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How We Know the Human Soul is Immortal

In a 2015 video, I facetiously argued that, based on his own philosophical assumptions, Dr. Richard Dawkins does not actually exist. Of course, I firmly believe he does. But, my point was that, given his view of the universe, in which things are merely interacting aggregates of subatomic particles, there is no place for substantial unities above the level of whatever ultimate particles compose the cosmos.

A substantial unity is a thing whose entire nature is the same throughout. Every part of it has the same nature. The nature of my foot or stomach is not “foot” or “stomach,” but “human,” since my entire being shares the same human nature.

I will demonstrate that human beings are substantial unities. Only then can one rationally discuss whether we, as living substances, have spiritual and immortal souls. Since it is materialists who primarily reject the human spiritual soul, I shall address my comments primarily to their objections.

Cartesian Catastrophe

Sixteenth century philosopher, René Descartes, grafted a spiritualist view of the human person onto a materialist-mechanistic view of the human body. Typically understood as maintaining that mind (res cogitans) and body (res extensa) are two entirely distinct entities, this doctrine raises grave problems for any rational explanation of soul and body interaction. Such a radical distinction between mind and body is referred to as extreme dualism. Historically, this extreme dualism led to diverse philosophies such as transcendental idealism and positivism.

The Aristotelian-Thomistic view of man’s nature rejects Cartesian dualism. I shall offer arguments for the hylomorphic (matter/form) nature of man, which simultaneously refute (1) Cartesian extreme dualism and (2) the atomistic view (like Dawkins).

Why Man is a Single Substance

Basic metaphysics reveals that, just as non-being cannot beget being, activity (being, as proceeding from something) must manifest nature (the way something exists).

The standard argument for an organism’s substantial unity is that, since all its parts act for the good of the whole, rather than just merely for themselves, it must be because they are in fact parts of a whole. The function of a stomach or foot is not to care for itself, but rather to serve the good of the whole organism. Indeed, the liver “sacrifices” itself detoxifying all the poisons we ingest, for example, alcohol – even to the point of its own destruction. The intelligibility of a part, as a part, cannot be understood except that it is part of a whole.

“Actions for the sake of the whole” are manifested through multiple levels in the case of reproduction and development of organisms, for example, a human being.

At the moment of conception, the newly formed, single-celled zygote contains all the organs needed to keep this new, unbelievably-tiny human being alive. At the same time, all the genetic material within the zygote is co-acting so as to govern its development in precisely such fashion as to produce the next stages together with all the changes which will still entail each organ serving the whole of the organism at that later stage of life. Finally, this whole process, at each and every stage of its development is ordering all its parts to the production of the adult human being, in which, again, all of his organs will be acting for the sake of his being a complete and functioning living adult human being. Thus, at every moment in his development, the internal forces at work within the human organism are acting to assure the survival and function of the organism as a whole – both in the moment at hand, at every subsequent stage in its development, and simultaneously – from the first moment of its existence – to assure the well-being of the entire adult human being.

While the above argues forcefully for the human organism’s substantial unity, even more striking evidence abounds for that unity as we wholistically experience our personal interaction with the physical world.

Direct experience of the world tells us that “incoming” data are flooding our consciousness -- data that presents itself as a direct encounter with physical reality. We experience this through our five external senses of hearing, tasting, smelling, touching and seeing.

These sense data represent “incoming fire” from the various external senses – which we receive and unify into a total sensible experience of a real physical world filled with unified objects, such as an attacking vicious canine. The oneness of our own being is manifest in the unity of our experience as the subject being physically mauled.

But it does not end there. We also react to the world by marshalling all our various powers of thought and will and motor skills to react to the incoming data in a manner largely under our control and directed by our will commanding various mental and physical acts. We react to the world with our whole being, all parts acting together to produce a unified reaction to the external data. Thus, we respond with all the various powers of our being – mental and material – to drive this attacking canine away. Not away from just our mind, or hand, of foot, or whatever part of the body is most directly involved – but from our entire being, all parts being simultaneously engaged to bring all our various spiritual, mental, and physical parts and powers into the action of defending our whole selves against this viciously attacking dog.

This is not the mere internal images or ideas of Cartesian thought thinking itself, but the lived experience of a self -- unified in mind and body, experiencing external reality as a whole and reacting as a whole to engage and repel a dangerous external attacker.

That is the reason why everyone is so instinctively certain that he but a single being, with both mind and body, existing as a unified substance interacting with a real physical world.

Some reason for the unity of the whole self must be posited. Such a reason, according to Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophy, would be the substantial form, or soul, which animates the entire organism to be and to act as a single substantial unity.

In response to all this, the materialist might still object that everything I have described could just as well be explained in purely atomistic terms – as responses of complex biochemical systems to external stimuli. But the key to refuting that claim is the simplicity of the experience of wholeness that permeates the entire sequence of experiences described above.

“Wholeness” of Experience Reveals Immateriality, But Not Spirituality, of the Soul

Metaphysical materialism cannot explain how cognition unifies, in a single simple act, what, physically, is extended in space and multiple in parts. The essential insight, as I more fully explain in another Strange Notions article, is that purely physical things can never apprehend the “wholeness” of an experience for the simple reason that physical representations are always extended in space. They always “image” something by having one part represent one part of the object and another part represent another part – with no single part representing (apprehending) the whole.

The most obvious example is a TV screen on which an image of an object is presented – one pixel at a time by hundreds of thousands of pixels – each one digitally “on” or “off,” but with no single pixel “seeing” the whole. The screen sees nothing. But, a living, sensing dog looking at the screen can see the image of another whole dog and bark at it. Why? Because the dog, unlike purely material things such as a TV screen, has something not extended in space, which enables it to apprehend the image as a single whole. Specifically, the dog has immaterial sense powers.

That is why machines sense nothing -- and no computer will ever understand the synthetic wholeness expressed in the intellectual judgment, “Cogito, ergo sum.” An aggregate of mere physical parts can never experience anything as a whole. Yet, that is precisely what can be done by animals and men. Even a dog, which has no spiritual soul, perceives another dog as a whole. Still, I am not saying that this “immateriality” in cognition is the same thing as “strict immateriality,” that is, spirituality. But, I am saying that what is immaterial is neither extended nor locatable in space.

Some modern materialists are puzzled by “qualia,” properties of experience that are not physically detectable, yet subjectively real. But anything genuinely physical must be locatable in space. Either qualia are locatable or not. If they are, then they are merely material. If not, then immaterial things exist. But clearly, experiences of “wholes” are not locatable in space, as shown above. Genuine immateriality is real – and physical reality cannot account for it, since non-being cannot account for being. What is locatable in space cannot account for what is not locatable. The reality of experiences of wholes is incompatible with a purely atomistic metaphysics.

What is clear in the example given earlier is that we experience as a whole both the incoming sensory data of the various cognitive faculties as well as our unified cognitive and motor response to that same data -- as in that hypothetical confrontation with a vicious dog. Since (1) solely an immaterial principle can apprehend such “wholes” and (2) the entire cognitive and motor acts of the person are apprehended as a functioning whole in such situations, it follows that an immaterial principle, which is what we know on reflection as the “self,” is at the very center of our functional operations as a human being confronted by, and reacting to, the external physical world.

This principle, which unifies (1) the activity of the sense organs, (2) sensation itself, and (3) all the intellectual activities of man into a functional whole, must not only be immaterial, but must account for the living human organism acting and being as such a whole, since we immediately experience both (1) the passive awareness of external objects acting upon us and (2) our personal direction of our coordinated faculties in active response to such objects. Since mere atomistic material components lack all immateriality, atomistic explanations fail to explain adequately the unifying and immaterial aspects of human cognitive and physical interaction with the world.

Because we experience sense objects under their proper material conditions, that is, as with particular height, width, color, shape, and so forth, it follows that the soul has at least some activities intrinsically dependent on matter and using material organs – thereby manifesting that it is not simply the pure mind or spirit that Descartes’ extreme dualism alleges.

Aristotle’s doctrine of hylomorphism maintains that various types of things are composed of form and matter, where (1) form specifies the matter to be the kind of thing that it is and (2) matter quantifies and individuates the form into a particular instance of the form. Aristotle attributes human acts, such as described above, to the form of the substance – the substantial form, which he also calls the soul. The soul is the unifying life principle of all organisms.

From the points made above, it should now be evident that (1) atomism is false, because it fails to account for the immateriality of cognition, and (2) extreme dualism is false, because it fails to note the dependence of sense experience on matter. Since the extreme alternatives of atomism and extreme dualism are both false, hylomorphism becomes the intermediate default position, which must be the true doctrine.

Spiritual Nature of Intellectual Acts

Nonetheless, the human intellect manifests other operations demonstrably totally independent of matter – actions such as self-reflection, understanding, judging, and reasoning. Since lack of space prevents explanation of why all these acts are strictly immaterial, I shall present just one argument, based upon the radical difference between the image and concept.

Eighteenth century Scotch sceptic, David Hume, failed to grasp the essential difference between the image and the concept. Hume maintained that all we know are sense impressions. What we take to be external sense experience he describes as vivid and lively sense impressions. Ideas are taken from memory or imagination and are less vivid. All knowledge remains at the sensory level. So, too, for modern materialists, all knowledge, whether direct sensation or “intellectual” ideas, is merely sensory in nature, and thus essentially mere neural activity and patterns ultimately based in the brain. Ideas or concepts are not qualitatively superior to sense impressions or images. Sensism reigns supreme.

But for Aristotelian-Thomistic classical philosophy, image and concept (idea) are radically distinct entities. Sense impressions or images are either mere neural patterns or dependent on them. In any event, being radically immersed in matter, they are expressed under conditions of time and space. This means that they are always singular, particular, concrete, and having material qualities, such as shape, color, size, and so forth, which make them imaginable. Thus, one can imagine a horse or triangle, but always with a particular shape, color, size, and so forth. Recall, this was how we knew that the immateriality of sense knowledge was not actually spiritual in nature, since its object was always under the conditions of matter, and therefore, did not exhibit total independence of matter.

On the contrary, the universal concept or idea utterly transcends all material conditions. Thus, horseness or triangularity is not even imaginable. Because universal concepts must apply to each and every possible concrete actualization, they can express the concrete physical characteristics of none of them. Thus, “triangularity” must express every possible triangle’s essence – be they obtuse, acute, or isosceles. That is why idealized sculptures of something like “triangularity” never express every single possible triangle, but only some idealized, but concrete, representation of the concept. So, too, there is no concrete ideal of “horseness,” since it must express the essence of every possible concrete horse. Indeed, some concepts are directly of spiritual entities which inherently cannot be physically expressed, such as justice, beauty, truth, oneness, and so forth.

The fact that the human intellect can form such spiritual entities, demonstrates the spirituality of the human soul, since the less perfect cannot produce the more perfect.

Nominalists claim that no such universals exist, but are rather merely names for multiple associated things. Yet, ultimately, there is no way to know which items should share the same predicate unless one already sees what is common in nature to them. More strikingly, no matter how we form them, the irreducible difference between image and concept remains evident as shown above.

And yet, if universal concepts reveal the spiritual powers of man, how is it that animals seem to recognize the common qualities of sense objects, as when the wolf knows all sheep? Such knowledge is not that of a universal concept, but merely a “common image,” whereby similar sensible qualities are perceived as similar in a singular image. It does not prove universal understanding of the nature involved, but merely a response to sensible similarities through the common image. The fact that an animal responds in a common way is no more impressive than that a computer can be programmed to respond to similar sensible objects, since (1) the computer knows nothing and (2) the human understanding of the universal concept remains radically incommensurable with mere knowledge of an image. My article on ape-language studies explains this entire subject in far greater detail than is possible in this short piece. Suffice it to note that for a cat to know the common image of a mouse has far more utility than would be the intellectual understanding of the internal essence – even though a human biologist would prefer the latter.

Because sense knowledge is always dependent on the individualizing, concretizing nature of matter, nothing spiritual is evinced by the animal kingdom. But, the fact that man can form and understand universal concepts free of all such conditions of matter reveals the spiritual nature of human intellectual operations, and thereby, the spiritual nature of the human soul. Since the human soul is free and independent of matter, it must have existence independent of matter as well. Therefore, the separation of that spiritual soul from the material body at death does not entail the end of life for the human person. Man dies, but his spiritual soul is immortal.

Since some operations of the soul are dependent on matter and some are clearly independent of matter, it follows that the human soul is a hylemorphic principle – neither totally separated from the human substance in life, nor yet so existentially dependent upon that composite substance as to be destroyed at death.

Unlike extreme Cartesian dualism, Aristotelian-Thomistic philosophical psychology recognizes the intrinsic relation of the human soul to the whole of man’s being. The fact that the soul integrates both material sensation and spiritual intellection in the same psychic human acts shows that it must be, not a totally separated spirit during life, but rather the substantial form of the living human being. Yet, that substantial form is a hylemorphic principle whose spiritual operations and nature enable it to survive the death of the whole man so as to assure immortal life for the human person.

Whether that form is reunited to a material principle through a resurrection process belongs to the science of theology rather than philosophy. Still, the natural ordination of the form to matter suggests the possibility of a future resurrection.

Dr. Dennis Bonnette

Written by

Dr. Dennis Bonnette retired as a Full Professor of Philosophy in 2003 from Niagara University in Lewiston, New York. He taught philosophy there for thirty-six years and served as Chairman of the Philosophy Department from 1992 to 2002. He lives in Youngstown, New York, with his wife, Lois. They have seven adult children and twenty-five grandchildren. He received his doctorate in philosophy from the University of Notre Dame in 1970. Dr. Bonnette taught philosophy at the college level for 40 years, and is now teaching free courses at the Aquinas School of Philosophy in Lewiston, New York. He is the author of two books, Aquinas' Proofs for God's Existence (The Hague: Martinus-Nijhoff, 1972) and Origin of the Human Species (Ave Maria, FL: Sapientia Press, third edition, 2014), and many scholarly articles.

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  • >The nature of my foot or stomach is not “foot” or “stomach,” but “human,” since my entire being shares the same human nature.

    Why? Why not stomach nature? A human stomach is more similar to a chimp stomach than a human foot. How is this "nature" determined?

    >nature (the way something exists)

    Ok, what is different about the "way" a human stomach exists compared to any other stomach? All I can see is that it grew in a human.

    >The standard argument for an organism’s substantial unity is that, since all its parts act for the good of the whole, rather than just merely for themselves, it must be because they are in fact parts of a whole.

    But they don't. The appendix is neutral or acts to harm the person. Nor is it at all clear what a whole person is. If I cut my hair I'm not less human, and yet my hair did act for the good of me didn't it? If I lose a hand or am born with only one I'm still a whome right? So what makes a whole?

    >single-celled zygote contains all the organs needed to keep this new, unbelievably-tiny human being alive.

    It does? How can a single cell have multicellular tissues? Do you mean organelles? All cells have these.

    >will be acting for the sake of his being a complete and functioning living adult human being

    This is not clear, they may be acting for just the DNA, or even just the mitochondrial DNA, and are using the rest just for their survival.

    >Direct experience of the world tells us that “incoming” data are flooding our consciousness -

    I don't see this. Our experience of the world is not direct, it is mediated through our sense organs. if our experience if the world were direct we would be the world.

    And you recognize this here:

    >We experience this through our five external senses of hearing, tasting, smelling, touching and seeing.

    So is it direct, or is it through senses?

    >Some reason for the unity of the whole self must be posited.

    Sure, all, or most parts of a human are unified, (i e. act for the well being of a human) because they are material that evolved to keep the human alive to reproduce. The human is a carrier for DNA.

    >would be the substantial form, or soul, which animates the entire organism to be and to act as a single substantial unity.

    I dont see why I would attach "form" or "soul" to this fact that most if the parts of organisms act generally for the well being of that organism, unless they don't work. This seems to be adding unnecessary concepts to account for something that is easily explained by material and evolution .

    >purely physical things can never apprehend the “wholeness” of an experience

    Because the s "wholeness" is an undefined ad hoc concept, as is your claim that it can be apprehended by anyone material or spiritual.

    >They always “image” something by having one part represent one part of the object and another part represent another part – with no single part representing (apprehending) the whole.

    Why should anyone think anything else is happening?

    >But, a living, sensing dog looking at the screen can see the image of another whole dog and bark at it.

    Because when pixels flicker quickly on a TV in a way so designed, they create an image on the dog's retina that is very similar to how a dog sees another real dog.

    >Because the dog, unlike purely material things such as a TV screen, has something not extended in space, which enables it to apprehend the image as a single whole.

    No this is a completely unnecessary and superfluous speculation. A dog seeing an image is perfectly explained on materialism. There is no need to invent an extra "something" .
    >That is why machines sense nothing -

    Machines sense things all the time.

    >Yet, that is precisely what can be done by animals and men.

    And facial recognition tech...

    • Sample1

      After a bit of thinking I decided to abandon, for good reasons I believe, my first attempt to deconstruct the article which took the form of discussing Schrödinger’s cat sailing the Ship of Theseus.

      Mike

      • OMG

        Wasn't that cat half dead on arrival? WAIT! Aren't you a vet?

  • >the human intellect manifests other operations demonstrably totally independent of matter – actions such as self-reflection, understanding, judging, and reasoning

    Does it? Try doing so without a brain.

    >for modern materialists, all knowledge, whether direct sensation or “intellectual” ideas, is merely sensory in nature,

    I wouldn't say so, a materialist can think purely abstractly, albeit with a material brain, but abstract thought is not "sensory"

    >The fact that the human intellect can form such spiritual entities,

    What spiritual entities. Are you saying that the cincepc of a three sided polygon is a spiritual entity? Why would we call it that instead of a geometric shape?

  • Chad Higgins

    Thanks for illustrating that the basis for the immortality of the soul as taught in mainstream Christianity rests on the pagan philosophy of the Greeks, not God's Word. The breath of life is mysterious in that is a divine life force that animates naturally inanimate elements, and when God breathed the breath of life into man's nostrils he became a living soul. We also are told that the soul that sins shall die and, that when it does, the breath retuns to God upon death. The weight of biblical evidence is that this breath that returns to God is not conscious upon death. There is a spiritual reality to our existence, but just as software does not exist independently of hardware, our soul does not consciously exist independently of our physical brain. Hence, the necessity of a physical resurrection.

    • David Nickol

      . . . . but just as software does not exist independently of hardware, our soul does not consciously exist independently of our physical brain.

      How, then, do you explain the doctrine of Purgatory? If consciousness (or some kind of awareness, whatever it may be) ends at death and only resumes at the resurrection of the body, then what can Purgatory do? Nothing, it would seem. Also, how do you explain the Catholic practice of praying to saints? If they are just "software" awaiting a body to resume their conscious existence, then how can they hear prayers, intercede with God, and (in the case of candidates for canonization) be responsible for miraculous cures?

      I think the Catholic idea of the Communion of Saints includes all the faithful on Earth plus all the souls (including canonized saints) already in heaven making up the Body of Christ. This concept would make no sense if all the souls referred to as being "in heaven" were software awaiting reunion with a physical brain.

      rests on the pagan philosophy of the Greeks, not God's Word.

      I am no expert here, but I believe that "rests on" is correct only if is acknowledged that Christianity took up Aristotelian philosophy and modified it past the point that Aristotle himself took it. As far as I know, Aristotle did not believe in the immortality of the soul, not would it have made sense to him.

      • Ficino

        Chad Higgins may return to explain his position further, but I would guess that he is not a Catholic but perhaps, a Seventh Day Adventist or Jehovah's Witness or adherent of another sect that denies the conscious existence of the disembodied soul.

      • WCB

        Aristotle, De Interpretatione. The Great Sea Battle puzzle.Aristotle reasoned the Universe was not determinate and the future did not exist yet. God out of time and beyond rime was an alien concept to Aristotle.

        Universal soul. When we died, our soul rejoined with God's soul. Condemned by the Papacy in the 1277 Condemnations. Catholic Universities were forbidden to teach Aristotle.

  • Ficino

    "I finished the book comforted in wanting to be part of the transcendental life rather than just another simple part of materialist entropic existence in the universe ... This book proves that if you ask the question, there is only an affirmative answer, to be denied by the unconscious hatred of believers by pseudoscientists who are unable to believe (or accept) that they are only made in the image and likeness of God and therefore cannot really be gods themselves."

    ??? It sounds as though you were influenced to adopt theism (and Overman) at least in part by emotion, viz. comfort that you derive from the way its doctrines satisfy wants of yours, while you charge skeptics with being wrong to disagree with theism because of *their* emotion.

  • Jim (hillclimber)

    I agree with most of the points made here, but I'd like to probe the point made in the very last sentence. It seems to me that that the "ingredients" necessary for resurrection are patently available in any case, because everything that has ever existed exists eternally in God. In other words, once a thing has existed, it ALWAYS will have existed. The past is always there. At least, in "God's memory", it doesn't go away. So, while this theory of the immortality of the soul seems reasonable to me, I don't see it as necessary to underwrite belief in resurrection.

    • Dennis Bonnette

      I am sure you realize that this article is in some sense simply an outline of the philosophical steps leading to the conclusion that the human soul is spiritual and immortal. That is why I suspect that some will see the logic of each step, while others, such as BGA, will see nothing but grounds for objections. It presupposes that the reader knows some A-T lines of reasoning and can follow their application to the present theme. The references are also crucial, especially the one to my "ape language article."

      As to the question you raise here, I am not certain that I grasp your point. Surely, you do not embrace the kind of concept of "resurrection" held by the Jehovah's Witnesses, who claim that man goes out of existence completely and that only a certain number are recreated at the Last Judgment.

      The spirituality and immortality of the soul are necessary for the ontological continuity of personal existence between the time of death and the time that God resurrects the human soul by again making it the form of a body. We may exist in God's mind at all times, but there is a real difference for us between when we are alive and when we are dead. Death means the soul is separated from the body and what was once the body "returns to dust." It then requires God's direct act to give back a body to that now separated soul. What am I missing in what you are trying to express?

      • Jim (hillclimber)

        That's a good answer, thanks. I agree that resurrection is not really resurrection unless it involves some sort of not-completely-discontinuous transformation of the existing world. Otherwise it may be reincarnation or reconstitution or something, but that is not the Christian idea. So, fair enough on that point.

        I guess the point that I was obliquely driving toward is along these lines: In Romans 8, Paul says that "creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God." He doesn't say that only those beings with spiritual and immortal souls will share in that glorious freedom. So, I suppose one way of voicing my quasi-objection is to say that even if your conclusions regarding the immortality of the human soul are correct, that would only get us part way to the theoretical underpinnings that would be necessary to make Paul's vision of resurrection life theoretically plausible.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          As you know, I am not a scripture scholar, but perhaps the text you cite simply means that the re-created physical world in which the saved will live will not itself be subject to the corruption (positive entropy?) of the present world. The physical world may share in the "glorious freedom" of the saved solely in the analogical sense of being "freed" from the natural corruption of the present world.

          One must be careful in attempting too literal a transition from the nature of the present world to the next one. St. Thomas, when pondering the nature of the world to come, said it was simply "other." Bear in mind how little we really know, even of this world. We have no direct knowledge of spiritual things, and even of this present physical world, our knowledge is badly limited to that narrow "slice" of reality apprehended by our five external senses. Consider how much of this world we can only indirectly reason to, for example, atoms, energy fields, the entire cosmos beyond the reach of our technology, all trans-sensible physical data, even the ultra violet and infra red spectrum.

          Much less do we know of the world to come. It must be even more real than the present world, since it is the spiritual world which is responsible for the existence of this physical world. God, who is immaterial, created that limited form of existence known as the material world. The effect cannot be greater than its cause, but rather, vice versa. So, the world to come will be more real than anything we experience in this world. And yet, it will be simply "other."

          As C.S. Lewis suggests, your favorite pet dog will be in Heaven, "if you want him to be," (but don't expect it will be ontologically the same dog you knew in this world!).

          • OMG

            As usual, you give a good discussion, Jim and Dr. B. I'm no scripture scholar either but here are a few relevant verses:

            Matthew 24:35-36 - Heaven and earth will pass away, but my words will never pass away. But about that day or hour no one knows,..

            Luke 21:33 - Heaven and earth will pass away, but My words will not pass away.

            2 Peter 3:10 - The day of the Lord will come like a thief, and on that day the heavens will vanish with great violence; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything on it will be consumed by fire."

            Revelation 21:2 - And I saw a new Jerusalem, the holy city, coming down out of heaven from God, beautiful as a bride prepared to meet her husband. And I heard a loud voice from the throne cry out, "This is God's dwelling among men."

        • WCB

          That all depends on what one's conception of the Kingdom of God really is. St Augustine, in his "City of God - Book Xlll" tell us that the world will be resurrected after the second coming without the imperfections of this world, death, illness etc. A wordly new order, not some vague heaven elsewhere.

          • Jim (hillclimber)

            No disagreement here, and I don't think that that should really be controversial. I think a more or less "standard" Catholic approach is to say that resurrection life is envisioned as both partly continuous and partly discontinuous with this present life. Paul's famous metaphor for this continuity / disontinuity is that of seed sprouting into a plant.

