Aquinas five ways

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Nils
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Aquinas five ways

Postby Nils » Tue Nov 21, 2017 1:38 pm

There have been lot of discussions about Aquinas five ways but I have had problems to follow the arguments. Therefore I would like to discuss them more thoroughly and I start with the second way.

Aquinas original text if found here http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/w ... veWays.htm
and here is a systematisation that I found useful:
http://web.mnstate.edu/gracyk/courses/w ... alysis.htm
As far as I can see it follows Aquinas text well.

This is an extract from the latter:

The Second Way: 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.

My comments:

If you think that the Universe is infinite old then 5. is wrong. It's just about definitions. In an infinite series there is by definition no last object (e.g. the series of whole numbers increasing from 1 upwards) or no first object (e.g if the series increasing from minus infinitive to -1). If an infinite series of efficient causes extends ad infinitum to the past then every element has a preceding efficient cause so 4. is irrelevant and 5 does not follow.

I know that somebody claim that actual infinite series are impossible and then 5. is true, but that's just another premise that can be discussed. I don't see any argument for that premise.

If you think that the Universe isn't infinite old then clause 5 could be true and the wave is correct besides clause 9, the last part. We have to admit a First Efficient Cause (an FEC) but we don't have to call that entity God. We could call the FEC anything, for instance a Multiverse.

Then we can discuss the features of the FEC. Some say that the FEC has to be simple, omnipotent, all knowing, etc (being God) but I have not seen any argument for that. It could as well be simple and only able to create Universes but nothing more (being a Multiverse). The second wave gives no argument for choosing that the FEC is God instead of some other entity. It just states that everyone think that it is (given the name) God. That statement may have been reasonable in the 13th century but not today.

Then again we can discuss what is most probable, God, Multiverse or any other FEC but that is another discussion where we have to bring in all arguments from our respective worldviews. It would be nice if we could concentrate on Aquinas original argument in this thread.

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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby abelcainsbrother » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:19 pm

These principles are based on everything in our world.
1.All things have a cause.
2.All things that have a cause are caused by something else.
3.All things are willed into existence.
4.There can be no infinite regression based on these principles.

I mean it simplifies everything but it is based on the 5 ways.
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Byblos » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:38 pm

abelcainsbrother wrote:These principles are based on everything in our world.
1.All things have a cause.
2.All things that have a cause are caused by something else.
3.All things are willed into existence.
4.There can be no infinite regression based on these principles.

I mean it simplifies everything but it is based on the 5 ways.


I sincerely wish you would stop saying that. It is most certainly NOT what Aquinas says. Nowhere you will EVER find Aquinas or any philosopher of religion stating such sophomoric mistakes as "all things have a cause".

Nils, please ignore what ACB said, he is simply wrong in his definitions.
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Nils » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:38 pm

abelcainsbrother wrote:These principles are based on everything in our world.
1.All things have a cause.
2.All things that have a cause are caused by something else.
3.All things are willed into existence.
4.There can be no infinite regression based on these principles.

I mean it simplifies everything but it is based on the 5 ways.

ACB,
sorry, I can't follow you.
Concerning your 1. it is said in that video Kurieou referered to with Edward Feser that this is a strawman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaSSSst3JBo
Besides I don't understand 3 and I don't see that 4. follows from the other statements and finally what do you think is the conlusion of your statements.
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby RickD » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:49 pm

Acb,

Please stop posting in these threads. I'm not going to tell you again.
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby RickD » Tue Nov 21, 2017 2:50 pm

Nils wrote:
abelcainsbrother wrote:These principles are based on everything in our world.
1.All things have a cause.
2.All things that have a cause are caused by something else.
3.All things are willed into existence.
4.There can be no infinite regression based on these principles.

I mean it simplifies everything but it is based on the 5 ways.

ACB,
sorry, I can't follow you.
Concerning your 1. it is said in that video Kurieou referered to with Edward Feser that this is a strawman. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UaSSSst3JBo
Besides I don't understand 3 and I don't see that 4. follows from the other statements and finally what do you think is the conlusion of your statements.
Nils

Nils,

Please ignore ACB's post.

He is only confusing the topic.
1 Corinthians 1:9
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby abelcainsbrother » Tue Nov 21, 2017 8:18 pm

I apologize when it comes to Aquinas's Five ways.I was not trying to get us off topic or confuse things and I certianly was not deliberately trying to confuse. It has been awhile since I saw a teaching on it and the person broke down the 5 ways into these simple phrases and I just copied them and it is easy enough to remember them too.

I have read the 5 ways thanks to the link above provided by Nils and it got me to thinking that there might be a better way to simplify things and not say All things have a cause. Perhaps it might be better to say 'For things that have a cause in our world all things have a cause" instead of "all things have a cause" to start off with.

Anyway, I'm not sure,so what would be a way to simplify it into a bullet point and yet it apply?

So if we go by Aquinas's Five ways above what would be the correct way to state it and yet it be simplified?

Perhaps like this and I'm not trying to be confusing I'm just trying to have better understanding.

For things in our world.
1. For things that have a cause in our world all things have a cause.
2.All things that have a cause are caused by something else.
3.All things are willed into existence.
4.There can be no infinite regression based on these principles of our world.

Would this be more correct? If not, then please explain. It would seem to me that if we are talking about things in our world then all things do have a cause.We cannot say this would apply to things outside our world because we can't know about what is outside our world. Anyway I'm trying to have better understanding and don't want to misrepresent Aquinas's 5 ways.
Hebrews 12:2-3 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith;who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross,despising the shame,and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.

