The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act
#11
(02-17-2013, 12:14 AM)SouthpawLink Wrote:
(02-16-2013, 09:47 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: It doesn't seem that any of those quotations have anything to say about the correct way in which to interpret the five ways.  One can agree with the assertions made in those quotations while still maintaining that St. Thomas did not intend the five ways to work like mathematical proofs.

The point of my post was to show agreement with Scotus, that the existence of God can be an object of knowledge.

You've piqued my interest in how mathematical proofs work...

Well, sure, but, the disagreement between Parmandur and Scotus, as I understood it anyway, was over the proper interpretation of the five ways, not whether or not the existence of God can be proved by use of natural reason alone.
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#12
(02-17-2013, 12:10 AM)TS Aquinas Wrote: Hope you got your answer Scotus  :)

I've read the passage you quoted a number of times but am feeling very dense. I'll keep trying to crack the nut and then get back to you.  :blush:
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#13
(02-17-2013, 07:08 AM)Scotus Wrote:
(02-17-2013, 12:10 AM)TS Aquinas Wrote: Hope you got your answer Scotus  :)

I've read the passage you quoted a number of times but am feeling very dense. I'll keep trying to crack the nut and then get back to you.  :blush:

Took me three months to understand essence & existence, I understand completely.
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#14
(02-17-2013, 12:24 PM)TS Aquinas Wrote:
(02-17-2013, 07:08 AM)Scotus Wrote:
(02-17-2013, 12:10 AM)TS Aquinas Wrote: Hope you got your answer Scotus  :)

I've read the passage you quoted a number of times but am feeling very dense. I'll keep trying to crack the nut and then get back to you.  :blush:

Took me three months to understand essence & existence, I understand completely.

You understand essence and existence completely?

One can understand THAT God is "I AM WHO AM", i.e. that His existence and essence are one.  No doubt one can have true concepts of these things individually.  But wouldn't one have to be God Himself to understand them together completely - the infinite fullness of existence and the infinite fullness of essence (what exists), and the infinite mystery of their oneness in God?

That being said, you most likely understand  these things far better than I do.  Perhaps you meant that you have a working knowledge of them that allows you to really follow St. Thomas' reasoning.  I don't think I have that.
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#15
(02-18-2013, 12:59 AM)Doce Me Wrote:
(02-17-2013, 12:24 PM)TS Aquinas Wrote:
(02-17-2013, 07:08 AM)Scotus Wrote:
(02-17-2013, 12:10 AM)TS Aquinas Wrote: Hope you got your answer Scotus  :)

I've read the passage you quoted a number of times but am feeling very dense. I'll keep trying to crack the nut and then get back to you.  :blush:

Took me three months to understand essence & existence, I understand completely.

You understand essence and existence completely?

One can understand THAT God is "I AM WHO AM", i.e. that His existence and essence are one.  No doubt one can have true concepts of these things individually.  But wouldn't one have to be God Himself to understand them together completely - the infinite fullness of existence and the infinite fullness of essence (what exists), and the infinite mystery of their oneness in God?

That being said, you most likely understand  these things far better than I do.  Perhaps you meant that you have a working knowledge of them that allows you to really follow St. Thomas' reasoning.  I don't think I have that.

"I understand completely" was an empathic claim Doce with Scotus' struggle of St. Aquinas' demonstrations, not an assertion that I understand essence & esse completely. Though the concept can be understood completely, not that difficult (looking back I really wonder how such a 101 subject got me so stumped), but no one can fully comprehend the essence/existence of God.
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#16
I found the following in the First Book of the Summa Contra Gentiles:
Quote:Chapter 16

THAT THERE IS NO PASSIVE POTENCY IN GOD

[1] If God is eternal, of necessity there is no potency in Him.

[2] The being whose substance has an admixture of potency is liable not to be by as much as it has potency; for that which can be, can not-be. But, God, being everlasting, in His substance cannot not-be. In God, therefore, there is no potency to being.

[3] Though a being that is sometime in potency and sometime in act is in time in potency before being in act, absolutely speaking act is prior to potency. For potency does not raise itself to act; it must be raised to act by something that is in act. Hence, whatever is in some way in potency has something prior to it. But, as is evident from what was said above, God is the first being and the first cause. Hence, He has no admixture of potency in Himself.

[4] Moreover, that which is a necessary being through itself is in no way a possible being, since that which is through itself a necessary being has no cause, whereas, as we have shown above, whatever is a possible being has a cause. But God is through Himself a necessary being. He is, therefore, in no way a possible being, and so no potency is found in His substance.

[5] Again, each thing acts in so far as it is in act. Therefore, what is not wholly act acts, not with the whole of itself, but with part of itself. But what does not act with the whole of itself is not the first agent, since it does not act through its essence but through participation in something. The first agent, therefore, namely, God, has no admixture of potency but is pure act.

[6] Further, just as each thing naturally acts in so far as it is in act, so it is naturally receptive in so far as it is in potency; for motion is the act of that which exists in potency. But God is absolutely impassible and immutable, as is clear from what we have said. He has, therefore, no part of potency—that is, passive potency.

