Moses Maimonides (1135-1204) The Guide of the Perplexed
Introduction • What are the Aristotelian four causes? • 1) Efficient cause • 2) Formal cause • 3) Material cause • 4) Final cause
Aristotle • Explain some of the basic concepts of Aristotelian Metaphysics. • Substance • Essence • Accidents
Aristotle • Hylomorphism • Form • Matter • Actuality • Potentiality
Possible vs. Necessary • What is the difference between possible existence (contingent beings) and necessary existence (necessary being)? • A thing has necessary existence if and only if it is logically impossible for it not to exist. Therefore, it has always existed in the infinite past and will always exist in the infinite future (i.e., it is eternally infinite)
Necessary vs. Possible • A possible thing may exist (i.e., it is actual) or may not exist (i.e., it is not actual only possible). • There are an infinite number of possible things and events. • However, there are only a very select few actual things (i.e., reality or the way the world is).
Potentiality vs. Possibility • What is potentiality? How does this concept differ from possibility? • Potentiality has a much richer sense of existence than possibility • If something is potential then if nature takes its course it will be actualized. • Possibility only states that a thing can exists.
God Exists • Explain Maimonides’ argument for the existence of God based on Aristotle’s necessary being (93-4).
Arguments 1) Cosmological Argument 2) Teleological Argument 3) Ontological Argument
1st Cosmological Argument • We observe that there are existent beings. • There are 3 logical possibilities with respect to actual beings. • 1. Nothing comes into being nor goes out of being (no being is contingent). • 2. Everything comes into being and goes out of being (all beings are contingent). • 3. Some beings are permanent (necessary) and others transitory (contingent).
Cosmological • The first 2 alternatives are false: That not all things are permanent is obvious from simple observation. • Second, not all beings can be contingent. • Therefore, there must be at least one necessary being.
Argument Form • All beings are either contingent beings or necessary beings. • Not all beings can be contingent beings. • Therefore, there must be at least one necessary being.
One Necessary Being • Maimonides argues next that there can only be one necessary being. • First, if there where two then they would have to have a different essence and necessity would not be an essential property. • Second, if there were two, they could not be absolutely perfect.
Criticisms • 1) Why is the second premise true? Couldn’t there be an infinite series of contingent beings? • 2) Why is it that if all beings were contingent then at some point there would be no beings at all? • 3) Why can’t there be more than one necessary being, even if such a being were not perfect.
2nd Argument • We observes that things come into being (i.e., move from potential existence to actual existence). • No being being could be its own efficient cause. • The series of efficient causes cannot go on infinitely. • Therefore, there must be a first uncaused cause (that is a self-caused being or a being that is its own cause).
God is Pure Actuality • Maimonides also argue that because God is self-caused he is pure actuality and has no potentiality. • Because potentialityand change is grounded in matter, we can infer that God must be incorporeal and simple (Unity).
One God • Explain Maimonides’ 2 arguments for the unity of God. • If there were 2 Gods then they would have to share a common property . • There would also be one property in each that would distinguish them. • But then they would not be simple.
One God • If one God were simple, then the other must have a common property and another property that distinguishes it. • Therefore, it could not be simple and thus could not be God.
One God • If there were 2 Gods, then they would either act at the same time or take turns acting. • They cannot take turns acting because this implies a movement from potentiality to actuality which is impossible in a pure actual being. • They cannot act at the same time because this would not be consistent with the perceived order of the universes, and would imply that God requires a cause (the cause of the junction of the two Gods acting).
Beginning of the World • What are the 3 views about the beginning of the universe? Which view does Maimonides defend?
First View • God brought everything into existence (from non-existence). • Before God’s act of creation nothing but God existed, therefore, God created from nothing. • God created from will and volition (i.e., freely and not from necessity). • God created time because time is dependent on movement and change and in God there is none.
SecondView • Philosophers’ view (Plato). • This view denies that God created from nothing and denies that something can be brought into existence from nothing (it is logically impossible). • They hold that God created the world but from some eternal pre-existing matter. • The world is to God as the the clay is to the potter.
ThirdView • Aristotle’s view. • Aristotle goes further and argues that the universe and its laws are eternal (have no beginning and no end). • Time and motion are continuous and eternal. • God’s will cannot change therefore the world must be co-eternal with God.
Aristotle’s Arguments • 1) Time and motion are eternal • 2) Prime Matter (pp. 101-2)
Other Arguments for the Eternity of the World • God cannot have potentiality. Creation from nothing implies a God who is a doer in potentiality. (p. 102) • God’s will cannot be affected by outside factors and thus there is no reason to believe that he would have not acted at one time and acted at another. (p. 102)
Time • What is time according to Maimonides? • Motion is a necessary and sufficient condition for time. • Time is an accident of an accident of a substance.
Mutakallimum • Kalam Cosmological Argument • Denies the possibility of an actual infinite and thus an infinite series of contingent being in time. • Concludes that the world must have had a beginning and could not have been eternal.
Maimonides’ Argument • Maimonides will defend the orthodox view of creation (1st view) especially against the Aristotelian view. • First, he will show that Aristotle’s arguments are invalid (not deductive valid) and further that they are not convincing (cogent). • This leaves the matter OPEN!
Maimonides’ Argument • Second he will show that the view of creation is more PROBABLE than the view of the eternity of the world. • Compare competing hypotheses and determine, given the facts, which is more probable.
Bad Logical Inferences • Maimonides argues that the nature (or essence) of an actual being is different than the nature of that being before it came into being (when it was only a potential being). • Moreover, the nature of an actual complete being is different than a being in process of becoming. • Therefore, inferences about the nature of potential or becoming beings from complete logical beings are fallacious arguments.
Bad Logical Inferences • Maimonides introduces an example of a single father and a son on a deserted island and the father trying to explain to the son how members of their species came into being. The purpose of the example is to undermine Aristotle’s argument concerning the eternity of the world.
Argument • Maimondies’ argument for the creation of the universe is an invalid, probable argument? • Should our opponent say, “ ‘If the existing universe gives us no clue, how do you know that it has come into being and that there was another nature which brought it into Being?’ –then we shall reply: ‘This proof is not incumbent on us for our purpose. Our purpose at the moment is not to establish that the world is created, but to prove that it might be created, and that our assertion cannot be proved false by arguments drawn from the nature of the existing universe. About the latter we do not dispute.’ Now that the probability of our assertion is established, as we have shown, we have shown, we shall return to demonstrate the greater probability of the view that the world is created.” (p. 107)