William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Summary Against Modern Thought: The Last Movement

This may be proved in three ways. The first...

This may be proved in three ways. The first…

See the first post in this series for an explanation and guide of our tour of Summa Contra Gentiles.

Previous post.

Recall that the First Way has already been done. Meaning we already have one proof for God’s existence. This is the second, and the good news is that most of our terminology has already been introduced. A lot to do today, but the good news is that this is the last of Chapter 13! But these proofs are all we have. We don’t yet know anything about God except that He’s the Unmoved Mover, the Unchanging Changer. What can that mean? That’s coming.

Chapter 13: Arguments in proof of God’s existence

18 Again, if any two things are found accidentallyi united in a certain subject, and one of them is to be found without the other, it is probable that the latter can be found without the former: thus if white and musical are found in Socrates, and musical without white is found in Plato, it is probable that it is possible to find white without musical in some subject.

Accordingly if mover and moved be united together in some subject accidentally, and it be found that a certain thing is moved without its being a mover, it is probable that a mover is to be found that is not moved. Nor can one urge against this the case of two things one of which depends on the other; because those in question are united not per se but accidentally.

If, however, the aforesaid proposition is true in itself, again there follows something impossible or unfitting. For the mover must needs be moved either by the same kind of movement or by another kind. If by the same kind, it follows that whatever causes alteration must itself be altered, and furthermore that the healer must be healed, that the teacher must be taught, and in respect of the same science. But this is impossible: for the teacher must needs have science, while the learner must needs not have it, and thus the same will be both possessed and not possessed by the same, which is impossible.ii

And if it be moved by another kind of movement, so that, to wit, that which causes alteration be moved in respect of place, and that which moves in respect of place be increased, and so on, it will follow that we cannot go on indefinitely, since the genera and species of movement are finite in number.iii And thus there will be some first mover that is not moved by another. Unless, perchance, someone say that a recurrence takes place, in this way, that when all the genera and species of movement have been exhausted, a return must be made to the first; for instance, if that which moves in respect of place be altered, and that which causes alteration be increased, then again that which is increased be moved in respect of place. But the consequence of this will be the same as before; namely, that which moves by one kind of movement is itself moved by the same kind, not immediately indeed but mediately.iv It remains therefore that we must needs postulate some first mover that is not moved by anything outside itself.

19 Since however, given that there is a first mover that is not moved by anything outside itself,v it does not follow that it is absolutely immovable, Aristotle proceeds further, saying that this may happen in two ways. First, so that this first mover is absolutely immovable. And if this be granted, our point is established, namely that there is a first immovable mover. Secondly, that this first mover is moved by itself. And this seems probable: because what is of itself is always prior to what is of another: wherefore also in things moved, it is logical that what is moved first is moved by itself and not by another.

20 But, if this be granted, the same consequence follows.[18] For it cannot be said that the whole of that which moves itself is moved by its whole self, because then the absurd consequences mentioned above would follow, namely that a person might teach and be taught at the same time, and in like manner as to other kinds of movement; and again that a thing would be at the same time in act and in potentiality, since a mover, as such, is in act, while that which is moved is in potentiality.vi It remains, therefore, that one part thereof is mover only, and the other part moved. And thus we have the same conclusion as before, namely that there is something that moves and is itself immovable.

21 And it cannot be said that both parts are moved, so that one is moved by the other; nor that one part moves both itself and the other; nor that the whole moves a part; nor that part moves the whole, since the above absurdities would follow, namely that something would both move and be moved by the same kind of movement, and that it would be at the same time in potentiality and in act, and moreover that the whole would move itself not primarily but by reason of its part. It remains, therefore, that in that which moves itself, one part must be immovable, and must move the other part.

22 Since, however, in those things among us which move themselves, namely animals, the part which moves, namely the soul, though immovable of itself, is nevertheless moved accidentally, he goes on to show that in the first mover, the part which moves is not moved neither of itself nor accidentally.[19]vii

23 For in those things which among us move themselves, namely animals, since they are corruptible, the part which moves is moved accidentally. Now those corruptible things which move themselves must needs be reducible to some first self-mover that is everlasting. Therefore that which moves itself must have a mover, which is moved neither of itself nor accidentally.

