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5/20/2017 11:21 am  #21


Re: The Impossibility of God

Greg wrote:

Marty wrote:

Presumably, when you say, "the execution of an intention is action in accordance with a conception about what will happen" you mean to say it will possibly occur, since you have no guarantee of what will necessarily occur. All expectations or commitments presuppose possibility that co-companies it -- unless you claim that you have such an ability that you know it will occur?

No, that is not what I mean. "a conception about _____" is an intensional context; when I say "what will happen," I am characterizing the content of the conception, not providing it with a referent, so that the existence of the conception does not depend on "what will happen" in fact having a referent.

Marty wrote:

Also, to back step a bit, let me fix what I said eariler: some desires are intentional, others are mere casual dispositions. But when something is intentional, it seems to follow that it is then normative.

I don't have any beef with finding a sense of "normative" in which it's true that intentions (and desires, and beliefs) are "normative". I was asking what that sense was and why the normativity of intentions, desires, and beliefs implies that for each intention, desire, or belief, it is possible for that intention, desire, or belief to fail.

Marty wrote:

So looking at it another way: intentional desires/beliefs are propositional statements that are either true or false, and they're either true or false depending on how one engages through those commitments. But the tricky thing with God is that God cannot even have beliefs, he just has knoweldge, it seems.You could say that "God doesn't engage through these activites" but then we're just not talking about intentional states. 

I don't follow your meaning.

Yes, ascriptions of intention and belief are propositions which can be true or false. For instance: A intends to φ; B believes that p. It is also true that these propositions will provide us with conditions for saying that A successfully executed his intention or that B is correct in his belief, and correspondingly they provide conditions for failure.

One could call these conditions "commitments": in the case of intention, a commitment to bringing something particular in about, and in the case of belief, a commitment to the world's being a certain way. It isn't true, though, that the truth of the ascription of intentions and beliefs depends on "how one engages through those commitments" (unless this means something I don't appreciate). Someone can intend to φ even if he doesn't, and one can believe that p even if p is false. The "success" and "failure" of intentions and beliefs is orthogonal to the truth or falsity of ascriptions of intention and belief.

In any case, I'd be happy to say that intentions and beliefs are normative if this just means that it makes sense to attribute success or failure to them. What I deny, and what I have seen little argument for, is that an ascription of intention must be false if it is not possible for that intention to fail. One would think that specifying the conditions for success or failure is sufficient; that for some reason the fulfillment of these conditions is ruled out does not seem to imperil the truth of an ascription of intention.

I wouldn't say that God lacks beliefs because he has knowledge. Knowledge seems to be a kind of belief.

Yeah, but part of the intensional content of having a belief is that it can fail. Presumably, any belief can fail to adhere to certain norm. For example, "I believe I am x, or at place y" and that I have another belief, "I believe I am x², or at place y²." Then these would be inconsistent, and my belief in something would presumably fail to adhere to my earlier one. There doesn't seem to be any examples of where failure cannot occur. 

And unless I'm misunderstanding you, I'm not saying that they must fail, just must be able to fail. But perhaps I'm misunderstanding you. 

And I understand that knoweldge is a type of belief, but God's knoweldge would always be justified, true, belief. That is when one thinks something, another belief cannot be inconsistent with that, and seems to run into the problem of normativity again. 

 


"And this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity; that the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith."
― Søren Kierkegaard
 

5/20/2017 11:27 am  #22


Re: The Impossibility of God

Camoden wrote:

I mean it isn't a good argument even on Univocity, because you could say the intellect being in the intrinsic mode of infinity simply cannot fail to actualize any state of affairs. In addition, since this intellect has no principle of limit, and since God's proper object is Himself (which Aquinas gives arguments for due to God's proper beatitude), anything God would do would be governed by knowledge of His perfect self. Hence while the possibility in human agents being able to fail would be in the misjudgement of the goodness of a primary object, God simply is able to grasp the primary object of His intellect (the object being Himself) perfectly, which clearly does not necessitate a ability to fail. So even treating this univocally seems to not entail the potency to fail!
  
So, God having an intellect in the intrinsic mode of infinity, would have a mental world present in a very real sense even on a non analogical understanding of God's nature. Being able to fail doesn't seem to be a necessary, or even remotely strong definition of a mind and willing. Anselm's definition of freedom (which ties into an argument such as this), is arguably also factorable into this, which would simply say God is intellectual and free due to the fact God possesses  the "ability to keep rectitude of the will for its own sake". Anselm thinks is the same essential defintion no matter where you stand on the hierarchy of being. More importantly, I see no reason, after coming to the conclusion God is the First Being (which these arguments seek to show), we cannot move into a exercise in perfect being theology and simply remove the principles of limitation from the concept of an intellect, which in and of itself does not imply an imperfection, and predicate it of God.

