Sunday, July 2, 2017

Taking Aquinas seriously


At First Things, Connor Grubaugh interviews me on the subject of Thomas Aquinas and Analytical Thomism.
 
Some other interviews I’ve given can be found here.

179 comments:

  1. Oh, man. The comments section. Wild.

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  2. The comment section is not as bad as some others. The comments made by all the self-proclaimed "free thinkers" are so similar that you'd swear someone had sent them to a reeducation camp and programmed them to repeat the same arguments in lockstep.

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    1. it's interesting how obsessed they are with going against a god they don't even think exists in the first place.

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    2. In a sense they were all programmed. All of them have probably read the same gnu tomes (Dawkins, Hitchens et. al.) and frequent the same gnu blogs (Coyne, Why Evolution is True, etc.) That's why "gnu" is such an appropriate appelation for them. They are members of a herd that blindly follow each other. But hey, it's easier than thinking right?

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  3. David Bentley Hart doesn't approve lol.

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  4. A nice interview ruined by comment section trolls.

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  5. Any idea where I could get Christopher Martin's book for pretty cheap?

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  6. For the Thomist, the real, the true, the good, and the beautiful are all really the same thing looked at from different points of view. Our intellects and our capacity for moral action and aesthetic experience are thus all at the end of the day directed toward one and the same reality. And ultimately, this is God, who is the most real, the most good, the most beautiful. As St. Thomas says, God is our first cause and last end. In my view, everything else is commentary.

    Wonderful post. :)

    I agree with it wholeheartedly, but in my view, the "everything else is commentary" part applies to Thomas' philosophy and what can be known by reason alone, not to his theology, and what can be known by faith. For Thomas, "everything else is commentary", are the preambles of faith where revelation takes you the rest of the way into the mystery of God's inner life.

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  7. If Thomistic metaphysics are correct, how do Thomists explain the success of science after those metaphysics were abandoned? (Not trying to be challenging or antagonistic, I just don't remember ever hearing Thomist responses to this objection.)

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    1. Bascially because the success of Science you speak of, doesn't quite depend of having the correct Metaphysics.

      The same way that a throughly morally incoherent person can still be a good person in the end of the day.

      Or sailing can achieve round-the-bloge travel without knowing the best way to move through the water.

      Feser has posted about that subject sowewhat, maybe if you search for the word Science in the bar...

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    2. I understand that you can come up with the right answer to a specific question even if your total view of the world is very far from accurate.

      But if final causes and substantial forms and the like really exist, why is it that science became most successful when scientists decided to operate as though they did not exist? Or is it a coincidence that there was an explosion of scientific knowledge after AT assumptions were dropped?

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    3. IOW, specifically ignoring AT assumptions seemed to make people better at finding correct scientific answers. So it's not just a matter of happening upon the right scientific answers even though you have the wrong metaphysic. It's a matter of the "wrong" metaphysic improving your ability to find scienific answers.

      It's as if being morally incoherent made you *better* at being a good person, or if not knowing the best way to move about the water made you *better* at navigating the globe.

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    4. Hello Chad,

      It's not a coincidence and it's not analogous to becoming morally better in practice by being morally incoherent in theory.

      The short answer is this: Modern physical science, particularly physics itself, focuses exclusively, or near exclusively, on the quantitative side of nature, those aspects which can be described mathematically. Those happen to be the aspects most conducive to predicting and controlling nature.

      By contrast, the medieval Aristotelians, though they did not deny the quantitative aspects, did not focus on them or regard them as most important. The reason is not that they thought other aspects were more important for predicting and controlling nature. Rather, the reason is that they were not so interested in prediction and control in the first place. They were more interested in questions of ultimate explanation and purpose. The main reason they did not attain the predictive and technological successes that modern science has is that they were not trying for that in the first place, but preferred to fry other fish.

      So it's just a difference in focus. Not necessarily better or worse by itself, but just different. What's bad is not the new method itself but rather the ideologizing of the new method -- insisting that it is the only legitimate way of studying nature, that there is nothing to nature except what can be captured by the method, etc. Hence deploying the method is not per se analogous to becoming morally incoherent.

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    5. The early modern philosophers and the first empirical scientists were contemporaries, but not otherwise associated. Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler and Newton are in one school of thought; Descartes, Spinoza, Locke and Leibniz are in another. Neither school, when you look at them closely, had more than a superficial influence on the other.

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    6. But weren't there some areas in which the medievals were trying for predictive and technological control, for example, medicine, astronomy, etc? Couldn't it be argued that in those areas their metaphsycial presuppositions worked to lead them away from right answers? For example, "natural place" physics seem to come from the concept of final causality. That doesn't seem to merely be a case of misplaced emphasis.

      Do the Scholastics have an answer as to why the moderns were so much more successful than the A-T metaphysicians in cases where both were attempting to achieve predictive/technological success?

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    7. @Chad Feser argues in another post that many physicists unwittingly rely on the transferability between truth and beauty when devising their theories, which is very Thomistic.

      So no, it isn't obvious that physics has succeeded without the usage of correct metaphysics. Physicists, as evidenced by their tendency to cluster around the INTP personality type, rely on intuition, and many of these intuitive notions need a non-materialistic metaphysics to make sense.

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    8. It's complicated. Take natural place. The use made of that idea in part reflected the philosophical notion of final causality, but it also reflected empirical assumptions to the effect that different fundamental principles governed the sub-lunar realm and the super-lunar realm. The latter, false assumption is not essentially connected to the core notions of Aristotelian natural philosophy (act/potency. substantial form, final cause, etc.) but it obviously would affect empirical predictions. The same can be said for other mistaken empirical assumptions that affected the way the general principles got applied. There is a tendency to run all these things together as "Aristotelianism" and then judge that "Aristotelianism was refuted by modern science" or "Aristotelianism was less effective than modern science" or what have you. But the general principles, differences in emphasis, mistaken empirical assumptions, etc. have to be carefully disentangled. Not everything that is labeled "Aristotelian" is inf act essential to the core Aristotelian philosophical notions.

      There is also the consideration that a greater interest in the mathematical side was already growing in Aristotelian circles before Galileo and Co. came along. Plus there is the fact that differences in empirical and predictive success were not in fact as stark as they are now made out to be. E.g. the Copernican and Ptolemaic systems were in Galileo's own day more or less on a par on that score -- the superiority of the former only became clear gradually. So it's not a matter of dropping Aristotelianism and then suddenly having tremendous empirical successes that weren't occurring before.

      In short, when all the relevant distinctions are made and the actual history-of-science facts set out, what accounts for the difference in empirical and predictive success is not the rejection of the key Aristotelian philosophy of nature notions (act/potency. final cause, etc.) per se.

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    9. Hey Dr. Feser is there a particular book you would suggest which defends an Aristotelian worldview? I find the scholastic arguments compelling but I'm not too sure that the Aristotelian worldview is correct.

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    10. Dr. Feser:

      In regards to your above comments, would your paradigmic answer serve to explain the same phenomena between Scholasticism/Aristotelian-Thomism and the early modern development of the social sciences?

      Thanks in advance.

      Regards,
      Karl

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    11. @Chad, my 2 cents

      Metaphysics doesn't focus on the achievement of predictive results, indeed achieving predictive results doesn't involve the full working (that means coherent with anthropology and ethic) metaphysical framework. Therefore with a "pick and mix" metaphysical attitude the modern science developed a successful, yet adequate, "quantitative predictive system" that can drop the f&f causes.

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    12. Scientists qua scientists do not care about metaphysics. And they shouldn’t. If anything metaphysical assumptions have hindered the advancement of science.

      On the other hand the mathematical order we know exists in physical phenomena does have metaphysical implications. So, for example, we have good reason to believe that concurrency makes no sense, that physical quantities are discrete and not continuous, that physical reality is non-local, that physical reality is not deterministic, that there are uncaused events (there is nothing that causes a radioactive atom to decay at the particular time it does).

      In my mind we already have good grounds for disbelieving in physical realism, but historical fashion hinders our free thought in this matter. Not to mention that without physical realism atheists are kind of left hanging in the void.

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    13. History of Science/philosophy of science literature starting with Polanyi and moving through Kuhn, Lakatos, Paul Feyerabend and company, even though I can't fully agree with their approach, demolished this easy going 'progress of modernity since the oncoming of science' narrative decades ago. It is a mere propaganda: a myth for psychological and political purposes forged in an era when the solidarity of a minority of educated researchers was more important than historical/methodological accuracy. I have no doubt that it was believed that the metaphysics they were offering was indeed correct, but aftee centuries of elaboration it is easy to show that it is incoherent, even with the results of the science, nevermind internally. Hobbes is laughably bad. Bacon is laughably bad. Descartes is laughably bad. Hume is laughably bad. Locke is laughably bad. Kant is laughably bad. Both continental and Anglo positivism is laughably bad. What's left for you? This is why Ed can simply pick low-hanging fruit all day, and it is why pragmatism and instrumentalism and every sort of anti-realism has off and on been periodically attractive since the 19th century. The myth of scientific metaphysical progress is just untenable as soon as you scratch the surface, but the political pressure to accept it in some even anti-realism form is so high that a man can lose his career and be laughed out of town on the basis of just pointing out that the emperor has no goddamn clothes. Let It Go. No one in this community is anti Science. I spend a lot of time trying to get a handle on what a tomistic scientific methodology would be. The Catholic Church has fully reconciled itself with modern science a long time ago. No amount of bullying evangelicals from the 80s will ever show otherwise. Let it go.

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    14. This all seems a bit quick and prematurely dismissive. We don't need to adopt any scientistic myths to see that when scientists explicitly decided to proceed as if formal and final causes did not exist, they started experiencing unprecedented success in explaining the natural world. Success their Scholastic predecessors did not experience even when they were studying the same phenomena with the same goal. I fully acknowledge that A-T beliefs can be reconciled with modern science, but could it have produced it? It seems like it could not have, or at least, it didn't. A thousand years of believing in formal and final causes produced not much technological advancement, even in areas where this was the goal. A thousand years after those ideas were mostly abandoned, and we have vaccines and satellites and people walking on the moon. I think Scholastics need a strong case as for why their metaphysical approach should be favored despite this; stronger than any I've seen here.

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    15. We don't need to adopt any scientistic myths to see that when scientists explicitly decided to proceed as if formal and final causes did not exist, they started experiencing unprecedented success in explaining the natural world.

      This is a myth, though; the successes provably began first, and the extent to which scientists proceeded as if final causes did not exist is very inconsistent into the nineteenth century. Nobody can read Harvey, or Boyle, or Leibniz, or Maupertuis, and hold that they are proceeding as if there are no final causes.

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    16. @Brandon: Very true. I was watching a lecture by Jay Richards on the subject a few years back, in which he mentioned Newton's defense of teleology in his mechanistic physics. (I believe it is the "General Scholium" to the third book of his Principia that Richards mentioned.)

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    17. We don't need to adopt any scientistic myths to see that when scientists explicitly decided to proceed as if formal and final causes did not exist, they started experiencing unprecedented success in explaining the natural world.

      Chad, the mistake is in thinking that there was some clear and definitive break in the methods of scientists in the early modern period that accounts for the "revolution" in so-called technological science. There is no such thing. There were medieval scientists whose work was importantly developmental to the later work by Copernicus, Galileo, and Newton, for example.

      Robert Grosseteste (d. 1253) worked in optics and astronomy.
      Jordanus de Nemore worked in algebra (necessary predecessor to calculus) and mechanics.
      Roger Bacon (d. 1294) also worked in optics and astronomy.
      Theodoric Borgognoni (d. 1296) worked in medicine and antiseptics.
      Mondino de Liuzzi promoted dissection for medicine.
      Richard of Wallingford (d 1336) refined clocks, (necessary for advance of astronomy).
      Jean Buridan (d. 1358) developed ideas on impetus, which helped Galileo.

      The notion that the medievals were unscientific or that their science was defective because they didn't base it on empirical evidence just isn't true. That's part of the myth.

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    18. Apart from what everyone else has said, Chad, you seem unclear about what your conclusion is. Are you arguing modern scientific success is proof that Aristotelian metaphysics is wrong or that simply it tends to hold back rapid technological and scientific development? Your comments seem to blur both these claims.

      I'd be interested to see if it is possible to argue from the success of modern science and technology to the falsity of Aristotelian metaphysics in a non-fallacious way. On the other hand, if the claim is simply Aristotelian metaphysics holds back technological and scientific development, independently of its truth, then so what?

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    19. Chad,

      But if final causes and substantial forms and the like really exist, why is it that science became most successful when scientists decided to operate as though they did not exist?

      If you ask a physical scientist about formal and final causes she will probably answer that she doesn’t know what these are. But from this it doesn’t follow that modern science operates as if they don’t exit. On the contrary it seems to me that what modern physics actually does is to nail down final causes.

      Consider for example the basic equation of Newtonian mechanics a=F/m, where a stands for acceleration, F for force, and m for mass. What that equation says is that a mass on which a force applies will accelerate by this computable amount. Or, in Aristotelian terms, it says that it is oriented into accelerating. The equation nails down the relationship between a (the final cause) with m (the material cause) and F (the formal cause – since the application of force is realized by the structure of the set-up). In general when a scientific theory describes how a system will evolve it is revealing its final cause. I mean it’s not like “final cause” is some spooky matter within nature.

      Perhaps the problem lies with language according to which final causes express a kind of purpose; as if the purpose of a forced upon mass is to accelerate. Actually in modern science the metaphor of purpose is often used for complex systems, precisely because the equations of science are consistent with such language. So, for example, one might say that rain water accumulates in puddles because the water molecules try to reach the state of least potential energy. Or one might say that genes are selfish, or that species evolve trying to search out niches in the ecology.

      So, from where I stand, I don’t quite understand where the tension between modern science and Aristotelian metaphysics lies. The fact that modern scientists do not understand Aristotelian notions does not mean that these are false. Or superfluous; perhaps scientists are using them without being aware of the fact.

      On the other hand it may be the case I misunderstand the four causes. But the way I understand them makes a lot of sense to me, indeed strikes me as obviously true: A natural system is defined by what it is and by its relation with the rest of nature. What it is is defined by what it is made of (the material cause) and how it is structured (the formal cause). And its relation to the rest of nature is defined by how it came about (the efficient cause) and by what it will become (the final cause). Scientists need not think in these terms, indeed need not think in any metaphysical terms whatsoever: physics has already been purified down to the search for mathematical patterns within natural phenomena without worrying about how physical reality actually is.

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    20. Or, in Aristotelian terms, it says that it is oriented into accelerating. The equation nails down the relationship between a (the final cause) with m (the material cause) and F (the formal cause

      Double ugh. Or worse. Force as formal cause? Words just don't mean what they used to mean in the good old days, do they?

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    21. Presumably because "formal" starts with F. Please, nobody mention that "final" does too, or she'll tell us that force is both formal and final cause.

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    22. @ Anonymous 7:06 AM

      What I wrote was:

      “and F (the formal cause – since the application of force is realized by the structure of the set-up)”

      Strictly speaking forces by themselves do not exist; rather they represent a property of the total – indeed the structure – of the set-up. In Newtonian mechanics the movement of a mass far away instantly changes the gravitational force here – representing the fact that the force is really a property of the complete structure. And in general relativity the concept of gravitational force is not even used but is substituted by the concept of the curvature of spacetime.

      By the way we should not consider a physical existent to be something akin to the objects of our everyday experience. Even if physical realism is true that does not hold. There are realist interpretations of quantum mechanics according to which each physical thing is washed out throughout physical space, and others according to which each thing has multiple realizations in a virtually infinite number of parallel universes. I suppose it would be an interesting exercise to find out how Aristotelian metaphysics maps on such descriptions of physical reality. Using examples from our everyday experience of tables and matches is not really adequate.

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    23. There are realist interpretations of quantum mechanics according to which ... each thing has multiple realizations in a virtually infinite number of parallel universes.

      No, it's not "virtually" infinite, they say it's actually infinite.

      And the theory is also one of the stupidest to come out of gnu scientistic types in recent decades. The whole idea is a cop-out, an attempt to avoid the fact that they have been unable to make a coherent go of quantum theory to make it 'make sense' - while retaining their other commitments, anyway, like scientism.

      I suppose it would be an interesting exercise to find out how Aristotelian metaphysics maps on such descriptions of physical reality.

      Did you mean before or after Aristotle died of laughter at the actually infinite universes (unfalsifiable) assumptions based on nothing more than that "we can't make sense of things"?

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    24. If I may add one small point. Chad, you make the common conflation of science and technology. The question you raised concerned the progress scientists made after purportedly discarding final and formal causes.

      But later, you say "A thousand years of believing in formal and final causes produced not much technological advancement, even in areas where this was the goal.

      Aside from the fact that this is not true, it is a change of subject. I don't blame you, as this has become so common as to be standard. But I am actually old enough to remember when doctors and engineers denied being scientists. Today they mostly claim to be, but until very recently, their studies were understood to fall under the "arts".

      But in fact the technological leap forward started in the 12th C. There are plenty of histories which will confirm this, the denial nowadays is almost solely confined to those who don't specialize in the area, and cling to what their grade school teachers said.

      In real life, science and technology didn't work in tandem until very late, in the 19th C. The Jesuits - no friends of the new metaphysics - were a main conduit of new medical ideas, for instance. Another example is the improvement in sailing ships from the 14th - 19th C. Most of the advance came along before Newton was born, and the earlier advances came more from Portugal than anywhere else. And Portugal was anything but eager to embrace the new metaphysical ideas. (It is useful to remember that Henry the Navigator was a contemporary of Henry V of England. You know, the Agincourt guy.)

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    25. Chad, I don't know what to tell you man. The whole point of linking you to the philosophy of science History of Science style literature was to give you a way outside of this community to see the issue with the myth. The whole point of pointing you to that literature and calling the thing a myth is to deny the claim that we can just look at things and see that progress came directly from the metaphysical rejection of final causes. That's the very thing being denied. But many people have already told you that more elegantly than I am now so I'll leave that to the side.

      Moreover, I simply don't understand how you have managed to change the subject from a metaphysical problem to a technological problem. There is simply nothing about technological success that in any respect demonstrates the metaphysical validity of the denial of final causes and etc. Your claim so would be akin to claiming that just because my Javelin throwing abilities got better when I gave up my discus throwing hobby, that proves that discus is not a real sport. My intuition is that whatever technical success might have come, even if the myth were true, which it isn't, would likely be the product of a new division of intellectual labor, which is not the same as the truth of a new metaphysics.

      Also, since you are a regular on this blog I have a hard time believing that you are operating in good faith. Has regularly attacked arguments of this style. This is just a form of the so-called metal detector argument. He has dealt with this many times. If you are going to State it as if it has never been addressed and without reference to those objections, why are you here?

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    26. @ Anonymous 10:56 AM

      No, it's not "virtually" infinite, they say it's actually infinite.

      If all physical quantities are discrete then it is not infinite. One way or the other the number is unimaginably huge.

      The whole idea is a cop-out, an attempt to avoid the fact that they have been unable to make a coherent go of quantum theory to make it 'make sense' - while retaining their other commitments, anyway, like scientism.

      Scientism is irrelevant in this issue. To how realistically interpret quantum mechanics is a problem faced by all physical realists, which includes many theists. I understand physical realism is the official position of the CC, correct?

      So here’s the problem: Quantum mechanics is certainly true, after all today’s technological civilization is based on it. So the mathematical order in phenomena described by QM is certainly there. This fact of phenomenal reality restricts the possible metaphysical descriptions of reality, for any description of reality which does not produce that order contradicts the observational facts, and therefore any such description is false. Physical realists are expected to describe what physical reality would produce that factual order. This has proven extremely difficult to do in any way that “makes sense”. But that’s not a problem for scientism, it’s a problem for physical realism.

      A physical anti-realist like Berkeley does not face this problem. According to his subjective idealism all of our experience, including our experiences of physical phenomena and their order, are not produced by some intermediary physical reality but directly by God’s mind. We can easily program computers to produce phenomena of the required order, so if something as primitive as a computer can do it so of course can God. No mystery there; quantum mechanics produces zero problems for subjective idealism.

      Coming back to Aristotelian metaphysics, I am not sure what the implications are. It seems Aristotelian metaphysics assumes a physical model for physical reality, and if such a model does not exist then it becomes irrelevant. But I haven’t thought this through. Aristotle’s definition of the four causes strikes me as commonsensical, so perhaps there is a way to apply it to the computing mechanism that as we know can produce the quantum mechanical order we observe.

      I say things have moved a lot since Aquinas’s 13th century, and I wish current day A-T theorists would address the challenges of today. That’s what Aquinas would do if he were alive.

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    27. iwpoe, I don't think it's right to assume bad faith here. The myth of the modern age is so deeply instilled in our culture, and in our education system, that it's hard to avoid falling into its assumptions, unless you've been fighting it a long time. It's similar to the difficulty people have with reading efficient causation into all uses of "cause", even if they know (at some level) better.

      People read modern ideas of nations and sovereignty and law into ancient and medieval politics. Once I was in a bar, talking to a Brit. He was trying to explain cricket. It took me a long time to realize I was reading baseball rules into what he was saying. Landlubbers almost always assume a "sheet" means a sail. (And let's not get started on the Immaculate Conception.)

      This happens all the time.

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  8. They threw out the baby with the bathwater. :)

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  9. Excellent interview! It is quite nice to see Thomistic philosophers who are willing to read St. Thomas in an Aristotelian framework. Might I suggest that you read anything you can by the late Charles DeKoninck from Laval. His writings on philosophy, mathematics, and science are pure gold.

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  10. From the interview:
    Actually, thinkers like Hume and Kant tend not to address Aquinas’s own arguments in the first place. Rather, they address later and weaker arguments from other writers. Arguments like Aquinas’s got lost in the shuffle, historically. And when contemporary philosophers do pay attention to them at all, they tend to read into Aquinas what they know (or think they know) from these later, very different and much weaker arguments. For example, people who read Aquinas’s Fifth Way often suppose that it is essentially the same as William Paley’s famous “design argument,” which compares the universe to a watch and God to a watchmaker. In fact, as Martin shows, Aquinas’s and Paley’s arguments couldn’t be more different, and Aquinas would not have had much time for Paley’s.

    Part Ia Iia, q. 13, art 2, adv 3 from Aquinas´Summa Theologica
    Reply to Objection 3: As stated in Phys. iii, 3 "movement is the act of the movable, caused by a mover." Wherefore the power of the mover appears in the movement of that which it moves. Accordingly, in all things moved by reason, the order of reason which moves them is evident, although the things themselves are without reason: for an arrow through the motion of the archer goes straight towards the target, as though it were endowed with reason to direct its course. The same may be seen in the movements of clocks and all engines put together by the art of man. Now as artificial things are in comparison to human art, so are all natural things in comparison to the Divine art. And accordingly order is to be seen in things moved by nature, just as in things moved by reason, as is stated in Phys. ii. And thus it is that in the works of irrational animals we notice certain marks of sagacity, in so far as they have a natural inclination to set about their actions in a most orderly manner through being ordained by the Supreme art. For which reason, too, certain animals are called prudent or sagacious; and not because they reason or exercise any choice about things. This is clear from the fact that all that share in one nature, invariably act in the same way.

