Classical Theism, Philosophy, and Religion Forum

You are not logged in. Would you like to login?



12/02/2018 9:20 pm  #1


Fully actual in some respect, but not in some other?

I have recently gotten into a rather small debate, regarding what the ultimate explanation for all things that have explanations, must be. He proposed the idea, that this "thing", could exist purely actually, in respect to its existence (meaning, no potential for non-existence) but has some potentialities, in other aspects. Now, this cannot be the ultimate explanation for all things first of all, because even if hypothetically, it was purely actual in respect to its existence, but not in some others, those features of this "thing", would in turn need an explanation. As I was writing back to him, however, I was wondering if, even in principle, a thing can be purely actual in some respect, but not in some other. The answer, I have no clue about. Anyone have an idea?

Last edited by ClassicalLiberal.Theist (12/02/2018 9:21 pm)

 

12/02/2018 9:41 pm  #2


Re: Fully actual in some respect, but not in some other?

No you can't have something be purely actual in some respect and not purely actual in another. This would make it a composite being and not purely actual. The idea that something can have unactualized purely actual existence and still have certain aspects that are in potentia that are irrelevant to its existence is probably a contradiction because the fact that it has a purely actual part and a potential part demands an explanation for its specific composition of actuality and potentiality. Or if we are to really push the notion that there is a purely actual part and a potential part then the purely actual part could just be considered the prime mover (if it's to retain its metaphysical status as purely actual) and the potential part would just be a secondary member of the causal chain ordered per se.

Last edited by RomanJoe (12/02/2018 9:46 pm)

 

12/03/2018 5:45 am  #3


Re: Fully actual in some respect, but not in some other?

Under A-T metaphysics, that which is *purely actual* would not be *a* thing. It would have to be Being Itself in order to be *purely actual.*

More mundanely though, of course there can be things actual (without *purely*) in some aspect and in potentiality in some other aspect.

When you look into a mirror and see your own reflection, you can say that the mirror has the ability to reflect what is in front of it, that it has a wide quadrangular surface, etc. When you go behind the mirror or turn the mirror around so that you look at the backside of it, it won't reflect your image anymore; but still has a wide quadrangular surface. When you look at it from the side, it looks so thin that it can hardly be called a surface. Very serious differences between different aspects of the mirror.

However, these serious differences are really features of the point of view. When you reduce the object down to an aspect, you do not get a different real description of the object - you will get a description of a particular aspect of it, an incomplete and likely insufficient description. The backside of the mirror cannot really be called a mirror in the first place.

Similarly, somebody could entertain the idea that Being Itself is purely actual in some sense and not in some other. That would be the feature of the mind with a woefully defective metaphysical system, if there is a system at all. Who knows what other ideas such a mind could entertain.

 

12/03/2018 10:36 am  #4


Re: Fully actual in some respect, but not in some other?

RomanJoe wrote:

No you can't have something be purely actual in some respect and not purely actual in another. This would make it a composite being and not purely actual. The idea that something can have unactualized purely actual existence and still have certain aspects that are in potentia that are irrelevant to its existence is probably a contradiction because the fact that it has a purely actual part and a potential part demands an explanation for its specific composition of actuality and potentiality. Or if we are to really push the notion that there is a purely actual part and a potential part then the purely actual part could just be considered the prime mover (if it's to retain its metaphysical status as purely actual) and the potential part would just be a secondary member of the causal chain ordered per se.

I would agree with you, that a composite being cannot be purely actual (in all aspects), but I still don't see why it cannot have no potential for non-existence, and still be composite. Or, that this things existence can't be necessary, but also specific aspects of it, which are contigent. I would also agree, that the aspects of this "thing", that are actualized in some way, but potentially some other way, would need an explanation. This was actually, my exact point of contention with his idea, and that this thing cannot be the ultimate explanation of things. I am not so sure we can really push this notion, to the point that this purely actualized part, is necessary being. I imagine it would probably involve some logical acrobatics, but it would be helpful if you could demonstrate it.

     Thread Starter
 

12/03/2018 10:44 am  #5


Re: Fully actual in some respect, but not in some other?

seigneur wrote:

Under A-T metaphysics, that which is *purely actual* would not be *a* thing. It would have to be Being Itself in order to be *purely actual.*

More mundanely though, of course there can be things actual (without *purely*) in some aspect and in potentiality in some other aspect.

When you look into a mirror and see your own reflection, you can say that the mirror has the ability to reflect what is in front of it, that it has a wide quadrangular surface, etc. When you go behind the mirror or turn the mirror around so that you look at the backside of it, it won't reflect your image anymore; but still has a wide quadrangular surface. When you look at it from the side, it looks so thin that it can hardly be called a surface. Very serious differences between different aspects of the mirror.

However, these serious differences are really features of the point of view. When you reduce the object down to an aspect, you do not get a different real description of the object - you will get a description of a particular aspect of it, an incomplete and likely insufficient description. The backside of the mirror cannot really be called a mirror in the first place.

Similarly, somebody could entertain the idea that Being Itself is purely actual in some sense and not in some other. That would be the feature of the mind with a woefully defective metaphysical system, if there is a system at all. Who knows what other ideas such a mind could entertain.

Of course, something purely actual isn't a being among other beings, but just is being itself. I don't think that this fact is quite relevant, however. I wasn't claiming (or, the person I was debating) that this thing is actus purus (meaning, lacking all potentials, full stop), but just is fully actual, strictly in respect to its existence. Meaning, it doesn't have potential for non-existence, but what it is sepcifically, has some unrealized potentials. For instance, could my non-existence be logically impossible, but what I am specifically, be logically different?
 

     Thread Starter
 

12/03/2018 1:12 pm  #6


Re: Fully actual in some respect, but not in some other?

Well if something is metaphysically composite then its parts stand in potency to the whole. If you are arguing that the prime mover is a metaphysical composite of unactualized purely actual existence and some other potential part (a proper accident?) then you are in effect saying that these parts stand in potency to the whole. You need to explain why the prime mover has these metaphysical parts unified in the particular way they're unified--why is it actual with regards to its existence and not actual with regard to aspects x, y, z? You probably have two courses of action here. You admit composition and, consequently, must admit that there is a cause prior to this composition that explains its composition, or you treat the purely actual and potential parts as not composite but rather as distinct beings (although pure potency would have no being...). In this case you would just be left with pure actuality.

Last edited by RomanJoe (12/03/2018 1:26 pm)

 

12/03/2018 1:24 pm  #7


Re: Fully actual in some respect, but not in some other?

The whole point of natural theology with regards to the principal cause is to arrive at something (loosely speaking) which doesn't suffer from any conditions of metaphysical contingency. Composition is a condition of contingency. When you encounter physically contingent things, say, a chair, a snow man, even an organic substance, each thing has an explanation for why its parts are arranged in the particular way they are, both temporal and contemporaneous explanations. This holds for metaphysical composition. The ball is actually on the table but potentially anywhere else. There must be an explanation for the specific arrangement of its metaphysical parts. The explanations can range from "I put the ball on the table, thus actualizing its potency to be there" to "the law of gravity and its atomic structure keep it presently in place on the table." The ball would still need a metaphysical explanation for its specific composition even if we said its existence is necessary and cannot fail to exist.

Last edited by RomanJoe (12/03/2018 5:30 pm)

 

Board footera

 

Powered by Boardhost. Create a Free Forum