2nd Corinthians 4:4 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not,lest the light of this glorious gospel of Christ,who is the image of God,should shine unto them.

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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Kurieuo » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:38 am

Nils,

While I'm no Aquinas expert, I am familiar with the mistake many make with understanding his arguments. In your post above, you make the same error in understanding as many others. Particularly your premise #6 makes obvious the misunderstanding you have of Aquinas' argument.

I'd recommend to you reading over the first post here: Second Way Clarification. There Jac attempts to clarify the Second Way. To quote from Aquinas directly himself rather than myself risk building a strawman Second Way argument:
The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause. In the world of sense we find there is an order of efficient causes. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity, because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause, whether the intermediate cause be several, or only one. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause, neither will there be an ultimate effect, nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause, to which everyone gives the name of God. (ST Ia.3.2)

Understand that if we found out there were actually an infinite number of universes (despite some physical impossibilities I see with such a thing), then Aquinas' Second Way argument would still hold. It is important to understand an infinite multiverse position resembles what is called a per accidens causal chain. Aquinas admits such is possible in other terms, for example, Jac pointed out in some of his previous posts Aquinas saying:
In the sphere of non-simultaneously acting causes, it is not . . . impossible to proceed to infinity. (SCG II.38.13

And again,
it is not impossible to proceed to infinity accidentally as regards efficient causes. . . . Hence it is not impossible for a man to be generated by man to infinity (ST Ia.46.2)

So you see, Aquinas' reasoning accounts for something like an infinite multiverse being possible. So then, when people say such represents a knockdown response to Aquinas, it seems evident they fail to understand what Aquinas is saying and have merely accepted a caricature of his argument and indeed fuller writings. Heck, reflecting back on my philosophy of religion class, these strawman arguments of Aquinas were presented to me. It took me a while to believe Jac, that Aquinas didn't simply argue akin to William Lane Craig's Kalam Cosmological argument (which I assume you are likely also familiar with). One simply needs to read Aquinas' response to such himself in his Summa Contra Gentiles Book II Ch.38.

To explain the different types of causes in Aquinas' thinking, there are per se causes. These are where effects are simultaneous with their cause, there is a conjoined relationship of sorts. Such that, the first layer causes the second, third and fourth all at the same time. You remove the first, and all its effects disappear too. This is a very different line of argument from per accidens causes which Aquinas believed could be infinite (and which temporal causal events, or an infinite multiverse idea would fall under).

An example I've used in my own line of argument is of a message written on a piece of paper. Whether or not this is an adequate example, hopefully it is at least illustrative enough.

If you found a letter, did the message exist first or the paper? You know, perhaps the paper existed and then a person came along with a pen and wrote their message, therefore the paper is the first link in the chain of causes necessary before someone can write their message. Right?

What if the message however actually existed first? What if the person already had it typed out on a computer and then printed it onto paper? In this instance, the message actually was had first. In these two examples, the temporal order of how the letter came to be represents accidental causation.

BUT, what if we just found a piece of paper with ink stamped upon it? The ink wouldn't exist on the letter unless the paper first existed. If the paper didn't exist, then most certainly no letter would be had at all. So then both the paper and ink must simultaenously exist in order to have the letter, but we might say that the paper is foundational to the ink. If the paper was also somehow the cause of the actual ink appearing, then irrespective of whether or not the fuller note actually existed infinitely, we would call the paper the first "efficient cause".
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Stu » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:49 am

RickD wrote:Acb,

Please stop posting in these threads. I'm not going to tell you again.


Huh? Why can't he post. If he's wrong then tell him why but surely you don't just tell members to shut up and not post. What kind of boards are you running here? We are just getting rid of Mugabe we don't want another one...
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Kurieuo » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:57 am

Stu wrote:
RickD wrote:Acb,

Please stop posting in these threads. I'm not going to tell you again.


Huh? Why can't he post. If he's wrong then tell him why but surely you don't just tell members to shut up and not post. What kind of boards are you running here? We are just getting rid of Mugabe we don't want another one...

Do you pronounce Stu as stew? :stirthepot:
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Stu » Wed Nov 22, 2017 6:24 am

Kurieuo wrote:
Stu wrote:
RickD wrote:Acb,

Please stop posting in these threads. I'm not going to tell you again.


Huh? Why can't he post. If he's wrong then tell him why but surely you don't just tell members to shut up and not post. What kind of boards are you running here? We are just getting rid of Mugabe we don't want another one...

Do you pronounce Stu as stew? :stirthepot:


My name is actually Stewart but I chose Stu instead of Stew.....
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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Philip » Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:15 am

Yes, educate ACB, let him ask for clarifications. It's just that Rick is annoyed that he keeps stating falsely as to exactly what Aquinas argument actually said. So, let's first gain proper understandings of the actual argument as orininally put forth.

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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby RickD » Wed Nov 22, 2017 7:29 am

Stu wrote:
RickD wrote:Acb,

Please stop posting in these threads. I'm not going to tell you again.


Huh? Why can't he post. If he's wrong then tell him why but surely you don't just tell members to shut up and not post. What kind of boards are you running here? We are just getting rid of Mugabe we don't want another one...

Shut up Stewart!

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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Stu » Wed Nov 22, 2017 8:24 am

LOL
Only when the blood runs and the shackles restrain, will the sheep then awake. When all is lost.

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Re: Aquinas five ways

Postby Kurieuo » Wed Nov 22, 2017 4:01 pm

Rick Mugabe, don't tell people to shut up! And don't make me warn you again!
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