[7] Then, too, we see something in the world that emerges from potency to act. Now, it does not educe itself from potency to act, since that which is in potency, being still in potency, can therefore not act. Some prior being is therefore needed by which it may be brought forth from potency to act. This cannot go on to infinity. We must, therefore, arrive at some being that is only in act and in no wise in potency. This being we call God.

I'm just not sure how to boil this down to the most simple argument. Any thoughts?
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#17
(02-15-2013, 04:24 AM)TS Aquinas Wrote:
(02-14-2013, 01:28 PM)Scotus Wrote: I am planning to give a talk in my local parish on the proofs for the existence of God. I was planning to spend the bulk of the time on the First Way of St Thomas Aquinas i.e. the Argument from Motion. However, as I have been working out how to explain each step of the proof there seems (to me at least) in the assertion that the First Mover must be Pure Act. Certainly, it is clear that this Unmoved Mover is not moved by any other (as we would carry on with our infinite regress), but it does seem to me that there is a jump from proving that there is an Unmoved Mover to stating that this Mover is immovable. In the order of causes this being must be in act in such a way that it is has not been reduced to that act by any other being. But how can we prove that there is no potency in this being, even though these potencies might never be reduced to act?

If we can prove that this Unmoved Mover is Pure Act then it seems that we have failed to prove the existence of God by the evidence of motion in the world.

This might help from his Conpendium,

"We clearly infer from this that God, who moves all things, must Himself be immovable. If He, being the first mover, were Himself moved, He would have to be moved either by Himself or by another. He cannot be moved by another, for then there would have to be some mover prior to Him, which is against the very idea of a first mover. If He is moved by Himself, this can be conceived in two ways: either that He is mover and moved according to the same respect, or that He is a mover according to one aspect of Him and is moved according to another aspect. The first of these alternatives is ruled out. For everything that is moved is, to that extent, in potency, and whatever moves is in act. Therefore if God is both mover and moved according to the same respect, He has to be in potency and in act according to the same respect, which is impossible. The second alternative is likewise out of the question. If one part were moving and another were moved, there would be no first mover Himself as such, but only by reason of that part of Him which moves. But what is per se is prior to that which is not per se. Hence there cannot be a first mover at all, if this perfection is attributed to a being by reason of a part of that being. Accordingly the first mover must be altogether immovable.

Among things that are moved and that also move, the following may also be considered. All motion is observed to proceed from something immobile, that is, from something that is not moved according to the particular species of motion in question, Thus we see that alterations and generations and corruptions occurring in lower bodies are reduced, as to their first mover, to a heavenly body that is not moved according to this species of motion, since it is incapable of being generated, and is incorruptible and unalterable. Therefore the first principle of all motion must be absolutely immobile.

... God’s essence cannot be other than His existence. In any being whose essence is distinct from its existence, what it is must be distinct from that whereby it is. For in virtue of a thing’s existence we say that it is, and in virtue of its essence we say what it is. This is why a definition that signifies an essence manifests what a thing is. In God, however, there is no distinction between what He is and that whereby He is, since there is no composition in Him, as has been shown. Therefore God’s essence is nothing else than His existence.

Likewise, we have proved that God is pure act without any admixture of potentiality. Accordingly His essence must be the ultimate act in Him; for any act that has a bearing on the ultimate act, is in potency to that ultimate act. But the ultimate act is existence itself, ipsum esse. For, since all motion is an issuing forth from potency to act, the ultimate act must be that toward which all motion tends; and since natural motion tends to what is naturally desired, the ultimate act must be that which all desire. This is existence. Consequently the divine essence, which is pure and ultimate act, must be existence itself, ipsum esse."

Also to consider, nothing can be both potential and actual in the same respect at the same time, what is actually hot is not at the same time potentially hot but potentially cold. Hence it is impossible for anything to be both, in the same respect and time (whether it be something part of an essential ordered series or an accidental ordered series), both that which is moved and moving.

Interesting post.
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#18
(02-15-2013, 04:24 AM)TS Aquinas Wrote:
(02-14-2013, 01:28 PM)Scotus Wrote: I am planning to give a talk in my local parish on the proofs for the existence of God. I was planning to spend the bulk of the time on the First Way of St Thomas Aquinas i.e. the Argument from Motion. However, as I have been working out how to explain each step of the proof there seems (to me at least) in the assertion that the First Mover must be Pure Act. Certainly, it is clear that this Unmoved Mover is not moved by any other (as we would carry on with our infinite regress), but it does seem to me that there is a jump from proving that there is an Unmoved Mover to stating that this Mover is immovable. In the order of causes this being must be in act in such a way that it is has not been reduced to that act by any other being. But how can we prove that there is no potency in this being, even though these potencies might never be reduced to act?

If we can prove that this Unmoved Mover is Pure Act then it seems that we have failed to prove the existence of God by the evidence of motion in the world.

