Contra ST.I.9.2

Mutability and immutability, from the Latin mutare ( ‘to change’), are both modal terms; the one means ‘possible to change’ and the other, its negation, means ‘impossible to change’. Change refers to any passage from potency to act (cf., Al-Shifa’Tabi’iyyat, II.1.2.108). As such, change necessarily requires two principles, i.e., matter and form; and one condition, i.e., privation (cf., ibid., I.2.12.18). The Peripatetics all agree on this. 

Grant then, without argument, that certain substances (i.e., what religions call ‘angels’) are separate from matter and its concomitant privation. From this, it follows that immutability is not an exclusively divine attribute. The claim that such beings have potency, and hence (accidentally) change, with respect to their choice (cf., ST.I.9.2) is dialectical (at best). And the claim that such beings act in distinct places (cf., ibid) no more entails (accidental) change in them than it does in the case of God, despite the fact that He too acts in diverse places, i.e., insofar as, according to the adherents of the contra position themselves, at whatever place the rational soul comes into existence, at that place God directly creates it.

Advertisements

16 thoughts on “Contra ST.I.9.2

  1. Salam friend.

    “… From this, it follows that immutability is not an exclusively divine attribute.”

    I don’t think it follows as you mentioned because there is difference betwee the attributes of the God and the attributes of the other than God.

    The biggest difference is, philosophically, the modes of knowing and doing things.

    ‘Knowing’ and ‘doing’ are not univocal terms that could apply both to God and other than God in the same manner. Hence, something that is without a body, being an intellect, is still and can be mutable in terms of, for example, acquiring knowledge and/or doing something because they have unactualized potentialities, and whatever has limited knowledge and power has potencies that could be actualized; hence are essentially mutable.

    Salam

    1. salam.

      “[they] still can be mutable in terms of, for example, acquiring knowledge and/or doing something because they have unactualized potentialities […].”

      unactualized (passive) potencies presuppose matter and privation, which angels don’t have.

      “whatever has limited knowledge and power has potencies that could be actualized; hence are essentially mutable.”

      what’s your argument for this claim? in my view, it isn’t necessarily true; something can be limited by nature and still actualize all of the potentialities of its limited nature.

      1. Salam friend.

        Unactualized potencies do indeed presuppose matter and privation of the actualities, but in terms of material entities.

        If it is concluded that immaterial entities such as angels are not all knowing – which is proven by almoat all thinkers that only there could be One all knowing who has no unactualizwd potencies, then it is inferred that in spite of being not material entities, they do have unactualized potencies.

        Regarding the second point, there in thing other than God that has actualized all its potentialities. In so far as we are not God, and we can never be God, we, and all the ashyaa that is there, has and will have some of its potencies not actualized. That’s why we are imperfect as compared to the All-perfect, God.

        Salam

      2. salam.

        to not be all knowing isn’t necessarily an absence, i.e., in the sense of a privation. it’s undoubtedly a limitation, but not every limitation is a privation. cf., here.

        “In so far as we are not God, and we can never be God, we, and all the ashyaa that is there, has and will have some of its potencies not actualized.”

        the ‘not’ here isn’t a privation; it’s a limitation or a negation. again, cf., here.

  2. Salam friend.

    An ‘absence of knowledge’, when compared to ‘privation of knowledge’, denotes the same meaning, while the wordings (absence and privation) used could be different.

    As long as something has a privation of infinite knowledge, that thing has the potency to know more, hence lacking knowledge.

    1. salam friend.

      it doesn’t denote the same meaning. absence means nonexistence, but a privation is a specific kind of nonexistence, namely, as the Shaykh says, one “to which the nature of the thing necessarily leads in terms of the perfections that belong permanently to its species […].” (Emphasis mine). this is why in a blind irrational animal, only the blindness is a privation, not the irrationality, even though it lacks both. therefore, given that ‘infinite knowledge’ is not a perfection that an Angel by nature ought to have, its absence in the Angel is not a privation for it. from this, it follows that the Angel has no potency for it either.

      1. Salam friend.

        It was not intended to say that angels are ought to possess infinite knowledge.

        By the example of the presence of infinite objects of knowledge, which would require infinite knowledge to know them, I only intended to vindicate that there is infinite things to know, and since, out of those infinite things, angels do not possess knowledge of many, hence they have unactualized potencies (to know as much as they can know from the infinite objects of knowledge).

        Also, in the case of an irrational blind man, I do not see why his irrationality is not a privation, given that what we understand by the word privation (I pointed to this in the last reply).
        If vision is perceived through the eye (with the intellect), and the defect is in the eye, then it is concluded that there is privation of vision. Similarly, irrationality could be due to a defect in the brain or nerves, in which case we say that a person is irrational: not that that person is lacking intellect, because no one can lack intellect (albeit I am talking about humans) but its utility or inability of utilizing it due to some bodily defects.

        Again, if we undesrtand by meaning of the terms rather than what is termed, then they all mean the same.

  3. salam friend.

