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ficino last won the day on April 18 2015

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About ficino

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  • Birthday February 26

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    New York, NY
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    literature, philosophy
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    ancient texts

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  • Still have any Gods? If so, who or what?

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  1. Series of causes

    Hmm... this sounds promising. Can you elaborate? I can hear someone replying, "Well, let's say the moon is made of green cheese. And green cheese is made of molecules that are made of etc etc all the way down to subatomic particles we'll call Cheezies. But Cheezies do not exist. Good night, Moon."
  2. Series of causes

    Hi Disillusioned, I think yours above gets to the heart of what Thomists try to do. They would say, first, "Well, SOMETHING causes the atom to degrade either into calcium-40 or argon-40, even if we can't predict which way it will go." Second, they would say, "Aha! You are like all atheists in taking refuge in Brute Fact with your 'it just does.' Hold that something 'just does' and you are holding to a world-view that is at bottom irrational. The scientific enterprise depends on certain metaphysical assumptions, and if stuff just happens w/ no cause, then science is overthrown. If causality disappears on the micro level, there is no causality on the macro level. That's why atheism is a dead-end." My experience and thoughts so far lead me to say it makes more sense to postulate that the universe or multiverse is eternal, always undergoing change, shit happens, a lot of the time it holds together, sometimes it doesn't. I wouldn't be so inclined to involve myself if it weren't for the continual efforts of traditional Catholics to force all of society to adhere to their taboos.
  3. Series of causes

    Hi Disillusioned, thanks for answering. In your example of the rock, something was restraining the rock at height h and then took away the restraint. How does the release of restraint figure in the system of earth-rock? It seems as though the releaser would be outside that system. So isn't energy injected into the rock-earth system by the releaser? On Aristotelian physics, FWIW, the rock's natural motion is toward the earth because the rock is made mainly of earth, and earth as the heaviest of the four natural bodies by nature moves toward the center of the cosmos, the earth. The rock is held by force above the earth, so that its natural motion is blocked. Something has to keep holding it there. Thus, its revolution or hovering or whatever above the earth is its potential to be located at height h. That potential is actualized by the restrainer. When the restraint is released, the rock's natural motion begins. Then its potential to be at rest at its proper place in the cosmos becomes actualized. But not directly by anything outside itself during the course of its motion toward the earth. I think the natural motion of the simple bodies actually is more problematic for Aquinas than is, say, uniform rectilinear motion, because the natural motion of simple bodies comes close to self-motion. But I will not push Aristotelian physics today! Anyway, defenders of Aquinas have different strategies. One is to deny a la Newton that uniform rectilinear motion counts as change. Then they fall back on acceleration or alteration or other sorts of changes, which they say do need to be carried through at every moment by a Mover that is wholly act. I think you are right that a weak spot in the Thomistic account is the assumption that whatever is not completely "in act/actual" cannot initiate its own changes. The need for a First Uncaused Cause or Unmoved Mover is created by adhering to this principle that whatever is even partly potential cannot be the source of its own change.
  4. Quantum Leap

    The Calvinist denomination I used to belong to believed this staunchly and defended this doctrine in debate. They taught that every baby, every child, is a little bundle of depravity that will go to hell unless it is regenerated. Even the protections of the covenant via infant baptism did not include regeneration.
  5. Which Christian Behaviors Most Annoy Atheists?

    I Tim 3:2 says that if someone desires the office of "bishop" (ἐπισκοπῆς), he should be a bunch of things including "husband of one wife" (μιᾶς γυναικὸς ἄνδρα). Titus 1:6 says that Titus should establish elders or presbyters city by city who must be, among other things, husband of one wife, same Greek words as in I Tim. The critical apparatus in my Greek NT says that down at Titus 1:9, where the author is talking about bishops (episkopoi), a 13th century manuscripts adds a few sentences not printed in Bibles. These sentences include the injunction not to elect men who have married twice (digamous) nor make them deacons nor allow them to have wives out of bigamy. I don't know any translation that includes these added words, nor is it clear when they were added. It's also not clear to me whether the author of these verses means, don't have bishops whose first wives died and who married again, or whether he means don't have as bishops men who have two wives at once. It's also not clear to me whether he means that a bishop's wife should not be a widow who has remarried. I suspect he means the that neither the bishop nor his wife should have been in marriages prior to their current marriage. I suspect this because there was controversy in the early Byzantine church over who is allowed to remarry and how many times. But I'm too lazy to research it further! This 13th century manuscript also has sections in Latin and in Arabic and was found in a monastery in Sicily. Crazy!
  6. Quantum Leap