  • WCB

    Any discussion of nature of souls soon would involve itself in other speculations. For example, a God outside of time, in a Universe with no past, present, future to God, one Big Now. Complete in all it's minutest details. Including all souls and all their acts to the smallest detail, created all at once in a timeless creation. Thus God created all souls that are evil, being evil to the smallest detail, and good souls to the smallest degree. If a soul is a great intellect a great thinker, God created it that way, if barley capable of thought, God is responsible for that. Why the latter? How to account for evil souls from a perfectly good God?

    If we drop that idea of a timeless god, where does time come from so powerful even God must be subject to time? Since time is part and parcel of a naturalistic world, our velocity influences are passage of time, mass and dimensions, this entails God is subject to a naturalistic world of physics. Or maybe that natural world is all there is and god is a phantasm? God and time is a big theological puzzle, adding souls to that pile is just more puzzles.

    • Dennis Bonnette
      • WCB

        Well, no. This does not really deal with the situation I was posting here.

        Dr. Dennis Bonnette
        "God, in a simple eternal act of will, causes all events in physical
        creation to take place at their appointed times. All beginnings and
        changes take place in creatures, not God. Indeed, time and space themselves are part of the world’s created limitations. "

        So each activity of a soul was created by God and takes place in a pseudo-Universe of space and time. "Limitations" But only for us, not God. And all of this was created at once, timelessly, by God outside of time. The problem remains. Why is one soul created doing evil actions and is damned, and another is not so created. A God that creates all at once out of time is a theological problem. It makes problems for the theories of existence of souls and their nature and connection with our corperate existence.

        And as your article argues, God has free will it is a problem as to why God does create some souls elect and others not again , abandoning God outside and beyond timr and space creates the problem of explaining where time comes from, and space, that even God must obey.

        I see this all as a very serious issue for theology with no way out..

        • Dennis Bonnette

          You cite the correct paragraph in my article, but I don't think you grasp the way the metaphysics works.

          Space and time are real limitations -- not of God -- but of his physical creation. God does not create the whole thing -- like a static universe in which everything is already done and over with -- but in accord with the creatures' natures as things existing in time. Thus time unfolds for the creatures, although not for God. God sees it as unfolding, not because of any change in himself, but because that is the manner in which we exist and he knows us perfectly in the temporal unfolding of our sequential existence.

          In an eternal, unchanging act of creation, God wills and causes to exist the entire order of creation -- but he does so in accordance with creation's nature as something existing in time whose history unfolds sequentially through time. This entails no changes for God, but rather solely for creatures. To cause a change is to produce a change in the effect, not necessarily in that which causes the change in the effect.

          When a physical agent causes a change in something, it itself also changes. But that does not mean that a spiritual agent is subject to the same rule. The change in a physical agent arises because of the nature of physical things. It does not apply to a cause as cause, but solely as a physical cause. A cause as cause causes a change in the effect, not in itself.

          God does not create a soul doing evil actions, but rather, he creates a soul with free will. The creature then exercises that free will in time so as to deserve his own freely chosen damnation. So, too, with the rational creature that is created free and then freely chooses good deeds and merits heaven.

          It is not as though God creates the person with his sins or virtues already in existence at the same time as he is created. That would indeed make God responsible for the creature's fate. But rather, the creature is created in time -- and in time freely determines his own fate. God sustains his own nature's exercise of free will, but does not make the choices for him. They are the creature's choices, just like when I raise my hand, I cannot do it without God's help, but it is my hand that is raised, not God's.

          You don't seem to understand where time and space come from. Space arises from the creation of physical creatures whose nature is to exist as extended bodies having real distances between each other. Such creatures are subject to motion as they undergo bodily changes. Time is the measure of motion in reference to before and after. So, time and space are natural limitation of physical creatures. God could have created only spiritual things, but he freely chose to create physical creatures as well.

          Your seemingly intractable "theological" issues would dissolve if you grasped properly just what the metaphysics of creation actually entails.

          • WCB

            I will have to disagree. If God creates all, at once, timelessly, then there is no A temporally causes B causes C cause D etc. The only connection is God creates A as it is, B as it is, C, D, and so on. We cannot have any free will when God creates all our actions in the Big Now at once, in it's entirety. This goes for our corporeal selves, our souls, angels, devils, all things with sentience. If God creates outside of this illusionary thing we call time, then free will is in theory, impossible.

            I have been looking at metaphysics for many a year, and theology, and have wasted many an hour reading aboutthese various theories, such as St Augustine's "Confessions - Book XI" about the mysteries of God and time. And following this thread through time from there. I assure you I understand the art of metaphysical speculation. I have to say I have not seen what I would call a reasonable solution to the puzzle. So far as I have read, the best is at best, special pleading and missing the point.

            Even worse, as Augustine notes, Iif God is outside of time, then creation is not an event. Creation is out of time and itself is eternal. All is as it is including God's most intimate connections to all that has been created as it is and it cannot be other than it is. God cannot change, cannot thave changed creation, including his part in it. He has no free will either. All is as it is and always has been as it is, and can never change. I call this the Flies In Amber scenario. We are all alike, us, angels, God like flies in amber petrified as is forever.

            If we take this God is outside of time and creates everything idea seriously, we arrive at a rather strange situation that demonstrates that this God out of time idea is not a good one, taken to it's logical conclusion. Which obviously, Augustine did not do despite being close to the start of the puzzle.

            As far as metaphysics go, it has been my habit to try to notice these little loose ends and take them to their logical conclusions. To answer the questions, "does this idea such as god out of time" make sense?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Now you are really raising two separate questions: (1) how free will is possible for creatures in time, and (2) how even God himself can have free will.

            I addressed the second question in the same article I cited before:
            https://strangenotions.com/god-eternity-free-will-and-the-world/

            But the general problem you have arises, it seems to me, from your failing to really put God outside of time.

            There simply is no BIG NOW in which God is creating all things at once, for the simple reason that God is not in time. While God is an eternal now, this does not mean that he is in any way limited by acting in time any more than that he is existing in time.

            Time has a beginning for creation, not for God. Events have a temporal unfolding for creatures, not for God.

            Since time is a quality of creation, not God, it in no way affects his mode of existence, although God can affect its mode and sequence of being.

            You seem to be thinking that God is stuck at some moment in time in which he must all at once create every sequential event in creation -- so that they are all frozen in exactly the status in which he creates them -- forever. This is a complete misconception of how creation occurs and how God exists.

            When we say God is the Eternal Now this does not mean he is somehow fixed to be and to act at some fixed point in time in an eternally frozen way. If you read my article again regarding divine freedom, you will see that he is free to act regarding lesser chosen goods than his own perfection, but that his free choice regarding those goods is itself eternally unchanging.

            God being unable to change in no way restricts his perfect freedom, since his inability to change is a suppositional inability. That is, given that he has made certain choices, he is eternally unable to not have made those choices. But that does not mean that they were not perfectly free choices as my article demonstrates.

            I notice you call time an "illusionary thing." That is a major error. Time is not an illusion. You are freezing reality into slices of unchanging time sequences that are fixed by God all at once in his initial creative act. But God, not being limited by time, rather creates time in creating the world -- and the sequence of temporal events takes place because of his continued creation, which we call "conservation."

            God continues to create the world as it takes place through real time with free creatures being sustained in their acting according to their free natures so as to make free choices in time.

            We say that God "from all eternity" wills and creates the world to exist and temporally unfold in this manner. All this is simply the way God chose to create the world and has nothing to do whatever with him somehow being himself within time or constrained by time.

            Again, time is a property of the world, not of God. You are putting God somehow into the world of his creation by constraining him by time frames which simply do not belong to him.

            Once you see that God is truly utterly outside of time for the same reason he is outside of his creation -- as a cause is outside of its effect, then all the nonsensical consequences which you predicate of God and the free will of creatures instantly disappear.

          • Sample1

            God is...outside of time

            Never mind that it’s spacetime now, nobody, alive or dead, has ever offered a coherent explanation of how that claim is cognitively mappable and therefore potentially useful as a logical premise.

            I place this in the same non sequitur category as classical nothing which is also mappably incoherent. Mappable nothing is now technically something.

            Of course, you will disagree. That’s fine. But at least you can be witness to opposing claims. Invincibly ignorant you no longer are, not that a secular afterlife was ever on offer though. ;-)

            Mike

          • Dennis Bonnette

            WCB has made certain inferences of incoherence following from what he takes to be the claims of classical metaphysics about God. What I have done above is simply to show that those inferences do not follow, provided one clarifies the proper understanding of God and his relation to a world of creatures existing in a temporally unfolding world.

            What you say has to do with the validity and coherence of the classical metaphysics itself. And yes, we do disagree.

          • WCB

            Classic metaphysics. Aristotle, the Sea Battle argument. The future does not exist yet and is not determinate. Plotinus, Simplicity of God. Jewish theology. God is eternal. The idea of God is not subject to time was pretty much an idea from Augustine, and later Boethius. Only post Augustine did the idea that God is outside of time become prominent. Nobody seems to have dealt with this issue deeply from the era of classical metaphysics. If God is outside of time, and past, future and present are really one thing, all existent together that makes the Universe determinate, and hard determinate at that. All existence is "hard fact". Only with the 20th century has metaphysics really began to take a hard look at what this all means.

            If God is outside of time and all is in One Big Now, that includes God's actual existence and actions in this Big Now. God then is truly immutable. A rather hard variety of immutable at that. Which makes the idea of God creating all a very shaky proposition. All has always existed in all its detail, and has always been being created. As Augustine noted. God then is not the creator with a plan we usually are taught to think of.

            With God outside of time, in One Big Now, there was no before, God contemplated creating the material Universe, the created the material Universe, and watched it unfold. So how did we all (including God) get to where we are all now?

            It is as if all sprang into existence timelessly without beginning or any sort of planning, like a Universe popping out of nothing all that was, is and will be all at once. Well, no, not popping out, just is. Immutable, unchangable, unchanging, flies in amber.

            When one runs this all down to it's logical conclusion it leads to weirdness that is hard to wrap one's mind around.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Sorry to keep making your mind wrap around something that seems so weird to you, but I am simply explaining the classical conception of God as Eternal Creator proposed by Christian philosophers for millennia.

            The conception I defend flows from the nature of God as discerned through the proofs for his existence. I do not propose to offer an entire course in natural theology here, but if you look all the way back to Aristotle, you will see that God is known through the phenomenon of motion. Since motion is reduction from potency to act, and nothing moves itself primarily, things in motion lead back to a First Mover Unmoved.

            But Aristotle's philosophy of nature (his Physics) studies ens mobile (being subject to motion). And since motion is a reduction from potency to act, the First Mover Unmoved must be Pure Act, meaning it is entirely outside the realm of things subject to motion. Since what is thus immobile cannot be physical, the First Mover is spiritual. Since it cannot move, it cannot change, and hence, cannot be in time, since Aristotle defines time as the measure of motion in regard to before and after.

            All of this is merely to show that classical metaphysics as found in Aristotle was well aware that God was neither subject to time nor change. What Neo-Platonic thought added was the notion that God created the world by necessity of his nature, and what Christians added was that this was a free creation in time.

            > "If God is outside of time, and past, future and present are really one thing, all existent together that makes the Universe determinate, and hard determinate at that. All existence is "hard fact"."

            The missed point here is that "if God is outside of time," past, present, and future simply don't exist for him -- except in that he knows the temporal succession which really exists for his creatures created as changeable (mobile) beings subject to the limitation of time. Past, present, and future are not "really one thing" for creatures which are created within their own unfolding space-time continuum.

            Saying that "past, present, and future are really one thing" does not make them one thing. Rather, they are successive states of being in creatures -- known and created as they actually are in time, but by a timeless free act of an infinitely powerful extra-temporal First Cause.

            I know this is hard for you to grasp, but God is properly conceived as an eternal being totally identical to his own eternal free act of choosing whatever objects he freely creates. The succession of time in those objects mark the limits of their existence, not God's.

          • Ficino

            I think there are difficulties created by the attempt to meld Aristotle and later Platonism with Christian doctrine. I suggest three:

            1, "And since motion is a reduction from potency to act, the First Mover Unmoved must be Pure Act, meaning it is entirely outside the realm of things subject to motion."

            The UM as per Metaphysics Lambda does not operate upon anything. It is desired by the first heaven, eternally. But in a system that claims a creation by the UM out of nothing, there is no first heaven to desire the UM, and thus to be in motion, until - and I use "until" the way Aquinas uses "antequam fieret" and the like - the UM creates the first heaven. But that means the first heaven did not eternally desire the UM; the first heaven's motion had to be kick-started by some other mover. The UM. So the UM operates upon creatures that move in time. The UM of Christianity, unlike Aristotle's UM, is not then "entirely outside the realm of things subject to motion." It is very tricky to prove that when A operates upon B as efficient cause, B is in a real relation to A but A is not in a real relation to B.

            2. "The missed point here is that "if God is outside of time," past, present, and future simply don't exist for him -- except in that he knows the temporal succession which really exists for his creatures created as changeable (mobile) beings subject to the limitation of time."

            The UM in Metaphysics Lambda 7 and 9, as I know you know well, is thought thinking its own thinking. Aquinas has to find a way to explain how the UM also thinks of particular events undergone by embodied creatures, and I am guessing we both know many of the texts in which he tries to explain this. But Aristotle has no such difficulty. His UM is to creation as the beautiful beloved is to the nebbish that loves him/her from across a crowded room. And Aristotle's UM is desired by the first heaven in this way forever. No creation to explain, no divine concern with embodied particulars to, shall I dare to say, spin.

            3. We know how Aristotle allows that *nous* is/may be the immortal part of the human's soul, that it is divine. The soul faculties that are functions of embodiment will not survive death in Aristotle. Intellectual soul, which comes in "from outside the door," θύραθεν, through pneuma in generation, is all that can be immortal of soul, if that. No memory, no φαντασίαι, no deliberation about particulars, no induction, can be operations of disembodied "nous." But if the objects of disembodied nous' intellection are just intelligibles, as they must be, then there is no basis upon which to distinguish your disembodied intellect from Socrates' - both will think the same universals and thus be informed by the same content. Again, we know how Aquinas tries to argue that disembodied souls, though diminished by separation from their bodies before the Resurrection, still retain knowledge of particulars. Since particulars are individuated by their matter, and nous knows intelligibles, this does not compute. You cannot have individual identities without the individual imprinting of sensible objects, and that drops away when the intellect is purged of all material dross. The Christian picture of a cloud of souls, each one an individual person, cannot be reconciled with the doctrine that only intellectual soul survives the body.

            As I say, I've read Aquinas' attempts to surmount these problems, and I don't find them convincing. But already this comment is too long! Anyway, I appreciate your digging into this rich material, and what do I know - I may have it all wrong. This stuff in the literature is "streng bestritten." Cheers, F

          • Dennis Bonnette

            It is getting a bit late on Thanksgiving Day, but I thank you for reminding us that some fifteen centuries separate "The Philosopher" and Aquinas. Of prime import is what you point out, namely, that Aristotle's UM moves as a final cause, not an efficient cause. And, of course, we both know that Aristotle, near the end of Metaphysics, Book Λ, looks for movers of all the various astronomical spheres, thus leading him to be unsure whether there are 47 or 55 such first movers -- movers which are not persons, but pure intelligences. Still near the end of that text he refers to the quote from the Illiad, "The rule of many is not good; one ruler let there be," thus hinting at a singular ultimate mover.

            Clearly, St. Thomas does his best to "baptize" Aristotle, wherever it it reasonably possible -- and admittedly his inference of personal immortality in Aristotle differs from the impersonal interpretations of Averroes and Avicenna. You raise some excellent difficulties concerning the knowledge of separated souls. Some of these questions border on the theological as well as philosophical, since God has the ability to work miracles outside the expected order of nature. No, I am not suggesting that that should be the way of solving all these puzzles, but one must remain open to some possibilities not expected by purely natural reasoning. After all, the separated soul can obtain its knowledge through direct infusion from God.

            As you can see, the thrust of my article is something of a general overview of the steps entailed in proving the human soul's immortality -- limited in detail by the brevity of the venue. I was also concerned to make the case for the hylemorphic doctrine as it relates to the soul.

          • Ben Champagne

            Why is classical nothing mappably incoherent and why is God outside of time not cognitively mappable?

          • Sample1

            Because both are unthinkable propositions, full stop. I’ll elaborate.

            They are proper only as grammatical and syntactical sentences. That’s not enough to actually impart any meaning or understanding to them.

            Consider this sentence: swimming is under the whimsical for karaoke kites.

            We have a sentence that is formed without grammatical or syntactical error but it is also a sentence containing no expository meaning. The sentence contains no meaning because there is no valid concept presented that can be mapped cognitively. It’s unthinkable. When that occurs we reasonably say, in its current form, such a sentence is incoherent.

            Incoherent sentences are possible as being linguistically structured correctly. This is a feature, not a bug in language formation. Without an ability to form incoherent sentences we’d have no benchmark to gauge what is coherent speech.

            The task is heavy here. The claimant must demonstrate that “outside of time” is an understandable concept. What is thought about it? Is it an insurmountable task? I don’t know. But without offering meaning there is nothing unreasonable in rejecting that it is useful or of value in evaluating the proposition’s truthfulness.

            So you may ask, “why would a claimant even think such a sentence was offerable?” I have my ideas. Ok, I’ll put some out there.

            Some people think philosophical mileage is on offer in the space of uncertainty. In a sense it is, but if the original uncertainty is never explained, the succeeding claims will remain vulnerable. Some people are also just sloppy thinkers. Still others lack the ability to place concepts into language. That’s not unusual. If another form of communication isn’t used, like mathematics or logic, the concept remains persuasively impotent. That’s why I asked the author for a syllogism. What typically happens is that the language of theology is employed. That’s fine, until, however, theology trespasses into the natural and uses words like time. Then we are back to square one: incoherence.

            Usually the last move open to the claimant is an appeal to faith or emotion. I do not say faith and emotion aren’t real, but they are not reliable pathways to truth. Emotion can be useful and commanding for some life situations but it never adds to the truth of a claim. And faith? Anyone can justify anything with faith which isn’t helpful, to be fair, it may even be futile, to be realistic.

            Thank you for the question.

            Mike
            Edit done, finished.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Now that I see where you are going, I am confirmed in my judgment not to put this very complex argument into syllogistic form.

            Not everything is logic. Logic is the order of second intentions, or the relation of concepts to each other in the mind. But logic presupposes the order of first intentions, that is, judgments about reality itself. That is why logicians struggle to make existential judgments, using such methods as application of quantifiers ad nauseum. I am not entirely unfamiliar with this game, since I have a doctoral minor in symbolic logic from the University of Notre Dame. But logic is not the sum and total of philosophy. In fact, what is clear is that Aristotle, who largely "invented" logic in his Prior Analytics and Posterior Analytics, must have presupposed metaphysical judgments before doing so. And no, I am not ignorant of modern mathematical logic, as I indicated above.

            The truth is that all our judgments begin in sensation, since, as both modern empiricists and Aristotle affirm, all knowledge begins in the senses. But the mind is not limited to judgments about sensation, since it "sees" the being and nature of the objects known in sensation. That is because we have an intellect as well as senses, which allows us to make sensio-intellective judgments. Basically, the senses do not make judgments of existence. What we call "intellect" does. Nor do the senses grasp the intrinsic natures of things, since they are limited to external sense qualities alone.

            You assert that judgments about God being "outside of space and time" are incoherent. You say that they are "unthinkable." But is a judgment that something must exist unthinkable? Is a judgment that something does not have the properties of time and space unthinkable? Let us see.

            I cannot go through all the proofs for God's existence here (for that, anyone can read my book on the subject), but let me briefly outline how we philosophically infer that God is outside of time and space.

            Time and space are properties of the physical world. The proofs for God, for example, the prima via, begin with physical properties known through sensation, such as motion. Reasoning from such phenomena, the conclusion is reached that something must exist which causes the coming-to-be of physical things, but which it itself cannot be physical. Specifically, Aristotle in his Physics, studies ens mobile, or movable being, and concludes finally that a first mover unmoved must exist which itself is Pure Act, and hence, immovable in its very nature.

            That is, beginning with objects subject to the limitations of time and space, the argument concludes that something must exist which is not subject to the limitations of time and space. That is, it concludes to a "negative judgment of separation." Such a judgment affirms that something exists, but denies that it has the physical properties of extension in space and duration in time.

            This is not incoherent, since we begin with real things whose existence must be explained. But reason demands that an adequate cause for such things must exist, and yet, in the process of the argument it becomes clear that no ultimate and adequate explanatory cause can be found, unless it is free of the limitations of time and space which are properties of the starting point of the argument.

            Thus is concluded that, for example, a First Mover must exist which itself transcends the world of things subject to motion (having the properties of space and time).

            You may disagree with this conclusion, or you may wish to argue that the classical demonstrations, such as I analyse in my book, are invalid. But this does not make the conclusion automatically incoherent or based merely on faith or emotion.

            On the contrary, what you appear to be doing is simply defining such metaphysical conclusions to be impossible a priori, and hence, unworthy of philosophical investigation. This appears to be a good argumentative move, since it stops philosophical investigation before it begins. But, unfortunately, it assumes what it attempts to prove, since the only way we can demonstrate that proofs for God are invalid would be to examine them and show that there is no rational basis for concluding, for example, that God is outside time and space. Simply asserting that such judgments are incoherent entails the logical fallacy of begging the question.

          • Sample1

            Now that I see where you are going, I am confirmed in my judgment not to put this very complex argument into syllogistic form. Not everything is logic.

            My comment isn’t about logic being everything. Syllogisms are going to fall out of your article and logic is perfectly at home in those instances. But, if you think I am saying logic is everything then you’re right, but surprise! I’m not. All we need for philosophy is a single word like why or how. From there philosophy hits up against logic pretty fast which is where things get interesting.

            Logic is the order of second intentions, or the relation of concepts to each other in the mind.

            Logic is adapted to the subject under discussion, rather than being “the order of second intentions.”

            But logic presupposes the order of first intentions, that is, judgments about reality itself.

            You seem to be incorrectly conflating a logical first intention which isn’t an action, classically understood, with judgements that are.

            That is why logicians struggle to make existential judgments, using such methods as application of quantifiers ad nauseum.

            Struggle is ok in my worldview! I’m glad you don’t dismiss Sam Harris’ science/morality out of hand a priori. /s

            I am not entirely unfamiliar with this game, since I have a doctoral minor in symbolic logic from the University of Notre Dame.

            Well, you’re far ahead of me there. But if your minor was in symbolic logic, why do you claim first intentional logic makes those judgements which belong to second intentions? Symbolic logic should be in your wheelhouse of understanding. Perhaps you disagree with what you were taught? We have to be on the same page here.

            But logic is not the sum and total of philosophy.

            Agreed but without logic, philosophy is barely on life support.

            In fact, what is clear is that Aristotle, who largely "invented" logic in his Prior Analytics and Posterior Analytics, must have presupposed metaphysical judgments before doing so.

            Metaphysics without logic is that iron lung thing-y again. But here you’re really stretching credulity. It’s one thing to say a metaphysical judgement can be presupposed, quite another to infer such concepts augur with reality.

            And no, I am not ignorant of modern mathematical logic, as I indicated above.

            I don’t think I inferred that. Apologies if I did.

            The truth is that all our judgments begin in sensation, since, as both modern empiricists and Aristotle affirm, all knowledge begins in the senses.

            That’s fine Mr. Kant. The details that might follow is what interests me. Let’s not discuss Spinoza, Mill or Dewey.

            But the mind is not limited to judgments about sensation, since it "sees" the being and nature of the objects known in sensation.

            What school of thought teaches that? Phenomenology? That would be cool if you were into phenomenology but last time I studied it I only foresaw my future self drinking out of a brown paper bag. I can hear you laughing.

            That is because we have an intellect as well as senses, which allows us to make sensio-intellective judgments.

            Cat has my tongue on this. Maybe it snatched it out as it leapt away into another topic?

            Basically, the senses do not make judgments of existence. What we call "intellect" does.

            Ah, here is where the cat landed. Here is where I would use reason rather than the word intellect or at a minimum in conjunction with it. I’m sure you’re aware of why that’s a distinction for me but not necessarily one for you.

            Nor do the senses grasp the intrinsic natures of things, since they are limited to external sense qualities alone.

            All I claim to work with are models for nature. I honestly don’t have a need (yet) to worry about what the word intrinsic means in philosophy. That does not mean I’m dismissing it.

            You assert that judgments about God being "outside of space and time" are incoherent.

            Yes, they are. I dispensed with qualifiers like seems to be for combox dramatic effect.

            It is "unthinkable."

            Yes. Si, Ja, Tak, Da. Oui. Evolution shaped our brains for thinking in three spatial dimensions and one of time. Saying god is outside time is equivalent to saying god is outside of an infinite amount of spacetime dimensions. The sentence is thinkable, the subject is not.

            But is a judgment that something must exist unthinkable?

            Completely different question that depends on your argument construct, not mine. Again, it’s the subject (what are we being asked to judge?). The subject is a god outside of time. Other judgements are not unthinkable. This is a critical distinction.

            Is a judgment that something does not have the properties of time and space unthinkable?

            The act of judgement, as explained, isn’t the issue. It’s the subject. What’s unthinkable, because incoherence follows, is something (with all the properties a something requires) that is outside of spacetime. That’s what’s unthinkable, not the act of a judgement which the way you’re using it should be termed speculation. But I understand why you are using judgement.

