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3/23/2018 10:40 am  #11


Re: What are your favorite ways of showing the first cause is God?

I appeal to libertarian free will in order to defang the modal collapse problem for the PSR, so de facto that gives one a necessary agent. Since said necessary agent is at the ultimate end of every explanatory chain in every possible world it would not be a stretch to call it omnipotent or at least very powerful (the qualifier being that maybe there are some states-of-affairs it can only bring about indirectly).

With that one might appeal to other non-casual arguments that prove omnipotence coupled with the impossibility of there existing two omnipotent beings e.g. alone these lines:

1.the Modal Perfection Argument proves there is an omnipotent necessary being, X, which is also Omnibenevolent and Omniscient.

2. The PSR Cosmological Argument proves there is an omnipotent necessary being, Y,

3. There cannot be more than one an omnipotent being.

4. Therefore X = Y are identical.

My own preferred way is really to argue that accepting a necessary being with the other divine attributes has explanatory value e.g. for the problem of abstract objects or modal theory, and that for reasons of parsimony we should just stick to the one necessary being we already know exists unless we have reason otherwise.

 

3/23/2018 6:32 pm  #12


Re: What are your favorite ways of showing the first cause is God?

Ouros wrote:

Well, after reading Samuel Clark, I think that there a basically two big ways to show that the first cause is God:
- Either by arguing that the universe show order, wich is a sign of a designer, so a personal first cause: but that is basically the teleological argument, wich doesn't need the cosmological argument in the first place.
- Or by arguing that because there is intellect in the universe, and that it's irreductible to non-intellectual things, then the first cause posseses intellect, and can inject it in the creation. That means that materialism is possibly, in the ontological sense, false.

Ironically, that would mean, contra Kant, that the cosmological could depends on the physico-theological argument, and not the opposite.
So, for me, if we want to have a cosmological argument who doesn't need another theological argument, then we need to show that materialism is possibly false.
Thoughts?

 
The thing is I find that the teleological argument gets stronger when combined with the cosmological one. So we don't need to present it as an individual argument; as a manner of bridging the "gap problem" it is very effective. Because what the cosmological argument tells us that there actually is a necessary/independent being responsible for the existence of contingent ones. It is no longer a point of contention, whereas in the teleological argument one might respond that perhaps it's all explainable by powers and that's it, etc; once we know that there is a cause for contingent beings, their teleology becomes even more striking. This necessary being didn't just create anything; it created orderly beings in a harmony which allowed for the existence and development of human civilization, for instance. So when we combine the cosmological argume with teleological considerations, I think it may get stronger than normal teleological arguments: now we know there is a necessary foundation for the universe, the fact that this universe exhibits so much order is certainly a strong indication that the foundation is rational.

Alternatively or additionally, the tleeological arg at the end of a cosmological one can also be much simpler. It needn't even refer to anyhing specific, but merely to how contingent things come to be in an orderly fashion, not according to chaos, as I said in my other post. I think that's very striking.

A mixture of the cosm arg with the teleological arg is my favorite way to bridge the gap problem.

DanielCC wrote:

I appeal to libertarian free will in order to defang the modal collapse problem for the PSR, so de facto that gives one a necessary agent. Since said necessary agent is at the ultimate end of every explanatory chain in every possible world it would not be a stretch to call it omnipotent or at least very powerful (the qualifier being that maybe there are some states-of-affairs it can only bring about indirectly).

With that one might appeal to other non-casual arguments that prove omnipotence coupled with the impossibility of there existing two omnipotent beings e.g. alone these lines:

1.the Modal Perfection Argument proves there is an omnipotent necessary being, X, which is also Omnibenevolent and Omniscient.

2. The PSR Cosmological Argument proves there is an omnipotent necessary being, Y,

3. There cannot be more than one an omnipotent being.

4. Therefore X = Y are identical.

My own preferred way is really to argue that accepting a necessary being with the other divine attributes has explanatory value e.g. for the problem of abstract objects or modal theory, and that for reasons of parsimony we should just stick to the one necessary being we already know exists unless we have reason otherwise.

