Posts tagged ‘leibniz’

November 7th, 2013

The Doctrine of Variety and Many Worlds

by Max Andrews

Thomas Aquinas believed that there was an appropriated assimilation or likeness to God found in creatures and creation.  Some likeness must be found between an effect and its cause.  It is in the nature of any agent to do something like itself.  Thus, God also gives to creatures and creation all their perfections; and thereby he has with all creatures a likeness.[1]

Additionally, the cause of variety and the multitude of things in creation find their cause in God.  Thomas contrasts himself with early Greek philosophers such as Democritus and the other atomists who argued that the distinction of things come from chance according to the movement of matter. 

February 1st, 2013

The Less-Than-Best Problem and Modal Realism

by Max Andrews

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz developed a similar idea to Thomas Aquinas’ doctrine of variety, which is known as the principle of plenitude.  He argues that there must be diversity in that which changes.[1]  This change and diversity is what produces the specification and variety of simple substances.  This diversity must involve a multitude in the unity or in the simple.  For, since all natural change is produced by degrees, something changes and something remains.  As a result, there must be a plurality of properties and relations.[2]  The principle of plenitude entails absolutely every way that a world could be is a way that some world is and absolutely every way that a part of a world could be is a way that some part of some world is.[3]

The principle of plenitude has been used to argue against modal realism.  The principle is supposed to ensure that there are no gaps in logical space.  There is some real concrete universe for every way a world could be.  This entails that there may be a plurality of worlds that are on balance more bad than good.  Theistic modal realism entails that each possible world is a real concrete universe that a perfect being has actualized.  In the Leibnizian tradition, the principle entails at least some of the worlds are so bad that no perfect being could actualize them.[4]  Hence, Leibniz committed to this world being the best of all possible worlds.[5]  This is called the less-than-best problem.

January 29th, 2013

The Doctrine of Variety and the Multiverse

by Max Andrews

Thomas Aquinas believed that there was an appropriated assimilation or likeness to God found in creatures and creation.  Some likeness must be found between an effect and its cause.  It is in the nature of any agent to do something like itself.  Thus, God also gives to creatures and creation all their perfections; and thereby he has with all creatures a likeness.[1]

Additionally, the cause of variety and the multitude of things in creation find their cause in God.  Thomas contrasts himself with early Greek philosophers such as Democritus and the other atomists who argued that the distinction of things come from chance according to the movement of matter.  Thomas follows Anaxagoras in attributing the multitude to matter and to the agent involved.  Thomas identifies this agency as God since he is the creator of matter and thus the efficient cause behind the existence of the matter.  Additionally, the universality of things and the perfection of the universe must precede forth from the intention of the first agent—God.[2]  Thomas states that the distinction and variety reflects the divine goodness.

For he brought things into being in order that his goodness might be communicated to creatures, and be represented by them; and because his goodness could not be adequately represented by one creature alone, he produced many and diverse creatures, that what was wanting to one in the representation of the divine goodness might be supplied by another.  For goodness, which in God is simple and uniform, in creatures is manifold and divided and hence the whole universe together participates in the divine goodness more perfectly, and represents it better than any single creature whatever.[3]

November 17th, 2012

“God and the Multiverse” EPS 2012 Paper

by Max Andrews

David Beck and I recently presented a paper on God and the multiverse at the annual Evangelical Philosophical Society conference in Milwaukee, WI on November 14, 2012. In this paper we argue that if a multiverse exists then it is harmonious with theism. Not only do we argue that it’s compatible with theism but we develop a distinctly Christian approach to it. We trace the idea of many worlds back to the pre-Socratics, which contributed to a theistic framework. We use Thomas Aquinas, Leibniz, Kant, Clement of Alexandria, Origen, and others to create a Christian model of modal realism. We have called our model “Thomistic Modal Realism.” We plan on explicating the paper and submitting it for publication soon. Please feel free to comment and leave feedback in the comment section. Any and all appropriate/substantive feedback will help us strengthen our model.

July 2nd, 2012

The History of the Multiverse and the Philosophy of Science

by Max Andrews

The Pre-Socratics were the first philosophers of science.  They were known as the sophos (the wise ones).  They were ecliplised by the British and German philosophers of science in the seventeenth century and were largely disconnected from science hence forth. Science sets the agenda, but philosophers bring philosophical reasons instead of scientific reasons.  Science answers the questions. The Pre-Socratics were the first to deal with metaphysics and did so to provide a rational philosophy.  This allowed for a rational and objective observation and the use of reason to systematize and order the content to make it coherent.

The Sophists were worldly-wise in contrast with the sophos–frustrated by the plurality of answers in the current philosophy. The Sophists were the original skeptics as evidenced in Pyrrho. They came out of the sixth century BC and broke away from religious dogma, which had never happened before.  Their methods were pragmatic and subjective–rhetorical and fashionable.  The phrase, “The One and the Many” became important.  The One (reality) had everything related to it (Many).  This is where we get Monism–the quality of oneness.  We see Monism appear later in Leibniz’s monads, which take us to a single substance and leads to atomic theory.

