William M. Briggs

Statistician to the Stars!

Summary Against Modern Thought: God Is Not Made Of Matter

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. All posts are under the category SAMT.

Previous post.

A relatively simple argument today. God is not made of stuff. Who would disagree? Pagans, perhaps. For example, the god of the atheists is a demiurge, a sort of superior created or “evolved” being, and therefore made of matter. But not God. What’s nifty about today’s discussion is the role of “chance”. For that, we turn back (again) to Aristotle.

Chapter 17: That in God there is no matter

1 FROM this it follows that God is not matter.i

2 For matter, such as it is, is in potentiality.ii

3 Again. Matter is not a principle of activity: wherefore, as the Philosopher puts it,[1] efficient and material causes do not coincide. Now, as stated above,[2] it belongs to God to be the first efficient cause of things. Therefore He is not matter.iii

4 Moreover. For those who referred all things to matter as their first cause, it followed that natural things exist by chance: and against these it is argued in 2 Phys.[3] Therefore if God, Who is the first cause, is the material cause of things, it follows that all things exist by chance.iv

5 Further. Matter does not become the cause of an actual thing, except by being altered and changed. Therefore if God is immovable, as proved above,[4] He can nowise be a cause of things as their matter.v

6 The Catholic faith professes this truth, asserting that God created all things not out of His substance, but out of nothing.vi

7 The ravings of David of Dinant are hereby confounded,vii who dared to assert that God is the same as primary matter, because if they were not the same, they would needs differ by certain differences, and thus they would not be simple: since in that which differs from another thing by a difference, the very difference argues composition.

Now this proceeded from his ignorance of the distinction between difference and diversity. For as laid down in 10 Metaph.[5] a thing is said to be different in relation to something, because whatever is different, differs by something, whereas things are said to be diverse absolutely from the fact that they are not the same thing.[6]

Accordingly we must seek for a difference in things which have something in common, for we have to point to something in them whereby they differ: thus two species have a common genus, wherefore they must needs be distinguished by differences. But in those things which have nothing in common, we have not to seek in what they differ, for they are diverse by themselves. For thus are opposite differences distinguished from one another, because they do not participate in a genus as a part of their essence: and consequently we must not ask in what they differ, for they are diversified by their very selves. Thus too, God and primary matter are distinguished, since, the one being pure act and the other pure potentiality, they have nothing in common.

—————————————————————-

iFrom last time, of course.

iiMatter can change, thus it is in potentiality, and we have seen from last time that God is not in potentiality.

iiiThis doesn’t appear controversial, but we have scarcely outlined the nature of cause. There are four kinds of cause: the formal (the form of the thing), material (what the thing is made of), efficient (what brings about the change), and final (the end or direction of the change). The material of the statue, say, is not its efficient cause. Much more on this later.

ivWe are now at Yours Truly’s favorite material. Aristotle (from 2 Phys iv):

Some people even question whether [chance and spontaneity] are real or not. They say that nothing happens by chance, but that everything which we ascribe to chance or spontaneity has some definite cause, e.g. coming ‘by chance’ into the market and finding there a man whom one wanted but did not expect to meet is due to one’s wish to go and buy in the market.

Similarly in other cases of chance it is always possible, they maintain, to find something which is the cause; but not chance, for if chance were real, it would seem strange indeed, and the question might be raised, why on earth none of the wise men of old in speaking of the causes of generation and decay took account of chance; whence it would seem that they too did not believe that anything is by chance…

There are some too who ascribe this heavenly sphere and all the worlds to spontaneity. They say that the vortex arose spontaneously, i.e. the motion that separated and arranged in its present order all that exists. This statement might well cause surprise.

For they are asserting that chance is not responsible for the existence or generation of animals and plants, nature or mind or something of the kind being the cause of them (for it is not any chance thing that comes from a given seed but an olive from one kind and a man from another); and yet at the same time they assert that the heavenly sphere and the divinest of visible things arose spontaneously, having no such cause as is assigned to animals and plants.

Yet if this is so, it is a fact which deserves to be dwelt upon, and something might well have been said about it. For besides the other absurdities of the statement, it is the more absurd that people should make it when they see nothing coming to be spontaneously in the heavens, but much happening by chance among the things which as they say are not due to chance; whereas we should have expected exactly the opposite.

Others there are who, indeed, believe that chance is a cause, but that it is inscrutable to human intelligence, as being a divine thing and full of mystery.

Aristotle says things which are for the sake of something can be caused by chance, and he gives this example (2 Phys v):

A man is engaged in collecting subscriptions for a feast. He would have gone to such and such a place for the purpose of getting the money, if he had known. [But he] actually went there for another purpose and it was only incidentally that he got his money by going there; and this was not due to the fact that he went there as a rule or necessarily, nor is the end effected (getting the money) a cause present in himself — it belongs to the class of things that are intentional and the result of intelligent deliberation. It is when these conditions are satisfied that the man is said to have gone ‘by chance’. If he had gone of deliberate purpose and for the sake of this — if he always or normally went there when he was collecting payments — he would not be said to have gone ‘by chance’.

Notice that chance here is not an ontological (material) thing or force, but a description or a statement of our understanding (of a cause). Aristotle concludes, “It is clear then that chance is an incidental cause in the sphere of those actions for the sake of something which involve purpose. Intelligent reflection, then, and chance are in the same sphere, for purpose implies intelligent reflection.”

And “Things do, in a way, occur by chance, for they occur incidentally and chance is an incidental cause. But strictly it is not the cause — without qualification — of anything; for instance, a housebuilder is the cause of a house; incidentally, a fluteplayer may be so.”

Chance used this way is like the way we use coincidence. But there is also spontaneity, which is similar: “The stone that struck the man did not fall for the purpose of striking him; therefore it fell spontaneously, because it might have fallen by the action of an agent and for the purpose of striking.”

Lastly, “Now since nothing which is incidental is prior to what is per se, it is clear that no incidental cause can be prior to a cause per se. Spontaneity and chance, therefore, are posterior to intelligence and nature. Hence, however true it may be that the heavens are due to spontaneity, it will still be true that intelligence and nature will be prior causes of this All and of many things in it besides.”

vIn short, since God is not movable, he can’t be made of matter, which is always movable.

viSuch a misunderstood word, nothing! It means just what it says. No thing. No fields, no forces, no fields, no equations, no quantum thises or thats, the absence of all entities. Now just you imagine what kind of Being could create something about of this real nothing. Only one: Being itself, I Am That I Am; which is to say, God.

viiZing! More proof that even saints can be contemptuous when the need arises. Notice very carefully that St Thomas does not ask for dialogue with David of Dinant, but is satisfied to destroy his argument.

Next installment.

[1] 2 Phys. vii. 3.
[2] Ch. xiii.
[3] Chs. viii., ix.
[4] Ch. xiii.
[5] D. 9, iii. 6.
[6] Sum. Th. P. I., Q. iii., A. 8, ad 3.

95 Comments

  1. Sander van der Wal

    August 17, 2014 at 9:06 am

    Atheists don’t have gods. Famous for it.

  2. Notice that chance here is not an ontological (material) thing or force, but a description or a statement of our understanding (of a cause). Aristotle concludes, “It is clear then that …

    Good ol’ Ari. If he can’t extrapolate it from experience (or deduce it which isn’t much different) then it cannot be. There’s a Latin name for this fallacy. A more probable than B doesn’t imply B is impossible.

  3. Such a misunderstood word, nothing! It means just what it says. No thing. No fields, no forces, no fields, no equations, no quantum thises or thats, the absence of all entities. Now just you imagine what kind of Being could create something about of this real nothing.

    First of all, you need to show there was no thing. This has not been done. You only arrive at it by assuming every thing has a beginning. And that assumption has not been shown true — only that it is reasonable. From that we jump (quite literally — another of those somethings from nothings?) to a Being behind every thing.

  4. Sander van der Wal

    August 17, 2014 at 11:50 am

    Regarding 6), is this a belief that is part of the Catholic faith? Because if it is a belief, then one can simply not believe that God created all matter, whether out of nothing or out of something else. And that would be the end of the proof.

  5. No fictional character is made of matter.

  6. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 17, 2014 at 3:25 pm

    I see people still think that nothing is a sort of something, and that creation from nothing means that there was some prior state called “nothing” which preceded the something, as if the whole thing were a “time” sequence! LULZ! “Show us that nothing once existed!” But if it existed, then it would be something, because every thing is some thing. Contra DAV, we see people here extrapolating from experience; and because all our experience is of motion (i.e., the transformation of stuff from one form to another), they do not imagine that there might be anything else.

