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6/22/2018 12:38 am  #21


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

mnels123 wrote:

So after I finish Five Proofs (I have still a few more questions I'd like to post here), what would you all recommend for more advanced writings on classical theism? I hear people mention David Oderberg and Brian Davies. Anyone else that is worth reading, given that I am still relatively new to this area of study?

I'm by no means as educated in classical theism as most of the folks here are but I really love Oderberg's work. He has a website with a few articles online. Garrigou Lagrange has some great stuff too and most of it is available at the EWTN website I believe. His heftier work "God His Existence and Nature" is available for free on Archive.org. Also, it's not really advanced stuff, but David Bentley Hart has a beautiful book called "The Experience of God."

Feser's "Scholastic Metaphysics" is worth a read if you want something that goes deeper into the metaphysical principles briefly brought up in "Five Proofs." Granted, it's not explicitly theistic and doesn't try to argue for the existence of God, but it does introduce and defend a view of reality that inevitably leads to God.

Last edited by RomanJoe (6/22/2018 2:32 pm)

 

6/22/2018 5:36 am  #22


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

In order to fully appreciate the more advanced writings you'll need at least a partially grounding in analytical ontology. For this I'd recommend Michael Loux's Metaphysics : a contemporary introduction or E.J. Lowe's A Survey of Metaphysics (the former is the better book but it really throws you in at the deep end with the opening chapters). Scholastic Metaphysics would make a nice counter-point to either of these.

After that I'd recommend reading some essays by Lowe and Alexander Pruss (particularly his long article on the cosmological argument). Brian Davies articles on Anselm, Aquinas and Divine Simplicity would be good here too for some historical perspective with modern terminology.

If you've got them you're ready to tackle the big stuff. Read Saul Kripke's Naming and Necessity, an absolute must for analytical metaphysics, Alvin Plantinga's Nature of Necessity, and then Pruss books on powers theory and the principle of sufficient reason. After this natural theology's your oyster.

One point: be cautious of the label 'classical theism' as it's a popular rather than a scholarly label. Be consciuess that when people like Hart use it they often have an agenda.
 

Last edited by DanielCC (6/22/2018 5:37 am)

 

6/22/2018 8:58 pm  #23


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

To echo Daniel somewhat: Loux's book is pretty good, a solid beginner-to-intermediate introduction to the material. I've liked what work I've read from Lowe, but that isn't much, unfortunately—just a few articles, and The Possibility of Metaphysics, which was a little advanced for me at the time. I'd love to get around to reading his Four-Category Ontology, I just don't know when. It's also worth mentioning for those who don't know that Lowe was a influence on Oderberg, who wrote a touching reflection on him after his untimely death.

 

7/05/2018 6:14 pm  #24


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

Another question, if I may, that I found in an old discussion thread

5. Can an essentially-ordered series be grounded in an accidentally ordered series? If so, then perhaps what is supposedly essential is actually made up of accidental ordered series' and thus there is no essential, necessary first cause.

A.  Would this be like saying that a hand, pushing a stick, pushing a stone (essential series) is only possible because of an accidental series, like a father gave birth to a son, who then used his own power to pick up a stick and push the stone?

But I think that even if we admit that that there are lots of little essential series (essential series = hierarchical causal chain, right?) that may themselves rest on accidental ones, at bottom is a single, all-encompasing series that terminates in the first cause. But I'm curious how you all would respond to this.
 

Last edited by mnels123 (7/05/2018 6:21 pm)

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7/05/2018 7:37 pm  #25


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

mnels123 wrote:

Another question, if I may, that I found in an old discussion thread

5. Can an essentially-ordered series be grounded in an accidentally ordered series? If so, then perhaps what is supposedly essential is actually made up of accidental ordered series' and thus there is no essential, necessary first cause.

A.  Would this be like saying that a hand, pushing a stick, pushing a stone (essential series) is only possible because of an accidental series, like a father gave birth to a son, who then used his own power to pick up a stick and push the stone?

But I think that even if we admit that that there are lots of little essential series (essential series = hierarchical causal chain, right?) that may themselves rest on accidental ones, at bottom is a single, all-encompasing series that terminates in the first cause. But I'm curious how you all would respond to this.
 

 
On the contrary, as Scotus argued, every accidental series is grounded in an essentially ordered one. Essentially ordered are, pun very intended, more essential than accidental ones; perhaps a case could even be made for the idea that the only kind of causation there is is that of essentially ordered series. So, actually, every accidental series depends on an essentially ordered one.

I'll leave the details as an exercise to you. But think about it - in the father son series, for example, how is it that each member continues to exist long enough so as to generate another member?

