The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act
#41
(02-26-2013, 01:48 AM)Doce Me Wrote: From St Thomas' Compendium:

"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."

(02-18-2013, 07:45 AM)Scotus Wrote: 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!

You say that St. Thomas seems to be proving that God is unmoved, but not that He is immovable.  But, even before considering God's unmovabilty, you're overlooking something. St. Thomas isn't only proving that God is unmoved; He is also showing that saying otherwse is a self-contradiction.  A moved First mover is a self-contradiction since it would mean there was some mover prior to the first.

Now, to generalize, if X is simply NOT Y, there may be potency in X to become Y (which may or may not happen).  But if "X is Y" is a self-contradiction, there can't be any potencecy in X to become Y.

For example, if water is not hot, it may be made hot (there is a potency, even if it is never heated).  But "Water that is simultaneously hot and cold" (2 temperatures in identical water) is a self-contradiction; there can be no potency to it.

"God is moved" is a self-contradiction. There can be no potency to a self-contradiction. God is immovable.   

 

You have been extremely patient with my denseness. So thank you!

However, I don't believe that I am saying that "the First Mover is moved" but, rather, the "First Mover may be composed of potency and act - a potency that is never reduced to act". I do not see how a potency that is never reduced to act since there is nothing that reduces it to act is necessarily a self-contradiction.

Sorry, if I have misunderstood you.
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#42
I haven't been following this thread too closely, so perhaps this does not quite get to your argument, but it seems to me that what St. Thomas might be hinting at is the argument that, were God moveable, we would have to go back to some prior being to explain his existence. In this way, the whole idea of a First Mover who is moveable but not moved would seem to fall to the common atheist objection that the first way does not tell us "what caused God." This is so because a being that is not moved but that is nevertheless not immovable would fail to account for its own existence. With any sort of complex entity, we must always go back behind it to some other entity in order to account for its existence; it cannot explain itself. If God were also a complex being, containing both act and potency, we would have to look back behind him for the purely simple source of being that accounts for the existence of God and also for its own existence. This being would of course truly be God. Only if God is the Pure Act of Being itself--if his existence is his essence--can he really be relevant to the question of why something exists rather than nothing. If he were not, we would be left with an infinite chain of ever greater entities who nevertheless are always the same sort of entity that we are.

I think this is perhaps why it is important to remember the radical distinction between God and creation. Often, these sorts of arguments make us think of God in terms of efficient causality, which leads us to see God as merely a very large or powerful being. In reality, of course, when we speak of God "causing" we are speaking analogically. We can never actually know what it means to say that God causes something. God accounts for the existence of creation because he is not merely a being, no matter how powerful, but Being itself, the source from which all finite beings receive their existence. If this were not true, and God were complex and finite, he would simply be another being amongst others and so unable to account for the fact that anything exists at all. I'm sure you know all this already, and as I say I am not sure if this really gets to the heart of your problem, but perhaps it will help in some way. 
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#43
(02-26-2013, 06:10 PM)Scotus Wrote: However, I don't believe that I am saying that "the First Mover is moved" but, rather, the "First Mover may be composed of potency and act - a potency that is never reduced to act". I do not see how a potency that is never reduced to act since there is nothing that reduces it to act is necessarily a self-contradiction.

I'm starting to see where you're coming from. I remembered this chapter, below, in the contra gentiles that deals with this issue. Let me know where exactly you're not following or see a possible fallacy.


Contra Gentiles 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.
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#44
(02-26-2013, 06:10 PM)Scotus Wrote:
(02-26-2013, 01:48 AM)Doce Me Wrote: From St Thomas' Compendium:

"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."

(02-18-2013, 07:45 AM)Scotus Wrote: 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!

You say that St. Thomas seems to be proving that God is unmoved, but not that He is immovable.  But, even before considering God's unmovabilty, you're overlooking something. St. Thomas isn't only proving that God is unmoved; He is also showing that saying otherwse is a self-contradiction.  A moved First mover is a self-contradiction since it would mean there was some mover prior to the first.

