## Wednesday, May 23, 2012

### Moving Right Along...

In Dr. Feser's second response, he addresses the issue of local motion. It seems I need to read his other book, as well as a paper of his that hasn't even been published yet, to get the full story on local motion. Hmm. Since the one requires effort and the other requires violation of causality (physicist's version), it will be a while before I get to that.

In the book (p.102), Feser says local motion is irrelevant because Aquinas means change in general, and so "there would still be other kinds of motion so which Aquinas's argument would apply." As we saw earlier, though, this renders the First Way argument invalid. In the blog post, Feser seems to have abandoned that line. Maybe an implicit concession that it doesn't work?

Instead, he claims that inertial motion is not real change - "it involves no actualization of potential." (He's actually cagey in how he phrases this, writing, "... if such motion really is a state...." Of the five points he makes, though, this is the only one that explains how Aquinas's argument can be preserved, so I will take it as his (now) preferred solution.)

Now, picture two objects, one in inertial motion toward the other. They get closer ... and closer ... but (according to Feser) there is no change occurring. This is a perfect example of the kind of absurdity you get when you don't allow physics to inform your metaphysics. It is obvious that at least one thing - the distance between the two objects - is changing. It is only by insisting on a rather bizarre definition of "change" that you can call this a case of no change.

A better way to go is to recognize that there are different kinds of change. Then we can decide what kinds of change need an explanation and what kinds do not.

Newtonian physics has a simple and elegant solution. We distinguish between velocity (the rate of change of position) and acceleration (the rate of change of velocity). Then we declare that velocity doesn't need an explanation (it is something that is just in the nature of massive objects), but acceleration does. (The cause of an acceleration is what physicists call "force.") This is not just an advance in physics, it is also an advance in metaphysics. By making finer distinctions among the types of change that occur, we come to a better understanding of the meaning of "cause." Unfortunately for Feser and the First Way, with these new definitions it is no longer true that "Whatever changes is changed by something else."

As I said earlier, of course you can find definitions of "actuality", "potentiality," and "change" so that every change always has an external source. But if you find yourself insisting that even though those two objects are getting closer together, no change is occurring, then you ought to suspect that something is wrong with your definitions.

ETA: I apologize that the middle part of this post is so poorly worded. In his second point under "Newton and local motion", Feser does say that there are two kinds of "change" (what he calls "motion"): the Newtonian kind and the AT actualization-of-potentials kind. Let's call the first n-change and the second at-change. Now he can proceed with the First Way:

1'. Whatever at-changes must be at-changed by something else.
2. The causal series can't go on to infinity.
3. Therefore, there must be a first at-changer.

(Note that the "first mover", which here becomes "first at-changer", is not yet the Unmoved Mover that Aquinas eventually reaches in his argument. All we can get from (1'.) and (2.) is that there is some first element in this particular causal series. There is no reason, as yet, to think that this must be "pure act".)

At this point, though, we have to allow that the whole series of at-changes might have been set off by an n-change. For instance, suppose our inertially moving object (A) and our stationary object (B) have a short-range force that acts between them, such that there is no force when the objects are far away, but a force begins to act when A gets close enough to B. When B feels this force, a series of at-changes begins: B breaks a laser beam that sets off a bomb, say.

So, even though the argument up to (3.) is logically sound, it doesn't get Feser what he needs: even though there is a first at-changer, the true initiating cause of the whole series is an n-change: something that doesn't count as a change at all in Feser's metaphysics!

Hope this makes things clearer....

1. >In Dr. Feser's second response, he addresses the issue of local motion. It seems I need to read his other book, as well as a paper of his that hasn't even been published yet, to get the full story on local motion. Hmm. Since the one requires effort and the other requires violation of causality (physicist's version), it will be a while before I get to that.

Actually Prof it would help if you would learn to answer philosophy with philosophy rather then equivocating and treating it like a problem from physics. Because to date none of your response have be anything but category mistakes.

Also with your implied complaint about "reading other material" am I to assume if I buy your book A THEORY OF (ALMOST) EVERYTHING I need not ever read any other work by you or any future work you produce on the subject matter?

