The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act
#61
Scotus,

There are at least 2 arguments:

1. The only way that the First Mover could be moved is by some other mover.  But in that case He wouldn't be First, contrary to the conclusion established by the proof.  Since nothing is prior to Him and therefore available to move Him, ever, He cannot be moved. 

This is different than saying that someone isn't actually moved, but could be.  For instance, you may have the potentiality to be a professional basketball player, but through defect of opportunity, etc., never succeed in actualizing this potential.

But the objection under consideration claims that God has the potential to be moved, but--according to the first way--has this potential in a world where there doesn't exist anything, even in theory, which could ever move Him.  In other words, He is claimed to be the First Mover, from which all other motion proceeds, but is then alleged to possess a capacity to engage in an activity (movement) which we have just proved only and always to proceed exclusively from Him.  He would therefore have a capacity for something which not only isn't actualized in fact, but never could be actualized even in theory.  All possible motion would both depend exclusively on Him (since He is the First Mover) and at the same time it would not depend on Him (since the objection posits a theoretical motion which takes its origin independently of the First Mover).  This is the contradiction.

But to say that something can have a potentiality which not only isn't actualized, but never could be, doesn't make any sense.  If God is the First Mover (and by accepting the first way, you admit that He is), then there isn't anything that could ever actualize any potentiality which He allegedly has.  But a potentiality which could never be actualized under any circumstances isn't a potentiality at all, which means that the First Mover couldn't have such a thing.  By definition, a potentiality is a capacity to receive something which is at least conceivably possible, even if it never actually happens.  But it is not conceivably possible that a First Mover could be in any way moved by something prior to Himself, since He is that compared to which nothing else is metaphysically prior.

2. As noted, God is pure Act in His activity (as anyone admits who accepts the conclusion of the first way).

Since He is pure Act in His activity, and since activity proceeds from existence (in fact, activity is called "secondary actuality" while esse is "primary actuality"), therefore God cannot be at all potential in His Being.  If He was potential in His Being then He would in some sense be potential in His activity, since every essence-existence composite has an intrinsic actus essendi which actualizes its essence principle.  But if God had this composition and potentiality in His Being, His activity would not be be purely actual, contrary to the already-established conclusion of the first way.

This is therefore the second sense in which God cannot be potential in His Being.
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#62
(03-03-2013, 02:44 AM)GUDC Wrote: But to say that something can have a potentiality which not only isn't actualized, but never could be, doesn't make any sense.  If God is the First Mover (and by accepting the first way, you admit that He is), then there isn't anything that could ever actualize any potentiality which He allegedly has.  But a potentiality which could never be actualized under any circumstances isn't a potentiality at all, which means that the First Mover couldn't have such a thing.  By definition, a potentiality is a capacity to receive something which is at least conceivably possible, even if it never actually happens.  But it is not conceivably possible that a First Mover could be in any way moved by something prior to Himself, since He is that compared to which nothing else is metaphysically prior.

I think you are basically reiterating the point that Doce Me made so well: if a potency is a possibility then there can be no such thing as an potency that cannot ever be reduced to act, because we would be saying that something is both possible and not-possible at the same time.

I wonder while we are on the subject of act and potency whether anyone would care to comment on the following statement from Fr Garrigou-Lagrange from Reality: A Thomistic Synthesis (ch. 5, a. 2):
Quote:Act, being completion, perfection, is not potency, which is the capacity to receive perfection.

But is the capacity (to use Edward Feser's example) of a rubber ball to be melted by heat to a goo really a "capacity to receive perfection"? Or, further, is the potency for a human being to develop a brain tumour really a "capacity to receive perfection"?
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#63
(03-03-2013, 04:27 PM)Scotus Wrote: But is the capacity (to use Edward Feser's example) of a rubber ball to be melted by heat to a goo really a "capacity to receive perfection"? Or, further, is the potency for a human being to develop a brain tumour really a "capacity to receive perfection"?
In these cases "perfection" doesn't necessarily mean something that benefits the receiver.  To say that something is "perfected" means that it becomes more determinate in its being.  In the examples given, the rubber ball is in potentiality to receiving a different form (the actuality), and the reception of that actuality is, in the metaphysical sense, a perfection, even if from the human standpoint a rubber ball has more utility and is more "perfect" than a melted puddle. 

In some cases, the change in question isn't really the reception of a perfection, but the succession of some perfection to its contrary privation.  Thus if someone becomes blind, for instance, they aren't receiving the perfection of blindness, but instead losing the actuality of sight, since blindness is not a perfection but a privation. 
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#64
Thank you!
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#65
Thanks to all who helped me understand this aspect of the First Argument.

I gave the talk last night and spoke about how we can come to a knowledge of God through demonstrative arguments (the Five Ways) and can find reasonable grounds for believing in the existence of God (the argument from fine-tuning and morality). To be honest, I felt the tumbleweed roll as I went through the Argument from Motion, but when I came to examples of the latter kind of argument I felt greater interest and actually started enjoying the talk.

At the end I said that even though the listeners might not grasp the Argument from Motion straight away (and it took me many months of working away at it to even begin to scratch the surface) it should give the lie to the claim of atheists that we have belief and they have reason. In fact, I said that it was the other way about: theism is capable of demonstration but atheism is no more than belief.

Phew...
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