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Philosophy 101, Week 1 Notes

by: Madeline Lathrop

Philosophy 101, Week 1 Notes PHL 101

Marketplace > University of Rochester > PHIL-Philosophy > PHL 101 > Philosophy 101 Week 1 Notes
Madeline Lathrop
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Summa Theologica, The Cosmological Argument, The Principle of Sufficient Reason & Types of Arguments
Introdution to Philosophy
Class Notes




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This 4 page Class Notes was uploaded by Madeline Lathrop on Wednesday February 3, 2016. The Class Notes belongs to PHL 101 at University of Rochester taught by Clatterbuck in Winter 2016. Since its upload, it has received 29 views. For similar materials see Introdution to Philosophy in PHIL-Philosophy at University of Rochester.


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Date Created: 02/03/16
Summa Theologica: The Five Ways  ​by St. Thomas Aquinas    Employs philosophy to back up theology with rational explanations, but believes theology take  precedence and does not require philosophy to prove the existence of God.’    1. Some things in the world are in motion. Whatever is in motion is put into motion by  another object in motion. The other object, in turn, was put into motion by still another  object preceding it, and so forth. However, this series cannot go on backward to infinity  since there would otherwise be no first mover and thus no subsequent movement.  Therefore, we must conclude that there is a first unmoved mover, which we understand  to be God.   (Accounts for presence of change in the world.)  2. We observe that everything has a cause and that nothing can be the cause of itself. It is  impossible for this series to extend back to infinity because every cause is dependent on  a previous cause. So if there is no first cause, there will be no intermediate causes, and  no final cause. Since there must be a first efficient cause, we assume this to be God.  (Based on Physics, God is the first efficient cause.)  3.  We observe things in nature that come into existence and pass out of existence. Thus if  it is possible for everything not to exist, then at some point, nothing did exist. Aquinas  proposes that the reason of everything’s existence is God.  (Must be a being that owes it’s existence to no other being.)  4. Beings in the world have characteristics to varying degrees. Some are more or less  good, true, noble, and so forth. Everything is measured in relation to a maximum, thus  there must be something best, truest, and noblest. As Aristotle teaches, things that are  greatest in truth are also greatest in being. Therefore, there must be something that is  the cause of goodness and every other perfection we find in beings in the world. We call  this maximum God.  (Something must serve as an ultimate point of reference for all things good.)  5. We observe in nature that inanimate/unintelligent objects and beings act with a purpose  even if they are unaware they are doing so. This is not by sheer chance, but rather  according to a plan. These beings and objects must be guided by a being that  possesses knowledge and intelligence. We call this being God.  (Give inanimate/unintelligent objects/beings a purpose.)    The Cosmological Argument    ­ Appeals to facts available to any rational person, religious or not.   ­ The Cosmological Argument is based on writings of Plato and Aristotle.   ­ Aquinas’s first three out of hisFive Arguments for the Existence of God​  are based off of  the first part of The Cosmological Argument.   ­ 1. There are things in the world undergoing change so we must reason that there  is an ultimate cause of chance that is itself unchanging.  ­ 2. There are things in this world that clearly are caused to exist by other things so  we must conclude that there is an ultimate cause of existence whose own  existence itself is uncaused.   ­ 3. There are things in this world that need not have existed at all so we must  conclude that there must be some being that had to be, that exists and could not  have failed to exist.     Types of arguments:   1. A Posteriori Argument: Depends on a principle/premise that can be known only by our  personal experience of the world.  2. A Priori Argument: Rests on principles that can be known independently of our personal  experience of the world, by just reflecting on and understanding them.     Three major arguments for the existence of God:  1. The Cosmological (A posteriori)  2. The Teleological (A posteriori)  3. The Ontological (A Priori)    2 Important Concepts of The Cosmological Argument:  1. Dependent Being: A being whose existence is accounted for by the causal activity of  other things.  2. Self­Existent Being: A being whose existence is accounted for by it’s own nature.      