The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#16

Post by Nils » Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:11 pm

PaulSacramento wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:03 am
You realize that, simply, the PSR means that humans have the rational ability to reasonably draw conclusions about the world they live in, even in an abstract sense.
To deny that is to deny basic science and the possibility of quantum physics.
Yes, but PSRx (see #12) suffices also. The advantage with PSRx is that it doesn’t require sufficient reasons for events outside our universe. So it doesn’t require a mysterious necessary self explaining cause.

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#17

Post by PaulSacramento » Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:06 am

*cough* "brute facts" *cough*

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#18

Post by Byblos » Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:14 am

Nils wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:11 pm
PaulSacramento wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:03 am
You realize that, simply, the PSR means that humans have the rational ability to reasonably draw conclusions about the world they live in, even in an abstract sense.
To deny that is to deny basic science and the possibility of quantum physics.
Yes, but PSRx (see #12) suffices also. The advantage with PSRx is that it doesn’t require sufficient reasons for events outside our universe. So it doesn’t require a mysterious necessary self explaining cause.

Nils
If sufficient reasons are not required outside of our universe then perhaps they ought not be required within our universe in far away places we are not likely to discover or observe. Perhaps we should confine PSRx to the observable and testable parts of our universe only, how about only to our Milky Way or our solar system? Maybe just our planet? North American universities and laboratories? Where do you draw the line? And more importantly, who does the drawing?

You deny the complete and total applicability of the PSR and you end up denying everything.

And like I said, there is really nothing mysterious about the PSR as it is the result of rational inquiry. Either reality is intelligible or it isn't. If it is intelligible, and that's an a priori assumption made by science and philosophy, then there can be no exceptions for its intelligibility. For if there were exceptions and brute facts are assumed in one respect, intelligibility no longer applies and neither does rationality.

PSR assumes intelligibility in all respects and entails two types of explanations, either extrinsic for contingent things, or intrinsic for necessary things. There is NO third option. That's pure rationality, no mystery whatsoever. Calling it "mysterious" doesn't really bring anything to the table other than attempting to avoid the obvious.
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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#19

Post by Philip » Tue Jun 05, 2018 1:53 pm

Calling it "mysterious" doesn't really bring anything to the table other than attempting to avoid the obvious.
And that is the pathetic, immensely implausible answer of so many atheists - that "just because we don't yet know something, doesn't mean it doesn't exist." And so, without any tangible, connective evidences to the contrary, we're to reject every incredibly consistent connective cause and effect relationships seen through all manner of things in this universe, at the the micro and macro levels, we're to believe somewhere, somehow, there's an unseen reality that means our evidences of this time and universe don't apply? Groovy, but it ain't science! It's "Imaginary Science" - a system merely speculated as possible, and theorized as unknown, only because we haven't yet discovered it. Maybe I was right about the Tooth Fairy!

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#20

Post by Nils » Wed Jun 06, 2018 12:53 pm

PaulSacramento wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 6:06 am
*cough* "brute facts" *cough*
*cough* "God" *cough*

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#21

Post by Nils » Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:04 pm

Byblos wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:14 am
Nils wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:11 pm
PaulSacramento wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:03 am
You realize that, simply, the PSR means that humans have the rational ability to reasonably draw conclusions about the world they live in, even in an abstract sense.
To deny that is to deny basic science and the possibility of quantum physics.
Yes, but PSRx (see #12) suffices also. The advantage with PSRx is that it doesn’t require sufficient reasons for events outside our universe. So it doesn’t require a mysterious necessary self explaining cause.

Nils
If sufficient reasons are not required outside of our universe then perhaps they ought not be required within our universe in far away places we are not likely to discover or observe. Perhaps we should confine PSRx to the observable and testable parts of our universe only, how about only to our Milky Way or our solar system? Maybe just our planet? North American universities and laboratories? Where do you draw the line? And more importantly, who does the drawing?

You deny the complete and total applicability of the PSR and you end up denying everything.
Not at all. What’s in our universe, that’s what we are able to study and do science about. What’s outside our universe we have to use philosophy or theology to study. That is a very important distinction. If you look at Fesers arguments for PSR, #2 to #7 (se post #9), they all are about us within our universe and not at all about extra universal theories. Within our university we should adhere to PSR and that is what PSRx says.
Byblos wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:14 am
And like I said, there is really nothing mysterious about the PSR as it is the result of rational inquiry. Either reality is intelligible or it isn't. If it is intelligible, and that's an a priori assumption made by science and philosophy, then there can be no exceptions for its intelligibility. For if there were exceptions and brute facts are assumed in one respect, intelligibility no longer applies and neither does rationality.

PSR assumes intelligibility in all respects and entails two types of explanations, either extrinsic for contingent things, or intrinsic for necessary things. There is NO third option. That's pure rationality, no mystery whatsoever. Calling it "mysterious" doesn't really bring anything to the table other than attempting to avoid the obvious.
What is mysterious is the intrinsic, self-explaining entity. I have no experience of self-explaining things. Do you have any? When I check Marriam Webster for ‘explain’ they say
“Definition of "explain"
transitive verb
1 a : to make known: explain the secret of your success
b : to make plain or understandable: footnotes that explain the terms
2 : to give the reason for or cause of: unable to explain his strange conduct
3 : to show the logical development or relationships of : explained the new theory
intransitive verb
: to make something plain or understandable: a report that suggests rather than explains”
#2 says: to give a reason for or cause of. Self-explaining seems to be a way to say that no reason or cause is needed. But why shall we accept such a concept, a concept that is really mysterious. You say it is obvious but self-explanation doesn’t seem intelligible.
I think you have to explain.