    God’s knowledge being infinite means (because “infinity” is a negation) that it is not finite, not limited, in that there’s nothing which is knowable and that God ought to know but in fact does not know. it doesn’t mean there’s an infinite multiplicity of objects which (only) God knows – that would introduce multiplicity into Him. now Angels only know a finite amount (in comparison to God), but – and this is the crucial point – this finite amount exhausts all that they can, given their limited nature, know. in other words, because they lack matter, there’s nothing they can by nature know which they don’t already know. hence, they don’t have potency – because they don’t have matter – for more knowledge than they already have. to relate all this back to the original post, because change presupposes matter and its concomitant privation, and the passage from not knowing x to knowing x is a change, anything which lacks matter and privation, cannot change from not knowing x to knowing x.

    the example i gave was of a blind irrational animal, not a blind irrational man. the word “irrationality” is predicated here of man and animals equivocally. in the former it means not according to reason/intellect; in the latter, it means the nonexistence of reason/intellect. in your example, you conflated these two meanings of the term.

    1. Salam friend.

      “[…] that would introduce multiplicity into Him.”

      This is a separate issue, and regarding it, quite a lot has been stated.
      If God knows infinite objects not as particulars but universally, that knowledge introuces multiplicity in Him as well (if knowing two things makes the knower multiple in some way – which needs proof).If God knows animality and plantness, both being universals distinct relative to each other, then by knowing only those two multiplicity in God is formed. No wonder why Aristotle would say that God does not know anything but Himself.
      Therefore, if knowing things produce multiplicity in God, regardless of how He knows it, let another deficiency in God be imposed; that is, He does not know anything but Himself, as some philosophers has speculated.

      Even if it is granted that matter is the requirement for change (along with privation), as I mentioned earlier, it could be that that definition of change is only pertaining to the material ashyaa, not intellectual ashyaa like angels. The essential activity of the intellect is to know as much as possible, and if possibility (in this sense) is equivalent to potentiality, then, in so far as there are more thigs to know, just due to the presence of more objects of knowledge and the ability to know about them, there are potentialities in angels which are unactualized (because they don’t know more things that are to be known).

      It is agreed that angels won’t become God by acquiring infinite knowledge because they are finite beings and can’t have infinite knowledge, and they can never have infinite knowledge because their intellect (they at intellects!!) essentially do not have that potentiality. But, again, they can know more than they know, such as the state of x at certain times, which indicate their potentials of knowing more than they know.

      Salam.

  4. salam.

    the nature of God’s knowledge is, as you say, a different issue. so let’s leave it aside. the point at the moment is there cannot, you agree, be a multiplicity in God’s knowledge (whether He knows universals or not).

    “[…] it could be that that definition of change is only pertaining to the material ashyaa, not intellectual ashyaa like angels.”

    the definition is universal. it applies to anything that undergoes change and hence, anything that it does not apply to does not undergo change. you may disagree with the analysis, but then you’d have to (1) refute it and (2) provide an alternative. you haven’t done either so far.

  5. Salam friend.

    The wording “…([the definition of] change) applies to anything that undergoes change and hence, anything that it does not apply to does not undergo change” is only referring to the speculated definition of the idea of change, not change in itself.
    One way to refute it is through another definition (which needs contemplation and time – if allowed). Here is one (with less contemplation and inadequate time):

    ‘Change is the ontological and essential attribute of ashyaa in so far as they exist.’

    In this definition, regardless of thier material or immaterial states, in so far as they exist, change would be their essential attribute. But with this definition, we need to prove the existence of immaterial beings such as angels.

    Salam

    1. Salam.

      “[The definition] is only referring to the speculated definition of the idea of change, not change in itself.”

      That just beg the question against the Aristotelian though. He’s arguing that the definition captures everything there is about change as we experience it in reality. If you don’t think so, then, like I said, you need to refute it and provide an alternative.

      As for your alternative i.e., that “change is the ontological and essential attribute of ashyaa in so far as they exist”, it’s not a definition at all my friend. All it says that change is an attribute of all things; it doesn’t tell us ‘what it is’. Compare: what is the definition of life? Answer: Life is an attribute of certain kinds of things. That is hardly a definition!

      1. Salam again my friend.

        By change, I am implying the actualization of a potency that X has, with the additional statement added from my side.

        Again, that the intellectual beings has potencies is quite rational and not hard to grasp compared to them being immutable.

        One idea is that in so far as they are partial intellects, and if the essential attribute of the intellect IS to know, then, we can conclude that they, in so far as has the ability to know more, they do have potencies, and once actualized (by knowing or becoming aware of what they didn’t know), they change.

  6. A very thought provoking piece.Both material as well as immaterial/mujarrid existents are subject to change ,even though immaterial entities such as the soul/nafs or the spirit/ruh are immutable,immutable entities save God are subject to change on origination/hudoos of their existence/wujud when they come into being or existence from non-being or non-existence,here change is from non-existence to existence.In case of immaterial entities like the soul/nafs change is instantaneous/daf’atan whereas change in matter is incremental or stage wise.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s