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Why must the Unactualized Actualizer have no potentialities which can be actualized?

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  • Why must the Unactualized Actualizer have no potentialities which can be actualized?

    I found Feser in his 'five proofs' book does a superb job at demonstrating the existence of an unactualized actualizer. What he does less well at is showing that this actualizer is 'purely' actual. He seems to rely on a non sequitur here. Just because it's existence isn't actualized, doesnt mean it has no other potentialities.

    I think Feser should have argued more for the simplicity of the actualizer, that would entail that all its attributes are identical, so if any of it was actualized, all of it was.

    As an aside, I find that Feser's attempt at proving the omniscience of the UA was a waste of time. All he had to do was point out that ignorance of anything is a privation, and the UA lacks nothing.

  • #2
    This touches on it:

    Understanding the intrinsic/extrinsic distinction and forming the ability to understand why some actions or properties belong in the one category rather than the other is your best friend to understand the answers given to that topic. I gave you a couple of links in the other threat which elaborate on that topic more. As I also hinted at, the Thomistic answer for example is different from the Scotistic one.


    • #3
      Feser explains himself repeatedly in Five Proofs, but given that I was once a newbie, I understand how difficult it is to fully grasp the concepts characteristic of Thomism.

      The metaphysical apparatus upon which Feser builds his arguments is essentially an account of change. Briefly, all things which change have the potential for change. Since they exist (else they could not change), we thus have a composite of act and potency. A potency cannot raise itself to act (e.g. if you are in Dallas, you are in potency to, say, Boston. That is, you have the potential to be in Boston, but you are actually in Dallas. Twitcher in Boston doesn't exist, so Twitcher in Boston cannot actualize himself. That potency must be actualized by something in act, namely, Twitcher in Dallas). Only that which is in act can raise a potential.

      Feser argues from a particular type of causal series. In the Thomistic frame of reference, the causal series in question is a se or essentially ordered. In Five Proofs, Feser calls it a hierarchical series. That is, each component in the series merely transmits the efficient cause. If the efficient cause stops, the series stops (e.g. a hand that moves a stick that moves a stone that moves a leaf). It is essentially ordered because the "movement" or change occurs due to the efficient cause of a first mover through a series of instruments. The effect, then, is "simultaneous" in a sense to the primary cause.

      The efficient cause is the origin of the effect. In the above example, the hand merely illustrates the point, for it too is changed by the arm, which is in turn changed by neurons fired by impulses from the brain, which in turn is moved by the will. We thus have what we call a proximate first mover, that is, the human mind. However, we call it "proximate" because a human being cannot account for its movement since its existence, its movement, is due to its act/potency composition. As Feser notes, this type of series cannot proceed to infinity because the effect will never be produced. The explanation for the effect cannot rest in something that merely transmits the effect, and so long as something is "moving" or changing, we are required to investigate what is moving or changing it.

      The only stopping point is in something that cannot change. Remember, if it can change, then it cannot account for its being and thus cannot ultimately account for the movement in the series. So the series necessarily ends in Pure Act. Pure Act has no passive potency which means that it cannot be composite. Feser takes a lot of time explaining why Pure Act is God which makes God the necessary origin for every hierarchical series.


      • #4
        Anything composed of act and potency needs a causal explanation for its specific state of composition. Just as I need a casual explanation for why the cat actually sits on the mat and potentially the couch or potentially the counter. Something actualizes the composite being (the cat) to be composed of act and potency in the way that it is (actually on the couch, potentially elsewhere). Or you forego all of this, throw your hands in the air, and accept an unintelligible universe. Building off of Scalia, we thus, must terminate a per se causal series of composite beings with something non-composite, or metaphysically simple. Seeing how pure potency is merely an undetermined feature of reality, incapable of bestowing any actuality, incapable of causal efficacy, the terminus of the chain--the Thomist concludes--is pure act.
        Last edited by RomanJoe; 09-11-2019, 12:39 AM.