April 5th, 2013
The following argument is an abductive Thomistic cosmological argument from contingency, which I presented at my recent Ratio Christi debate.
- There are contingent constituents to the universe.
- Given the contingent constituents of the universe, the existence of the universe (U) is very, very unlikely under the hypothesis that these constituents are themselves uncaused or self-caused (~Cu): that is, P(U|~Cu & k) ≪ 1.
- Given the contingent constituents of the universe, the existence of the universe is not unlikely under the hypothesis of a first uncaused cause (Cu): that is, ~P(U|Cu & k) ≪ 1.
- Therefore, U strongly supports Cu over ~Cu.
The constituents of the universe include galaxies, planets, stars, cars, humans, leptons, bosons, and other particles. For the constituents of the universe to be uncaused that would mean it is metaphysically necessary. For something to be metaphysically necessary that means that it could not have failed to exist—it exists in every possible world.
For something to be self-caused it must be simultaneously antecedent to itself to produce itself as its own effect. But this contradictory. This would be akin to the ultimate bootstrapping trick.
read more »
September 13th, 2012
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.
According to Thomas, God is his essence and his existence. 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. 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.
(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 acknowledge that whatever can be intrinsically attributed to God must in reality just be the unity that is his essence.
read more »
May 30th, 2012
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.
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 »
May 21st, 2012
Aristotle’s ethic was eudaimonistic, which was later developed by Thomas Aquinas. Evil is the negation of good and requires no ontological grounding and it is the case that everyone always acts according to what they believe is good. Thomas’ meta-ethic was that being and goodness are the same in reference but differ only in sense. He follows Aristotle in making the connection between goodness and desirability. “The formula of the good consists in this, that something is desirable, and so the Philosopher [Aristotle] says that the good is what all desire.” Although all things desire goodness, not all things capable of pursuing goodness and pleasure with understanding understand what really is good; it is possible for creatures with intellect and will to desire an apparent good as a real one. Thomas states that something is desirable in two ways, either because it is good or because it appears good. Of these, the first is what is good, for an apparent good does not move by itself but insofar as it has some appearance of good; but the good moves by itself. Desirability and pleasure is an essential aspect of goodness. The perfection of anything is goodness and perfection is attained in actuality, “As regards nature the good of anything is its actuality and perfection.”
read more »