespans were *bad* for an organism. For something to be *bad* for an organism, it implies the organism has some purpose that would be frustrated by the things you mentioned.

While perhaps not consciously, organisms have a desire to live and thrive. Interfering with that desire is bad for the organism. That living and thriving is a purpose chosen by the organism. No final cause needed.

Or in other words, that the organism has (a) final cause(s) (although you don't want to use the phrase).

A final cause is a purpose the organism does not seek nor choose for itself.

These were examples you gave indicating you *know* whether a speciman is healthy or not in reply to my observation that you cannot make that claim and be consistent that "final causes" don't exist or are arbitrary.

Yes, and none of these examples require an externally-applied purpose to know that they are interfering with the thriving of the organism.

You said so the notion of an ideal form interferes with understanding the organism more than it helps such understanding. You made the question relevant with that statement. So, since you answered that studying medicine and how the normal human body works helps doctors understand health more than it interferes with that understanding I will assume that statement is retracted.

I said, "Yes, I think studying medicine improve (sic) knowledge of health." I did not say, "studying medicine and how the normal human body works helps doctors understand health". If you are not deliberately lying here then you are certainly playing fast and loose with what I typed.

Doctors need to be able to work on the human body regardless of how atypical it is, and to do that, they need to know that atypical bodies can be fully functional. CNN just had a news story about such a person.

https://www.cnn.com/2019/04/08/health/99-year-old-backward-organs-medical-oddity/index.html

Now, I fully acknowledge that CNN is using a lot of final-cause laden language. My point is that despite Bentley tissues being in atypical places and going through atypical areas, she was a fully functional human being. Applying any notions of forms, to refer to her as de-formed, lessens our understanding of her anatomy.

Maybe you dream that there exist in the world someplace doctors who would refuse to prescribe artificial limbs or pacemakers because that's not "how normal human bodies work", but really, do you think you are making a good argument? These fantasy doctors do not actually exist.

I work for medical researchers. Try again.

Whoever behaved like this? Who ignores (ignored) empirical evidence other than Parmenides and Zeno?

My point exactly. Most people don't assume some normal behavior, they look for actual behavior.

Not exactly. They usually have a hypothesis that they set out to prove or disprove by experiment. They determine normal behavior from the repeatability of the observations. This is what final causes are...just the result that always or for the most part occurs (for the most part since there could be unaccounted for noise factors).

Then, since sex for the most part results in feelings of bonding between the two partners, we can agree that the final cause of sex is bonding, and that homosexual marriages should be legitimized?

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
I'm not a subjectivist when it comes to biology. The heart exists in the body before bodily awareness exists. Is a fetus' heart biologically defective if it fails to pump blood? Yes. Objectively, yes. This is a biological fact that first year med students learn in science classrooms every single day.

Unless there is something else that pumps the blood instead.

You are saying exactly this when you say: "the organ that is not pumping blood is a heart that is biologically defective."

So, when I say that sex partners who don't develop affectionate feelings for each other are emotionally defective, that the final cause of sex is bonding, that that by natural law homosexual marriage fulfills the final cause of sex, you would agree?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

While perhaps not consciously, organisms have a desire to live and thrive. Interfering with that desire is bad for the organism. That living and thriving is a purpose chosen by the organism. No final cause needed.

A final cause is a purpose the organism does not seek nor choose for itself.

Why do you think a "final cause" needs to be chosen? Where did you get that as a requirement?

Yes, and none of these examples require an externally-applied purpose to know that they are interfering with the thriving of the organism.

Why do you think final causes are "externally-applied"?

I did not say, "studying medicine and how the normal human body works helps doctors understand health". If you are not deliberately lying here then you are certainly playing fast and loose with what I typed.

So are you asserting that doctors do not study the normal functioning of humans? I am trying to establish that doctors can only tell if an organ is healthy if they know what a healthy organ looks like. You seem to want to dispute this.

I work for medical researchers. Try again.

Then why imply that anyone was ever trying to make that case?

SteveK said...

Unless there is something else that pumps the blood instead.

Huh? That's nonsense. A defective heart is a defective heart.

So, when I say that sex partners who don't develop affectionate feelings for each other are emotionally defective, that the final cause of sex is bonding, that that by natural law homosexual marriage fulfills the final cause of sex, you would agree?

No.

One Brow said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
One Brow said...

bmiller said...
A final cause is a purpose the organism does not seek nor choose for itself.

Why do you think a "final cause" needs to be chosen? Where did you get that as a requirement?

That's not what I meant. The actual purposes of an organism are the ones it chooses by its interactions/decisions/reactions. Final causes are not among the purposes chosen by the organism.

Why do you think final causes are "externally-applied"?

They are something we slap onto our description of an organism, that has no effect on its internal workings or the life of the organism.

So are you asserting that doctors do not study the normal functioning of humans? I am trying to establish that doctors can only tell if an organ is healthy if they know what a healthy organ looks like. You seem to want to dispute this.

Doctors study the common functioning of humans, but they also study uncommon functioning. If an organ system is functioning, it's better to not interfere with it even if the way it functions is unusual.

Then why imply that anyone was ever trying to make that case?

You misunderstood. Not every patient missing a limb is a good candidate for an artificial limb. Sometimes, instead of trying the fit the patient into something closer to what you would call normal, the better choice involves moving away from the normal and toward something more functional.

One Brow said...

bmiller,

No answer for this?

Not exactly. They usually have a hypothesis that they set out to prove or disprove by experiment. They determine normal behavior from the repeatability of the observations. This is what final causes are...just the result that always or for the most part occurs (for the most part since there could be unaccounted for noise factors).

Then, since sex for the most part results in feelings of bonding between the two partners, we can agree that the final cause of sex is bonding, and that homosexual marriages should be legitimized?

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
Huh? That's nonsense. A defective heart is a defective heart.

What matters is function. As long as the blood is being pumped, why does it matter if it is the heart doing the pumping?

You are saying exactly this when you say: "the organ that is not pumping blood is a heart that is biologically defective."

So, when I say that sex partners who don't develop affectionate feelings for each other are emotionally defective, that the final cause of sex is bonding, that that by natural law homosexual marriage fulfills the final cause of sex, you would agree?


No.

I look forward to your explanation of why identifying one type of defect leads to a final cause and identifying the other type does not.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Last things first:

No answer for this?

I didn't answer the question because it is a non-sequitor. The question doesn't follow from the discussion because I don't think you understand final causes, (at least the way I do). Furthermore, you haven't even started to discuss what is meant by bonding nor marriage.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

That's not what I meant. The actual purposes of an organism are the ones it chooses by its interactions/decisions/reactions. Final causes are not among the purposes chosen by the organism.

This is why I think you don't understand what a final cause is. Why do you say this:

"Final causes are not among the purposes chosen by the organism."

They are something we slap onto our description of an organism, that has no effect on its internal workings or the life of the organism.

No. A final cause is just the result that always or for the most part occurs. For naturally occurring substances this happens by their nature. It would only be considered external if we used some natural substance or combination of them for our own artificial purpose.

Doctors study the common functioning of humans, but they also study uncommon functioning. If an organ system is functioning, it's better to not interfere with it even if the way it functions is unusual.

Of course. Doctor's don't always operate because a heart is not functioning perfectly. But if a heart is starting to fail, they will be willing to perform corrective surgery. They still need to understand the function, what is considered optimal and what is considered failing.

You misunderstood.

If I did, it's because you have given the impression you think that there are some people out there (maybe A-T philosophers) who dogmatically declare what is "normal", ignore empirical evidence and also ignore particular circumstances while trying to restore everything to "normal" like a badly programmed robot run amok.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
I didn't answer the question because it is a non-sequitor. The question doesn't follow from the discussion because I don't think you understand final causes, (at least the way I do). Furthermore, you haven't even started to discuss what is meant by bonding nor marriage.

Well, I was using your definition of final cause (which I have to acknowledge seems different from other ideas I have read):

This is what final causes are...just the result that always or for the most part occurs (for the most part since there could be unaccounted for noise factors).

If you didn't mean that for a definition, I would be happy to see what your definition actually is.

In this discussion, bonding would be the development of feelings of warmth, closeness, and kinship between two people. Marriage would be the formal commitment between two presumably bonded, sexually involved people and the community recognition of that formalized bond.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...

This is why I think you don't understand what a final cause is. Why do you say this:

"Final causes are not among the purposes chosen by the organism."


I'm not aware of any formulation of final causes where an organism can choose what its final cause is, or what the final cause of some part of that organism is. Do you disagree with the statement as written? If not, what it the issue?

No. A final cause is just the result that always or for the most part occurs. For naturally occurring substances this happens by their nature. It would only be considered external if we used some natural substance or combination of them for our own artificial purpose.

By this definition, since human sex results in reproduction much less often than it does not result in reproduction, reproduction would not be a final cause of human sex.

Of course. Doctor's don't always operate because a heart is not functioning perfectly. But if a heart is starting to fail, they will be willing to perform corrective surgery. They still need to understand the function, what is considered optimal and what is considered failing.

They also need to understand if the function is being performed in atypical ways.

If I did, it's because you have given the impression you think that there are some people out there (maybe A-T philosophers) who dogmatically declare what is "normal", ignore empirical evidence and also ignore particular circumstances while trying to restore everything to "normal" like a badly programmed robot run amok.

That's a fairly good description of Feser's attitude toward the final cause of sex.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

I'm not aware of any formulation of final causes where an organism can choose what its final cause is, or what the final cause of some part of that organism is. Do you disagree with the statement as written? If not, what it the issue?

Who ever claimed that organisms decide what their own final causes are? You seem to exclude what an organisms normally choose as possible final causes. Gazelles normally run from lions because it is in their nature to do so.

By this definition, since human sex results in reproduction much less often than it does not result in reproduction, reproduction would not be a final cause of human sex.

Human reproduction occurs always or for the most part from male and female intercourse.

That's a fairly good description of Feser's attitude toward the final cause of sex.

I suspect you didn't understand what he wrote. Do you have a quote?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

In this discussion, bonding would be the development of feelings of warmth, closeness, and kinship between two people.

Mothers and infants would qualify. So would team members on a basketball team or a military unit. So would kindergarten teachers and their students.

Marriage would be the formal commitment between two presumably bonded, sexually involved people and the community recognition of that formalized bond.

What commitment? How does one determine legitimate from illegitimate intentions? What type of bond? What does sexually involved mean? What community? Formalized how?

You have too many unstated assumptions, only one of which is a bad understanding of final causes.

One Brow said...

Blogger bmiller said...
Who ever claimed that organisms decide what their own final causes are?

As I pointed out, no one, to my knowledge. I'm not sure why you disagree.

You seem to exclude what an organisms normally choose as possible final causes.

So, you do disagree? You are not being clear.

Gazelles normally run from lions because it is in their nature to do so.

Is that meant to illustrate that the final cause of the gazelle is to run from lions? If not, how does that illustrate final cause?

Human reproduction occurs always or for the most part from male and female intercourse.

Many different things occur always or for the most part from male and female intercourse. Are they all final causes?

I suspect you didn't understand what he wrote. Do you have a quote?

Anytime he says that sex is only being used in accordance with natural law when the participants are married and semen is deposited in the vagina.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
Mothers and infants would qualify. So would team members on a basketball team or a military unit. So would kindergarten teachers and their students.

And?

What commitment? How does one determine legitimate from illegitimate intentions? What type of bond? What does sexually involved mean? What community? Formalized how?

Take your pick. Do we ask all these questions about marriages today? Why the need for such a precise definition?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

I'm done guessing what you think a final cause is. If you want to tell me fine. If you don't that's fine also.

It seems to me you've lost interest and are perhaps are just trolling now. Probably from the beginning.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...

I'm done guessing what you think a final cause is. If you want to tell me fine. If you don't that's fine also.

Sorry, I didn't realize you were asking.

While some of the article is illegible, I went over the definitions of the four causes from Feser's The Last Superstition here.

My understanding of a final cause has not changed much, that "the final cause is the reason the ball was constructed", or more generally, the reason that something occurs. That's why I find your focus on outputs, instead of reasons, somewhat confusing. That's also why I find the way Feser chooses final causes to be arbitrary.

bmiller said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
bmiller said...

One Brow,

My understanding of a final cause has not changed much, that "the final cause is the reason the ball was constructed"

That was just an introductory example of a final cause to distinguish it from the other 3 types of causes (and an explicit example of an *artifical* final cause rather than an *natural* one).

Is that all the further you read? Because he explains naturally occurring final causes something like this later in the book.

or more generally, the reason that something occurs.

This ignores the formal, efficient and material causes as reasons.

That's why I find your focus on outputs, instead of reasons, somewhat confusing. That's also why I find the way Feser chooses final causes to be arbitrary.

I'm focusing on what A-T considers final causes. Dr Feser is an A-T philosopher and so agrees with what all A-T philosophers consider final causes. I very much doubt he would disagree with anything I've said, especially since my definition is a quote from Aristotle. There are plenty of online sources to check to see if what I've posted is valid. Just google the phrase "always or for the most part" (use the quote marks).

One Brow said...

bmiller,

That introductory example is different in character from the later example. "The reason the ball was constructed" is not in any sense a description of the disposition of the ball under various efficient causes toward specific responses by the ball. Further, the latter description would mean that the same item, or action, would have different final causes in different circumstances. We could not meaningful speak a a single final cause for any action nor object.

This ignores the formal, efficient and material causes as reasons.

I meant reason as in purpose, not as in kickoff condition.

I very much doubt he would disagree with anything I've said, especially since my definition is a quote from Aristotle.

Then ultimately, final causes will not be able to support what is a good use of something, because different final causes will be expected in different circumstances. It's by adding in the exterior purpose that you can say a use is good or bad. Referring to both a directed outcome and an exterior purpose/intention by the same phrase "final cause" is sloppy.

Then again, perhaps I'm wrong, any you/Feser don't claim sex has a single, dominant final final cause. My earlier reading of TLS seemed to indicate this was so, but I may have misunderstood that as well.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

That introductory example is different in character from the later example.

Yes, the ball was an explicit example of an *artifical* final cause rather than an *natural* one.

Further, the latter description would mean that the same item, or action, would have different final causes in different circumstances. We could not meaningful speak a a single final cause for any action nor object.

If you mean a gazelle's running could be due either to a lion chasing it or a desire to reach the water hole first, then yes. So one has to look at all the causes to reach a determination.

Then ultimately, final causes will not be able to support what is a good use of something, because different final causes will be expected in different circumstances. It's by adding in the exterior purpose that you can say a use is good or bad. Referring to both a directed outcome and an exterior purpose/intention by the same phrase "final cause" is sloppy.

I don't understand your complaint. 2 distinctions between final causes are presented...natural vs artificial. When you use a hammer, you impose an exterior purpose on that particular combination of metal and wood, otherwise the hammer would just be attacted to the center of the earth.

Then again, perhaps I'm wrong, any you/Feser don't claim sex has a single, dominant final final cause

Does sexual reproduction always or for the most part result from male and female intercourse? To me the answer seems obvious, but it apparently not to you. Why?

SteveK said...

”A struck match generates fire and heat rather than frost and cold; an acorn always grows into an oak rather than a rosebush or a dog; the moon goes around the earth in a smooth elliptical orbit rather than zigzagging erratically; the heart pumps blood continuously and doesn’t stop and start several times a day; condensation results in precipitation which results in collection which results in evaporation which in turn results in condensation; and so forth. In each of these cases and in countless others we have regularities that point to ends or goals, usually totally unconscious, which are just built into nature and can be known through observation to be there whether or not it ever occurs to anyone to ask how they got there.”
- Edward Feser ‘Aquinas’

SteveK said...

“the heart pumps blood continuously and doesn’t stop and start several times a day”

The natural end is the continuous heart activity. A stopping and starting heart is an example of this natural end being interrupted by something. Everyone recognizes this as a defect, because it is.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
That introductory example is different in character from the later example.

Yes, the ball was an explicit example of an *artifical* final cause rather than an *natural* one.

No, I meant in that looking as the reason for something existing is different from looking at the result of what what happens to that thing in certain environments.

If you mean a gazelle's running could be due either to a lion chasing it or a desire to reach the water hole first, then yes. So one has to look at all the causes to reach a determination.

So, you agree that we can't meaningful speak of a single final cause for something like a gazelle running, or for sex?

I don't understand your complaint. 2 distinctions between final causes are presented...natural vs artificial. When you use a hammer, you impose an exterior purpose on that particular combination of metal and wood, otherwise the hammer would just be attacted to the center of the earth.

I'm saying that using the same term "final cause" to describe "I created that to pound nails" and "it melts when I put it into a furnace" is sloppy thinking.

Does sexual reproduction always or for the most part result from male and female intercourse?

You are now reversing the argument. The final cause of sex is the result of what happens when we have sex. The vast minority of sexual intercourses cause pregnancy, so for most of them, the final cause is not sex.

If you want to add "the way that X happens is through Y" to the ways we can determine a final cause of Y, you are now adding a third distinct idea to the notion of final cause.

To me the answer seems obvious, but it apparently not to you. Why?

You have a habit of asking irrelevant, obvious questions as if they support your argument. Yes, by definition, sexual reproduction comes from having sex. Are you adding this as yet another type of final cause determination to the other two?

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
The natural end is the continuous heart activity. A stopping and starting heart is an example of this natural end being interrupted by something. Everyone recognizes this as a defect, because it is.

Natural ends of things change in different environments, as we have been discussing. The natural end of an acorn planted in soil is to grow, the natural end of an acorn tossed into a fire is to burn.

Starhopper said...

"The vast minority of sexual intercourses cause pregnancy, so for most of them, the final cause is not sex."

Whoa! A major league batter hits the ball at best maybe one third of the time he gets to the plate. And even then, he often has to swing at a pitch 5, 6, or even more times (depending on how many foul balls he hits). Plus up to 3 balls.

So only a tiny minority of the time does his facing the pitcher result in a hit. Hmm... Does this mean that the purpose of his getting to the plate is not to get a hit?

SteveK said...

One Brow
Each stage of human development - human life - has the production of some particular outcome or range of outcomes as an “end” or “goal” towards which it points. The same is true for oaks.

