The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act
#51
(02-27-2013, 06:15 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: 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.

I must apologise. I am really making a ham of this thread.  :blush:

I agree that God is Pure Act. However, until we can prove that the First Mover is Pure Act then we cannot identify the First Mover with God. My stumbling block is that the First Way clearly shows how there must be an Unmoved (First) Mover but it doesn't demonstrate how it is impossible that this being can contain any potency even if that potency never be reduced to act. It is not clear to me how an Unmoved Mover (who may or may not turn out to be God) is of necessity an Immoveable Mover.

Can you see that I am trying not to make any jumps in my reasoning by assuming what needs to be proved (namely the identity of the Unmoved Mover with God)? Having read St Thomas and many of the commentators I am struggling to find a cogent argument that demonstrates that the Unmoved Mover is Pure Act and therefore God. Of course, I believe that they are one and the same but by the natural light of reason I cannot make that jump.
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#52
(02-27-2013, 06:12 PM)Scotus Wrote: 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.
 

Potency exists in order to effect change.
But the unmoved mover, being of itself a sufficient and fixed cause for all effects, has no purpose for change.
Therefore, there is no purpose for potency in the unmoved mover.

All potency that exists has a purpose (to change)
There is no purpose to potency in the unmoved mover.  
Therefore, there is no potency in the unmoved mover.
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#53
(02-27-2013, 06:29 PM)Scotus Wrote:
(02-27-2013, 06:15 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: 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.

I must apologise. I am really making a ham of this thread.  :blush:

I agree that God is Pure Act. However, until we can prove that the First Mover is Pure Act then we cannot identify the First Mover with God. My stumbling block is that the First Way clearly shows how there must be an Unmoved (First) Mover but it doesn't demonstrate how it is impossible that this being can contain any potency even if that potency never be reduced to act. It is not clear to me how an Unmoved Mover (who may or may not turn out to be God) is of necessity an Immoveable Mover.

Can you see that I am trying not to make any jumps in my reasoning by assuming what needs to be proved (namely the identity of the Unmoved Mover with God)? Having read St Thomas and many of the commentators I am struggling to find a cogent argument that demonstrates that the Unmoved Mover is Pure Act and therefore God. Of course, I believe that they are one and the same but by the natural light of reason I cannot make that jump.
If this "first cause" is a mix of potency and act, then it is a composite being. I.e. it is composed of potency and act. The composition of these "parts" must be explained by a prior cause. If the prior cause it composed of potency and act, then this must be explained by a prior cause. This cannot go on for every, so there must be a first, uncaused cause, which is pure act.
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#54
EDIT: diverse changes
(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.

Bear with me.

Can you answer these questions explicitly, point by point, and show where you disagree and why?

Do you agree that the First Mover contains no actualized potency?

Do you agree that we can know this from the very concept of actualizing a potency in the First Mover? Nothing can actualize any potency in the First Mover, because doing so would be moving it, which would mean it was not first

Do you agree that ANY actualization of potency in the First Mover is self-contradictory and therefore absolutely impossible? (something first would be simultaneously and not first)

Now, the question is, can a never-actualized-potency whose actualization is absolutely impossible exist?  It makes no sense to me.  If God Himself knew that even by His omnipotence He could NEVER make the actualization of a so-called potency POSSIBLE, it would not be a potency, would it? There is no potency for true to become false; it is not enough to say it will never happen, it is self-contradictory, and impossible, and is non-being.  A (so-called) potency is no potency at all if its associated actualization is absolutely impossible. And it can't be said that some potency exists in God with no associated concept of actualization - that would be contrary to what potency is.

So, God can't have any potency of any kind.  He is Pure Act

Please be very explicit as to where you disagree.
===

But I do like INPEFESS' response.  It is far simpler (needless to say!); and there's nothing like a good syllogism. And he brought in purpose,  which helps the argument. I've been stuck on moved-mover-act-potency alone.
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#55
(02-27-2013, 08:25 PM)Papist Wrote: If this "first cause" is a mix of potency and act, then it is a composite being. I.e. it is composed of potency and act. The composition of these "parts" must be explained by a prior cause. If the prior cause it composed of potency and act, then this must be explained by a prior cause. This cannot go on for every, so there must be a first, uncaused cause, which is pure act.