    But it is precisely that all material things are changing, that one may deduce First Mover’s immateriality directly from its unalterability. (If it were alterable, it would be potentially altered by another (Newton’s first law), and thus would not be First Mover, contrary to the initial theorem.)

    Hans, of course, correctly notes that the proof that First Mover is immaterial does not entail that no other things are immaterial; just as a proof that cats are mammals does not entail that dogs are not.

    The process thus far has been:
    motion→First Mover→eternal/unchanging→Pure Act→immaterial.
    although other conclusions can also have been already reached.

  7. Thus too, God and primary matter are distinguished, since, the one being pure act and the other pure potentiality, they have nothing in common.

    Does St. Thomas comment on how Pure Act could conceive of something so utterly different from itself?

  8. Briggs

    August 17, 2014 at 5:23 pm

    Gary,

    Something very like it, yes; at least, to the limits of our understanding, which aren’t very high. Stick around.

    Hans,

    For that matter, we’re not even sure if there’s a real “Hans” behind those words. Maybe a robot programmed to insert comments when it see certain key words?

    YOS,

    Much thanks, as always.

    Sander,

    Well, if you go on like that, you may as well reject all mathematical and logical axioms. And atheists do, in certain fact, have gods. They are rejecting them, are they not? Thus, they must have some concept of what they are rejecting. Atheists (Western ones, at any rate) reject the same god we here at WMBriggs.com reject, which is the “evolved” being, the demiurge. See David Bentley Hart’s book review (on Classic Posts) for more details on this strange creature.

    DAV,

    Fallacy? But there is a pretty good proof about “chance”. I recommend reading all of 2 Phys. Not too long, and a wealth of detail.

  9. I see people still think that nothing is a sort of something, and that creation from nothing means that there was some prior state called “nothing” which preceded the something /i>

    Still playing with words? Can be fun bu not much of an argument. I guess I should take this as indicating lack of rebuttal.

    Nowhere has it been shown there was a creation. It is concluded by assuming everything has a beginning which itself wasn’t proven.

    motion→First Mover:
    Concluded by assuming every event (change/motion) has a cause. Nice idea perhaps but shortsighted. It’s a good example of extrapolating from experience; and because all our experience is of motion (i.e., the transformation of stuff from one form to another) [and not considering] that there might be anything else. (your words)

    First Mover→eternal/unchanging and the rest:
    Hinges on the dubious
    motion→First Mover.

  10. Fallacy? But there is a pretty good proof about “chance”.

    Perhaps, but if he arrived at the idea the way you described then he got “the right answer” for the wrong reasons. As stated. his reasoning is a fallacy.

  11. I’ve really got to get that hang of that backslash-i thingy.

  12. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 17, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    I see people still think that nothing is a sort of something, and that creation from nothing means that there was some prior state called “nothing” which preceded the something

    Still playing with words? Can be fun bu not much of an argument.

    The initial claim was “First of all, you need to show there was no thing.” Implicit in this claim is the belief that “no thing” is some sort of existing state; that is, that it is some thing. This was followed by the statement: “You only arrive at it by assuming every thing has a beginning.” This assumption was not made, but the statement indicates a belief that a time sequence is being discussed. But since there is no time sequence and since nothing is not something, the objections are quite literally pointless. One might even say “playing with words.”
    ++++

    Nowhere has it been shown there was a creation.

    Possibly because nowhere has that been made a proposition. ‘Tis only the existence of kinesis, leading to a primary mover, and then deducing various characteristics of this mover. I don’t think anything has been said about creation, although Thomas did refer to it as a Catholic belief.
    ++++

    It is concluded by assuming everything has a beginning

    This is not the case.
    ++++

    motion→First Mover:

    Concluded by assuming every event (change/motion) has a cause.

    Incorrect. That assumption was not made.
    But don’t forget that the argument states:
    That some things are in motion … is evident from sense. [Contra gentiles]
    It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. [Summa theologica]
    Even if we flip over to the “Second Way” (which is not addressed in the Contra gentiles) and start talking about “causes,” we discover that Moderns (and post-Moderns) do not have the same idea of “cause” and that no one — not Aristotle, not Anselm, not ibn Rushd, not Maimonides, not Aquinas, not Leibnitz, nor any of the others — ever argued from the premise that “everything has a cause.”

    First Mover→eternal/unchanging and the rest:

    Hinges on the dubious motion→First Mover.

    Of course, the fourth theorem hinges on the first. But we are well past that point now. Perhaps you believe that a series of instrumental movers can regress indefinitely, but that raises the question of what is moving them, since they cannot move themselves.
    ++++

    It’s a good example of extrapolating from experience

    We used to call that “empirical” and it used to be well thought of.

  13. Implicit in this claim is the belief that “no thing” is some sort of existing state

    Knock it off. No belief is required — it is an echo of Now just you imagine what kind of Being could create something about of this real nothing. . Whose idea of “nothing” was it? Certainly not mine. You are still failing to prove creation has occurred and hiding behind a bunch of words assigning beliefs and (possibly) motives.

    Which brings us to: Nowhere has it been shown there was a creation. Possibly because nowhere has that been made a proposition.

    So, this create something about of this real nothing arose from where?

    It is concluded by assuming everything has a beginning
    Response: This is not the case.

    No? Then how does one get there otherwise?

    motion→First Mover:
    Concluded by assuming every event (change/motion) has a cause.

    response: Incorrect. That assumption was not made.

    So “cause” is another of you special words, is it? Whatever you want to call it the idea that “motion” comes about from other “motion” is still discussing cause. And that there cannot be an infinite chain of “motion begetting motion” we arrive at a first “motion” brought about (yes, caused) by a First Mover.

    First Mover→eternal/unchanging and the rest:
    Hinges on the dubious motion→First Mover.

    response:
    Of course, the fourth theorem hinges on the first. But we are well past that point now.

    Only by fiat. You still need to address the assumptions behind motion→First Mover before sliding past it.

    It’s a good example of extrapolating from experience
    response: We used to call that “empirical” and it used to be well thought of

    It’s one thing to build an hypothesis from experience but quite another to claim the hypothesis is the only possibility.

    Perhaps you believe …

    You really need to stop that. The only thing I believe with regard to these Summa posts is that the arguments are based on dubious assumptions that, from all appearances, are ultimately based on belief for you. The foundation has been built on quicksand.

    You rebuttals are weak. The wordplay and assignment of beliefs is a good indicator.

  14. YOS’s rebuttals are on-point and crystal-clear.

  15. Sander van der Wal

    August 17, 2014 at 11:48 pm

    @Briggs

    It is also possible that the First Mover created a demi-urge that created the world. But Catholics do not believe that, and neither do Calvinists. But Gnostics do believe that, right?

    In other words, there is no logical necessity that the First Mover himself created the world directly. There could be a number of intermediate demi-urges.

  16. Bertrand Russell:
    There is little of the true philosophic spirit in Aquinas. He does not, like the Platonic Socrates, set out to follow wherever the argument may lead. He is not engaged in an inquiry, the result of which it is impossible to know in advance. Before he begins to philosophize, he already knows the truth; it is declared in the Catholic faith. If he can find apparently rational arguments for some parts of the faith, so much the better; if he cannot, he need only fall back on revelation. The finding of arguments for a conclusion given I in advance is not philosophy, but special pleading. (H.W.P.p463)

  17. Sander van der Wal

    August 17, 2014 at 11:58 pm

    @YOS

    A First Mover can only cause things, by definition. As soon as you start to talk about creating things then creation has to be defined in terms of causation. Which include creating timespace.

  18. @Sander van der Wal:

    “In other words, there is no logical necessity that the First Mover himself created the world directly. There could be a number of intermediate demi-urges.”

    If by “world” you mean our physical universe, yes, it is logically possible. Your point being? We rightfully say that Shakespeare created Hamlet, but we do not view that as a threat to the Creator (and I remind that Creation is *not* what Aquinas is addressing in the arguments until now) but rather an (indirect) manifestation of His glory, so why would the logical possibility that a Demiurge created our physical universe be so?

    “A First Mover can only cause things, by definition. As soon as you start to talk about creating things then creation has to be defined in terms of causation. Which include creating timespace.”

    From where did you get the “only”? And what is supposed to be the problem here?

  19. dover_beach
    17 AUGUST 2014 AT 10:40 PM
    “YOS’s rebuttals are on-point and crystal-clear.”

    – I second that. DAV is ferociously squiggling away from unwanted waters, among others seeming leaping to home-made strawish conclusions and seemingly demand an empirical proof of nothing. A big cheer for skeptical “reason”!

