Intelligent Design

Self-organization, a misnomer

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The term “self-organization” is widely used with relation to many phenomena: crystals, laser, Bénard’s heat convection cells, Prigogine’s dissipative non-equilibrium open systems, oscillating chemical reactions, Eigen’s autocatalytic cycles, chaotic systems, origin of life, cellular replication, homeostasis, morphogenesis, embryological developments…

About this list there is an important conceptual distinguo to do and a possible misunderstanding to clear on the abuse of a bold term as “self-organization”.

In my previous post I explained why organization is essentially different from any order. First, among the above phenomena we should distinguish what involves simple order from what involves true organization, meant in my sense. Second, we should examine what they really mean with the “self-” prefix. I suspect the main reason of this “self-” is that it seems to dispense from an intelligent source of organization. In other words, “self-organization” is one of the magic words in the toolbox of evolutionism to deny intelligent design (ID).

Given my definition of “organization” implies hierarchies of functions/tasks, decision/control, communication/ signaling, in the above list only origin of life, cellular replication, homeostasis, morphogenesis and embryological developments are properly examples of organization, meant in “strong” sense. Not by chance this division in the list is between the mere physical/chemical and the biological. Biology is eminently the reign of organization and design.

Forms of order can arise from matter-energy (ME) and natural laws (NL), as science defines them nowadays. Let’s write this derivation in short:

(1) ME + NL => order

It represents the fact that the couple ME + NL potentially contains such kinds of ordered phenomena. In this situation it would be pleonastic to speak of “self-ordering” indeed thank to this internal potentiality. When a container filled with water (potentiality) begins to spill water (actuality) we don’t say “the container self-spills water” or “water is self-spillage of the container”. Obviously I have nothing to object about such equation and the use of the term “order”, or whatever, for such phenomena.

The problem arises when they speak of “self-organization”, because they do mean this wrong equation:

(2) ME + NL => self-organization

In fact, according to Fritjof Capra (I appreciate him for his clarity):

Self-organization is spontaneous arise of new structures and new behaviors in far-from-equilibrium open systems characterized by inner feedback loops and mathematically described by non-linear equations. (“The web of life”, 5)

Capra, with “open systems”, means that a matter/energy flux is involved (the “ME” item), while his “non-linear equations” pertain to “NL”. Unfortunately #2 cannot work because the left member lacks a potentiality of organization P(o) which don’t come from ME + NL and only an intelligent organizer can provide. The correct one should be:

(3) ME + NL + P(o) => organization

Here is the explanation. For what matters here, we can think of material nature as a giant processor running tasks where matter-energy is continually driven in real-time by the natural laws. By the way, this is an informatics vision that actually many scientists agree with (Gregory Chaitin, Edward Fredkin, Seth Lloyd…). Following their line of reasoning, and according to the isomorphism between true organization and software I wrote about in the linked post, if per absurdum the equation #2 were true, we would have a processor running software not installed in the system, and this is illogic. In fact, “NL” are only assignments of values to the physical variables (data) computed by equations, something that, at its best, is merely propaedeutic to software (code), which is something essentially higher because implies hierarchy of functions/tasks, decision/control, communication/signaling (like organization). According to this ID view we can identify what in #3 “P(o)” is: it is the “source code” (in general the “design”) for the software/organization in output. Here again there is no reason to pre-fix “self-” because we know that “P(o)” is provided by the organizer, it is not inherent to the ME + NL system stand alone, which per se is not capable to output organization.

Note 1: the above observations (about the #3 equation) are independent from the time when P(o) is injected in the system. P(o) could well be frontloaded just from the beginning. In any case what matters is that inert matter and simple laws, as actual science defines them, needs P(o). To think otherwise is to assume that more comes from less.

Note 2: when I distinguish between organization and order I do not mean that organization is designed while “ME + NL” is not, or that “ME + NL” has no cause. Obviously also “ME + NL” is designed, ME needs a creator and NL needs a “law-giver”, which necessarily are the same first Cause. Simply I claim that order is a direct by-product of “ME + NL” alone, while organization is not a direct and free by-product of “ME + NL” because these ones need an additional third factor “P(o)”, which the Great Organizer of the cosmos had necessarily to provide to get “ordo ab chao”.