Now, to generalize, if X is simply NOT Y, there may be potency in X to become Y (which may or may not happen).  But if "X is Y" is a self-contradiction, there can't be any potencecy in X to become Y.

For example, if water is not hot, it may be made hot (there is a potency, even if it is never heated).  But "Water that is simultaneously hot and cold" (2 temperatures in identical water) is a self-contradiction; there can be no potency to it.

"God is moved" is a self-contradiction. There can be no potency to a self-contradiction. God is immovable.   

You have been extremely patient with my denseness. So thank you!

However, I don't believe that I am saying that "the First Mover is moved" but, rather, the "First Mover may be composed of potency and act - a potency that is never reduced to act". I do not see how a potency that is never reduced to act since there is nothing that reduces it to act is necessarily a self-contradiction.

Sorry, if I have misunderstood you.

Scotus,

Here's my understanding now of your specific issue. (Written as a non-expert, before TS Aquinas' post)

To speak of the actualization (reduction to act) of any potency in God is a self-contradiction, because He is the first who actualizes potency, so if anything actualizes some potency in Him they they would be prior to Him. (There is no potency in God at all, but that is shown in my next point).

Now it is true that often "a potency that is never reduced to act (actualized) since there is nothing to reduce it to act" isn't a self-contradiction.  But what about the case when the actualization itself is self-contradictory? Surely in that case there is no potency at all.
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#45
(02-27-2013, 03:23 AM)Doce Me Wrote: To speak of the actualization (reduction to act) of any potency in God is a self-contradiction, because He is the first who actualizes potency, so if anything actualizes some potency in Him they they would be prior to Him. (There is no potency in God at all, but that is shown in my next point).

I think the problem here is that although you, very rightly, point out that God must be Pure Act it seems you are using this fact to argue that therefore the First Mover cannot be composed of potency and act. However, this seems to assume what remains to be proved namely that the First Mover is indeed God. If we cannot prove anything more than a being who is unmoved but are unable to show that this same being cannot contain potency - even if that potency will never be reduced to act - then we have failed to prove the existence of God.
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#46
(02-27-2013, 01:38 PM)Scotus Wrote:
(02-27-2013, 03:23 AM)Doce Me Wrote: To speak of the actualization (reduction to act) of any potency in God is a self-contradiction, because He is the first who actualizes potency, so if anything actualizes some potency in Him they they would be prior to Him. (There is no potency in God at all, but that is shown in my next point).

I think the problem here is that although you, very rightly, point out that God must be Pure Act it seems you are using this fact to argue that therefore the First Mover cannot be composed of potency and act.

But how can something that must of necessity be "Pure Act" contain any admixture of potency, even potency that is never reduced to act (passive)? What would be the raison d'etre of such a passive potency?
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#47
(02-27-2013, 03:56 PM)INPEFESS Wrote:
(02-27-2013, 01:38 PM)Scotus Wrote:
(02-27-2013, 03:23 AM)Doce Me Wrote: To speak of the actualization (reduction to act) of any potency in God is a self-contradiction, because He is the first who actualizes potency, so if anything actualizes some potency in Him they they would be prior to Him. (There is no potency in God at all, but that is shown in my next point).

I think the problem here is that although you, very rightly, point out that God must be Pure Act it seems you are using this fact to argue that therefore the First Mover cannot be composed of potency and act.

But how can something that must of necessity be "Pure Act" contain any admixture of potency, even potency that is never reduced to act (passive)? What would be the raison d'etre of such a passive potency?

Yes; isn't it self-evident that what is "Pure Act" contains no  potency?  If it did, it wouldn't be pure act!