24 It is clear that, in accordance with his hypothesis, some self-mover must be everlasting. For if, as he supposes, movement is everlasting, the production of these self-movers that are subject to generation and corruption must be everlasting. But no one of these self-movers, since it does not always exist, can be the cause of this everlastingness. Nor can all of them together, both because they would be infinite, and because they do not exist all together. It follows therefore that there must be an everlasting self-mover, that causes the everlastingness of generation in these lower self-movers. And thus its mover is not moved, neither of itself nor accidentally.

Again, we observe that in self-movers some begin to be moved anew on account of some movement whereby the animal is not moved by itself, for instance by the digestion of food or a change in the atmosphere: by which movement the mover that moves itself is moved accidentally. Whence we may gather that no self-mover, whose mover is moved per se or accidentally, is always moved. But the first self-mover is always in motion, else movement could not be everlasting, since every other movement is caused by the movement of the first self-mover. It follows therefore that the first self-mover is moved by a mover who is not moved, neither per se nor accidentally…viii

30 The Philosopher proceeds in a different way in 2 Metaph. to show that it is impossible to proceed to infinity in efficient causes, and that we must come to one first cause, and this we call God. This is how he proceeds. In all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate, whether the intermediate be one or several. Now if the cause be removed, that which it causes is removed. Therefore if we remove the first the intermediate cannot be a cause. But if we go on to infinity in efficient causes, no cause will be first. Therefore all the others which are intermediate will be removed. Now this is clearly false. Therefore we must suppose the existence of a first efficient cause: and this is God.ix

31 Another reason can be drawn from the words of Aristotle. For in 2 Metaph.[22] he shows that those things which excel as true excel as beings: and in 4 Metaph.[23] he shows that there is something supremely true, from the fact that we see that of two false things one is falser than the other, wherefore it follows that one also is truer than the other. Now this is by reason of approximation to that which is simply and supremely true. Wherefore we may further conclude that there is something that is supremely being. And this we call God.x

32 Another argument in support of this conclusion is adduced by Damascene[24] from the government of things: and the same reasoning is indicated by the Commentator in 2 Phys.[25] It runs as follows. It is impossible for contrary and discordant things to accord in one order always or frequently except by someone’s governance, whereby each and all are made to tend to a definite end. Now we see that in the world things of different natures accord in one order, not seldom and fortuitously, but always or for the most part. Therefore it follows that there is someone by whose providence the world is governed. And this we God.xi

—————————————————————-

iA circle can be accidentally red or yellow and still be a circle, etc. A thing is not defined by its accidents.

iiAquinas created this argument in ignorance of our modern educational system, of course. But he’s still right.

iiiYou can change quantity, mass, color, place, and the like, but there are not an infinite number of changeable qualities.

ivDon’t loose sight of the main example, the stone moved by the stick moved by the arm moved by the muscles, etc., all in the here and now. This movement cannot be circularly caused.

vWe’re starting to hone in on (but have not reached) the idea that there can be only one Unmoved Mover, and not an assemblage of them. Not gods, but God.

viYou cannot potentially and actually be in Cleveland simultaneously. Aquinas is speaking ontologically, not epistemologically. And this reminds me that we have to, sometime soon, introduce Jaki’s criticisms of complementarity.

viiWe’ll also do this more later. But, for now, the soul of the animal is its form. Things are composed of forms and substances or matter. Clay, a substance, can be in the form of an ashtray (eek!) or (say) a model car. Speaking loosely, and later correctly, the soul animates the substance. The souls of plants are lesser than the souls of animals, which in turn are lesser than the souls of men. Like I said, this is only a crude introduction. Let’s stick here to the argument of movement, else we will be arguing that of which we have incomplete information.