Appendix

Of course the above scientific observations perfectly agree with the question of principle, from a philosophical point of view. Organization is something qualitative and essential. Self-organization of a material system would mean that this system gives itself its own being. For doing that, it should be active and passive, the agent and the subject, in the same time. But a thing cannot be in act and in potency in the same relationship, because the relation necessarily supposes the existence of two terms. In fact, it is axiomatic in Platonic, Christian and Hindu doctrines that “a same thing cannot perform or abide opposite activities on the same relation or with relation to the same thing or same time” (Plato, Republic, 436B); “in truth, no one can properly self-impose a law to its own actions” (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I.93.5); “it is impossible that from the same viewpoint and in the same way a thing be the mover and the moved, that it move itself” (ibidem, I.2.3); “there is an implicit antinomy in the notion of acting on itself” (Shankaracharya, Brahma Sutra Bhasya, 6.2.17). In short this is the “nihil agit se ipsum” principle of Scholasticism. An eye doesn’t see itself. Since to organize is an higher kind of action, a fortiori a material system doesn’t self-organize.

49 Replies to “Self-organization, a misnomer

  1. 1
    EugeneS says:

    Niwrad,

    Again a very clear distinction between organization and order. I liked very much the analogy with software and its installation and the getting rid of the “self” prefix. Thanks! UD is definitely worth coming back to regularly )

  2. 2
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Given my definition of “organization” implies hierarchies of functions/tasks, decision/control, communication/ signaling, in the above list only origin of life, cellular replication, homeostasis, morphogenesis and embryological developments are properly examples of organization, meant in “strong” sense.

    I appreciate your explanation of these matters and I admire your attempt to make a difficult topic very clear.

    At the same time, without wanting to be too critical, I think you’re facing a difficult challenge (and one that you may want to acknowledge whenever you write about order vs organization) – and that is, namely, you’re trying to advance your own definition of terms.

    As above, you reference “my definition of ‘organization'”.
    To me, much more difficult and important than making the distinctions, would be to find some way to have your definition of organization accepted and used somehow within science (or philosophy). Is your definition of the term ‘organization’ the right one? How do you know?

    I think it would be extremely difficult even to have fellow IDers to agree on new definitions, since there are no references in academic literature to support them so far.

    Ok, I said all of that without knowing if there is anything in scholarly work that supports your view — so I’ll be very happy to be corrected if so.

    If you can find some academic support for your definitions, it would be great to include that in your articles.

    Another thing you might consider is, if there is no consistent use of the term ‘organization’ in this manner, how it is currently used and why it doesn’t align with your definition. Is there a better term than ‘organization’ to describe what you’re saying?

    From what I can see, the terms organization and order are generally used interchangeably and dictionary definitions allow that.

    I think organization often means something has been ordered. This is semantics and I think it’s a difficult challenge — although I’ve benefited a lot from your explanations.

  3. 3
    Zachriel says:

    We might suggest cybernetic organization, or formal control system.

  4. 4
    EugeneS says:

    Silver Asiatic,

    You may want to have a look at:

    D.L.Abel, J.T.Trevors, “Self-organization vs. self-ordering events in life-origin models”, Science Direct, Physics of Life Reviews, 3 (2006), 211-228.

    This review of scholarly articles deals with exactly that!

  5. 5
    niwrad says:

    EugeneS, Silver Asiatic, Zachriel

    Thanks, good comments. Yes, maybe “cybernetic organization” is good and has the advantage to be in relation and agreement with the works of von Neumann, Wiener and, more recently, David Abel and his “The first gene”. All these authors share an identical central point: life implies cybernetics.

  6. 6
    niwrad says:

    Silver Asiatic

    I agree with your perplexities and your discourse is honest, constructive and useful. There is a lot to do in the ID movement, about many possible research directions. IMO it would be an error to believe that the ID work is finished.

    UD is a blog after all. However I consider it a good place where to do brainstorming all together with our evolutionist friends and offer our own humble ideas. I am sure that if they have some merit they will be considered by the “top guns” of the ID movement, and why not also by the opposite side.

    We shouldn’t set limits to the power of truth.

