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Leibnizian Cosmological Argument

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Hassan

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Can an infinite chain explain itself?
« on: June 26, 2013, 05:14:53 am »
Hi,

As you know, the LCA significantly differs from KCA in that it doesn't need to prove the impossibility of an infinite regress- there may indeed be an infinite chain of contingent events, and the LCA-proponent could still ask: why does the chain exist? One of my key concerns about the LCA's success concerns this fact. I see no good reason why an infinite chain cannot explain itself by simply stating that each member of the chain has an explanation. In other words, I don't understand why an infinite chain would need an explanation "over and above" the conjunction of explanations of all its members.

I've read Dr. Pruss' cannonball argument in this regard, discussed briefly in the Blackwell. A simpler version is available here:

http://alexanderpruss.blogspot.com/2013/06/cannonball-and-regress.html

If you check the comment section, you'll notice I've put up my objections to his counterexample. Hopefully Dr. Pruss will respond, but any comment that might shed light on this issue would be much appreciated as well.

Sorry if my post seems simplistic, I'm no more than a layman and have received no professional training in philosophy whatsoever.

Thanks!

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Stephen

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Re: Can an infinite chain explain itself?
« Reply #1 on: June 26, 2013, 07:32:27 am »
Because it seems to me that each explanation of each member of the original chain, would then itself require an explanation (should it be found contingent), and thus be itself among another infinite chain, and so this really does not go anywhere to explain the original chain itself- we're just kicking cans down the road.

So it seems then our concern ought to be for the final effect of this chain, given our contingencies would inevitably lead us to some termination of a causal chain- a prime mover.

Give this podcast a listen; a little more than halfway through a relevant analogy is presented about an infinite procession of railroad cars, and a more robust explanation by Craig:

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/mediaf/podcasts/uploads/RF_A_Rabbi_Looks_at_the_Kalam_Argument_2013.mp3

Hope you found this helpful!

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cpdavey24

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Re: Can an infinite chain explain itself?
« Reply #2 on: September 29, 2013, 04:56:10 pm »
To claim that an infinite chain has an explanation because each member has an explanation commits the fallacy of composition. It's like arguing that because each brick in a brick wall weighs five pounds, therefore the whole brick wall weighs five pounds.

The question is why anything at all exists. To postulate that things have always existed causing other things to exist doesn't answer the question. Rather, it just posits that the existence of things is a brute fact requiring no explanation.

Best,

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Pieter

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Re: Can an infinite chain explain itself?
« Reply #3 on: October 02, 2013, 01:37:25 pm »
I always think of a railway crossing and one of those really long train passes by and never seems to end. What if there was no end? Would that mean that the chain of train cars require no locomotive?

Think about it.  If you have say 10 train cars in a chain and train 1 is pulled by train 2 and train 2 is pulled by train 3 etc. Now increasing the number of train cars is not going to make the chain move without a locomotive. But then why would it do so if you make the chain infinite? Without a locomotive why would it move?
Pieter van Leeuwen

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Rob Heusdens

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Re: Can an infinite chain explain itself?
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2014, 07:07:25 am »
To claim that an infinite chain has an explanation because each member has an explanation commits the fallacy of composition. It's like arguing that because each brick in a brick wall weighs five pounds, therefore the whole brick wall weighs five pounds.

The question is why anything at all exists. To postulate that things have always existed causing other things to exist doesn't answer the question. Rather, it just posits that the existence of things is a brute fact requiring no explanation.

Best,

The question is why anything at all exists.

That is a non-question. How could you answer that? The answer like : existence exists because G exist, is simply stupid reasoning. Because your answer simply states what the question adresses, why there is existence in the first place, and then simply reraises itself eternally. It is simply saying something tautological: existense exists beaus existence exists. That is not an answer but there is no answer. You simply need to stop asking stupid questions.

The way the question is put makes it already impossible to answer. Why do people want to ask stupiod questions which can not have any reasonable answer at all?

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Branden Holmes

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Re: Can an infinite chain explain itself?
« Reply #5 on: June 11, 2014, 07:31:22 am »
The question is why anything at all exists.

That is a non-question. How could you answer that? The answer like : existence exists because G exist, is simply stupid reasoning. Because your answer simply states what the question adresses, why there is existence in the first place, and then simply reraises itself eternally. It is simply saying something tautological: existense exists beaus existence exists. That is not an answer but there is no answer. You simply need to stop asking stupid questions.

The way the question is put makes it already impossible to answer. Why do people want to ask stupiod questions which can not have any reasonable answer at all?
As an atheist, I think that this is arguably the question. And it certainly isn't a non-question because, like the phrase "survival of the fittest" we can simply restate it in non-tautological terms so that the question is valid, even if unanswerable. I'm not yet sure if I'm a fideist on the question, but I can't see anybody ever being able to truly comprehend existence, let alone explain why something exists rather than nothing.

