- Capitalism and Alternatives -

Of course he was fallible; he made an elementary logical error.

Posted by: Farinata ( L'inferno ) on January 14, 19100 at 14:19:10:

In Reply to: He wasn't fallible. posted by Frenchy on January 13, 19100 at 11:50:37:

: : Maybe, maybe not. Acquinas was a fallible man, not an omniscient god.

: $$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$$That's one thing about Tom that I never understood. He wasn't fallible. Everything about him points to his being a very (and I normally hate using this word) holy man. If there were any peccadillos in his life, I'd like to know about them. Quite a guy.

Errors in Aquinas' philosophy? Where do we start...?

Firstly, he assumed what became the Cartesian dualism; the mind/body division; this is inherently unprovable and thus not logical; leading one to the conclusion that, if you agree with Aquinas' idea of an immaterial 'higher self', the one thing this 'higher self' cannot prove is its own existence.

Secondly (and this is the really big howler), he propounded the idea of the Prime Mover.

Cause leads to effect; observe the effect and you can (hopefully) deduce the cause; but what caused the cause?

Aquinas believed that everything was ultimately attributable to a Prime Mover; God; something which had *no* cause at all.

What he didn't see was that this rendered his whole method of enquiry to be faulty.

If causality breaks down somewhere, anywhere, then it is not universal; and if it is not universal, then it cannot be used to define a Prime Mover.

If you define God as being the point where causality breaks down, then you cannot use causality to try and justify God.

Let's spell it out;

1) Does cause always result in effect?

Yes -> 3
No -> 2

2) There is no way to prove anything using causality; end of story.

3) Does the Universe thus imply a creator?

Yes -> 5
No -> 4

4) Causality isn't universal and cannot be used to prove anything; end of story.

5) Is the Creator subject to causality?

Yes -> 6
No -> 7

6) So what caused the Creator? - this is an infinite regress (like the chicken and egg problem); end of story.

7) So there is a creator, but it isn't subject to causality; this is Aquinas' position.

However, this means that causality doesn't always apply; and the whole argument was constructed using the idea that causality applies.

The idea that causality breaks down with the Universe makes as much empirical sense as the idea that causality breaks down with God; and it is a simpler theory that explains the observed facts.

As such, all of the 'cause' arguments for God are fundamentally unsound; a creation does not necessarily imply a Creator.

That's why no-one treats the theories of Aquinas very seriously any more (except for a small portion of the Christian church which appears to be ignorant of the last 700 years of philosophical argument).


(Replies would probably be taken best to the Anything Else room; McSpotlight tends to be a bit plaintive about people talking God in the Capitalism room.)

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