This might help from his Conpendium,

"We clearly infer from this that God, who moves all things, must Himself be immovable. If He, being the first mover, were Himself moved, He would have to be moved either by Himself or by another. He cannot be moved by another, for then there would have to be some mover prior to Him, which is against the very idea of a first mover. If He is moved by Himself, this can be conceived in two ways: either that He is mover and moved according to the same respect, or that He is a mover according to one aspect of Him and is moved according to another aspect. The first of these alternatives is ruled out. For everything that is moved is, to that extent, in potency, and whatever moves is in act. Therefore if God is both mover and moved according to the same respect, He has to be in potency and in act according to the same respect, which is impossible. The second alternative is likewise out of the question. If one part were moving and another were moved, there would be no first mover Himself as such, but only by reason of that part of Him which moves. But what is per se is prior to that which is not per se. Hence there cannot be a first mover at all, if this perfection is attributed to a being by reason of a part of that being. Accordingly the first mover must be altogether immovable.

Among things that are moved and that also move, the following may also be considered. All motion is observed to proceed from something immobile, that is, from something that is not moved according to the particular species of motion in question, Thus we see that alterations and generations and corruptions occurring in lower bodies are reduced, as to their first mover, to a heavenly body that is not moved according to this species of motion, since it is incapable of being generated, and is incorruptible and unalterable. Therefore the first principle of all motion must be absolutely immobile.

... God’s essence cannot be other than His existence. In any being whose essence is distinct from its existence, what it is must be distinct from that whereby it is. For in virtue of a thing’s existence we say that it is, and in virtue of its essence we say what it is. This is why a definition that signifies an essence manifests what a thing is. In God, however, there is no distinction between what He is and that whereby He is, since there is no composition in Him, as has been shown. Therefore God’s essence is nothing else than His existence.

Likewise, we have proved that God is pure act without any admixture of potentiality. Accordingly His essence must be the ultimate act in Him; for any act that has a bearing on the ultimate act, is in potency to that ultimate act. But the ultimate act is existence itself, ipsum esse. For, since all motion is an issuing forth from potency to act, the ultimate act must be that toward which all motion tends; and since natural motion tends to what is naturally desired, the ultimate act must be that which all desire. This is existence. Consequently the divine essence, which is pure and ultimate act, must be existence itself, ipsum esse."

Also to consider, nothing can be both potential and actual in the same respect at the same time, what is actually hot is not at the same time potentially hot but potentially cold. Hence it is impossible for anything to be both, in the same respect and time (whether it be something part of an essential ordered series or an accidental ordered series), both that which is moved and moving.

I've read St Thomas's argument from the Compendium a number of times now and it seems that in the first paragraph quoted shows that the First Mover is not moved but not that He is immovable. Unless, I am missing something? If, so, please show me!

The second paragraph is not decisive either since it seems to depend on an analogy with pre-modern cosmology (i.e. immovable spheres) rather being a purely metaphysical argument that uses such cosmology as an example (rather than it forming a step in the argument itself).

The third paragraph seems to draw on the Argument from Contigency (i.e. that God is the only truly necessary - one whose essence it is to exist) but that, then, seems to be an argument that does not form part of the Argument from Motion as such.
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#19
(02-16-2013, 09:47 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: It doesn't seem that any of those quotations have anything to say about the correct way in which to interpret the five ways. One can agree with the assertions made in those quotations while still maintaining that St. Thomas did not intend the five ways to work like mathematical proofs.

Exactly; I agree with every quote listed by you, SP, but that is not related to what I meant regarding Saint Thomas' ways not being QED mathematical proofs.  They are the seeds for contemplation to reach truth that is not just open to knowledge, but obvious to the common mind.  Proving the existence of God is not a syllogistic exercise, but one of judgement, which precedes syllogistic reasoning.  Saint Anselm's  ontological argument is still the best for this reason: somebody denying the existence of God is the same as someone denying causality or non-contradiction.  Neither causality or non-contradiction can be "proven," they are too fundamental.  People can just be shown the way to see that they are there.
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#20
(02-18-2013, 04:47 PM)Parmandur Wrote: Proving the existence of God is not a syllogistic exercise, but one of judgement, which precedes syllogistic reasoning.  Saint Anselm's  ontological argument is still the best for this reason:  somebody denying the existence of God is the same as someone denying causality or non-contradiction.  Neither causality or non-contradiction can be "proven," they are too fundamental.  People can just be shown the way to see that they are there.

The concepts of causality and non-contradiction are fundamental, and self-evident.  But knowing the existence of God requires the evidence of God's creation. Reason moves from creature to Creator.  I think that St. Thomas' proofs, to those who understand him, guide the reason with certainty through that move.  (I don't understand them well, but surely Popes who spoke of proofs bringing certainty ranked St. Thomas' proofs very highly among them)

The move from creation to the Creator may be a kind of a instantaneous "leap" of judgment for some, but that doesn't show that St. Thomas' methodical reasoning is not proof.
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