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    1. I presume you cite this passage to try prove Aquinas had time for Paley's reasoning in the Fifth Way. If so, you are mistaken.

      Aquinas does not view nature as an artifact. Paley argued that we only ever see complexity etc. in artifacts being the result of design, and then inferred that nature itself seems to be the same. Aquinas does not make that argument. In the passage you quote, Aquinas is merely trying to elucidate with illustration. He does not reason by analogy like Paley from intellect behind artifacts to intellect behind nature because of what we know of artifacts.

      In the fifth way, Aquinas argues from the reality of finality to the reality of a divine intellect, precisely because of the nature of finality, its real efficacy and its priority. Aquinas's argument alone shows that here and now the divine intellect is at work, seeing as mindless things operate toward certain ends, they are being actualized to do so, and 'the power of the mover appears in the movement of that which it moves', and the end is prior to act etc. All this follows from the metaphysical theses on which the Fifth Way is based (and the fifth way like all the ways is merely an intro paragraph intended for beginners, obviously not a place to explain the all the metaphysical theses, which he does in prior works and later sections of the summa)

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    2. Please, let me add some more quotes:

      6] Furthermore, all creatures are related to God as art products are to an artist, as is clear from the foregoing. Consequently, the whole of nature is like an artifact of the divine artistic mind. But it is not contrary to the essential character of an artist if he should work in a different way on his product, even after he has given it its first form. Neither, then, is it against nature if God does something to natural things in a different way from that to which the course of nature is accustomed.
      Summa Contra Gentiles Book 3, Ch 100. 6)

      1. As the Philosopher says in the beginning of the Metaphysics (Bk. 1, Ch. 2, 982 a 18; St. Th. 2, 41-42), it is the business of the wise man to order. The reason for this is that wisdom is the most powerful perfection of reason whose characteristic is to know order. Even if the sensitive powers know some things absolutely, nevertheless to know the order of one thing to another is exclusively the work of intellect or reason. Now a twofold order is found in things. One kind is that of parts of a totality, that is, a group, among themselves, as the parts of a house are mutually ordered to each other. The second order is that of things to an end.
      Commentary on the Nicomachean Ethics, Lecture 1.

      But in the first production of corporeal creatures no transmutation from potentiality to act can have taken place, and accordingly, the corporeal forms that bodies had when first produced came immediately form God, whose bidding alone matter obeys, as its own proper cause. To signify this, Moses prefaces each work with the words, "God said, Let this thing be," or "that," to denote the formation of all things by the Word of God, from Whom, according to Augustine [*Tract. i. in Joan. and Gen. ad lit. i. 4], is "all form and fitness and concord of parts."

      Summa Theologica, Ia, q 65, art 4, adv.

      Paley, in his NT, as far as I remember, never says that living beings are “artifacts”, or embraces mechanicism, or dismisses final and formal causes. He says nothing that can be presented to A-T natural philosophy. He just claims that “contrivance” and “relation” shows the effect of an intelligent cause.
      Aquinas says that Nature is a whole artifact in the divine mind, and that the order of parts to concord into a whole in natural objects requires a transcendent Intelligent Agent.

      Paley and Aquinas are both saying the same thing, and of course it is not an argument by analogy.

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    3. I'll advise you look at the questions he is trying to answer and what sort of thing he is commenting on in all of those passages, this doesn't seem to be anything related to some design argument

      http://dhspriory.org/thomas/ContraGentiles3b.htm#100

      http://dhspriory.org/thomas/english/Ethics1.htm#1

      http://www.newadvent.org/summa/1065.htm#article4


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  11. "Actually, thinkers like Hume and Kant tend not to address Aquinas’s own arguments in the first place. Rather, they address later and weaker arguments from other writers."

    Are there reshufflers who did that or were Kant and Hume doing the reshuffling themselves (strawman or incompetence)?

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  12. Prima Via.

    You don't need Geocentrism in it to prove sth divine is there, if energy in a near Newtonian model counts, but Geocentrism comes in later (Q11 A3 for instance) when proving God is actually ONE.

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  13. Hi everyone,

    For what it's worth, here's my take:

    http://theskepticalzone.com/wp/tamagotchi-j-k-rowling-and-god-a-short-essay-on-the-problem-of-evil/

    Cheers.

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    1. Hi Vincent,

      if it makes no sense to speak of an author being *unjust* to his characters, as Professor Feser contends, then by the same token, it makes no sense to speak of his being *just* in His dealings with them.

      Right. In the context of discussing the problem of evil I think the analogy of people with book characters immediately breaks down when one considers that book characters can neither commit nor suffer evil, in the same way that a stone can’t. One can carve a stone sculpture of an injured warrior, but it’s not like the stone is suffering. Thus whereas obviously the sculptor doesn’t have any moral responsibilities towards her stone sculpture, this is entirely irrelevant to theodicy.

      I think Feser tries to make a point about how God being the ground of the very existence of creatures has no moral responsibilities for them. To me it seems obvious that exactly the opposite is the case. Having created us makes God fully morally responsible. Thus, should any human soul find itself in hell it will turn to God and say “You should not have brought me into existence”, or perhaps “Given that you knew I would end up in hell you should not have brought me into existence”.

      I say our immediate perception of moral good is more cognitively trustworthy than metaphysical reasoning, and thus should serve as a guide. Any metaphysics that entails a moral blemish on God is certainly wrong. In such cases agnosticism is the only reasonable alternative for the theist.

      While God may indeed have obligations towards His creatures, they are not natural obligations, because God’s voluntary decision to create does not spring from His nature; nor is it necessary, in order to complete or fulfill His nature.

      There are significant differences between a creator and a procreator, but I don’t see on what grounds these imply that a creator has less moral responsibility. If anything the opposite is clearly the case. The human parent is by nature oriented towards procreation; procreating is not fully her free choice and therefore the moral responsibility towards her children is less. If the balcony on which I stand gives way and I fall on a person walking below then by nature I will hit her at no fault of mine.

      It is not created natural order but free personal choice which makes the space of one’s moral responsibility, and it’s not natural order but God’s character which makes its content.

      Now God created us in God’s image and thus our fundamental nature comports with what is good, but this is incidental. Or to use David Hart’s words “I certainly believe in a harmony between cosmic and moral order, sustained by the divine goodness in which both participate.” But from this it doesn’t follow that one can reason from the cosmic to the moral order. Rather in theodicy one can reason from the moral order to the cosmic order. Again: nature is lower than morality; in Aristotelian terms morality moves nature, not the other way around.

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  14. "In the context of discussing the problem of evil I think the analogy of people with book characters immediately breaks down when one considers that book characters can neither commit nor suffer evil ..."

    It's just meant to illustrate a radical difference in being and contingency, not to operate as a theodicy.

    I would suggest that before indicting God for not being "good" , that people do what has long been suggested for those who consider these questions.

    Ask yourself what you think it means to be "Good" in one's self, and what criteria must apply in order for the notion of Goodness as a coherent concept to be sustained against various reductios, or challenges.

    This has been going on for a long time. Lewis mocked the unreflective notion of what it was assumed was mean by a good God, when he spoke of the naive conception of a good God, as a kindly senility in the sky who at the end of the day was concerned primarily that a good time was had by all.

    Imagine that you describe someone as absolutely good without defining good in positive terms.

    Ask:

    Can one be good, and bribed? Can one be good, and shaken from one's purpose? Can one be good and manipulable? Can one be good, and abide permanent dishonesty?

    If perfect truth and absolute ultimate reliability - or integrity - is an essential part of our definition of good, can the good, allow into itself much of what passes for the "worldly" as the believers say, human strategy for obtaining gain?

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    1. It's just meant to illustrate a radical difference in being and contingency, not to operate as a theodicy.

      That analogy was used by Feser in the context of discussing the problem of evil.

      Ask yourself what you think it means to be "Good" in one's self, and what criteria must apply in order for the notion of Goodness as a coherent concept to be sustained against various reductios, or challenges.

      There are no external criteria we apply in order to recognize goodness; goodness is defined by the character of God and we recognize it when we recognize God. Being made in the image of God we have a basic cognitive capacity for that.

      Lewis mocked the unreflective notion of what it was assumed was mean by a good God, when he spoke of the naive conception of a good God, as a kindly senility in the sky who at the end of the day was concerned primarily that a good time was had by all.

      Only no reflective person claims that God’s goodness implies that God should want all to have a good time. Even pre-Christian philosophers such as Plato and Aristotle argued that considering pleasure to be the primary good is OK for beings of the cognitive capacity of mollusks and cows, but not for humans. So we are really way beyond that discussion.

      It is obvious that God, the greatest conceivable being, would want the greatest conceivable good for us. At least for Christians it should be completely clear what the greatest possible good we humans may realize in our lives is to become like Christ. And this is the shortest answer to problem of evil: God created the world with evil, indeed full of great and pointless evils, because only in such a world is it possible for a creature grow to be like Christ.

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  15. In what sense God is said to be just in creation.
    HOW DUENESS IS ENTAILED IN THE PRODUCTION OF THINGS (SCG Bk II, CH28)
    http://dhspriory.org/thomas/english/ContraGentiles2.htm#28

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  16. Can someone explain to me why it doesn't make any sense even in principle to speak of God as being unjust? At first glance this can seem like a bunch of hand-waving to make the problem of evil disappear. It seems like there must be certain things that were God to have done them, then they would count as injustices towards creation.

    Is what is being asserted more like saying that since we know that God is perfectly just, then we know that nothing that happens/exists can be an injustice on God's part? Or are we really saying that there's nothing in principle that could ever count against God's justice? But then what would justice even mean?

    -Matt

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    1. Matt:

      Although I think there is a lot of value in Davies' work, he is pretty open to the criticism that he tries to reduce the problem of evil to a largely terminological problem. I don't think it's quite fair to Davies himself, but there are Thomists who use very similar arguments to advance a certain kind of compatibilism: God is not technically the cause of evil, but he sees to it everywhere that it be done (to paraphrase Maritain's critical remarks).

      Herbert McCabe, Denys Turner, and Garrigou-Lagrange are all guilty of this. McCabe is a major influence on Davies and Turner is a similar contemporary. The idea is that humans can be said to be free, even if God's causality is such that it binds a choice to this or that outcome. In the case of McCabe and Turner, they just insist that freedom is defined in a way that excludes God from the outset.

      For a broader metaphysical view, probably the best work on Aquinas is Bernard Lonergan's "Grace and Freedom," though it is quite dense.

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    2. Matt, as the passage from Summa Contra Gentiles shows, it is impossible (in the absolute and strict sense of 'justice') for God to justly owe something to a creature which doesn't even exist yet. "To be owed" is a relationship, and a non-entity has no relationship to God, he cannot be owed anything. In especially, no creature can be owed - prior to God's decision to create him - that God ought to create him. And since nobody can be owed to be created in the first place, they cannot (in the absolute and strict sense) be owed by God anything that DEPENDS on being created.

      However, in a conditional sense, and taking justice in a looser sense, once you posit that God has decided to create a being, then one can speak of certain things due in the created order. In particular, it is due that God complete in the created order the good which he deigned for it to complete.

      Note, however, that there is no 'ought' that God create the "best possible X", like the best possible universe. There is not, and cannot even in theory be, a "best possible universe". Any universe, being created, is limited in good, whereas God is not. There is necessarily an infinity of goodness between any created order and the infinite goodness of God, so there could not be any universe that is the best of all possible universes. (Not in an absolute sense). So there is no ought for God to create the best possible universe.

      Nor is there an absolute obligation on God to maintain creation. Just as his will to create was perfectly free in the beginning, it is perfectly free at every moment all along: he could choose to stop maintaining the universe, (everything would cease to exist), and this would not violate any 'ought' because he doesn't OWE it to creation that creation persist. At best, in the limited and conditional sense, IF God's will is to maintain the universe, then it 'ought' to have certain things.

      So, in all cases, the 'justice' that God has to creatures is only in a looser and conditional sense.

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    3. For a broader metaphysical view, probably the best work on Aquinas is Bernard Lonergan's "Grace and Freedom," though it is quite dense.

      Thomas, I prefer Fr. William Most's "Grace, Predestination and the Salvific Will of God". He is not only Thomistic and rigorous theologically, he is also better than Garrigou-Lagrange (corrects his central error about predestination). He doesn't tackle the entirety of the free will problem, only the aspect related to predestination. I haven't read Lonergan, so I can't compare. But if Lonergan is a historicist (as the reviews seem to indicate) I would never have gotten more than 10 pages in anyway.

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    4. @ Tony,

      There is not, and cannot even in theory be, a "best possible universe". Any universe, being created, is limited in good, whereas God is not.

      From being limited in good it does not follow that a world is not the best possible one. Perhaps you are confusing the goodness of creation with the goodness of each thing within it.

      The goodness of creation depends only on God’s purpose for creation. Given God’s purpose it is certain that God would not create a world which serves it less than another. Thus the world that God created is necessarily the best for God’s purpose, and thus the best possible world. Since the actual world includes evils it follows that the best possible world must contain evils.

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    5. @Tony:

      "he is also better than Garrigou-Lagrange (corrects his central error about predestination)."

      What is in your view the "central error about predestination" that Garrigou-Lagrange commits?

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    6. grod, going off memory, G-L says (with all theologians in the tradition) that it takes God's action in the soul for a man to will the good, and that our "contribution" is only that of cooperation (i.e. that we do not defect from the good which God initiates). Then he also says (which Fr. Most corrects) that it takes an additional distinct action of God, that we do not defect from the good act which God already initiated.

      This bears on Most's ultimate thesis, which is to reject that prior positive divine predestination to the good for those who are saved implies also prior positive divine predestination to hell for those who are not saved (i.e that before they do evil, God positively wills hell for those who are not saved). He shows that the second is not logically required from the first.

      That what G-L says is an error can be seen in two ways. First, properly speaking not to defect is not a distinct act, and therefore does not need a distinct cause. Only an act (in the will, only an act of willing) needs to be explained by a cause, and in willing the good which God has initiated, the explanation is already present. Not to defect is merely the same thing - the ongoing good act of willing that God already caused - considered beyond the first moment of its being caused. But a motion is not defined by its first moment (actually, it cannot even have a first moment of motion, there is a last moment of rest prior to motion), a motion is always over an interval and is defined in terms of its termination, its end. By God causing the will to move, he causes it to move toward an end, and ALL of the motion is one single act toward the end.

      Secondly, practically, if a motion to an end takes a long enough time, we can have occasion to reconsider the act and decide anew whether to remain moving to the end. This is a new act of choice, and thus requires a new act of God moving us to the good. In THAT circumstance, it takes a distinct act of God to cause us to not defect from the good. But that's because it is, specifically, a DISTINCT act of choice, not the same act as the original event. So, in the shorter interval of time between when God first initiates in us to will the good in one act, and before we have taken time to reconsider it as a possible something from which we might defect, there is only that we are in conformity with God's causing us to will the good, which is nothing other than that we are not defecting from the good to which He moved us, and this is the one self-same act that He initiated. There cannot be a new act of choice until we can reconsider it as a distinct option. During that first interval of time, one cannot speak of the state of "not defecting" as being a distinct act than the initial act caused by God, for otherwise one would have to posit an infinitude of acts by God to cause a person to reach to one end. But because an act is determined by its end (its 'term'), that makes no sense logically: God does not need an infinitude of acts to achieve one act.

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    7. Sorry, that last was really 2 objections in one. First, it makes no sense to posit that God needs 2 acts to achieve one end, because an act is defined by its end. The act of initiating in us to will the good just is the act which directs us throughout the movement to the end.

      Secondly, if it takes God one act to begin in us to will the good, and another to will to not defect from the first, then it also takes yet another act of grace in us to will not to defect from the second, and a fourth to will not to defect from the third, ad infinitum. Which is absurd.

      There is no end to the recursions with which one can consider first act, but all of them are only mental constructs, not real beings. Only the reality itself - which is the act to which God moves us, is what needs a cause, not the recursive mental reflections on that act.

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    8. To extend my comment above that

      There is not, and cannot even in theory be, a "best possible universe",

      because God's choice to create a definite universe X includes a choice for the finite good x that is entailed with X reaching its finite fullness, His choice is toward creating a specific finite good. This is a free choice. He could have freely chosen to create some other universe Y that entails goods x + x', instead. That he did not choose to create Y does not constitute a defect with regard to the X universe that He did choose to create, because He did not design X to entail goods x + x'.

      To call X the "best possible world" could only be said consequent upon the prior free choice of God to create X and not to create Y. It is only a conditional, or hypothetical, "best world". In the absolute sense, since God was free to create Y rather than X, His free choice to create X was to create a universe with not as good as Y. In reality, the proper way to speak of His action with respect to creating X is that He wills the good finite suited to X, and not other.

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    9. Thanks for the replies. I'd like to say something in regard to Tony's comment at 3:23pm.

      It makes perfect sense to me that God does not owe anything to creatures not yet created and that there is no obligation in the act of creation. I get that there is no way in which God can be indebted to us or owe us anything in that sort of 'economic' sense. Yet it still seems as though, once having created, there are certain things that are in some sense due to the creation. Since God only creates that which is good, then it is only fitting that He should love and honor the good that he has made. Maybe we could say that he 'owes' us that which He 'owes' Himself as The Good. Like how a craftsman values what he has made and honors it, not because of a debt owed to it, but because it has intrinsic worth that was put there by the master's own hands.

      Is this in the neighborhood of what you were saying about things being "due in the created order"?

      -Matt

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    10. @ Tony 6:48 AM

      ”There is not, and cannot even in theory be, a "best possible universe", because God's choice to create a definite universe X includes a choice for the finite good x that is entailed with X reaching its finite fullness, His choice is toward creating a specific finite good. This is a free choice. He could have freely chosen to create some other universe Y that entails goods x + x', instead.”

      Interesting. If I understand you correctly you are saying that given God’s purpose for creating this universe X with goodness x, this universe is indeed the best possible one. But God’s purpose could have been to create universe Y with goodness x+x’. (Say, universe X might lead to the salvation of ten billion souls but universe Y to the salvation of two billion souls.) Universe Y is therefore better than the universe X God chose to create. And had God chosen to create Y instead of X, it remains true that God could have chosen to create an even better universe Z. Therefore there isn’t a best possible universe.

      The problem I see in this thought is that it assumes some absolute scale of goodness beyond God: It assumes that for any purpose God might have had for creating the actual universe, God might have chosen a better purpose. But God’s character circumscribes what is good. Goodness is not something quantifiable on some absolute and infinite scale beyond God. Rather God, being the metaphysical ultimate, is goodness itself. Therefore God’s purpose for creating this universe X with its limited goodness x, is insuperably good. There is possibility for a better purpose. We can imagine a world Y of goodness x+x’ only when we erroneously conceptualize God as being less than what God is.

      I was thinking that in general using the concept of “infinite” in its mathematical sense in the context of theology will often lead to error. Thus the idea that God possesses infinite power leads to the paradox of whether God has the power to make a stone so heavy God cannot lift. But the power the greatest conceivable being possesses is not infinite power, but as much power as that being wants (and God being perfectly rational does not want to create absurd things - and that's why absurd things are impossible to exist). To have superfluous power makes a being less not more perfect. Similarly with knowledge. To know everything there is to know whether one wants to know it or not diminishes perfection. In general there can’t be any perfection beyond God, for the measure of perfection is God alone. There is no possibility for God to be or do something better than God actually wants to be or do. Thus to think that God could have wanted to create a world better than the one God chose to create is an incoherent thought.

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  17. Matt, that's very much my understanding. In an initial sense, he owes it to himself to make a worthy thing (if he wills to make anything), and then (derivatively) he "owes" it to the thing. And thus, given the condition that he chooses to create a universe X, he "ought" to will that the universe be fitting.

    Nevertheless, there is nothing unfitting in a universe which entails that things die violent deaths, as prey to predators. It is not an unfitting universe that lions kill zebras. So, although it is not a fit end (narrowly) for a young zebra to fall prey to a lion ( the zebra does not reach it's "proper" end), the whole order that includes them both is fitting. So, the 'due-ness' cannot be identified except at the level of the created order as a whole. Thus, for example, it is impossible to say whether God setting in place a created order that entails punishment for immoral acts is 'due' except at the level of the whole created order, not within. And the fittingness is identified with regard to the good for which the universe God chose to create was intended, not some other universe. (It doesn't make any sense to say Universe X is unfit because it fails to exhibit good Y, when good Y was never intended to begin with.)

    So, whether something is "due" or not from the divine angle can only be said with regard to the whole created order, and only with regard to the good the created order was designed for. (And of course only on condition that God deign to create to begin with.) Hence a universe is "fit" if it successfully achieves the good for which it was designed. Thus "justice" can only be predicated between the created order and God only in a conditional and qualified sense, not simply and absolutely.

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    1. Tony,

      Thanks again for the interaction.

      I have read many examples similar to the zebra-lion one that you gave, but I must admit that I still cannot see how violent deaths and creatures (particularly rational ones) never reaching their proper ends do not count against the overall “fitness” of a universe. Are we really stuck saying that these are either not evils at all, or that though they are evil they do not require redemption because the overarching purpose of the cosmos is not thwarted by their presence? Aren’t all of these things the result of creation’s fall and therefore counter to God’s creative intent?

      -Matt

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    2. It's an interesting question as to whether predation by a meat eater is "due to the fall" or not. So far as we can tell at this point (after the fall) the meat eater needs meat and cannot survive on plants. God might have supplied supernaturally what he needs in another way than by predation, but that hardly speaks to the good of the natural order, does it? It is even more odd to suggest how other creatures, which depend on the death of some creatures (like bacteria that eat dead meat) could be supplied, except again simply stepping outside the natural order altogether.

      One way to address the dead zebra is to accept that its death is an evil to it, but not an evil to the order in which it inhabits. Even apart from killing a thriving thing: Genesis, before the fall, says: Then God said, “I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. But each seed is - in itself - ordered to the finished tree or plant, not to feeding a man. Yet God intended that man eat such fruit. It is clear that by the nature God made them, trees produce far more seeds than can reasonably attain maturity, not "so that" many might be frustrated, but so that a few might succeed in conditions that are unhelpful for the many. And, in the larger sense, so that one of the unhelpful conditions is other animals eating them, which is good for them, and good for the ecology, but not good for the individual seed that is digested.

      It is hard to see why what applies for seeds cannot apply for zebras. But we seem to waste a lot more pity and concern on zebras than on seeds.

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    3. God might have supplied supernaturally what he needs in another way than by predation, but that hardly speaks to the good of the natural order, does it?

