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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 4:16 pm 
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theJack wrote:
I'm sure you've been referred to Feser's material. I'll do so again.

I have indeed.

theJack wrote:
As far as your first question, best I can do here is give you is an example and hope you kind of see the connection. Imagine two eyes: one can see 20/20, the other is blind. Which is the "good" eye and which is the "bad" eye? Obviously, the one that can see is good, right? Okay, hold that thought. Imagine a good eye and a rock. The rock can't see, so is it blind? Is it a bad rock? Of course not. So the point is that it is the nature of an eye to see. It is not the nature of a rock... Does that help at all?

It helps a lot. So does Jack3's comment referring me back to a previous post on page 1 of this thread (which I think is your language anyway). I now know why I never understood Thomas' Argument from Gradation of Being. God IS His nature and not subject to it. I think I am coming along. Tell me this, with regard to the rock and the eye: more material does not contribute to being, right? The eye's ability to see could be confounded by more material. So where does the missing something come into play?

Jack3 wrote:
viewtopic.php?p=2702768#p2702768

Admittedly, I only skimmed over this the first time. Since returning it was immensely helpful. So, now instead of wondering whether God is good, I am not wondering whether a perfect good exists. With my new knowledge I will take a crack at the argument from gradation of being:
A. Some beings are better than others. I don't know the standard to judge this, but I feel that it is true. A tortoise seems better than a rock. Is higher cognitive ability the standard? I don't think so. Some pretty dumb people have been far better off than some pretty bright people. Wisdom then?

B. Degrees require an absolute reference. Racing things are judged based on their distinction from zero mph?

C. The maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus. Totally lost. Anarchy.

D. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 4:23 pm 
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Formal cause.

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Wed Apr 13, 2016 5:26 pm 
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Will Storm wrote:
theJack wrote:
As far as your first question, best I can do here is give you is an example and hope you kind of see the connection. Imagine two eyes: one can see 20/20, the other is blind. Which is the "good" eye and which is the "bad" eye? Obviously, the one that can see is good, right? Okay, hold that thought. Imagine a good eye and a rock. The rock can't see, so is it blind? Is it a bad rock? Of course not. So the point is that it is the nature of an eye to see. It is not the nature of a rock... Does that help at all?

It helps a lot. So does Jack3's comment referring me back to a previous post on page 1 of this thread (which I think is your language anyway). I now know why I never understood Thomas' Argument from Gradation of Being. God IS His nature and not subject to it. I think I am coming along. Tell me this, with regard to the rock and the eye: more material does not contribute to being, right? The eye's ability to see could be confounded by more material. So where does the missing something come into play?

Because that more material, placed improperly, can take away something--in this case, sight. Notice two things: first, the added material doesn't take away from being. The loss of an ability is what constitutes the loss of being. Before the cataracts, the eye had the ability to see. That ability was actualized, meaning that ability had being. Now, because of the cataract, the eye has become defective, deprived of its ability. It has lost something. But second, notice that happens when the material is placed improperly. This, just like the previous, goes to the issue of the eye's nature. Eyes are such things that, by nature, they have certain material, and certain types of material, in certain places. And that is to say that a "good" eye has certain materials in certain relations to certain other materials. But when a material is not in its proper place, then the eye can no longer function according to its nature. But we say proper . . . proper to what? To the nature of the eye. Again, we could add an extra bit of matter to a rock here or there, and we wouldn't deprive it of anything, because that's not part of the nature of the rock. But if we shorten your leg by three or four inches, we would deprive you of a lot more than just a pound or two of flesh. We'd deprive you of an even gait, and that would create other problems. And why is that? Because your human nature, properly exemplified, ought to have (it would be proper for it to exemplify) a "normal" gait.

So, again, all of this has to do with what the nature of a thing is. And a thing's nature has to do with its form. And that gets into this:

Quote:
Jack3 wrote:
viewtopic.php?p=2702768#p2702768

Admittedly, I only skimmed over this the first time. Since returning it was immensely helpful. So, now instead of wondering whether God is good, I am not wondering whether a perfect good exists. With my new knowledge I will take a crack at the argument from gradation of being:
A. Some beings are better than others. I don't know the standard to judge this, but I feel that it is true. A tortoise seems better than a rock. Is higher cognitive ability the standard? I don't think so. Some pretty dumb people have been far better off than some pretty bright people. Wisdom then?

B. Degrees require an absolute reference. Racing things are judged based on their distinction from zero mph?

C. The maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus. Totally lost. Anarchy.

D. Therefore there must also be something which is to all beings the cause of their being, goodness, and every other perfection; and this we call God.

I'm not going to get into this in detail. I'm going to refer you to Obi's post above. I know just pointing to the importance of the idea of the formal cause doesn't answer your question, but if you really want to get this, that's what you need to understand. I'm not going to try for a couple of reasons. First, and most humbly, while I am persuaded I do understand it (and I think rather well), I've not explained it enough that I think I could do it justice for you. The problem here is with me, not with you. I've explained the above type of material more times than I care to try to count, and so I think I can do a better job than not of putting it in understandable language. I'm afraid my attempt at explaining the fourth way might cause more confusion than clarity.

And so second, for a related reason, I have a love/hate relationship with that argument. Ultimately, it is the one that I find most persuasive. It's the most robust. It gets us the furthest, in my view, with a single argument. And while you cannot separate the whole effiecent/final causality|actuality/potentiality idea from the broader Thomistic framework, the fact of the matter is that those ideas are much easier to understand, communicate, and work from (in my opinion) to the modern ear than the ideas that the fourth way are built some. I'm not saying the first (really, and second and third) ways are easy for the modern ear to understand. I'm sure you know that it is more often misunderstood than not. What I am saying is that, as far as arguments go, it is harder by magnitudes to really appreciate what Thomas is saying in that argument that it is in the other two. Again, in my opinion. (As an side, I've heard quite a few say this about the fifth rather than the fourth, and I get why; but even though we have to really reexplain teleology, I don't think it's hard to explain final causality as it is to formal causality to people--again, my opinion). The upshot here is that I just don't use it. I regularly use the first three. I should probably consider investing more time in figuring out how to put it in language a modern can understand and appreciate. I just haven't done so yet.

