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3/10/2018 2:46 pm  #61


Re: Is there any hope for atheism as a philosophical position?

Greg wrote:

Your own solution is that because God knows all possibilities, God can have the same knowledge in every possible world. Unfortunately, that does not distinguish God's knowledge of what's actual from what's merely possible; he knows the actual world only in so far as it's a possible world.

"Only in so far" may be understood in several ways. That God knows that He created world A and not world B is beyond obvious. Now, does the fact that world A was created while world B was not imply that God can have some additional knowledge of world A, beyond that it was created? In other words, can world A "surprise" God in any way? Surely not.

Greg wrote:

You'd lack knowledge, for instance, if everything you knew about the actual world were knowledge of a possibility, if your knowledge did not go further than that possibly you left your keys on the counter, that possibly there are tigers, that possibly the Eiffel Tower is in Paris, etc. So far as you've specified, that is the kind of knowledge that God has of the actual world.

I find quite surprising that you attribute that position to me, since I definitely distinguish between the limited knowledge that a creature has in time with the absolutely perfect knowledge that God has in eternity of both contingent possibilities and contingent actualities.

Greg wrote:

There is a further problem in that you have a priority to God's knowing these possibilities to his deciding to actualize one of them. This seems to compromise God's simplicity.

Logical priority, yes. Temporal priority, no, since God Is in eternity.

Greg wrote:

In Aquinas' picture, God's knowledge of possibilities is different from his knowledge of actualities. God knows what is actual through causing it; it is practical knowledge, akin to the knowledge that an architect has of what he builds.

I disagree. An architect to a certain extent "learns" something when he sees his finished work. God does not learn anything from what He creates. The Genesis' expression "and God saw that it was good" is figurative language. God knows in eternity that the light, etc. is good. His knowledge does not increase by His actually creating it.

Greg wrote:

He knows what he knows about creation in knowing himself. (What is supposed to reconcile his knowledge of creation with the contingency of creation is that the identity condition of his act of knowing, which is identical to him, is its principal object, himself. It is the same act, and his essence is consequently the same, in possible worlds in which he creates something else and therefore has different knowledge about creation.) God's knowledge of possibilities is a matter of his knowledge of what could cause them (himself and/or creatures). Part of the point of such a picture as this is that there is no succession; God does not know possibilities before willing that one of them be actual, nor does he will that something be actual and then 'observe' it to acquire knowledge about it. His knowledge is the cause of what it understands.

You seem to imply that there is something special in the actual universe with respect to all other possible universes beyond the fact that it exists while the others do not. There is not. So, I change your first statement as: "God knows what He knows about all possible universes in knowing Himself."
 

 

3/10/2018 4:08 pm  #62


Re: Is there any hope for atheism as a philosophical position?

Johannes wrote:

That God knows that He created world A and not world B is beyond obvious.

But now you have lost sight of the original point of saying that God knows that in possible world U1, such-and-such, that in possible world U2, such-and-such, that in possible world U3, such-and-such, ..., and then creates: to answer Pruss's problem that God's beliefs seem to be intrinsic properties but differ in different possible worlds. For now you are saying that God's knowledge is not the same in each possible world, and the same problem arises about knowledge. God knows something in U3 which he doesn't know in U2, and knowledge, as much as belief, seems to be an intrinsic property of God.

Johannes wrote:

Now, does the fact that world A was created while world B was not imply that God can have some additional knowledge of world A, beyond that it was created? In other words, can world A "surprise" God in any way? Surely not.

Well, perhaps not, if God's knowledge that world A was created is his knowledge that, for instance, Bucephalus (who is created in the creating of world A) is a horse, among other things, then no, there is nothing further to know.

But in your earlier post you did not add that God knows which world was created. I didn't ascribe that to you as something which you obviously implicitly held because, as I noted, it undermines the suggestion that God's knowing what would be the case in each possible world constitutes any sort of reply to Pruss.

Johannes wrote:

I find quite surprising that you attribute that position to me, since I definitely distinguish between the limited knowledge that a creature has in time with the absolutely perfect knowledge that God has in eternity of both contingent possibilities and contingent actualities.

Distinguish all you like. The point is that you specified what kind of knowledge God has of each possible world before specifying that he creates exactly one of them, and then you said nothing more about his knowledge. This is to make his knowledge of world U3 the same as it would be if he had created a different world.

You can, again, add that God knows which world he creates, but then the reply to Pruss goes out the window.

Johannes wrote:

I disagree. An architect to a certain extent "learns" something when he sees his finished work. God does not learn anything from what He creates.

It's accidental to an architect as an architect that he learns something when he sees his finished work; he learns something from seeing his finished work in the same sense in which you and I do. That is not his practical knowledge. The point is that his practical knowledge of what he builds is the knowledge which is the cause of what he builds. Anscombe gives the example of someone who knows what is written on a chalkboard, by writing it with his eyes closed. That, in practice, we can almost always see what we are doing, does not show that we do not have a form of practical knowledge which is the cause of what it understands, the character of which is clearest in limiting cases. Aquinas holds that God's knowledge of creation is like that.