    Hasn’t Brings had an introduction in causal series per se and per accidens yet?

    @Sander1
    – The prime mover could be using as many instrumental causes as he’d like. Is that a problem?

    @Jim
    – Few people here are probably very impressed by Russell on Philosophy of Religion – obviously his weakest field of inquiry. Why don’t you address the arguments or bring up some new ones, instead of one of the clearest argument from authority fallacies I’ve seen in a combox. Given that Russell evidently didn’t even manage to get Aquinas close to right, your case is weak. Emotions won’t do here.

    Speaking of. Norris-Clarke has a very interesting article regarding atheists that seems to intentionally misunderstand the cosmological argument. Surprise, surprise: Russell puts a clear mark on the text.
    http://philpapers.org/rec/WNOACB

    @Sander2
    – A cause per se is ontological, and therefore vertical – not temporal.

  20. Btw: Is there anywhere to log in here, so I can a fancy picture displayed, just like Hans, YOS and Dover? 🙂

  21. Sander van der Wal

    August 18, 2014 at 7:32 am

    @G. Rodrigues

    From YOS, 6th comment.

    The process thus far has been:
    motion→First Mover→eternal/unchanging→Pure Act→immaterial.
    although other conclusions can also have been already reached.

    From Thomas himself

    6 The Catholic faith professes this truth, asserting that God created all things not out of His substance, but out of nothing.vi

    If Thomas believes as a Catholic that God created all things out of nothing then God did not Cause all things. Because Thomas can proof that the First Mover exists, and has all kinds of capabilities, and he’s not using Cause when it comes to creation, he cannot prove that Creation is a kind of Cause.

  22. @Sander van der Wal:

    I hope I am not giving offense, but I do have to say that your comments are consistently confused and unclear, and I have to do a lot of guessing as to what is their intended meaning.

    “If Thomas believes as a Catholic that God created all things out of nothing then God did not Cause all things.”

    St. Thomas indeed believed that God created and sustains in being all existing things and in that sense He is the cause of all things; but this is not the sense that is being discussed currently — but neither it precludes it — so why are you bringing it up?

    “Because Thomas can proof that the First Mover exists, and has all kinds of capabilities, and he’s not using Cause when it comes to creation, he cannot prove that Creation is a kind of Cause.”

    That creation is a kind of cause comes from the understanding of what causality is and its different senses. But once again, the argument for the First Mover is not dealing with creation but *change*: it is one thing to say that the First Cause is the, well, First cause of every change, it is quite another to say that the First Cause is also the creator — I do not know if Mr. Briggs intends to go that far or not. The former presupposes the latter, in the sense that for a substance to change it must exist, but the reverse is not true as Aquinas proves in relation to the Unmoved Mover. And I would add that for St. Thomas creation is not simply a matter of winding the Universe’s clock and “getting” it to run, but a matter of sustaining in being in the here in the now, quite independent of whether the Universe had a finite past or not.

  23. Jim S:

    Bertrand Russell: There is little of the true philosophic spirit in Aquinas.”

    Dear oh dear. Russell’s History of Western Philosophy is notorious for being one of the worst introductions to any number of philosophers ever written in English. What’s worse is that in some cases he seems to be writing about philosophers based on hearsay (secondary literature) without any familiarity with the primary literature at all. This seems all the more damning when he criticizes the cosmological argument, for instance, in Why I am Not a Christian by criticizing a claim it never made, that ‘Everything has a Cause”. The history of this mistake repeatedly being made from Hume onwards is marvelously catalogued by W. Norris Clark in A Curious Blindspot in the Anglo-American tradition of Antitheistic Argument; we might call this affliction, Norris Clark syndrome.

  24. Snap. Daniel got their before me. Great minds….

    Daniel, the pic is connected to your email via Gravatar.

  25. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 18, 2014 at 12:04 pm

    A First Mover can only cause things, by definition.
    A primary actualizer is that which “first of all” is responsible for the actualization of that which is only potential. That is, it is not a secondary or instrumental mover. This doesn’t mean “cause” in the modern scientific definition of the transformation of existing stuff in a metrical fashion.

    First Mover “causes” the movement of other things, not as an efficient cause, but as a final cause. IOW, it doesn’t “kick off” motion by some kind of initial “push.” Rather, it is the end, or telos, of the motion. This is because Aristotle believed that an efficient cause, in giving a “push” would itself be affected by the act of pushing. That is, every such efficient action would set up an opposite re-action, a notion picked up later by Newton. But this is contrary to the unmoved mover being, well, unmoved.
    So Aristotle held that First Mover causes motion by attraction, “because it is loved,” he wrote enigmatically. Compare this to the attractor basin in a physical system governed by a potential function. It doesn’t “push” the system toward the set of equilibrium states, yet the system winds up there — without any “reaction” affecting the equilibrium manifold. A more homey example: a saucer of milk may be the first mover in the local motion of a kitten. The saucer of milk attracts the kitten, but in the act the kitten cannot be said to attract the milk. (Afterward, the kitten will act on the saucer of milk, but that is not the cause of the kitten’s local motion.)
    People accustomed to confounding “cause” with “metrical efficient cause” may have a hard time coming to terms with this, which is why one must be cautious bandying terms like “cause” between natural science and philosophy of nature, or between physics and metaphysics.

  26. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 18, 2014 at 12:28 pm

    Some other comments:

    Implicit in this claim is the belief that “no thing” is some sort of existing state
    Knock it off. No belief is required — it is an echo of Now just you imagine what kind of Being could create something about of this real nothing.

    You realize that this sounds like:
    Aquinas: “No one is in the room.”
    DAV: “What does he look like?”

    You are still failing to prove creation has occurred

    That’s not the proposition under discussion.

    So, this create something about of this real nothing arose from where?

    You are still considering nothing as a kind of something. A “‘real’ nothing”? And from this “real nothing” something was created, like a suit from a bolt of cloth?

    It is concluded by assuming everything has a beginning

    Response: This is not the case.
    No? Then how does one get there otherwise?

    Get where?
    Aquinas assumed the world was eternal for his philosophical proofs, though he did not believe it. And Aristotle who originated the proof did believe the world was eternal. Both understood that bringing into being was not the same thing as a beginning in time.

    So “cause” is another of you special words, is it?

    There are four of them:
    1. Material cause is the stuff from which a thing is made. The immediate stuff. A wall is made of bricks, for example; not of clay. The bricks are made of clay. The clay is made of aluminum silicate and other stuff; etc.
    2. Formal cause is what make it that kind of thing. This might be the amorphous structure of glass; the double helix of DNA; the number and arrangement of protons and electrons; and so on.
    3. Efficient cause is what brings the thing into being. Modern science focuses instead on a narrow range of these causes dealing with metric accidentals of the thing, though seldom with the thing as such. One often hears “events” being caused rather than “things” being caused. Starting with Hume, even this was discarded in favor of correlation.
    http://thomism.wordpress.com/2005/10/11/the-principle-of-efficient/
    4. Final cause is the direction of the efficient cause and without which efficient causation becomes incoherent. It includes such things as attractor basins in state space, adaptations in evolution,

    Whatever you want to call it the idea that “motion” comes about from other “motion” is still discussing cause.

    Kinesis is due to movers, not to motion. Motion/kinesis is actually a “state” in which a thing may be after its many potentials have been collapsed to one (charmingly called an “actual potential”) but before the kinesis has reached its finality. It is not a thing and so it cannot cause any thing. (Like “chance” or “randomness” cannot cause any thing.) For A to actualize a potential in B is not the same thing as for A to cause B, although we might say A could cause a change in some property of B. That is why the First Way and the Second Way are distinct, though similar arguments.

    And that there cannot be an infinite chain of “motion begetting motion” we arrive at a first “motion” brought about (yes, caused) by a First Mover.

    No. There cannot be an infinite regression of a chain of instrumental movers. The chain may progress infinitely, and thus be an infinite chain. Also, motion does not beget motion, except in an allegorical sense. Movers impart motion to mobiles. E.g. Sunlight in a particular band moves the anthocyanin in the skin of an apple from reflecting green to reflecting red.

    You still need to address the assumptions behind motion→First Mover before sliding past it.

    Those were addressed several posts previously. The assumption is:Some things in the world are changing
    The major and minor premises were themselves the results of prior syllogisms
    ☺ whatever is changing is being changed by another;
    ☺ the sequence of changers cannot regress without limit because…
    …then nothing in the sequence would be changing — and there would be no motion in the world, contrary to experience.

    The only thing I believe with regard to these Summa posts is that the arguments are based on dubious assumptions that, from all appearances, are ultimately based on belief for you.

