The REAL Unmoved mover argument; can you challenge the it?
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03-09-2015, 05:51 PM
RE: The REAL Unmoved mover argument; can you challenge the it?
(03-09-2015 05:23 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  
(03-09-2015 04:00 PM)Tonechaser77 Wrote:  I feel dumber after having read the past 8 pages of this thread; not because anyone here is dumb, but because my in-depth knowledge of philosophy is in the red. My head is spinny spinny spinnyyyyyyy.... Shocking Big Grin

It's really not as complicated as it might look. I've considered starting a Philosophy 101 thread to go over the basics, actually, since pretty much everything in philosophy follows from a few simple principles.

Or it's supposed to, anyway. Lamentably, many philosophers are very, very bad at what they do.

I would love a thread like that. Perhaps with a remedial reading list for those of us intimidated even by Philosophy 101.
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03-09-2015, 06:36 PM (This post was last modified: 03-09-2015 06:47 PM by GirlyMan.)
RE: The REAL Unmoved mover argument; can you challenge the it?
(03-09-2015 05:23 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  It's really not as complicated as it might look. I've considered starting a Philosophy 101 thread to go over the basics, ...

I'll help. Started out majoring in PHIL at uni and ended up minoring 'cause a major in CS pays more, like a shitload more. One thing that occurred to me while there is why are they presenting these concepts chronologically instead of in reverse chronological order? Why not start with contemporary philosophy and then work backward like a metaphysical archaeological dig?

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03-09-2015, 07:01 PM
RE: The REAL Unmoved mover argument; can you challenge the it?
(01-09-2015 02:07 PM)Waves Wrote:  Okay I will play devil's attorney from now on, I am not entirely satisfied by the answers. I feel most of you assimilate the first way with the Kalam, but that is not really the same argument. Most of my answer came from the second link from my first message.

(01-09-2015 11:05 AM)Bucky Ball Wrote:  "Pure act" ... really ?

Define "act" ... and in doing so, use no temporal reference.

Why can't I use temporal reference?

I will describe potentiality and act, since the two are strongly linked.

- Potentiality An existing object is potentially many other ways. A coffee cup is potentially spilled on the floor. A rock is potentially scrawled with graffiti. An acorn is potentially an oak tree. The concept of "potentiality" can be seen in the modern principle of "disposition." A flammable liquid has a disposition to catch fire, but not a disposition to turn into puppies. Even if it never catches fire, its disposition was always to catch fire and never to turn into puppies. Or alternatively (if you insist), the liquid is potentially on fire and potentially puppies or potentially anything else you might imagine. The concept works either way, although Aristotle would argue that a disposition is rooted in the type of thing it is, rather than just any disposition at all. This distinction, however, is unimportant for present purposes.

- Change = potentials becoming actual
So change can occur, because things have a potential or disposition to be different than they are now. A change is when that disposition becomes real. "Actual" is just another name for "real" or "existent." A flammable liquid changes to "on fire" when its disposition to be on fire because an actuality.

(01-09-2015 09:27 AM)TurkeyBurner Wrote:  It still boils down to using god as a mechanism to explain something we do not currently understand. A was caused by B, B was caused by C, C by D, D by... ? Hmmm, we have no idea how to explain where D came from. Therefore, god.

Eventually we will discover what D really is, what it is made of and how it was formed and we will call it E. Then we will ask ourselves, "from whence came E?" The religious will say it is a mystery as such no human can comprehend and, therefore, god. They will incorporate E into the list of things god created to govern the universe and claim it as proof of god's fabulous design rather than disproof of their previously held position. Until, (surprise!) we unravel the true origin of E. Lather. Rinse. Repeat.

Premise 1: A potential can only be actualized by something already actual

The first core premise in Aquinas' argument is that potency cannot raise itself to act. Despite the fancy terms, it really means something fairly mundane:
Something that does not exist (yet) cannot bring itself into existence
The reason behind this is that if something can bring itself into existence, it would then exist prior to itself, and therefore both A) exist, and B) not exist, which is a contradiction.

From this it follows that: a potency can only be raised to act by something that is already in act. That is, something non-existent can only be brought into existence by something else that already exists.