  7. 7
    Ian Thompson says:

    As well as ‘self-organizing’,
    the same criticisms should be directed to descriptions of something as ‘self-aware’

  8. 8
    Box says:

    Niwrad: Self-organization of a material system would mean that this system gives itself its own being. For doing that, it should be active and passive, the agent and the subject, in the same time.

    An absurd idea. There is no “self” or “agent” in a material system.

    Niwrad: But a thing cannot be in act and in potency in the same relationship, because the relation necessarily supposes the existence of two terms.

    A material thing cannot be in act and potency.

    Niwrad: In fact, it is axiomatic in Platonic, Christian and Hindu doctrines that “a same thing cannot perform or abide opposite activities on the same relation or with relation to the same thing or same time” (Plato, Republic, 436B); “in truth, no one can properly self-impose a law to its own actions” (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I.93.5); (…). An eye doesn’t see itself. Since to organize is an higher kind of action, a fortiori a material system doesn’t self-organize.

    I fully agree, providing that we are talking about a material system. On the contrary an agent, a person, is a self-mover. Even Thomas Aquinas wrote: ” liber est causa sui ” (the free is the cause of itself).

  9. 9
    Ian Thompson says:

    Box:

    On the contrary an agent, a person, is a self-mover. Even Thomas Aquinas wrote: ” liber est causa sui ” (the free is the cause of itself).

    No. When you learn more about how minds are sustained by spiritual influx, you will find that persons are not self-movers.

    Nothing, of any kind, even God, can be the cause of itself.
    Only God can be a self-mover, but still, not in the sense of moving Godself, but of moving from Godself.

  10. 10
    Box says:

    IAN Thompson: Nothing, of any kind, even God, can be the cause of itself.

    IOW everything is determined by something else. Nothing is free. We do not have real choices. There is no free will. We are not responsible for our actions. Determinism.

    Under determinism, how can we trust our reason? And if we cannot trust our reason, how do we know that determinism is true?

  11. 11
    Silver Asiatic says:

    Zachriel #3

    That does sound good – thanks for suggesting it.

  12. 12
    Silver Asiatic says:

    niwrad #6

    UD is a blog after all. However I consider it a good place where to do brainstorming all together with our evolutionist friends and offer our own humble ideas. I am sure that if they have some merit they will be considered by the “top guns” of the ID movement, and why not also by the opposite side.

    We shouldn’t set limits to the power of truth.

    Great points – I agree. It’s good that you’ve been brainstorming these ideas. It does show plenty of room for ID related research. It’s the same with discussions on Information, Function and Irreducible Complexity – the progress we make in defining and analyzing these concepts is benefit to science. Some more enlightened non-ID scientists have recognized the important role ID has played in a critique of neo-Darwinism.
    In this case, it seems very worthwhile and valuable to draw the distinction between cybernetic organization and order – however we might want to semantically label those concepts.
    A common argument (which I was reacting to) would be that you created new definitions. But the response to that is: “Ok, what are your terms and definitions for these concepts?”
    I think the fact is that there are none, commonly used, as yet. So, if ID can develop them, it’s a benefit to everyone.

  13. 13
    niwrad says:

    Silver Asiatic

    I agree that definitions and terminology are important. After all, my last two posts were about that. It is true that for dictionaries order and organization are near synonymous, but we cannot pretend that dictionaries be more technical.
    However just the layman has an idea that order and organization are not the same thing. In fact, people say “I will organize a party”, “I organized a firm”.. People don’t say “I will order a party”, “I ordered a firm”..

    Organization is essence. As such it has an indefinite range of possibilities of increasing qualitative complexity, related to a hierarchy of countless abstraction levels. Hence there is a series of related definitions. The definition of “cybernetic organization” is important because that is prerequisite of life and organisms.

  14. 14
    niwrad says:

    Box, Ian Thompson

    A mere a posteriori sum or aggregation of corporeal and psychical determinations alone wouldn’t be sufficient, per se, to constitute a *being*, lacking indeed the essential, that unifying a priori principle that makes of such being a true “self”. This unifying principle is the spirit (that all traditional doctrines — Christianism included — distinguish from mind). So we have a hierarchy in man: from top to bottom, spirit, psyche/mind, body. The free-will has to be considered causative by traversing top-down this stack. In this sense it is said: the eye sees the object, the eye is seen by the mind, the mind is finally seen by the “self”. Anything is always “seen” by something higher.

