Intelligent Design

Aquinas, Ockham, and Descartes about God. A free adaptation of their main arguments

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Descartes:
By ‘God’, I understand, a substance which is infinite, independent, supremely intelligent, supremely powerful, and which created both myself and everything else […] that exists.
“I could not possibly be of such a nature as I am, and yet have in my mind the idea of a God, if God did not in reality exist.” I have concluded the evident existence of God, and that my existence depends entirely on God in all the moments of my life, that I do not think that the human spirit may know anything with greater evidence and certitude.

Thomas Aquinas’ Unmoved Mover

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t3170-aquinas-first-mover-five-ways-argument

The cosmological argument for God’s existence

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t1333-kalaam-the-cosmological-argument-for-gods-existence

The universe cannot be past eternal

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t1333-kalaam-the-kalaam-cosmological-argument#5124

The cause of the universe must be personal

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t1333-kalaam-the-cosmological-argument-for-gods-existence#5326

Nothing is the thing that stones think of

https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t2817-nothing-is-the-thing-that-stones-think-of

The philosophical cosmological argument of God’s existence https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t1333-kalaam-the-cosmological-argument-for-gods-existence#545552

Syllogistic – Arguments of God’s existence based on positive evidence https://reasonandscience.catsboard.com/t2895-syllogistic-arguments-of-gods-existence-based-on-positive-evidence

204 Replies to “Aquinas, Ockham, and Descartes about God. A free adaptation of their main arguments

  1. 1
    Origenes says:

    The First Way: Argument from Motion

    1.) Our senses prove that some things are in motion.
    2.) Things move when potential motion becomes actual motion.
    3.) Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion.
    4.) Nothing can be at once in both actuality and potentiality in the same respect (i.e., if both actual and potential, it is actual in one respect and potential in another).
    5.) Therefore nothing can move itself.
    6.) Therefore each thing in motion is moved by something else.
    7.) The sequence of motion cannot extend ad infinitum.
    8.) Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

    Some of you won’t like it, but here follows some criticism on Aquinas’ first way.
    It is a solid argument against hard determinism. It clearly shows that the idea that everything is determined by a prior cause does not make sense. Aquinas concludes that there must be at least one exception, the ‘first mover’ — God.
    Surely a ‘first-mover’ is all you need to explain the concept of a fully blind deterministic universe, but that concept does not fit reality.
    I, as a rational being, need to be in control of my thoughts. Given that I am rational, it cannot be the case that God moves all things, my thoughts included. “God moves all things”, and “Nothing can move itself except for God” cannot be true. I must be able to move myself also. I do not fit a blind causal chain that originates with God.
    God does not do my thinking — I do. And God certainly did not commit Ted Bundy’s crimes — Ted Bundy moved himself.

  2. 2
    AnimatedDust says:

    Was Aquinas including thoughts when considering “things” in motion?

  3. 3
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @2

    Was Aquinas including thoughts when considering “things” in motion?

    I don’t believe so. Aristotle, at any rate, considered thoughts to be act of the intellect. The intellect is pure form, with no matter and hence no potential or potency. Only things with a material dimension to them exhibit motion or movement.

    I don’t know if that’s exactly what Aquinas would say, but it’s what Aristotle would say, and Aquinas takes over a lot from Aristotle.

    For that reason, I do not think that Aquinas’s cosmological argument undermines freedom of the will. All he would need to say is that the intellectual power of the soul is immaterial, and that’s enough to exempt it from the causal chain that originates in God.

  4. 4
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    Some of you won’t like it, but here follows some criticism on Aquinas’ first way.

    Let’s examine it.

    Given that I am rational, it cannot be the case that God moves all things, my thoughts included. “God moves all things”, and “Nothing can move itself except for God” cannot be true.

    Your thoughts, which are immaterial, cannot be detected by the senses and do not, therefore, count as “things” whose movement can be observed or traced. What can be observed are the products of your thinking.

    God does not do my thinking — I do.

    Yes, of course. Still, I think you misunderstand the principle of sufficient reason, which states that everything that exists or moves must have a rational explanation. You cannot be the cause (origin, explanation) for your capacity to think. It was God, the first mover, who, from nothing, created you as an responsible, intelligent agent capable of forming your own thoughts. So it is (was) with Ted Bundy.
    Thus, the paragraph that you just wrote is explained by your prior capacity to write it, which was given to you by the first mover (God), who moved you from a state of non-existence to what you now are now (an intelligent agent, who can think his own thoughts and act on them). The existence of a first mover, therefore, is a necessary condition for a rational universe.

  5. 5
    Origenes says:

    StephenB@ 4

    Your thoughts, which are immaterial, cannot be detected by the senses and do not, therefore, count as “things” whose movement can be observed or traced. What can be observed are the products of your thinking.

    You offer my writing on this forum as an example of a product of my thinking. A clear and good example. My claim is that I move myself when I write my posts.

    Thus, the paragraph that you just wrote is explained by your prior capacity to write it, which was given to you by the first mover (God), who moved you from a state of non-existence to what you now are now (an intelligent agent, who can think his own thoughts and act on them).

    When I think my own thoughts and act on them and write this paragraph, do I move myself (according to Aquinas)? Are you saying that (according to Aquinas) God created me and gave me the capacity to move myself?

    The existence of a first mover, therefore, is a necessary condition for a rational universe.

    If we assume a fully deterministic universe, then the existence of a first mover is necessary to avoid the absurdity of an infinite regress of causes. True. However, as I have argued, the universe cannot be fully deterministic, because I, as a rational being, do not fit such a universe. I must be able to move myself.

  6. 6
    Origenes says:

    Thomas Aquinas on Free Will:

    “Free will is the cause of its own motion, because by his free will man moves himself for the sake of acting. Nevertheless, it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as neither is it required for one thing to be the cause of another that it be the first cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, moving both natural and voluntary causes. And just as by moving natural causes he does not divert their acts from being natural, so by moving voluntary causes he does not divert their actions from being voluntary; but rather he produces this ability in them: for he operates in each thing according to its own nature. [ST Ia 83.1]”

    A closer look:

    Free will is the cause of its own motion, because by his free will man moves himself for the sake of acting.

    Got it. “Man moves himself”, so I am a self-mover. This implies that my thoughts (and writings) originate in me. IOW I am the first cause of my thoughts.

    Nevertheless, it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as neither is it required for one thing to be the cause of another that it be the first cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, moving both natural and voluntary causes.

    Wait a minute. First Thomas says “man moves himself” and next he says ‘God is the first cause of the (voluntary) movement of man.’
    The latter does not make sense, because:
    If God is the first cause of my thoughts (writings), and he is a sufficient cause of my thoughts, then I am not in control of my thoughts, and therefore, I am not rational.
    If God is not a sufficient cause of my thoughts, but I am, then I move myself and I am the first cause of my thoughts.

  7. 7
    Origenes says:

    AnimatedDust @ PM1@

    Aquinas speaks of God being the first cause of things and agents alike. As shown, he does make a compatibilist effort to preserve free will, but the overall message seems to be: there is but one self-mover in an otherwise entirely deterministic universe. Some quote mining:

    Similarly, also, every movement of a will whereby Powers are applied to operation is reduced to God, as a first object of appetite and a first agent of willing. Therefore; every operation should be attributed to God, as to a first and principal agent.

    Now, in the order of agent causes, God is the first cause, as we showed in Book One [64]. And so, all lower agent causes act through His power. But the cause of an action is the one by whose power the action is done rather than the one who acts: the principal agent, for instance, rather than the instrument. Therefore, God is more especially the cause of every action than are the secondary agent causes. …

    Now, every power in any agent is from God, as from a first principle of all perfection. Therefore, since every operation results from a power, the cause of every operation must be God. …

    Now, nothing is a cause of being unless by virtue of its acting through the power of God, as we showed. Therefore, every operating agent acts through God’s power.

    Hence, if this divine influence were to cease, every operation would cease. Therefore, every operation of a thing is traced back to Him as to its cause.

  8. 8
    StephenB says:

    Origenes

    Wait a minute. First Thomas says “man moves himself” and next he says ‘God is the first cause of the (voluntary) movement of man.’

    Precisely so.

    The latter does not make sense, because:
    If God is the first cause of my thoughts (writings), and he is a sufficient cause of my thoughts, then I am not in control of my thoughts, and therefore, I am not rational.

    You are the cause of your individual thoughts and actions, which come (mostly) from inside of you, but you are not the cause of your capacity to think and act, which come from outside of you, that is, from the first cause. That is another way of saying that God is responsible for the existence of your intellectual and volitional powers, but you are responsible for the ways in which you use them. Obviously, you did not create yourself or your ability to think and act.
    It is the former that is part of the causal chain that must begin with a prime mover, or if you like, a first cause. With these powers or faculties, humans can, insofar as they are made in God’s image and likeness, also act as causal agents themselves and create causal chains of their own, but they cannot be the first cause, a status reserved exclusively for God.

    … every operating agent acts through God’s power. …
    Hence, if this divine influence were to cease, every operation would cease. Therefore, every operation of a thing is traced back to Him as to its cause.

    It is important to emphasize *how* it is traced back. Even though we can act as independent moral agents, and can formulate our own thoughts, the powers or faculties that make it possible are dependent on the Creator in the sense that He not only created and designed them but also maintains them in existence. That is part of the causal chain. If God stopped maintaining the universe, our capacity to think and act would cease. God continues to sustain the conditions that make thinking and acting possible, but that does not mean that He is the source of those thoughts and actions.

  9. 9
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @8

    You are the cause of your individual thoughts and actions, which come (mostly) from inside of you, but you are not the cause of your capacity to think and act, which come from outside of you, that is, from the first cause. That is another way of saying that God is responsible for the existence of your intellectual and volitional powers, but you are responsible for the ways in which you use them. Obviously, you did not create yourself or your ability to think and act.

    So, you are saying that God created me with the ability to freely move myself, to think and act. That’s not what Aquinas is saying. Nothing can move itself but God.

    Aquinas: God, therefore, is the first cause, moving both natural and voluntary causes.
    … Now, every power in any agent is from God, as from a first principle of all perfection. Therefore, since every operation results from a power, the cause of every operation must be God. …

    Aquinas claims that God is the first cause of every move I make, of every thought I have.

    It is the former that is part of the causal chain that must begin with a prime mover, or if you like, a first cause.

    The causal chain in the process of creating me is a separate one from the causal chain between me and my thoughts. You seem to tie them together and posit God as the first cause. Perhaps a comparison will make my point: arguably without my parents, I would not exist, yet it is incoherent to claim that they are therefore the first cause of every thought I have. Also, given that I am rational, there must necessarily be a disconnect between these two causal chains.

    With these powers or faculties, humans can, insofar as they are made in God’s image and likeness, also act as causal agents themselves and create causal chains of their own, but they cannot be the first cause, a status reserved exclusively for God.

    Again, I must be the first cause of my thoughts, or I am not rational.
    Do you insist on God being the first cause of my thoughts? Aquinas surely does insist. And do you hold that God as the first cause of my thoughts is a sufficient cause of my thoughts? Aquinas doesn’t say. I can tell you this: if God is a sufficient first cause of my thoughts, then I am not in control of my thoughts and I am not rational.

    “… every operating agent acts through God’s power. …
    Hence, if this divine influence were to cease, every operation would cease. Therefore, every operation of a thing is traced back to Him as to its cause.” [Aquinas]

    It is important to emphasize *how* it is traced back. Even though we can act as independent moral agents, and can formulate our own thoughts, the powers or faculties that make it possible are dependent on the Creator in the sense that He not only created and designed them but also maintains them in existence. That is part of the causal chain.

    Creating me and maintaining my existence are both not part of the causal chain between me and my thoughts. Maintaining my existence is separate from me having thoughts. And there must be a disconnect in principle between the causal chains because if there is a causal chain of sufficient causes between God all the way down to my thoughts, then I am not in control of my thoughts and I am not rational.

    If God stopped maintaining the universe, our capacity to think and act would cease. God continues to sustain the conditions that make thinking and acting possible, but that does not mean that He is the source of those thoughts and actions.

    Yet Aquinas posits God as the first cause of my every thought and action.

  10. 10
    chuckdarwin says:

    Clocks ticking. First one to get it right gets a rosary made out of the true cross and a signed copy of Summa Theologica. Good luck, gentlemen…..

  11. 11
    StephenB says:

    Origenes

    So, you are saying that God created me with the ability to freely move myself, to think and act.

    .

    Yes. Still, I don’t think that this is part of (or related to) Aquinas’ argument for a first mover. He is referring, I think, to physical objects in the natural world whose movement can be detected by the senses. Your thoughts, noble as they are, exist in the spiritual world and cannot be detected. I don’t think they relate to his argument.for a first mover.

    Aquinas claims that God is the first cause of every move I make, of every thought I have.

    Yet he also says that free will indicates that man can move himself to action. Maybe it would help to know exactly what he means by “first cause,” especially since he is arguing less about causation and more about movement. Indeed, he has a separate, though related,, argument from causation.

    Here is an extension of Aquinas’ comment about free will that you alluded to earlier:

    —“Free will is the cause of its own movement, because by his free-will man moves himself to act. [Notice here he is acknowledging that man can move himself]. But it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as neither for one thing to be cause of another need it be the first cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, Who moves causes both natural and voluntary. And just as by moving natural causes He does not prevent their acts being natural, so by moving voluntary causes He does not deprive their actions of being voluntary: but rather is He the cause of this very thing in them; for He operates in each thing according to its own nature.”

    That passage does not, as you seem to imply, argue against libertarian free will. In any case, I still don’t think that this relates to Aquinas’ first argument from motion, which points out that any physical object that moves and is perceivable to the senses, is (and must be) moved by something else. This requires the existence of a prime mover. We are, or should be, discussing a causal chain of events that works backwards from the observation of movement to the existence of the prime mover.

    Again, I must be the first cause of my thoughts, or I am not rational.
    Do you insist on God being the first cause of my thoughts? Aquinas surely does insist. And do you hold that God as the first cause of my thoughts is a sufficient cause of my thoughts?

    It depends on what you mean by the terms you are using. If “First cause means chronologically first, then of course the answer is that yes, God endowed you with the faculties of intellect and will even before you conceived your first thought and therefore, is the first cause of all your thoughts. If “First Cause means your motivation for acting , then I think it would be more meaningful to say that you are *a* first cause of your actions, as opposed to *the* first cause.

    I can tell you this: if God is a sufficient first cause of my thoughts, then I am not in control of my thoughts and I am not rational.

    I agree. God would not be the sufficient cause of your moral decisions. That would rule out free will altogether. Notice, though, that we have, once again, abandoned the subject of movement.

  12. 12
    Origenes says:

    StephenB

    Ori: So, you are saying that [according to Aquinas] God created me with the ability to freely move myself, to think and act.

    Yes.

    Here we disagree. Aquinas claims that nothing can move itself but God. Not only is God the first cause, in fact, he is the only cause in the entire universe. Any change or movement in the universe [every movement of the human will included] is merely the transmittance of his movement.

    Still, I don’t think that this is part of (or related to) Aquinas’ argument for a first mover. He is referring, I think, to physical objects in the natural world whose movement can be detected by the senses. Your thoughts, noble as they are, exist in the spiritual world and cannot be detected. I don’t think they relate to his argument.for a first mover.

    Here we disagree also. I’m not sure if the distinction you are proposing is even possible. As you pointed out, my thoughts produce things such as this paragraph. If God is the first cause of all things, then he is also the first cause of this paragraph and by extension my thoughts that produced it.
    Aquinas speaks of God being the first cause of things and voluntary actions by agents alike.

    TA: God, therefore, is the first cause, Who moves causes both natural and voluntary.

    The following quote is also clear:

    TA: Similarly, also, every movement of a will whereby Powers are applied to operation is reduced to God, as a first object of appetite and a first agent of willing. Therefore; every operation should be attributed to God, as to a first and principal agent.

    According to Aquinas, God is the first cause of everything including our thoughts—see also post #7.

    If “First Cause” means your motivation for acting , then I think it would be more meaningful to say that you are *a* first cause of your actions, as opposed to *the* first cause.

    Can you please elaborate on the distinction you are making here? If you are saying here that I cause my thoughts (and this ‘thing’ called paragraph), that my thoughts originate in me, that I alone move my thoughts, then we agree, and we both disagree with Aquinas.

    Ori: I can tell you this: if God is a sufficient first cause of my thoughts, then I am not in control of my thoughts and I am not rational.

    I agree. God would not be the sufficient cause of your moral decisions. That would rule out free will altogether.

    Exactly. And if God is not a sufficient cause of my thoughts, but I am, then I move myself and I am the first cause of my thoughts (and this ‘thing’ called paragraph).

  13. 13
    kairosfocus says:

    SB, great to see you, happy new year. KF

  14. 14
    StephenB says:

    Origenes,

    Let’s take an example of motion or change in the physical world. On The street where you live, puddles of water have appeared overnight. First the streets were dry, but now they are wet. Things have changed and we detected the change via our senses. Why did the change occur? Was it because the streets decided to assume a state of wetness? Obviously not. They simply don’t have the power to do that.

    Nothing in the physical world can change (or move) itself, which is what Aquinas is saying. In this case, as in all cases, the explanation must come from the outside, which is the point he is stressing. As it turns out, he is right; It rained last night. But just as the wet streets must be explained (Principle of Sufficient Reason), the appearance of the rain must also be explained, which occurs because water droplets get too heavy to remain in the clouds and fall to the earth.

    So we continue to follow the causal chain all the way back to the prime mover, who is responsible for (ultimately, not necessarily immediately) all the physical changes that we detect. Though I have not listed all the steps, this is an air tight argument. It cannot not be true.

    What I don’t fully comprehend is why you think that this point has anything at all to do with your capacity for thinking (or the thinking itself), which cannot be detected by the senses and is, therefore, irrelevant to the argument. You insist that there is a hole in the argument, but insofar as I can tell, you have not yet found one.

    You asked about the distinction between spiritual and material phenomena. It is, in part, about the difference between those physical things which can be perceived and detected through the senses, such as material objects, the human body, and the human brain, and those things which cannot be detected in the same way, such as the world of ideas, the human soul, and the comprehending mind.

    I think is it also important to recognize that effects can be the consequence of a multiplicity of causes, not just one. Yes, your decision to think and act are caused by you, but your capacity to think and act was (and is) caused by God. Both types of cause (and many others) are present and active when you start a causal chain on your own as an distinct intelligent agent. Still, these facts are not relevant to Aquinas’ argument.

  15. 15
    StephenB says:

    KF, thanks. Happy new year.

  16. 16
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @

    So we continue to follow the causal chain all the way back to the prime mover, who is responsible for (ultimately, not necessarily immediately) all the physical changes that we detect. Though I have not listed all the steps, this is an air tight argument. It cannot not be true.

    I think I understand the argument. It looks extremely solid to me. And if leave human beings out of account for a moment, then the claim ‘God is the first cause of everything’ makes perfect sense.

    What I don’t fully comprehend is why you think that this point has anything at all to do with your capacity for thinking (or the thinking itself), which cannot be detected by the senses and is, therefore, irrelevant to the argument. You insist that there is a hole in the argument, but insofar as I can tell, you have not yet found one.

    I can accept your interpretation of Aquinas as yours, and we can leave it at that, and we both have a different understanding of what he is saying, but I fail to understand you. For the first and last time, I say to you that I have provided quotes from Aquinas where he states that God is the first cause of “both natural and voluntary” action; God is the “first agent of willing”; “every movement of a will …. is reduced to God”, “every operation should be attributed to God”.
    This is where I do not understand you: do you really interpret the above as unrelated to thinking and writing posts on this forum? Is creating/writing your post, not an “operation”, not a “voluntary action”, or does it not involve a “movement of the will”? “Every power in any agent is from God”, and “the cause of every operation must be God.” Is our thinking excluded when Aquinas writes this? If so, why doesn’t he say so? I do not understand where your idea of exclusion comes from. Please provide a quote by Aquinas that says “thinking is excluded, when I say ‘every power’, ‘every operation’ or ‘every movement of the will’, because …..”

    You asked about the distinction between spiritual and material phenomena. It is, in part, about the difference between those physical things which can be perceived and detected through the senses, such as material objects, the human body, and the human brain, and those things which cannot be detected in the same way, such as the world of ideas, the human soul, and the comprehending mind.

    But Stephen, Aquinas speaks about what God is doing. Why on earth would God restrict his actions to what can be perceived and detected by human senses? More generally, why are our sensory boundaries restrictive to God’s actions?

  17. 17
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    For the first and last time, I say to you that I have provided quotes from Aquinas where he states that God is the first cause of [“both natural and voluntary” action; God is the “first agent of willing”; “every movement of a will …. is reduced to God”, “every operation should be attributed to God”

    Agreed. But that has nothing to do with the validity of Aquinas first mover argument, which is the one that you originally criticized, saying that “the concept does not fit reality” If I understood you correctly, you were offering the above quotes as evidence that the first mover argument doesn’t make any sense. If you now accept the first mover argument (or if you always did), then we have no real dispute.

    Do you really interpret the above [quotes] as unrelated to thinking and willing

    No. not at all. I interpret them as unrelated to the first mover argument.

    Addressing your concerns about free will, I think Aquinas would (and does) say that God is the primary cause of all your actions and you are the secondary cause. God’s influence is necessary, but not sufficient.

    In what way is God the primary cause? Here I will dare to step in for Aquinas. First of all, God provides you with the immaterial faculties of a comprehending intelligence and free will (differentiating this from the processing physical organ of a brain), which allow you to think and make decisions. Without that power, you could not operate as a rational or moral human being. Second, God provides you with moral targets to which your free will can aim. In other words, God is responsible for the purpose of your existence, which should inform the way you behave. Without an ultimate goal, your actions would be meaningless. Third, God sustains your existence and the physical/spiritual environment that facilitates your involvement in the drama of saving your soul.

    In what way are you a secondary cause? First, God can do almost anything except make your moral choices for you. Only you can decide to use you intellectual and moral powers for their intended purpose. Granted, you are not the first cause of the *existence* of your faculties, but you are, nevertheless, a distinct (from God) causal agent with the power to influence others and help them to think productive thoughts and make good decisions. Like the Creator, you can start your own causal chain. That is a lot of power.

    >But Stephen, Aquinas speaks about what God is doing. Why on earth would God restrict his actions to what can be perceived and detected by human senses? More generally, why are our sensory boundaries restrictive to God’s actions?

    I think you misunderstand. Most arguments for the existence of God are inductive. The argument for a first mover, for example, begins with the observation that things move and change. The methodology works by analyzing those things that can be perceived only by the senses. It wouldn’t work if you began your analysis with articles of faith, or naked syllogisms. It is understood that people have great faith in what they discover through observation and strong confidence in conclusions that are based on what is known to be empirically true.

  18. 18
    Origenes says:

    Ori: Do you really interpret the above [quotes] as unrelated to thinking and writing posts on this forum?

    No. not at all. I interpret them as unrelated to the first mover argument.

    We agree that, according to Aquinas, God is the first mover of the movement of the sun and God is also the first mover of every thought that I have. Let’s proceed.

    I agree with Aquinas that God is the first mover of the movement of all the objects beyond the reach of human beings; such as the sun. But I do not agree with Aquinas that God is the first mover of my thoughts.

    Aquinas reasons that nothing can move itself but God. God sets the sun in motion and like a billiard ball the sun follows the trajectory that follows from God’s push. The sun is in fact doing nothing, it goes with the flow, not a single motion originates from the sun itself.
    My thinking does not and cannot work like that. Perhaps my thinking can be ‘activated’ (set in motion) by God in some unspecified way **Go Do Some Thinking Human**, but it cannot be the case that, like the sun, I do not move my thoughts myself. It cannot be the case that I do not specify my thoughts myself, that I do not set out the course of my thoughts. So, I must be able to manipulate my thoughts and I cannot do that if I cannot move myself. However, according to Aquinas, I, like the sun, cannot move myself.

    However, if I cannot move myself while I think, if, like the sun, all I can do is go with the power of God, if I am paralyzed and immovable on my own, then God is in fact doing all my thinking, just like God is doing all the movement of the sun.

    If God is a sufficient cause of my thinking, then I am not in control of my thoughts, and I am not rational.
    If I cannot move myself, I cannot move my thoughts. If I cannot move my thoughts, I cannot control my thoughts, and I am not rational.

    Yet, according to Aquinas, nothing can move itself, but God. So, according to Aquinas, I cannot move myself or my thoughts. If I am rational, Aquinas is mistaken.

    Addressing your concerns about free will, I think Aquinas would (and does) say that God is the primary cause of all your actions and you are the secondary cause. God’s influence is necessary, but not sufficient.

    A secondary cause in a causal chain, according to Aquinas, is just transmitting the movement of the first cause. The sun is transmitting the movement of God when it collides with something. A secondary cause in a causal chain, according to Aquinas, does not move by itself. As I have argued, I cannot be a secondary cause of my thoughts in that sense, it cannot be the case that I am only transmitting movement of the first cause and that I cannot move myself. I must be able to move myself and my thoughts in order to be rational.

  19. 19
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @

    For clarity, my critique of Aquinas’ first mover argument:

    Aquinas envisions a universe occupied by various kinds of things and agents that all lack the ability to move by themselves. Not one of the things, and not one of the agents, can move itself — not even one nanometer. Next, he argues that the brute fact of any movement points to one single first mover, that is God.

    SB on Aquinas’ first mover argument:

    … this is an air tight argument. It cannot not be true.

    I would agree with you if I were to accept Aquinas’ vision of a completely inert universe. However, I reject a universe where agents, like objects, cannot move on their own. I reject a universe where any change or movement [every movement of human thought included] is merely quiescent transmittance of His movement.
    And my rejection is based on the notion that such a fully deterministic universe does not allow for my rationality (see #18).

  20. 20
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @19

    Aquinas envisions a universe occupied by various kinds of things and agents that all lack the ability to move by themselves. Not one of the things, and not one of the agents, can move itself — not even one nanometer. Next, he argues that the brute fact of any movement points to one single first mover, that is God.

    I really do not think this is Aquinas at all.

    Aquinas begins, as Aristotle does, with the fact that the world contains lots of movement: planets wander the sky, the sun and moon rise and set, plants grow, animals are born and die, etc. Everything in nature (phusis) exhibits movement (kinesis).

    What Aristotle and Aquinas argue is that we need an explanation for movement: what is it that is the ultimate ground or source for the manifold observable changes and movements that we observe around us and that we know ourselves to be?

    For Aristotle, it is the highest, purest form of activity — and for reasons that I won’t go into right now, he concludes that the purest form of activity is what he calls “thought that thinks only of itself alone”, or “the unmoved mover”

    Aquinas, being a Christian, needs to identity the Aristotelian unmoved mover with the God of Scripture, who created ex nihilo and with Whom we can have a personal relation.

    Hence for Aquinas, God is the first cause, yes — but not in the sense of being the first domino to fall in the row of dominoes. The Thomistic God is the ultimate final cause of all things: He is the ultimate “for the sake of which” all things are organized. The will, knowledge, and power of God is the reason why anything exists at all and why it exists as it does.

    That is what StephenB has been trying to get at (I think): for Aquinas, God is the reason why we have the capacity of free will — because that is how He created us, and He did so out of love. He created us with the ability to freely accept that love or to reject it. (I am not clear on how Aquinas thinks that the Fall affected our intellect and our will.)

  21. 21
    Origenes says:

    PM1 @20

    I really do not think this is Aquinas at all.

    Why am I not surprised?

    Aquinas begins, as Aristotle does, with the fact that the world contains lots of movement: planets wander the sky, the sun and moon rise and set, plants grow, animals are born and die, etc.