18th Century Cosmological Argument (2 Parts):  1. Seeks to establish existence of a self­existent being (God).   2. Attempts to prove that the self­existent being has the qualities of a theistic God.     1. Part One of The Cosmological Argument:  1.1. Every being (that exists or ever did exist) is either a dependent being or a  self­existent being.  1.2. Not every being can be a dependent being. Therefore,   1.3. There exists a self­existent being.  2. The second part of The Cosmological Argument’s effort is to prove that this being (God)  must have the features; perfect goodness, omniscience, etc.    ­Part 1 of The Cosmological Argument is a deductively valid argument, but just because an  argument is valid, doesn’t mean that it’s premises are true. (The argument makes sense, but we  cannot be certain that it’s statements are true.)     2nd Major Development of The Cosmological Argument (18th Century):   ­ Gottfried Leibnez  ­ Samuel Clarke ​ (A Demonstration of the Being and Attributes of God)  ­ David Hume (A skeptic who persuaded many Philosophers against The Cosmological  Argument, ​ Dialogues Concerning Natural Religion)     Anselm’s Principle (Three Cases):  1. Explained by another.  2. Explained by nothing (inexplicable).  3. Explained by itself.     ­The Cosmological Argument goes off the basis that beings are either dependent (explained by  another) or self­existent (explained by itself). It denies that any being is of sort 2 (explained by  nothing/inexplicable)     Anselm’s Basic Principle ⇒ Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR) (2 Parts)  1. There must be an explanation of the existence of any being whatsoever (Anselm’s  Principle restated)    There will be other facts about this being other than its mere existence.    2. There must also be an explanation for any of those facts as well.     Most Philosophers choose to believe that there is a self­existent/first being rather than the  possibility that a causal series might be infinite with no first member at all because there is no  explanation for the possibility that there are and have always been dependent beings.     If every being were dependent, the fact there there are and have always been dependent  beings would have no explanation. This violates the second part of The Principle of Sufficient  Reason.     UNLESS WE DO NOT ACCEPT PSR. But as long as we believe in The Principle of Sufficient  Reason, we must believe in a self­existent being.     So our final conclusion must be that although The Cosmological Argument may be a sound  argument (valid with true premises) it does not provide us with rational grounds for believing that  amongst those beings that exist there is one whose existence is accounted for by it’s own  nature.     Philosophy 01/20/2016    Propositions: Things that can be true or false.   (Ex. Snow is white.)  A Priori Propositions: Propositions that we can know to be true or false through reason alone.   (Think Priori = Prior To)    A Posteriori Propositions: Propositions you cannot know through reason alone (need  experience). (You could imagine it being either true or false.)    EX:  All bachelors are unmarried. (A Priori)  All bachelors like X­Box. (A Posteriori)     Cosmology: Origin/evolution of the earth. (Big Bang Theory)    Cosmological Argument:  1. Everything that exists is either dependent (it’s existence is accounted for by the causal  activity of other things) or self­existent (it’s existence is accounted for by it’s own nature.)  2. Not every being can be dependent.    C: A self­existent being exists.     … E4 → E3 → E2 → E1 (Causal Change)    Causal Version:   1. There are natural events.   2. Every natural event has a cause.  3. Every causal change has a first cause (that was not itself caused by something else.)  4. From 1­3 there is a 1st cause of all natural events.   5. If every natural event has a cause then the first cause cannot be a natural event.   6. From 3­5 the 1st cause cannot be a natural event.     Explanatory Version:  1. A causal chain of natural beings exists.   2. Natural beings can only be explained by the causal activity of other beings in it’s chain.  3. From 2, if only natural beings exist, the chain itself is either explained by the causal  activity of natural beings or is unexplained.   4. The chain itself cannot be explained by the causal activity of natural beings.   5. From 3 and 4, if only natural beings exist, then the causal chain has no explanation.  6. Principle of Sufficient Reason: Every fact has an explanation.     C: There exists a non­natural being that explains the causal chain of natural beings.   If God does not exist, there is a brute fact. ​ OR  If God does exist, there are no brute facts.     Why does God exist? (Brute fact in itself.) 


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