Naturally an oak will develop an acorn, and it will fall into the soil below and grow. An acorn does not naturally fall into fire. Fire is not part of the natural development of an oak.

SteveK said...

One Brow is unable to distinguish between a naturally occurring series of events and the intersection of two different naturally occurring series of events.

Causal Series 1 naturally produces a limited range of "ends". Causal Series 2 naturally produces some other limited range. It's possible for Series 2 to causally alter Series 1 so that some other end occurs, but that end is not a natural end for Series 1.

Ex:
Series 1 = the natural development of human life
Series 2 = the natural falling of rocks down a hill

It's possible for Series 2 to halt/disable/deform/alter the natural end of Series 1. Everyone knows that Series 2 has NOTHING to do with Series 1 so it's nonsensical to say that a natural end of human development is a disabled/deformed life.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

If you want to complain about how Aristotle classified one type of final cause from another that's your perogative. I find it rather similar to how 4-sided figures can be classified as squares, rectangles, trapezoids etc. Just part of the system one is investigating and taking account of all cases.

You are now reversing the argument.

I'm not reversing it anything. I'm asking a very specific question. I'm essentially asking the question "where do babies come from?" The answer is always or for the most part from male/female intercourse.

To use Starhopper's example, I could ask "where do home runs come from?" The answer would be always or for the most part from a hitter (material and formal cause) batting (efficient cause) the ball (material and formal cause) into the stands (final cause).

You have a habit of asking irrelevant, obvious questions as if they support your argument. Yes, by definition, sexual reproduction comes from having sex. Are you adding this as yet another type of final cause determination to the other two?

My question is obvious but not irrelevant. The example is not "another type of final cause determination". It is a relevant and clear example of the explanation of the empirical evidence that babies always or for the most part are a result of male/female intercourse.

For accuracy purposes, sexual reproduction does not come from having (unqualified) sex. It always or for the most part comes from male/female intercourse.

bmiller said...

SteveK,

I believe that TLS describes an example or two similar to yours. Like something falling off a ladder and interfering with someone's walk if I remember correctly.

SteveK said...

@bmiller
This conversation sorta reminds me of the one we had with Dusty and Cal where the (false) thinking was that the refinery causes the train motion. Understanding AT metaphysics isn't easy but it isn't difficult either if you're willing to put in the time to understand it.

SteveK said...

...and grandfathers cause their grandchildren to move sticks around.
LOL!

bmiller said...

HA! Yes, I remember the ghostly mover!

But unlike those 2, I think One Brow is showing he's willing and capable of understanding the gist of it. At the very least he will be able to formulate better arguments against it.

One Brow said...

Starhopper said...
So only a tiny minority of the time does his facing the pitcher result in a hit. Hmm... Does this mean that the purpose of his getting to the plate is not to get a hit?

This is what I meant by 'using the same term "final cause" to describe "I created that to pound nails" and "it melts when I put it into a furnace" is sloppy thinking'.

I am seeing three distinct notions of final cause being discussed here.
1. The result of an efficient cause being applied to some material in some form, and the notion that if the efficient, material, and formal causes are all the same, so it the final cause. We might say this is "inevitability of results".
2. The notion that an action can be undertaken with a specific goal in mind, regardless of whether that goal is accomplished. Perhaps we could call this "purpose".
3. A specific result only has a single pathway for the it to be accomplished. Maybe that would be a "needful prior".

AFAICT, each of these three are independent, and can be accepted about a process without involving the other two. So I agree that the purpose of the batter is to get a hit, but inevitability of results may not lead to that conclusion.

Again, referring to all 3 concepts as "final cause" is sloppy thinking.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
Each stage of human development - human life - has the production of some particular outcome or range of outcomes as an “end” or “goal” towards which it points. The same is true for oaks.

If you are referring to the inevitability of results, then what that stage of life will point to will change depending on the surrounding environment.

Naturally an oak will develop an acorn, and it will fall into the soil below and grow. An acorn does not naturally fall into fire. Fire is not part of the natural development of an oak.

I am unaware of how acorns could unnaturally fall into a fire. Are you saying no acorns are ever lost in fires? I don't think so.

Further, if an acorns falls and is then not moved by something else, it falls into the shade of it's parent tree, and will not develop into a separate tree of its own. It's only when the course of the acorn is changed by some outside influence that it can develop into a tree.

One Brow is unable to distinguish between a naturally occurring series of events and the intersection of two different naturally occurring series of events.

Every series of events interacts with its environment, and those interactions always affect the progress of that series.

Causal Series 1 naturally produces a limited range of "ends". Causal Series 2 naturally produces some other limited range. It's possible for Series 2 to causally alter Series 1 so that some other end occurs, but that end is not a natural end for Series 1.

Now we have moved onto something formally called a "causal series". What is your definition for a "causal series"?

Ex:
Series 1 = the natural development of human life
Series 2 = the natural falling of rocks down a hill

It's possible for Series 2 to halt/disable/deform/alter the natural end of Series 1. Everyone knows that Series 2 has NOTHING to do with Series 1 so it's nonsensical to say that a natural end of human development is a disabled/deformed life.


Are you saying rock slides are unnatural, or that they are unnatural when they injure humans?

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
If you want to complain about how Aristotle classified one type of final cause from another that's your perogative. I find it rather similar to how 4-sided figures can be classified as squares, rectangles, trapezoids etc. Just part of the system one is investigating and taking account of all cases.

I don't worship Aristotle. I see no reason to accept his thinking was free of error.

At any rate, I don't see inevitability of results, purpose, and needful priors as being three different variations of the same thing, the way rectangles and trapezoids are variations on the quadrilateral.

For accuracy purposes, sexual reproduction does not come from having (unqualified) sex. It always or for the most part comes from male/female intercourse.

OK. So?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

I am seeing three distinct notions of final cause being discussed here.
1. The result of an efficient cause being applied to some material in some form, and the notion that if the efficient, material, and formal causes are all the same, so it the final cause. We might say this is "inevitability of results".
2. The notion that an action can be undertaken with a specific goal in mind, regardless of whether that goal is accomplished. Perhaps we could call this "purpose".
3. A specific result only has a single pathway for the it to be accomplished. Maybe that would be a "needful prior".


Can you please explain your distinction between #1 and #3?

#2 is merely the impedance of a final cause. For instance, a dropped book tends to move toward the ground, but if it encounters a table on it's way, then it's travel to the end state it is directed toward is interrupted.

One Brow said...

bmiller,

#1 is a slightly narrower restatement of on of the assumptions underlying science (reproducibility of results), in that it it assigns reasons for the reproduciblity based on the natures of the substances involved.
#3 talks about the exclusiveness of a pathway. You have used it for human reproduction. By contrast, I'm sure you would agree there are many ways to light a camp fire, so camp fire would not have a needful prior.

For #2, it is not relevant, from what I can tell, whether there is impedance or not, only that purpose exists. Going back to the discussion with SteveK, an acorn burning in a is natural, as is an acorn growing into a tree, but only the latter is considered as fulfilling the purpose of the acorn. The purpose exists regardless of the surroundings.

Now, I'm not saying that I know you, SteveK or Starhopper mean that all three are required/present in/part of final cause, but I have certainly seen all 3 being used as examples of or support for the idea. It would be helpful to clarify which of these notions, along with possibly some other notions, are needed to accept the existence of final cause. For example, you can accept the inevitability of results without accepting the existence of purpose. Do you need to accept both to accept final cause?

SteveK said...

I am unaware of how acorns could unnaturally fall into a fire. Are you saying no acorns are ever lost in fires? I don't think so.

Read what I said and you'll have your answer. Fire is not part of the natural development of an oak tree. That should not be controversial but here you are trying your best.

Further, if an acorns falls and is then not moved by something else, it falls into the shade of it's parent tree, and will not develop into a separate tree of its own. It's only when the course of the acorn is changed by some outside influence that it can develop into a tree.

I never claimed that outside influences aren't involved. I only said that fire is not part of the natural development of an oak tree. What should be clear is that some outside influences are NOT part of the natural cycle of development.

Are you saying rock slides are unnatural, or that they are unnatural when they injure humans?

I'm saying rock slides are not part of the natural human development cycle. Fire is not part of it either. Both are extraneous to it. Ask a biologist or a doctor if you don't believe me.

SteveK said...

”Part of the reason the Aristotelian regards efficient causality as unintelligible without final causality is that without the notion of an end or goal towards which an efficient cause naturally points, there is no way to make sense of why certain causal chains are significant in a way others are not. For example, in characterizing the DNA of bears, we take it to be relevant to note that it causes them to be furry and to grow to a large size, but not that it also thereby causes them to be good mascots for football teams. The genetic information in bear DNA inherently “points to” or is “directed at” the first outcome, but not the second. But this sort of consideration applies to causal chains generally, including inorganic ones.”
- Edward Feser, ‘Aquinas’

SteveK said...

One more time for emphasis. Why does anyone think final causes exist?

“without the notion of an end or goal towards which an efficient cause naturally points, there is no way to make sense of why certain causal chains are significant in a way others are not”

One Brow said...

SteveK,
Read what I said and you'll have your answer. Fire is not part of the natural development of an oak tree. That should not be controversial but here you are trying your best.

Now we have the phrase "natural development". Is this yet another concept of determining a final cause? Is this different from "inevitability of results", "purpose" and/or "needful prior"?

I never claimed that outside influences aren't involved. I only said that fire is not part of the natural development of an oak tree. What should be clear is that some outside influences are NOT part of the natural cycle of development.

How does one determine which outside influence encourages natural development (what ever that is) and which one interferes with it?

Ask a biologist or a doctor if you don't believe me.

I don't know many biologists or doctors that are experts on final cause terminology. They would probably misunderstand what you mean by "natural development".

”Part of the reason the Aristotelian regards efficient causality as unintelligible without final causality is that without the notion of an end or goal towards which an efficient cause naturally points, there is no way to make sense of why certain causal chains are significant in a way others are not. For example, in characterizing the DNA of bears, we take it to be relevant to note that it causes them to be furry and to grow to a large size, but not that it also thereby causes them to be good mascots for football teams. The genetic information in bear DNA inherently “points to” or is “directed at” the first outcome, but not the second. But this sort of consideration applies to causal chains generally, including inorganic ones.”
- Edward Feser, ‘Aquinas’


The DNA of bears can't be an efficient cause to the bears, because DNA is internal to the bear, and efficient causes are external to the change itself. Feser is not being consistent in his terminology here.

At any rate, "the notion of an end or goal towards which an efficient cause naturally points" is what I am referring to as "inevitability of results". However, you get the inevitability of results with causes that you claim interfere with the undefined natural development just as much as you get them with whatever causes you think activate natural development, so you can't use that to distinguish between them.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

As SteveK expressed it, an acorn will naturally grow into an oak tree. It is the only way an oak tree is naturally produced. Now there could be things or events that prevent the acorn from naturally becoming an oak tree but that doesn't mean that oak trees are not caused by acorns naturally developing.

So #2 is not an explanation of a final cause, but an explanation of why some thing or process did not reach its' natural final state.

Regarding your #1 and #3. I'm still not sure I understand, so let me write some things that you can comment on.

#1 is a slightly narrower restatement of on of the assumptions underlying science (reproducibility of results), in that it it assigns reasons for the reproduciblity based on the natures of the substances involved.
#3 talks about the exclusiveness of a pathway. You have used it for human reproduction. By contrast, I'm sure you would agree there are many ways to light a camp fire, so camp fire would not have a needful prior.


I would think that the fact that human reproduction always or for the most part results from male and female intercourse is scientifically verifiable as a naturally exclusive pathway. So maybe by #3 you intend to point out that the cause of some particular observed phenomena cannot be determined without at least further investigation? I can agree with that.

For example, you can accept the inevitability of results without accepting the existence of purpose.

By purpose do you mean *final cause*? Because in A-T philosophy *final cause* means the repeatability and therefore the predictibility of natural substances when dealing with natural things and the *purpose* of the artist when dealing with artificial substances or natural substances used in an artificial way. So natural things behave the way they do (when they behave in a repeatable fashion) since they are directed toward a final end (final cause) by their nature. Artifical things are made to behave the way they do due to the end designated (final cause) by the artist.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
As SteveK expressed it, an acorn will naturally grow into an oak tree. It is the only way an oak tree is naturally produced. Now there could be things or events that prevent the acorn from naturally becoming an oak tree but that doesn't mean that oak trees are not caused by acorns naturally developing.

An acorn will also naturally burn into acorn ash. It is the only way acorn ash is naturally produced. Acorns don't burn in every circumstance, but that doesn't mean acorn ash is not produced by acorns naturally burning.

So #2 is not an explanation of a final cause, but an explanation of why some thing or process did not reach its' natural final state.

No non-dormant living thing has a final state. Oak trees continually change throughout their existence.

Regarding your #1 and #3. I'm still not sure I understand, so let me write some things that you can comment on.

I'm asking if, for you and/or SteveK, these four concepts (inevitability of results, purpose, needful priors, natural development) are an essential part of what a final cause is or of determining what a final cause is.

I would think that the fact that human reproduction always or for the most part results from male and female intercourse is scientifically verifiable as a naturally exclusive pathway. So maybe by #3 you intend to point out that the cause of some particular observed phenomena cannot be determined without at least further investigation? I can agree with that.

I'm asking why you keep pointing this out, and what it has to do with final causes.

By purpose do you mean *final cause*? Because in A-T philosophy *final cause* means the repeatability and therefore the predictibility of natural substances when dealing with natural things and the *purpose* of the artist when dealing with artificial substances or natural substances used in an artificial way. So natural things behave the way they do (when they behave in a repeatable fashion) since they are directed toward a final end (final cause) by their nature. Artifical things are made to behave the way they do due to the end designated (final cause) by the artist.

What's the difference between a natural thing and an artificial thing? Is a bird's nest natural or artificial? I use the terms myself in a loose fashion, but if you are tying something like final cause into it, the definitions need to be precise.

Also, I don't see natural things as as having any sort of final end toward which they can be directed, and at any rate, in AT metaphysics the direction of the natural thing is dependent upon the efficient causes encountered by the natural thing. Part of the point of the first mover argument is that things do not direct themselves, they are pushed in a direction of change by an efficient cause, and any direction is as natural as any other direction.

SteveK said...

"No non-dormant living thing has a final state. Oak trees continually change throughout their existence."

You are contradicting yourself. You reference the final state (oak tree) and you also deny that it exists because existence is always changing. Which is it?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

An acorn will also naturally burn into acorn ash. It is the only way acorn ash is naturally produced. Acorns don't burn in every circumstance, but that doesn't mean acorn ash is not produced by acorns naturally burning.

If acorn ash were the final cause of acorns and oak trees were not, then acorns would not naturally tend to produce oaks but instead would naturally tend to produce acorn ash. But if there would be no oaks there would be no acorns and so no acorn ash. Now you may want to burn acorns yourself, or a forest fire may burn acorns and in both cases, the final cause of a particular acorn may not be fulfilled but that only means the final cause was impeded. I think botanists would agree.

No non-dormant living thing has a final state. Oak trees continually change throughout their existence.

Some changes are changes in substance (per se) and some changes are changes merely in non-essential properties (per accidens). The fact that you observe that an oak tree can change and still be called an oak is evidence of this.

I'm asking if, for you and/or SteveK, these four concepts (inevitability of results, purpose, needful priors, natural development) are an essential part of what a final cause is or of determining what a final cause is.

I'm asking why you keep pointing this out, and what it has to do with final causes.

It seems you are familiar with the other 3 causes (material, formal, efficient). Aristotle didn't think those 3 gave a complete explanation for why a thing was what is was. He thought the fact that things happened always or for the most part in a certain way as vital for the entire explanation. As I posted, I'm not sure I understand your distinctions.

What's the difference between a natural thing and an artificial thing? Is a bird's nest natural or artificial? I use the terms myself in a loose fashion, but if you are tying something like final cause into it, the definitions need to be precise.

The difference is that man creates art, hence the designation of artificial. So a bird naturally makes a bird nest for protecting its' eggs, while a man could use the bird's nest to make soup. So the natural final cause of a bird's nest is to protect eggs, while an artificial final cause of that nest could be for making soup.

Also, I don't see natural things as as having any sort of final end toward which they can be directed, and at any rate, in AT metaphysics the direction of the natural thing is dependent upon the efficient causes encountered by the natural thing.

I'm sure you agree that sometimes things can get directed toward some final end by an obvious agent. I'm also sure you would agree that things naturally do what they do without an obvious agent, like a book falling to the floor. That's the difference between "violent" (or accidental) motion and natural motion.

Part of the point of the first mover argument is that things do not direct themselves, they are pushed in a direction of change by an efficient cause, and any direction is as natural as any other direction.

Final causes are just considered as one of the proximate 4 causes to adequately explain the "why" of a thing. Scientific study would not be possible without things being repeatable and Aristotle makes this point in his introductory chapters of Physics. Things that do not occur in a repeatable fashion are poor subjects for physical science to study. That's why during a scientific experiment studying what happens naturally, like a ball falling, we try to eliminate things that would interfere with the natural movement and cause a "violent" or "accidental" movement. Sorry about the terminology, but that is how it is described.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
You are contradicting yourself. You reference the final state (oak tree) and you also deny that it exists because existence is always changing. Which is it?

This made no sense. If I understand your thinking, you can reference acorns without thinking acorns are in a final state. Why not oak trees?

SteveK said...

How can any thing have a fixed state - final or otherwise - if that thing is continuously changing?

SteveK said...

"If acorn ash were the final cause of acorns and oak trees were not, then acorns would not naturally tend to produce oaks but instead would naturally tend to produce acorn ash."

The natural order is skewed toward producing oak trees, not acorn ash. In other words, there are forces at work *causing* the skewed outcome. Nature is not random, it is ordered, and it's incorrect to say (as One Brow said above) that final causes are arbitrarily determined.

One Brow said...

If acorn ash were the final cause of acorns and oak trees were not, then acorns would not naturally tend to produce oaks but instead would naturally tend to produce acorn ash. But if there would be no oaks there would be no acorns and so no acorn ash. Now you may want to burn acorns yourself, or a forest fire may burn acorns and in both cases, the final cause of a particular acorn may not be fulfilled but that only means the final cause was impeded. I think botanists would agree.