    Sure. And, given that things (and agents) cannot move themselves, there must be an explanation for their movement ‘prior’ to them: the first mover. They cannot move themselves, so where is the movement coming from? That is the underlying logic of the whole argument. So, the notion of inertness of things and agents, the idea that they cannot move themselves, is an essential part of Aquinas’s first mover argument.

    ……
    5.) Therefore nothing can move itself.
    6.) Therefore each thing in motion is moved by something else.
    7.) The sequence of motion cannot extend ad infinitum.
    8.) Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

  22. 22
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @21

    I think the problem here lies in how this fifth premise is phrased, relative to the premises that lead up to it.

    1.) Our senses prove that some things are in motion.
    2.) Things move when potential motion becomes actual motion.
    3.) Only an actual motion can convert a potential motion into an actual motion.
    4.) Nothing can be at once in both actuality and potentiality in the same respect (i.e., if both actual and potential, it is actual in one respect and potential in another).
    5.) Therefore nothing can move itself.
    6.) Therefore each thing in motion is moved by something else.
    7.) The sequence of motion cannot extend ad infinitum.
    8.) Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

    The argument is that every actual motion that we experience begins from some potential motion, but that every potential motion requires some previous actual motion. So (5) should be phrased as “Therefore nothing can be the sole cause of its own motion”.

    That is, the Thomist doesn’t deny that physical things can move, nor does the Thomist need to deny that some of them (living things) can be the causes of their own motion. What he would deny is that we are the sole cause of our motion.

    Another way of seeing the Thomistic point is to notice that for Aquinas (as for Aristotle), the concept of cause is not really distinct from the concept of explanation. To grasp the complete cause of a thing is to grasp the complete explanation for that thing, including not only why it does what it does, but also why it doesn’t do what it doesn’t do.

    The argument from motion is designed to show that if all perceptible change involves a transition from potential to actuality, then there must be some purely actual source of motion that explains why all moving things move as they do.

    This doesn’t deny that we are finite beings with free will have the capacity to freely decide what to do and then act on that intention. It simply says that there needs to be an explanation of why we are the kinds of beings who can freely decide what to do and act on that intention. The ultimate, truly comprehensive explanation — the regress-stopper of explanations — is that God is the ultimate source of all movement.

    I’m having trouble seeing why you think this precludes free will.

  23. 23
    Origenes says:

    PM1@

    That is, the Thomist doesn’t deny that physical things can move, …

    No one is his right mind does. It is a brute fact that things can move.

    …. nor does the Thomist need to deny that some of them (living things) can be the causes of their own motion.

    You are making that up because that is exactly what Aquinas denies. Please stop writing about what you imagine Aquinas’ position to be. Please PM1, for once stop the nonsense.

    TA: The same thing cannot be at once in act and in potency with respect to the same thing. But everything that is moved is, as such, in potency. For motion is the act of something that is in potency inasmuch as it is in potency. That which moves, however, is as such in act, for nothing acts except according as it is in act. Therefore, with respect to the same motion, nothing is both mover and moved. Thus, nothing moves itself.
    – – –
    The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and evident to our senses, that in the world some things are in motion. Now whatever is in motion is put in motion by another, for nothing can be in motion except it is in potentiality to that towards which it is in motion; whereas a thing moves inasmuch as it is in act. For motion is nothing else than the reduction of something from potentiality to actuality. But nothing can be reduced from potentiality to actuality, except by something in a state of actuality.

  24. 24
    StephenB says:

    Origenes

    And, given that things (and agents) cannot move themselves, there must be an explanation for their movement ‘prior’ to them: the first mover. They cannot move themselves, so where is the movement coming from? That is the underlying logic of the whole argument

    .
    But Aquinas makes it quite clear that intelligent agents can move themselves to act via their free will. So it is inappropriate to characterize them as “things.’

    So, the notion of inertness of things and agents, the idea that they cannot move themselves, is an essential part of Aquinas’s first mover argument.

    No, it isn’t. He holds that a first mover is logically necessary given the movement of other things. To characterize a self-moving free agent as one of those “things” is to muddy the debate waters.

  25. 25
    StephenB says:

    PMI….”nor does the Thomist need to deny that some of them (living things) can be the causes of their own motion.”

    Origenes in response— “You are making that up because that is exactly what Aquinas denies. Please stop writing about what you imagine Aquinas’ position to be. Please PM1, for once stop the nonsense.”

    PMI is not “making anything up.” Of course, Aquinas knows (and says) that humans can move themselves to action by using their faculty of free will .Free will and self movement are inextricably tied together. To acknowledge one is to acknowledge the other. Still, that fact is *irrelevant* to the argument being made: We can, through our sense experience, detect motion/change in nature and reason our way back a first mover. You can’t detect the movement of intellectual thoughts and moral decisions (even if it can be reasonably asserted that thoughts and decisions “move”), so there is no reason to inject that subject into the discussion.

  26. 26
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @24

    Aquinas makes it quite clear that intelligent agents can move themselves to act via their free will.

    So, you are saying that when Aquinas states “thus, nothing moves itself”, he is excluding intelligent agents? And when he states whatever is in motion is put in motion by another” he again is excluding intelligent agents. And Aquinas is also excluding intelligent agents when he states that God is the first cause of “both natural and voluntary” action, God is the “first agent of willing”, every movement of a will …. is reduced to God” and, every operation should be attributed to God.”
    Aquinas does not write clearly and concisely then, wouldn’t you agree? I have asked you for a quote, where he mentions the exclusion of intelligent agents, but you have not provided one yet.
    Suppose that Aquinas wrote: …

    “God moves man’s will, as the Universal Mover, to the universal object of the will, which is good.”

    … would you still maintain that Aquinas excludes intelligent agents? Aquinas actually wrote those words.
    Let’s proceed with the part where Aquinas attempts to have it both ways. He wants God to be the first cause of everything (every thought and every will of man included) and at the same time, he wants man to be free. Aquinas wants a deterministic universe and human freedom to be compatible. In posts #6, #9, #12, #16, #18, I have argued against Aquinas’ compatibilism.

    TA: God moves man’s will, as the Universal Mover, to the universal object of the will, which is good. And, without this universal motion, man cannot will anything. But man determines himself by his reason, to will this or that, which is true or apparent good.

    Aquinas speaks of a “universal motion” that originates from God and moves man’s will. I take it that the term ‘universal’ refers to its non-specificity because next, he states “man determines himself by his reason, to will this or that.” We have arrived at the crucial point of Aquinas’ compatibilism.
    What we have is a man who cannot move his will, but once God sets it into motion in an unspecified way, man is able to move his will. Aquinas makes the man’s will as dependent as he possibly can, but, at the same time, he wants it to be free. Do we have determinism and free will coherently joined? Can it be said that God is the first cause of the movement of man’s will, and at the same time, that man is moving his own will?
    Suppose that the man starts thinking thus: “All men are mortal, Socrates is a man, Socrates is mortal.” Can it be said that God is the first cause of this particular thought? Apparently not. Is God responsible for any of the premises or the conclusion? Nope. Aquinas posits God’s “universal movement” as a necessary condition for man to have these thoughts, but, arguably several things are (e.g. oxygen, drinks, food, and parents). Are any of those first-cause candidates for the man’s thoughts? Not likely. It is my strongly held opinion that necessary conditions are part of causal chains unrelated to the causal chain between the man and his thoughts. Man is the first cause of his thought.
    But that’s not what Aquinas wants, as we know he wants God to be the first cause of everything. How to proceed? Here Aquinas goes on to state that God determines the end goal of man’s actions. God moves secondary causes (such as man) to do his will.
    Read again:

    God moves man’s will, as the Universal Mover, to the universal object of the will, which is good.

    So, now it is again coherent to say that God is the first cause of everything (including man’s will). God sovereignty is restored. But this latest move calls into question man’s freedom (that’s the problem with compatibilism folks) …. a story perhaps for another day.

  27. 27
    bornagain77 says:

    What I love about modern science is that, due to the almost miraculous advances in modern science over the past century, we can now, metaphorically, put some empirical meat on these ancient philosophical bones of Aristotle and Aquinas.

    Specifically, quantum mechanics confirms Aristotle’s and Aquinas’s ancient ‘unmoved mover’ argument. And, as an added benefit, quantum mechanics even reveals how our own free will fits into the grand scheme of these things.

    First, to lay the ancient argument out, Dr. Egnor succinctly states the ‘prime mover’ and/or ‘unmoved mover’ argument as such,

    Aquinas’ First Way – Michael Egnor – 2011
    1) Change in nature is elevation of potency to act.
    2) Potency cannot actualize itself, because it does not exist actually.
    3) Potency must be actualized by another, which is itself in act.
    4) Essentially ordered series of causes (elevations of potency to act) exist in nature.
    5) An essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act cannot be in infinite regress, because the series must be actualized by something that is itself in act without the need for elevation from potency.
    6) The ground of an essentially ordered series of elevations from potency to act must be pure act with respect to the casual series.
    7) This Pure Act– Prime Mover– is what we call God.
    http://egnorance.blogspot.com/.....t-way.html

    1) Change exists in nature (evidence)
    2) Change is the actuation of potentiality, and an essential chain of actuations cannot go to infinite regress. A fully actual Prime Mover is necessary (logic)
    3) That Prime Mover is what all men call God (conclusion)
    – Michael Egnor – 2020
    https://mindmatters.ai/2020/03/jerry-coyne-hasnt-got-a-prayer/

    Moreover, Dr. Egnor reveals that Heisenberg understood that, ”The probability (quantum) wave of Bohr, Kramers, Slater… was a quantitative version of the old concept of “potentia” in Aristotelian philosophy. It introduced something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality…The probability function combines objective and subjective elements,,,”

    What Is Matter? The Aristotelian Perspective – Michael Egnor – July 21, 2017
    Excerpt: Heisenberg, almost alone among the great physicists of the quantum revolution, understood that the Aristotelian concept of potency and act was beautifully confirmed by quantum theory and evidence.,,,
    Heisenberg wrote:
    ,,,”The probability wave of Bohr, Kramers, Slater… was a quantitative version of the old concept of “potentia” in Aristotelian philosophy. It introduced something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality…The probability function combines objective and subjective elements,,,”
    Thus, the existence of potential quantum states described by Schrodinger’s equation (which is a probability function) are the potency (the “matter”) of the system, and the collapse of the quantum waveform is the reduction of potency to act. To an Aristotelian (like Heisenberg), quantum mechanics isn’t strange at all.
    https://evolutionnews.org/2017/07/what-is-matter-the-aristotelian-perspective/

    “In the experiments about atomic events we have to do with things and facts, with phenomena that are just as real as any phenomena in daily life. But atoms and the elementary particles themselves are not as real; they form a world of potentialities or possibilities rather than one of things or facts … The probability wave … mean[s] tendency for something. It’s a quantitative version of the old concept of potentia from Aristotle’s philosophy. It introduces something standing in the middle between the idea of an event and the actual event, a strange kind of physical reality just in the middle between possibility and reality.”
    – Werner Heisenberg, Physics and Philosophy. London: Allen and Unwin. (1958), p. 41

    In short, the interesting thing about God, i.e. ‘pure act’, actualizing potentiality is that it fits hand in glove with what we now know to be true from quantum mechanics.

    Specifically, prior to a quantum wave collapsing to its finite particle state, (i.e. reduction of potency to act), the quantum wave, i.e. the potential, is mathematically defined as being in an infinite dimensional state. An infinite dimensional state that takes an infinite amount of information to describe properly.

    Wave function
    Excerpt: As has been demonstrated, the set of all possible wave functions in some representation for a system constitute an in general infinite-dimensional Hilbert space.
    https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wave_function#More_on_wave_functions_and_abstract_state_space
    “wave functions form an abstract vector space”,,, This vector space is infinite-dimensional, because there is no finite set of functions which can be added together in various combinations to create every possible function.

    Why do we need infinite-dimensional Hilbert spaces in physics?
    You need an infinite dimensional Hilbert space to represent a wavefunction of any continuous observable (like position for example).
    https://physics.stackexchange.com/questions/149786/why-do-we-need-infinite-dimensional-hilbert-spaces-in-physics

    Quantum Computing – Stanford Encyclopedia
    Excerpt: Theoretically, a single qubit can store an infinite amount of information, yet when measured (and thus collapsing the superposition of the Quantum Wave state) it yields only the classical result (0 or 1),,,
    http://plato.stanford.edu/entr.....tcomp/#2.1

    As is fairly obvious, the ‘infinite dimensional’ Hilbert space corresponds to the Theistic attribute of omnipresence. And the infinite information required to describe the ‘infinite dimensional’ wave function prior to collapse corresponds to the Theistic attribute of omniscience.

    In essence, the infinite dimensional/infinite information wave function, i.e. the ‘potential’, is, basically, mathematically described as being one of “God’s thoughts’ prior to its collapse to its finite ‘material’ state. i.e. prior to the reduction of potency to act.

    Which is rather stunning confirmation of the Christian’s contention, (via Neoplatonic philosophy and Augustinian theology), that the mathematics that are found to describe this universe really are “God’s thoughts”.

    “O, Almighty God, I am thinking Thy thoughts after Thee!”
    – Johannes Kepler – (stated shortly after elucidating the third law of planetary motion)

    Keep It Simple – – by Edward Feser – April 2020
    Excerpt: Mathematics appears to describe a realm of entities with quasi-­divine attributes. The series of natural numbers is infinite. That one and one equal two and two and two equal four could not have been otherwise. Such mathematical truths never begin being true or cease being true; they hold eternally and immutably. The lines, planes, and figures studied by the geometer have a kind of perfection that the objects of our ­experience lack. Mathematical objects seem immaterial and known by pure reason rather than through the senses. Given the centrality of mathematics to scientific explanation, it seems in some way to be a cause of the natural world and its order.
    How can the mathematical realm be so apparently godlike? The traditional answer, originating in Neoplatonic philosophy and Augustinian theology, is that our knowledge of the mathematical realm is precisely knowledge, albeit inchoate, of the divine mind. Mathematical truths exhibit infinity, necessity, eternity, immutability, perfection, and immateriality because they are God’s thoughts, and they have such explanatory power in scientific theorizing because they are part of the blueprint implemented by God in creating the world. For some thinkers in this tradition, mathematics thus provides the starting point for an argument for the existence of God qua supreme intellect.
    https://www.firstthings.com/article/2020/04/keep-it-simple

  28. 28
    bornagain77 says:

    As to how our free will plays out in all this, it turns out that our free will choice of what to measure in quantum mechanics plays an integral role, (but by no means a complete role), in quantum wave collapse.

    As 2022 Nobel Laureate Anton Zeilinger stated, , “we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement.,,, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”

    “The Kochen-Speckter Theorem talks about properties of one system only. So we know that we cannot assume – to put it precisely, we know that it is wrong to assume that the features of a system, which we observe in a measurement exist prior to measurement. Not always. I mean in certain cases. So in a sense, what we perceive as reality now depends on our earlier decision what to measure. Which is a very, very, deep message about the nature of reality and our part in the whole universe. We are not just passive observers.”
    Anton Zeilinger –
    Quantum Physics Debunks Materialism – video (7:17 minute mark)
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?feature=player_detailpage&v=4C5pq7W5yRM#t=437

    In short, although we certainly are not ‘casually sufficient’ within ourselves to explain the collapse of the infinite dimensional wave function, none-the-less, our free will choices do have a direct impact on what type of reality ultimately gets presented to us. (Of note: That our free will choice plays such an integral role in quantum mechanics is very suggestive that the Christian’s contention is correct that our free will choice whether to accept or reject Jesus’s atoning sacrifice for our sins is of paramount importance and ultimately determines what type of eternal reality, i.e. hellish or heavenly, gets presented to us.)

    Moreover, in 2018 Anton Zeilinger pushed the ‘freedom of choice’ loophole back to “96% of the space-time volume of the past light cone of our experiment, extending from the big bang to today.”

    Cosmic Bell Test Using Random Measurement Settings from High-Redshift Quasars – Anton Zeilinger – 14 June 2018
    Excerpt: This experiment pushes back to at least approx. 7.8 Gyr ago the most recent time by which any local-realist influences could have exploited the “freedom-of-choice” loophole to engineer the observed Bell violation, excluding any such mechanism from 96% of the space-time volume of the past light cone of our experiment, extending from the big bang to today.
    https://journals.aps.org/prl/abstract/10.1103/PhysRevLett.121.080403

    Moreover, when we rightly allow the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics, (as the Christian founders of modern science originally held with the presupposition of ‘contingency’), and as quantum mechanics itself now empirically demands with the closing of the “freedom-of-choice” loophole by Anton Zeilinger and company), then rightly allowing the Agent causality of God ‘back’ into physics provides us with a very plausible resolution for the much sought after ‘theory of everything’ in that Christ’s resurrection from the dead bridges the infinite mathematical divide that exists between General Relativity and Quantum Mechanics and provides us with an empirically backed reconciliation, via the Shroud of Turin, between Quantum Mechanics and General Relativity into the much sought after ‘Theory of Everything”

    Oct. 2022 – although there will never be, (via Godel), a purely mathematical ‘theory of everything’ that bridges the infinite mathematical divide that exists between quantum mechanics and general relativity, all hope is not lost in finding the correct ‘theory of everything’.
    https://uncommondescent.com/cosmology/from-iai-news-how-infinity-threatens-cosmology/#comment-766384

    Verses:

    Luke 22:42
    saying, “Father, if Thou be willing, remove this cup from Me; nevertheless not My will, but Thine be done.”

    Colossians 1:15-20
    The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

  29. 29
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @25

    PM1: ”nor does the Thomist need to deny that some of them (living things) can be the causes of their own motion.”

    Origenes: You are making that up ..

    StephenB: PMI is not making anything up.

    Yes, PM1 is making that up. “Living things” are not excluded by Aquinas from the general rule that nothing can move itself. If you disagree provide a quote by Aquinas where he states such. I ask you the same as I asked PM1: please stop writing about what you imagine Aquinas’ position to be.

  30. 30
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    So, you are saying that when Aquinas states “thus, nothing moves itself”, he is excluding intelligent agents?

    Again, context is important. Aquinas is discussing the physical movement of things that can be detected by the senses. By definition, the non-physical thoughts of intelligent agents would not be a part of that analysis.

    By contrast, I would argue that the movement of the will falls in a different category, especially when the subject of causation is introduced by name. I think that both God and his created intelligent agents play a causal role in all moral decisions. Don’t forget that some individual effects are generated by a multiplicity of causes, some from the top down, and some from the bottom up.

    For God’s contribution, He created and continues to sustain a moral universe (objective morality), designed his creatures with the non-physical faculties of intelligence and will, and provided a moral goal to be attained (eternal life), all of which constitute some of the important causal conditions that influence the human will. Without these causal conditions, we can do nothing.

    For our contribution, we choose from among all the moral alternatives that are placed before us, acquire some level of virtue or vice, and make a final decision about our fate. In that sense, I am sympathetic to your concerns that we should have significant control over our decision-making process.

    To sum up, I think we need to recognize the extent to which God is responsible for providing the moral target, and the extent to which we are responsible for shooting the arrow. I hold that compatibilism is an unworkable paradigm and that libertarian free will is the only rational solution to the paradox of God as the sovereign being and humans as free will agents. I think Aquinas would agree.

  31. 31
    Origenes says:

    Aquinas is discussing the physical movement of things that can be detected by the senses. By definition, the non-physical thoughts of intelligent agents would not be a part of that analysis.

    For the fourth time, I ask you to provide a quote to back up your claim. Moreover, your continual attempts to exclude human thought don’t make the problem go away. Who is responsible, who is the first cause of the paragraph quoted above? God or you? Aquinas’ analysis informs us that God is the first cause of the paragraph.
    Here you have the same ugly compatibility problem again. I wonder what you are willing to do to avoid it. Will you go on to claim that your paragraph, this thing, is also excluded from the analysis? Are you willing to claim that your postings, like non-physical thoughts, do not qualify as ‘things’? Are they also undetectable by the senses? I’ll wait.

    I hold that compatibilism is an unworkable paradigm and that libertarian free will is the only rational solution to the paradox of God as the sovereign being and humans as free will agents. I think Aquinas would agree.

    I have shown that Aquinas does not agree. Aquinas is a compatibilist who tries to preserve human free will in a universe fully determined by God.

  32. 32
    Origenes says:

    Free will under fire.

    Free will is the cause of its own motion, because by his free will man moves himself for the sake of acting. Nevertheless, it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as neither is it required for one thing to be the cause of another that it be the first cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, moving both natural and voluntary causes. And just as by moving natural causes he does not divert their acts from being natural, so by moving voluntary causes he does not divert their actions from being voluntary; but rather he produces this ability in them: for he operates in each thing according to its own nature. (ST Ia 83.1)

    Aquinas states that free will is the cause of its own movement, but then goes on to say God is the first cause of the free will movement and that it moves in accord with its ‘own’ nature. Here Aquinas fails to mention the non-trivial fact that God determines man’s nature.

    Moreover, the outcome of it all is set by God:

    God’s will in creatures is unfailingly fulfilled. No creature can thwart it. A free creature can hurt himself, but cannot defeat the will of God. For God wills right order; thus he wills retribution due to responsible free conduct. A saint in heaven and a sinner in hell both fulfill this will.

    In the meantime Aquinas attempts to maintain free will:

    God alone is the primary cause. Creatures are true causes of their activity and its product, but they are all secondary causes. God wills that secondary causes should act according to their nature, some by necessity, some contingently.

    Aquinas is saying that humans, as secondary causes, are “true causes”, in the sense that the agent makes contingent choices through his nature. But, again, this nature is determined by God. How is this supposed to work?

  33. 33
    StephenB says:

    Aquinas is discussing the physical movement of things that can be detected by the senses. By definition, the non-physical thoughts of intelligent agents would not be a part of that analysis.

    Origenes:

    ….. I ask you to provide a quote to back up your claim.

    Have you not read Aquinas’ own account of the first way? .Here are the first two sentences and the only ones that matter:

    —“The first and more manifest way is the argument from motion. It is certain, and EVIDENT TO OUR SENSES that in the world SOME THINGS ARE IN MOTION.

    Obviously, Aquinas is referring to things in motion that can be *detected by the senses.* This rules out human thoughts and exercises in human free will, neither of which can be detected by the senses. Do you labor under the misconception that human thinking and willing can be observed or detected by the senses? Do you think that thoughts have an odor of some kind? Can you feel them? Can you hear them snap, crackle, and pop? Do you even know what it means to say that something is empirically verifiable?

    Why do you think that Aquinas uses the words, “It is certain” and “some things are in motion?” The answer is that we can be *certain* only of those movements that are — drum roll please — evident to the senses. By contrast, if my non-physical thoughts move in the sense that I change my mind about something, no one will ever know unless I tell them. Even if I do tell them, they can’t verify it empirically. Aquinas is, therefore, referring to only those kinds of movements that can be empirically verified. In other words, the argument for a first mover is based on empirical facts and the application of logic. That is why they call it proof.

    Meanwhile. I will be happy to show why your claim that Aquinas is a compatibilist is false once you provide a satisfactory response to the question on the table.

  34. 34
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @

    Ori: Moreover, your continual attempts to exclude human thought don’t make the problem go away. Who is responsible, who is the first cause of the paragraph quoted above? God or you? Aquinas’ analysis informs us that God is the first cause of the paragraph.
    Here you have the same ugly compatibility problem again. I wonder what you are willing to do to avoid it. Will you go on to claim that your paragraph, this thing, is also excluded from the analysis? Are you willing to claim that your postings, like non-physical thoughts, do not qualify as ‘things’? Are they also undetectable by the senses? I’ll wait.

    StephenB: ……….

    Oh, you completely ignore the presented problem and continue the sidetracking with irrelevant nonsense? Your choice. Enjoy living with your head buried in the sand.

  35. 35
    Querius says:

    Ouch. Please, let’s keep it civil (my apology in advance to Kairosfocus).

    What I’d appreciate is evidence (in this case, quotes) to support or refute any assertions. I think it’s fair to debate what should be considered the primary point or highest priority evidence.

    -Q

  36. 36
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    Moreover, your continual attempts to exclude human thought don’t make the problem go away.

    Human thoughts are automatically excluded by virtue of the fact that they cannot be detected by the senses (they are not empirically verifiable). Further to that, they don’t even qualify as movements or changes. Only those motions that can be empirically verified (observed) can be used to prove the existence of a first mover. That was Aquinas’ point (and my point.) Unfortunately, you do not understand the argument. Until you do, you should not interact with me.

    Who is responsible, who is the first cause of the paragraph quoted above? God or you?

    God is responsible for the existence of my intellectual and volitional faculties; I am responsible for the ways in which I use them. Individual effects are often produced by a multiplicity of causes. My capacity to write is, in itself, one of the causal conditions for my writing; the other cause is, of course, my exercise of that capacity.

    Here you have the same ugly compatibility problem again. I wonder what you are willing to do to avoid it.

    That is an irrelevant and downright silly comment. You are the one who is avoiding the topic. You said not a word about my explanation of Aquinas’ stress on the importance of motions that can be observed by the senses, which is essential to his argument.
    Meanwhile, you ignored my comment in which I criticized compatibilism.

    Will you go on to claim that your paragraph, this thing, is also excluded from the analysis?

    Of course, my written paragraph should be excluded from the analysis. There is no way to argue that StephenB’s paragraph exists, therefore, a first mover exists. As I say, you do not understand the argument that you presume to criticize.

    Are you willing to claim that your postings, like non-physical thoughts, do not qualify as ‘things’? Are they also undetectable by the senses? I’ll wait.

    Well, they are certainly not the same kind of “thing.” So you would have to be careful not to pack them in to an argument as if they were. Context matters. . My non-physical thoughts, which cannot be detected by the senses gave rise to a written paragraph, which can, indeed, be detected by the senses. However, in neither case has motion been detected.

    Meanwhile, my comment at 33 remains unanswered. Aquinas’s quote shows that only empirically detected motion can be used to prove the existence of a first mover. On that fundamental question, you remain silent.

  37. 37
    kairosfocus says:

    O [attn SB]: context is key as language is inherently ambiguous. SB has highlighted that Aquinas was speaking to a context. Also, first causes are generally seen to be self moved; Plato convincingly distinguishes that from chains of physical effects which by implication cannot ultimately be transfinite hence the first mover. That self motion, is where freedom, including freedom to reason, comes from. Thus, the implicit distinction that we are free lies behind argument and lends to SB’s point. KF

  38. 38
    Silver Asiatic says:

    A first cause is different from a secondary cause. A wrist watch “moves itself”. But it does not give itself the capacity and power to move. Nor do we do so with our thoughts. We need not say that God directly moves every molecule in the universe even though He is the cause of their existence. There are secondary powers and movers. But they cannot exist or move without a first mover. Your thoughts move themselves within a contingency, within limits of freedom. They do not move themselves absolutely. They are not first movers since they must be traced to prior contingencies. The movement of your thoughts cannot be possible without God as their origin. They are free and self moving to an extent but not absolutely. That is why St Thomas says they are both self moving and yet that God is the first, necessary mover of all things.

  39. 39
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic 38@

    Hello Silver Asiatic, long time no see. You say that:

    The movement of your thoughts cannot be possible without God as their origin. … God is the first, necessary mover of all things.

    Indeed, according to Aquinas, God is the first cause of our thoughts just like he is the first cause of all things.