            Let us see.
            I cannot go through all the proofs for God's existence here (for that anyone can read my book on the subject), but let me briefly outline how we philos ophically infer that God is outside of time and space.

            Every proof of god on record has a counter argument that keeps god geographically important but universally gasping.

            Time and space are properties of the physical world.

            Maybe, maybe not. We don’t really know what time and space are, we just describe behavior. Spacetime is more like a stage where physicality happens. That doesn’t mean spacetime is physical.

            The proofs for God, for example, the prima via, begin with physical properties known through sensation, such as motion. Reasoning from such phenomena, the conclusion is reached that something must exist which causes the coming-to-be of physical things, but which it itself cannot be physical.

            Specifically, Aristotle in his Physics, studies ens mobile, or movable being, and concludes finally that a first mover unmoved must exist which itself is Pure Act, and hence, immovable in its very nature.That is, beginning with objects subject to time and space, the argument concludes that something must exist which is not subject to the limitations of time and space. That is, it concludes to a "negative judgment of separation." Such a judgment affirms that something exists, but denies that it has the physical properties of extension in space and duration in time.

            Aristotle blundered. QED.

            This is not incoherent, since we begin with real things whose existence must be explained. But reason demands that an adequate cause for such things must exist, and yet, in the process of the argument it becomes clear that no ultimate and adequate explanatory cause can be found, unless it is free of the limitations of time and space which are properties of the starting point of the argument.

            Good tl;dr even though we both know why I disagree at this point.

            Thus is concluded that, for example, a First Mover must exist which itself transcends the world of things subject to motion (having the properties of space and time).

            Conclusions are often mistaken. And Aristotle is mistaken.

            You may disagree with this conclusion, or you may wish to argue that the classical demonstrations, such as I analyse in my book, are invalid. But this does not make the conclusion automatically incoherent or based merely on faith or emotion.

            It’s close, I see that, but ultimately incoherent because if you deny first intentions there is no way to see god and it’s at that point faith or emotion can enter. Why the latter isn’t embraced is interesting to me.

            On the contrary, what you appear to be doing is simply defining such metaphysical conclusions to be impossible a priori, and hence, unworthy of philosophical investigation.

            Not really. I’m not calling for thought control. Investigate all you like. It’s your job to convince me.

            This appears to be a good argumentative move, since it stops philosophical investigation before it begins. But, unfortunately, it assumes what it attempts to prove, since the only way we can demonstrate that proofs for God are invalid would be to examine them and show that there is no rational basis for concluding, for example, that God is outside time and space. Simply asserting that such judgments are incoherent entails the logical fallacy of begging the question.

             
            Well, I appreciate your response and thank you for reading mine. It was fun to refresh ideas from the scholastics to the moderns. If you see a specific position that is horrendously mistaken on my part feel free to recommend a book or online tutorial. Until then, I’m glad you are a frequent contributor to SN.

            Mike

          • Dennis Bonnette

            >"What’s unthinkable, because incoherence follows, is something (with all the properties a something requires) that is outside of spacetime."

            I almost fear we are talking past each other here. By the way, I do not "deny first intentions," but I am using those terms in a manner consistent with scholastic usage -- and correctly so. It is precisely the order of first intentions that allow the mind to attain extramental reality in the first place.

            That aside, I get the idea that you find the entire thought of a thing (substance) existing without the properties of spacetime to be inherently incoherent. If so, I refer you back to the outline of the argument I gave for proving God in my prior comment. Perhaps, it is the notion of spacetime that causes problems here. The essence of the proof, though, is that it moves from things in motion to Pure Act, requiring something that cannot have spacetime limitations precisely because it cannot have any limitations at all.

            I realize that this will not convince you of anything, since I am not giving a proof, but merely the schema one would follow if given.

            You contest Aristotle's conclusion. But, I am not giving Aristotle's argument, nor even the ones St. Thomas gives in his five ways. Aristotle's argument entails, in part at least, many moves taken from his Physics, which may not stand modern scrutiny. I am a Thomist first -- with historical roots in Aristotle, who lived fifteen centuries before St. Thomas. St. Thomas far exceeded Aristotle in his metaphysics.

            Moreover, even the famous five ways of St. Thomas do not stand by themselves, since they are merely summaries of his take on some of Aristotle's arguments -- "takes" that he is presenting to students not like the students we find in colleges today. St. Thomas' students were already exceedingly well versed in philosophy -- most all already having studied in detail the Sentences of Peter Lombard.

            So, St. Thomas' proofs for God cannot be read as they stand, but must be understood within the context of the all the metaphysical presuppositions they contain. His students were assumed by him to be quite capable of "filling in the blanks."

            If you really want to grasp the totality of the proofs, you would have to read Garrigou-Langrange's God: His Existence and His Nature, Vol. 1, which gives, not only the proofs near the end of the volume, but nearly two-thirds of the book are spent defending the epistemological and metaphysical presuppositions of the proofs.

            Thank you for your insights and discussion. I have no doubt we shall meet at some other point on this site -- assuming you are satisfied with our present dialogue.

          • Consider this sentence: swimming is under the whimsical for karaoke kites.

            There's also Chomsky's famous: "colorless green ideas sleep furiously." The sentence is grammatically correct, but has no meaning. It's just a word salad, much like many of the claims of Thomism.

          • Rob Abney

            Give us one of the Thomisms that you’re having trouble understanding, maybe we can help you.

          • Sample1

            I get what @haroldnewman:disqus is driving at. One way to answer is that your question, while seemingly succinct, requires a response that would have to lay a lot of groundwork first to not cheat you. Philosophy of science is the bedrock for that groundwork. Epeeist, one of the banned atheists from this site, had such a background. He remains active elsewhere in Disqus.

            As you might be aware I often criticize problems I find with medical quackery (homeopathy for instance). Homeopathy purports ideas within a framework. Water has a kind of memory and with increasing dilution the potency of a given substance in that water increases. That’s not the entire framework but it’s accurate enough for my point. When I add bleach to water a solution of bleach-water is achieved. If I keep adding water but no bleach, the solution is diluted. The potency of the bleach is reduced. Add enough water and pretty soon there is no bleach worth mentioning in the former solution. It’s just water. Basic chemistry.

            If one were to visit a forum of certified homeopathic clinicians much of what they claim would look like word salad to a chemist, or even a non chemist who is somewhat scientifically literate. If a patient in that forum asked, “what are some of these ‘word salads’ that you have trouble understanding, maybe we can help you?” it would likewise take a bit of groundwork in chemistry first, so as not to cheat that person.

            This goes on in many subjects of course. It’s one reason why a Jehovah’s Witness has much more groundwork to learn than an Anglican to understand Catholicism.

            So I’m guessing Harold’s comment was a personal one to me. We both share a scientific literacy that makes communication fairly smooth. It makes perfect sense to me why he wrote what he did. He may not be interested in the heavy lifting that it might take to have others understand what he said to me. And that’s ok.

            The power of scientific literacy isn’t that it always helps one to understand other subjects but it can help to discover how other subjects are constructed and what makes them tick. Detractors of that claim might say understanding the parts of a framework don’t help you understand the whole. Could be. But that then can be investigated too. What is meant by whole, etc.

            Just trying to give a brief reply about why your question may not be answered. I’m sure many of us here come across questions that pertain to our interests, only to silently think, “where do I begin?” accompanied by a feeling of exasperation. And that’s ok too.

            That’s why some have found asking certain questions are good probes to gauge how much time might be needed to more fully engage. Some break off and say thanks for the question and move on, others go forward. Personally, I find it utterly fascinating how evolution shaped brains to be so flexible in how they think. Not just what they think about but actually how they think. From homeopathic versions of studies to scientific studies constructed to fight against as much bias as possible and everything in between. Same with religions. How different in thinking is the Shaker from the Scientologist! But with scientific literacy we can study brains/behaviors and make some observations that undergird religious thinking pattens, quackery thinking pattens and even scientific thinking patterns. But that is my bias. :-)

            Hope that helps explain a little about Harold’s comment to me, one who understands his thinking.

            Mike
            Edit done: only minor grammar

          • Rob Abney

            So, instead of using the derogatory term "word salad" he or you could just say I don't understand many Thomistic claims. You could then add the caveat that you could understand the claims if you wanted to take the time to be familiar with the background, and you could then also claim that you would still not agree with the claims even if you understood them. And finally you might add that your real issue is that you are militantly opposed to Catholicism and religion in many forms so the possibility that you will ever agree to any Thomistic claims is very small indeed. Thanks for clearing that up.

          • Sample1

            Sure, one could do that. But it isn’t immoral to be critical of ideas or even ridicule them. Ideas are not human beings. Ideas cannot take offense. Harold judiciously mentioned Thomism’s claims, not Thomists. Anyone who demands that ideas are off limits to severe criticism up to ridicule, with or without a threat of discipline, is among my deepest of philosophical enemies or at least on a path to becoming one.

            Thank you for telling me what my real issues are rather than asking. That’s always fun! As a freethinking naturalist and a former person of faith, I’m well aware which of those two selves is open minded. YMMV.

            Mike
            @haroldnewman:disqus
            Edit done.

          • In regards to God and free will Catholic doctrine says that were created with original sin though. By your own admission then isn't God at least responsible in part for damnation as there is an innate tendency toward sin in human beings?

          • Jim the Scott

            @drdennisbonnette:disqus

            I got this nonsense Doc. Call it a Christmas Present.

            >In regards to God and free will Catholic doctrine says that were created with original sin though.

            Where does it say that? Ott? Denzinger? The CCC? What Pope formally & officially said that? What Eccumenical Council? What Church Father?

            Yeh you can't just make up your own doctrines and label them "Catholic". What did I tell you about doing your homework young man? (I am talking to the wall over here!).

            We inherit original sin, God doesn't create it and God is not responsible for damnation since He gives all people truely sufficient grace for salvation. Said grace is truely sufficent. Also God doesn't owe it to us to be created in a state of original grace like Adam and Eve. Being in a state of original sin is being in a natural state not a depraved state as the Calvinist heretics teach.

            BTW if you want further explainations from me...forget it.

            Do your own homework.

          • No nonsense, simple his own logic being followed here.

            I fail to see a meaningful difference here. Who, if not God, decides the things we inherit? My point here was that the idea we're entirely responsible is unsound when our innate urges (which we all have no control over) were corrupted.

            How generous, but I didn't request an explanation from you at all.

          • Jim the Scott

            >No nonsense, simple his own logic being followed here.

            Pure nonsense, you are making up whole cloth your own "doctrines" and calling them "Catholic". That is obvious.

            >I fail to see a meaningful difference here. Who, if not God, decides the things we inherit?

            You are confusing God's passive will with His active will. What He wants vs what he will allow under given circumstances. Also you are still channeling a Theistic Personalist "god" who is a moral agent.

            >My point here was that the idea we're entirely responsible is unsound when our innate urges (which we all have no control over) were corrupted.

            Sounds like a Calvinist view of fallen nature?

            >How generous, but I didn't request an explanation from you at all.

            Good cause I will only give you what I want to give you and you are entitled to nothing more. It's just like our relationship with God. ;-)

          • Obvious to you maybe. I'm not clear on the difference.

            Passive or active, it's still from him. I also said nothing of him "owing", only his responsibility.

            I'm not that familiar with Calvinism actually, but original sin stacks the deck even if we have free will.

            I have never claim an entitled to your answer. As for God, that is a whole separate issue.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Obvious to you maybe. I'm not clear on the difference.

            Because you don't do your homework.

            >Passive or active, it's still from him. I also said nothing of him "owing", only his responsibility.

            As Davies once pointed out God is the formal cause of evil so what you are bringing up is unremarkable.

            >I'm not that familiar with Calvinism actually, but original sin stacks the deck even if we have free will.

            Calvin's heterodox view of original sin stacks the deck. Fixed it for you.

            >I have never claim an entitled to your answer. As for God, that is a whole separate issue.

            Nope you are not entitled to anything from Him. God owes us nothing we owe Him everything. It's not an equal relationship by any means.

          • I'm just going by what you said here.

            Then in that case we're agreed?

            Predestination does far more.

            I made no claim about, just didn't want to get sidetracked.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I'm just going by what you said here.

            Which proves you have a fundamentalist mentality in all things. Words mean things in their context & reading into them meanings that are not there or that you wish were there are just strawmen.

            >Then in that case we're agreed?

            Not likely. To date your obvious sophism fails to impress.

            >Predestination does far more.

            Predestination or Predestinarianism? Lagrange or Calvin? Context and Homework. Botheus solved the problem of free will and the fore knowledge of God.

            >I made no claim about, just didn't want to get sidetracked.

            We shall see.

          • Okay, enough. This is a waste of my time, and you seem to think the same.

          • Jim the Scott

            Works for me.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Good reply, Jim. I just replied to it on my own along the same lines -- just before reading your reply here. We are on the same page.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I cannot reply to you about that strictly as a philosopher. From a theological perspective, God created Adam with perfect control of his passions and a proper dominance of his entire nature by reason. That is, there was no innate tendency toward sin.

            Still, as a free being, Adam could sin and Genesis tells us that he did so. Hence, the proper ordination of reason to control the lower parts of human nature was lost.

            So, God did not create us with an inclination to sin, but, since Adam did so, his descendants inherited this loss of rational control that was God's original "gift" to Adam.

            Hence, the "innate tendency toward sin" is not God's fault, but Adam's.

            Now you may not accept that theological explanation, but that is how Catholic doctrine avoids the objection which you pose.

            Once you enter Catholic theology, the human situation becomes much more complex, since it entails a struggle between fallen nature and grace, between the devil and God -- all combined with the assurance that no soul goes to his eternal damnation through anyone's ultimate fault but his own.

            I think that C.S. Lewis described the worst part of hell being that you know eternally that you have made the worst mistake possible and that you have no one to blame but yourself.

          • Okay, but my point was we're not responsible for any of that. I'm not sure how this answers that objection. We weren't born when Adam did this, according to the story. This heredity was something that didn't have to be.

            I have the same objection to Lewis.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Jim the Scott also gave you an excellent reply to your objection.

            One key is that the state of original sin does not plunge us into a state below that of human nature itself -- as Jim points out. We are not in a depraved nature, but rather the very nature of the passions is such that they pose a temptation to the proper use of free will. But God does not thereby make us sin.

            Catholic doctrine tells us that God gave Adam a preternatural gift of perfect control of his passions by reason. Original sin merely removed that special gift. Adam's fault. Not God's.

            Since you don't like the antiquity of Adam, consider this modern day analogy. Imagine that some man seduces another man's wife. The second man then is tempted to take revenge against the first man. Is that God's fault? Or is it the fault of the seducer?

            Nothing in human nature says that we must sin. If it did, then it would not be a free act, and thus no sin could have occurred -- since sin is a freely chosen moral evil.

            We must not blame our own misuse of our free will on God. God did us the immense favor of giving us rational natures. It is a necessary property of any rational nature that it possess a free will. This is basic philosophical psychology.

            And if we have a free will, we ought not be surprised if someone uses that free will to make an evil choice. Again, God gave us the freedom -- not the sin, and not any innate compulsion to sin.

            Why do people keep wanting to blame God for sending us to hell -- when we really have no one to blame for getting there but ourselves?

          • He said God didn't create it. I don't know how that can be. God is the creator of all things, no?

            I don't see why that perfect control can't have been retained for us, to use your terms.

            I don't care about the antiquity, it's just not something I'm convinced is true.

            The question here would be: are these passions you speak of necessary? If someone lacks an addition to gambling, they're far less likely lose lots of money doing it, for instance.

            I should ask what exactly by free will. That is a problem we can run into very quickly.

            Perhaps. We can see that some urges though make it more likely people will do evil.

            Because we are created sick, and commanded to be well.

          • Ficino

            Even people who work on ethics in Aristotle think it's a problem, whether human acts are "up to us" if there is an unmoved mover as the first of every series of movers ordered hierarchically per se. See for example the work of Susan Sauve Meyer.

            In Aquinas this is even more of a problem, because Aquinas is more explicit that humans have "will" as a faculty. Motions of "will" are motions, of which the human is the proximate cause, but God is the first cause (cf. e.g. ST 1a 83.1 ad 3, SCG III.67). The usual explanation, that God operates in creatures according to the mode of being of the creature (e.g. ST 1a 62.3 ad 2), begs the question if it assumes the point to be proved, sc. that the creature has *liberum* arbitrium, free will, and not merely arbitrium.

          • It seems then that libertarian free will isn't reconcilable with compatibilsm. Of course, on that view simply acting on your desires without coercion would be freedom. Then there is no issue of not having certain desires. In no way would that take away our free will.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I suddenly see that you have two distinct questions on the table here.
            Originally you asked this:

            >"In regards to God and free will Catholic doctrine says that were created with original sin though. By your own admission then isn't God at least responsible in part for damnation as there is an innate tendency toward sin in human beings?"

            My response directly below was directed to the aspect you raised about God allegedly creating us with original sin -- which is not what Catholic doctrine says. I have responded below by pointing out that human nature has passions that are actually perfective of human nature, but that free will allows us to commit sin that can lead to hell.

            Now you and Ficino are focusing on the very existence of free will, which is a distinct question. For purposes of answering the issue of original sin and God's alleged fault, my reply below suffices.

            Free will is another topic, one I thought was presupposed in the main discussion your question raised.

          • Okay, fair enough. I'm not trying to sidetrack this, though it seems to happy anyway. My question was what you mean by it? Compatibilism? Libertarianism? Something else? I'm willing to assume the definition you give (provided I can understand it) whatever that may be for this purpose.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Your initial question appeared to assume free will. So, I likewise presumed it in the replies I gave.

            I always get a bit nervous endorsing some modern name for a philosophical concept, since I find they often have baggage I do not fully endorse.

            Let me just say that by free will I understand the movement of the intellectual appetite toward some good or away from some evil -- absent either external or internal necessity.

          • You're right, it did. I realized however that we might not be on the same page about the definition.

            All right, that sounds pretty close to libertarianism.

          • Ficino

            Yes, several issues swirling around. Michael's questions about original sin and the effects thereof were in reply to questions by WCB, which seem to have been about free will and the operations of a God who operates outside of time.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I see. The problem is that you don't know what the passions are in philosophical psychology.

            The passions are the movements of the sensitive appetites. The sensitive appetites move us toward sensible good and away from sensible evil. They are good in themselves, not evil.

            Still, the movement toward a sensitive good, such as sex with someone to whom you are not married, is a moral evil if acted upon. Thus, the passions can lead us to commit acts that are against right reason and moral goodness.

            God gave us our human nature which has both intellectual and sensitive powers that are good and enable us to lead good human lives. But, the fact that the passions can sometimes tempt us to act against right reason is an inherent aspect of human nature. If we act with virtue we will not give into passions that lead toward disordered goods. But if we freely choose to consent to such actions, we sin. The sin is our fault, not God's.

            What you are missing here is the entire body of Thomistic philosophical sciences: philosophical psychology, metaphysics, general and special ethics.

            Some questions that arise on these threads are like someone asking why litmus paper turns red in the presence of an acid, when they know nothing at all about chemistry.

            It is perfectly okay not to know the answers to some of these questions in the realm of philosophy and theology, but it would be tragic to miss one's eternal salvation by drawing conclusions and making life decisions based on such misinformation.

          • Apparently not. What are the sensitive appetites? Desiring food and such? Does that extend to liking gambling or other things of the kind?

            Yet some people do have appetites that on a Catholic view are intrinsically evil. Homosexuality is one example. Unless that is not an appetite in your view here?

            Yes, no doubt I'm missing them. Where should I learn?

            How can most escape that if they don't even know of your philosophy and religion? The world is vast and old. It has not always been around.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            You ask questions that would take me a course to answer -- and I simply cannot do them all here.

            The word "appetite" has several meanings in this context and I used natural appetite at the most basic level of a sensitive desire or aversion to a sensible good or evil. Just beginning to explain this tells me why the topic is too extensive and detailed for this thread. I give whole lectures on this material, and if I explain this completely, I won't get my Christmas cards written! ;-)

            If you are serious about the whole topic, I recommend the same book to everyone: Bro. Benignus Gerrity's Nature, Knowledge, and God. It gives a great explanation of Thomistic sciences except for ethics and political philosophy.

          • Okay. I'm going to see if I can find that then.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I would recommend trying to find a used copy -- for half the new price and in a better binding probably. Consider this for about $20 delivered: https://www.amazon.com/gp/offer-listing/1164515756/ref=tmm_hrd_used_olp_0?ie=UTF8&condition=used&qid=&sr=

            Edit: If you checked that link, you must know they have only one copy at $20. The rest are above the new price!

          • I see, thanks.

  • Sample1

    I’ve read this article a few times and enjoyed the classical route undertaken to refresh some definitional understandings.

    Any chance for a logical syllogism?

    Mike

  • Rob Abney

    The immortal human soul is essential to our understanding of Jesus Christ as God and man. It is how we know that we are made in the image of God.

    ETA for Mike Sample1: this is sound philosophical reasoning supporting theology.

  • Ficino

    I appreciate this essay on Thomistic beliefs about the soul. There is much to discuss about these issues, and I don't know how well comboxes will lend themselves to adequate discussion.

    But may I start by asking, Dr. Bonnette, for more clarity on what you understand "spirit" to be, and what you mean when you say that something is "spiritual"? There are places where you seem to use the spirit/spiritual complex to denote some substance that exists or carries on operations in separation from matter, or that can exist and can carry on operations in separation from matter. But you designate things that are not substances as spiritual also, e.g. concepts and constructs like beauty, etc. You contrast intellectual to spiritual, so we need to know what properties belong to the one that do not belong to the other. And you say that the soul is "hylomorphic." But if that's so, the soul must have matter or be the form of some entity that has matter. I don't know whether "spirit" as you use it will dovetail with Aristotle's πνεῦμα. Further clarification would be appreciated.

    Thank you, F

  • Ficino

    In the spirit of SN as a place for discussion among Catholics and atheists and others, I'll throw out a few reactions.

    1. Terms are used in ways that are not univocal. E.g. Aquinas distinguishes six senses of "spirit." "Spirit" and "spiritual" occur in Dr. B's article here often, but seemingly not univocally. E.g. we are told that justice, beauty, truth are spiritual entities, and that the human soul is a spiritual entity. But universals or transcendentals and soul are not in the same category of being, so that "spiritual" is predicated equivocally. Equivocation vitiates any argument that aims to be a demonstration. Dr. Bonnette says that this argument is a demonstration of the spirituality of the human soul. It becomes a big job to unpack its intricacies so as to determine whether it successfully aspires to being a demonstration. For example, as the following sentence is written, it appears to equivocate on "spiritual" and as well to beg the question: "The fact that the human intellect can form such spiritual entities [sc. "justice, beauty, truth, oneness, and so forth"], demonstrates the spirituality of the human soul, since the less perfect cannot produce the more perfect." Zygote = human being is another case of equivocation, though not central to the article. Zygote lacks rational and sensitive soul, so it is not a human being, and its nutritive functions are not ἐφ' αὑτῷ, under its own power.

    2. The article runs off the rails at the outset. Dr. B maintains that the human is a substantial unity, of which body and soul are constituents - i.e. the human is a form-matter composite entity, and soul is the form of the matter. But Dr. B's conclusion, like Aquinas', that the soul or some part of it can exist and perform operations in separation from the body, entails the falsity of the substantial unity thesis. If a disembodied soul can exist and perform operations, it is not the particular form of the human; the body is not essential to its existence as a particular or to its operations (or some of them). If necessary constituents of a substantial unity are subtracted, the substance is destroyed and the constituents are such only homonymously, as a severed head is a head only homonymously. This is all the more true if the substantial form is subtracted from the matter. In order to save the Christian doctrine of an immortal, separated individual soul with its own identity, we slide into a dualism on Aquinas' modification of Aristotle, despite attempts to deny the slide. The arguments among Thomists over the range of cognition achieved by the discarnate soul testify to the incoherence of the doctrine.

    3. Often in the article an argument is made of the form, "the contents of mental state X are not bodies, so there must be a cognitive faculty of the human that can exist separately from the body." This does not follow.

    4. The standard Thomistic argument for the immortality of the soul includes as a key premise the claim that the intellect does not carry on operations by any bodily organ. This claim is the reason why Aquinas holds that God creates each rational creature's rational soul by a direct act of creation. But there is no basis for this in Aristotle, and as far as I know, there is no basis in modern biology. The brain is the organ we think with; its natural function is not to cool the blood, as Ari and Aq thought. I think that's pretty well been established.

    5. From the fact that concepts and common sensations (e.g. there's a dog here) are not bodies, Dr. B argues that we have an immaterial principle of sensation and (another one?) of cognition, for such a principle can't be a body or composed of bodies. OK, no δύναμις *is* a body; bodies *have* δυνάμεις (potencies). What does not follow is the further claim that such a principle exists and carries on operations in separation from the body.

    6. In line with 5., I am not seeing care to distinguish how "being is said in many ways," as Aristotle puts it. Dr. B talks about immaterial "qualia" as being "real," that "genuine immateriality is real." If "real" is meant in the classical A-T sense, such statements are false. Impressions of *sensus communis*, concepts, etc. are not substances and do not exist *in re*. Universals are not substances; they do not exist alongside particulars but only exist *secundum rationem* as abstractions from substances, which we can use in analysis; cf. Arist. AnPo I.24, Metaphysics Z.13 et alibi. So from the fact that we form universals, it does not follow that our faculty for forming them is a (truncated) substance that exists and operates with no body.

