Saturday, June 17, 2017

Surf dat web


A lecture by David Oderberg answering the question: Should there be freedom of dissociation?

Philosopher of physics Tim Maudlin defends the reality of time and change, at Quanta magazine.

At The Weekly Standard, Camille Paglia on Trump, transgenderism, and terrorism.

Why is there more disagreement in philosophy than in science?  Maybe because philosophy is just harder, suggests David Papineau in the Times Literary Supplement.
 
Ross and Kripke revisited: In a YouTube video, Peter Dillard responds to my recent post responding to his ACPQ article.

Joshua Hochschild on Jean-Paul Sartre’s La Nausée, at First Things.

The Dialogos Institute is hosting a colloquium on the doctrine of Limbo in Ramsgate, England later this month.

The continuing travails of Marvel Comics: Social justice warriors are burning their comics.  A politically driven series is cancelled due to poor sales.  Bad business decisions are taking a toll across the line.


And what about his buddy Friedrich Nietzsche?  Times Literary Supplement on some recent books.

At City Journal, Theodore Dalrymple on Paul Hollander on why so many intellectuals love dictators

In the International Journal for Philosophy of Religion, Ben Page proposes an answer to the Euthyphro dilemma.


In related news: Duke theology professor Paul Griffiths, facing disciplinary action for calling diversity training a waste of time, has resigned

More related news: Mark Steyn on the poisoning of Jihad Watch’s Robert Spencer by social justice warriors.

Yet more related news: At Bleeding Heart Libertarians, Jason Brennan on the latest attack on free expression within academic philosophy.

Raymond Tallis on time and physics, Daniel Robinson, Luciano Floridi, and Murillo Pagnotta on information, Stephen Talbott on evolution and purpose, and more in the latest issue of The New Atlantis.

At Public Discourse, philosopher John Skalko on why there are only two sexes.

Michael Pakaluk on Trump, Pope Francis, and the Paris climate agreement: How should Catholics respond?

Gregory Reichberg’s Thomas Aquinas on War and Peace is reviewed at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

Boston Review on a new book on the obsessions of Hitchcock, Welles, and Kubrick.

Quartz asks: Was Descartes’ most famous idea anticipated by St. Teresa of Avila?

Every Catholic theologian and philosopher should own a copy.  At Rorate Caeli, Peter Kwasniewski reports on a new reprint of Scheeben’s classic work of Thomistic theology.

At the APA blog, video of a discussion with philosopher Nancy Cartwright and physicists George Ellis and Michael Duff on causality and unexplained events.

According to Catholic World Report, Thomas Aquinas College is looking to open a campus in Massachusetts

The sexual revolution eats its own.  Maggie Gallagher at The Stream on a new controversy over Lou Reed’s “Walk on the Wild Side.”

At First Things, Matthew Schmitz argues that Pope Francis is burying Pope Benedict.

At Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews, Tom Christiano reviews Jason Brennan’s Against Democracy.

At Thomistica.net, Robert Barry on how to listen to heretics before burning them.

Graham Oppy on William Lane Craig’s God Over All: Divine Aseity and the Challenge of Platonism, at Notre Dame Philosophical Reviews.

119 comments:

  1. Tim Mauldin says:

    It leads me to a different view than the majority view. I think of laws as having a kind of primitive metaphysical status, that laws are not derivative on anything else. It’s, rather, the other way around: Other things are derivative from, produced by, explained by, derived from the laws operating. And there, the word “operating” has this temporal characteristic.

    Interesting - you have this appeal to these metaphysical laws to explain the directionality of time. The laws are not just descriptive in this case. They are causal...

    Seems like you could easily pop in the metaphysical concept of final causality to help explain that directedness.

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  2. "Politically-motivated?" Maybe Marvel greenlit a comic about black superheroes investigating the death of a civil rights leader in police custody because it sounds like a damn good story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Maybe.

      Or maybe not.

      Delete
  3. Hey Dr. Feser, will By Man Shall His Blood Be Shed and Five Proofs for the Existence of God be available on Kindle? Can't wait to read them. Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
  4. WoW,that Maudlin article is awesome, I think whats most worth noticing is that change for him is not a sort of shift into some global present but its for causal structure to depend on temporal structure and Time be ordered by B-determinations here.. This seems All Good but to those who usually are card carrying defenders of reality of time(the Presentists) this approach might seem a little deflationary..

    Daniel Carriere,

    Seems like you could easily pop in the metaphysical concept of final causality to help explain that directedness.

    If its true that efficient causality makes no sense without final causality then that is whats needed to be done here..

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  5. The article on heretics shows how the Medieval academy engaged with certain heresies. But other, arguably just as poisonous doctrines, such as those of the nominalists, continued to be plied in the academy for centuries, from the Middle Ages on.

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  6. "Civil rights leader" in the age of Al Sharpton and Jesse Jackson is already kind of a joke, so, no, that doesn't sound like a damn good story.

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  7. OP - Why is there more disagreement in philosophy than in science? Maybe because philosophy is just harder, suggests David Papineau in the Times Literary Supplement.

    "Still, if truth is the aim, where’s the progress?"
    --The ever increasing rejection of not only religion, but any form of theism, especially among the educated, for example.

    For myself, at the age of 12, I practiced a somewhat crude form of philosophy, perhaps my detractors here would say little has changed since in that regard.

    Still, the philosophical examination of religion and god led me to reject those notions at that time. That rejection has only been strengthened over the years by continually revisiting the fundamental arguments for and against god.

    So, philosophy is making at least one admirable progress, hastening the demise of the scourge of religion.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Keep dreaming, buddy!

      Nagel, many years ago now, provided us all insight into the 'intellectual rejection' of theism. Hint: it is no intellectual rejection. And you are a prime example of this. Your insolently emotional defiance is exposed when you refer to the 'demise of the scourge of religion' as 'admirable progress'.

      Progress to what? You're infantile vision of utopia?

      How cute. The purposeless spec of dust in a purposeless universe affirms his purposelessness, yet acts as if religion and theistic belief breaches some imperative in this purposelessness?

      Delete
    2. Star Pixie! I missed you! So glad you are still alive.

      And at age 12, you were not practicing anything, let alone philosophy. But you are the most click-bait troll I have yet to see on any blog and, therefore, a welcome contributor in my mind!

      Delete
    3. Please no one respond to him anymore. If you do, you are partly responsible for his infestation.

      Delete
    4. JasonJune 17, 2017 at 8:32 PM

      "Keep dreaming, buddy!"
      --Indeed, I intend to.

      "Nagel, many years ago now,"
      --Yes, it is much easier to attack 200 year old authors than serious contemporaneity works.

      " 'intellectual rejection' of theism. Hint: it is no intellectual rejection. "
      --So, the ability to, say, identify the unsound reasoning in all attempts at logical arguments for god has no intellectual basis?

      I'll tell you what, you present your favorite argument for god an I will show you where it is unsound.


      "Progress to what?"
      Elimination of the ignorance and barbarism exhibited by so much of religion for so very long. Islam is the glaring modern example but Christianity still has a few remnants about.

      "The purposeless spec of dust in a purposeless universe affirms his purposelessness, yet acts as if religion and theistic belief breaches some imperative in this purposelessness? "
      --Self consciously "acting as if" is another great progress of atheism. Experiencing and embracing the human condition while also demystifying it is one aspect of this progress.

      Delete
    5. timocratesJune 17, 2017 at 9:39 PM

      "Star Pixie! I missed you! So glad you are still alive."
      --Have I been away?

      "And at age 12, you were not practicing anything, let alone philosophy."
      --Projection perhaps? By Jewish tradition that is time of life one becomes responsible. For many of us, it was a time to start thinking for ourselves.

      For myself, as I considered the origins of the universe, the age of the Earth, the stories I was taught at Sunday school, the history of gods, the explanations for existence, I concluded first that Christianity is nonsense, then that there is no god of any sort.

      For myself, 12 is a time of life for independent thinking to reach some initial conclusions.

      " But you are the most click-bait troll I have yet to see on any blog"
      --Well, at least I am notable in some way!

      " and, therefore, a welcome contributor in my mind!"
      --Ok, at last one person who does not fly off into a torrent of expletives and ad hominems when encountering an opposing view. I will do my best to contribute in a manner deserving of welcome.

      Delete

    6. >"Nagel, many years ago now,"
      --Yes, it is much easier to attack 200 year old authors than serious contemporaneity works.

      Nagel is two hundred years old Starhomo?

      He is only 79 years young & still going strong over at NYU.


      U'R' too gay to function.

      Delete
    7. "For myself, at the age of 12, I practiced a somewhat crude form of philosophy, perhaps my detractors here would say little has changed since in that regard"

      I'm pretty sure you couldn't even comprehend philosophy at that age, and you still can't.

      Delete
    8. Stardusty, you are a poor soul! but since you don't believe that souls exist, this comment shouldn't bother you :)

      Delete
  8. So the death of God is "admirable progress" that promises only sweetness and light.

    That reminds me...

    Dr. Feser, will you be continuing your series "Adventures in Old Atheism"? You discussed New Atheist naïveté in your post on Nietzsche. And you did one on Sartre. Do you plan to explore other Old Atheists?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hello jmhenry, yes, got something in the works.

      Delete
    2. jmhenryJune 17, 2017 at 8:22 PM

      "So the death of God is "admirable progress" that promises only sweetness and light."
      --If one considers moving toward honest answers such as "nobody knows but a lot of bright people are working on it" as opposed to fallacious arguments and appeal to magical spirits...if one considers that progress to be in some sense sweet and illuminating, then yes, to that extent.

      Delete
    3. If one considers moving toward honest answers such as "nobody knows but a lot of bright people are working on it" ...

      That's the thing. A lot of bright people have already worked on it. People like Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Anselm, Maimonides, Averroes, Avicenna, and Aquinas. But you're probably not interested in anything they have to say, because you've already decided beforehand that they're not "bright."

      If by "bright people" you're referring only to those working in the physical sciences, then you've just begged the question against the classical theist, who denies that the question of God's existence can be adjudicated by science or empirical investigation in the first place. Rather, the arguments for God's existence are based upon what any possible science itself must presuppose.

      If by "bright people" you're referring only to atheist philosophers or New Atheist commentators, then you've just committed a kind of no true Scotsman fallacy.

      A: No bright person believes in God, or believes that God explains anything.

      B: Lots of bright people believe in God and make rigorous arguments for God as the ultimate explanation of things.

      A: But no true bright person believes in God, or believes that God explains anything.

      Or are the bright people are only those who believe that religion is a "scourge"? Or that the classical arguments for God's existence amount to nothing more than "appeal to magical spirits"? If so, then your definition of "bright people" would include only those who agree with you already, the height of intellectual dishonesty.

      So you must specify who you are referring to when you say "bright people" and what precisely they are supposed to be "working on."

      Feser: Hello jmhenry, yes, got something in the works.

      Awesome.

      Delete
    4. jmhenryJune 18, 2017 at 9:33 AM

      " Aristotle, Plotinus, Augustine, Anselm, Maimonides, Averroes, Avicenna, and Aquinas. But you're probably not interested in anything they have to say,"
      --Those people were at least bright, some likely geniuses, who deserve a lot of credit for making great early contributions. But their day is past, their ideas superseded.


      "If by "bright people" you're referring only to those working in the physical sciences,"
      --No, but there is a very strong positive correlation, and I would say causation, between science education and atheism.

      Still, there are lots of bright people doing things I strongly oppose as well.

      " classical theist, who denies that the question of God's existence can be adjudicated by science or empirical investigation in the first place. "
      --The Christian god, with its asserted Earthly visitations, miracles moving matter, and soul that interacts strongly with the material body is, in principle, scientifically detectable and a proper subject of scientific study.
      "

      "arguments for God's existence are based upon what any possible science itself must presuppose."
      --Science provisionally and self consciously postulates the basic reliability of the human senses and the commonly accepted principles of logic. No argument for god based on those principles has ever been successfully constructed and published into general circulation.

      "If by "bright people" you're referring only to atheist philosophers or New Atheist commentators, then you've just committed a kind of no true Scotsman fallacy."
      --That would indeed be a demonstrably incorrect assertion, but not the the Scotsman reason (that fallacy is related to classification due to an irrevocable accident of birth, not membership in a doctrine of choice)

      "A: No bright person believes in God, or believes that God explains anything."
      --That would be palpably false.

      "B: Lots of bright people believe in God"
      --True.
      " and make rigorous arguments for God as the ultimate explanation of things."
      --False.

      "A: But no true bright person believes in God, or believes that God explains anything."
      --That depends how one uses the word "true" in this context.

      "Or are the bright people are only those who believe that religion is a "scourge"?"
      --Clearly religion in the sense of some specific religions continue to be a violent pestilence on humanity, fundamentalist Islam being the obvious example. Perhaps Jainism is at the opposite extreme.

      " Or that the classical arguments for God's existence amount to nothing more than "appeal to magical spirits"?"
      --Ultimately they do, because their seeming rigor always reduces to an unsound claim of some sort, for which the choice of a magical spirit is then made ad hoc.

      " If so, then your definition of "bright people" would include only those who agree with you already, the height of intellectual dishonesty."
      --Your conditional statement is valid. I avoid its unseemly conclusion because its hypothesis is false in my case.

      "So you must specify who you are referring to when you say "bright people" and what precisely they are supposed to be "working on.""
      --In the case of answering the great unsolved existential riddle a great many physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers are working on the problem.

      I see little hope philosophers will solve the problem, since so many have tried and failed and their tools have not improved enough to make a breakthrough, I think.

      Mathematicians might solve the problem in the abstract but there would still remain the fact that a physical realization does not follow necessarily from a logical possibility.

      Physicists might solve the problem if they can ever identify one of the asserted choices as being the case, or perhaps some other as yet unimagined aspect of material existence.

      Delete
    5. Those people were at least bright, some likely geniuses, who deserve a lot of credit for making great early contributions. But their day is past, their ideas superseded. [emphasis mine]

      Right out of the gate, we have a problem. In what way, specifically, is their "day past"? And what ideas of theirs, specifically, have been "superseded"? And how does this show that the classical arguments for God's existence -- a tradition of which those thinkers are a part -- are no longer valid? A sweeping statement like that needs a defense. Or are you just suggesting that the ideas of these thinkers are no longer valid simply because they are old? If so, then you have (at least partly) committed the fallacy of the appeal to novelty.

      No, but there is a very strong positive correlation, and I would say causation, between science education and atheism.

      You might say causation, but you'd have show that there is causation. Simply because Stardusty says there is (without any evidence whatsoever) doesn't make it so. That should be plainly obvious.

      The Christian god, with its asserted Earthly visitations, miracles moving matter, and soul that interacts strongly with the material body is, in principle, scientifically detectable and a proper subject of scientific study.

      Even if we grant that this is true, it does not prove atheism. Nor does it in any way show that the classical arguments for God's existence are not valid (the list of thinkers I mentioned included Jewish and Islamic thinkers, as well as Aristotle, who obviously was not a Christian). If these arguments are successful, they are sufficient to refute atheism, even if they don't get you all the way to proving specifically Christian claims.