    Hello Penny, I used to be a very fervent Christian. Eventually I reached the conclusion that there is no warrant to believe in the existence of the God of Christianity (or Judaism or Islam). What evidence do you have that establishes a warrant for belief in Christianity's God? Thank you.
  7. Series of causes

    Here's an example, from a commentator called Mr. Green. Sorry it's kind of long: "Ben: Ahmed's assertion that we don't need the act-potency distinction to explain the bounciness of a rubber ball when there is a perfectly respectable scientific alternative that makes reference to such a ball's "elasticity" was beside the point.Ahmed made a few blunders, and that was one of them. I wish Ed had had time to dig into it, because it's not even beside the point, it actually illustrates Ed's point! "Elasticity" just IS potentiality — it's a specific kind of potential, that's all. "Potency" is simply the general term; if we are referring to a specific object, like a rubber ball, then obviously we can refer to its specific potencies (elasticity, deliquescence, rollability, etc.).In fact, this is a pretty common mistake. You often hear people claiming that modern science "doesn't need" or "doesn't use" those old-fashioned Aristotelian notions like act and potency, substance and accident, those ghastly four causes!, etc. But of course science hasn't dispensed with any of it. Sometimes it uses different terminology, but for the most part it uses more specific terminology — because that's the whole point of science. Metaphysics is the study of being — any being, being in general; it uses completely general terminology. Physics is the study of particular beings, of this particular nature and that. Its whole job is to tell us what specific potencies an electron (say) has, what its formal and final causes are — and it does; form, matter, act, potency, the lot.It gets worse: the specific sciences, like physics, chemistry, etc. do use the old-fashioned Aristotelian terms too. And not just in the sense that any physics textbook is of course occasionally going to use generic words like "cause"; I mean they use the actual technical terminology that comes from philosophy. Only someone who doesn't know physics could say that modern science doesn't have "potentials". The first physics textbook I have to hand (no, not written by Aristotle, it includes relativity and QM) has entries for "potential energy (elastic, electric, gravitational, vibrational)". Yes, "elastic": not only is elasticity a type of potentiality, it's one that actual physicists still talk about today using the literal word "potential". I'm not saying every such word is used in exactly the same sense ("species" in biology, and "substance" in chemistry have of course diverged from their obvious Aristotelian roots), but all that means is that maybe some of the connections are merely half-obvious instead of blatantly obvious.Just for fun, let's see what our phusis textbook says about P.E.: "an object has the capacity or potential to do work even though it is not yet actually doing it. That is why we use the term 'potential' energy." (Oh, look, they used the word "actual" too! I won't bother looking up "activation energy", "capacitance", "causality", "efficiency", "formula", "matter", "motion", "radioactivity, artificial", "virtual", or "Aristotle" (p.1), etc.)
  8. Quantum Leap

    Hey primaryzero, I know that place where you are. All too well. Eventually you have to know when to fold them. Christianity does not deal out a winning hand. I hope you stick around here. There are a lot of people who have been through a lot. They have good perspectives. Peace, f
  9. Series of causes