    ETA: 7. There is a problem here: "it follows that the human soul is a hylemorphic principle – neither totally separated from the human substance in life, nor yet so existentially dependent upon that composite substance as to be destroyed at death ... it [sc. the soul] must be, not a totally separated spirit during life, but rather the substantial form of the living human being."
    The composite substance as defined by Dr. B is the living human composed of matter configured by form, which he says is the soul. The soul is a necessary constituent of the composite substance, for it is the organizing principle in and of that composite. It is therefore incoherent to talk about the soul’s being independent of the composite substance of which it itself is a constituent, since then the soul would be independent of itself.
    One can talk coherently of the soul, during the human's life, as being independent of and somehow separable from the body or the matter, but then we slip back toward Cartesian or some other form of substance dualism. Then we don’t have a hylomorphic account of the human being anymore. The thesis that intellectual soul comes in "from the outside" into the embryo/fetus and survives the death of the body is the picture we get in Aristotle, but as was discussed a few days ago, then there's the problem of accounting for the individuality of disembodied human intellects as persons.

    I could discuss more particular points, but this is long enough. Thomists may want to reply that I simply fail to understand A-T metaphysics, but I am inclined at this point to think rather that the problem is that the Thomist attempt to marry Aristotle with earlier Christian doctrines is not wholly successful.

    Aristotle does talk about rational soul as divine and as being the part of us that, if any part, may be immortal. But the Aristotelian rational soul is not the individual person that Christianity needs to hold as immortal. And beyond Aristotle, it is not at all clear that materialism is refuted by the strategy of claiming that mental states are not bodies. We carry on operations by bodily organs, and the operations themselves are not bodies.

    • Jim the Scott

      So many mistakes I invite the other Thomists here to pick out one or two. You have Descartes on the brain guy. Just saying...but you do offer a better challenge then most here on the subject matter.

      >Zygote lacks rational and sensitive soul, so it is not a human being, and its nutritive functions are not ἐφ' αὑτῷ, under its own power.

      No the rational soul is created at the moment of conception. Aquinas didn't believe ensoulment happened at conception because he thought the human seed form came much later after conception. He believed the seed form was created after blood and semen mixed together thought unknown biological processes to create the seed form. The human being at it's most basic level. Like a seed is a tree at it's most basic level by way of analogy. Of course 19th century science the discovery of the sperm& ovum showed the seed form came immediately after conception.

      >The standard Thomistic argument for the immortality of the soul includes as a key premise the claim that the intellect does not carry on operations by any bodily organ.

      I believe he said the "higher functions" are not carried on by any body organ and that seems to me to be the case. When I see a stop sign is there a mini-stop sign physically somewhere in my brain? If so where? You know there is a reason Dennett and company say on the fundamental level the mind doesn't exist because well the mind clearly isn't a purely physical thing. Nagel seems to agree and he is no theist. Searle forget about it.

      >This claim is the reason why Aquinas holds that God creates each rational creature's rational soul by a direct act of creation.

      Yep!

      > But there is no basis for this in Aristotle,

      There doesn't need to be. Aquinas can develop Aristotle.

      >and as far as I know, there is no basis in modern biology.

      Scientism alert!

      >The brain is the organ we think with; its natural function is not to cool the blood, as Ari and Aq thought. I think that's pretty well been established.

      You cannot study the brain to know we have consciousness. How do you know a conscience brain from a simulation?

      Even many Scientist see the futility of it.
      https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/world-s-smartest-physicist-thinks-science-can-t-crack-consciousness/

      https://blogs.scientificamerican.com/cross-check/the-mind-body-problem-scientific-regress-and-woo/

      This is not a scientific gap. Rather it is a long suffering category mistake.

      • Ficino

        "No the rational soul is created at the moment of conception."

        This is a theological doctrine of today's RC Church, but it is not obvious that it is true. In Aquinas, rational soul is sent into the fetus from outside, i.e. directly God, only some time after the fetus is conceived. Don't bore me with pronouncements of your church's magisterium when we're supposed to be discussing a philosophical point.

        • Jim the Scott

          >This is a theological doctrine of today's RC Church, but it is not obvious that it is true. In Aquinas, rational soul is sent into the fetus from outside, i.e. directly God, only some time after the fetus is conceived.

          Yes and Aquinas argued ensoulment happened when the Human seed form was created. The thing is based on the erroneous science of the day he and others thought the human seed form was created weeks after conception. We know with fertilization it happens at conception thanks to modern science.

          >Don't bore me with pronouncements of your church's magisterium when we're supposed to be discussing a philosophical point.

          Rather you should stop boring me by mixing and matching natural theology with revealed theology and making fallacies of equivocation all over the place.
          I have followed the counter arguments to abortion lately. Aquinas and the Church taught ensoulment occurred once the human seed form was created. Those are just the facts.

          • Sample1

            Are you claiming the soul is not to be found before conception and always thereafter?

            This is what you and Alexandra seem to believe. And so you incurred the same challenge as she did.

            Is it one soul or two at birth when a twin fuses into one baby? The quicker you reply the better!

            This is what happens when religion tries to cozy up to science. It always creates more bizarre claims, more confusion.

            Mike

            And if you don’t want me to talk about the immoral, hypocritical behavior of a woman mind trapped by male superiors who are tied to culture that is being investigated for human rights violations, just let me know. I will reduce the amount of times I mention her in proportion to your bagpipe noises.

          • Jim the Scott

            Mother Theresa bashing and slander are when Gnus jumped the shark.
            You are a privileged western person passing judgement on a woman who went to live among and help the poor and you uncritically believe the unproven claims by a self hating alcoholic who couldn't hold his own against Bill Donohue in a public debate.

          • Sample1

            What on earth are you talking about? I’ve noticed the more difficult questions send you off into uncharted waters.

            If we are finished discussing, I’m done. No, I am done. When you come to your senses, don’t come knocking. It is your own reward that I don’t need to know about.

            You know why people march when playing the bagpipes? So they can get away from the noise. Haha.

            Mike

          • Jim the Scott

            >What on earth are you talking about?

            You stole my line.

          • Alexandra

            "This is what you and Alexandra seem to believe."

            Please quote me where I refer to the soul.

          • Sample1

            Why? We’ve talked before. I know you believe in souls. Was I mistaken to infer that you claim souls arrive at conception? If so, then apologies. When do they arrive? If you don’t believe souls are real, then cool.

            Mike

          • Alexandra

            Thank you for the apology.

      • Sample1

        The phrase “moment of conception” suffers from the same theological reductive fallacy as the two parent creation myth found in many religions.

        You don’t want to argue with me about this.

        Mike

        • Jim the Scott

          No in modern times it is the technical term for sperm fertilizing an Egg and in the archaic anachronistic sense it was the faulty scientific belief of what happened when semen mixed with blood in the uterus to start the process of forming a human being the later was overthrown by science in the 19th century with the discovery of the Ovum.

          There is nothing to argue. I am right, live with it, even if there are no gods.

          Anyway Catholic theology has always taught ensoulment took place when the human seed form was created. It was erroneously thought to have taken place after conception till science showed otherwise.

          • Sample1

            You’re confused. Moment of conception is a concept of value for theology, not so much in embryology.

            What’s in evidence is that conception is a process over time (relatively considerable) not a moment.

            If you claim to be able to pinpoint when the moment occurs, precisely when fertilization occurs without pause on your point, you’d be nominated for the Crafoord Prize (Biology’s Nobel) provided you had evidence.

            But you can’t. So you lose.

            Mike

          • Jim the Scott

            >You’re confused. Moment of conception is a concept of value for theology, not so much in embryology.

            It is the term used to describe when a sperm fuses with an egg to deposite it's genetic material to cause a ovum to become a Zygote which is the seed form of a human being. There is no confusion.

            >What’s in evidence is that conception is a process over time (relatively considerable) not a moment.

            At some moment in the process God deposits a soul. As the Saintly monk said while resisting the temptations of a lady of the evening "It's not hard".

            >If you claim to be able to pinpoint when the moment occurs, precisely when fertilization occurs without pause on your point, you’d be nominated for the Crafoord Prize (Biology’s Nobel) provided you had evidence.

            Who claims that? What does that have to do with the price of tea in China?

            >But you can’t. So you lose.

            I don't need to so I don't have to play your rigged game.

          • Sample1

            Pivoting away from using moment in your definition of conception doesn’t save you from the theology’s reductionist fallacy but I applaud you for trying.

            Conception is not a moment (your claim) nor does the science support that. It is a complex biological process of some duration, hours even. And then it gets more complicated. Some of the male genes aboard the winning spermatozoon that penetrates the egg don’t activate for still more time. Think about that. And let us not discuss triploid fertilization which begs the question if two souls are injected by god specifically for the purpose of their demise. I could go on.

            The rigged game is your practice of clinging to science when you think it’s beneficial to your aim. As in evolution, the Church cannot use science for a two first parent model.

            And so we are back to my as of yet unrefuted observance. Theological reductionism is a fallacy with regard to what science demonstrates with evidence, namely no moment of conception (fertilization is a process) and no two first parents (ape speciation is gradual).

            A logical conclusion, if you want to invoke science or cozy up to it, is that ensoulment is a gradual process over time. But theological reductionism is closed to innovation, to open mindedness, on these matters by design. A rigged game.

            Mike

          • Jim the Scott

            >Pivoting away from using moment in your definition of conception doesn’t save you from the theology’s reductionist fallacy but I applaud you for trying.

            The philosophical argument for the soul has nothing to do with when a person gets it or when biomatter becomes a person so I don't know what you are banging on about? None of this nonsense means anything.

            >Conception is not a moment (your claim) nor does the science support that.

            Scientism again! We are discussing the philosophical arguments for the soul and immortality of the soul. Science as with "nothing" has nothing to say about it (other then give us an idea when the human seed form truely forms).

            >1It is a complex biological process of some duration, hours even. And then it gets more complicated. Some of the male genes aboard the winning spermatozoon that penetrates the egg don’t activate for still more time. Think about that. And let us not discuss triploid fertilization which begs the question if two souls are injected by god specifically for the purpose of their demise. I could go on.

            Lovely but it has nothing to do with the argument. Nothing at all.

            >The rigged game is your practice of clinging to science when you think it’s beneficial to your aim. As in evolution, the Church cannot use science for a two first parent model.

            I don't need the two parent model. Enough of the scientism.
            https://www3.nd.edu/~afreddos/papers/kemp-monogenism.pdf

            >And so we are back to my as of yet unrefuted observance. Theological reductionism is a fallacy with regard to what science demonstrates with evidence, namely no moment of conception (fertilization is a process) and no two first parents (ape speciation is gradual).

            Mike Dr. B made a philosophical argument. Try answering it with philosophy. Stop pretending everything is science. Science doesn't support that view and philosophy has shown it to be incoherent.

            >A logical conclusion, if you want to invoke science or cozy up to it, is that ensoulment is a gradual process over time. But theological reductionism is closed to innovation, to open mindedness, on these matters by design. A rigged game.

            Science merely shows us when the human seed form comes to exist. Nothing more. The concept ensoulment happens when the seed form comes into existence is ancient and the philosophical argument for an immortal soul has little to do with it.

            Mike learn philosophy please? Because at best you could really seriously kick the stuffing out of some Intelligent Design advocates and other scientific so called Theists. But all your objections to classic theism are non-starters as is this ensoulment mishigoss.

            Those are the hard facts even if there are no gods.

          • David Nickol

            At some moment in the process God deposits a soul. As the Saintly monk said while resisting the temptations of a lady of the evening "It's not hard".

            It is my understanding that the Catholic Church has made no official declaration as to when ensoulment occurs. I think it is generally accepted that conception is a process rather than a "moment."Even for believers, modern biology can't answer the question of whether ensoulment takes place during the process of conception, or at the time the initial cell divides in two, or at some later point. According to Church teaching (again, as I understand it) the moment of ensoulment makes no difference, since from the moment of fertilization, the zygote is to be treated as a human life.

            As always expressions like "God deposits a soul" seem to me problematic and reinforce the notion that a soul is a "thing" that comes to the physical body and then goes away on its own at the time of death. How this is not a "ghost in a machine" escapes me. Invoking the concept of Hylomorphism doesn't seem to solve the problem.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Even for believers, modern biology can't answer the question of whether ensoulment takes place during the process of conception,

            Because it is not a scientific question.

            This is a fascinating topic and it is my understanding the Church in her ordinary and universal magesterium teaches ensoulment happens at conception thought She may not have made any sort of use of the extra ordinary magesterium to do it.

            But we should focus on the arguments.

            Like here.
            >As always expressions like "God deposits a soul" seem to me problematic and reinforce the notion that a soul is a "thing" that comes to the physical body and then goes away on its own at the time of death.

            Cartusian dualism and Hylomorphic dualism share that in common but the difference is the metaphycal conception and or nature of the soul.

            >How this is not a "ghost in a machine" escapes me. Invoking the concept of Hylomorphism doesn't seem to solve the problem.

            Well the "ghost" isn't an immaterial substance but rather a form. Seems straight forward to me.

          • Jim the Scott

            PS what are you trying to accomplish Mike? Do you imagine a few hours or a day or two after a man pulls with a woman you can find the "sweet spot" during fertilization between conception and ensoulment to perform an abortion?

            Find better things to do with your time lad.

          • OMG

            Yeah! Conception is only a concept!
            Tell that to my mother, wouldya?

          • Sample1

            Not you too! The word moment makes the phrase a mere concept not commensurate with biological evidence.

            It’s a fallacy. Just like the debunked claim that there was a moment when two first parents of the human species existed. Adam and Eve are currently ruled out by evolutionary theory despite Bonnette’s claims.

            Here we have two examples of religion once trying to get snuggly with science when it was thought to be convenient. It’s precisely how not to behave rationally. Bizarrely, people still think the Catholic Church is science friendly. Scientifically opportunistic is more apt.

            Mike

          • OMG

            Check out this 'moment.' https://www.bing.com/videos/search?q=northwestern+university+moment+of+fertilization+videos&view=detail&mid=F7A3BC98E1DD9003C933F7A3BC98E1DD9003C933&FORM=VIRE

            So how do you account for this biochemical spark of zinc emanating at the moment of conception?

          • Sample1

            Oh dear. You’ve succumbed to click bait. No such thing occurs. There are no sparks, fireworks or a fiat lux at conception. Tagging cells with flurophones to detect inorganic calcium and zinc signatures is used by scientists to detect healthier fertilizations than others. A practice that you should not condone because it’s used for IVF advancement. A no no for Catholics because less healthy-likely cells for implantation are discarded. This research does not nullify the complex process of fertilization, a process that isn’t a moment. It supports it.

            So you’ve inadvertently managed to score on your own team’s goal. Science 2, Big Religion 0.

            Thanks?

            Mike

          • OMG

            Not so fast! The point of the article was to show a 'moment of conception.' Do you suggest it failed at showing that?

            Just because this site talks about using the zinc spark discovery for purposes of in vitro fertilization does not suggest that I condone that use. You are perhaps putting words in my mouth. (I have too many of my own, thank you very much. So there's your thanks, but no, my words do not prove your point of process.)

            If you fail to see any zinc spark, I cannot help you. Perhaps you should write to the authors at Northwestern and ask that they debunk their own claims.

            Well, are you a vet?

          • Sample1

            No, you have not demonstrated a moment exists. I suggest you read the Catholic Register on that.

            It actually takes minutes for that part of the fertilization process to ensue coupled with hours of other biochem activities (before and after). But it is a great scientific discovery that can help advance which activated eggs are more likely to develop into embryos and those that don’t. And that’s great news for male couples who need every advantage for their surrogate mother.

            Mike

          • OMG

            So, if "a" moment does not exist, it logically follows that neither does a minute nor an hour nor a year. Do you exist?

          • Sample1

            Are you defining a moment as an event of a relative duration in time or an instantaneous occurrence where time is irrelevant?

            If it’s the former you’ve got problems. If it’s the latter you have problems.

            Do I exist? What a great question. What are you going to claim now that I’ve said that? What preformed prejudice is churning in that brain? I can’t wait. On second thought, I can wait a long long moment relative to the time it took to post this reply.

            Mike

          • OMG

            If logic is preformed prejudice, then I've got it. If a brain may churn, I suppose yours has butter in it. Yum. I have warm bread.

          • Sample1

            I apologize for most of the last part in my last paragraph of my reply to you as it’s tone was prejudged by me to be on point when it wasn’t fair to do so.

            Mike

          • OMG

            Thanks for the butter. You're forgiven.

          • David Nickol

            An interesting "theological" question is why would God deliberately and directly create a human soul for a human egg undergoing in vitro fertilization. It would be a very convincing argument in favor of human souls if all attempts at "test-tube babies" failed for no discernible scientific reason. Why does God cooperate with the intrinsically evil act of artificially bringing about the artificial fertilization of a human egg to create a human embryo outside a mother's body?

          • Jim the Scott

            It is part of the goodness of God to bring good out of evil. So why shouldn't He grant souls to children born in test tubes or concieved out of wedlock?

            > It would be a very convincing argument in favor of human souls if all attempts at "test-tube babies" failed for no discernible scientific reason.

            That is just silly. A while back I remember in New York Opie and Anthony talked a couple into having public sex in the pews at St Patricks. They where arrested. Condemned publically blah blah. But I believe a few months later the man involved died in an accident. Some suggested on the intenet it was divine retribution which lead the Atheist types to SCREAM BLOODY MURDER!

            So I don't see how such a thing would a) convince you of divine intervention or b) not present an opportunity for you to use it as a stick in the argument from Evil.

            Nope bad form.

          • David Nickol

            Note the following article from Strange Notions' own one-time contributor Stacy Trasancos: Contrary to Reports, There is No Flash of Light at Conception, which was printed in the National Catholic Register.

          • David Nickol

            Addendum: In nature, an astonishingly large number of human "conceptions" do not result in live births, either because of early embryo loss or spontaneous abortion. A partial explanation is that there are genetic anomalies in the fertilized egg which prevent it (or likely will prevent it) from developing into a human being, so embryo loss of spontaneous abortion is nature's way of getting rid of its mistakes. Robert George made this interesting statement:

            To be a complete human organism (a human being), the entity must have the epigenetic primordia for a functioning brain and nervous system, though a chromosomal defect might only prevent development to maximum functioning (in which case it would be a human being, though handicapped) (emphasis added). If fertilization is not complete, then what is developing is not an organism with the active capacity to develop itself to the mature (even if handicapped) state of a human.”

            So even if a "biochemical spark"marks the first moment of fertilization of a human egg, given present technology, it can only be known in retrospect that conception of a human being has taken place. That is, we know a human being was present from the time of fertilization of conception if and only if (without interference of course) the fertilized egg develops into something that months later is recognizably human.

            Incidentally, since fertilization/conception is a chemical process, it should come as no surprise that chemical changes are detected when the process begins. The same researchers detected the same "biochemical spark" in their work with mice eggs.

          • Rob Abney

            embryo loss of spontaneous abortion is nature's way of getting rid of its mistakes

            This makes it sound as if your god is Mother Nature. Is that also what you believe about infants who have cancer or toddlers who get killed in natural disasters?

          • David Nickol

            As an intended dig, this misses the mark. What did you want me to say? Early embryo loss and spontaneous abortion are God's way of getting rid of his mistakes? I do not believe that genetic anomalies, cancer, and natural disasters are inflicted by God (if he exists, a matter on which I am agnostic). I was speaking only about genetic anomalies in embryos or fetuses that caused them to be lost. I find nothing wrong with calling such anomalies "mistakes of nature." That is what mutations are, colloquially speaking.

          • Rob Abney

            Its not a dig. It's a recognition of your philosophy regarding life. You seem to have a severe dividing line between born and unborn. I'm sure that you would not refer to a born infant who has a genetic anomaly as a mistake of nature but you have no difficulty referring to an unborn life as such.

          • David Nickol

            It may not have been as clear as I intended it to be, but if you read my original message, the point is that one explanation for the shockingly high percentage of early human embryo losses is that the entities that were "conceived" when sperm met egg do not possess the "epigenetic primordia for a functioning brain and nervous system." The phrase comes from Robert George, author of Embryo: A Defense of Human Life. He is attempting to give at least a partial answer to the question of why God would allow so many people to be conceived and live only a few days or weeks. The partial answer is that when sperm and egg meet and something starts to develop, that something is not a human person unless it has the genetic potential to become a human person. If it lacks the genetic information to develop a brain and nervous system, it is not a "human life" in the sense of a human being.

            A frequent defense the right to life of human zygotes (embryos, etc.) is that "the zygote's genome is a combination of the DNA in each gamete, and contains all of the genetic information necessary to form a new individual." However, that is a description of what is the case when everything goes right. What Robert George was arguing is that when certain thigs go seriously wrong at "conception," the zygote (if it is proper to call it that) does not contain all of the genetic information necessary to form a new individual. It does not have the the potential to develop into a new individual, not even a severely handicapped one. According to George's argument (which makes sense to me, and I disagree with him on just about every possible issue), a zygote that does not contain the necessary information to develop into a human individual cannot be considered a "human life" but rather a genetically failed attempt at a human life. Consequently, its loss cannot be considered the death of a human person (and from a Catholic perspective, the entity would never have been ensouled, since only human persons have souls). Consequently, there is no comparison between such a lost embryo (a mistake of nature, I would still call it) and a child with cancer.

            Two important points: First, the fact that many embryos or fetuses are lost owing to natural causes is no justification for procured abortion. Second, not every embryo or fetus lost or spontaneously aborted falls into the category above. We are talking only about cases where there is an absence of "epigenetic primordia for a functioning brain and nervous system."

          • David Nickol

            And were what you say the case, which it is not, why didn't you make that case instead of starting out with

            This makes it sound as if your god is Mother Nature.

            I don't even know what that means.

            You seem to have a severe dividing line between born and unborn.

            That is not how I view the issue at all. I certainly do not believe there is an exact equivalent between a newly fertilized egg and a full-term baby about to be born. But I see no moral difference between aborting a baby that is about to be born and killing a newborn.

          • OMG

            Could you please give the source for George's quote? I believe he is talking about failed pregnancies because of failed conceptions, or chromosomal defects occurring at the time of fertilization. He does not appear to say that a defective organism is not human. He rather seems to say a conception may be unable to develop to a 'mature' state; i.e., the person may not be capable of life outside the womb, or the person may be born with a severely limited life expectancy, etc.

            Therefore, a chromosomal defect in a human conceptus which does not allow the full development of biologic life is nevertheless not the conceptus of a mouse or some other hybrid species. It is still a human species conceptus.

          • David Nickol

            Could you please give the source for George's quote?

            Apologies. I had intended to include a link in my original comment on this topic, but I see now I forgot to. The quote can be found in an article in National Review by Patrick Lee and Robert P. George titled Silver Lining. The pertinent section is toward the end and is titled Spontaneous Embryo Loss — What is Lost?

            He does not appear to say that a defective organism is not human.

            That is not quite correct. He does not say (nor, do I think, did I imply) that any or every defective product of the union of a human sperm and egg is not a human. He says the product of the union of a human sperm and egg that lacks "the epigenetic primordia for a functioning brain and nervous system" is not a human person.

            I will give my own crude interpretation here, but I am confident I am not misinterpreting George. If through some genetic anomaly, the product of the union of a human sperm and egg has a defect in genes that control the development of a kidney or a liver or the lungs or the heart that cause the conceptus to die anywhere in pregnancy, that conceptus (at whatever later stage of development) is to be considered a human being. However, if the defect is such that the conceptus cannot (no matter how long it survives and grows) develop a brain and a nervous system, it is not to be considered a person. It is not even a potential human person, because given every advantage, it will not develop a brain and a nervous system, and there can be no human person without a brain and a nervous system.

            I want to emphasize here that this is Robert George's idea, not my own, and Robert George is a very conservative (both politically and religiously) pro-life Catholic. Granting basic Catholic premises on matters of when life begins and ensoulment, I see no objection to it. But I was presenting it here as a matter of interest, not to make any argument of my own. And I want to make it very clear (as does Robert George) that the idea cannot in any way be used to justify procured abortion. It is a proposed explanation for why some unions of human sperm and egg die early on and spontaneously. It has nothing to do with procured abortion.

          • David Nickol

            Nobody need read this!!!

            I am going to take a somewhat unusual step here, if Disqus will allow it, and post a very long except from a now difficult-to-find document from the President's Council on Bioethics, a transcript of a live presentation titled Session 1: Early Embryonic Development: An Up-to-Date Account. It is one of a few sources of information that first got me interested in the whole issue of early embryo loss. Being from 2003, it is now perhaps a bit out of date, but nevertheless fascinating.

            PROF. SANDEL: Thank you. I have two questions about the rate of natural embryo loss in human beings. The first is what percent of fertilized eggs fail to implant or are otherwise lost? And the second question is is it the case that all of these lost embryos contain genetic defects that would have prevented their normal development and birth?

            DR. OPITZ: The answer to your first question is that it is enormous. Estimates range all the way from 60 percent to 80 percent of the very earliest stages, cleavage stages, for example, that are lost.