      Just wanted to add: even if God did supply the nutrition the lion needs supernaturally, that does nothing to deal with the fact that the excellence of a lion qua predator is to hunt well and kill well, and to preclude lions from hunting is to block them from living excellently. Or so it seems.

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    4. So you're telling me that evil is fine so long as one creature's privation is another creature's fulfillment?

      This all sounds like we're trying really hard to justify creation in its present form, when the cosmos currently lies fallen and in need of restoration. Don't the scriptures speak of an end to violence at the eschaton, where there will be no more death?

      It would seem that on the system you are defending, that if predation were to cease then this would only be a step sideways since now predators would be thwarted from living excellently.

      What exactly compels us to look at predation, death and suffering, and declare that all is good? These strike me as some the chains that must be cast off.

      -Matt

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    5. Don't the scriptures speak of an end to violence at the eschaton, where there will be no more death?

      Matt, you raise a good point, but it's a problem pretty much with ANY attempt to understand what our life will be like in the eschaton. It's a much wider problem than just with predators - what about carrion-eaters and bacteria, etc? Possible solutions include options like: (a) only humans will be "there", i.e. in heaven, and we won't need to eat or any of the other behavior that deals with corruptible beings undergoing change; (b) there will be other creatures with bodies, but EVERYTHING will undergo transmogrification into the kind of glorified body that Christ had after the Resurrection, i.e. impassible, so that nothing will actually change at all - and thus not only will the lion not hunt, it won't get hungry either. And possibly other solutions I haven't thought of.

      But obviously, this kind of solution which might serve at the eschaton AFTER the period of testing and trial for humanity is complete, cannot serve for DURING the period of trial wherein humans have to live human lives that entail choice and change and thus things coming to be and passing away. In that phase of existence, in order for the universe God intended to be one where humans could employ their wills in true free acts that actually have consequences, coming-to-be and passing-away of things acted upon (such as the food digested, which ceases to be fruit and becomes human; or the hydrogen that ceases to be in the sun in the fusion and formation of helium), must necessarily entail just that: passing away of some things.

      I don't know if this qualifies as a theodicy so much as a pre-theodicy metaphysical point, but it is a traditional comment to this issue: the passing away of a physical thing is 'evil' in a different sense than the moral evil of a sinful act freely chosen. The latter has the sense of evil that is the sense that we properly ought to feel revulsion against and find spiritually horrid. The 'evil' of an annual flower dying in the fall, not. Even in the Hindu / Buddhist tradition in which every living thing is (in some sense) sacred, what is repulsive is the death of a living thing without reason and out of order, not the natural death of a plant in the fall at the end of its ordinary lifespan where its dying serves the ordinary order of all the rest of the life cycle (including making room for its seeds, feeding the microbes and worms, etc).

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    6. "...the passing away of a physical thing is 'evil' in a different sense than the moral evil of a sinful act freely chosen. The latter has the sense of evil that is the sense that we properly ought to feel revulsion against and find spiritually horrid. The 'evil' of an annual flower dying in the fall, not."

      I see that there is a valid distinction between those senses of the word evil and that the latter is of primary importance. However, it does seem to me as though there are evils of the non-moral variety, which we ought to still fight against and which are contrary to the heart of God. What are we to say about something like a tree falling on a man or a child dying of cancer? Aren’t these aspects of the natural order which we would justly be repulsed by and seek to eliminate? When I see my cat exercising its full cat-ness by killing a mouse without intending to eat it, I have a hard time imagining that my compassion for the mouse and revulsion at the cat’s behavior are misplaced. I don’t believe that I’m being overly sentimental. Something just seems less than God-like about the arrangement.

      Do you think that predation could exist in heaven? I doubt it, and even if this is just an intuition, it makes me think that there’s something intrinsically bad about it.

      What role do you suppose the fallenness of creation plays into these issues? It seems to me that a properly Christian understanding of the cosmos must recognize that the natural order is broken.

      Thanks again for the conversation!

      -Matt

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    7. However, it does seem to me as though there are evils of the non-moral variety, which we ought to still fight against and which are contrary to the heart of God.

      However, it does seem to me as though there are evils of the non-moral variety, which we ought to still fight against and which are contrary to the heart of God.

      I agree that based on our intuition, the death of an animal is of more moment than the death of a plant. And the death of a higher animal, like a dog, is of more moment than that of an insect. Therefore, we are right to resist an oblivious attitude toward creatures as if they were all irrelevant for “the good”. But I think that Napoleon was on to something when he said “the moral is the physical as three is to one”, only MUCH MORE SO. The saints indicate that the moral order is so far above the physical order in gravity that there is really no comparison: it would be better that the whole world be destroyed than that one person willingly commit a single sin to preserve it. When God made Adam and gave him the world to have as his dominion, he was indicating a hierarchy of value: the worth of a being with an immortal soul, capable of free love of God, is altogether more important, more beautiful, more essential, than anything else in the physical world, even the whole of it together. Hence God’s arranging (in the Garden of Eden) all for man’s fullness and not for the animals' sake, implies that even a (non-Edenic) natural order that entails animals that kill other animals is not “evil” in the sense of objectionable simply, but only objectionable where it does not serve a due order and purpose.

      Do I think predation could exist in heaven. Given that for man his time of trial is before heaven, and given that the rest of the physical order is for man primarily, no: because the need for it is over. But I don't think that predation is disorderly for THIS era of creation.

      My sense is that we need to distinguish at least 3, maybe 4 levels of programs or orders with which God layered his creation. At the first layer, there is the basic natural order with its physical characteristics (and by physical I don't mean to exclude such soul-based realities as living plants, sensing animals, and thinking humans). At the basic level, coming to be and passing away are fundamental to the natural order: you don't get new animals being born except at the cost of other things passing away. In this order, man would be subject to death and injury just like all animals would be. This condition is not, as such "consequent" upon sin but on the nature of physical beings, which are prone to change and corruption. It is the kind of natural order in which some kinds of trees need forest fires in order to prime their seed pods and thus spread. Man would also have to work for his living.

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    8. Next up: in the Garden of Eden, God raised up man to a higher plane of living, through the gifts of sanctifying grace and Original Justice. In that state, Adam was made free from the threat of death, and through making his lower faculties utterly subservient to his higher, he was free from any damage or illness coming from within. These gifts, though above Adam’s nature, were in an extended sense connatural to humans in that it made us able to reach our proper end. Furthermore, the gift of Original Justice also raised up other parts of nature, not by anything connatural to THOSE natures, but so as to protect Adam and Eve from external injury or pain, and even to supply their needs without difficulty or "labor" (though this only precludes the sheer drudgery of "work", not the possibility of Adam and Eve putting forth effort to increase good, such as a still more orderly garden). These added gifts to other creatures were not connatural to them, because they were not for the creatures’ benefit, but for Adam and Eve’s. Nevertheless, because this order included the presumption (indeed, the prescription) for human increase, it also included coming to be and passing away of lesser creatures. Thus the “layover” that God did to Nature for Adam’s benefit was partial and not an order absolutely free of corruption of earthly things. One can consider that Adam and Eve ate milk and honey and fruit, and had no need to directly kill whole plants or animals. But one cannot presume that in that state their children’s birth and increase in size did not come at the expense of other things being consumed, which just is their passing away, i.e. corruption from its former substance, into human substance. Nor is it necessary to presume that the parts of nature not directly impinging on man were raised up in this way: did animals on another continent behave utterly without violence to each other in this time? There is no specific need to claim it, though it is not impossible.

      In the eschaton, God will miraculously resurrect our bodies to a glorified state that exceeds even the bliss that Adam and Eve enjoyed: these bodies will be “impassible”, in that we can neither be injured, nor even undergo ANY change but that which is directly willed. It is unclear what (if any) plan God has in mind for the rest of nature, but since God seems to have mainly cast the rest of nature as the backdrop for Man’s time of trial, it is not a given that there even will be a rest of nature in the eschaton. Whatever it might be, it the allusions (which might be nothing more than metaphors for a spiritual mode of living) seem to imply a nature that is freed from even the sorts of corruptibility that was necessary even to the Garden of Eden.

      I think that it is best to say that the economy of the created order is not fundamentally about any one of these levels or layers or phases but really about all of them, because God’s plan obviously entails the WHOLE enchilada. Thus even if in the eschaton God will arrange animals that don’t engage in violence and aren’t even subject to physical corruption, he seemingly arranged a Garden of Eden that had physical corruption. So whatever is his whole Plan, it entails that physical corruption of some for the sake of others is an allowable state of affairs at least for some phases of the created order, even if not all of them. This, I think, must inform our intuition.

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    9. Tony, you've given me a lot to think about and I appreciate that. My thoughts on these matters are all inchoate so this is good.

      Regards,
      -Matt

      Delete
  18. I would like to ask Feser and the posters here if in their analysis the First Way contains an argument for a first mover in the present instant, the present time as people generally consider the very recent past to be part of the present, for the origination of motion some finite time in the past, or for a past eternity of motion?

    My question put another way, does the first way argue for the first mover as an originator of motion in the distant past, or is the argument for the necessity of a first mover in the present as necessary to sustain presently observed motion?

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  19. What we would see as the distant past God would see as the present, or as "presently observed motion." So I think the latter formulation is closer to what most people think of the First Way. If I err in this, I would appreciate the correction.

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  20. Craig PayneJuly 9, 2017 at 7:49 PM

    "What we would see as the distant past God would see as the present, or as "presently observed motion." "
    --Is this related, in your view, to what some would call the eternal now?

    If so, how does this translate to human perception? Aquinas begins the First Way "The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion."

    So, it is clear that Aquinas intends to argue from a human perspective, not the perspective of his asserted God.

    So, my question centers on the notions of an "essential" series, that is, a series of multiple causes and effects that are thought to occur simultaneously, as opposed to occurring in a time sequence of events.

    Aquinas goes on to say "If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity"

    So, is Aquinas arguing that this infinite regression cannot extend into the deep past of uncountable years, indeed an infinite past...or is Aquinas arguing that the simultaneous series of causes and effects, the "essential" series of causes and effects, cannot extent to an infinite number of such causes and effects in the present instant?

    Put another way, is the First Way an argument against an infinite regression of past time of cosmological motions, or is the First Way an argument against an infinite regress of causal events in the present instant in an "essential" series?

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  21. Strawdusty is asking this question in relation to another discussion on Victor Reppert's blog, https://dangerousidea.blogspot.com.

    He is sincere in trying to understand exactly what an "essentially ordered series" is as opposed to an "accidentally ordered series".

    Please help him find what he is looking for.

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    Replies
    1. @bmiller:

      "He is sincere in trying to understand exactly what an "essentially ordered series" is as opposed to an "accidentally ordered series"."

      "Sincere"? So at the end of several thousands of comments spanning several months, where we were told in no uncertain terms that Stardusty knew the First Way better than St. Thomas and all thomists combined that he could even spot all the flaws in it that the latter never did (several times he listed all the flaws allegedly in the First Way and it would run at 7 or 8 gross fallacies, that is, all the fallacies he knows the name of), he asks a question and all of a sudden he is "sincere in trying to understand"? On the evidence actually available, this is a completely absurd judgment. But at this point I realize I have to stop, because between the two of us you are the better man, and much more generous.

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    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
    3. @grodrigues,

      Well you have to admit, it was the first time he asked the question and understood there may be a distinction between the 2 types of series.

      Delete
  22. Perhaps this is as good as any post to star with HERE

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  23. "So, is Aquinas arguing that this infinite regression cannot extend into the deep past of uncountable years, indeed an infinite past...or is Aquinas arguing that the simultaneous series of causes and effects, the "essential" series of causes and effects, cannot extent to an infinite number of such causes and effects in the present instant?"

    The latter.

    "Put another way, is the First Way an argument against an infinite regression of past time of cosmological motions, or is the First Way an argument against an infinite regress of causal events in the present instant in an "essential" series?"

    The latter.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for that answer, Hans.

      An "essential" series is a myth. Why do people still think there is such a thing? Very apparently every causal series is a process over time.

      Further, why think of a causal series as needing a terminus? On inertia and conservation of matter/energy motion is never lost, only transformed, making a first mover completely unnecessary.

      Delete
    2. "Very apparently every causal series is a process over time."

      Our dialogue is a process over time.

      But in each word in it there is an essential series, of my:

      1) intending to answer
      2) chosing the words
      3) applying them to the keyboard with letters appearing in combox and pushing publish.

      Within each part, there is some delay, but they are an essential series which as such does not depend on time.

      "Further, why think of a causal series as needing a terminus?"

      Because my answering you could not depend on an infinity of other causes related to this before my chosing to answer you. If it did, I would never get done doing so.

      "On inertia and conservation of matter/energy motion is never lost, only transformed ..."

      According to a popular modern myth, yes.

      "... making a first mover completely unnecessary."

      Or making energy the first mover. Rather.

      I disagree with both myth as such and with this identification, but even more with your analysis of what you yourself believe.

      You are not saying there is no first mover of an essential series, you are just saying motion conserved over time is that first mover.

      + does not account for some of the conservation of movement being into the form of slightly raised temperature, and therefore in form or maximal entropy and useless for practical purposes for future movements (Second Law of Thermodynamics).

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    3. Hans Georg LundahlJuly 10, 2017 at 8:01 AM

      "Within each part, there is some delay, but they are an essential series which as such does not depend on time."
      --In an essential series, as asserted by apologists for the First Way, simultaneity is asserted as well as causal dependency.

      So, when you acknowledge the process over time you are being entirely reasonable, but you are no longer asserting an essential series in the present in the sense of a Thomistic essential series asserted by apologists with respect to the First Way.

      SP "On inertia and conservation of matter/energy motion is never lost, only transformed ..."

      "According to a popular modern myth, yes. "
      --Myth? Can you describe some instances where we observe that conservation does not hold?

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    4. @Strawdusty,

      The key word in "essentially ordered series" is the word "essential". A motion can be continuing over time but what is essential to the motion to continue is part of that motion. So, once a rocket booster is no longer powering a rocket, it is no longer essential for the capsule's motion.

      The motion started by the booster continues, but at some point stopped being essential for the motion.

      Please read this to see how an essentially ordered series is not necessarily dependent on time
      HERE AGAIN

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    5. bmillerJuly 10, 2017 at 8:46 PM

      "The key word in "essentially ordered series" is the word "essential". A motion can be continuing over time"
      --Ok, so if an essential causal series can occur over time, and if we consider an infinity of such causal steps, then we are considering an infinity of time, in this case, an infinity of past time.

      If we only want to consider a very large number of causal steps, and each takes time, then we are considering a first mover in the distant past.

      If you only want to consider a first mover in the present instant then each step in this causal series requires zero time, which is absurd.

      Please make up your mind.

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    6. Zero time or some delay is about equal, either way we are dealing with the present, not back into the past.

      Delete
    7. @Strawdusty,

      --Ok, so if an essential causal series can occur over time, and if we consider an infinity of such causal steps, then we are considering an infinity of time, in this case, an infinity of past time.

      If we only want to consider a very large number of causal steps, and each takes time, then we are considering a first mover in the distant past.


      You seem to be conflating the number of members essential to a movement with the passage of time. While a particular mobile could have been in a particular motion for a very long time, that is a different question than what is now and has always been essential to the movement of that particular mobile. It is the fact that each member of the mobile is essential to the movement of the mobile as a whole that makes it an essentially ordered series whether the entire movement is very short or very long time-wise.

      Once again, I suggest you read the link.

      Delete
    8. bmillerJuly 11, 2017 at 5:41 AM

      "You seem to be conflating the number of members essential to a movement with the passage of time."
      --They are directly related. If a causal series (sequence) takes time, and its members occur in succession, then the time from the start of the series to the end of the series is the sum of those time periods.

      " It is the fact that each member of the mobile is essential to the movement of the mobile as a whole that makes it an essentially ordered series whether the entire movement is very short or very long time-wise."
      --If the entire movement is "very long time-wise" and this whole set of movements was caused by some first mover then that mover necessarily acted a "very long" time ago.

      "Once again, I suggest you read the link."
      --The link goes to the top of this page which in turn has a link to a number of videos. So I tried one "Dr Edward Feser - An Aristotelian Proof of the Existence of God from Juan C. Pagan on Vimeo." In it Feser said many things, of course, but I found his exploration of potentiality and actuality to be hot or cold entirely ill conceived. Temperature is an indication of molecular kinetic energy. When the molecules of coffee have average kinetic energy x we say it is at temperature Tx, if average energy is y then we say the coffee is at Ty. To speak of these various measurements of average kinetic energy as actualities coming into existence is pointless and archaic. To use such archaic language in support of a "proof" of god is also pointless.

      Delete
    9. Hans Georg LundahlJuly 11, 2017 at 3:04 AM

      "Zero time or some delay is about equal,"
      --Is it? In the First Way Aquinas considers and infinite regress of causes. How long is an infinity of say, nanoseconds? How long is an infinity of zero seconds? Are those two infinite summations "about equal"?

      " either way we are dealing with the present, not back into the past."
      --So, by "present" you seem to mean the recent past as perceived by a human being as part of that individual's awareness of "present". Yes, I experience that as well. My brain employs short term memory and forms a conceptual model of a series of recent past events as being joined in what I perceive as "the present".

      But that is a human perceptual artifact.

      Every causal series is essential in that the causes are needed to get the effect. If you don't perform the cause you don't get the effect. That is hardly a "proof" of god or even evidence for a divine first mover. It just means that one thing impacts the next thing and so on.

      Every causal series is a process over time.

      Please name a specific example of a causal series the calls for a divine first mover.

      Delete
    10. @Strawdusty,

      --They are directly related. If a causal series (sequence) takes time, and its members occur in succession, then the time from the start of the series to the end of the series is the sum of those time periods.

      When you say "its members occur in succession" and then go on to say "then the time from the start of the series to the end of the series is the sum of those time periods." you are actually adding up time periods to come up with your series. The essentially ordered series under discussion in the First Way is not a series of time periods but rather a series of moving movers ultimately being moved by an Unmoved Mover in the sense of the cause of the motion not the duration of the motion.

      I apologize for the bad links.
      Here is the article I was trying to point you to:
      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/08/edwards-on-infinite-causal-series.html

      Delete
    11. Ok, so if an essential causal series can occur over time, and if we consider an infinity of such causal steps, then we are considering an infinity of time, in this case, an infinity of past time.

      They are directly related. If a causal series (sequence) takes time, and its members occur in succession, then the time from the start of the series to the end of the series is the sum of those time periods.

      You seem to focus on an aspect that is not germane to the thesis being claimed, or at least is not obviously so.

      Every motion takes time. It would be crazy to suggest that an essentially ordered series of movers took no time, when the motion itself must of course take time.

      Take a baseball bat hitting a ball. It is when the bat is in contact with the ball that it is changing the ball's momentum. The bat causes the ball to move. Say that the bat is touching the ball starting at time T and running through time T+2.

      Now, consider that at the same time that the bat is touching the ball and moving it, a hand is touching the bat and moving it. The hand causes the bat to move the ball.
      The hand is touching the bat at every moment that the bat is touching the ball, and over the entire interval of time that the bat is touching the ball. The hand is touching and moving the bat at time T and straight through to T+2.

      And it is also true that at every moment that the hand is in contact with the bat which is in contact with the ball, the muscles in the arm are levering the hand to move it. The arm muscles are moving the hand over the interval T through to T+2. The arm causes the hand to cause the bat to cause the ball to move, throughout the interval. And at every moment from T to T+2 that the arm muscles are moving the hand while the hand is in contact with the bat and that is in contact with the ball, the shoulder muscles are pulling on the shoulder bones... The shoulder muscles are pulling on the shoulder bones from time T and continuing to time T+2.

      So, although every one of these actions takes time, it is not true that every one of them occurs in separate times. They ALL of them overlap through the interval of T to T+2. So although the first cause mentioned was causing through the finite period T to T+2, the recognition of three more causes did not ADD to the time T to T+2, the finite interval under consideration stayed the same short length.

      The Aquinas thesis is that it is nonsensical to suppose that you could have an infinite series of causes acting one on the next to cause the next one to act to move the next...over the interval T to T+2, to cause the ball to move.

      You seem to object that causes would act in succession. But whether some causal chains would act in succession does not defeat the claim that it is nonsensical to suppose an infinite series acting during the same finite interval T to T+2 where the last thing moved (which we see in motion) is moved because of each prior cause moving it in time T to T+2.

      Delete
    12. correction:

      The Aquinas thesis is that it is nonsensical to suppose that you could have an essentially ordered infinite series of causes acting one on the next to cause the next one to act to move the next...over the interval T to T+2, to cause the ball to move. (I had just assumed that we were still talking about essentially ordered series, but figured I should make it explicit instead of leaving it implicit.)

      It is not just that the hand happens to move the bat: the hand moves the bat to move the ball. The arm moves the hand to move the bat to move the ball. The shoulder moves the arm to move the hand to move the bat to move the ball. The motion of the ball is "in" the motion of the shoulder.

      Delete
    13. WatchingJuly 11, 2017 at 5:34 PM

      "Every motion takes time. It would be crazy to suggest that an essentially ordered series of movers took no time, "
      --That's what "simultaneous" means, at the same time, thus zero time difference. Here is just one of many definitions of "essential" series that states this notion:
      "essentially ordered causes are simultaneously required to cause the effect "
      https://projecteuclid.org/download/pdf_1/euclid.ndjfl/1093894361

      "Take a baseball bat hitting a ball. "
      --That is a process over time involving a multitude of sub-microscopic causes and effects occurring in sequence. Each of these small steps in the process is what Thomists would call "accidentally ordered"


      "The Aquinas thesis is that it is nonsensical to suppose that you could have an infinite series of causes acting one on the next to cause the next one to act to move the next...over the interval T to T+2, to cause the ball to move."
      --There is no need for any such infinity and the lack of such an infinity in no way calls for a divine first cause.

      The process of bodily motion is a highly complex sequence of events that occurs over time. There simply is no problem of an infinity of causes to account for bodily motion.

      "You seem to object that causes would act in succession."
      --On the contrary, causal effects propagate in succession, indeed, over time.

      There is no sense in speaking of an "essential" series of simultaneous causes and effects.

      "...does not defeat the claim that it is nonsensical to suppose an infinite series acting during the same finite interval T to T+2 "
      --This seems to be sort of a twist on a paradox of Zeno. Zeno was wrong, there simply is no paradox of infinite divisions.

      "It is not just that the hand happens to move the bat: the hand moves the bat to move the ball. The arm moves the hand to move the bat to move the ball. The shoulder moves the arm to move the hand to move the bat to move the ball. The motion of the ball is "in" the motion of the shoulder. "
      --You analysis suffers from a very great oversimplification of the process of bodily motion, and further suffers from assigning the title of "cause" or "effect" to whole complex and dynamic objects acting in a time sequence of sub-microscopic so-called "accidental" steps.

