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Motion in the First Way

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  • #31
    Originally posted by KingsGambit View Post

    The purpose of this thread is not to debate it. It is to discuss how he goes about debating it. Therefore, for him to explain it to you would be outside the purpose of this thread. If you want to debate it, start a new thread.
    No, it isn't outside the purpose then. I'm telling him how to go about it then. If he doesnt think people understand the argument then explain to them the argument as he sees it himself.

    Comment


    • #32
      Originally posted by JimL View Post

      No, it isn't outside the purpose then. I'm telling him how to go about it then. If he doesnt think people understand the argument then explain to them the argument as he sees it himself.
      Then he could do that in such a discourse, but again, doing it here would be off topic for the purpose of this thread.
      "I am not angered that the Moral Majority boys campaign against abortion. I am angry when the same men who say, "Save OUR children" bellow "Build more and bigger bombers." That's right! Blast the children in other nations into eternity, or limbless misery as they lay crippled from "OUR" bombers! This does not jell." - Leonard Ravenhill

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      • #33
        Originally posted by Starlight View Post
        Did you hit your head badly? It was the first thing I did in my first post.
        Then you did a really, really bad job.

        Comment


        • #34
          Originally posted by JimL View Post
          Then spit it out man. If you don't think anyone knows the argument then lets hear it from you. Your demand makes one think it's you who doesn't know what the argument is. Spit it out man, so that we all can see that you know what you're talking about.
          It seems like it's about making himself feel good: He feels he has this secret knowledge of what the argument really is. So then, when he talks to someone who takes it for granted that Aquinas's argument is what it's generally accepted as being, he can feel superior because he feels he knows the secret truth that they're 'wrong'. (We can, of course, have some scepticism as to whether Nick is actually correct in his belief that his secret version of the argument is more true to what Aquinas meant than the standard interpretation.)

          If Nick's claim was actually true that what he was really actually concerned about was just making sure they were both on the same page, he should front the discussions he has by giving his own brief spiel about what he thinks the correct form of the argument is. His roundabout method of demanding the other person give the wrong form of the argument first, isn't a path to sensible discussions, just a path to Nick stoking his own ego by making the discussion start with trying to 'correct' the other person.
          "I hate him passionately", he's "a demonic force" - Tucker Carlson, in private, on Donald Trump
          "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism" - George Orwell
          "[Capitalism] as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of evils. I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy" - Albert Einstein

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          • #35
            Originally posted by Starlight View Post
            It seems like it's about making himself feel good: He feels he has this secret knowledge of what the argument really is. So then, when he talks to someone who takes it for granted that Aquinas's argument is what it's generally accepted as being, he can feel superior because he feels he knows the secret truth that they're 'wrong'. (We can, of course, have some scepticism as to whether Nick is actually correct in his belief that his secret version of the argument is more true to what Aquinas meant than the standard interpretation.)

            If Nick's claim was actually true that what he was really actually concerned about was just making sure they were both on the same page, he should front the discussions he has by giving his own brief spiel about what he thinks the correct form of the argument is. His roundabout method of demanding the other person give the wrong form of the argument first, isn't a path to sensible discussions, just a path to Nick stoking his own ego by making the discussion start with trying to 'correct' the other person.
            Exactly what I was trying in my less articulate way, to say.. It just sounds like complete arrogance on Nicks part. If he believes that someone is misunderstanding the argument itself, then you point it out to them. That's simply part of debating.

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            • #36
              Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
              What did Aquinas mean?

              -------------

              Is the first way of Aquinas about scientific motion? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

              So many times, when I encounter atheists on the internet and they want to know why I believe in God, I ask them a simple question. I want to start with the first of the five ways of Thomas Aquinas. I don’t want to know what you think of the argument first. I just want you to tell me what the argument is.
              I would have answered, "I don't remember exactly what his argument was; just that I found it unconvincing.

              It happened again yesterday with someone making a statement not just about what the first way was, but about all the ways of Aquinas and why they are all wrong. Again, not what I had asked for. It’s really a simple request. First, tell me what the argument is so we can make sure we’re discussing the same argument.

              The number of atheists that have met this request so far is zero.
              I'm not surprised. Why memorize an argument that you don't find convincing?

              Not only that, but what they think are devastating objections are really the same ones I hear all the time and one of the most popular ones is that this is bad science. We understand motion differently now. So what’s wrong with that?