    Aquinas: The intellectual operation is performed by the intellect in which it exists, as by a secondary cause; but it proceeds from God as from its first cause. For by Him the power to understand is given to the one who understands.
    Now God moves the created intellect in both ways. … He is the First intelligent Being. Therefore since in each order the first is the cause of all that follows, we must conclude that from Him proceeds all intellectual power. … Therefore God so moves the created intellect, inasmuch as He gives it the intellectual power, whether natural, or superadded … Hence He moves the created intellect …

    Only God is pure actuality, and only pure actuality, can explain movement. A person is not pure actuality and therefore cannot move his own thoughts.

    There are secondary powers and movers. But they cannot exist or move without a first mover.

    Secondary movers have no movement of their own. They contain and/or transmit the movement of the first mover, depending on circumstances beyond their control. We are talking about a totally deterministic universe.

    Your thoughts move themselves within a contingency, within limits of freedom.

    Careful, the agent cannot move himself. Aquinas wants God to be the efficient cause of everything. God has determined the agent’s nature, through which the agent makes choices and thinks, God has determined the outcome of the agent’s behavior (“God’s will in creatures is unfailingly fulfilled”), and God is the first mover of the agent’s thoughts.
    Picture the agent sitting in the driver’s seat of a car. God moves the car in some general direction. The idea is that the agent can freely choose how to get to a location determined by God. And the idea is also that the general motion originating from God, explains the steering movements of the driver, who cannot move himself. This idea does not make sense to me, as I have argued elsewhere.

    They are not first movers since they must be traced to prior contingencies.

    Aquinas wants necessary conditions to be part of the causal chain between an agent and his thoughts. As I have argued this is an incoherent attempt. Elsewhere I wrote: “… arguably without my parents, I would not exist, yet it is incoherent to claim that they are therefore the first cause of every thought I have.”

  40. 40
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus @37

    … first causes are generally seen to be self moved; Plato convincingly distinguishes that from chains of physical effects which by implication cannot ultimately be transfinite hence the first mover. That self motion, is where freedom, including freedom to reason, comes from.

    Does Plato hold that a person is the (self moved) first cause of his thoughts? Or is it that Plato, like Aquinas, arrives at one single first cause for all things (physical and mental)?

  41. 41
    kairosfocus says:

    Q, he was identifying the soul as that which is self moved, so he is speaking of each soul. There is a first cause for the cosmos and we are contingent but self moved agents, but agents we are and Aquinas was speaking in the context of mechanical nature as SB highlighted by citation. KF

  42. 42
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Hello Origenes – yes, it’s been a while and good to see you.

    God has determined the agent’s nature, through which the agent makes choices and thinks,

    Right. So, humans have a rational nature and are morally responsible for acts which receive either praise or blame. So, God has determined that humans have free will, which is required of rational or morally responsible thoughts.

    He says:

    [God] does not prevent their acts being natural, so by moving voluntary causes He does not deprive their actions of being voluntary: but rather is He the cause of this very thing in them; for He operates in each thing according to its own nature.

    I think this is what you do not find convincing. We have it that God operates in humans, according to a nature which permits voluntary acts. So, this prevents determinism. Human acts must be free. But God’s will is to make them free and rational, otherwise they would be deterministic.

    God has determined the outcome of the agent’s behavior (“God’s will in creatures is unfailingly fulfilled”),

    To say that God’s will is fulfilled is not to say that God determined the outcome. It is God’s will that humans will choose freely, within limits. God does not, and cannot directly will or cause sin. But the fact that people choose sin is a fulfillment of God’s will that people can make free, moral choices. That is different from a deterministic model where God is forcing people to do things – including to commit sins against his own sanctity, which is impossible.

    God is the first mover of the agent’s thoughts.

    God is the first mover by providing the capability and the concept and nature of free-will in a contingent being. But Thomas says that humans are responsible for their actions, and they would not be responsible if God was the direct cause of all their decisions.

    Picture the agent sitting in the driver’s seat of a car. God moves the car in some general direction. The idea is that the agent can freely choose how to get to a location determined by God.

    I don’t think that analogy works. God is not directing people into hell. All of God’s movements, by necessity, are towards Himself. The fact that people can and do freely reject His calling is proof that He does not create people for the purpose of eternal guilt and opposition to Himself. But those who freely reject God make use of the freedom they have been given, and thus fulfill the consequence of choice and justice – which is a fulfillment of God’s will.
    It’s an important distinction. God is not moving the person to Hell. He is putting the agent in the car, and by the fact that life is a progression from birth to death, He is the first mover. But where the agent ends up is due to the free choice of the agent. Wherever the agent ends up fulfills God’s will.

    And the idea is also that the general motion originating from God, explains the steering movements of the driver, who cannot move himself. This idea does not make sense to me, as I have argued elsewhere.

    Again, it’s not “the general motion originating from God” which explains the steering movements, but rather that the steering can move, voluntarily, within a limit (e.g. it cannot go in a 360 circle). God creates the free-will. The agent does not create the car or the capacity for choice, even though the agent is free to drive the car in any direction. If humans acted perfectly rationally and with moral goodness, the car would be steered towards God, the source and origin and end of all good.
    But humans can be deceived by apparent but false-goods (sin) and freely act for evil motives.
    God gives this capability for freedom – and that is free will. But the human person is responsible for the choice. It has not be deterministically forced on them by God.

    As with many things regarding God’s nature and attributes, we will find matters which cannot be easily explained. The simple reason for that is because God is transcendent and cannot be fully comprehended by finite minds.

  43. 43
    Sandy says:

    God is not the mover of people’s immoral thoughts and actions. You can’t say a car maker is the cause for an accident of a drunk driver.

  44. 44
    relatd says:

    Sandy at 43,

    God knows what we will do before we do it. He is with us when we sin and ask for forgiveness. Our goal is holiness. What can be known about God has been revealed by God in His Word, The Holy Bible.

  45. 45
    Origenes says:

    Kairosfocus @

    Ori: Does Plato hold that a person is the (self moved) first cause of his thoughts? Or is it that Plato, like Aquinas, arrives at one single first cause for all things (physical and mental)?

    he [Plato] was identifying the soul as that which is self moved, so he is speaking of each soul.

    We have identified a crucial distinction between Plato and Aquinas. I am firmly in camp Plato and argue against Aquinas’ compatibilism.

  46. 46
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic @42

    … humans have a rational nature and are morally responsible for acts which receive either praise or blame. So, God has determined that humans have free will, which is required of rational or morally responsible thoughts.

    There are some obvious problems with this. C. Zoller, a Thomist wrote:

    . . . moral activity is governed by one’s character; this governance is the command of one’s actions by one’s nature. Although nature is chosen by God, we are none-the-less responsible for our actions because they spring from our nature, which is chosen contingently by God.

    Say again?

    [God] does not prevent their acts being natural, so by moving voluntary causes He does not deprive their actions of being voluntary: but rather is He the cause of this very thing in them; for He operates in each thing according to its own nature.

    A nature determined by God, I note.

    I think this is what you do not find convincing. We have it that God operates in humans, according to a nature which permits voluntary acts. So, this prevents determinism. Human acts must be free. But God’s will is to make them free and rational, otherwise they would be deterministic.

    What convinces you that Aquinas gets there? Does his extremely determined universe allow for free rational agents? Can you have determinism and free will? Does compatibilism work? His approach differs fundamentally from Plato’s.

    To say that God’s will is fulfilled is not to say that God determined the outcome.

    Sure?

    TA: God’s will in creatures is unfailingly fulfilled. No creature can thwart it. A free creature can hurt himself, but cannot defeat the will of God. For God wills right order; thus he wills retribution due to responsible free conduct. A saint in heaven and a sinner in hell both fulfill this will.

  47. 47
    Origenes says:

    Sandy @43

    God is not the mover of people’s immoral thoughts and actions. You can’t say a car maker is the cause for an accident of a drunk driver.

    Aquinas wants God to be the first cause of everything, but the things you bring up here are very inconvenient in this context. Why did you immediately identify the main problem? Why not a little sightseeing first? Anyway, we find Aquinas explaining, explaining, and doing some more explaining on these matters. He must explain that although God is the first cause of everything, although his will rules supreme and although he creates the nature of all creatures, there are still some matters that He is not (somehow) responsible for, but that that in itself is absolutely no reason to think He is not the first cause of and in total control of everything. I take it you get the picture.

  48. 48
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    Although nature is chosen by God, we are none-the-less responsible for our actions because they spring from our nature, which is chosen contingently by God.

    Say again?

    Our nature is chosen by God. We have a rational nature. A rational nature, requires free-will. It is, necessarily, not deterministic.

    St. Thomas explains:

    Now particular operations are contingent, and therefore in such matters the judgment of reason may follow opposite courses, and is not determinate to one. And forasmuch as man is rational is it necessary that man have a free-will.

    Reason is “not determinate to one” end of judgement. There may be opposite results. The fact that God gave man a rational nature, means that man must have free will.

    A nature determined by God, I note.

    Yes, nature determined by God. A free, rational, morally responsible nature. But you seem to be equating the determination of natures with a determination of the acts or decisions or thoughts. But that’s not what St. Thomas is saying.

    God’s will in creatures is unfailingly fulfilled. No creature can thwart it. A free creature can hurt himself, but cannot defeat the will of God. For God wills right order; thus he wills retribution due to responsible free conduct. A saint in heaven and a sinner in hell both fulfill this will.

    This does not contradict what I said: “To say that God’s will is fulfilled is not to say that God determined the outcome. ”

    It is God’s will that man act freely and be responsible for his actions – and thus receive retribution for his responsible free conduct. So, whatever choice a man makes, he is acting in accord with God’s will that he make free choices.
    You are thinking that since God permits man to act freely, then God is forcing man to take every action he takes. But that’s a contradiction.
    God creates humans so they can act freely and be responsible agents. Therefore, when humans act freely and receive reward or punishment for their behavior, they are fulfilling God’s will.
    God’s will is always, infallibly fulfilled because humans act freely and are not the product of determinism.

    What convinces you that Aquinas gets there?

    First, unlike Plato, Aquinas finds the source of all being, including immaterial forms, in the being of God. Secondly, Aquinas rightly rejects moral or intellectual determinism, affirming that humans are created with free will and thus are responsible.

    Does his extremely determined universe allow for free rational agents?

    I don’t see that his universe is extremely determined. Because God is the fullness of being and cannot be ignorant or morally flawed or evil in any way – then God’s is present everywhere and His power sustains all of creation. Again, you have equated this as if God is directly responsible for every action of mankind, but that contradicts what St. Thomas has said. God created free, moral agents. No human being can say that God forced him to do and choose everything he did and chose.

    Can you have determinism and free will?

    Again, St. Thomas affirms that God gave humans a rational nature. He then rightly says that the rational process requires free will, thus determinism cannot be correct.

    Does compatibilism work?

    No, it does not work and that is not what Aquinas offers.

    His approach differs fundamentally from Plato’s.

    True – and in a very simple sense. Aquinas has the benefit of Christian revelation to support his understanding, which Plato did not have.

  49. 49
    Origenes says:

    SA 48@

    Our nature is chosen by God. We have a rational nature. A rational nature, requires free-will. It is, necessarily, not deterministic.

    Rationality requires freedom, I agree. However, simply stating that we have a “rational nature”, and therefore must have “free will”, doesn’t get one where one wants to be. It has to be explained, it has to make sense. The question is, does Aquinas offer a context that allows for rational agents? I say he does not.

    TA: God alone is the primary cause. Creatures are true causes of their activity and its product, but they are all secondary causes. God wills that secondary causes should act according to their nature, some by necessity, some contingently.

    Ori: Aquinas is saying that humans, as secondary causes, are “true causes”, in the sense that the agent makes contingent choices through his nature. But, again, this nature is determined by God. How is this supposed to work?

    Yes, how?

    Yes, nature determined by God. A free, rational, morally responsible nature.

    Freedom must be explained. Aquinas tells us that we make choices according to ‘our’ nature. However, our nature is determined by God. Where is “freedom”? You cannot solve the problem by simply calling it a: “free, rational, morally responsible nature.” Again, it has to make sense.

  50. 50
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    However, our nature is determined by God. Where is “freedom”?

    Our nature is created by God who is the source of all being and who is perfectly and absolutely free, not dependent on any other being and not limited by any other being.
    So, we receive the gift of freedom from God.
    By definition, contingent beings cannot be absolutely free. They are dependent on something else for their existence. Only God is completely free.
    So, the freedom that is inherent in rational, human nature is given by God so that humans will be able to make free-will choices and thus experience responsibility, self-giving, justice and love. And that means humans can perform actions that merit reward or punishment.
    So freedom comes from God – who is the source of being and creator of human nature (and of all created things). God created the capability for humans to make free-will choices and thoughts.
    That freedom is not unlimited because it is logically impossible for a contingent, created being to act as an absolutely independent being with Divine freedom to think and create. Humans are not gods in that sense. We act with limits that are inbuilt in our nature. But that does not mean we lack freedom within those limits or that our actions and thoughts are forced upon us by a deterministic process.

  51. 51
    Origenes says:

    The fundamental concept of Aquinas’ first mover argument is the idea that when a thing is not fully actual it cannot move itself. A man is not fully actual and therefore cannot move itself. A man cannot move his own body, cannot move his will, or his thoughts. Only God is fully actual, only God can explain any movement.
    Therefore, the concept of “self-moved free will” of man is in need of an explanation.

    TA: “Free will is the cause of its own motion because by his free will man moves himself for the sake of acting.”

    Aquinas states that free will implies that man moves himself. But we were told that this is impossible because man is not pure actuality.
    Aquinas explains:

    Nevertheless, it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as neither is it required for one thing to be the cause of another that it be the first cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, moving both natural and voluntary causes.

    Aquinas claims that the movement of free will can be explained in the same way as the movement of a billiard ball. It is not required for free will to be the first cause of its own movement, just like it is not required for a billiard ball to be the first cause of its own movement. In both cases, the first cause of movement can be external.

    And just as by moving natural causes he does not divert their acts from being natural, so by moving voluntary causes he does not divert their actions from being voluntary; but rather he produces this ability in them: for he operates in each thing according to its own nature. [ST Ia 83.1]”

    In both cases, God allows the nature of things to express itself (natural and voluntary respectively).
    However, “voluntary” (acting of one’s own free will) IS self-movement. It cannot be understood any other way. Here, Aquinas assumes what needs to be explained.
    Assuming that this process leads to man moving himself and having free will, I can think of two possible explanations:
    1. God’s influence transforms man into pure actuality, so man can move himself.
    2. God’s general movement explains that man moves himself, as a secondary mover.
    I reject the first explanation as absurd. And I reject the second explanation based on the following comparison:
    Picture a man sitting in the driver’s seat of a car. God moves the car in some general direction. The man is not fully actual, so he cannot move himself. He is as paralyzed as a mannequin in a store window. When or how does the man start steering the car? God can give him the energy to move his arms and hands. But man cannot use this energy unless he can move himself. God gives him a push. The man, like an inanimate object, bumps into the steering wheel. God lifts up his arms and puts his hands on the steering wheel. The man sits there holding the steering wheel. But he cannot move himself, because he is not purely actual.

    What it comes down to is this: there is no external explanation for self-movement as required for a free act. Something external can be a necessary condition to a free man, but something external cannot partake in a free act of man. Not even God. A free act of man cannot be viewed as a causal chain extending to the outside. A free rational man is necessarily one thing, that does not allow for any interference/causation from the outside.

  52. 52
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic @50

    So freedom comes from God – who is the source of being and creator of human nature (and of all created things). God created the capability for humans to make free-will choices and thoughts.

    What is “freedom”, Silver Asiatic? What is it that makes a person free? Allow me to share some of my views on this matter.

    As I see it, a free person is explained by the special relationship with itself. Self-awareness, self-organization, and surely self-movement in many ways …
    We do not encounter self-relationships in inanimate objects. They do not seem to care whether they fall apart or not, in fact, there seems to be no one home.
    However, we see self-relationship in every organism; even a bacterium self-organizes, and moves itself. But, as far as we know, only human beings are self-aware. Only in humans, there is someone who is free. Only humans observe themselves.
    And in my understanding when something has a relationship with itself, nothing else can partake in this relationship. Put differently, there is no space between self and self.
    When I observe myself, when I am self-aware, I must be the only one who is involved in the process. There is no room for anyone else but me. No one but me.
    And that is where personal freedom is.

  53. 53
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    And in my understanding when something has a relationship with itself, nothing else can partake in this relationship. Put differently, there is no space between self and self.
    When I observe myself, when I am self-aware, I must be the only one who is involved in the process. There is no room for anyone else but me. No one but me.
    And that is where personal freedom is.

    Thanks for your good explanation. I see what you’re getting at.
    But I don’t think that self-movement requires that kind of absolute freedom where there is no other influence but self. In the same way, the human being cannot be pure act, then the human is moving his potential to act. He does not have complete control, in the same way, his self-awareness is limited, he never has full awareness of self. So, his decisions do belong to him, so he has responsibility – he is self-moved to an extent and is therefore free to an extent. But he also cannot be the sole explanation for his own movement since he did not create the power and capability required – it is a gift to him via his nature which he did not create.

    TA: “Free will is the cause of its own motion because by his free will man moves himself for the sake of acting.”

    I think he is saying that free will enables a man to move himself, so the causal chain goes from man back to the capability, which he did not create in himself, of free will as a cause. So man moves himself by means of something other than himself. If not then he would be pure act and that is not possible.

    I think it’s sufficient to say that the causal chain of movers does not stop with man, even though he is able to move potentiality to act. His actions and he himself remain contingent and require an explanation from some other cause. He moves himself through powers that he, himself did not create (and he doesn’t even fully understand them). Limits on man’s free choice (which exist) would have to be explained also. These are potentialities (ignorance, lack of awareness, lack of understanding of purpose) that can be turned into act by greater knowledge, understanding, awareness, etc.

    In making a free choice, man is ‘free enough’ to be given ownership of the act, but he is not so absolutely free that no other cause is required.

    What would be the origin of the capability of an absolutely free act in human beings, for example?
    If we say that an animal cannot perform free will actions because of a lack of reasoning power, do children, once they reach the age of reason suddenly have absolute freedom, when before they did not? Can any human being be fully conscious of himself, to an absolute degree which would allow for no ignorance of himself? If nothing could intervene between self and self, then how could a man learn how to improve the quality of his decisions and thoughts? How could he gain greater awareness of himself?
    The act of gaining greater awareness is a movement of potentiality to act, so we couldn’t say that the man has complete awareness and then had more complete awareness all by his own self. The greater awareness means greater freedom, but that awareness cannot come from himself. It must come from an external source that moves him from potential to act, thus improving and increasing his freedom. It the same with a child who improves rationality – it’s growth and gradual change.

    So I can’t see that we would say that there is no room for anyone else but me in the process of freedom and awareness. Most of what we have is a gift, and nothing we have or do is a pure, complete and perfect thought or act. As we grow and mature, we can become more spiritually free by making better, more conscious decisions. But we always bring dependencies and limits. It is God who brings light to our mind in order for us to see ourselves and to reason correctly. We didn’t create the powers we use, and we don’t even fully understand them. But it would be necessary to have full ownership of one’s freedom (by creating it and giving it to oneself) and full understanding in order to be able to truly move oneself entirely independently without anyone else involved in our process.
    “In Him we live and move and have our being”.
    That’s a paradoxical thought from Christian scripture, but I think it’s relevant to the philosophical understanding. We are free, but only within the context of our condition as created (which could mean just beings born in time) beings.

  54. 54
    StephenB says:

    Freedom is the power to love God with your whole heart, mind, and soul and to love your neighbor as yourself. That is the pathway to saving our immortal souls, which is the ultimate purpose of our existence. Purpose and freedom are inextricably tied together; one is meaningless without the other.

    The point of free will is to exercise and develop the natural moral virtues and summon the heavenly grace that God grants his servants, so that we can realize our ideal of eternal life. Freedom means increasing our capacity to love others as much as we love ourselves. Slavery means loving ourselves so much that we embrace the philosophy of John Paul Sartre — “My neighbor is hell.”

    Freedom is limited. We are free to use or misuse our free will, to become a wise man or a fool; but we are not free to choose our moral environment. Accordingly, we are free to decide whether we will become world-class saints, world-class scoundrels, or something in between, but we are not free to avoid making the choice.

    It is easy to be good with the good and bad with the bad, but it is hard to be good with the bad. Anyone who is trying to do the right thing in our perverse culture knows what that means. The greatest saints in heaven are those who put their faculty of free will to the best possible use, especially when it cost them their lives. Wokeism is the art of putting our faculty of free will to the worst possible use. Our task is to know the difference and act on it.

  55. 55
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic @53

    TA: “Free will is the cause of its own motion because by his free will man moves himself for the sake of acting.”

    I my view the person is free. I am intrinsically free. I make free decisions because I am a free being/person. I have always understood the term ‘free will’ as referring to the person as a whole, who is free——“man moves himself.” In my view, freedom is not something that a person has, but what a person is.
    Free will then, in my understanding, does not refer to something distinct from the person. Free will is not something by which a person (who is not intrinsically free, who is not free by himself) makes free decisions.
    It seems to me that you and Aquinas have a fundamentally different concept of what freedom is than I have. In post #52 (and elsewhere) I am trying to explain how man can be a free being, not how he receives a thing that is called “free will.” I do not understand that concept.

    I think he is saying that free will enables a man to move himself, so the causal chain goes from man back to the capability, which he did not create in himself, of free will as a cause. So man moves himself by means of something other than himself.

    We have to resolve this issue, or we keep talking past each other.

  56. 56
    Origenes says:

    Siver Asiatic @53 //follow-up

    But I don’t think that self-movement requires that kind of absolute freedom where there is no other influence but self. In the same way, the human being cannot be pure act, then the human is moving his potential to act.

    Perhaps to be pure act can be understood as having a perfect self-relationship; perfect self-awareness. God has the most perfect self-awareness, and, more certain than anything else, I have not. According to Aquinas, something can only move itself when it is pure actuality. If he means to say, that an act can only be completely free, completely wise, and from total self-knowledge, when a person has perfect self-awareness, then this makes perfect sense to me.
    However, I would say that self-relationship is a gradual thing, rather than something absolute. It is not something that is either 0% or 100%. One is not totally unaware of oneself or totally aware of oneself. Some people are more self-aware than others, and as a general rule, we are all wiser than we once were.
    Unlike Aquinas, it is my position that something can move itself, relative to the state of its self-relationship. An organism has a far more modest self-relationship than we have, so its self-movement is confined to a limited set of primitive patterns. We, humans, have much more freedom in self-movement and are not confined to primitive behavior, although the behavior of some of us doesn’t seem to illustrate my point.

  57. 57
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes @56

    Again, very good explanation – thanks.

    Perhaps to be pure act, can be understood as having a perfect self-relationship, perfect self-awareness. God has perfect self-awareness, and, more certain than anything else, I have not. According to Aquinas, something can only move itself when it is pure actulity. If he means to say, that an act can only be completely free, completely wise, and from total self-knowledge, when a person has perfect self-awareness, then this makes perfect sense to me.

    Yes, I think this is it, exactly. Aquinas’ proof is measured against an absolute – and that is God. Only God is pure act, with no mixture of potentiality. This is because of the impossibility of infinite regress and that God must have all power, knowledge, and being – He must be present everywhere. So, nothing can be lacking to God (otherwise that would be an unfulfilled potential, and where would God get whatever would be lacking to Him?). Only a being in pure act can move itself. All other beings are dependent on something else to move it from potential to act.
    But for humans, we cannot be pure act. We have potentialities. We have partial self-awareness – so, we require something else to move us from potential to act. However, we are partially actualized – and that gives us freedom. So, in that sense, we do move ourselves and do have freedom.

    Unlike Aquinas, it is my position that something can move itself, relative to the state of its self-relationship.

    I don’t think your view is different from that of Aquinas in this case. However, I think it’s difficult to reconcile the idea that nothing at all can come between self and self in the thought/decision process. We do not need to have absolute independence here to have free will.
    The problem would be to say that our freedom is entirely independent of God. That would mean that our self-relationship is outside of God’s providence, so God could not possibly intervene in our decision or thought process. But how would we get that independence? It would have to come from somewhere. Also, as above, if there is some place in the universe where God cannot access, then God would not be the fullness of being. God would then be a mixture of potential and act, since it would be possible for God to “go to those places (our inner self) where He is presently excluded”.
    Our self-awareness grows by the help of God. We pray and ask for light and knowledge and this comes from heaven. St. John’s gospel says that the Logos is “the light which enlightens every man who comes into the world”. So, even atheists receive this inner light (to do with as they can freely choose).
    Our self-awareness grows, and therefore so does our freedom. But it’s partial. The more complete we become in knowledge and love and awareness – the more freedom we have.

    An organism has a far more modest self-relationship than we have, so its self-movement is restricted to a confined set of primitive patterns.

    Agreed. The organism can move itself, but only to a small degree.
    It moves itself because of its nature. A squirrel moves the way squirrels do. A bacterium moves the way a bacterial nature moves. There’s no real freedom of will there, but there is a kind of freedom within strict limits.
    Humans move in accord with human, rational nature. That is true free-will, but also with limits.

    When St. Thomas says that “man moves himself” I think we have to look at that in context with all of his other ideas about pure act and that nothing can move itself from potential to act – only something that is in pure act can be the first mover.

  58. 58
    Silver Asiatic says:

    StephenB @ 54. Great reflection on this topic. I find a lot there that I really should meditate on. That’s basically our goals in life and what we should be working towards. Thank you!

  59. 59
    StephenB says:

    Silver Asiatic,

    Thanks for your comment @58. I applaud your successful efforts at illuminating the Thomistic model for those who are unfamiliar with it. Good work!

    In my latest correspondence @54, I was moved (there’s that word again) to confirm your correct understanding that freedom cannot, as has been argued elsewhere, be explained solely in terms of intrapersonal relationships. Subjectivism doesn’t work.

    Hence, I tried to define freedom objectively, place it in its broader context, and explain *why* we have free will.

  60. 60
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Stephen B – thanks and you raised good points. As you said, our purpose is to grow and develop in grace and moral virtue and that would be impossible without free will. That is a constant problem for the Darwinian view, since there are no goals and it’s deterministic.

  61. 61
    Origenes says:

    Act and potency as aspects of one thing.

    Perhaps the self-relationship, that one sees in organisms and in oneself, can be understood in terms of act and potency. If an organism can be coherently conceived as one thing and if it is a mixture of act and potency, then the act and potency belonging to the organism are aspects of the organism, rather than distinct parts.
    As a general rule, aspects of a unity influence each other because they are ontologically one — they establish the self-relationship of the organism.
    Act influencing potency in an organism would imply that it can bring its own potency into act. IOW the organism can move itself.

  62. 62
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Yes “In created intellectual substances there is composition of act and potentiality”. However, Plato taught the the soul is the self-mover of the body, acting like a first mover and thus moving itself.

    This chapter answers that concern:
    https://isidore.co/aquinas/ContraGentiles2.htm#53

    There are several arguments given. One interesting one is that if the soul was self-moving of the body, “it will be in the soul’s power to be separated from the body at will and to be reunited to it at will.” But body and soul instead are a composite, and are of potency and act and are not, therefore, self moving. The intellect is dependent on knowledge obtained from the senses. The potency of the intellect is moved to act by information external to itself (or sense data that is in act). The body is dependent on energy it gets from nutrition in order to move. So, it is not self-moving.

  63. 63
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic @

    There are several arguments given. One interesting one is that if the soul was self-moving of the body, “it will be in the soul’s power to be separated from the body at will and to be reunited to it at will. And this clearly is false”.