            PROF. SANDEL: Sixty to 80 percent?

            DR. OPITZ: Sixty to 80 percent. And one of the objective ways of establishing the loss at least as of the moment of implantation, well, even earlier, let's say as of five days because the blastocyst begins to make a chorionic gonadotrophin and with extremely sensitive assay methods, you can detect the presence of gonadotrophins, let me say, first around Day 7. That's the beta of human chorionic gonadotrophin. And if you follow prospectively the cycles that has been done on quite a few occasions in the Permanente study in Hawaii and so on, a group of women, of nonfertility, who want to conceive and you detect the first sign of pregnancy there of human chorionic gonadotrophin, about 60 percent of those pregnancies are lost.

            It is independently corroborated by the fact that the monozygotic twin conception rate at the very beginning is much, much higher than the birth rate and then if you follow with amniocentesis, the presence of the two sacs in about 80 percent of cases,the second sac disappears, one of the sacs disappears.

            CHAIRMAN KASS: The 60 percent then would be of those that have at least reached the 7 days so that you could trace the – so there might be even greater loss at the early cleavage stage, is that correct?

            DR. OPITZ: That's correct. And the earlier the stage of loss, the greater the rate of aneuploidy. There exists sort of a standard, textbook formula whereby 60 percent of spontaneous abortions have a chromosome abnormality. Six percent of all stillbirths and 6/10ths percent of all live born children. Now the latter figure is probably closer to 1 percent if you include some growth variants. So that's sort of a rule of thumb.

            In my own lab in Helena where I did all of the autopsies on all pregnancy losses for 18 years, the rate of chromosome abnormalities was a little bit higher.

            PROF. SANDEL: So if we take the 7-day stage, it's 60 percent. The 80 percent is if you go back to the moment of fertilization. But if you take just starting at the 7 days, there's 60 percent rate of natural loss. And of those 60 percent that are lost from the 7-day stage, what percentage of those have abnormalities or defects such that they wouldn't otherwise be able to be born?

            DR. OPITZ: I would say somewhere around 50 to 60 percent and mind you, many of these are empty sacs, tiny, tiny stunted little embryos, but when you culture the sacs you find a chromosome abnormality, even though the embryo has vanished already.

            PROF. SANDEL: So of the 60 percent that are lost at the 7-day stage, 40 to 50 percent did not contain defects or abnormalities, could have been born?

            DR. OPITZ: Right.

            PROF. SANDEL: And become babies.

            DR. OPITZ: Your point is well taken, which doesn't mean that the chromosome abnormality isn't there. There's a wonderful lady, Dagmar Kalousek at the University of British Columbia, who has studied this question very intensively and published on it and incidentally the question that you addressed is a reference to that in the bibliography which is in your handout. Of course, this presentation will be a handout in which I tediously enumerated all of those data that are being published until recently.

            And Dagmar Kalousek has shown that even the low chromosomes are apparently normal for XX on structural abnormalities, they may be abnormal. The commonest chromosome abnormality in humans is chromosome trisomy-16 which you may detect at chlorionic villi sampling and then at amniocentesis, it's gone.

            And what the embryo has done is it has chopped out the extra chromosome out of the somatic cells, but in the process it has a two-thirds probability of forming an isodisomic pair whereby both homologues either from a mother or from the father – they look perfectly normal, but there's the defect. And so it is even recommended that you do imprinting studies on every pair of chromosomes, even in those that are apparently normal and nowadays, with subtelomeric probes, we can even discover additional things because if the embryo is grossly abnormal, let's say it's a 10 millimeter embryo under the dissecting microscope, the changes are that it is a chromosome abnormality.

            So the selection against chromosome abnormalities in humans before birth is enormous, it's over 90 percent. I would say probably even higher than that.

          • OMG

            Uh, thanks? That article was very confusing, and I could not find the quote within it in any case. I then searched the Internet . Here is specifically what George said:

            muse.jhu.edu/article/181352

            "Fertilization produces a new and complete, though immature, human organism. The same is true of successful cloning. Cloned embryos therefore ought to be treated as having the same moral status as other human embryos.

            A human embryo is a whole living member of the species Homo sapiens in the earliest stage of his or her natural development. Unless denied a suitable environment, an embryonic human being will by directing its own integral organic functioning develop himself or herself to the next more mature developmental stage, i.e., the fetal stage. The embryonic, fetal, infant, child, and adolescent stages are stages in the development of a determinate and enduring entity—a human [End Page 201] being—who comes into existence as a single cell organism and develops, if all goes well, into adulthood many years later.1

            Human embryos possess the epigenetic primordia for self-directed growth into adulthood, with their determinateness and identity fully intact. The adult human being that is now you or me is the same human being who, at an earlier stage of his or her life, was an adolescent, and before that a child, an infant, a fetus, and an embryo. Even in the embryonic stage, you and I were undeniably whole, living members of the species Homo sapiens. We were then, as we are now, distinct and complete (though in the beginning we were, of course, immature) human organisms; we were not mere parts of other organisms."

            I think the distinction you make is important, but I truly can find nothing approximating the idea you suggest. The quote you offer is in fact only a phrase, so I'd really like to find the full quote. I could find nothing either n the source you cite, nor in the MUSE article, nor by skimming George's book Clash of Orthodoxies. Perhaps it's in his book Embryo. I

          • Ficino

            There is also this, which comes from the same President's Council to which David N linked. The Council was talking about, I think, stem cell research. This bit predates what David linked:

            Robert P. George, joined by Alfonso Gómez-Lobo, Ph.D.), in “Human Cloning and Human Dignity: An Ethical Inquiry,” paper submitted (?) to the President’s Council on Bioethics, July 2002:
            https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcbe/reports/cloningreport/appendix.html
            about the Council, disbanded in 2009, see
            https://bioethicsarchive.georgetown.edu/pcbe/index.html
            “3) We now turn to the third argument. Some people, apparently, are moved to believe that embryonic human beings are not worthy of full moral respect because a high percentage of embryos formed in natural pregnancies fail to implant or spontaneously abort. Again, we submit that the inference is fallacious.
            It is worth noting first, as the standard embryology texts point out, that many of these unsuccessful pregnancies are really due to incomplete fertilizations. So, in many cases, what is lost is not actually a human embryo. To be a complete human organism (a human being), the entity must have the epigenetic primordia for a functioning brain and nervous system, though a chromosomal defect might only prevent development to maximum functioning (in which case it would be a human being, though handicapped). If fertilization is not complete, then what is developing is not an organism with the active capacity to develop itself to the mature (even if handicapped) state of a human.
            Second, the argument here rests upon a variant of the naturalistic fallacy. It supposes that what happens in "nature," i.e., with predictable frequency without the intervention of human agency, must be morally acceptable when deliberately caused. Since embryonic death in early miscarriages happens with predictable frequency without the intervention of human agency, the argument goes, we are warranted in concluding that the deliberate destruction of human beings in the embryonic stage is morally acceptable.”

          • OMG

            Thank you for this full quote. Now, if only this software will allow me to reply! There certainly have been major problems with it for the last few articles.

            George is saying that INCOMPLETE FERTILIZATIONS--ones where ''epigenetic primordia for a functioning brain and nervous system" are not "complete" human organisms. Note that the fertilization was incomplete in some way. Obviously, if gamete fusion is incomplete (Two haploid cells do NOT fuse, resulting in a not fully formed diploid cell with 46 chromosomes, and therefore unable to replicate), no zygote results. There has thus been no moment of conception, no guiding principle, no form, no soul.

            Oxford Dictionary defines 'epigenetic primordia': ‘The embryo is human, since it has the genetic constitution and epigenetic primordia characteristic of human beings.’ ‘There are epigenetic influences at work (changes in inheritance by means other than changing DNA sequence,) and we're just barely starting to understand them.’ ‘However, backcrossing is a gradual procedure that, apart from being lengthy, cannot ascertain that genetic and epigenetic changes will modify the original nuclear genotype.’

            epigenetic | Definition of epigenetic in English by Oxford ...
            en.oxforddictionaries.com/definition/epigenetic

          • David Nickol

            The quote you offer is in fact only a phrase, so I'd really like to find the full quote. I could find nothing either n the source you cite, nor in the MUSE article, nor by skimming George's book Clash of Orthodoxies. Perhaps it's in his book Embryo. I

            The quote I reproduced in a previous message is a paragraph, which I will repeat here:

            To be a complete human organism (a human being), the entity must have the epigenetic primordia for a functioning brain and nervous system, though a chromosomal defect might only prevent development to maximum functioning (in which case it would be a human being, though handicapped) (emphasis added). If fertilization is not complete, then what is developing is not an organism with the active capacity to develop itself to the mature (even if handicapped) state of a human.”

            The source information, provided in a direct response to your request in a previous message, is as follows:

            The quote can be found in an article in National Review by Patrick Lee and Robert P. George titled Silver Lining. The pertinent section is toward the end and is titled Spontaneous Embryo Loss — What is Lost?

            The pertinent section containing the quote is as follows:

            Spontaneous Embryo Loss — What is Lost?

            At the end of Silver’s reply there is a serious mischaracterization or misunderstanding of our position that must be corrected. Silver, and others, had argued that human embryos are not worthy of the full moral respect due to a human being because a high percentage of embryos formed in natural pregnancies fail to implant or spontaneously abort. To this we have at times presented, as a preliminary note to a detailed argument, the following point: “It is worth noting first, as the standard embryology texts point out, that many of these unsuccessful pregnancies are really due to incomplete fertilizations. So in many cases, what is lost is not actually a human embryo” (from Robert George’s Personal Statement in the Report of the President’s Council on Bioethics, on Human Cloning and Human Dignity, p.305).

            In both his book and his reply on NRO, Silver misunderstands this to mean that we hold that all defects in fertilization — that is, malfunctions of various sorts in the fertilization process — result in entities that lack the active disposition to, or the developmental trajectory toward, the mature stage of a human being, and so are not actually human embryos. But after making the above point in his personal statement in the Report of the President’s Council on Bioethics on cloning, George went on to say:

            “To be a complete human organism (a human being), the entity must have the epigenetic primordia for a functioning brain and nervous system, though a chromosomal defect might only prevent development to maximum functioning (in which case it would be a human being, though handicapped) (emphasis added). If fertilization is not complete, then what is developing is not an organism with the active capacity to develop itself to the mature (even if handicapped) state of a human.”

            So our point has always been only that in some instances of “defective fertilizations” what results will lack the program for or developmental trajectory toward the mature stage of a human being, and so is not a human embryo. An embryonic human may certainly have the basic program or disposition orienting it toward the mature stage, but also have defects that prevent the full actualization of that program, as is the case with trisomy 21 and anencephalic infants.

            Moreover, in his book Silver presents this merely preliminary note as if it were our main reply to the objection about so-called “embryo-wastage.” Our main replies to that argument, however, have always been that, first, the objection is simply a non sequitur, in fact a form of the naturalistic fallacy — that because something does occur in “nature” with predictable frequency then it must be morally acceptable when deliberately caused by human agency. Second, we have observed that historically, and in some places even today, the infant mortality rate has been very high, and so if this objection were sound, it would show that infanticide in such cultures would be morally acceptable, which (we hope Professor Silver would agree) is absurd.

          • OMG

            Wow. Thank you, but now Ficino sent the relevant quote, and I replied but there are serious software problems with posting, so I don't know where my earlier comment to Ficino has gone! I'll try replying to you with the copy:

            Thank you for this full quote. Now, if only this software will allow me to reply! There certainly have been major problems with it for the last few articles.
            George is saying that INCOMPLETE FERTILIZATIONS--ones where ''epigenetic primordia for a functioning brain and nervous system" are not "complete" human organisms. Note that the fertilization was incomplete in some way. Obviously, if gamete fusion is incomplete (Two haploid cells do NOT fuse, resulting in a not fully formed diploid cell with 46 chromosomes, and therefore unable to replicate), no zygote results. There has thus been no moment of conception, no guiding principle, no form, no soul.
            Oxford Dictionary defines 'epigenetic primordia': ‘The embryo is human, since it has the genetic constitution and epigenetic primordia characteristic of human beings.’ ‘There are epigenetic influences at work (changes in inheritance by means other than changing DNA sequence,) and we're just barely starting to understand them.’ ‘However, backcrossing is a gradual procedure that, apart from being lengthy, cannot ascertain that genetic and epigenetic changes will modify the original nuclear genotype.’
            epigenetic | Definition of epigenetic in English by Oxford ...
            en.oxforddictionaries.com/d...

          • Jim the Scott

            Disqus is a pain and not in the fun way when you eat hot sauce.

          • OMG

            Thank you for this full quote. Now, if only this software will allow me to reply! There certainly have been major problems with it for the last few articles.
            George is saying that INCOMPLETE FERTILIZATIONS--ones where ''epigenetic primordia for a functioning brain and nervous system" are not "complete" human organisms. Note that the fertilization was incomplete in some way. Obviously, if gamete fusion is incomplete (Two haploid cells do NOT fuse, resulting in a not fully formed diploid cell with 46 chromosomes, and therefore unable to replicate), no zygote results. There has thus been no moment of conception, no guiding principle, no form, no soul.
            Oxford Dictionary defines 'epigenetic primordia': ‘The embryo is human, since it has the genetic constitution and epigenetic primordia characteristic of human beings.’ ‘There are epigenetic influences at work (changes in inheritance by means other than changing DNA sequence,) and we're just barely starting to understand them.’ ‘However, backcrossing is a gradual procedure that, apart from being lengthy, cannot ascertain that genetic and epigenetic changes will modify the original nuclear genotype.’
            epigenetic | Definition of epigenetic in English by Oxford ...
            en.oxforddictionaries.com/d...

          • OMG

            Infanticide is morally objectionable when there is complete fertilization.

          • Jim the Scott

            Of course with the rise of involentary euthenasia and countries that legalize it for children I don't think the Pro Abortion crowd will care anymore if proved to them a Fetus or Zygote was a human being. I don't think they care anymore.

            My two favote non-Catholic Pro-life sites.
            Atheists for life
            https://www.secularprolife.org/

            Pro-life gays.
            http://www.plagal.org/

            Luv these guys.

          • OMG

            I'll check them out. No. I don't think they care. Rather, they seem to prefer human life since there is the power and the glory. No one ever forbid Germany moving to Phoenix, did they?

          • Alexandra

            The "moment of conception" refers to gamete fusion at fertilization. It is a discrete and discernable biological moment.

            This is an article from Nature, which is one of the top biological scientific journals, as an example:

            https://www.nature.com/articles/s41586-018-0407-5
            Gamete fusion triggers bipartite transcription factor assembly to block re-fertilization.

            So gamete fusion (egg and a single sperm fusing together), a distinct biological event, initiates the now diploid ovum's development and transformation. It initiates a transcription factor cascade that blocks fertilization by any other sperm, and initiates meiosis (cell division), etc.
            If there is no moment of fusion (thus no conception), the ovum remains the same, no transformation.
            Although there are several distinct steps in gamete fusion (and several stages of fertilization), it's the initiating attachment step of the two gametes that Jim the Scott was alluding to.

            This a quote from a scientist in an Independent article entitled:

            The moment of conception: Scientists isolate protein that governs first contact between egg and sperm

            ...We have solved a long-standing mystery in biology by identifying the molecules displayed on all sperm and egg that must bind each other at the moment we were conceived,” said Gavin Wright of the Sanger, the senior author of the study published in the journal Nature....

            https://www.independent.co.uk/news/science/the-moment-of-conception-scientists-isolate-protein-that-governs-first-contact-between-egg-and-sperm-9265346.html

          • Sample1

            Headlines sell. That’s their job. I’ve read them long ago, including the relevant mouse studies whose mechanisms translate perfectly to humans.

            If you want to draw a line and say calcium/zinc ion release is that moment where the soul is injected by a god during the fertilization process then fine, but be careful as science’s history is not on your side for such a precision of claims. It’s always risky to marry faith claims with reason. The church is rightfully careful now.

            If you want to say that the process of fertilization, over many hours, includes intervals of activity of which one biochem event, specifically the temporal evolution of sperm protein with an egg receptor is shorter than hours but more than moments and is useful for determining with good accuracy which fertilization’s develop into embryos, I’m fine with that too.

            The problem with the moment of conception fallacy is one for Catholics alone. It is known that developing human life can split and form twins or triplets. Are there now three souls? Ok, but what if those twins develop further and fuse whereby only one baby is born? This happens. One soul or three?

            Mike

          • Alexandra

            "If you want to draw a line..."
            " If you want to say... "

            No. I wouldn't say any of these things.
            --
            Cell surface receptor binding between the two cells occurs in a moment-a brief period of time, not hours. Upon that moment of binding (the moment of fertilization) there's an initiation of the ovum's transformation; with, immediate discernable characteristics- like the zinc, and the reduction of sperm binding cell surface receptors.

            https://youtu.be/T6BtSMerBmw
            (From Stanford 's sea urchin website link)

            https://youtu.be/gtPd4Yn_18could
            (Can't verify source/legitimacy of video, but looks right.)

            As to the twins souls-how exactly do you divide or fuse something immaterial? What are you imagining is happening?
            (Although if there is "non-material" cell surface receptor binding involved, it would still only occur in a moment! )

          • Sample1

            I’m sorry but this is not helpful, though I thank you for your interest in it.

            The confusion lies with the terms: conception and fertilization. The former word has less truck within elite scientific literature. I have not researched the authors/producers of your articles/videos for possible biases, if any. Authors and editors do make honest mistakes too, which can show up in journals even as prestigious as Nature. Semantical sloppiness happens and I’d wager that is a bit harder for some editors to find, particularly if it’s a headline grabbing word that is “close enough” for public consumption. I usually use The Quarterly Review of Biology or The Cell amongst a few others when I’m looking for answers demanding scrupulously produced data about biology, in case you’re wondering.

            Now that upgrade in understanding has naturally developed as science uncovers evidence. When terms like seeding or conception are found in articles today, they will always be in relation to the word fertilization for their scientific legitimacy. If they aren’t, something else is going on; probably not science.

            This word conception is frequently not in harmony with the science when used for political, religious and ethical debates. All usually having different motives and biases than stark naked scientific facts. It is the role of those studying the metaphysics of biology to address what questions arise from biological facts for human civilization. It is the role of scientists to guard against bias.

            There are three stages of fertilization that proceed over time, never in a moment. Some stages take less time while some are weeks long (ie: the complete male genomic activation within the cell takes 16 days!). I’m refraining from getting technical as my point doesn’t need that. You can research if you’re interested.

            Fertilization as a process is qualified even further for accuracy by the word successful. Successful fertilization. Many things can happen during that process that could result in an unsuccessful fertilization. That qualifier is in good scientific keeping with understanding the process.

            None of this is helpful, or easy I should say, when crafting laws to govern human behavior but it is what it is. Life is messy. And too many people, some in great power, are unable to exclude emotion from honest fact finding. That is totally understandable, it’s human, but it is not based on the rigor we demand of science and upon which we all depend.

            Mike
            Edit done. Hit post accidentally.

          • Alexandra

            You said:
            "Conception is an arbitrary concept..."

            and:
            "The confusion lies with the terms: conception and fertilization. The former word has less truck within elite scientific literature."

            Conception is absolutely a legitimate biological concept. It means to become pregnant.
            It is descriptive at the physiological level, just like fertilization is descriptive at the cellular level, and Juno receptor binding is at the molecular level. All these terms- conception, fertilization, surface receptor binding, -are legitimate biologically, and are all referencing the moment of fusion between egg and sperm. It's simply a question of scale.

            Conception is typically an in vivo physiological descriptor.
            So you wouldn't commonly encounter the term conception in a biological journal like Cell or Nature Biology, which primarily reports ex vivo at the cellular and molecular level, not physiological.
            It's the same way you don't encounter subatomic particle descriptors in these journals either. You're typically not going find the term "quark" in Cell or Nature Immunology. Quark is still a legitimate scientific term and cells have quarks. But it's not at the scale of biological analysis being reported.

            However, since medical science and animal husbandry typically does involve in vivo physiology, you do find the term conception used in their scientific literature.

            Here are some examples:
            1. Effects of heat stress on production, somatic cell score and conception rate in Holsteins. Animal Science 2017

            2. Comparison of effects of GnRH and prostaglandin in combination, and prostaglandin on conception rates and time to conception in dairy cows. Aus. Vet Journal 2003

            3.From conception to birth - how endometriosis affects the development of each stage of reproductive life. Minerva Ginecol 2013

            4.Sperm selection in natural conception: what can we learn from Mother Nature to improve assisted reproduction outcmes?
            Human Reprod Update 2015

            Therefore conception is a specific biological term found in biological scientific literature, and understood by any biologist, elite or not.

            Edit: changed a tense.

          • David Nickol

            Conception is absolutely a legitimate biological concept. It means to become pregnant.

            There is a serious problem with that statement, since (to the best of my knowledge), all the scientific information and all the fascinating videos we have of the "moment of conception" come from work done in laboratories. No one became pregnant in the video of the "zink flash" phenomenon. It is hard to find exact statistics, but it is possible there are as many as a million human embryos in storage in fertility clinics, and none of them made anyone pregnant. Also, sea urchins never get pregnant! :-)

            I would not throw conception and pregnancy out of the lexicon, but a great deal of the time, something that looks very much like conception, and even something that looks very much like pregnancy does not result in a viable human life and quite possibly involves something that is not even a potential human being. Not every union of a human sperm and egg, even under the best of conditions, develops into a human being, and if Robert George is right, many of them would not be "eligible" for ensoulment, even if everything the Catholic Church has to say about when a human life begins is true.

          • Alexandra

            Hi David,

            What is your objection to what I said? I'm not following.
            Yes, the terms pregnancy and conception tend not apply to artificial constructs, and yes sometimes things go awry or don' t materialize (ultimately baby born). I agree.

          • David Nickol

            I doubt that you and I disagree on anything fundamental—at least when it comes to defining conception! I wold say that a (human) woman who conceives becomes pregnant. But conception using a human egg and sperm can take place in a petrie dish (as in in vitro fertilization), in which case, there may never be a subsequent pregnancy. (Up to a million embryos may be in storage at the moment, and the vast majority of them will never be part of a pregnancy.) Also, a woman can become pregnant without being involved in any way with conception, as in IVF with donated eggs. Finally, aquatic animals who spawn (release eggs and sperm into water where fertilization tales place) don't have anything like pregnancy in their reproductive lives.

            So I would say conception doesn't equal pregnancy, and pregnancy doesn't equal conception. But I would certainly agree that there are many instances in which to say "the woman conceived" is equivalent to saying "the woman became pregnant."

          • Alexandra

            I think I follow now. Thanks. The definition is not meant to be universally applicable. I know not all organisms conceive or get pregnant.

            Biology deals with the natural state of organisms.
            Due to the multitude of variations and exceptions of biological processes in organisms; if a biological definition is given, you can assume it is of the properly functioning, species-specific, natural state, unless otherwise indicated.

            As you know, the biological scientist uses artificial constructs and technology all the time in the labroratory, but as a tool to describe the natural state, not an end in itself. A specialized language develops for all the artificial constructs, states, and technology, that will be distinct from the biological definitions. Artificial processes and technology are typically outside of biological description.

            How artificial process (such as in medical technology) corresponds to the natural state described by biology, is complicated, and beyond the scope of the biological arguments I was presenting to Sample 1.

            If there's something you'd specifically like to discuss, like IVF terminology, I'd be happy to.

            Edit: changed words

          • OMG

            I do not see a serious problem with Alexandra's statement.
            When the petri dish (or test tube or wherever science puts these poor little ones these days) contains a zygote, the petri dish or test tube is pregnant with the likes of a little human being. And, usually the scientist or embryologist, who allows the zygote to develop in a dish or tube, makes money by doing so. He is also, in a sense, pregnant. (definition 3)
            Merriam-Webster:

            pregnant adjective

            preg·​nant | ˈpreg-nənt
            Definition of pregnant
            1
            archaic : cogent
            2
            : abounding in fancy, wit, or resourcefulness : inventive
            all this has been said … by great and pregnant artists
            — The Times Literary Supplement (London)
            3
            : rich in significance or implication
            the pregnant phrases of the Bible
            — Edmund Wilson
            a pregnant pause
            4
            : containing a developing embryo, fetus, or unborn offspring within the body : gravid
            5
            : having possibilities of development or consequence : involving important issues : momentous
            draw inspiration from the heroic achievements of that pregnant age
            — Kemp Malone
            6
            obsolete : inclined, disposed
            your own most pregnant and vouchsafed ear
            — William Shakespeare
            7
            : full, teeming

            First Known Use of pregnant
            14th century, in the meaning defined at sense 1
            History and Etymology for pregnant
            Middle English, from Latin praegnant-, praegnans carrying a fetus, alteration of praegnas, from prae- pre- + -gnas (akin to gignere to give birth to) — more at kin

          • David Nickol

            the petri dish or test tube is pregnant

            When it comes to human reproduction, I would say women can be pregnant but petrie dishes and test tubes cannot. I would be amazed if even Alexandra disagreed with me. I would be amazed if anybody here besides you disagreed with me.

