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Thomas E. Vaughan
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BV, Yes, it seems that there is too much in what I labeled "1" above. I suppose that one will never be able to produce an argument rationally compelling by your standard, but this is a fun exercise. Here is a different, second argument (A2, perhaps). Among all whatnesses, consider B, actual being itself. Every non-B whatness W has one of three relationships to B: A whatness Wn is necessarily joined with B, so that a thing of type Wn must actually be. A whatness Wp is potentially joined with B, so that a thing of type Wp might or might not actually be. A whatness W0 could never be joined with B, so that a thing of type W0 could never actually be. Whatever has parts joined together has a cause of composition. Of type Wn or Wp, a thing that actually exists has a cause. (2, 3)
BV, Here is an argument. [0. What has being of itself cannot fail to be.] 1. Anything contingent in the sense of D2 does not have being of itself but rather either receives being, if it exist, or else does not receive being, if it exist not. 2. The universe is contingent in the sense of D2. 3. The universe exists. 4. Therefore, (by 1, 2, and 3) the universe is the recipient of being. 5. Whatever receives being is caused by what gives it being. 6. Therefore, (by 4 and 5) the universe is caused.
BV, You wrote to Elliot that "modal contingency does not entail existential dependence". I'm trying to understand what you mean exactly. If your first quote from Garrigou-Lagrange were rendered, "every contingent[, actual] thing, even if it should be ab aeterno, depends on a cause which exists of itself", then would the addition of "actual" change his claim at all? I think that it would not, for he is implicitly speaking only of actual, contingent things when he insists that each of them must have a cause.
BV, Right. Starting from your definition of contingency, one does not deduce that there is a distinction between essence and existence. I did not mean to suggest that deduction, but your reading of my poor wording was a fair interpretation. What I was rather trying to get at is this: If one begin (as Garrigou-Lagrange presumably begins) from the principle according to which every actual thing apart from God is a composite of essence and existence, then D2 implies that every contingent, actual thing has a cause, for the only kind of thing that can satisfy D2 is one whose essence might or might not be composed with an act of existence and if a thing be so composed (and therefore actual), then it has at least the cause of this composition as its cause (though it might have other causes as well). It seems to me that Garrigou-Lagrange's claim just boils down to this. A wider claim that he would seem likely to make, for the same reason, is that every actual thing apart from God has a cause. Among actual things apart from God, there might be some necessary things as well as some contingent things. Even if the universe were so unified as to render the apparent distinctions among things in the universe illusory---so that the universe need not have a cause of composition to unite the things that appear to the senses as distinct actualities---the universe's contingency would still imply (for one who starts from the distinctio realis) that the universe must have a cause. So it seems as though you're really poking at whether the distinctio realis implies things (such as that every contingent being must have a cause) that you might not buy. Is that a fair reading of what (among other things) you are doing here?
Is not D2 really the same as saying that every contingent thing is the composite of an essence and an act of existence? If it actually exist, then, as contingent it might not have existed, as what binds essence and existence together might not have done so. If it do not actually exist, then it corresponds to an essence that is in potential to an act of existence. Viewed as necessarily a composite of essence and an act of existence, every contingent thing must have a cause that brings unity to its parts. There could on this view perhaps be things that are dependent and yet not contingent. For example, if there were a necessary composite of act and essence, then it would not be contingent, but it too must be caused, for the same reason according to which a contingent thing must be caused: Composition requires a cause; otherwise the parts would not be composed.
Thomas E. Vaughan is now following Bill Vallicella
Jun 14, 2012