For the coffee cup's potential to be on the floor to become a reality, an existent (actual) hand would have to knock it over. For virtual particles to come into existence, there has to be a real (actual) unstable energy field. For an astral body in a stable path to change speed or direction (change from one state to another state), some actual (real) astral body with enough mass must exist to cause it.

From the examples I've given here, especially the virtual particles, you should remember that Aquinas thinks of causation as a dependency relationship, not necessarily as a preceding event. Virtual particles may lack a preceding event that causes them to come into existence, but they do not lack a logically prior dependency in the form of an unstable energy field. If there is no unstable energy field, there are no virtual particles. Therefore, virtual particles are caused by the unstable energy field.

This caution must be continuously raised: continue to keep in mind at all times that Aquinas is not thinking of preceding events, but as a dependency relationship. In other words, he isn't thinking of history here, but rather thinking of what elements need to be in place concurrently for a change to occur.

Premise 2 : An essentially ordered chain of dependency must have a primary element

The second key premise of the argument is one that has caused more misconception than any other premise in theistic philosophy, even among professional philosophers. Part of the problem is that damn Kalam argument biases people's thinking.

The exact quote from the First Way is:
But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand.

Since the Kalam argument is always on people's minds in some form or another, most people think Aquinas is saying that an infinity is a mathematical impossibility, and therefore there must have been some first event in the past. But again, and is hopefully clear from preceding articles, this is not accurate. Aquinas does not think of causation as a series of preceding events, and in fact he even concedes in multiple places that the series of events stretching into the past could, in principle, be eternal.

In other words, he is NOT saying:
This egg came from this chicken, but that chicken must have come from another chicken, which must have come from another chicken, and so on. But since an infinity is a mathematical impossibility, there must have been some first chicken in the past, otherwise there would be no subsequent chickens.

Not only is he NOT saying this, he even says he's not saying this! Right here, in Summa Theologica I.46: is not impossible to proceed to infinity "accidentally" as regards efficient an artificer acts by means of many hammers accidentally, because one after the other may be broken.
There is no need for a first hammer; the artificer may have been breaking hammers from eternity. The chickens might have been laying eggs from eternity; no need for a first chicken in the past. This is most people's interpretation of the above argument, and most people's first objection. Aquinas, as a Medieval nerd with Asperberger's and therefore the complete opposite of an idiot, of course realized this as well.

Rather, what he IS saying is something roughly like this:

The movement of the stick is entirely dependent on the hand:
Hand -pushing-> stick -pushing-> rock

If there is no hand, the stick is incapable of moving the rock:
stick -not pushing-> rock

But if there is an infinitely long chain of sticks, then this is equivalent to there being one long stick and no hand:
looooong stick -not pushing-> rock

So he reasons from the effect, a moving rock, to a cause, something capable of moving said rock. Since a stick is incapable of moving said rock, that cannot be what is moving the rock, and an infinitely long stick or chain of sticks is not different than just a stick: it is still incapable of moving the rock.

In other words, what he is saying here is that if something is dependent or derivative, then there must be something on which it depends, or from which it is derived. It makes no sense for something to be A) dependent, but for there to be B) nothing on which it depends. If there is nothing on which it depends, then it isn't dependent. But it is dependent, so therefore there must be something on which it depends. This is the distinction between "essentially ordered" and "accidentally ordered" causal series.

(01-09-2015 10:15 AM)Unbeliever Wrote:  Just the god of the gaps argument combined with special pleading.

The primary element stated above must be a "Pure Act". That is to say, the effect is: "potencies being actualized" and the thing on which these effect depends is: "something that has no potencies." Because, if it had potencies, then since a potency can only be actualized by something already actual it just wouldn't be the necessary termination point of the essentially ordered series.
So that is the conclusion of the argument: there must exist (at bottom, not first in the past!) something that is purely actual, with no potentials of any kind. Something unchangeable. And there you have the unchangeable changer or unmoved mover of Aristotle.

So now we have to ask...why does Aquinas conclude this:
"...and this everyone understands to be God."?

