Aquinas five ways

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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Byblos » Tue Nov 28, 2017 4:07 am

Nils wrote:Kurieuo,

When I read what you write I remember an occasion many years ago. In my job I was discussing a technical issue, something about the logic of some software structure with a person that I didn't know very well. I had real problems to understand what he said but after more than one hour of discussion I finally grasped what he meant. Later I had to explain it to my business partner. We had had a company together for several years and had a similar technical background and the same worldview. I explained the issue to him in a few minutes and he had no problems at all to understand.

I write this story to exemplify how difficult it is to transfer information, to explain things, to a person who has a different background. As a receiver of information I use my old knowledge, my opinions, my worldview and tries to fit the new information in the old framework. When you describe Aquinas thinking I have to relate it to what I already know, there is no other way. Because it doesn't fit very well it is a complex task that takes lot of effort and time. I think that you underestimate that to a high degree. What you call eisegesis is an attempt to clarify but it is always difficult to clarify without distorting. Reading Byblos last post I thought that I in some way got a knowledge of what you and he are talking about. I don't think it was something that you haven't said before but I saw it in a new way. But, perhaps it's just a new misunderstanding. I'll be back.

Only one question on your last post now. Was the quote from Summa Contra Gentiles - Book II?

Nils


And you both must keep this in mind, when Aquinas wrote the summa it was written for philosophy students who were not only very familiar with general metaphysical principles but also are theists. Many of the things Nils is attempting.to make sense of were simply taken for granted.
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Kurieuo » Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:41 am

Nils wrote:When I read what you write I remember an occasion many years ago. In my job I was discussing a technical issue, something about the logic of some software structure with a person that I didn't know very well. I had real problems to understand what he said but after more than one hour of discussion I finally grasped what he meant. Later I had to explain it to my business partner. We had had a company together for several years and had a similar technical background and the same worldview. I explained the issue to him in a few minutes and he had no problems at all to understand.

Working with computers I find it hard not to lose people when I see their eyes glaze over at "browser". Sadly, that is kind of true. But, I know how difficult it is to also talk basic IT stuff when people just don't understand anything. In any case, thanks for the explanation as your last two posts of was taking as being rather dismissive and a fob off.

Nils wrote:I write this story to exemplify how difficult it is to transfer information, to explain things, to a person who has a different background. As a receiver of information I use my old knowledge, my opinions, my worldview and tries to fit the new information in the old framework. When you describe Aquinas thinking I have to relate it to what I already know, there is no other way. Because it doesn't fit very well it is a complex task that takes lot of effort and time. I think that you underestimate that to a high degree. What you call eisegesis is an attempt to clarify but it is always difficult to clarify without distorting. Reading Byblos last post I thought that I in some way got a knowledge of what you and he are talking about. I don't think it was something that you haven't said before but I saw it in a new way. But, perhaps it's just a new misunderstanding. I'll be back.

It is good to have Byblos chime in again, as having two people independantly explain the same thing in their own way is like additional support that one person isn't pulling your leg, more frustrating there.

I've also been talking stuff to TrulyEnlightened in this thread.

Nils wrote:Only one question on your last post now. Was the quote from Summa Contra Gentiles - Book II?

No, this particular quote isn't from SCG. The quote was taken from Summa Theologiae First Part Q46 A2). The Five Ways are found much earlier on in the first part of his Summa Theologiae.
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Byblos » Tue Nov 28, 2017 5:55 am

Kurieuo wrote:
Nils wrote:When I read what you write I remember an occasion many years ago. In my job I was discussing a technical issue, something about the logic of some software structure with a person that I didn't know very well. I had real problems to understand what he said but after more than one hour of discussion I finally grasped what he meant. Later I had to explain it to my business partner. We had had a company together for several years and had a similar technical background and the same worldview. I explained the issue to him in a few minutes and he had no problems at all to understand.

Working with computers I find it hard not to lose people when I see their eyes glaze over at "browser". Sadly, that is kind of true. But, I know how difficult it is to also talk basic IT stuff when people just don't understand anything. In any case, thanks for the explanation as your last two posts of was taking as being rather dismissive and a fob off.

Nils wrote:I write this story to exemplify how difficult it is to transfer information, to explain things, to a person who has a different background. As a receiver of information I use my old knowledge, my opinions, my worldview and tries to fit the new information in the old framework. When you describe Aquinas thinking I have to relate it to what I already know, there is no other way. Because it doesn't fit very well it is a complex task that takes lot of effort and time. I think that you underestimate that to a high degree. What you call eisegesis is an attempt to clarify but it is always difficult to clarify without distorting. Reading Byblos last post I thought that I in some way got a knowledge of what you and he are talking about. I don't think it was something that you haven't said before but I saw it in a new way. But, perhaps it's just a new misunderstanding. I'll be back.

It is good to have Byblos chime in again, as having two people independantly explain the same thing in their own way is like additional support that one person isn't pulling your leg, more frustrating there.

I've also been talking stuff to TrulyEnlightened in this thread.