    This would be far more convincing if you had correctly identified the assumptions.

    The Catholic faith professes this truth [i.e. §5], asserting that God created all things not out of His substance, but out of nothing.

    IOW, after demonstrating that First Mover is not material body, Aquinas adds: “And, shazaam! That’s what we Catholics have always believed.” Recall this summa was written “contra gentiles,” and the gentile being persuaded by reason is then informed that the religious belief is consonant with the conclusion. §6 is not a separate argument, but by it he zings David of Dinant. [Poor David: mater is the principle of potency, and God is the principle of actuality. Prime matter and prime mover cannot be the same thing. Heisenberg was closer to the mark when he equated prime matter with mass-energy. He also knew more about metaphysics than Russell.]

  27. Instead of claiming that the missing warming is hiding in the oceans or the arctic, the IPCC should just be done with it — take a page from Thomas and say that AGW is immaterial.

    It would save everyone a lot of time and money, and then they can go back to their monasteries and await the rapture.

  28. RE: “A relatively simple argument today. God is not made of stuff. Who would disagree? Pagans, perhaps.”

    The Bible presents very different facts & the R. Cath. Church established very different doctrine centuries ago:

    Luke 24:50-53 and Mark 16:19. & Acts 1:9-11 clearly assert Jesus ascended bodily into heaven…and now, incarnate [with a body], ‘sits at the RH of God the Father’ — the latter is a core element of the Nicene Creed, the result of lengthy debates prompted by Arius [the Arian Controversy]. Also, Docetism was the belief that Jesus was essentially a phantom appearing as a mortal (‘made of stuff’) human; a view rejected at the 1st Council of Nicea ( 325 AD) as heretical.

    John 20:24-29 Apostle Thomas refuses to believe Jesus died & resurrected–until he touches the wounds (“stuff”)…Jesus invites him to and then we read Thomas believed the resurrection.

    God is a Trinity & Jesus (The Son) is one element of that Trinity.
    http://www.catholicbible101.com/theholytrinity.htm
    http://www.jesus.org/is-jesus-god/holy-trinity/is-the-trinity-biblical.html

    Jesus–fully human
    Human–made of Stuff
    Jesus–God (The Son; a member of the Trinity)
    Therefore, God (at least one part of the Trinity) IS made of “stuff.”
    …at least if one subscribes to Roman Catholic Church doctrine….

  29. You are still considering nothing as a kind of something. A “‘real’ nothing”? And from this “real nothing” something was created, like a suit from a bolt of cloth?

    You do realize that the “real nothing” was pulled from a quote from this blog posting yes? The only thing I am considering is the claim (again pulled directly from this blog post) that a Being could create something about of this real nothing., whatever “real nothing” it is or isn’t, needs to be proven. Your DAV: “What does he look like?” is just you being dishonest.

    Also, motion does not beget motion, except in an allegorical sense.

    You don’t say? Did that just dawn on you or were you being disingenuous with your paragraph beginning Kinesis is due to movers, not to motion.? Of course, maybe you are being paid by the word thus have an incentive to blather.

    There cannot be an infinite regression of a chain of instrumental movers.

    Apparently an assumption from belief. Certainly not proven.

    You still need to address the assumptions behind motion→First Mover before sliding past it.
    Response:
    Those were addressed several posts previously. The assumption is: Some things in the world are changing

    Oh, far more than that. Aquinas jumps from “things are changing” to (eventually) there must have been a first change, which involves assuming the chain cannot infinitely regress. It also involves assuming a “change” cannot occur without a “changer”. You listed these but not as assumptions even though they are.

    This would be far more convincing if you had correctly identified the assumptions.

    No argument there. You seem to suffer from this malady as well.

  30. YOS: There cannot be an infinite regression of a chain of instrumental movers.

    DAV: Apparently an assumption from belief. Certainly not proven.

    Certainly not an assumpton and indeed proven. You cannot have an infinitely regressing chain of instrumental movers anymore than you can have an infinitely regressing chain of boxcars without an locomotive.

    None of this involved Aquinas ‘jumping’ from this assumption to that, certainly not eventually or successively. You certainly haven’t show this but you have repeatedly asserted it.

  31. Certainly not an assumpton and indeed proven.

    It is indeed an assumption even if it is only assuming the syllogism that “proves” it is true. Aquinas’s argument also inherits the assumptions behind that syllogism so, “things are changing,” is not the only assumption (if it can be called that ).

  32. What exactly is being assumed? That you cannot have infinitely regressing chain of instrumental movers? Let us know the next time you see a chain of box cars in transit without a locomotive.

  33. What exactly is being assumed? That you cannot have infinitely regressing chain of instrumental movers?

    Pretty much.

    Let us know the next time you see a chain of box cars in transit without a locomotive.

    Is this an example of philosophic logic at work? Argumentum ad ignorantiam is a basic principle in establishing proof?

  34. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 18, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    Your DAV: “What does he look like?” is just you being dishonest.

    Unless it was yourself being unclear, because that is how it seems to me. You seem to consistently interpret “out of nothing” to mean that nothing was the raw material that was fashioned into something. Real nothing (“real” in the sense of material supposition: what the word really means) is the absence of anything. The gods of the pagans had fashioned the world from the dead bodies of giants or from their own bodies. Thomas notes only that God is not material and so this is not possible.

    motion does not beget motion, except in an allegorical sense.

    You don’t say? Did that just dawn on you or were you being disingenuous with your paragraph beginning Kinesis is due to movers, not to motion.? Of course, maybe you are being paid by the word thus have an incentive to blather.

    The original comment was a reference to a chain of “motion begetting motion” I simply pointed out that motion does not beget motion. Movers do.

    There cannot be an infinite regression of a chain of instrumental movers.

    Apparently an assumption from belief. Certainly not proven.

    Which of Aristotle’s beliefs do you suppose it was?
    Remember, he [and Aquinas] allowed that series ordered per accidens could indeed regress without limit. (Recall: they did not know of the Big Bang.)
    –An instrumental mover does not have itself the power to give motion to another. A stick cannot move a stone by itself. A piano string does not make a note by itself. Even the anthocyanin cannot move the apple skin to red by itself.
    –Therefore, an instrument must be moved by another. The stick is moved by a hand; the piano string is moved (by a hammer, which is moved by a key, which is moved) by a pianist. The anthocyanin is moved by sunlight in certain wavelengths. If the hand drops the stick, the pianist stops playing, or the sunlight is blocked, the imparting of motion ceases because the stick, string, or molecule possesses no motive power in itself. (Although the mobile may retain some motion already imparted.)
    –However many instrumental causes may line up, they cannot initiate motion, nor keep it going. There must be something, a first mover, that has the power to impart motion to the instrumental movers.
    –In an infinitely regressing series, there is no first mover; hence, there would be no motion at all, all of the intervening movers being inert.
    Please, do not allow your fear of the conclusion to lead you to deny ordinary logic. If you wish to demolish the argument, provide a counterexample.

    Aquinas jumps from “things are changing” to (eventually) there must have been a first change, which involves assuming the chain cannot infinitely regress. It also involves assuming a “change” cannot occur without a “changer”. You listed these but not as assumptions even though they are.

    I don’t know why you keep calling these assumptions when they have been demonstrated by syllogisms.

    You seem to suffer from this malady as well.
    just you being dishonest
    you being disingenuous

    I’m looking for a common factor here. These are evidently intended to be rebuttals to an argument in logic; but I’m not seeing the connection.

  35. Pretty much.

    But it isn’t assumed; it has been concluded as being impossible.

    Is this an example of philosophic logic at work? Argumentum ad ignorantiam is a basic principle in establishing proof?

    No, no, it’s not for any “lack of evidence” that one dismisses the possibility, it’s the actual impossibility of such a chain. An infinitely regressing chain of boxcars cannot move itself.

  36. You seem to consistently interpret “out of nothing” to mean that nothing was the raw material that was fashioned into something.

    Sorry (NOT!) that you don’t like the way I express myself. There is no convenient way in English to talk about these ideas without transgressing your usurped terms. If we are talking about appearances, you seem to have a knack of conveniently assuming the worst interpretations just as an excuse to spout off. Shame on you.

    When you post a comment such as:

    Knock it off. No belief is required — it is an echo of Now just you imagine what kind of Being could create something about of this real nothing.

    You realize that this sounds like:
    Aquinas: “No one is in the room.”
    DAV: “What does he look like?”

    while knowingly removing the parts that identify the part following “echo of” as a quote and attributing it to me then you are indeed most dishonest.

