Belief versus reality
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01-11-2017, 07:20 PM
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 06:39 PM)Belaqua Wrote:  
(01-11-2017 06:33 PM)Free Wrote:  His argument is remarkably basic, and requires minimal effort to understand.

Material

According to Aristotle, the "Material Cause" is the actual physical properties of things in existence. For example, if a sculpture is made of marble, then the marble is the material cause.

Formal

The Formal Cause represents the design of something in existence. For example, this represents a set of plans or blueprints. It is these blueprints that cause something in existence to be what it appears to be, rather than something else.


Efficient

The Efficient Cause is the catalyst that brings something into its form. It's represents the actual force that shapes something into a perceived form. Using our sculpture and marble example, it would be the sculptor who would be the efficient cause as it would be his chiseling that would bring about the sculpture.

Final

The Final Cause, aka the "End," represents the purpose of the existence. Using our sculpture and marble example again, we could state the purpose was to provide a pleasing aesthetic sculpture for people to enjoy.

None of this is beyond our comprehension.

Yes, that's a nice description of the Four Causes.

Do you see why it's irrelevant to Bucky's version of the First Cause?

Firstly, I will state Aristotle's argument, then put Bucky's contention in paragraph form below it, then I will offer my views further down.

Aristotle Wrote:Material

According to Aristotle, the "Material Cause" is the actual physical properties of things in existence. For example, if a sculpture is made of marble, then the marble is the material cause.

Bucky Wrote:The argument is self-defeating as the First Cause is defined as an exception to the entire argument, (special pleading). The "existence" of a First Cause answers nothing. Anything which "exists" is embedded in a larger Reality, which remains unexplained. There could be multiple causes of multiple Realities. The assumption of "one" is not supported by the argument. There is no way to define a First Cause which "exists" without invoking time. A being which is changeless can't "do" or cause anything, in the absence of time, including "causing Causality". As stated above, it's nothing but a statement of an "abstraction" defined into existence, (with no evidence) based on human intuition. Human intuition has been clearly demonstrated to not be the way fundamental Reality works. We don't know at this point if there ever was anything that was "caused". Cosmology does not know about the conditions from which this universe arose, or if that even makes any sense. If spacetime exists only in this universe, then nothing coherent can be said about a "cause", as nothing "preceded" it. We don't know how to talk about a timeless environment.

My View:

Bucky's argument is very consistent with mine. He is saying that Aristotle's argument is dead in the water straight from the First Cause because it assumes that, as per my marble analogy, that the marble was always marble. When Bucky says that "Anything which "exists" is embedded in a larger Reality," he is referring to a reality in which the marble existed in a previous form before it actually could be identified as marble, and that reality is relative to all of existence as a whole.

Furthermore, when Bucky says, "There is no way to define a First Cause which "exists" without invoking time ... A being which is changeless can't "do" or cause anything, in the absence of time, including "causing Causality," he is again in agreement with my position that due to infinite regression, we could never identify a First Cause (in this case, the previous physical properties of what would later be transformed into the marble) because we would need to invoke a specific point in time. He goes on to again agree with me when he says, "A being (or any existence for that matter <-- added by me, Free) which is changeless can't "do" or cause anything, in the absence of time, including "causing Causality," demonstrating my point again that because everything is constantly in a state of change, that if any one thing was not in a state of change it would be motionless and therefore incapable of invoking causality.

Do you understand what we are trying to say?

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01-11-2017, 07:26 PM
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 06:33 PM)Free Wrote:  
(01-11-2017 05:44 PM)Belaqua Wrote:  Oh, I have to.

It's irrelevant because your understanding of Aristotle's argument is entirely different from what he said. I don't know who you're arguing with, but it's not him.

His argument is remarkably basic, and requires minimal effort to understand.

Material

According to Aristotle, the "Material Cause" is the actual physical properties of things in existence. For example, if a sculpture is made of marble, then the marble is the material cause.

Formal

The Formal Cause represents the design of something in existence. For example, this represents a set of plans or blueprints. It is these blueprints that cause something in existence to be what it appears to be, rather than something else.


Efficient

The Efficient Cause is the catalyst that brings something into its form. It's represents the actual force that shapes something into a perceived form. Using our sculpture and marble example, it would be the sculptor who would be the efficient cause as it would be his chiseling that would bring about the sculpture.