              For a start, let’s look at the argument itself.
              The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. 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. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

              Aquinas tells us what motion is in this. It is the reduction of potentiality to actuality. What does that mean? Think of actuality as what is. Think of potentiality as what could be. That what could be is also not necessarily good or bad. I am sitting down right now in actuality. I have the potential to stand up and I could do so. On the other hand, I am alive in actuality right now, and I have the potential to be dead. Let’s hope that’s not any time soon.

              So what is motion? Pretty much, any kind of change whatsoever.

              “Okay. But the objection still seems valid. Isn’t physical change a kind of change?”

              Of course, it is. The problem is that the objection acts as if that is the only kind of change Aquinas has in mind. It is not. Just my mind going from one idea to another is from potentiality to actuality. Let’s take a look at another example. Angels.

              At this, an atheist can say “But angels aren’t real!”

              Irrelevant question. If we are studying Aquinas’s system, we have to realize that he thought they were real. So what does he say?

              Prima Pars. Question 53. Article 2.
              On the contrary, If the angel be moved from one place to another, then, when he is in the term “whither,” he is no longer in motion, but is changed. But a process of changing precedes every actual change: consequently he was being moved while existing in some place. But he was not moved so long as he was in the term “whence.” Therefore, he was moved while he was in mid-space: and so it was necessary for him to pass through intervening space.

              I answer that, As was observed above in the preceding article, the local motion of an angel can be continuous, and non-continuous. If it be continuous, the angel cannot pass from one extreme to another without passing through the mid-space; because, as is said by the Philosopher (Phys. v, text 22; vi, text 77), “The middle is that into which a thing which is continually moved comes, before arriving at the last into which it is moved”; because the order of first and last in continuous movement, is according to the order of the first and last in magnitude, as he says (Phys. iv, text 99).

              The technical stuff doesn’t really matter at this point. What does matter is that Aquinas speaks of motion twice. He speaks of that for angels. In Q. 50 and Article 2, he quotes Dionysus to make his point.
              On the contrary, Dionysius says (Div. Nom. iv): “The first creatures are understood to be as immaterial as they are incorporeal.”

              Thus, motion plays to things that are not physical as well. Laws of science do not change that. We could hypothetically have a world where we were all angels and a group of holy angels and a group of fallen angels got together to discuss ultimate reality and there are somehow atheist fallen angels. The argument would still work.

              This is also why science cannot touch this argument at all. As long as you have any change going on, you have the motion that is needed in the argument. Those who jump to science misunderstand the argument greatly.
              I'm not sure that Aquinas was thinking about it the way you suggest, but it doesn't matter. As far as I can tell, all change requires motion, and vice versa, so I'm happy to accept your interpretation.

              Comment


              • #37
                Originally posted by Stoic View Post
                I would have answered, "I don't remember exactly what his argument was; just that I found it unconvincing.
                Which would be honest. I would then just point you to where you can look it up.


                I'm not surprised. Why memorize an argument that you don't find convincing?
                Many people don't on a surface level reading. That's because Aquinas assumes you have a strong understanding of Aristotle already.


                I'm not sure that Aquinas was thinking about it the way you suggest, but it doesn't matter. As far as I can tell, all change requires motion, and vice versa, so I'm happy to accept your interpretation.
                I have no problem with that. It's just not limited to material realities.

                Comment


                • #38
                  Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
                  Which would be honest. I would then just point you to where you can look it up.
                  And I would have no reason to expect it to be more convincing than the last time I saw it.


                  Many people don't on a surface level reading. That's because Aquinas assumes you have a strong understanding of Aristotle already.
                  I guess that explains why he didn't feel it necessary to provide a better argument against the possibility of motion extending infinitely into the past.


                  I have no problem with that. It's just not limited to material realities.
                  I'm not sure we can know anything about how the "non-material" behaves.

                  Comment


                  • #39
                    If one first supposes infinity, then how is it that there has to be a first anything? I'm not a professional philosopher so I'm not pretending to know the answers here, so it's just a thought, perhaps not a very good thought, but if what is meant by infinite is that having no beginning and no end then why cant anything within the infinite, be it motion, time, I don't know, whatever, also be without beginning or end i.e. infinite.