But I think Obi probably has, and so I defer to him. :)

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:18 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
Formal cause.


I have a small amount of contempt for your curtness. But, I know that it is because I don't understand. Is that for me or theJack? What is the purpose of the comment?

theJack wrote:
But when a material is not in its proper place, then the eye can no longer function according to its nature. But we say proper . . . proper to what? To the nature of the eye. Again, we could add an extra bit of matter to a rock here or there, and we wouldn't deprive it of anything, because that's not part of the nature of the rock. But if we shorten your leg by three or four inches, we would deprive you of a lot more than just a pound or two of flesh.


Sounds great so far. Now I am wondering how we determine a thing's nature. Is an eye with cataracts supposed to see? I mean, doesn't adding material (or substance) make a change to the thing and thus change its nature? Also, there must be an example of an inhibitor (cataracts) which makes the thing (eye) improve. I am concerned that the things which do the inhibiting/enhancing can be reversed. Not seeing improves your ability to do something else? I don't know. Sorry if I'm all over the place.

theJack wrote:
I know just pointing to the importance of the idea of the formal cause doesn't answer your question, but if you really want to get this, that's what you need to understand.


I feel like I used to know it. Can you point me in the right direction? Aristotle? Feser? Wait for Obi?

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 12:25 pm 
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The curtness is because I was posting from my phone and didn't have time to give a fuller answer. I was hoping that could steer you in the direction of an answer and that others would pitch in (as they have). I'm on the phone again, BTW.

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 1:27 pm 
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As I say, I do not understand. Forgive me.

Would you suggest I read up on the formal cause from Aristotle or Aquinas or someone else?

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 5:35 pm 
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Remember that the formal cause of a thing is what makes it what it is. A cat is a cat because it instantiates the form of being a cat. So the standard of perfection against which we judge things is: How closely does this correspond to its formal cause? That's what this premise is about: "The maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus." The best cat is the cat that most embodies the ideal of catness. (I leave it to you to figure out what entails the ideal cat.)

The fourth way makes sense once you see it, but, though I hate to admit it, I have never figured out a good way to help other people see it either. I think I finally got it when I read Feser's explanation.

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 5:57 pm 
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Quote:
A cat is a cat because it instantiates the form of being a cat. So the standard of perfection against which we judge things is: How closely does this correspond to its formal cause? That's what this premise is about: "The maximum in any genus is the cause of all in that genus."


Is there such thing as a bad cat? I mean, what a cat is changes by generation.


Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
I think I finally got it when I read Feser's explanation.


We are talking about Feser's Aquinas right?

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 6:22 pm 
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Yes, I'm talking about Aquinas.

What do you mean about what a cat is changing?

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 9:02 pm 
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Adaptation and evolution

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:46 pm 
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Is a cat of a century ago really a different kind of thing than a cat of today?

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:48 pm 
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Tempus fugit :) A lakh years would make a bit difference, wouldn't it?

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 10:55 pm 
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You made me look up a word :fyi:

So at some point, a cat starts being not a cat; then its form is something else and it has a different standard of perfection.

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Thu Apr 14, 2016 11:21 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
You made me look up a word :fyi: .

:scratch: I thought you knew Latin :D

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:15 am 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
What do you mean about what a cat is changing?


I agree that as it changes it's standard of perfection changes.

This leads me back to asking about this standard. How does this standard exist? Or is that question answered in my research of the formal cause?

Also, doesn't Tommy say that animals don't have free will and therefore there is no such thing as a bad animal. An animal is necessarily acting according to its nature? But, maybe a tail-less cat is less of a cat. Or a juvenile cat which has not yet attained maturity.

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 10:24 am 
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The goodness and badness of cats isn't a moral judgment--even a vicious animal is not morally bad. But an animal who acts the way animals of its species don't normally act is a bad one. Feser's example is that of a squirrel that eats toothpaste and lies down in the middle of the road. These are not the sorts of things that a good squirrel does, not because they're morally wrong but because they don't pertain to what being a squirrel is about.

Physical defects also point it out. A tail-less cat (of a breed of cat that is not naturally tailless) is less completely a cat than a cat with a tail.

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 12:14 pm 
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Obi-Wan Kenobi wrote:
is less completely a cat than a cat with a tail.

I wanted to lift this out of Obi's post because I think it's the most important idea. Remember that things can and do what they can and do because of what they are. Fire produces heat because it is fire. Cats meow because they are cats. Humans think rationally because we are human. That is to say, our potentialities are ours because of our natures. That's why a rock that cannot see is not blind by the unseeing eye is. It is not in the nature of the rock to see. It is in the nature of the rock.

So that gets you back to the formal cause. The formal cause makes the thing what it is. The tailless cat "is less completely a cat" because, by nature (so its form) it ought to have a tail. Thus, if something does not exhibit some being that it ought to exhibit, it is literally less of a being than it ought to be. It has suffered a privation and therefore an evil in that regard.

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:14 pm 
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Form of Catness.


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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:21 pm 
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No, no, no, no . . . THIS is the form of Catness

Image

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 Post subject: Re: Is an All-Powerful and Eternal Being Necessarily All Goo
PostPosted: Mon Apr 18, 2016 8:28 pm 
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Shadows on the cave:


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