  15. 15
    Box says:

    Niwrad:

    (…) the eye sees the object, the eye is seen by the mind, the mind is finally seen by the “Self”. Anything is always “seen” by something higher.

    If that is true, then what sees the “Self”? There must be necessarily something that sees itself. How else do we explain our consciousness – self-awareness? Similarly there must be a self-mover. How else do we explain freedom and responsibility?

  16. 16
    niwrad says:

    Box

    The good news is indeed that there is an Ultimate Self, a final Infinite Observer of all, for which the question if He does see or does not see Himself somehow loses meaning. The First Cause is necessarily uncaused.

    “How else do we explain our consciousness – self-awareness?”
    Our consciousness, self-awareness is explained by the fact that our “self” is a direct reflection of that Self.

  17. 17
    Box says:

    Niwrad:

    The good news is indeed that there is an Ultimate Self, a final Infinite Observer of all, for which the question if He does see or does not see Himself somehow loses meaning. The First Cause is necessarily uncaused.

    Very good news! I fully agree. However neither you nor me are God.

    Niwrad:

    “How else do we explain our consciousness – self-awareness?”
    Our consciousness, self-awareness is explained by the fact that our “self” is a reflection of that Self.

    I don’t see how a mere “reflection” can see itself. So, unless you mean that this “reflection” can see itself, a “reflection” does not explain our self-awareness. For me it is obvious that we have a genuine self-aware self, that we are self-movers, that we have freedom and responsibility.

  18. 18
    niwrad says:

    Box

    “a “reflection” does not explain our self-awareness. For me it is obvious that we have a genuine self-aware self, that we are self-movers, that we have freedom and responsibility.”

    Obviously I agree that we have freedom and responsibility. What I mean with “reflection” (maybe there is a better English word..) is that our relative freedom descends from the absolute freedom of the Self.

  19. 19
    Box says:

    Niwrad:

    Obviously I agree that we have freedom and responsibility. What I mean with “reflection” (maybe there is a better English word..) is that our relative freedom descends from the absolute freedom of the Self.

    I respectfully disagree. In my book our freedom stems from our own self-awareness (freedom). In principle freedom cannot be determined by something else.

  20. 20

    Box and niwrad,

    This reminds me of an argument I had with myself for quite a time. If god gave me free will, did he ask me if I wanted it first? If there was a “before” I had free will, then I was incapable of freely accepting that responsibility; if there was not, then in effect God forced free will on me without asking, violating the very premise.

    My arguments were a lot like Keith’s in those days.

  21. 21
    niwrad says:

    Box

    Maybe with “freedom” we mean different things. I mean “lack of constraints”. Since we individuals have constraints we have relative freedom. The beings are free indeed because they are beings (something fully constrained wouldn’t be a *being* at all), and they are such thank to the Being. But their freedom (in my sense) is not absolute as that of the Being, Who has no constraints. In short freedom is not Boolean (1/0, yes/no, all/nothing..).

  22. 22
    Box says:

    William #20,

    Your original thoughts are in full accord with my statement that “in principle freedom cannot be determined by something else”. It’s a radical decision of mine to declare an aspect of myself (my freedom/self-awareness) without an external cause, but (ironically!) there is little choice in the matter.
    I have to assume that I’m free and responsible in order to be able to trust my reason. I have to assume that it is me sitting behind the steering wheel. Determinism leads to irrationality; see #10).

    IOW I hold that human consciousness/freedom cannot have an external explanation. I realize that this enlarges the mystery of life, but there it is …

  23. 23
    niwrad says:

    William J Murray

    Your dilemma is resolved indeed by what I said in #21. Our freedom has — among many others — the constraint to be … bootstrapped by God in the first place. So there is no violation of freedom, as I mean it.

  24. 24
    Box says:

    Niwrad: Maybe with “freedom” we mean different things. I mean “lack of constraints”. Since we individuals have constraints we have relative freedom.