      Science provisionally and self consciously postulates the basic reliability of the human senses and the commonly accepted principles of logic. No argument for god based on those principles has ever been successfully constructed and published into general circulation.

      So, first of all, we have here an incomplete list of what science presupposes (e.g., science also presupposes that reality is rational, orderly, and knowable, that there is causation, etc.). Now, once we flesh out the list of the metaphysical presuppositions of science, then it becomes highly dubious to claim that "no argument for God based on those principles has ever been successfully constructed." At best, it is yet another sheer assertion on your part without the slightest defense.

      [cont.]

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    6. [cont.]

      Ultimately they do, because their seeming rigor always reduces to an unsound claim of some sort, for which the choice of a magical spirit is then made ad hoc.

      What claims? And in what way are they "unsound"? How, specifically, do the classical arguments for God's existence make unsound claims that reduce to merely an appeal to "magical spirits"? Again, you keep making claims without defending them, assuming precisely the questions that are in dispute.

      In the case of answering the great unsolved existential riddle a great many physicists, mathematicians, and philosophers are working on the problem. ... Physicists might solve the problem if they can ever identify one of the asserted choices as being the case, or perhaps some other as yet unimagined aspect of material existence.

      Or perhaps physics cannot, even in principle, address the relevant question at all. Perhaps the question can only be addressed at the level of metaphysics, which is exactly what the classical theist claims. You have merely assumed otherwise.

      I see little hope philosophers will solve the problem, since so many have tried and failed and their tools have not improved enough to make a breakthrough, I think.

      Which philosophers? How have they failed? What standard are you using to measure "failure"? How have their tools not "improved"? And what standard are you using to measure "improvement"? If by "failure" and "improvement" you mean anything that falls away or conforms, respectively, to what you already believe, then you have once again merely asserted what you must show.

      Delete
    7. Jmhenry, stop feeding the trolls, seriously.

      SP, go away.

      Delete
    8. jmhenryJune 18, 2017 at 1:01 PM

      “Right out of the gate, we have a problem.”
      --Your call for backup is reasonable. But please note my last post was very long, even with each point being fairly brief.

      “ In what way, specifically, is their "day past"? And what ideas of theirs, specifically, have been "superseded"?”
      --Their notions of physics and causality have been largely invalidated.

      “ And how does this show that the classical arguments for God's existence -- a tradition of which those thinkers are a part -- are no longer valid?”
      --Anselm’s ontological argument suffers from the non-sequitur that a logical possibility is necessarily an existential possibility, even if one grants for the sake of argument that it is logically valid. Also, the definition of “maximally great” is questionable, and argumentum ad absurdum can be used to assign the title of maximally great being to a multitude of different individuals.

      Aquinas does not form a complete argument for the existence of god, stopping short at mere human thought of god, or what “everyone understands to be God”. Even this assertion suffers as a blatantly false premise as a modern argument. Further, moving from a first mover to god is done ad hoc, suffering from false dichotomy and being a non sequitur. Further, Aquinas begs the question using a double negation of U to show ~I, and then using ~I to show U.

      “A sweeping statement like that needs a defense.”
      --Fair enough. I can only plead a need for keeping post length under control.

      “ Or are you just suggesting that the ideas of these thinkers are no longer valid simply because they are old? If so, then you have (at least partly) committed the fallacy of the appeal to novelty.”
      --Agreed.

      “You might say causation, but you'd have show that there is causation. Simply because Stardusty says there is (without any evidence whatsoever) doesn't make it so. That should be plainly obvious.”
      --Right, which is why I qualified that particular claim. The correlation is a statistical fact. Proving human causation is much more difficult. Why are almost all cosmologists atheists? Is it purely a matter of predisposition correlation? For myself, although not a cosmologist, learning scientific subjects was an important factor in rejecting the god hypothesis. Here is an article that indicates other have followed much the same personal journey indicating the process of learning and applying the scientific method strongly drives a person to atheistic materialism.
      Why (Almost All) Cosmologists are Atheists
      https://www.preposterousuniverse.com/writings/nd-paper/

      SP The Christian god, with its asserted Earthly visitations, miracles moving matter, and soul that interacts strongly with the material body is, in principle, scientifically detectable and a proper subject of scientific study.

      Delete
    9. jmhenryJune 18, 2017 at 1:01 PM

      “Even if we grant that this is true, it does not prove atheism.”
      --One does not “prove” atheism. If X can in principle be detected, but X is not detected, that is evidence against the existence of X. How strong is that evidence? That depends on the strength of the detection method relative to the thing being searched for. The non-detection of god by looking into the night sky with a telescope is exceedingly weak evidence of the non-existence of god. The non-detection of the soul while studying the brain is very strong evidence for the non-existence of the soul.

      “ Nor does it in any way show that the classical arguments for God's existence are not valid (the list of thinkers I mentioned included Jewish and Islamic thinkers, as well as Aristotle, who obviously was not a Christian). If these arguments are successful, they are sufficient to refute atheism,”
      --Ok, that is a valid conditional statement, but its hypothesis is false, therefore its conclusion is false.

      “ Now, once we flesh out the list of the metaphysical presuppositions of science, then it becomes highly dubious to claim that "no argument for God based on those principles has ever been successfully constructed."”
      --Please cite at least 1.

      “ At best, it is yet another sheer assertion on your part without the slightest defense.”
      --I am using induction. I have search for years for such a successful argument, and asked this question many times to many people. All proposed arguments turn out to be unsuccessful at proving the existence of god as opposed to some other sort of unknown.

      There is an unknown. There is a riddle. There is an unsolved problem. However, the classical arguments for god and their updated versions all fail to solve this great problem that has vexed humanity for millennia.


      Delete
    10. jmhenryJune 18, 2017 at 1:04 PM
      [cont.]

      SP Ultimately they do, because their seeming rigor always reduces to an unsound claim of some sort, for which the choice of a magical spirit is then made ad hoc.

      What claims? And in what way are they "unsound"?”
      --That depends on the particular argument. According to Aquinas “The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. “ This argument suffers from begging the question, ad hoc assertion, false dichotomy, non sequitur, false premise, and is simply incomplete as an argument for the existence of god.

      “ How, specifically, do the classical arguments for God's existence make unsound claims”
      --The First Way uses begging the question in the assertion of not infinity leading to the assertion of a first mover. The assertion that “this everyone understands to be God” suffers from a host of problems including ad hoc assertion, false dichotomy, non sequitur, and false premise. At that point the argument just stops, never even attempting to demonstrate the existence of god, merely stating what people think or “understand”.

      “ that reduce to merely an appeal to "magical spirits"?”
      --That’s all that is left, just an arbitrary choice between unproved assertions.

      “Again, you keep making claims without defending them, assuming precisely the questions that are in dispute.”
      --I appreciate how it looks that way but please keep in mind that space is somewhat limited. I am always happy to expand on particular points as they come up.

      SP Physicists might solve the problem if they can ever identify one of the asserted choices as being the case, or perhaps some other as yet unimagined aspect of material existence.

      “Or perhaps physics cannot, even in principle, address the relevant question at all. Perhaps the question can only be addressed at the level of metaphysics, which is exactly what the classical theist claims. You have merely assumed otherwise.”
      --You misread my words.

      SP I see little hope philosophers will solve the problem, since so many have tried and failed and their tools have not improved enough to make a breakthrough, I think.

      “Which philosophers?”
      --All.

      “ How have they failed? What standard are you using to measure "failure"?”
      --An inability to reason a way to god, or against god, or to a solution to the great riddle of the origin of existence.

      “ How have their tools not "improved"? “
      --As you suggested, we have every reason to think the ancients were just as bright as we are today. The capacity for reasoning has not improved, it seems. Scientific knowledge has improved. Philosophies have been explored. But our finite intellects still seem to be about the same as they ever were.

      “And what standard are you using to measure "improvement"?”
      --The tools of math and science have improved greatly. And to the extent that philosophy is a derivative of math and science philosophy has been able to improve.

      But the core of the riddle remains essentially unchanged and unanswered. What accounts for existence? Nobody knows.

      Delete
    11. jmhenry

      SP Their notions of physics and causality have been largely invalidated.

      "By whom?"
      --Newton, who built on the work of Galileo. Pretty much every physicist since Newton.

      " And how?"
      --Science.

      " As recently as three years ago, physicist George Ellis said that his peers should "pay attention to Aristotle’s four forms of causation.""
      --Why? What serious modern investigation of causality even uses those terms? Aristotelian physics is of interest only as a quaint historical footnote, a study in how human beings perceive things to be.

      " Heck, even Aristotelian physics has received a recent reappraisal."
      --No it hasn't, except as a matter of historical interest, or as commentary on human perceptions.

      " So it does no good to merely assert that these ideas have been "discredited", as though it were obvious and as though these questions were not in serious dispute."
      --There is no serious dispute about the errors of Aristotle. I am really somewhat amazed by this sort of commentary. It seems to me to be a somewhat more sophisticated form of flat Earth or geocentric theory sort of thinking.

      Aristotelian physics sort of works for simple objects in a high friction system. That's why it lasted some 2 millennia, not because people were stupid, rather, the descriptions roughly matched certain common observations.

      It doesn't work at all in space. Aristotelian physics isn't even an approximation based on observation once we go into space. I know you realize stuff keeps moving in space.

      The Apollo 15 hammer and feather drop was a demonstration of the physics of Galileo, not Aristotle. We got to the moon using Galileo/Newton/Einstein.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-4_rceVPVSY

      Where is the stuff of our observable universe? In space. The stars and the galaxies and all the rest do not act according to Aristotelian physics.

      Isn't any question of origins necessarily a question of the origin of our observable universe? Do you think you can solve that problem by thinking about how terrestrial objects seem to move according to unaided human perception?

      Please repeat after me:
      Aristotle was wrong
      Aristotle was wrong
      Aristotle was wrong


      Delete
    12. I was having trouble posting my comments last night. They kept getting eaten by Blogger's terrible commenting system, so that's why I have three deleted comments above. So I don't know how Stardusty is responding to them if they are deleted. I may to repost them later, if I can.

      Delete
    13. Their notions of physics and causality have been largely invalidated.

      By whom? And how? As recently as three years ago, physicist George Ellis said that his peers should "pay attention to Aristotle’s four forms of causation." And, as Feser has noted before (e.g., here), there is something of a rediscovery going on among many philosophers (including those outside the Thomistic tradition) regarding Aristotelian final causality. Heck, even Aristotelian physics has received a recent reappraisal. So it does no good to merely assert that these ideas have been "discredited", as though it were obvious and as though these questions were not in serious dispute.

      Anselm’s ontological argument suffers from the non-sequitur that a logical possibility is necessarily an existential possibility...

      Aquinas famously rejected the ontological argument, although I recall that Feser and James Chastek once made the observation that the argument cannot be properly understood without the Platonic-Augustinian presuppositions or background that informs it.

      Also, the definition of “maximally great” is questionable, and argumentum ad absurdum can be used to assign the title of maximally great being to a multitude of different individuals.

      This seems like just a recapitulation of Gaunilo's objection, which fails to make the relevant ontological distinction between God (in whom existence and essence are not distinct) and those "multitude of different individuals" (i.e., islands, soda cans, left shoes, etc.).

      God, properly speaking, is that which cannot fail to exist, that is, the "necessary being." Hence, for Anselm, saying that "God does not exist" involves a contradiction. It is like saying, "That which cannot fail to exist does not exist." It's gibberish. And if by God you mean something other than "that which cannot fail to exist", then you are not talking God in the first place, since within God existence and essence are not distinct.

      That being said, Aquinas' objections are still compelling, since knowledge of God's essence is something we don't have.

      Aquinas does not form a complete argument for the existence of god, stopping short at mere human thought of god, or what “everyone understands to be God”.

      The Five Ways are essentially meditations on the world, as are all a posteriori arguments for God's existence. They ask some basic questions: What must be the case for there to be a world at all, or anything at all? What must be the case for the world to have the features that it does? And that which must be the case, he concludes, is what we mean by God. Now, is this complete, in the sense that it would include all of the traditional attributes of God (such as intelligence, goodness, justice, etc.)? Of course not. Aquinas never claims that it is. The Five Ways themselves are actually just summaries. You need further argumentation to flesh them out, establish attributes, etc., which Aquinas does.

      [cont.]

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    14. What serious modern investigation of causality even uses those terms?

      How does this even begin to answer what I said? Again, George Ellis is saying that neglecting Aristotle's four causes is part of the problem. "Yeah, but who even uses those terms?" is not a serious reply. Furthermore, you omitted my reference to the revival of final causality among many academic philosophers, even those outside the Thomistic tradition.

      Anselm’s ontological argument suffers from the non-sequitur that a logical possibility is necessarily an existential possibility...

      Aquinas famously rejected the ontological argument, although I recall that Feser and James Chastek once made the observation that the argument cannot be properly understood without the Platonic-Augustinian presuppositions or background that informs it.

      Also, the definition of “maximally great” is questionable, and argumentum ad absurdum can be used to assign the title of maximally great being to a multitude of different individuals.

      This seems like just a recapitulation of Gaunilo's objection, which fails to make the relevant ontological distinction between God (in whom existence and essence are not distinct) and those "multitude of different individuals" (i.e., islands, soda cans, left shoes, etc.).

      God, properly speaking, is that which cannot fail to exist, that is, the "necessary being." Hence, for Anselm, saying that "God does not exist" involves a contradiction. It is like saying, "That which cannot fail to exist does not exist." It's gibberish. And if by God you mean something other than "that which cannot fail to exist", then you are not talking God in the first place, since within God existence and essence are not distinct.

      That being said, Aquinas' objections are still compelling, since knowledge of God's essence is something we don't have.

      Aquinas does not form a complete argument for the existence of god, stopping short at mere human thought of god, or what “everyone understands to be God”.

      The Five Ways are essentially meditations on the world, as are all a posteriori arguments for God's existence. They ask some basic questions: What must be the case for there to be a world at all, or anything at all? What must be the case for the world to have the features that it does? And that which must be the case, he concludes, is what we mean by God. Now, is this complete, in the sense that it would include all of the traditional attributes of God (such as intelligence, goodness, justice, etc.)? Of course not. Aquinas never claims that it is. The Five Ways themselves are actually just summaries. You need further argumentation to flesh them out, establish attributes, etc., which Aquinas does.

      [cont.]

      Delete
    15. [cont.]

      What you seem to be describing is what Alexander Pruss called the "Gap Problem", which asks how we get from the first cause to God. And as he notes:

      [T]hat reading is mistaken in light of the fact that succeeding sections of the Summa Theologiae give careful and elaborate arguments that the first cause is wholly actual, unchanging, simple, one, immaterial, perfect, good, and intelligent. Rather, Aquinas is simply marking the fact that the theist will recognize the unmoved mover to be God. Aquinas recognizes that an argument that the first cause has at least some of the attributes of the God of Western monotheism is needed and offers such an argument.

