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Gerard
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xx argument ad absurdum against the PSR
« Thread started on: Feb 19th, 2015, 11:54pm »

Leibniz went so far as to say (I think in his correspondence with Clark), that any argument for the existence of God depends on the principle of sufficient reason (because if things could just happen for no reason, there neednít be any God to explain creation), and I've always felt the force of that argument.

But, at the same time, it seems almost absurd to say that everything has a reason.

What do you suppose Leibniz would have said if he were asked what possible reason Providence could have had for having him born with the color eyes he had?

Or causing him to blink his eyes at precisely the times he did during the course of the day?

Or to sneeze or cough at the precise times he did during the course of a cold?

If his very strong version of the PSR (which he argued so forcefully for) is true, wouldn't all such things have to have a sufficient reason?

And isn't that an argument ad absurdum against his PSR?

And if what he said about all logical arguments for the existence of God resting on the PSR is true, wouldn't it also be an argument ad absurdum against the existence of God?
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xx Re: argument ad absurdum against the PSR
« Reply #1 on: Feb 21st, 2015, 12:55pm »

Good question! There are several versions of the PSR, but I guess Leibniz would say that PSR is a self-evident principle which each can find by observing their surrounding. Not very convincing, surely.

Another thing is the limitedness of human cognition. For God, with his infinite understanding, each thing in the world may indeed have a sufficient reason, but for men it is more diffucult to find these reasons in each case. A similar method of explaining can be used for the evolution theory, for example. There is a reason why men do what they do and it has a long history of adaptation and evolution behind it.
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Gerard
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xx Re: argument ad absurdum against the PSR
« Reply #2 on: Feb 21st, 2015, 7:00pm »

on Feb 21st, 2015, 12:55pm, mroinila wrote:
Good question! There are several versions of the PSR, but I guess Leibniz would say that PSR is a self-evident principle which each can find by observing their surrounding. Not very convincing, surely.

Another thing is the limitedness of human cognition. For God, with his infinite understanding, each thing in the world may indeed have a sufficient reason, but for men it is more difficult to find these reasons in each case. A similar method of explaining can be used for the evolution theory, for example. There is a reason why men do what they do and it has a long history of adaptation and evolution behind it.


Thank you.

Without God's infinite understanding, I have no way of knowing why I was born into a lower middle class family, but I can think of conceivable reasons--like maybe if I were born into wealth, I would have been even more sinful, and selfish, and self-centered than I am; and maybe if I were born into poverty, I would have turned to crime, killed a cop in some armed robbery, and died in the electric chair.

I don't know any of these things, but they are conceivable to me.

But I can't even conceive of any reason I was born with hazel eyes (instead of brown eyes, like my mother; or blue eyes. like my father.)

Or any reason why I just coughed when I did (except that I'm getting over a winter cold I don't see the reason for.)

Can you conceive of any reason for such things that might be unknown to me, but known to God?

And would the relational view of time and space factor in in some way?

One argument I think Clark used against Leibniz's version of the PSR was that God could have made the sun rise in the west instead of the east, and it wouldn't really have made any difference, so God (by Clark's reasoning) is must be capable of making arbitrary choices.

Leibniz, of course, disagreed (and it was in this context that he made his statements about not even God being able to will something for no reason, and all of our arguments for the existence of God being dependant on some version of the PSR.)

In answer to Clark's suggestion that the solar system could have been arranged differently, I think Leibniz argued that things like east and west were just relations, and had no meaning in themselves, so there was no real choice for God to make in having the sun rise in the east or in the west.

I believe he also held a relational view of time, and I'm wondering if such a view could have helped him answer some of the questions I asked in the OP?

For example: If he were asked what possible reason Providence could have had for having him blink his eyes at precisely the times he did during the course of his life, could a relational view of time have helped him answer this question (the way his relational view of space helped him answer Clark's question)?
« Last Edit: Feb 22nd, 2015, 03:09am by Gerard » User IP Logged

Appetitio
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xx Re: argument ad absurdum against the PSR
« Reply #3 on: Feb 22nd, 2015, 07:32am »

on Feb 21st, 2015, 7:00pm, Gerard wrote:
Thank you.