            It is an unfortunate tendency of many of those who comment here (and I very much include myself) to "choose sides" and bend over backwards to criticize the "other side" and defend "our side" (or at least to remain silent when one on "our side" makes faulty arguments). I'm making a resolve to stop doing that beginning now, and it would be helpful if everyone here tried harder to get at the truth rather than write "partisan" comments.

          • OMG

            Choosing sides is not the issue. It is the application of a word and common usage. If a pause may be pregnant, why can't a petri dish?

          • David Nickol

            Choosing sides is not the issue. It is the application of a word and common usage. If a pause may be pregnant, why can't a petri dish?

            Aren't you providing us with a perfect example of the fallacy of equivocation?

            Pregnant when applied to a pause has quite a different meaning than pregnant when applied to a woman. And neither of those usages is meaningful when applied to a petri dish containing one or more human embryos. The clear meaning under discussion here is (from your list) "containing a developing embryo, fetus, or unborn offspring within the body : gravid." Note the qualifying phrase within the body.

            And going back to your previous comment, you say:

            And, usually the scientist or embryologist who allows the zygote to develop in a dish or tube, makes money by doing so. He is also, in a sense, pregnant. (definition 3)

            Definition 3 is "rich in significance or implication," and is quite different from Definition 4. Again, this seems like equivocation to me. Are you seriously maintaining a fertility technician or doctor can reasonably be called pregnant because he or she is overseeing the fertilization of eggs in a petri dish?

            If the fertility doctor oversees the fertilization of five eggs in one petri dish, is he or she pregnant with quintuplets?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I really have no desire to shed any more heat than light here, but all this discussion just reminded me of something that young couples often say today when the good news is discovered by them.

            They proudly announce to the world, "We just got pregnant!"

          • David Nickol

            I thought that perhaps after teaching philosophy for forty years, you would be the perfect one to answer OMG's question, "If a pause may be pregnant, why can't a petri dish?"

          • OMG

            I asked YOU!

          • Dennis Bonnette

            For some reason, Disqus just won't let me reply to David Nickol. So I shall post the following citation from Through the Looking Glass here -- to see if anyone thinks it is apropos.

            Chapter Six: Humpty Dumpty:

            >""When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
            "The question is," said Alice, "whether you can make words mean so many different things."
            "The question is," said Humpty Dumpty, "which is to be master— that's all."

          • OMG

            It just occurred to me! Humpty Dumpty is an egg...……….

          • David Nickol

            For some reason, Disqus just won't let me reply to David Nickol.

            It appears that Disqus, at least, is on my side! :-)

            But actually, I am quite comfortable with this Lewis Carroll quote under the circumstances. I have no quarrel with OMG's quotation of Merriam-Webster's entry for pregnant. I stand by my earlier statement (after the correction of a spelling error): "When it comes to human reproduction, I would say women can be pregnant but petri dishes and test tubes cannot."

            It's just a fact that one word can have a multitude of different meanings. It would be bizarre to define red as the characteristic that Stalin, an apple, and the state of Alaska have in common.

          • Jim the Scott

            How is mere equivocation remarkable?

            Also he who would pun would pick a pocket.

          • OMG

            My spouse and I both suffered from morning sickness.

          • OMG

            Again, the application is word usage. The fertility doctor is not pregnant with quintuplets, but he is pregnant with an expectation of receiving payment for his work or rich (pregnant) with significant expectation. A pregnant pause is not pregnant with quints! The petri dish is pregnant with "possibilities of development or consequence : involving important issues : momentous" (def. 6). These usages express intentional meaning and are within the parameters of defined usage.

          • David Nickol

            Let's not forget that what started this rather foolish debate is the following statement:

            Conception is absolutely a legitimate biological concept. It means to become pregnant.

            Conception means to become pregnant?

          • Sample1

            I am immediately prepared to admit many problems and errors exist with what I’ve posted in these exchanges.

            What do you mean when you say it [conception] means to become pregnant?

            Mike

          • Alexandra

            I am immediately prepared to admit many problems and errors exist with what I’ve posted in these exchanges.

            I've so been there. Once, in a combox discussion, when I was trying to describe a mob carrying torches, I inadvertently implied the person I was talking to was Satan waiving a pitchfork! I totally didn't mean it to sound that way. Not my finest moment.

            What do you mean when you say it [conception] means to become pregnant?

            Well, young man, there are birds and there are bees, and when they fall in love ...

            Here's a reference (not an image!):
            http://www.pathophys.org/conception-and-pregnancy/

          • Alexandra

            Mike, hope you and the doggy are doing ok. Prayers for Alaska.

          • Michael Murray

            Hi Alexandra I just heard from Mike. He is apparently five or six hundred miles away from the quake and all fine.

          • Alexandra

            That is good news. Thanks Michael.

          • Sample1

            Now to the issues of souls.

            I purposely kept such talk out of my preceding explanation to you defending the moment of conception as a fallacy. Souls are religious/folklore concepts with disparate understandings depending on the source. They are not in the purview of science and don’t warrant inclusion with fact producing systems. Unless, that is, they are to be studied objectively for sociological and historical reasons.

            If a person of faith, religious enterprise, or even a secular friendly foundation is going to cite science for doctrinal/ethical rule emphasis regarding the process of fertilization, some of those enterprises will create their own problems and paradoxes if the word conception is askew the scientific standard. One can’t eat their cake and have it to.

            And those conceptual problems, while sometimes affecting non members along a spectrum of consequences, aren’t ultimately my problems.

            Mike
            Edit done: Marie Antoinette reference added.

          • Sample1

            If you still harbor doubts about my objection to the moment of conception fallacy, I applaud you. Doubt is useful and a feature of the scientific method.

            I consider my explanations about fertilization and conception sound reasoning that scales harmoniously with Darwinian evolution concepts backed by evidence, but here is another way to think about it: conception on your view, isn’t needed! What did I say?

            The process of reproductive cloning involves transferring DNA without a conception moment (if I adopt your view about moment). No zinc event, no ovum transformation involving receptor degradations, etc. To be fair, fertilization is gone too. Why? Because cloning is asexual. There is no lengthy time interval of gene activation from the male gamete as in sexual reproduction. Because there is no male gamete.

            You would have to go back to the somatic cell’s original development and claim your moment then somehow discounts something from my view. Not sure what form of explanation from you that would take. But if you do that, we are back to square one which allows multiple timeframes from hours to weeks for the process of successful fertilization.

            And all this without mentioning souls. So let’s mention them. Is it nuclear transfer or your conception moment that coincides with ensoulment? I’ll bet you’ll say you’re not sure and I would respect that even though I don’t believe in souls.

            Perhaps this post, along with my other posts is enough to place some doubt on just why you’re seemingly beholden to a moment view rather than accepting fertilization as a process. And if not, well, I’m not a very good teacher.

            Thank you for engaging me directly with a post that resulted in this discussion. That at least is something whether we agree or not.

            Mike

          • OMG

            A-T metaphysics tries to understand and explain a lot more than the nature of man and of God, so in this regard, it reasons about the soul. Dr. B. or Jim the Scott will please correct me if I what I say is blatantly wrong or imprecise. I've only begun to seriously read Aquinas haphazardly over the past few months.

            I've taken the gist from the "Introduction" to the Introduction to St. Thomas Aquinas (Modern Library, 1948) by Anton Pegis of the Pontifical Institute of Mediaeval Studies, Toronto.

            The human soul is a spiritual substance. It does not exist BY itself but through itself. It does not need the body in order to exist, but the body exists in and through the existence of the soul. The body is in the soul, not the soul in the body, existentially considered. The human soul is intellectual in nature and purpose. The knowledge of truth is the aim of a spiritual substance, so if the soul is an incarnate spirit, it is incarnate in order to do the work of a spirit. It must do a spiritual work as an incarnate spirit.

            Does any of this help? It seems as if conception is not a fallacy since we know it occurs; we know it exists, we know it is a human species conceptus which then develops into a human baby person, and we know that baby person develops with a simultaneous degree of intellect. As intellect is a spiritual property (cannot be located, seen, sensed), nevertheless, we know it exists. Else we would be unable to sense, to know and to understand any of the sense (and also spiritual) world around us. We must have it and we do.

            Warm bread?

          • Sample1

            Conception is an arbitrary concept that has historically meant different things to different people. I’m not saying arbitrary concepts aren’t useful. When I talk about conception it relates to the process, not the moment, of fertilization. A gradual event not unlike the analogous speciation from non humans to humans whereby claims of ensoulment of two first parents for our species is unthinkable.

            Mike

    • Jim the Scott

      >I could discuss more particular points, but this is long enough. Thomists may want to reply that I simply fail to understand A-T metaphysics,

      One can see that from orbit you fail to understand A-T metaphysics. I will concede you are trying harder then most but the gaps are obvious.

      > but I am inclined at this point to think rather that the problem is that the Thomist attempt to marry Aristotle with earlier Christian doctrines is not wholly successful.

      Rather you are begging the question by giving us your interpretation of Aristotle vs Aquinas' interpretation and calling that a defeater. Which it pretty much isn't. It would be like me reading Democritus and making a big deal of his scientific errors (flat earther, atoms as objects with no void which is "disproven" by the fact Atoms are made up of elections, protons and neutrons & he held the same erroneous physics as Aristotle) & ignoring the philosophical content of his argument for materialism. Or ignoring the modern materialist philosopher's arguments developed over time and held today by more scientifically competent individuals to complain about Democritus being a flat Earther.

      It is goofy!

      Anyway I can admit the Bible is God' s Word and is subject to multiple contrary interpretations. The Baptist reads Holy Writ and based on his assumptions concludes that Baptism is for adult believers only. The Catholic reads it as does the Methodist or Presbyterian and concludes infants may receive it. Different interpretations.

      Well Aristotle is not divinely inspired and his words are that of a man. Thus how can he claim perspicuity? So yeh I am sure you and others might interpret him differently from Aquinas. My response is SO WHAT? We are dealing with philosophical arguments here. Not scientific ones. We are dealing with metaphysics here not physics. We are dealing with the basic philosophical argument for A T Metaphysics & Thomist Scholastic thought. I am not seeing any philosophical defeaters here for the view advocated? Just majoring in the minors.

    • OMG

      No time to delve in your details, but I do have one question from point 1, where you say, "Zygote lacks rational and sensitive soul, so it is not a human being, and its nutritive functions are not ἐφ' αὑτῷ, under its own power."

      How do you, Ficino, determine whether and when a human organism lacks a soul?

      • Ficino

        I'm only writing from the Aristotelian and Thomistic POV. Anything that is alive, that initiates movement somehow in itself, has soul. There are three big grades of soul: nutritive/reproductive, sensitive/locomotive, and intellectual. What is at stake in Dr. Bonnette's article is rational soul, to the extent that it is what Ari and Aq and others held is immortal (Ari in different ways than Aq). So the zygote has nutritive soul, since it can take in nutriment and carry on some other functions like cell division. Ari thought, History of Animals 7.3 583b2-25, that the embryo begins to move at c. 40th day for boys, 90th for girls. As I recall, since Ari denied that there is a bodily organ for intellectual operations, he didn't fix a point in the pregnancy when rational soul develops. He did think it enters "from outside" through "pneuma" and gets activated later at some point. Etc.

        So there can never be a human organism without a soul. No soul, no organism. I would suppose the organism is properly considered a human being when it has all three levels of soul; before that it is only potentially human. I can't state an exact moment when this can be said to have happened. I'm not an expert on law about fetuses either.

        • Jim the Scott

          >I'm only writing from the Aristotelian and Thomistic POV.

          Sola Ari and Sola Tommy isn't going to cut it. Deal with the whole tradition not just part.

          >Ari denied that there is a bodily organ for intellectual operations, he didn't fix a point in the pregnancy when rational soul develop.

          You are confusing the computational powers of the Brain with the intellect. Reason and intellect can conceve of the abstract which cannot be accounted for by mere computation. Thus it is immaterial and needs no such organ such as the brain.

          >So there can never be a human organism without a soul. No soul, no organism.

          You are equivocating between mortal sensitive souls and vegitative ones vs the rational one.

        • OMG

          In your earlier post above, you say, " ...its [the zygote's] nutritive functions are not ἐφ' αὑτῷ, under its own power."

          What do you intend when you say "NOT [my emphasis] under its own power"? The zygote operates perfectly under its own power to transport and position itself in the uterine lining so as to obtain food at that source which its mother has prepared specifically for its purpose.

          In your second post you say, "So the zygote has nutritive soul, since it can take in nutriment."

          So it seems unclear whether you are saying the zygote has no power, no soul, or are you saying that the zygote does have power and nutritive soul?

          • David Nickol

            The zygote operates perfectly under its own power to transport and position itself in the uterine lining so as to obtain food at that source which its mother has prepared specifically for its purpose.

            I don't know how deeply we want to delve into the workings of the female reproductive system and also into embryology, but the zygote does not "operate . . . under its own power to transport and position itself." It doesn't move, but rather is moved:

            Uterine epithelial cilia are responsible for the initial movement of the ooycte and conceptus (zygote, morula, blastocyst). In humans, this is during the first week of development. Uterine epithelial microvilli are involved with the implantation process. Hormones (estrogen and progesterone) regulate both cilia and microvilli number and structure.

            Also, see the following:

            During the time frame from fertilization to deposition of the embryo in the uterus, the propulsive forces in the fallopian tube are towards the uterus.

            Of course, I am not an expert of any kind, so I can only assume the two sites I quote from are reliable. In researching this, I found no evidence that the zygote/morula/ blastocyst is in any way responsible for its own movement.

          • OMG

            Yes. Thanks for bringing these resources.

            I would add only that regardless of its moving or being moved, the zygote does contain or embody unique genetic material and as such is capable of being moved and moving. It also inherently has the a power to reproduce or multiply. It contains unique genetic material.

            Scientific terminology would also have the term 'zygote' limited only until said zygote divides a certain number of times, when science then names it something else--morula, blastocyte--or whatever. My question for those who insist on process would be: When is that exact moment when a zygote ceases so that its next name is truly distinguishing? Would science designate this moment a process? If a process, why do we name it something different? When does the child become a man, the blastocyte the embryo, the fetus, the baby? Where is the human and where the person according to science? This reminds me of that ship Sample1 once put 'dinger's cat into.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            This whole discussion is a perfect example of what I just posted in another part of the thread about knowing the Thomistic tradition and not simply following a literal reading of various texts in Aristotle or St. Thomas.

            Thomists are tied neither to the ancient cosmology of Aristotle nor the biology as St. Thomas understood it. We all know that the scientific content of the Physics and the Commentary on the Physics or of the De Anima or of the Commentary on the De Anima can often be dead wrong. It is the metaphysical principles that stand the test of time, since they do not depend on the natural science either of ancient times or, for that matter, of modern times!

            What is being discussed right now is the "theory of successive animation" as it was understood by Aristotle and St. Thomas, which basically says that a mere nutritive soul was present for the first thirty days of gestation, a mere sensitive soul was present for the next thirty days, and that only after that was the intellective (rational) soul present.

            That theory is simply based on antiquated science and arose because the science of the times could not discern parts (organs) needed for the exercise of various powers until later stages of gestation. Therefore, it was reasoned, that, since the form must be proportionate to the matter, the higher forms could not be present until the matter was sufficiently advanced to sustain them.

            We know by today's science that all the needed organic dispositions are present from the first moment of conception, especially as contained in the DNA which is specific to the human species and none other. That being the case, the matter of the zygote is fitted for no other substantial form than that of the human being -- and no competent Thomistic philosopher would say anything otherwise today.

            And St. Thomas, if his understanding of biology were what we presently know, would be the first to agree.

          • Sample1

            ...can often be dead wrong

            What is your position about the SEP entry for Metaphysics? Is it an impossible enterprise? I’ll accept a variety of one word answers such as: Yes, no, maybe yes, maybe no, unknown, don’t like the question.
            https://plato.stanford.edu/entries/metaphysics/

            It is not easy to say what metaphysics is. Ancient and Medieval philosophers might have said that metaphysics was, like chemistry or astrology, to be defined by its subject-matter: metaphysics was the “science” that studied “being as such” or “the first causes of things” or “things that do not change”. It is no longer possible to define metaphysics that way, for two reasons. First, a philosopher who denied the existence of those things that had once been seen as constituting the subject-matter of metaphysics—first causes or unchanging things—would now be considered to be making thereby a metaphysical assertion. Second, there are many philosophical problems that are now considered to be metaphysical problems (or at least partly metaphysical problems) that are in no way related to first causes or unchanging things—the problem of free will, for example, or the problem of the mental and the physical.

            The first three sections of this entry examine a broad selection of problems considered to be metaphysical and discuss ways in which the purview of metaphysics has expanded over time. We shall see that the central problems of metaphysics were significantly more unified in the Ancient and Medieval eras. Which raises a question—is there any common feature that unites the problems of contemporary metaphysics? The final two sections discuss some recent theories of the nature and methodology of metaphysics. We will also consider arguments that metaphysics, however defined, is an impossible enterprise.

            Mike

          • Dennis Bonnette

            The program at my end is blanking out whole sections of paragraphs and largely prevented my replying to you in another part of the thread. (You will find several deletes there.) I am not even sure you will see this. So please understand my momentary or longer failure, possibly, to reply to you. That said, you may or may not get a reply from me!

          • Jim the Scott

            Yeh I this page has been glichy for some reason?

          • Dennis Bonnette

            The software has just obliterated the third line of your comment, which contains, I think, my possible alternative answers. Now it is blanking out most of your comment from me in sections. Now they just reappeared!

            My reply will be brief for obvious reasons. The entry you referred me to looks like a lot of linguistic analysis about metaphysics. Interesting, but still not metaphysics itself. Now my own comments are appearing an disappearing.

            Please forgive if I defer making replies until the program re-stabilizes.

          • Sample1

            Not a problem. I think it’s Disqus. I’ve had issues too. Especially in the email notifications. I finally started writing my long replies not using Disqus and then pasting them in. Works better.

            Linguistic analysis surely has to have a vital role in any first attempt at explaining what metaphysics is, I should think!

            Unless you’re implying metaphysics is similar to “miracle experiences” where words alone cannot explain their meanings? That’s fine if that’s the case, that in and of itself is helpful.

            Take all the time you need or if it’s too frustrating don’t worry about it. At least you know how I am trying to proceed, my MO.

            Mike

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I don't know if this whole comment will make it to print, so I shall be brief.

            Metaphysics had a long and successful history before the analysts came along -- and I think every intelligent reader had a perfectly good grasp of what was being said. I do not deny the insights that have been added by recent thinkers have some validity, but some of their distinctions remind me of the frequent complaint aimed at the subtleties of medieval theologians who were claimed to be disputing about "how many angels could dance on the head of a pin."

            There was an old joke about analysts debating the meaning of meaning, which came true when someone about 1980 actually published a scholarly paper on "the meaning of meaning." One philosophical conference was held in which all the proper papers about such topics were given in all seriousness by the honored participants, and then, when they took a break, they would all sit around confessing to each other what a waste it all was -- except that they had to continue to play the game in order to attain tenure and earn promotion.

            I have no problem with Wittgenstein's suggestion that we reduce the problems of philosophy to ordinary language, only his assumption that this would make metaphysics disappear suspiciously sounds like begging the question.

            As one Thomist once put it, we have to remember that first we know things, and then we invent words to describe them. In the last analysis, the entire approach one takes to the value of various analytic questions always presupposes some metaphysical commitments that are hidden in the "project."

            I am not saying it is not interesting to those who are interested, but it will never replace direct debate about the substance of things philosophical. And, we all ultimately have to struggle to find the words that adequately describe the realities we first know in primary acts of understanding. Debating primarily over the use of language itself does not replace the presupposed judgments that establish the foundations of human knowledge , and yes, the primary intuitions of being that condition every judgment, even those about the means to clarify the use of language.

          • Sample1

            Reducing the problems of philosophy to ordinary language.

            Does something follow to indicate a philosophical problem has been reduced to language?

            Could evolutionary psychology with its cross disciplinary subjects on offer, occupy a more fundamental level of inquiry than metaphysics? Metaphysicians “reduce problems of philosophy to ordinary language” but an evolutionary psychologist can investigate how that behavior may have originated. Do I sense an infinite regress objection?

            If there were only two, how could a metaphysician know she correctly reduced a problem of philosophy to ordinary language if the other claims that she didn’t?

            These questions are observations, multifaceted and rhetorical. Feel free to address them if you like. I don’t even know if a metaphysician would accept them as properly formed questions for their field.

            Thanks for the previous reply. While I was tempted to reply story-like, I felt a cleaner and reduced amount of text was mandatory for this subject.

            Mike

          • Dennis Bonnette

            I think that Disqus is working better today, but will still keep this short in case it decides to "edit" my comment.

            Briefly, I don't think efforts to convert metaphysics to "ordinary language" are really needed since the starting points of both epistemology and metaphysics must be immediate experience, which classical philosophers have tried to describe in as simple terms as possible to begin with. After all, how do you really simplify a terms like "exists?" Either you know its meaning or you are probably not conscious.

            As to the more interesting question, you write:

            "Could evolutionary psychology with its cross disciplinary subjects on offer, occupy a more fundamental level of inquiry than metaphysics?"

            Since evolutionary psychology presupposes the scientific disciplines which provide its support base, and since those sciences themselves presuppose basic epistemological truths, such as our direct knowledge of extramental reality, any conclusions entailing revolutionary insights from evolutionary psychology results in, not an infinite regress, but contradictions of our universal initial epistemological presuppositions. Such contradictions would be cataclysmic, not only to metaphysics, but to all our knowledge of the world as well as natural science itself.

            So, no, evolutionary psychology cannot offer findings more fundamental than metaphysics, insofar as metaphysics provides the basic principles presupposed by the natural science themselves, including non-contradiction, sufficient reason, causality, and epistemological realism. The only defense against this would appear to claim that our initial certitudes of these truths are really merely probabilistic, not apodictic. But such claims entail their own metaphysical baggage. For example, if such first principles are merely assumptions or probabilities, then we have no solid basis for claiming that evolutionary psychology itself is solidly based.

            The fact that these epistemological and metaphysical principles can be defended in the first instance precludes the alternative path you suggest. But, as I said, if you challenge these principles, you challenge the very basis for the claims of evolutionary psychology as well.

          • Sample1

            My intuition, faulty or not, has stymied me from easily accepting your interesting reply.

            Let’s posit that metaphysics is an emergent brain phenomenon. We can also posit, therefore, animals without brains cannot have a cognitive emergence. No brain, no cognition.

            If we understand how brains evolved to allow emergent cognitive phenomena we can construct a thought experiment where brains haven’t evolved sufficiently to allow for some emergent cognitive phenomena.

            Unless you believe metaphysics has a sort of Platonic existence apart from brains waiting to be discovered rather than invented, it seems to me scientifically understanding emergent phenomena is more fundamental than the phenomena themselves.

            If you say I have it backwards then what meaningful use is metaphysics without the right brains? If I have it about right, I can posit humans can function meaningfully without understanding metaphysical claims.

            If you say we cannot function meaningfully without the tools metaphysics describes (non contradiction, epistemology, causality, etc.,) it seems to me you would have to claim any of those tools were never absent in a backward deep time evolutionary trip through brain development.

            Which again implies a sort of Platonist position about metaphysics. And that comes with its own detractors.

            Your thoughts?

            Mike

          • Dennis Bonnette

            My thoughts are that what you posit is simply impossible – for the reasons given in the article. That is, “metaphysics,” which is actually a science that exists in the mind, originates from the natural functions of the intellect. The intellect affirms metaphysical first principles because the intellect has an entirely different way of knowing than the senses.

            What your hypothesis ignores is the argumentation of the article demonstrating that the human intellect forms universal concepts that cannot be reduced to sense images: that intellection is a purely spiritual activity which cannot be reduced to sensation or mere brain activity.

            In other words, your hypothesis simply ignores, rather than refutes, the entire article.

            You write: “If I have it about right, I can posit humans can function meaningfully without understanding metaphysical claims.”

            And if I have it right, to be human is to have the capacity for metaphysics, since the intellect thinks in terms of being and universal concepts, which is simply beyond the capacity of subhuman primates, whose cognitive abilities are restricted to sensation and sense images.

            See my article on recent ape-language studies for a full explanation of the irreducible difference between qualitatively superior human beings and subhuman animals.

            http://www.godandscience.org/evolution/ape-language.html

          • Sample1

            that intellection is a purely spiritual activity which cannot be reduced to sensation or mere brain activity.

            This is because you and I are using different ideas about “intellect”. Mine leans toward a brain-based emergence and yours claims a purely spiritual activity (Summa).

            ...ignores rather than refutes.

            Well, I have no obligation to refute your spiritual position, I can say maybe or maybe not but open to accepting upon further evidence. Just like you have no obligation to refute a claim that another hypothetical realm of metaphysics exists more fundamental to your own.

            I do appreciate your involvement and look forward to chatting at a future date.

            Mike

          • Jim the Scott

            >I’ll accept a variety of one word answers such as: Yes, no, maybe yes, maybe no, unknown, don’t like the question..

            Hey Doc this would be Dr. Feser's answer to the above nonsense.

            The New Philistinism
            http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2010/03/new-philistinism.html

            To a Louse
            http://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2011/02/to-louse.html

            There are just no kind words to describe it.

            Cheers guy.

          • OMG

            Loved that hilarious louse!