    Was Aquinas acquainted with NDE’s and other paranormal events that do not seem to support his view? And what if not a deliberate act, but instead a subconscious activity of the person establishes the union between soul and body?
    As an aside, I hold that the person and the body are two separate things. But in my view, the person/soul does not move the body but rather persuades the body to move. I view the body as an organism that is (mostly) under a person’s control, a relationship somewhat comparable to a rider and his horse.

    But body and soul instead are a composite, and are of potency and act and are not, therefore, self-moving.

    Aquinas argues that body and soul cannot be one thing. We all agree, I suppose. However, he seems to argue that they are the best next thing—very intertwined. I have to find Aquinas’ specific argument as to why the soul cannot use its actuality to bring its potentiality to act, which seems to be a very coherent concept (see #61). Aquinas must be arguing against Plato at that exact point.

  64. 64
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    Aquinas argues that body and soul cannot be one thing.

    Does he?

    We all agree

    Do we?

  65. 65
    Origenes says:

    … [A human being] is said to be from soul and body as a third thing constituted from two things neither of which he is, for a [human] is not soul nor is he body.”

    “Two things” cannot be understood as one thing. As Aquinas defines it here, a human being cannot be one thing, since it consists of two distinct things. Moreover, it should be clear to anyone that the material body consists of distinct parts, so what are we even talking about?

    “In complex substances there are form and matter, as in [humans] there are soul and body…the existence of the compound substance is not of form alone nor of matter alone but of the composed thing itself…”

    I’m not sure if I understand what Aquinas is doing here. It is logically implied that “human being” is not one thing — and therefore is not a reference to an ontologically fundamental thing. What a human being really is, or rather what the soul is, seems to be the, more penetrating, logical follow-up question.

  66. 66
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    It is logically implied that “human being” is not one thing

    According to Aquinas, substances, such as a marble statue, are composed of matter (the marble) and form (the shape of the statue). Likewise, humans are composed of matter (body) and form (soul [which animates the body]). In each case, the reference is associated with one thing, or person. The operative word here is “composite,” that is, one thing composed of two elements. A person with a body and soul is not two people.

  67. 67
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @66

    According to Aquinas, substances, such as a marble statue, are composed of matter (the marble) and form (the shape of the statue). Likewise, humans are composed of matter (body) and form (soul [which animates the body]).

    This does not make any sense to me. The soul is simply not the form of the body. It is not. The soul is infinitely more than something that is a form of the body. If this is not obvious, then I am not sure how to proceed.

    In each case, the reference is associated with one thing, or person. The operative word here is “composite,” that is, one thing composed of two elements.

    As I have argued, the concept does not make sense to me ontologically. “… a third thing constituted from two things …”. Ontologically speaking, starting with two fundamental things, doesn’t get you to a fundamental “third thing” by making a composite.
    Can God make one thing out of two fundamental things? Can God make three fundamental things out of two fundamental things? It seems that he cannot because these are logical impossibilities.

    A person with a body and soul is not two people.

    A body is not a person, only a soul is.
    – – – –
    edit: Form and content (the term I prefer) are aspects of one thing. I have written about the concept of aspects in #61. So, “form” is an aspect of a thing, not a separate fundamental.

  68. 68
    relatd says:

    “A body is not a person, only a soul is.”

    Matthew 10:28

    “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”

    1 Corinthians 15:44

    “It is sown a natural body; it is raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.”

  69. 69
    StephenB says:

    Origenes

    Aquinas argues that body and soul cannot be one thing

    .

    No. Aquinas argues that body and soul are one substance composed of more than one element. In this case, a “thing” would be synonymous with a substance.

    “Two things” cannot be understood as one thing.

    Yes, they can. A “thing” can be composed of many other things.. A computer can be understood, among other things, as a monitor, a tower, and a keyboard.

    Moreover, it should be clear to anyone that the material body consists of distinct parts,

    Yes, of course. So what?

    —“In complex substances there are form and matter, as in [humans] there are soul and body…the existence of the compound substance is not of form alone nor of matter alone but of the composed thing itself…”

    I’m not sure if I understand what Aquinas is doing here.

    He is saying that the existence of a human being, or any complex substance, can be understood as being composed of two elements, but cannot be understood as one element alone. A human being cannot, in other words, be understood simply as a soul or simply as a body.

    It is logically implied that “human being” is not one thing.

    No, it is just the opposite. A human being, composed of body and soul,. is one thing.

    relatd

    The soul is simply not the form of the body. It is not.

    It is not *simply* the form of the body. According to Aquinas, the soul is the life principle of the body In the absence of the soul, they body is dead. At death, the soul leaves the body

    Origenes

    The soul is infinitely more than something that is a form of the body.

    Of course it is. A soul, Aristotle says, is “the actuality of a body that has life,” where life means the capacity to grow, stay alive, and reproduce. Insofar as a living substance is a composite of matter and form, the soul is the form of an organic body. However, the soul can also refer to the human’s inner life, such as the operation of mind, will, and emotions.
    These faculties of intellect and free will really exist even though they are not physical. Indeed, humans also have a spiritual sense, which is related to God consciousness

  70. 70
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @

    Ori: Aquinas argues that body and soul cannot be one thing.

    No. Aquinas argues that body and soul are one substance composed of more than one element. In this case, a “thing” would be synonymous with a substance.

    Well, Aquinas writes about body and soul as, and I quote: “… a third thing constituted from two things.” A thing that is constituted from two things is not really (at the ontological level) ‘one thing’, now is it? To be clear, I am talking about the ontological level. A computer is not an ontological fundamental, is not one thing. And so it is with body and soul; at the ontological level, they are not one thing.
    Do I take it that, according to you, “element” refers to something that is ontologically fundamental, and “substance” refers to composites consisting of elements?

    Ori: “Two things” cannot be understood as one thing.

    Yes, they can. A “thing” can be composed of many other things.. A computer can be understood, among other things, as a monitor, a tower, and a keyboard.

    Perhaps a monitor, a tower, and a keyboard can be understood as “one thing” in some context, but certainly not at the relevant ontological level.

    Ori: Moreover, it should be clear to anyone that the material body consists of distinct parts …

    Yes, of course. So what?

    Again, I took it that we are talking about ontology; about what things are at the fundamental level. I am not sure what you (and Aquinas) want to talk about. If composites (computers, a body consisting of many parts, “third things consisting of two things”) are interjected into the discussion as if they are relevant, then I am done.

    No, it is just the opposite. A human being, composed of body and soul, is one thing.

    Let’s be clear here, in what way is the human being “one thing”? Obviously, you are not talking about the ontological level, because at the ontological level, there is body and soul, which are two distinct fundamental things (elements).

  71. 71
    Origenes says:

    On Aquinas’s body-soul composite:

    By defining the human being as a body-soul (matter-form) composite, Aquinas eliminates the idea of a soul “in” a body. This creates the problem of the identity and separability of the soul after death and seems to imply no immaterial afterlife; the afterlife requires a bodily resurrection. Aquinas holds that the soul moves the body, which seems to imply that mental events (the soul) have a physical effect.

    My main problems with Aquinas’s hypothesis:

    1. The soul cannot be conceived as the form of the body.
    2. The soul and the body are ontologically not one thing.
    3. Witness accounts of NDE’s and related paranormal events firmly contradict an inseparable body-soul composite.
    4. Consciousness, “I”, self-awareness, the person, is one thing. It must be one thing, and it must be in control, or rationality is not possible. Assuming that the body is determined by external influences, and laws of nature, (all beyond my control), the body cannot be constitutive of rational consciousness.

  72. 72
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    the afterlife requires a bodily resurrection.

    Yes, so body and soul are united eternally. The two aspects are separated temporarily and then joined in a resurrected body. A human being is a soul and a body – form and matter. It was the same for Jesus, and then after death he had a resurrected body united with his soul.
    The separation of soul and body is an unfortunate consequence of original sin. The primal unity of the two will be restored after the general resurrection.

    This is one reason why Darwinism is such an anti-human and deadly error. It treats the body as if it is an accidental by-product. So people treat themselves like trash. But the body is a sacred vessel and that’s why we should take care of it, and even reverence the body in a gravesite after death.

  73. 73
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    Aquinas writes about body and soul as, and I quote: “… a third thing constituted from two things.” A thing that is constituted from two things is not really (at the ontological level) ‘one thing’, now is it?

    Yes, of course it is. Two things (body and soul) constitute a third thing a (human person). I have already given you physical examples of constitution and composition. Here is another: Hydrogen is one thing, oxygen is another; together, they constitute a third thing, which is water. In other words, water is composed of two other things, hydrogen and oxygen. Ontology is the science of being. It is about what is. According to Aquinas, the human person is a composite of body and soul. According to chemistry, water is a composite of hydrogen and oxygen.

    Meanwhile, I would be interested in learning about your definition. What is a human person? Feel free to use your own terms.

  74. 74
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @73

    Ori: Aquinas writes about body and soul as, and I quote: “… a third thing constituted from two things.” A thing that is constituted from two things is not really (at the ontological level) ‘one thing’, now is it?

    Yes, of course it is. Two things (body and soul) constitute a third thing a (human person). I have already given you physical examples of constitution and composition. Here is another: Hydrogen is one thing, oxygen is another; together, they constitute a third thing, which is water. In other words, water is composed of two other things, hydrogen and oxygen.
    Ontology is the science of being. It is about what is. According to Aquinas, the human person is a composite of body and soul. According to chemistry, water is a composite of hydrogen and oxygen.

    This comparison supports my position rather than yours. As you know, water cannot be said to be a fundamental thing, that is, the bond between hydrogen and oxygen is not eternal, and, as an aside, both hydrogen and oxygen are themselves composites of elementary (fundamental) particles.

    Meanwhile, I would be interested in learning about your definition. What is a human person? Feel free to use your own terms.

    I agree with Aquinas that an infinite causal chain of things is absurd. It cannot be the case that every thing has an external cause for its existence. It cannot be the case that the existence of every thing is established by a source external to that thing. I would say, if no thing grounds its own existence, then no thing exists. Similarly, if no thing moves itself, then no thing moves.
    Strongly related: not every thing can be a part, there must also be wholes. If there are parts, there are wholes.

    A thing grounds its existence by way of self-relationship. An organism that self-organizes grounds itself as an organized being — the state of being organized is explained by the work of the organism itself, as opposed to an external organizer.

    The “I” that observes itself, grounds its own self-aware existence by this self-relationship. The person is the self-cause of his self-awareness. No self-observance no person. An external observer cannot contribute to the person’s self-awareness. The person must create himself as a (self-aware) person.

    Well, Origenes, are you saying that the thing that precedes the person, the thing that did not observe it self, is also created by the person?

    No. All things that precede the person cannot, by definition, be created by the person.
    Nonetheless, I maintain that the person is a unity who creates himself as a person. Everything that precedes the person can only have the status of a precondition to the person, as opposed to cause of the self-aware person.
    The self-aware person exists on another (mental) level than the things that precede it.
    The only true cause of the person, is the person himself, by way of self-relationship.

  75. 75
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    This comparison (water is composed of hydrogen and oxygen) supports my position rather than yours.

    No, it doesn’t.

    As you know, water cannot be said to be a fundamental thing, that is, the bond between hydrogen and oxygen is not eternal, ……

    Irrelevant. Eternity has nothing to do with it. Water is composed of oxygen and water. That is an ontological fact. Your original claim was that one thing cannot be composed of two other things. Obviously, that is not the case.

    and, as an aside, both hydrogen and oxygen are themselves composites of elementary (fundamental) particles.

    Irrelevant. We are discussing the relationship between hydrogen, oxygen, and water, not the relationship between each individual element and its constituent parts.

  76. 76
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    the state of being organized is explained by the work of the organism itself, as opposed to an external organizer.

    Did you organize yourself? Taking it to the next logical step, how do you explain your transition from a state of non-existence to a state of existence?

    The “I” that observes itself, grounds its own self-aware existence by this self-relationship. The person is the self-cause of his self-awareness. No self-observance no person. An external observer cannot contribute to the person’s self-awareness. The person must create himself as a (self-aware) person.

    Does the person already exist as a human being before he creates his self-awareness, or does he create his existence and his self-awareness at the same time?

  77. 77
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @75

    Water is composed of oxygen and water. That is an ontological fact.

    We do not seem to agree on what the term ‘ontology’ refers to.

    Your original claim was that one thing cannot be composed of two other things. Obviously, that is not the case.

    In ontology, a fundamental thing is an indivisible unity. Two fundamental things can become a conglomerate (composite) of two fundamental things. Two fundamental things cannot become one fundamental thing (one indivisible unity).

  78. 78
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @77

    Ori: An organism that self-organizes grounds itself as an organized being — the state of being organized is explained by the work of the organism itself, as opposed to an external organizer.

    Did you organize yourself?

    The organism organizes itself. As an aside, this remarkable phenomenon is performed very convincingly by “Picasso frogs.”

    Taking it to the next logical step, how do you explain your transition from a state of non-existence to a state of existence?

    I was talking about the organism. The organism does not exist as a self-organizing being before it organizes itself.

    Ori: The “I” that observes itself, grounds its own self-aware existence by this self-relationship. The person is the self-cause of his self-awareness. No self-observance no person. An external observer cannot contribute to the person’s self-awareness. The person must create himself as a (self-aware) person.

    Does the person already exist as a human being before he creates his self-awareness …

    Do you define a human being as a conscious self-aware being? If so, then a human being does not exist before he observes himself, and, by doing so, grounds himself as a conscious self-aware being.

    … or does he create his existence and his self-awareness at the same time?

    The person creates his self-aware existence at one time. The last two paragraphs of #74 are relevant.

  79. 79
    Origenes says:

    Aquinas and self-relationship.

    The onlooker might wonder how ‘self-relationship’ is relevant to Aquinas’s first mover argument. Self-relationship is precisely what Aquinas denies to exist for all things, except for God. Only God is pure act, only pure act can move Himself, therefore, Aquinas argues, nothing can move itself but God.
    In Aquinas’s world God is in total control, the only thing that can move, the first cause of all movement, the first mover. As we have seen he attempts to maintain human free will in this context of Godly dominance.

    I argue that Aquinas’ strict determinism applies to inanimate objects only. The fine-tuned physical laws are set by God and obeyed by matter that, indeed, does not move itself.

    However, life moves itself. In life, we see self-relationship; self-organization. In life, we see self-causation, self-movement. And the pinnacle of self-relationship is the rational self-aware person.

    Self-relationship is between self and self. There is no space between self and self. No thing can be between self and self — not even God. By way of self-relation, a thing establishes itself as a fundamental being.

  80. 80
    StephenB says:

    According to the Routledge Encyclopedia, the Stanford Encyclopedia, and the dictionary, Ontology is the science of being, the science of existence, a study of what is. Thus, the fact that water *is* a composite of hydrogen and oxygen is an ontological truth.

    Origenes:

    We do not seem to agree on what the term ontology means.

    It isn’t a question of agreement. It is a question of fact. Ontology is the science of being.

    In ontology, a fundamental thing is an indivisible unity. Two fundamental things can become a conglomerate composite of two fundamental things. Two fundamental things cannot become a conglomerate of one indivisible unity.

    That is, by no means, an acceptable definition of ontology. It is an unverifiable claim that reflects only a small piece of the ontological puzzle. So my generalized definition, confirmed by outside sources, stands; and your narrowly focused definition, peculiar to you, fails.

    Now let’s focus on your claim that two fundamental things cannot become a conglomerate of one indivisible unity

    We can use as an example the thing we call water. It is time to define your terms. What kind of thing (fundamental or non-fundamental) is hydrogen or oxygen, and what kind of thing (fundamental or non-fundamental) is water.
    ————————————————————————————-
    StephenB Does a person already exist as a human being before he creates his self awareness.

    Origenes:

    Do you define a human being as a conscious self-aware being?

    I define a human being as a composite of body and soul.

    If so, then a human being does not exist before he observes himself, and by doing so, grounds himself as a self-aware human being.

    You have ruled out the common-sense notion that a human being must already exist in order to observe itself. Rational thinking leads us to the conclusion that non-existent entities can do nothing.

    That leads me to the inevitable question about your model. Does the self-aware human being come into existence *as* he observes and grounds himself? Or does he come into existence *after* he observes and grounds himself?

  81. 81
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @80

    Now let’s focus on your claim that two fundamental things cannot become a conglomerate of one indivisible unity.

    A conglomerate of fundamental things is by definition not an indivisible unity, only a fundamental thing is. This concept is simple and straightforward.

    We can use as an example the thing we call water. It is time to define your terms. What kind of thing (fundamental or non-fundamental) is hydrogen or oxygen, and what kind of thing (fundamental or non-fundamental) is water.

    Assuming the correctness of particle physics, the items above (water, hydrogen, and oxygen) are all composites of fundamental particles (subatomic particles that are not composed of other particles).
    The concept of an indivisible fundamental particle has to do with ‘being’. Ontologically speaking: oxygen is not a fundamental thing, it *seems to be* one thing, but in reality, on closer inspection, we are dealing with more than one thing, namely multiple fundamental particles.

    Ori: Do you define a human being as a conscious self-aware being?

    I define a human being as a composite of body and soul.

    Is this composite a conscious self-aware being?

  82. 82
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    The onlooker might wonder how ‘self-relationship’ is relevant to Aquinas’s first mover argument.

    That would be because no such relevance exists.

  83. 83
    StephenB says:

    Returning to your model, does the self-aware human being come into existence *as* he observes and grounds himself? Or does he come into existence *after* he observes and grounds himself?

    Also, How do you, as an organism, explain your transition from a state of non-existence to a state of existence.

  84. 84
    StephenB says:

    The post at 84 is canceled.

  85. 85
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    A conglomerate of fundamental things is by definition not an indivisible unity, only a fundamental thing is.

    Does that formulation prompt you to say that one person cannot be a composite of two things, body and soul? If so, please explain why you think that is the case.

  86. 86
    Origenes says:

    StephenB

    Ori: A conglomerate of fundamental things is by definition not an indivisible unity, only a fundamental thing is.

    Does that formulation prompt you to say that one person cannot be a composite of two things, body and soul? If so, please explain why you think that is the case.

    In my view the (spiritual) person must necessarily be one fundamental thing; unity. I have several arguments in support of this view.

    Returning to your model, does the self-aware human being come into existence *as* he observes and grounds himself? Or does he come into existence *after* he observes and grounds himself?

    Consciousness does not fit a traditional time context. Perhaps the best answer is: the self-aware human being come into existence *as* he observes and grounds himself.
    For clarity, my claim applies to a spiritual self-aware being. In my view, the body is not part of what a human being really is. So, my claim is that the self-aware (spiritual) person comes into existence by way of self-observance. Again, the body is excluded from this claim.

    Also, How do you, as an organism, explain your transition from a state of non-existence to a state of existence.

    In my view, I am not a (physical) organism.

    A more general presentation of my argument:

    External causality:
    Suppose a world X where thing A causes thing B. This causal relation between A and B is situated in world X. An external world for A and B (such as world X) is necessary as a context for the causal relationship between A and B.

    Internal causality:
    Suppose a world X where B is having a self-relation. Note that the self-relation is situated in B. Here an external world, such as world X, is not a necessary context for the self-relation in B. In fact, world X is not a context for B’s self-relation at all. The context, the world, the stage, for B’s self-relation is B itself.

    It is conceivable that B is having a self-relationship without being in a world at all. This is because it cannot be the case that every thing requires an external world. If every thing requires an external world and given that a world is a thing also, then this leads to an infinite amount of worlds, which is absurd.

    The internal self-relation of B and its consequences are contextualized in another world (dimension) than world X which situates the external causal relation between A and B.
    Just like one’s inner world is another dimension than one’s external world.

    A causal relation between two items requires a common world/context. There is no common context for external and internal causality. Therefore, there can be no external cause for internal causality.

  87. 87
    Origenes says:

    Onlooker @

    Origenes: The onlooker might wonder how ‘self-relationship’ is relevant to Aquinas’s first mover argument. (post #79)

    StephenB: That would be because no such relevance exists.

    The gentle onlooker, who understands self-movement as stemming from self-relationship, and who appreciates the crucial role of self-movement in Aquinas’ first mover argument, might wonder why the heavens allow it for such unthinking nonsense to be hurled at the old benign Origenes.

  88. 88
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    In my view the (spiritual) person must necessarily be one fundamental thing; unity.

    So you are saying that your body is not (or cannot be) part of your unity as a person? When you experience bodily pain, isn’t it you, the person, that suffers?

    Perhaps the best answer is: the self-aware human being come into existence *as* he observes and grounds himself.

    For most people, the word *as.* in that context, means *at the same time,* neither before or after. But you say that time is not a factor. As you put it, “Consciousness does not fit a traditional time context,” whatever that means. In your judgment, does the act of self-awareness begin the process through which one comes to exist as a unified person? If not, then your words “by way of” are meaningless.

    Is there any causation involved? Does the act of self awareness cause one to be grounded? Is existence a product of being grounded, or is it the other way around? Or are these things the effect of some other unnamed cause? On these critical issues, you are silent.

    Again, most people would say that *by way of* self-observance means *is caused by* self-observance, and most people would say that it also means that self-observance comes first and existence comes later.

    How do you, as an organism, explain your transition from a state of non-existence to a state of existence.

    In my view, I am not a (physical) organism.

    Very well, I will amend the question: How do you, whatever you think you are, explain your transition from a state of non-existence to a state of existence?

  89. 89
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    The gentle onlooker, who understands self-movement as stemming from self-relationship, and who appreciates the crucial role of self-movement in Aquinas’ first mover argument, might wonder why the heavens allow it for such unthinking nonsense to be hurled at the old benign Origenes.

    The discerning onlooker might be interested to know that Aquinas’ first mover argument contains 309 words (Summa Theologica [Question 2, Article 3]). In his account, the words “self,” “self-relationship,” or “self-movement” are not used — not even once. So the
    “unthinking nonsense” is not coming from this end.

  90. 90
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @88

    So you are saying that your body is not (or cannot be) part of your unity as a person? When you experience bodily pain, isn’t it you, the person, that suffers?

    An expert torturer can create an unbearable hell on earth for me as a person even if he restricts his activities to my left hand. Does that mean that my left hand is part of my unity as a person? No, because if my left hand is removed from me, I am still the same person.
    Another way to reply to your question would be to argue that the person must be unity, next argue that the body is not, and conclude that I cannot be my body.

    But you say that time is not a factor. As you put it, “Consciousness does not fit a traditional time context,” whatever that means.

    I understand your frustration with the fog surrounding this issue. However, self-relation is an extremely complex concept, especially in the case of consciousness. In post #86 I laid out its general principles and argued that self-relation does not fit a universal space-time context.

    In your judgment, does the act of self-awareness begin the process through which one comes to exist as a unified person? If not, then your words “by way of” are meaningless.

    Self-awareness, existing as a self-aware being, results from self-observation. The “I” observes itself. The latter is undeniably true for most people.

    Is there any causation involved?

    The self-aware “I”, consciousness, is encompassing one’s inner world; including, of course, one’s thoughts. So, yes, there is some causation involved.

    Questions …

    In #86 I have explained in general terms what the context for self-relation is. There are some answers to your questions to be found.

    Very well, I will amend the question: How do you, whatever you think you are, explain your transition from a state of non-existence to a state of existence?

    Like I said before, by self-relation, specifically by self-observance.
    I have also written this, from #74:

    Well, Origenes, are you saying that the thing that precedes the person, the thing that did not observe itself, is also created by the person?
    No. All things that precede the person cannot, by definition, be created by the person.
    Nonetheless, I maintain that the person is a unity who creates himself as a person. Everything that precedes the person can only have the status of a precondition to the person, as opposed to cause of the self-aware person.
    The self-aware person exists on another (mental) level than the things that precede it.
    The only true cause of the person, is the person himself, by way of self-relationship.

  91. 91
    Origenes says:

    Onlooker@

    StephenB: The discerning onlooker might be interested to know that Aquinas’ first mover argument contains 309 words. (Summa Theologica [Question 2, Article 3). In his account, the words “self,” “self-relationship,” or “self-movement” are not used — not even once. So the “nonsense” is not coming from this end.

    The insightful onlooker understands that Aquinas’ fifth premise is crucial to his entire argument:

    5.) Therefore nothing can move itself.

    What follows is simple and straightforward:

    6.) Therefore each thing in motion is moved by something else.
    7.) The sequence of motion cannot extend ad infinitum.
    8.) Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

    The crucial premise 5 can be rephrased as “Therefore nothing has self-movement without any change in its meaning. The onlooker may wonder why this has been overlooked by StephenB.

  92. 92
    StephenB says:

    vSB: When you experience bodily pain, isn’t it you, the person, that suffers?
    Origenes fails to answer with a yes or no.
    SB: How do you explain your transition from a state of non-existence to a state of existence?
    Origenes: It happens by way of “Self Observation and Self Relation:. Newsflash: One cannot observe himself or relate himself into existence. It is logically impossible. Existence of Self must precede observation or self or relation with self.. .
    SB: Is there causation in the process.
    Origenes provides a clear answer – Yes. Thank you
    Origenes claim: Self relationship and self movement play a crucial role in Aquinas’ first mover argument
    Fact: Aquinas argument contains 309 words. (Summa Theologica [Question 2, Article 3). In his account, the words “self,” “self-relationship,” or “self-movement” are not used — not even once.

    Origenes on the fifth premise of Aquinas argument:: “the phrase nothing can move itself can be rephrased as nothing has self movement.”

    No, it can’t. That is putting words in Aquinas’ mouth. The active verb “move” must be used. To say a thing “has movement” will not suffice. The point is that nothing can move itself by itself. Humans, for example, can move and are the secondary cause of that movement, but they cannot move at all unless God gives them the capacity to do it by using their God given faculties and organs.. God is a necessary cause and first cause for the movement by providing the mover with the capacity to move. At that point, and in that context, humans can be the secondary cause of their own movement. Obviously, Origenes missed the point.

  93. 93
    Origenes says:

    Evidently, new lows are being tested and certain boundaries are transgressed. This is where I eject myself from the discussion.

  94. 94
    Silver Asiatic says:

    St. Thomas argued against the Islamic scholars of his day who held that God is the direct cause of everything in nature, a view known as occasionalism. Put negatively, occasionalism denies that creatures exercise their own causal powers. It is God who always acts as the only cause; creatures only appear to cause effects. “On the contrary,” as Thomas is fond of saying, God created creatures with real natures that have real powers. Thus, ants act in an ant-like fashion. Ants themselves cause effects.

    God is, of course, also a true cause of ant behavior: He created ants, he sustains ants in being, and he concurs (co-operates) with every ant action. According to Notre Dame philosopher Alfred Freddoso, this last aspect was extremely important to medieval Aristotelians: “It cannot be emphasized enough that the position being rejected here (viz., that God’s action in the world is exhausted by creation and conservation) is regarded as too weak by almost all medieval Aristotelians. . . .” These medieval thinkers would be scandalized by the claims of modern Christian thinkers who exclude God from nature except as the First Cause and as having a merely bureaucratic role as sustainer of the universe.

    So Thomas believed in true secondary causes. In a certain sense, it is true that God causes everything. But in the act of creation, God also delegates to creatures the power to act as true causes of their creaturely behavior, according to their natures. Because Aristotle is so well known for recognizing teleology intrinsic to living things, and because Thomas is so well known for this view of secondary causation, some Thomists think that their tradition can wholeheartedly embrace Darwinian evolution. After all, Darwin just claimed that nature is due to secondary causes, right? Nature just “does its own thing.” It is this drastic over-simplification that lies at the heart of the casual acceptance of Darwinism among some classically thinking people today. We must dig deeper.

    Exemplar Causes

    Recall that for Thomas, creatures are a combination of form and matter. The question that must be answered, then, in any version of Thomistic evolution, is where form comes from. Darwin, denying Aristotelian essentialism, saw organisms’ traits as accidental properties of living things that change with the winds of time. Not so St. Thomas.