Without God's infinite understanding, I have no way of knowing why I was born into a lower middle class family, but I can think of conceivable reasons--like maybe if I were born into wealth, I would have been even more sinful, and selfish, and self-centered than I am; and maybe if I were born into poverty, I would have turned to crime, killed a cop in some armed robbery, and died in the electric chair.

I don't know any of these things, but they are conceivable to me.

But I can't even conceive of any reason I was born with hazel eyes (instead of brown eyes, like my mother; or blue eyes. like my father.)

Or any reason why I just coughed when I did (except that I'm getting over a winter cold I don't see the reason for.)

Can you conceive of any reason for such things that might be unknown to me, but known to God?

And would the relational view of time and space factor in in some way?

One argument I think Clark used against Leibniz's version of the PSR was that God could have made the sun rise in the west instead of the east, and it wouldn't really have made any difference, so God (by Clark's reasoning) is must be capable of making arbitrary choices.

Leibniz, of course, disagreed (and it was in this context that he made his statements about not even God being able to will something for no reason, and all of our arguments for the existence of God being dependant on some version of the PSR.)

In answer to Clark's suggestion that the solar system could have been arranged differently, I think Leibniz argued that things like east and west were just relations, and had no meaning in themselves, so there was no real choice for God to make in having the sun rise in the east or in the west.

I believe he also held a relational view of time, and I'm wondering if such a view could have helped him answer some of the questions I asked in the OP?

For example: If he were asked what possible reason Providence could have had for having him blink his eyes at precisely the times he did during the course of his life, could a relational view of time have helped him answer this question (the way his relational view of space helped him answer Clark's question)?


If I have understood Leibniz right, in Creation God chooses a set of possibilities which are compatible with each other and this consists the actual world. From these possibilities each thing in this world evolves. Since all compatible substances include a complete concept of which God can analyze, it follows that all states of the world are known to him, at least in principle. But human understanding/cognition is limited and therefore cannot reach very far. So this is why we cannot see reasons for each cases which in principle exist. It is like in science, our knowledge increases but it is quite possible that we will never understand everything in nature. Leibniz's Theodicy is good to read on this.

This is the foundation for Leibniz's view in the Clarke-correspondence, but it is clear that it is a matter of assertion...he does hold a relational view against Newton and Clarke. Time is a system of occurences and place a system of locations, there is no absolute space and time. On this there is a good book by Ezio Vailati called Leibniz and Clarke.
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xx Re: argument ad absurdum against the PSR
« Reply #4 on: Feb 22nd, 2015, 11:07pm »

on Feb 22nd, 2015, 07:32am, Appetitio wrote:
If I have understood Leibniz right, in Creation God chooses a set of possibilities which are compatible with each other and this consists the actual world. From these possibilities each thing in this world evolves. Since all compatible substances include a complete concept of which God can analyze, it follows that all states of the world are known to him, at least in principle. But human understanding/cognition is limited and therefore cannot reach very far. So this is why we cannot see reasons for each cases which in principle exist. It is like in science, our knowledge increases but it is quite possible that we will never understand everything in nature. Leibniz's Theodicy is good to read on this.

This is the foundation for Leibniz's view in the Clarke-correspondence, but it is clear that it is a matter of assertion...he does hold a relational view against Newton and Clarke. Time is a system of occurences and place a system of locations, there is no absolute space and time. On this there is a good book by Ezio Vailati called Leibniz and Clarke.


Thank you Appetitio and mrionilla.

I know Leibniz was a polymath, I have the highest respect for him, and I thank you for trying to help me understand some of his thoughts.

I took Philosophy 101, I had a bachelor's degree in behavioural science, and I was interested in Pastoral Counselling when I lost someone very dear to me.

Nothing I had learned in college really helped me much at that moment, and even though I promised her I'd try to go on, and keep the faith, and be a good man until God called me, I've found it difficult to believe.

Some of the things that Leibniz wrote have been helpful at times, but I really have trouble understanding him at other times (and I thank you again for your help here.)

Quote:
If I have understood Leibniz right, in Creation God chooses a set of possibilities which are compatible with each other and this consists the actual world. From these possibilities each thing in this world evolves. Since all compatible substances include a complete concept of which God can analyze, it follows that all states of the world are known to him, at least in principle. But human understanding/cognition is limited and therefore cannot reach very far. So this is why we cannot see reasons for each cases which in principle exist. It is like in science, our knowledge increases but it is quite possible that we will never understand everything in nature. Leibniz's Theodicy is good to read on this.


