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Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Hi, Dave. I do not not know which previous article or comment of mine you are referring to. Please clarify where this conversation started. Thanks.

Something about you (optional) logician-philosopher

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Avi
Hi, Dave. I do not not know which previous article or comment of mine you are referring to. Please clarify where this conversation started. Thanks.
Sorry, I found the thread, now.

Rereading it, I think Smith's distinction between essential and accidental causing is one between static and dynamic causality. But, I would reply, this distinction does not in fact affect causality (or at least, the deterministic variant of it, causation). The relation "If C then E; if not-C then not-E" (to take for example the strongest determination of causation) does not change whether C and E are static things or dynamic events. So the idea is fundamentally flawed, not to mention the objections I raised earlier.

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Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

I see. So essentially cause seems to describe either a static or dynamic scenario.

Smith seems to make a distinction between a causal series that goes infinitely in the past and the vertical causal series where necessary causes must be finite or there would be no motion, but you point out that a static world is equally described by the necessary cause.

Does this argument end up sounding like the contingency argument for God?

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Dave, sorry, but I do not know what you mean by "Smith seems to make a distinction between a causal series that goes infinitely in the past and the vertical causal series where necessary causes must be finite or there would be no motion, but you point out that a static world is equally described by the necessary cause."

Rather I would say that he envisions two types of causation. The static ("essential") is vertical - table upholds glass of water without any motion, likewise God upholds everything in the world. The dynamic ("accidental") is is horizontal, i.e. the series of events one bringing about the next - like kicking the table away makes the glass fall down, likewise God kicks off the chain of events that occur in the world.

FORMALLY, as I already stated, "the relation "If C then E; if not-C then not-E" (to take for example the strongest determination of causation) does not change whether C and E are static things or dynamic events." But these two scenarios refer to different kinds of CONTENT, the static and the dynamic.

But as I said, this analysis is flawed because simplistic. The causality involved is more complex, with differences between volition, causation and natural spontaneity. And within volition (freewill), there are different degrees of influence. Also within causation between the different determinations of causation (necessary-complete, contingent-complete, necessary-partial, contingent-partial). Also, natural spontaneity, assuming it exists, is circumscribed in pockets (e.g. quantum mechanical domains) or times (e.g. Big Bang).

The various attempts like Smith's to define the causal workings of the world by one simple distinction or other is naive.

Something about you (optional) logician-philosopher

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

And another important distinction that I didn't mention is that between different modes of modality as bases of causation - natural causation, extensional causation, temporal causation, spatial causation. These are not the same.

Also note, the ideas behind the words "essential" and "accidental" - the former refers to essences, i.e. the idea of a static characteristic upholding another or depending on another; while the later refers to accidents, i.e. the idea that dynamic events are not essentials (because change is involved) but therefore accidents. In Aristotle's four causes, these are the Formal cause and the Efficient cause.

This vision of things is naive because a motion can be an essence (some things are defined with reference to motions), and because a static character can be a so-called accident (because it is not universal to that kind of thing, or because it is temporary).

Moreover, when you have "if static C, then static E - and if static not-C, then static not-E" causation, a dynamic causation is implicit in flipping from one side to the other - i.e. when "static C is replaced by static not-C" (in place or time), then you have a motion; and likewise for E and not-E.

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Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

So Aristotle's argument for a prime mover is weak because Aristotle's understanding of causation is limited?

Sorry if I misunderstood, but is that the weakness of the prime mover argument?

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Also, can you give me an example or explanation of motion as an essence? Would this mean that motion is a substance?

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Dave
So Aristotle's argument for a prime mover is weak because Aristotle's understanding of causation is limited?

Sorry if I misunderstood, but is that the weakness of the prime mover argument?
I didn't say that. I said the picture is much larger and more complex than it seems.

Something about you (optional) logician-philosopher

Re: The Cosmological Argument for God.

Dave
Also, can you give me an example or explanation of motion as an essence? Would this mean that motion is a substance?
Motion is not a substance. (Indeed, what is a substance? Just an analogical term, reflecting Aristotle's Material cause. But that's a wider issue.)
Examples of motion as essence are plentiful. The essence of a runner is that he or it runs. The essence of a clock is that it measures or reflects the passage of time. And so forth.
Also, the purposes of man-made objects are often motions, note well. Like the said clock. For example, a car is a vehicle made to move people. This is Aristotle's fourth cause - the Final cause.
There is also the quasi-purposive in Nature - for instance the functions of bodily organs in the sustenance of the organism's life.

Dave, I suggest we stop this conversation and you read some of my works on causality. You'll find all answers there, if you are really looking for them. Best regards, Avi.

Something about you (optional) logician-philosopher