I don't know many botanists who also have expertise in AT metaphysics. Can you name any?

Acorns do naturally tend to produce acorn ash when exposed to the efficient cause of high temperatures, such as a fire. Acorns do not naturally produce oaks unless also exposed to the proper efficient causes (soil, water, etc.). If the final cause of something is merely the result of the application of an efficient cause to that thing, acorn ash is every bit as much a final cause of acorns as are oak trees. So, how do you decide the true final cause is oak trees, and not acorn ash?

Some changes are changes in substance (per se) and some changes are changes merely in non-essential properties (per accidens). The fact that you observe that an oak tree can change and still be called an oak is evidence of this.

An acorn is made of the same substances (carbon, hydrogen, oxygen, etc.) that an oak tree is. If the growth of an oak tree from year to year is not a change in state because the substance is the same, than the growth of an acorn into a tree is also not a change in state.

It seems you are familiar with the other 3 causes (material, formal, efficient). Aristotle didn't think those 3 gave a complete explanation for why a thing was what is was. He thought the fact that things happened always or for the most part in a certain way as vital for the entire explanation. As I posted, I'm not sure I understand your distinctions.

You don't understand why inevitability of results is different from purpose, or needful priors? Well, you have differing descriptions from me. What aobut them makes them the same, to you?

The difference is that man creates art, hence the designation of artificial. So a bird naturally makes a bird nest for protecting its' eggs, while a man could use the bird's nest to make soup. So the natural final cause of a bird's nest is to protect eggs, while an artificial final cause of that nest could be for making soup.

Why is it only men make artificial things? Did the twigs used in the bird's nest have a natural final cause of being in a bird's nest, or was their original natural final cause subverted? What about a bird making a nest is more natural than a man mowing a lawn?

One Brow said...

I'm sure you agree that sometimes things can get directed toward some final end by an obvious agent. I'm also sure you would agree that things naturally do what they do without an obvious agent, like a book falling to the floor. That's the difference between "violent" (or accidental) motion and natural motion.

The book falling to the floor has an obvious agent, the mass of the earth, and more particularly, the gravity that this mass creates. Without the gravity, the book doesn't fall. As I pointed out, the whole reason the first mover argument exists in AT metaphysics
is the inability of things to naturally make some change without an outside influence. You spent dozens of comments taking that position.

Final causes are just considered as one of the proximate 4 causes to adequately explain the "why" of a thing. Scientific study would not be possible without things being repeatable and Aristotle makes this point in his introductory chapters of Physics. Things that do not occur in a repeatable fashion are poor subjects for physical science to study.

If the notion of final cause were restricted to just the inevitability of results, which would be a slightly stronger version of what science actually assumes (repeatability of results), than I would say that accepting that final causes exist might be something I would do in the future (I would still need to consider it further).

That's why during a scientific experiment studying what happens naturally, like a ball falling, we try to eliminate things that would interfere with the natural movement and cause a "violent" or "accidental" movement.

Scientists also study what happens when (metaphorically) things interfere with the book falling.

Sorry about the terminology, but that is how it is described.

I don't object to the terminology, and I think I understand the distinction you are trying to make, but I am just not sure there is a actual distinction to be made between what you are calling natural movement and violent/accidental movement. Both types of movement are generated by efficient causes exterior to the object itself in AT metaphysics. What makes the result of one type of efficient cause natural and the other type violent/accidental?

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
How can any thing have a fixed state - final or otherwise - if that thing is continuously changing?

They can't. That was my point.

SteveK said...

Okay, but you also referred to something called an "oak tree" and an "acorn" and that requires the existence of a fixed state.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
The natural order is skewed toward producing oak trees, not acorn ash.

I;m not sure what that is supposed to mean. Acorns don't decide for themselves if they will be trees or ash. Acorns in certain surroundings become trees, and in other surroundings become ash. Both types of surroundings are natural.

In other words, there are forces at work *causing* the skewed outcome. Nature is not random, it is ordered, and it's incorrect to say (as One Brow said above) that final causes are arbitrarily determined.

Since I'm still not sure what you would include in a final cause, I'm not sure if I would agree. If you feel the final cause involves any sort of purpose, I would disagree.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
Okay, but you also referred to something called an "oak tree" and an "acorn" and that requires the existence of a fixed state.

Why?

SteveK said...

Why? Good question. I'm merely repeating what you've been saying. I don't know why you are contradicting yourself. Maybe you can tell me why.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Of course my point about botanists was that from their point of view, oaks come from acorns always or for the most part. Arson investigators are are studying something different and so from their point of view, acorn ash always or for the most part comes from acorns. So surely one needs to keep in mind the particular context of the investigation.

An oak tree can grow and change and still be an oak tree in substance. If it is cut down and burned it is no longer substantially an oak tree. That is pretty much the difference between "accidental" and "substantial" changes and is in fact how we talk about them.

What aobut them makes them the same, to you?

It just seems to me that it is easier to say that things are naturally directed toward certain repeatable ends as a general statement.

Why is it only men make artificial things?

Because men do things rationally and not always instinctively. Birds, can use twigs for a nest or worms for food, but these are done instinctively. Men can use twigs and worms for a wide range of purposes.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

The SCG section I linked to on the other post referred to "natural" motion vs "violent" motion as well as "per se" vs "accidental" notions. So a book will *fall* naturally because it is naturally inclined to move down (on earth) or more generally toward the center (in space) unless it is impeded.

[8] In the second way, Aristotle proves the proposition by induction [Physics VIII, 4]. Whatever is moved by accident is not moved by itself, since it is moved upon the motion of another. So, too, as is evident, What is moved by violence is not moved by itself. Nor are those beings moved by themselves that are moved by their nature as being moved from within; such is the case with animals, which evidently are moved by the soul. Nor, again, is this true of those beings, such as heavy and light bodies, which are moved through nature. For such beings are moved by the generating cause and the cause removing impediments. Now, whatever is moved is moved through itself or by accident. If it is moved through itself, then it is moved either violently or by nature; if by nature, then either through itself, as the animal, or not through itself, as heavy and light bodies. Therefore, everything that is moved is moved by another.

If the notion of final cause were restricted to just the inevitability of results,

It means always or for the most part a thing is directed toward a final cause.

Scientists also study what happens when (metaphorically) things interfere with the book falling.

Agreed. That's why I added the qualifier "naturally".

What makes the result of one type of efficient cause natural and the other type violent/accidental?

Animals and plants grow and change as part of their nature (per se). If we use cotton for a sheet, it may change but not as part of its' nature but only because we cause the change (per accidents). If a book is falling to the floor naturally, and we shoot it with a bullet and change it's course, we have moved it violently (violent not necessarily because we shot it, but because we altered its' natural course of motion).

SteveK said...

"I;m not sure what that is supposed to mean."

It means nature is skewed toward acorns producing oaks rather than something else. There's a reason for that, explained below.

"Acorns don't decide for themselves if they will be trees or ash."

Of course.

"Acorns in certain surroundings become trees, and in other surroundings become ash. Both types of surroundings are natural."

Let me try another approach...

Acorns become oaks. Many natural things are involved in the making of a natural oak, but we recognize the unique role of the acorn according to its nature.

It would be factually incorrect to say "The acorn was involved in the process of soil, water and heat becoming an oak" - but why would that be incorrect?

We recognize that the acorn, by nature, has a special inherent potential that the other things do not have. Science has studied this under controlled experiment. We know that water, soil and heat do not possess the inherent potential to create an oak under ANY circumstance, so we do not credit these things with causing an oak to exist. The acorn possesses a unique inherent potential so we say that the acorn is "directed toward" an oak.

Now lets look at acorn ash. The acorn is not the thing responsible for causing acorn ash to exist. The acorn is involved but it is involved much like the soil, water and heat are involved in the process of forming an oak. Science has studied this too. The fire possesses the unique inherent potential to cause acorn ash to exist. The acorn hasn't the power to create ash.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
Why? Good question. I'm merely repeating what you've been saying. I don't know why you are contradicting yourself. Maybe you can tell me why.

When I use the terms "oak tree" or "acorn", I'm discussing general types of things, and these things are not in fixed states.

I don't believe referring to something called an "oak tree" and an "acorn" requires the existence of a fixed state. I'm asking why you believe it does.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
Of course my point about botanists was that from their point of view, oaks come from acorns always or for the most part. Arson investigators are are studying something different and so from their point of view, acorn ash always or for the most part comes from acorns. So surely one needs to keep in mind the particular context of the investigation.

I don't disagree with any of this. How does it relate to final causes?

An oak tree can grow and change and still be an oak tree in substance. If it is cut down and burned it is no longer substantially an oak tree. That is pretty much the difference between "accidental" and "substantial" changes and is in fact how we talk about them.

You'll have to more carefully define what you mean by substance, then. It's not just material, because the materials (elements) are unchanged by burning. Does substance involve form?

It just seems to me that it is easier to say that things are naturally directed toward certain repeatable ends as a general statement.

Which would be inevitability of results. In nearly identical circumstances (including nearly identical efficient causes), things are naturally directed toward the same ends. This does not explain why you this this is the same concept as a needful prior (there is only one way to get to something), since we have an example provided of an inevitable result (fire) that can be produced in multiple ways (matches, friction, lightning, etc.).

Because men do things rationally and not always instinctively. Birds, can use twigs for a nest or worms for food, but these are done instinctively. Men can use twigs and worms for a wide range of purposes.

Birds are also capable of learning and adapting, and can learn to use twigs for different kinds of things.

However, I am willing to accept that distinction for the duration of this discussion.

SteveK said...

”When I use the terms "oak tree" or "acorn", I'm discussing general types of things, and these things are not in fixed states.”

You’re doing it again. You say that these general things (actual things) are not in a fixed state, yet they remain the same thing over time. ???

I think this is tangential to the main discussion so I’ll drop it.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
The SCG section I linked to on the other post referred to "natural" motion vs "violent" motion as well as "per se" vs "accidental" notions.

It refers to them, but it did not define them nor use any imagery to distinguish them.

So a book will *fall* naturally because it is naturally inclined to move down (on earth) or more generally toward the center (in space) unless it is impeded.

If the book is impeded, it will stop naturally, as well.

It means always or for the most part a thing is directed toward a final cause.

When activated by a particular efficient cause. Do you disagree?

Agreed. That's why I added the qualifier "naturally".

You have defined natural as "not artificial"/"not performed by humans using rationality". Impediments can be natural, and natural impediments will impede the book naturally. The book falls naturally, or is impeded naturally. There is no difference.

Animals and plants grow and change as part of their nature (per se).

If they were to change solely as a part of their nature, then they would contain within themselves the principle of their own change, and require no prime mover. Animals and plants grow and change in response to stimuli (in AT metaphysics), and different stimuli result in different changes.

If we use cotton for a sheet, it may change but not as part of its' nature but only because we cause the change (per accidents). If a book is falling to the floor naturally, and we shoot it with a bullet and change it's course, we have moved it violently (violent not necessarily because we shot it, but because we altered its' natural course of motion).

Shooting a bullet is an artifact-like action, and perhaps that is confusing you. If the book and falling, and a strong gust of wind instead blows the book sideways or even upwards, the book behaves naturally to the presence of the new efficient cause and changes it's direction violently, but also naturally.

I think you are trying to use multiple definitions of "natural" at the same time, and one of those definitions doesn't make metaphysical sense.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
Acorns become oaks. Many natural things are involved in the making of a natural oak, but we recognize the unique role of the acorn according to its nature. ... The acorn possesses a unique inherent potential so we say that the acorn is "directed toward" an oak.

You basically just said that water, heat, and soil were the efficient causes that activated the potential of the acorn to become an oak tree.

Now lets look at acorn ash. The acorn is not the thing responsible for causing acorn ash to exist. The acorn is involved but it is involved much like the soil, water and heat are involved in the process of forming an oak. Science has studied this too. The fire possesses the unique inherent potential to cause acorn ash to exist. The acorn hasn't the power to create ash.

Fire has no power to create acorn ash, and can not create acorn ash without the acorn. The acorn has a unique role to play in the creation of acorn ash. Fire can be the efficient cause to transform acorns into acorn ash, pine cones into pine cone ash, etc., but fire can not make pine cone ash out of acorns. The material that was in the acorn is the material of the acorn ash. The fire is merely the efficient cause.

Further, it is every bit as true that the acorn can not become the acorn ash without the fire, and that the acorn can not become the oak tree without soil, heat, and water. You have not created a distinction, you have tried to distract by changing the material cause and the efficient cause. I'm not fooled by it.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
”When I use the terms "oak tree" or "acorn", I'm discussing general types of things, and these things are not in fixed states.”

You’re doing it again. You say that these general things (actual things) are not in a fixed state, yet they remain the same thing over time. ???


Are you referring to the Ship of Theseus?

Yes, we referring to changing things with the same designation. You do it yourself all the time in here.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Does substance involve form?

Yes, a substance has a substantial form.

since we have an example provided of an inevitable result (fire) that can be produced in multiple ways (matches, friction, lightning, etc.).

Yes there could be multiple possible reasons for a fire. It's the arson inspector's science to determine the cause of a particular fire. If fires started by matches were indistinguishable from fires started by other means, the arson inspector would have nothing to inspect but it seems that they often are able to determine the cause.

If the book is impeded, it will stop naturally, as well.

Not according to A-T terminology.

When activated by a particular efficient cause. Do you disagree?

Sure. Materially existing things can normally be explained by the 4 causes.

If they were to change solely as a part of their nature, then they would contain within themselves the principle of their own change, and require no prime mover.

They can have "within themselves the principle of their own change" but still not be "primarily" moved.
If something moves itself, it must have within itself the principle of its own motion; otherwise, it is clearly moved by another. Furthermore, it must be primarily moved.

If the book and falling, and a strong gust of wind instead blows the book sideways or even upwards, the book behaves naturally to the presence of the new efficient cause and changes it's direction violently, but also naturally.

If one is considering the natural movement of a book in the absence of other factors, then the "strong gust of wind" would be considered a "violent" movement just like the bullet. The idea is that massive objects naturally move toward the center (of the earth while on the earth) unless they are impeded. The impediment can be either another natural thing or an artifical thing, but in both cases it would be considered a "violent" movement since it disrupted the "natural" movement.

I think you are trying to use multiple definitions of "natural" at the same time, and one of those definitions doesn't make metaphysical sense.

It could be I'm not explaining it properly, that's certainly possible.

One Brow said...

bmiller,

Before we proceed further, perhaps we should hammer out what this definition of "natural" is that you are using. Does it mean something like "common"? "Continual"? It certainly means more than "not created/performed by a human". It seems to mean more than just being the output of a reaction to an efficient cause. In fact, you seem to be saying efficient causes are irrelevant for this type of change.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Before we proceed further, perhaps we should hammer out what this definition of "natural" is that you are using.

This is from Physics Book II Chapter 1.

Of things that exist, some exist by nature, some from other causes. 'By nature' the animals and their parts exist, and the plants and the simple bodies (earth, fire, air, water)—for we say that these and the like exist 'by nature'. All the things mentioned present a feature in which they differ from things which are not constituted by nature. Each of them has within itself a principle of motion and of stationariness (in respect of place, or of growth and decrease, or by way of alteration). On the other hand, a bed and a coat and anything else of that sort, qua receiving these designations i.e. in so far as they are products of art—have no innate impulse to change. But in so far as they happen to be composed of stone or of earth or of a mixture of the two, they do have such an impulse,
and just to that extent which seems to indicate that nature is a source or cause of being moved and of being at rest in that to which it belongs primarily, in virtue of itself and not in virtue of a concomitant attribute. I say 'not in virtue of a concomitant attribute', because (for instance) a man who is a doctor might cure himself. Nevertheless it is not in so far as he is a patient that he possesses the art of medicine: it merely has happened that the same man is doctor and patient—and that is why these attributes are not always found together. So it is with all other artificial products. None of them has in itself the source of its own production. But while in some cases (for instance houses and the other products of manual labour) that principle is in something else external to the thing, in others those which may cause a change in themselves in virtue of a concomitant attribute—it lies in the things themselves (but not in virtue of what they are). 'Nature' then is what has been stated.


In fact, you seem to be saying efficient causes are irrelevant for this type of change.

Hmm. I didn't mean to since most every repeatable change to natural and existent material things requires the 4 causes.

One Brow said...

bmiller,

By this definition, a leaf falling to the ground is natural, and falls naturally. A gust of wind that blows the leaf off course, or even upwards, is also natural and blows the leaf naturally.

Do you agree with that statement? If not, please point out how, by this definition, something about the wind is not natural.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

By this definition, a leaf falling to the ground is natural, and falls naturally. A gust of wind that blows the leaf off course, or even upwards, is also natural and blows the leaf naturally.

Wind may be considered a change in the earth's atmosphere. When a leaf separates from a tree, it has changed perhaps from a living leaf to a dead leaf. So while both a falling leaf and a gust of wind are "naturally occurring changes" (in the sense of "not artificial"), they are natural changes of different things. The fact that the gust of wind disturbs the natural inclination of the leaf to move toward the ground means the action of the wind on the leaf is a "violent" motion.

Do you agree with that statement? If not, please point out how, by this definition, something about the wind is not natural.

The gust of wind is not part of the nature of a leaf so the resulting change caused by the wind is not considered a natural change for the leaf.

One Brow said...

The fact that the gust of wind disturbs the natural inclination of the leaf to move toward the ground means the action of the wind on the leaf is a "violent" motion.

Does this mean violent motions can also be natural motions?

What does "natural inclination" mean? It is obviously something more than just being natural.

Why is the disturbance of gravity on the natural inclination of the leaf to not move at all not a violent motion?

The gust of wind is not part of the nature of a leaf so the resulting change caused by the wind is not considered a natural change for the leaf.

How is the earth, or the warping of space caused by the earth, considered to be a part of the nature of the leaf, while the resistance to the wind that the leaf exerts is not a natural part of the leaf?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Does this mean violent motions can also be natural motions?

There are several senses of the word "nature". In this case, I think you are using one of the following senses (from Merriam-Webster):

2a : a creative and controlling force in the universe
6 : the external world in its entirety


While the definition is something along the lines of this:

1a : the inherent character or basic constitution (see CONSTITUTION sense 2) of a person or thing : ESSENCE
the nature of the controversy


So the gust of wind would be considered a "violent" motion of the leaf since the leaf "by nature" would fall down. Or in other words, the natural inclination of the leaf is to fall down.