So it's not really a good evasive.

I don't really bother much with essentially x accidentally ordered series though, since my favorite argument is the leibnizian one. Even if there were an infinity of contingent causes, this could never be sufficient to bring themselves into existence. The existence of the totality of contingent causes would remain unexplained and in need of a cause - which points to the inefficacy of an infinite contingent series as a way of explaining existence.

 

7/05/2018 10:28 pm  #26


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

Really, so you think the rationalist proof is stronger than the Aristotelian proof? What, would you say, are the advantages of that argument?

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7/06/2018 12:26 am  #27


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

mnels123 wrote:

Really, so you think the rationalist proof is stronger than the Aristotelian proof? What, would you say, are the advantages of that argument?

 
I like the Aristotelian proof. I think it's sound. But yes, I do prefer the rationalist one.

The main advantage is precisely that it sidesteps distinctions between essentially ordered x accidentally ordered series of causes, as well as any debates about infinite series. It doesn't have to rule out an infinite regress of causes; all it has to do is point out that an infinite regress doesn't explain why there are these contingent beings. We can still ask why there is something rather than nothing, and that fundamental question would persist whether or not there is an infinite chain - if all reality were entirely contingent, there would be no explanation for its existence.

If there is an infinite chain of contingent causes (whether essentially or accidentally ordered, doesn't matter), we can still ask "why do these contingent causes exist, rather than other causes, or none at all?". The totality of contingent causes is just as contingent as any contingent thing. It could've failed to exist. Or there could've been a different totality, with different contingent things.

It's a big advantage.

Another potential advantage (this one is somewhat small, though) is that some people may find it easier to understand the contingent/necessary distinction than the potency/act one.

The "disadvantage" is that it requires a somewhat stronger principle than the aristotelian proof - PSR as the strongest, but at least an explanatory principle that seeks explanations for facts about the existence of contingent things (including pluralities). But most arguments given for the weaker principle of causality can also be given for a stronger explanatory principle, and in any case I think that most people who accept PC will likely accept the explanatory principle. So to me the advantages far outweigh the disadvantage.

Last edited by Miguel (7/06/2018 12:30 am)

 

7/08/2018 5:16 pm  #28


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

mnels123 wrote:

5. Can an essentially-ordered series be grounded in an accidentally ordered series? If so, then perhaps what is supposedly essential is actually made up of accidental ordered series' and thus there is no essential, necessary first cause.

Correct me if I am wrong here, Trying to think of such a series, the accidental member would be the one that no longer exists so there would be no answer to the question of what is keeping the other members which are all ordered essentially in existence. Unless you believe in something like existential inertia this sort of series isn't intelligible. 

 

 

7/08/2018 11:16 pm  #29


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

6. Doesn't Aristotle say here that there are, in fact, multiple movers? Doesn't that undermine the argument of their being but one, unmoved mover?

A. My first thought is that Aristotle maybe has in mind lesser movers that derive their power from the single, unmoved mover. My second thought is that Aristotle means exactly what he is saying in Metaphysics, and that he is simply wrong, and the modern cosmological arguments that draw on Aristotle depart from him on this issue, since multiple unmoved movers is a contradiction.

7. =14pxWhy think that the universe is contingent rather than necessary (maybe it has always been there and that's all)? One might respond that the universe had the potential to be otherwise--and we need to explain why some potentials were actualized and not others. But doesn't this just beg the question? How can one demonstrate that the universe really could have been otherwise?

Thoughts on these two questions?
 

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7/09/2018 1:03 am  #30


Re: Answering Challenges to "Five Proofs"

W.r.t. contingency

1- the idea that the universe is necessary would be quite radical. Most people take it as quite obviously false; surely it would be possible for the universe to have failed to exist. There could've been no universe. Not only is that conceivable, but models such as the Big Bang deal with an absolute beginning of the universe - which would be absurd if the universe were necessary. Maybe the model is wrong and the universe is eternal, but it seems that it would at least be *possible* for the universe to have had a beginning (like the big bang). And all physical things appear contingent, so how could the universe be necessary? Here you can use Feser's own arguments from act/potency, essence/existence and contingency/necessity (something whose existence goes from potential to actual, for instance, is contingent), check out what he says about the relationship between necessity and the divine attributes.

2- Technically speaking, we don't even need to speak of "the universe", all we need is a totality of contingent beings. Now, it is obvious that contingent things exist; we can then ask why this plurality of contingent beings exist. The reason must lie in a necessary being. Then you just have to argue that this nec. being is God, and you can make use of different arguments (pure act; no arbitrary limits; the argument from volition; teleology; etc).

 

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