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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#22

Post by Byblos » Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:13 am

Nils wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:04 pm
Byblos wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:14 am
Nils wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:11 pm
PaulSacramento wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:03 am
You realize that, simply, the PSR means that humans have the rational ability to reasonably draw conclusions about the world they live in, even in an abstract sense.
To deny that is to deny basic science and the possibility of quantum physics.
Yes, but PSRx (see #12) suffices also. The advantage with PSRx is that it doesn’t require sufficient reasons for events outside our universe. So it doesn’t require a mysterious necessary self explaining cause.

Nils
If sufficient reasons are not required outside of our universe then perhaps they ought not be required within our universe in far away places we are not likely to discover or observe. Perhaps we should confine PSRx to the observable and testable parts of our universe only, how about only to our Milky Way or our solar system? Maybe just our planet? North American universities and laboratories? Where do you draw the line? And more importantly, who does the drawing?

You deny the complete and total applicability of the PSR and you end up denying everything.
Not at all. What’s in our universe, that’s what we are able to study and do science about. What’s outside our universe we have to use philosophy or theology to study. That is a very important distinction.
There are many theoretical physicists and mathematicians who would take issue with the categorization that what we are able to study and do science about is limited to our universe. And once again, if you're going to confine the sciences to what is observable and testable, you'd have to confine that to a much narrower range than our universe.
Nils wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:04 pm
If you look at Fesers arguments for PSR, #2 to #7 (se post #9), they all are about us within our universe and not at all about extra universal theories. Within our university we should adhere to PSR and that is what PSRx says.
Not at all (my turn). In points 2 to 7 Feser is basically indicating how we come to know the PSR, i.e. not only through observation, that's trivial. But more importantly through our reliable cognitive faculties, which lead us to the observable conclusions (and once again, that's trivial) as well as to general extrapolations about reality itself. And the reality is that it is intelligible, that much we know from science and observation, and that reality must also be uniformly intelligible lest we end up with brute facts that explain nothing. So, no, Feser was not confining his PSR proof to our universe, only offering our cognitive faculties as reliable and through which we deduce that reality is wholly intelligible.

In fact, if you've read the whole chapter on the PSR proof in feser's book, I'm certain you would have come across his detailed argument on why contingent things require an extrinsic explanation even if those contingent things are in our universe, in a multi-verse, in an infinite set of universes extending back in time to infinity. His argument is such that, if that were true, that the infinite list of contingent things exists at all requires an extrinsic explanation and must terminate (or initiate) in a self-explaining absolute necessity.
Nils wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:04 pm
Byblos wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:14 am
And like I said, there is really nothing mysterious about the PSR as it is the result of rational inquiry. Either reality is intelligible or it isn't. If it is intelligible, and that's an a priori assumption made by science and philosophy, then there can be no exceptions for its intelligibility. For if there were exceptions and brute facts are assumed in one respect, intelligibility no longer applies and neither does rationality.

PSR assumes intelligibility in all respects and entails two types of explanations, either extrinsic for contingent things, or intrinsic for necessary things. There is NO third option. That's pure rationality, no mystery whatsoever. Calling it "mysterious" doesn't really bring anything to the table other than attempting to avoid the obvious.
What is mysterious is the intrinsic, self-explaining entity. I have no experience of self-explaining things. Do you have any?
Lol, Nils, of course I do and that is by reason first and foremost, therefore by faith.
Nils wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:04 pm
When I check Marriam Webster for ‘explain’ they say
“Definition of "explain"
transitive verb
1 a : to make known: explain the secret of your success
b : to make plain or understandable: footnotes that explain the terms
2 : to give the reason for or cause of: unable to explain his strange conduct
3 : to show the logical development or relationships of : explained the new theory
intransitive verb
: to make something plain or understandable: a report that suggests rather than explains”
#2 says: to give a reason for or cause of. Self-explaining seems to be a way to say that no reason or cause is needed.
Self-explanation most certainly does not entail no explanation. That's just a violation of the law of non-contradiction. Brute facts have no explanation (and a violation of the PSR). Self-explanation is an explanation which is entailed in the very nature of thing explained. It is very much in agreement with the PSR.
Nils wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:04 pm
But why shall we accept such a concept, a concept that is really mysterious. You say it is obvious but self-explanation doesn’t seem intelligible.
I think you have to explain.
I've already stated why self-explanation is not just intelligible, it the only logical consequence of the PSR (along with extrinsic explanations). There is no other choice but 'no explanation' and 'no explanation' is in fact unintelligible.

But to go a bit further and answer the so-called "mysterious" charge, let's look at what we can logically deduce from the self-explanatory nature. What does it exactly mean?

