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8 Comments

  1. 1

    Hammiesink

    >The argument doesn’t explain why being at rest is the default for everything.

    No premise of the argument says that the default is rest.

    >The argument uses the Special Pleading fallacy because it assumes without reason that only one thing can have the property of being an unmoved mover.

    At no point does the argument commit special pleading. Special pleading is when a general rule is given, and then there is an unjustified exception to that rule. The rule given in this argument is that whatever is a mix of potential and actual is having its potentials actualized. Which means that if something is JUST potential, or JUST actual, then it isn’t subject to that rule.

    >The argument gives no reason for why the first mover has anything to do with a god

    Aquinas spends the next several articles showing why an unactualized actualizer would have to have the properties of God. This argument is a mere summary.

    Reply
    1. 1.1

      Aaron

      >“No premise of the argument says that the default is rest.”

      Right, because it assumes it. His entire point is an attempt to explain the origin of motion. This means he assumes rest to be default because otherwise motion would not need explanation. If his argument did not assume rest to be default, then it couldn’t reach its stated conclusion. (Perhaps my phrasing was unclear? I will consider clearer phrasing for my point)

      >“At no point does the argument commit special pleading. Special pleading is when a general rule is given, and then there is an unjustified exception to that rule. The rule given in this argument is that whatever is a mix of potential and actual is having its potentials actualized. Which means that if something is JUST potential, or JUST actual, then it isn’t subject to that rule.”

      And that special pleading is exactly what Aquinas does. Because first, he is assuming only one thing can be unmoved, as opposed to multiple unmoved movers; And second, because Aquinas concludes that each point refers to “God”, but each point does not refer to a conscious being so he should not be implying that it does.

      Also, the terminology “its potentials” and “JUST actual” and so forth appear quite meaningless. Please explain what those terms mean specifically in relation to the real world. The problem with such terms is that they put on a facade of intellectualism but it seems like they only have meaning relative to each other. They seem to be oversimplifications of other concepts and when one tries to define them in meaningful, direct terms – or phrase the argument without those terms – then suddenly the argument doesn’t work.

      But if you can explain them, please do and I will listen. It’s important that you use direct clear language when making these arguments because otherwise we may be falling into the trap of debating ideas which have no actual meaning applicable to reality.

      >“Aquinas spends the next several articles showing why an unactualized actualizer would have to have the properties of God. This argument is a mere summary.”

      Then he shouldn’t be referring to God already in his conclusion of a single point. But if Aquinas is indeed not intending to say that specific argument indicates a god, then I will change the article to reflect that.

  2. 2

    Hammiesink

    >This means he assumes rest to be default because otherwise motion would not need explanation.

    When you combine it with the fifth premise, motion needs explanation. It is only this combination that gives the need for an explanation for motion. There is no “assumption” here.

    >Because first, he is assuming only one thing can be unmoved, as opposed to multiple unmoved movers

    He never makes any such “assumption”. He argues for the unity of the unmoved mover in Question 11. For example, if there are two beings who differ, then one would have something that another lacks (e.g., location in space/time, size, properties, etc). But the unactualized actualizer is pure actuality, and therefore has no unrealized potentials, and therefore there is only one.

    So even if your complaint were correct here, which it is not, it is still not special pleading.

    >And second, because Aquinas concludes that each point refers to “God”, but each point does not refer to a conscious being so he should not be implying that it does.

    Again, the Five Ways are a sort of prologue, or summary. I’m sure you would not read a book on, say, evolution and judge it solely by the first paragraphs, which might state that evolution is true long before justifying that in the rest of the book!

    >Also, the terminology “its potentials” and “JUST actual” and so forth appear quite meaningless.

    In fact, they are quite meaningful. They come from Aristotle’s answer to Parmenides and Heraclitus. The pre-Socratics were concerned with basic, foundational stuff that we now take for granted and don’t think about that much. They noticed that things around them change (birds fly, rivers flow) and yet seem to stay the same (birds remain birds, at least in the short term, and rivers stay rivers). They wanted to work out the relationship between the apparent change and the apparent permanence. Parmenides and Heraclitus represent the extremes: the former said that nothing ever changes, and the latter said that nothing ever stays the same.