    In his recent book Aquinas on the Divine Ideas as Exemplar Causes, Catholic University philosophy professor Gregory T. Doolan gives the most extensive treatment to date of Thomas’s notion of “exemplar causation,” an integral part of Thomas’s metaphysics.

    What is an exemplar cause? It is a type of formal cause—a sort of blueprint, the idea according to which something is organized. For Thomas, these ideas exist separately from the things they cause. For instance, if a boy is going to build a soapbox derby car, the idea in his mind is separate from the form of the car; yet the car’s form expresses the idea, or exemplar cause, in the boy’s mind. Exemplar causes actually do something. They are “practical ideas,” writes Doolan.

    For Thomas—and here is the important point—a creature’s form comes from a similar form in the divine intellect. In other words, the cause of each species’ form is extrinsic. In fact, writes Thomas, “God is the first exemplar cause of all things.” Creatures do possess the causal powers proper to the nature God has granted them, but creatures most certainly do not possess the power to create the form of their or any other species.

    For instance, frog parents have the proper ability to generate tadpoles. They are able to bring out the natural form that is present in the potentiality of matter. However, the frog parents cannot create the form “frog.” After all, Thomas reasons, if frog parents could create the form “frog” they would be the creators of their own form, and this is clearly a contradiction. Natural things can generate forms of the same species, but they cannot create the form of a species in general.

    https://www.touchstonemag.com/archives/article.php?id=23-06-037-f&readcode=&readtherest=true#therest

  95. 95
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic @

    St. Thomas argued against the Islamic scholars of his day who held that God is the direct cause of everything in nature, a view known as occasionalism. Put negatively, occasionalism denies that creatures exercise their own causal powers. It is God who always acts as the only cause; creatures only appear to cause effects. “On the contrary,” as Thomas is fond of saying, God created creatures with real natures that have real powers. Thus, ants act in an ant-like fashion. Ants themselves cause effects.

    God created the ant’s nature. The ant acts in accord with that nature. Where in this story is the ‘ant himself’?

    God is, of course, also a true cause of ant behavior: He created ants, he sustains ants in being, and he concurs (co-operates) with every ant action.

    God is also a true cause” of ant behavior? Are there more than one true causes? Again, what comes from the ‘ant himself’? What “ant action” is there? All I see is God and a wind-up ant created, sustained, and moved by Him. “Ants themselves cause effects”? How so? No movement originates from the ant. And that is in accord with Aquinas’ 5th premise: nothing can move itself.

  96. 96
    Silver Asiatic says:

    .

    “Ants themselves cause effects”? How so?

    It’s the difference between the first cause and secondary causes. I wrote the software code. I’m the first cause. You used the software to produce effects from what I caused.

  97. 97
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic @96

    Ori: “Ants themselves cause effects”? How so?

    It’s the difference between the first cause and secondary causes. I wrote the software code. I’m the first cause. You used the software to produce effects from what I caused.

    Please elaborate. How is a secondary cause anything over and beyond a moved billiard ball?

  98. 98
    Silver Asiatic says:

    I should say the difference between “a prior cause” and secondary. There is only one first cause.

  99. 99
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    How is a secondary cause anything over and beyond a moved billiard ball?

    I think you’re assuming that we fully understand how and why a billiard ball moves and that it is entirely deterministic. But we don’t understand that. We don’t even know if physical “laws” will act tomorrow as they do today. The argument from motion says that if things change from potency to act then they cannot move themselves this way since the change from potency to act requires something actual.
    Humans cannot bring themselves into existence – so they require a first mover.
    But even after that, it doesn’t mean that humans must be equivalent to billiard balls.
    How God interacts with subatomic particles or with immaterial entities is not what this argument is about. We observe that humans have potentials – to move, grow, change. These potentials have to be actualized by a first mover. The change from potency to act is not necessarily deterministic in the materialist sense. How does one immaterial being determine the movements of another immaterial being? The argument is not about the physics, but about the metaphysics. It seems that you’re conflating the two and insisting that God must physically determine the movement of everything.

  100. 100
    Silver Asiatic says:

    that is in accord with Aquinas’ 5th premise: nothing can move itself.

    Translating this, Aquinas is talking about the change from potency to act.
    So, “Nothing that is in potency can actualize itself.” It requires something that is in act to make that change. This is not about the mechanisms required for things to move around physically. The move from potential to act is not a materialistic, deterministic event.

  101. 101
    Origenes says:

    **removed**

  102. 102
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic@

    Humans cannot bring themselves into existence – so they require a first mover.
    But even after that, it doesn’t mean that humans must be equivalent to billiard balls.

    Why not? Where is freedom in Aquinas’ concept?

    How God interacts with subatomic particles or with immaterial entities is not what this argument is about.

    I agree it is not about the ‘how’. Anyone who would suggest that it is should hang his head in shame.

    The change from potency to act is not necessarily deterministic in the materialist sense.

    I agree. Thankfully, no one has made such a claim. Obviously, determinism can be of a mental and/or a materialistic variety.

    How does one immaterial being determine the movements of another immaterial being?

    We don’t know. And it is irrelevant to our discussion.

    The argument is not about the physics, but about the metaphysics. It seems that you’re conflating the two and insisting that God must physically determine the movement of everything.

    God is the first cause, and it is entirely irrelevant to our discussion how he operates as a first cause (mental, physical, or otherwise). The question is: is God a sufficient cause, and do we have, therefore, total determinism? The question is not: is God a physical or a mental cause? The latter question is irrelevant to determinism. As I said, determinism comes in several forms.

    This is not about the mechanisms required for things to move around physically. The move from potential to act is not a materialistic, deterministic event.

    No one has made that claim. My thoughts are determined by me; a mental process. Given that mental causation is real, to be determined does not require a physical process.

  103. 103
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    I said:
    “Humans cannot bring themselves into existence – so they require a first mover.
    But even after that, it doesn’t mean that humans must be equivalent to billiard balls.”

    You asked:

    Why not?

    The answer is because to be an existing being requires the change (movement) from potency to act.
    No human being brought themselves into existence because to come into existence is an effect, and all effects follow from their causes. So, for a human to cause himself to exist would mean the human would have to exist first, and then be the cause of its own existence. This is irrational.
    So again, no human causes it’s own existence. Thus, it requires something actual (the first mover) to move from potency (the human could exist) to act (the human actually exists).
    God can create either ex nihilo or by using existing substances.
    Only God can create immaterial human natures and it is defined Christian dogma that God directly creates the human soul from nothing pre-existing material. The human immaterial soul is not the product of material entities.
    One might argue that human souls are eternal and are non-created. But we’d need some philosophical evidence for that. For souls to be co-eternal with God there would have to be some kind of infinite relationship and that is impossible for reasons of infinite regress and because human souls are distinct and therefore had to have some boundaries (where would they come from?).
    The universe has the potency to have free, intelligent beings living in it. Only a first mover could change that potency (potential humans) to act (real humans living).
    Humans themselves cannot create themselves, and therefore they did not create their own powers of freedom.

    Where is freedom in Aquinas’ concept?

    Freedom is a potential that was made actual by a first mover. It was possible (potential) for beings to have freedom. To make that potency actual, a first mover, fully actual, would be required.

    My thoughts are determined by me; a mental process.

    You think and believe they are but you don’t know that. On that basis alone (that you do not fully know the nature, cause, extent or powers of your own thoughs/freedoms). it is enough to know that you cannot be the cause of your own freedom. You require a first mover to cause the freedom that you think you have. You can’t create your own freedom. It was given to you – your potency was made actual by something actual, not yourself.
    The argument from a first mover says nothing about how God created free will. Like other arguments for the existence of God, it just looks at infinite regresses.
    To argue about whether our individual thoughts are free or not is not relevant to the First Mover argument. Again,

    in accord with Aquinas’ 5th premise: nothing can move itself

    Nothing can actualize itself from potency. Nothing can create its own freedom. No human can create a rational human nature. It requires a first mover to change the potential for rational free thought, into a being that actually has rational free thought.
    But to exist and have this power means that you are dependent on something other than yourself. You cannot be the first mover of yourself since you would have to exist in a state of potency (which is non-actual) and then create yourself with the power of freedom.
    Whatever power of freedom you have is entirely dependent on your origin – which did not come from yourself.

  104. 104
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    The question is: is God a sufficient cause, and do we have, therefore, total determinism?

    This is two questions and it’s different from what Aquinas is arguing in the First Mover.
    The first: Is God a sufficient cause? There are other arguments that look at that question first.
    The simplest way is to ask the negative: “If God was not sufficient, what is He lacking and why is He lacking that?” In other words, what other powers or causal entities would exist outside of God? Where did those powers come from and why didn’t God ever have access to them?
    Getting into that is a very long conversation, but basically if there is anything lacking in God, we have to explain why God does not have that particular thing and in the course of infinite time He was never able to acquire it. This is the whole question of “why must God be one and not many gods”?

    St. Thomas gives three reasons why God is one (and therefore must have all sufficiency, all powers and be the source of all being):

    First from His simplicity. For it is manifest that the reason why any singular thing is “this particular thing” is because it cannot be communicated to many: since that whereby Socrates is a man, can be communicated to many; whereas, what makes him this particular man, is only communicable to one. Therefore, if Socrates were a man by what makes him to be this particular man, as there cannot be many Socrates, so there could not in that way be many men. Now this belongs to God alone; for God Himself is His own nature, as was shown above (I:3:3). Therefore, in the very same way God is God, and He is this God. Impossible is it therefore that many Gods should exist.

    Secondly, this is proved from the infinity of His perfection. For it was shown above (I:4:2) that God comprehends in Himself the whole perfection of being. If then many gods existed, they would necessarily differ from each other. Something therefore would belong to one which did not belong to another. And if this were a privation, one of them would not be absolutely perfect; but if a perfection, one of them would be without it. So it is impossible for many gods to exist. Hence also the ancient philosophers, constrained as it were by truth, when they asserted an infinite principle, asserted likewise that there was only one such principle.

    Thirdly, this is shown from the unity of the world. For all things that exist are seen to be ordered to each other since some serve others. But things that are diverse do not harmonize in the same order, unless they are ordered thereto by one. For many are reduced into one order by one better than by many: because one is the per se cause of one, and many are only the accidental cause of one, inasmuch as they are in some way one. Since therefore what is first is most perfect, and is so per se and not accidentally, it must be that the first which reduces all into one order should be only one. And this one is God.

    https://www.newadvent.org/summa/1011.htm

    Aquinas gives the reference above but I’ll just summarize: Why God must be all perfection of being.

    As above, since God is not a created being, then all existence is in Him. He is existence itself. He does not receive existence from anything else. So, he must contain in himself the fullness, and therefore the perfection of all being. No possible being/existence could be lacking in God because if it wasn’t in God, then it couldn’t possibly exist. All being/existence is God, comes from God and therefore must be in absolute perfection (lacking nothing good) in God.

    So there is nothing that can exist which creates its own existence or moves itself from potency (the possibility of existence) to actuality (actually existing).
    One of the qualities that God created in human beings is the power of free will.
    We observe that we have freedom (in some ways) and we know we did not create it ourselves.
    So, there must be a first mover that created our human nature that includes freedom.
    As said many times before however, human freedom is not absolute. It is free within limits. It is a gift given, not something we created. We don’t even understand what it is – we just have access to use this gift and are required to use it wisely and responsibly because we will be held accountable for what free choices we make. ‘
    Being held accountable is evidence that we do not have absolute freedom to do whatever we want. There are consequences of our choices – so we didn’t create our own moral law and we are not the source of our own consequences or recompense for actions either good or bad.

  105. 105
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic @

    So, for a human to cause himself to exist would mean the human would have to exist first, and then be the cause of its own existence. This is irrational.

    As you know, I do not agree. I have argued in posts #74, #78, #86, and #90 that the only true cause of the spiritual self-aware person, is the person himself, by way of self-relationship. For clarity, the body is excluded from my claim.

    One might argue that human souls are eternal and are non-created. But we’d need some philosophical evidence for that.

    For many years, I have thought about consciousness. And at one point I came to the firm conclusion that there cannot possibly be an explanation for consciousness that starts with a non-conscious thing. IOWs there cannot possibly be a causal chain of events that starts with a non-conscious thing leading up to a self-aware being. Confronted with this problem I realized that the only way forward was to look for another context. IOWs if consciousness cannot be understood in the traditional space-time causal context, then another context must be found.
    The other context that I found is ‘unity’. And in the context of unity, I was able to explain conscious self-awareness. In several posts I mentioned ‘aspects’ of unity, and stressed the fact that they are not distinct parts. In #86 I outline some general rules WRT ‘internal causality’; there is much more that can be said about it.
    How “irrational” is my change-of-context move? A few notes in its defense: Not everything can be a part, where there are parts, there are wholes. Arguably wholes cannot be understood in the same context as parts. Perhaps organisms are (semi-)wholes and because of this, they will never be explained in the traditional cause-effect context that science tries to force them in. Sometimes we do apply the wrong context when we try to understand something; the failure of the naturalistic/materialistic context for life may very well be a case in point. More generally, not everything can be caused by something prior to it. Some thing(s) must cause (move) themselves. Not everything can be grounded by something else. Some things must ground themselves. And why is it exactly that we think that we understand something when a prior cause is identified? Does a multiverse make the universe more understandable? Or do we merely shift the problem out of sight? I am asking because do we understand something when its cause is beyond our view? I say we do not. That’s not the complete picture of something. That cannot be true understanding. Is it not our only chance at real understanding that we see something in its entirety? That our view encompasses a thing completely——no vague undefined cause running off the side of the screen? If so, then that something must be a whole, a unity. Only a unity/whole can be viewed (and understood) in its entirety.

    Ori: Where is freedom in Aquinas’ concept?

    Freedom is a potential that was made actual by a first mover. It was possible (potential) for beings to have freedom. To make that potency actual, a first mover, fully actual, would be required.

    “Freedom” is undefined here. Is it the potential of self-relation you are talking about? I’am sorry, but there is that word again, but, frankly, in my understanding, there is no way around it. Without self-observance and self-control, there can be no self-awareness, self-movement, and no free person.

    Ori: My thoughts are determined by me; a mental process.

    You think and believe they are but you don’t know that.

    Yes, I do know that. If I do not determine my thoughts, if I do not control my thoughts, then I am not rational. That’s not an option. I also know that my thoughts are not material processes, because if they are then they are the result of laws and nature and circumstances long before I was born, both of which I do not control. That would entail that I am not in control of my thoughts and that I am not rational. Again, that’s not an option.

    On that basis alone (that you do not fully know the nature, cause, extent or powers of your own thoughs/freedoms). it is enough to know that you cannot be the cause of your own freedom. You require a first mover to cause the freedom that you think you have. You can’t create your own freedom. It was given to you – your potency was made actual by something actual, not yourself.

    I do not agree. As I have argued, only by self-observance does the self-aware being come into existence. No one else but me can give me self-awareness. I must be self-aware of myself. I must observe myself to be self-aware. No one else can help me with this.

    Nothing can actualize itself from potency. Nothing can create its own freedom.

    Again, I argue that the opposite is true. My self-awareness is between myself and myself. Nothing external can help me with that. If I do not observe myself, I cannot be aware of myself. So, only I can be constitutive of my self-awareness. My self-awareness cannot be constituted by anyone but me. If I am not aware of myself, but someone else is, then my state of non-self-awareness remains unchanged.

  106. 106
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    That was a very helpful response. I understand now why we disagree.

    the only true cause of the spiritual self-aware person, is the person himself

    That statement requires more explanation. The cause of the person is the person himself.
    You have proposed something to explain it:

    not everything can be caused by something prior to it. Some thing(s) must cause (move) themselves.

    But this does not answer the problem of how a thing can cause itself.
    We are talking about the origin of things – and thus existence or being.
    Once we have being of any kind, we have also non-being. That’s how we know we have a being, because it is different from non-being.

    The options one would have is:
    1. This person did not exist. Then this person caused himself to exist.
    2. This person always existed. Then this person caused himself to exist.
    3. There was no person. Then some existing being caused this person to exist.

    #3 is the classical formulation. You have adopted either #1 or #2. That at one time there was no person – but the non-person caused itself to exist? Again, causality by its nature requires a prior state. It doesn’t have to be bound by time (God can create things to exist outside of a time framework) but prior-in-being. Something has to exist first, then it causes something else.

    Rejecting that, you could propose that things just come into existence on their own from nothing.
    But even that doesn’t work because nothing has no causal powers. Nothing can come from nothing. Nothing has no properties, powers or materials from which anything else can emerge.

    So the question is: How can a person create himself? If he did not exist, where did he get the powers, capabilities or existence itself to create anything?

  107. 107
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    No one else but me can give me self-awareness.

    the only true cause of the spiritual self-aware person, is the person himself

    I believe you are saying that you created yourself. You caused yourself to exist. In doing this, you conferred on yourself the power of self-awareness and therefore freedom.

  108. 108
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic @
    Thank you for your difficult questions.

    Ori: the only true cause of the spiritual self-aware person, is the person himself.

    The options one would have is:
    1. This person did not exist. Then this person caused himself to exist.
    2. This person always existed. Then this person caused himself to exist.
    3. There was no person. Then some existing being caused this person to exist.

    #3 is the classical formulation. You have adopted either #1 or #2.

    I agree. In my view, there are two distinct perspectives on the coming into existence of the person:

    1.) From an external view, in a spiritual world, witnesses see the person coming into existence. They cannot identify the cause, all they can identify are certain necessary conditions. That is, the witnesses notice that persons only come into existence when certain conditions are met. However, the witnesses also notice that these conditions do not explain a person coming into existence because they know that the exact same conditions are present in many other places without any result. They also note that correlation is not causation.

    2.) From an internal view, the person is self-aware. The person is aware of being self-aware. And the person knows that he is the cause. Deep down the person knows that he is the cause of his own self-awareness. He knows that he is the one doing it.

    What is the ‘correct’ perspective? In my story, only the second perspective reveals the cause. The external and internal perspectives are placeholders for the two contexts that I offered in #105.

    Ori: No one else but me can give me self-awareness.
    the only true cause of the spiritual self-aware person is the person himself.

    I believe you are saying that you created yourself. You caused yourself to exist. In doing this, you conferred on yourself the power of self-awareness and therefore freedom.

    Yes. I claim that, by observing myself, I cause my self-awareness, I cause myself as a self-aware being, and I sustain myself as a self-aware being.

  109. 109
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    From an internal view, the person is self-aware. The person is aware of being self-aware. And the person knows that he is the cause. Deep down the person knows that he is the cause of his own self-awareness. He knows that he is the one doing it.

    Ok, I think I see what you’re saying. At a certain point in time, the person becomes aware of himself, and at that moment the self comes into existence by the fact that the person gained self-awareness.
    One issue you might look at is whether you actually created yourself by your self-awareness, or did you discover yourself. In other words, did you become self-aware of a self that was already existing, but you had not recognized it yet?
    You might say, “if I wasn’t self-aware, then the self did not exist”.
    But I think there is information from external sources that help.
    People can tell you things about yourself that you didn’t know. This would be evidence that your self has an existence outside of your own self-awareness. Other people can observe you and see things about you that you couldn’t know otherwise.

    At any rate, this discussion is not just about your view of self, but it’s about your entire worldview and cosmology. I think a lot of that has to be worked out in a more coherent way. It’s not readily evident how it could be possible for you to create yourself. How and why you made yourself be what you are is just one question. Why did you give yourself the characteristics you chose to have? Why not make yourself smarter, better, more innovative? What limited you in creating yourself? Did you have one chance to make yourself and then after that you can’t re-do it? Who created that rule? You could make yourself but could you make any other conscious beings? Why not?
    I think there are a lot of difficult questions that come up in your view and at this moment, I cannot see how you could sort them out in a way that aligns with our common sense view of reality.

  110. 110
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic @

    Ok, I think I see what you’re saying. At a certain point in time, the person becomes aware of himself, and at that moment the self comes into existence by the fact that the person gained self-awareness.

    Indeed. Self-awareness brings the self into existence.

    One issue you might look at is whether you actually created yourself by your self-awareness, or did you discover yourself.

    There is no one who can discover and nothing to discover because there is no self before self-awareness. Put differently, before the (extremely) special relation between self and self, there was no self.

    In other words, did you become self-aware of a self that was already existing, but you had not recognized it yet?

    Before self-awareness there is no person who can recognize himself. And there is also no person to be recognized.

    You might say, “if I wasn’t self-aware, then the self did not exist”.

    That’s exactly what I am saying.

    But I think there is information from external sources that help.

    How can a non-existent person be helped? Again, before my self-aware existence, I do not exist as a person.

    People can tell you things about yourself that you didn’t know.

    Here you are assuming my existence as a self-aware person. However, we were talking about a state before self-aware existence.

    This would be evidence that your self has an existence outside of your own self-awareness. Other people can observe you and see things about you that you couldn’t know otherwise.

    Interesting point. I agree that once self-awareness has been established, IOW the person has come into existence, there is a gradual learning process ahead where the person learns things about himself and the world. Being aware of something does not imply an understanding of something. I maintain that coming into existence as a self-aware being is not a gradual process. There is no gradual process between non-self and self.

  111. 111
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic @

    I would like you to comment on the following. I have compiled some of my claims in a list, somewhat in the form of an argument. Please tell me what you reject and what you do not.

    1. I am a self-aware person.
    2. Self-relation between self and self is real.
    3. There is no self without self-relation.
    4. Self-relation has causal power.
    5. Self-relation can only be observed by the self.
    6. There is no observance of self-relation outside of self.
    7. No other thing can insert itself between self and self.
    8. What cannot be observed and manipulated from the outside, cannot be explained from the outside.
    9. There is no explanation of self-relation outside of self.

  112. 112
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    Before self-awareness there is no person who can recognize himself. And there is also no person to be recognized.

    Before the person existed, there was no person who could create himself. But this is what you’ve rejected.

  113. 113
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    1. I am a self-aware person.
    2. Self-relation between self and self is real.
    3. There is no self without self-relation.
    4. Self-relation has causal power.
    5. Self-relation can only be observed by the self.
    6. There is no observance of self-relation outside of self.
    7. No other thing can insert itself between self and self.
    8. What cannot be observed and manipulated from the outside, cannot be explained from the outside.
    9. There is no explanation of self-relation outside of self.

    I could go through this list but as it stands it comes from your view that “a person creates himself” and I can’t get past that.
    We started by talking about the argument from First Mover and that argument is about the Origin of things. In the statements you make above, you do not reference where these entities come from.
    That requires some definitions.
    When you speak of “self and self” are those two entities? Most importantly, where did they (or it) come from? You have said that yourself created yourself. Are those two beings or one? Yourself existed, then yourself created something you’re calling yourself. But it can’t be created it if already exists.
    Until we sort out what you mean here we really can’t go through and analyze how “self has a relationship with self”. A relationship requires two parties.
    A common view is that there’s a higher self and lower self. So, we “teach our self” that way.

  114. 114
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    Again, before my self-aware existence, I do not exist as a person.

    That’s not a standard view on what a person is. For example, we will say that a child is a person. The child may not be self-aware. Personhood is a very valuable thing and human rights are tied to it. To say that “since that human entity is not self-aware it is therefore a non-person” can have troubling consequences. Personhood is tied to human identity and therefore to the possession of human nature. That’s the classic understanding anyway. Personhood is given by God.
    Interestingly, the concept of person was refined by Christian theology in analysis of the doctrine of the Holy Trinity (three divine persons in one God).

    I maintain that coming into existence as a self-aware being is not a gradual process. There is no gradual process between non-self and self.

    We can have a partial awareness and more complete awareness. Plus, we can lose self-awareness maybe even entirely after we had it. Would that mean that a person would cease to be a person in those cases?

    My view is that personhood is not something that a person can give to himself. Just as life itself is not something that the person creates for himself – but it’s a gift. Human nature is also a gift, and with it rational self-awareness. It comes from the author and creator of life, not from the creatures.

  115. 115
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic @
    You are obviously a very intelligent person, so if you do not understand me, it means that I am at fault.

    Until we sort out what you mean here we really can’t go through and analyze how “self has a relationship with self”. A relationship requires two parties.

    When you reach inside and observe your inner self. You are observing you. Silver Asiatic is observing Silver Asiatic(SA). SA is being aware of himself. Note that you are also aware of your self-awareness.

    If it were “two parties”, if it were SA observing another person, then SA would be aware of another person and not of himself — no self-awareness. And if it is another person observing SA, then another person would be aware of SA, but SA would not be aware of SA — no self-awareness.

    The point I am trying to make is: enigmatically, the observer and the observed must be the same thing when it comes to self-awareness. And that’s why I often say that self-awareness is a relationship between self and self.

    Am I making any sense here?

  116. 116
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes,

    It’s interesting and yes you’re making sense even though I don’t agree with how you’re viewing it.

    The point I am trying to make is: enigmatically, the observer and the observed must be the same thing when it comes to self-awareness.

    Yes that seems right but I don’t see how that translates to the observer creates the observed.
    Do you accept the idea that we have an animal nature and a rational nature combined in one person?
    That would be the basis for the idea that we “teach ourself” to do something. Some might call it our higher self (our better self) and our lower self.
    Then that would work as the higher self (observer) viewing the lower self. They’re both the same person but they are only parts of the person, not the whole.
    I think of examples like “I stepped on my foot”. So “I hurt myself”. We don’t say there are two persons, but my right foot stepped on my left foot. A part of me did something to another part of me.
    That prevents an infinite regress.
    “I am aware of myself. I am aware of being aware of myself. I am aware of being aware of being aware of myself …”
    That process would go on to infinity.
    But instead, we have just two. “I am aware of myself”. We don’t have a higher view. So we could think that “our true self” or our “observing self” does not have a self that observes it.

    When you point out that if there were two parties in the self-to-self relationship, then we would think we were observing a different person rather than ourself.
    But we do experience that very thing quite often “why would I do such a thing”?
    We act as if there’s a self that understands and a self that does things we don’t understand – like it’s a different person.
    “He got so angry I didn’t even think it was him — but that’s not his true self”.
    We can hear something like that and understand what is meant.
    “I do the things I do not want to do”. We understand that as meaning that “our better self” wants the good thing but our “animal nature” craves whatever it can get.
    Some would say “the man of the flesh vs the man of the spirit” – so there can be a conflict with these two aspects of self.
    The fact that we do not have control over ourself in this way is also evidence that we did not create ourself.
    Why would we have an internal conflict if we are the creators of ourselves and we could create whatever we wanted?

  117. 117
    Origenes says:

    Do you accept the idea that we have an animal nature and a rational nature combined in one person?

    You are introducing a fundamental concept. The concept of one thing (person) that has multiple aspects. In this concept, aspects are not distinct things, but, rather ‘poles’ of one thing. So, here you propose that the person is one thing that has a rational pole and animal pole; a rational aspect and animal aspect.

    That would be the basis for the idea that we “teach ourself” to do something. Some might call it our higher self (our better self) and our lower self.

    Then that would work as the higher self (observer) viewing the lower self. They’re both the same person but they are only parts of the person, not the whole.

    I think of examples like “I stepped on my foot”. So “I hurt myself”.

    I take it that you are saying that the “I” is the higher self and the foot is the lower self. In your example, “I” is a person, and “my foot” is not.
    >> I << stepped on my foot”. It is the self-aware “I” in your example that I would like to focus on. At issue is: How does it become self-aware? My claim is that the self-aware “I” who observes his foot, must also observe itself. No self-observance no self-awareness.
    Do you agree?
    This self-aware “I” must observe itself, otherwise, it could not be a self-aware “I”. The “I” does not become self-aware by looking at its foot. Insofar as the self is conscious of the non-self, the self is not conscious of itself. It must (also) look at itself. And it is exactly this part of the story, this self-relation, I would like to discuss.