 
To use the free will arg, you have to refute the option of indeterministic impersonal causation though, right? How do you do that? Arguing that indeterministic causation will always involve a contingency in the explanans?

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3/24/2018 3:08 am  #13


Re: What are your favorite ways of showing the first cause is God?

Also, what exactly do you mean by problem of abstract objects?

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3/24/2018 2:30 pm  #14


Re: What are your favorite ways of showing the first cause is God?

Miguel wrote:

The thing is I find that the teleological argument gets stronger when combined with the cosmological one. So we don't need to present it as an individual argument; as a manner of bridging the "gap problem" it is very effective. Because what the cosmological argument tells us that there actually is a necessary/independent being responsible for the existence of contingent ones. It is no longer a point of contention, whereas in the teleological argument one might respond that perhaps it's all explainable by powers and that's it, etc; once we know that there is a cause for contingent beings, their teleology becomes even more striking. This necessary being didn't just create anything; it created orderly beings in a harmony which allowed for the existence and development of human civilization, for instance. So when we combine the cosmological argume with teleological considerations, I think it may get stronger than normal teleological arguments: now we know there is a necessary foundation for the universe, the fact that this universe exhibits so much order is certainly a strong indication that the foundation is rational.

Alternatively or additionally, the tleeological arg at the end of a cosmological one can also be much simpler. It needn't even refer to anyhing specific, but merely to how contingent things come to be in an orderly fashion, not according to chaos, as I said in my other post. I think that's very striking.

A mixture of the cosm arg with the teleological arg is my favorite way to bridge the gap problem.

I think an argument of natural theology is better the more it stand alone, with the less metaphysicals foundations.
Even a slighty use with teleology on the ground that "the universe is sustained, wich is better explained by a intelligent being" is too much for me. http://cdn.boardhost.com/emoticons/happy.png


Besides, I was thinking on another way to simply show that the First Cause is God.

1. The First cause is an impersonal, omnipotent being. (Premise for reductio)
2. The the First cause can bring a state of affair where it's intelligent, otherwise it wouldn't be omnipotent. ( Corollary of 1.)
3. Nothing can come from nothing. (Corollary of the PSR.)
4. If the First cause can bring a state of affair where it's intelligent, it must already posses intellect, otherwise it would come from noting. (By 2 and 3)
5. The First cause is an impersonal, omnipotent being with intellect. (Contradiction)
6. Therefore, the First cause is a personal, omnipotent being.

[EDIT]
I just thought that the argument is a little question-begging. An omnipotent being probably can't change its nature. So, if the First Cause is an impersonal omnipotent being, then it can't bring a possible world where it's intelligent.

Last edited by Ouros (3/24/2018 2:38 pm)

 

3/29/2018 12:20 pm  #15


Re: What are your favorite ways of showing the first cause is God?

BUMP.

Daniel, how do you rule out impersonal non-deterministic causation?

And does anybody here know why Feser concludes that since all created things must be in the first cause, they must be there like abstract ideas and not just as fire is eminently in a match, by virtue of a causal power?

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4/22/2018 8:08 am  #16


Re: What are your favorite ways of showing the first cause is God?

I would also know what you think about Feser argument for the intellect of the first cause, but I'm also rising this subject because of something I think about lately.

I think that we can show the First cause is personnal if materialism is possibly false, because ultimately, the First Cause would ground that possibility of immaterial mind.
Now, how can we prove this possibility premise, without showing that materialism is actually false? In a sense, it's more modest, but it's also harder.

 

4/22/2018 12:13 pm  #17


Re: What are your favorite ways of showing the first cause is God?

Ouros wrote:

I would also know what you think about Feser argument for the intellect of the first cause, but I'm also rising this subject because of something I think about lately.

I think that we can show the First cause is personnal if materialism is possibly false, because ultimately, the First Cause would ground that possibility of immaterial mind.
Now, how can we prove this possibility premise, without showing that materialism is actually false? In a sense, it's more modest, but it's also harder.

