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1/03/2019 5:08 pm  #11


Re: A better argument from contingency.

Noble_monkey wrote:

Calhoun wrote:

Noble_monkey wrote:

Since the totality of contingent beings is contingent then it must have an external explanation. 

This is a very controversial claim. Problem is that it seems totality of contingent beings(if there is one , this might also be controversial just like "conjunction of all contingently true propositions" is) is not itself some further contingent being or a being at all. Its a heap and that could have merely internal explanation.
 

Contingent here is a being that has an external explanation so it is not very controversial but rather follows from the definition of the contingent. That's like saying that "A bachelor is unmarried" is a very controversial claim when it is true by definition. You are free to treat the BCF as a set or heap although I do not; I treat it as a totality. It does not matter if it is a totality since the totality exists and since it exists, then it is a being (recall the definition of a being was just anything that exists).

Sorry, perhaps my statement isn't clear what I want to simply say is that this Totality doesn't seem to be something over and above each of its parts, the totality is just a collection of each of those contingent things. So if there is an infinite number of them then it seems it could have a mere internal explanation. Each one of those contingent beings would have another one that explains its existence.

Also that does seem like somewhat odd definition of contingent, I think contingency is essentially a modal notion, it doesn't have some essential connection to explanations. Its just something that could not have existed, some state of affairs that could otherwise have not obtained. If something doesn't have any sort of explanation , it doesn't seem to necessarily follow that its thereby necessary as it still might not have existed. At least this is how I grasp the concept of contingency.  
 

 

1/03/2019 5:39 pm  #12


Re: A better argument from contingency.

Noble_monkey wrote:

Contingent here is a being that has an external explanation so it is not very controversial but rather follows from the definition of the contingent. That would be like saying that "A bachelor is unmarried" is a very controversial claim when it is true by definition. You are free to treat the BCF as a set or heap although I do not; I treat it as a totality. It does not matter if it is a totality since the totality exists and since it exists, then it is a being (recall the definition of a being was just anything that exists).

I was trying to decide whether Calhoun (or rather, the opponents he's pointing to) is denying that the totality of contingent beings is contingent or that it's a being. If he's denying that it's contingent, he might be suggesting that the dependency relations are sometimes symmetrical (i.e. are nonsymmetrical rather than asymmetrical); if he's denying that it's a being, he might be denying the possibility of certain kinds of mereological sums (i.e. mereological universalism). If he's suggesting that dependency relations are sometimes symmetrical, then he's suggesting that a being a might depend on something external (e.g. being b) and a being b might depend on something external (e.g. being a) but that a being a + b might not; if he's denying the possibility of certain kinds of mereological sums, then he might be suggesting that there might be an infinite number of beings a, b, c, d . . . where a depends on b, b depends on c, c depends on d, and so on, but no totality-being a + b + c + d + . . . that needs something to ground it. Now, I'm not sure about either reply, but both are obvious enough for people who work on a lot of cosmological arguments (i.e. it's standard to check for symmetry in the relation, infinite regress solutions, etc.) that I would be interested in seeing more developed replies to them.

(I see that once again I've sat on my comment too long and that Calhoun replied while I was composing.)

 

1/03/2019 5:48 pm  #13


Re: A better argument from contingency.

Last one: I've been at it for two days and I'm about to wind down with something nonphilosophical (Yukio Mishima's Runaway Horses, I think). I'm posting mainly to help clarify the discussion (if not for you gentlemen then for others reading you):

Calhoun wrote:

Also that does seem like somewhat odd definition of contingent, I think contingency is essentially a modal notion, it doesn't have some essential connection to explanations. Its just something that could not have existed, some state of affairs that could otherwise have not obtained. If something doesn't have any sort of explanation , it doesn't seem to necessarily follow that its thereby necessary as it still might not have existed. At least this is how I grasp the concept of contingency.

It's worth distinguishing modal contingency from dependent contingencyx is modally contingent if and only if x is possibly nonexistent if existent and possibly existent if nonexistent; x is dependently contingent if and only if there is some y such that (i) x is not identical to y; (ii) necessarily, if x exists, then y exists; (iii) y is in some sense the ground or source of x's existence. (The definition of modal contingency can also be put in possible worlds jargon: x is modally contingent if and only if x exists in some possible worlds but not others.) You're obviously right that it's unorthodox to call dependently contingent beings “contingent beings” without further qualification, but Monkey stipulates that is what he's doing at the start of his post so I don't really see a problem.

 

1/03/2019 6:20 pm  #14


Re: A better argument from contingency.

John West wrote:

Last one: I've been at it for two days and I'm about to wind down with something nonphilosophical (Yukio Mishima's Runaway Horses, I think). I'm posting mainly to help clarify the discussion (if not for you gentlemen then for others reading you):

Calhoun wrote:

Also that does seem like somewhat odd definition of contingent, I think contingency is essentially a modal notion, it doesn't have some essential connection to explanations. Its just something that could not have existed, some state of affairs that could otherwise have not obtained. If something doesn't have any sort of explanation , it doesn't seem to necessarily follow that its thereby necessary as it still might not have existed. At least this is how I grasp the concept of contingency.

It's worth distinguishing modal contingency from dependent contingencyx is modally contingent if and only if x is possibly nonexistent if existent and possibly existent if nonexistent; x is dependently contingent if and only if there is some y such that (i) x is not identical to y; (ii) necessarily, if x exists, then y exists; (iii) y is in some sense the ground or source of x's existence. (The definition of modal contingency can also be put in possible worlds jargon: x is modally contingent if and only if x exists in some possible worlds but not others.) You're obviously right that it's unorthodox to call dependently contingent beings “contingent beings” without further qualification, but Monkey stipulates that is what he's doing at the start of his post so I don't really see a problem.

Right, got it. 
Well like I said I thought contingency is essentially a modal notion. It seems its better to just call dependent contingency, dependency. That would still get the whole point of the argument across I think.

 

1/03/2019 6:20 pm  #15


Re: A better argument from contingency.

>that this Totality doesn't seem to be something over and above each of its parts, the totality is just a collection of each of those contingent things.


Yes, you are not missing anything. A totality is not identical to its individual parts, though. A totality is identical to the *sum* of its parts. But I do not think that this is at all relevant to the argument. The only thing that matters is that this totality exists and thus is a being.


>So if there is an infinite number of them then it seems it could have a mere internal explanation.

Making it a necessary being and so we can skip to the conclusion. (although Once we start talking about the traits of the necessary being, we can see that the BCF does not have them and so is not necessary making the BCF contingent).

Like John said, we can use different terms if it makes it easier for you to understand the argument.  I only use contingent/necessary out of respect for Ibn Sina. The same reason we still use "motion" when talking about the First Way instead of change.
 

Last edited by Noble_monkey (1/03/2019 6:26 pm)

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