Nils wrote:Only one question on your last post now. Was the quote from Summa Contra Gentiles - Book II?

No, this particular quote isn't from SCG. The quote was taken from Summa Theologiae First Part Q46 A2). The Five Ways are found much earlier on in the first part of his Summa Theologiae.



Lol, that's just hysterical. 3 IT guys talking philosophy. :pound:
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Philip » Tue Nov 28, 2017 7:11 am

Lol, that's just hysterical. 3 IT guys talking philosophy. :pound:


Geeks talking Greeks! :lol:

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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby B. W. » Wed Nov 29, 2017 4:51 pm

Byblos wrote:
Kurieuo wrote:
Nils wrote:When I read what you write I remember an occasion many years ago. In my job I was discussing a technical issue, something about the logic of some software structure with a person that I didn't know very well. I had real problems to understand what he said but after more than one hour of discussion I finally grasped what he meant. Later I had to explain it to my business partner. We had had a company together for several years and had a similar technical background and the same worldview. I explained the issue to him in a few minutes and he had no problems at all to understand.

Working with computers I find it hard not to lose people when I see their eyes glaze over at "browser". Sadly, that is kind of true. But, I know how difficult it is to also talk basic IT stuff when people just don't understand anything. In any case, thanks for the explanation as your last two posts of was taking as being rather dismissive and a fob off.

Nils wrote:I write this story to exemplify how difficult it is to transfer information, to explain things, to a person who has a different background. As a receiver of information I use my old knowledge, my opinions, my worldview and tries to fit the new information in the old framework. When you describe Aquinas thinking I have to relate it to what I already know, there is no other way. Because it doesn't fit very well it is a complex task that takes lot of effort and time. I think that you underestimate that to a high degree. What you call eisegesis is an attempt to clarify but it is always difficult to clarify without distorting. Reading Byblos last post I thought that I in some way got a knowledge of what you and he are talking about. I don't think it was something that you haven't said before but I saw it in a new way. But, perhaps it's just a new misunderstanding. I'll be back.

It is good to have Byblos chime in again, as having two people independantly explain the same thing in their own way is like additional support that one person isn't pulling your leg, more frustrating there.

I've also been talking stuff to TrulyEnlightened in this thread.

Nils wrote:Only one question on your last post now. Was the quote from Summa Contra Gentiles - Book II?

No, this particular quote isn't from SCG. The quote was taken from Summa Theologiae First Part Q46 A2). The Five Ways are found much earlier on in the first part of his Summa Theologiae.



Lol, that's just hysterical. 3 IT guys talking philosophy. :pound:


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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Nils » Thu Nov 30, 2017 2:10 pm

Byblos,

I find that the correct way to treat this problem is to print out all posts that you, Kurieuo and others have written on Aquinas besides all the references and lay them on a big table and try to find out what's all about. But currently I can't do that so I just try to answer your last post and wait for the book.


Byblos wrote:I was hoping we would continue the discussion on PSR first but I see I need to make some contribution here.

Nils wrote:You have indeed tried to explain the general idea about what was wrong with #6 in the OP but it requires much more understanding of the argument as you see it to be able to write an amended statement.


First I will re-quote the second way

The Second Way wrote:Argument from Efficient Causes

1. We perceive a series of efficient causes of things in the world.
2. Nothing exists prior to itself.
3. Therefore nothing [in the world of things we perceive] is the efficient cause of itself.
4. If a previous efficient cause does not exist, neither does the thing that results (the effect).
5. Therefore if the first thing in a series does not exist, nothing in the series exists.
6. If the series of efficient causes extends ad infinitum into the past, for then there would be no things existing now.
7. That is plainly false (i.e., there are things existing now that came about through efficient causes).
8. Therefore efficient causes do not extend ad infinitum into the past.
9. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God.


I note that you cited my OP but Kuieuo didn't like #6. Any comment?
In order to understand what type of causation Aquinas is referring to, we need to first list the types of causation which I've referred to numerous times.

- Accidentally ordered causal series: This type of series is temporal, i.e. my grandparents having my parents, my parents having me, and so on. My existence today does not depend on the existence of my grandparents, seeing that they are all dead and I'm still typing. This type of causal series is temporal, and can in theory extend backwards in time to infinity. This is NOT the causal series Aquinas is using in his argument.

- Essentially ordered causal series: This type of causal series is simultaneous, not temporal. The example most often used is when I use a stick to push a rock. The rock is pushed by the stick, the stick is moved by my muscles contracting, my muscles contract because of certain neurons firing in my brain, and the neurons firing in my brain fire due to an act of the will. This entire series of causation is interdependent. Take the first one out and the whole chain collapses. This IS the efficient causation Aquinas is referring to. Also note what this series says, it says that a first cause is absolutely necessary, therefore, infinite regress is impossible. A first cause MUST exist, otherwise nothing (of the whole chain) exists.