viiiYou may feel buried after these last two paragraphs. Slow reading is in order. Again, Aquinas is leading us to why there can be only one Unmoved Mover. There’s no getting around that this last proof is rather dry—I even leave out some discussion about movement of heavenly bodies—but it dots all the Js and crosses all the Xs.

ixHere it is in a compact form! This is the elevator proof. Pretty, too.

xI don’t think Aquinas expected this snippet to be convincing in itself, but included it as an augment to main argument. Here’s a good article from Swinburne on the argument from the beauty of design, and another by Williams on beauty.

xiAnd this sketch is cruder still. It’s doubtful that it, in this telegraphic form, would convince any moderns. I’m not expert enough in Medieval history to know why Aquinas included it, which audience he had in mind.

Hooray! We are finally done with Chapter 13! But not entirely done with motion.

[18] 8 Phys., l.c.
[19] 8 Phys. vi.
[22] D. 1a. i. 5.
[23] D. 3. iv. 27, 28.
[24] De Fide Orth. i. 3.
[25] Text 75.

41 Comments

  1. “Therefore we must suppose the existence of a first efficient cause: and this is God.”

    Doesn’t this argue against your other favorite topic, the existence of free will, for it would also be an unmoved mover. How does Aquinas avoid Calvinism?

    “It is impossible for contrary and discordant things to accord in one order always or frequently except by someone’s governance, whereby each and all are made to tend to a definite end.”

    This sounds like the usual argument for central planning but Aquinas may be okay with that.

  2. Doesn’t this argue against your other favorite topic, the existence of free will, for it would also be an unmoved mover. How does Aquinas avoid Calvinism?

    No, since the Intellect and Will are immaterial.

    This sounds like the usual argument for central planning but Aquinas may be okay with that.

    No, since the subject there are things, not persons.

  3. Sander van der Wal

    July 20, 2014 at 11:20 am

    Radio-active uranium moves into lead, and stays lead. Is that an example of form and substance? Does uranium have a soul?

  4. Briggs

    July 20, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    Sander,

    Yes, it does. Uranium and lead atoms have a form, and thus a soul. They are made of smaller things, yes?

    Don’t substitute the Hollywood version of soul for this metaphysical one.

    Scotian,

    Nope. But now you remind me, we have to review one of W.L. Craig’s books on the subject (he has two). Don’t forget that this “problem” of free will also exists for deterministic materialistic accounts of Nature, too. But only, I think, does the theological solution have any satisfaction.

  5. Dover Beach,

    “No, since the Intellect and Will are immaterial.”

    As the unmoved mover is immaterial I do not follow you, especially since there can be only one.

    “No, since the subject there are things, not persons.”

    Aquinas says “someone’s governance” and, in any case central planners also deal with things as well as people. You can argue that God’s plans always work and I will not dispute that, but Aquinas seems to be making an analogue to human society that he (may) feel is an obvious example of the need of central planning, .i.e the fatal conceit.

  6. Briggs,

    “But only, I think, does the theological solution have any satisfaction.”

    Have you given the theological solution? Is it not only asserted to exist with that assertion supported with animated video clips that make fun of materialists. I am not arguing against free will but am trying to point out that its definition, as well as that of soul, are slippery or chameleon like and shift as the discussion progresses.

  7. Nullius in Verba

    July 20, 2014 at 1:38 pm

    “No, since the Intellect and Will are immaterial. ”

    Why does that help? Are you saying the immaterial cannot move the material? Or that the immaterial cannot be unmoved?

  8. Sander van der Wal

    July 20, 2014 at 2:00 pm

    @Briggs

    Don’t worry about me getting my metaphors from Hollywood. If I see one movie a year it is a lot. The books are always better. And 50 years earlier.

    Atoms are made of quarks, gluons, electrons and photons. What is form and what is substance in these kinds of systems? At a higher level (proteins, skin, bones) substance are the combined atoms themselves, and form is the way the electron shells interact.

    At the atom level one might say that substance are the electrons and quarks, while form is photons and gluons. But that is form made of substance.