Seriously?

2. >As we saw earlier, though, this renders the First Way argument invalid.

Except that is hasn't, RS showed that A is clearly logically prior. But then again he is treating it as a metaphysical philosophical modeling not a descriptive of the mechanisms of physics.

>In the blog post, Feser seems to have abandoned that line. Maybe an implicit concession that it doesn't work?

I think you have misread him.

>Instead, he claims that inertial motion is not real change - "it involves no actualization of potential."

Of course once something is let us say thrown in a Zero gravity environment it will by nature keep on going without any change in it's vector until acted upon.

Why is that so remarkable?

>Now, picture two objects, one in inertial motion toward the other. They get closer ... and closer ... but (according to Feser) there is no change occurring.

Of course, and that will be the case till they actually hit each other and actualize another potential to do something else. Or perhaps you can explain to us Prof Oerter how they change by stopping or change their vector before that happens?

OTOH maybe you mean as the objects move closer their distance keeps changing? But why would you conclude Feser here means that actualizing the potential for two objects to move toward each other means their distance would not change? There inertia will remain unchanged till they actually hit each other or do you deny this?

>This is a perfect example of the kind of absurdity you get when you don't allow physics 1to inform your metaphysics.

Rather this shows what absurd stuff you come up with when you equivocate between physics and metaphysics in the weird way you have.

>It is obvious that at least one thing - the distance between the two objects - is changing.

But till they actually hit each other their inertia is the same. That potency does not become act till they actually collide. They remain unchanged in their inertia till then.

>It is only by insisting on a rather bizarre definition of "change" that you can call this a case of no change.

Rather it shows you need to learn philosophy and stop equating it with physics.

3. Robert,

There would be change occurring. Each object's gravity would be affecting the other, for instance.

It might seem metaphysically unintuitive to say that intertial movement toward a point is not change, but this is because of an equally unintuitive scientific fact. Does this mean that we "ought to suspect that something is wrong with [our scientific] definitions"? Not at all.

4. Excuse me for the above typo; I meant to write "inertial".

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6. @Robert Oerter

>it involves no actualization of potential."

Well Feser is not saying if I stand on the hull of my Starship in my spacesuit secured by my magnetic boots and throw a baseball into the void that the distance between the ball and my Starship would not keep changing as it is getting father and father away. Of course the distance would keep changing by growing potentially forever.

Why would you even think he is denying this?

Here is a hint he is an Aristotelian not a follower of either Zeno or Parmenides.

Could it be possible what Feser is saying here is till I throw the ball it has the potential to be in the Act of moving away from my Starship till I actually throw it then fully actualize that potential. Once I do that then it pretty much stays in the Act of moving away from my Starship till something else acts on it.

Thus with respect to my fellow AT comrade RS it's not metaphysically unintuitive. It makes perfect sense. What is metaphysically absurd is equivocating between the baseball's potential to be 1 mile from my ship to a million miles to a light year being continuously actualized as it travels from my Starship with the brute fact is it is now fully in the Act of moving away from my Starship thus it is now no longer changing to that metaphysical state(as it was maybe when I was in the process of throwing it). It will continue in that state according to nature till something else acts on it.

Sorry Prof Oerter this objection doesn't even get off the ground. Unlike my Starship or the baseball.

Feser said you can't refute metaphysics with physics. You keep proving him right.

7. I have asked this before and gotten no response.

Where do these "metaphysical principles" come from? How does one learn them? If not from experience? Are they whispered in your ear by the gods? Are we born with innate knowledge?

Of course not! They come from mistaken notions about physics.

1. Where do you get the metaphysical principle that experience can tell you anything, let alone everything? Explain that, and maybe--maybe--you'll see the point. Maybe. Probably not, though.

2. You want me to solve the problem of induction? Well, I cannot, without begging the question.

But this is common ground for all of us, yes? And by "all of us", I mean every living creature. Because every living creature evolved on a planet where the laws of physics have remained constant. But none of us knows for sure about tomorrow, right?