          • David Nickol

            This whole discussion is a perfect example of what I just posted in another part of the thread about knowing the Thomistic tradition and not simply following a literal reading of various texts in Aristotle or St. Thomas.

            I understand and accept your point. But I find it hard to believe it has escaped your notice that with some regularity, a reference is made to a passage in Aquinas, or an entire block of text is cut and pasted from the Summa or some other source, and it is presented as the definitive answer to a question under discussion. Therefore, what is presented is not a response from the "Thomistic tradition," but a text from Aquinas himself. In general, those who actually know and understand the "Thomistic tradition" do not step in and say, "Well, there have been important developments in the tradition since the 13th century. Lets examine them."

          • Dennis Bonnette

            As I just replied to Sample 1, the program is playing havoc with the visual text. If it got the gist of your comment before most of it disappeared from my view!, I agree that merely citing texts is not itself normal argumentation. I might cite a text just to prove that I am making a true claim about some source's statement or meaning.

            Sections of the text are literally blinking on and off as I type!

            I shall try rebooting.

          • Ficino

            The zygote has soul from the Aristotelian POV. If something is alive, it is ensouled. Of the three big levels or functions or types of soul, only the nutritive is beginning to be actualized in the zygote. But the zygote's nutritive functions depend for their causal power on the mother (and eventually on the Unmoved Mover), at least to the extent that if the mother dies, the zygote cannot nourish itself on its own power.

            Aristotle thinks that by the fortieth day, we can observe that the male fetus has begun to actualize sensitive/locomotive powers of soul, and the female, by the ninetieth day. He doesn't state a point in time when rational soul becomes actual in the developing human.

            These passages may be of interest.

            Generation of Animals 5.1 778b32-779a1. "... if it is necessary that the animal should have sensation and if it is then first an animal when it has acquired sensation, we ought to consider the original condition (of the embryo) to be not sleep but only something resembling sleep, such a condition as we find also in plants, for indeed at this time animals do actually live the life of a plant."

            De Anima 2.2 413b1-3. "This is the originative power, the possession of which leads us to speak of things as living at all, but it is the possession of sensation that leads us for the first time to speak of living things as animals; for even those beings which possess no power of local movement but do possess the power of sensation we call animals and not merely living beings."

            In Generation of Animals 2.4 739b32-740b28, Aristotle talks about how organs are potentially present in the embryo but become differentiated in stages. That which is prior by nature in a living being is later in the order of generation, e.g. intellect is the most important faculty or property by nature of a human but it develops latest; cf. Parts of Animals 2.1 646a25-27.

  • I'd be interested to know what "whole" means in the context above, and how one knows one has apprehended a whole, instead of a part.

  • Jim the Scott

    >This NASA Mars project was a collaborative effort with the science coming from France, Germany, Austria, Belgium, Canada, Poland, Spain, Switzerland and the United Kingdom. Collaboration is a hallmark of science, religion not so much.

    That is like saying NASA is useless because it has not built a Hospice for the dying or done anything to care for the poor in Calcutta(unlike Mother Theresa who motivated to do all this by NOT SCIENCE). Could you sound more lame dude?

    >Rather than bicker with me, you might consider helping out your Abrahamic brethren within the Islamic Tradition to accept Aquinas.

    I am not against them being essentialists but I would prefer they go the whole hog and become Christians. But progress is progress.

    >Should Islamic theologians get up to speed with Aquinas then you can bring them to the poetic laboratory of naturalism.

    Why would I want to bring them to the borders of the Promise Land only to turn around and return to the House of Bondage?

    >I’ll get to Scotland someday just as soon as I learn their language.

    Me too.

    • Sample1

      Mother Teresa is hardly an icon for charity. Suffering was her fetish, it paid her bills as it were. Plenty of Trad Catholics saw her as a heretic. I see her as a true victim of religious bondage. When she despaired and said that she didn’t see god despite searching years for him, her superiors gaslighted her by saying that’s a sign and test of her faith. When god isn’t there, that’s evidence. I mean really, she was trapped. In a monastery in Kentucky reads a sign, the four walls of my freedom. Might as well say Arbeit Mach Frei.

      Mother Teresa’s homes had little more than aspirin for end of life pain while she received cutting edge science-based medicine for her own illnesses. The hypocrisy is right there. But her logic was unassailable: she saw her Jesus in the eyes of those suffering and tended to him with the actual human beings before her receiving second intentional cheap, ineffective, sub par scraps.

      Her entire life disgusts me insofar as she put humans secondary to a ghoulish fetish.

      Mike

      • Jim the Scott

        >Mother Teresa is hardly an icon for charity. Suffering was her fetish, it paid her bills as it were.

        Yet Wild Bill pimp slapped the thing attached to Hitchenson's liver in their debate on the subject. It seem the Hitch never footnoted his extremist claims about Mother Theresa? Gee I wonder why? Can you document them? No you can't.

        >Plenty of Trad Catholics saw her as a heretic.

        So High Church Protestant heretics didn't like her? I should care why?

        >I see her as a true victim of religious bondage. When she despaired and said that she didn’t see god despite searching years for him, her superiors gaslighted her by saying that’s a sign and test of her faith.

        Rather what happened to her has been spoken of by spiritual giants like St John of the Cross. The Dark Night of the Soul is a mark of Sainthood. She is not the first to suffer that and she won't be the last. It shows her great holiness and it gaslights the Atheist claim Christians are only good because they are bribed with Heaven and threatened with Hell. Mother Theresa puts the lie to that.

        >When god isn’t there, that’s evidence. I mean really, she was trapped. In a monastery in Kentucky reads a sign, the four walls of my freedom. Might as well say Arbeit Mach Frei.

        No it is the Dark Night of the Soul and it is the path to freedom. In your godness universe freedom is a mere illusion alongside all the other illusions.

        >Mother Teresa’s homes had little more than aspirin for end of life pain while she received cutting edge science-based medicine for her own illnesses. The hypocrisy is right there.

        All false claims made by the Drunk Thing attacked to Hitchensens liver. None are substanciated by any evidence. Mother Theresa lived on handouts and she never subjected others to her discipline on purpose.

        >But her logic was unassailable: she saw her Jesus in the eyes of those suffering and tended to him with the actual human beings before her receiving second intentional cheap, ineffective, sub par scraps.

        Which was a good way for her to deal with her dark night. Of course there is no Atheist version of Mother Theresa. Rather then try to produce their own they write graffitee on her like the jerks who deny the Moonlanding.
        Hitchenson nor Dawkins nor Dennett ever lifted up even one discarded person in the slums of Calcutta. Neither have you.

        https://www.nybooks.com/articles/1996/09/19/in-defense-of-mother-teresa/

        Here is a non-beleiver who repudiates the drunk thing attached to Hitchenson's liver nonsense about Mother. He is not kind to her and contradicts himself. But it is an interesting read.
        https://www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2016/sep/04/mother-teresa-admiration-sainthood-dying-kolkata

        https://aleteia.org/2016/04/05/5-responses-to-the-ridiculous-reasons-some-atheists-hate-mother-teresa/

        >Her entire life disgusts me insofar as she put humans secondary to a ghoulish fetish.

        Such nasty viciousness is what I have come to expect from cowards who haven't picked up even one homeless man from the dirt. Unlike Mother.

        Your "Atheism" isn't asthetically attractive. It's kind of pathetic and inferior. Both morally and intellectually.

        • Sample1

          Your beliefs are noted as are your lack of convincing refutations some of which have no bearing on my position. But I’m glad you are aware of who Hitchens was!

          It’s ok to be disgusted by hypocritical behavior. I feel sorry for her and would have handled her atheism more in keeping with an honest inquiry.

          You belie a common error about what atheism is and is not but that’s likely because it set off dopamine hits in prior poorly defended situations so you hit the button like a pecking pigeon again and again!

          I like you, despite your behavior. I strongly suggest, however, that you take your resolve to greater obstinacy for the full effect of enslavement is found there. Only at rock bottom will you see your freedom for what it is.

          Mike

          • Jim the Scott

            You hate Mother Theresa so nothing you say can be valid. You haven't saved one homeless person or conforted them when dying. You haven't lived in proverty (if you do how could you afford a computer to post your blather?). So your claims of hypocracy are tedious and hypocritical themselves. I am myself a jerk but calling good evil and evil good is just irrational even if there are no gods.

            >I like you, despite your behavior.

            Your vile statements and lies about Mother Theresa all but destroyed any good will I had for you. You are not the sort I would call friend. You crossed the line. Holocaust deniers and Mother Theresa bashers. I have my limits on tolerance and acceptance.

            But what is more exaserbating is your profound anti-intellectualism.

            >Your beliefs are noted as are your lack of convincing refutations some of which have no bearing on my position.

            I don't have to prove negatives sir. Your charges on MT need positive proof and there isn't any. It all comes from the Drunk Thing attached to Hitchenson's liver. He was already discredited. If you can loose to Wild Bill from the Catholic League then you clearly don't have any game.

          • Sample1

            We will be friends because you have faith and hope that we will and I will have the wherewithal to acknowledge it. I have hope in you.

            Insert your favorite Scottish saying [here] from me to you. We’ve used up enough bandwidth on this outpost of strange strange notions and others would like to move on.

            Mike

          • Jim the Scott

            >We will be friends because you have faith and hope that we will and I will have the wherewithal to acknowledge it. I have hope in you.

            Nope, I choose my friends and I don't choose you. I have a loose criteria but you crossed a line. Holocaust deniers, Mother Theresa Bashers and jerks who force others to bake cakes against their will. They need not apply. God can by His Grace choose me and choose my Heavenly companions. I am not involved. Not choosing a jerk who hates on Mother Theresa to be my friend should not be interpreted as a wish that you should go to Hell. I cannot in good conscience wish that on anybody.
            Rather as my late Grandmother said "Go soak your head" in luew of going to Hell.

            >Insert your favorite Scottish saying [here] from me to you. We’ve used up enough bandwidth on this outpost of strange strange notions and others would like to move on.

            You hated on Mother Theresa so you don't get a Scottish saying. You are unworthy. I will be cruel and give you a French one instead (I am 7% French).

            "You have bored me".

          • Sample1

            And my mom used to say when I whined and cried for not getting my way, “listen to the beautiful music!”

            You’re orchestral performance puts my childhood self to shame.

            So congrats, you win!

            Mike
            Mother Teresa was trapped and her behavior is not a model for moral healing. That’s my position. Whine all you like. Or simply put up a better argument. Change my mind!

          • Jim the Scott

            I'll take that victory lap now.
            You are a presumptious hypocrite who wouldn't last five minutes on the streets of Calcutta passing judgment on a woman whose bed pan you are unworthy to clean thought she would have cleaned yours.

            Enjoy being that person.

            As to putting up a better argument....you first. We have yet to hear one.

          • Sample1

            All gods or your God, conceived now, in the past, or forever into the future are 100% impossible. And this will never change. There are zero gods in any reality. Even undiscovered realities. And there never were any.

            Have at it. It’s as tight as a Scottish drum, that claim.

            Mike
            Please let this be a claim just for Jim. Who is unwilling/prohibited? to see the immorality of a certain dead nun.

          • Jim the Scott

            >All gods or your God, conceived now, in the past, or forever into the future are 100% impossible.

            Interesting personal dogma. Did you do a scientific experiment to verify this claim? Do you have a coherent philosophical argument? No, because your non-belief isn't a reason based one. You simply prayed for a pony as a child & didn't get it. That's it.

            >Please let this be a claim just for Jim. Who is unwilling/prohibited? to see the immorality of a certain dead nun.

            You believe the nun is "immoral" from the uncorroborated claims of a crazy drunk who lost a debate with Bill Donohue. Nuff said.
            Gee it's like saying I am" unwilling/prohibited? to see the immorality of claiming 6 million Jews where murdered when it's an obvious lie".

            Like I said, holocaust deniers, Mother Theresa bashers and idiots who force free people to bake cakes against their will to punish them for their restrictive views on marriage. None of these people are rational or moral and none of them can be friends of mine. Stop begging for my friendship. Show some dignity.

          • Sample1

            Interesting personal dogma. Did you do a scientific experiment to verify this claim? Do you have a coherent philosophical argument? No, because your non-belief isn't a reason based one. You simply prayed for a pony as a child & didn't get it. That's it.

            Nope. It was all a teaching lesson. My prayer to Lucifer (the hooved thing-y) worked! You responded perfectly. I hold to none of those goofy claims. Such absolute certainty is the venue of faith, not science. You passed the test. Excellent. You can reason. Now we have to work on improving the skills you have.

            When are you going to get around to actually focusing on providing one bit of evidence that what I said about her immoral behavior is false. And how can you prove my prayer to Lucifer didn’t work?

            But you will never continue. Doesn’t matter.

            Mike

          • Jim the Scott

            >Nope. It was all a teaching lesson. My prayer to Lucifer (the hooved thing-y) worked!

            You are an Atheist therefore by definition you are talking to an imaginary friend.

            Taking to Satan doesn't give credit to your bashing of Mother Theresa. You are only proving your attacks on her come from a bad place. Not facts. Not reason. Not Goodness or truth.

            Just because God didn't give you a pony is no reason to become an Atheist who prays to Satan. Just saying....

            Also this no way to get back my friendship which you so desperately want at the moment.

          • Sample1

            You hate Mother Theresa so nothing you say can be valid.

            Who taught you that? Try to answer the actual question this time.

            Mike

          • Jim the Scott

            Why should I answer your questions? You never return the favor.

            Ever.

          • Sample1

            I’m thinking you would be the perfect person to be in charge of a nuclear arsenal.

            Bye!

            Mike

          • Jim the Scott

            Wrong again. I would be bored and have WMD's to play with. What are you nuts?

            This is what praying to Satan and Mother Theresa bashing gets you.

      • Jim the Scott

        additional:
        Of course an ideology that murdered millions of people during the twentith century naturally hates all goodness and even the goodness of Mother Theresa.

        As one of the articles i cited says"Even when I was an atheist I thought it quite absurd whenever comfortable first-world atheists would viciously attack a woman who gave up everything to serve the poor and who lived in abject poverty herself."

        You hate Mother Theresa so how can you be good? Of course I can forgive the New Atheist hatred of Mother Theresa. I cannot forgive their anti-intellectualism.

        • Sample1

          This is ridiculous now. You’re just pushing buttons emotionally. Calm down and come back when you’ve decided your ideas can be defended rationally.

          Mike

          • Jim the Scott

            I see I struck a nerve. We both know you have been doing just that. It's not my fault if I am better at it.

            As to reason when you abandon your positivism and learn some Philosophy you might actually make a decent old Atheist. At least intellectually. Mother Theresa haters can't by definition be decent.

          • Sample1

            Well we disagree but thanks for the compliment.

            Mike

          • Jim the Scott

            A complement? I must typed it wrong....

  • Jim the Scott

    There is a lot I can say about diqus being glitchy right now. But I don't want to get banned for using grossly foul language. So I will say disqus is the worst and leave it at that.

    • Dennis Bonnette

      Yes, it makes me think of what "glitchy" rhymes with. ;-)

      • Jim the Scott

        ;-)

  • Jim the Scott

    Why is all this discussion of "conception" relavent to this OP? I believe discussing it has been a waste of time. Science cannot disprove God grants an intellective soul to a Zygote sometime during or after fertilization and what does it have to do with the arguments for a human (intellective) soul?

    All living things have souls but only an intellective soul is immortal and in the divine image. As short hand when we talk of "souls" we are usually refering that and not the mortal souls of animals and plants.

    I really don't get why we have wasted so many posts on this topic? The soul is or is not what it is regardless of when God chooses to give it or when a biomass crosses some demarcation point to becoming human.

    • OMG

      Amen. Great question. Ficino gets it too as he says below: "I'm only writing from the Aristotelian and Thomistic POV. Anything that is alive, that initiates movement somehow in itself, has soul."

      • Jim the Scott

        Ficino tries harder then most and he can read Aristotle in Greek from what I can tell (or maybe he told me once and I forgot it?). But he does often equivocate even if he tries not too.

        I remember a discussion I had with him over wither or not God was a genus. Too bad my Buddy Dave Armstrong deleted it(I think?. My memory is fuzzy and I am too lazy to check.)

        Which is why it is important to learn philosophy. Imagine debating a person with a 6th graders knowledge of biology but the person tries to refute evolution by directly quoting Darwin's works? Ignoring all the advances of science and the broad discipline of Scienca and Biology? Should that move anybody? Anyway I don't want to pick on Ficino too hard. I believe he is open to correction.

        • OMG

          Yes, equivocation. As soon as Ficino noted the soul to be anything alive,initiating movement somehow in itself, he immediately followed with the zygote having only a nutritive soul. He seemed not to allow that one (intellective) soul could have multiple operations. While I don't claim to have read much Aristotle, I do claim to have understood much less. Nevertheless, I did find quite a few resources suggesting that A did not talk about three different souls. Rather, he understood soul to have different functions and operations. What say you?

          I respect much about Ficino. He is helpful. He offers ideas with quiet regard, with apparent respect, sans drama. I so appreciate the lack of drama.

          Disqus appeared to be down at other blogs this morning, not just here. Finally it seems to be okay. Yay!

          • Ficino

            OMG and Jim the Scott: I assumed that regulars on SN know the distinction among nutritive, sensitive and rational capacities/functions/parts of soul in A-T and that you were familiar with the stages by which the embryo/fetus is supposed to manifest those. I am sorry that I didn't make these distinctions more explicit at the outset.

            Sometimes it can sound as though Aristotle is speaking of three souls in humans. But he defines soul as the first actuality of a natural body furnished with organs. I find it makes the most sense to take him to mean one soul, three big functional potencies that start to be actualized in different stages. We do have to keep clear that Ari explicitly says that rational soul comes in "from outside" and is the only immortal aspect of the human, if it is immortal. Of the mechanism by which intellect as divine enters the human from outside (Generation of Animals> 736b27-28), Aristotle nowhere gives an explicit account. There is argument in the literature about how to sketch out an account that he might have given.

          • Jim the Scott

            >Nevertheless, I did find quite a few resources suggesting that A did not talk about three different souls. Rather, he understood soul to have different functions and operations. What say you?

            He forcused on the Rational or intellective soul. A human being is a rational animal. Or to put it another way a human being is an animal with a rational soul.

            In popular speech when we talk of souls we mean the intellective and immortal one made in the divine image. That is mostly what Aquinas addressed. So techinically we have three souls? The intellective one is the only one that counts.

            >I respect much about Ficino. He is helpful. He offers ideas with quiet regard, with apparent respect, sans drama. I so appreciate the lack of drama.

            Indeed. I agree.

        • Ficino

          I have profited from some things you have written, e.g. that we should be careful not to conflate metaphor and analogical predication. And I shall always profit from correction. Therefore, I shall appreciate it if you identify an argument of mine that is vitiated by a fallacy of equivocation. I may use terms incorrectly or loosely in the course of a paragraph, a fault that makes for lack of clarity. But equivocation fallacies need to be identified and shown. Sweeping accusations like “you equivocate” remain vague, and they are uncharitable.

          Two cases in point: I don’t think I used “soul” under two significations in different steps of the same argument in this thread, but I could have written more clearly. And the “genus” discussion you remember did not include any statement by me that God is a genus or that God is in a genus in Thomism. What I did write was something quite different. But it would hijack this thread to resurrect that discussion.

          • Jim the Scott

            >I may use terms incorrectly or loosely in the course of a paragraph, a fault that makes for lack of clarity. But equivocation fallacies need to be identified and shown.

            We will strive to put you back on tract.

            >Sweeping accusations like “you equivocate” remain vague, and they are uncharitable.

            I thought I was clear? For example you seem to equate "motion" in the first way entirely in terms of physical motion as erroneously understood by the Greeks and I believe my charge is valid. Motion in the first way is entirely a metaphysical concept of potency becoming act by way of something already in act.

            If you could specify more yourself then I would be grateful for your charity too. Cheers man and peace.

          • Ficino

            Oh, OK. I was answering Rob's question, whether I thought outmoded science affected any of Aquinas' metaphysical arguments, and I said I hadn't worked this through, but I still suspected that locomotion is a problem in the First Way.

            This'll be a big hijacking of the thread if we get into it here! But I don't think I was committing a fallacy of equivocation in that answer to Rob. I was not formulating a deductive system and using a term under two significations in different steps in the deduction.

            Just as a quickie which I don't think we should start on this thread unless Dr. Bonnette is OK with it, is this:
            It's clear that Aristotle's three big kinds of "motion", i.e. change, strictly so called, i.e. locomotion, alteration, and growth/decay, are all instances of a thing's being brought from potency to act in respect to some F. Aquinas adopts this. My worry about the First Way is, if there are some changes that consist only in a body's local movement from A to B with respect to some other body, w/ no acceleration no friction no nothing, people tell me that no additional force is being brought to bear on the traveling body to get it from A to B. I.e. inertia. But on A-T physics, as we know, the body will by its natural motion start to fall to the center of the universe, to the earth, unless it is kept on its course by something else pushing or pulling it. So my worry for the First Way is that, even if Aquinas can trace most instances of change back to the unmoved mover, there seem to be some cases where there is a change of location but not a mover during the course of the transit from A to B. So if that's true, it will be invalid to deduce at the end that ALL changes must be powered by the UM, even if most of them are so.

            Prof. Feser at this point seems to move into a denial of existential inertia, arguing that the projectile must still be sustained in existence by a sustainer that exists necessarily. That argument may work, but so far that move seems to me to make the rest of the First Way explanatorily otiose. That's why I said that a colleague at a Catholic college teaches his students that he thinks the only really persuasive arg is the argument from the De Ente et Essentia.

            OK I wrote way more than I should have in this thread about the immortality of the soul. Anyway, that's what I had in mind.

            ETA: Dr. Bonnette in an article he linked a few days ago gets into this. I need to reread that article, but my impression on first reading is that he might grant that the projectile above is not the subject of continuous pushing or pulling, but that still the "newness" of its location at the end of the distance is a property that must be explained by appeal to the unmoved mover.

          • Jim the Scott

            Ficino you must not take the corrections I am about to lay down personally. (Thought without naming names some passive aggressive persons here might interpret this as some kind of insult). But you have made a bunch of mistakes. I will correct them.

            >Oh, OK. I was answering Rob's question...

            Allow me to disabuse you of that. Even if there are no gods locomotion has nothing to do with the first way.

            >This'll be a big hijacking of the thread if we get into it here! But I don't think I was committing a fallacy of equivocation in that answer to Rob. I was not formulating a deductive system and using a term under two significations in different steps in the deduction.

            I think you where equivocating in that “motus” as used by Aquinas refers to “a potency becoming act by way of something already in act.” As opposed to the erroneous Greek view of locomotion that an object in motion stays in motion as long as it is acted on & when it isn’t it returns to its natural state of stasis. A concept Newton overthrew with inertia
            .
            But the concept would at ease apply to inertia. An object put into inertial motion will stay in motion till acted upon to change its inertia this is a form of act-potency change. Which is the essence of AT metaphysics. We are not trying to address Newton my good man. We are answering Parmenides who said only stasis was real and motion was an illusion or Heraclides who believed only change was real and stasis was the illusion and Plato who tried to claim both somehow where true & thus neither is real. Aristotle’s metaphysics offers an alternative.

            >Just as a quickie which I don't think we should start on this thread unless Dr. Bonnette is OK with it, is this:

            I don’t think he will mind and well everything you write after this is 100% erroneous. Again don’t take it personally. Even a genius can make a mistake.

            >It's clear that Aristotle's three big kinds of "motion", i.e. change, ....

            Here you are equivocating between Physics vs Metaphysics. Between Aristotle’s metaphysical theories that change is real and how it can be real vs the anachronistic physics of the Greeks which he cited to give examples of real change.

            > Aquinas adopts this.

            That he had an erroneous view of physics that won’t be corrected till Newton has nothing to do with the brute fact that AT Metaphysics is about change being real. NOT the mechanisms of actual physics. Dr. B is clear about this as is Feser as is every serious Thomist.
            Newton simply cannot overthrow AT. Physics has nothing to do with Metaphysics.

            I am astounded you haven’t figured this out yet? If it was Sample1 or Michael I would not at all be surprised. Indeed I would expect it. But you? What gives?
            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2012/12/aquinas-versus-newton.html

            http://faculty.fordham.edu/klima/SMLM/PSMLM10/PSMLM10.pdf

            > My worry about the First Way is, if there are some changes that consist only in a body's local movement from A to B with respect to some other body, w/ no acceleration no friction no nothing, people tell me that no additional force is being brought to bear on the traveling body to get it from A to B. I.e. inertia.

            I also believe Inertia is merely a state. I disregard speculations some other hidden force my account for it till someone proves it in a physics lab. But this has nothing to do with AT Metaphysics.

            All that AT metaphysics tell us is that if I throw a baseball out the door of my space ship it will keep moving until something in act, actualizes it’s inertia potential to stop moving or move in another direction. Like a collision or gravity. The metaphysical change is still real and in inertia an intertia potency is made actual by something already in act. AT metaphysics stands thought Greek Physics doth fall.

            >But on A-T physics, as we know, the body ....

            Here you equivocate by erroneously thinking the argument is one of physics. No as Feser says it’s one of real change in the top down sense.

            >Prof. Feser at this point seems to move into a denial of existential inertia, arguing that the projectile must still be sustained in existence by a sustainer that exists necessarily.