Final

The Final Cause, aka the "End," represents the purpose of the existence. Using our sculpture and marble example again, we could state the purpose was to provide a pleasing aesthetic sculpture for people to enjoy.

None of this is beyond our comprehension.

Let me go ahead and add here why these Four Causes are also applicable to nature, not only man-made things. No "intelligent design" or magic is needed.

Your description of the Four Causes is just right. The first three, in combination, point to or tend toward the Final Cause. The Final Cause, in this case, can be described as an object which does the things which sculptures do (e.g. look pretty).

A cat also has a Final Cause, and that is to do the things that cats do.

For a cat, the Material Cause (flesh and bone), the Formal Cause (the DNA), the Efficient Cause (the cat parents), when combined in the right way all point to, or tend to make, an object which does all the things that cats do.

Given those three causes, it is unlikely that they would combine to create a thing which does, for example, the things that asteroids do. Or worms. Or iPods. Therefore, the Material, Formal, and Efficient Causes have a Final Cause built into them. It is what you naturally get when you put those three causes together.

This is entirely compatible with evolution, with modern genetics, etc. It doesn't require a First Cause of the kind that Bucky talks about.

There is a longer argument about why Aristotle thinks the Final Cause of the universe is the First Cause. (Note that the First Cause is not included in the Four Causes, so a Final Cause can be a First Cause -- nothing rules out being both.)
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01-11-2017, 07:36 PM (This post was last modified: 01-11-2017 07:41 PM by Belaqua.)
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 07:20 PM)Free Wrote:  According to Aristotle, the "Material Cause" is the actual physical properties of things in existence. For example, if a sculpture is made of marble, then the marble is the material cause.

Can we be a bit more careful about that?

The Material Cause is not the properties of the resultant object. It is the material itself (which of course has properties). The hyle, not the morphe.

(01-11-2017 07:20 PM)Free Wrote:  My View:

Bucky's argument is very consistent with mine. He is saying that Aristotle's argument is dead in the water straight from the First Cause because it assumes that, as per my marble analogy, that the marble was always marble.

Oh, heavens no.

Marble can be a composite made from other Material, Formal, and Efficient Causes. When those chemical and volcanic causes get together correctly, the result is a Final Cause: a stone which does the things marble does. The marble can then become the Material Cause of something else.

(01-11-2017 07:20 PM)Free Wrote:  When Bucky says that "Anything which "exists" is embedded in a larger Reality," he is referring to a reality in which the marble existed in a previous form before it actually could be identified as marble, and that reality is relative to all of existence as a whole.

And Aristotle would be fine with that.

(01-11-2017 07:20 PM)Free Wrote:  Furthermore, when Bucky says, "There is no way to define a First Cause which "exists" without invoking time ...

Again, I can't seem to get people past the idea that a First Cause is something which exists in time. Please go back and look at the poster called Ignorant -- he has described this. An essential cause is not a temporal cause.

(01-11-2017 07:20 PM)Free Wrote:  A being which is changeless can't "do" or cause anything, in the absence of time, including "causing Causality," he is again in agreement with my position that due to infinite regression, we could never identify a First Cause (in this case, the previous physical properties of what would later be transformed into the marble) because we would need to invoke a specific point in time.
Do you understand what we are trying to say?

Likewise, Aristotle (and Plato, and Aquinas) are very clear: the First Cause doesn't do anything, in the sense of taking action. It exists, but of course it doesn't act or change because it is pure activation, with no potential. Actus Purus. Nor does a First Cause have any physical properties.

It looks as if people here are arguing against something like a demiurgos -- certainly not a First Cause in Aristotle's sense.
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01-11-2017, 08:12 PM (This post was last modified: 01-11-2017 10:16 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 07:26 PM)Belaqua Wrote:  According to Aristotle, the "Material Cause" is the actual physical properties of things in existence. For example, if a sculpture is made of marble, then the marble is the material cause.

No it isn't. Marble was FORMED over billions of years, and is made of atoms, all of which contain electron clouds which interact with other matter, all of which are nothing but matter, which can be changed into energy. There is no such thing as "absolute marble". It contains many imperfections and materials, and in fact has no "final form". Your definition and presumptions are without meaning, and (as usual in most of these arguments) not only "point to" nothing, but are assertions of "proximate" (*closest*) cause, not "First Cause", or any other sequence of causes. The VERY SAME atoms make other things besides marble, in other arrangements, that are totally different. For the vast vast amount of time marble existed, it was nothing other than another form of stone, formed in the evolutionary process in the earth, that (perhaps) kept a mountain stable.