  9. “It is impossible for contrary and discordant things to accord in one order always or frequently except by someone’s governance, whereby each and all are made to tend to a definite end. Now we see that in the world things of different natures accord in one order, not seldom and fortuitously, but always or for the most part. Therefore it follows that there is someone by whose providence the world is governed. And this we [call] God.”

    No, rules co-evolve with sets. Rules are dynamic. The is no Rule-maker. Rules are emergent phenomena.

  10. Sander:

    As the unmoved mover is immaterial I do not follow you, especially since there can be only one.

    Only one what?

    Aquinas says “someone’s governance” and, in any case central planners also deal with things as well as people.

    How does it clarify this discussion to start talking about central planning?

    What is form and what is substance in these kinds of systems?

    Let me pimp for YOS here, see this: http://tofspot.blogspot.com.au/2014/07/in-psearch-of-psyche-some-groundwork.html
    NiV:

    Why does that help? Are you saying the immaterial cannot move the material? Or that the immaterial cannot be unmoved?

    Because what is immaterial cannot be changed by secondary causes.

    Hans:

    No, rules co-evolve with sets. Rules are dynamic. The is no Rule-maker. Rules are emergent phenomena.

    How does a rule ‘evolve’ or ‘change’ that is not yet in existence? They don’t, that is why the notion of ’emergent properties’ depend upon, say, rules, or natures, that are already present but a just more fundamentally than the emergent property and which cannot themselves explain what has emerged.

  11. Ye Olde Statisician

    July 20, 2014 at 7:37 pm

    NOTE 1 to Briggs: The “second way” actually starts at 30. Everything before that was in support of the major and minor premises of the “first way.” That is: “everything that is changing is being changed by another” and “a regress of changers must terminate in an unchanged changer.” 31 and 32 are the “fourth” and “fifth way,” but only in the egg. He actually spends more time on them (and adds the third way, too) in the later Summa theologica, which is a manual for theology students. But in the Compendium theologiae, he gives only the argument from motion.

    Does uranium have a soul?

    Yes and no. “Soul” (or anima) is the substantive form of a living being. Uranium has a subtantive form, but it is not a living thing. Hence, the form of uranium — so many protons, neutrons, electrons arranged thus in these “shells” — is not a soul; but it is analogous to a soul. That is why the “mind-body problem” is no more troublesome than the sphere-basketball problem. When we regard a basketball, we see it as one thing (ousia, or “substance”) and not as two.

    What is primarily actual about a living body is that it is living and everything else it does stems from that. Just as one must have information before one can use it, a natural body must have a living form before it can exercise its life functions. But to be actually something means it must first have been potentially something. The natural body must have “in the depths of its material bosom” the potentiality to live. Hence, soul is “the first act of a natural body that is potentially alive.” [Brennan, pp 6 et seq.]

    Just as uranium obtains its powers from its form — a different arrangement of protons, neutrons, and electrons will not behave like uranium — and the parts act within the uranium atom differently than they would if they were free electrons or alpha particles, the powers of a living thing derive from its form.

    NOTE 2 to Briggs: “substance” is not a synonym for “matter.” A substance is comprised of matter and form. Thus, Hans Erren is a specific substance. Human being is a generic substance. A substantial form is one that does not exist in another the way an accidental form does. Blue does not exist except in a blue thing (light wave, ball, etc.) but “ball” does not exist in the blueness. Substance exists in itself and stands under the other categories: sub-stans.
    http://home.comcast.net/~icuweb/c02001.htm#9

    Atoms are made of quarks, gluons, electrons and photons. What is form and what is substance in these kinds of systems? At a higher level (proteins, skin, bones) substance are the combined atoms themselves, and form is the way the electron shells interact.

    The matter of a thing is what it is immediately made of. Thus a wall may be made of bricks while the bricks are themselves things that are made of clay, while the clay is a substance that is made of aluminum and sundry odds and ends. Hence, “atoms” (so-called) are made of protons, neutrons, and electrons in a particular arrangement. The protons and neutrons are made of quarks (per current theory), again in a particular arrangement. The strong force is made of gluons, if the strong force is a thing.