      Delete
    14. bmillerJuly 11, 2017 at 8:40 AM

      I apologize for the bad links.
      Here is the article I was trying to point you to:
      https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/08/edwards-on-infinite-causal-series.html

      --Ok, yes, thanks, I have seen that before but did not pay much attention to it because the reasoning in it is so defective. But since those topics have come up again I read it more closely and it suffers from problems very similar to the problems the First Way suffers from, perhaps unsurprisingly.

      Feser argues in a circle, albeit with a large radius, when he makes the ad hoc assertion " Particles and other “naturalistic” candidates for the ground floor level of reality are all compounds of act and potency, form and matter, essence and existence; accordingly, they are in need of actualization". This merely assumes that the natural state of the universe is not motion.

      Elsewhere you provided references to Aristotle as asserting both matter and motion were eternal. In that case there is no need for a terminus, and thus no need for a first mover.

      This assertion "Aquinas is not arguing that the universe must have had a beginning – that the first cause he is arguing for is “first” not in a temporal sense, but in an ontological sense, a sustaining cause of the world here and now and at any moment at which the world exists at all" makes no sense on the concepts of inertia and conservation of matter/energy. Why should the universe require some sort of "sustaining cause"?

      Given the fact that the stuff of the universe is in motion there is no reason whatever to suppose any divine sustaining cause is required. All that is required is inertia and conservation of matter/energy and all the stuff of the universe will just keep bouncing off each other forever without any loss at all.

      The notion of the necessity of a sustaining cause only makes sense on the idea that the natural state of matter is at rest, and thus the universe will grind to a halt on its own.

      The post is just another example of begging the question of the first mover but expanded into enough verbage to make the circularity of the argument unapparent to the believer.

      Plus there is the usual vacillation between denial of the argument as addressing the origin of motion in the distant past while in the same post continually considering infinities of causation that necessarily occur over time, which is just what an eternal past is, yet some how the First Way doesn't address the distant past.

      It is apparently imagined that somehow there can be a vast number of prior causes to any particular observed effect, but this vast collection of causes is somehow not temporally ordered at all, rather all existing in the ontological present.

      So, what then? Supposing I hit the cue ball with the stick. Breathing and eating in some sense caused me to move the stick. The food was in some sense caused by the sun, and the oxygen might be said to be caused by plant life, and even though all these prior causes were very obviously temporally ordered it is somehow imagined that they are all in the present at least in some ontological sense.

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    15. --That is a process over time involving a multitude of sub-microscopic causes and effects occurring in sequence. Each of these small steps in the process is what Thomists would call "accidentally ordered"


      Incredible as it might seem, there might actually be progress here. Very cautiously, that "might".

      SP, what you object to, I think, is the notion of simultaneity of causing AT ALL, regardless of whether it is essentially ordered and regardless of the number of causes in the series. You just object to the cause being simultaneous with the effect AT ALL.

      Which, I submit, is a very puzzling objection to hold, for a materialist. Whether one works on the level of atoms and chemistry, or at the subatomic level of electrons etc, the notion that there would be a time gap between the action of the actor (mover) on the movee and the receipt of the action in the movee generates rather problematic results. It is, I think, as difficult as the problem of action at a distance, possibly more so. If the mover is "acting ON" the movee, but not yet "AFFECTING" the movee, then this seems to defy the laws of physics, doesn't it?

      Of course, there would still remain the fact that this at best only addresses efficient causality, and would not begin to address other types of causality, but then a materialist like you probably won't accept final or formal causality to begin with. But it remains that Aquinas' argument is based on a metaphysical framework that assumes that final and formal causality exist. So, in order for his argument to have a logical fallacy (rather than just be wrong), you have to argue it in the terms that it assumes. And it assumes final and formal causality.

      And it is fundamentally impossible for formal causality not to operate simultaneously with its effect.

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    16. WatchingJuly 12, 2017 at 5:48 AM

      "SP, what you object to, I think, is the notion of simultaneity of causing AT ALL,"
      --A cause and effect process requires time. No change can occur in zero time.

      If one assigns the title of "cause" to a baseball bat, and "effect" to the acceleration of the ball then there is the appearance of simultaneity of cause and effect. Here is a video showing that this energy transfer is a process over time.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=QFlEIybC7rU

      As the ball increases its kinetic energy the bat decreases its kinetic energy. There is no single moment when all the energy is transferred.

      " the notion that there would be a time gap between the action of the actor (mover) on the movee and the receipt of the action in the movee generates rather problematic results. "
      --Indeed it would. Newton modeled interactions over time and used his newly derived maths to integrate these processes. Integration is conceptually a summation of small parts with using the notion of a limit as delta x goes to zero.

      Each of these conceptually small parts based on the limit as delta x goes to zero is what the Thomist would call "accidentally ordered".

      So, as a spacecraft is accelerated by a slingshot planetary flyby the Thomist might suppose a simultaneous cause and effect as the planet loses kinetic energy and the spacecraft gains kinetic energy. This process over time, however, is not a single causal event, rather, the integration of a process of sequential "accidental" causes and effects.

      "this seems to defy the laws of physics, doesn't it?"
      --Newton showed us maths based on the limit as delta x goes to zero that allow us to analyze seemingly simultaneous cause and effect as a summed series of "accidental" causes and effects.

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    17. As the ball increases its kinetic energy the bat decreases its kinetic energy. There is no single moment when all the energy is transferred.

      SP, some of us took high school physics. Of course the ball compresses, and the bat undergoes a deformation of shape. And of course this process has lots of intermediate stages and takes time. Nobody doubted it for a moment. But what I said holds at each stage.

      Let me direct your attention to the molecular level. At some point the ball is close enough so that the molecules of the ball's skin are close enough to the bat's molecules that they start to interact. This is long before the ball starts to compress visibly. What happens to the molecules of ball that are touching* the bat, while the bat is moving in the opposite direction from the ball? Obviously, since two physical objects cannot occupy the same place at the same time, the two molecules do not superimpose and occupy the same space. Result: the ball's molecules DON'T move into the bat's molecules and become superimposed, they move differently. They do something else than they would have done had the bat not been there. That is: they are changed by the bat. This is standard dynamics at the molecular level. Long before any camera would pick up on the ball being compressed.

      * One can, of course, deepen the analysis lower than the molecular level: the fields of the atoms and their electron shells start to interact. Since the electrons have the same charge (negative), they repel one another, and thus the atoms of the ball are caused to slow down from their former motion. Etc. Same result.

      But whether you look at the molecular level or down at the electron shells interacting, when one thing is interacting with the second, the second IS interacting with the first. There is no time gap between when the bat electrons START to interact with the ball's electrons, and the ball's electrons START to be changed by that interaction.

      And don't get hung up on my use of "start". Aristotle covered all this in his Physics, including the evanescent part Newton picked up on by "taking it to the limit". If a body is at rest, (even relative rest will do), it doesn't start to be IN motion with respect to a definite instant, instead it has a last moment of rest. The motion is always during an interval of time which succeeds the (relative) rest, an interval of which one end-point is not part of the motion but part of the rest period - the anchor-point for the motion is extrinsic to the motion, not part of the time interval of the motion. When a cause "starts to act" on another thing as a physical efficient cause, it's "starting" is not a first moment, either, except extrincally in the same way. The gradual ramp-up portion of what seems, to our senses and careless thinking, to be the "start" of the motion includes motion, so is not a "first moment" of motion, it is an interval of motion and thus without a first instant. For Aristotle, Newton's discovery was a settled truth.

      Thus, it is true both of every moment and of every interval of time that if the bat is a cause acting on the ball (at that moment or over that interval), the ball is the subject of a change in its conditions. It is impossible to point to either a moment or an interval in which the bat is "cause" with respect to the ball, but the ball's state is not exhibiting a difference from its pre-bat state. It is impossible for there to be a non-zero time interval during which the bat has been already causing a change, but the ball has not yet changed in any way.

      If you want to go back to Newton, check out his Third Law (but use momentum, not “force” or “action”). Conservation of momentum still holds.

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    18. @Strawdusty,


      So, what then? Supposing I hit the cue ball with the stick. Breathing and eating in some sense caused me to move the stick. The food was in some sense caused by the sun, and the oxygen might be said to be caused by plant life, and even though all these prior causes were very obviously temporally ordered it is somehow imagined that they are all in the present at least in some ontological sense.


      Can you hold your breath and not eat while moving the stick? If so, those acts are not essential to the movement.
      If they are not essential, then they are not part of an essentially ordered series.

      Delete
    19. DoubtingJuly 12, 2017 at 10:51 AM


      "SP, some of us took high school physics."
      --Ok, and your detailed description of the process of a bat hitting a ball is generally good. It leads to the conclusion that the process is made up of as many "accidental" causal events as one arbitrarily chooses to divide the process into.

      " The motion is always during an interval of time "
      --Right, so considering an infinity of causal events requires consideration of an infinite past.

      "Thus, it is true both of every moment and of every interval of time that if the bat is a cause acting on the ball"
      --This shows some of the problem with assigning the title of "cause" to an object. The ball is equally the cause of the changes for the bat. They are mutually cause and effect of each other.


      "If you want to go back to Newton, check out his Third Law (but use momentum, not “force” or “action”). Conservation of momentum still holds. "
      --On an infinite past for matter and motion, and on inertia and the conservation of matter/energy a "sustaining cause" or a "first cause" in any respect makes no sense.

      In that case everything in the universe always has been bouncing off everything else and always will.

      The distinction between an "essential" series and an "accidental" series is pointless and of no value in asserting a supposed first mover.

      Delete
    20. bmillerJuly 12, 2017 at 7:52 PM

      "Can you hold your breath and not eat while moving the stick? If so, those acts are not essential to the movement.
      If they are not essential, then they are not part of an essentially ordered series."
      --Right, because the notion of an "essentially" ordered "series" is oxymoronic.

      In a series one thing happens and then another thing happens. That is what Thomists call "accidental".

      For any particular time period of asserted simultaneity of cause and effect one can subdivide the causal process into a past event, and a simultaneous event. Thus, simultaneity takes on the concept of an infinitesimal.

      Having reduced the notion of simultaneity to the concept of an infinitesimal it is absurd to suppose an infinity of simultaneous events is somehow necessary absent a first mover. "Accidental" events extending into an eternal existence of matter and motion fully account for our sense perception of motion.

      Now, the objection has been raised that this is a mere temporal argument against simultaneity, not a proper argument against ontological simultaneity.

      Here it is imagined, apparently, that there must exist some sort of sustaining cause, without which things would either cease to move or even cease to exist.

      That is mere nonsense.

      Why? Why must there be something that somehow sustains motion or existence? Motion sustains itself, that is called inertia. Moving things naturally continue moving.

      Existence sustains itself. That is called conservation of matter/energy.

      Aristotle lacked a consistent notion of inertia, rather, allowing for motion to naturally end, when in fact it never does, rather, it is only transformed.

      Aristotle also lacked a notion of conservation of matter/energy.

      The misunderstandings of Aristotle must not be confused with an idea that he was somehow stupid, quite obviously, just the opposite, he was absolutely brilliant for making the progress that he did in fact make so many years ago.

      What is incredible is that modern educated people still cling to his misunderstandings.

      Delete
    21. SP, since you did not respond to my point that when the bat is a cause acting on the ball, the ball is changing, the effect is simultaneous with the cause, I take it that the point is settled.

      This does not of itself prove the series of causes is what Aquinas is referring to in an essentially ordered series, but it's still progress.

      In a series one thing happens and then another thing happens. That is what Thomists call "accidental".

      No. You have missed the point.

      Delete
    22. "--Is it? In the First Way Aquinas considers and infinite regress of causes. How long is an infinity of say, nanoseconds? How long is an infinity of zero seconds? Are those two infinite summations "about equal"?"

      First of all, he is in first way considering and rejecting an infinite regress of moving causes, of movers, not of causes in general : that generalisation is for second way.

      Second, he is NOT at all dealing with time. He is dealing with causal priority as to movement (or even, as per II way, of non-movement).

      This means that whether there is or is not a delay, is not the point. He is not considering the history but the construction of a "machinery" (in movers) or "architecture" (in especially non-movers among causes, II way).

      The wheels of a car are essentially moving because of a combustion. Between the combustion and the wheels moving and the car proceding, the number of steps is in its exactness immaterial, but it is vital it is finite.

      "Every causal series is essential in that the causes are needed to get the effect. If you don't perform the cause you don't get the effect. That is hardly a "proof" of god or even evidence for a divine first mover. It just means that one thing impacts the next thing and so on. § Every causal series is a process over time."

      From combustion of petrol derived benzine or diesel to car proceeding, the series is indeed essential. But the tanking of the car at this particular gaz station or the construction of it at that factory is not essential to the wheels moving, for one thing, the car could have been tanked elsewhere or constructed elsewhere, and for another if they were essentially causing the car to roll, the car would be rolling as long as it was tanked at that station and built at that factory. Instead, it stands still quite a lot also and is even so tanked at that gaz station and built at that factory.

      Delete
    23. Contd:

      "So, by "present" you seem to mean the recent past as perceived by a human being as part of that individual's awareness of "present". Yes, I experience that as well. My brain employs short term memory and forms a conceptual model of a series of recent past events as being joined in what I perceive as "the present". § But that is a human perceptual artifact."

      From practical considerations of the car also, there seems to be a present. There is delay between a spark in the combustion motor and the exact turn of the wheel resulting of it, but it is not a real two diverse times as with tanking and rolling or getting built and rolling.

      Also, you seem to be criticising the human faculty of observing what goes on.

      That is not an argument against a specific reasoning as much as an argument against man knowing anything at all - and therefore cancels itself.

      "Please name a specific example of a causal series the calls for a divine first mover."

      In St Thomas' version : the Oceanic current moves westward because it is moved by the wind, the wind moves westward because the atmosphere is moved by the sphere of the Moon, the sphere of the Moon is moved westward by the sphere of Mercury or Venus, which is moved westward by the next one, which is moved westward by the sphere of the Sun, which is moved westward by the sphere of Mars, by the sphere of Jupiter, by the sphere of Satrun, by the sphere of fixed stars ... which great and rapid and unceasing circular movement is moved by God. The spheres are also moving there respective celestial objects, while for some of them an angel is moving these also eastward througb the sphere.

      In my version I do away with different spheres and substitute aether.

      The Oceanic current (like the one used by Columbus to reach Cuba or the one used by Thor Heyderdahl to reach Raroia or by Vital Alsar to reach Australia), itself sometimes moving a boat westward, is like the westward winds, like the moon, like the sun, like the daily position of planets around sun, like the fixed stars being moved by an aether which only God could so massively and rapidly move around Earth.

      While movements of celestial bodies in relation to aether are effected by angels.

      Delete
    24. WatchingJuly 13, 2017 at 2:26 AM

      "SP, since you did not respond to my point that when the bat is a cause acting on the ball, the ball is changing, the effect is simultaneous with the cause",
      --I responded. Perhaps you just skimmed over my response or did not digest it owing to a lack of recognition, dunno.
      **Stardusty PsycheJuly 12, 2017 at 9:39 PM
      ... your detailed description of the process of a bat hitting a ball is generally good. It leads to the conclusion that the process is made up of as many "accidental" causal events as one arbitrarily chooses to divide the process into.**

      A further response was provided below that in a message to bmiller.

      Simultaneity is limited to the concept of an infinitesimal period of time, that is, a period of time arbitrarily small.

      Beyond that cause and effect is "accidental".

      " I take it that the point is settled."
      --Indeed, the very notion of an "essential" series is illusory and pointless.


      SP In a series one thing happens and then another thing happens. That is what Thomists call "accidental".

      "No. You have missed the point. "
      --The point is that asserting "an infinite "essential" series is impossible therefore god" is equally valid with asserting "an infinite series of flying pigs pushing each other along in mid air is impossible therefore god".

      Both of those statements are pointless conjectures of mythological entities of no value and completely disconnected from any logical argument for god.

      Every series beyond the infinitesimal is "accidental". One thing happens after the next temporally and when the transfer is complete it is in the past and cannot be undone.

      Delete
    25. @Strawdusty,

      "Can you hold your breath and not eat while moving the stick? If so, those acts are not essential to the movement.
      If they are not essential, then they are not part of an essentially ordered series."
      --Right, because the notion of an "essentially" ordered "series" is oxymoronic.


      But there are some things that *are essential* to that movement. The grip of the hand on the stick for example and the motion of your arm. So those 2 things are essential for that particular movement at that particular time in that particular space making them part of that particular essentially ordered series.

      The fact that the cue was manufactured in Brunswick NJ or the fact that the cue stick was fashioned from a tree in Oregon that no longer exists are both examples of an accident order since they are not per se relevant to this particular motion at this particular time in this particular space.

      Delete
    26. bmillar, you might as well be talking to that bat made in Brunswick. SP's position reduces (had he thought it through enough) that there is no distinguishable cause because there is no such thing as a distinct motion: all motion is just the continuation of earlier motions, which are all equally random accidents. The material of the bat was acting on the ball (through gravity) from Brunswick all the way to when it arrived at Candlestick Park, and its atoms were pulling on the ball even before the bat was part of the tree in WV, they were pulling on the ball even while in the ground. The atoms of the hand were in motion long before they were atoms of a "hand", (and besides, "hand" is just an arbitrary designation of a temporary and accidental arrangement of atoms, signifying nothing), and they remain in motion due to various incidental interior and exterior events such as being slammed in a car door and being shaken by Abraham Lincoln Smith...there is no reason to separate out "hitting the ball" as if that were some kind of special bit of its long history of motion. There is no real reason to separate out "swing at the ball" from put the helmet on the head from scratch the chin from sign an autograph from punch a jerk in the face. It's one continuous stream of motion.

      This is what his position reduces to. All is accidental, your imagining that your "choosing" to hit the ball is just as much illusory as dreams, it doesn't matter what you thought you thought, and even if you did think "hit the ball" it was just random firings of neurons that followed random prior motions of the eyes, etc. There are no distinct causes, no distinct motions, no "acts" as such, only ongoing this striking that.

      Anaxagoras all over again. As if we didn't learn anything in between.

      Delete
    27. @Watching,


      bmillar, you might as well be talking to that bat made in Brunswick.


      Maybe.

      It's kind of interesting to me to see him comment over here though and mention inertia as somehow defeating the First Way after he has seen these quotes from Newton.

      The Vis inertiƦ is a passive Principle by which Bodies persist in their Motion or Rest, receive Motion in proportion to the Force impressing it, and resist as much as they are resisted. By this Principle alone there never could have been any Motion in the World. Some other Principle was necessary for putting Bodies into Motion; and now they are in Motion, some other Principle is necessary for conserving the Motion.

      From OPTICKS. Query. 31


      "All those ancients knew the first law [of motion] who attributed to atoms in an infinite vacuum a motion which was rectilinear, extremely swift and perpetual because of the lack of resistance...Aristotle was of the same mind, since he expresses his opinion thus [in On The Heavens, 3.2.301b]: 'If a body, destitute of gravity and levity, be moved, it is necessary that it be moved by an external force. And when it is once moved by a force, it will conserve its motion indefinitely'. And again in Book IV of the Physics, text 69, [i.e. Physics 4.8.215a19] speaking of motion in the void where there is no impediment he writes: 'Why a body once moved should come to rest anywhere no one can say. For why should it rest here rather than there ? Hence either it will not be moved, OR it must be moved indefinitely, unless something stronger impedes it"

      From one of Newton's Scientific Papers in The Portsmouth Collection





      Delete
    28. Hans Georg LundahlJuly 13, 2017 at 6:33 AM

      "In my version I do away with different spheres and substitute aether."

      ", like the fixed stars being moved by an aether which only God could so massively and rapidly move around Earth."

      "While movements of celestial bodies in relation to aether are effected by angels."
      --This is a joke post, right? Kind of your idea of saying things that are so absurd it is obvious that you could not possibly be serious, therefore you are being funny...right?

      Delete
    29. bmillerJuly 13, 2017 at 7:36 PM

      "It's kind of interesting to me to see him comment over here though and mention inertia as somehow defeating the First Way after he has seen these quotes from Newton."
      --Quote mining is not a meaningful argument, although it is a technique commonly employed by theists.

      Delete
    30. WatchingJuly 13, 2017 at 7:12 PM

      "This is what his position reduces to. All is accidental:
      --In the Thomistic sense of "essential" versus "accidental" every series is "accidental".

      An "essential" cause and effect relationship does not extend beyond the concept of the infinitesimal.

      Every series is a time sequence of minute causal events, each one of which is in the past immediately after it occurs.

      Bmiller kindly provided a link showing that Aristotle concluded the following:
      1. Matter is eternal.
      2. Motion is eternal.

      A mistake of Aristotle was thinking that motion can, in some circumstances, be ended, that matter would naturally come to rest.

      On that misunderstanding it would make sense to argue for a first mover. In that case something would be needed to continually prevent the motion we observe from grinding to a halt.

      What Aristotle failed to understand is.
      3. Motion continues by inertia under all circumstances. Motion is never lost, only transformed.
      4. Matter/energy are conserved.

      Given eternal matter, eternal motion, inertia, and conservation there is no need for a first mover in any sense.

      In the case of 1, 2, 3, and 4 causation is eternal, motion is eternal, and nothing else is needed to sustain it because it is self sustaining, hence no temporal first mover and no ontological first mover is needed.

      Delete
    31. @Strawdusty,

      --Quote mining is not a meaningful argument, although it is a technique commonly employed by theists.

      Actually, quoting primary sources is considered providing evidence for one's position. Something you have failed to do regarding your misunderstanding of what you thought Aristotle thought.

      However, the quotes I provided contained references to the primary sources that one could easily verify if one was interested. Opticks and Aristotle's 2 works are available online for free.

      Delete
    32. bmillerJuly 14, 2017 at 6:21 AM

      "Actually, quoting primary sources is considered providing evidence for one's position."
      --Quote mining Newton about Aristotle is irrelevant to the logical validity of the First Way, it is just a typical theistic diversionary tactic for those incapable of forming a cohesive argument in their own words.

      You are the one who quoted Aristotle as thinking:
      1. Matter is eternal.
      2. Motion is eternal.

      And again, just because Aristotle thought something doesn't much matter, except that we know Aquinas had an Aristotelian world view and so it is likely that if Aristotle asserted something Aquinas would agree and write the First Way accordingly.

      A mistake of Aristotle was thinking that motion can, in some circumstances, be ended, that matter would naturally come to rest.

      On that misunderstanding it would make sense to argue for a first mover. In that case something would be needed to continually prevent the motion we observe from grinding to a halt.

      What Aristotle failed to understand is.
      3. Motion continues by inertia under all circumstances. Motion is never lost, only transformed.
      4. Matter/energy are conserved.

      Given eternal matter, eternal motion, inertia, and conservation there is no need for a first mover in any sense.