                    Comment


                    • #40
                      Originally posted by JimL View Post
                      If one first supposes infinity, then how is it that there has to be a first anything? I'm not a professional philosopher so I'm not pretending to know the answers here, so it's just a thought, perhaps not a very good thought, but if what is meant by infinite is that having no beginning and no end then why cant anything within the infinite, be it motion, time, I don't know, whatever, also be without beginning or end i.e. infinite.
                      It can, but presumably there are many such possible infinite time continuums, and so there is going to be some explanation for why our one exists rather than a different possible infinite time continuum.

                      Such an explanation might be that all possible infinite time continuums exist. Or it might be that God chose to create this one. Or that there is some inherent randomness with regard to why things are the way they are, and the reason we have this one and not another is due to randomness.

                      That's what AP was trying to allude to with his 'horizontal' vs 'vertical' made up terminology. If you just go back and back and back 'horizontally' within the time stream, then it might be infinitely long and he doesn't achieve the outcome he's wanting for the argument. But if you start asking more metaphysical questions ('vertically') of why the infinite time stream as a whole is the way it is rather than being some different possible infinite time stream, you can avoid the issue that time being infinitely long might pose.

                      Of course, an obstinate person could assert that perhaps the chain of causation that led to the infinitely long time continuum containing the things it does rather than a different set of logically-possible contents, is itself infinitely long, and that everything about the universe and metaphysics is causally infinite. I tend to personally discard that option as mentally unacceptable. I can understand the time continuum being infinitely long, because we can easily imagine a line of infinite length and we draw those all the time in math and put arrows at the end of our axes to indicate they go off to infinity. But if the metaphysical causation chain is infinitely long, then we're back to needing a reason why the infinitely long metaphysical causation chain is the way it is rather than some different infinitely long causation chain, and if that in turn has an answer that is infinitely long, and if that repeats ad infinitum, then that implies there's no real reason anything is the way that it is, it ALL could have been different. Thus there's not an answer to the question of why anything exists at all or why everything that exists is the way that it is and not something completely different. I find I don't like that option. I guess an obstinate person could say "just because you really don't like that option doesn't mean it isn't true, because the true nature of reality might be beyond human understanding"... which is reminiscent of the theist who argues that God is beyond human understanding and so when their theology implies a contradiction that it's not a real contradiction.
                      "I hate him passionately", he's "a demonic force" - Tucker Carlson, in private, on Donald Trump
                      "Every line of serious work that I have written since 1936 has been written, directly or indirectly, against totalitarianism and for democratic socialism" - George Orwell
                      "[Capitalism] as it exists today is, in my opinion, the real source of evils. I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils, namely through the establishment of a socialist economy" - Albert Einstein

                      Comment


                      • #41
                        Originally posted by Stoic View Post
                        And I would have no reason to expect it to be more convincing than the last time I saw it.
                        Perhaps not, but you could at least tell me what you think he is arguing then and then we could discuss that.



                        I guess that explains why he didn't feel it necessary to provide a better argument against the possibility of motion extending infinitely into the past.
                        Because it's not his argument. That is a horizontal form of the argument. Aquinas wrote a little book even using the idea that reason alone can tell us that the world had a beginning is a false argument. I am not sure I agree with him on that point, but that was at least his stance.

                        I'm not sure we can know anything about how the "non-material" behaves.
                        Which is what other parts of the rest of the Summa are for.

                        Comment


                        • #42
                          Originally posted by Starlight View Post
                          It can, but presumably there are many such possible infinite time continuums, and so there is going to be some explanation for why our one exists rather than a different possible infinite time continuum.

                          Such an explanation might be that all possible infinite time continuums exist. Or it might be that God chose to create this one. Or that there is some inherent randomness with regard to why things are the way they are, and the reason we have this one and not another is due to randomness.
                          I have to admit that im not sure what is meant by different time continuums. But I'm assuming that by randomness you mean to say that it might be that this time continuum, the reason for it, could just be a brute fact.

                          That's what AP was trying to allude to with his 'horizontal' vs 'vertical' made up terminology. If you just go back and back and back 'horizontally' within the time stream, then it might be infinitely long and he doesn't achieve the outcome he's wanting for the argument. But if you start asking more metaphysical questions ('vertically') of why the infinite time stream as a whole is the way it is rather than being some different possible infinite time stream, you can avoid the issue that time being infinitely long might pose.
                          So, I think what your saying is that if we just accept the fact that the reason that the Universe is the way that it is, is simply a brute fact, then the infinity problem is not a problem at all. Do I have that right?