Aquinas spends many, many chapters on deriving the divine attributes, but I'll only cover a few very briefly here, to get the flavor.

Matter and energy can both change location, change configuration, come together, break apart, and so on. So they have all kinds of potential to change. Something that is pure actuality, with no potentials, must therefore be immaterial.

Having a spacial location means being movable, or having parts that are actually located over here but not actually located over there. Something that is pure actuality, with no potentials, cannot move or change or have parts that are non actual. Therefore, pure actuality is spaceless.

If subject to the effects of time, it would have the potential to get older than it was. But since it has no potentials, it has no potential to get older. Therefore, pure actuality is timeless.

If there is a distinction between two things, that means one has something that the other lacks. But pure actuality does not have potentials, and therefore lacks nothing. So pure actuality is singular. There is only one such thing.

Now, unless you are a Platonist (and Aquinas is not), there are only two ways something can exist: as a material thing, or as an abstract concept in a mind. For example, the concept of "dog" can exist as an abstract idea in a mind, or as a material thing in the form of an actual dog. That is, the form of dog can exist either unconstrained by matter (the idea of dog) or constrained by matter (an actual dog). Since pure actuality exists unconstrained by matter, it must exist as knowledge. Also, "ignorance" is not a positive reality of its own, but rather is a lack of knowledge and hence an unrealized potential. So pure actuality is all-knowing.

We can say that a thing is "good", not in the sense of being "something we personally like" (you may think a good pizza has anchovies, whereas others may not), but in the sense of being a better example of what it is supposed to be. When that thing better exemplifies its perfect archetype. For example, an elephant that takes care of its young, has all four legs, ears, and trunk is "good", or closer to "good", in the sense we mean here. If the elephant lacks something, such as a leg, or one of it's ears, it would not be as "good" as it would be if it had both ears. Since pure actuality has no potentials, it lacks nothing, and is therefore all-good.

And more importantly, God must be intelligent. To state Aquinas (;

We have shown above that among movers and things moved we cannot proceed to infinity, but must reduce all movable things, as is demonstrable, to one first self-moving being. The self-moving being moves itself only by appetite and knowledge, for only such beings are found to move themselves, because to be moved and not moved lies in their power. The moving part in the first self-moving being must he appetitive and apprehending. Now, in a motion that takes place through appetite and apprehension, he who has the appetite and the apprehension is a moved mover, while the appetible and apprehended is the unmoved mover. Since, therefore, the first mover of all things, whom we call God, is an absolutely unmoved mover, He must be related to the mover that is a part of the self-moving being as the appetible is to the one who has the appetite. Not, however, as something appetible by sensible appetite, since sensible appetite is not of that which is good absolutely but of this particular good, since the apprehension of the sense is likewise particular; whereas that which is good and appetible absolutely is prior to that which is good and appetible here and now. The first mover, then, must be appetible as an object of intellect, and thus the mover that desires it must be intelligent. All the more, therefore, will the first appetible be intelligent, since the one desiring it is intelligent in act by being joined to it as an intelligible. Therefore, making the supposition that the first mover moves himself, as the philosophers intended, we must say that God is intelligent.

Moreover, the same conclusion must follow if the reduction of movable beings is, not to a first self-moving being, but to an absolutely unmoved mover. For the first mover is the universal source of motion. Therefore, since every mover moves through a form at which it aims in moving, the form through which the first mover moves must be a universal form and a universal good. But a form does not have a universal mode except in the intellect. Consequently, the first mover, God, must be intelligent.

In no order of movers, furthermore, is it the case that an intellectual mover is the instrument of a mover without an intellect. Rather, the converse is true. But all movers in the world are to the first mover, God, as instruments are related to a principal agent. Since, then, there are in the world many movers endowed with intelligence, it is impossible that the first mover move without an intellect. Therefore, God must be intelligent.

Again, a thing is intelligent because it is without matter. A sign of this is the fact that forms are made understood in act by abstraction from matter. And hence the intellect deals with universals and not singulars, for matter is the principle of individuation. But forms that are understood in act become one with the intellect that understands them in act. Therefore, if forms are understood in act because they are without matter, a thing must be intelligent because it is without matter. But we have shown that God is absolutely immaterial. God is, therefore, intelligent.