Johannes wrote:

You seem to imply that there is something special in the actual universe with respect to all other possible universes beyond the fact that it exists while the others do not.

I am not sure why you think this.

Johannes wrote:

So, I change your first statement as: "God knows what He knows about all possible universes in knowing Himself."

This doesn't contradict what I said. God's knowledge of what is actual is practical knowledge, which is a kind of self-knowledge. And God's knowledge of what is possible is knowledge of the powers of things, either of himself or of creatures (who are objects of his practical knowledge). In both cases God knows what he knows in knowing himself, but the accounts are distinct.

 

3/14/2018 8:34 pm  #63


Re: Is there any hope for atheism as a philosophical position?

Greg wrote:

I've been 'round and 'round with John West and others on the topic. My discussions could hardly be called hand-waving, especially relative to the rest of the "online philosophy discussion" genre; much less Miller's. We usually get around to an externalist account of belief and agency. I am not sure why this'd be thought the "absolute worst" problem for classical theism. It's not as though the classical theist is forced into an uncomfortable dilemma. It's not as though he's changing his view; it is easy to translate Aquinas into this idiom. The classical theist bit all of the bullets before the objection was even formulated with the neat name "extrinsic properties objection". If experience serves, the objector will eventually come to say that he just can't accept an external account of beliefs, to which the classical theist is free to shrug; he was not claiming that it had motivation independent of natural-theological considerations, anyway.

(Part of what would go toward making the reply seem less obscure would be having an account of analogy. I think it'd be more accurate that the most serious problem for the classical theist is to have an account of analogy sufficiently developed that it doesn't just seem like a goalpost-moving scheme. But I find it difficult to see how the force of the extrinsic properties objection does not simply reduce to that.)

Haha, Greg. Come on man! You know I don't have time to properly reply about this right now. (Greg and I have a private correspondence.)

The gist of my reply is that I think the "God is different" reply is fine, but that it drives you towards a purely negative view of God. (I'm not sure that such a view is tenable, but, well, I think the mystics and Maimonideans are better positioned, anyway. I'll write about it more, perhaps, for Ontological Investigations this summer.)

 

3/14/2018 8:41 pm  #64


Re: Is there any hope for atheism as a philosophical position?

UGADawg wrote:

I find this attractive, since I wouldn't want classical theism to be dependent upon such a controversial thesis as libertarian free will, which seems to run into significant problems whenever one attempts to give a sufficiently plausible account of it consistent with PSR.

I don't have time to comb through this whole thread, but here is another consideration. Suppose there are two possible worlds, w and v. Further suppose w is exactly the same as v except for one perfectly resembling trope or nominalist blob or indiscernible universal. What possible reason could God have to create w over v?

Dan tries to sidestep this objection with his libertarian-free-choice-as-explanation reply. But if determinism, no such reply. But seems to drive the PSR question (the strong PSR, anyway) back to free will questions independently of modal collapse.

Likewise the Buridan's ass variant Dan mentions in his review.

 

3/14/2018 11:53 pm  #65


Re: Is there any hope for atheism as a philosophical position?

Greg wrote:

Johannes wrote:

That God knows that He created world A and not world B is beyond obvious.

But now you have lost sight of the original point of saying that God knows that in possible world U1, such-and-such, that in possible world U2, such-and-such, that in possible world U3, such-and-such, ..., and then creates: to answer Pruss's problem that God's beliefs seem to be intrinsic properties but differ in different possible worlds. For now you are saying that God's knowledge is not the same in each possible world, and the same problem arises about knowledge. God knows something in U3 which he doesn't know in U2, and knowledge, as much as belief, seems to be an intrinsic property of God.

I did not adress the original issue because it is clear that if the decision to create U1 (or U2, or both in parallel, or none) is not an intrinsic property of God, neither is his knowledge about the specific decision that He made.

Summarizing:

World 0: God in world 0 (having decided not to create & knowing that)
World 1: God in world 1 (having decided to create U1 & knowing that) + created universe U1
World 2: God in world 2 (having decided to create U2 & knowing that) + created universe U2

If deciding whether to create U1 (or U2, or both in parallel, or none) is not an intrinsic property of God, then knowing the specific decision that He made is not an intrinsic property of God.

 

 

3/15/2018 9:21 am  #66


Re: Is there any hope for atheism as a philosophical position?

Johannes wrote:

I did not adress the original issue because it is clear that if the decision to create U1 (or U2, or both in parallel, or none) is not an intrinsic property of God, neither is his knowledge about the specific decision that He made.

That's fine with me. I only objected because you were insisting against Pruss that we should talk of divine knowledge rather than divine beliefs, and that did nothing to resolve his problem; the solution you are suggesting now applies equally to divine belief.

 

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