    For inanimate objects, the “particular arrangement” will do for the form. For a discussion of this very topic, see:
    http://home.comcast.net/~icuweb/c02003.htm#2 et seq.
    +++++++
    its definition [of [free] will], as well as that of soul, are slippery or chameleon like and shift as the discussion progresses

    Actually, they do not. They only become murky if you let Descartes or Hume of Kant into the matter.

    rules co-evolve with sets.

    This makes no sense. Neither rules nor sets are things/substances and the Darwinian engine gets no traction. Predator and prey may co-evolve, but I’ve never actually seen a set.

    Rules are emergent phenomena.

    Since the phrase “emergent phenomenon” is either a modern euphemism for “then a miracle happens” or simply a modern way of saying “formal cause,” discussed above, this requires only showing how a rule is a thing rather than, say, a power or simply a description of the common course of nature.

  12. Dover Beach,

    You say Sander but you are quoting me. “Only one what?” One unmoved mover, of course.

    “How does it clarify this discussion to start talking about central planning?”

    Well you see it is in reference to the Aquinas quote that I gave where he uses this as an example. It is not important in itself.

    “How does a rule ‘evolve’ or ‘change’ that is not yet in existence?”

    You have never played sports?

    YOS: “Actually, they do not.” Strangely, I’ve never found this sort of statement very enlightening. I think that a number of people are generalizing my comments beyond the specific quoted text that I am discussing. Possibly because he-who-can-not-be-named is always foremost in their minds. 😉
    For this latest of Briggs’ posts I have only one unresolved question: how is free will reconciled with the concept of a single unmoved mover? Maybe this is to come but it has occurred to me now.

  13. You say Sander but you are quoting me. “Only one what?” One unmoved mover, of course.

    Sorry about that. Yes, but the concern here is free will and the intellect and will are independent of secondary causes.

    You have never played sports?

    Yes, and you’ll find these changes are always of an existing set of rules.

  14. Dover Beach,

    “Yes, but the concern here is free will and the intellect and will are independent of secondary causes.”

    You’ve lost me here. I have no idea what you are trying to say. Even less how it relates to what I have said.

    “Yes, and you’ll find these changes are always of an existing set of rules.”

    Really, no one has ever invented a game? Where do the existing set of rules come from? The point here is really quite simple: games start out in a crude form and through tinkering evolve into more complex forms. It is often impossible to trace games all the way back to the most primitive precursor but it must nevertheless exist as an act of invention. I have trouble understanding why you are arguing this point.

  15. Dover Beach,

    We seem to have gotten off tract with this sports analogy. Remember that the beginning of this discussion came from an examination of Aquinas’s claim that the, to him, obvious need of a governor to run human society was proof of the need of God to govern the cosmos. This is the argument from design and is different than the cosmological argument that he has presented previously. I have pointed out that human society does not need a governor as explained in Hayek’s Fatal Conceit and that this undermines Aquinas’s argument of this point, though not necessarily others. Of course, natural selection is presented as undermining biological design.

  16. I have to tell ya’, guys, this blog makes me feel like I’ve traveled back in time.

    Of course, years later, came Darwin, and we found out that this very argument in this very post is the best argument for there not being any God necessary at all – that people and all the other things in the universe have everything in common.

    Nice stroll down Obsolete Thinking Lane, though.

    JMJ

  17. Some dispute that anything has been proven…but assume the proof is indeed a proof and God has been proven to exist.

    Which God was proven to exist, or, was it only that “a” god was proven to exist?

    Big difference.

  18. Scotian:

    You’ve lost me here. I have no idea what you are trying to say. Even less how it relates to what I have said.

    You asked Matt if there being a First Efficient Cause argues against Free Will. I’ve answered, no, since the will and intellect are immaterial.

    Really, no one has ever invented a game? Where do the existing set of rules come from? The point here is really quite simple: games start out in a crude form and through tinkering evolve into more complex forms. It is often impossible to trace games all the way back to the most primitive precursor but it must nevertheless exist as an act of invention. I have trouble understanding why you are arguing this point.