- The first thing we can deduce is that this entity must not have any potential whatsoever. For if it had any potential to be actualized, it would have to depend on an extrinsic explanation to bring about the actualization of that potential. Since it cannot in principle have any potential, it must then be pure act.

- A thing whose nature entails its explanation and is pure act, could not, even in principle, have never existed nor go out of existence. For the coming into existence and going out of existence are potentials to be actualized, and since the entity is pure act, it follows that it has always existed and always will.

- There is a real distinction between the essence of a thing and its existence. the essence of what it is to be a human being is distinct from being a human being. Think of essence as the potential to become a human being and becoming a human being as the actualization of that potential.
A thing whose nature entails its explanation is pure act with no potential whatsoever. Hence, there is no distinction whatsoever between its essence and its existence, which is why it is said to be subsistent existence itself.

Obviously much more can be logically deduced but this should suffice to dispel any notion of mystery.

One final note on the last point, i.e. subsistent existence, I'm not entirely sure you've thought this all the way through Nils, and what are the logical ramifications entailed. An entity whose essence is identical with its existence entails not only that it be the extrinsic explanation of everything that exists and has ever existed anywhere, anytime, in any universe. It also entails that this entity sustains this contingent existence every second of every minute of every day because nothing can in principle even exist apart from existence itself. It is a rather obvious point when it sinks in.
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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#23

Post by Kurieuo » Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:08 pm

To add onto the back of Byblos' words: "I've already stated why self-explanation is not just intelligible, it the only logical consequence of the PSR (along with extrinsic explanations). There is no other choice but 'no explanation' and 'no explanation' is in fact unintelligible."

The main reason "no explanation" is unintelligible, at least as I see matters, is precisely because it would be absurd to claim nothing exists. Since something exists, there must necessarily be something that has just always existed. This is that which possesses the attribute often described as Aseity, existing of/from itself, and such an entity would also be self-explanitory.

Now, you might deny that God is this self-existing, self-explanitory "something". But, then... out of all suggested candidates, we can using logic sort out those which have "contingent" characteristics (and would therefore be contingent), and those that do not. It just so happens, as I understand, our universe appears very contingent. And, not simply because it is believed that it had a beginning some 13 billion years ago.

Rather, energy often considered the fundemental nature of our universe (or any multiverse), is in motion. It wiggles this way, wiggles that way, to product an effect, bring about matter or what-have-you. So then, why is it in motion? Such suggests it is contingent upon something more foundational to itself. Indeed, quantum mechanics appears to reveal conscious awareness (whatever consciousness might be) has an impact upon the behaviour of such things.

Some might just want to say that energy wiggling this way and that is just a brute fact of the universe (or something such). So they will argue it requires no further explanation, it just is, but then why does it move? If no explanation is had, then PSR is being broken, correct?

On the other hand, if we have a candidate that is unchanging in its essential nature (i.e., isn't contigent upon anything except itself), much like what divine simpliciy entails of the Judeo-Christian conception of God, then we have a ripe candidate. Re: PSR, self-explanation is found in virtue of such an entity possessing aseity, which is the only explanation to why anything exists at all. That something possesses self-existence, and therefore self-explanation, is a logical necessity of existence itself. "No explanation" however is just absurd unless nothing exists.

PS. My words above should be taken as my own thoughts, and not that of Feser's or Byblos' -- although I expect they'd perhaps agree with much of what I wrote.
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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#24

Post by Nils » Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am

Byblos wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:13 am
Nils wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:04 pm
Byblos wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:14 am
Nils wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 1:11 pm
PaulSacramento wrote:
Mon Jun 04, 2018 11:03 am
You realize that, simply, the PSR means that humans have the rational ability to reasonably draw conclusions about the world they live in, even in an abstract sense.
To deny that is to deny basic science and the possibility of quantum physics.
Yes, but PSRx (see #12) suffices also. The advantage with PSRx is that it doesn’t require sufficient reasons for events outside our universe. So it doesn’t require a mysterious necessary self explaining cause.

Nils
If sufficient reasons are not required outside of our universe then perhaps they ought not be required within our universe in far away places we are not likely to discover or observe. Perhaps we should confine PSRx to the observable and testable parts of our universe only, how about only to our Milky Way or our solar system? Maybe just our planet? North American universities and laboratories? Where do you draw the line? And more importantly, who does the drawing?