I'm trying to understand what these words mean when boiled down to the mundane things of every day life.

Suppose that on the morning Leibniz began writing the Theodicy, a dog outside barked, and only barked twice (at 8:54 and 8:57 a.m., with an interval of exactly three seconds between barks.)

Are you saying Leibniz held that only the actual world where that particular dog barked precisely two times, at precisely the times he did, with exactly three seconds between each bark, is the only world which would be compatible with him writing the Theodicy (or with him writing it on that particular day of his life)?

Ii seems to me that that's what would be required by his version of the PSR?

Am I misunderstanding something?

If this is what's required by his PSR, is the whole idea logically incongruous (or am I overlooking something)?

Quote:
...he does hold a relational view against Newton and Clarke. Time is a system of occurences and place a system of locations, there is no absolute space and time.


And could his relational view of time help here (as I believe his relational view of space did help in answering Clark's spatial questions)?

I mean, could it be argued that the dog's barking twice (with three seconds between barks) was somehow necessary (and had a sufficient reason), but his barking at precisely 8:54 and 8:57 a.m. needed no sufficient reason because there was no real difference between 8:54 and 9 a.m. (or between
8:57 and 9:03 a.m.)?
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xx Re: argument ad absurdum against the PSR
« Reply #5 on: Feb 24th, 2015, 2:30pm »

Yes. God chose to create one world which we live in and he had a sufficient reason to do this which is that he found it to be the best possible, all things considered. Everything in the world has a sufficient reason why it should be thus and not otherwise, but this is only from God's point of view who is omniscient. For us, it is different. But I think you would profit from reading a good textbook on Leibniz, for example Nicholas Jolley: Leibniz (Routledge, 2005).
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xx Re: argument ad absurdum against the PSR
« Reply #6 on: Feb 25th, 2015, 02:41am »

on Feb 24th, 2015, 2:30pm, Appetitio wrote:
Yes. God chose to create one world which we live in and he had a sufficient reason to do this which is that he found it to be the best possible, all things considered. Everything in the world has a sufficient reason why it should be thus and not otherwise, but this is only from God's point of view who is omniscient. For us, it is different. But I think you would profit from reading a good textbook on Leibniz, for example Nicholas Jolley: Leibniz (Routledge, 2005).


Looks like I can get a paperback version from Amazon for around $20.00.

Thank you.

(The content should be the same whether I purchase the paperback or hard cover, right?)
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xx Re: argument ad absurdum against the PSR
« Reply #7 on: Mar 6th, 2015, 12:59am »

on Feb 22nd, 2015, 07:32am, Appetitio wrote:
If I have understood Leibniz right, in Creation God chooses a set of possibilities which are compatible with each other and this consists the actual world. From these possibilities each thing in this world evolves. Since all compatible substances include a complete concept of which God can analyze, it follows that all states of the world are known to him, at least in principle. But human understanding/cognition is limited and therefore cannot reach very far. So this is why we cannot see reasons for each cases which in principle exist. It is like in science, our knowledge increases but it is quite possible that we will never understand everything in nature. Leibniz's Theodicy is good to read on this.

This is the foundation for Leibniz's view in the Clarke-correspondence, but it is clear that it is a matter of assertion...he does hold a relational view against Newton and Clarke. Time is a system of occurences and place a system of locations, there is no absolute space and time. On this there is a good book by Ezio Vailati called Leibniz and Clarke.


This is an interesting quote (from his Theodicy):

...all things are connected in each one of the possible worlds: the universe, whatever it may be, is all of one piece, like an ocean: the least movement extends its effect there to any distance whatsoever, even though this effect become less perceptible in proportion to the distance. Therein God has ordered all things beforehand once for all, having foreseen prayers, good and bad actions, and all the rest; and each thing as an idea has contributed, before its existence, to the resolution that has been made upon the existence of all things; so that nothing can be changed in the universe (any more than in a number) save its essence or, if you will, save its numerical individuality. Thus, if the smallest evil [129] that comes to pass in the world were missing in it, it would no longer be this world; which, with nothing omitted and all allowance made, was found the best by the Creator who chose it.
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