So we are in the same boat. We all assume induction because we have to. Otherwise, we probably die.

But that is just not the case with "whatever changes is changed by another". I do not have to assume that is true to keep on living.

So it seems to me that we all assume induction by instinct - although I read somewhere that babies actually do not assume induction, that they learn it by experience.

So are you saying these other principles are instinctive, or learned, or what?

3. Considering that the problem of induction never existed before nominalism and Enlightenment empiricism, your claim that belief in induction has evolved out of necessity falls flat. Also, your assumption that ideas could evolve sneaks an undefended, thorough-going materialism in through the back door. I reject all of these positions.

The human mind does nothing more than apprehend what is already true. Universals, the three axioms, the law of causality et al would exist even if no minds were there consider them. No competing metaphysical system can knock these principles down without either assuming them or resorting to a full-blown skepticism that makes science impossible.

You're welcome to try, of course. These principles are common sense, but perhaps you know a way to escape them without falling into the traps I mentioned. Although, I suspect that you'll quote a single sentence from my post to "prove" some "point" instead. (Might I recommend my line that they're common sense? That looks like a good one to take out of context.)

4. I'm ignoring the first paragraph as it badly misconstrues what I wrote.

Finally you have tried to answer my question. Thanks!

"The human mind does nothing more than apprehend what is already true."

But I do not apprehend that "whatever changes is changed by another". This is why Ben's comparison to 2+2 just does not work.

So you just apprehend the principle, while I do not.

In that case , why not just claim that you apprehend that your god exists?

I hope you can understand that you just apprehending something as true is not a persuasive argument for me.

5. >I hope you can understand that you just apprehending something as true is not a persuasive argument for me.

Yet don't you apprehend the above statement is true?

6. Ben,

If I tell you that I apprehend something is true, does that persuade you that it is true?

7. BI,

You missed Ben's point. What caused you to think that your statement is true? Did you see an event that appeared uncaused, which then caused you to think that the principle of causality was false?

This is what Ben meant, I believe. You can't deny causality without assuming it. With that secured, you're going to have to explain to us why a certain event is exempt from causality--which cannot be done.

8. I never "denied causality".

Rather some quantum events seem uncaused.

You guys saying over and over that the principle is true is getting boring. You have made no argument. Just saying that you apprehend it as true is not an argument.

9. BI, quantum events underlie all of reality--including your own brain. If they're uncaused, then everything is uncaused. This includes the scientific evidence that "caused" you to think this way, meaning that you have once again assumed the principle of causality in order to refute it.

The principle of causality is an axiom for anyone who believes that the world exists.

10. "If they're uncaused, then everything is uncaused."

Fallacy of composition.

Nuts and bolts and sheet metal cannot fly. Therefore planes cannot fly.

But they can.

I have made this suggestion to Ben many times. Get your hands on a good critical thinking book. And study.

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12. Rather if Nuts and bolts and sheet panels are made of metal and a plane is made of these object then logically the plane is made of metal.

Granted you have a wall made of many red bricks 2 inches tall, 6 inches wide and 2 inches deep. It is a fallacy of composition to claim the wall is the same dimensions as the brick.

But you can and must claim the Wall is red. Since color in this case is an expansive property and thus the exception to the fallacy of composition.

If the parts of something has an expansive property then the whole has that property.

Causality it seems is an expansive property.

8. Ben,

That's an even better way of looking at it. The ball is never in a state of rest--it's still in a state of act after being thrown. If you were to throw a ball in a hypothetical zero-gravity chamber on our planet, you wouldn't think of the ball's movement as "not changing". Rather, the momentum given by its accidental cause simply wouldn't dissipate like it would in an environment with gravity. Likewise, an asteroid headed for a planet isn't "not changing"--it's just in an abnormally lengthy state of accidental actualization. In other words, it's in a constant state of change.

Very clever. Combine this with the fact that such an asteroid would also be part of essential series (thanks to fundamental forces, etc.), and the argument retains both common sense and the Unmoved Mover.