    Hello all, thank you for replying above on this thread. I said I'd be back in a few days, and it's almost two months. I apologize. I did not have much or anything of value to say, though. BAA, I am sorry that I don't quite know where to go with the cone diagram that you so generously posted. I am really at a disadvantage on cosmological arguments because I only had one semester of college physics and really had to sweat it to eke out a B, har har. And that was longer ago than I care to say. Having reread the above, I see I could explain the Thomistic-Feser concept of a "hierarchical series of causes ordered per se" more clearly. First, Aquinas defines change as the actualization of a potentiality. A piece of wood has the potentiality to become hot; eventually it does become hot by a series of changes caused by the fire, which actualizes the wood's potentiality to be hot. Second, Aquinas follows Aristotle in holding that something potential cannot actualize itself (or anything). Things cannot cause themselves. Something potential can only be brought to actuality by something that is actual in the relevant respect. The fire is already hot, so it can actualize the wood's potency to be hot. A cup at the same temperature as the wood, placed next to the wood, is just as potential w/ respect to heat as the wood is, so the cup will not heat the wood; the cup is not actually hot so it doesn't have causal power/can't actualize heat. But everything in our world is potential in some respect. So nothing can cause itself. Eventually, there must be something uncaused, which is wholly actual. There are two basic kinds of causal series. A linear causal series, or a series ordered per accidens, is one in which each member derives its causal power only from the immediately preceding member. A guy lights a candle. A second guy comes and lights a second candle from the first. The causal power of the first man does not govern the lighting of the second candle. Another example: the efficient cause of Socrates is his father, and of his father, his father, going back as far in time as you want. Each man causes only his son/s; no man must be exerting causal power for his grandsons to be born. Aquinas allows an accidental series of causes can go to infinity. In a hierarchical causal series, one ordered per se, all the subordinate causes, whether they operate simultaneously or nearly so, derive their causal power from the first cause. The subordinate causes do not have independent causal power. Feser likes the example, a man with a stick pushes a rock, which in turn pushes a leaf. the causal power of the stick and rock are wholly derived from the causal power of the man. They are instrumental causes only. Aquinas' First and Second Ways deal with hierarchical causal series ordered per se. Aquinas denies that a per se causal series can be infinite. In a per se chain of causes, each subordinate agent is partly potential and partly actual. Each agent is instrumental. All the subordinate, instrumental agents operate simultaneously or nearly so. Since an actual infinite is impossible in A-T metaphysics, there has to be a first cause that itself is not caused. It's wholly actual. It's the First Uncaused Cause, Unmoved Mover, etc. i.e. God. I've participated now on Feser's blog and on the classical theism forum that began as a discussion site for Feser's blog: There has been a lot of discussion lately of topics that came up in our thread here, and I don't know how to evaluate the discussion. One anti-Thomist fellow, StarDustyPsyche, is convinced that physics has exploded Aquinas' cosmological proofs. Other posters say that SDP doesn't understand physics, and they insist that Thomistic metaphysics are totally valid, even if details of the physics are not. They insist that basic A-T notions like "change is actualization of a potency by something actual," "things have essences that determine how they operate," or "essence is distinct from existence," are so basic that they underlie science, even if science uses different vocabulary. They insist that when properly understood, A-T cosmology is not refuted by modern physics anyway. That's because 1) some of the key terms, like "motion" or "cause" have different senses between the two systems; 2) other notions have been upheld by modern physics. If anyone has the time to poke around on "Star Dusty Psyche's Thread" over there and offer an evaluation, I will appreciate hearing it! The followers of Feser insist that Star Dusty is all wrong about physics, and I have not way of deciding who is right on that score.
  10. Aristotle talks about how it's obvious that the earth is spherical because its shadow on the moon during eclipses shows its shape. Plus sails of ships at a distance.
  11. Things Fundies Say On Facebook

    “God is doing about 10,000 things all at once in our lives [and multiply that by all the people in the world!!], and we are only aware of three or four of them.” 😄👏 John Piper
  12. I don't know why people keep thinking that all the ancients believed that the earth is flat. That view does indeed seem to be the one reflected in many OT passages. But by the fourth century BCE Greek scientists and philosophers held that the earth is spherical and had arguments for this. I don't know whether they picked up the idea from earlier civilizations. The Babylonians had amassed a huge trove of astronomical data.
  13. Introduction

    Hello, ExTeknon, and welcome. I hear you on your reluctance to leave the support group and small group suddenly. It took me quite a while to stop going to mass, because I was reluctant to disappoint people who relied on me to do various things and to support what they did. Eventually, when the Catholic bishops opposed yet again, for the umpteenth time, a bill in the NY State legislature to secure rights for gay and lesbian people (this was before transgender people were very visible as a group), I decided I just could not support this organization any more. My faith had dissolved some time before that. rock on, and I hope to hear more from you.
  14. A good video, deserves wider circulation.
  15. Geezer, can you link some of the lectures? Please forgive me if you've done that already and I missed it.