This seems a fruitful line of reasoning. Could you unpack your statement that a composite being "must be explained by a prior cause"? I sense there is truth in your assertion but am unsure how to demonstrate (i.e. not merely postulate as probable) that there must be a simple being anterior to a composite being.
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#56
(02-27-2013, 08:34 PM)Doce Me Wrote: Bear with me.

No, thank you for bearing with me! You are all extremely kind.
Quote:Can you answer these questions explicitly, point by point, and show where you disagree and why?
Do you agree that the First Mover contains no actualized potency?

Absolutely, since otherwise this being would not be the First Mover, this potency per impossibile having being reduced to act by some other, anterior mover.
Quote:Do you agree that we can know this from the very concept of actualizing a potency in the First Mover? Nothing can actualize any potency in the First Mover, because doing so would be moving it, which would mean it was not first

By "this" are you referring to your previous statement? If yes I agree since if the being we suspected to be the First Mover did have some potency reduced to act then that being would, by definition, not be the First Mover. 
Quote:Do you agree that ANY actualization of potency in the First Mover is self-contradictory and therefore absolutely impossible? (something first would be simultaneously and not first)

I certainly do agree that this would be a contradiction and therefore impossible.
Quote:Now, the question is, can a never-actualized-potency whose actualization is absolutely impossible exist?  It makes no sense to me.  

I agree that it would be a strange feature of the First Mover if it contained a potency that is never actualised. However, I'm not sure there is any contradictio in adjecto in positing such a never-actualised potency in this being. I'll return to the question of impossibility in a minute, however, as I think you are on to something.
Quote:If God Himself knew that even by His omnipotence He could NEVER make the actualization of a so-called potency POSSIBLE, it would not be a potency, would it?

But there I believe you have made a premature jump from the First Mover to God, since it is precisely the identity of the First Mover with God that remains to be demonstrated. And if we cannot show that the First Mover is Pure Act i.e. that there is no potency in this being then we have no warrant for identifying this being as God. 
Quote:There is no potency for true to become false; it is not enough to say it will never happen, it is self-contradictory, and impossible, and is non-being.  A (so-called) potency is no potency at all if its associated actualization is absolutely impossible. And it can't be said that some potency exists in God with no associated concept of actualization - that would be contrary to what potency is.

I think this is the pertinent statement - "A (so-called) potency is no potency at all if its associated actualization is absolutely impossible". I wholeheartedly agree. The very meaning of "potency" implies a possibility. An impossibility cannot be a potency for any substance. Therefore if there is a First Mover that is not moved by anything else then can we say that the actualisation of any potency in that Unmoved Mover is impossible? If so, then I think you have solved my conundrum.

Does what I have said make any sense? I'll need to go and chew over what you (and Papist and INPEFESS) have said. The wheels of my intellect rotate very slowly.  :blush:
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#57
(02-28-2013, 07:02 PM)Scotus Wrote:
Quote:If God Himself knew that even by His omnipotence He could NEVER make the actualization of a so-called potency POSSIBLE, it would not be a potency, would it?

But there I believe you have made a premature jump from the First Mover to God, since it is precisely the identity of the First Mover with God that remains to be demonstrated. And if we cannot show that the First Mover is Pure Act i.e. that there is no potency in this being then we have no warrant for identifying this being as God.

I understand why it was confusing at this point in the argument to talk about God.  I was just trying to say that the actualization was absolutely and unquestionably  impossible. "Not even God could do it" would be (outside this argument) the strongest way to say something is impossible.
(02-28-2013, 07:02 PM)Scotus Wrote:
Quote:There is no potency for true to become false; it is not enough to say it will never happen, it is self-contradictory, and impossible, and is non-being.  A (so-called) potency is no potency at all if its associated actualization is absolutely impossible. And it can't be said that some potency exists in God with no associated concept of actualization - that would be contrary to what potency is.