 
I think it's a little metaphysically heavy and it would've been better if he had spent more pages unpacking it, but it works. I think the gist is that since God is the ground and cause of all contingent things, he is also the ultimate ground of their universal forms, but to have universal forms within oneself like that just is to be an intellect. It's a little complicated and I have to look more closely at it, but I think it works.

There are some simpler ways of arguing for God's personhood/intelligence, however:

1) that everything that exists is either a physical thing, an abstract object, a mental content, or a mind. WLC and Vallicella use it as well. Feser gives this argument in the Neoplatonic Proof chapter, and I think it's one of the simplest ways of arguing for God's personhood/intelligence. Because the First Cause is immaterial, it cannot be a physical thing. But then the only known candidates for an immaterial being are abstract objs, mental content or a mind. At least these are the ones we're aware of, there doesn't seem to be any other category; and besides, when looking for explanations it's always better to be parsimonious and stick with our known ontology. So the First Cause is either an abstract object, a mental content, or a mind. A mental content without a mind makes no sense. But it can't be an abstract object either, because abstract objects don't cause anything. Therefore the first cause is a mind, or at least it is more like a mind than anything else.

I don't think this argument presupposes the actual immateriality of the mind. It is enough that we have a coherent concept of unembodied minds, and even materialists should at least grant the possibility of unembodied intellects. The point is that an unembodied mind is at least a candidate, something we're familiar with and that has also been defended by many serious philosophers. And it turns out to be the only good candidate for the First Cause, so we should roll with it. Of course, the argument becomes much more powerful if we also establish that our minds are, in fact, immaterial.

It can be strengthened by adding PPC, too, because then we know the FC must also have intelligence within itself, somehow. But then what would be a better candidate than a mind for something that is 1- immaterial 2- causally active 3- somehow possessing intelligence?

2) a related argument is that of different types of explanations. Swinburne, WLC and Pruss use this argument as well. Explanations can be of 3 types: scientific explanations, conceptual explanations, and personal explanations. These are the explanations we know about, and since "explanation" is a concept we use and that is based on our understanding, we should have a pretty good grasp of what are possible explanations. The explanation for the existence of contingent things cannot be scientific, bc scientific exps involve material and contingent entities, and the explanation for the existende of contingent things involves a necessary, immaterial being. It is also not a conceptual explanation. Therefore it is a personal explanation, in terms of a free action, etc.

I think these two arguments are simple yet very effective. By arguing for God's immateriality, we're already arguing for its personhood/intelligence. God being personal also has more explanatory power; it makes sense of the fact that the universe is well ordered and has conscious beings, a moral landscape, etc.

Last edited by Miguel (4/22/2018 12:22 pm)

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4/22/2018 12:37 pm  #18


Re: What are your favorite ways of showing the first cause is God?

Well, I get the general idea, but I've gome the same question as you say just before: why not say that the First Cause has the effects eminently in it?

Miguel wrote:

that everything that exists is either a physical thing, an abstract object, a mental content, or a mind.

Why not an immateriel concrete object? Is it something logically impossible? After all, it seems to beg the question against those who maintain that The Absolute is impersonal.
It would be the only thing we know like that of course, so, as you say, by parsimony, it's less probable. But if someone is some "local materialist", arguing that materialism is true for human being, he could say that he doesn't know either embodied mind. Therefore, embodied mind and immaterial impersonal being are both new ontological planes.

Miguel wrote:

It is enough that we have a coherent concept of unembodied minds, and even materialists should at least grant the possibility of unembodied intellects.

Why though?
Even if brilliant philosophers weren't materialist, it would mean that there is an epistemological possibility rather than a logical one.
Let's say someone take an agnostic stance: "I don't claim that materialism is necessarily true, necessarily false or possible." What argument could we give him? Some concevability as guide to possibility?
But it's a dangerous path, because someone could retort that then brute facts are also concevaible.

 

4/22/2018 1:07 pm  #19


Re: What are your favorite ways of showing the first cause is God?