      In the case of 1, 2, 3, and 4 causation is eternal, motion is eternal, and nothing else is needed to sustain it because it is self sustaining, hence no temporal first mover and no ontological first mover is needed.

      "Aristotle believed in an eternal universe, and felt it was necessary to have a mechanism that would explain why the things in the universe have not settled into a final resting state."
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unmoved_mover

      Aristotle's mistake, and thus Aquinas's mistake, was in thinking things would settle into a final resting place. They were wrong, and thus Aquinas wrote the First Way on an erroneous world view.

      Inertia and conservation eliminate the need for a first mover given an eternal universe. On an eternal universe a causal series does extend to infinity and there is no need for a mover to sustain motion.

      Instead of posting irrelevant quote mining it might be interesting if you could use your own words to show how a first mover is needed on an eternal universe with eternal motion, inertia, and conservation.

      Delete
    33. I guess someone has no idea what Quote mining is.

      He also point to someone and says that what this guy says is the definition the thomists use, but is it? The paper gives no evidence of that, it simply states it is...

      Days gone with this idiot using a bad definition.

      BMiller, stop hurting yourself, let Stardusty talk to himself.

      Delete
    34. @Strawdusty,

      --Quote mining Newton about Aristotle is irrelevant to the logical validity of the First Way, it is just a typical theistic diversionary tactic for those incapable of forming a cohesive argument in their own words.


      So providing evidence for one's position by quoting from original sources and providing the context is a theistic tactic....making it bad.


      Bmiller kindly provided a link showing that Aristotle concluded the following:
      1. Matter is eternal.
      2. Motion is eternal.


      But in this case providing quotes indicating primary sources is a *good* thing, kind even. Very confusing.


      "Aristotle believed in an eternal universe, and felt it was necessary to have a mechanism that would explain why the things in the universe have not settled into a final resting state."
      https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unmoved_mover


      Hmmm. This has been defined as "quote mining" which is a "typical theistic diversionary tactic". You must be a theist then. ☺

      More later.

      Delete
    35. @Eduardo

      BMiller, stop hurting yourself, let Stardusty talk to himself.

      I've considered that perspective over 7 months of discussion with him regarding the First Way at Victor Reppert's blog. I came to some conclusions.

      1) I will never convince him.
      2) It is not my job to convince him, but only to let him know my reasons for my convictions.
      3) I don't know everything. Are there arguments I haven't heard? As a consequence, I've researched and read more in this area than ever before. It gave me an incentive to do that. It's a plus for me.
      4) Do I want a positive outcome for him? Yes. So why not continue as long as he does?
      5) What can I do to move that along? Nothing so far, but still thinking. I am hampered by my almost irresitable temptation for sarcasm. Maybe that is what God wants to purge me of (Please God don't let it be that! ☹)
      6) Somehow, I don't feel a need to cease. Perhaps the Unmoved Mover?

      Delete
    36. @Strawdusty,

      What Aristotle failed to understand is.
      3. Motion continues by inertia under all circumstances. Motion is never lost, only transformed.


      This statement seems to indicate an equivocation. For Newton and Aristotle addressing a particular terrestial body in a particular refrence frame, it could be at rest as stated in the First Law of Motion. But in another sense, when bodies collide, momentum (or what was earlier called impetus) is transferred from one body to another. In the first case a single body is under discussion and in the second case multiple bodies are.


      4. Matter/energy are conserved.


      Why should it be?


      Aristotle's mistake, and thus Aquinas's mistake, was in thinking things would settle into a final resting place. They were wrong, and thus Aquinas wrote the First Way on an erroneous world view.


      But they did not hold that view. The Wikipedia quote is wrong.


      Inertia and conservation eliminate the need for a first mover given an eternal universe.

      Inertia is considered an inherent part of the nature of a material body. AT philosophy calls the nature of a thing the *form* of a thing. Material things can move either violently as when objects collide or naturally according to their form. When a thing is moved violently, it is the other thing causing the motion (from the perspective of the first thing). When a thing moves according to it's nature, it's form is immediately responsible for the motion, but ultimately the thing that generates the form is responsible. For things come into existence and go out of existence so there must be something ultimately responsible for combining matter and form and keeping them combined during their time of existence.

      Delete
    37. bmillerJuly 15, 2017 at 12:45 PM

      SP What Aristotle failed to understand is.
      3. Motion continues by inertia under all circumstances. Motion is never lost, only transformed.

      "This statement seems to indicate an equivocation."
      --Only to a person who doesn't understand a collision.

      " In the first case a single body is under discussion"
      --Right, the moving body.

      "and in the second case multiple bodies are."
      --Right, the bodies to which the motion was transferred, as it always is, thus never lost.

      Aristotle did not understand that. He had no concept of heat as kinetic energy, or the transfer of kinetic energy from an object on Earth to the kinetic energy of Earth, or of light as a moving electromagnetic packet.


      "Inertia is considered an inherent part of the nature of a material body. AT philosophy calls the nature of a thing the *form* of a thing. Material things can move either violently as when objects collide or naturally according to their form. When a thing is moved violently, it is the other thing causing the motion (from the perspective of the first thing). When a thing moves according to it's nature, it's form is immediately responsible for the motion, but ultimately the thing that generates the form is responsible."
      --What utter muddled nonsense. How does this gibberish map onto modern science? It doesn't.

      " For things come into existence and go out of existence "
      --Matter/energy is conserved, it is only transformed, not coming in and out of existence, only changing arrangements over time.

      "so there must be something ultimately responsible for combining matter and form and keeping them combined during their time of existence."
      --Not on an eternal universe with eternal motion, no, there is no necessity for a first mover to account for the origin of motion.

      On inertia and conservation there is no need for an ontological first mover to account for motion or existence in the present moment.

      Intermolecular forces are sufficient to account for the macro objects we observe and their changes in arrangement, thus no form crafting mover is required.

      Subatomic forces are sufficient to account for intermolecular forces, again, no first mover in any sense is required.

      Delete
    38. --What utter muddled nonsense. How does this gibberish map onto modern science? It doesn't.

      ------------------------------------

      Which Translates to: Dude, I have no idea what you talking about. You have not speaking in a way I see in "Science", so you must be wrong.

      Delete
    39. @Strawdusty,

      " In the first case a single body is under discussion"
      --Right, the moving body.


      Or the body could be at rest.

      Here is the First Law of Motion from the Principia:

      LAW I.

      Every body perseveres in its state of rest, or of uniform motion in a right
      line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed
      thereon.


      But now you've further qualified your statement to say you only meant collisions.

      "and in the second case multiple bodies are."
      --Right, the bodies to which the motion was transferred, as it always is, thus never lost.


      Yes, impetus was the notion before finally being codified by Newton.


      Aristotle did not understand that. He had no concept of heat as kinetic energy, or the transfer of kinetic energy from an object on Earth to the kinetic energy of Earth, or of light as a moving electromagnetic packet.


      Aristotle and Newton were in substantially agreement wrt what caused things to stop on earth. Resistance or friction. And what would keep them in motion extra terrestrially. Their inherent nature. Modern concepts of kinetic energy or electromagnetism were not part of the discussion of Newton's First Law, so bringing it up here is irrelevant.

      --What utter muddled nonsense. How does this gibberish map onto modern science? It doesn't.

      Science, as studied today, does not seek ultimate causes. It's more about making accurate predictions to improve technology. Philosophy or philosophy of science are the areas where this is considered.

      " For things come into existence and go out of existence "
      --Matter/energy is conserved, it is only transformed, not coming in and out of existence, only changing arrangements over time.


      But stars and planets come into existence and pass out of existence as do rivers, trees, animals molecules etc. Yes, those things have matter, but they also have particular natures or forms unique to the type of material thing it is. That's how we can tell a dog from a cat. They certainly come into existence and pass away.

      Intermolecular forces are sufficient to account for the macro objects we observe and their changes in arrangement, thus no form crafting mover is required.

      The same intermolecular forces are present in a dog and a cat. Yet they are 2 different types of things, so yes, there has to be something other than mere subatomic and intermolecular forces as the explanation.

      Delete
    40. EduardoJuly 15, 2017 at 5:56 PM

      "Which Translates to: Dude, I have no idea what you talking about. You have not speaking in a way I see in "Science", so you must be wrong."
      --When a speaker offers a series of words based on confused or disjointed notions it is indeed very difficult to make sense of it, for the simple reason that it does not make sense.

      Oh, one can pick out some words here and there and grasp some scattered assertions in isolation, but it is not possible to make sense of the whole because no sensible whole has been presented.

      I did, however, find this by Feser:
      "Edwards does realize that Aquinas is not arguing that the universe must have had a beginning – that the first cause he is arguing for is “first” not in a temporal sense, but in an ontological sense, a sustaining cause of the world here and now and at any moment at which the world exists at all."
      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/08/edwards-on-infinite-causal-series.html

      Where is the justification for the necessity of such a sustaining cause at all?

      And what is it that supposedly is being sustained at each moment? Motion, existence, both?

      On modern science inertia sustains motion, in other words, the motion of an object is self sustaining. Newton built upon Galileo to express this mathematically and it has been updated in modern science.

      On modern science matter/energy are conserved. This has been expressed in many ways, both in the sense that we do not observe something from nothing, and we also do not observe nothing from something. E=mc^2 is just one of many expressions of conservation, absent any poof term. Thus, on conservation, existence is self sustaining and requires no ontological mover.

      So why need there be an ontological series at all, much less an infinite ontological series?

      Lacking the necessity for an ontological series, there is no need for an ontological first mover, and thus the first way falls apart upon inertia and conservation.

      Delete
    41. bmillerJuly 15, 2017 at 7:04 PM

      "But stars and planets come into existence and pass out of existence as do rivers, trees, animals molecules etc. Yes, those things have matter, but they also have particular natures or forms unique to the type of material thing it is. That's how we can tell a dog from a cat. They certainly come into existence and pass away."
      --Those are mere rearrangements of conserved matter/energy. No material stuff comes into or out of existence in the process of those rearrangements.

      "The same intermolecular forces are present in a dog and a cat. Yet they are 2 different types of things, so yes, there has to be something other than mere subatomic and intermolecular forces as the explanation."
      --What rational analysis process did you follow to come to that conclusion?

      The intermolecular forces are the same general sorts of forces in all the stuff we observe, say dogs versus cats. The difference is in the arrangements.

      Are you familiar with Avagadro's number? It is about 6*10^23. So that many carbon atoms has a mass of about 12 grams. You can estimate the number of atoms in an object using Avagadro's number, and typically the number is on the order of 10^25 for ordinary daily medium size objects, like a cat or a dog.

      There are 92 natural elements. The number of different sorts of molecules is enormous because there are so many possible arrangements of atoms in combination.

      So, with the same basic principles, applied in so many different combinations some 10^25 times one gets the difference between a cat and a dog.

      The idea that a cat versus a dog requires some sort of "something other" than intermolecular forces to explain their differences only shows your fundamental lack of science education.

      But you seem to consider yourself if not an expert on Aristotle and Aquinas, at least a serious student of them. What is the explanation for the necessity of an ontological series at all?

      I can find almost nothing by any author on this subject, undoubtedly because the very notion of an ontological series is entirely without merit.

      I did, however, find this by Feser:
      "Edwards does realize that Aquinas is not arguing that the universe must have had a beginning – that the first cause he is arguing for is “first” not in a temporal sense, but in an ontological sense, a sustaining cause of the world here and now and at any moment at which the world exists at all."
      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/08/edwards-on-infinite-causal-series.html

      So, Feser strongly asserts that Aquinas is referring to the need for a "sustaining cause of the world here and now"

      Why? Why must there be a "sustaining cause of the world here and now"? Is it imagined that without a sustaining cause everything in the universe will suddenly come to a halt? Or everything will just fall apart? Or everything will just disappear?

      Why?

      Inertia says motion continues on its own. Motion is self sustaining on inertia, therefore there is no need for a sustaining cause for motion on inertia.

      Conservation says matter/energy persists on its own, it does not just pop out of existence, or pop into existence, out of nothing nothing comes, matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed. So, on conservation there is no need for a sustaining cause for existence.

      Thus, on inertia and conservation there is no need for an ontological series at all, no need for a sustaining cause at all, much less an infinite regression of ontological causes.

      Since the assertion of the need for an ontological cause is central to the First Way, and since inertia and conservation eliminate the need for any ontological cause, then inertia and conservation render the First Way false, irrelevant, null, and void.

      Perhaps you, being at least a serious student on this subject, can find some references that specifically demonstrate how an ontological series is necessary at all on inertia and conservation.

      Delete
    42. @Strawdusty,

      The difference is in the arrangements.

      Yes, the arrangements are different making them different types of things that look and behave in different manners. This is what a form is. Cats, dogs and you do not have the same cells they started out life with. The thing that persists in material things over their time of existence is what a form is. Although at any particular point in the time of their existence they may only have actualized part of their potential as when an oak tree is no longer an acorn but is not yet a mature oak.

      Inertia says motion continues on its own. Motion is self sustaining on inertia, therefore there is no need for a sustaining cause for motion on inertia.

      Inertia cannot speak and motion cannot continue on it's own. Neither of them are material things and both require actually existing material things to be observed. Actually existing material things are ontologically prior to and necessary for them to be observed.

      Conservation says matter/energy persists on its own, it does not just pop out of existence, or pop into existence, out of nothing nothing comes, matter/energy cannot be created or destroyed. So, on conservation there is no need for a sustaining cause for existence.

      Conservation does not say "matter/energy persists on its own".

      You can find this definition in this article from Wikipedia.
      "A conservation law states that some quantity X in the mathematical description of a system's evolution remains constant throughout its motion — it is an invariant."

      So in the case of energy conservation, a quantity of the mathematical description of the system is invariant throughout its motion (kinetic energy or whatever form it takes). What keeps the actual material things in existence that make up that system is not part of the definition or investigation.

      To summarize, energy conservation relates to a mathematically modeled quantity used to describe the motion of material objects, but not the ontology of the material objects themselves. Similarly, inertia is a property of the form of material substances and does not exist independently of a material thing composed of form and matter (ontologically existant)

      So now you can see how ontology enters the picture. Materials thing must be ontologically prior to motion and material things are composed of matter and form.

      Delete
    43. bmillerJuly 16, 2017 at 1:40 PM

      "motion cannot continue on it's own. "
      --Motion is always of some thing. To say motion continues on its own necessarily refers to the motion of some thing continuing on its own.

      Basic language use.

      "Conservation does not say "matter/energy persists on its own"."
      --Of course it does. The technical definition or mathematical expressions of conservation are accurately summarized by my statement.

      Basic language use.

      "To summarize, energy conservation relates to a mathematically modeled quantity used to describe the motion of material objects, but not the ontology of the material objects themselves."
      --Now you are bringing up material existential ontology, but the First Way is supposedly about the ontology of motion, or more broadly, change.

      Try to stick to the subject, "taking Aquinas seriously", in this case the assertion of the necessity for a causal ontological series, the asserted necessity of the existence in the present moment of a series of a sustaining cause and effect.

      If you want to broaden this to material existential ontology, that is something I have yet to hear read into the First Way by apologists, but is no problem on an eternal universe, which negates the claim of Aquinas of not infinity in the temporal existential sense.

      " (ontologically existant)"
      --That is not the ontology purported to be called for in the First Way, but on conservation and an eternal universe Aquinas is falsified in that regard as well.

      "So now you can see how ontology enters the picture."
      --I already knew that. You have introduced nothing new to me, answered nothing, and supported Aquinas in no way.

      " Materials thing must be ontologically prior to motion and material things are composed of matter and form."
      --Which is irrelevant to the asserted reasoning behind the First Way, the supposed necessity of an ontological causal series, a so called "essential" series of sustaining causes in the present moment.

      So, you have not answered why a causal ontological series is called for at all, much less an infinite ontological causal series.

      Motion does not need to be sustained. On inertia motion is self sustaining. (Translation for those needing it: an object moving in uniform motion will continue moving in uniform motion without any external force applied to it or any additional transfer of energy to it, and is thus self sustaining and requires no external sustaining mover).

      Material existence does not need to be sustained. On conservation material existence continues on its own (Translation for those needing it: matter/energy are conserved, an object composed of matter/energy does not spontaneously disappear from existence. In any closed interaction between objects composed of matter/energy the total amount of matter/energy remains constant, thus the existence of matter/energy is self sustaining and requires no external existentially sustaining mover.)

      Thus, the very notion of an ontological causal series is incoherent. On inertia and conservation there is no need for a sustaining cause.

      Thus the first way as it pertains to an assertion of the necessity of an ontological series, a so called "essential series", that, as Feser says is "a sustaining cause of the world here and now and at any moment at which the world exists at all" is falsified and rendered irrelevant and incoherent on inertia and conservation of matter/energy.

      Can you provide any link to a source that shows how the assertion of a causal ontological series is in any way coherent on inertia and conservation of matter/energy? I can't find any such link so I think that is due to the simple fact that this Thomistic notion is incoherent on modern science, so nobody even attempts to support it.

      Delete
    44. @Strawdusty,

      "motion cannot continue on it's own."
      --Motion is always of some thing. To say motion continues on its own necessarily refers to the motion of some thing continuing on its own.


      I think we are in agreement. It is necessary for a material thing to exist for there to be motion.

      "Conservation does not say "matter/energy persists on its own"."
      --Of course it does. The technical definition or mathematical expressions of conservation are accurately summarized by my statement.


      "A conservation law states that some quantity X in the mathematical description of a system's evolution remains constant throughout its motion — it is an invariant."

      Noether's theorem refers to a quantity of a mathematical description of a system's evolution. It describes an abstraction of an observation of what matter does while moving, not that matter itself must be preserved. While matter exists and is moving in a closed system, this abstracted quantity has been observed to be invariant. You seem to be confusing what matter does with what it is.

      "To summarize, energy conservation relates to a mathematically modeled quantity used to describe the motion of material objects, but not the ontology of the material objects themselves."
      --Now you are bringing up material existential ontology, but the First Way is supposedly about the ontology of motion, or more broadly, change.


      The First Way starts by observing that material things are in motion. That material things don't move themselves so, if moving, need some existent thing to be moving them. If that existent thing also is in motion, it then needs also needs an existent thing to move it and so on. But this series of existent things causing the present motion yet being moved cannot go on to an infinite number of such things and so this series of existent things must end in an existent thing that is not moving...the Unmoved Mover.

      This is apparent from the version of the First Way from SCG:

      For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality.

      Only an actually existent thing can be causing another thing to be moving from potentiality to actuality. If it does not actually exist, no motion. If it only potentially exists, no motion.

      So the First Way is about the motion of existent things. The things we observe are composed of matter and form. If a thing moves naturally, it moves as a result of it's nature or form and ultimately what sustains that nature and form. If a thing is moved violently by another material thing, then there could be a series of these material moving movers, but they cannot go to an infinite number as shown above.

      Try to stick to the subject,

      This is the subject. Things moving.

      If you want to broaden this to material existential ontology, that is something I have yet to hear read into the First Way by apologists, but is no problem on an eternal universe, which negates the claim of Aquinas of not infinity in the temporal existential sense.

      The series of moving movers refers to motion happening in the present. There cannot be an infinite number of moving movers in the universe responsible for a particular motion at the present moment for a number of reasons. You've heard the one about how a series of things unable to move themselves need a first mover, but another reason AT gives is the impossibility of an infinite number of things to effect movement of the entire chain in a finite amount of time leaving the entire mobile motionless.

      Delete
    45. Continued:

      So, you have not answered why a causal ontological series is called for at all, much less an infinite ontological causal series.

      Please read the blogs as Eduardo suggests or buy Aquinas by Dr Feser. It appears you have it exactly backwards as the argument specifically rules out an infinite series of inert existent things causing motion.

      Can you provide any link to a source that shows how the assertion of a causal ontological series is in any way coherent on inertia and conservation of matter/energy? I can't find any such link so I think that is due to the simple fact that this Thomistic notion is incoherent on modern science, so nobody even attempts to support it.

      Actually over the course of 7 months on Victor Reppert's blog several of us have linked to several of Dr Feser's posts on inertia, but at >2000 comments to look through I will decline to do that.
      But if you simply type "inertia" in the little search bar at the top left of the screen, you will find a cornucopia of posts on the topic.

      I suggest you read the series Dr Feser had with Professor Robert Oerter. You will find one in the series titled "Oerter on motion and the First Mover" in your search results.

      Delete
    46. Continued:

      Actually, the very first post brought up in the search will be provide more than enough material as it provides relevant links from 2012 back.

      Delete
    47. stardusty in a nutshell: "science says this so it must be true you can't go against the holiness of science the only way to absolute truth, all hail science!!!!" *goes on to spew irrelevant scientific facts that have nothing to do with the subject at hand*

      :)

      Delete
    48. bmillerJuly 16, 2017 at 5:19 PM

      "I suggest you read the series Dr Feser had with Professor Robert Oerter."

      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/06/oerter-on-motion-and-first-mover.html
      In this article a number of erroneous Aristotelian notions are expressed.

      Every causal series is “accidental” and temporal. On relativity causal influences propagate no faster than c. In ordinary terrestrial events the motion of objects from place to place progress much slower than c.

      Feser cites the hand moving the stick moving the rock, in a typically truncated regression analysis of causation. He seems to not realize that the hand has no power to move “on its own” either, depending on tendons to do so, which in turn depend on muscles, which in in turn depend on blood flow which in turn depends on the heart pumping, which in turn depends on respiration…all in a temporal “accidental” series.

      At any point if the previous cause were to suddenly disappear the effect would not be undone, only imagined further effects would not actually occur. This is how every causal series works.

      The illusion of simultaneity extends no further than the concept of the infinitesimal. The notion of instrumentality does not stop at any arbitrary point in the causal regression. Every causal regression is temporal.

      Such are some fundamentals of causation the Aristotelian does not understand.

      Feser continues, “What I said was that even if we allow (at least for the sake of argument) that Newton’s law accounts for local motion (i.e. change of place) of a uniform rectilinear sort, there are still other kinds of change that it would not account for.”

      All change requires motion, a physical movement of something from one place to another place.. This is yet another fundamental fact that seems to not be understood by the Aristotelian. A change of color, taste, texture, temperature, volume, shape, sound…any sort of change whatsoever requires physical positional change motion. If Aristotelian arguments do not work for motion they do not work at all.

      He further asserts, “Now it is essentially ordered series rather than accidentally ordered series that necessarily have a first member. But “first” here doesn’t mean “the member that comes at the head of the line, before the second, third, fourth, etc.” Rather, “first” means “fundamental” or “underived.””. Here the Aristotelian contradicts himself in just a few sentences.

      Since it is asserted that an “accidental” series does not require a first cause, and every series is an accidental series when fully analyzed, no series requires a first cause. To attempt to locate this asserted “fundamental” cause one must necessarily examine a temporal regress of causes, such as rock, stick, hand, tendon, muscle, blood, heart, respiration, oxygen, plant life, sun, big bang. Clearly this is an “accidental” temporal series and to stop the regression analysis at any particular point is purely arbitrary.