You deny the complete and total applicability of the PSR and you end up denying everything.
Not at all. What’s in our universe, that’s what we are able to study and do science about. What’s outside our universe we have to use philosophy or theology to study. That is a very important distinction.
There are many theoretical physicists and mathematicians who would take issue with the categorization that what we are able to study and do science about is limited to our universe. And once again, if you're going to confine the sciences to what is observable and testable, you'd have to confine that to a much narrower range than our universe.
When we use our cognitive capacities and our intuition we assume that the physics we know is valid, so there is no reason to confine science to parts of out universe. What’s happening outside our universe (if is meaningful to speak of ‘outside’) we don’t know and may never know even if there are speculations. Even if we one day may know more about the ‘outside’ and may be able to extend the knowledge space we will never be able to reach infinity in space time and all dimensions. But what’s is important for this discussion, it’s impossible to have intuitions about the unknown.
Byblos wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:13 am
Nils wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:04 pm
If you look at Fesers arguments for PSR, #2 to #7 (se post #9), they all are about us within our universe and not at all about extra universal theories. Within our university we should adhere to PSR and that is what PSRx says.
Not at all (my turn). In points 2 to 7 Feser is basically indicating how we come to know the PSR, i.e. not only through observation, that's trivial. But more importantly through our reliable cognitive faculties, which lead us to the observable conclusions (and once again, that's trivial) as well as to general extrapolations about reality itself. And the reality is that it is intelligible, that much we know from science and observation, and that reality must also be uniformly intelligible lest we end up with brute facts that explain nothing. So, no, Feser was not confining his PSR proof to our universe, only offering our cognitive faculties as reliable and through which we deduce that reality is wholly intelligible.
Let’s look in more detail (citations from post #9)
2. If PSR were not true, then things and events without evident explanation would be extremely common
3. But this is the opposite of what common sense and science alike find to be the case
Common sense and science know little about what’s outside our universe
4. If PSR were not true, then we would be unable to trust our own cognitive faculties
5. But in fact we are able to trust those faculties
Yes, inside our universe.
6. Futhermore, there is no principled way to deny the truth of PSR while generally accepting that there are genuine explanations in science and philosophy
7. But there are many genuine explanations to be found in science and philosophy
Yes, inside our universe. What’s outside we don’t know,
I don’t see any reference to something outside our universe.
Byblos wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:13 am

In fact, if you've read the whole chapter on the PSR proof in feser's book, I'm certain you would have come across his detailed argument on why contingent things require an extrinsic explanation even if those contingent things are in our universe, in a multi-verse, in an infinite set of universes extending back in time to infinity. His argument is such that, if that were true, that the infinite list of contingent things exists at all requires an extrinsic explanation and must terminate (or initiate) in a self-explaining absolute necessity.
This is the strength and the weakness of the PSR argument. If there has to be an explanation of exactly every thing including our universe and what’s ‘outside’ then you get into problem. There are two ‘solutions’. One is to bite the bullet and say there is no explanation of why there is something instead of nothing. The other is to invent something that you say doesn’t need explanation. To me the second ‘solution’ is more a semantic trick. More about that later.
Byblos wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:13 am
Nils wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:04 pm
Byblos wrote:
Tue Jun 05, 2018 7:14 am
And like I said, there is really nothing mysterious about the PSR as it is the result of rational inquiry. Either reality is intelligible or it isn't. If it is intelligible, and that's an a priori assumption made by science and philosophy, then there can be no exceptions for its intelligibility. For if there were exceptions and brute facts are assumed in one respect, intelligibility no longer applies and neither does rationality.

PSR assumes intelligibility in all respects and entails two types of explanations, either extrinsic for contingent things, or intrinsic for necessary things. There is NO third option. That's pure rationality, no mystery whatsoever. Calling it "mysterious" doesn't really bring anything to the table other than attempting to avoid the obvious.
What is mysterious is the intrinsic, self-explaining entity. I have no experience of self-explaining things. Do you have any?
Lol, Nils, of course I do and that is by reason first and foremost, therefore by faith.
OK, I have to be more precise. :) I didn’t ask for the thing that is stipulated by the PSR-proof (God) but from your everyday life. Do you have any experience of any thing self-explained (excluding God).
Byblos wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:13 am
Nils wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:04 pm
When I check Marriam Webster for ‘explain’ they say
“Definition of "explain"
transitive verb
1 a : to make known: explain the secret of your success
b : to make plain or understandable: footnotes that explain the terms
2 : to give the reason for or cause of: unable to explain his strange conduct
3 : to show the logical development or relationships of : explained the new theory
intransitive verb
: to make something plain or understandable: a report that suggests rather than explains”
#2 says: to give a reason for or cause of. Self-explaining seems to be a way to say that no reason or cause is needed.
Self-explanation most certainly does not entail no explanation. That's just a violation of the law of non-contradiction. Brute facts have no explanation (and a violation of the PSR). Self-explanation is an explanation which is entailed in the very nature of thing explained. It is very much in agreement with the PSR.
Yes, that is a definition of self-explanation. But to me it a misleading definition. If a thing has nature x it is either explained by something else or not explained. That’s how I interpret the common definition of the word ‘explain’. To me ‘self-explaining’ is a new concept that is construed to solve the problem with no other backing. It sounds better to say ‘self-explanation’ rather than ‘unexplained’ but to me it is the same.
Byblos wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:13 am
Nils wrote:
Wed Jun 06, 2018 1:04 pm
But why shall we accept such a concept, a concept that is really mysterious. You say it is obvious but self-explanation doesn’t seem intelligible.
I think you have to explain.
I've already stated why self-explanation is not just intelligible, it the only logical consequence of the PSR (along with extrinsic explanations). There is no other choice but 'no explanation' and 'no explanation' is in fact unintelligible.
Yes, if you don’t like the ‘no explanation’ you have to invent something else but that doesn’t imply that the ‘something else’ is intelligible.
Byblos wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:13 am

But to go a bit further and answer the so-called "mysterious" charge, let's look at what we can logically deduce from the self-explanatory nature. What does it exactly mean?