A restated version could/would be:

Why was a possible world in which something exists actualized and not a/the possible world in which nothing "exists"?

This version invokes possible world semantics (PWS), although the question could conceivably be restated in other non-tautological ways. The proponent of the Modal Ontological Argument would argue that such a world is metaphysically impossible, since otherwise they would undermine the MOA (i.e. if a maximally great being exists in all possible worlds, and yet doesn't exist in that possible world which is void of the description of any thing). And obviously others may also wish to argue this. The question then is, why this world with this stuff in it and not another world with a different number/combination of stuff? So we can see that the question does, at least in principle have an answer.
I'm an atheist.

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Rob Heusdens

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Re: Can an infinite chain explain itself?
« Reply #6 on: June 11, 2014, 07:38:23 am »
Why was a possible world in which something exists actualized and not a/the possible world in which nothing "exists"?


I have made a topic about that question.

http://www.reasonablefaith.org/forums/leibnizian-cosmological-argument/why-is-there-some-stateofaffairs-rather-then-none.-6026393.0.html

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Rob Heusdens

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Re: Can an infinite chain explain itself?
« Reply #7 on: June 11, 2014, 07:40:18 am »
I always think of a railway crossing and one of those really long train passes by and never seems to end. What if there was no end? Would that mean that the chain of train cars require no locomotive?

Think about it.  If you have say 10 train cars in a chain and train 1 is pulled by train 2 and train 2 is pulled by train 3 etc. Now increasing the number of train cars is not going to make the chain move without a locomotive. But then why would it do so if you make the chain infinite? Without a locomotive why would it move?

Simple. Make the chain of trains span the globe, then remove the earth, the resulting chain of trains keeps rotating all by itself!

 :D

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Pieter

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Re: Can an infinite chain explain itself?
« Reply #8 on: June 17, 2014, 08:39:05 am »
I always think of a railway crossing and one of those really long train passes by and never seems to end. What if there was no end? Would that mean that the chain of train cars require no locomotive?

Think about it.  If you have say 10 train cars in a chain and train 1 is pulled by train 2 and train 2 is pulled by train 3 etc. Now increasing the number of train cars is not going to make the chain move without a locomotive. But then why would it do so if you make the chain infinite? Without a locomotive why would it move?

Simple. Make the chain of trains span the globe, then remove the earth, the resulting chain of trains keeps rotating all by itself!

 :D

Haha. I like it, but that is cheating the analogy. And even the final result still has a first mover, namely the earth. Also the chain is not infinite, there are a finite numbers of cars, so this is very different.
Pieter van Leeuwen

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Rob Heusdens

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Re: Can an infinite chain explain itself?
« Reply #9 on: June 19, 2014, 05:25:08 am »

Why was a possible world in which something exists actualized and not a/the possible world in which nothing "exists"?

This version invokes possible world semantics (PWS), although the question could conceivably be restated in other non-tautological ways. The proponent of the Modal Ontological Argument would argue that such a world is metaphysically impossible, since otherwise they would undermine the MOA (i.e. if a maximally great being exists in all possible worlds, and yet doesn't exist in that possible world which is void of the description of any thing). And obviously others may also wish to argue this. The question then is, why this world with this stuff in it and not another world with a different number/combination of stuff? So we can see that the question does, at least in principle have an answer.

Actually the question is wrong. There is some hidden assumption beneath the question which can be shown to be wrong. The assumption is that "being" and it's counterpart "non-being" or "nothing" are only distinct, seperate notions about reality, which each taken on it's own, seperate from the other, would mean something. But that is not what they are.
Both notions have to be considered in any context always as being part of a union of opposites. When you drag them out of that context, and give each term seperate meaning, utter nonsense follows.

The falsehood of the question is that reality would either be describable as either being or non-being (or nothing). However, such is not the case. All reality is always in a state of a mixture of both being and non-being or nothing. Which is no other notion then that everything always is changing, becoming or ceasing-to-be, and that therefore every existing thing in reality always contains being and the other of itself, it's non-being, and is in fact never ever equal to itself. If everything would always be exactly equal to itself, it would decscribe a world in which nothing ever changes, moves, becomes or ceases to be, it would be a totally static world. The being of the world would be neither more nor less then nothing.


The expansion on this, and showing the dialectical reasoning behind these notions, see: https://www.marxists.org/reference/archive/hegel/works/hl/hlbeing.htm  (Hegel - Science of Logic - Doctrine of Being).
« Last Edit: June 19, 2014, 05:39:51 am by Rob Heusdens »