    You seem to suffer from this malady as well.
    just you being dishonest
    you being disingenuous
    I’m looking for a common factor here. These are evidently intended to be rebuttals

    Just the thing I was talking about. They weren’t rebuttals. They were my impressions of you.

    I don’t know why you keep calling these assumptions when they have been demonstrated by syllogisms.

    You obviously haven’t read (or are conveniently ignoring) http://wmbriggs.com/blog/?p=13329#comment-126885

    If you wish to demolish the argument, provide a counterexample.

    I don’t need to demolish anything. I only need to point out the deficiencies. If you are asserting Aquinas as true because of lack of counterexample(s) then you are engaging in argumentum ad ignorantiam — a logical fallacy.

    An instrumental mover does not have itself the power to give motion to another.

    Which is an assumption. I do note the sly insertion of the word “instrumental” into it. Pretty much implying the existence of a non-instrumental mover and begging the question.

    In an infinitely regressing series, there is no first mover; hence, there would be no motion at all, all of the intervening movers being inert.

    Which is based upon the instrumental mover does not have itself the power to give motion to another assumption. Even if we allow a First Motion there is still the assumption that all motion requires a mover. Reasonable perhaps but still unproven assumption.

  37. But [an infinitely regressing chain of instrumental movers?] isn’t assumed; it has been concluded as being impossible.

    Based on what assumptions? Asserting the conclusion True instead of simply Valid is an assumption that it’s foundation is irrefutably true. Sorry, but a conclusion based on assumptions is still an assumption.

    No, no, it’s not for any “lack of evidence” that one dismisses the possibility, it’s the actual impossibility of such a chain. An infinitely regressing chain of boxcars cannot move itself.

    That too is based on the assumption that motion requires a mover. An unproven assumption at that.

  38. @Ye O’l Cutter-N-Paster

    “I don’t know why you keep calling these assumptions when they have been demonstrated by syllogisms.”

    1. I danced to the rain Gods for rain.
    2. It rained.
    3. My rain dance pleased the Gods.

    1. I danced to the rain Gods for rain.
    2. It didn’t rain.
    3. My rain dance didn’t please the Gods.

    So much for the Scientific Method. Maybe we could prove AGW and a cure for cancer by Syllogisms?

  39. Jim S,

    Are those nonsyllogisms supposed to be syllogisms? I’m not getting it.

  40. That too is based on the assumption that motion requires a mover. An unproven assumption at that.

    This is assumed without argument? No, the proposition was introduced in SCG 1.13 as needing to be proved as was the proposition that you cannot proceed to an infinity of movers and things moved, as noted by Briggs also, in an earlier post.

  41. This is assumed without argument? No, the proposition was introduced in SCG 1.13 as needing to be proved

    Well then, we agree.

  42. Sander van der Wal

    August 19, 2014 at 5:16 am

    @G. Rodrigues

    No offence taken, nor meant.

    “If Thomas believes as a Catholic that God created all things out of nothing then God did not Cause all things.”

    St. Thomas indeed believed that God created and sustains in being all existing things and in that sense He is the cause of all things; but this is not the sense that is being discussed currently — but neither it precludes it — so why are you bringing it up?

    Because Thomas brings it up, and then it seems reasonable that this believing in creation is important for the argument. Apparently it is not, re a comment from YOS.

  43. DB: This is assumed without argument? No, the proposition was introduced in SCG 1.13 as needing to be proved…

    DAV: Well then, we agree.

    Obviously not. You’ve been raving that he ‘assumes’ this and that when he’s done nothing of the sort. He’s put them forward as propositions, proved them, and moved on to the next argument.

  44. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 19, 2014 at 10:37 am

    without transgressing your usurped terms.

    Who has usurped what terms? Don’t forget they were used by the fellow — Aristotle — who made the original argument, and the vocabulary must be understood in the sense which he intended. In Greek. The same is true of his Arabic and Latin commentators, and of Aquinas’ extension of his work. It’s like reading something written about the Gay Nineties and supposing it had something to do with homosexuality.

    There is no convenient way in English to talk about these ideas

    And yet people have been talking about them for centuries. More recently: Kenny, clearly enough to disagree with Aquinas; Oderberg clearly enough to defend him. E.g.:
    https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUieN3dGVkhNTi1SQUU/edit
    However, you are correct in that Late Modern English lacks many of the distinctions necessary. OTOH, it does make other useful distinctions, as by distinguishing the present progressive from the simple present. None of them — Greek, Latin, or English — adequately distinguish between “is” and “is.” To wit:
    M. Grass is green
    m. Green is an electromagnetic wave (with a predominant wavelength of roughly 495–570 nm.)
    /:. Grass is an electromagnetic wave (with a predominant wavelength of roughly 495–570 nm.).

    I don’t need to demolish anything. I only need to point out the deficiencies.

    Then go ahead and start doing so. So far, we’ve only seen misunderstandings of the terms and requests to “prove” definitions. The deficiency in the grass argument, above, lies in the univocal use of the verb “is,” not in demanding proof of the scientific definition of “green” in the minor premise.

    If you are asserting Aquinas as true because of lack of counterexample(s) then you are engaging in argumentum ad ignorantiam — a logical fallacy.

    I simply pointed out that (as in the sciences) the surest way to rebut a proposition is to provide a counterexample.

    An instrumental mover does not have itself the power to give motion to another.

    Which is an assumption. I do note the sly insertion of the word “instrumental” into it. Pretty much implying the existence of a non-instrumental mover and begging the question.

    It’s not an assumption, it’s a definition. I thought “instrumental cause” might be more understandable than per accidens. There’s nothing really sly about a point that was made two and half millennia ago. The world is full of non-instrumental movers. When Tiger Woods drives a golf ball, the club is an instrumental mover of the ball, the arms and shoulders are instrumental movers of the club, the muscles are instrumental movers of the shoulders and arms, the nerves are instrumental movers of the muscles, the motor neurons are instrumental movers of the nerves. However, the substance Tiger Woods is a primary mover of all of it. If Tiger did not intend to drive the golf ball, none of these things would have moved in that way. If he changed his mind, even halfway through the swing, the changes would stop.
    Another example: you have been taught the Pythagorean theorem. Your teacher had been taught the Pythagorean theorem. And his teacher, too; and so on. At some point, someone actually had to prove the theorem without having been taught it. Now, the series of taught teachers is not a series of instrumental movers. Each teacher in the series actually does have the power to teach the theorem even if his own teacher has died. That is, while the golf club is Tiger Woods’ sock puppet, Miss Grundy is not Mr. Chips’ sock puppet.
    So, yes, there are non-instrumental mobiles and movers. So what? Aquinas did not use them in his argument — although Scotus did iirc, and the Dominicans and Franciscans debated the point for a couple of centuries.

    there is still the assumption that all motion requires a mover. Reasonable perhaps but still unproven assumption.

    But nothing can move itself; i.e., actualize its own potential:
    1. No divisible being can move itself as a whole.
    2. All material beings are divisible.
    3. Therefore, no material being can move itself as a whole.
    http://fmmh.ycdsb.ca/teachers/fmmh_mcmanaman/pages/physics14.htm
    Given that “motion” in the original sense used by Aristotle and Aquinas (before it was usurped to mean only motion of location) is more akin to acceleration — that is, a change in what a thing already possesses — the whole thing about mobiles requiring another to move it is simply Newton’s First Law.

    just you being dishonest
    you being disingenuous
    I’m looking for a common factor here.

    Just the thing I was talking about. They weren’t rebuttals. They were my impressions of you.

    D’uh? I was wallowing in sarcasm. They very clearly had nothing to do with the debate and were intended only as ad hominem, a logical fallacy. If you were simply giving your impressions, you would have used phrases such as “It seems to me that…” or “This gives the impression that…” For example:
    You seem to consistently interpret “out of nothing” to mean that nothing was the raw material that was fashioned into something. Which is an invitation to clarify the impression made.
    I still believe that you are honestly disagreeing, and that it is only because (to quote Oderberg)

    [T]he arguments require the appreciation of certain metaphysical principles that are unfamiliar or seem archaic to the contemporary philosophical mind… In particular, the notion of causation employed by Aquinas in the arguments has a decidedly obscure ring to modern ears.
    — ‘Whatever is Changing is Being Changed by Something Else’

    Hence, to effectively rebut Aristotle’s argument, and Aquinas’ argument, one needs to grasp what it was that they had argued. This can be especially hard because Aquinas assumes that his readers already know Aristotle and can fill in the metaphysical blanks.

  45. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 19, 2014 at 11:03 am

    Because Thomas brings it up, and then it seems reasonable that this believing in creation is important for the argument. Apparently it is not, re a comment from YOS.

