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Scott's argument to God via the finitude of reality

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  • Scott's argument to God via the finitude of reality

    In the combox of one of Feser's recent posts Scott offers an interesting argument for God:

    "I have lately been thinking of an argument for the existence of God taken from the division of being into infinite and finite. I know that Francisco Suarez makes this division, but I am not very familiar with his work. Does anyone know of any philosophers who have attempted this approach to arrive at a classical theistic conception of God.
    The line of reasoning would roughly be:

    (Given the PSR) Whatever is finite requires an essential cause at every moment of its existence (something to make it this way rather than that way). Objects of our experience are finite (our field of vision, for example). Therefore, objects of our experience require an essential cause. All essentially ordered causal series’ require a first member. This first member must be absolutely infinite (infinite in every way). Otherwise the relatively infinite cause would still require a cause to make it infinite in one way rather than another (for example, triangularity is infinite in the sense that it can represent the form of an infinite number of triangles, but it is finite in the sense that it is determined to three-sidedness and not four-sidedness). This absolutely infinite cause is called God. From the property of infinitude, we can derive divine simplicity, etc.
    The foreseen advantage of this approach is that finitude is the most readily perceived property. While it takes two data of perception to argue for the existence of change, finitude can be seen from a single datum even in a genuinely unchanging universe."

    Any thoughts?

  • #2
    This is Scott. Yes and just to clarify so we don’t get into a debate about Platonic forms and mathematics, the triangle example is JUST a conceptual example. I thought it appropriate because geometrical forms are easier to grasp than Aristotelian substantial forms. Obviously this example would apply to sub-atomic particles as well (why do electrons always interact via the electromagnetic force and never the strong force?), hypothetical one-dimensional strings from string theory, atoms, macroscopic objects like a chunk of lead, plants, animals, humans, angels, etc.

    Furthermore, even if an object is statistically indeterminate (for example the position and momentum of an electron or the life of a radioactive particle), I would argue that even statistical fluctuations, provided they have at least some form (i.e. we can say something meaningful about their nature), are also finite in the relevant sense.


    • #3
      Some additional comments due to some confusion on Dr. Feser’s blog.

      Just to clarify though, it is not the division qua division that necessitates God. The division is just an “analytical” proposition if you want to use Kantian terms. All being is either finite or not-finite (if you accept the Law of Excluded Middle).

      Where the argumentative rubber hits the road is when you unpack what finitude entails (being this way rather than that way) and thus discover that it requires an explanation and therefore a cause. An infinite substance has no determination in the relevant since (it is not as if God is here rather than there) and therefore does not need the same type of explanation (a causal one) that a finite substance requires. The explanation for God can come from unpacking the definition of infinite. Ultimately the proof is similar to all the others (except maybe the Augustinian proof) with the only difference of having a different starting point. And of course, the proof is still a posteriori because we cannot know that anything finite exists without observing it first (since finite objects are not necessary by definition). Of course I would argue that this finitude is immediately observable and self-evident.