      Stardusty: For myself, although not a cosmologist, learning scientific subjects was an important factor in rejecting the god hypothesis.

      And I can make the opposite claim, namely, that learning scientific subjects has been an important factor in further solidifying my belief in God. (Mike Flynn once had fun with a "scientifical demonstration" of God's existence toward the end of his post here.) Not to mention the great thinkers of the Scientific Revolution were almost universally theists. If most scientists today are atheist materialists, perhaps that says more about their peculiar metaphysical assumptions, and not so much about any causal link between "learning and applying the scientific method" and belief in God.

      One does not “prove” atheism. If X can in principle be detected, but X is not detected, that is evidence against the existence of X.

      But X, in this case, is something that cannot even in principle be detected through the method of the natural sciences, which is the only point I was making. You strayed off the path by talking about Christian claims in particular, when we are currently only discussing philosophical theism, which has been defended by Christian, Jewish, Islamic, and pagan thinkers alike.

      Ok, that is a valid conditional statement, but its hypothesis is false, therefore its conclusion is false.

      Oh, you're still a long, long way from showing the conclusion is false, since you're still a long, long way from showing that the hypothesis is false.

      The tools of math and science have improved greatly. And to the extent that philosophy is a derivative of math and science philosophy has been able to improve. But the core of the riddle remains essentially unchanged and unanswered. What accounts for existence? Nobody knows.

      This seems to be the crux of the issue. Imagine someone says the following:

      I can't mow my lawn. Hammers and screwdrivers have been greatly improved over the years, assisting in our ability to solve many problems. Thus, to the extent that any tool is derivative of hammers and screwdrivers, those tools have been greatly improved as well. But the core of the riddle of how to mow my lawn remains essentially unchanged and unanswered. How do I mow my lawn? Nobody knows.

      The classical theist is merely saying that, if you want to mow your lawn, a hammer and a screwdriver will not help you. You need another tool. Like a lawnmower. (Hence my statement above that the question can only be addressed at the level of metaphysics.)

      Delete
    16. Well, since we are already talking about objections to God that come out of the mouth of Gnus and atheists, I think I could add additional objections I myself once saw atheists use to dismiss arguments for the existence of God.


      Now, one objection that I saw in the comments of a post by James Chastek on Just Thomism is that Edward Feser isn't a successful philosopher.

      He teaches in a city college and not a prestigous university, he hasn't written anything in peer-reviewed professional journals, and even in Aristotelian-Thomistic circles he isn't even that well-known and is actually kind of obscure.

      And the only time he did something that seemed to have professional attention was when he was making a philosophy speech at the same university where John Searle was teaching.

      He even listened to Feser's speech, but later remarked that he could see Feser as at best having a Community College position but not anything prestigious or highly-professional.

      I know that this seems like a bit of an ad-hominem, but the fact that Feser isn't even that well known in A-T circles still bugs me a bit.

      And these above reasons are basicaly given to try to show how Ed's arguments simply cannot be all that strong as many people think and that they should pale in comparison to arguments given by better philosophers.

      What would be your thoughts to these objections?

      And another objection about the very practice of Aristotelian philosophy was actually made on Reddit by a former Aristotelian who commented how the Aristotelian field acts very much like a cult where any type of dissent with standard orthodoxy is not tolerated.

      The claim was also made that Aristotelians generally tend to be very closed-minded when it comes to modern analytic philosophy and hate to read anything modern that isn't Aristotelian, which is why they are very ignorant of modern analytic philosophy.

      So, what would be your response to these objections?

      Delete
    17. "For myself, although not a cosmologist, learning scientific subjects was an important factor in rejecting the god hypothesis"

      I did this, almost lost my faith, but then I realised how stupid I was and remained a firm believer.

      "Now, one objection that I saw in the comments of a post by James Chastek on Just Thomism is that Edward Feser isn't a successful philosopher"

      I am offended by this.

      Delete
    18. The claim was also made that Aristotelians generally tend to be very closed-minded when it comes to modern analytic philosophy and hate to read anything modern that isn't Aristotelian, which is why they are very ignorant of modern analytic philosophy.

      JoeD, one easy first point is to note that those making the objection I quoted are probably doing at least a little question-begging of their own:

      First, continental philosophers generally reject the view that the natural sciences are the only or most accurate way of understanding natural phenomena. This contrasts with many analytic philosophers who consider their inquiries as continuous with, or subordinate to, those of the natural sciences. Continental philosophers often argue that science depends upon a "pre-theoretical substrate of experience" (a version of Kantian conditions of possible experience or the phenomenological "lifeworld") and that scientific methods are inadequate to fully understand such conditions of intelligibility.[6]

      If a person objects to the underlying assumptions of the analytic philosophers, then saying that they don't delve deeply into analytic philosophy isn't much of a problem.

      Or, to put it another way: if analytic philosophy starts with the wrong first questions, delving deeply into their works isn't likely to get us very far.

      That said, as I understand it Feser was himself fully into the analytic philosophy tradition before he became a Thomist, so while it might be true that many Aristotelians don't pay much attention to analytic philosophers, it is hardly likely to be a significant objection to Feser. If we are going to go personal, anyway.

      Delete
    19. Ah, the mighty “Feser teaches at a community college” “objection.” Seriously, JoeD? This really “bugs” you? I would have thought that “That’s the best they’ve got?” would be the more natural response.

      It’s embarrassing even to dignify with a reply the other ignorant remarks you cite (about my relationship to other A-T philosophers, etc.), but since you appear to be sincerely troubled by them, I suppose it is worth pointing out to you that they are easily proven false just by perusing the list of folks who review or endorse my books, the many Thomist venues at which I give academic talks, the list of academic articles, etc. at my main website.

      Anyway, does it really need saying that if this is the kind of stuff your interlocutors find they have to resort to, then they’ve lost the argument? For goodness’ sake…

      As to A-T philosophers refusing to engage critics, being ignorant of analytic philosophy, etc., I don’t know what the hell your interlocutors are talking about, and neither do they. Have they actually read the work of Haldane, Oderberg, Klima, Davies, Koons, Stump, et al.?

      Obviously not. So why are you troubled by what such clearly ignorant critics (in a combox, or at reddit – seriously?) have to say?

      Delete
    20. "Now, one objection that I saw in the comments of a post by James Chastek on Just Thomism is that Edward Feser isn't a successful philosopher"

      OMG!!! Someone said something bad about Ed in a comment on someone else's blog!!! My faith in Ed is destroyed!!!

      Delete
    21. Thanks for responding, Dr.Feser!

      It's not that I am being too troubled by them that's the issue, it's just that these type of objections run through my mind's back burner if I have enough time to start pondering the low-hanging fruit.

      I just wanted to see what the other readers here would have to say about them to see if my own initial replies to these banal objections were right.

      And now this talk of stupidly bad objections reminds me while reading this of one other objection that I saw that criticised your exposition of traditional sexual morality.

      It doesn't really bug me much, but I thought I should mention it as an example of how confused criticism of you could get.

      It criticised your defense and exposition of traditional natural law morality as being ''one of the most facile, contrived, top-down, pseudo-a priori rationalizations of a ideology of sexuality I've ever encountered.''

      He then goes on to defend his claim by stating that the Cosmic Evolution/Development of the universe seems to be much more, ultimately, a ''matter of a simples-into-complex-emergents, bottom(s) up ontology, instead of a One Big Cosmic Mind Kahuna doing it.''

      He then cites various writers like Roger Penrose, James Gardner, Tipler, Deutsch, Tegmark, Krauss (!), Greene, Vilenkin, Susskind to support the point.

      He is basically applying the bottom up development of the universe to human nature.

      But the fact that the critic just so happens to be an angry bisexual Quinean makes this ironic enough for me to see the vicious daughter of lust that birthed it.

      Ironically enough, the comment happens to also be an ideology of sexuality, the difference is just that it is bottom-up rather than top-down.

      You could say that the drunken man criticised his fellow drunkard for being dazed, and while doing so collapsed by slipping on his own bottle, eh?

      Delete
    22. jmhenry, instead of reposting them you have stopped feeding the troll. You are literally making things worse, including yourself. You won't get anything sensible from SP.

      Delete
    23. "What would be your thoughts to these objections? "
      --They are a variation on an argument from authority, in this case an asserted negative authority, or lack of authority.

      Also, there is the aspect of argument from popularity, again in the negative sense.

      When I disagree with Feser it is on the merits, or lack of merits, of the arguments.

      The rest is noise.

      Delete
    24. jmhenryJune 19, 2017 at 8:47 AM

      [cont.]

      " Aquinas is simply marking the fact that the theist will recognize the unmoved mover to be God."
      --Right, making the "proofs" not even arguments for the existence of god, much less proofs in any sound sense.


      "But X, in this case, is something that cannot even in principle be detected through the method of the natural sciences,"
      --The Christian god is in principle scientifically detectable owing to the asserted interaction with our observable environment.

      Delete
    25. jmhenryJune 19, 2017 at 8:46 AM

      SP What serious modern investigation of causality even uses those terms?

      "How does this even begin to answer what I said? "
      --Ok, rather than employing a rhetorical question I will simply state, Aristotelian causality is irrelevant in modern serious study of causality. Yes, a few philosophers and theologians are still trundling about in that dustbin of ancient misconceptions.


      SP Anselm’s ontological argument suffers from the non-sequitur that a logical possibility is necessarily an existential possibility...

      "Aquinas famously rejected the ontological argument"
      --Right, the argument is so bad even Aquinas rejected it some 700 years ago. Yet it made it to a list of suggestions noted above, and the likes of Craig still trot it out as though it had some merit, which to the credulous I suppose it seems to.


      SP Also, the definition of “maximally great” is questionable, and argumentum ad absurdum can be used to assign the title of maximally great being to a multitude of different individuals.

      "This seems like just a recapitulation of Gaunilo's objection, which fails to make the relevant ontological distinction between God (in whom existence and essence are not distinct) and those "multitude of different individuals" (i.e., islands, soda cans, left shoes, etc.)."
      --How do you know a soda can isn't the maximally great being? As long as we are casting idle speculations about then one cannot be shown to be more likely than another.

      "God, properly speaking,"
      --Who are you to "properly speak" of god? Delusions of grandeur much?

      " is that which cannot fail to exist, that is, the "necessary being.""
      --How do you know that? Ever watch the old cartoon "Captain Planet"? "By your powers combined". Obviously, that was just a made up fantasy story, but then, so is god, so who says god has to be singular? Why not a multitude of godlets, each one insufficient to do all the godwork, but in harmony the multitude realizes creation...sort of a cosmic teamwork thingy.

      "Hence, for Anselm, saying that "God does not exist" involves a contradiction. It is like saying, "That which cannot fail to exist does not exist." It's gibberish."
      --Now you have merely defined god to exist. By that logic I can define the soda can as that which cannot fail to exist, so denying the soda can is god is now gibberish.

      "And if by God you mean something other than "that which cannot fail to exist", then you are not talking God in the first place, since within God existence and essence are not distinct."
      --You are chasing your tail.


      SP Aquinas does not form a complete argument for the existence of god, stopping short at mere human thought of god, or what “everyone understands to be God”.

      "The Five Ways are essentially meditations on the world,"
      --Ok, that's nice, they aren't sound arguments for the existence of god, they aren't even complete arguments for the existence of god, they are just some meditations.

      Delete
    26. Go away.

      Meditate on that.

      Delete
  9. Surf dat web
    Please don't do this again, Dr. Feser.

    ReplyDelete
  10. Science is concerned with physical events that can be predicted. Success or failure there is more easy to demonstrate. You either can predict things or you cannot. Philosophy is mostly not concerned with things you can predict. Ever try to repeat being or change as such.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Philosophy I think begins with the quest of some kind of rational certainty. The mind wants to know why. It wants a foundation. If you don't do philosophy, you end up taking bad Keanu Reeves movies too seriously; or like Bill Nye, making music videos about homosexual sex because, well, why not?

      Delete
  11. Are you seriously linking a post showing sympathy for Robert Spencer being called a piece of s**t(which he is anyway) and being "dehumanized" when his whole goal in life is to dehumanize Muslims, and spread lies about Islam to make it something it is not due to his ignorance on it(he knows as much about Islam as Dawkins does of philosophy). So let me get his straight. When atheist arrogantly strawman Catholicism and classical theism you get mad, and wrote a whole book on it, yet when someone(including yourself) does the same to another religion, you're silent or participate in it? I liked it better when you stuck to philosophy before turning into Dawkins Catholic twin when it comes to Islam, a potential racist(I indicate there's a 40 percent chance you might be or hold some unpleasant racial thoughts), persecution complexed Trumper, or basically a straw conservative. I expected better from you considering I used to think you were one of my heroes. Broken pedestal indeed.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are being disingenuous. I have no love for Spenser, from what I know of him, but he seems to have been poisoned. That is way over the line.

      You should also do your best not to sound like an ideologue, when attacking others for being an ideologue.

      Delete
    2. Anon,

      Did you even bother reading the article linked to? Or are you just insane and/or evil?

      Someone literally poisoned Spencer -- as in, tried to murder him. If you don't think that's over the line -- to say the very least -- then I am proud not to be your "hero."

      As to the rest of your deranged rant, it's not worth even pointing out that it's not worth responding to.

      Get lost, and good riddance.

      Delete
    3. Really? I missed that as it was late, and I sort of skimmed the article. In that case of course that's bad and sociopathic. I was wrong then and my comment was WAY out of line(Spencer is still a scumbag though).

      Delete
    4. Oh for the record just to be consistent before blaming the Left and using this as an excuse to show the "murderous" nature of them, I'm sure you heard about the person who shot and KILLED 6 people at the Mosque(which Spencer tried to shamelessly blame on Muslims) who was an avowed Trump Supporter, Lepen and he even was a fan of yours according to his facebook page. If we take the articles approach then I guess we should also condemn the nature of the right for killing people and SUCCEEDING

      Delete
    5. ^i understand your anger anon, that was an unfortunate event, but it has nothing to do with anything here.

      Delete
    6. AnonymousJune 17, 2017 at 11:27 PM
      “ Robert Spencer … his whole goal in life is to dehumanize Muslims, and spread lies about Islam”
      --Please cite the passages Spencer cites and tell us where Spencer has misrepresented the textual content of the Quran, Bukhari, Muslim, and other sources. Here are a couple links you can use to verify that content:
      http://sunnah.com
      http://corpus.quran.com/translation.jsp

      “he knows as much about Islam as Dawkins does of philosophy”
      --Ok, how about the president of the largest Arab Muslim country speaking to the 1000 year old Islamic university in his country? He identifies the problem with Islam as the texts of Islam.
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MIcsmfJPRxo

      “I indicate there's a 40 percent chance you might be or hold some unpleasant racial thoughts”
      --Islam is not a race, but racists sometimes conflate Islam with a race. Irrespective, what evidence do you have for this charge, that you say Feser is a likely racist? To me, that seems like a baseless cheap shot, just a smear. The number sounds like something you pulled out of your, ahem, hat.