June 27th, 2012

Word of the Week Wednesday: Monad

by Max Andrews

Word of the Week: Mondad

Definition: The one and only substance, which composes existence

More about the term: The big problem for Leibniz was, mathematically, if something takes up a finite amount of space then it must be divisible.  This was the infinite divisibility of matter (DM, Sec. 9, lines 6-9).  Why is this a problem? Because he’s trying to solve the question, “What is substance?” Sub+stans, that which stands underneath. This is where he gets the word monad, mono-, one, unity.  A monad must have these qualities:

  • Cannot be divided any further
  • Does not have parts
  • Not material, but rather more like a soul
  • According to Leibniz, they are a spritual substance
  • Infinite number of them
    read more »

June 17th, 2012

Leibniz’s Principles

by Max Andrews

Gottfried Wilhelm Leibniz had several principles of philosophy and theology.  Some of which are widely used and recognized today and perhaps some are ignored.  The first, and perhaps best known, principle is the principle of sufficient reason (PSR).  There are two forms of PSR: PSRa and PSRb.  PSRa states that there must be some sufficient reason for why something exists rather than not.  PSRb states that there must be some sufficient reason for any positive fact whatsoever.  However, is PSR true in all possible worlds?  This is highly debatable.  Is it a metaphysical brute fact that any fact has an explanation? But wait, what’s the explanation of that PSR?  Perhaps PSR, in the end, is question begging.

Then there’s the principle of perfection: God always conducts himself in the most perfect manner (See Discourse on Metaphysics, Sec. 3, passim].  Thus, for Leibniz, If God creates then God creates the best possible world.  By the way, possible world semantics were first used and developed by Leibniz.  On a similar note, there is the principle of least action: God always chooses the most minimal means by which to produce the world or states of affairs, etc.  This is akin the the simplicty to a virtuous theory.  We often hear of a theory as beautiful, elegant, or simple.

May 30th, 2012

Cosmological Argument PowerPoint

by Max Andrews

I have an old PPT I’ve been using in my lectures on the cosmological arguments and I thought I’d share it here for others to use since I’ll be revamping them in the meantime.  In this PPT document I discuss the Lebnizian cosmological argument, the Thomistic cosmological argument, and the Kalam cosmological argument.  This was delivered to an introductory level philosophy course so it’s certainly not exhaustive.  Feel free to use any of the material in your teaching opportunities or for your own edification.

Leibnizian Argument:

1.Anything that exists has an explanation of its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or in an external cause.
2.If the universe has an explanation of its existence, that explanation is God.
3.The universe exists.
4.Therefore the universe has an explanation of its existence. (from 1, 3)
5.Therefore, the explanation of the existence of the universe is God. (from 2, 4)
read more »

April 5th, 2012

If God is Necessary Should His Effect, the Universe, be Necessary as Well?

by Max Andrews

For if God’s causal activity is necessary, then God’s causing this universe is necessary, and hence this universe is a necessary being, which is absurd, besides being contrary to the assumptions of typical cosmological arguments. But this objection commits a de re/de dicto fallacy. Consider the argument written out:

 

  1. C1 is God’s causal activity and is a necessary being. (Premise)
  2. C1 is God’s causing E. (Premise)
  3. Therefore, God’s causing E is a necessary being.
  4. Therefore, God necessarily causes E.
  5. The F is a necessary being
  6. Therefore, necessarily, F exists.

The fallacy is in the last steps 5 and 6.

December 21st, 2011

Thomas Aquinas’ Doctrine of Simplicity

by Max Andrews

The doctrine that God is absolutely simple derives from the metaphysical considerations that God is a being whose existence is self-explanatory, absolutely perfect, and pure actuality.  Prior to Thomas, the doctrine has its most influential formulations in Augustine and Anselm.[1]  According to Thomas, God is his essence and his essence is to exist.[2]  If the existence of a thing differs from its essence, this existence must be caused either by some exterior agent or by its essential properties.[3]  The latter seems to be impossible for nothing, if caused to exist, can be the sufficient and efficient cause of its own existence.  Nothing can be self-caused and thus the latter option is insufficient. Therefore, if existence differs from essence then another being must cause existence.  This option is also an insufficient explanation for God’s essence and existence because another being cannot cause God because he is the first efficient cause—the uncaused cause.

There are three important claims Thomas commits to concerning the doctrine of divine simplicity.[4]

(1) It is impossible that God have any spatial or temporal parts that could be distinguished from one another as here rather than there or as now rather than then, and so God cannot be a physical entity.

(2) It is impossible that God have any accidental properties.

(3) All of God’s intrinsic properties must be essential to him, it must be acknowledged that whatever can be intrinsically attributed to God must in reality just be the unity that is his essence.

The first claim, (1), removes God from having any spacetime properties.[5]  God is completely timeless logically prior and posterior to the moment of creation.  From this timelessness it follows that God is absolutely immutable and eternal, which are all entailed from simplicity.[6]  The immutability that Thomas is advocating functions with respect to God’s intrinsic esse.  If God were to be able to change intrinsically that would suggest that God’s goodness and omnipotence could change.[7]  An extrinsic change may certainly be compatible with Thomas’ notion of immutability.  If God were to apply salvation to agent X then God has undergone an extrinsic change in the sense that agent X was once an enemy of God prior to salvation whereas post-salvation agent X is now a friend of God.  This is a relational change that has no effect on the intrinsic esse of God.  Thomas would argue that all creatures are really sustained,[8] known, and loved by God, but God would be the same whether creatures existed or not.  However, it is difficult to reconcile God’s genuine relationship with contingent beings if this modal distinction is permitted.  If it is the case that no modal distinction is possible and that modal collapse is a byproduct of simplicity then God really does stand in genuine relations to created beings and creation since it is not the case that what exists could not have not existed.[9]  Thus, God does not really undergo an extrinsic change in creating the world.  He just exists; creation and creatures come into existence with a real relation to God by being caused by God.[10]  This simply makes extrinsic change superfluous to God.