However, Scotus,  I thought from previous posts that you were not understanding how we PROVE that God is pure act. Now you are saying we are just "using this fact" (STARTING with it).  But it seems to me that St. Thomas in the first way and Compendium is not starting with God's being pure act, but with the  fact that God is the first Mover.  From there he observes that no other being can move Him, because if they did He would not be first.  It would thus be a self-contradiction for God to be moved, so that He must be immovable.  Applying the fact that motion is the reduction of potency to act to this reasoning, it is self-contradictory for God to have an actualized potency, and utter nonsense to have a potency whose actualization is self-contradictory: so that God must be pure act.  (This is all my current sketchy understanding only)
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#48
(02-27-2013, 03:56 PM)INPEFESS Wrote:
(02-27-2013, 01:38 PM)Scotus Wrote:
(02-27-2013, 03:23 AM)Doce Me Wrote: To speak of the actualization (reduction to act) of any potency in God is a self-contradiction, because He is the first who actualizes potency, so if anything actualizes some potency in Him they they would be prior to Him. (There is no potency in God at all, but that is shown in my next point).

I think the problem here is that although you, very rightly, point out that God must be Pure Act it seems you are using this fact to argue that therefore the First Mover cannot be composed of potency and act.

But how can something that must of necessity be "Pure Act" contain any admixture of potency, even potency that is never reduced to act (passive)? What would be the raison d'etre of such a passive potency?

Sorry for the confusion. My point is that God is indeed Pure Act. However, until we can prove that the First Mover contains no potency - i.e. is Pure Act - we simply cannot identify the First Mover as God.
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#49
(02-27-2013, 05:57 PM)Doce Me Wrote: However, Scotus,  I thought from previous posts that you were not understanding how we PROVE that God is pure act. Now you are saying we are just "using this fact" (STARTING with it).  But it seems to me that St. Thomas in the first way and Compendium is not starting with God's being pure act, but with the  fact that God is the first Mover.  From there he observes that no other being can move Him, because if they did He would not be first.  It would thus be a self-contradiction for God to be moved, so that He must be immovable.  Applying the fact that motion is the reduction of potency to act to this reasoning, it is self-contradictory for God to have an actualized potency, and utter nonsense to have a potency whose actualization is self-contradictory: so that God must be pure act.  (This is all my current sketchy understanding only)

I think I have caused a great deal of confusion. Sorry and thank you for your patience!

Just to re-phrase my question: I see how in the First Way we arrive at an Unmoved Mover, that is a being that is first in an essentially ordered (i.e. 'vertical') series of causes. Now it seems to me that it is only when we can prove that this Unmoved Mover is also an Immoveable Mover that we can make the assertion that this being is indeed God.

Of course, I agree that God must be Pure Act and therefore immoveable. It's just that I haven't seen an entirely convincing argument to prove that the Unmoved Mover that is discovered through the First Way has no potency and, thus, can be identified with what people call God.
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#50
(02-27-2013, 06:03 PM)Scotus Wrote:
(02-27-2013, 03:56 PM)INPEFESS Wrote:
(02-27-2013, 01:38 PM)Scotus Wrote:
(02-27-2013, 03:23 AM)Doce Me Wrote: To speak of the actualization (reduction to act) of any potency in God is a self-contradiction, because He is the first who actualizes potency, so if anything actualizes some potency in Him they they would be prior to Him. (There is no potency in God at all, but that is shown in my next point).

I think the problem here is that although you, very rightly, point out that God must be Pure Act it seems you are using this fact to argue that therefore the First Mover cannot be composed of potency and act.

But how can something that must of necessity be "Pure Act" contain any admixture of potency, even potency that is never reduced to act (passive)? What would be the raison d'etre of such a passive potency?

Sorry for the confusion. My point is that God is indeed Pure Act. However, until we can prove that the First Mover contains no potency - i.e. is Pure Act - we simply cannot identify the First Mover as God.

I am not sure why the distinction between First Mover and God. "God" is simply the title given to the First Mover.

The First Mover is Pure Act.
Pure Act can admit of no passive potency.
Therefore, the First Mover can admit of no passive potency.

We call this First Mover, in Whom there is no passive potency, "God."

I am sorry; I must not understand your argument.
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