    But what is freedom an sich? What is being constrained? With freedom I mean “being in harmony with oneself” – it implies self-awareness. Freedom is not about being unpredictable. A free act is stemming from, and in harmony with, oneself. The opposite of a free act is an act that is being determined by external factors.

  25. 25

    niwrad,

    Well, I found three resolutions;

    1. God gives you free will and then asks if you want it or not (whether we remember that decision or not);

    2. We are individuated particles/children of god, so to speak, and so our free will is a necessary “birthright” commodity (bootstrapped in, as you say);

    3. Free will is something accepted or rejected during the course of one’s existence.

    They are not necessarily mutually exclusive potentials.

  26. 26
    niwrad says:

    William J Murray

    I would say your #2: “we are individuated particles/children of God, so to speak, and so our free will is a necessary “birthright” commodity”.
    Instead of “particles/children” I used “reflections” above. “Reflection” is the “imago Dei” concept after all (an “image” is a reflection or mirror, no?).

  27. 27
    niwrad says:

    Box

    God’s will and man’s will are not conflicting because they are “orthogonal”. It is said: “truth is on a direction, man’s life is on another direction”. God’s omni-will and man’s freedom can coexist because they pertain to two different levels. So I maintain our relative free will, and in the same time I assume God’s absolute sovereignty on all things and beings.

    So you are right that we are “sitting behind the steering wheel”, but in the same time we should be glad that an higher Driver/Navigator is behind us on the car.

  28. 28

    niwrad #26,

    Yes, “reflection” works as well.

  29. 29

    box @22:

    I personally don’t think anything in existence can be said to be fully separate from god, which positions the question: what does it mean to say “I”, “have”, free will? Is the “I” the free will, or do I mean something else by “I”?

  30. 30
    Box says:

    William 29,

    Allow me to explain briefly how I use these terms. “Free will” may evoke the idea of an added extension of some sort; another misnomer? I hold that a human being is a unity. Consciousness, reason, love and will are aspects of that unity – inseparable from each other. A unity is “free” – as in a ‘state of being’. So “free” pertains the human being as a whole, it means: self-aware, in harmony with oneself, independent (all to a certain extent!).

  31. 31
    Box says:

    Niwrad #27,

    I’m happy to conclude that we are on the same page!

  32. 32
    StephenB says:

    For me, the concept of freedom can’t just hang out there in space without a context. It is inseparable from the two questions: For what? (internal freedom)—and From what? (external freedom).

    The first kind, it seems to me, must be associated with purpose. That would be the same as saying that freedom is the right (and the internal power) to do what one ought to do. In this context, freedom is the right (and the internal power) to pursue one’s destiny. Of course, someone might object and say that freedom is really the right to do what one wants to do, but this seems nonsensical since his wants may be vices that disempower him from pursuing his destiny and prompt him to become a slave to himself . Without the internal power provided by virtue, there can be no freedom.

    The second kind, I would argue, is the freedom from outside interference or freedom from restraint, or freedom from those who would frustrate his internal power gained by the practice of virtue. Again, though, this freedom cannot be separated from purpose. After all, when the slave tells his oppressor he wants to be free, the response may be, “So what?, I want you not to be free,” and my wants are just as legitimate as yours. Therefore, the only compelling response is, “I deserve to be free because my Creator made me for a purpose, and I ought to pursue it.

  33. 33
    Box says:

    StephenB,

    If one truly knows oneself and is in true harmony with oneself, then what one wants to do and ought to do are identical – converge.

  34. 34
    StephenB says:

    Box

    If one truly knows oneself and is in true harmony with oneself, then what one wants to do and ought to do are identical – converge.

    That make perfect sense. Of course, you know my position. By virtue of the Fall, we are literally at war with ourselves.

    So the question for me is this: How do we get from disharmony to harmony and— this is big — from whence comes the disharmony?

  35. 35
    Box says:

    StephenB #34,

    I hold that life is to go from unconscious unity to conscious unity. Each step on this trajectory implies an effort to overcome our ignorance, blindness and insensitivity. Disharmony stems from not understanding, not sensing, not able to see – IOW “unconsciousness” – what is going on the inside and the outside.