Essentially ordered causal series make sense to me if you regard them as levels of explanation.
An example: When a chess-playing computer orders castling it evaluates the chess rules - it follows some algorithms - it executes a program line - it runs through some machine code - it handles some computer elements like registers and memories - it uses electrical and-gates and or-gates - transistors and diodes are switched ... down to atoms, quarks etc and finally energy and the physical laws. All these levels are different level explanations of what currently is happening so as I understand this is an example of an essentially ordered causal series, but what is the beginning or the end I don't know. In some way the physical laws are the start because without any physical laws there are no computers for instance. On the other hand without any rules of chess there will not be any draw.

Is this example relevant?
Now you might say, so what. Even if that's the case, how does that even prove God? Well, in 2 ways.

1. Even if you assume an infinite time with an infinite number of accidentally ordered causal chains, looking at each and every one of these infinite events we see that they are composed of smaller events that are essentially ordered, as with any motion/change. In other words, infinite temporal events are composed of essentially order events, each one of which requiring a first.

I understand the thought that there are an infinite number of accidentally ordered causal chains, that they are composed of smaller events that are essentially ordered, each one of which requiring a first. But where does God enter?



2. Existence itself is an essentially ordered causal chain for why do things keep existing at all? Why do things not simply vanish or get annihilated? After all, there is nothing in the inherent nature of contingent things that says they must stay in existence. Therefore, there must be a first cause that is itself uncaused, keeping all contingent things in existence in the here and now.

Now obviously 2 needs to be unpacked a great deal more than 1 for we must once again delve into actuality and potentially and other philosophical concepts such as form and matter, essence and existence, and so forth.

Agree
But in a nutshell, that's Aquinas' second way, which is much more nuanced than the first. IMO, the first brings out the argument much more forcefully (and the PSR even more so).

It is far from clear to me how Aquinas second way relates to what you have written in this post. He doesn't mention accidentally or essentially causal ordered series but "efficient causes following in order". He also writes " would be prior to itself" which may indicate a temporal ordering.

Your thoughts, Nils.

Much more could be said but I wait for your comments so far.
Nils

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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby PaulSacramento » Fri Dec 01, 2017 9:27 am

One of the things that needs to be understood with Aquinas is that he wasn't always thinking "linear sequence" but more "hierarchical sequence".
Think what is sustaining and actualizing HERE AND NOW as opposed to "down the line".

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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Nils » Fri Dec 01, 2017 2:59 pm

PaulSacramento wrote:One of the things that needs to be understood with Aquinas is that he wasn't always thinking "linear sequence" but more "hierarchical sequence".
Think what is sustaining and actualizing HERE AND NOW as opposed to "down the line".

I am sorry Paul, I have problems to see how this relates to what other have written on this subject or the subject of this thread. Perhaps something about the difference between Accidentally and Essentially ordered causal series?

Nils

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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Kurieuo » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:11 pm

I was driving on a road the other night, kids were with me. It looked like it went forever as it was long. The meaning of the word "contingent" came up. I asked them if they could see the end of the road, to which they answered no. I said, yet it is contingent upon the ground and earth below it in order to exist.

When we extend this argument to God, and the temporal world that we live within (road) which might go on forever. However, being in motion, having lots of potentialities and set laws that could have been shaped otherwise, etc, it too is contingent upon something (or as Aquinas argued Someone) else.
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Byblos » Fri Dec 01, 2017 3:32 pm

Nils wrote:
PaulSacramento wrote:One of the things that needs to be understood with Aquinas is that he wasn't always thinking "linear sequence" but more "hierarchical sequence".
Think what is sustaining and actualizing HERE AND NOW as opposed to "down the line".

I am sorry Paul, I have problems to see how this relates to what other have written on this subject or the subject of this thread. Perhaps something about the difference between Accidentally and Essentially ordered causal series?

Nils


Nils, you ask important and valid questions which cut to the heart of understanding the 2nd way and the others. I will answer in detail but please be patient with me as I have to dispose of a more urgent matter. Few days, hopefully sooner.
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Philip » Fri Dec 01, 2017 6:51 pm

K: I was driving on a road the other night, kids were with me. It looked like it went forever as it was long. The meaning of the word "contingent" came up. I asked them if they could see the end of the road, to which they answered no. I said, yet it is contingent upon the ground and earth below it in order to exist.


See, my dad just told us witty stories and kept us entertained, but that K man - he's spellbinding his kids with riveting analysis and philosophy. But were they awake by the time you reached the "end of the road" - or was that contingent as well? :P

All kidding aside, I try to do the same, to raise up some critical thinkers.

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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby PaulSacramento » Mon Dec 04, 2017 6:10 am

Nils wrote:
PaulSacramento wrote:One of the things that needs to be understood with Aquinas is that he wasn't always thinking "linear sequence" but more "hierarchical sequence".
Think what is sustaining and actualizing HERE AND NOW as opposed to "down the line".

I am sorry Paul, I have problems to see how this relates to what other have written on this subject or the subject of this thread. Perhaps something about the difference between Accidentally and Essentially ordered causal series?

Nils

Bylbos will answer since he volunteered and he knows his Aquinas.
Suffice to say that Aquinas was addressing the SUSTAINING of existence and not just the cause of it.


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