Then, too, as was shown above, no perfection found in any genus of things is lacking to God. Nor on this account does any composition follow in Him. But among the perfections; of things the greatest is that something be intelligent, for thereby it is in a manner all things, having within itself the perfections of all things. God is, therefore, intelligent.

Again, that which tends determinately to some end either has set itself that end or the end has been set for it by another. Otherwise, it would tend no more to this end than to that. Now, natural things tend to determinate ends. They do not fulfill their natural needs by chance, since they would not do so always or for the most part, but rarely, which is the domain of chance. Since, then, things do not set for themselves an end, because they have no notion of what an end is, the end must be set for them by another, who is the author of nature. He it is who gives being to all things and is through Himself the necessary being. We call Him God, as is clear from what we have said. But God could not set an end for nature unless He had understanding. God is, therefore, intelligent.

Furthermore, everything imperfect derives from something perfect; for the perfect is naturally prior to the imperfect, as is act to potency. But the forms found in particular things are imperfect because they are there in a particular way and not according to the community of their natures. They must therefore be derived from some forms that are perfect and not particular. But such forms cannot exist unless by being understood, since no form is found in its universality except in the intellect. Consequently, these forms must be intelligent, if they be subsistent; for only thus do they have operation. God, then, Who is the first subsistent act, from whom all other things are derived, must be intelligent.

(01-09-2015 10:40 AM)goodwithoutgod Wrote:  The lengths theists go to tap dance around while waving their hands in the air in hubris attempts to persuade themselves and others that the cosmological argument is valid always amuses me. Things exist, thus there must be a creator, thus god....

but wait, what created god Consider why couldn't the universe have existed forever? why MUST there be a creative force? Perhaps Norrg who resides in hollow Neptune mixed unicorn farts with fairy dust in the great sky cauldron to make man......funny how fear drives everything.....the fear of not knowing, thus god. Rather than just comprehending that there are questions we do not yet know the answers to, and may even never know the answers to...this fact shouldn't drive rational intelligent people to make up shit to "fill in the gap".....well shit, I don't know why that exists......ooooh I know...god. Sad really. Rather than applying logic and intelligence by contemplation of what we can observe and know about the laws of the universe....and promulgate a hypothesis, they resort to magic.

Answered above. I explained the logic behind the argument, why it is not your usual cosmological argument, why the chain is not infinite, and why Aquinas believe that the first element is God(-like).

(01-09-2015 11:03 AM)Ace Wrote:  why does this argument stink so much of the kalaam and modal ontalogical argument?

But this argument CANNOT be assimilated with the Kalam, and that's why common objections to the kalam don't apply here.
From what I can gather, it seems that this argument lives and dies by "unrealized potential". Whatever it means, what is the argument for such a thing? Is there a reason, perhaps compelling, for it?

I noted this quote below about an attribute of this creation of Aquinas.
Quote:If there is a distinction between two things, that means one has something that the other lacks. But pure actuality does not have potentials, and therefore lacks nothing. So pure actuality is singular. There is only one such thing.
Does that mean that if I have nothing that my twin brother lacks then we are really just one and the same person? Is that just saying that identical things cannot really exist as separate things?

We have to remember that what we observe is not nature herself, but nature exposed to our method of questioning ~ Werner Heisenberg
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04-09-2015, 01:55 PM
RE: The REAL Unmoved mover argument; can you challenge the it?
(03-09-2015 05:39 PM)Tonechaser77 Wrote:  
(03-09-2015 05:23 PM)Unbeliever Wrote:  It's really not as complicated as it might look. I've considered starting a Philosophy 101 thread to go over the basics, actually, since pretty much everything in philosophy follows from a few simple principles.

Or it's supposed to, anyway. Lamentably, many philosophers are very, very bad at what they do.

I would subscribe to that thread...

Done, then.

"Owl," said Rabbit shortly, "you and I have brains. The others have fluff. If there is any thinking to be done in this Forest - and when I say thinking I mean thinking - you and I must do it."
- A. A. Milne, The House at Pooh Corner
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