Why is the disturbance of gravity on the natural inclination of the leaf to not move at all not a violent motion?

Because according to Aristotle, the leaf naturally moves toward the center unless impeded. Stopping the leaf from moving toward the center is considered thwarting the natural motion of the leaf.

How is the earth, or the warping of space caused by the earth, considered to be a part of the nature of the leaf, while the resistance to the wind that the leaf exerts is not a natural part of the leaf?

In modern terms mass is part of the nature of the leaf and mass is attracted to other mass per Newton's law of universal gravitation. Neither Aristotle or Newton considered wind gusts to be part of universal laws of motion. The science of moving things interacting with the air is a separate sub-discipline of physics now called aerodynamics.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
Does this mean violent motions can also be natural motions?

There are several senses of the word "nature".


For the purposes of this discussion, you selected "not being artificial" as the definition. That's the definition I am using. Are you now changing which definition you want to use for "natural"?

While the definition is something along the lines of this:

1a : the inherent character or basic constitution (see CONSTITUTION sense 2) of a person or thing : ESSENCE
the nature of the controversy


We can convert to this definition, if you so choose. My first question (circling back to the early comments) would be, "How do you determine what is part of the inherent character, and what is imposed by the outside?".

So the gust of wind would be considered a "violent" motion of the leaf since the leaf "by nature" would fall down. Or in other words, the natural inclination of the leaf is to fall down.

The essence of the leaf would be to move in a gravitational field, and to be blown by a puff a wind. Both the gravitational field and the puff of wind are exterior to the leaf. How do you decide one is its nature and the other is not?

Because according to Aristotle, the leaf naturally moves toward the center unless impeded. Stopping the leaf from moving toward the center is considered thwarting the natural motion of the leaf.

Do you think Aristotle was inspired in some way? This seems like an arbitrary position. How does Aristotle decide one sort of response is natural and another is not?

In modern terms mass is part of the nature of the leaf and mass is attracted to other mass per Newton's law of universal gravitation. Neither Aristotle or Newton considered wind gusts to be part of universal laws of motion.

Yes, the gravitational attraction relies on a source external to the leaf, just like the stiffness in the leaf resisting the wind relies on the wind to move the leaf. The mass of the leaf and the stiffness of the leaf are internal to the leaf; the gravitational field and the wind are external. Each movement is an external force interacting with a property of the leaf. Why is the first natural and the second not?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

For the purposes of this discussion, you selected "not being artificial" as the definition. That's the definition I am using. Are you now changing which definition you want to use for "natural"?

When we were discussing "natural" vs "artificial" we were discussing substances, not motions of substances. And BTW, it is A-T philosophical definitions, not mine. I could get it wrong, but it can be looked up and corrected.

We can convert to this definition, if you so choose. My first question (circling back to the early comments) would be, "How do you determine what is part of the inherent character, and what is imposed by the outside?".

The essence of the leaf would be to move in a gravitational field, and to be blown by a puff a wind. Both the gravitational field and the puff of wind are exterior to the leaf. How do you decide one is its nature and the other is not?

My theory is that Newton and Aristotle both observed that although the wind did not always blow, massive things always moved toward the center. So the wind could listed as an external force.

Do you think Aristotle was inspired in some way?

You've asked this before and I wonder why. He got some things wrong and some things right. In this particular case Aristotle, Newton and Einstein all agree. I don't think any of them are inspired unless you mean exceptionally observant and smart.

Yes, the gravitational attraction relies on a source external to the leaf, just like the stiffness in the leaf resisting the wind relies on the wind to move the leaf. The mass of the leaf and the stiffness of the leaf are internal to the leaf; the gravitational field and the wind are external. Each movement is an external force interacting with a property of the leaf. Why is the first natural and the second not?

As I mentioned:
Neither Aristotle or Newton considered wind gusts to be part of universal laws of motion. Einstein either for that matter. It could be because there is no wind in space but there is always mass. It could also be because gusts of wind affect different things differently and so no universal knowledge can be gained of all things due to that fact. It could also be because it's easier to consider the motion of things with the fewest confounding factors as possible and once that is mastered, inspect the confounding factors one by one. For instance most physics problems for students stipulate that one should ignore friction for the purposes of solving the problem.

SteveK said...

"Each movement is an external force interacting with a property of the leaf. Why is the first natural and the second not?"

The leaf has mass. Mass has the inherent tendency to be attracted to some other mass. In other words, the natural response of the leafs matter and form is to move in the direction of natural attraction.

The matter and form of the leaf is not naturally inclined to move in any other direction, per Newton. The leaf "wants" to move toward the attraction.

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"You have not created a distinction, you have tried to distract by changing the material cause and the efficient cause. I'm not fooled by it."

The matter and form of an acorn is naturally inclined to produce an oak. We agree to that. This real potential is a real property of the acorn. There is an acorn structure, an acorn DNA, that you can point to as the reason why it produces oaks and not cherries or birds

The matter and form of an acorn is not naturally inclined to be reduced to ash. There is nothing you can point to in the acorn DNA or anywhere to explain why it reduced to ash. The reason lies outside it.

By analogy, the matter and form of an automated car factory is naturally inclined to produce cars. You can point to the equipment, the programming and the layout of the factory as the reason why it produces cars and not refrigerators or candy. There is nothing you can point to in this factory what would explain why it reduced to ash.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
When we were discussing "natural" vs "artificial" we were discussing substances, not motions of substances. And BTW, it is A-T philosophical definitions, not mine. I could get it wrong, but it can be looked up and corrected.

More sloppy vocabulary. Lovely.

My theory is that Newton and Aristotle both observed that although the wind did not always blow, massive things always moved toward the center. So the wind could listed as an external force.

Please don't bring Newton nor Einstein into this, they knew better than that. Newton performed experiments by putting one body on a wire spring and observing the movement of the spring as he moved another body close to it. Violent motion, from what I can tell of your definition. By the way, is the the definition of natural motion going to be motion from the constant influence of a constant external source in this discussion?

You've asked this before and I wonder why. He got some things wrong and some things right.

Because so often when I try to get into details, you reply that Aristotle said so.

Neither Aristotle or Newton considered wind gusts to be part of universal laws of motion. Einstein either for that matter.

Gravity is also not one of the laws of motion. However, gravity can apply the impetus for motion, just like a gust of wind.

So far, the only difference you've provided for natural motion vs. violent motion is the constancy of the presence of the external impetus. Did you want to add anything else to that?

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
The leaf has mass. Mass has the inherent tendency to be attracted to some other mass. In other words, the natural response of the leafs matter and form is to move in the direction of natural attraction.

The matter and form of the leaf is not naturally inclined to move in any other direction, per Newton. The leaf "wants" to move toward the attraction.


Show me the difference between what you wrote and this, please:
The leaf has stiffness. Stiffness has the inherent tendency to resist bending in the wind. In other words, the natural response of the leaf's matter and form is to be pushed in the direction of natural downwind.

The matter and form of the leaf is not naturally inclined to move in any other direction, per Newton. The leaf "wants" to be pushed by the wind.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
The matter and form of an acorn is naturally inclined to produce an oak. We agree to that. This real potential is a real property of the acorn. There is an acorn structure, an acorn DNA, that you can point to as the reason why it produces oaks and not cherries or birds

The matter and form of an acorn is not naturally inclined to be reduced to ash. There is nothing you can point to in the acorn DNA or anywhere to explain why it reduced to ash. The reason lies outside it.


Wow, that is complete and utter bollocks. The lack of thought that went into that is surprising.

If the matter and form of an acorn were not naturally inclined to be reduced to ash, they would not be reduced to ash by a fire. The reason steel balls don't reduce to ash in a fire is that their matter and form is not naturally inclined to be reduced to ash, while the matter and form of the acorn is so inclined.

You can point to the chemical constituents of the acorn, and the forms they take in their chemical bonds, as the reason acorns are naturally inclined to produce acorn ash, and to the chemical constituents of the steel balls, and the forms they take in their chemical bonds, to explain why steel balls don't produce steel ball ash.

By analogy, the matter and form of an automated car factory is naturally inclined to produce cars. You can point to the equipment, the programming and the layout of the factory as the reason why it produces cars and not refrigerators or candy. There is nothing you can point to in this factory what would explain why it reduced to ash.

Again, and for the same reason, complete nonsense.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Please don't bring Newton nor Einstein into this, they knew better than that.

OK, then which of Newton's laws or Einstein's theories refer explicitly to wind?

As for Newton, here is his acknowledgement of what Aristotle called "natural" vs "violent" motion:
Every body perseveres in its state of being at rest or of moving uniformly straight forward, except insofar as it is compelled to change its state by forces impressed.

Because so often when I try to get into details, you reply that Aristotle said so.

Of course I do. That is what the subject is isn't it? We have been discussing the 4 causes, substances, motion of substances etc according to A-T philosophy. You've seemed to keep asking questions about it, how do you expect me to respond?

So far, the only difference you've provided for natural motion vs. violent motion is the constancy of the presence of the external impetus. Did you want to add anything else to that?

If that's what you are taking away then perhaps I haven't explained it properly. In fact, I can't even understand what your comment is supposed to mean. I suppose you're actually complaining that you can't see any difference.

A massive object will always be attracted to another mass. It will not always be blown around by the wind, nor will it always be hit by another massive object knocking it off course. Do you see the distinction?

One Brow said...

OK, then which of Newton's laws or Einstein's theories refer explicitly to wind?

All of the theories of motion apply to wind. Newton had an additional theory of gravitation, but it was not a theory of motion.

Of course I do. That is what the subject is isn't it? We have been discussing the 4 causes, substances, motion of substances etc according to A-T philosophy. You've seemed to keep asking questions about it, how do you expect me to respond?

I would hope with answers that address the question, rather than relying on what Aristotle said.

If that's what you are taking away then perhaps I haven't explained it properly. In fact, I can't even understand what your comment is supposed to mean. I suppose you're actually complaining that you can't see any difference.

I will try to be clearer. So far, the only difference you have explained between a natural motion and a violent motion is that the natural motion is a result of an exterior cause that is continual, as opposed to one that is occasional. I can understand that difference. I was trying to verify that this was the only difference between the two. Are there any other differences between natural motion and accidental motion?

A massive object will always be attracted to another mass. It will not always be blown around by the wind, nor will it always be hit by another massive object knocking it off course. Do you see the distinction?

Sure. One exterior force is continual, and the other is occasional. Is there any other difference I'm supposed to be seeing?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

All of the theories of motion apply to wind.

Right. Including Aristotle who distinguished, like Newton, between "natural" and "violent" motions.

I would hope with answers that address the question, rather than relying on what Aristotle said.

Since the questions have all been about "what Aristotle said" and I answered those questions you should be satisfied.

So far, the only difference you have explained between a natural motion and a violent motion is that the natural motion is a result of an exterior cause that is continual, as opposed to one that is occasional.

You used the word "exterior" which I did not use. According to Aristotle (and Newton for that matter) the proximate natural cause of motion is due to nature of the body absent external forces. For instance Newton considered inertia an example of natural motion and forces that would interrupt that motion to be external (or "violent" in A-T terminology).

SteveK said...

One Brow
"If the matter and form of an acorn were not naturally inclined to be reduced to ash, they would not be reduced to ash by a fire"

You insist there is no distinction, but that position leads to absurd statements. If every possible outcome is the result of a natural inclination you would say that trees, by nature, are naturally inclined to be tables and baseball bats. The absurdity is breathtaking. The Space Shuttle would be a natural object formed by natural means over time.

Back in reality we say that the acorn, by nature, is inclined to produce an oak tree, but we don't say that the acorn is inclined to produce coffee tables (or ash). There's a distinction that is rooted in the nature of the acorn.

One Brow said...

Right. Including Aristotle who distinguished, like Newton, between "natural" and "violent" motions.

Please point out to me where Newton make a distinction between natural and violent motions, *after* he formulated the laws of motion and gravity.

Please keep in mind that the concept of inertia would mean the leaf does not fall at all until the earth pulls on it, rather than it would fall to the earth without outside influence.

Since the questions have all been about "what Aristotle said" and I answered those questions you should be satisfied.

My questions have been about the nature of final cause, and how to establish it in the modern day. What Aristotle said is of historical curiosity, at best.

You used the word "exterior" which I did not use.

Your example of natural motion was motion due to an exterior force. If you have another example of natural motion where no exterior force is present, I would be interested in reading about it.

According to Aristotle (and Newton for that matter) the proximate natural cause of motion is due to nature of the body absent external forces.

That would not apply to a leaf. There is nothing about the leaf, absent a gravitational field, that would cause it to move toward the center of the earth. The external force of gravity is required for this movement.

For instance Newton considered inertia an example of natural motion and forces that would interrupt that motion to be external (or "violent" in A-T terminology).

I don't know that Newton made that qualification of natural/violent (can you provide a quote there?), but I certainly agree that inertia would qualify as a natural state requiring no outside forces. Of course, inertia is a state of no change. The leaf falling is in a state of change (acceleration), not a state of inertia. So, saying inertia is natural movement fits with AT metaphysics fairly well. Saying that a leaf falling is natural movement does not.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
You insist there is no distinction, but that position leads to absurd statements. If every possible outcome is the result of a natural inclination you would say that trees, by nature, are naturally inclined to be tables and baseball bats.

Try to keep up. For the sake of this discussion, we are agree that tables and baseball bats, being shaped by men using their rational intentions, are artificial, not natural.

Back in reality we say that the acorn, by nature, is inclined to produce an oak tree, but we don't say that the acorn is inclined to produce coffee tables (or ash). There's a distinction that is rooted in the nature of the acorn.

When an acorn is in the appropriate conditions, it naturally produces an oak. When in other conditions, it naturally produces acorn ash. Both oak and acorn ash are products that can only come from acorns, due to the unique nature of the acorn.

Do you have an argument to make for saying the oak is more natural than the acorn ash, perhaps one with more reasoning than "Back in reality ..." and similar expressions of disbelief?

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"For the sake of this discussion, we are agree that tables and baseball bats, being shaped by men using their rational intentions, are artificial, not natural"

Then for the sake of this discussion, we agree that the rationality and intentionality of men is not natural. If you are going to accept this as part of the discussion, then you have accepted that men have a nature that is not completely natural.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Please point out to me where Newton make a distinction between natural and violent motions, *after* he formulated the laws of motion and gravity.

I don't know that Newton made that qualification of natural/violent (can you provide a quote there?), but I certainly agree that inertia would qualify as a natural state requiring no outside forces.

I pointed to Newton's formulation of inertia as an example of his understanding of something moving according to it's nature as opposed to being moved by an external force. We may use different terminology today, but my point is that the concept is the same.

Please keep in mind that the concept of inertia would mean the leaf does not fall at all until the earth pulls on it, rather than it would fall to the earth without outside influence.

Right. My goal of bringing up inertia was to demonstrate that Newtonian physics implicitly incorporates the distinction between the proximate movement due to the nature of that body and one due to something else external to that body.

My questions have been about the nature of final cause, and how to establish it in the modern day. What Aristotle said is of historical curiosity, at best.

The idea of a final cause is an Aristotlean idea, so to understand it, one has to understand what Aristotle meant by it. Don't you think?

Your example of natural motion was motion due to an exterior force. If you have another example of natural motion where no exterior force is present, I would be interested in reading about it.

I just gave the example of inertia where a moving object continues to move unless acted on by an exterior agent.

That would not apply to a leaf. There is nothing about the leaf, absent a gravitational field, that would cause it to move toward the center of the earth. The external force of gravity is required for this movement.

I agree. If there were no center to move toward it would be indeterminate if or where it would move to.

The leaf falling is in a state of change (acceleration), not a state of inertia.

Both acceleratiobn and velocity are measurements of motion.

SteveK said...

You can't have it both ways, One Brow.

Either trees ARE naturally inclined to become tables or they ARE NOT.

Either you accept the absurdity that, under the appropriate conditions, trees naturally produce tables, or you agree that "appropriate conditions" isn't what determines the natural inclination of a tree.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
Then for the sake of this discussion, we agree that the rationality and intentionality of men is not natural. If you are going to accept this as part of the discussion, then you have accepted that men have a nature that is not completely natural.

Yes, I agree that would be true.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
Either trees ARE naturally inclined to become tables or they ARE NOT.

Tables are artificial.

Either you accept the absurdity that, under the appropriate conditions, trees naturally produce tables, or you agree that "appropriate conditions" isn't what determines the natural inclination of a tree.

Artificial conditions can produce artificial results. Natural conditions produce natural results. Soil is natural, fire is natural. The result of either is natural.

I don't see why that's having it both ways.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
I pointed to Newton's formulation of inertia as an example of his understanding of something moving according to it's nature as opposed to being moved by an external force. We may use different terminology today, but my point is that the concept is the same.

The object is not moving (in the sense of changing) under inertia. Inertial motion is the same as not moving at all. In Faser's AT terminology, there is no action in inertia, there is only potential.

Right. My goal of bringing up inertia was to demonstrate that Newtonian physics implicitly incorporates the distinction between the proximate movement due to the nature of that body and one due to something else external to that body.

Except, inertial motion is the equivalent of no movement in AT metaphysics, not the equivalent of movement due to the nature of the body (which is not an AT concept anyhow, as you argued repeatedly).

The idea of a final cause is an Aristotlean idea, so to understand it, one has to understand what Aristotle meant by it. Don't you think?

Only if you treat Aristotle as having, if not inspiration, some sort of final say for all time on metaphysics. If we agree that Aristotle's writings are just normal, fallible human thinking and in need of adjustment, then at best his definitions are only a starting point, and what we define things as today could be very different.

:I just gave the example of inertia where a moving object continues to move unless acted on by an exterior agent.

However, that's not motion in the AT sense, because AT motion requires change, and inertial motion has no physical change.

Both acceleratiobn and velocity are measurements of motion.

Only acceleration is a measure of change in motion with physical meaning.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

The object is not moving (in the sense of changing) under inertia. Inertial motion is the same as not moving at all. In Faser's AT terminology, there is no action in inertia, there is only potential.