Quote:The Formal Cause represents the design of something in existence. For example, this represents a set of plans or blueprints. It is these blueprints that cause something in existence to be what it appears to be, rather than something else.

Things are not necessarily what they appear to be, and in your pathetic example the ARCHITECT of the plans would be the formal cause, who says he followed the plans at all, or purposely did not follow them ? Maybe he had no plan at all, and just thought, "let's see what pops out here".

Quote:The Efficient Cause is the catalyst that brings something into its form. It's represents the actual force that shapes something into a perceived form. Using our sculpture and marble example, it would be the sculptor who would be the efficient cause as it would be his chiseling that would bring about the sculpture.

A VAST meaningless oversimplification. His schooling, talent, education. ENERGY, (produced by the biological changes that caused the food to change into energy) etc etc cannot be ignored. The energy in the atoms is the same thing as the energy in the marble atoms. So you have a distinction without a difference.

Quote:The Final Cause, aka the "End," represents the purpose of the existence. Using our sculpture and marble example again, we could state the purpose was to provide a pleasing aesthetic sculpture for people to enjoy.

Completely false. Another VAST over-simplification. The sculptor may have done it for nothing else than for getting paid, and in fact hated it, and the "end" of it may have just been the money he made.
You have no way of knowing or assuming what it's purpose(s) was, and maybe they were multiple.

In short, this is NOTHING but a complete simple-minded pile of rubbish.
They "point to "nothing" except things you have LEARNED to claim, in YOUR own mind.

Quote:A cat also has a Final Cause, and that is to do the things that cats do.

Wrong. Maybe it's Final Cause is to be food for a cat eater. Maybe if it's used for research and because it has a cat disease (feline leukemia), and transmits it ALONE, and no other cat does, to a human, then your assertion is totally fallacious. Another pile a simple-minded nonsense.

Quote:For a cat, the Material Cause (flesh and bone), the Formal Cause (the DNA), the Efficient Cause (the cat parents), when combined in the right way all point to, or tend to make, an object which does all the things that cats do.

Complete simple-minded rubbish. The cat is a complex organism, evolved through MANY DIFFERENT forms, made of atoms and DNA ... obviously you have no background in science.

Quote:Given those three causes, it is unlikely that they would combine to create a thing which does, for example, the things that asteroids do. Or worms. Or iPods. Therefore, the Material, Formal, and Efficient Causes have a Final Cause built into them. It is what you naturally get when you put those three causes together.

They do not. It's simply a matter of your opinion, and how you look at them. No one "makes asteroids".

Quote:This is entirely compatible with evolution, with modern genetics, etc. It doesn't require a First Cause of the kind that Bucky talks about.

But you forgot to say why, and given the simplistic trash you have written so far, without one, we can assume you have none.
You're quite the little amateur philosopher ... there.

Quote:It exists, but of course it doesn't act or change because it is pure activation, with no potential.


..... is nothing but a meaningless abstraction, for which there is no evidence. It's defining a god into existence, and calling it something else. To "cause" something IS to "act", and THAT is a temporal concept. Can't have it both ways. If it's not temporal, then it can *do* nothing. "Causing something" IS "doing something". If not, the use of the word, (in light of the examples given in Belaqua's post), are meaningless.

If it "exists" it has the PROPERTY of "existence", which it REQUIRES by definition, and can't have both created AND needs to possess, to *be* (itself), a priori. The larger Reality remains unexplained. Where did "existence" (and non-existence) come from ? Not from a First Cause that "exists".

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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01-11-2017, 08:47 PM (This post was last modified: 01-11-2017 10:50 PM by Bucky Ball.)
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 04:41 PM)Belaqua Wrote:  That was not my contention. My contention was clearly that he presumes an origin to existence, a First Cause.....

A fallacious, preposterous assumption. A First Cause... ..... which "exists", ........ and arguing that a First Cause WHICH EXISTS (already), can't possibly be the origin of the very property in Reality it MUST ALREADY POSSESS, ("existence"). If it "exists" it cannot be the cause of itself ... and YOU yourself agreed with this, in your temporally relative comment .... and obviously, (as you didn't understand), TIME has to exists already, (and you don't know that), if one precedes the other. It's all meaningless gibberish. An "intention" or even a "thought" to cause something is a change (movement in time). If the First Cause is not *blindly* causing things by doing or thinking nothing, it's meaningless, and if not, then it requires "intentional thought", and THAT alone requires a temporal dimension and (mental) activity.