    No, we’ve only said that it is not used in his argument and he was not trying to prove it. What he did was, at the conclusion of his argument, he said to the effect “and this conclusion happens to be what we have always believed.” If the fix was in, we would have to identify where the rigging was and how he convinced Aristotle — who did not believe in creation in time! — to go along with the gag. Keep in mind that Aquinas explicitly disavows a non-eternal universe for the sake of the arguments. He says elsewhere that even though he believes the world had a beginning in time, he knows of no philosophical demonstration and (like our friend DAV) he is unwilling to use a premise that he cannot establish.

  46. @DAV:

    “I do note the sly insertion of the word “instrumental” into it. Pretty much implying the existence of a non-instrumental mover and begging the question.”

    There is no “sly” insertion, because the qualifier is a technical term of art; neither it begs the question since “instrumental” only means that the causal efficacy of the mover depends on another — the whole arm, stick, stone illustrative example?

    But in one thing you are indeed quite right (or were, since it was in another thread): a waste of time.

  47. @Brandon Watson

    “Are those nonsyllogisms supposed to be syllogisms? I’m not getting it.”

    It’s pretty obvious that you are not getting it (thank you, by the way). I put forth a crap-all syllogism and the only reason that you can think to reject it is because it doesn’t confirm to your medieval definition of “symbolic-manipulation = truth” .

    Thought is not computational. An algorithm, like a syllogistic argument, is content free. Math is content free. Syllogisms are content free.

    Human’s don’t think syllogistically. We make decisions on less than complete knowledge because we have to. We make inferences and we even sometimes gamble on the probability of failure vs. probability of success. Our models are always analogs, and lack some level of fidelity. We establish acceptable levels of tolerance and depend on feedback to make mid-course corrections to achieve our goals.

    The idea that you can prove that a Prime Mover exists, and the he is the Christian God and that you should vote no on an upcoming gay marriage referendum — all by syllogistic thinking — is laughable… sad, but laughable.

  48. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 19, 2014 at 10:48 pm

    Thought is not computational.
    Well, there goes that whole “brain=mind” thingie out the window.

    Human’s don’t think syllogistically.
    –Sometimes we do. For example, the entire field of mathematics that has such an odd habit of proving useful in physics.
    –That people are often illogical is not really a good argument against logic.
    –Syllogisms are not content-free. The major and minor premises are propositions, and have material content. That’s why the truth of a syllogism depends upon a) the validity of its form and b) the content of its premises.
    –If you throw out syllogistic thinking, you throw out the “falsification” so beloved of Late Moderns as a principle of Science!â„¢ since falsification is simply the syllogism known as modus tollens.
    –It’s true what Aeschylus said about truth being the first casualty, but never more so than when the truth tables are themselves targeted for denial.

    The idea that you can prove that a Prime Mover exists, and the he is the Christian God and that you should vote no on an upcoming gay marriage referendum — all by syllogistic thinking — is laughable… sad, but laughable.
    Jeez. Take a deep breath, dude.

  49. It’s pretty obvious that you are not getting it (thank you, by the way). I put forth a crap-all syllogism and the only reason that you can think to reject it is because it doesn’t confirm to your medieval definition of “symbolic-manipulation = truth” .

    None of the examples you gave were syllogisms, though.

  50. your medieval definition of “symbolic-manipulation = truth”

    I should also add that I have no idea what you mean by this: I never made such a definition, and don’t even know what it would mean; such a definition is not medieval since it couldn’t even be coherently formulated in medieval logical vocabulary; and the claim by YOS that you quoted was the perfectly straightforward Logic 101 vocabulary point that it’s an abuse of terms to call something an assumption if it is in context the conclusion of a valid argument. As YOS notes in the comment above, the question of truth is a distinct matter.

  51. “Human’s don’t think syllogistically.
    –Sometimes we do. For example, the entire field of mathematics that has such an odd habit of proving useful in physics.”

    Surely you not stating that a mathematic model = reality? Models (information) are analogs of events, not events.

    “–That people are often illogical is not really a good argument against logic.”

    Making decisions based on probability of outcome with the understanding that feedback will allow you to make course corrections later on is irrational?

  52. On second though,

    “….For example, the entire field of mathematics that has such an odd habit of proving useful in physics.”

    “proving useful”, hmmm….

    Arguing Pragmatism are we?

  53. @dover_beach
    ” An infinitely regressing chain of boxcars cannot move itself.”

    The ignorance of your argument is that you posit that there exists somewhere a chain of box cars not already in motion.

    The last time I checked, the box cars are on a planet that is rotating about it’s axis. And furthermore, that planet is in orbit around a sun which is also in orbit about a galactic core which is also in motion.

    Can you please provide me even one example of something that is not in motion?

  54. @Brandon 11:20PM
    Your views are pretty much irrelevant.

  55. @Jim S:

    “Surely you not stating that a mathematic model = reality? Models (information) are analogs of events, not events.”

    “Mathematics” and “mathematical models” are different things.

  56. The ignorance of your argument is that you posit that there exists somewhere a chain of box cars not already in motion.

    The last time I checked, the box cars are on a planet that is rotating about it’s axis. And furthermore, that planet is in orbit around a sun which is also in orbit about a galactic core which is also in motion.

    Can you please provide me even one example of something that is not in motion?

    Jim S, you really are the last person to be calling anyone ignorant given the ‘problem’ you’ve just asked me to address. Motion here means change, this has been addressed in Brigg’s posts, and been repeated ad nauseam in the comments section. If those boxcars change location relative to their position on the earth, a locomotive will have been involved, or some other change in networks of forces acting upon the boxcar like the earth, galaxy, etc. will have been involved. What we can be certain of is that the boxcars will not have moved themselves, which goes to show, BTW, that the movement of the boxcars is instrumental; that is, depends entirely upon something external to it, like a locomotive, etc.

  57. (Sorry, forgot to add an ‘/’ to the close tag)

    The ignorance of your argument is that you posit that there exists somewhere a chain of box cars not already in motion.

    The last time I checked, the box cars are on a planet that is rotating about it’s axis. And furthermore, that planet is in orbit around a sun which is also in orbit about a galactic core which is also in motion.

    Can you please provide me even one example of something that is not in motion?

    Jim S, you really are the last person to be calling anyone ignorant given the ‘problem’ you’ve just asked me to address. Motion here means change, this has been addressed in Brigg’s posts, and been repeated ad nauseam in the comments section. If those boxcars change location relative to their position on the earth, a locomotive will have been involved, or some other change in networks of forces acting upon the boxcar like the earth, galaxy, etc. will have been involved. What we can be certain of is that the boxcars will not have moved themselves, which goes to show, BTW, that the movement of the boxcars is instrumental; that is, depends entirely upon something external to it, like a locomotive, etc.

  58. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 20, 2014 at 2:36 pm

    Surely you not stating that a mathematic model = reality?
    No. Box said, “All models are wrong, but some are useful; the practical question is how wrong do they have to be to not be useful.”

    Making decisions based on probability of outcome with the understanding that feedback will allow you to make course corrections later on is irrational?
    According to the previous comment, mathematical models are not reality, but relying on “probability” of outcome is relying on a mathematical model. So which is it to be?
    The original comment was that “humans do not think logically” and therefore something something. Presumably, that logical arguments are a waste of breath. That pulls the plug from under math and science, along with a whole lot else. Fortunately, “modern art” and “deconstructionism” would survive the crash.

  59. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 20, 2014 at 2:48 pm

    “….For example, the entire field of mathematics that has such an odd habit of proving useful in physics.”

    “proving useful”, hmmm…. Arguing Pragmatism are we?

    Nah. Just a backhanded way of noting that the physical world seems organized on rational principles. Otherwise, math wouldn’t match physics as well as it does.
    ++++++++++++

    ” An infinitely regressing chain of boxcars cannot move itself.”

    The ignorance of your argument is that you posit that there exists somewhere a chain of box cars not already in motion.

    No it does not. It simply says that if the box cars are in motion, they lack the motive to move themselves. Something else must be moving them. A locomotive, perhaps. Or (if the tracks are on a slope) the gravity of the Earth. Or they are moving because the planet as a whole is moving them; or the solar system is moving them; or the whole galaxy is moving them!

    The last time I checked, the box cars are on a planet that is rotating about it’s axis. And furthermore, that planet is in orbit around a sun which is also in orbit about a galactic core which is also in motion.