Except, inertial motion is the equivalent of no movement in AT metaphysics, not the equivalent of movement due to the nature of the body (which is not an AT concept anyhow, as you argued repeatedly).

However, that's not motion in the AT sense, because AT motion requires change, and inertial motion has no physical change.

Only acceleration is a measure of change in motion with physical meaning.

I have no idea where you came up with any of your ideas regarding AT philosophy. Are you arguing that an object that is changing its' location over time is not moving?

Only if you treat Aristotle as having, if not inspiration, some sort of final say for all time on metaphysics. If we agree that Aristotle's writings are just normal, fallible human thinking and in need of adjustment, then at best his definitions are only a starting point, and what we define things as today could be very different.

Your answer seems to be to a different question. We were discussing "final cause" which we both (I assume) agree is one of the famous 4 causes postulated by Aristotle. Whether he is inspired or not, has the final say on metaphysics or not, I would think that one should attempt to understand what he meant by it in order to discuss the idea intelligently. Your reply seems akin to my asking you if you think you are divinely inspired just because you have the temerity do disagree with me. It's simply out of place.

One Brow said...

I have no idea where you came up with any of your ideas regarding AT philosophy. Are you arguing that an object that is changing its' location over time is not moving?

Locations are arbitrary points in a fixed reference system. You've reference Einstein, so I don't need to explain that to you, I'm sure.

I got my ideas on AT metaphysics primarily from Feser, and am applying them to modern-day physics. Feser is very clear that the four causes are explanations of change. Inertial motion is unchanging.

Whether he is inspired or not, has the final say on metaphysics or not, I would think that one should attempt to understand what he meant by it in order to discuss the idea intelligently.

Hence, my referring to it as a starting place.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Locations are arbitrary points in a fixed reference system. You've reference Einstein, so I don't need to explain that to you, I'm sure

Actually I do want you to explain it to me. Are you claiming that according to Einstein a change in location over time is not really a change in location over time and so velocity is not really motion?

From Wikipedia:
In physics, motion is the change in position of an object with respect to its surroundings in a given interval of time. Motion is mathematically described in terms of displacement, distance, velocity, acceleration, time, and speed.

I got my ideas on AT metaphysics primarily from Feser, and am applying them to modern-day physics. Feser is very clear that the four causes are explanations of change. Inertial motion is unchanging.

Are you saying that you read something from Feser and then extrapolated from that reading how you personally think it applies to modern-day physics? Or that you have read Feser address modern-day physics? Because I've read Feser's discussion of inertia and he made no unqualified claims that match your description. Neither does your description of his presentation of the 4 causes match his.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
Actually I do want you to explain it to me. Are you claiming that according to Einstein a change in location over time is not really a change in location over time and so velocity is not really motion?

An inertial frame can be considered a rest frame, a frame where no motion occurs for objects in that frame.

From Wikipedia:
In physics, motion is the change in position of an object with respect to its surroundings in a given interval of time. Motion is mathematically described in terms of displacement, distance, velocity, acceleration, time, and speed.


Notice the use of "with respect to its surroundings". Motion (more specifically, velocity) is not a property of the object, it's a property of one object and some reference frame (which may or may not contain other objects).

Are you saying that you read something from Feser and then extrapolated from that reading how you personally think it applies to modern-day physics?

Of course. If the metaphysics doesn't work with modern-day physics, than the system is useless in describing reality.

Because I've read Feser's discussion of inertia and he made no unqualified claims that match your description. Neither does your description of his presentation of the 4 causes match his.

You don't think Feser presents the 4 causes as descriptions of what happens when things change? That's his single fundamental premise in TLS: change happens.

As for whether he understands that inertial movement represents no change, I don't know. He not trying to discuss physics.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

An inertial frame can be considered a rest frame, a frame where no motion occurs for objects in that frame.

But that's not what I asked. Here is the question again:
Are you claiming that according to Einstein a change in location over time is not really a change in location over time and so velocity is not really motion?

Notice the use of "with respect to its surroundings". Motion (more specifically, velocity) is not a property of the object, it's a property of one object and some reference frame (which may or may not contain other objects).

I'm not sure what point you're trying to prove. When an object moves from one location to another in a certain amount of time it is actually in a different location and we can we can calculate its' velocity. Are you denying this?

Of course. If the metaphysics doesn't work with modern-day physics, than the system is useless in describing reality.

Then of course you'd have to understand the metaphysics and the arguments as to why it does or does not work with modern-day physics. There is nothing in the metaphysics that "doesn't work" with modern-day physics.

You don't think Feser presents the 4 causes as descriptions of what happens when things change? That's his single fundamental premise in TLS: change happens.

The 4 causes relate to the complete explanation of what a thing is, not "explanations of change" as you wrote.

As for whether he understands that inertial movement represents no change, I don't know. He not trying to discuss physics.

Well then you shouldn't attribute conclusions to him that are not his. He in fact has written about inertia and various ways it could be explained from AT metaphysics depending on how inertia is defined.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
But that's not what I asked. Here is the question again:
Are you claiming that according to Einstein a change in location over time is not really a change in location over time and so velocity is not really motion?


I will try to re-word my answer. For Einstein, the only difference between "not moving" and "moving at constant velocity" is the choice of measurement frame. All velocities are relative.

I'm not sure what point you're trying to prove.

My point is that object do not have a nature to move inertially, they just have a nature to not move. In fct, in AT metaphysics, nothing moves itself, remember?

When an object moves from one location to another in a certain amount of time it is actually in a different location and we can we can calculate its' velocity. Are you denying this?

We can measure it. Depending on the measurement frame we choose, we can calculate the speed of any specific object moving inertially to be 0, or any number less than c.

Then of course you'd have to understand the metaphysics and the arguments as to why it does or does not work with modern-day physics. There is nothing in the metaphysics that "doesn't work" with modern-day physics.

I'm glad we agree that we need to put AT metaphysics into a framework that works with modern-day physics.

The 4 causes relate to the complete explanation of what a thing is, not "explanations of change" as you wrote.

Sorry, but no. Efficient causes are entirely exterior to the object in question. Final causes talk about what the thing will become. Only material and formal address what it is now. Perhaps you meant "how it became what it is now".

Well then you shouldn't attribute conclusions to him that are not his.

I've been clear I'm applying his ideas to modern physics. That's not attribution.

He in fact has written about inertia and various ways it could be explained from AT metaphysics depending on how inertia is defined.

OK. Is he using Aristotelian physics, Newtonian physics, or modern physics? Because if he thinks velocity is some sort of property inherent to a mass, that's not modern physics (or even Newtonian).

bmiller said...

One Brow,

I will try to re-word my answer. For Einstein, the only difference between "not moving" and "moving at constant velocity" is the choice of measurement frame. All velocities are relative.

Is that a yes or a no?

My point is that object do not have a nature to move inertially, they just have a nature to not move.

According to who?

In fct, in AT metaphysics, nothing moves itself, remember?

Primarily that is correct. But a thing can have a principle of motion within itself. Or are you saying things can't move at all by nature?

We can measure it. Depending on the measurement frame we choose, we can calculate the speed of any specific object moving inertially to be 0, or any number less than c.

OK, so then you are saying that "under inertia" things do move and change.

I'm glad we agree that we need to put AT metaphysics into a framework that works with modern-day physics.

I often wonder if you misread on purpose or not.

I've been clear I'm applying his ideas to modern physics. That's not attribution.

Since he has written about how AT metaphysics coincides with modern physics, there's no reason for you to guess (badly). You are not "applying his ideas to modern physics" you are applying your mistaken ideas of what you think he wrote to your apparently mistaken ideas of modern physics.

OK. Is he using Aristotelian physics, Newtonian physics, or modern physics?

AT metaphysics is implicitly basic to all 3.

Because if he thinks velocity is some sort of property inherent to a mass, that's not modern physics (or even Newtonian).

Once again I have no idea what you're talking about.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
Is that a yes or a no?

It's a take-your-pick.

According to who?

The only sensible way I can see to use AT metaphysics in describing the real world.

Primarily that is correct. But a thing can have a principle of motion within itself. Or are you saying things can't move at all by nature?

I spent many comments pointing out that muscles can move themselves, which you rejected. Do you have an example of motion-within-itself that is not inertial movement?

OK, so then you are saying that "under inertia" things do move and change.

I often wonder if you misread on purpose or not.

Back atcha. Do you disagree with what I typed?

Since he has written about how AT metaphysics coincides with modern physics, there's no reason for you to guess (badly). You are not "applying his ideas to modern physics" you are applying your mistaken ideas of what you think he wrote to your apparently mistaken ideas of modern physics.

By all means, let's see real deal. It should be interesting.

AT metaphysics is implicitly basic to all 3.

However, applications still differ.

Once again I have no idea what you're talking about.

Do you think a particular object would have a given velocity as a property of that object? Because you have been saying this is true by saying it would have been "moving according to it's nature".

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"Artificial conditions can produce artificial results. Natural conditions produce natural results. Soil is natural, fire is natural. The result of either is natural.

I don't see why that's having it both ways."


Because you are attempting to hold on to both of the following positions at the same time:

1) two different kinds of things exist - natural and non-natural
2) final causes don't exist

Logically, both cannot be true. Either a natural object CANNOT produce a non-natural effect, or it CAN.

If it CAN, then you are saying final causality is real because 'natural ends' are what happens when natural objects produce a natural effect, and 'non-natural ends' are what happens when the effect is not natural.

Which side of the logic do you want to stay on?

SteveK said...

The Feser quote I referenced above is exactly what I'm talking about here. Feser is discussing natural ends and non-natural ends. If you accept the reality of non-natural ends then you agree with Feser and the metaphysics of final causality. Here is the quote again.

”Part of the reason the Aristotelian regards efficient causality as unintelligible without final causality is that without the notion of an end or goal towards which an efficient cause naturally points, there is no way to make sense of why certain causal chains are significant in a way others are not. For example, in characterizing the DNA of bears, we take it to be relevant to note that it causes them to be furry and to grow to a large size, but not that it also thereby causes them to be good mascots for football teams. The genetic information in bear DNA inherently “points to” or is “directed at” the first outcome, but not the second. But this sort of consideration applies to causal chains generally, including inorganic ones.”
- Edward Feser, ‘Aquinas’

bmiller said...

One Brow,

It's a take-your-pick.

I'll choose to believe that you don't know.

The only sensible way I can see to use AT metaphysics in describing the real world.

Then according to you. And you alone.

Back atcha. Do you disagree with what I typed?

Yes to the first. No to the second.

By all means, let's see real deal. It should be interesting.

However, applications still differ.

Feser on inertia.

Do you think a particular object would have a given velocity as a property of that object? Because you have been saying this is true by saying it would have been "moving according to it's nature".

The velocity of a moving object would depend on the nature of the thing, the motion you're referring to, and the environment where the motion was occurring. Hence all the talk about heavy and light objects, animals, natural and violent motions etc. Where did you get the idea that the velocity of a moving object depended solely on the object and nothing else?

Unknown said...

SteveK said...
Because you are attempting to hold on to both of the following positions at the same time:

1) two different kinds of things exist - natural and non-natural
2) final causes don't exist

Logically, both cannot be true. Either a natural object CANNOT produce a non-natural effect, or it CAN.


1) is part of my attempt to firm up what you/bmiller actually mean by final causes and natural behavior. As I said, I am accepting the natural/non-natural definition provided by bmiller for the sake of this discussion. Under that definition, natural efficient causes produce natural results.

2) may or may not represent my final view, which would not be just for the purpose of the discussion. I see a small difference between the assumption of repeatable results and the position of inevitability of results, but not an unbridgeable one. However, if final cause is merely the inevitability of results, then acorn ash becomes as much as final cause as an oak tree. You and bmiller seem to want to add purpose to the notion of final cause for natural things, but not admit that you are doing so.

I can discuss 1) while still holding to 2), without contradiction.

If it CAN, then you are saying final causality is real because 'natural ends' are what happens when natural objects produce a natural effect, and 'non-natural ends' are what happens when the effect is not natural.

So acorn ash is a natural result, then?

Unknown said...

For example, in characterizing the DNA of bears, we take it to be relevant to note that it causes them to be furry and to grow to a large size, but not that it also thereby causes them to be good mascots for football teams.

In characterizing the components of acorns, including the DNA and other features, it is relevant to note that in soil it causes them to grow into oaks, and in fire it causes them to become acorn ash. Both are natural.

One Brow said...

SteveK,

That was me (One Brow) responding above.

bmiller said...
It's a take-your-pick.

I'll choose to believe that you don't know.

I know that it is an arbitrary determination.

Then according to you. And you alone.

Yes to the first. No to the second.

Not sure what was first and second there. Too much sniping by both of us.

Feser on inertia.

The linked paper

Here's a quote:

But the point to emphasize for the moment is that, precisely because the principle of inertia treats uniform local motion as a “state,” it treats it thereby as the absence of change. Moreover, it holds that external forces are required to move a thing out of this “state” and thus to bring about a change. One more quote from Smolin:
There is an important caveat here: We are talking about uniform motion—motion in a straight line… When we change the speed or direction of our motion, we do feel it. Such changes are what we call acceleration, and acceleration can have an absolute meaning.
But then the Newtonian principle of inertia hardly conflicts with the Aristotelian principle that “motion”—that is to say, change—requires something to cause the change. The disagreement is at most over whether a particular phenomenon counts as a true change or “motion” in the relevant sense, not over whether it would require a mover or changer if it did so count.


The velocity of a moving object would depend on the nature of the thing, the motion you're referring to, and the environment where the motion was occurring. Hence all the talk about heavy and light objects, animals, natural and violent motions etc. Where did you get the idea that the velocity of a moving object depended solely on the object and nothing else?

The velocity of an inertial object depends only upon the comparison of that inertial from to the measuring frame.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

You:
Do you think a particular object would have a given velocity as a property of that object? Because you have been saying this is true by saying it would have been "moving according to it's nature".

Me:
The velocity of a moving object would depend on the nature of the thing, the motion you're referring to, and the environment where the motion was occurring. Hence all the talk about heavy and light objects, animals, natural and violent motions etc. Where did you get the idea that the velocity of a moving object depended solely on the object and nothing else?

You asked if "a particular object would have a given velocity as a property of that object". That was the question I answered. But it seems you meant an object only in theoretical inertial motion (ignoring all other real-world forces acting on it)?

The velocity of an inertial object depends only upon the comparison of that inertial from to the measuring frame.

It also depends on the object being massive and occupying space. In other words, its' nature as an existent material object.

It seems you read the article, so you now know how that inertia, no matter how one looks at it, is not in conflict with AT metaphysics.

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"I can discuss 1) while still holding to 2), without contradiction."

There's nothing wrong with testing out ideas and seeing where they lead. I asked you if tables were natural and you said "Tables are artificial". If you were testing an idea with that answer then the result is that (2) is false and final causes do exist.

"So acorn ash is a natural result, then?"
Yes.

"In characterizing the components of acorns, including the DNA and other features, it is relevant to note that in soil it causes them to grow into oaks, and in fire it causes them to become acorn ash. Both are natural."

The acorn draws in nutrients from the soil and processes them. The soil isn't doing that so the soil isn't causing growth any more than being surrounded by oxygen is causing your heart to beat regularly or having a full tank of gas is causing your car to drive down the street.

Fire is causing the process that results in ash. The acorn isn't causing the heat required. I don't know anyone saying that ash can be attributed to DNA. DNA has various biological powers, but never have I heard anyone say DNA is responsible for producing ash.

Believe what you want because it has no effect on the AT argument for final causality. Even if you are correct we would still conclude that acorns have limited abilities that can be attributed to them according to their nature.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
You asked if "a particular object would have a given velocity as a property of that object". That was the question I answered. But it seems you meant an object only in theoretical inertial motion (ignoring all other real-world forces acting on it)?

Yes, I have been discussing inertial motion.

It also depends on the object being massive and occupying space. In other words, its' nature as an existent material object.

As opposed to objects that have no mass and occupy no space, like photons? Photons have a velocity as well.

It seems you read the article, so you now know how that inertia, no matter how one looks at it, is not in conflict with AT metaphysics.

That's an odd way of telling someone they were correct. I mean, on 4/19, I said "I got my ideas on AT metaphysics primarily from Feser, and am applying them to modern-day physics. Feser is very clear that the four causes are explanations of change. Inertial motion is unchanging." So that should have made it clear I did not see a conflict.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
There's nothing wrong with testing out ideas and seeing where they lead. I asked you if tables were natural and you said "Tables are artificial". If you were testing an idea with that answer then the result is that (2) is false and final causes do exist.

Does the term "final causes exist", to you, mean "changes have intended purposes"? If so, do you have an objective way for identifying that purpose?

The acorn draws in nutrients from the soil and processes them. The soil isn't doing that so the soil isn't causing growth any more than being surrounded by oxygen is causing your heart to beat regularly or having a full tank of gas is causing your car to drive down the street.

The way that an acorn absorbs heat from another item radiating heat, and processes that heat by breaking apart its component molecules into ash. The fire isn't doing that so the fire isn't causing ash any more than being surrounded by oxygen is causing the acorn to grab that oxygen and convert combine it with carbon to make carbon dioxide.

Fire is causing the process that results in ash. The acorn isn't causing the heat required. I don't know anyone saying that ash can be attributed to DNA. DNA has various biological powers, but never have I heard anyone say DNA is responsible for producing ash.

Soil is causing the process that results in an oak. The acorn is not providing the nutrients required. I don't know anyone that says nutrients can be attributed to DNA. DNA has various biological powers, but never have I heard DNA is responsible for producing the nutrients an organism needs.

Believe what you want because it has no effect on the AT argument for final causality. Even if you are correct we would still conclude that acorns have limited abilities that can be attributed to them according to their nature.

I agree that my belief will have no effect on your belief. My point has been only that the selection of final causes (or if you prefer, the final causes that supposed express the true nature of an object) are arbitrarily chosen, that is, a matter of belief. Natural law is based on personal preferences, as opposed to anything that can be objectively verified.

So far, you have done nothing that indicates acorn ash is any different as a final cause from an oak.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

As opposed to objects that have no mass and occupy no space, like photons?