1. >Likewise, an asteroid headed for a planet isn't "not changing"--it's just in an abnormally lengthy state of accidental actualization. In other words, it's in a constant state of change.

I was reading Adler today & I think that is technically wrong?(Maybe?) Citing Aristotle Adler pointed out when something is fully actualized to a state it is no longer changing in that state. If I blow up a balloon and tie it off it is now an actual blown up balloon.

It is no longer changing going from a deflated balloon to blown up one.

That doesn't mean the balloon isn't changing in other ways (air presser, gravity, a brat with a pin). But when it is fully actual in some way it stops changing in that way.

I hope that is more clear and I hope I haven't misunderstood you.

Cheers brother.

2. Let me try this again.

>Likewise, an asteroid headed for a planet

Is in the process of change from a potential collision to a fully actual one.

>isn't "not changing"--it's just in an abnormally lengthy state of accidental actualization.

I like the way I put it but that is ok too.;-)

But in so far as it's in the act of moving toward a planet then it is not under going change in that act though the potential to change that actuality to another remains.

>In other words, it's in a constant state of change.

Well everything changes but specific changes once complete cease to be change but retain the potential to do so.

Better?

3. I see what you're saying now. I had it partially right before, but I screwed up in attributing "constant change" to the asteroid/ball. It's a new way of thinking for me, but what you're saying sounds right. I'll have to give it time to click. Good work, though--I think this answers Robert's concern.

9. Prof Oerter writes:

>ETA: I apologize that the middle part of this post is so poorly worded. In his second point under "Newton and local motion", Feser does say that there are two kinds of "change" (what he calls "motion"): the Newtonian kind and the AT actualization-of-potentials kind. Let's call the first n-change and the second at-change.

I reply: Wow no matter how irrational it clearly is Prof Oerter insists on treating AT metaphysics as if it where a question physics & science and not metaphysics and philosophy.

And his responses are getting more incoherent as he digs in and insists on ignoring Feser caution that you can't refute metaphysics with physics. Only with philosophy. So many category mistakes in one post. Let's take the above.

The comparison between n-change vs at-change is like like comparing a human being with a being.

A being is general category for a type of existent a human being is a specific species of existent.

Being is BTW a metaphysical category just like at-change is a metaphysical category.

If I was a bio-chemist I could explain the biochemical makeup of a human being but not the bio-chemical makeup of being without making a category mistake.

Something could be a being without having a bio-chemical makeup like oh an election! Nuff said.

A Newtonian change metaphysically undergoes an AT-change when it occurs. Treating them as two separate species of change within physics is not rational.

This critique is incoherent.

>we have to allow that the whole series of at-changes might have been set off by an n-change.

Accept metaphysically a n-change is an at-change.

At this point Prof Oerter keeps equivocating between physics and metaphysics, science and philosophy and does nothing but make a mess.

Sorry this fails.

1. "Accept metaphysically a n-change is an at-change."

You're the one who's reading Feser wrong, I'm afraid. He writes,

"Now if such motion really is a state, then there is no conflict with the principle of causality, for if inertial motion involves no real change, than it involves no actualization of potential..."

Got that? Such motion involves NO actualization of potential - and so is NOT an at-change.

2. Sorry no, the state of being in inertial motion is unchanging in that it is fully in the Act of inertial motion and will not change from that till something acts on the object in inertial motion. The baseball will travel threw the void of space forever till it hits something, falls into a gravity well, picked up by another spaceshit etc...

Another problem is your equivocations between physics terminology vs the metaphysical.

If you put an object in n-change you must by definition be metaphysically actualizing a potency. Such as when I take the baseball and hurl it from the Hull of my Starship.

As it travels from my ship it keep actualizing potentials to be further and further away. Feser never denies this & of course that is metaphysically AT-change. The Baseball being in the Act of moving away from my ship is a fully actualized state and no longer changes in that regard till something else acts on it.

So you are 100% incorrect I am afraid.