    Ah, so you do get it. None of your suggestions contend that the boxcars move themselves.
    But if we restrict ourselves to the proper movement of the boxcars and not their accidental movements, please explain how Aristotle and Newton were wrong to say that whatever is moving is being moved by another. You asked for an example of something “not” in motion (which is absurd, because an Aristotelian supposes that everything in the world is in motion). So perhaps it would be fair to ask for an example of something that moves itself.

  60. “I do note the sly insertion of the word “instrumental” into it. Pretty much implying the existence of a non-instrumental mover and begging the question.”

    There is no “sly” insertion, because the qualifier is a technical term of art; neither it begs the question since “instrumental” only means that the causal efficacy of the mover depends on another

    So then, it was deliberately inserted to imply a First Mover and somehow this is not assuming the conclusion of a First Mover? It also relies on the unproven by assuming Motion requires a Mover.

    [Aquinas] says elsewhere that even though he believes the world had a beginning in time, he knows of no philosophical demonstration and (like our friend DAV) he is unwilling to use a premise that he cannot establish.

    Apparently the unwillingness didn’t extend into practice. See above.

    a waste of time.

    Yes it is. Gotta wonder at whom this argument was intended. For the most part, it seems to only convince the already convinced. And the already convinced vehemently object when the holes which should be filled are indicated.

    Motion here means change,

    Then SAY “change” instead of “motion” and stop providing opportunities to chortle for yourself. You aren’t the only one. I note a propensity among the convinced to giggle like school girls when someone says “something” or “anything” or just “thing”, which in English are placeholders for unspecified nouns. “Tee! Hee! Hee! He said thing so he is thinking it a special thing (* giggle, giggle *) .” Childish, really.

  61. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 20, 2014 at 7:41 pm

    when the holes which should be filled are indicated.
    Alas, the holes are not in the actual target.

    Then SAY “change” instead of “motion”
    Yeah, it’s hard to come to grips with an argument if you don’t understand the words used. If we say “change” some people won’t make the connection with change-of-place or “motion” in the Modern sense. Six of one, half a dozen of the other. We could say “kinesis,” which was the word Aristotle used, but that might get even more blank words. So would “actualization of a potential,” which cuts to the heart of it. But then we realize that it has been continually repeated in this whole series of posts that “kinesis,” “actualization of a potential,” “change,” and “motion” have had their equivalence pointed out again and again; so it’s a little late to express surprise.
    Look, it took me years to figure it out, and I did not start with a visceral rejection of the conclusion at the end of it all.
    ++++
    I still can’t figure out why you feel a need to contend that something can be changing without being changed. It would seem easier to believe in invisible sky faeries than in something like that.

  62. I still can’t figure out why you feel a need to contend that something can be changing without being changed.

    I didn’t and don’t contend any such thing. I am saying the idea that “change” requires a “changer” needs proof and I don’t see it has been. Said proof should not rely on yet other assumptions. There seems to be a tendency for some Y being shown provided X is true then later using Y as if it is true.

    it’s hard to come to grips with an argument if you don’t understand the words used.

    It’s equally hard to follow an argument which continually uses words easily conflated — particularly when there are available words less likely to mislead.

  63. when the holes which should be filled are indicated.
    Alas, the holes are not in the actual target.

    What’s the point of reaching a conclusion that won’t be accepted due to the holes? And what’s with all the squirming post after post when they are indicated? Was something said that would cause True Believers to begin to doubt?

  64. Then SAY “change” instead of “motion” and stop providing opportunities to chortle for yourself. You aren’t the only one. I note a propensity among the convinced to giggle like school girls when someone says “something” or “anything” or just “thing”, which in English are placeholders for unspecified nouns. “Tee! Hee! Hee! He said thing so he is thinking it a special thing (* giggle, giggle *) .” Childish, really.

    DAV, Aquinas uses motion, following Aristotle, clear in the understanding that those reading him would understand that he means change. Now, if you’re reading Aquinas in attempt to understand his argument and you evince an unwillingness understand what he means when can only conclude that your attempt is merely for appearances.

    Gotta wonder at whom this argument was intended. For the most part, it seems to only convince the already convinced.

    Except that it has convinced Feser as an atheist, myself as an agnostic, and even Antony Flew, to name but a few.

    I am saying the idea that “change” requires a “changer” needs proof and I don’t see it has been.

    You argued earlier that Aquinas merely ‘assumed’ this and when it was pointed out that he has plainly stated that this was a proposition that he intended to prove at SCG 1.13 and in turn did you have simply moved on to now say that “you don’t see it has been.” Too bad for you sunshine.

  65. Sander van der Wal

    August 21, 2014 at 12:02 pm

    I’m happy to talk about acceleration as a form of kinesis.

    Consider a toy universe with two particles with mass, and gravity. These particles will attract each other, accelerate, and as a result they will orbit around each other in a fixed orbit.

    In this toy universe, what are the causes, and what are the potentialities? What is the First Mover?

  66. You argued earlier that Aquinas merely ‘assumed’ this and when it was pointed out that he has plainly stated that this was a proposition that he intended to prove at SCG 1.13

    I intended to go to Florida last week. Did I go there?

    Aquinas uses motion, following Aristotle, clear in the understanding that those reading him would understand that he means change.

    And he used Latin, too. So why aren’t you commenting in Latin?

  67. I intended to go to Florida last week. Did I go there?

    I’m not in a position to tell, pretty much the same position you’re in with respect to whether Aquinas reasoned well at SCG 1.13.

    DAV, you’re just bluff and bluster.

  68. I’m not in a position to tell, pretty much the same position you’re in with respect to whether Aquinas reasoned well at SCG 1.13.

    My take is he did not or you wouldn’t keep saying intended. If he didn’t, then he assumed the conclusion regardless of intent. But even if he did but introduced yet more assumptions it would still be an assumption no matter what you call it.

    you’re just bluff and bluster.

    Seems a pot/kettle situation to me.

  69. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 22, 2014 at 12:49 pm

    he assumed the conclusion
    Could you pretty please with sugar on it point out where he assumed the conclusion?

  70. he assumed the conclusion
    Could you pretty please with sugar on it point out where he assumed the conclusion?

    Could you please show me where he did otherwise?

  71. he assumed the conclusion
    Could you pretty please with sugar on it point out where he assumed the conclusion?

    I see you are still taking words out of context but perhaps you meant in toto.

    You can’t claim a First Mover if a mover is not required. Show where Aquinas proved that a mover is required for motion.

  72. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 22, 2014 at 2:44 pm

    DAV: [Aquinas] assumed the conclusion
    Puzzled Onlooker: Could you pretty please with sugar on it point out where he assumed the conclusion?
    DAV: Could you please show me where he did otherwise?
    ‘Struth! We have fallen down the Rabbit Hole into Bizarro World where we must battle Evil Kirk and Evil Spock.

  73. My take is he did not or you wouldn’t keep saying intended. If he didn’t, then he assumed the conclusion regardless of intent.

    It is customary to say which propositions you intend to prove at the beginning of an argument and accomplishing it by the end of the same, as Aquinas did.

    Fact check: DAV is all bluff and bluster.

    Evidence:

    DAV: he assumed the conclusion
    YOS: Could you pretty please with sugar on it point out where he assumed the conclusion?
    DAV: Could you please show me where he did otherwise?

    Fact check status: Confirmed.

  74. My take is he did not or you wouldn’t keep saying intended. If he didn’t, then he assumed the conclusion regardless of intent.

    It is customary to say which propositions you intend to prove at the beginning of an argument and accomplishing it by the end of the same, as Aquinas did.

    Fact check: DAV is all bluff and bluster.

    Evidence:

    DAV: he assumed the conclusion
    YOS: Could you pretty please with sugar on it point out where he assumed the conclusion?
    DAV: Could you please show me where he did otherwise?

    Fact check status: Confirmed.

  75. So neither of you can show how the premise of a motion requiring a mover was proven if it was at all? Instead we get smoke screen and handwaving.

    Interesting.

  76. DAV, no. The only one hand-waving and smoke-screening – both not very good at concealing your failure so far – is yourself. The argument was laid out before you. You made an assertion in response, you bear the burden of proving your assertion.

  77. The argument was laid out before you

    Not that I have seen. I see you saying Aquinas intended to prove the premise but intentions aren’t proof.

    You made an assertion in response, you bear the burden of proving your assertion.

    You want me to prove Aquinas did NOT do something? This is good argument? I still note your lack of providing said proof which would be better than your run around. And, even assuming you can provide it, if it introduces yet more assumptions then effectively nothing has been proven.