            I think you are using the wrong term. Existential Inertia is the belief if God created something to exist it will exist on its own apart from God and that God does not have to continuously cause it to exist. Here is the thing. That concept is 100% rejected by AT Metaphysics thought post enlightenment Mechanistic theism holds to it. In that scheme a Deist “god” could create the world commit cosmic suicide and Creation would go along without her/him/it. Well ignoring the contradictions involved with God destroying Himself & the absurd impossibility of it, since there is no existential inertia if God who not only creates but actively sustains Creation went away then creation would follow him.

            >That argument may work, but so far that move seems to me to make the rest of the First Way explanatorily otiose. That's why I said that a colleague at a Catholic college teaches his students that he thinks the only really persuasive arg is the argument from the De Esse et Essentia.
            The modern dogma the First Way rests on Greek Physics is rather engrained but as false as the claim George Washington really chopped down a cherry tree.

            >ETA: Dr. Bonnette in an article he linked a few days ago gets into this. I need to reread that article, but my impression on first reading is that he might grant that the projectile above is not the subject of continuous pushing or pulling, but that still the "newness" of its location at the end of the distance is a property that must be explained by appeal to the unmoved mover.

            Yes even Feser wrote about speculations citing secular physicists that some unknown natural force might be responsible for Inertia but he also pointed out no such force need exist for AT Metaphysics to be correct. So speculating about them has little to do with the AT Metaphysical thesis that a potency is put into act by something already in act. Feser said you can treat Inertia as a State that can be actualized. One need not believe in another force moving an object in inertial motion actually exists and its existence has nothing to do with the first way.

          • Ficino

            Jim, if I ever get to Scotland, I hope that we can down a few in a pub, or likewise if you get to New York- where of course we generally call the watering holes "bars." but until then...

            There is way too much to which to respond in a thread about immortality of the soul. But I do not understand how you can say that "locomotion has nothing to do with the first way." Are you "equivocating" on locomotion? "... secondary movers do not move except through this, that they are moved by the first mover, just as a stick does not move [things] except through this, that it is moved by the hand." Stuff is pushed by the stick. That's locomotion. That's one of three types of change/motion, strictly speaking, to which Aristotle and Aquinas appeal. Change/"motion" occurs as locomotion, alteration, or growth/decay. As you yourself write, "'motus” as used by Aquinas refers to “a potency becoming act by way of something already in act.'" There are three big ways this can happen: locomotion, alteration, growth/decay. The First Way is about motion in general, and locomotion is one species of motion. I don't understand the difficulty in admitting this. I watch a rock moving a leaf, a rock moved by a stick etc etc. That's change of place. That's reduction of potential existence at A to actual existence at A. That's locomotion, that's one kind of motion/change.
            ETA don't forget that Ari and Aq both say that local motion is the "first" of motions, i.e. of changes.

          • Jim the Scott

            >But I do not understand how you can say that "locomotion has nothing to do with the first way." Are you "equivocating" on locomotion? "... secondary movers do not move except through this, that they are moved by the first mover, just as a stick does not move [things] except through this, that it is moved by the hand." Stuff is pushed by the stick.

            The example of the stick is used as an illustration of an essential causal chain. Or as Feser puts it " I follow Aquinas in using, viz. a hand’s using a stick to move a stone, is (as I note in the book) just an illustration to generate the key concepts; strictly speaking, a hand isn’t a first mover. And strictly speaking, quibbles over whether the movement of the stick occurs at exactly one and the same instant of time as the movement of the stone are not to the point either. As I emphasize in the book – and this is something UnBeguiled omits to mention – ultimately the stone, stick, and hand all depend for their very existence at any moment (forget about their movements through space) on the actualization of various potentials. For the muscles to exist here and now the potentiality of their constituent cells to constitute muscles must be actualized here and now; for the cells to be actualized in that potential, the potential of the molecules making up the cells to constitute cells must itself be actualized here and now; and so forth. This does imply simultaneity, but notice that (a) the point has nothing to do with acceleration, change of spatial location, etc., and (b) the point isn’t so much that the members of the series are simultaneous (though they are) but that they are essentially ordered: no molecules, no cells, no muscles."

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2009/07/beguiled-by-scientism.html

            > That's locomotion.

            That is equivocation. Insisting this has to do with mechanism of physics & not the metaphysics of real change. So I stand by my statement.

            > That's one of three types of change/motion, strictly speaking, to which Aristotle and Aquinas appeal.

            Which is why you are missing the point and proving to me you have no valid defeater for the first way even if there is no Classic Theistic God.
            The argument is not at all based on the types of change but on the metaphysical reality of change as a potency being made act via something already in act.

            That is the only change/motion the first way cares about. All objections you bring to the first way that does not recognize this are non-starter objections.

            >Change/"motion" occurs as locomotion, alteration, or growth/decay. As you yourself write, "'motus” as used by Aquinas refers to “a potency becoming act by way of something already in act.'"

            Those are his examples that he gives and it is absurd to assume he means these are the ONLY examples of change in reality. It is also doesn't matter if his understanding of the mechanism for how these changes take place is flawed. The point is all change across the board is a potency being made act by something already in act & in top down causality this terminates in a first cause.

            >The First Way is about motion in general, and locomotion is one species of motion. I don't understand the difficulty in admitting this.

            Then why bring forth Inertia as an example and why make a big deal about Aquinas holding to the anachronistic Greek physics that was overthrown by Newton? The first way works across the board where change is real.

            >I watch a rock moving a leaf, a rock moved by a stick etc etc. That's change of place. That's reduction of potential existence at A to actual existence at A.

            You are making the mistake UnBeguiled makes. These examples are illustrative. That is like asking "Well how can electrons stay attached to the nucleus of an Atom without little sticks holding them there?". The model of the Atom on your desk is not hyper literal.

            So nothing to do with locomotion. But the reality of change. Those are the facts Sir Ficino my friend.

            PS I am an American Scott. One day I hope to see the Mother Land before I die & I won't mind buying you a tall one in the pub.

            Cheers mate.

          • Jim the Scott

            additional:

            >So if that's true, it will be invalid to deduce at the end that ALL changes must be powered by the UM, even if most of them are so.

            I just caught this. I take it you are denying secondary causes? That there is a first mover causing everything to be doesn't mean the first mover is actualizing every potency. That is divine occationalism.

            https://edwardfeser.blogspot.com/2013/01/metaphysical-middle-man.html

          • Ficino

            No a denial of secondary causes is not entailed by what I wrote. I know there are secondary causes in A-T. In any series of causes/movers hierarchically ordered per se, the secondary movers move by virtue of actualized moving potencies of their own, but they derive their causal powers ultimately from the first mover. That is straight Aquinas and straight Feser. Jim, I think you are reading in things that I did not write.

          • Jim the Scott

            I see, then your statement "So if that's true, it will be invalid to deduce at the end that ALL changes must be powered by the UM, even if most of them are so." doesn't really make sense to me if you except secondary causes.

            I don't want to read anything into what you wrote. I don't roll that way.
            Perhaps you will clarify? Or not? Whatever works for you guy.

          • Ficino

            I hope to get back to the First Way next week after reading/rereading Dr. Bonnette's articles, which he linked. In yours above, though, did you mean to write "if you *accept* secondary causes" or "if you *except* secondary causes" your intent? I'm guessing that you meant "if you accept secondary causes." Tx

            ETA: I didn't think that the role of secondary causes is relevant if there really can be cases where a body x already in local motion and located at A in relation to body y, progressively undergoes local motion to B in relation to y without being pushed or pulled etc by anything. If so, that entails that x actualizes its potency to be located at B in relation to y without being pushed or pulled from A to B by anything over the course of that transit. So there would be no external mover, secondary or primary, of x from A to B if Newtonian inertia holds.

            I understand that we differ on whether the above scenario nevertheless, forgetting about Newton, is still a case of reduction from potency to act of the kind that requires an unmoved mover to explain it. Nothing more to add at present. Cheers, F

          • Jim the Scott

            >I'm guessing that you meant "if you accept secondary causes." Tx

            Yes.

            >ETA: I didn't think that the role of secondary causes is relevant if there really can be cases where a body x already in local motion and located at A in relation to body y, progressively undergoes local motion to B in relation to y without being pushed or pulled etc by anything.

            There is no reason why Inertia can't be a mere State that is actualized under AT. Speculations as to why there is Inertia and or the possibility there is an unknown natural force responsible for an object's continual movement in Inertia are possible too. But the reality of change is at the heart of AT Metaphysics.
            Being a minimalist I am skeptical that Inertia is anything other then a mere state once actualized. So I don't personally envision an unknown force being responsible for continuous Inertial movement. The State of Inertial movement is actualized and continues if and till actualized by something else. AT Metaphysics is still valid regardless of the mechanisms of real world physics because change is real.

          • Dennis Bonnette

            If I linked you to the correct article, it makes the case that inertia is no exception to the rule that whatever is in motion must be being moved here and now by another. The article I have in mind presently is this one: https://strangenotions.com/whatever-is-moved-is-moved-by-another/

            Inertia merely describes physical phenomena. It does not explain it. A body in motion tends to remain in motion. That does not answer the question as to why it does this. Since motion entails a continuous reduction from potency to act, it is evident that some other agent must produce the new act which is lacking to the body in motion, which is merely in potency in reference to that new act which it is acquiring.

            The prima via is a perfectly good proof for God's existence. In fact, Etienne Gilson has some hesitancy about the one in the De Ente et Essentia, for the simple reason that it does not proceed from sense experience, which all of St. Thomas' proofs do. (See Aquinas' Proofs for God's Existence, Dennis Bonnette, Martinus-Nijhoff, 1972, p. 57.)

          • Ficino

            Thanks. I hope to get back to rereading your linked article over the weekend - have to get to a colloquium on final causes in Aristotle today! (:

          • Dennis Bonnette

            Actually, it is possible that I have linked you to two different articles by me on SN. The one immediately above here is most relevant to the question of inertia -- especially toward the latter part of the piece.

          • Ficino

            OK, thanks. Till later, F

  • OMG

    David,
    Because I'm not a trained philosopher, I don't approach Twain from a strictly philosophical perspective. However, I share your interest in conscience, freedom, and community. Using Huckleberry as an example piques my passion. You mentioned Hitler; Twain also examined conscience in his fictional Joan of Arc. (I've only read about half that book while I've read Huck 2-3x). My understanding of conscience is as a property or operation of intellect. I see our intellect as an operation of an immaterial gift of 'soul.' Although I am not equal to defining it as Dr. B. and the RCC Catechism do, I believe that my understanding is similar to theirs. Do you understand or define conscience in a different or similar way?

    • David Nickol

      This is a difficult topic!

      Twain seems to have said Huckleberry Finn was "a book of mine where a sound heart and a deformed conscience come into collision and conscience suffers defeat." That is pretty much how I have always understood Huck, but my interest here is not the book or the character but rather the nature of conscience. (I think it is important to note that Twain himself says "sound heart" and "deformed conscience" So he is not saying if there is a conflict between the heart and the conscience, it is the heart that myst always be followed.)

      I have an instinctive dislike of the idea that conscience is solely a faculty that says "always do good and avoid evil" without necessarily giving at least some kind of guidance as to what is good and what is evil. I know it is not a great analogy, but it makes me think of someone who is supposed to be a math teacher and fills that role only by saying, "Always give the correct answer to any math problem." It seems to me the idea of conscience as a kind of neutral "machine" that grinds out a correct moral conclusion only if fed the correct moral premises wouldn't justify the advice given to us Baby Boomers by Jiminy Cricket—"Always let your conscience be your guide!"

      On the other hand (or maybe it is the same hand), the Catholic concept of a "well-formed" conscience, it seems to me, can be taken so far (the more "conservative" the advocate) that what is supposed to be conscience is nothing more than blind obedience to authority.

      Some time ago, the topic of conscience came up here and I got the Kindle book version of Conscience: A Very Short Introduction. The author tells us that conscience is not a concept that occurs in every culture under a different name. What we call conscience comes from a Roman concept that was adopted by the Catholic Church when Jerome translated St. Paul's Greek term syneidesis into Latin as conscientia. Thirty-two previous Kindle readers helpfully highlighted this passage:

      While syneidesis was an inner quality, inherent in the individual, consciencia was a term that looked, Janus-faced, in two directions: inwardly, to be sure, but also outwardly, as in Ciceronian and Classical-legal understanding, to public opinion and shared values.

      There is a 1958 book listed on Amazon that I am sure is very illuminating titled Conscience in the New Testament: A study of syneidesis in the New Testament, in the light of its sources and with particular reference to St. Paul. with five copies available, the least expensive at $198.21 (with free shipping!) and the most expensive at $416.40 (+ $3.99 shipping). I hope if someone buys a copy they will loan it to me when they are finished reading it.

      I am tempted to say (to drive some people up the wall) that it seems to me that conscience is not a thing to be examined objectively and described, but rather a social construct that is of course in many ways very real, but in other ways not something that can be exhaustively defined for all times and all cultures.

      Added Later: By the way, I have read only the first few pages of Conscience: A Very Short Introduction.

      • OMG

        Hi David,
        Thanks for your well considered reply. I hope I may do it justice. I couldn't agree with you more; the topic is difficult. For me, the topic is difficult because I cannot ignore 'the voice' despite often wishing it would mute.

        I like your analogy to the math teacher. Right off, I want to counter: But the teacher ought not ask us to test before he has taught! I would hope that the teacher has taught. I would hope that I would have listened to the lesson. I would hope that I was able to know when I did NOT understand what he was trying to teach and to ask for help.

        A sister-in-law and I were in the same middle-school algebra class. Every blessed school day, IMMEDIATELY upon the teacher's completed exposition, this gal was quickly (everything she does is quick) UP THE AISLE between the desks, TO THE TEACHER's desk, whining, "I don't understand!!!" Perhaps she needed a private tutor. Perhaps she needed to study more. Perhaps she needed a different teacher, another textbook, different problems, more homework, less homework, a new brain, a parent to spank her, a more nutritious breakfast. Who knew?

        This takes us to your one and the other hands, the backs of my hands. Either way there is conflict. The conflict for me is what I want versus what my conscience seems to want. The well-formed conscience? For me, for my sister-in-law, it would be consist of 'discerning' the right combination or conditions which would lead to a passing test score, or how I may resolve what I want with why my conscience requires.

        Right now my conscience calls me to other duties, but I'll be back, like many an insufferable person you may have met! You can count on me.

      • OMG

        Hi David,
        I'm sorry for the lengthy backstory without follow-through...I had tech issues and now my oomph has gone.

        My understanding of 'synderesis' is, like conscience, still sense-based; the person, through life-experience, discerns principles. No matter what principles a person discerns, the will is then involved choosing whether to follow or ignore those principles in his choices of action. A Christian, it is hoped, would attempt to seek the best, the right, the "What would Jesus do?" in his actions. And it is hoped that person would evaluate the consequences of his actions so a feedback loop ("examination of conscience") may lead to better future choices. Repeated attempts to match one's actions to one's 'inner voice' should result in better congruence between action and 'inner voice.'

        If one believes that God created everything, his nature may be discerned, in some meaningful way, in everything that one senses in every life experience. Attending to and seeking out the 'good,' the right, the sense of God in everything, then lends itself to a Christian's informed conscience.

        Bottom line: Would you agree that conscience arises from life experience? Would that adequately define your idea of it as 'social construct'? As a
        Christian, I would also say that conscience does involve God. How? Accepting His existence and His creation, I conclude that He speaks through his creation (in addition to specific Revelation of scripture, church, tradition) about Himself and what one 'should' do if one aims at happiness and peace with all elements of that creation. Else there is conflict and war.

        P.S.: Aquinas on Natural Law by a Prof. D'Andrea at Cambridge is at:
        http://www.nlnrac.org/classical/aquinas

      • OMG

        I don't know anything about either of the books you mention, but the price of that 1958 one seems prohibitive. I do hope you get a copy from someone. Have you tried the libraries? I would try to get a copy through a university library system. For a very short introduction, the book costs a lot of money~! (Edit: I now see that the pricey book is not the short intro.)

        The only book I have an extra copy of is Alasdair MacIntyre's Ethics in the Conflicts of Modernity: An Essay on Desire, Practical Reasoning, and Narrative. I believe I ordered one book but Amazon sent me two (and charged me for it twice also!); but first I must learn how generous and forgiving Amazon may be for what was perhaps my mistake (lazy attending to conscience?). Then there is the aversive dealing with the delivery system at this time of year...

  • David Nickol

    Regarding the soul, the King James Version translates Mark 8:36 as follows:

    For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul?

    The RSV translates it as follows:

    For what does it profit a man, to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?

    The NAB(RevEd) translates it as follows:

    What profit is there for one to gain the whole world and forfeit his life?

  • There are a lot of issues here. These conceptions of the soul already don't make sense. For one thing the rational soul has free will. That's logically incompatible with the Aristotelian principle. So right off the bat it's self-refuting. I can't see how Dr. Bonnette doesn't see this. There is no chance for libertarian free will under the Aristotelian principle. Additionally, all the things that give a plant or animal the ability to take in nutrients, grow, reproduce, or move, are described by science materialistically. "Soul" here seems like a misleading redundant term. Also, when did the rational soul begin to exist? Did Homo naledi have it? What about Neanderthals? Or Homo erectus? How does a squirrel's Form change or begin to exist as squirrels were slowly evolving?

    I reject the idea that rationality is defined as the ability to grasp forms and essences. That may be something rationality allows, but that's not what rationality is centered around. Many theists also say that the purpose of humans is to 'know' god. And yet, it requires so much esoteric metaphysical knowledge that must have been unknown or out of reach to the vast majority of people throughout history to 'know' god this way. For a god who wants to be known, he's sure making it really hard.

    • Dennis Bonnette

      This "shotgun" response to my article seems a bit incoherent.

      You speak of an "Aristotelian principle," but never define which principle you have in mind. Aristotle had a lot of principles. Further, while Aristotle may not have addressed explicitly the modern notion of libertarian free will, I see nothing in his writings that are incompatible with such a concept. Can you elucidate about what you have in mind?

      You assert that "soul" is "a misleading redundant term," but fail to rebut the specific arguments in the article that make the case for the need for a specifying principle of unity in living things which is what is called the "soul."

      The article simply did not have space in 2800 words to explain as much as it does, and yet, still have enough additional room to discuss when and how the man's spiritual soul began to exist. Still, it takes little insight to realize that true man is first present when he first exhibits authentically rational abilities.

      As to the various paleoanthropological species of men you mention, if they exhibited rational abilities they were all true men. And they did. So, they were. Again, there was hardly room to address the question of the biological species concept of squirrel you raise. I was more concerned about the philosophical natural species concept of true man (rational animal), whose spiritual soul is instantly present from the first moment of rational activity -- since a hominin either reasons, judges, and forms universal concepts or he does not. If he does, he possesses a rational soul.

      The nature of human rationality is not determined by what anyone accepts or rejects. It is found the moment that any hominin exhibits the abilities of judging, reasoning, and forming concepts. These are not "made up" abilities. They are found solely in rational animals, that is, true human beings.

      We are rational beings precisely because we understand the natures of things, expressed in universal concepts. Employing these concepts in a process of moving from an understanding of premises to the formation of conclusions is what is called reasoning -- and does, thereby, define what reasoning is. Man defines himself in his own rationality precisely by exhibiting such intellectual activity.

      The question of God's existence and how human beings can come to that conviction is not a topic dealt with in the article. Again, insufficient space.

      .

  • Jim the Scott

    Feser gives a talk about the immaterial nature of the intellect.

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNi0j19ZSpo&ab_channel=ThomisticInstituteANGELICUM

    • OMG

      Thanks, Jim.

  • OMG

    Wishing everyone a joyful, blessed Christmas Day and season.

    • David Nickol

      I hope your Christmas was all you hoped it would be, and I wish you and everyone else here a Happy New Year.

  • David Nickol

    As I understand Catholic teaching, the souls of those who are saved may spend some time in purgatory, but after time there is completed, they will remain in heaven until the end of the world (or the "end times," which I suppose may be different if, say, humankind spreads to other places in the galaxy or universe). Then the bodies of this who are saved are resurrected, and body and soul are reunited. It is difficult to even speculate what existence would be like in purgatory or heaven as a disembodied soul, so I won't even raise the question. But I would like to know what we are to imagine the resurrected dead will do for, say, the first trillion years of their continued existence, which will of course not even be a fraction (literally) of their future eternity.

    I conjecture (although I could be entirely wrong) that N. T. Wright believes "life after death" will be similar to life as we now know it, and I gather (from A Grief Observed that C. S. Lewis does not. What I am trying to understand is what life would be like for a person with a physical body (a "glorified" body) who lives trillions and trillions of years with trillions and trillions more (an eternity, in fact) ahead.

    • Rob Abney

      According to Frank Sheed in Sanity and Theology, it will be pure love, very similar to the love that exists between the three persons of the Trinity.
      I highly recommend that book for you. Also, here is a podcast titled What the Saints Will Do for Eternity.
      https://itunes.apple.com/us/podcast/the-thomistic-institute/id820373598?mt=2&i=1000426627750

    • OMG

      Interesting questions and fascinating topic. First, there is scripture suggesting that all persons will be resurrected at the last judgment, after which some will head in one direction, and others in another. In addition to Rob's book recommendation, you may find these useful: "Death and Immortality" by German philosopher J. Pieper, or French theologian Garrigou-LaGrange's "Life Everlasting." Both are Thomists, Catholic. LaGrange's book is online. Garrigou suggests that eternity differs from our continuous time which we measure by solar movement. He describes eternity as a spiritual moment, or "one unique instant, an immovable eternity, entirely without succession."

    • Mark

      Just one other quick correction, in addition to the great suggestions by others. Time is a material thing, not a metaphysical thing; therefore the concept of spending time in purgatory is likely untrue. Time is frequently used as a way to describe the path to heaven much like "time served" or "waiting room". However a better concept is the degree of cleansing to which a soul needs perfecting to enter heaven.

      • David Nickol

        Time is a material thing, not a metaphysical thing; therefore the concept of spending time in purgatory is likely untrue.

        It sounds to me like Aquinas himself believed that there was duration in Purgatory, which is difficult (probably impossible) without time or something very much like it:

        I answer that, Some venial sins cling more persistently than others, according as the affections are more inclined to them, and more firmly fixed in them. And since that which clings more persistently is more slowly cleansed, it follows that some are tormented in Purgatory longer than others, for as much as their affections were steeped in venial sins.

        Reply to Objection 1. Severity of punishment corresponds properly speaking to the amount of guilt: whereas the length corresponds to the firmness with which sin has taken root in its subject. Hence it may happen that one may be delayed longer who is tormented less, and "vice versa.

        Of course, just because we cannot imagine or conceive of something does not mean it can't be, nevertheless I would say it is difficult to imagine "cleansing" as something that does not require consciousness of some sort and duration.

        • Dennis Bonnette

          Just a couple random thoughts here.

          First, as I recall, at some point late in his short life, St. Thomas was asked what the next world was really like. I understand that his reply was simply, "Other."

          This would not be so surprising to me, since we often forget how tenuous our sources of information about reality really are.

          First, all our purely rational knowledge of the spiritual world is indirect. That is, we do not know so much what it is as what it is not. We say it is spiritual. But that means "strictly immaterial." And "immaterial" means what is NOT material. So, we know what is material and we know that something exists which is not it.

          So, too, with terms, such as "infinite," meaning Not finite. We know the finite, but then what is NOT finite? So, too, with the entire negative natural theology of concepts that are predicated of God, but without the limits of our direct cognition. Goodness, but without limit. Power, but without limit. Knowledge, but without limit. We know the positive quality that is limited, but have no direct knowledge of what it means to have such a quality without limit.

          But do we really have better knowledge of this physical world in which we live? All we know is through the five senses that Plato characterized as mere "peep holes" into the world. What of the rest of the physical world we simply cannot sense, but are convinced is real: gravity (we merely sense its effects, not it), photons, atomic particles too small to be sensed, x-rays, the rest of the universe beyond our instruments range, the universe known only by instruments, not directly by sight, the infrared, the ultraviolet, and on and on.

          Do we even know directly five percent of the real physical world we think we know so well?

          So, when asking about the nature of reality beyond this physical world, we must realize that its reality is not the problem. It is the absurdly limited range of our knowledge that makes such knowledge beyond the limits of our imagination -- an imagination limited to those five "peep holes."

          Important afterthought: I am not a skeptic. I do not limit the range and certitude of our intellectual knowledge. I do not doubt the validity of our proofs for God and the immortal soul. I am just saying that trying to imagine how all this spiritual realm actually exists and would be experienced is not within the range of our human knowledge that must begin with sense experience.

          Private revelation is an entirely different matter.

  • George

    How can you know a mind is indestructible? And what are they made of before they are created? We weren't always around, I think everyone here would agree.

  • michael

    My five senses are obviously distinct and not whole. If someone pokes me on the back, I do not smell their finger in my nose, I feel it on my back.

  • Intelligence is the ultimate tool we have.
    The law of intelligence dictates.
    Only intelligence is able to create intelligent things.
    The DNA is intelligent because it knows how to create and sustain Life.
    So, find the intelligent Creator of the DNA!