    How does someone inventing a game help your argument or count as an ’emergent property’? Yes, I understand what you’re saying but it doesn’t help your case. You mention simpler or cruder rules, and there is the rub; from where precisely did these ‘simpler’ and ‘cruder’ rules arise?

    We seem to have gotten off tract with this sports analogy. Remember that the beginning of this discussion came from an examination of Aquinas’s claim that the, to him, obvious need of a governor to run human society was proof of the need of God to govern the cosmos.

    Aquinas was paraphrasing the Damescene and the Commentator who were talking about things and final causes. The argument from design is simply the claim that things intrinsically are disposed to behave in a certain manner (have final causes). This latter claim is not touched by Darwin’s theory in the slightest; in fact his theory depends upon things having certain dispositions.

  19. Sander van der Wal

    July 21, 2014 at 7:48 am

    @Ken

    The First Mover was shown to be a consistent concept.

    @dover_beach

    Move back in time enough and there were no creatures with legs. What was the game they played that turned into the kind of soccer we play now?

    Move even further back and Earth itself did not exist. What kind of game was then played, and by whom, that turned into the kind of soccer we play now?

  20. Exactly sander,
    Was there etics before social groups, was there biology before life, was there chemistry before atoms, was there physics before matter. Is there arithmatic, when there is nothing to count. These are the co-evolving sets and the rules I am referring to.

  21. Ye Olde Statisician

    July 21, 2014 at 9:12 am

    Really, no one has ever invented a game? Where do the existing set of rules come from? …. It is often impossible to trace games all the way back to the most primitive precursor but it must nevertheless exist as an act of invention.

    An excellent precis of the Thomist (and Scotist) arguments. There cannot be an infinite regress of game rules because the act of modifying rules does not account for their act of existence.

  22. Ye Olde Statisician

    July 21, 2014 at 9:31 am

    human society does not need a governor as explained in Hayek’s Fatal Conceit and that this undermines Aquinas’s argument of this point, though not necessarily others. Of course, natural selection is presented as undermining biological design.

    In the same manner perhaps that the rules of harmony and counterpoint undermine the existence of a composer; or the manner in which the physics of vibrating strings undermines the existence of the pianist.

    It was of course the medievals who came up with the idea of secondary causation: that God had endowed natures with the power to act directly upon one another. As Aquinas put it:

    Nature is nothing but the plan of some art, namely a divine one, put into things themselves, by which those things move towards a concrete end: as if the man who builds up a ship could give to the pieces of wood that they could move by themselves to produce the form of the ship.
    Commentary on the Physics II.8, lecture 14, no. 268

    or again, Nicholas Oresme:

    There is no reason to take recourse … to our glorious God, as if he would produce these effects directly…
    — On the causes of miracles

  23. Ye Olde Statisician

    July 21, 2014 at 9:35 am

    Which God was proven to exist, or, was it only that “a” god was proven to exist?
    At this point, it is only proven that unmoved movers must exist and secondarily that one of them must be eternal and govern the rest. This automatically excludes most of the divine beings like Thor (who dies) and Zeus (who is born). Later proofs regard other properties of this Mover, and we shall have to wait to see what they add up to. The proof that there can be only one is especially elegant.

  24. Ye Olde Statisician

    July 21, 2014 at 11:08 am

    Off the topic of the post, but perhaps relevant to some of the puzzlement among commenters:
    http://www3.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/freedom%20and%20God.pdf

  25. YOS,

    “An excellent precis of the Thomist (and Scotist) arguments.”

    As was my intent. Rules are not just modified but new ones can be created and old ones eliminated.
    Thanks for the link. It appears that my question was not so foolish as some here have implied given that the Jesuits and the Dominicans can not agree. So which side are you on YOS?

  26. Sander:

    Move back in time enough and there were no creatures with legs. What was the game they played that turned into the kind of soccer we play now?

    And? The problem for your argument is that there were antecedent creatures and games upon which these modifications take place.