  78. DAV, you asserted that Aquinas assumed two propositions when he did no such thing as demonstrated above with the relevant reference to SCG 1.13. From this mistake, you’ve fallen back to asserting that Aquinas did not prove these two propositions in his argument. You’ve been asked repeatedly to point to exactly where in the argument Aquinas fails to prove each proposition, a burden you face given that you’re making the assertion that he has failed to accomplish what he set out to do.

  79. you asserted that Aquinas assumed two propositions when he did no such thing as demonstrated above with the relevant reference to SCG 1.13.

    Your exact word:
    You argued earlier that Aquinas merely ‘assumed’ this and when it was pointed out that he has plainly stated that this was a proposition that he intended to prove at SCG 1.13

    I don’t care what he intended. Intentions are meaningless. I don’t have the text and frankly, if Aquinas’s argument is meant to convince me and others, I don’t see the obligation to go find it. Imagine someone trying to sell you something who says “This is the best product ever. Just look it up.” Guaranteed no sale. What is your purpose here?

    You have repeatedly used the word intended wrt to proving this premise AND have continually dragged your feet when asked to provide it which only increases my doubt that it exists.

  80. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 22, 2014 at 6:44 pm

    Wait a minute. DAV is not asserting that Aquinas failed to prove that everything that is changing is being changed by another. That was done.
    I think he is being even more subversive of science: he is denying that change requires a changer at all. IOW, change “just happens,” like sh*t, one assumes.
    If X is changing as a whole, then:
    a) X is being changed by another (that is by something already actual)
    b) X is changing itself
    c) X is changing for no reason whatsoever, neither by itself nor by something else.
    DAV is going with c), as near as I can tell. Astonishing the lengths to which some will go.

  81. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 22, 2014 at 6:51 pm

    DAV, regarding the two major and minor premises of the theorem, Aquinas laid it out as follows:
    1. Statement of major premise.
    2. Statement of minor premise.
    3. Statement of conclusion via modus ponens.
    4. Comment that both the major and the minor must themselves be proven:
    5. Proof of major premise (in three distinct ways)
    6. Proof of minor premise.

    5 & 6 fulfill his “intention.”
    Perhaps you stopped reading too soon?

    In the usual mathematics text, the sequence would have run:
    Lemma 1. Proof of major premise (#5)
    Lemma 2. Proof of minor premise (#6)
    Theorem 1. Proof of main proposition (#1-2-3)
    If you rearrange the material in this fashion, perhaps it will be more clear?

  82. I think he is being even more subversive of science

    Subversive of Science. How does indicating That Which Has Not Been Proven is subversive maybe even heretical? You really are into arguing from authority aren’t you?

    DAV is going with c), as near as I can tell. Astonishing the lengths to which some will go.

    There you go imagining what I think instead of simply putting it to rest by showing (c) is impossible. Dover B has continually implied that Aquinas has done this but both he and you can’t seem to provide it. Why is that?

  83. Perhaps you stopped reading too soon?

    What exactly did I stop reading?

  84. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 22, 2014 at 7:58 pm

    Subversive of Science.

    To say “IT JUST IS!” means you no longer search for reasons for the change. To say that something is changing without being changed is an astonishing contention. Unless, you are leaping way ahead to the first unchanging changer on your own. You might want to be cautious about doing so.

  85. To say that something is changing without being changed is an astonishing contention.

    But obviously not impossible or you would show how. The impossibility is necessary to Aquinas’s conclusion. Without it, his argument is hardly as strong or convincing as you seem to think.

  86. And just for the record: I DID NOT SAY “changing without being changed “. Why you continue to twist what I have said is beyond me. Maybe because I am hitting you where it hurts?

    I said: The idea that a changer is required for change (or, if you insist, Mover required for Motion) needs to be proven. I’ve corrected you before. Are your reading skills deficient?

  87. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 22, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    The contention is:
    Whatever is changing is being changed by another.
    What do you propose that X is being changed by?
    It is simply impossible for something to be changing without it being changed by by something.
    It is way too early in the reasoning for you to postulate an unchanging changer.

  88. It is simply impossible for something to be changing without it being changed by by something.

    Saying it doesn’t make it true. Prove it. It has been claimed Aquinas has proved it. Feel free to plagiarize. I won’t tell anyone.

  89. I was going to let this slide but in Whatever is changing is being changed by another dropping the “by another” seriously misrepresents what has been said — particularly when it comes out as To say that something is changing without being changed is an astonishing contention. Certainly, you are aware of this.

  90. I don’t have the text and frankly, if Aquinas’s argument is meant to convince me and others, I don’t see the obligation to go find it.

    It’s available on the net. Briggs has even been linking to the relevant SaintWiki pages in each of this series of posts. Have you felt no need to read them before criticizing this or any other argument in this series?

    I don’t care what he intended. Intentions are meaningless….You have repeatedly used the word intended wrt to proving this premise AND have continually dragged your feet when asked to provide it which only increases my doubt that it exists.

    Why this monomaniacal focus on the innocent use of ‘intented’? I merely said that Aquinas at the outset of his argument at SCG 1.13 intended to prove the two relevant propositions as one does at the beginning of any argument to counter your initial claim that he ‘assumed’ it. Of course, he spent the rest of the argument proving the two propositions. BTW, given that you admit above to not having read the argument or felt the need to read it before criticizing it, we can conclude that you simply made up the claim that he assumed it to begin with; oh, this probably explains the monomaniacal focus on ‘intent’. Also, the claim that I am continually providing a reference that you could easily google and peruse that you are now speculating probably doesn’t exist is, to say the least, bizarre. You could just google it.

    How does indicating That Which Has Not Been Proven is subversive maybe even heretical?

    But you haven’t indicated anything of the sort. You’ve boldly asserted it without any argumentation.

    Saying it doesn’t make it true. Prove it. It has been claimed Aquinas has proved it. Feel free to plagiarize. I won’t tell anyone.

    Setting aside the fact that we wished you actually practiced the above, rather than paying lip service to it, why must we repeat what Aquinas has already set out? You have all you need to demonstrate the mistake in reasoning you purport Aquinas to have made? I’ll wait patiently for your considered refutation.

  91. We both know why you are acting as you are. You can’t find the parts that support you. It’s an unprovable proposition.

    As for your partial quote, allow me to finish the rest of the paragraph:

    Imagine someone trying to sell you something who says “This is the best product ever. Just look it up.” Guaranteed no sale. What is your purpose here?

    You have repeatedly used the word intended wrt to proving this premise AND have continually dragged your feet when asked to provide it which only increases my doubt that it exists.

    Still dragging your feet I see. You suck at selling. Lest you feel the urge to resort to a childish “You, too!” comeback, I’m not selling anything. I’m telling you why I’m not buying. Improve your pitch or get lost.

  92. Ye Olde Statisician

    August 23, 2014 at 9:27 am

    @Dover:
    There is a misconnect here. It seems that DAV’s contention is even stronger. Certainly, Aquinas proved his major and minor premises:
    M: Whatever is changing as a whole is being changed by another.
    (which he proved three different ways) and:
    m: There cannot be an infinite regress of intrumental changers.

    Mr. DAV’s contention is that Aquinas hasn’t proven that there must be a changer at all. IOW, there can be motion without being moved. Aquinas proved that there cannot be self-motion, so any change is due either to a part of the whole or to another body entirely. DAV contends that X can change because it just changed! For all we know, he would have made the same demand of Newton. One way to duck a Primary Changer is to deny the need for any changers at all.
    Q: Who shot the sheriff?
    A: No one. He was simply shot.
    Q: How can he be shot without there being a shooter?
    A: IT JUST IS! You haven’t proven that a shooter is necessary to account for having been shot.

  93. Logic is an emotional issue for some it seems.
    Any excuse for hyperbole, I guess.

  94. DAV:

    We both know why you are acting as you are. You can’t find the parts that support you. It’s an unprovable proposition.

    There is no acting on our part, dear boy, but you certainly are putting on the best performance of the Black Knight this side of Monty Python. And there you go again making an assertion with respect to an argument you have admitted to be almost completely unfamiliar with, without even bothering to make an argument.

    Still dragging your feet I see. You suck at selling. Lest you feel the urge to resort to a childish “You, too!” comeback, I’m not selling anything. I’m telling you why I’m not buying. Improve your pitch or get lost.

    To employ your analogy, it’s not my sales technique or the product that is the problem, it’s your refusal to look at the vehicle.

    Logic is an emotional issue for some it seems.

    Just point out the faults in Aquinas’s argument, Captain Logic.

    YOS:

    Mr. DAV’s contention is that Aquinas hasn’t proven that there must be a changer at all.

    It certainly seems so. Is he familiar with Aristotle’s response to Heraclitus and Parmenides?

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