Quote:The "End" is always preceded by the First. In his argument, both are relative.

Exactly.


And that's only one of the things that's wrong with it ... "preceded" requires time. He (Aristotle) assumed it, and it can't be assumed. He knew nothing about spacetime.
Aristotle told us in the opening chapter of Metaphysics what he meant. He uses and makes the same simplistic "category errors" and assumptions we see here : "that highest form of knowledge", "that which is sought for its own sake, has no practical utility, and pertains to first causes". His "unmoved mover and first cause" is a "thinking entity" which he defines as the first cause and unmoved mover, ..... an abstraction he cooked up to fill in a gap he needed to fill.

Who cares if Plato and Aquinas or anyone else are "very clear" about anything ? Aquinas was censured by the Archbishop of Paris for being in error, and he said a number of REALLY stupid things. Human knowledge has progressed a long way since them. Apparently you are not aware of that ?

The examples and categories of causes (and effects) in all this Aristotelian/Thomistic/Platonic "logic" are invalid, and insufficient.
They assume that what is observed at a macro ("intuitive") level by human beings is the way (ultimate) Reality works. That's been proven to be wrong, and it's based on a totally insufficient sample of observations.
Totally amateur mistakes.

Insufferable know-it-all.Einstein God has a plan for us. Please stop screwing it up with your prayers.
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01-11-2017, 09:14 PM (This post was last modified: 01-11-2017 09:24 PM by Chas.)
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 09:10 AM)Grasshopper Wrote:  
(01-11-2017 08:01 AM)Robvalue Wrote:  Absolutely. What other definitions are there that don’t include falsifiability?

I don't know that I can articulate any of the alternatives, but I will note that falsifiability is a 20th-century concept, and there was certainly science being done before that. I don't think Isaac Newton worried much about whether or not his theories were falsifiable. I think the falsifiability standard is an improvement, but maybe not the last word. It's just how science is done at the moment.

The word may have been introduced in the twentieth century (I don't know that), but falsifiability is inherent in the process of experimentation and testing;
that is the hallmark of science and has always been there.

So far, there appears to be tacit agreement with my statement "The scientific method has relegated Aristotelian and Aquinian thinking to the ash heap of intellectual history." Consider

Skepticism is not a position; it is an approach to claims.
Science is not a subject, but a method.
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02-11-2017, 01:09 AM
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 08:12 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  There is no such thing as "absolute marble".

Bucky,

What do you mean by "absolute marble"?

I have never heard of such a thing, and Aristotle never wrote of anything like it.

I'm not sure why you're introducing it to the debate.
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02-11-2017, 01:16 AM
RE: Belief versus reality
(02-11-2017 01:09 AM)Belaqua Wrote:  
(01-11-2017 08:12 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  There is no such thing as "absolute marble".

Bucky,

What do you mean by "absolute marble"?

I have never heard of such a thing, and Aristotle never wrote of anything like it.

I'm not sure why you're introducing it to the debate.

Trebek, I'll take 'Weak Debate Deflection' for $300. Facepalm

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02-11-2017, 06:26 AM
RE: Belief versus reality
(01-11-2017 06:18 PM)Thoreauvian Wrote:  I'm not sure it's possible to have what I consider a normal give-and-take conversation with Belaqua. I don't think he understands argumentation.

I apologize to Belaqua for writing this. I now think it was obviously inaccurate.

However, I do think he needs to be careful to explain what he means in the context of an atheist discussion forum. Many people come here to make all sorts of unsupported assertions, so it's easy to get in the habit of dismissing them almost out-of-hand.
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02-11-2017, 07:03 AM (This post was last modified: 02-11-2017 07:51 AM by Free.)
RE: Belief versus reality
(02-11-2017 01:09 AM)Belaqua Wrote:  
(01-11-2017 08:12 PM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  There is no such thing as "absolute marble".

Bucky,

What do you mean by "absolute marble"?

I have never heard of such a thing, and Aristotle never wrote of anything like it.

I'm not sure why you're introducing it to the debate.

He is referring to a "perfect" steady state, in which the marble has always been marble and nothing but marble, and never changes as per the process of cosmic evolution, and that this is implicit in Aristotle's argument.

That is what Bucky means.

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