If photons did not have mass they would be unaffected by gravity (they're not) and would not have a wavelength if they did not occupy space (they do). But there are things that are massless and do not occupy space in which case they are not something that physics studies.

That's an odd way of telling someone they were correct.

Because it's not.

Feser is very clear that the four causes are explanations of change.

You keep saying this but provide no quote. Show me where he says this.

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"Does the term "final causes exist", to you, mean "changes have intended purposes"? If so, do you have an objective way for identifying that purpose?"

It does not mean that.

"The way that an acorn absorbs heat from another item radiating heat, and processes that heat by breaking apart its component molecules into ash. The fire isn't doing that so the fire isn't causing ash any more than being surrounded by oxygen is causing the acorn to grab that oxygen and convert combine it with carbon to make carbon dioxide."

You have the arrow of causality pointed in the wrong direction. Fire is acting on an object that can be consumed by fire.

We know fire boils water and converts it to steam. We don't attribute the conversion to water because water doesn't have the power.

We know acid dissolves objects. The object has to have the property of being soluble, but the property of being soluble does not produce the act of dissolving. That power belongs to the acid.

"My point has been only that the selection of final causes (or if you prefer, the final causes that supposed express the true nature of an object) are arbitrarily chosen, that is, a matter of belief."

Radiation has certain inherent powers. Sleeping pills have certain inherent powers. Human DNA has certain inherent powers. Each of those powers are limited. None of the powers and limits are arbitrarily selected.

Science goes through a rigorous process to discover these powers and limits.

"Natural law is based on personal preferences, as opposed to anything that can be objectively verified."

Tell that to the scientists who prove conclusively the some object has certain inherent powers, but not others. That's natural law. That's final causality.

SteveK said...

The train engine causes the train car to move. That is the physics.

Saying that car moves in the presence of the train engine is a convoluted way of saying the same thing..

Saying that the car absorbs the energy of the train engine and process it so that the car moves is even more convoluted, but nothing has changed. The train engine causes the car to move.

Fire causes acorns to convert to ash.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...

If photons did not have mass they would be unaffected by gravity (they're not) and would not have a wavelength if they did not occupy space (they do).

Photons have no rest mass, only the mass-equivalent of the energy from which they are composed. They inhabit space, but do not occupy it, and easily share it with other things.

That's an odd way of telling someone they were correct.

Because it's not.

As if I was not aware of that. Don't worry, I would never expect you to acknowledge it.

Feser is very clear that the four causes are explanations of change.

You keep saying this but provide no quote. Show me where he says this.

Before I go quote hunting, let's make sure there is a disagreement:
Material cause is the basic stuff something is made of.
Formal cause is the shaping of the material into a thing. For example, diamonds and graphite are the same material in different form.
Efficient cause is the kickoff/catalyst for the potential in matter/form to activate, and alter the matter/form in some fashion, accelerate, or something similar.
Final cause is the result of the activation of the potential.

Do you have a substantial disagreement? A minor one? If not, that was pretty much my point.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
"The way that an acorn absorbs heat from another item radiating heat, and processes that heat by breaking apart its component molecules into ash. The fire isn't doing that so the fire isn't causing ash any more than being surrounded by oxygen is causing the acorn to grab that oxygen and convert combine it with carbon to make carbon dioxide."

You have the arrow of causality pointed in the wrong direction. Fire is acting on an object that can be consumed by fire.

Yes, fire is an efficient cause, just like soil is an efficient cause. Are you trying to delineate two different types of efficient causes? If not, what distinguishes fire as an efficient cause from soil as an efficient cause (outside of one being fire and the other being soil)?

We know fire boils water and converts it to steam. We don't attribute the conversion to water because water doesn't have the power.

Every change requires an efficient cause. How is this type of efficient cause different?

"My point has been only that the selection of final causes (or if you prefer, the final causes that supposed express the true nature of an object) are arbitrarily chosen, that is, a matter of belief."

None of the powers and limits are arbitrarily selected.

A simple listing of powers and limits is not sufficient to impose the morality within natural laws.

Tell that to the scientists who prove conclusively the some object has certain inherent powers, but not others. That's natural law. That's final causality.

If that were all there was to natural law, there would be no prohibition on homosexual behavior.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
The train engine causes the train car to move. That is the physics.

Saying that car moves in the presence of the train engine is a convoluted way of saying the same thing..

Saying that the car absorbs the energy of the train engine and process it so that the car moves is even more convoluted, but nothing has changed. The train engine causes the car to move.

Fire causes acorns to convert to ash.


Exactly! Also, soil causes acorns to sprout and grow. Efficient causes all around.

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"Every change requires an efficient cause. How is this type of efficient cause different?"

The nature of a thing determines the difference. Fire, by nature, has the power to boil water. Water, by nature, does not possess that power.

You said a table is non-natural (artificial). Despite every change to the tree being the result of efficient causality, and despite every object that makes up the table itself being a natural object you conclude that nature does not have the power to produce a table (or a Space Shuttle). You correctly recognize that nature has a limit - that nature cannot produce the effect.

"A simple listing of powers and limits is not sufficient to impose the morality within natural laws."

I never said it was.

"If that were all there was to natural law, there would be no prohibition on homosexual behavior."

I agree. The reason why natural law exists in the first place is the basis for the prohibition.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
The nature of a thing determines the difference. Fire, by nature, has the power to boil water. Water, by nature, does not possess that power.

I agree that in AT, efficient causes are needed for change. We seem to agree that fire and soil are both natural, as well as being efficient causes. So, why does an oak become a final cause and not acorn ash?

Please, do not repeat something about about the nature of the acorn, or DNA, or etc. without addressing that it is the unique nature of the acorn that produces acorn ash, as opposed to (for example) a rock that melts but produces no ash. If anything, there is less of the acorn material in the oak than there is of the acorn material n the acorn ash.

You correctly recognize that nature has a limit - that nature cannot produce the effect.

Since we agree there, can we please now restrict this to considering different types of natural efficient causes and their resulting final causes?

I never said it was.

So natural law depends upon more than final causes. Good. What else goes into it?

"If that were all there was to natural law, there would be no prohibition on homosexual behavior."

I agree. The reason why natural law exists in the first place is the basis for the prohibition.


I am having trouble reading these sentences in a non-contradictory fashion. What does this mean, to you?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

I think discussing quantum particles is interesting, but is ultimately off-topic as to whether there are final causes in nature or whether AT metaphysics applies to modern physics or not. I'm not interested in quibbling about relativistic mass vs rest mass or the indeterminate location/size of quantum particles. I'm perfectly fine with some "things" lacking normal physcial properties, but that would seem to present difficulties for strict materialists.

Do you have a substantial disagreement? A minor one? If not, that was pretty much my point.

This is what you said:
Feser is very clear that the four causes are explanations of change.

Then this:
Material cause is the basic stuff something is made of.
This is not an explanation of change. It is an explanation of what a thing is made of.

Formal cause is the shaping of the material into a thing. For example, diamonds and graphite are the same material in different form.

The formal cause is not "the shaping of the material into a thing". It is just the nature of the the thing itself.

Efficient cause is the kickoff/catalyst for the potential in matter/form to activate, and alter the matter/form in some fashion, accelerate, or something similar.

The efficient cause can be considered the "catalyst" for the origin of the thing. In a way, this could be considered an explanation of change but since the thing one is describing already has come into being, it is a description of a past event.

Final cause is the result of the activation of the potential.

Final cause is "the end, that for the sake of which a thing is done" which is also not an explanation of change per se.

Now of course if one is using the 4 causes to describe a particular change that is occurring in the present, then it can be said that "the four causes are explanations of change.". But that qualifier is needed.

SteveK said...

"So, why does an oak become a final cause and not acorn ash?"

Both the resulting oak and the resulting ash are natural ends.

What we are arguing over is WHAT natural thing is responsible for producing the natural effect. The only way to answer that question is to consider the nature of the various objects involved. Science investigates the nature of objects by experimentation to determine their natural limits. We know that water can cause some things to dissolve, but it is powerless to dissolve other things. We know that water can be caused to become red but it cannot be caused to become ash.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
Material cause is the basic stuff something is made of.
This is not an explanation of change. It is an explanation of what a thing is made of.

No disagreement offered.

Formal cause is the shaping of the material into a thing. For example, diamonds and graphite are the same material in different form.

The formal cause is not "the shaping of the material into a thing". It is just the nature of the the thing itself.

Which is different, how?

Efficient cause is the kickoff/catalyst for the potential in matter/form to activate, and alter the matter/form in some fashion, accelerate, or something similar.

The efficient cause can be considered the "catalyst" for the origin of the thing. In a way, this could be considered an explanation of change but since the thing one is describing already has come into being, it is a description of a past event.

Could you use efficient causes to describe events that have not occurred? For example, "a lightning strike will cause that building to be on fire" or "I am going to hit this piano key and the piano will make a sound"? Any other discrepancies?

Final cause is the result of the activation of the potential.

Final cause is "the end, that for the sake of which a thing is done" which is also not an explanation of change per se.

What is the difference, to you, between "the result of the activation of the potential" and "the end, that for the sake of which a thing is done"?

To me, "for the sake of which a thing is done" refers to the purpose of doing a thing. If final cause is only "the end, that for the sake of which a thing is done", then how could it fulfill the function of tying an effect to a cause? What happened to the inevitability of results? Is final cause supposed be a combination of inevitability of results and purpose, after all?

Now of course if one is using the 4 causes to describe a particular change that is occurring in the present, then it can be said that "the four causes are explanations of change.". But that qualifier is needed.

OK.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
"So, why does an oak become a final cause and not acorn ash?"

Both the resulting oak and the resulting ash are natural ends.

Agreed.

What we are arguing over is WHAT natural thing is responsible for producing the natural effect. The only way to answer that question is to consider the nature of the various objects involved. Science investigates the nature of objects by experimentation to determine their natural limits. We know that water can cause some things to dissolve, but it is powerless to dissolve other things. We know that water can be caused to become red but it cannot be caused to become ash.

In particular, when working with AT metaphysics, we look at the various causes of changes. Here is what I understand of the process. Let me know if you disagree with any of these statements.
1) The material components (material cause) of the acorn are the same whether it falls into soil or falls into fire.
2) The structure of the acorn (formal cause) is the same whether it falls into soil or falls into fire.
3) The soil is the efficient cause that allows the acorn to activate its potential to become an oak. The fie is the efficient cause that allows the acorn to activate its potential to become acorn ash.
4) An oak is the final result (final cause) from using soil as the efficient cause. Acorn ash is the final result from using fire as the efficient cause.

In your analysis, please keep in mind that you don't actually need fire to make acorn ash, you only need heat. Either way, you need the acorn.

SteveK said...

Maybe bmiller can help me out with the AT language. I don't do well when things get down into the deep weeds. I can explain in plain english thought.

An acorn uses resources that are present. The acorn is doing the work of processing those resources in the proper way that produces the effect of growth. The soil doesn't cause itself to be used in the proper way so that the effect is produced.

This is just like an electric machine that uses electricity to produce widgets. The electricity is a resource that the machines uses. The machine is doing the work of directing the electricity to the correct places at the correct time, etc. The electricity is not producing the effect of widgets.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Me:
The formal cause is not "the shaping of the material into a thing". It is just the nature of the the thing itself.
You:
Which is different, how?

The nature of a thing consists of its' capabilities and liabilities (in modern terminology). Your phrase sounds more like an efficient cause acting in the present.

Could you use efficient causes to describe events that have not occurred?

Yes. Just like matter could combine with form in the future to become an existent natural substance with a final cause.

What is the difference, to you, between "the result of the activation of the potential" and "the end, that for the sake of which a thing is done"?

To me, "for the sake of which a thing is done" refers to the purpose of doing a thing. If final cause is only "the end, that for the sake of which a thing is done", then how could it fulfill the function of tying an effect to a cause? What happened to the inevitability of results? Is final cause supposed be a combination of inevitability of results and purpose, after all?


Somethings can happen by chance. "the result of the activation of the potential" does not exclude a chance event, while a final cause does.

bmiller said...

SteveK and One Brow,

The final cause of a natural substance is considered inherent to the substance and that is good either for the existence or the flourishing of the substance, not the annihilation of the substance. That acorns are regularly produced from oaks in order that new oaks should regularly be generated is observable. It is not good for either oaks or acorns to cease to exist by being burned and losing their substantial form.

SteveK said...

What you said makes sense, @bmiller. I also think the answer is built on our common sense ability to understand the nature of objects, without which science would be impossible.

bmiller said...

SteveK,

Agreed. It isn't long in their development before infants are naturally able to grasp the nature of the things around them.

SteveK said...

One acorn falls into the soil and grows.
A second acorn falls into the same soil conditions and doesn't grow.

Do you conclude that the acorn causes the growth to occur, or the soil?

SteveK said...

One acorn falls into the soil and grows.
A second acorn falls into the same soil conditions and doesn't grow.
Both acorns are then put into the fire and both become ash.

Do you conclude that the fire causes the ash, or the acorn?

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
The nature of a thing consists of its' capabilities and liabilities (in modern terminology). Your phrase sounds more like an efficient cause acting in the present.

Would you agree that diamonds and graphite are the same material (i.e., have the same material cause) in different form? Would you agree that this is due to the different structures of the underlying material, and that the differences in capabilities and liabilities are rooted in this differing structure?

Somethings can happen by chance. "the result of the activation of the potential" does not exclude a chance event, while a final cause does.

What's a chance event, to you? If the results for a specific change are inevitable, so that it became "the inevitable result of the activation of the potential", would that be the same as final cause?

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
The final cause of a natural substance is considered inherent to the substance and that is good either for the existence or the flourishing of the substance, not the annihilation of the substance. That acorns are regularly produced from oaks in order that new oaks should regularly be generated is observable. It is not good for either oaks or acorns to cease to exist by being burned and losing their substantial form.

Do you have a non-arbitrary way to determine what is good?

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
One acorn falls into the soil and grows.
A second acorn falls into the same soil conditions and doesn't grow.

Do you conclude that the acorn causes the growth to occur, or the soil?


Do these acorns have identical forms? If so, why does one grow and the other not grow in identical conditions?

Do you conclude that the fire causes the ash, or the acorn?

I've seen plenty of fire that produced no ash (such as every time I light a candle).

In AT terminology, my understanding is the material of the acorn is the material cause of the acorn ash, and the fire is the efficient cause. Similarly, the material of the acorn is the material cause of the oak, and the soil is the efficient cause. Do you disagree with one of those two statements?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Would you agree that diamonds and graphite are the same material (i.e., have the same material cause) in different form? Would you agree that this is due to the different structures of the underlying material, and that the differences in capabilities and liabilities are rooted in this differing structure?

I'd prefer to stick to the terminology of AT metaphysics. The form is more than just the structure of a thing, it's the nature and it is the nature that gives rise to the capabilities and liabilities.

What's a chance event, to you? If the results for a specific change are inevitable, so that it became "the inevitable result of the activation of the potential", would that be the same as final cause?

A chance event is something that is unexpected. Like an oak tree growing walnuts for instance or not producing acorns due to a defect. But as far as I can tell, if a substance is not impeded from reaching its' end it will reach its' end.

Do you have a non-arbitrary way to determine what is good?.

Yes. Whatever benefits the substance either for the existence or the flourishing of the substance.

SteveK said...

"Do these acorns have identical forms? If so, why does one grow and the other not grow in identical conditions?"

They are both natural acorns so they both have the form of an acorn. One doesn't grow because there is something wrong with it (a reference to its nature) that is preventing growth.

"I've seen plenty of fire that produced no ash (such as every time I light a candle)
Not sure how this relates to anything. Of course acorn ash will not result from a candle flame.

"In AT terminology, my understanding is the material of the acorn is the material cause of the acorn ash, and the fire is the efficient cause. Similarly, the material of the acorn is the material cause of the oak, and the soil is the efficient cause. Do you disagree with one of those two statements?

I disagree. The material cause of the oak is different than the acorn and the acorn is different than the acorn ash. Acorn ash is not an acorn with a different form. The efficient cause of the oak is the thing that has the power to produce an oak. That thing is the acorn.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
I'd prefer to stick to the terminology of AT metaphysics. The form is more than just the structure of a thing, it's the nature and it is the nature that gives rise to the capabilities and liabilities.

If all you do is repeat the vocabulary without examining what it means in deeper detail, how can you develop a full understanding of it? How can you use it to describe our modern understanding of the world?

My understanding is that part of the nature of graphite and diamonds are the same (they are made from carbon. Would you agree there?

A chance event is something that is unexpected. Like an oak tree growing walnuts for instance or not producing acorns due to a defect. But as far as I can tell, if a substance is not impeded from reaching its' end it will reach its' end.

What if the end for a particular acorn is not to grow an oak?

Do you have a non-arbitrary way to determine what is good?

Yes. Whatever benefits the substance either for the existence or the flourishing of the substance.

Do you have a non-arbitrary way to determine what benefits the substance or what it means for a substance to flourish?

For example, are the physiological changes a human makes between the ages of 30 and 80 of benefit to that human or create greater flourishing for that human? If not, does that mean aging is not a final cause?

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
"Do these acorns have identical forms? If so, why does one grow and the other not grow in identical conditions?"

They are both natural acorns so they both have the form of an acorn. One doesn't grow because there is something wrong with it (a reference to its nature) that is preventing growth.


So, they have similar, but different forms. One grows into an oak according to its form with the soil as the efficient cause, and the other does not grow according to its form, and the soil can not be an efficient cause.

Not sure how this relates to anything. Of course acorn ash will not result from a candle flame.

I'm glad we agree that the ash does not come from the fire. Hopefully we can put that argument to rest.

I disagree. The material cause of the oak is different than the acorn and the acorn is different than the acorn ash.

The oak was created from the acorn. What other material thing created the oak? I agree non-burnt acorns are different from acorn ash.

Acorn ash is not an acorn with a different form.

It's the same material. What's the difference, if not form?

The efficient cause of the oak is the thing that has the power to produce an oak. That thing is the acorn.

Acorns produce oaks all by themselves, and the soil has no part? If the soil has a part, what type of cause to the oak is the soil? Also, the only thing with the power to produce acorn ash is an acorn. So, how are acorns not the efficient cause of acorn ash?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

If all you do is repeat the vocabulary without examining what it means in deeper detail, how can you develop a full understanding of it? How can you use it to describe our modern understanding of the world?