- The first thing we can deduce is that this entity must not have any potential whatsoever. For if it had any potential to be actualized, it would have to depend on an extrinsic explanation to bring about the actualization of that potential. Since it cannot in principle have any potential, it must then be pure act.

- A thing whose nature entails its explanation and is pure act, could not, even in principle, have never existed nor go out of existence. For the coming into existence and going out of existence are potentials to be actualized, and since the entity is pure act, it follows that it has always existed and always will.

- There is a real distinction between the essence of a thing and its existence. the essence of what it is to be a human being is distinct from being a human being. Think of essence as the potential to become a human being and becoming a human being as the actualization of that potential.
A thing whose nature entails its explanation is pure act with no potential whatsoever. Hence, there is no distinction whatsoever between its essence and its existence, which is why it is said to be subsistent existence itself.

Obviously much more can be logically deduced but this should suffice to dispel any notion of mystery.
I have difficulties to follow the argument, see below, but still I note that what you describe is IF there is a self-explanatory entity THEN it has to be a necessary entity. But you didn’t show that there can be any self-explanatory entity
Byblos wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:13 am

One final note on the last point, i.e. subsistent existence, I'm not entirely sure you've thought this all the way through Nils, and what are the logical ramifications entailed. An entity whose essence is identical with its existence entails not only that it be the extrinsic explanation of everything that exists and has ever existed anywhere, anytime, in any universe. It also entails that this entity sustains this contingent existence every second of every minute of every day because nothing can in principle even exist apart from existence itself. It is a rather obvious point when it sinks in.
I haven’t studied Feser’s book and philosophical comments so in detail to be able to evaluate whether his world view is necessary for the PSR conclusions or not. Maybe the same conclusions could be drawn with other world views. Somewhere at the end of the book he indicates that it’s so but as far as I remember now (just now I am not able to check) he doesn’t elaborate.

A final comment. Sometimes atheists ask: What is the cause of God? According to Aristoteles/Feser’s view this isn’t a valid question. However, I think that a valid question could be: Why is there a God and a world rather than nothing? If there is nothing there isn’t necessarily any God.

Nils

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#25

Post by Philip » Sun Jun 10, 2018 2:01 pm

Nils, don't know if I've asked you before - but have you ever attempted asking God to reveal Himself to you? Because if the God of the Bible exists, it's clear He wants you to know about Him. No amount of philosophical investigation, pondering or speculation will be as powerful to answer this question for the person who sincerely wants to if He exists. Have you ever done this? And do you truly want to know the answer? Because if you do, why wouldn't you, if only as an experiment, ask God to reveal Himself to you? And because if all you continue is an attempt to prove what you already are apparently convinced of - then that's likely not going to lead to the answer. While the journey of getting to the truth of the matter is different for everyone, it doesn't have to be complicated. As it can actually be quite simple. It's man who often makes what is quite simple, unnecessarily complex.

Over 40 years ago, I came to a point of serious doubt about God's existence, and so it became very important to me to seek Him. It's how I came to faith. And what I've learned since has only greatly re-enforced it. And mine is not a blind faith, but one that is exceptionally rational - and that doesn't mean my faith doesn't ALSO go far beyond being a merely rational one.

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#26

Post by Byblos » Mon Jun 11, 2018 7:42 am

You keep insisting the PSR is confined to our universe when it is a logical argument independent of any universe. You claim that 'no explanation' is the same as 'self-explanation' and yet you prefer the former. Whereas 'self-explanation' grounds every other explanation, 'no explanation' makes every other explanation incoherent. That you still prefer 'no explanation' is telling so I honestly don't know how to make the conversation move forward. I expected more but oh well. I may come back and answer some points, we'll see.
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
A final comment. Sometimes atheists ask: What is the cause of God? According to Aristoteles/Feser’s view this isn’t a valid question. However, I think that a valid question could be: Why is there a God and a world rather than nothing? If there is nothing there isn’t necessarily any God.
I could not possibly agree with you more if I tried. If there is nothing, there is nothing.
Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#27

Post by Kurieuo » Mon Jun 11, 2018 6:12 pm

byblos wrote:
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
A final comment. Sometimes atheists ask: What is the cause of God? According to Aristoteles/Feser’s view this isn’t a valid question. However, I think that a valid question could be: Why is there a God and a world rather than nothing? If there is nothing there isn’t necessarily any God.
I could not possibly agree with you more if I tried. If there is nothing, there is nothing.
I couldn't agree more also, but reflect upon the modus tollens form.

First modus ponens: If there is nothing (P), then there is no God and world (Q).

Which means, if there is something (not Q), then there must have always been something. (not P)

There is nothing mysterious in this argument at all. It is quite simple. In fact, so simple, my young children understand it. They may not comprehend or be able to explain how something always existing could just be, yet we can readily grasp something must have or else nothing would.