    Maybe the question is “where does real psychopathic evil come from?” I believe you answered that generally in #32. For a number of reasons someone can lose control of his/her desires and fears, such a disharmony can lead to deformed sadistic fantasies.

    The hardest part of life, for all of us, is IMHO “to carry oneself”, this is what we need to learn, but we constantly run away from ourselves by seeking distraction.

  36. 36
    DATCG says:

    #24 EugeneS, thanks, had not seen this one yet…

    Organization vs. Order

    And thanks Niwrad again for addressing this subject. I like how you described key ingredient as Organizing Potential.

    As you and Silver Asiatic said, this benefits science. Detailing definitions of Organization, Cybernetics, Potential(or whatever labels come to for) as Prescriptive Information(software) is key. ID proponents should consider it part of it’s contributory foundation in clarifying and scientifically defining these terms

    Not sure evolutionary materialist will oblige. I think there’s a reluctance from materialist circles to do so. Keeping vague definitions serves materialist and ID opponents well.

    Because the moment there’s clear distinction in scientific terms, Design becomes clear.

    Interesting comment from linked paper by Trevors and Abel …

    “Unfortunately, others since have continued to blur the distinction between order and organization[32,33,36–38,54,63–68,82,95,123,137]. The illegitimate merging of the two concepts now seems almost universal. The “category error” of logic theory leads to countless faulty inferences.”

  37. 37
    EugeneS says:

    Niwrad,

    #21 – spot on. Only God is absolutely free, we are free only relatively. And yet we are free in choices essential to our being as humans, for which we are and will be accountable.

  38. 38
    Silver Asiatic says:

    DATCG @ 36

    Not sure evolutionary materialist will oblige. I think there’s a reluctance from materialist circles to do so. Keeping vague definitions serves materialist and ID opponents well.

    Because the moment there’s clear distinction in scientific terms, Design becomes clear.

    Interesting comment from linked paper by Trevors and Abel …

    Great point and reference from that paper also.

    It’s one of those amusing contradictions that we see. The very same evolutionists who will demand hair-splitting definitions from us of concepts like design, intelligence, purpose, etc., will blur distinctions between order and organization. They make no effort to clarify things. I think we could call that anti-science. It’s just an ideology — abusing language to engineer conclusions.

  39. 39
    niwrad says:

    EugeneS #37

    By the way thanks for your apt link in #4 to Abel’s paper, which has a lot to do with the present topic.

    Yes, a non Boolean freedom has also the merit that it explains animal freedom. Since a non Boolean freedom has degrees and levels, also animals may have a (low) level of freedom, and since (as Box rightly recalls) freedom is tied to consciousness, also a (low) kind of consciousness.

    Obviously animal freedom and consciousness are extremely poor compared to human ones, nevertheless if their freedom and consciousness were exactly zero, animals wouldn’t be living beings at all, rather mere machines (a la Descartes).

  40. 40

    I can’t agree that god is “absolutely free”, because, IMO, unless “good” (and other qualities) are innate, necessary characteristics of god that god itself cannot change, and which constrict god’s freedom to create, then “good” becomes an arbitrary aspect of creation.

  41. 41
    niwrad says:

    William J Murray #40

    God is “absolutely free” because is the Absolute Reality, outside which there is nothing. If there is nothing outside what can constrain it? If constraints/limits = zero then freedom = maximum. “Good” and “evil” are determinations that apply only at our level of individuals. They don’t apply, as any relative opposition, to the Absolute Reality, about which we can only properly say it is Infinite (a negation term, negation of any limit). The negation of any limit is in truth the maximum affirmation.

  42. 42
    Box says:

    Niwrad #21: Maybe with “freedom” we mean different things. I mean “lack of constraints”.

    Niwrad #41: God is “absolutely free” because is the Absolute Reality, outside which there is nothing. If there is nothing outside what can constrain it? If constraints/limits = zero then freedom = maximum.

    It doesn’t follow. A billiard ball, with nothing outside of it – without any constraints – is not free, simply because it is not free (constraints or not). Like I said in #24 “But what is freedom an sich? What is being constrained?” IOW one has to define freedom itself.
    So the question is ‘what is freedom an sich?’. I provided a short version of my definition in #24.