3. Like I have been saying and as Feser has originally been saying to you. You cannot refute metaphysics with physics. Mixing and matching terms leads to all sorts of incoherence and confusion.

It is a category mistake to even try. It's like the Young Earth Creationist who claims "Evolution is wrong because it contradicts the Second Law of Thermal Dynamics". I need not inform you as to why the later is pure bullcrap. But it is obvious you can't equivocate between biology and physics in that manner.

4. Think Prof Oerter! Use logic! What could Feser mean when he says "if inertial motion involves no real change"?

He is no follower of Zeno's teacher thus he can't mean a baseball thrown in Zero G doesn't continuously move away from that which put it into motion.

So what could it be? Remember if you answer with physics it's wrong. If you answer with a metaphysical modelling that is likely correct.

5. I am determined you understand this.

Feser writes:
>"Now if such motion really is a state, then there is no conflict with the principle of causality, for if inertial motion involves no real change, than it involves no actualization of potential..."

>Got that? Such motion involves NO actualization of potential - and so is NOT an at-change.

I reply:Rather inertial motion as a "state" involves NO actualization of potential. The term "state" being just another way of saying in the full Act of Newtonian physical motion. Not to say an Act of Newtonian physical motion does not keep actualizing potentials to go from starting point A to b1 to b2 to b3 etc ad infinuum.

If I am in the Act of fighting someone & I don't stop fighting I am unchanged in terms of the Act of fighting or being in a state of combat.

That is if I am presently in a state of combat & I am unchanged relative to a state of non-combat that does not mean I am not swinging my Knife, firing my gun, shooting people etc. and proforming all sorts of changing activity. That would still be a fully actualized state of combat & as long as it continues that way it is unchanged.

Do you understand?

6. "You cannot refute metaphysics with physics."

Bullshit.

If your metaphysics is uncoupled from physics, then you are just making stuff up.

Until you and Oerter resolve this basic epistemological dispute, further conversation is useless. Can we all agree on that?

7. "It is a category mistake to even try. It's like the Young Earth Creationist who claims "Evolution is wrong because it contradicts the Second Law of Thermal Dynamics". I need not inform you as to why the later is pure bullcrap. But it is obvious you can't equivocate between biology and physics in that manner."

This is jaw-dropping in its confusion. Of course physics could be used to refute some biological claim. It's called Consilience.

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9. >Of course physics could be used to refute some biological claim. It's called Consilience.

But how is that the same as equivocating between physics vs biology? Treating them as if they are the same discipline with the same nature, operating under the same rules?

Of course there is a unity of knowledge a Consilience. Between Physics, Chemistry, and Biology. Between science and philosophy.

But you can't seriously claim it's legit to use the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics against evolution or that is coherent or rational? Nor can you ever refute metaphysics with physics. You can refute metaphysics with philosophy & or other metaphysics but not science. Just as you can't falsify 2+2=4 with science.

Just as you can discuss the bio-chemical make up of a human being but not the biochemical make up of the concept of being.

>Until you and Oerter resolve this basic epistemological dispute, further conversation is useless. Can we all agree on that?

Partially, I believe Prof Oerter is sincere in wanting to learn the difference between philosophical knowledge vs scientific.

You OTOH to date resist learning any meaningful philosophy except for a few brief moments.

I wish you would stop this self-defeating behavior. You would be a more challenging Atheist if you learned how to argue using philosophy instead of your kneejerk Positivism fallback.

10. >If your metaphysics is uncoupled from physics, then you are just making stuff up.

This is like saying the concept of Being is uncoupled from a human being. As if a human being where the more fundamental thing than Being.

Scientism and Positivism! Diseases of the rational mind.

11. "But you can't seriously claim it's legit to use the 2nd Law of Thermodynamics against evolution"

If evolution broke the second law then hell yes it would be legitimate.

Prior to 1900 the best argument against evolution by natural selection came from Lord Kelvin. The Sun, by the known physics of the time, just could not have burned for long enough. But, the physics was wrong.

Your claim that using physics to refute biology commits a category mistake is just idiotic.