Further, we can't ask for an external explanation to something that truly self-exists, rather the explanation for the existence to such is rightly to be found in and of itself.
"Whoever will call on the name of the Lord will be saved." (Romans 10:13)

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#28

Post by Byblos » Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:50 am

Some final thoughts.
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
When we use our cognitive capacities and our intuition we assume that the physics we know is valid, so there is no reason to confine science to parts of out universe. What’s happening outside our universe (if is meaningful to speak of ‘outside’) we don’t know and may never know even if there are speculations. Even if we one day may know more about the ‘outside’ and may be able to extend the knowledge space we will never be able to reach infinity in space time and all dimensions. But what’s is important for this discussion, it’s impossible to have intuitions about the unknown.
There are certain parts of this universe we may never reach or discover but whether or not something is reachable or observable is utterly beside the point because the PSR is not an epistemological argument, it is an argument for rationality. To deny the applicability of the PSR is tantamount to saying rationality may apply in our universe but may or may not apply elsewhere.
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
Let’s look in more detail (citations from post #9)
2. If PSR were not true, then things and events without evident explanation would be extremely common
3. But this is the opposite of what common sense and science alike find to be the case
Common sense and science know little about what’s outside our universe
Science presumes PSR, otherwise there is no science. If some day we discover other universes and the ability to study them, the only way to do so is to presume they are intelligible, even if different than ours.
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
4. If PSR were not true, then we would be unable to trust our own cognitive faculties
5. But in fact we are able to trust those faculties
Yes, inside our universe.
We do not suspend rationality or confine it to our backyard. Once rationality is suspended it’s the end of conversation.
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
6. Futhermore, there is no principled way to deny the truth of PSR while generally accepting that there are genuine explanations in science and philosophy
7. But there are many genuine explanations to be found in science and philosophy
Yes, inside our universe. What’s outside we don’t know,
I don’t see any reference to something outside our universe.
Same as above.
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
Byblos wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:13 am
In fact, if you've read the whole chapter on the PSR proof in feser's book, I'm certain you would have come across his detailed argument on why contingent things require an extrinsic explanation even if those contingent things are in our universe, in a multi-verse, in an infinite set of universes extending back in time to infinity. His argument is such that, if that were true, that the infinite list of contingent things exists at all requires an extrinsic explanation and must terminate (or initiate) in a self-explaining absolute necessity.
This is the strength and the weakness of the PSR argument. If there has to be an explanation of exactly every thing including our universe and what’s ‘outside’ then you get into problem. There are two ‘solutions’. One is to bite the bullet and say there is no explanation of why there is something instead of nothing. The other is to invent something that you say doesn’t need explanation. To me the second ‘solution’ is more a semantic trick. More about that later.
Wow, is this really a summary of what you’ve understood from everything I’ve said? I hope not but it seems like it.
First, ‘no explanation’ is not only NOT a solution, it is the opposite of it. It is literally the suspension of rationality, full stop. We explain away almost everything and when we get to the most fundamental part of existence the only thing we can say about it is ‘because that’s just the way it is’. All those books we’ve explained sitting on the shelves but the shelves are suspended in mid-air with no explanation whatsoever as to why they do not fall to the ground (in our universe of course).
Second, for you to state that the second premise of the PSR is an invention betrays logic on every level, since it is part of the only two logical premises of the PSR, i.e. an extrinsic explanation and an intrinsic one. Then you compound it by claiming I’m the one who says it doesn’t need an explanation? Really? For the last time, an intrinsic explanation is most certainly NOT excluded from needing an explanation. It is precisely that its explanation is found in its own nature.
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
OK, I have to be more precise. :) I didn’t ask for the thing that is stipulated by the PSR-proof (God) but from your everyday life. Do you have any experience of any thing self-explained (excluding God).
We (theists) are often criticized (wrongly, of course) that we put God in special pleading categories, such as the silly what caused God charge. And yet here you are, telling me to exclude God as an example of a necessary conclusion to a rational argument. :roll:
To answer your question again, yes, I’ve had experience with an entity that is self-explained and no, I cannot exclude God because God is the only logical conclusion not only to the uniqueness of this self-explained entity but also to the fact that its essence is identical with its existence, making it subsistent existence itself. The fact that anything exists at all is evidence of that.
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
Yes, that is a definition of self-explanation. But to me it a misleading definition. If a thing has nature x it is either explained by something else or not explained. That’s how I interpret the common definition of the word ‘explain’. To me ‘self-explaining’ is a new concept that is construed to solve the problem with no other backing. It sounds better to say ‘self-explanation’ rather than ‘unexplained’ but to me it is the same.
And when you claim no explanation as a possibility you’re in effect claiming irrationality as a possibility. That’s where all conversation ends.
Unfortunately, I think we may have reached that point in our discourse. I am comfortable leaving it with you having the last word.
Let us proclaim the mystery of our faith: Christ has died, Christ is risen, Christ will come again.

Lord I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my soul shall be healed.

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#29

Post by Nils » Wed Jun 13, 2018 3:06 am

Kurieuo wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 9:08 pm
To add onto the back of Byblos' words: "I've already stated why self-explanation is not just intelligible, it the only logical consequence of the PSR (along with extrinsic explanations). There is no other choice but 'no explanation' and 'no explanation' is in fact unintelligible."

The main reason "no explanation" is unintelligible, at least as I see matters, is precisely because it would be absurd to claim nothing exists. Since something exists, there must necessarily be something that has just always existed. This is that which possesses the attribute often described as Aseity, existing of/from itself, and such an entity would also be self-explanitory.