      Delete
    49. (cont)

      Feser’s treatment of inertia contains, “But my point was that the principle of causality is talking about any actualization of potential, while Newton’s law (a) is talking only about local motion specifically and (b) by itself says nothing one way or the other about whether local motion involves the actualization of potential. “”

      Science did not stop at Newton. The study of motion, inertia, acceleration, energy, matter, and the propagation of causal influences did not stop at Newton. Force equals mass times acceleration (classically, relativity modifies this but keeps this fundamental relationship as a limit case). Kinetic energy, like all energy, is conserved (classically, relativity modifies this with E=mc^2 to the more general matter/energy is conserved). An object in uniform motion is not itself changing. This is not a statement of “nothing one way or the other” , rather, it is a clear statement against the “actualization” of a “potential” on an ongoing basis for an object in uniform motion.

      Inertia and conservation “laws” explicitly state the change in kinetic energy of an object in uniform motion is zero. Feser does not understand, apparently, this fundamental fact of modern science.

      On the modern “laws” of motion there is no change to an object in uniform motion, and thus there is no need for an ontological cause at all, no need for a sustaining mover, much less an infinite series of movers to be considered, rejected, and replaced in the imagination with a finite series of movers with an imagined terminus further imagined to be God. That is a very great deal of imagining.

      Other “kinds of change” are accounted for with other sorts of motions. Clearly space does not permit a thorough examination of the whole of modern physics, but for example, the change of color requires electromagnetic radiation in motion, change in temperature is the change in average molecular motion, and on and on.

      Conservation of matter/energy negates any sort of necessity for a first mover in the ontological sense, in the sense of a sustaining cause in the here and now. To merely persist in existence is to not change and not change requires no changer. To merely persist in existence requires no motion and no motion requires no mover. To merely persist in uniform motion is no change for the object in motion, and thus requires no changer.

      On the modern science of motion and conservation of matter/energy there is no call for an ontological mover at all, no need for a sustaining cause, much less a series of causes terminating in a first mover, the whole series somehow thought of as not temporal and not “accidental” only because of an arbitrarily truncated regression analysis.

      Delete
    50. @Strawdusty,

      Every causal series is “accidental” and temporal. On relativity causal influences propagate no faster than c. In ordinary terrestrial events the motion of objects from place to place progress much slower than c.

      Then you still don't understand what an essentially ordered series is. The speed of propagation of a change of motion is irrelevant to the argument. As I mentioned AT uses speed of propagation of a change of motion as an argument against an infinite regress of moving movers.

      He seems to not realize that the hand has no power to move “on its own” either,

      Keep reading. The example is just an analogy and Dr. Feser has considered this concern and addressed it. Aquinas comes to mind.

      …all in a temporal “accidental” series.

      At any point if the previous cause were to suddenly disappear the effect would not be undone, only imagined further effects would not actually occur. This is how every causal series works.


      If any particular moving mover in an essentially ordered series were removed, then the latter members of the series would no longer be in the process of being moved violently and if movement continued it would be due to the natural motion inherent to the form of the individual material objects. In effect your example ends the motion of a particular essentially ordered series of movers.

      Consider the deceased father of the man moving the stick. In some sense he could be considered responsible for that particular motion since his temporally prior existence was responsible for the man and the man responsible for the motion. He no longer exists, yet the stick moves. Does modern physics include the man's non-existent father in free body diagrams to compute the force being applied to the rock? The father could be considered part of an accidentally ordered series responsible for the motion, but not essential to it presently.

      This and your later examples fail to take this distinction into account when you mention such things as "plant life" as part of the hand-stick-rock series.

      A change of color, taste,....If Aristotelian arguments do not work for motion they do not work at all.

      But you answered yourself. Newtonian inertia relates to only one type of change for both Newton and Aristotle, not all types of change as you acknowledge later:

      Other “kinds of change” are accounted for with other sorts of motions. Clearly space does not permit a thorough examination of the whole of modern physics

      End of Part 1.

      Delete
    51. Continued

      Part 2

      He further asserts, “Now it is essentially ordered series .....Here the Aristotelian contradicts himself in just a few sentences.

      Since it is asserted that an “accidental” series does not require a first cause, and every series is an accidental series when fully analyzed, no series requires a first cause.


      But "every series is not an accidental series when fully analyzed" (my not). As shown from above and from the article itself. You've not engaged with instrumental causality at all.

      ...An object in uniform motion is not itself changing...

      That entire paragraph was very hard to find a point in so I gave up. It makes it doubly difficult to understand when you say something in motion is not changing.

      Inertia and conservation “laws” explicitly state the change in kinetic energy of an object in uniform motion is zero. Feser does not understand, apparently, this fundamental fact of modern science.

      I'm pretty sure he does. Don't know why you think differently.

      On the modern “laws” of motion there is no change to an object in uniform motion, and thus there is no need for an ontological cause at all, no need for a sustaining mover, much less an infinite series of movers to be considered, rejected, and replaced in the imagination with a finite series of movers with an imagined terminus further imagined to be God. That is a very great deal of imagining.


      It seems you must be using words in a different manner than Thomists would recognize. Maybe it would help if you supplied your personal defitions of "ontological cause" and "sustaining mover". The rest about imagining this and imagining that must be in your imagination.

      Conservation of matter/energy negates any sort of necessity for a first mover in the ontological sense, in the sense of a sustaining cause in the here and now.

      The form of material objects must be sustained in order for there to be material things that move and thereby allow matter/energy to be observed to move.


      To merely persist in existence is to not change and not change requires no changer.
      To merely persist in existence requires no motion and no motion requires no mover.


      To exist, a material thing must come into existence as the combination of form and matter, be sustained as a combination of form and matter throughout it's existence and when form and matter separate, it passes out of existence.


      To merely persist in uniform motion is no change for the object in motion, and thus requires no changer.


      As I mentioned above "It makes it doubly difficult to understand when you say something in motion is not changing."

      "On the modern science of motion and conservation of matter/energy " matter/energy must actually exist for there to be any "conservation" of any motion of those things. What do you think the term "ontology" means? It looks like you are using it incorrectly.
      Material things exist as a combination of matter and form. As material things in a particular form, they behave in particular ways. One particular way is that they move in space according to their form....(Insert Newton's Laws of Motion here depending on the case relevant to classical physics).

      Delete
    52. bmillerJuly 18, 2017 at 7:53 PM

      "Consider the deceased father of the man moving the stick."
      --Ok, let's

      " He no longer exists, yet the stick moves."
      --The same can be said for each individual oxygen molecule that is now rearranged as carbon dioxide. The same can be said for each individual heartbeat. The same can be said for each individual red blood cell's store of oxygen in the muscle, the same can be said for each nanometer of motion of the muscles, then of the tendons, then of the hand.

      They are all in the past, thus all "accidental".

      The only thing in the present is the infinitesimal exchange of mutual cause and effect.

      Every series is an "accidental" series.

      The illusion of an "essential" series is due to limitations of human perception, the inclination of human beings to assign titles to things as "cause" and "effect", the brain process that builds a model of recent past events and imagined future events then blends them together in a perception of "the present", the low spatial resolution of human perception, and the low temporal resolution of human perception.

      It is the Aristotelian who profoundly misunderstands by failing to come to terms with all these factors that demonstrate conclusively that every series is an "accidental" series and the perception of an "essential" series is a symptom of not yet having overcome this confluence of illusory human perceptual artifacts.

      Delete
    53. @Strawdusty,

      " He no longer exists, yet the stick moves."
      --The same can be said for each individual oxygen molecule that is now rearranged as carbon dioxide.


      What is the force applied to the stick by the non-existent father according to modern physics?

      Regarding the individual parts and respiration of the man moving the stick, they may all be essential to the movement, but only because they are part of his form and matter in motion changing the stick from potentially moving in one particular way to actually moving in that particular way. The father, being non-existent is not part of that motion.

      The illusion of an "essential" series is due to limitations of human perception, the inclination of human beings to assign titles to things as "cause" and "effect", the brain process that builds a model of recent past events and imagined future events then blends them together in a perception of "the present", the low spatial resolution of human perception, and the low temporal resolution of human perception.

      I highly doubt you live your life as if there is no cause and effect or you have no concept of "now". Science is certainly built on these concepts whether you accept them or not. Apex of the light cone and all that in modern science.

      So on the one hand you accuse AT of violating science wrt to cause, effect and time. But you end up accusing both AT and science of violating your particular fantasy wrt cause, effect and time not any real disagreement between AT and science.

      Delete
    54. bmillerJuly 19, 2017 at 5:39 AM


      "Regarding the individual parts and respiration of the man moving the stick, they may all be essential to the movement, "
      --They were essential in the common sense of being instrumental, not in the Aristotelian sense.

      The great grandfather, the grand father, and the previous heartbeat were all instrumental in that particular man moving that particular stick some particular amount.

      Removing any one of those causal "agents" prior to their propagation of causal influence would have prevented the effect.

      Removing any one of those causal "agents" after they propagated their causal influence does not undo their effect.

      The grandfather and the previous heartbeat and the previous nanometer of muscular contraction are all part of an accidental series.

      Every series is an accidental series.


      " The father, being non-existent is not part of that motion."
      --The father had an "accidental" causal influence on the motion. So did every other aspect of the body of the man. To distinguish between these elements is arbitrary and false.

      Every series is an "accidental" series. When you learn to analyze causal propagation carefully you will learn this simple fact.

      Consider the father, as you wish. What happened with the father?

      He had sex with the mother, and in physical motion muscles contracted to pump a fluid, in physical motion cells swam and joined, intermolecular forces caused a chemical reaction of DNA joining, cells multiplied with duplicate chemical reactions due to intermolecular forces, a young heart began to beat, blood cells were pumped, and pumped, and pumped, until one day a particular blood cell was pumped to a particular muscle to deliver some molecules of oxygen that propagated the chemical energy that moved the stick a particular nanometer.

      All in an unbroken "accidental" series.

      So what if the father died? Fine, so what if that red blood cell died? That delivery was the last delivery that cell ever made. That cell no longer exists as a living cell, so it's contribution to motion, by your criteria of death of the contributor, was accidental, just like the propagation by physical forces of his causal influence of the father.

      Your distinction between any particular element in this "accidental" series is arbitrary and false.

      Every contributory causal influence is "accidental". Remove any one of them prior to causal influence propagation and the influence is not propagated, of course. Remove any one of them after their influence is propagated and that removal is irrelevant to that propagation, of course. No distinction can be made as to the "accidental" nature of any causal element at any time.

      Every causal series is an "accidental" series.

      Delete
    55. why are you people responding to this fool? he's a troll that's been around for a while.

      Delete
    56. @Strawdusty,

      "Regarding the individual parts and respiration of the man moving the stick, they may all be essential to the movement, "
      --They were essential in the common sense of being instrumental, not in the Aristotelian sense.


      Actually the action of the man depends on his form which is essential to the movement. The Aristotelian sense of an essentially ordered instrumental series is is the common sense concept of an instrumental series operating in the present.

      The great grandfather, the grand father, and the previous heartbeat were all instrumental in that particular man moving that particular stick some particular amount.

      If that is so, then please give me the physically quantified amount of force physics claims is being supplied by each of them during the motion of that particular amount.

      Perhaps one could attribute some portion of the force to a particular heartbeat of the man since that is part of the activity of the existing form of the man. But the the previous deceased generations of male parents do not exist as material entities and so cannot affect material things. "Dead men tell no tales" I've heard.

      Non existent things cannot cause change.

      Delete
    57. bmillerJuly 19, 2017 at 9:36 AM

      " concept of an instrumental series operating in the present."
      --There can be no series in the present moment. An instrumental series is necessarily temporal, a process sequence over time.

      "Non existent things cannot cause change."
      --Presently non-existent arrangements of matter/energy caused change in the past that are part of an "accidental" series.

      Every series is an "accidental" series.

      An object in an "accidental" series may or may not presently exist in approximately the same arrangement.

      The present form of the object is irrelevant to the causal influence it had in the past that is part of a series of instrumental causal influences leading up to a causal influence in the present.

      Every series follows a time sequence of events and is thus "accidental".

      There is no necessity for an ontological series terminating in a first mover, a sustaining cause in the present.

      Not only is every causal series necessarily a time sequence of events and therefore "accidental" there is simply no need for a first mover in the ontological sense, in the sense of a sustaining cause for motion or for existence.

      To merely persist in existence is no change, and no change requires no changer.

      To merely persist in existence is no motion, and no motion requires no mover.

      To merely persist in uniform motion is no change for the object in uniform motion, and no change requires no changer.

      No ontological series is needed at all, and thus no first mover is required, making the core assertion of the First Way, not infinity, irrelevant in the ontological sense.

      Delete
    58. @Strawdusty,

      " concept of an instrumental series operating in the present."
      --There can be no series in the present moment. An instrumental series is necessarily temporal, a process sequence over time.


      Do things stop motion at the "now" moment then? Or does the force of the hand moving the stick moving the stone flow continuously through time? Regardless, a man's deceased great grandfather either is part of that force or he is not. If he is, then what percentage of the total Newtons of force is each paternal ancestor responsible for? We were talking about how modern physics does not distiguish between essentially ordered series and accidentally ordered series weren't we?

      "Non existent things cannot cause change."
      --Presently non-existent arrangements of matter/energy caused change in the past that are part of an "accidental" series.


      Then it should be easy for you to tell me the exact ratio of force of the man-hand-stick-stone motion presently happening can be attributed to each deceased ancestor. My argument is that the entity known as the man is responsible for the force being able to deliver that force due to his nature as a combination of form and matter existing at the present moment and throughout the entire motion.

      The present form of the object is irrelevant to the causal influence it had in the past that is part of a series of instrumental causal influences leading up to a causal influence in the present.

      Are the atoms that made up your ancestor's atoms in Europe causing you to hit a golf ball now? Please, tell me exactly and quantitatively how ancient ancestors are causing you to hit a golf ball right now. You did mention that your disagreement with a distinction between essentially ordered series and accidentally ordered series was based on science right? Please give me a scientific argument then.

      Delete
    59. bmillerJuly 20, 2017 at 9:26 PM

      "Do things stop motion at the "now" moment then? "
      --Simultaneity of cause and effect does not extend beyond the infinitesimal.

      I will explain more thoroughly below.

      Delete
    60. An "essential" causal series, in the Aristotelian-Thomistic sense, has no physical realization. Under A-T thought in an "essential" series cause and effect are viewed as concurrent, coincident, or simultaneous. Such concurrence is, in fact, a mere artifact of human perception lacking any actual existent realization.

      Under A-T thought an "accidental" series is a temporal series wherein the cause is presently separated from the present effect. This concept of causality is also deeply flawed by human perceptual artifacts, but the basic idea that a series of causes and effects occur over time makes every real causal series an "accidental" series in that respect.

      What would it mean for a cause to be concurrent, or simultaneous, with the effect? Humans tend to assign the title of cause to one object process and the title of effect to another object process. So, one might say that when the cue ball impacts the 8 ball the cue ball is the cause and the motion of the 8 ball is the effect. Under A-T thought this is considered "accidental" since it is a temporal process such that even if we got rid of the cue ball while the 8 ball was still rolling the 8 ball would continue rolling nevertheless.

      If, on the other hand, one uses a stick to continuously push the cue ball along then under A-T thought this is considered an "essential" series because it is imagined that the continuation of rolling is assigned the title of effect, the stick is considered an instrument, and the human pushing the stick is considered a cause. In the A-T oriented brain it is imagined that the cause is thus concurrent with the effect.

      Such A-T thought harkens back to centuries past when analysis of cause and effect were limited to simply watching ordinary objects and thinking about them. What was not appreciated in centuries past is that the continued motion of the 8 ball is not a single effect, nor is the human a single cause, rather, the human is composed of a vast collection of internal causal influences, on the order of some 10^27 atoms organized as some 10^13 cells, all engaged in an enormous set of continual temporal causal sequences.

      Similarly, the motion of the cue ball is not only one effect, rather, the cue ball is just as much of an instrument as the stick, transmitting energy to the molecules of the air and the felt in an vast number of temporal causal sequences.

      Let's examine one simplified causal series in this vast collection. A single oxygen molecule travels from the outside air, into a lung, through the tissue membrane, and into a red blood cell. That cell travels through the bloodstream to a muscle where in combination with an organic molecule it transfers a finite amount of energy, enough to move the hand a small increment, say, a nanometer. The stick then moves a nanometer, which in turn moves the cue ball a nanometer, which in turn bumps into several air molecules, accelerates those air molecules, and transfers that finite amount of energy into kinetic energy of those air molecules. It should be readily apparent that this causal series is temporal and in A-T terms "accidental".

      Every so-called "essential" series is in fact "accidental" upon more thorough examination, being made up of a combination of a vast number of minute “accidental” temporal causal sequences. The assignment of title of cause and effect to whole systems of causes and effects is an approximation of analytical convenience that leads to qualitative analytical errors when the quantity of approximation reduces a vast number to just a few, without due awareness of the pitfalls of such approximations. The notion of an ongoing motion as an effect is an artifact of the human perception of what is thought of as the present, which is not really the present moment, rather, it is a model in the brain of recent past events and imagined near future events all internally represented as members of a temporally static concept of the present.

      Delete
    61. To what extent are cause and effect concurrent or simultaneous? From Newton's fluxions, to Russell’s objections to the infinitesimal, to the definition of calculus by use of limit expressions there is a long and controversial debate about the validity of the notion of an infinitesimal. The infinitesimal is perhaps loosely described as being infinity small yet not equal to zero. In calculus it is commonly thought to be what is represented by dx, or dy etc.

      Simultaneity does not extend beyond the infinitesimal. Since a causal series is more than one event or a process over some finite time no series can be contained within the infinitesimal, since any 2 events a finite time apart can have their event time difference further divided into an arbitrarily large number of subdivisions.

      Thus no causal series is simultaneous or concurrent. No causal series is "essential".

      Now, it is argued with respect to A-T assertions of a causal series, such as Aquinas describes in his First Way, no attempt is being made to describe the cosmological origins of motion, since Aristotle held that the universe is eternal and motion is eternal, and Aquinas also asserted an eternal universe. It is imagined that the true necessity for a first mover is ontological in nature. That is, the A-T oriented brain imagines a need for an ongoing sustaining cause for both motion and material existence.

      It is argued that such an ontological series is "essential" and cannot extend to infinity. In fact, on the modern sciences of motion and conservation of matter/energy there is no need for any ontological cause or ontological series at all, much less a consideration of an infinite such series to be rejected in favor of a finite series terminating in an imagined first mover.

      On conservation of matter/energy to merely persist in existing is no change; therefore no change requires no changer.

      On conservation of matter/energy to merely persist in existing is no motion; therefore no motion requires no mover.

      On modern science of motion including inertia merely persisting in uniform motion is no change for the object in motion; therefore no change requires no changer.

      On modern science the call for a choice between an infinite ontological series versus a finite ontological series in the present moment is a false dichotomy and utterly unnecessary. No sustaining cause is called for at all.

      Thus, the very notion of an “essential” series is an error of human perceptual artifacts, while the call for an ontological causal agent or series is without rational merit, rendering the Thomistic worldview irreparably erroneous to its core, owing to the falsity of these foundational principles.

      Delete
    62. @Strawdusty,

      Under A-T thought in an "essential" series cause and effect are viewed as concurrent, coincident, or simultaneous.

      No. Cause and effect do not have to be concurrent, coincident or simultaneous although they could be. Cause however has to be essential to the effect whether examined over time or at any particular instant.


      Under A-T thought an "accidental" series is a temporal series wherein the cause is presently separated from the present effect.


      No. Accidental means that a possible cause under consideration is not essential to a particular effect whether temporal or not.

      If, on the other hand, one uses a stick to continuously push the cue ball along ... it is imagined that the cause is thus concurrent with the effect.

      This is merely Newton's second law of motion and is in agreement with the First Way.

      Similarly, the motion of the cue ball is not only one effect, rather, the cue ball is just as much of an instrument as the stick, transmitting energy to the molecules of the air and the felt in an vast number of temporal causal sequences.


      In the study of physics, one has to determine the frame of reference as well as the level of causation one wants to study before starting the study. If one wants to study the motion of the cue ball then air molecules and felt are only part of the equation as they relate to friction encountered by the cue ball. Newton's laws of motion concerned the motion of specific material objects just like the First Way.

      Your example of:

      a lung
      the bloodstream
      a muscle
      the hand
      a red blood cell.
      an organic molecule
      the hand


      This series of things, as described, cannot and will not move a stick, the cue ball or air molecules. They are part of the form and matter of the man. If the matter is separated from the form as you've done here, then you have a corpse which will not move a cue.


      It should be readily apparent that this causal series is temporal and in A-T terms "accidental".


      No. Accidental means not essential temporal or not.

      Every so-called "essential" series is in fact "accidental" upon more thorough examination, being made up of a combination of a vast number of minute “accidental” temporal causal sequences.

      Please keep reading the blog articles. You have the wrong idea regarding the 2 types of series.
      You know you can search for "accidentally ordered", "essentially ordered" and other phrases in the search box now that you know how to do it right?

      The last post is based on the wrong assumption that "accidentally means time sequential" and "essential means simultaneous". It is further confused because you apparently don't know how "ontological" is being used in the article you are referring to. Since you have not responded to my request for your understanding of that term, I cannot help you.
      As a result, this:

      It is argued that such an ontological series is "essential" and cannot extend to infinity. In fact, on the modern sciences of motion and conservation of matter/energy there is no need for any ontological cause or ontological series at all, much less a consideration of an infinite such series to be rejected in favor of a finite series terminating in an imagined first mover.

      is too muddled for me to unwind.

      The following statements that start with "On..." are also too muddled, self contradictory or confused to interact with.

      So, of course it's pointless to inspect the conclusion to see if it follows.

      But tell me the ratio of force each of your ancestors contribute to your golf swing? I keep asking, but you keep ignoring.

      Delete
    63. bmillerJuly 21, 2017 at 9:27 PM

      SP Under A-T thought in an "essential" series cause and effect are viewed as concurrent, coincident, or simultaneous.

      "No."
      --Learn the terminology at least

      In the hand-stick -stone series, that is, the essentially ordered series, the causes and effects are simultaneous, ...
      On the other hand, an accidentally ordered series, such as the rtificer
      -hammer example, is neither multaneous nor transitive.

      http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1065&context=sor_fac_pubs



      SP Under A-T thought an "accidental" series is a temporal series wherein the cause is presently separated from the present effect.