  118. 118
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    I take it that you are saying that the “I” is the higher self and the foot is the lower self.

    No, I wasn’t drawing that analogy. I explained it. You have reduced what I said to “the foot”.

    I said:

    We don’t say there are two persons, but my right foot stepped on my left foot. A part of me did something to another part of me.

    You interpreted that as meaning my foot is my lower self and I am my higher self, when I explained clearly “my right foot stepped on my left foot”. A part of me did something to another part. My higher self observed that I have a lower self, and in that process realizes that I have a higher self which observes. But the higher self does not observe itself. I explained that also as an infinite regress.

    You skipped over my explanation and strangely clipped out one segment that you misinterpreted and then went back to your talk-track as if I didn’t say anything else.
    So, on this particular exchange we made zero progress.
    You have a very deep commitment to your views, but I don’t think they hold up as an alternative to Thomistic realism.
    That prevents an infinite regress.
    “I am aware of myself. I am aware of being aware of myself. I am aware of being aware of being aware of myself …”
    That process would go on to infinity.
    But instead, we have just two. “I am aware of myself”. We don’t have a higher view. So we could think that “our true self” or our “observing self” does not have a self that observes it.

  119. 119
    Origenes says:

    You interpreted that as meaning my foot is my lower self and I am my higher self, when I explained clearly “my right foot stepped on my left foot”. A part of me did something to another part. My higher self observed that I have a lower self, and in that process realizes that I have a higher self which observes. But the higher self does not observe itself. I explained that also as an infinite regress.

    I don’t understand your concept. The higher self does not observe itself, you say. The higher self, you say is an “observer” who is “viewing the lower self.”
    Where in this concept is self-awareness?
    If the higher self does not observe itself, then, it follows that it cannot have awareness of itself. Right?
    Here, the higher self is as self-aware as a camera is.
    And in this concept, the lower self also does not observe himself. So, I see no self-awareness anywhere. I see a higher self “camera” and a non-observing lower self doing things.
    What am I missing?

  120. 120
    StephenB says:

    As I discovered in a previous discussion with him, Origenes accepts Descartes’ account of self as expressed in the famous phrase, “I think, therefore I am.” That formulation, though it is one-sided, psychological, and subjective, is reasonable, but only insofar as it recognizes its reverse metaphysical counterpart: “I am, therefore, I can think.”

    In this context, the psychological component moves backwards, first observing the effect and then drawing conclusions about the cause; the metaphysical component moves forward, first acknowledging the cause and then identifying its effect. Origenes honors Descartes’ subjective meditation on self-awareness as if it reflected the whole truth, and ignores the objective component which describes the (outside-of-self) causal conditions necessary for explaining how a self can begin to exist.

    In keeping with this hyper-subjective philosophy, Origenes analyzes everything involving the person, including its existence, as coming from — and ending with – self. Consequently, he believes, absurdly, that a self can literally observe its way into existence, As Aristotle pointed out, “a little error in the beginning leads to a great one in the end.” Aquinas said the same thing. Our heroes can make or break us.

  121. 121
    Origenes says:

    “I think, therefore I am”, does not mean: ‘I think myself into existence’ or ‘I exist because I am thinker’ or something similar.

    Instead (at least that is my understanding of Descartes) it means:

    1.) I do something.
    2.) from nothing nothing comes.

    Therefore,

    3.) I exist.

    Commentary:

    Premise 1.) is undeniably true every waking moment. I simply cannot do nothing. At the very least I am just aware of myself, which is of course also doing something. So, when I am awake, I am always doing something. I can’t help it.
    Note that when I doubt my existence I would also do something. Premise 1.) can even be replaced by:
    1.) I doubt my existence. .. and it would still be a valid argument.

    Premise 2.) No comment.

    Premise 3.) Can it be that I do not exist? Can it be that I am nothing? No, that cannot be because from nothing nothing comes and the established fact is that I do something. So, I must exist. My existence is the only explanation for the brute fact that I do something. There cannot be any doubt in my mind about that. The fact that I exist is the most certain knowledge that I have. And it is continually fueled by everything that I do. Thx Descartes!

  122. 122
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    I don’t understand your concept. The higher self does not observe itself, you say. The higher self, you say is an “observer” who is “viewing the lower self.”
    Where in this concept is self-awareness?

    I explained this in post 116. Having an awareness of something is different than observing it.
    I am aware that there is someone in the next room because I hear things and draw an inference. I have not observed the person. Where is the “person-in-the-room-awareness” that I claim to have? It’s in the logical inference. The higher self does not observe itself. It’s impossible to do that. If it was possible, then we’d have the infinite regress that I explained in post 116 that I’m not sure if you read, but I’m sure you didn’t address.
    The higher self infers that it exists because it can observe a lower self. The higher self cannot observe itself.
    To observe something you have to stand outside of it. We can observe our body because our power of observation can stand outside of the body. But we cannot observe our higher self (where the power of interpretation resides).
    The concept of higher self means it is a level higher and therefore capable of observing what is lower and distinct from it (the lower self and other existing things). But to observe itself, the higher self would need a higher-higher self. It would need a perspective higher than itself – but again because of the way God created human nature, that is not possible. We cannot just multiply higher selves to keep observing the observers. It stops with our one higher self. We do not observe that self but just know that it exists. We can observe some processes of our higher self (like our decision making or rational process) but we can’t observe the self itself for what it is, since the observer and the observed cannot be the same entity.

    But you have stated already that, for example, the creator and the created can be the same person.
    So, on that basis, why not have the observer and the observed as the same?
    But to repeat – if I could observe my highest self observing, why couldn’t I observe that I was observing my highest self observing? Why couldn’t I then observe that I was observing that I was observing my highest self observing.
    That’s an infinite regress which does not exist – but it would exist if we could observe our higher self.
    There would be these additional selves, capable of getting outside of it all to observe all the observers.

  123. 123
    Silver Asiatic says:

    StephenB

    Consequently, he believes, absurdly, that a self can literally observe its way into existence,

    Once we have that as a premise, then nothing that follows can make any real sense.
    Aside from the absurdity of a non-existent person taking the action to create itself, where would this non-being get the power to create anything? Why create just one self and not a hundred selves? And why would this non-being be limited to creating selves? Why not create entire universes?
    Regarding Descartes, we know what existence is because we have external references and we can contrast what “I am” means with “I am not” – since we see some things that exist and others that do not. If thinking was the means for our existence, we would never know what existence is.

  124. 124
    Origenes says:

    1.) The moved thing, that cannot move itself, is neither responsible nor in control of its movement.
    2.) According Aquinas, man is moved thing that cannot move itself.

    Therefore, from 1.) and 2.)

    3.) Under Aquinas, man is neither responsible nor in control of his movement.
    4.) A free man cannot be conceived as having neither responsibility nor control over his movements.

    Therefore, from 3.) and 4.)

    5.) Aquinas’s concept does not allow for a free man.

  125. 125
    Origenes says:

    Silver Asiatic@

    I explained this in post 116. Having an awareness of something is different than observing it.

    My argument fully depends on the idea that awareness presupposes observation. That idea is non-negotiable. If you do not share this view, then we have nothing further to discuss.

    I am aware that there is someone in the next room because I hear things and draw an inference.

    Illustrating my point. Do you agree that being aware of someone in the next room is not possible without noticing/hearing anything? I am using the term ‘observation’ in the most general sense possible.
    – – – – –
    I see that you argue that awareness does not require or presuppose observation. I want to thank you for this discussion. Have a good day sir.

  126. 126
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    “I think, therefore I am”, does not mean: ‘I think myself into existence’ or ‘I exist because I am thinker’ or something similar.

    No one ever said that it does. You appear not to understand what you are reading.

    Instead (at least that is my understanding of Descartes) it means:
    1.) I do something.
    2.) from nothing nothing comes.
    Therefore,
    3.) I exist.

    No. It has nothing to do with “doing.” It means this:

    “I think, therefore, I exist” — (because I would have to exist in order to be able to think).

  127. 127
    Origenes says:

    because I would have to exist in order to be able to think

    I have to exist in order to be able to think. Yes.
    I have to exist in order to be able to feel. I have to exist in order to be able to see the computer screen. I have to exist in order to be able to hear the early birds. I have to exist in order to be able to type this sentence. I have to exist in order to be able to …. do … anything.
    Therefore everything that I do presupposes my existence. It is not the case that only my act of thinking presupposes my existence.

    You appear not to understand what you are reading. ….
    No. It has nothing to do with “doing.”

    ….

  128. 128
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @127

    Therefore everything that I do presupposes my existence. It is not the case that only my act of thinking presupposes my existence.

    Just to point out that Descartes uses the term “thinking” to mean everything that a mind does: a “thinking thing” (res cogitans) is something that thinks, understands, doubts, and also (insofar as it is temporarily unified with a living body) imagines and perceives.

    So Descartes would agree with you that what you perceive also demonstrates that you exist, only he would classify that as a kind of thought — the kind of thought that a mind can have if it is temporarily unified with a living body.

    The reason why Descartes doesn’t make this explicit is that he’s arguing against direct realism in philosophy of perception: that what we perceive is just what is there. Descartes’s objection turns on the following point: the only version of direct realism he was familiar with was based on Thomistic hylomorphism, and that involved a physics that was incompatible with the new mechanistic physics that he and his friends were busy developing.

    His project is to re-found the whole basis of epistemology in light of the new mechanistic physics, while at the same time showing that this is no threat to the authority of the Church. (Arguably he failed, since his books were put on the Index anyway!)

  129. 129
    Origenes says:

    PM1@
    I would like to note that (self-)observation (understood in its most general sense) and awareness precedes & accompanies thinking. That is, thinking is not possible without observing one’s thoughts.

  130. 130
    Silver Asiatic says:

    One reason why Decartes’ work was put on the Index is because his attack on realism leads to a denial of reason itself. It’s a self-refuting proposal whereby one must use one’s own mind to validate the correctness and even existence of one’s own mind. Without objective realism there’s no other validator for rational thought.
    This is the nature of the argument we’ve had here for months regarding Idealism, where the idealist continually has to refer to an external reality to explain and validate the proposal that there is no external reality.
    It’s the same with Decartes. He uses knowledge gained through the senses (classic Thomistic realism) to propose that his own thoughts are the demonstration (to who?) of his existence.
    It ends with the circular problem that Origenes proposes:
    “A person creates himself”.
    I don’t think you can attack Thomistic thought by denying the first principles of causality (that potency cannot actualize itself), unless you’re willing to come up with an entirely different worldview where things can create themselves from nothing.

  131. 131
    Silver Asiatic says:

    StephenB

    “I think, therefore, I exist” — (because I would have to exist in order to be able to think).

    If that’s what he means, it’s a trivial statement. As Origenes says “the fact that I am doing something means I exist”. That’s a tautology. To do something means to exist. Everything that exists does something. Therefore, I exist because I am doing something.

    By its nature, subjectivism destroys the value of everyone else. It’s radical individualism where the human community is reduced to being an illusion. It says, basically, “Nobody matters but me.”

    But then this is denied as subjectivists attempt to teach and argue with other people to convince them.

    The reality is, that other people can tell you something about yourself that your own mind did not know. Other people can tell you that you were alive when you didn’t know it, and therefore indicate that you existed when your mind was not aware that you did.

  132. 132
    PyrrhoManiac1 says:

    @130

    One reason why Decartes’ work was put on the Index is because his attack on realism leads to a denial of reason itself. It’s a self-refuting proposal whereby one must use one’s own mind to validate the correctness and even existence of one’s own mind. Without objective realism there’s no other validator for rational thought.

    To be sort of fair to Descartes, he only thinks he’s denying direct realism about perception. He certainly thinks that he can justify objective realism with regard to God, mathematics, and physics.

    What’s perhaps more interesting about Descartes is his attempt to vindicate reason by way of reason. I think that project fails, but for interesting reasons that are worth examining closely.

  133. 133
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    Do you agree that being aware of someone in the next room is not possible without noticing/hearing anything?

    I’m saying that you can be aware of something without observing it.
    I am aware that many truths exist which I do not know. I have not observed these truths, but I am aware that they exist.
    In the same way, I am aware that I possess a higher self but I do not and cannot observe this self. It’s an inference not an observation. I cannot extend outside of my observing self to observe my observing self. I can observe various functions of myself, but not the self in what it is.
    The self is not created by the self – it’s given to human beings by the creator.
    Self-awareness and free-will are properties given to human nature by the creator of human natures.
    We don’t create our own rationality, freedom or conscious awareness.

  134. 134
    StephenB says:

    Let us remember the two points that drive the discussion:

    First, the purpose of Descartes approach was to attain some measure of certain knowledge by using unassailable logic without the benefit of empirical verification on the grounds that the senses are not trustworthy. This was a serious mistake. Granted, the senses, without benefit of reason, can, in some cases mislead us, but they are, in the main, reliable where reason is applied. Even the classic case where the pencil appears to be bent in a glass of water is known to be an illusion, but only because the senses *can* be trusted to show us the difference between the straight pencil outside the glass and the (apparently) bent pencil inside the glass. Descartes great failure was to reject realism on false grounds.

    Second, the rejection of realism’s rules of right reason, including such guidelines as the laws of causality, identity, and non-contradiction, destroys the tools of rational thought and leads people to say things like, “my existence comes ‘by way of’ observation” (rejecting metaphysical causation), ” or “Aquinas says that Humans cannot move themselves” (asserting a factual error), or confusing the truth that free will exists, albeit with limitations, with the claim that free will doesn’t exist at all (attributing one’s logical missteps to Aquinas, who does not make logical errors).

  135. 135
    StephenB says:

    Slver Asiatric

    The self is not created by the self – it’s given to human beings by the creator.
    Self-awareness and free-will are properties given to human nature by the creator of human natures.
    We don’t create our own rationality, freedom or conscious awareness.

    Absolutely correct. These points cannot be overstated.

  136. 136
    StephenB says:

    Silver Asiatic:

    If that’s what he {Descartes]means, it’s a trivial statement.

    Yes, the first part of his statement (I think, therefore, I exist) is trivial but true. However, his unstated thesis, which justifies the claim, is not so trivial (Existence takes logical precedence over thought).

    As Origenes says “the fact that I am doing something means I exist”. That’s a tautology. To do something means to exist. Everything that exists does something. Therefore, I exist because I am doing something.

    And Origenes is right about that. My point is that Descartes didn’t say that, However, the principle definitely works and it can, indeed be applied to “doing,” Existence takes logical precedence over doing. But why stop there? Why not this: I observe, therefore, I exist. Thus, existence takes logical precedence over observation, or self awareness, or any other operation, which is the point that you and I have been making all along..

  137. 137
    Origenes says:

    SA @ 133

    I’m saying that you can be aware of something without observing it.

    I am saying that you cannot. Without exception, awareness is preceded by observation.

    I am aware that many truths exist which I do not know. I have not observed these truths, but I am aware that they exist.

    If you have not observed the reason for the existence of these truths in your mind then you cannot be aware of their existence.

    In the same way, I am aware that I possess a higher self but I do not and cannot observe this self.

    If you did not observe (notice, felt) a higher self, then you cannot be aware of it.

    It’s an inference not an observation.

    If you do not observe an inference in your mind then you cannot be aware of an inference.

    I cannot extend outside of my observing self to observe my observing self. I can observe various functions of myself, but not the self in what it is.

    Not sure what this means.

    The self is not created by the self – it’s given to human beings by the creator.

    The self must observe itself otherwise no self (awareness). The self must do that himself. No other can help the self become a self.

    We don’t create our own rationality, freedom or conscious awareness.

    Self-awareness presupposes self-observation.

  138. 138
    Origenes says:

    However, his unstated thesis, which he alludes to and is also silent about , is not so trivial (Existence takes logical precedence over action).

    I’m sure that Descartes agrees with you. No existence (nothing) then no action. Absolutely undeniable, because from nothing nothing comes.

    As Origenes says “the fact that I am doing something means I exist”. That’s a tautology. To do something means to exist.

    Well, that is what Descartes is saying. However, his point is also that when you see a bird flying in the sky, you cannot have the same certainty about its existence as you have about your own existence. The bird may not exist and can be your hallucination. However, it cannot be the case that you do not exist and (from nothing) hallucinate yourself ….

    Everything that exists does something.

    Is that true?

    Therefore, I exist because I am doing something.

    The brute fact that I do something presupposes my existence.

    And Origenes is right about that. My point is that Descartes didn’t say that, however, the principle definitely works and it can, indeed, be applied to “doing,”

    Existence takes logical precedence over doing. But why stop there? Why not this: I observe, therefore, I exist.

    Perfectly fine with me. I feel, therefore, I exist. I hear music …. I “whatever”, therefore, I exist.

  139. 139
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Origenes

    If you have not observed the reason for the existence of these truths in your mind then you cannot be aware of their existence.

    Here’s where your idea just fell apart.
    You are claiming that we “observe our self” (our higher self, our observing self). Now above, you equate that to “observing the reason” that we have a higher self. Observing a reason for something is not equivalent to observing the thing itself. As I said, we can be aware of something without having observed it and you affirm that here by saying that we only are aware of reasons and not the thing.

    Thomistic realism is about being – the existence of things and then about their origin, tracing back being to God.

    I said:

    I cannot extend outside of my observing self to observe my observing self. I can observe various functions of myself, but not the self in what it is.

    You said:

    Not sure what this means.

    This is a key point so I’ll explain further. To observe something you have to start from a vantage point. When you are swimming at the bottom of the ocean, you cannot observe what is happening at the top of Mount Everest. You cannot extend yourself beyond your location to view another. When you are inside of the universe, you cannot observe the outer edges of the universe. To do that, you have to extend yourself to a vantage point outside of the universe in order to see what the universe is like. You have to step outside of it to see it.
    When you are “inside” of yourself, you do not have the vantage point to observe yourself. You cannot see what yourself is because you are living “in” yourself. You would need to extend beyond yourself (which would be impossible since to do that you would have to “go outside of yourself” and that cannot happen). Whatever is taking the observation vantage point is yourself so you cannot observe it.
    As I said, you can only infer that yourself exists based on the fact that there is something other than your lower self and your body at work.

    If you do not observe an inference in your mind then you cannot be aware of an inference.

    As above, you’re saying that to infer the existence of something is the same as observing it.

    The self must observe itself otherwise no self (awareness). The self must do that himself. No other can help the self become a self.

    That requires a lot more explanation to be comprehensible.

  140. 140
    vividbleau says:

    O, SA, SB

    Great discussion by all three of you.

    “The self must observe itself otherwise no self (awareness). “

    Is it illegitimate on my part to replace self and just use awareness? It would read thusly.

    “The awareness must observe awareness otherwise no awareness “

    One final thought. O, I don t think the order is correct, I see the order as

    1) Self
    2 Awareness of the outside world (LOI)
    3) Awareness of self.

    Vivid

  141. 141
    vividbleau says:

    Going back to the previous post my question is how can we become aware of our self without first becoming aware of something outside of our self?

    Vivid

  142. 142
    Origenes says:

    1.) If everything about us is determined/made by God, then all our actions and thoughts are consequences of God.

    2.) We have no control over God.

    3.) If A causes B, and we have no control over A, and A is sufficient for B, then we have no control over B.

    Therefore,

    4.) If everything about us is made by God, then we have no control over our own actions and thoughts.

    – – – – – – – –
    If you don’t accept this argument, which premise will you reject?

  143. 143
    Origenes says:

    SA @

    Here’s where your idea just fell apart.
    You are claiming that we “observe our self” (our higher self, our observing self).

    I have made no claims about the existence of a “higher self”, you did, and it’s part of your concept of mind. In fact, I hold that I do not have a higher self. All I said was: “If you did not observe (notice, felt) a higher self, then you cannot be aware of it.”

    When you are “inside” of yourself, you do not have the vantage point to observe yourself. You cannot see what yourself is because you are living “in” yourself. You would need to extend beyond yourself (which would be impossible since to do that you would have to “go outside of yourself” and that cannot happen). Whatever is taking the observation vantage point is yourself so you cannot observe it.
    As I said, you can only infer that yourself exists based on the fact that there is something other than your lower self and your body at work.

    How about a (mental) mirror? To abstractly conceive of self-observance is not a real problem in my opinion. The real problem lies elsewhere, and perhaps we will come to discuss that.

    Ori: If you do not observe an inference in your mind then you cannot be aware of an inference.

    As above, you’re saying that to infer the existence of something is the same as observing it.

    No, I say that to be aware of something presupposes observing something.

  144. 144
    Origenes says:

    VB@

    “The awareness must observe awareness otherwise no awareness“

    I must ask you to elaborate on this.

    Going back to the previous post my question is how can we become aware of our self without first becoming aware of something outside of our self?

    One of my “irrational” claims is that the self-aware person/the “I”/consciousness, cannot be understood as coming about in a timeline. In my view, there cannot be the awareness “there is something outside of myself” without there being self-awareness first. You are stating the opposite (paraphrasing): there cannot be the awareness “I am a self” without there first being the awareness of something outside of self.
    IMO we are both right. We have two things that presuppose each other …

  145. 145
    Origenes says:

    Causa Sui

    I have attempted to explain my view on self-creation in #108. It wasn’t received well, and my horrible writing style is perhaps partly to blame. The other day I happened to stumble upon the following text, which, surprisingly, captures the basics of my view:

    Certain conditions have to be in place in order to create a free being, and the gods take part in this process to a certain extent. However, such a process is more about separation and less about creating something determinately new. One could say that it is a process of opening up a new space of possibility …[Terje Sparby on R. Steiner]

    The term “separation” speaks to me.
    – – – – – –
    My larger argument is this:
    Either self-creation is real and we are free rational beings in control of our actions and thoughts, or everything about us is created by God and we are not free rational beings in control of our actions and thoughts (see #142).

  146. 146
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    If everything about us is determined/made by God, then all of our actions are a consequence of God.

    There are several problems with this premise:

    First, you have stacked the deck against freedom by the way you are using the language. To be “determined” by God is, by definition, to have no freedom; in that case, God is making all the decisions and the creature has nothing to say about it.

    To be “made” by God could mean either freedom (for the creature) or no freedom, depending on how one is made. Yet you use the two terms (determined by/made) interchangeably so there is much confusion in your formulation.

    But let’s get to the key point. If we are made by God to act as an automaton, then again, we have no freedom because our behavior is merely the result of our programming. If, on the other hand, we are made by God to act as free agents, then of course, we do have free will.

    So what is a free agent? It is someone who is capable of deliberating with the faculty of intelligence, and making choices with the faculty of will. A fully functioning intellect provides a moral target for a moral agent; a fully functioning will shoots the arrow by acting in accordance with that target. Sometimes, due to the formation of bad habits, the will doesn’t function properly and decides to rebel against the intellect by shooting the arrow in a different direction. These faculties (intellect and will) were designed to work together, but the moral agent often finds himself at war with himself because his passions want to run the whole show. Sometimes a perverted will joins forces with the passions and forces the intellect to abandon its leadership role and just come along for the ride. If humans were determined, none of these conflicts would take place, but we know that they are real.

    So their respective roles are clear: God creates free men with the faculties of intelligence and free will; men use these faculties to act as created moral agents. God gave them the power to start their own causal chain; they started their own causal chain by using that power. God did not start their causal chain.

  147. 147
    StephenB says:

    Oriegenes:

    My larger argument is this:
    Either self-creation is real and we are free rational beings in control of our actions and thoughts, or everything about us is created by God and we are not free rational beings in control of our actions and thoughts (see #142).

    First of all, “self creation” is a logical impossibility, as has been pointed out many times,

    Second, self creation, even if possible, would not be a prerequisite for freedom. A created being can be free.

    Third, the term “everything about us” in this context is not sufficiently defined. If everything means every quality or attribute that we possess, that would not prevent free will. If everything about us means everything we are and everything we do, then of course there is no freedom for us because God is doing everything for us and we are not free do do anything for ourselves

  148. 148
    relatd says:

    No need to make this complicated. The first man and woman had free will. God gave them one commandment. A stranger appeared and they disobeyed. But, some here think that God, because He knows what we will do before we do it, “controls” us. That was never the case. We can choose good – good actions – or choose to do something wrong.

    A reminder: God could have made human beings into robots that obeyed Him 100%. He did not do that.

    To add to the Christian perspective, remember, we can ask God for His guidance. We can read His instructions in the Bible. We can pray, “Lord, help me to do your will today.” BUT, God will not turn you into a ROBOT and make you do a bunch of things.

    Jeremiah 29:11

    “For I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans for welfare and not for evil, to give you a future and a hope.”

  149. 149
    Origenes says:

    StephenB comments on the first premise of my argument (see #142)

    1.) If everything about us is determined/made by God, then all our actions and thoughts are consequences of God.

    … the term “everything about us” in this context is not sufficiently defined. If everything means every quality or attribute that we possess, that would not prevent free will. If everything about us means everything we are and everything we do, then of course there is no freedom for us because God is doing everything for us and we are not free do do anything for ourselves

    By the term “everything about us” I refer to “every quality or attribute that we possess”, as in, God made each and every part of us.
    If A is a sufficient cause of B, then B & its actions are explainable by A. If B would be and/or act such that it is not explainable by A, then A is not a sufficient cause for B.
    So, to be clear, I do not agree with your claim: “If everything means every quality or attribute that we possess, that would not prevent free will.”

  150. 150
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    If A is a sufficient cause of B, then B & its actions are explainable by A. If B would be and/or act such that it is not explainable by A, then A is not a sufficient cause for B.

    God is the sufficient cause of the human *capacities* to think and make moral decisions. God is the necessary, but not sufficient, cause of the human actions that flow from those capacities. which are also caused by human moral agents. In that sense, all moral decisions have two causes, God as the creator of the power to deliberate and make choices and man as the user of the power to deliberate and make choices.

  151. 151
    Origenes says:

    StephenB

    God is the sufficient cause of the human *capacities* to think and make moral decisions. God is the necessary, but not sufficient, cause of the human actions that flow from those capacities.

    What you propose is logically impossible. If A is a sufficient cause of B, if every aspect of B is explainable by A, then B’s every action is explainable by A.

    which are also caused by human moral agents. In that sense, all moral decisions have two causes, God as the creator of the power to deliberate and make choices and man as the user of the power to deliberate and make choices.

    If A is the sufficient cause of B, then all aspects of B, its actions included, are explainable by A. In no coherent analysis of the causality of this scenario, can B be regarded as a co-cause of its actions that cannot be traced back to A.

  152. 152
    Origenes says:

    StephenB

    First of all, “self creation” is a logical impossibility, as has been pointed out many times,

    StephenB holds that the concept of self-causation refers to a logical impossibility and is “irrational.” In his view, only a world in which everything has a prior cause can be considered a rational world. Only God does not require a prior cause.
    However, when I point out to StephenB that this logically implies that God caused everything, including our every thought and action, then he reverts and tries to have it both ways—see #150, #151.
    Suddenly, we see him arguing that the ‘human agent’ makes choices that cannot be traced back to a prior cause, that is God. IOW now we see him arguing in favor of self-causation, the very thing that he claims to be logically impossible and irrational. His principal objection to self-causation has magically evaporated.
    StephenB wants God to be the sufficient cause of every aspect of our being, but at the same time, he wants us to be a distinct self-cause of our actions.