Biology reduces to chemistry reduces to physics. These are not disciplines using different rules. They are disciplines using the same rules, just different levels of description.

12. >If evolution broke the second law then hell yes it would be legitimate.

This is as meaningful as saying if physics proved 2+2=5 and disproved 2+2+4.

Irrational soup!

>Your claim that using physics to refute biology commits a category mistake is just idiotic.

My actual claim was it was a mistake to treat them in an unequivocal manner. As if one was the other.

Otherwise the YEC isn't wrong and of course he is.

13. Ironic I've accused you BI of being a fundamentalist. Here you are defending the legitimacy of fundamentalists invalid "scientific" arguments.

14. Ben,

Just to be clear.

Suppose evolution did break the second law. Is it your position that using the second law to argue against evolution would be illegitimate?

15. If I may steal the explanation as to as to why the second Law of thermodynamics does not refute evolution.

QUOTE "While it is true that in any isolated system, the energy being utilised will gradually decrease over time, that tends to become temporarily irrelevant when more active energy is constantly being supplied from outside.
Entropy is most certainly applying to the sun itself, of course.... albeit on a scale of many billions of years. It has been losing energy into space since the first time it cropped into existence, and it just so happens that our planet is bombarded by a significant portion of that lost energy (though much less than is lost into open space)."

The YEC tries to claim the property of physics for isolated systems to loose energy and move toward maximum entropy means lifeforms can't therefore become more complex by mere natural processes.

But even thought biological life will over the natural course of time die (barring supernatural intervention) that does not mean entropy renders Evolution intrinsically impossible. That doesn't mean Entropy grants Reality some property that prohibits biological life from evolving via natural evolutionary mechanisms.

Unless you equivocate between the Physics of entropy vs biological life which dwells in en enviroment with an abundence of time and energy for evolution.

YEC's commit the fallacy of equivocation & so I am afraid do you BI.

Look at yourself? You are defending YEC arguments. I wouldn't.

16. >Suppose evolution did break the second law. Is it your position that using the second law to argue against evolution would be illegitimate?

This is about as rational & coherent as asking me what if physics disproved 2+2=4.

You really have to stop tossing aside First Principles.

17. Ben,

Suppose evolution did break the second law. Is it your position that using the second law to argue against evolution would be illegitimate?

18. >The Sun, by the known physics of the time, just could not have burned for long enough.

The old Episcopal Priest who taught me "Creation Science" when I was a boy argued since there was a tendency for things to move toward entropy (become worst) therefore it was not possible for lower animals to become higher. That is how Creationists cast the argument in my personal experience.

Merely assuming a young universe naturally renders major evolutionary leaps impossible. But it has nothing to do with the 2nd Law argument used by YEC.

There fallacy is the opposite of Prof Oerter's fallacy. They are using a Law of physics as a metaphysical principle.

As you can see it doesn't work any better for them then Prof Oerter's arguments to date.

>Suppose evolution did break the second law. Is it your position that using the second law to argue against evolution would be illegitimate?

That question can't be answered coherently anymore than Suppose physics disprove 2+2=4? Is it your position using the laws of physics against mathmatics would be illegitimate?

19. I'll repeat my charge.

Young Earth Creationist us the Second Law of ThermoDynamics as a metaphysical principle and not as a law of physics. Thus their argument against Evolution from the SLTD is a catagory mistake and not legitimate.

Prof Oerter's "scientific" arguments against AT Metaphysics from physics are the opposite error. He needs to make philosophical arguments against AT. They can be informed by physics but so far he is not doing that.

20. Ben,

Up until now, I pegged you as a someone with below average intelligence, who had read just enough philosophy and science to bluff his way through.

Now I realize you are not only extremely stupid, but are illiterate as well.

News flash Ben. If evolution did violate the second law, then evolution would be false. There is no category mistake here.

21. BI

Maybe if you stomped your feet a little bit harder that would make you right?

Talking about evolution violating the second law of Thermodynamics makes about as much sense as talking about physics refuting math.