      "No."
      --Learn the terminology at least

      In the hand-stick -stone series, that is, the essentially ordered series, the causes and effects are simultaneous, ...
      On the other hand, an accidentally ordered series, such as the artificer-hammer example, is neither simultaneous nor transitive.

      http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1065&context=sor_fac_pubs


      SP It is argued that such an ontological series is "essential" and cannot extend to infinity. In fact, on the modern sciences of motion and conservation of matter/energy there is no need for any ontological cause or ontological series at all, much less a consideration of an infinite such series to be rejected in favor of a finite series terminating in an imagined first mover.

      "is too muddled for me to unwind."
      --I realize this is difficult material for you. Most students have to read and reread many times before they understand.

      Learn what the terms mean, at least, as a starting point.

      ...the first cause he is arguing for is “first” not in a temporal sense, but in an ontological sense, a sustaining cause of the world here and now and at any moment at which the world exists at all.

      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/08/edwards-on-infinite-causal-series.html

      "The following statements that start with "On..." are also too muddled, self contradictory or confused to interact with."
      --Again, I realize this material is well beyond your ordinary level of comprehension and is a real stretch for you to grasp.

      Perhaps if you took those statements one at a time, broke them down, and expressed your points of confusion I can help you to understand them.

      Delete
    64. Stardusty PsycheJuly 21, 2017 at 10:55 PM

      bmillerJuly 21, 2017 at 9:27 PM

      SP Under A-T thought in an "essential" series cause and effect are viewed as concurrent, coincident, or simultaneous.

      "No."
      --In the interest of assisting you with absorbing this material I have below copied some more discussion on the subject by Feser at http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/08/edwards-on-infinite-causal-series.html


      * By contrast, causes ordered per accidens or “accidentally” do not essentially depend for their efficacy on the activity of earlier causes in the series. To use Aquinas’s example, a father possesses the power to generate sons independently of the activity of his own father, so that a series of fathers and sons is in that sense ordered per accidens rather than per se *
      --This is not to say that the father of the father was not essential in the common sense of the word. Obviously, without the father of the father those particular offspring would not have been born, so the father of the father is essential to the process of generating those particular offspring in the common sense of the word "essential", but in the Thomistic sense this is an "accidental" series because the father of the father is temporally and instrumentally separated from the effect of those particular offspring being produced.



      *So, it is ultimately their instrumental character, and not their simultaneity, which makes every member of a per se ordered causal series other than the first depend necessarily on the first. To be sure, the paradigm cases of causal series ordered per se involve simultaneity, because the simultaneity of the causes in these examples helps us to see their instrumental character.*
      --This statement on instrumentality is likely the source of your confusion. Simultaneity is not seen as the key concept although it is an element.

      * And the Thomist does hold that the world must ultimately be sustained at every instant*
      --This is the assertion of an ontological cause, which is imagined to be simultaneous and "essential".

      * by a purely actual uncaused cause, not merely generated at some point in the past. For these reasons, Thomists tend to emphasize simultaneity in their explanations of causal series ordered per se, as I did in The Last Superstition.*
      --Here Feser stresses the simultaneity element of an "essential" series, apparently because he feels it has some pedagogical value.

      Irrespective of all this terminology, the key to the Thomistic view is the assertion of the need, the necessity, of an ontological cause, that the *world must ultimately be sustained at every instant *

      The modern science of motion, inertia, and conservation of matter/energy negate that asserted ontological necessity.

      Here is why:
      On conservation of matter/energy to merely persist in existing is no change; therefore no change requires no changer.

      On conservation of matter/energy to merely persist in existing is no motion; therefore no motion requires no mover.

      On modern science of motion including inertia merely persisting in uniform motion is no change for the object in motion; therefore no change requires no changer.

      On modern science the call for a choice between an infinite ontological series versus a finite ontological series in the present moment is a false dichotomy and utterly unnecessary. No sustaining cause is called for at all.

      Delete
    65. bmillerJuly 21, 2017 at 9:27 PM

      SP Under A-T thought in an "essential" series cause and effect are viewed as concurrent, coincident, or simultaneous.

      "No."
      --One more aid for you on the temporal nature of an "accidental" series and the asserted simultaneity of an "essential" series.

      This is a Feser lecture. He is an enjoyable and informative guy to listen to so I would not be surprised to find that his lectures are well attended and that he is well liked by his students.

      The part about "accidental" versus "essential" series begins at 3:05
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klhu7AUQO30

      Delete
    66. @Strawdusty,


      Perhaps if you took those statements one at a time, broke them down, and expressed your points of confusion I can help you to understand them.


      There are several reasons they are muddled:
      The first one says there is no change and so no changer is necessary. Up until now your position has been that things continuous bounce around. So you are either contradicting yourself or equivocating.

      The second is a restatement of the first. We witness things coming to be and passing away, so we do see change.

      The third contains another apparent contradiction or an equivocation which I pointed out before. It claims that motion is not change.

      The fourth makes an irrelevant complaint. The First Way contains an argument refuting a possible objection. So what?

      http://digitalcommons.liberty.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1065&context=sor_fac_pubs

      This is a link to a discussion of the Second Way, not the First Way by someone other than Dr Feser. After reading the article, it is apparent that he is not an expert in Thomism and in fact says so. I suggest that you use Dr Feser's articles as reference material rather than "random internet guy".

      --This statement on instrumentality is likely the source of your confusion. Simultaneity is not seen as the key concept although it is an element.


      I think you've read that quote almost correctly. But the quote does not imply that simultaneity is a necessary element. It says that simultaneity is useful for explaining the concept which you acknowledge here:

      --Here Feser stresses the simultaneity element of an "essential" series, apparently because he feels it has some pedagogical value.


      The part about "accidental" versus "essential" series begins at 3:05
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=klhu7AUQO30


      I had technical issues playing that video. It appears "random internet guy" did some editing to it and that may have been causing the issues I found.

      Here is the source your link was taken from.

      I suggest you listen to the entire thing. It's 1 hour 40 minutes, but surely you've spent more time that on this topic.

      However, background leading to the First Way starts as follows with relevant topics as indicated:

      17:00 motion
      19:00 potential / actuality
      20:00-26:50 do things change? Parmenides- act/potency as an answer
      26:50 Series distinction discussion starts
      28:30 accidentally ordered = not essential
      30 hand stick stone essentially ordered series- instrumental members except for 1.
      31:40 Members if accidentally ordered series have causal power independently of other members of the series
      33:00 Members of essentially ordered series have causal power only instrumentally derived ultimately due to the first member.
      34:30 First Way discussion in depth- regarding muscles, nerves, atoms etc
      37:00 Caboose being pulled by car being pulled by car etc finally needing the engine.
      39:00 Examination of motion level by level, from maco to micro
      41:00 Conclusion resulting in Unmoved Mover
      42:00 Deductions derived from the conclusion

      But it seems you forgot to answer these questions:
      "But tell me the ratio of force each of your ancestors contribute to your golf swing?"
      "What do you think the term "ontology" means? It looks like you are using it incorrectly."

      Delete
    67. bmillerJuly 22, 2017 at 1:59 PM

      "There are several reasons they are muddled:
      The first one says there is no change and so no changer is necessary. Up until now your position has been that things continuous bounce around. So you are either contradicting yourself or equivocating."
      --Here is the actual statement:
      On conservation of matter/energy to merely persist in existing is no change; therefore no change requires no changer.
      Note: The statement is self contained about a specific aspect, to merely persist in existing.

      To merely persist in existing.

      What is required to merely persist in existing? Is an ontological cause, a sustaining cause, called for in merely persisting in existing?

      On conservation of matter/energy, no. Because there is no change in merely persisting in existing, therefore no changer is called for.

      If you wish to broaden the discussion to things bouncing off each other, fine, that is a temporal process, the analysis of which calls for a temporal regress of causes, not an ontological cause or ontological regress of causes.


      "The second is a restatement of the first. "
      --No, because motion is not necessarily a change for the object in motion.
      Here is the actual statement:
      On conservation of matter/energy to merely persist in existing is no motion; therefore no motion requires no mover.

      "We witness things coming to be and passing away, so we do see change."
      --The statement regards to merely persist in existing. There is no motion in merely persisting to exist, so there is no call for a mover to sustain an object to merely persist in existing. Therefore there is no ontological necessity for a mover in merely persisting in existing.


      "The third contains another apparent contradiction or an equivocation which I pointed out before. It claims that motion is not change."
      --Here is the actual statement:
      On modern science of motion including inertia merely persisting in uniform motion is no change for the object in motion; therefore no change requires no changer.

      Uniform motion is not a change for the object in motion. No energy is gained or lost in uniform motion. Humans for millennia assumed they were not in motion when they sat still on the surface of the Earth. There is no perception of moving at thousands of miles per hour, as we are relative to celestial objects.

      An object in uniform motion is not itself undergoing change. Therefore there is no call for an ontological first changer, because no change does not need to be sustained by a changer.

      Delete
    68. bmillerJuly 22, 2017 at 1:59 PM

      ""But tell me the ratio of force each of your ancestors contribute to your golf swing?""
      --Is fertilization exothermic or endothermic? I really don't know, what difference does it make relevant to how the First Way is erroneous on the modern science of motion and conservation of matter/energy?


      ""What do you think the term "ontology" means? It looks like you are using it incorrectly.""
      --In this A-T context it refers to the call for a sustaining cause for motion and existence, which makes no sense on modern science of motion and conservation of matter/energy.

      Why do you keep asking for info I already gave in:
      Stardusty Psyche July 16, 2017 at 8:45 AM

      bmillerJuly 15, 2017 at 7:04 PM

      "Edwards does realize that Aquinas is not arguing that the universe must have had a beginning – that the first cause he is arguing for is “first” not in a temporal sense, but in an ontological sense, a sustaining cause of the world here and now and at any moment at which the world exists at all."
      http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/08/edwards-on-infinite-causal-series.html

      Why do you keep asking for info I already gave you?

      Delete
    69. @Strawdusty,

      Note: The statement is self contained about a specific aspect, to merely persist in existing.

      To merely persist in existing.

      What is required to merely persist in existing? Is an ontological cause, a sustaining cause, called for in merely persisting in existing?


      When you speak of conservation laws and invoke modern physics you necessarily invoke Noether's theorem which involves changes in motion and time. This is the most recent quotation:


      "A conservation law states that some quantity X in the mathematical description of a system's evolution remains constant throughout its motion — it is an invariant."
      July 16, 2017 at 5:19 PM


      This does not imply that nothing changes, only that the abstraction X does not change. Certainly the law does not imply that motion ceases since it explicitly says that only the X of the system is "constant throughout its motion".

      For present purposes, the thing that does not change, X, is merely the mathematical description of the quantity energy present within the boundaries of a system. Even then, the energy can change states from kinetic to potential, from electrical to thermal and so on or even escape the boundaries of the system. But it simply has nothing to say one way or the other about the persistence of existence (or not) of any particular material object.


      "The second is a restatement of the first. "
      --No, because motion is not necessarily a change for the object in motion.


      It is moving wrt to it's position in space unless you are equivocating.


      "We witness things coming to be and passing away, so we do see change."
      --The statement regards to merely persist in existing. There is no motion in merely persisting to exist, so there is no call for a mover to sustain an object to merely persist in existing. Therefore there is no ontological necessity for a mover in merely persisting in existing.


      Again, your position was that "On conservation of matter/energy" nothing changes. You have now implicitly admitted that "conservation of matter/energy" allows that material objects come to be and pass away. Thus there is change, and so the objection is invalidated.

      On modern science of motion including inertia merely persisting in uniform motion is no change for the object in motion; therefore no change requires no changer.

      Uniform motion is not a change for the object in motion. No energy is gained or lost in uniform motion.


      Thank you for clarifying that this is an equivocation rather than a contradiction. A material object can be considered in motion in one respect (wrt space) but at rest wrt to change in velocity.

      ""But tell me the ratio of force each of your ancestors contribute to your golf swing?""
      --Is fertilization exothermic or endothermic? I really don't know, what difference does it make relevant to how the First Way is erroneous on the modern science of motion and conservation of matter/energy?


      You made the claim that ancestors were responsible for men presently moving sticks. I merely modernized things to you swinging a golf club. Here is your claim.


      The great grandfather, the grand father, and the previous heartbeat were all instrumental in that particular man moving that particular stick some particular amount.


      It is relevant to illustrate the distinction between an essentially ordere series and an accidentally ordered series.

      Why do you keep asking for info I already gave in:
      Stardusty Psyche July 16, 2017 at 8:45 AM


      Because you merely quoted Dr Feser now and before and did not describe what you think "ontolgy" means. I suspect that you think it means something different than what Dr Feser means.
      Hint: it does not mean: "it refers to the call for a sustaining cause for motion and existence,".

      Delete
    70. It is relevant to illustrate the distinction between an essentially ordered series and an accidentally ordered series.

      More to the point, physics does have a way even in principle to do make this type of calculation.

      Delete
    71. bmillerJuly 22, 2017 at 11:20 PM

      "When you speak of conservation laws and invoke modern physics you necessarily invoke Noether's theorem"
      --No, that is just a setup for your tautology.

      "Conservation is an abstraction so only an abstraction is conserved."

      Conservation is real.

      Mathematical descriptions of it are abstractions.

      The very meaning of "conservation" is the continuation as things are, in this case, for any particular real object.

      When an object persists in existing we can consider 2 sorts of things about that persistence.
      1.Those things that stay the same, such as it's mass/energy.
      2.Those things that are changing.

      To merely persist in existence only type 1. occurs, which is no change, and no change requires no changer.

      Properties that are changing, such as acceleration, vibration, shape are necessarily temporal processes. To analyze them requires a temporal regress, leading to a consideration of an infinite temporal regress.

      No change requires no changer, and thus no ontological changer.

      A temporal change requires a temporal regress of causation, and thus no ontological changer.

      To recap:
      1. To merely persist in existence is no change, and thus calls for no changer of any sort, and therefore no ontological changer.
      2. To persist while changing is a temporal process, which calls for a temporal causal regress, and thus no ontological changer.

      SP Uniform motion is not a change for the object in motion. No energy is gained or lost in uniform motion.

      "A material object can be considered in motion in one respect (wrt space)"
      --No such thing as absolute space has yet been identified, so motion is not with respect to space. Motion is relative to other objects.

      " but at rest wrt to change in velocity."
      --That is a very unusual way of putting it, but I suppose you can say that uniform motion is at rest with respect to acceleration. Acceleration is a change for the object accelerating and is necessarily a temporal process calling for a temporal causal regress. Uniform motion is not a change for the object in uniform motion, and thus calls for no changer.

      On the modern science of motion and conservation of matter/energy no ontological cause is called for in any case.

      Delete
    72. @Strawdusty,

      "When you speak of conservation laws and invoke modern physics you necessarily invoke Noether's theorem"
      --No, that is just a setup for your tautology.


      You have argued that conservation laws imply no motion. I have presented the definition of conservation laws according to modern physics which includes motion as part of the definition. In the case of energy conservation, kinetic energy is just the energy of motion. No tautology.

      Conservation is real.

      Mathematical descriptions of it are abstractions.

      The very meaning of "conservation" is the continuation as things are, in this case, for any particular real object.


      I've provided you the accepted definition of what a conservation law is. It seems you are implying that conservation laws are wrong in stating that they apply only to a particular quantity X but instead apply to "the continuation as things are" without qualification. Please show me where you found this definition.

      An abstraction does not mean something is not "real", it only means that it is one aspect taken in isolation from others. In the case of conservation of energy, it is only the abstracted quantity of energy of a system that is conserved over time. But kinetic energy is the product of the mass and velocity squared of an existent object. Since velocity is the change of an object in space, there is certainly change involving an existent object. The quantity being preserved is the total energy of a system, not the existence of the form and matter of existent material objects.

      "A material object can be considered in motion in one respect (wrt space)"
      --No such thing as absolute space has yet been identified, so motion is not with respect to space. Motion is relative to other objects.


      I meant it in terms of dx/dt, however one defines the x axis. But in that respect there is change.

      Uniform motion is not a change for the object in uniform motion, and thus calls for no changer.

      Once again, this statement is false if there are no qualifications. If an object is in uniform motion, then it is uniform motion with respect to something and is therefore changing position with respect to that other something. The train passenger on a moving train can look out his window and see trees passing by. If he wakes up on a train and is blindfolded, he probably cannot sense if the is moving or not wrt to things outside the train. On the other hand, if there is an acceleration, the train passenger will be able to sense a change in velocity.
      Since you have provided no qualifications I have no way to tell what you mean.

      But it seems to me that you want to make an argument like this:
      1) Things that don't change do not require a changer.
      2) Some things do not change.
      3) Therefore there is no need of an ultimate Unchanged Changer.

      You can correct that if I got it wrong, but if that is the argument against the First Way, then here are a couple of responses.

      1) The First Way does not address things that don't change. The first premise only requires the observation that something is changing and that could be only 1 thing. So the fact that some things do not change is irrelevant to the argument.
      2) So in order to defeat the First Way, it must be demonstrated that nothing is moving or has ever moved.
      3) But even if that could be demonstrated (per impossible since demonstration would be change) the question of "why are there things?", the ontological cause, could still be asked and still would still lead to God.

      Delete
    73. Continued:

      If I may make a suggestion. If you think "conservation of mass/energy" rules out questions of existence, let's stick to one example, and examine that in detail rather than 4 examples that don't have enough qualifications for me to understand the point you are trying to make. For instance, let's leave out inertia for the moment, since the way you worded it still implies "an object in uniform change is not changing" or "change is not changing".

      Delete
    74. bmillerJuly 23, 2017 at 3:06 PM

      "If I may make a suggestion. If you think "conservation of mass/energy" rules out questions of existence,"
      --I don't know what that means, it certainly is nothing I ever said.

      Conservation of matter/energy makes an ontological cause unnecessary for matter/energy that is merely persisting in existing.

      " the way you worded it still implies "an object in uniform change is not changing""
      --Not an implication, rather, a direct statement. An object in uniform motion is not itself undergoing change merely by virtue of being in uniform motion, since it is not changing its mass/energy.

      " or "change is not changing""
      --No, that is what the asserted ontological first changer is doing, continuously changing things so they can remain unchanged. Contradictory indeed.

      Delete
    75. bmillerJuly 23, 2017 at 3:06 PM

      "You have argued that conservation laws imply no motion. "
      --No, I never said that. Why do you continually make up odd things I never said and then attribute them to me?

      "I have presented the definition of conservation laws according to modern physics which includes motion as part of the definition. In the case of energy conservation, kinetic energy is just the energy of motion. "
      --Yes, obviously, in uniform motion kinetic energy is conserved, which is why uniform motion is not a change for the object simply because it is in uniform motion. Uniform motion is by definition an existence over time with no change in kinetic energy for the object in uniform motion.

      Since there is no change there is no call for a changer.

      "But it seems to me that you want to make an argument like this:
      1) Things that don't change do not require a changer.
      2) Some things do not change.
      3) Therefore there is no need of an ultimate Unchanged Changer."

      "You can correct that if I got it wrong,"
      3) Therefore there is no necessity for an ontological cause for things that are merely persisting in existing or are in uniform motion.


      1) The First Way does not address things that don't change.
      --According to Feser it does. He says there is a need for an ontological cause, a sustaining cause, just to keep things in existence, and this is the causal series that Aquinas is referring to in the First Way.


      "2) So in order to defeat the First Way, it must be demonstrated that nothing is moving or has ever moved."
      --To defeat the First Way it must be shown that an ontological first mover is unnecessary (aside from the invalid logic, false premises, and incompleteness defects of the First Way).

      To show that an ontological first mover is unnecessary several conditions are addressed.
      1. For objects merely persisting in existing there is no change and therefore no necessity for an ontological cause.
      2. For objects in uniform motion there is no change therefore no necessity for an ontological cause.
      3. For objects undergoing change all such changes are temporal and therefore call for a temporal regress of causes, and therefore there is no necessity for an ontological cause.

      In all instances there is no necessity for an ontological cause and therefore the First Way is negated.

      Delete
    76. @Strawdusty,'

      "If I may make a suggestion. If you think "conservation of mass/energy" rules out questions of existence,"
      --I don't know what that means, it certainly is nothing I ever said.

      Conservation of matter/energy makes an ontological cause unnecessary for matter/energy that is merely persisting in existing.


      I have asked you several times what you think "ontolgy" means and suggested you think it means something that Thomists don't. That is why you don't know what I mean and I can't understand what you mean. Ontological questions refer to questions of being/existence. I don't know what your definition is.

      " the way you worded it still implies "an object in uniform change is not changing""
      --Not an implication, rather, a direct statement. An object in uniform motion is not itself undergoing change merely by virtue of being in uniform motion, since it is not changing its mass/energy.


      This is the first time I've seen you use the phrase "since it is not changing its mass/energy" as a qualifier. So you have now added a qualifier. So wrt kinetic energy the object is not changing since velocity is constant. Agreed. But wrt to other objects in a different inertial reference frame the object is in motion, right? See how much time we have spent on this single item? Why not spend time discussing just this rather than a shotgun approach?

      " or "change is not changing""
      --No, that is what the asserted ontological first changer is doing, continuously changing things so they can remain unchanged. Contradictory indeed.


      Which again gets back to what you think "ontology" means versus what Thomists think it means. Thomist do not assert that any "ontological first changer" is "continuously changing things so they can remain unchanged" wherever did you read that?

      Delete
  24. "Put another way, is the First Way an argument against an infinite regression of past time of cosmological motions, or is the First Way an argument against an infinite regress of causal events in the present instant in an "essential" series?"

    Why are you asking this question if, according to you, you already understand it and found all the problems?

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    Replies
    1. Billy, it is obvious to me that the notion of an "essential" series is just a myth from ancient Greece. Further, it is obvious to me that on inertia and conservation of matter/energy there is no need for a first mover in the present, even if we expand "present" to include the recent past as humans typically perceive the present.

      I have a number of critiques of the First Way so I find it fascinating to discover the particulars of the mythological thinking still persistent in some segments of our culture, especially among otherwise highly educated, intelligent, and successful people.

      It's no big mystery why the beer swilling dufuss who works at the nuclear plant doesn't have a clue, but the segmentation of thought of an educated and intelligent person in order to cling to irrational concepts is a serious issue to be considered.

      Delete
    2. this post is laughable, now please leave and never return.

      Delete
    3. Anonymous July 14, 2017 at 1:49 PM
      "this post is laughable"
      --I am glad I was able to bring the pleasure of levity to at least one fellow human being.

      Now for something a bit more serious...

      Their is no metaphysical merit to the First Way. The notion of a necessity for an ontological infinite series in the absence of a first mover is simply nonsense. No clear explanation for this assertion has ever been made.

      Why does there supposedly need to be a long ontological chain of causation in the present moment? The very notion is incoherent and meaningless.

      The only coherent notion of the necessity for a first mover in the present is on the notion that motion will come to a rest, at least terrestrially. If that were true then a strong argument could be made that there is some undiscovered force that keeps things moving against this asserted property of motion to naturally end terrestrially.

