Monday, June 27, 2005

Comparing Notes with Aquinas

Midway through this post on Dr. Victor Reppert’s blog is the outline of a version of the Thomist cosmological argument with which I’m sympathetic, up to a point.

I have argued that the existence of real concrete individuals in the world is under-explained by the kind of fundamental entities and causal laws traditionally associated with physics. The Thomist argument is similar in that it asserts that the existence of contingent beings (which might not have existed) cannot be explained solely by reference to other contingent things. It concludes there must therefore be a necessary being which supports the existence of the contingent.

The problem here is that the separation of individuals into “contingent” and “necessary” is a step which ends up adding more than we need. It is, of course, a move motivated by the presupposition that classical theism is true. While we need “something more” which binds concrete individuals, I think we can incorporate this in more “democratic” way. The constituents of concrete individuals may exist interdependently with something that unifies them and binds them into a causal network. This unifying element has a different mode of existence than the constituents of the individual but I’m not sure there is any reason to call one side dependent and the other independent.

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