Submitted for your approval ladies and Gentilemen and the honorable Prof Oerter!

An Atheist (Being Itself) defends the coherence of the idea of evolution violating the second law of Thermodynamics by mere assertion.

A Classic Theist (Moi) says it's a logically incoherent idea.

Now just because I am clearly right doesn't mean God must exist or the Prima Via is true.

But it does show BI needs to get off his arse and start seriously learning philosophy to keep up.

Cheers!

10. Here is what Feser literally says:

>For the deeper point is that when the principle of causality speaks of motion (local or otherwise) what it is talking about is the actualization of potentials. And Newton’s law simply has nothing whatsoever to say about that. In particular, when Newton’s law says that a body in motion will tend to stay in motion, it is not asserting that a potential which is being actualized will continue being actualized.

(I BY comments: Naturally when I throw the baseball into the zero g void of space it doesn't need rockets to keep going per say.)

>Even if it were suggested that Newton’s law entails this, the point is that that isn’t what the principle of inertia itself, as understood within physics, is saying. Indeed, the whole aim of early modern physics of the sort practiced by Newton was to provide a description of nature that sidestepped the whole Aristotelian-Scholastic apparatus of actuality and potentiality, substantial forms, and the like. Modern physics didn’t offer different answers to the questions the Scholastics were asking. It simply changed the subject.

>A third point is that Newtonian inertial motion is often characterized as a “state” -- that is, as the absence of any real change. Now if such motion really is a state, then there is no conflict with the principle of causality, for if inertial motion involves no real change, than it involves no actualization of potential -- in which case, obviously, it involves no actualization of a potential without a cause. Indeed, since Newton’s law says that a genuine change in an object’s local motion can occur only if a force acts upon it, the law implicitly affirms the principle of causality! Hence if inertial motion really is a “state,” then what Newton and his Aristotelian predecessors disagreed about was not whether genuine change requires a cause, but only about whether local motion of a uniform rectilinear sort counts as genuine change. END QUOTE

11. At this point, though, we have to allow that the whole series of at-changes might have been set off by an n-change. For instance, suppose our inertially moving object (A) and our stationary object (B) have a short-range force that acts between them, such that there is no force when the objects are far away, but a force begins to act when A gets close enough to B. When B feels this force, a series of at-changes begins: B breaks a laser beam that sets off a bomb, say.

In metaphysical terms, the n-change is a member of an accidentally ordered series. It could have been actualized decades ago, but it is still, to paraphrase Ben, "in the act" of moving away from whatever bumped it. So there is no contradiction here between n-changes and at-changes; n-changes are merely per accidens changes.

However, what you are neglecting to mention is that A and B are also part of essentially ordered series. Even down to the quantum mechanical level, they are experiencing change. It is by virtue of this series that the "short range force" (let's call it C) exists.

B is moving toward A, and, because of their fundamental makeup, they both possess the potential to activate C when close enough. C, then, is just a potential extension of an essential series that already exists within A and B. Let's swap this out with a stick-stone example. The stick is moving toward the stone, and, because of their fundamental makeup, they both possess the potential to collide with other macroscopic physical things. Colliding with other macroscopic physical things, then, is just a potential extension of an essential series that already exists within the stick and stone.

12. Sorry, I meant to say that A was moving toward B.

Also, to achieve maximum parity between the examples, think of the stick as being thrown against the stone.

13. Feser has Posted his third response.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/05/natural-theology-natural-science-and.html

Cheers!

14. Feser: "Indeed, the whole aim of early modern physics of the sort practiced by Newton was to provide a description of nature that sidestepped the whole Aristotelian-Scholastic apparatus of actuality and potentiality, substantial forms, and the like. Modern physics didn’t offer different answers to the questions the Scholastics were asking. It simply changed the subject."

Feser is not being quite honest with himself. Modern physics did not change the subject. Certainly Aristotle's aim was to understand nature. The subject was knowledge -- or truth. Modern physics is every bit as interested in that subject as Aristotle or Aquinas. Moderns changed the method, not the aim.

