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6/08/2017 12:11 pm  #1


Feser's way of arriving at a purely actual first mover

In both Aquinas and The Last Superstition Feser seems to acknowledge that the First Way by itself only proves that there is a first mover who has its causal efficacy, with regards to a causal series ordered per se, in a purely actual way. It doesn't show us that this first mover is essentially purely actual with no potentials at all--there could well be potentials irrelevant to it being the first mover in a causal series ordered per se.

Feser suggests that we can arrive at a purely actual being by acknowledging this principle: "it is evident that anything whatever operates insofar as it is a being" (QDA 19). That is, just as causal power is ordered in a per se fashion and must ultimately trace back to a first mover who has causal power in a purely actual way, so too existence or being is ordered in a per se fashion and must trace back to a first mover who has its existence in a purely actual way. For example, the hand's existence is actualized by its cellular structure, which is actualized by its molecular structure, which is actualized by its atomic structure, subatomic structure, electromagnetism, all of this happening here and now, with each level of being dependent on a prior one for its existence. 

Now, Feser seems to conclude, we must arrive at a first mover who has its existence in a purely actual way. Therefore, it can have no potentials because it exists in a purely actual way. Does this follow though? If something has no potentials relative to its existence, does it follow that it can't have potentials at all? I would appreciate some help with this, as the pure actuality of the first mover has always been an intellectual struggle of mine.

 

6/09/2017 12:09 pm  #2


Re: Feser's way of arriving at a purely actual first mover

Hello RomanJoe.
could you please clarify a little(word it differently maybe) what your objection is, it seems hard to follow, that is why I think no one has responded yet .

Like I am not sure what this is really amounts to. 

RomanJoe wrote:

Feser seems to acknowledge that the First Way by itself only proves that there is a first mover who has its causal efficacy, with regards to a causal series ordered per se, in a purely actual way. It doesn't show us that this first mover is essentially purely actual with no potentials at all--there could well be potentials irrelevant to it being the first mover in a causal series ordered per se.

What Page are you reading in? , I don't think He says anything like that maybe there is some confusion here regarding what he says in his illustration of per se ordered series where he says that even the hand is ultimately not purely actual mover and is moved only insofar as moved by muscles but I don't know where he says that First Way doesn't prove that First mover is purely actual..thats the very conclusion of the argument...

What am I missing here?

 

6/09/2017 4:41 pm  #3


Re: Feser's way of arriving at a purely actual first mover

Calhoun wrote:

Hello RomanJoe.
could you please clarify a little(word it differently maybe) what your objection is, it seems hard to follow, that is why I think no one has responded yet .

Like I am not sure what this is really amounts to. 

RomanJoe wrote:

Feser seems to acknowledge that the First Way by itself only proves that there is a first mover who has its causal efficacy, with regards to a causal series ordered per se, in a purely actual way. It doesn't show us that this first mover is essentially purely actual with no potentials at all--there could well be potentials irrelevant to it being the first mover in a causal series ordered per se.

What Page are you reading in? , I don't think He says anything like that maybe there is some confusion here regarding what he says in his illustration of per se ordered series where he says that even the hand is ultimately not purely actual mover and is moved only insofar as moved by muscles but I don't know where he says that First Way doesn't prove that First mover is purely actual..thats the very conclusion of the argument...

What am I missing here?

I'm not at home currently but,  from what I remember, on pages 74-76 of Aquinas Feser makes the argument that the first mover must exist in a purely actual way. He then seems to say that having non-derivative existence means one can't have any potentials. I just want to know why he thinks this is true. Can't something have non-derivative existence and still have various other potentials?

     Thread Starter
 

6/09/2017 5:08 pm  #4


Re: Feser's way of arriving at a purely actual first mover

Pretty sure Feser would say that if something has underived existence it has to be being itself, and therefore has no essence distinct from it's existence to even have potentials. If it is being itself, it clearly has no potentiality.

 

6/09/2017 9:14 pm  #5


Re: Feser's way of arriving at a purely actual first mover

Alexander wrote:

Pretty sure Feser would say that if something has underived existence it has to be being itself, and therefore has no essence distinct from it's existence to even have potentials. If it is being itself, it clearly has no potentiality.

Good point, but would that make the First Way parasitic on the Existential Proof? Not that that is bad, it's just that it would be preferable to have the First Way, by itself, arrive at Pure Act--aka God. 

     Thread Starter
 

6/09/2017 9:27 pm  #6


Re: Feser's way of arriving at a purely actual first mover

RomanJoe wrote:

I'm not at home currently but, from what I remember, on pages 74-76 of Aquinas Feser makes the argument that the first mover must exist in a purely actual way.

 I think you're talking about the passage where Feser Discusses an objection to the argument from Scott MacDonald, Well it hardly follows from this that Feser acknowledges that its the first way that doesn't prove that first mover is pure act, he is just describing the objection in that passage,

RomanJoe wrote:

He then seems to say that having non-derivative existence means one can't have any potentials. I just want to know why he thinks this is true. Can't something have non-derivative existence and still have various other potentials?

Well if anything has various potentials then it would require actualisation so it can't really have non-derivative existence, but it only has that insofar as its actualised by something else, because possibly having various other potentials would mean that what ever function a said thing is performing is merely one actualised potential  among other so would require actualisation.

Hope this helps and I suggest you read that passage more carefully that might help too as Feser provides a fairly elaborate discussion of this objection.

 

6/09/2017 9:52 pm  #7


Re: Feser's way of arriving at a purely actual first mover

Calhoun wrote:

Well if anything has various potentials then it would require actualisation so it can't really have non-derivative existence, but it only has that insofar as its actualised by something else, because possibly having various other potentials would mean that what ever function a said thing is performing is merely one actualised potential  among other so would require actualisation.

Hope this helps and I suggest you read that passage more carefully that might help too as Feser provides a fairly elaborate discussion of this objection.

Ah, interesting. Are you suggesting that if something has a multiplicity of potentials then an actualization of a particular potential implies that there is something outside of it actualizing said potential? 
 

     Thread Starter
 

6/09/2017 10:47 pm  #8


Re: Feser's way of arriving at a purely actual first mover

RomanJoe wrote:

Are you suggesting that if something has a multiplicity of potentials then an actualization of a particular potential implies that there is something outside of it actualizing said potential?

Well that simply follows from principle of causality, I am pointing out that anything which is a mixture of act/potency requires actualization so it can't really have non-derivative existence.

 

6/10/2017 6:52 pm  #9


Re: Feser's way of arriving at a purely actual first mover

Calhoun wrote:

I am pointing out that anything which is a mixture of act/potency requires actualization so it can't really have non-derivative existence.

*Playing devil's advocate* Could we not have something that doesn't derive its act of existence from any prior member but still has potentials irrelevant to its act of existence? 
 

     Thread Starter
 

6/10/2017 9:30 pm  #10


Re: Feser's way of arriving at a purely actual first mover

RomanJoe wrote:

Calhoun wrote:

I am pointing out that anything which is a mixture of act/potency requires actualization so it can't really have non-derivative existence.

*Playing devil's advocate* Could we not have something that doesn't derive its act of existence from any prior member but still has potentials irrelevant to its act of existence? 
 

Again No, anything that has potentiality in it requires actualization, but could you please describe what does having
potentials irrelevant to its act of existence mean?

 

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