Ouros wrote:

Well, I get the general idea, but I've gome the same question as you say just before: why not say that the First Cause has the effects eminently in it?

Miguel wrote:

that everything that exists is either a physical thing, an abstract object, a mental content, or a mind.

Why not an immateriel concrete object? Is it something logically impossible? After all, it seems to beg the question against those who maintain that The Absolute is impersonal.
It would be the only thing we know like that of course, so, as you say, by parsimony, it's less probable. But if someone is some "local materialist", arguing that materialism is true for human being, he could say that he doesn't know either embodied mind. Therefore, embodied mind and immaterial impersonal being are both new ontological planes.

Miguel wrote:

It is enough that we have a coherent concept of unembodied minds, and even materialists should at least grant the possibility of unembodied intellects.

Why though?
Even if brilliant philosophers weren't materialist, it would mean that there is an epistemological possibility rather than a logical one.
Let's say someone take an agnostic stance: "I don't claim that materialism is necessarily true, necessarily false or possible." What argument could we give him? Some concevability as guide to possibility?
But it's a dangerous path, because someone could retort that then brute facts are also concevaible.

 
Because an immaterial concrete mindless object makes no sense. What would it even mean? What would it be able to do? What could differentiate it from both abstract objects and minds? The burden of proof is up to the proponent of such a bizarre object.

Notably, the only other thing we also have difficulties making sense of (at least materialists) is consciousness, intentionality, etc. It seems to me therefore that there isn't really any contest here; if the necessary being is not physical or abstract, by far the most plausible option is a mind. So we must say it's a mind because:

1) an immaterial, impersonal concrete object may very well be a logical contradiction. What else could it be? If someone suggests kahsoahdofng is logically possible, it is up to them to explain why and what it is, other than saying it is kahsoahdofng. What is it that differentiates the impersonal necessary being from minds and abstract objects? How does it cause anything without i) any kind of thoughts, intentions or what we'd call free actions; ii) without any physical mechanism or relations? It seems that an immaterial, impersonal concrete object is pretty much on the same par with kahsoahdofng. We can give it a name, but we cannot describe it in any way other than trivially saying it is the cause of the universe, and we have no principled reason to distinguish it from an immaterial mind.

2) Parsimony. There is already a known candidate for an immaterial concrete being: mind. Proponents of materialism should at least grant that it's possible for immaterial minds to exist. Even if our minds must be material, multiple realizability should allow for the possibility of an unembodied non-human mind. And it would be disingenuous to pretend there aren't problems with materialistic accounts of consciousness, intentionality and reason.

That should be enough to accept that the necessary being is a mind. If someone takes an agnostic stance, why would they reject the claim that the nec being is a mind if I've already given two reasons in favor of it? The only way they could do that is if they accept the possibility of a mindless immaterial concrete object which we can't even make sense of, and if they reject parsimony. But that's crazy. All things being equal, it is much more plausible that the First Cause is a mind or analogous to a mind.

Moreover, there are two additional reasons for taking the mind hypothesis (say we're treating it abductively):

A) by PPC, the First Cause must have intelligence in it. It is, after all, the cause of intelligent beings -- and whatever intelligence is, it certainly doesn't seem to be reducible to particles in motion. But then the FC is a concrete, immaterial being which somehow has intelligence. What better candidate than a mind?

B) That the FC is a mind has much more explanatory power. It makes sense of and explain the fact that the universe is well ordered, has rational physical laws, conscious intelligent beings capable of virtue and serious actions in a moral landscape, etc. These teleological features of the universe can be nicely explained by a mind.

C) It can also explain abstract objects against both Platonism and Aristotelian realism (Augustinian argument, pretty much)

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4/22/2018 3:47 pm  #20


Re: What are your favorite ways of showing the first cause is God?

Oh, and when certain people describe the Absolute as being impersonal, what is generally meant is some form of pantheism. But if we eliminate pantheism then it doesn't seem to make much sense to say the Absolute is impersonal; surely not when we think of the argument.

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