      “I used to think you were one of my heroes. Broken pedestal indeed.”
      --Hero worship is itself a problem because all heroes are either flawed human beings or mythological characters. Save yourself the fall by avoiding the worship in the first place.

      If you want to learn some more about The Religion of Peace I suggest going to a fine site dedicated to teaching the peaceful nature of Islam:
      http://www.thereligionofpeace.com/pages/statement-on-muslims.htm
      Many fine lessons are taught from the texts, but don’t just take their word for it, rather, verify the texts for yourself with the above Quran and Sunnah reference sites.

      Another good source is the Caliphate itself, God’s holy government on Earth, as Muhammad (peace be upon him) ordained some 1400 years ago. They cite many textual and traditional justifications for their holy activities you can read here:
      https://clarionproject.org/islamic-state-isis-isil-propaganda-magazine-dabiq-50/
      And again, don’t take their word for it, use the above sources to verify, but you will find their scholars always cite the sources accurately, being native Arabic speakers who are highly educated in Islam and who have dedicated their lives to The Religion of Peace.

      Delete
    7. Anon,

      Where did I say that the Left had a "murderous nature" or that this incident proved such a thing? I linked to a story, that's all.

      I find that when I put up these Links of interest posts, a handful of readers always want to read some portentous meaning into the fact that I linked to this or that. That's just silly. What it means when I link to some article is this: I found it to be something interesting in some way and worth reading. Big deal.

      Yes, the lunatic who shot up the Mosque is also evil. What does that have to do with anything? Am I supposed to find a variety of crime stories to link to if I decide to link to any one such story?

      Next you'll be complaining about the link to the Hitchcock/Kubrick/Welles story. "Why didn't you link to a story about Robert Altman too, huh? Are you saying that left-wing directors aren't important?! What are you getting at with that link?!!"

      Delete
  12. Were they trying to murder him? Sounds more like they just spiked his drink with a party drug. That's terrible. But it might be over the top to call it a murder plot.

    ReplyDelete
  13. I could not care less about people like Robert Spencer cause they make me sick, but a murder attempt is just ridiculous.

    Anyways, great links Dr. Feser.

    ReplyDelete
  14. Considering that this type of blogpost with links doesn't really have a strict subject matter to be followed, I thought I could perhaps ask a few questions here.

    This does touch on cosmology and David Oderberg though, which are topics present among the links posted above, so this is most likely not a problematic place to post my questions I hope.


    I am interested if anyone here could help me out with some speculations I am having vis-a-vis cosmology and A-T metaphysics.

    It would be especially fitting if Dr Feser himself could perhaps answer my questions, though I know this isn't very likely because he is a busy man.

    Which is why I invite some of his readers who might be interested to hopefully be able to entertain these thoughts and help me out here.


    Do the Thomistic arguments, specifically the Five Ways, crucially depend on at least some models of particle physics and cosmology?

    For example, after reading Oderberg's defense of the First Way, I noticed that Oderberg said that the First Way and it's argument from change depend on a view of time that is continous and not discrete.

    If time were fundamentally discrete and not continous, then the argument wouldn't work. And to support the idea that at least time is continous and not discrete, Oderberg cites recent developments in particle physics and quantum mechanics where reality is fundamentally made out of continous fluid-like objects called fields, and that discrete particle descriptions of reality are not fundamental but rather emergent from the fields.

    Now, if tommorow science found out that not only space but time itself was fundamentally discrete rather than continous, would that really undermine the First Way?

    And even if it undermined the First Way, would there be other arguments for God that would succeed?
    The existential proof of Aquinas seems here to be an excellent candidate that applies both to fundamentally discrete realities as well as fundamentally continous ones too.

    In fact, another important question I want ask here when it comes to A-T and models of particle physics is:

    If science found out (which is in fact an actual possibility) that particles could literally be split into smaller and smaller pieces to infinity, meaning that reality is composed of infinitely divisible objects that are ACTUALLY infinitely divisible and not just potentially so, would the existential proof and the other proofs still work?

    And what would this mean for hylemorphism and the doctrine of Prime Matter if it were found out that particles are ACTUALLY infinitely divisible and that reality was made out of a convergently infinite series of particles?

    Could this potentially call into question the existence of Prime Matter?

    And wouldn't at least the existential proof still work in such a reality?


    ---


    Now, another interesting consideration when it comes to cosmology I have is:

    If tommorow cosmologists found out that the universe was actually infinite in size or even contained an infinite amount of matter, would that affect some of the Five Ways in a negative way?

    Or could, for example, the existential proof still be used even in an infinite universe with an infinite amount of matter?

    This is NOT some ''for the sake of the argument'' speculation, but rather something actual cosmologists and astrophysicists think could be possible due to the observed flatness of the Universe.

    Of course, other cosmologists interpret this to mean that the universe is still finite, but is actually like a ball so that after a finite distance you would be going full circle around the universe.

    Others still yet interpret this to mean that the universe is flat, but it could still be like a finite plane so this doesn't neccessarily imply infinitude.

    But the possibility of an infinite universe with infinite matter is still there and is seriously discussed by cosmologists.

    Which is why I am asking the readers of this blog here what the consequences would be for A-T metaphysics and the Five Ways arguments.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. @JoeD:

      "Do the Thomistic arguments, specifically the Five Ways, crucially depend on at least some models of particle physics and cosmology?"

      I do not see how it could be so. "models of particle physics" were unknown to St. Thomas (unless you count atomism as defended by the Greek atomists as such, but that is stretching things way beyond the breaking point), so it cannot possibly depend on such. I do not see how it depends on any model of cosmology, at least not what in physics cosmology is taken to be, but here I suppose it depends exactly on what you mean by "cosmology". If you smuggle in some substantialk metaphysics then the answer is "of course".

      "If science found out (which is in fact an actual possibility) that particles could literally be split into smaller and smaller pieces to infinity, meaning that reality is composed of infinitely divisible objects that are ACTUALLY infinitely divisible and not just potentially so, would the existential proof and the other proofs still work?"

      There is, at least a (potential -- ah!) equivocation, since the sense in which you are using "infinitely divisible" does not seem to be inconsistent with what Aristotle holds.

      Let us take space. The GR model of space is a 4d Lorentizan manifold. You can now try to argue that the space is *really* infinitely divisible up to the point-like level. There are many problems with this: (1) you have to actually make up the argument; (2) the argument must sidestep what are actually artifacts of the mathematical formalization (e.g. you do not need set theory and manifolds made up of points to talk about differential geometry) and (3) there would still be atoms, they would be the points.

      I still do not see why exactly this would pose a problem to any of the Five ways.

      "If tommorow cosmologists found out that the universe was actually infinite in size or even contained an infinite amount of matter, would that affect some of the Five Ways in a negative way?"

      Once again, I do not see the relevance of any of this to the Five ways.

      The problem with the question is that it is too vague. So let me answer it this way: I know of no good objections to the Five ways that could be launched from the supposition "that the universe was actually infinite in size or even contained an infinite amount of matter". Of course the answer depends on my ignorance, but then my retort would be, then you make the argument.

      Delete
    2. ((Reposting my response below to you directly in this comment now, because the script messed up and I needed to post it below as a new comment, so I decided to post it directly to you now so that you could see the response directly))

      ''There is, at least a (potential -- ah!) equivocation, since the sense in which you are using "infinitely divisible" does not seem to be inconsistent with what Aristotle holds.''

      Well, I am using the word ''actually infinitely divisible'' to refer to a convergently infinite series.

      It's what happens when you have an infinite starting point..and end up with a finite result.

      A supertask is an excellent example of this.

      Let's say you want to turn a light switch on and off an infinite amount of times.

      And as it turns out, mathematics reveals this can be done in 2 minutes.

      Yes. Two minutes.

      Imagine that you wait 1 minute and then turn the lights on. Then you wait half a minute and you turn it off. Then you wait half of a half of a minute, or 1/4 of a minute, and turn it on again. Then you wait 1/8 of a minute. Then 1/16. Then 1/32. Then 1/64th of a minute. And...well, you get the point.

      If you keep doing this with infinitely smaller intervals, you will get to an infinite amount of off-and-on switching, all in a finite amount of time.

      In other words, you will finish an infinity.

      This type of supertask is analogous to the way infinitesimally small particles could form a finite object with a finite size.

      Basically, it is the mathematical solution to Zeno's infamous paradoxes.

      This is what mathematicians call a Convergently Infinite series.

      Now what this implies is that a reality that is not discrete but rather composed of convergently infinite series is actually not just logically possible, but metaphysically possible as well.

      This is one of the times that mathematics ends up telling us something about metaphysics, and I would absolutely love to see what a Thomist would have to say about this weird phenomenon of mathematics telling us something about metaphysics.

      But I digress.

      My question is:

      If science found out that our reality was in fact made out of INFINITELY COMPOSITE particles, basically a convergently infinite series, what would this mean for Aristotelian metaphysics?

      Would this go against one of the Five Ways, or would the Five Ways be as solid as they would be if reality wasn't infinitely composite?

      And most importantly, what would this say about Hylemorphism?

      If reality was infinitely composite, then where does Prime Matter enter the picture?

      Now, one important thing to note is that I do recall reading that Aristotle made an argument to the effect that reality was continous rather than discrete.

      We can define the word Continous as either meaning:

      1)Being irreducible to any discrete unit of size

      or

      2)Being infinitely divisibly, and thus infinitely composite. NOT just a potenitally infinite composition but an ACTUALLY INFINITE convergent series.

      Now, I don't know whether or not the above 2 definitions are mutually exclusive or not.

      In fact, I do not even know if a Continous reality directly implies infinite composition as well.

      Basically, that is my dillema here.


      I know Aristotle hated actual infinites and opted for the idea of potential infinity, so an actual collection of infinite composition could be problematic for the Aristotelian.


      ---

      Now, as for the infinite universe theory, well, the reason I am asking is because scientists in the medieval ages rejected the idea that the universe was infinite in size.

      They did this because they believed that infinity is an attribute only God should or even could have, and that creation simply should not or even COULD NOT have anything infinite as an attribute or property.

      Now I don't know if that opinion has changed with modern Aristotelians, so yeah...

      Delete
    3. @JoeD:

      "Reposting my response below to you directly in this comment now"

      Sorry, but responded in the other thread you opened.

      Delete
    4. JoeD, your infinite series of switches in 2 seconds runs into a physical problem: at some point, it requires moving faster than the speed of light. That is to say, one cannot really keep on causing a switch to turn on and off in indefinitely shorter intervals of time, but it's not because time is discrete.

      Like grodrigues, I can't see anything in the First Way that requires time to be continuous. The proof depends on nature of a mover which moves because it is brought to that act by another, and whether time is continuous or discrete is irrelevant.

      Thomas rejected the notion that the universe was infinite in durational extension because of revelation, not because the metaphysics required it. He allowed, as per Aristotle, that as far as we can go from the fact of the universe and work backwards to its cause, we cannot prove that it must have been of finite duration. And since Thomas's First Way is virtually the same as Aristotle's proof, I think that there is nothing in the proof that depends on the universe being finite in duration.

      Delete
    5. ''your infinite series of switches in 2 seconds runs into a physical problem: at some point, it requires moving faster than the speed of light. That is to say, one cannot really keep on causing a switch to turn on and off in indefinitely shorter intervals of time, but it's not because time is discrete. ''

      Well, that was supposed to be an analogy for how an infinite amount of infinitesimally small particles could form a finite quantity.

      The speed of the action isn't really important here, just as speed isn't important when considering how the reciprocals of triangular numbers are an infinite series yet end up with a finite result, namely 2.

      What I am merely asking here is the following:

      If science found out that all matter in the universe can be divided into smaller and smaller constituents and this actually goes on to infinity, this would mean that all existing matter that is finite is actually made up of an infinite series of infinitesimally smaller and smaller particles which converge to a finite result.

      Now, assuming that this was true for the sake of the argument, would this affect any of the Five Ways?

      And most importantly, wouldn't this have consequences for the Aristotelian doctrine of Prime Matter?

      If we could continue dividing matter forever without ever reaching a fundamental level that was indivisible, would this have any negative consequences on Prime Matter?

      After all, if it was impossible to reach anything resembling a fundamental level of matter BECAUSE matter can be divided into smaller and smaller pieces FOREVER, then this means that all matter is composed of an INFINITE amount of parts that are themselves INFINITELY SMALL, wouldn't this pose a problem for the idea of Prime Matter because there simply would not be a level of matter that is fundamental?

      All matter would be infintely composite, meaning that there is literally no end in how small matter can become and that matter is composed of infinitely small parts.

      And if there simply is no fundamental level of matter because matter is infinitesimally divisible and is actually made up of infinitely small parts, then this means that all matter is actually composed of an infinite amount of stuff that is finite only because it converges.

      Again, it is hard to see where Prime Matter would come into the picture if all matter was actually infinitely divisible and infinitely composite.


      ''The proof depends on nature of a mover which moves because it is brought to that act by another, and whether time is continuous or discrete is irrelevant. ''

      Well, here is the article by David Oderberg I mentioned about an argument depending on time being continous:

      https://docs.google.com/file/d/0B7SKlRTfkUieY3c1ZERGakhNZHc/edit

      Oderberg says on page 2 that:

      ''A crucial assumption of the claim that everything is in the process of becoming is that space and time (or at least time) are continous and so are not structured in a way that allows discrete jumps from state to state with no intervening periods of change involving preparedness to recieve the new state.''

      He also says in on page 1:

      '' I then discuss the nature of time, arguing that time is not actually composed of durationless instants but that instants can be understood as limits to an infinite process of potential division.''

      It seems that Oderberg is arguing for the principle of change (which is a crucial assumption of the First Way) by affirming that time is continous as if a continous view of time rather than the discrete one he argues against was necessary to ground the First Way.

      Which is why I am asking if the First Way can work in both a continous view of time (as Oderberg argues is the case for our reality) and a discrete view of time, or at least the view of time where time is composed of durationless instants and discrete jumps from state to state without intervening periods of change, which is the view Oderberg argues against in the above essay.

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    6. Tony:

      ''Thomas rejected the notion that the universe was infinite in durational extension because of revelation, not because the metaphysics required it. He allowed, as per Aristotle, that as far as we can go from the fact of the universe and work backwards to its cause, we cannot prove that it must have been of finite duration. And since Thomas's First Way is virtually the same as Aristotle's proof, I think that there is nothing in the proof that depends on the universe being finite in duration.''


      I wasn't asking whether or not an eternal universe has any effect on the Five Ways and A-T.

      I was asking whether or not an infinitely BIG universe with an infinite AMOUNT OF MATTER was problematic for the Five Ways and A-T.

      In other words, temporal infinity is not what I am asking about. I already know an eternal universe is compatible with the Five Ways and A-T.

      What I am asking about is whether or not a universe infinite in size with an infinite amount of objects/matter is compatible with the Five Ways and A-T.