You used the word structure. That is not what form is. Using incorrect terminology is not developing a full understanding of it.

My understanding is that part of the nature of graphite and diamonds are the same (they are made from carbon. Would you agree there?

Both are alltropes of carbon but are not identical. But yes, being material existent things, they are made of matter but also form.

What if the end for a particular acorn is not to grow an oak?

Like I mentioned, it could be due to a chance event or it could have been impeded either externally or from a defect.

If not, does that mean aging is not a final cause?

A final cause is just one of the 4 causes to explain why a thing exists. The final cause of a human is to seek God (Aristotle's Good) and practice virtue. To the extent a person does these things he is proceeding toward his/her purpose or final cause. A person can be inhibited from seeking his Good in different ways. Aging does not necessarily imply an inhibition and in many ways is actually an aid to the person.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Acorns produce oaks all by themselves, and the soil has no part? If the soil has a part, what type of cause to the oak is the soil? Also, the only thing with the power to produce acorn ash is an acorn. So, how are acorns not the efficient cause of acorn ash?

Let me butt in here with my 2 cents.

Acorns have within themselves the power to grow just like oaks and in fact are just oaks in an early stage of development. They consist of matter and form and, just like all other living things, efficiently cause the nutrients from their environments to transform into their own matter.

Living things do not (always or for the most part) have within themselves the power to turn to ash. They can be inhibited from metabolizing nutrients by being destroyed by a fire in which case the fire would be considered the efficient cause of the destruction of the acorn. Just like the acorn would be considered the efficient cause of the destruction of the nutrients that it absorbs and transforms into its' own matter.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
You used the word structure. That is not what form is. Using incorrect terminology is not developing a full understanding of it.

Is form itself a basic concept, with nothing that determines form and no way of picking apart the why of a form? Or, is form a collective concept that has many smaller concepts built in, one of which would be structure?

Both are alltropes of carbon but are not identical. But yes, being material existent things, they are made of matter but also form.

Yes, this is my point. They have a different form, based on the differing structure of the bonds among the identical material (carbon). Structure is not all of form, but a part of it. Do you disagree?

Like I mentioned, it could be due to a chance event or it could have been impeded either externally or from a defect.

If the form of an particular acorn does not permit it to grow an oak, how do you non-arbitrarily decide that particular form is defective?

A final cause is just one of the 4 causes to explain why a thing exists. The final cause of a human is to seek God (Aristotle's Good) and practice virtue. To the extent a person does these things he is proceeding toward his/her purpose or final cause. A person can be inhibited from seeking his Good in different ways. Aging does not necessarily imply an inhibition and in many ways is actually an aid to the person.

I can see no way the homosexual marriage would interfere with a person's ability to seek God and practice virtue (at least, not more so that heterosexual marriage), except if you declare it un-Godly and/or non-virtuous by fiat.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
Acorns have within themselves the power to grow just like oaks and in fact are just oaks in an early stage of development. They consist of matter and form and, just like all other living things, efficiently cause the nutrients from their environments to transform into their own matter.

Living things do not (always or for the most part) have within themselves the power to turn to ash. They can be inhibited from metabolizing nutrients by being destroyed by a fire in which case the fire would be considered the efficient cause of the destruction of the acorn. Just like the acorn would be considered the efficient cause of the destruction of the nutrients that it absorbs and transforms into its' own matter.


So, with regards to the oak, the acorn is the efficient cause and the soil is the material cause, while with regard to the acorn ash, the acorn is the material cause and the fire is the efficient cause?

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"So, they have similar, but different forms. One grows into an oak according to its form with the soil as the efficient cause, and the other does not grow according to its form, and the soil can not be an efficient cause."

This is not correct. The form of an acorn combined with the material of an acorn is (in part) what makes it an acorn, by nature. They are not different. You aren't grasping the basics of AT metaphysics. I suggest you study it some more rather than ask some random internet stranger to explain it to you. I'm ahead of you in my understanding but I get things wrong so I'm reluctant to be your teacher here. I'm not knocking you for asking questions, I'm just saying that you'd be better off digging into this yourself.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...

This is not correct. The form of an acorn combined with the material of an acorn is (in part) what makes it an acorn, by nature. They are not different.

The "form of an acorn" is a description of a category of forms, not the entire form of any individual acorn. Some acorns are larger than others, or have a higher percentage of mass in the caps than others, or differ from others in any number of ways. Each unique acorn has its own form. If it did not, form could not be part of the substance of an acorn.

You aren't grasping the basics of AT metaphysics.

Perhaps I am just making clear some implications of AT metaphysics that have not occurred to you?

I suggest you study it some more rather than ask some random internet stranger to explain it to you.

Interacting with knowledgeable people is a form of study, and one of the most productive forms of study.

I'm ahead of you in my understanding but I get things wrong so I'm reluctant to be your teacher here. I'm not knocking you for asking questions, I'm just saying that you'd be better off digging into this yourself.

Fair enough. I thank you for the interaction we have had so far.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

I agree with SteveK that you would be better off reading some more. I too am just an internet guy. Feser's Aquinas would be good place to start after you've completed TLS. Most of the concepts you're asking about were covered in some detail in TLS but in more detail in Aquinas.

In particular the points below are answered in those works:

Is form itself a basic concept, with nothing that determines form and no way of picking apart the why of a form? Or, is form a collective concept that has many smaller concepts built in, one of which would be structure?

You mentioned you were familiar with hylemorphism. If you grasp that concept your question should be answered satisfactorily.

Yes, this is my point. They have a different form, based on the differing structure of the bonds among the identical material (carbon). Structure is not all of form, but a part of it. Do you disagree?

Yes, structure, powers, liabilities etc.

If the form of an particular acorn does not permit it to grow an oak, how do you non-arbitrarily decide that particular form is defective?

Once again, acorns always or for the most part will grow unless impeded. A defect is an impediment.

I can see no way the homosexual marriage would interfere with a person's ability to seek God and practice virtue (at least, not more so that heterosexual marriage), except if you declare it un-Godly and/or non-virtuous by fiat.


I'm not surprised you have that arbitrary opinion.

So, with regards to the oak, the acorn is the efficient cause and the soil is the material cause, while with regard to the acorn ash, the acorn is the material cause and the fire is the efficient cause?

The acorn, as a living being, (with a living soul) has within itself the proximate cause of changing (the soul) soil nutrients into the matter of the acorn. Since the acorn did not cause itself to burn, then it appears that the fire was the efficient cause of the destruction of the acorn.

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"Perhaps I am just making clear some implications of AT metaphysics that have not occurred to you?"

So far you've said nothing that I couldn't answer myself or quote someone who could (like Feser).

"Interacting with knowledgeable people is a form of study, and one of the most productive forms of study."

I hope your curiosity has been piqued enough to get the book "Aquinas" by Feser. It's a good read and one I often return to when I forget something or get confused. Some of the more complicated sections of the book I've had to re-read multiple times before it made sense.

AT metaphysics strikes me as very realistic and very compatible with science. It's not perfect in every way but it's very reasonable - unless you are committed to materialism, then it won't seem reasonable at all. Much of it starts with what we observe and what you might call common sense knowledge.

You observe that things move and change and sometimes they stay the same thing (by nature), and sometimes they change into some other thing. AT helps makes sense out of that. You observe a table and notice that it is artificial and AT helps explains why you correctly perceive it that way.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
I agree with SteveK that you would be better off reading some more. I too am just an internet guy. Feser's Aquinas would be good place to start after you've completed TLS. Most of the concepts you're asking about were covered in some detail in TLS but in more detail in Aquinas.

The thing is, both you and SteveK have read Aquinas, and yet seem to prefer arguing around my questions rather than answering them. Why would I think the source would address them any better? Feser certainly never claim close to delivering what he promised to deliver in The Last Superstition.

You mentioned you were familiar with hylemorphism. If you grasp that concept your question should be answered satisfactorily.

To me, the answer was obvious, which is why I was surprised when you objected to looking at structure while discussing form.

Yes, structure, powers, liabilities etc.

So, I didn't need to look that up after all.

If the form of an particular acorn does not permit it to grow an oak, how do you non-arbitrarily decide that particular form is defective?

Once again, acorns always or for the most part will grow unless impeded. A defect is an impediment.

Since I asked for how you non-arbitrarily decide which form is defective, and you answered with "for the most part", does that mean the most common occurrence/outcome is the objective method you use to decide which form is defective and which is not? I don't believe it is, because many natural law conclusions would not stand up to close inspection on that standard.

I'm not surprised you have that arbitrary opinion.

From what I can tell, there are only arbitrary opinions on this matter, so I go with the kindest one. You do you.

So, with regards to the oak, the acorn is the efficient cause and the soil is the material cause, while with regard to the acorn ash, the acorn is the material cause and the fire is the efficient cause?

The acorn, as a living being, (with a living soul) has within itself the proximate cause of changing (the soul) soil nutrients into the matter of the acorn. Since the acorn did not cause itself to burn, then it appears that the fire was the efficient cause of the destruction of the acorn.

I didn't ask whether the acorn was a distal or proximate cause, I asked if it was an efficient or material cause. Is the point of advising me to read Aquinas that I would learn to avoid answering questions directly?

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
So far you've said nothing that I couldn't answer myself or quote someone who could (like Feser).

Then you already understood that every acorn has its own unique form, and the "form of an acorn" is a description of categories of forms, and not a form in and of itself? So that, when I say that one acorn acts according to its individual nature by growing in soil, and the other acorn acts according to its individual nature by not growing in soil, you understand that this is due to them having different forms?

I hope your curiosity has been piqued enough to get the book "Aquinas" by Feser. It's a good read and one I often return to when I forget something or get confused. Some of the more complicated sections of the book I've had to re-read multiple times before it made sense.

I appreciate the compliment, but I very much doubt Feser addresses questions like these in his book. He seems to prefer to keep things at the simplest level and not get into these types of details. If he did, I don't think you would have objected to my noting that every individual acorn has an individual, unique form.

AT metaphysics strikes me as very realistic and very compatible with science. It's not perfect in every way but it's very reasonable - unless you are committed to materialism, then it won't seem reasonable at all.

On the contrary, there is little in AT metaphysics that is counter to materialism. Despite Feser's bluster on the4 subject, scientists study modified versions of all of the causes.

Much of it starts with what we observe and what you might call common sense knowledge.

It's fine to start there, but of course any well-thought-out metaphysic survives encounters with more specialized knowledge.

You observe that things move and change and sometimes they stay the same thing (by nature), and sometimes they change into some other thing. AT helps makes sense out of that. You observe a table and notice that it is artificial and AT helps explains why you correctly perceive it that way.

Yep.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

You seem to be objecting to me being very specific in my answers. I've been doing that because it seems to me that you don't have a firm grasp on the subject matter. Regarding structure, it is part of the nature of a thing but is not solely the nature of a thing.

So I disagree with this comment:
So, I didn't need to look that up after all.

Because you can't expect SteveK and I to write a book in the comments section.

Since I asked for how you non-arbitrarily decide which form is defective, and you answered with "for the most part", does that mean the most common occurrence/outcome is the objective method you use to decide which form is defective and which is not? I don't believe it is, because many natural law conclusions would not stand up to close inspection on that standard.

Why don't you provide those examples then.

From what I can tell, there are only arbitrary opinions on this matter

From what I can tell abritrariness is your central philosophical theme.

I didn't ask whether the acorn was a distal or proximate cause, I asked if it was an efficient or material cause. Is the point of advising me to read Aquinas that I would learn to avoid answering questions directly?

I specifically called the soul "the proximate cause of changing" which just is an efficient cause, not a material cause. If you read Aquinas (or even looked up the 4 causes at Wikipedia) you would realize that I did give you a direct answer.

From Wikipedia:
that which causes change and motion to start or stop

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"So that, when I say that one acorn acts according to its individual nature by growing in soil, and the other acorn acts according to its individual nature by not growing in soil, you understand that this is due to them having different forms?"

The term 'form' can be used differently. I was referring to the form of an acorn. Both are acorns so both have the same acorn nature and the same acorn form.

"He seems to prefer to keep things at the simplest level and not get into these types of details. If he did, I don't think you would have objected to my noting that every individual acorn has an individual, unique form."

He discusses this. Feser discusses universals being an abstraction of the mind. He also discusses the fact that Aquinas thought universals to be real to the extent that the concept exists in each individual instance in some way that is real.

What exists in the mind is the abstract concept of "acornness". What exist outside the mind are individual, concrete acorns. The nature of an acorn exists in each individual, concrete acorn. The concept of acornness exists in the mind (soul).

What is your point in mentioning the unique form?

SteveK said...

"On the contrary, there is little in AT metaphysics that is counter to materialism."

Mind, soul, intellect, immaterial substance - just to name a few.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
You seem to be objecting to me being very specific in my answers. I've been doing that because it seems to me that you don't have a firm grasp on the subject matter. Regarding structure, it is part of the nature of a thing but is not solely the nature of a thing.

It can be confusing when you seem to be bypassing the point of a question to raise an objection to something else entirely, without addressing the question at all.

So I disagree with this comment:

Because you can point to a passage where I said structure was the entirety of form?

Because you can't expect SteveK and I to write a book in the comments section.

Agreed.

Since I asked for how you non-arbitrarily decide which form is defective, and you answered with "for the most part", does that mean the most common occurrence/outcome is the objective method you use to decide which form is defective and which is not? I don't believe it is, because many natural law conclusions would not stand up to close inspection on that standard.

Why don't you provide those examples then.

If I have the standard right (or precisely, if I am right about what the standard is not based upon), according to you, what would be the point of listing examples deviating from a standard we both consider wrong? Are you confirming that this is the standard of determining whether an individual form is defective or not is how most individuals instantiating the universal, upon which the individual form is based, behave? As I said, I find this unlikely.

From what I can tell abritrariness is your central philosophical theme.

I'm still trying to work out my central philosophical themes, so I'm not surprised you would see it that way.

I specifically called the soul "the proximate cause of changing" which just is an efficient cause, not a material cause. If you read Aquinas (or even looked up the 4 causes at Wikipedia) you would realize that I did give you a direct answer.

From Wikipedia:
that which causes change and motion to start or stop


I looked it up. I looked up your phrase "that which causes change and motion to start or stop", and the word "proximate" is nowhere in the proximity.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Four_causes

There is a link on that page to the page on proximate and ultimate causation.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Proximate_and_ultimate_causation

A proximate cause is an event which is closest to, or immediately responsible for causing, some observed result.

Each of the four causes is intimately involved in causing any observed result, and each of the four causes can be proximate or distal.

I will take this dialog into consideration should you again choose to evaluate my grasp of the material.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
The term 'form' can be used differently. I was referring to the form of an acorn. Both are acorns so both have the same acorn nature and the same acorn form.

The "form of an acorn", as a generic idea, is a universal, that can be more or less closely instantiated on any particular acorn. However, if we have two distinct acorns, then regardless of closely their instantiation of the universal form of an acorn resembles each other, each acorn nonetheless has its own nature and its own form.

He discusses this. Feser discusses universals being an abstraction of the mind. He also discusses the fact that Aquinas thought universals to be real to the extent that the concept exists in each individual instance in some way that is real.

Then, why did you disagree when I pointed out every corn has its own form?

What exists in the mind is the abstract concept of "acornness". What exist outside the mind are individual, concrete acorns. The nature of an acorn exists in each individual, concrete acorn. The concept of acornness exists in the mind (soul).

What is your point in mentioning the unique form?


That point exactly. We have an abstract concept of what acorns are, but every acorn has a unique nature, and acts according to its nature. When you say an acorn is defective, it's not because that acorn is not performing according to the nature of that acorn, but because the performance of the acorn does not match your abstract concept of what an acorn should be. That's the arbitrary part. You decide what an acorn should be, and say that every acorn not matching that description is defective.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
"On the contrary, there is little in AT metaphysics that is counter to materialism."

Mind, soul, intellect, immaterial substance - just to name a few.


The mind is the form of the brain, and the soul is the form of the body. Nothing against materialism there.

As far as immaterial substances, while I recognize they are often used in AT metaphysics, there is nothing in the use of the four causes and similar notions that requires the existence of such.

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"Then, why did you disagree when I pointed out every corn has its own form?"

Because I was considering the term differently than you were.

"We have an abstract concept of what acorns are, but every acorn has a unique nature, and acts according to its nature. When you say an acorn is defective, it's not because that acorn is not performing according to the nature of that acorn, but because the performance of the acorn does not match your abstract concept of what an acorn should be. That's the arbitrary part. You decide what an acorn should be, and say that every acorn not matching that description is defective.

Have you arbitrarily decided what an acorn should be - its essence? I don't think you have. If you have then let me know because I can then dismiss everything you have said on this blog post as mere arbitrary assertions with no grounding in reality.

In reality there's nothing arbitrary about it. You know they are both ACTUAL acorns despite their unique individual natures. You know one is defective ONLY because you KNOW what an acorn is (its essence). Your knowledge of its essence comes logically prior to your knowledge of its existence.

If it was truly arbitrary then both -as a matter of fact- are equally defective and equally healthy and the term 'defective' becomes a meaningless term that has no grounding in reality.

It gets worse though. The term 'acorn' (and human, and tree, and molecule, and electron) is equally meaningless and arbitrarily applied. Geometry and mathematics aren't grounded in reality either.

Things have labels only because they are grounded in arbitrary social conventions, not because they are grounded in the reality of the things themselves.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

It can be confusing when you seem to be bypassing the point of a question to raise an objection to something else entirely, without addressing the question at all.

Because you can point to a passage where I said structure was the entirety of form?


As I mentioned before, this is why I answered the way I did:
You used the word structure. That is not what form is. Using incorrect terminology is not developing a full understanding of it.

I can't read your mind, only your words.

If I have the standard right (or precisely, if I am right about what the standard is not based upon), according to you, what would be the point of listing examples deviating from a standard we both consider wrong? Are you confirming that this is the standard of determining whether an individual form is defective or not is how most individuals instantiating the universal, upon which the individual form is based, behave? As I said, I find this unlikely.

