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If God can know Contingent Truths, then he isn't Actus Purus

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  • If God can know Contingent Truths, then he isn't Actus Purus

    P1 God knows contingent truths
    P2 So, there are accidents in Gods knowledge
    C Therefore, God is not actus purus

    The reasoning is that if God knows a contingent truth, the potential for him to know that contingent truth is actualized by the thing itself, and therefore he is not actus purus.

    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    I would query that the potential to know said truth is actualised by ‘the thing itself’. God’s willing the thing in question to exist is ontologically prior to the existence of the thing itself so we should say God’s decision that it is the case is what actualises the potential for knowing it is the case. If we ask ‘what actualises the potential for God’s choosing X rather than Y to be the case’ then the answer is: Free Will.

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    • #3
      Originally posted by DanielCC View Post
      I would query that the potential to know said truth is actualised by ‘the thing itself’. God’s willing the thing in question to exist is ontologically prior to the existence of the thing itself so we should say God’s decision that it is the case is what actualises the potential for knowing it is the case. If we ask ‘what actualises the potential for God’s choosing X rather than Y to be the case’ then the answer is: Free Will.
      I'm not sure if it refutes either of his premises. Even in your explanation, God still actualise one of His properties. Or would you say that those are some sort of extrinsics ones?

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      • #4
        DanielCC

        Even if it were the case the God actualizes his own potential to know something, he still isn't actus purus. There would still be something in him that needs to be moved by another, even if it is himself doing the moving.
        Last edited by ClassicalLiberal.Theist; 05-07-2019, 08:14 PM.

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        • #5
          Originally posted by Ouros View Post

          I'm not sure if it refutes either of his premises. Even in your explanation, God still actualise one of His properties. Or would you say that those are some sort of extrinsics ones?
          You're correct. I was thinking of it safegaurding divine impassibility rather than simplicity.

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          • #6
            Originally posted by ClassicalLiberal.Theist View Post
            P1 God knows contingent truths
            P2 So, there are accidents in Gods knowledge
            C Therefore, God is not actus purus

            The reasoning is that if God knows a contingent truth, the potential for him to know that contingent truth is actualized by the thing itself, and therefore he is not actus purus.

            Any thoughts?
            If we're going to be like that, Classical Liberal Theist's argument is logically invalid (in other words, its conclusion doesn't follow from its premises).

            Here is an example of how CLT might make a similar, logically valid argument:

            1. Nothing with accidents is actus purus.
            2. If God knows contingent truths, God has accidents.
            3. God knows contingent truths.
            4. So, God has accidents. (2, 3)
            5. So, God isn't actus purus. (1, 4)

            I would query the meaning of “with” in 1 and “has” in 2. God doesn't “have” accidents by instantiating them, like most entities. He “has” them by being identical with them.

            In other words, I would reject 1. Thomists would also reject 2 (or, assuming "accidents" means contingent rather than proper accidents here, the accidental property objection rears its head).

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            • #7
              John West

              Thanks, I wasn't sure how to articulate my concern properly.

              I would only reject 1 if the accidents implied there being active potency in God, but I don't see how thats the case.

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ClassicalLiberal.Theist View Post
                I would only reject 1 if the accidents implied there being active potency in God, but I don't see how thats the case.
                I'm not sure whether you meant to write "reject" or "accept".

                It's worth distinguishing active and passive potency. An active potency is a capacity to bring about an effect; a passive potency is a capacity to be affected. Active potency is, strictly speaking, a kind of act or actuality; passive potency is what people usually mean when they say “potency”. God has active potency (viz. he's omnipotent and can bring about any possible effect); he lacks all passive potency (viz. he's impassible). See 1.1.3 of Scholastic Metaphysics.

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