      After all, during the medieval era the scientists and philosophers at the time rejected the idea of a universe with infinite quantity and size because they thought that infinity was an attribute proper only to God and that nothing in creation could have infinite size or infinite density or an infinite amount of objects.

      Now, the idea that the universe is infinite in size or even contains an infinite amount of matter isn't something on the far fringes of cosmology, but rather something cosmologists seriously speculate upon due to the observed flatness of the universe.

      Now, if for the sake of the argument we allow that the universe is both infinite in size and has an infinite amount of matter in it, would this affect the Five Ways and Aristotelian-Thomism in any way?

      Or will the arguments work just fine with an infinitely big universe with an infinite amount of objects in it?

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    7. And another interesting cosmological model that I am asking about whether or not it is compatible with A-T is this:


      If tommorow, for the sake of the argument, cosmologists confirmed the truth of a cosmological model that stated that matter was constantly being created out of nothing in the far reaches of the universe in order to keep the universe stable, and that the First Law of Thermodynamics was actually false and that matter and energy are actually constantly created out of nothing, how would this affect A-T metaphysics?

      On the one hand, matter being constantly created out of nothing might point to divine creative action by God. Philip Quinn, for example, is a Catholic philosopher who adopted the old notion of creatio continuans to argue that such a model would actually prove a divine sustaining cause because creation of matter violates energy conservation.

      But atheist philosopher Adolf Grunbaum has criticised this approach and says that such a steady-state cosmology would be logically incompatible with the claim that divine creative intervention is causally necessary for the nonconservative popping into existence of new matter in the steady-state universe.

      So the theory that matter is constantly being created naturally in some parts of the universe while in others it is not might undermine the very concept of creation ex-nihilo because we actually have a natural phenomenon that accounts for creation out of nothing.

      And the very fact that we have matter being constantly created might also undermine the supernatural and natural distinction as we would have a regularity of ex-nihilo creation.

      And if for the sake of the argument such a scenario were confirmed, how would this affect the Five Ways, and the existential proof more specifically?

      Or is A-T together with the Five Ways so powerful of a metaphysics that it can be made compatible with even such a steady-state model of the universe where matter is constantly being created out of nothing?

      What do you think?

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    8. "Let's say you want to turn a light switch on and off an infinite amount of times.

      And as it turns out, mathematics reveals this can be done in 2 minutes.

      Yes. Two minutes.

      Imagine that you wait 1 minute and then turn the lights on. Then you wait half a minute and you turn it off. Then you wait half of a half of a minute, or 1/4 of a minute, and turn it on again. Then you wait 1/8 of a minute. Then 1/16. Then 1/32. Then 1/64th of a minute. And...well, you get the point.

      If you keep doing this with infinitely smaller intervals, you will get to an infinite amount of off-and-on switching, all in a finite amount of time.

      In other words, you will finish an infinity."

      The infinity that you talk about by division only exists potentially but not actually, i.e. it exists in mathematics, not all of mathematics is exactly correlated with the reality.

      Delete
  15. Do the Thomistic arguments, specifically the Five Ways, crucially depend on at least some models of particle physics and cosmology?

    I think there is some back and forth between the two fields, but metaphysics has its own principles that it follows. For example, I believe Thomas' Aristotelian metaphysics survives the demise of Aristotle's physics.

    Having said that, I think that physics and metaphysics can be in dialog. There may be metaphysical assumptions made in physics that are not grounded in the evidence. These assumptions may be unquestioned and metaphysics may be a good sounding board to bring those assumptions to light. And I think, conversely, the same is true.

    But I see the relationship as one of dialog, not dependence.

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  16. Re Spencer, someone slipped him a mix of MDMA and Methylphenidate didn't they? I can't find if there's any specific antagonism between the two but if the latter is anything like standard party drug amphetamine e.g. speed, then I would be surprised if it caused him any lasting bodily harm (baring any reaction with any other medications he might be taking). What if someone spiked someone's drink with shots of much stronger alcohol - immoral yes and potentially conducive to harm but not in itself a murder attempt.

    *One might be able to convert MDMA into an assassin's poison by mixing it with a Monoamine Oxidase Inhibitor, a class of chemicals found in some anti-depressants and recreational psychedelics.

    TL:DR: Probably a waste of drugs. Someone should have put on some German Synth-Wave stuff, handed him a stick of eye-liner and asked if he was feeling more empathetic.

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    1. Presumably, the Ritalin was just something the MDMA was cut with by the dealers, because it is an amphetamine and cheaper than MDMA. The poisoner probably didn't even know it was there.

      This act was deeply wrong, but you are correct it was hardly an assassination attempt.

      Delete
  17. @grodrigues

    ''There is, at least a (potential -- ah!) equivocation, since the sense in which you are using "infinitely divisible" does not seem to be inconsistent with what Aristotle holds.''

    Well, I am using the word ''actually infinitely divisible'' to refer to a convergently infinite series.

    It's what happens when you have an infinite starting point..and end up with a finite result.

    A supertask is an excellent example of this.

    Let's say you want to turn a light switch on and off an infinite amount of times.

    And as it turns out, mathematics reveals this can be done in 2 minutes.

    Yes. Two minutes.

    Imagine that you wait 1 minute and then turn the lights on. Then you wait half a minute and you turn it off. Then you wait half of a half of a minute, or 1/4 of a minute, and turn it on again. Then you wait 1/8 of a minute. Then 1/16. Then 1/32. Then 1/64th of a minute. And...well, you get the point.

    If you keep doing this with infinitely smaller intervals, you will get to an infinite amount of off-and-on switching, all in a finite amount of time.

    In other words, you will finish an infinity.

    This type of supertask is analogous to the way infinitesimally small particles could form a finite object with a finite size.

    Basically, it is the mathematical solution to Zeno's infamous paradoxes.

    This is what mathematicians call a Convergently Infinite series.

    Now what this implies is that a reality that is not discrete but rather composed of convergently infinite series is actually not just logically possible, but metaphysically possible as well.

    This is one of the times that mathematics ends up telling us something about metaphysics, and I would absolutely love to see what a Thomist would have to say about this weird phenomenon of mathematics telling us something about metaphysics.

    But I digress.

    My question is:

    If science found out that our reality was in fact made out of INFINITELY COMPOSITE particles, basically a convergently infinite series, what would this mean for Aristotelian metaphysics?

    Would this go against one of the Five Ways, or would the Five Ways be as solid as they would be if reality wasn't infinitely composite?

    And most importantly, what would this say about Hylemorphism?

    If reality was infinitely composite, then where does Prime Matter enter the picture?

    Now, one important thing to note is that I do recall reading that Aristotle made an argument to the effect that reality was continous rather than discrete.

    We can define the word Continous as either meaning:

    1)Being irreducible to any discrete unit of size

    or

    2)Being infinitely divisibly, and thus infinitely composite. NOT just a potenitally infinite composition but an ACTUALLY INFINITE convergent series.

    Now, I don't know whether or not the above 2 definitions are mutually exclusive or not.

    In fact, I do not even know if a Continous reality directly implies infinite composition as well.

    Basically, that is my dillema here.


    I know Aristotle hated actual infinites and opted for the idea of potential infinity, so an actual collection of infinite composition could be problematic for the Aristotelian.


    ---

    Now, as for the infinite universe theory, well, the reason I am asking is because scientists in the medieval ages rejected the idea that the universe was infinite in size.

    They did this because they believed that infinity is an attribute only God should or even could have, and that creation simply should not or even COULD NOT have anything infinite as an attribute or property.

    Now I don't know if that opinion has changed with modern Aristotelians, so yeah...

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    1. @JoeD:

      Your post is very confusing to me, so let me make some hopefully clarifying points / questions.

      (1) I know what convergent series are, thank you. A convergent series is a sequence such that the sequence of partial sums has a limit. A sequence r_n (of real numbers to simplify things) has a limit r iff for every open interval V_e around l the sequence is eventually in V_e. In symbols:

      A e > 0 E n_0 \in N A n \in N n >= n_0 => d(r_n, r) < e

      That is *all*, a relatively tame (in the complex hierarchy) first-order statement.

      note(s):
      - A is the universal quantifier and E the existencial, \in N means belonging to the set of natural numbers, d is the distance between two points.

      The suggestions of taking "infinite steps" to achieve a "finite result" or whatever are completely *extraneous* to the actual mathematics; you may be able to squeeze something out of it in the neighborhood of what you are saying, or want to say, but certainly not from the mathematics alone.

      (2) I do not know what "reality that is not discrete but rather composed of convergently infinite series" means.

      (3) I know what space being "infinitely divisible" means. It means (or is one way to formulate it) that if we have two distinct points, take the segment of line connecting them, then there is a point in that segment equidistant of the two initial points. Even if we hold to it (as Aristotle does), it does not imply what you seem to be saying. In particular, the sense of spatial part being used here seems rather tame and have no special implications, certainly not the ones you seem top want to extract. For fundamental particles, the case is even more muddled because it depends on what you mean by "infinite divisibility" and "part". In your examples, you seem to be taking part and divisiblity in a spatial sense, in which case it does not seem to have any relevant differences to space.

      (4) As I said but you seemed to miss it, there are mathematical models of space that do not involve the usual analytical considerations of limits and what not. And we are perfectly capable of formulating the differential geometry needed for GR in them.

      (5) You seem to think that if we take seriously the commonly used mathematical models (e.g. that spacetime should be conceived as a set of points glued by a topology, and on top a differentiable structure and a choice of a Lorentizan metric) is some sort of blow against "Hylemorphism", "Prime matter", etc. I told you I do not see any reason why "being composed of an infinite number of parts" can mount to an objection to any of those doctrines or any of the Five Ways. You do not clarify or even suggest how exactly it is supposed to tell against such doctrines. I do not know what else to say.

      (5a) As I have also told you, if we take seriously the common mathematical models, then space would be infinitely divisible, but arguably also have atomic parts, the points.

      (5b) How serious should we take the mathematical models? The Banach-Tarski theorem says that a closed ball with volume 1 can be partitioned in a finite number of pieces and those pieces re-arranjed to end up with two sets each with volume 1. Does that mean that it is physically possible to perform the miracle of multiplying the fishes?

      Delete
    2. ''The suggestions of taking "infinite steps" to achieve a "finite result" or whatever are completely *extraneous* to the actual mathematics; you may be able to squeeze something out of it in the neighborhood of what you are saying, or want to say, but certainly not from the mathematics alone.''

      Well, the very existence of supertasks at least points to the fact you could start with an infinite amount and end up converging to a finite quantity.

      And an example of this would be,say, the reciprocals of triangular numbers which go on forever but end up with a finite quantity.

      At least for the sake of the argument then, let us accept that our reality is composed of an infinite amount of infinitesimal particles that are infinitely divisible, thus everything that is made out of matter and is finite is actually the result of an infinite amount converging to a finite quantity akin to a supertask.



      ''(2) I do not know what "reality that is not discrete but rather composed of convergently infinite series" means.''

      Well,it means that reality is not made out of fundmanetally basic particles that cannot be divided anymore, but rather is made out of things that can be divided infinitely and that everything finite is the result of an infinite amount converging to a finite result.


      ''(3) I know what space being "infinitely divisible" means.''

      Well I wasn't refering to space there but rather material objects.


      ''Even if we hold to it (as Aristotle does), it does not imply what you seem to be saying. In particular, the sense of spatial part being used here seems rather tame and have no special implications, certainly not the ones you seem top want to extract. ''

      Well, I am stating that scenario for the sake of the argument, which means that the implications that I am drawing from that are also to be accepted for the sake of the argument.


      ''For fundamental particles, the case is even more muddled because it depends on what you mean by "infinite divisibility" and "part".''

      What I mean by ''divisibility'' is that a given object or particle can be cut in half or seperated in whatever other way you can think of, and that this process not only can but WILL go on to infinity (again, for the sake of the argument).


      ''(4) As I said but you seemed to miss it, there are mathematical models of space that do not involve the usual analytical considerations of limits and what not. And we are perfectly capable of formulating the differential geometry needed for GR in them.''

      If you are trying to say that we have mathematical models that do not portray matter as infinitely divisible, that is besides the point.

      What I am merely doing here is assuming for the sake of the argument that matter really is infinitely divisible, and that all matter that exists and is finite is the result of a convergently infinite series.

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    3. ''(5) You seem to think that if we take seriously the commonly used mathematical models (e.g. that spacetime should be conceived as a set of points glued by a topology, and on top a differentiable structure and a choice of a Lorentizan metric) is some sort of blow against "Hylemorphism", "Prime matter", etc.''


      No, I am not suggesting any mathematical models or such. I am simply assuming that all matter can be divided into smaller and smaller parts all the way to infinity and that all finite matter is thus a result of those infinitely small parts that are infinite in amount converging to make a finite point.

      This means that there is no basic discrete starting point that cannot be divided even further.

      But if all matter can actually be cut into smaller and smaller pieces and this process actually goes on forever, with there being no fundamental starting point from which you can no longer divide matter, then this means we will never reach any fundamental level of matter as such because it just goes on forever, then I think the question has to be asked:

      Where does Prime Matter come into all of this?

      After all, any matter that goes through substantial change is not Prime Matter, and if matter is infinitely divisible and is the result of a convergently infinite series, then this means that there simply is no level at which matter stops having the capacity to undergo substantial change.

      Hydrogen and oxygen would form water and this would be substantial change, but since we are assuming for the sake of the argument that matter is infinitely divisible, you could not even in principle reach a level of matter where substantial change does not occur, for every level of matter would therefore participate in substantial change.

      Unless I am mistaken as to what Aristotelians claim Prime Matter is, this seems to make Prime Matter something more fundamental then any matter and yet it somehow informs an infnitely divisible chain of matter which has no starting point because it is infinitesimal.

      Prime Matter would then somehow be able to reach beneath this infinite chain of matter. Or at least that's how I see it, and I may be mistaken.


      ''(5b) How serious should we take the mathematical models? The Banach-Tarski theorem says that a closed ball with volume 1 can be partitioned in a finite number of pieces and those pieces re-arranjed to end up with two sets each with volume 1. Does that mean that it is physically possible to perform the miracle of multiplying the fishes?''

      Well, if we accept for the sake of the argument that matter is infinitely divisible, then we could also accept the Banach-Tarski paradox as well, at least to speculate what consequences the Banach-Tarski theorem, if true, would have on A-T metaphysics.

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    4. @JoeD:

      "Well, the very existence of supertasks at least points to the fact you could start with an infinite amount and end up converging to a finite quantity."

      What supertasks exist? And what supertasks, mathematically defined, "start with an infinite amount"?

      "At least for the sake of the argument then, let us accept that our reality is composed of an infinite amount of infinitesimal particles that are infinitely divisible, thus everything that is made out of matter and is finite is actually the result of an infinite amount converging to a finite quantity akin to a supertask."

      Supertasks occur throughout time. Particles are composed of subparticles, in the here and now. The two are very different things. If I may be allowed to voice a complaint, this is a common problem with your posts, jumbling confusedly very different things.