  153. 153
    Origenes says:

    Let’s look at Aquinas’s first mover argument again, starting with premise 5: [see post #1 for the complete argument]

    The First Way: Argument from Motion

    5.) Therefore nothing can move itself.
    6.) Therefore each thing in motion is moved by something else.
    7.) The sequence of motion cannot extend ad infinitum.
    8.) Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God.

    This is a description of 100% determinism. Determinism in optima forma. Things cannot get any more deterministic than this.
    Each thing in motion is set into motion by something else. No moved thing has any control over its movement. In Aquinas’ world, a moved thing has the same responsibility over its movement as a billiard ball has.
    No movement can be explained by the thing in motion — nothing can move itself. No self-movement anywhere (except God). All things are essentially lifeless.
    The causal chains of each and every movement originate from one place, and one place only: God. One thing that moves them all: God. There is but one thing that explains all movement: God.

    ENTER FREE WILL …

    How does one fit free will in 100% determinism? How does Aquinas do that? Let’s observe:

    “Free will is the cause of its own motion because by his free will man moves himself for the sake of acting. Nevertheless, it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as neither is it required for one thing to be the cause of another that it be the first cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, moving both natural and voluntary causes. And just as by moving natural causes he does not divert their acts from being natural, so by moving voluntary causes he does not divert their actions from being voluntary; but rather he produces this ability in them: for he operates in each thing according to its own nature. [ST Ia 83.1]”

    Let’s break this down:

    Free will is the cause of its own motion because by his free will man moves himself for the sake of acting.

    This sentence is in total contradiction with the first-mover argument, which clearly states that “nothing can move itself.” Here talks Aquinas writes about a free man who “moves himself for the sake of acting.” But how can this be consistent? Some explanation is to be expected.

    Nevertheless ….

    Ah! As predicted, here comes the explanation.

    Nevertheless, it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as neither is it required for one thing to be the cause of another that it be the first cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, moving both natural and voluntary causes.

    Let’s break it down some more:

    Nevertheless, it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself …

    A quick recap: first Aquinas states that a free man “moves himself”, in other words, he is the self-cause of his actions, but here he goes on to say (paraphrasing) “but that does not mean that man is the first cause of his self-causation.” Let’s read again the entire sentence:

    Nevertheless, it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as neither is it required for one thing to be the cause of another that it be the first cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, moving both natural and voluntary causes.

    What Aquinas is saying here is (paraphrasing): “A free man moves himself, but just like a billiard ball is not the first cause of its own movement, it is not required for a free man to be the first cause of his (self-)movement. In both cases God is the first cause.”
    Why put it that way? A free man is nothing like a billiard ball. Unlike a free man, a billiard ball fits perfectly in Aquinas’ 100% deterministic universe. Why put two totally opposite things in one sentence and treat them the same?
    To be a free man, to move yourself, means to be a distinct self-cause. Aquinas cannot allow for distinct self-causes and that’s why he inserts God as a first cause into man’s self-movement. However, self-movement is the self moving the self. Self-movement is a relation between self and self: self-self. There is no room between self and self, not even a single nanometer, not even for God.
    If Aquinas wants God to be an omnipresent cause. If God is the only mover, if God creates and moves each and every aspect of man, then man cannot be free, and cannot move himself. But if Aquinas wants man to be free, then God cannot be an omnipresent cause; then God cannot be the first cause of man’s free will.
    My larger point is: Aquinas cannot have it both ways. Compatibilism always fails.

  154. 154
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    If A is the sufficient cause of B, then all aspects of B, its actions included, are explainable by A.

    You mistakenly conflate the category of capacities with the category of actions. An action is not an :”aspect” (as you put it) of a moral capacity; it is an effect of a moral capacity, which puts it in another category.

    God, which is [a] causes the human capacity to think and act [b] by creating it. Human agents use those capacities [c] to perform moral acts for which they are responsible. Thus, every human moral act has two causes: God, the creator of the capacities of intellect and will, and the human agent, the user of those capacities. Until you grasp this basic point there is no reason for me to discuss advanced concepts with you since you don’t understand that some events require more than one cause. That error, compounded by your category confusion, seems to rule out any possibility for a meeting of minds.

    StephenB holds that the concept of self-causation refers to a logical impossibility and is “irrational.”

    Of course, it is logically impossible and the concept is, indeed, irrational.

    In his view, only a world in which everything has a prior cause can be considered a rational world. Only God does not require a prior cause.

    Yes, it’s called the principle of sufficient reason. Everything, except God, requires an explanation. Nothing just “pops” into existence without a prior cause. We know that Origenes thinks that he caused himself to exist. Does he attribute this same miraculous power to everything else as well? Is he an advocate of “pop” theory? Does he think that a horse can suddenly appear in his living room without a prior cause? Remarkable.

    However, when I point out to StephenB that this logically implies that God caused everything, including our every thought and action, then he reverts and tries to have it both ways—see #150, #151.

    This is, of course, nonsense. God, as the creator of man’s intellect and will is not the cause of man’s misuse of those capacities. God can be a necessary cause of human behavior (endowing man with the capacity to make good and bad decisions), without being the causal agent of a human’s bad decision.

    Suddenly, we see him arguing that the ‘human agent’ makes choices that cannot be traced back to a prior cause, that is God. IOW now we see him arguing in favor of self-causation, the very thing that he claims to be logically impossible and irrational.

    This is flat out ridiculous. I never have, and never will, argue for “self causation.” Just because humans can create new causal chains doesn’t mean that they can cause themselves to exist. That gig belongs to Origenes exclusively.

  155. 155
    Origenes says:

    StephenB

    Before I respond I ask you to respond to the following:

    Ori: Suddenly, we see him arguing that the ‘human agent’ makes choices that cannot be traced back to a prior cause, that is God. IOW now we see him arguing in favor of self-causation, the very thing that he claims to be logically impossible and irrational.

    StephenB: This is flat out ridiculous. I never have, and never will, argue for “self causation.” Just because humans can create new causal chains doesn’t mean that they can cause themselves to exist. That gig belongs to Origenes exclusively.

    For clarity, two questions:

    1.) Is it your claim that man can make a free choice that cannot be traced back to God as a prior cause?
    2.) If so, can it be said that man is the ‘self-cause’ of his free choice?

  156. 156
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    Is it your claim that man can make a free choice that cannot be traced back to God as a prior cause?

    That is a vitally important question and it deserves special attention. Thank you.

    Recall that there is more than one cause of man’s act of choosing. God causes the general capacity to choose by creating the faculties of intellect and will; man causes the specific choice that is made by using those capacities.

    So man’s choices *can* be traced back to God in the sense that God’s creative act of endowing his creatures with intellectual and volitional capacities, formed man as a moral agent capable of making moral choices. Without the capacity to make choices, no choice can be made. It was God’s choice, not man’s choice, that man should have this volitional power. Man had nothing to do with it.

    On the other hand, man’s choices *cannot* be traced back to God in the sense that God had nothing to do with man’s particular act of choosing one course of action from among two or more possible alternatives, such as the choice to love or hate his neighbor. That choice cannot be traced back to God because God had nothing to do with it. It is man, not God, that chooses hate over love, cruelty over kindness, or dishonesty over honesty. Thus, man, not God, is responsible for whatever good or back effects flow from those and other choices. (The exception, of course, would be those cases when man asks God for, and receives, guidance, in which case even particular moral choices *can* be traced back to God. However, that would not violate free will since, in this case, the creature chooses to follow God’s will).

    If so, can it be said that man is the ‘self-cause’ of his free choice?

    Again, I think we are referring to two different senses. In the first sense, I understand the term “self-caused” to mean that the self caused itself to exist. As you know, I take a firm stance against that idea and I take it to be your position.

    In the second sense, the way you are using it here, I take you to mean that your “self,” not God, is the cause of your free choices. As indicated above, there is more than one cause of your free choices: your capacity to choose is a cause (the causal conditions that make it possible) and your application of that capacity is a cause. In that second sense, I agree with you that your self, not God, is the direct cause of your moral choices. However, I think it is an error to consider the second sense only, and therefore out of context, ignoring the first sense, and them reasoning forward from such an incompletely formed set premises.

    Meanwhile, I don’t think it is a good idea to use the term “self caused” to mean two radically different things [self causing its own existence] as opposed to [self causing its free will choices]. The goal here should be clarity, not strategic ambiguity.

  157. 157
    Origenes says:

    StephenB

    Do you agree with the following formulation (feel free to make improvements):

    Man alone is the cause of his choice, but since God has created every aspect of man, it is obvious that man could not have possibly made his choice without Him.

  158. 158
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:
    —“Do you agree with the following formulation (feel free to make improvements):”

    Man alone is the cause of his choice, but since God has created every aspect of man, it is obvious that man could not have possibly made his choice without Him.

    I don’t think that the vocabulary of causation is necessarily the best way to analyze human choice. However, if I was going to use that model, I would say that man is the *efficient cause* of his choices and the ultimate good for which they aim is the *final cause.*

    Quite often, bad things can appear as good things and good things can appear as bad things. Under the circumstances, the intellect can be fooled, especially when it is anticipated that a good moral choice may prove to be costly, which can make it seem like a bad thing.

    However, insofar as the will pursues a goal it perceives as good, its final cause will always be the attainment of that good. As I have argued, every human choice is a product of at least two causes. So I don’t think we can say that man “alone” is the one and only cause of his choices, though as their agent, he may well be the most important one.

  159. 159
    Origenes says:

    StephenB

    Ori: Do you agree with the following formulation (feel free to make improvements):
    Man alone is the cause of his choice, but since God has created every aspect of man, it is obvious that man could not have possibly made his choice without Him.

    I don’t think that the vocabulary of causation is necessarily the best way to analyze human choice.

    I note that Aquinas uses the vocabulary of causation to analyze human choice. For instance here:

    Free will is the cause of its own motion because by his free will man moves himself for the sake of acting. Nevertheless, it does not of necessity belong to liberty that what is free should be the first cause of itself, as neither is it required for one thing to be the cause of another that it be the first cause. God, therefore, is the first cause, moving both natural and voluntary causes. And just as by moving natural causes he does not divert their acts from being natural, so by moving voluntary causes he does not divert their actions from being voluntary; but rather he produces this ability in them: for he operates in each thing according to its own nature. [ST Ia 83.1]

    Which vocabulary, in your view, should Aquinas have used?

    However, if I was going to use that model, I would say that man is the *efficient cause* of his choices and the ultimate good for which they aim is the *final cause.* (…)
    So I don’t think we can say that man “alone” is the one and only cause of his choices, though as their agent, he may well be the most important one.

    When we consider the acts of Ted Bundy, I take it that you would say that Ted Bundy is the efficient cause of his choices and that he “may well be the most important one”. But you would also point out that it is not the case that “man ‘alone’ is the one and only cause of his choices.” So, are you saying that Ted Bundy’s choices are not entirely Ted Bundy’s responsibility but that God, as a final cause, bears part of the responsibility for them? Do I understand you correctly?

  160. 160
    Origenes says:

    The Creation Problem.

    Let’s zoom out totally and go back in time a bit. Let’s go back to a time before creation and look at the entirety of reality from a distance. Suppose that in the distance we see a magnificent sphere of pure white light. What we are looking at is ‘all there is’. In front of us, we see all there is: God.

    Now we ponder the question: “How does God create?”

    Given that it is logically impossible for God to use ‘nothingness’ as a substance for His creation, ‘from nothing nothing comes’, what is available as a substance for creation? If God is all there is, then it is necessarily true that God Himself is the only substance available for creation.

    Here we consider the fact that God has no parts, is pure harmony, an indivisible unity. So, we understand that, by definition, it is not possible for Him to remove from Himself a part that can serve as a substance for creation.

    Here we conclude that God can only create in Himself. It has been said: “we are all in God.”

    The entirety of creation, you and I, Auschwitz, the universe, heaven, and hell … all is in God.

    I would argue that this is not a coherent idea and that ‘a creation situated in God’ is arguably in direct contradiction to the concept of God as a harmonious indivisible unity. Consider also this: if God is entirely ‘pure act’, how can it be that His creation, which is part of Him and inside of Him, is not?

  161. 161
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    Which vocabulary, in your view, should Aquinas have used?

    I have no problem with Aquinas’ use of the vocabulary of causation to describe choices. I have a problem with your use the vocabulary of causation, such as when you use the term “self-caused” one day to indicate that you caused your choices, and another day to say that you caused your own existence. The first proposition is rational, the latter is not.

    When we consider the acts of Ted Bundy, I take it that you would say that Ted Bundy is the efficient cause of his choices and that he “may well be the most important one”.

    Yes, in this case, the agent (efficient cause) would seem to be the most important cause since it identifies the person who committed those horrendous acts. There is no guilt attached to other kinds of causes, such as the human need to pursue the good, which, through misuse, can be perverted and aimed toward an evil that is perceived as something good.

    Agent causes (efficient causes) are responsible for the way they use their gifts. The giver of those gifts bears no responsibility. The broader point, which I have made previously, is that moral choices are the product of a multiplicity of causes. That you don’t recognize them as causes is a problem. So it may be time to repeat the point: Causation and personal responsibility are not the same thing.

    But you would also point out that it is not the case that “man ‘alone’ is the one and only cause of his choices.”

    That is correct. There are many other causes other than the agent cause.

    So, are you saying that Ted Bundy’s choices are not entirely Ted Bundy’s responsibility but that God, as a final cause, bears part of the responsibility for them? Do I understand you correctly?

    No. Not at all. Ted Bundy’s choices are solely his responsibility, as I have pointed out many times. God gave him the gift of intellect and will, but God bears no responsibility for Bundy’s misuse of those gifts. If repetition helps, I am happy to do it. Causation is not the same thing as personal responsibility Only the agent (efficient) cause is morally responsible for his actions. Apparently, you have a problem accepting the proposition that more than one cause is in play when someone makes a moral choice. Is that the case?

  162. 162
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @161

    Agent causes (efficient causes) are responsible for the way they use their gifts. The giver of those gifts bears no responsibility. (…) God gave him the gift of intellect and will, but God bears no responsibility for Bundy’s misuse of those gifts.

    Here you say that it is entirely up to the agent what to do with the received gift. Put differently, the agent is completely free in his choice of how to use the gift.

    The broader point, which I have made previously, is that moral choices are the product of a multiplicity of causes.

    Here you seem to imply that it is not entirely up to the agent what to do with the received gift. Here you are saying that “a multiplicity of causes” are co-architects of this choice and impact its definitive form. Absent the influence of these co-architects the agent choice would have turned out differently.

    No. Not at all. Ted Bundy’s choices are solely his responsibility, as I have pointed out many times.

    And here you are back to saying that Ted Bundy is the only architect/designer of his choices.

    So I don’t think we can say that man “alone” is the one and only cause of his choices

    And here you say that Ted is not the only architect/designer/cause of his choices. That there is a co-architect who, together with Ted, shapes Ted’s choice. Ted is not solely forming his choice. Absent the influence of this co-architect, Ted’s choice would have turned out differently, therefore there must be a joint responsibility for the definitive form of the choice.

    So, which is it?
    Is God a co-architect of Ted’s choice, and is the definitive form of Ted’s choice formed by Ted & God, or is the definitive form of Ted’s choice formed by Ted alone, and is God not a co-architect of Ted’s choice?

  163. 163
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @146

    Ori: If everything about us is determined/made by God, then all of our actions are a consequence of God.

    To be “made” by God could mean either freedom (for the creature) or no freedom, depending on how one is made. Yet you use the two terms (determined by/made) interchangeably so there is much confusion in your formulation.

    Here I disagree and argue that ‘being made’ and ‘being determined’ are inextricably linked. If A is a sufficient cause of B, then A determines B. ‘Determination’ has no other meaning.

    But let’s get to the key point. If we are made by God to act as an automaton, then again, we have no freedom because our behavior is merely the result of our programming. If, on the other hand, we are made by God to act as free agents, then of course, we do have free will.

    My argument is that the latter scenario is not logically possible.
    If God created every aspect of man, free will included, then God is the sufficient cause of man. If A is the sufficient cause of B, then A determines B. The actions of B cannot be conceived as a separate entity from B, instead, they are an inextricable aspect of B.
    Therefore, B, including its actions, is necessarily determined by A.

    _ _ _ _ _ _

    1.) If nothing can move itself but God, then all movement is coming from the first cause, that is God.
    2.) All movement of His creation, is derivative of God moving Himself.
    3.) The derivative movement of a moved thing, is not from the thing itself, instead, the movement is from God.
    4.) The moved thing that cannot move itself has no control over its derivative movement.
    5.) A thing that has no control over its derivative movement, has no responsibility for its movement.
    6.) Man is moved but cannot move himself.

    Therefore, from 5.) and 6.)

    7.) Man has no responsibility for his movement.

  164. 164
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    Here you say that it is entirely up to the agent what to do with the received gift. Put differently, the agent is completely free in his choice of how to use the gift.

    Here you seem to imply that it is not entirely up to the agent what to do with the received gift.

    You remain confused about the difference between a cause and a responsibility, and about the different kinds of causes that come into play. Only the agent cause (efficient cause) can be associated with moral obligations. It is entirely up to the created moral agent to decide what he will do with his gifts of intellect and will. He is, therefore, responsible for his choices because he has control over them.

    It is not up to the agent to decide if he will be given the faculties of intellect and will, which are also causes of his moral choices. The agent is not responsible for the existence of those faculties and has no control over whether or not he will possess them. He is, therefore, not responsible for their existence. Again, he is responsible only for the way he uses them.

    There are other causes, among the multiplicity of causes we could mention, such as the agent’s very existence. Another cause would be his need to pursue the ultimate good, which is his final cause. He did not decide to exist or to have a purpose. Those decisions were made by his Creator. The created moral agent is not responsible for their existence because he has no control over them. He is responsible only for his moral choices, over which he does have control.

  165. 165
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    And here you say that Ted is not the only architect/designer/cause of his choices. That there is a co-architect who, together with Ted, shapes Ted’s choice. Ted is not solely forming his choice.

    Never have I ever said anything like that. I don’t mind it if you disagree with what I say, but I would ask that you make some effort to comprehend it before you presume to critique it.

  166. 166
    William J Murray says:

    The simpler version of the “God is sufficient cause, therefore determinative” argument is that when God creates a person, he doesn’t just create their beginning. He creates all of their existence down to minute, by the split-instant detail because God is not limited to a linear time experience. The only way the individual could have led a different life is for God to have created that life differently.

    The argument that just because God knows the future doesn’t mean we don’t have free will fails to understand the actual nature of what it means for God to know the future of the things that He creates before he even creates them, because he is creating all of it at the same time, and the only way it can be different is for Him to create it differently.

  167. 167
    StephenB says:

    SB: If we are made by God to act as an automaton, then again, we have no freedom because our behavior is merely the result of our programming. If, on the other hand, we are made by God to act as free agents, then of course, we do have free will.

    Origenes:

    Here I disagree and argue that being made and being determined are inextricably linked. If A is a sufficient cause of B, then A determines B. Determination has no other meaning. The actions of B cannot be a separate entity from B, instead they are an inextricable aspect of it.

    Bad logic. The actions of B (the created agent’s moral choices) *must be* a separate entity from B (his faculties of intellect and will), which, in turn, allow him to make moral choices (C). Your gift of free will is not the same thing as what you do with that gift (using or misusing it). Consequently, your choices are not an *aspect* of your faculties, they are *effects* of your faculties. God (A) creates human agents and their moral faculties (B), which produce moral decisions and actions (C).

  168. 168
    Origenes says:

    WJM@

    The simpler version of the “God is sufficient cause, therefore determinative” argument is that when God creates a person, he doesn’t just create their beginning. He creates all of their existence down to minute, by the split-instant detail because God is not limited to a linear time experience.

    Yours is a more succinct and elegant argument. Indeed, if God is timeless it follows that he doesn’t just create the beginning of man. However, in #163 my effort is to critique Aquinas and use his terms and concepts as much as possible. I think I have succeeded. StephenB attempts to make the argument that causation does not imply responsibility and/or determination. I do not envy him in this.

  169. 169
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @167

    Ori: The actions of B cannot be a separate entity from B, instead they are an inextricable aspect of it.

    Bad logic. The actions of B (the created agent’s moral choices) *must be* a separate entity from B (his faculties of intellect and will), which, in turn, allow him to make moral choices (C).

    I am asking you to please reconsider your statement. Suppose you walk in the street, can it be said that your walking “*must be* a separate entity” from you? An entity “separate” from you, as in ‘distinct’, as in ‘no connection’? And is it “bad logic” to say that your walking is “an inextricable aspect” of you?

  170. 170
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    I am asking you to please reconsider your statement. Suppose you walk in the street, can it be said that your walking “*must be* a separate entity” from you?

    We are not discussing entities. We are discussing categories. Your moral actions *must be* placed in a separate category from your faculties of intellect and will, which are a cause of your actions. God, who is the cause of those faculties, is yet another category that must be kept separate from the other two. You began with only two categories (A and B) It is impossible to understand the dynamics that way. That is the essence of your logical errors. Three categories are needed:

    Category (A) God, the giver of the faculties of intellect and will; Category (B) human moral agents, the receivers of those gifts; and Category (C) the way human moral agents use or misuse those gifts. Those categories must be kept separate. Otherwise, causes get mixed in with their effects.

  171. 171
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @165

    SB: The broader point, which I have made previously, is that moral choices are the product of a multiplicity of causes. (…)
    So I don’t think we can say that man “alone” is the one and only cause of his choices.

    Ori: And here you say that Ted is not the only architect/designer/cause of his choices. That there is a co-architect who, together with Ted, shapes Ted’s choice. Ted is not solely forming his choice. Absent the influence of this co-architect, Ted’s choice would have turned out differently, therefore there must be a joint responsibility for the definitive form of the choice.

    SB: Never have I ever said anything like that. I don’t mind it if you disagree with what I say, but I would ask that you make some effort to comprehend it before you presume to critique it.

    “Ted is not the only architect/designer/cause of his choices” is logically implied by your claim that there are multiple causes for his choice. For if multiple causes (A, B, and C) can be identified for an agent’s choice (‘choice X’), so that:

    A + B + C –> ‘choice X’

    Then it is logically implied that absent B and C, ‘choice X’ is not obtained.

    If B and C are real causes of ‘choice X’, then
    A + B + C –> ‘choice X’ and A –> ‘choice X’ cannot both be true at the same time.

  172. 172
    StephenB says:

    SB: The broader point, which I have made previously, is that moral choices are the product of a multiplicity of causes. (…)
    So I don’t think we can say that man “alone” is the one and only cause of his choices.

    Origenes:

    Ori: And here you say that Ted is not the only architect/designer/cause of his choices.

    You don’t understand. Let’s try again. Using your language, there is only ONE ARCHITECT of Ted Bundy’s choices and that would be Ted Bundy. He is, therefore, the only person or agent that is responsible for those choices. He is the one and only AGENT CAUSE or EFFICIENT CAUSE). There are no other agents who participated in his personal moral decisions or actions.

    However, There are MANY OTHER KINDS of CAUSES (CAUSAL CONDITIONS) that play a role in human behavior, causes for which the human agent is NOT RESPONSIBLE and for which he is NOT the ARCHITECT.
    That is why your above formulation (“architect/designer/cause) is incorrect. You cannot always use those words interchangeably. This leads to logical errors. I will not list all the other causes, but here are a few:

    Ted Bundy’s CAPACITY of FREE WILL was a CONTRIBUTING CAUSE of his behavior. Without that capacity, he could not make moral decisions or take moral actions. Ted Bundy was NOT the architect of or the person responsible for that capacity. God is the person or agent responsible for its existence, but God is not responsible for the way Ted Bundy misused that gift.

    Indeed, EXISTENCE itself is yet another cause of Ted Bundy’s immoral behavior. If he didn’t exist, he could not do anything at all, including murder. God is responsible for Ted Bundy’s existence, Ted Bundy is NOT responsible for his own existence. Human beings cannot create themselves. (I know you believe otherwise, because you have claimed responsibility for your own existence, but everyone, except you I guess, knows that it is logically impossible for anyone or anything to bring itself into existence).

    Ted Bundy’s desire to pursue the ultimate good is yet another cause for his behavior. This is called the *final cause.* A final cause is the reason for a thing’s (or person’s) existence. It is the *why* something was made. God created the desire to pursue the good; Ted Bundy perverted this desire by learning to love what is evil and pursue it as a good for him.

    So, I will repeat the point yet again. There are many causes for Ted Bundy’s behavior, but only one agent, Ted Bundy, is its architect (efficient cause/agency cause).

  173. 173
    relatd says:

    SB at 72,

    Man has two choices:

    Man is the ultimate reference point. So man prefers the words of other men ONLY. He becomes the God substitute.

    Man chooses God, and considers what other men say, with God as the ultimate reference point. Man, by himself, is deficient. Even though some want to exclude any mention of God from the ‘pure’ words of great men, they cannot see, or don’t want to see, that what is good and right does not derive solely from other men. God is the source of all good and true knowledge regarding how men should live.

    Isaiah 5:20

    “Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!”

  174. 174
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @170

    Ori: The actions of B cannot be a separate entity from B, instead they are an inextricable aspect of it.

    SB: Bad logic. The actions of B (the created agent’s moral choices) *must be* a separate entity from B (…)

    Ori: I am asking you to please reconsider your statement. Suppose you walk in the street, can it be said that your walking “*must be* a separate entity” from you?

    SB: We are not discussing entities. We are discussing categories.

    If you are discussing categories and not entities, please use the term ‘category’ and not the term ‘entity’.

    Three categories are needed:
    Category (A) God, the giver of the faculties of intellect and will; Category (B) human moral agents, the receivers of those gifts; and Category (C) the way human moral agents use or misuse those gifts. Those categories must be kept separate. Otherwise, causes get mixed in with their effects.

    I would prefer just two entities: man and God. Is the receiver of the gift another entity (or category) than the one who uses or misuses those gifts? How does that make sense? Why would it be helpful?

  175. 175
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @172

    … there is only ONE ARCHITECT of Ted Bundy’s choices and that would be Ted Bundy. He is, therefore, the only person or agent that is responsible for those choices. He is the one and only AGENT CAUSE or EFFICIENT CAUSE). There are no other agents who participated in his personal moral decisions or actions.

    Here I disagree and argue that Ted Bundy cannot be responsible for ‘his’ choices.
    According to Aquinas and you, every aspect of Ted Bundy, including his purported ‘free will’ is made by God. If there is nothing about Ted Bundy that is not made by God, it follows that every action coming from Ted Bundy comes from something that is made by God. You want to distinguish between causal categories, but it makes exactly zero difference: every category you can come up with is either made by God or is the direct result of something that is made by God. In a deterministic world, Ted Bundy can only be an automaton.

    Allow me to quote myself:

    If God created every aspect of man, free will included, then God is the sufficient cause of man. If A is the sufficient cause of B, then A determines B. The actions of B cannot be conceived as a separate entity from B, instead, they are an inextricable aspect of B.
    Therefore, B, including its actions, is necessarily determined by A.

  176. 176
    relatd says:

    Origenes at 175,

    Where does Aquinas say that? God creates souls and men, however, He gave us free will. The Church recognizes mental illness and behaviors that can develop due to exposure to a certain environment. For example, a boy who grows up around criminals may choose criminal activity as an adult or be forced into it by others.

    God does not cause sin but we have a fallen nature that is prone to sin. The Sacraments give us the needed graces to help us avoid sinful behavior. Even though God knows what we will do before we do it, we don’t get to know. When we sin we can confess our sins and receive forgiveness. Avoiding sin is a lifelong problem but with God’s help we can grow in holiness.

