Posts tagged ‘thomas aquinas’

April 28th, 2013

The Eudaimonistic Ethic

by Max Andrews

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.”[1]  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.[2]  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.[3] 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.”[4] 

April 5th, 2013

An Abductive Thomistic Cosmological Argument

by Max Andrews

The following argument is an abductive Thomistic cosmological argument from contingency, which I presented at my recent Ratio Christi debate.

  1. There are contingent constituents to the universe.
  2. 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.
  3. 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.
  4. 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.

April 3rd, 2013

Liberty University Debate Video

by Max Andrews

A debate between Max Andrews from Liberty University and Dan Linford from Virginia Tech on the topic “Does God Exist?”

Filmed on the campus of Liberty University, March 28, 2013.

Sponsored by the Liberty University chapter of Ratio Christi, the Phi Sigma Tau Honor Society, and the Philosophy Department of Liberty University.

February 5th, 2013

The Thomistic Doctrine of Creatio Continuans

by Max Andrews

Traditionally, there are two models for how God preserves the existence of the universe.  The first is creatio originans (originating creation), which suggests that there has been one initial act of creation and God conserves that reality through a temporal duration.  Consider the following definition.

D1. God conserves e if and only if God acts upon e to bring about e’s enduring from t until some t* > t through every subinterval of the interval t –> t*.[1]

Thomas Aquinas de-temporalizes creatio ex nihilo.[2]  Thus, Thomas is not very concerned with divine conservation as described above since he does not offer a tensed version of creation nor does he differentiate between conservation and creation.[3]  Thomas’ model of creatio continuans (continual creation) can therefore be depicted as:

D2. God continuously creates x = def. x is a persistent thing, and, for all t, if x exists at t, then at t God creates x.[4]

Thomas certainly seems to make a commitment to creatio continuans given his doctrine of simplicity (since timeless follows).  However, Thomas tries to have the best of both doctrines by suggesting that God acts within creation and creation was within time yet, in turn, adopt a model of timelessness.  Thomas argues that the creation of things was in the beginning of time.  For Genesis 1 to include, “In the beginning God created heaven and earth” suggests that beginning connotes time.[5]

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]

December 17th, 2012

Q&A 2: The Ontological Argument, Logic, and… Aliens?

by Max Andrews

Q&A GraphicQuestion 1:

I am interested in becoming a Christian apologetic but these couple questions are kind of a stumbling block for me. Do you think you could answer these questions for me so I could understand Christianity more?
1.What is the ontological argument? To mean it seems like a lot of lip service. Basically tell me if I’m wrong the ontological argument is that if you think something exists it does or if your mind can imagine something it exists? It doesn’t make sense to me.  A perfect concept does not prove a perfect being.
2. I was watching a philosophical interview with Greg Koukl who was talking about abstract uncreated beings. From what I got out of it uncreated beings do not exist and God created everything even Numbers But if that’s the case then how can God be bound by logic? Like the answer to the question can God make a rock to be he can’t lift? One would say that God can do anything LOGICALLY possible and since there are no rocks he can’t lift then the question is logically impossible. So how does this make sense? Do you know about created and uncreated abstract beings and can you explain more about the study of them and what they are?
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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.

September 13th, 2012

The Doctrine of Divine 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 existence.[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 acknowledge that whatever can be intrinsically attributed to God must in reality just be the unity that is his essence.

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)
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