15. djindra,

Do you have any evidence for your claim? Or any better response than "No it isn't"?

THE ARGUMENT SKETCH

At least when I told Prof Oerter he was wrong above I gave reasons.

16. Feser: "the point has nothing at all to do with the empirical question of whether there exist some heretofore unknown bodies additional to the sun, planets, asteroids, etc. which exert a causal influence on the rest of the solar system. ... [T]he point is that Kepler’s laws, which merely describe the behavior of the planets, tell you nothing one way or the other about why the planets behave that way. They are not even addressing that question. Hence they cannot answer that question."

But how does Feser's A-T answer that question? It merely says something like, "It's God's will. Things work like they do because God wills it." That's a non-answer. He gives us a causal god that stands in for that mysterious, monster planet, that's all. It doesn't begin to answer the "why" question. It doesn't answer the "deeper" question of what causes God to push the planets in their orbits, or keep them in existence, or why God has a will at all. No amount of Feser's vague metaphysics will get us closer to those answers.

17. BenYachov,

Suppose you present your case that Aristotle wasn't interested in understanding nature? and neither are modern physicists? -- that was not the aim of any of them. That might be interesting.

18. Why would you assume I was claiming Aristotle wasn't interested in understanding nature? I want evidence Modern physics did not change the subject.

19. Feser: "laws are not formal causes. Nor do laws have any sort of independent existence or efficacy as efficient causes."

How convenient that laws of nature have no independent existence yet universals like "2" or "triangularity" do. Feser is a cafeteria realist.

20. Feser: "Hence it is in virtue of the substantial form of a hydrogen atom that it will behave in the manner described by QM, just as it is by virtue of the substantial forms of material things in general that they will exert a gravitational attraction on one another."

Now that explains it. It amounts to this: "Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, why did the defendant kill his wife? Because it was in his substantial form! And if you don't like that explanation, he did it because his instantiation of the human form is slightly defective! He's guilty for either of those reasons! What we have here is a multiple choice test: (a) guilty with cause or (b) guilty with other cause. And if you know your metaphysics, you know how compelling those reasons are!"

It's hard not to be sarcastic with some of Feser's drivel.

21. Prof Oerter is the sort of sane fellow who when he doesn't know what he is talking about kindly owns up to that fact and wins mad respect. He really wants to learn. It's a virtue.

You could learn a lot from this attitude djindra.

Just saying.

22. BenYachov,

I've learned quite a lot about you and this A-T, Gnu Age mysticism over the past year. I'm very confident you don't know what you're talking about. I'm even more confident you'll never respect those who don't swallow the dogma.

1. No I just have no respect for silly persons who reject philosophy & or see it as merely arguing politics by other means.

2. BenYachov,

Try that straw man elsewhere.

3. "Feser is a cafeteria realist."

I long ago gave up expecting consistency from Feser's worldview.

When he gets called out on it, he makes a move like this: "I'm a realist, but an A-T realist. So if you want to understand my view, read these forty books and 75 articles."

But, unlike a real philosopher, he will never provide references which counter his view.

4. >But, unlike a real philosopher, he will never provide references which counter his view.

Kenny? Hume? Nominalism? Conceptionalism? Strong Realism?

All the views Feser opposes.

So you really can't look up defenders of these philosophical views & try to offer us an actual argument against Thomas & Aristotle?

Lazy.

23. "I'm a realist, but an A-T realist. So if you want to understand my view, read these forty books and 75 articles."

Oh, please. Surely Feser normally simply recommends you read "The Last Superstition" or "Aquinas", hardly an unreasonable request. This is an exaggeration that's often employed to avoid actually trying to understand the nuances of his position. It's much like hearing a Creationist complain about having to read a long, difficult book like "The Origin of Species" when someone tries to correct their ignorance.

Engage with Feser's ideas or don't; it's your choice. But if you'd rather just make excuses for your ignorance than actually try to correct it, don't expect anyone to be impressed.

24. Feser's latest response it up.

http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/06/oerter-on-motion-and-first-mover.html