Now, you might deny that God is this self-existing, self-explanitory "something". But, then... out of all suggested candidates, we can using logic sort out those which have "contingent" characteristics (and would therefore be contingent), and those that do not. It just so happens, as I understand, our universe appears very contingent. And, not simply because it is believed that it had a beginning some 13 billion years ago.

Rather, energy often considered the fundemental nature of our universe (or any multiverse), is in motion. It wiggles this way, wiggles that way, to product an effect, bring about matter or what-have-you. So then, why is it in motion? Such suggests it is contingent upon something more foundational to itself. Indeed, quantum mechanics appears to reveal conscious awareness (whatever consciousness might be) has an impact upon the behaviour of such things.

Some might just want to say that energy wiggling this way and that is just a brute fact of the universe (or something such). So they will argue it requires no further explanation, it just is, but then why does it move? If no explanation is had, then PSR is being broken, correct?

On the other hand, if we have a candidate that is unchanging in its essential nature (i.e., isn't contigent upon anything except itself), much like what divine simpliciy entails of the Judeo-Christian conception of God, then we have a ripe candidate. Re: PSR, self-explanation is found in virtue of such an entity possessing aseity, which is the only explanation to why anything exists at all. That something possesses self-existence, and therefore self-explanation, is a logical necessity of existence itself. "No explanation" however is just absurd unless nothing exists.

PS. My words above should be taken as my own thoughts, and not that of Feser's or Byblos' -- although I expect they'd perhaps agree with much of what I wrote.
Kurieuo, I have little to comment on what you write. As I said in my last post to Byblos, there are two (at least) possibilities of why there exist something instead nothing. Here are three suggestions.
1. There is no explanation (brute fact).
2. There is a necessary entity which isn’t God (perhaps a Multiverse).
3. There is a necessary entity which is God
I find all alternatives unintelligible and I don’t think that there is an intelligible explanation why there is something instead of nothing.
2. and 3. might be intelligible if you agree on the possibility of intrinsic explanation, self- explanation. But I find that concept unintelligible so the conclusion is that all version invalidate PSR.
If I have to choose I prefer 1. or 2. because I for other reasons don’t believe in God, reasons we have discussed earlier. You apparently find 3 both intelligible and valuable. I have no problems with that even if I don’t share your opinion. But there is still missing an explanation why there is something instead of nothing.
Nils

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Re: The Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)

#30

Post by Nils » Fri Jun 15, 2018 12:24 pm

Byblos wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:50 am
Some final thoughts.
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
When we use our cognitive capacities and our intuition we assume that the physics we know is valid, so there is no reason to confine science to parts of out universe. What’s happening outside our universe (if is meaningful to speak of ‘outside’) we don’t know and may never know even if there are speculations. Even if we one day may know more about the ‘outside’ and may be able to extend the knowledge space we will never be able to reach infinity in space time and all dimensions. But what’s is important for this discussion, it’s impossible to have intuitions about the unknown.
There are certain parts of this universe we may never reach or discover but whether or not something is reachable or observable is utterly beside the point because the PSR is not an epistemological argument, it is an argument for rationality. To deny the applicability of the PSR is tantamount to saying rationality may apply in our universe but may or may not apply elsewhere.
PSR seems to be both an argument from epistemology and from rationality. Argument 2 (below) talks about evidence. 4. talks about cognitive faculties and they are both related to epistology and rationality. 6 seems to be a metaphysical argument. However, what I say that arguments 2, 4, and 6 relates to what is known to us, i.e. what’s in our Universe so the motivation for PSR steems from relations to our Universe only. But, there is no problem as I see it, to expand the validity to other Universes and to a Multiverse. The only thing that has to excluded is what I would like to call The Basic Question: Why is there something rather than nothing. I can’t see any rationality problem with adhering to PSR for all questions and aspects of the world but one exception, the basic question.
Byblos wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:50 am
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
Let’s look in more detail (citations from post #9)
2. If PSR were not true, then things and events without evident explanation would be extremely common
3. But this is the opposite of what common sense and science alike find to be the case
Common sense and science know little about what’s outside our universe
Science presumes PSR, otherwise there is no science. If some day we discover other universes and the ability to study them, the only way to do so is to presume they are intelligible, even if different than ours.
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
4. If PSR were not true, then we would be unable to trust our own cognitive faculties
5. But in fact we are able to trust those faculties
Yes, inside our universe.
We do not suspend rationality or confine it to our backyard. Once rationality is suspended it’s the end of conversation.
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
6. Futhermore, there is no principled way to deny the truth of PSR while generally accepting that there are genuine explanations in science and philosophy
7. But there are many genuine explanations to be found in science and philosophy
Yes, inside our universe. What’s outside we don’t know,
I don’t see any reference to something outside our universe.
Same as above.
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
Byblos wrote:
Thu Jun 07, 2018 8:13 am
In fact, if you've read the whole chapter on the PSR proof in feser's book, I'm certain you would have come across his detailed argument on why contingent things require an extrinsic explanation even if those contingent things are in our universe, in a multi-verse, in an infinite set of universes extending back in time to infinity. His argument is such that, if that were true, that the infinite list of contingent things exists at all requires an extrinsic explanation and must terminate (or initiate) in a self-explaining absolute necessity.
This is the strength and the weakness of the PSR argument. If there has to be an explanation of exactly every thing including our universe and what’s ‘outside’ then you get into problem. There are two ‘solutions’. One is to bite the bullet and say there is no explanation of why there is something instead of nothing. The other is to invent something that you say doesn’t need explanation. To me the second ‘solution’ is more a semantic trick. More about that later.
Wow, is this really a summary of what you’ve understood from everything I’ve said? I hope not but it seems like it.
First, ‘no explanation’ is not only NOT a solution, it is the opposite of it. It is literally the suspension of rationality, full stop. We explain away almost everything and when we get to the most fundamental part of existence the only thing we can say about it is ‘because that’s just the way it is’. All those books we’ve explained sitting on the shelves but the shelves are suspended in mid-air with no explanation whatsoever as to why they do not fall to the ground (in our universe of course).
You suggest that either everything is explained or there is no rationality at all. I admit that claiming that everything has to be explained is a nicer, more clean attitude. But I don’t think that it is necessary to be able to claim rationality. First about cognitive faculties. If the Basic question is unanswered it doesn’t mean that our cognitive faculties can’t be used for all other questions. We already know that our cognitive faculties are unreliable when it comes to micro cosmos (quantum physics) and macro cosmos (black holes). Our cognitive faculties work well in our standard environment, not on the atomic level or when we discuss the big features of our Universe. On these levels we need the help of theoretical physics and mathematics.
Science can work, and does, without a complete rational explanation of the world. It is used to work at the edge of knowledge and has all the time to be open to problems concerning rationality (quantum physics again). The field of exploration is so immense that it doesn’t have to bother about any answer to the Basic question. It may never be a subject for science, only for philosophers and theologians.
Byblos wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:50 am