  43. 43
    niwrad says:

    Box #42

    Any thing is determined by its own definition. Any determination is a limit/constraint.
    A billiard ball is determined by its own definition of “billiard ball”. For example, a billiard ball is not an airplane-carrier or an elephant or a cloud. It is a limit for such billiard ball not to be those things. So it is not true that a billiard ball has no constraints. It has countless constraints/limits in this sense, indeed all those things that transcend the very definition of billiard ball.

    As a consequence only the so called “negative theology” can properly point to God, by means of a negation “definition”, like “the Infinite”, “the Unlimited”..

  44. 44
    Box says:

    Niwrad #43,

    Not everything can be defined/determined by something external. God is determined by God. Self-determination (self-mover, unity, self-awareness) is the very essence of freedom.

    Similarly, being unconstrained doesn’t imply flying. There must be something capable of flying.

  45. 45
    niwrad says:

    Box #44

    Yes, a limit/constraint is also a non-capacity a non-power. Example, we humans are not naturally capable of flying, it is a limit of ours. Birds fly, they are free to fly, we have not such freedom. But humans write books, they have such freedom, differently birds don’t write, it is a limit for them. Why? The definition of “human” is different from the definition of “bird”. To define is to limit. God cannot properly be “defined”, in positive manner. It is good that our ultimate source and destination is In-finite = Non-finite.

  46. 46
    Box says:

    Niwrad:
    God cannot properly be “defined”, in positive manner. It is good that our ultimate source and destination is In-finite = Non-finite.

    I respectfully disagree. God can be defined just fine. God defines himself. And (I repeat myself) self-definition (self-determination, self-mover, unity, self-awareness) is the very essence of freedom.

  47. 47
    niwrad says:

    Box

    What is “de-finited” is finited, delimited, determined. If “God *defines* himself” God *limits* himself, then it is not the unique — or better, non-dual — Metaphysical Infinite, the Unlimited.

    So, it depends on your conception of God and your theology. It is likely that yours is different from mine. That would explain also some differences about the conception of freedom. Yours seems to be more related to agency. Mine is more related to the above Metaphysical Infinite (*), the Supreme Principle, without any limit. From that Principle all beings descend, each with a different de-finition and consequently an increasing number of limits.

    (*) Nota Bene: that has nothing to do with the mathematical infinities, which do have limits.

  48. 48
    Box says:

    Niwrad: What is “de-finited” is finited, delimited, determined. If “God *defines* himself” God *limits* himself, then it is not the unique — or better, non-dual — Metaphysical Infinite, the Unlimited.

    By our choices we define ourselves and in a sense do we limit ourselves. Similarly, if God defines/determines himself as the creator of the universe then it can also be said that he *limits* himself; since no longer is he not also the non-creator of the universe.
    But this wouldn’t make much sense. I believe that we both agree that there is no external determination of God. However I see but one reason as to why you object to determination stemming from God himself; internal determination or self-determination. Your objection to self-determination (or self-definition), it seems, stems from this:

    Niwrad: “in truth, no one can properly self-impose a law to its own actions” (Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I.93.5)

    When Thomas wrote this, did he have God in mind? If God doesn’t self-impose laws to his own actions – if God cannot determine his own actions – then who, pray tell, is behind the steering wheel of all steering wheels?

  49. 49
    niwrad says:

    Box

    “Who, pray tell, is behind the steering wheel of all steering wheels?”

    Doubtlessly the Supreme Self, whose power is the Total Possibility = Metaphysical Infinite.

    That said, if you consider the determination of such Supreme Self as “Being” (the first determination of all, the ontological one, the Creator, “I am Who is”, the principle of all possibilities of manifestation), yes you are right that it has no external determination, and — if you will — determines itself. This is your viewpoint (call it ontological), it is correct and I agree.

    But the Supreme Self is even beyond the Being, because there are also all the possibilities of non-manifestation (the Non-Being so to speak, which is what matters more metaphysically). In fact, the “possible” sensu lato is far larger than the created/manifested. At this level we are beyond any determination or self-determination. This is my viewpoint (call it metaphysical).

    To sum up, we don’t really disagree, simply our perspectives are different but are both true.

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