  177. 177
    Origenes says:

    Relatd @176
    Like you, I am a theist who cannot imagine being wrong about it. However, Aquinas argues for a totally deterministic world — see #1 and #6. In Aquinas’ world, only God moves on his own and is essentially the only actor. I am arguing that there can be no free human being in such a world.
    In my opinion, reality is more complicated than what Aquinas proposes.

  178. 178
    relatd says:

    Origenes at 177,

    God sees all and knows all. He knows, before it happens, who will do wrong and who will do right. God, through the Bible, even tells us about the end of this world in the Book of Revelation. So don’t make things more complicated than they are.

    All things are involved in God’s plan. And God can and has interfered in human events, including causing miracles and visitations by the Blessed Virgin Mary. That said, miracles still occur today though the Media rarely reports on them. Some people become saints after miracles are attributed to them.

    What do you mean by “no free person”? No person acts outside of God’s plan but we cannot know our part in advance, only God does. Do you understand? A “free person” is free to act throughout his life with only partial knowledge of his part in God’s plan if he believes in God. Those who do not believe may do some good or some evil. It truly is up to them to choose. Again, they have no idea how their choices fit into God’s plan. Do you understand?

  179. 179
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    According to Aquinas and you, every aspect of Ted Bundy, including his purported ‘free will’ is made by God.

    No Aquinas and I do not say that. The problem is with your undefined and (excuse me, sloppy) term, *aspect.* If by every aspect, you mean free will plus the actions that free will allows, then it is NOT true that God created every aspect. If by every aspect you are referring only to Ted Bundy’s capacities and his existence, then it is true that God created every aspect.

    Notice in your next comment, that you make a second error based on the first error:

    If there is nothing about Ted Bundy that is not made by God,…

    But this is exactly what I didn’t say. I say there IS something about Ted Bundy that wasn’t made by God, namely his moral actions. God made the decision to create free will, but He did not make the decision to use or misuse it. The gift of Free will is the power to use or misuse it. Ted Bundy had that power, and he misused it. It is a simple as that.

    You want to distinguish between causal categories, but it makes exactly zero difference: every category you can come up with is either made by God or is the direct result of something that is made by God.

    No. Ted Bundy’s immoral actions are NOT a direct result of something made by God. His *Power* to make good or bad moral decisions is a direct result of something made by God. Ted Bundy had the moral power to resist his immoral actions.

  180. 180
    Origenes says:

    StephenB

    Ted Bundy’s immoral actions are NOT a direct result of something made by God.

    Ted Bundy is made by God, so his immoral actions are a direct result of something made by God.

    1.) If everything about us is determined/made by God, then all our actions and thoughts are consequences of God.
    2.) We have no control over God.
    3.) If A causes B, and we have no control over A, and A is sufficient for B, then we have no control over B.
    Therefore,
    4.) If everything about us is made by God, then we have no control over our own actions and thoughts.

  181. 181
    relatd says:

    Origenes at 180,

    A strong desire toward simple, but elaborate sounding, explanations doesn’t explain anything.

    Human beings have been trying to break the “laws of nature” for a long time by proposing and doing the unnatural. The remote past is in the past and beyond anyone’s control.

    Are you a robot? Born preprogrammed? Only forced to follow your programming? Evidence?

    Men, including Christians, can do stupid, illogical and even self-destructive things. And you claim we can’t alter our “programming”? There is no evidence of this.

  182. 182
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @179, 175

    … there is only ONE ARCHITECT of Ted Bundy’s choices and that would be Ted Bundy. He is, therefore, the only person or agent that is responsible for those choices. He is the one and only AGENT CAUSE or EFFICIENT CAUSE). There are no other agents who participated in his personal moral decisions or actions.

    Show me a causal chain that starts with Ted Bundy, that does not trace back to God as a sufficient cause.

    But this is exactly what I didn’t say. I say there IS something about Ted Bundy that wasn’t made by God, namely his moral actions.

    The moral actions flow from something that is entirely made by God

    God made the decision to create free will, but He did not make the decision to use or misuse it.

    But the decision is made by something that is entirely made by God.

    The gift of Free will is the power to use or misuse it. Ted Bundy had that power, and he misused it.

    The power to use or misuse it, Ted Bundy himself, all made by God.

    Ori: You want to distinguish between causal categories, but it makes exactly zero difference: every category you can come up with is either made by God or is the direct result of something that is made by God.

    SB: No. Ted Bundy’s immoral actions are NOT a direct result of something made by God.

    Again, Ted Bundy is made by God.

    His *Power* to make good or bad moral decisions is a direct result of something made by God.

    Indeed. Everything is made by God.

    Ted Bundy had the moral power to resist his immoral actions.

    His moral power is also created by God.
    Show me a causal chain that starts from Ted Bundy, that does not trace back to God as a sufficient cause.

  183. 183
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    Ted Bundy is made by God, so his immoral actions are a direct result of something made by God.

    Bad logic. The correct logic is as follows:

    Ted Bundy was made by God with the gifts of intellect and free will. His immoral actions are a direct result of his misuse of that gift. They are not the direct result of the gift.

    Origenes claims that it is logically impossible for God to create a human being with free will, yet Origenes also claims that he created himself with free will by observing himself. That’s about as bad as logic can get.

  184. 184
    StephenB says:

    SB: God made the decision to create free will, but He did not make the decision to use or misuse it.

    Origenes:

    But the decision is made by something that is entirely made by God.

    More bad logic. Moral decisions are not made by a something (free will), they are made by a person (Ted Bundy). The faculty of free will doesn’t make decisions at all. It is the person exercising that faculty who makes the decision.

  185. 185
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @183

    SB: No. Ted Bundy’s immoral actions are NOT a direct result of something made by God.

    Ori: Ted Bundy is made by God, so his immoral actions are a direct result of something made by God.

    SB: Bad logic.

    You cannot be serious.

    1. Ted is something made by God.
    2. Ted’s immoral actions are a direct result of Ted.
    Therefore,
    3. Ted’s immoral actions are a direct result of something made by God.

    The correct logic is as follows:

    Ted Bundy was made by God with the gifts of intellect and free will.

    Ted Bundy, the gift of intellect, the gift of free will, ALL are made by God.

    His immoral actions are a direct result of his misuse of that gift. They are not the direct result of the gift.

    No one has claimed that T’s immoral actions are the result of the gift. They are the result of Ted and all his capacities involved. And God is a sufficient cause for both Ted and his capacities.

    Show me the disconnect. Show me a causal chain that starts from Ted Bundy, that does not trace back to God as a sufficient cause.

  186. 186
    Origenes says:

    StephenB

    Ori: But the decision is made by something that is entirely made by God.

    More bad logic. Moral decisions are not made by a something (free will), they are made by a person (Ted Bundy).

    The person, yes, of course. And Ted Bundy (the person) is ‘something that is entirely made by God’. Didn’t you know that already?

    The faculty of free will doesn’t make decisions at all.

    No one claims that it does.

    It is the person exercising that faculty who makes the decision.

    Sure. And the person is entirely made by God.

  187. 187
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    1. Ted is something made by God.
    2. Ted’s immoral actions are a direct result of Ted.
    Therefore,
    3. Ted’s immoral actions are a direct result of something made by God.

    No. Premise 2 doesn’t work. Ted’s immoral actions are a direct result of Ted’s decision to misuse free will. They are not the direct result of Ted’s identity. Identities have no causal power. They just tell us who (which person) is making the decision.

    Only human capacities have causal power. Between Ted’s self and his moral actions is his capacity of free will. Without that capacity, he cannot make moral decisions.

  188. 188
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    And God is the sufficient cause for both Ted and his capacities.

    Of course. The point is that God is not the sufficient cause of Ted’s decision to misuse those capacities.

    Meanwhile, you have not even come close to defending your claim that it is not logically possible for God to create a human being with free will.

  189. 189
    relatd says:

    StephenB at 188,

    Does God manipulate us? No, we have free will. We act freely and choose to do right or choose to do wrong.

  190. 190
    Origenes says:

    StephenB

    Ori:
    1. Ted is something made by God.
    2. Ted’s immoral actions are a direct result of Ted.
    Therefore,
    3. Ted’s immoral actions are a direct result of something made by God.

    SB: No. Premise 2 doesn’t work. Ted’s immoral actions are a direct result of Ted’s decision to misuse free will. They are not the direct result of Ted’s identity. Identities have no causal power. They just tell us who (which person) is making the decision. Only human capacities have causal power. Between Ted’s self and his moral actions is his capacity of free will. Without that capacity, he cannot make moral decisions.

    Suppose you are right. Suppose Ted is not to blame but his ‘human capacity’ is. What is your point? God is the sufficient cause of Ted and his capacities. So, where are you going with this argument? You can name a thousand categories and a thousand capacities; it doesn’t change anything if God is the sufficient cause of all of them.

    Ori: And God is the sufficient cause for both Ted and his capacities.

    SB: Of course. The point is that God is not the sufficient cause of Ted’s decision to misuse those capacities.

    This is getting repetitive. Ted’s decision comes from Ted, and/or some capacity, and/or some category (whatever you prefer), which are all made by God. God is the sufficient cause of all of them. So, Ted and his capacities are all created by God, therefore, all activity that comes from Ted’s direction (whatever category, and/or capacity) comes from something that is made by God. So, whatever intermediate category/capacity (which are all made by God), God is at the beginning of the causal chain as the sufficient cause.

    Meanwhile, you have not even come close to defending your claim that it is not logically possible for God to create a human being with free will.

    If you really believe that, show me the disconnect. Show me a causal chain that starts from Ted and does not trace back to God as a sufficient cause.

  191. 191
    StephenB says:

    OrigenesL

    Suppose you are right. Suppose Ted is not to blame but his ‘human capacity’ is.

    I didn’t say that Ted’s human capacity of free will is to blame. I said That Ted is to blame for misusing it.

    What is your point?

    The point is that God gave Ted Bundy a free will, which provided him with the power to start a new causal chain based on his, not God’s, moral decisions and actions. God is the sufficient cause of Ted’s existence, and Ted’s free will; God is not the sufficient cause of Ted’s moral decisions and actions..

    God is at the beginning of the causal chain as the sufficient cause.

    No. God is at the beginning of Ted’s causal chain as a *necessary* cause (creating the capacity of free will), not as the *sufficient* cause.
    If God was the sufficient cause for Ted’s immoral decisions, then God would be, in effect, the decision maker and Ted would just be going along for the ride. He would have no free will at all. God as sufficient cause = no free will for Ted.

  192. 192
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    Show me a causal chain that starts from Ted and does not trace back to God as a sufficient cause.

    ALL CAUSAL CHAINS that Ted starts can be traced back to God insofar as God provides *necessary* causal factors, many of which I have already alluded to. NO CAUSAL CHAIN can be traced back to God as a *sufficient* cause,

  193. 193
    StephenB says:

    Relatd

    StephenB at 188,
    Does God manipulate us? No, we have free will. We act freely and choose to do right or choose to do wrong.

    You are right, of course.

  194. 194
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @191, 192

    God is the sufficient cause of Ted’s existence, and Ted’s free will; God is not the sufficient cause of Ted’s moral decisions and actions.

    Ted, and every aspect of Ted, that is involved in Ted’s moral decisions and actions has God as a sufficient cause. WRT moral decisions and actions, there is no entity, capacity, and/or category involved that does not have God as a sufficient cause.
    Therefore, God is the sufficient cause of the causal chain that results in T’s moral decisions and actions.

    Ori: God is at the beginning of the causal chain as the sufficient cause.

    No. God is at the beginning of Ted’s causal chain as a *necessary* cause (creating the capacity of free will), not as the *sufficient* cause.

    Ted, who has God as a sufficient (and necessary) cause for himself and every aspect of him, is the secondary cause in a causal chain resulting in moral decisions and actions. Ted, as a created secondary choice moves in accord with his nature that is created by God.
    Zooming out and observing Ted from a distance: everything that is, everything that acts, is either made by God or is God Himself. There is but one true actor, one real cause. Every causal chain has the same sufficient (and necessary) cause: God.

    If God was the sufficient cause for Ted’s immoral decisions, then God would be, in effect, the decision maker and Ted would just be going along for the ride. He would have no free will at all. God as sufficient cause = no free will for Ted.

    Indeed.

    Ori: Show me a causal chain that starts from Ted and does not trace back to God as a sufficient cause.

    SB: ALL CAUSAL CHAINS that Ted starts can be traced back to God insofar as God provides *necessary* causal factors, many of which I have already alluded to. NO CAUSAL CHAIN can be traced back to God as a *sufficient* cause.

    Thank you for writing so clearly. However, there is exactly zero incompatibility between a necessary cause and a sufficient cause. All causal chains can be traced back to God as a cause that is simultaneously necessary and sufficient.

  195. 195
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    Every causal chain has the same sufficient (and necessary) cause, God.

    If God is the sufficient cause of every causal chain, it follows that God created Ted Bundy, that He made Ted Bundy’s moral decisions, and that no one, including Ted Bundy, has free will.

    Three questions, then:

    1. Does God make your moral decisions and should He be held responsible for them?.

    2. How do you reconcile your above claim that God, as the necessary and sufficient cause of all causal chains, brought everyone into existence with your other claim that you brought yourself into existence?

    3. If no one has free will, it follows that you do not have free will. Is that your position?

  196. 196
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @195

    1. Does God make your moral decisions and should He be held responsible for them?

    No, it is absurd to believe that He makes my moral decisions and/or is the sufficient cause of them. However, in Aquinas’s determination model, God is the sufficient cause of everything. At least, that is how I understand it.

    2. How do you reconcile your above claim that God, as the necessary and sufficient cause of all causal chains, brought everyone into existence with your other claim that you brought yourself into existence?

    There is no reconciliation possible, I reject Aquinas’ model and its consequences. In Aquinas’s model, God is the necessary ground of all being and the necessary and sufficient cause of his creation. I am a theist, and in my book, God is the wisest, the most powerful, the most intelligent, and the most aware person there is. He is the creator of the universe. But I also hold that it is self-defeating to say God is omnipresent, all-knowing, and the sufficient cause of all things. Modesty is usually a good thing, but one can make God too great and, as a consequence, oneself too small.

    3. If no one has free will, it follows that you do not have free will. Is that your position?

    Absolutely not. We must assume to be rational, or be silent forever. To be rational presupposes control and responsibility over one’s thoughts. Freedom.
    I have spent decades thinking about these matters. In my view, freedom must imply that the person is the starting point of a causal chain. I fail to see how it can be otherwise. But Aquinas, Leibniz, and many others do not offer that. I my view their models do not allow for the personal freedom I must assume to exist.
    As you know, I see a possible solution in self-causation or put more generally: self-relation. And you have made clear what you think about that.
    Setting aside the issue of origin and self-causation for a moment. I put it to you that life is self-organization, self-movement. All the parts of a cat, its eyes, its tail, its organs, and its legs are all functional for the whole, all parts serve the whole, all for the self. Every aspect of an organism points to the self. Self-relation defines what life is.
    And self-awareness, self-control defines what human life is.
    And I see freedom only in self-relation.

  197. 197
  198. 198
    StephenB says:

    Origenes @196

    You continue to make the same error that you made @163, when you said this:

    If God created every aspect of man, free will included, then God is the sufficient cause of man.

    Your lack of precision undermines your argument. It should read *If God created every aspect of man, free will included, then God is the sufficient cause of what man is and what he can do.* God is NOT the sufficient cause of what man does do or will do.

    If A is the sufficient cause of B, then A determines B. The actions of B cannot be conceived as a separate entity from B, they are an inextricable aspect of B.

    Obviously, this is false. What a man is (his nature) or can do (his free ability to make moral decisions) is radically different from what man does or will do (help his neighbor or murder him).

    Therefore, B, including its actions, is necessarily determined by A.

    The conclusion is false because the premises are false or imprecisely formulated. God is not the sufficient cause of man’s actions.

  199. 199
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @198

    God is NOT the sufficient cause of what man does do or will do. (…) God is not the sufficient cause of man’s actions.

    Of course not. However, in the Aquinas model, He is the sufficient cause at the beginning of the causal chain that results in man’s moral decisions and actions.

    Ori: Ted, and every aspect of Ted involved in Ted’s moral decisions and actions has God as a sufficient cause. WRT moral decisions and actions, there is no entity, capacity, and/or category involved that does not have God as a sufficient cause.
    Therefore, God is the sufficient cause of the causal chain that results in T’s moral decisions and actions.

    Can you identify a single aspect of Ted, which is involved in Ted’s moral decision-making, that is not created by God? Name one thing, category, or capacity that is not made by God. If you cannot name one single thing, if everything involved in the decision-making is made by God, how can God not be the sufficient cause at the beginning of the causal chain that results in T’s moral decisions and actions? If you stand by Aquinas’s model, explain that to me.
    If you are the only creator, if everything is created by you, how can there possibly be something happening anywhere that does not trace back to you as a sufficient cause?

  200. 200
    StephenB says:

    SB: God is NOT the sufficient cause of what man does do or will do. (…) God is not the sufficient cause of man’s actions.

    Of course not.

    Good. We have achieved a meeting of minds, at least in that context. That is no small thing.

    However, in the Aquinas model, He (God) is the sufficient cause at the beginning of the causal chain that results in man’s moral decisions and actions.

    Permit me to tweak that comment. God is the sufficient cause of Ted’s existence and his capacity to make moral decisions; which also makes God a necessary cause of Ted’s moral decisions, while Ted is the sufficient cause of those same decisions, resulting in a new causal chain.

    Can you identify a single aspect of Ted, which is involved in Ted’s moral decision-making, that is not created by God? Name one thing, category, or capacity that is not made by God.

    Yes, Ted’s moral decisions and actions are not made by God. They are made by Ted, though Ted *depends* on God for the capacity and the opportunity to make them. That is why God is a necessary cause of Ted’s decisions and Ted is the sufficient cause. Only Ted can pull the trigger.

  201. 201
    Origenes says:

    StephenB

    Ori: Can you identify a single aspect of Ted, which is involved in Ted’s moral decision-making, that is not created by God? Name one thing, category, or capacity that is not made by God.

    SB: Yes,Ted’s moral decisions and actions are not made by God.

    In Aquinas’s model, T’s decisions are not made by God directly. However, all the items involved with the decision-making (Ted, Ted’s capacities, and everything else), have God as a sufficient cause. Put differently, there is a deterministic causal chain, occupied by intermediate/secondary causes of God’s making, with God as the necessary and sufficient cause at the beginning. So, in Aquinas’s model, God is the necessary sufficient ‘indirect’ cause of Ted’s moral decision-making.

    They are made by Ted, though Ted *depends* on God for the capacity and the opportunity to make them.

    Ted, his capacity, and opportunity, all have God as their necessary and sufficient cause.

    That is why God is a necessary cause of Ted’s decisions and Ted is the sufficient cause.

    In the causal chain, Ted is the secondary cause of Ted’s decisions. God is the necessary and sufficient cause heading that causal chain.

    Only Ted can pull the trigger.

    In Aquinas’s model, Ted, who pulls the trigger, is a secondary cause that is entirely made by God. In Aquinas’s deterministic model, secondary causes, do not explain themselves or their (derivative) movement.
    – – – –
    If you create the universe and everything in it. If the universe is exhausted by things that have you as their necessary and sufficient cause, then logically everything that happens in the universe is necessarily describable in causal chains with you as the sufficient and necessary cause at the head of each one of them—see the first mover argument.

  202. 202
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    In Aquinas’s model, T’s decisions are not made by God directly.

    That is correct. They are Ted’s decisions, not God’s

    However, all the items involved with the decision-making (Ted, Ted’s capacities, and everything else), have God as a sufficient
    cause.

    We already know that. The point is that Ted is the one who decides how all those necessary items are used and is, therefore, the one and only sufficient cause of the decisions he makes.

    Put differently, there is a deterministic causal chain, occupied by intermediate/secondary causes of God’s making, with God as the necessary and sufficient cause at the beginning.

    Irrelevant. God’s creation of the causal conditions necessary for making choices does not, in any way, determine Ted’s moral choices. Ted makes that determination.

    So, in Aquinas’s model, God is the necessary sufficient ‘indirect’ cause of Ted’s moral decision-making.

    God is in no way a sufficient cause for Ted’s Moral decisions; He is only a necessary cause. Meanwhile free will applies only to the DIRECT cause of the decision, which in this case, is Ted.

    In the causal chain, Ted is the secondary cause of Ted’s decisions. God is the necessary and sufficient cause heading that causal chain.

    In terms or moral responsibility, there is no singular causal chain.
    First, God starts a causal chain by creating a universe, which includes Ted and his moral capacities. Second, Ted creates another causal chain when uses those capacities. If Ted reproduces, both he and God are responsible for creating yet another causal chain. Every human being is the head of his own causal chain. God is not a sufficient cause for any of them.

    In Aquinas’s deterministic model, secondary causes, do not explain themselves or their (derivative) movement.

    Aquinas argues for free will and against determinism. He covers both sides. If you disagree, then you are either misreading him or depending on unreliable commentators. When all else fails, read Aquinas in context when the subject matter speaks for itself. Out of context quotes are meaningless.

    Here is what Aquinas says about free will as he responds to a determinist narrative:

    —“On the contrary, It is written (Sirach 15:14): “God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel”; and the gloss adds: “That is of his free-will.”

    I answer that, Man has free-will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards, and punishments would be in vain. In order to make this evident, we must observe that some things act without judgment; as a stone moves downwards; and in like manner all things which lack knowledge. And some act from judgment, but not a free judgment; as brute animals. For the sheep, seeing the wolf, judges it a thing to be shunned, from a natural and not a free judgment, because it judges, not from reason, but from natural instinct. And the same thing is to be said of any judgment of brute animals. But man acts from judgment, because by his apprehensive power he judges that something should be avoided or sought. But because this judgment, in the case of some particular act, is not from a natural instinct, but from some act of comparison in the reason, therefore he acts from free judgment and retains the power of being inclined to various things. For reason in contingent matters may follow opposite courses, as we see in dialectic syllogisms and rhetorical arguments. Now particular operations are contingent, and therefore in such matters the judgment of reason may follow opposite courses, and is not determinate to one. And forasmuch as man is rational is it necessary that man have a free-will.”

    Anyone who says that Aquinas is a determinist after reading that is either uninformed or is just not being sincere. Meanwhile, I can provide plenty quotes (in context) where he explicitly and directly argues against determinism.

  203. 203
    Origenes says:

    StephenB @202

    Ori: However, all the items involved with the decision-making (Ted, Ted’s capacities, and everything else), have God as a sufficient cause.

    SB: We already know that. The point is that Ted is the one who decides how all those necessary items are used and is, therefore, the one and only sufficient cause of the decisions he makes.

    Sure, However, just like all those necessary items, Ted is also made by God. God is the sufficient cause of all the items involved with the decision-making, including Ted.

    Ori: Put differently, there is a deterministic causal chain, occupied by intermediate/secondary causes of God’s making, with God as the necessary and sufficient cause at the beginning.

    SB: Irrelevant. God’s creation of the causal conditions necessary for making choices does not, in any way, determine Ted’s moral choices. Ted makes that determination.

    Ted is made by God, so, Ted is a secondary cause. God is the necessary/sufficient cause of the secondary cause.

    Ori: So, in Aquinas’s model, God is the necessary sufficient ‘indirect’ cause of Ted’s moral decision-making.

    SB: God is in no way a sufficient cause for Ted’s Moral decisions; He is only a necessary cause. Meanwhile free will applies only to the DIRECT cause of the decision, which in this case, is Ted.

    I see no new argument here. Ted is made by God. God is the necessary and sufficient cause of Ted.

    Ori: In the causal chain, Ted is the secondary cause of Ted’s decisions. God is the necessary and sufficient cause heading that causal chain.

    SB: In terms or moral responsibility, there is no singular causal chain.

    Why not?

    First, God starts a causal chain by creating a universe, which includes Ted and his moral capacities. Second, Ted creates another causal chain when uses those capacities.

    Nope. God is the first cause, Ted the secondary cause. Ted is made by God. Secondary causes do not start new causal chains. See the first mover argument.

    If Ted reproduces, both he and God are responsible for creating yet another causal chain. Every human being is the head of his own causal chain. God is not a sufficient cause for any of them.

    No more God as the first cause …. Why Not?

    Ori: In Aquinas’s deterministic model, secondary causes, do not explain themselves or their (derivative) movement.

    SB: Here is what Aquinas says about free will as he responds to a determinist narrative:
    —“On the contrary, It is written (Sirach 15:14): “God made man from the beginning, and left him in the hand of his own counsel”; and the gloss adds: “That is of his free-will.”
    I answer that, Man has free-will: otherwise counsels, exhortations, commands, prohibitions, rewards, and punishments would be in vain.

    I understand that Aquinas needs free will to make sense of things like punishment, unfortunately, his model does not allow it to exist.

    SB quotes Aquinas: In order to make this evident, we must observe that some things act without judgment; as a stone moves downwards; and in like manner all things which lack knowledge. And some act from judgment, but not a free judgment; as brute animals. For the sheep, seeing the wolf, judges it a thing to be shunned, from a natural and not a free judgment, because it judges, not from reason, but from natural instinct. And the same thing is to be said of any judgment of brute animals.
    But man acts from judgment, because by his apprehensive power he judges that something should be avoided or sought.

    I don’t see an argument in there. God is the sufficient cause of man’s apprehensive powers. No disconnect.

    SB quotes Aquinas: But because this judgment, in the case of some particular act, is not from a natural instinct, but from some act of comparison in the reason, therefore he acts from free judgment and retains the power of being inclined to various things.

    The ability to compare in reason, and the power of being inclined to various things, both have God as a sufficient cause. No disconnect.

    SB quotes Aquinas: For reason in contingent matters may follow opposite courses, as we see in dialectic syllogisms and rhetorical arguments. Now particular operations are contingent, and therefore in such matters the judgment of reason may follow opposite courses, and is not determinate to one. And forasmuch as man is rational is it necessary that man have a free-will.”

    No argument in there. Sure, I agree that in order to be rational freedom is required. However, Aquinas’ model doesn’t allow for it.

    SB: Anyone who says that Aquinas is a determinist after reading that is either uninformed or is just not being sincere.

    That is good to know.

    Meanwhile, I can provide plenty quotes (in context) where he explicitly and directly argues against determinism.

    Ok. If Aquinas’ can accommodate freedom in his deterministic model, I would like to know about it. However, if I, again, see nothing new I will stop participating.

  204. 204
    StephenB says:

    Origenes:

    Ted is made by God, so, Ted is a secondary cause. God is the necessary/sufficient cause of the secondary cause.

    God is the sufficient cause of Ted existence Ted’s moral capacities, and Ted’s free will. God is NOT the sufficient cause of Ted’s moral actions, The true cause of Ted’s moral actions is the *application* of his capacities and the *exercise* of his free will. We have been over this before and you have provided no satisfactory response.

    SB: Each human produces his own moral causal chain.

    Origenes:

    Secondary causes do not start new causal chains. See the first mover argument.

    Pleases don’t go there again. The first mover argument applies to the *natural world* and refers to motion that can be *detected by the senses,” It has nothing to do with the spiritual world or causal chains produced by human moral decisions.

    What follows is a remarkable interaction in which Origenes dismisses Aquinas extended and detailed explanation on why that free will (anti-determinism) exists by claiming that Aquinas, nevertheless, operates from a deterministic model. When I cite the *fact* that Aquinas also argues explicitly against deterministic models, Origenes responds by saying, nevertheless, Aquinas operates from a deterministic model. When I explain why Aquinas’ model is not and cannot be deterministic, Origenes says, nevertheless, that Aquinas operates from a deterministic model.

    Meanwhile, he claims that it is logically impossible for God to create man with free will even as he insists that he created himself and his own free will.

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