For example, it is not like the perfection of having ears, which implies being a matter form composite, and hence limitation by being posterior/dependent. The argument, which seems at the very least plausible, will show that God possesses an intellect, however in the mode of infinity. I do not think the fact that intellect's within our experience necessarily have a disposition for potential failure necessitates its an essential fact. I would say the ability to have a primary object (which my first argument sought to show, even if this proof is derivataive), the ability to possess forms imminently (which Augustine's arguments show), the ability to concur with intellectual causes plus move them in a way fitting with their respective natures, and arguments from proportionate causality (which show God would possess an intellect by being the cause of creaturely ones) all would be things fitting of an intellectual being, and a infinite one would simply have the sorts of limitations you mentioned removed. If you accept a moral element to this freedom like Anselm did, then this limitation will be less obviously a key feature of an account of freedom, hence showing all of these criticisms to simply fail. Limitations from not being able to preserve goodness (proclivities to do evil, which Anselm argues is impotence) will also be limits that need to be removed, which is the primary governing law in human experience. The difference between God and humans would merely be that one goodness is essential and one is placed upon it exteriorly, constituted by obeying a moral law. Nothing about someone like Anselm's defintion necessitates an ability to fail, and to move from our human failures to a divine failure seems quite fallacious. You of course can argue against these sorts of definitions, and I agree they are very dubious, but challenge the classical theist on their own terms. Anselm does give arguments for his defintion, as do Aquinas, Scotus, Bonaventure, and the others within the Classical Theist position justify their respective positions. Even granting your defintions however, nothing about your argument follows from looking at the concept of an intellect and will. 

Lastly, I am not convinced this sort of intentionality mentioned is the mark of the mental. Brentano was simply mistaken since all causal powers for example incorporate this sort of intrinsic directedness. 

God bless you, and have a great day. 

I don't believe I'm describing the same type of intentionality Brentano is talking about; that is, I'm not talking about consciousness that is directed at something. I'm just saying that people have intentions (commitments). Some of these commitments are beliefs and desires, and unfortunately the English word "belief" is ambiguous to what it means. For it could be viewed in the English language as a passive casual disposition. Here I'm talking about the intentional normativity of beliefs, and normativity is constitutive of intentional beliefs. If we're going on to talk about "God's minds" then I'm not sure what makes it a mind at all, right? We're just making up words up at that point.

Last edited by Marty (5/20/2017 11:27 am)


"And this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity; that the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith."
― Søren Kierkegaard
     Thread Starter
 

5/20/2017 12:13 pm  #23


Re: The Impossibility of God

Marty,

It seems like your problem is just with analogical reasoning.  If we are being very strict, I think the Thomist would agree that "God does not have a mind", if by 'mind' you mean a human mind.   He does possess something like the power that the human mind displays though.

As someone said earlier, God is strange to us, because he is completely unique.

I guess I am failing to see the force of your argument.  Perhaps I am misunderstanding you.  Are you criticizing the idea that Yahweh is being being superimposed on the Aristotle's prime mover?

 

5/20/2017 12:33 pm  #24


Re: The Impossibility of God

Brian wrote:

Marty,

It seems like your problem is just with analogical reasoning. If we are being very strict, I think the Thomist would agree that "God does not have a mind", if by 'mind' you mean a human mind. He does possess something like the power that the human mind displays though.

As someone said earlier, God is strange to us, because he is completely unique.

I guess I am failing to see the force of your argument. Perhaps I am misunderstanding you. Are you criticizing the idea that Yahweh is being being superimposed on the Aristotle's prime mover?

Well, I guess the argument is that we're anthropomorphizing God with a mind. Presumably, if, say, the Thomistic wants to define God negatively (as what he's not), then I'm not sure why they're defining God with a positive description: that he has anything like a human-like mind. 

Last edited by Marty (5/20/2017 12:39 pm)


"And this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity; that the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith."
― Søren Kierkegaard
     Thread Starter
 

5/20/2017 12:52 pm  #25


Re: The Impossibility of God

Marty wrote:

Well, I guess the argument is that we're anthropomorphizing God with a mind. Presumably, if, say, the Thomistic want to define God negatively (as what he's not), then I'm not sure why they're defining God with a positive description: that he has anything like a human-like mind. 

But what Thomist would say "God has something like a human mind"? If they did, that claim would be laden with a million qualifications before ever being made. A Thomist would say that we can use language analogically to correctly claim "God knows X" or "God loves X", but any straightforward "God has a mind/intellect" would be out of the question.

In any case, if having beliefs requires that those beliefs may be mistaken - sure, God has no beliefs. I can still say "God knows X", but now I will have pinpointed yet another regard in which God's knowledge is not like our knowledge, and underlined yet another reason we can't understand exactly what it is for God to know. For a solid defense of why we can say that God knows things, within a natural theology that puts a very heavy emphasis on divine simplicity, try Barry Miller's "A Most Unlikely God". (I won't provide links, but unlike most of his works it can be easily found in its entirety online, if you are so inclined.) It seems like the sort of thing you are after - and if any Catholic philosopher can definitely not be said to fall to anthropomorphism, it's Barry Miller.