The point is that you claimed that "many natural law conclusions would not stand up to close inspection on that standard". I am interested in what you consider examples of these conclusions and why. I figure it is better for me to see what you think the exceptions are than to continue to restate everything I've posted for days.

I looked it up. I looked up your phrase "that which causes change and motion to start or stop", and the word "proximate" is nowhere in the proximity.

I added "proximate" because of our earlier discussion wrt the First Way. Although the soul is the proximate cause of acorn growth it is not the Primary Cause. I wanted to make that clear.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
Have you arbitrarily decided what an acorn should be - its essence? I don't think you have. If you have then let me know because I can then dismiss everything you have said on this blog post as mere arbitrary assertions with no grounding in reality.

I try to avoid such thinking these days. Being skeptical means taking things as the evidence indicates, and bringing in as few expectations as possible.

In reality there's nothing arbitrary about it. You know they are both ACTUAL acorns despite their unique individual natures.

I agree. In my case, they are acorns because they are the fruit of oaks, which is a part of their nature.

You know one is defective ONLY because you KNOW what an acorn is (its essence). Your knowledge of its essence comes logically prior to your knowledge of its existence.

You are confusing the universal notion of acorns, which you acknowledge above is 'the abstract concept of "acornness"', with the essence of a specific acorn. You can't know the essence of any given acorn until you encounter that acorn.

If it was truly arbitrary then both -as a matter of fact- are equally defective and equally healthy and the term 'defective' becomes a meaningless term that has no grounding in reality.

Exactly. It only has a meaning when you arbitrarily attach a purpose to what an acorn is supposed to be through the idea of the universal version of an acorn.

It gets worse though. The term 'acorn' (and human, and tree, and molecule, and electron) is equally meaningless and arbitrarily applied.

I'm not sure what you mean here. Combinations of letters are arbitrary. However, if you mean there is no objective way to determine if something is an acorn based on any way you might define acorns, I would disagree. All I'm giving up is the notion that "defective" is an objective appellation.

Geometry and mathematics aren't grounded in reality either.

Well, that depends on what you think the nature of mathematics is. I'm not personally a Platonist, but I can see it as a legitimate position.

Things have labels only because they are grounded in arbitrary social conventions, not because they are grounded in the reality of the things themselves.

If the labels of things were grounded in the reality of the things themselves, the labels would not change from language to language. Perhaps I misunderstood your point, though.

One Brow said...

The point is that you claimed that "many natural law conclusions would not stand up to close inspection on that standard". I am interested in what you consider examples of these conclusions and why. I figure it is better for me to see what you think the exceptions are than to continue to restate everything I've posted for days.

So, to be clear, we are looking at whether natural law will occasionally not follow the things that happen most often, even though neither of thinks you can determine natural law in that fashion? OK.

Most instances of unprotected coitus do not result in fertilization, about half of fertilizations do not result in implantation. This means that pregnancy is the minority result of coitus, yet natural law puts forth pregnancy as the purpose of coitus.

I added "proximate" because of our earlier discussion wrt the First Way. Although the soul is the proximate cause of acorn growth it is not the Primary Cause. I wanted to make that clear.

Fair enough.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Most instances of unprotected coitus do not result in fertilization, about half of fertilizations do not result in implantation. This means that pregnancy is the minority result of coitus, yet natural law puts forth pregnancy as the purpose of coitus.

Thank you for the example. Yes it's true that coitus is directed toward pregnacy. We know this since all pregnancies result from coitus. Just like all oaks grow from acorns. But just because all acorns do not grow into full oaks does not mean that acorns are not directed toward producing oaks. There could be internal impediments as well as external impediments in both cases. Hence the qualifier that the substance is directed toward the final cause unless impeded.

Simple bodies will move toward the ground (on earth) unless impeded by a table, a chair, a hand etc. So just because a substance does not always reach the goal it is directed toward does not mean it is not directed toward a certain goal.

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"You are confusing the universal notion of acorns, which you acknowledge above is 'the abstract concept of "acornness"', with the essence of a specific acorn."

You: "You decide what an acorn should be, and say that every acorn not matching that description is defective."

If you are deciding what an acorn should be, then you are deciding what attributes make up "acornness". You are deciding what is essential to the category, and what is not essential. Every object that doesn't match your arbitrary rules does not have "acornness" and is not an acorn. I don't actually believe that to be true but this is the reality you've created.

"You can't know the essence of any given acorn until you encounter that acorn."

That's logically backward. How are you able to know that two objects are the same kind of thing when there are so many differences? You need the ability (knowledge) to answer that question before you encounter any two objects. If you don't know what is essential and what is not essential to the category then your decision is arbitrary.

"However, if you mean there is no objective way to determine if something is an acorn based on any way you might define acorns, I would disagree."

Can you explain how you determine which attributes belong to the category "acornness" and which do not? Suppose you say the ability to produce an oak belongs to the category: (a) how do you know this and (b) what about the one that cannot produce an oak?

"All I'm giving up is the notion that "defective" is an objective appellation."

I disagree but maybe you can explain it.

"If the labels of things were grounded in the reality of the things themselves, the labels would not change from language to language. Perhaps I misunderstood your point, though."

My comment was saying what it means if labels are not grounded in the reality of the things themselves. Labels like "acornness" would have no relationship to anything outside the mind.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
Thank you for the example. Yes it's true that coitus is directed toward pregnacy.

Then we agree majority result does not determine natural law, as I thought.

We know this since all pregnancies result from coitus.

We are now back to the concept of a needful prior. Does needful priorship always play a role in determining final cause/natural law, or only when it is convenient for the argument?

There could be internal impediments as well as external impediments in both cases. Hence the qualifier that the substance is directed toward the final cause unless impeded.

Is the non-existence of an ovum at the time of coitus an impediment?

So just because a substance does not always reach the goal it is directed toward does not mean it is not directed toward a certain goal.

When there are several different goals that the substance/activity is directed toward, how do you decide which one is the overarching, dominant goal?

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
That's logically backward. How are you able to know that two objects are the same kind of thing when there are so many differences? You need the ability (knowledge) to answer that question before you encounter any two objects. If you don't know what is essential and what is not essential to the category then your decision is arbitrary.

Why is being the same kind of thing an essential feature of knowledge. We can talk about what things generally do, while accepting our classifications are arbitrary, as long as they are useful.

Can you explain how you determine which attributes belong to the category "acornness" and which do not?

An acorn is the fruit of an oak tree. Oak trees are a group of trees more closely related to each other than other kinds of trees.

Suppose you say the ability to produce an oak belongs to the category: (a) how do you know this and (b) what about the one that cannot produce an oak?

I agree "the ability to produce an oak" is not a useful definition for acorns.

My comment was saying what it means if labels are not grounded in the reality of the things themselves. Labels like "acornness" would have no relationship to anything outside the mind.

Yes.

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"We can talk about what things generally do, while accepting our classifications are arbitrary, as long as they are useful."

Science is in the business of studying things. The only way that can work is if scientists know what objects are being studied BEFORE the experiment begins. That requires a non-arbitrary classification according to "kind", not usefulness.

If classifications are arbitrary then this conversation is pointless. You are arguing for an arbitrary point of view. Wasn't that your original complaint at the beginning of this post?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Then we agree majority result does not determine natural law, as I thought.

Natural law is based on final cause. I'm not sure you agree with that.

We are now back to the concept of a needful prior. Does needful priorship always play a role in determining final cause/natural law, or only when it is convenient for the argument?

AT philosophy does not use that term. Material and formal causes are required for an efficient cause to effect a change which is directed toward the final cause.

Is the non-existence of an ovum at the time of coitus an impediment?

Of course it's an impediment if you mean an egg must be present for a pregnancy to occur.

When there are several different goals that the substance/activity is directed toward, how do you decide which one is the overarching, dominant goal?

Do you have the procreative and unitive aspects of marital intercourse in mind? These are just 2 aspects of the same act.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
Science is in the business of studying things. The only way that can work is if scientists know what objects are being studied BEFORE the experiment begins. That requires a non-arbitrary classification according to "kind", not usefulness.

It's useful classifications, not classifications by usefulness. The point of recognizing all classifications as arbitrary is that they can be discarded when they prevent understanding, rather than enhancing it.

If classifications are arbitrary then this conversation is pointless. You are arguing for an arbitrary point of view. Wasn't that your original complaint at the beginning of this post?

I'm arguing for the arbitrary point of view that allows all humans as worthy of forming life-long commitments with the person of their choice. I'm arguing against the arbitrary point of view that restricts some humans from forming these commitments. I find that worthy of my time.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...

Natural law is based on final cause. I'm not sure you agree with that.

Well, it's not based on inevitable result, nor on needful prior. So, what's left besides the arbitrarily determined purpose?

We are now back to the concept of a needful prior. Does needful priorship always play a role in determining final cause/natural law, or only when it is convenient for the argument?

AT philosophy does not use that term. Material and formal causes are required for an efficient cause to effect a change which is directed toward the final cause.

I'm interested in thinking more precisely than that. If you use a style of argument, then why avoid creating a name for that style? If AT has a better term than "needful prior", what is it?

Of course it's an impediment if you mean an egg must be present for a pregnancy to occur.

So, now you are using "impediment" in a non-standard way as well.

Do you have the procreative and unitive aspects of marital intercourse in mind? These are just 2 aspects of the same act.

Yet, for you the procreative dominates to the extent that unitive aspects are considered sinful without them.

bmiller said...

One Brow,

Well, it's not based on inevitable result, nor on needful prior. So, what's left besides the arbitrarily determined purpose?

Final Cause. That which always or for the most part a thing is directed toward unless impeded.

I'm interested in thinking more precisely than that. If you use a style of argument, then why avoid creating a name for that style? If AT has a better term than "needful prior", what is it?

AT philosophy has the material cause, the formal cause, the efficient cause and the final cause. They are all normally required for a change to a material being. If you want to invent a rival philosophy you are welcome to do it, but it is unhelpful to force your foreign terms onto an existing philosophy. Just like it makes sense to talk about "res cogitans" or "res extensa" if you are a Cartesian dualist, but those terms are meaningless in AT philosophy.

So, now you are using "impediment" in a non-standard way as well.

I don't think I am. Synonyms include block, deter, interfere, stymie, restrain, etc. The lack of the material means for accomplishing an action is certainly an impediment to that action.

Yet, for you the procreative dominates to the extent that unitive aspects are considered sinful without them.

It's not a matter of which aspect "dominates" the other since they are both aspects of the same act.

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"It's useful classifications, not classifications by usefulness. The point of recognizing all classifications as arbitrary is that they can be discarded when they prevent understanding, rather than enhancing it."

You know an object belongs to a "kind" even if you get the classification wrong. That right there proves that you know the universal concept of essence in your mind applies to objects. You might not understand how it applies but you know about essence. The fact that you can be factually wrong about the classification means there's nothing arbitrary about it.

You look about the natural world and see classification after classification. You see the genus and species (in the logical sense) of various animals, minerals and plants -just to name a few. You can explain why two different things belong to the genus 'animal' and not 'plant' because your mind grasps the essence of each.

"I'm arguing for the arbitrary point of view that allows all humans as worthy of forming life-long commitments with the person of their choice. I'm arguing against the arbitrary point of view that restricts some humans from forming these commitments. I find that worthy of my time."

The argument against this is long. We've just scratched the surface. I will say this: if it's truly arbitrary then you are correct.

The argument against it being arbitrary is similar to some of the points I've made about essence. To repeat, if you can be factually wrong about the classification of an object (animal vs. plant) then the concept of essence is not arbitrary at all. Likewise, if you can be factually wrong about a moral classification then there's nothing arbitrary about that either. Essence and morality are related so the longer/larger argument would tie the two together. The book "Aquinas" discusses this.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...
Well, it's not based on inevitable result, nor on needful prior. So, what's left besides the arbitrarily determined purpose?

Final Cause. That which always or for the most part a thing is directed toward unless impeded.

How does this fit in with "We know this since all pregnancies result from coitus", since most acts of coitus are not directed toward pregnancy?

AT philosophy has the material cause, the formal cause, the efficient cause and the final cause. They are all normally required for a change to a material being. If you want to invent a rival philosophy you are welcome to do it, but it is unhelpful to force your foreign terms onto an existing philosophy

I'm not trying to invent a rival philosophy, I'm discussing that you have been packing at least three distinct, separable, non-related notions into "final cause", but refuse to discuss which (one or more) of these three notions is essential to determining what a final cause is. That's sloppy argumentation, and if that's what AT has to use to create a case, it's not worth the effort you put into it.

I don't think I am. Synonyms include block, deter, interfere, stymie, restrain, etc. The lack of the material means for accomplishing an action is certainly an impediment to that action.

Every one of those synonyms you used, as well as "impede", implies putting an additional thing in the way of something to alter its course, not the absence of thing. The absence of the ovum literally allows the sperm to proceed unimpeded, until it dies.

It's not a matter of which aspect "dominates" the other since they are both aspects of the same act.

One of them dominates the moral implications of the act, for you.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...

You know an object belongs to a "kind" even if you get the classification wrong. That right there proves that you know the universal concept of essence in your mind applies to objects.

Alternatively, it means that I deal with the uncountable complexities of the individuals in the world by simplifying them, having learned these simplifications from my mentors, creating categories for my own convenience, and teaching them to my pupils.

You can explain why two different things belong to the genus 'animal' and not 'plant' because your mind grasps the essence of each.

I do use these categories I have learned from others to communicate with others and to simplify my thinking. That does not make them real or non-arbitrary.

The argument against this is long. We've just scratched the surface. I will say this: if it's truly arbitrary then you are correct.

OK.

To repeat, if you can be factually wrong about the classification of an object (animal vs. plant) then the concept of essence is not arbitrary at all.

On the other hand, if a classification scheme merely ceases to be useful, then the concept of essence does not come into play at all.

The book "Aquinas" discusses this.

I read the basics of the argument in TLS.

SteveK said...

One Brow,
"I do use these categories I have learned from others to communicate with others and to simplify my thinking. That does not make them real or non-arbitrary."

This makes no sense because it means our senses and intellect are unreliable. It's peak anti-realism. You say you use the category 'animal' but reject the idea that there are actually different kinds of animals even though your senses and intellect tell you (knowledge) they are real animals.

I thought you were a skeptic that relied on your senses and intellect for knowledge?

bmiller said...

One Brow,

How does this fit in with "We know this since all pregnancies result from coitus", since most acts of coitus are not directed toward pregnancy?

I don't understand your question. All naturally occurring pregnancies result from coitus. Coitus is naturally directed directed toward pregnancy unless impeded.

I'm not trying to invent a rival philosophy, I'm discussing that you have been packing at least three distinct, separable, non-related notions into "final cause", but refuse to discuss which (one or more) of these three notions is essential to determining what a final cause is.

Here is how you defined the terms earlier:

I am seeing three distinct notions of final cause being discussed here.
1. The result of an efficient cause being applied to some material in some form, and the notion that if the efficient, material, and formal causes are all the same, so it the final cause. We might say this is "inevitability of results".


I would call it an unimpeded final cause.

2. The notion that an action can be undertaken with a specific goal in mind, regardless of whether that goal is accomplished. Perhaps we could call this "purpose".

I would call this a final cause that may or may not be impeded.

3. A specific result only has a single pathway for the it to be accomplished. Maybe that would be a "needful prior".
#3 talks about the exclusiveness of a pathway. You have used it for human reproduction. By contrast, I'm sure you would agree there are many ways to light a camp fire, so camp fire would not have a needful prior.


I'm still not sure what you mean by that term unless you mean that different things behave differently according to their form and matter. Humans as well as wood will ignite if you apply enough heat, but only humans can reproduce other humans. So there are certain aspects of wood that humans share and certain aspects not shared.

So I would still call this specific matter and form affected by an efficient cause that is directed toward a specific result.

Every one of those synonyms you used, as well as "impede", implies putting an additional thing in the way of something to alter its course, not the absence of thing. The absence of the ovum literally allows the sperm to proceed unimpeded, until it dies.

Impedance can mean 2 : a bar or hindrance (such as lack of sufficient age) to a lawful marriage. So the lack of some requirement is also considered an impediment.

One of them dominates the moral implications of the act, for you.

Not true. Catholic moral theology (and all Protestant moral theology before the 1930's) considers it a sin to artificially separate the 2 aspects. So procreative without unitive is just as much as sin as unitive without procreative.

One Brow said...

SteveK said...
This makes no sense because it means our senses and intellect are unreliable.

You ever watch the TV show Brain Games? Our senses and intellect are unreliable.

It's peak anti-realism.

It's quite possible (and I do hold) that there is an external reality, but that our ability to sense it and analyze is limited by our human nature. It's not anti-realism.

You say you use the category 'animal' but reject the idea that there are actually different kinds of animals even though your senses and intellect tell you (knowledge) they are real animals.

Whatever definition you can come up with for "animal", there are going to be living things that violate that definition, yet should still be considered animals.

I thought you were a skeptic that relied on your senses and intellect for knowledge?

Skeptics are aware that any individual is a poor source of reliable information, even themself.

One Brow said...

bmiller said...

I don't understand your question. All naturally occurring pregnancies result from coitus.

Agreed. Coitus is a needful prior to naturally occurring pregnancies.

Coitus is naturally directed directed toward pregnancy unless impeded.

Incorrect. Without impediment, most instances of coitus do not result in pregnancy.

I would call it an unimpeded final cause.

I find inevitability of results unobjectionable. However, if inevitability of results is sufficient, why do you keep bringing in needful prior remarks?

I would call this a final cause that may or may not be impeded.

If final causes require purpose, than I reject their reality.

I'm still not sure what you mean by that term unless you mean that different things behave differently according to their form and matter.

An argument of the form "All X result from Y" would be a needful prior argument.

Impedance can mean 2 : a bar or hindrance (such as lack of sufficient age) to a lawful marriage. So the lack of some requirement is also considered an impediment.

Despite how the dictionary definition reads, the real bar to a child marriage is the law that forbids it, not a lack of sufficient age.

Not true. Catholic moral theology (and all Protestant moral theology before the 1930's) considers it a sin to artificially separate the 2 aspects. So procreative without unitive is just as much as sin as unitive without procreative.

Unitive without procreative is not a sin in instances where procreation is not possible for some couples, but it is a sin for other couples.

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