      A further problem: in treating matter as space (as infinitely divisible), you can them imagine making a sequence of subsequently smaller parts. Ok, fine. Let us take a further leap of imagination and imagine the completed, infinite sequence of subparts. What do you find at the bottom? It depends on the model of matter and how the cutting is done. Since you are treating matter as spacve, and using the common model of space, some ppossibilities are: nothing (the empty set), points (the would-be spatial atomns), no-defined limit. But nothing here has any relevance whatsoever to the Five Ways. Neither do you have in any sense a "convergent sequence" assembling to the totality, because the direction of division is "downwards" from whole to to parts, while composition goes "upwards" from from parts to wholes.

      At any rate, I cannot grant, even for the sake of argument, that which I cannot really make sense of.

      "Well I wasn't refering to space there but rather material objects."

      No you weren't, but you are *everywhere* treating matter as space.

      "Where does Prime Matter come into all of this?"

      The reason Prime Matter is posited has nothing to do with infinite divisibility, but with substantial change.

      "After all, any matter that goes through substantial change is not Prime Matter, and if matter is infinitely divisible and is the result of a convergently infinite series, then this means that there simply is no level at which matter stops having the capacity to undergo substantial change."

      Nobody knows what the "result of a convergently infinite series" of matter means, therefore it is impossible to evaluate the consequent. An extremely vague analogy with things that mathematicians do can hardly support a metaphysical argument; reality is not dictated by our imaginations. You also seem to think that prime matter is a part of matter in the same sense as subparticles are parts of particles, and thus would have to be "below" the putative infinite downwards sequence. Why? Who knows? And that at some level in the putative sequence of subparticles, "matter stops having the capacity to undergo substantial change". Why? Who knows?

      Delete
    5. ''What supertasks exist? And what supertasks, mathematically defined, "start with an infinite amount"?''

      Well, I guess I may have unintentionally equivocated with the meaning of the word ''exist''.

      What I mean by the word ''exist'' there is that supertasks are at least conceptually possible and that such results are also therefore at least conceptually possible.


      ''If I may be allowed to voice a complaint, this is a common problem with your posts, jumbling confusedly very different things.''

      I agree, and I'm sorry for not being clear about whether or not I meant making space infinitely divisible, or matter.


      ''Ok, fine. Let us take a further leap of imagination and imagine the completed, infinite sequence of subparts. What do you find at the bottom? It depends on the model of matter and how the cutting is done.Since you are treating matter as spacve, and using the common model of space, some ppossibilities are: nothing (the empty set), points (the would-be spatial atomns), no-defined limit.''

      Well, I would think we would find either infinitesimal points of matter, or we would never exhaust the matter at all.

      Which I think might be the No-Limit possibility you mention.

      But that is besides the point. As you point out, if matter really was infinitely divisible like space, then we would get 3 results at the bottom. Or if my infinitesimal point proposal and Never-Exhausted proposal are distinct proposals from yours, we would get 5 possible results.

      Now, you say that none of the possible things we could find at the bottom, whether it be:

      1)Nothing/The Empty set

      2)Points/Would Be spatial atoms

      3) No-Defined limit

      have any relevance whatsoever to Five Ways.

      Is this actually an answer to my original query of whether or not an infinitely divisible reality would have any bearing on the Five Ways?

      Because if that is so, then this effectively answers my query with regards to whether or not an infinitely divisible, convergently infinite reality has any effect on the Five Ways, and it answers it in the negative.

      Okay then. And if my infinitesimal point proposal and Never-Exhausted limit proposal, if they are seperate from the No-Limit proposal you mention, also don't have any bearing to the Five Ways in any way, then that is good to know.


      ''No you weren't, but you are *everywhere* treating matter as space.''

      I guess I may not have realised then that if matter were infinitely divisible, it would naturally follow that space also at least was infinitely divisible too. My mistake then.

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    6. ''The reason Prime Matter is posited has nothing to do with infinite divisibility, but with substantial change.''

      Oh, so this means that even if reality were infinitely divisible and made out of convergently infinite series, this would have no relevance to the question of Prime Matter?

      If that is so, then this effectively answers my question about Prime Matter.

      ''
      Nobody knows what the "result of a convergently infinite series" of matter means, therefore it is impossible to evaluate the consequent. An extremely vague analogy with things that mathematicians do can hardly support a metaphysical argument; reality is not dictated by our imaginations.''


      Well, an example of a convergently infinite series would the reciprocals of triangular numbers. The sequence is an infinite one, yet it ends up with a decisively finite result, namely 2.

      Or, here is the Wikipedia article about Geometric series:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Geometric_series#Zeno.27s_paradoxes

      It states the following:

      ''The convergence of a geometric series reveals that a sum involving an infinite number of summands can indeed be finite, and so allows one to resolve many of Zeno's paradoxes. For example, Zeno's dichotomy paradox maintains that movement is impossible, as one can divide any finite path into an infinite number of steps wherein each step is taken to be half the remaining distance. Zeno's mistake is in the assumption that the sum of an infinite number of finite steps cannot be finite. This is of course not true, as evidenced by the convergence of the geometric series with r=1/2.''

      I hope that this clarifies what I mean by ''convergently infinite series'' so you can evaluate the consequent.


      '' You also seem to think that prime matter is a part of matter in the same sense as subparticles are parts of particles, and thus would have to be "below" the putative infinite downwards sequence. Why? Who knows? And that at some level in the putative sequence of subparticles, "matter stops having the capacity to undergo substantial change". Why? Who knows?''

      Well, the reason why I thought so was because David Oderberg discussed the idea of whether or not quarks are actually Prime Matter, and he refuted that by pointing out that quarks still undergo substantial change, whereas actual Prime Matter would not as it is the basis that form takes on in order for there to even be any substantial change.

      But I am starting to think that my idea of Prime Matter that I described in my previous comment may be wrong perhaps...

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    7. I hope that this clarifies what I mean by ''convergently infinite series'' so you can evaluate the consequent.

      The question was not what 'convergently infinite series' means; the question was what it 'convergently infinite series in matter' means.

      Delete
    8. Huh, I seem to have missed that part.

      Well, it's pretty easy to explain what a ''convergently infinite series in matter'' means.

      A convergently infinite series in matter means that all finite matter that exists is actually the result of a convergently infinite series of infinitely small infinite summands which forms a finite result.

      Basically, you, the chair you are sitting on, the rubber ball in your local Wal-Mart and the water in Lake Michigan, are all composed of an infinite summands that add up to a finite result.

      It basically describes the composition of matter as being a convergent series.

      Or rather, take another anology.

      Take any finite object as being on the right side of an equation or belonging on the right side of the = symbol.

      It is a finite result. But the left-side of the equation which is on the left side of the = symbol is an infinite series that converges.

      Hope this helps.

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    9. Yes, I thought that you meant something like that.

      I am relatively confident that such a view of matter has absolutely no bearing on Thomas's 4 proofs. His proofs work just as well with matter like that as with the kinds of atoms that are currently the leading view, or with the kinds of atoms that Dalton thought existed, or the continuous matter that ancient and medieval philosophers believed was correct.

      Joe, have you tried to think through the objection that holds for this view of matter that parallels the objection to the position that an infinite set of points "make" a line? One objection for the geometric points and line is that there is no way to prove that the infinitude is "full". For example, you can have an infinitude of points corresponding to the rational numbers between 1 and 2, (which is at most the sort of set of points you would cover in an infinite series like your switching), but such a set leaves out all the points that correspond to the irrational numbers. (Or you can go the other way if preferred). The point is (hah!) that mere infinitude does not automatically get you what you need. Another problem is that if the pieces are infinitesimally small, then there is no way for one infinitude to comprise a finite amount, say 2 cubic inches, and yet for another infinitude to comprise a finite amount of 8 cubic inches. There would be a one-to-one correspondence of the elements of one series with the elements of the second series, and the sizes are the same, so there is no intelligibility to the one comprising a given size and the other comprising a different size. I suspect that Zeno had about 4 more problems with it.

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    10. Sorry: Thomas's 5 proofs. Typo.

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    11. ''Another problem is that if the pieces are infinitesimally small, then there is no way for one infinitude to comprise a finite amount, say 2 cubic inches, and yet for another infinitude to comprise a finite amount of 8 cubic inches. There would be a one-to-one correspondence of the elements of one series with the elements of the second series, and the sizes are the same, so there is no intelligibility to the one comprising a given size and the other comprising a different size. I suspect that Zeno had about 4 more problems with it.''

      Well,that does seem like a good objection to the view that all matter can be divided forever and is made out of infinitesimally small pieces.

      But still, the mathematics of a Geometric series still show that it is possible to take an infinite amount or an infinite series and end up with a finite result.

      Another interesting thing about the mathematical aspect of it is that this is one of those times where mathematics shows that it is at the very least logically and conceptually possible to take infinity and end up with a finite result.

      This is basically where mathematics and metaphysics touch, which is what makes it so interesting to see whether or not mathematics can have any independent say on metaphysics or even determine the answer to a metaphysical problem and speculation.

      But that is besides the point.

      You stated yourself that the Five Ways do not depend at all on what view of matter one takes.

      Whether it be a discrete, continous or infinitely divisible (if a continous reality isn't the same thing as an infinitely divisible one) view of matter, the Five Ways are left untouched.

      And that basically answers the second question that was proposed.

      Now the question becomes:

      What about space and time?

      We have multiple scenarios here:

      1) Both time and space are infinitely divisible and continous (if something being continous directly implies infinite divisibility that is)

      2)Both time and space are discrete

      3)Time is continous and infinitely divisible, but space is discrete.

      4)Time is discrete, but space is continous and infinitely divisible.

      There might be more than these 4 scenarios if something being a continous object doesn't imply it being infinitely divisible, so we would have to include infinite divisibility as another, seperate scenario.

      But for our purpouses, these 4 shall suffice.

      Now, I already linked to an article of Oderberg defending an account of change with time being continous and non-discrete as if it were important for the First Way to go through.

      What I am asking you now, if you'd like to answer that is, if the Five Ways are negatively affected by any one of the above scenarios describing what time and space are all like?

      Or are the Five Ways left untouched in all of these scenarios?

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    12. But still, the mathematics of a Geometric series still show that it is possible to take an infinite amount or an infinite series and end up with a finite result.

      Well, if you examine what is going on with the infinite series that sums to a finite amount, you DON'T find that each element is infinitesimal. In fact, each element is finite and a known quantity, a perfectly ordinary natural quantity. In the series that sums to 2, the first element is 1. The second is 1/2. What is critical about different series summing to different resulting finite sums is that they each start in a different place or have a different individual elements each of which has a different size than the corresponding element of the other series: 7 rather than 1, etc.

      What about space and time?

      I repeat: the first way depends on the nature of a mover which is moved to its being a mover. It is irrelevant, for that issue, whether it moves another discretely or continuously, whether it do so in discrete or continuous space, whether it do so in discrete or continuous time. In any of these, it's being moved so as to move another implies a first mover, which is not so moved. None of the features of space or time change that dependency.

      Nor can I see a way in which any of the other Ways are affected by time or space being discrete or continuous.

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    13. Hopefully, with less typos than the god-awful last comment.

      @JoeD:

      Here is my problem. You keep using mathematical terms, that have precise definitions in a given context, but it is clear that you do not know them. Then you read all sorts of things *into* them that are *not* justified by the mathematics. To add to the confused brew, you transfer those terms onto a wholly different context in which they make no sense.

      Let me give two examples. You say:

      "A convergently infinite series in matter means that all finite matter that exists is actually the result of a convergently infinite series of infinitely small infinite summands which forms a finite result."

      Not only this explains exactly nothing, it manages to increase the confusion. Look, I know what a convergent sequence in a metric space is. I know what a limit of a net or an ultrafilter in a topological space is. I know what a convergent spectral sequence is. I know what a limit in a category is. I do not know, and neither do you, what a "convergently infinite series" of matter is. You cannot transfer terms that have precise meanings in one context (mathematics) into a completely different one and expect things to still make sense.

      To make things even more confusing you bring "infinitely small summands" into the mix, which is a *whole* different kettle of fish. The summands in convergent series as studied in any first course in real analysis are perfectly well defined *finite* quantities, not "infinitely small".

      Then you say:

      "It is a finite result. But the left-side of the equation which is on the left side of the = symbol is an infinite series that converges."

      This is nonsense, since one can only equate two things of the same type. When mathematicians write something like (using latex notation, but the meaning should be evident):

      (A) \sum_{n=0}^{\infty} 1/2^n = 2

      the right-hand side is a real number and *so* *is* the left-hand side. By *definition*, the definition I gave you in a comment above.

      And I still do not know what is supposed to be the relevance of any of this to the Five Ways or to Prime Matter. You can take this as an affirmative answer (of sorts) to your question: "Is this actually an answer to my original query of whether or not an infinitely divisible reality would have any bearing on the Five Ways?" But then again, I have already said as much more than once.

      note(s):
      - I do not know if it helps or not, but maybe read an old post of Prof. Feser Edwards on infinite causal series. It explains why even if the series of changers is infinite (and other weirder scenarios) it makes no difference to the argument -- or so the argument goes.

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    14. @Tony,

      ' In any of these, it's being moved so as to move another implies a first mover, which is not so moved. None of the features of space or time change that dependency.

      Nor can I see a way in which any of the other Ways are affected by time or space being discrete or continuous.''


      Good, this now finally answers my first two questions.But there are 2 more that could be looked at here that I proposed above. These are my final 2 scenarios of which I am curious by the way:

      1)Infinite Universe with an Infinite Amount of Objects and with Infinitely Big Objects

      Here is the relevant site:

      https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/cosmology-theology/

      The infinite universe scenario is at Chapter 6, and here are the relevant quotes:

      ''But even if the universe is temporally finite in the past, it may well be SPATIALLY AND MATERIALLY INFINITE. If space is infinite and the cosmological principle is assumed to be valid, the universe will contain AN INFINITE NUMBER OF galaxies, stars, atoms and everything else. ''

      ''The theological problems related to an infinitely large universe are not specifically related to modern physical cosmology but have been discussed since the early days of Christianity. On the other hand, they may be seen as even more relevant today, when the favored cosmological model has zero curvature, meaning that space is flat. Although a flat cosmic space does not necessarily imply an infinite universe, many cosmologists assume that the universe is indeed spatially infinite.''

      '' At the time of the scientific revolution it was commonly assumed that physical space cannot be truly infinite, only indefinitely large. Infinity was seen AS A DIVINE ATTRIBUTE NOT TO BE FOUND ELSEWHERE; to claim that nature is infinite would be to endow it with divinity, a heretical view characteristic of pantheism. While the generally accepted view among theists was, and to some extent still is, that an infinite universe is philosophically absurd and theologically heretical, there was no consensus on the issue.''

      ''The present consensus model of a geometrically flat accelerating universe is usually taken to imply an infinite cosmos. The general attitude of cosmologists is to ignore the troublesome philosophical problems and speak of the infinite universe as just an indefinitely large one. ''


      Now, what does this all mean for the Five Ways?