                          Of course, an obstinate person could assert that perhaps the chain of causation that led to the infinitely long time continuum containing the things it does rather than a different set of logically-possible contents, is itself infinitely long, and that everything about the universe and metaphysics is causally infinite. I tend to personally discard that option as mentally unacceptable. I can understand the time continuum being infinitely long, because we can easily imagine a line of infinite length and we draw those all the time in math and put arrows at the end of our axes to indicate they go off to infinity. But if the metaphysical causation chain is infinitely long, then we're back to needing a reason why the infinitely long metaphysical causation chain is the way it is rather than some different infinitely long causation chain, and if that in turn has an answer that is infinitely long, and if that repeats ad infinitum, then that implies there's no real reason anything is the way that it is, it ALL could have been different. Thus there's not an answer to the question of why anything exists at all or why everything that exists is the way that it is and not something completely different. I find I don't like that option. I guess an obstinate person could say "just because you really don't like that option doesn't mean it isn't true, because the true nature of reality might be beyond human understanding"... which is reminiscent of the theist who argues that God is beyond human understanding and so when their theology implies a contradiction that it's not a real contradiction.
                          A little tough for me to follow, but I keep going back to brute fact. The universe is the way it is because whether we can think of other possible ways for it to be, theoretically speaking, in reality there's only this one way because that's just the brute fact of nature. "It is what it is".

                          Comment


                          • #43
                            Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post
                            Because it's not his argument. That is a horizontal form of the argument.
                            So what was this that you posted in your OP? It sure looks vertical to me.

                            For a start, let’s look at the argument itself.
                            The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. 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. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.


                            FWIW, I don't think you need a first mover, if for every mover there is a preceding mover.

                            Aquinas wrote a little book even using the idea that reason alone can tell us that the world had a beginning is a false argument. I am not sure I agree with him on that point, but that was at least his stance.
                            I'm curious as to what difference there is between proving the world had a beginning and proving there was a first mover, such that he thinks the first is not possible but the second is possible.

                            Comment


                            • #44
                              Originally posted by Stoic View Post

                              So what was this that you posted in your OP? It sure looks vertical to me.

                              For a start, let’s look at the argument itself.
                              The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality. Thus that which is actually hot, as fire, makes wood, which is potentially hot, to be actually hot, and thereby moves and changes it. Now it is not possible that the same thing should be at once in actuality and potentiality in the same respect, but only in different respects. For what is actually hot cannot simultaneously be potentially hot; but it is simultaneously potentially cold. It is therefore impossible that in the same respect and in the same way a thing should be both mover and moved, i.e. that it should move itself. Therefore, whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. 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. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.
                              Aquinas thinks an infinite regress per accidens could be possible. That's the kind that's infinity in the past. He doesn't think one per se is possible. The per accidens is about infinity into the past. The per se is just about infinite. That's why he gives the analogy of the hand moving the stick that's moving the rock that is moving a leaf. If you take away one part, the whole chain breaks.

                              If parents have a kid and you take away the parents, the kid can still grow up and have kids.

                              FWIW, I don't think you need a first mover, if for every mover there is a preceding mover.
                              And the problem here is one of causes. The secondary moves are instrumental causes, that through which something comes about. Aquinas is saying it doesn't make sense to have secondary causes without a primary one acting through the secondary. It would be like a paintbrush able to paint by itself because the handle is really long.


                              I'm curious as to what difference there is between proving the world had a beginning and proving there was a first mover, such that he thinks the first is not possible but the second is possible.
                              Because Aquinas doesn't think reason necessitates a beginning. He does think it necessitates a prime mover.

                              Comment


                              • #45
                                Originally posted by Apologiaphoenix View Post

                                Aquinas thinks an infinite regress per accidens could be possible. That's the kind that's infinity in the past. He doesn't think one per se is possible. The per accidens is about infinity into the past. The per se is just about infinite. That's why he gives the analogy of the hand moving the stick that's moving the rock that is moving a leaf. If you take away one part, the whole chain breaks.

                                If parents have a kid and you take away the parents, the kid can still grow up and have kids.

                                And the problem here is one of causes. The secondary moves are instrumental causes, that through which something comes about. Aquinas is saying it doesn't make sense to have secondary causes without a primary one acting through the secondary. It would be like a paintbrush able to paint by itself because the handle is really long.

                                Because Aquinas doesn't think reason necessitates a beginning. He does think it necessitates a prime mover.
                                I'm not sure there are any per se causes. That is, the universe might just be an infinite regression of per accidens causes.

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