Second, for you to state that the second premise of the PSR is an invention betrays logic on every level, since it is part of the only two logical premises of the PSR, i.e. an extrinsic explanation and an intrinsic one. Then you compound it by claiming I’m the one who says it doesn’t need an explanation? Really? For the last time, an intrinsic explanation is most certainly NOT excluded from needing an explanation. It is precisely that its explanation is found in its own nature.
Please note that to me an intrinsic explanation is the same as no explanation. I have never experienced anything that has its explanation “found in its own nature”. See more below.
Byblos wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:50 am
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
OK, I have to be more precise. :) I didn’t ask for the thing that is stipulated by the PSR-proof (God) but from your everyday life. Do you have any experience of any thing self-explained (excluding God).
We (theists) are often criticized (wrongly, of course) that we put God in special pleading categories, such as the silly what caused God charge. And yet here you are, telling me to exclude God as an example of a necessary conclusion to a rational argument. :roll:
To answer your question again, yes, I’ve had experience with an entity that is self-explained and no, I cannot exclude God because God is the only logical conclusion not only to the uniqueness of this self-explained entity but also to the fact that its essence is identical with its existence, making it subsistent existence itself. The fact that anything exists at all is evidence of that.
When Feser introduces intrinsic explanation, explanation in its own nature, in #9. (refer to post #9) he doesn’t motivate why there is anything that can be explained that way. He doesn’t exemplify. He could have done that in an extra clause, say 9a. Now you say that there is an example of self-explanation namely God. So then you could add a 9a saying that There exists at least one entity that is self-explaining namely God. But that makes the Feser argument of rationality worthless because his conclusion is that God exists. In a proof you can’t have a premise that asserts the conclusion.
What I try to show is that your mentioning of God as an example of self-explanation is a circular argument in the context of PSR. Then you refer to the argument of essence and existence which I’m not able to comment in detail but which I doubt.
Byblos wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:50 am
Nils wrote:
Sun Jun 10, 2018 4:07 am
Yes, that is a definition of self-explanation. But to me it a misleading definition. If a thing has nature x it is either explained by something else or not explained. That’s how I interpret the common definition of the word ‘explain’. To me ‘self-explaining’ is a new concept that is construed to solve the problem with no other backing. It sounds better to say ‘self-explanation’ rather than ‘unexplained’ but to me it is the same.
And when you claim no explanation as a possibility you’re in effect claiming irrationality as a possibility. That’s where all conversation ends.
To sum up. There are two main positions (in post #29 I mentioned a third but I will not go into that discussion now). One is that we have to live with that something, the Basic question, is unexplained. The other is that there is something that is explained by its own nature. I think that the second position is just as unintelligible as the first. It is interesting to note that Feser spends about four pages arguing against the first position but he only states the second position without any arguing what so ever. He introduces a concept that is new at least to me without any discussion. I find it remarkable.
As I have said before, choosing between the two positions is a matter of taste. I choose the first because I think that there are lot of arguments against a God but few arguments for. I respect that other person come to another conclusion even if I don’t understand why.
However I would be glad if we could agree that Feser hasn’t shown that PSR is a proof of God. What he has done is throwing in an undefended presumption.
Byblos wrote:
Tue Jun 12, 2018 11:50 am

Unfortunately, I think we may have reached that point in our discourse. I am comfortable leaving it with you having the last word.
I think we could discuss in more detail. I am not certain that we agree on what we disagree on, but it’s up to you, Byblos.
Nils

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