      That notion is false. Motion does not end at all, terrestrially or anyplace else, it always continues or is transformed.
      Inertia
      Conservation
      These simple facts eliminate the need for a first mover in the present to overcome an asserted property of motion to end.

      Delete
    4. I know how energy and motion works, it's basic physics, but it does not undermine a first mover in my opinion. If you don't agree that's fine, but stop spamming the combox with your objections, just respond with a simple "I disagree".

      Delete
    5. AnonymousJuly 15, 2017 at 3:26 AM

      "I know how energy and motion works, it's basic physics, but it does not undermine a first mover in my opinion."
      --On an eternal universe, eternal motion, and modern physics there is no necessity for a first mover.

      " If you don't agree that's fine, but stop spamming the combox with your objections, just respond with a simple "I disagree"."
      --If I said just "I disagree" I would be met with condemnation as having made an empty criticism, and rightfully so. "I disagree" is not an argument.

      Aristotle was a great thinker who formed long and thoughtful arguments, most of which turn out to be wrong, but it was a truly great contribution of some 2400 years ago.

      Aquinas formed arguments. They were very poor arguments filled with logical fallacies and based on an erroneous world view.

      The title of this thread is "Taking Aquinas Seriously". That means either supporting his arguments to show they stand the test of time, or forming counter arguments that expose his fallacious argumentation and false premises.

      Consider these assertions in combination:
      1. An eternal universe.
      2. Eternal motion.
      3. Inertia.
      4. Conservation.

      On those 4 principles there is no necessity for a first mover either temporally or ontologically.

      On those 4 principles the causal chain does in fact "go on to infinity". Temporally the causal chain goes on to infinity because motion is never lost on inertia and conservation in an eternal universe with eternal motion, so there is no necessity for a temporal first mover.

      Ontologically it has not been shown that a timeless regress is coherent. This notion apparently involves the assignment of the titles "cause" and "effect" to objects by imagination, then some sort of imagination that all these things must retain their titles in the present moment, but an infinity of such titled objects is impossible. This is, in fact, muddled and pointless reasoning.

      Causes and effects necessarily progress over time.

      Conservation says there is no need for and ontological sustainer, since the natural state of matter/energy is to persist in its existence.

      Thus, on an eternal universe a first mover is unnecessary and existence does "go on to infinity" due to the natural state of matter/energy to be conserved.

      Since "The first and more manifest way" falls apart on modern physics, in addition to its other structural defects, upon taking Aquinas serious it is apparent he was seriously mistaken, and his arguments are thus worthless and false.

      So, if you have some specific counter arguments, great, but simply stating "I disagree", or hurling out ad hominems or expletives only serves to cast oneself in a very dim light.

      Delete
    6. Ban this troll already... He has been making bare assertions for 90% of the time and he believes XD.... He believes he has been arguing all along.

      You piece of Manure, needs to have a specific rational argument for your assertions ;-) too!

      Delete
    7. EduardoJuly 15, 2017 at 10:12 AM

      ...this troll...You piece of Manure...specific rational argument
      --Please explain to me how calling me a "piece of manure" constitutes a "specific rational argument" on your part.

      More to the point, would you be so kind as to explain the coherency of any sort of zero time causal series?

      In what way must an object be dependent upon some other object, in the present moment, for its existence and/or motion?

      What is the logical necessity for a present moment ontological series at all?

      Delete
    8. It is just a statement directed at a A-Hole ;-)

      Why do I have to explain your misconception or other people's? Is Wengert (Think that is his name) a Thomist? Why didn't you used Feser instead?

      If you mean Motion as your wrong definition as meaning only motion... Yeah, all forces are interactions and hence always dependent on something outside of themselves. Yay... So yeah present motion depends on other stuff.

      But you know... If you read the blog... Feser may give a direction for why the First Mover is necessary...

      Dusty, just go in that search bar on top and look for the series, and read what Feser has to say. If you care about it (You don't, but who cares at this point) you will read and see where you are making a mistake. Like assume it is a temporal argument, that motion is only movement in a certain reference and all the rest lol.

      Manure ;-)

      Delete
    9. EduardoJuly 15, 2017 at 10:57 AM

      " Why didn't you used Feser instead?"
      --I have. His arguments do not hold together.

      "If you mean Motion as your wrong definition as meaning only motion..."
      --Even if one wishes to define motion more broadly the case of motion must still hold. If the reasoning fails for the case of physical motion then the reasoning fails, even if other sorts of meanings are also applied to the term "motion".

      "Yeah, all forces are interactions and hence always dependent on something outside of themselves. Yay... So yeah present motion depends on other stuff."
      --You speak in terms of a person who has yet to take a physics class. If you are a young person or a person who did not complete high school the good news is that there are many online sources available to educate yourself.

      Try searching on these terms:
      inertia
      uniform motion
      conservation of matter/energy
      Newton

      An object spinning in a vacuum is in uniform motion, as is an object moving in a line in a vacuum. That motion will continue and that existence will continue absent the close proximity of any other physical objects.

      Objects in uniform motion do not derive their existence or their motion from other objects on inertia and conservation of matter/energy.

      " If you read the blog... Feser may give a direction for why the First Mover is necessary..."
      --Tried that, but his arguments are fatally flawed.

      "Dusty, just go in that search bar on top and look for the series, and read what Feser has to say."
      --I found a piece about infinite regress that asserted Aquinas was referring to an ontological regress.

      No explanation was offered as to why such a regress was coherent, how any sort of causal series can be thought of in zero time, or why on inertia and conservation it is imagined that an ontological series of any sort is necessary.


      "Manure ;-)"
      --You are quite apparently incapable of justifying an argument from the necessity of an ontological regress. You don't even understand the basics of inertia, uniform motion, and conservation.

      If you can find a link to a cogent argument in support of the necessity of an ontological regress please post the URL here.

      Delete
    10. --I have. His arguments do not hold together.

      You haven't! Stop lying Manure. Otherwise you would have known your definition was wrong.

      --You speak in terms of a person who has yet to take a physics class.

      I did Physics at University :-0. Simple case of missing words there, it should have been "...hence motion always is dependent on something..." but yeah, thanks for doing a public School level of test of knowledge and coming to the wrong conclusion, much appreciated Officer!

      Try searching on these terms:
      inertia
      uniform motion
      conservation of matter/energy
      Newton


      How cute... XD! Been there done that. I know the concepts pretty well, except Newton XD lol. I guess you mean his Three Laws of Motion...

      An object spinning in a vacuum is in uniform motion, as is an object moving in a line in a vacuum. That motion will continue and that existence will continue absent the close proximity of any other physical objects.

      Sooo? How does that show exactly how Feser is wrong is not shown here because you don't even know what you are arguing about XD. Go on learn what the Doctor has to say, then try to show that; if inertia exists it undermines the First Way in THIS WAY. BTW, Feser has spoken of Inertia... Just sayin'.

      Objects in uniform motion do not derive their existence or their motion from other objects on inertia and conservation of matter/energy.

      Define precisely what you mean by existence. Because the first phrase there seems non-sensical. That is just like saying that if an asteroid goes on forever without being disturbed by Photons, Gravity, or any other type of field that may change its course, it is a brute fact...

      Secondly... You are assuming that the object going in a supposedly straight line has always been moving like that, since ever, without any interference. I find very very hard to believe any such thing exists, for the very simple reason that Velocity depends on variation of Linear Momentum AKA Force. But hey maybe there are stuff that have a velocity V in a certain reference system without any explanation whatsoever, just as a brute fact... Goodbye Physics...

      --Tried that, but his arguments are fatally flawed.

      Because? So far you have just pointed at a flaw, which wasn't a flaw, then people tried to correct you and you just run with it and we correctly concluded you are a Troll which were then offered even more evidence of it... Come on WHERE exactly, make an accurate argument, show that you know how the argument works and where it goes wrong, use Feser as the Source obviously.

      --I found a piece about infinite regress that asserted Aquinas was referring to an ontological regress.

      Yes! Now what the heck does that mean huh? Keep reading if you wanna know XD.

      --You are quite apparently incapable of justifying an argument from the necessity of an ontological regress. You don't even understand the basics of inertia, uniform motion, and conservation.

      You are quite certainly an idiot, who thinks I don't know these concepts based on nothing but your own imagination n_n. But hey XD At least you have my typos to go on with!

      If you can find a link to a cogent argument in support of the necessity of an ontological regress please post the URL here.

      It would be too much to expect you to read the blog right? Case closed!

      Delete
    11. EduardoJuly 15, 2017 at 12:42 PM

      SP An object spinning in a vacuum is in uniform motion, as is an object moving in a line in a vacuum. That motion will continue and that existence will continue absent the close proximity of any other physical objects.

      "Sooo?"
      --So there is no need for an ontological regress to account for continued existence or motion.

      " How does that show exactly how Feser is wrong "
      --Feser justifies Aquinas in the First Way by saying Aquinas was referring to an ontological infinity.

      No ontological regress is necessary at all, much less an infinite ontological regress.

      " BTW, Feser has spoken of Inertia... Just sayin'."
      --Could you kindly provide the URL?


      "Secondly... You are assuming that the object going in a supposedly straight line has always been moving like that, since ever, without any interference."
      --Now you are raising the subject of a temporal causal series, which Feser very specifically rules out as the intent of Aquinas in the First Way.

      On an eternal universe with eternal motion, inertia, and conservation an infinite temporal regress is no problem. A causal series is necessarily temporal, so the claim by Feser that Aquinas had no temporal intent is either false or an indication of the erroneous worldview of Aquinas.

      "Yes! Now what the heck does that mean huh? Keep reading if you wanna know XD."
      --I saw no explanation for the necessity of an ontological regress for an object in uniform motion on inertia and conservation.


      SP If you can find a link to a cogent argument in support of the necessity of an ontological regress please post the URL here.

      "It would be too much to expect you to read the blog right? "
      --Yes, "the blog" could mean anything. Which blog? Do you have a particular blog in mind that demonstrates the necessity of an ontological regress for an object in uniform motion on inertia and conservation?

      A particular date? A URL? Something more specific than "the blog"?

      Delete
    12. --Feser justifies Aquinas in the First Way by saying Aquinas was referring to an ontological infinity.

      Where??? can you provide me with a URL XD!

      --Now you are raising the subject of a temporal causal series, which Feser very specifically rules out as the intent of Aquinas in the First Way.

      But I am not defeding the first way here, I am saying that: because something is performing a movement in an inertial frame of reference that is uniform doesn't mean it was always like that. I believe, that it certainly has a reason to be "moving" or "stading still".

      erroneous worldview of Aquinas.

      He assumes much like Aristotle... an infinite Universe... so maybe you are the one wrong here.

      --I saw no explanation for the necessity of an ontological regress for an object in uniform motion on inertia and conservation.

      Okay... hey wasn't so hard to say you simply disagreed huh?

      A particular date? A URL? Something more specific than "the blog"?

      THIS BLOG... what other blog would it be XD!?! If I can bother to search so can you Dusty. Damn even Jindra can do it and he disagrees with almost everything here XD.

      Delete
    13. "On an eternal universe, eternal motion, and modern physics there is no necessity for a first mover"

      That's your opinion, but i don't understand why you're so fixated at an eternal universe?

      "If I said just "I disagree" I would be met with condemnation as having made an empty criticism, and rightfully so. "I disagree" is not an argument"

      No one would attack you for that.

      "Aristotle was a great thinker who formed long and thoughtful arguments, most of which turn out to be wrong, but it was a truly great contribution of some 2400 years ago"

      His physics and so was not on point I agree, but nevertheless he did good for his time. His philosophy inspired numerous of influential thinkers who did groundbreaking discoveries and contributions to science. (the Arab golden age is one good example, thinkers during the enlightment/middle age gained much from them).

      "Aquinas formed arguments. They were very poor arguments filled with logical fallacies and based on an erroneous world view"

      He was a great thinker, even if i don't agree with everything.

      "The title of this thread is "Taking Aquinas Seriously". That means either supporting his arguments to show they stand the test of time, or forming counter arguments that expose his fallacious argumentation and false premises"

      The title refers to people who fail to gasp Aquinas properly (the fact that many modern thinkers keep doing this does NOT mean that Aquinas philosophy is fallacious, as many people have implied)

      The rest of your post is irrelevant, in my opinion.

      (i apologise for the grammar, english is not my first language)

      Delete
    14. ^i take this back, a lot of people have already explained things for you.

      Delete
    15. SP, the fact that you think inertia or the law of conservation is even relevant here show that you do not understand the 1st way. Inertia relates to describing local motion, while the first way and essentially ordered series relates to explaining how change of all kinds can occur. Two different levels of investigation.

      Why do physical bodies continue on their current path, at their current speed until acted upon by and external force? Why is that the case?

      Why does the law of conservation apply to physical systems? Why is that the case?

      The idea of an essentially ordered series has more to do with the answer to these questions than the content of the questions themselves.

      It's like someone pointing to the collectively agreement of the rules of soccer to explain why goalkeepers can pick up the ball with their hands without being penalised, then you come along and say, "idiots, all this discussion of collectives and agreement is just old myths. Look, clearly there is a rule that keepers can pick up the ball. That explains that." Clearly you would have misunderstood what is being addressed. We are not talking about anything at the level of the rules that are followed, but at the level of WHY the rules are followed.

      Feser has addressed the confusion with thinking inertia is even relevant quite extensively here: http://faculty.fordham.edu/klima/SMLM/PSMLM10/PSMLM10.pdf

      Delete
    16. Billy July 21, 2017 at 1:03 PM

      "Inertia relates to describing local motion, while the first way and essentially ordered series relates to explaining how change of all kinds can occur. "
      --All change requires motion. The idea that something can change in any sense without a physical positional movement is an artifact of the limitations of human perception.

      Please see
      Stardusty Psyche July 21, 2017 at 11:42 AM
      Stardusty Psyche July 21, 2017 at 11:43 AM
      above

      "Feser has addressed the confusion with thinking inertia is even relevant quite extensively here: http://faculty.fordham.edu/klima/SMLM/PSMLM10/PSMLM10.pdf"
      --Thank you for the link. I will read that section and comment later.

      Delete
    17. Billy July 21, 2017 at 1:03 PM

      Feser has addressed the confusion with thinking inertia is even relevant quite extensively here: http://faculty.fordham.edu/klima/SMLM/PSMLM10/PSMLM10.pdf

      --Thanks again for the link. I wrote a response to it I will post in 3 parts below.

      I know it is long but I wanted to quote long enough sections in context to be fair to the original paper.

      Volume 10, 2012
      The Proceedings of the Society for Medieval Logic and Metaphysics (P.S.M.L.M.) is the publication of the Society for Medieval Logic and Metaphysics,
      http://faculty.fordham.edu/klima/SMLM/PSMLM10/PSMLM10.pdf


      “Aquinas’s First Way of arguing for the existence of God famously rests on the Aristotelian premise that “whatever is in motion is moved by another.”1 Let us call this the “principle of motion.”2 Newton’s First Law states that “every body continues in its state of rest or of uniform motion in a straight line, unless it is compelled to change that state by forces impressed upon it.”3 Call this the “principle of inertia.””
      --The key defect in the First Way with respect to modern science of motion, inertia and conservation of matter/energy is the assertion that a causal series is an ontological series, in other words, the assertion that a sustaining cause for both motion and existence is necessary.

      Further, science did not halt its progress in Newton’s lifetime. Newton made great descriptive advancements in the 17th century, but did not provide a full basis for modern understandings of causation.

      Therefore much of Feser’s subsequent argumentation is misdirected since he did not accurately identify the scientifically defective aspects of the First Way.

      “1. No formal contradiction: Suppose that “motion” is being used in the two principles in the same sense. Even given this assumption, there is no formal contradiction between them.”
      --Since Feser has inaccurately identified the area of conflict this point is irrelevant.

      Aquinas said, in part:
      “If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity,”

      Feser elsewhere contends that the causal series examined by Aquinas is not a temporal regress of so call “accidental” causes and effects extending far back in time, rather, Feser says, it is an ontological series in the present moment, that is, a call for a sustaining cause for both motion and existence.

      It is that call for an ontological cause that is rendered unnecessary on the modern science of motion and conservation of matter/energy.

      On conservation of matter/energy to merely persist in existing is no change; therefore no change requires no changer.

      On conservation of matter/energy to merely persist in existing is no motion; therefore no motion requires no mover.

      On modern science of motion including inertia merely persisting in uniform motion is no change for the object in motion; therefore no change requires no changer.

      On modern science the call for a choice between an infinite ontological series versus a finite ontological series in the present moment is a false dichotomy and utterly unnecessary. No sustaining cause is called for at all.

      “Newton’s law tells us that a body will in fact continue its uniform rectilinear motion if it is moving at all, as long as external forces do not prevent this. It does not tell us why it will do so.”
      --Newton was descriptive in the 17th century, so that is to be expected and not terribly relevant to modern analysis of causation.

      The reason why is simple, it is no change. A better question is why would something do something different if no change is occurring? No change means no alteration to the present state of affairs and no changer.



      Delete
    18. (cont.)
      “2. Equivocation: …. When Aristotelians speak of “motion,” they mean change of any kind. This would include local motion, but also includes change with respect to
      quantity,”
      --Requires so called “local” motion.

      “ change with respect to quality,”
      --Requires so called “local” motion.

      “ and change from one substance to another. “
      --Requires so called “local” motion.

      “More to the point, for the Aristotelian all such change involves the actualization of a potency or potential.”
      --Uniform motion is no change for the object in motion.

      “3. The “state” of motion: … the principle of inertia treats uniform local motion as a “state,” it treats it thereby as the absence of change. “
      --Here Feser acknowledges that uniform motion is the absence of change.

      Why would one assert a cause for no change? Why should we need an explanation for the fact that things stay as they are absent any change?


      “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. “
      --Right, and since uniform motion is no change and conservation of matter/energy is no change then there is no call for a first changer.

      Now, if one is asking for a justification for the myriad changes we see all around us…one thing collides with another and another again in a regress ad infinitum…then that is a question of a temporal causal series extending back in time billions of years and potentially an infinite past.

      Since Aristotle and Aquinas concluded an eternal universe, or at least no proof against one, this temporal infinite regress does not call for a first changer either on A-T thought.

      “4. Natural motion: … The point for now is just to emphasize yet again that when one examines the principles of motion and inertia more carefully, the assumption that they are necessarily in conflict can readily be seen to be unfounded.”
      --While this might be an interesting bit of historical comparison it is irrelevant the fact that the modern science of motion and conservation of matter/energy negate any need for an ontological first mover.

      “5. Natural science versus philosophy of nature: … But the theory of act and potency, the doctrine of the four causes, and the hylemorphic analysis of material objects as composites of form and matter are examples of notions which have (so the contemporary Aristotelian argues) abiding value as elements of a sound philosophy of nature.”
      --These notions are irrelevant to any serious modern study of causation. Causal influences propagate no faster than c, classically, in what is called a light cone. Aristotle’s four causes were rendered obsolete long ago by modern science and simply have no value in any serious 21st century analysis of causation.

      “Now the principle of motion is, the Aristotelian will insist, another thesis whose import is metaphysical, a corollary of the distinction between act and potency which is the foundation of the Aristotelian philosophy of nature. The principle of inertia, by contrast, is a claim of natural science. Since the domains they are addressing are different, there can be no question of any conflict between them, certainly no direct or obvious conflict.”
      --What use is metaphysics in addressing aspects of our observations of nature if one claims metaphysics is divorced from nature? If metaphysics is addressing a different domain and thus cannot be expected to align necessarily with physics then what use is it in arriving at an explanation for our observations of the physical world around us?

      Delete
    19. (cont.)
      (from a further section)
      “Now some defenders of the Aristotelian argument from motion for the existence of God as Unmoved Mover of the world have suggested that precisely for this reason, the principle of inertia really poses no challenge at all to that argument. As long as the Newtonian admits that acceleration involves real change, that will suffice for an argument which, given the principle of motion, leads inexorably to an Unmoved Mover.”
      --Acceleration is necessarily a process over time. An infinite regress of accelerations necessarily requires an infinite regress in time. Since Aristotle and Aquinas accepted at least the possibility of an eternal universe no first mover is called for by acceleration on A-T thought.

      “Second, that some fundamental material substances (basic particles, say) exist and behave in accordance with such laws can also never be the ultimate explanation of anything, because we need to know, not only how such substances came into existence, but what keeps them in existence. For as compounds of act and potency, they cannot possibly account for themselves, but require something outside them to actualize them at every moment. Or so the Thomist will argue.3”
      --If a substance came into existence out of nothing that would indeed be a change that calls for an explanation. Thus, no person has ever solved this ancient riddle and published that solution into general circulation. Many have tried. All have failed.

      The great existential riddle remains unsolved by all.

      However, with a probability of precisely 1, there is an existence of some sort. Given that fact, why would no change call for an explanation of continuation without change? That would make as much sense as asserting an untrue tautology.

      When things don’t change then things don’t change. Yes, I realize that is tautological, but that is my point. The Thomist demands and explanation for this tautology. His explanation is that when things don’t change an unchanged changer is continuously changing them to not change. What?



      When things don’t change they continue as they are. Isn’t that plainly apparent?

      Delete
  25. Amusing little aside: SP effectively shows that he has just discovered that Aquinas's First Way involves an essentially ordered series of movers and the whole proof runs on that. So, all his prior comments which ignored how an essentially ordered series would impact the argument are so much twaddle, because they don't actually bear on the argument that Aquinas was making, but some other argument or other.

    bmiller confirms that this is what is going on: He is sincere in trying to understand exactly what an "essentially ordered series" is as opposed to an "accidentally ordered series"..

    Nevertheless, now that SP has discovered the concept, it is "obvious" to him that it is a "myth", in spite of not actually knowing exactly what it is.

    Just making sure that the "sincerity" shines through loud and clear.

    This was an unpaid service announcement. You may now return to your regularly scheduled program.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. TonyJuly 10, 2017 at 7:53 AM

      "Amusing little aside: SP effectively shows that he has just discovered that Aquinas's First Way involves an essentially ordered series of movers and the whole proof runs on that."
      --No, there are a number of structural elements to the argument aside from the assertion of simultaneous cause and effect.

      " So, all his prior comments which ignored how an essentially ordered series would impact the argument are so much twaddle,"
      --Actually, the First Way still suffers from begging the question, demonstrably false premise, false dichotomy, and is simply incomplete as an argument for the existence of God.

      Those defects are potentially repairable by a modern author rewording the argument.

      The assertion of simultaneous cause and effect joined with the false Aristotelian description of motion render the First Way defective beyond repair.

      "Nevertheless, now that SP has discovered the concept, it is "obvious" to him that it is a "myth", in spite of not actually knowing exactly what it is. "
      --By all means, please do explain the concept of a simultaneous causal series wherein a first mover is required to move this series in the present owing to the natural tendency of matter to come to rest.

      Delete