    Move even further back and Earth itself did not exist. What kind of game was then played, and by whom, that turned into the kind of soccer we play now?

    Again, and? All of this assumes that there are an existing set of primordial rules that are modified in the course of time, not no rules at all that emerge out of nothing.

    Hans:

    Was there etics before social groups, was there biology before life, was there chemistry before atoms, was there physics before matter.

    Well, this marks a change. In another post, I remember you saying that “So we agree that physics, like mathematics, is timeless” only to amend this later by saying,”Here is something I thought of when taking the garbage out;

    All sets have rules:
    mass has physics, atoms have chemistry, life has biology, groups have ethics.

    Are these rules eternal, timeless and absolute or have they co-evolved with the set? I think the latter.”

    But, if you think the latter as it appears you do now, just how does the matter and the physics spontaneously appear out of no matter and no rules? This is like claiming that soccer emerged out of no modification of an antecedent game or set of rules, whatsoever.

  27. Ye Olde Statisician

    July 21, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I’m partial to Franciscans.

  28. @YOS
    “I’m partial to Franciscans.”

    How would holding one position or the other differently influence the outcome of any action? Would a hammer you use act differently? Would the wheat you plant grow differently?

    Is it not a form of vanity to desire to understand one’s role in the scheme of things?

  29. Ye Olde Statisician

    July 21, 2014 at 4:55 pm

    Ah, sure and utilitarianism is always after leading to troubles. Too much focus on the ends may lead to insufficient thought given to the means. After all, one may rid a dog of fleas by using a flea collar or throwing the dog in a furnace. In either case, “mission accomplished.”

  30. Nice non-answer.

  31. Ye Olde Statisician

    July 21, 2014 at 6:02 pm

    How would holding one position or the other differently influence the outcome of any action?

    It might not. Flea collar or furnace: Whichever position you hold, both get rid of the fleas; though the latter is more thorough. But why is the outcome the only issue?

    Is it not a form of vanity to desire to understand one’s role in the scheme of things?

    No. (Although it may be to think you have.)

  32. Sander van der Wal

    July 22, 2014 at 7:09 am

    Off the topic of the post, but perhaps relevant to some of the puzzlement among commenters:
    http://www3.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/freedom%20and%20God.pdf

    It only shows that philosophers do nothing but argue. Somebody invents a new definition, and there’s the next round of arguing.

    And there are at least two kinds of Catholic Faith, the Jesuit one and the Dominican one.

  33. Sander van der Wal

    July 22, 2014 at 7:10 am

    Ah, next time, try blockquote.

  34. @Sander van der Wal:

    “It only shows that philosophers do nothing but argue. Somebody invents a new definition, and there’s the next round of arguing.”

    Why, it almost looks as if you are bickering with philosophers on account of their endless bickering; you know, just like a philosopher would.

    And they do. Why there is seemingly no consensus in any substantive philosophical issue is itself a substantive philosophical issue about which there is no consensus.

    “And there are at least two kinds of Catholic Faith, the Jesuit one and the Dominican one.”

    And this only shows that you have no idea what “Catholic Faith” is or even have read the paper with any attention; just the the minimum of words necessary to insert a jab at the “Catholic Faith”; in my estimate, two exactly: “Jesuit” and “Dominican”.

    Just in case anyone wants to learn about De Auxiliis controversy, here is a start, from the historical side: Congregatio de Auxiliis.

  35. The two types of catholic faith are modernist and traditionalist.
    I was a modernist when I was a catholic. I surmise Briggs is a tradionalist.

  36. ^tradionalist^traditionalist

  37. I believe that modernists and traditionalists make the same profession of faith.

  38. Ye Olde Statisician

    July 24, 2014 at 1:19 pm

    I believe that modernists and traditionalists make the same profession of faith.

    It’s a matter of style more so than faith, I’d say; although one may be more likely to lose touch than the other.

  39. dover_beach
    Indeed the (catholic) faith is the same, however, the moral principles differ. Traditionalists follow rules, modernists question rules.

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