      Does an infinitely big universe with an infinite amount of stuff in it and even with infinitely large objects in it pose any problem for the Five Ways, or do the Five Ways work just fine in such a universe too?

      One objection I can already see that can be made to the First Way from the supposition that the universe is infinite with an infinite amount of objects, is that change would therefore be problematic.

      You cannot arithmetically add anything to infinity, nor can you take away.

      This would have weird consequences as seen in the Hilbert's Hotel example, where you would have local change of people going to another room to receive a new guest, but at a global level, the going into other rooms would never stop and you wouldn't actually do anything to the quantity.

      It remains static and the change does not add anything to the universe. It neither increases nor decreases anything in the universe.

      This infinitude might also represent a problem for corruption and generation as well, because an infinity can be neither corrupted nor can anything new be generated in it.

      Unless, of course, this objection can be defeated and shown to be irrelevant to the First and other Ways. In which case my question of whether or not an infinite universe with an infinite amount of objects and with infinitely big objects would do any harm to the Five Ways is answered with a ''No''.

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    15. And now the final scenario that was proposed in the beginning:

      2) Steady-State Model with Continous New Generation of Matter


      Here are the relevant quotes, again from the plato stanford site:


      ''The discovery of the expansion of the universe excluded the steady state from relativistic cosmology, but not from other forms of cosmology. Robert Millikan, Nobel laureate and famous physicist, was among those who in the 1930s favored an eternally recurrent universe with a CONTINUAL CREATION of matter and energy to counter the increase of entropy. He thought that such an eternal and evolving universe revealed THE CREATOR'S CONTINUAL ACTIVITY and explicitly presented his cosmological view as support for the doctrines of Christianity in general and FOR THE IMMANENCE OF GOD in particular.''

      ''Moreover, the theory is not quite dead yet, as some of its characteristic features survive in the quasi-steady-state cosmology (QSSC) still defended by Jayant Narlikar and a few other cosmologists. This model does not satisfy the perfect cosmological principle, but it assumes an indefinite cosmic time scale during which matter is CONTINUALLY CREATED.''

      ''According to the classical steady-state theory, the universe has expanded for an infinity of time and will continue to do so for ever; yet the average density of matter remains constant because matter, or rather matter-energy, is CONTINUALLY BEING CREATED OUT OF NOTHING. (In LATER VERSIONS of the theory, matter creation was NOT ex nihilo.) Both features—the infinite time scale and the continuous creation of matter—were controversial and caused concern of a philosophical and also a theological nature.''

      ''Some Christian scientists and philosophers have seen THE CONTINUAL CREATION of matter, as posited by the steady-state theory, as A MANIFESTATION OF PERPETUAL DIVINE CREATION. Thus, the Catholic philosopher Philip Quinn (1993) has adopted the old notion of CREATIO CONTINUANS to the case of steady-state cosmology. The argument is essentially that since ex nihilo creation of matter violates energy conservation, there must be an external creative cause that accounts for the violation, and this cause he identifies with perpetual divine creation. ''

      '' This kind of reasoning has been severely criticized by Adolf Grünbaum, who flatly dismisses the claim that UNDERLIES THE IDEA of perpetual divine creation, namely THAT NOTHINGNESS IS THE NATURAL STATE OF the universe. ''

      ''But according to Grünbaum there is NO ROOM FOR divine creation in either big-bang or steady-state cosmology. “Steady-state cosmology,” he concludes, “is indeed LOGICALLY INCOMPATIBLE with [the] claim that divine creative intervention is CAUSALLY NECESSARY for the NONCONSERVATIVE POPPING INTO EXISTENCE of NEW MATTER in the steady-state universe” ''

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    16. Now, the main questions I have about this cosmological viewpoint with the regards to the Five Ways is the same.

      Namely, if we assume for the sake of the argument that a steady-state model with continous creation of matter out of nothing to keep the universe stable is true, how would this affect the Five Ways? Or the existential proof more specifically?

      After all, we would have a natural occurence of matter being created out of nothing.

      On the one hand, this could be evidence for a divine cause, as Philip Quinn argues for. But Grunbaum goes against this by pointing out how this would refute the laws of thermodynamics, and thus creation out of nothing wouldn't really be evidence of any divine cause, and thus matter being created out of nothing naturally would be established as a natural phenomenon and thus nonconservative causal conservation of reality would face big problems.

      In fact, Grunbaum takes an even stronger stance on this by saying that if matter were to pop out of nothing as a natural phenomenon, then this would not just remove the need for constant divine conservation of reality as is argued for in the Five Ways, but that this is in fact logically incompatible with conservationist arguments for the existence of God.

      And furthermore, the natural-supernatural distinction would be blurred, and so we would have what seems like natural ex nihilo creation. This seems like it would have to be problematic for some of the Five Ways.

      But is it really that? Or are the Five Ways so metaphysically strong that they are untouched even in a universe with constant and natural ex nihilo creation of matter out of nothing like in the universe Grunbaum proposes?

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    17. The five ways are based on essentially ordered causal chains, not accidentally ordered causal chains. I don't see how Grunbaum's claims about a natural occurrence of matter being created out of nothing would impact the five ways at all... Not that I understand what could be natural about constantly occurring ex nihilo creation of matter.

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    18. JoeD - Do you have a good grasp of what an essence is for an Aristotelian? It might clear up a lot of these questions for you. I'd recommend Ed's Scholastic Metaphysics or Oderberg's Real Essentialism for more info.

      When I first read Ed's Aquinas, I was still somewhat confused about this talk of essential versus accidental series. But I reread Aquinas again after reading Scholastic Metaphysics and the argument suddenly carried a ton more force for me.

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    19. ''The five ways are based on essentially ordered causal chains, not accidentally ordered causal chains.''

      I know that. My main question was not about the temporal infinity of the universe, but rather if the Five Ways would still work in a universe that was infinity in size and contained an infinite amount of matter and objects in it.

      Though I am starting to think the answer is that the Five Ways would remain untouched in such a scenario.


      ''I don't see how Grunbaum's claims about a natural occurrence of matter being created out of nothing would impact the five ways at all... Not that I understand what could be natural about constantly occurring ex nihilo creation of matter.''

      Here is the full relevant quote for context:

      ''The argument is essentially that since ex nihilo creation of matter violates energy conservation, there must be an external creative cause that accounts for the violation, and this cause he identifies with perpetual divine creation. This kind of reasoning has been severely criticized by Adolf Grünbaum, who flatly dismisses the claim that underlies the idea of perpetual divine creation, namely that nothingness is the natural state of the universe. This claim has also been argued in detail by Richard Swinburne (1996), who finds it extraordinary that there exists anything at all and from the fact that something exists infers the existence of God. But according to Grünbaum there is no room for divine creation in either big-bang or steady-state cosmology. “Steady-state cosmology,” he concludes, “is indeed logically incompatible with [the] claim that divine creative intervention is causally necessary for the nonconservative popping into existence of new matter in the steady-state universe” ''

      Grunbaum attacks the idea that constant creation of matter out of nothing implies a divine cause by pointing out how, if the steady state model is correct, this means that the laws of thermodynamics are false and no law is being violated.

      Thus, the appeal to a divine cause because constant new creation of matter would violate the conservation of energy fails.

      He also criticises divine conservation arguments because they assert that the natural state of the universe is nothingness and then goes on to say that the steady state model is logically incompatible with divine causal conservation of the universe.

      One additional objection to the Five Ways from the steady state model is that ex nihilo creation would be a natural occurence, and would thus blur the natural-supernatural distinction.

      And after all, if new matter is constantly being created out of nothing in the universe in a natural way, then couldn't we extend that to all existing stuff in the universe, INCLUDING the universe itself?

      The steady state model seems to provide a serious objection to the Five Ways and existential proofs then, huh?

      Unless, of course, the Five Ways and the Existential Proof are so strong as metaphysical viewpoints, that they are untouched even in a steady state model of the universe.

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    20. I know that. My main question was not about the temporal infinity of the universe, but rather if the Five Ways would still work in a universe that was infinity in size and contained an infinite amount of matter and objects in it.

      I don't think it would be impacted by an infinitely large universe. The main linch pin between God and the universe is the conjoining of essence and existence. Whether those essences and existences are infinite in size is beside the point. They still need to have their essences and existences conjoined. And I think you need to avoid viewing this as a physical event. Essence and existence are at the metaphysical level. Even non corporeal beings require this conjoining.

      This kind of reasoning has been severely criticized by Adolf Grünbaum, who flatly dismisses the claim that underlies the idea of perpetual divine creation, namely that nothingness is the natural state of the universe....

      Thus, the appeal to a divine cause because constant new creation of matter would violate the conservation of energy fails.


      As far as I am aware, the five ways never claims that nothingness is the natural state of the universe or bases arguments on thermodynamics. He was convinced that it was easier to support the idea of a steady state universe than a universe with a beginning, but accepted the later, more from divine revelation.

      Again, even if ex nihilo were a natural occurrence, it would not impact the 5 ways arguments which uses the metaphysical scaffolding from Aristotle.

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    21. ''I don't think it would be impacted by an infinitely large universe. The main linch pin between God and the universe is the conjoining of essence and existence. Whether those essences and existences are infinite in size is beside the point. They still need to have their essences and existences conjoined. And I think you need to avoid viewing this as a physical event. Essence and existence are at the metaphysical level. Even non corporeal beings require this conjoining. ''


      Ah, so even an infinitely big universe would require conjoining.

      And I guess that even if such a universe had an infinite amount of matter and objects in it, that this would only increase the amount of stuff that needs conjoining to infinity.


      ''As far as I am aware, the five ways never claims that nothingness is the natural state of the universe or bases arguments on thermodynamics.''

      I agree, insofar as it seems Grunbaum misunderstands the Five Ways when he claims they somehow assert that nothingness is the natural state of the universe.

      It also seems he might be question-begging as well, though I'm not as sure about that.


      ''Again, even if ex nihilo were a natural occurrence, it would not impact the 5 ways arguments which uses the metaphysical scaffolding from Aristotle.''


      Well, there are still 2 possible objections that could be made from such a steady-state model:

      1)Matter being constantly created anew blurs the natural-supernatural distinction, and thus makes ex nihilo causality look like it was natural and without the need of a creator.

      2)If matter was constantly being created out of nothing, then this clearly implies that what looks like ex nihilo creation has a natural cause.

      And if ex nihilo creation of matter has a natural cause, then this undermines the very idea that creation out of nothing is supernatural.

      After all, if matter is constantly being created anew, then this clearly implies that all the other matter in the universe was created like that. And thus the universe itself could have been created like that.

      In other words, this model might offer a paradigm where ex nihilo creation could be modeled as a natural event, probably even following certain laws of nature.

      ---

      It seems then that we would have to show how the Five Ways are simply more fundamental than even such a steady-state model.



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    22. Ah, so even an infinitely big universe would require conjoining.

      And I guess that even if such a universe had an infinite amount of matter and objects in it, that this would only increase the amount of stuff that needs conjoining to infinity.


      Right. No problem for an infinite all powerful God. :)

      1)Matter being constantly created anew blurs the natural-supernatural distinction, and thus makes ex nihilo causality look like it was natural and without the need of a creator.

      That would violate the principle that whatever is moved is moved by another. If matter is coming into existence, then something must be the cause. There has to be some mechanism for creating matter ex nihilo, otherwise what you have is something with no explanation. What Aristotle and Aquinas postulate is something that is an unmoved mover or whose essence is its existence. He does talk about other physical unmoved movers, for example, the heavenly spheres or the planets, but even though they are eternal, they still depend on their existence from the one whose essence is his existence, which is God - the ultimate unmoved mover.

      2)If matter was constantly being created out of nothing, then this clearly implies that what looks like ex nihilo creation has a natural cause.

      Then it isn't really ex nihilo then. We would have to look at the cause of that natural ex nihilo generation. And if we want to say that there is no cause, then we may as well give up science. Because science is in the business of finding out the cause of things.

      And if ex nihilo creation of matter has a natural cause, then this undermines the very idea that creation out of nothing is supernatural.

      Nope. It just points to this cause as something that requires an explanation as well.

      After all, if matter is constantly being created anew, then this clearly implies that all the other matter in the universe was created like that. And thus the universe itself could have been created like that.

      Sure.

      In other words, this model might offer a paradigm where ex nihilo creation could be modeled as a natural event, probably even following certain laws of nature.

      Sounds a lot like Krauss. Only... where do these laws come from? Krauss himself talks about the universe coming from nothing. But it isn't really nothing in the sense that philosophers talk about nothing. It is some sort of quantuum field. And it too requires a cause or an explanation for its existence.

      It seems then that we would have to show how the Five Ways are simply more fundamental than even such a steady-state model.

      I think the problem is pitting physics against metaphysics as if they were competing theories. But they aren't. Metaphysics is the study of being as being. The universe, space and time, steady-state, or having a beginning - they are all less fundamental than being itself. Being is the summum genus - the highest genus under which everything else falls. Metaphysics is interested in analyzing things at this highest level of generality. It looks at concepts like what is a substance, what are accidents, what is essence and existence, what is form and matter, what is universal and paticular, and so on. Whatever the true nature of the physical universe turns out to be, these categories will remain valid.

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    23. JoeDJune 20, 2017 at 2:05 PM

      " if the Five Ways would still work in a universe that was infinity in size and contained an infinite amount of matter and objects in it."
      --Aquinas fails to provide sound arguments for the existence of god at all, so your use of the word "still" is inappropriate.

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    24. Aquinas's arguments are sound. The arguments cannot be substantively and properly treated in a comment section of a blog. Try not to project your assumptions and preconceived ideas onto them, and you'll be on your way to understanding them.

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    25. Don't respond to him. Why at this point would you expect anything worthwhile back?

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    26. @Daniel Carriere,


      ''That would violate the principle that whatever is moved is moved by another. If matter is coming into existence, then something must be the cause. There has to be some mechanism for creating matter ex nihilo, otherwise what you have is something with no explanation. What Aristotle and Aquinas postulate is something that is an unmoved mover or whose essence is its existence.''

      Wait, so matter being created out of nothing for no reason would be a brute fact then? And this means it is vulnearable to all of the objections against brute facts in general, right?

      If so, then that's a relief.


      But if the mechanism that allows matter to be created out of nothing is a natural one that isn't a brute fact, then doesn't that still go against the idea of creatio ex nihilo being supernatural?

      Because if creation of matter out of nothing was by a perfectly natural mechanism, it's hard to see how a divine cause would even be necessary for perpetual conservation of reality into existence.

      Unless, of course, the A-T metaphysics requires the natural process of constant ex nihilo creation of matter to also have an explanation then?


      ''Then it isn't really ex nihilo then. We would have to look at the cause of that natural ex nihilo generation. And if we want to say that there is no cause, then we may as well give up science. Because science is in the business of finding out the cause of things. ''


      Well, if ex nihilo creation has a natural cause, then we could also apply that to all of existing reality.