I think this is the pertinent statement - "A (so-called) potency is no potency at all if its associated actualization is absolutely impossible". I wholeheartedly agree. The very meaning of "potency" implies a possibility. An impossibility cannot be a potency for any substance. Therefore if there is a First Mover that is not moved by anything else then can we say that the actualisation of any potency in that Unmoved Mover is impossible? If so, then I think you have solved my conundrum.

Does what I have said make any sense? I'll need to go and chew over what you (and Papist and INPEFESS) have said. The wheels of my intellect rotate very slowly.  :blush:

I think it makes sense!
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#58
(02-27-2013, 03:06 AM)TS Aquinas Wrote: 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.

Scotus, I'll break down 2 & 5, it approaches your issue at different angles.

Think about the third way when reading this one.

What can be, can not-be.
A being who's substance is mixed with potency can not-be.
Given an infinite amount of time, all things with potency will eventually pass (not-be.)  
The first mover moves from eternity.
If the first mover was mixed with potency, this agent would've passed in eternity and all would not-be.
There is being,
Therefore the first mover is not mixed with potency and hence the impassibility of God.


Think of the second way with this one.

The first mover's existence is identical to his essence.
Such an agent acts as a whole since his essence and existence are identical.
Potency does not act but is acted on.
It is impossible for an agent to act as a whole if it is mixed with potency.
Therefore the first mover is not mixed with any potency.
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#59
(02-27-2013, 06:47 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: Potency exists in order to effect change.
But the unmoved mover, being of itself a sufficient and fixed cause for all effects, has no purpose for change.
Therefore, there is no purpose for potency in the unmoved mover.

All potency that exists has a purpose (to change)
There is no purpose to potency in the unmoved mover.  
Therefore, there is no potency in the unmoved mover.

I find this a very interesting set of syllogisms. So, can we say that not only a substance has a final cause but that a potency of that substance has a final cause?
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#60
(03-01-2013, 08:30 AM)Scotus Wrote:
(02-27-2013, 06:47 PM)INPEFESS Wrote: Potency exists in order to effect change.
But the unmoved mover, being of itself a sufficient and fixed cause for all effects, has no purpose for change.
Therefore, there is no purpose for potency in the unmoved mover.

All potency that exists has a purpose (to change)
There is no purpose to potency in the unmoved mover.  
Therefore, there is no potency in the unmoved mover.

I find this a very interesting set of syllogisms. So, can we say that not only a substance has a final cause but that a potency of that substance has a final cause?

Though I am certainly willing to be shown that I am wrong, I don't see how what you said couldn't be the case.

The other answer given by Papist was the answer I had originally typed out, but seeing too many potential objections, I started over with the proof from purpose.

I don't want to misrepresent Papist's point, but I would explain it like this, since it goes hand-in-hand with the above-mentioned proof according to potency's raison d'etre:

Potency (even passive potency), which is the principle of change, exists only in order that it can be actualized (even if, hic et nunc, it never is in actuality); but there can be no actualization of potency in what is a First Cause, since no cause exists prior to it in order that it might be actualized; therefore, there can be no passive potency in the First Cause.

This First Cause is therefore not only the Unmoved Mover but also the Unmoveable Mover and, thus, Pure Act.

If we acknowledge both the major and minor of the above syllogism, yet deny the conclusion, then we go on and on into an infinite series of causes, and there can be no First Cause; but the existence of the First Cause can be proved from Its certain and stable effects;* therefore, the First Cause must exist. It is from this original proof that we derive the various characteristics of the First Cause, such as "Pure Act," or rather "I Am Who Am."



For a good summary of this minor, with which you may already be familiar, c.f. Fr. Garrigou-Lagrange's Reality: A Synthesis of Thomistic Thought.
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