A Thomist who stresses negative theology, such as Herbert McCabe or Brian Davies, could go even further than most Thomists on this point, by staying entirely within negative theology. McCabe, for example, believed that the crucial point is merely that God cannot be less than personal - he cannot be more like a blind force of nature than like a person - and that this is what we are getting at if we speak casually of God having something like a mind.

 

5/20/2017 3:08 pm  #26


Re: The Impossibility of God

Look, what stops me from saying that God is a spatial-temporal being, but just redefine spatial-temporal to mean spatial-temporal², where spatial now means a really all-powerful spatiality that cannot be divisible, or composite? Or saying a really all-powerful temporalness that exists always but temporally. I can evoke a every-present moment. But we'd say, "Well no, because that's just a contradiction given that spatial means something that's composite and divisible, and temporal meaning something that flows through time." Likewise, beliefs (any that we know of at least) can all fail due to their intentional and normative nature. 

I guess another question that might be asked is there a way to provide an argument to show how God is by necessity meant to have a mind that's uniquely his own? 

Last edited by Marty (5/20/2017 3:24 pm)


"And this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity; that the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith."
― Søren Kierkegaard
     Thread Starter
 

5/20/2017 3:42 pm  #27


Re: The Impossibility of God

Marty wrote:

Look, what stops me from saying that God is a spatial-temporal being, but just redefine spatial-temporal to mean spatial-temporal², where spatial now means a really all-powerful spatiality that cannot be divisible, or composite? Or saying a really all-powerful temporalness that exists always but temporally. I can evoke a every-present moment. But we'd say, "Well no, because that's just a contradiction given that spatial means something that's composite and divisible, and temporal meaning something that flows through time." Likewise, beliefs (any that we know of at least) can all fail due to their intentional and normative nature. 

If you were speaking analogically, nothing would stop you from saying those things.  It wouldn't  be clear or precise but it would be a good first attempt at defining what it means to be omnipresent and eternal.

If you were speaking literally, what would stop you from saying that God is spatio-temporal would be the meanings of those words (or perhaps you're a Mormon!)

It seems you just don't like/want to accept analogical reasoning, which, to be fair, is an interesting criticism.   I just don't see any particular problem with God's "beliefs".

 

5/20/2017 4:29 pm  #28


Re: The Impossibility of God

Perhaps an interesting question is where the demarcation point between reworking a definition completely, and having analogical differences?


"And this is one of the most crucial definitions for the whole of Christianity; that the opposite of sin is not virtue but faith."
― Søren Kierkegaard
     Thread Starter
 

5/20/2017 10:34 pm  #29


Re: The Impossibility of God

Marty wrote:

Perhaps an interesting question is where the demarcation point between reworking a definition completely, and having analogical differences?

I don't think that reasoning analogically requires us to change any definitions, rather we use a word knowing that we use in it in a way that really only grabs one aspect of the definition and applies it to a new situation.  For example when we mention the mind of God, we are not saying that God has a mind that is like ours, nor are we taking poetic license in describing something the we have no knowledge of.  We are saying that God exhibits powers or effects that are in some essential way similar to the power that humans display when using the mind.

Fate or Providence seem plan-like, meaning they seem like the result of some deliberation or planning, which are both activities done by human minds.  We can speak of Providence as being the plan of the mind of God analogically, but this neither requires us to change our definition of mind, nor does it require us to say God is a copy posited being who has a mind just like us.  I think it merely entails that we believe Providence is similar to human planning in some way and that the thing that "does" Providence is in some fundamental similar to the effect of a minc.  God's mind is unlike a human mind in that it does not ever fail to attain its goals, it is not insufficiently rational, it does not forget about some variable, etc,  but it is is still similar to a mind.

 

5/21/2017 6:52 am  #30


Re: The Impossibility of God

Marty wrote:

Yeah, but part of the intensional content of having a belief is that it can fail. Presumably, any belief can fail to adhere to certain norm.

I've argued that an ascription of belief, which may be true whether or not the belief is correct, at least provides conditions for success or failure. In some cases, those conditions will show how things would have to be for the belief to be false.

But there is no requirement that the conditions for failure actually be possible. Maybe they are; then failure is possible. But if not, then failure is impossible, and that doesn't impugn the belief's being normative in the required sense. (In other words, it's possible for you to be at location a rather than location b; thus it is possible that your belief "I am at location a" is incorrect. But it is not possibly false that 2+2=4, so your belief that 2+2=4 cannot fail, but that doesn't mean it isn't a belief.

So we make more sense if what is entailed by the existence of a belief is a set of conditions for failure, rather than an actually possibility for failure. But that takes all of the wind out of the sails of the original argument.

(I agree with others that the argument insufficiently appreciates analogical predication, but I think this is the more fundamental error it makes, for which reason it is not just unsuccessful against classical theism but even against theistic personalism.)

 

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