    Aristotle thought that Parmenides was wrong; that things do change. He said that what Parmenides missed was that things have a potential to change, and all Parmenides had was the concept of existence and non-existence. For example, a glass of water on your desk has the potential to be drunk, to be spilled on the floor, and so on, which is why change can occur.

    So Aquinas in following Aristotle is using these same concepts. As you are, without realizing it. If your friend asked you what you are going to have for dinner tonight, you will be thinking that you are not eating dinner right now, but will be eating dinner later. Those are the concepts of actual and potential, even though you didn’t label them or consciously think about them.

    >Then he shouldn’t be referring to God already in his conclusion of a single point.

    But again, the Five Ways are mere summaries of arguments that his audience already would have been familiar with, and they serve as a prologue. He goes on to justify why an unactualized actualizer would be all-powerful, all-knowing, and so on. You would need to read the entire section in the Summa on the existence of God, and first have a background in Aristotelian metaphysics, to really be able to adjudicate the value of this argument (as well as the other Ways). They simply cannot be properly understood ripped out of this context.

    Reply
    1. 2.1

      Aaron

      The fifth premise is part of the problem; it’s an assumption. For such a statement to be relevant, Aquinas must assume that rest is some default state of matter. My point is that if matter is naturally in motion (or eternally in motion into the past like ‘God’), then there’s no need for a god that is eternally in motion (or however Aquinas might prefer to phrase it).

      ~

      “if there are two beings who differ, then one would have something that another lacks (e.g., location in space/time, size, properties, etc). But the unactualized actualizer is pure actuality, and therefore has no unrealized potentials, and therefore there is only one.”

      You say that location or size are examples of things the “unmoved mover(s)” must have, but why does the first mover need to be “pure actuality”? His argument claims that conclusion but I don’t see why. Why would a single mover need to be everywhere for example? It should only need to supply motion to at least one other thing to begin a chain of causation.

      Also, what about conflicting properties? If something has “actuality” in one respect then it has potential in another respect. God would be both actually in motion and actually at rest. Both actually growing and actually complete. He would be both fully good and fully evil. If his location is everywhere, he has no actualized speed. He can go nowhere because he is already there. If he literally everywhere then how can he have actualized motion? If he has actualized visible appearance, then he cannot actualize being invisible. He’s both fully material and fully immaterial, etc.

      This list goes on and on. You’ll have to explain what you think I’m misunderstanding. The concept of saying all the potential properties are actualized just doesn’t seem to mean anything coherent or logical.

      ~

      “Again, the Five Ways are a sort of prologue, or summary. I’m sure you would not read a book on, say, evolution and judge it solely by the first paragraphs, which might state that evolution is true long before justifying that in the rest of the book!”

      Alright that’s acceptable. Like I said in my previous message, if that’s all he meant then I will revise the article to reflect that.

      ~

      How can something in motion also be timeless? Motion would indicate a sequence of temporal states.

  3. 3

    Anonymous

    I think you have completely misunderstood Aquinas’ arguments Aaron. I’ve never read a lot of his work until now, just summations, but it seems to me his Five Ways never actually claims God as a conclusion, just proffers it as the conclusion most would reach.
    I also think you’re not grasping the terms he uses. I found no issues with understanding his meaning or definition of them at all.

    ~Luke (LVaG)

    Reply
    1. 3.1

      Aaron

      Aquinas’s Five Ways are indeed arguments though. They are not simply meant to just say “this is how other people think” or “what they would think” or something similar. They are points he believes in. My responses address why his lines of reasoning are incorrect. To what degree he thinks they prove God or not isn’t the issue. As for you finding no issue with understanding his terms and definitions, you will have to give me some examples to explain what you mean. To me, his use of terms was the weakest and strangest aspect of his arguments when I considered his reasoning critically.

  4. 4

    Cristero

    These are only straw men, boy. Try improve your education.

    Reply
    1. 4.1

      Aaron

      1) These are actual arguments that Aquinas supported. I did not make them up. If you had an education yourself – or just looked it up – then you would know that.

      2) I hardly think that it would be wise for me to take educational advice from someone who doesn’t know that the correct grammar is “Try *to* improve your education.”

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