      Meaning we would have a natural explanation for how everything exists or was created ex nihilo, which means divine conservation may not be needed.

      On the other hand, that natural mechanism for ex nihilo creation would either have to have a cause, or be a brute fact.

      And if it is not a brute fact, then it would have a natural cause that itself requires some explanation.

      Either the explanation of the natural cause of ex nihilo creation goes on forever in an infinite regress, or it has an explanation that is itself it's own explanation.

      If Feser has made any arguments against an infinite regress of explanations, then I guess these could be used as proof that infinite regress of explanations is impossible.

      And so we would be left with something which is it's own explanation.

      Then further work will perhaps be required to unquestionably show that such a self-explaining explanation would basically be the God of classical theism.


      ''think the problem is pitting physics against metaphysics as if they were competing theories. But they aren't. Metaphysics is the study of being as being. The universe, space and time, steady-state, or having a beginning - they are all less fundamental than being itself. Being is the summum genus - the highest genus under which everything else falls. Metaphysics is interested in analyzing things at this highest level of generality. It looks at concepts like what is a substance, what are accidents, what is essence and existence, what is form and matter, what is universal and paticular, and so on. Whatever the true nature of the physical universe turns out to be, these categories will remain valid.''


      Hmm....so whether space and time are both discrete and at a certain level cannot be divided any longer, that is, they are made out of fundamental units.

      Or whether they are both continous quantities and can be divided to infinity.

      A-T metaphysics will stay completely untouched......

      Even though Oderberg said in his paper on Instants that Aristotle answered Zeno with the act/potency distinction, and rejects the idea of mathematical limits as giving a way to explain how infinitely divisible space and time could exist, A-T metaphysics would still work just fine even if mathematical limits, convergent infinite series and instantaneous acceleration were all literally how the world works.


      This basically then answers my question as to how elastic and fundamental A-T metaphysics is.

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    27. @Daniel Carriere,

      There is just one more thing that I have been thinking though.

      Metaphysics is the way in which we study the nature of being and how any logically possible reality must work.

      And at least A-T metaphysics claims that God is Being Itself.

      But as James Chastek once pointed out in his blog post on the human intellect and it's capacity, the human intellect can grasp the concepts of being and non-being, which are fundamental for any information processing and any physical explanation or explanation of any sort whatsoever.

      He uses that as an argument to the effect that the human intellect cannot be explained in purely natural terms, but rather is so radically different from everything in the possible natural order that it requires special creation by God in order to exist.

      This highlights the special significance of the intellect.

      But if being and non-being are abstract concepts, what does this say about God?

      If God is Being Itself, and being is also an abstract concept that we grasp, doesn't this then mean that God is just an abstract concept?

      Or at least that we can grasp the essence of God, which Aquinas rejects and is the prime reason Aquinas rejects Anselm's Ontological Argument?

      What are your thoughts on that?

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    28. JasonJune 20, 2017 at 10:16 PM

      "Aquinas's arguments are sound."
      --That is demonstrably false. I will use "The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. " as an example.

      " The arguments cannot be substantively and properly treated in a comment section of a blog."
      --Actually, it is not that difficult.
      "But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover;... Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other"
      --This can be expressed as
      ~~U therefore ~I
      ~I therefore U
      Clearly begging the question.

      "this everyone understands to be God."
      --Something like this phrase is needed to link the asserted first mover with god. But Aquinas here states a factually false premise, since I am part of everybody and I have no such understanding. Further, the assertion is ad hoc, a false dichotomy, and a non-sequitur since there is no necessity a first mover would be a god.

      This phrase is not even complete as as argument for the existence of god. Thus Aquinas fails to close the deal, fails to make his argument at all.

      Human understanding is just a thought. Just because humans think something does not mean that something exists. Aquinas, in the end, doesn't even make an argument at all for the existence of god.

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    29. Aquinas is rather concise when he says "this everyone understands to be God." Where did he expand on it?

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    30. You have to understand the nature of his audience - beginner theology students at a time and a place where that statement would apply to everyone. The summa theologica is a primer and not meant as a full fledged defenses of the five ways but are just a short summary. For much deeper development, see Summa Contral Gentiles, De Veritate, and various other places.

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    31. If God is Being Itself, and being is also an abstract concept that we grasp, doesn't this then mean that God is just an abstract concept?

      JoeD, you have to remember: we do not use "God is Being Itself" and "we understand being" in a univocal sense. At best, we can only assert "being" of God analogically, not univocally.

      As created intelligences that work by abstracting the essence from sensibles, we grasp and understand being insofar as it that pertains to some THING that HAS existence, i.e. wherein it's existence is distinct from its essence, and we hold it's essence in our minds qua an intelligible form that is actually different from the thing itself. We don't understand God that way. Or rather, to the extent that we understand God at all, we approximate "getting" him by subjecting him to the same process, but because there is no way to have an intelligible form in our minds that is like to God and yet distinct from God, (because the created form in our intellect is created and thus not equal to the uncreated God), all the closeness we can achieve naturally is an analogy: we can't KNOW him fully in the natural human sense.

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    32. Daniel CarriereJune 21, 2017 at 2:53 PM

      "You have to understand the nature of his audience"
      --Irrelevant.

      Aquinas is thought by Thomists to have presented arguments still generally valid today. The cloistered little audience he had at that time means nothing with respect to the modern validity of his arguments.

      His closing premise is false today therefore his argument is unsound today.

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    33. TonyJune 21, 2017 at 3:14 PM

      "... to the extent that we understand God at all... there is no way to have an intelligible form in our minds...We don't understand God ... we can't KNOW him "
      --Right, thus god is as Feser describes, "incomprehensible".

      Thus, all attempts to argue for the existence of the Thomistic god are doomed to failure. One cannot form a sound logical argument for, much less a "proof" for, something that fundamentally does not make sense.

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    34. Sorry for the late response - the kids are keeping me busy. :)

      Wait, so matter being created out of nothing for no reason would be a brute fact then?
      And this means it is vulnearable to all of the objections against brute facts in general, right?

      If so, then that's a relief.


      Right. As Ed said in another post to Kieth Parsons:

      Now, as you know, the expression “brute fact” is typically used in philosophy to convey the idea of something which is unintelligible or without explanation. And your statement gives the impression that all theists, or at least most of them, regard God as a “brute fact” in this sense.

      But in fact that is the reverse of the truth. Aristotelians, Neoplatonists, Thomists, Leibnizian rationalists, et al. would deny that God is a “brute fact.” They would say that the explanation for God’s existence lies in the divine nature -- for Aristotelians, in God’s pure actuality; for Neoplatonists, in his absolute simplicity; for Thomists, in the fact that his essence and existence are identical; for Leibnizians in his being his own sufficient reason; and so forth. (Naturally the atheist will not think the arguments of these thinkers are convincing. But to say that they are not convincing is not the same thing as showing that the theist is either explicitly or implicitly committed to the notion that God is a “brute fact.”)


      More later.

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    35. On the other hand, that natural mechanism for ex nihilo creation would either have to have a cause, or be a brute fact.

      And if it is not a brute fact, then it would have a natural cause that itself requires some explanation.

      Either the explanation of the natural cause of ex nihilo creation goes on forever in an infinite regress, or it has an explanation that is itself it's own explanation.

      If Feser has made any arguments against an infinite regress of explanations, then I guess these could be used as proof that infinite regress of explanations is impossible.

      And so we would be left with something which is it's own explanation.


      I think you have made good progress in answering your own questions. :)

      Again, you have that essence/existence linchpin from the perspective of being that if you switch to the perspective of truth would give you something like what you've stated above.

      The idea of the transcendentals lets you cover a lot of theoretical ground: that God is both being, Truth, Beauty, Love, etc... (I think I have added some non traditional ones, but you get the idea. )

      Then further work will perhaps be required to unquestionably show that such a self-explaining explanation would basically be the God of classical theism.

      I think the concept of the trancendentals takes you a long way towards that end.

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    36. Hmm....so whether space and time are both discrete and at a certain level cannot be divided any longer, that is, they are made out of fundamental units.

      Or whether they are both continous quantities and can be divided to infinity.

      A-T metaphysics will stay completely untouched......

      Even though Oderberg said in his paper on Instants that Aristotle answered Zeno with the act/potency distinction, and rejects the idea of mathematical limits as giving a way to explain how infinitely divisible space and time could exist, A-T metaphysics would still work just fine even if mathematical limits, convergent infinite series and instantaneous acceleration were all literally how the world works.


      I can't speak for Oderberg. I'm just an arm chair Thomist who is still struggling to get the basics right. :)

      Still, I seem to remember that David Hilbert also rejected the notion of an actual infinity being possible in the real world. But I'm no mathematician so that comment is a appeal to authority.

      But I think the general ideal is that if the universe is ultimately a rationally ordered place, then the A-T metaphysics should apply.

      And sometimes mathematicians and physicists make unfounded pronoucements that their subject matter in no way justifies. For example, I was reading Stephen Hawking's The Grand Design and I was horrified by how many unfounded statements he was making about the nature of the universe. I see the discipline of metaphysics as providing an important function when reviewing such statements.

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    37. @Daniel Carriere,

      ''Again, you have that essence/existence linchpin from the perspective of being that if you switch to the perspective of truth would give you something like what you've stated above.''


      Interesting. I've thought about such a thing myself.

      For example, when you try to negate everything, and basically imagine that everything that exists were to stop existing, you get nothingness.

      You get neither time nor space. Yet you still get universals, abstract mathematical concepts and propositional truths that remain once you've erased everything.

      You can then try to erase even those truths, or even attempt to erase God as well.

      But then you hit a road block. For even this absolute nothingness would be absolute nothingness, not something. In fact, it would still be logically impossible for this absolute nothingness to be both nothingness and something.

      The law of non-contradiction still applies, even to abstract concepts.

      Which means that you simply cannot do away with the laws of logic.

      What is important to notice is that the laws of logic do not just apply to the material reality, or to just space and time or any other dimensional description of anything, but even to abstract concepts.

      Even absolute nothingness still follows the laws of logic.

      This suggests that the laws of logic are simply self-explanatory.

      Now, this might be considered an objection to God as a self-explainable thing, but actually, God under classical theism is defined as, among other things:

      1)Intellect Itself

      2)Reason Itself

      3)Being Itself.

      It stands to reason, therefore, that God can also be called Logic Itself.

      If that is so, then I think we just stumbled upon God when analysing how logic is absolutely necessary, and simply cannot fail to apply no matter what the situation, whether it's abstract concepts like nothingness, or physical dimensions like space and time, or physical matter.

      ''But I think the general ideal is that if the universe is ultimately a rationally ordered place, then the A-T metaphysics should apply. ''


      Well, mathematics is certainly rationally ordered, which includes mathematical limits and instantaneous acceleration, which means it is certainly compatible with those ideas.


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    38. It stands to reason, therefore, that God can also be called Logic Itself.

      Or, to put it in slightly different terms: God is pre-eminently intelligible, he is the intelligible par excellence, and that in virtue of which anything else that might be intelligible is made intelligible. He is the light of intelligibility as well as the premier object on which that light shines.

      As a consequence, any failure of ours to comprehend God (using comprehend in its proper sense - to go ALL THE WAY around the subject and grasp it in every detail and facet) is due to limitation or defect in us, not due to defect in God.

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    39. ''As a consequence, any failure of ours to comprehend God (using comprehend in its proper sense - to go ALL THE WAY around the subject and grasp it in every detail and facet) is due to limitation or defect in us, not due to defect in God.''


      Didn't Aquinas reject the Ontological Argument because he didn't believe we could outright know the essence of God?

      And isn't the beatific vision supposed to be an infinite eternal expansion into God, who Himself is infinite? Meaning that we will never know God in an absolute way, though we can comprehend a lot about Him?

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    40. @Daniel Carriere,

      Thanks!

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    41. JoeD June 23, 2017 at 9:22 AM

      "You get neither time nor space. Yet you still get universals, abstract mathematical concepts and propositional truths that remain once you've erased everything."
      --Alexander Vilenkin seems to agree with you, expressing a view of platonic laws of physics. That seems to me to be an unsupportable position.

      Were are these truths? How do they exist if there is absolutely nothing at all? An abstraction is a process of a thinker, but absent a thinker then how can there still be an existent abstraction?

      In what sense does an abstraction exist if there is absolutely nothing at all? Where? How? In application to what?


      " In fact, it would still be logically impossible for this absolute nothingness to be both nothingness and something."
      --If there is something then there cannot be a state of absolute universal nothingness.

      Here the principle of non-contradiction applies given a state of somethingness.

      I have never encountered a sound explanation as to how or why abstractions or principles can somehow exist in absolutely nothing at all.

      "It stands to reason, therefore, that God can also be called Logic Itself."
      --God is logic? If I employ logic does that mean I am acting as a god?

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    42. JoeD,

      Didn't Aquinas reject the Ontological Argument because he didn't believe we could outright know the essence of God?

      No, he said we cannot know the essence of God through any natural operation of our intellects. We can indeed know God through seeing him "as he is in himself", (and this is what the BV consists in), through a supernatural act by God's power.

      In a natural act of knowing an essence, our intellect generates ('conceives') as the intelligible form the same form as informs the being that we know, but in the being it is the substantial form, in our intellect is the intelligible form, the same in kind but not the same in every respect (our intellect does not become a dog by knowing "dog"). But this conceived intelligible form is a created form. God cannot be adequately known through a created form, because nothing created is infinite and God is infinite. So in the BV, God Himself enters the intellect in place of what is usually the intelligible form, so that we "see him as he is in himself".

      And isn't the beatific vision supposed to be an infinite eternal expansion into God, who Himself is infinite? Meaning that we will never know God in an absolute way, though we can comprehend a lot about Him?

      Well, we can presume that in virtue of greater and lesser degrees of charity, the above act of the intellect will be more and less in different individuals. Aquinas:

      Wherefore others say that others than Christ, although they see God in His essence, do not see all that God sees because they do not comprehend the Divine essence. For it is not necessary that he who knows a cause should know all its effects, unless he comprehend the cause: and this is not in the competency of a created intellect. Consequently of those who see God in His essence, each one sees in His essence so much the more things according as he sees the Divine essence the more clearly

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  18. William Lane Craig put up a new video responding to classical theism v. theistic personalism (not the interview).
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_GVhDz1jUQI

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  19. Regarding the comics being burned, anyone who calls themselves a "progressive" nowadays are mostly delusional sjw's, so I'm not surprised.

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  20. Have you noticed what looks like Mark Shea's response to your book without being a response (https://www.catholicweekly.com.au/author/mark-shea/)? He wrote a nine-part comment on capital punishment. I think parts 2, 3, and 8 could be worth responding to, and maybe 7.

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  21. Anonymous, I got through 1 and 2, and couldn't go on. #2 has so many errors, exaggerations, distortions, false claims, failed points of logic, and so on that it hardly bears mentioning them all. Maybe, if someone has a week and 30,000 words they could expose all of the nonsense in just that one, but a blog could only just barely scratch the surface.

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