Feser’s The Last Superstition [Index Post]

Feser’s The Last Superstition [Index Post] January 15, 2012

I ran into a Dominican at an American Association for the Advancement of Sciences event in DC, and now I’m reading and arguing about Edward Feser‘s The Last Superstition: A Refutation of the Last Atheism with him and another brother at the priory.

This seems like a nice opportunity to explore the ‘non-nihilistic metaphysics logically require theism and probably Christianity’ pitch that I’ve gotten from plenty of Christians and more than a few atheists.  Hopefully the discussion will put me in a better spot to answer Dom’s challenge.  All posts about this book will be listed here, with the first one coming out Monday.  And, for everyone’s convenience, since Feser spends a lot of time on Aristotle, I’ll put his summary of the Four Causes here for reference.  (His quickie explanation applies all four to the example of a red rubber ball).

  1. Material Cause – underlying stuff that a thing is made out of, in this case rubber
  2. Formal Cause – the form, structure, or pattern the materal exhibits, which in this case comprises such features as sphericity, solidity, and bounciness.
  3. Efficient Cause – brings a thing into being, or more accurately and technically, which actualizes a potentiality in a thing; in this case that would be the actions of the workers and/or machines in the factory in which the ball was made
  4. Final Cause – the end, goal, purpose of  a thing, in this case providing amusement to a child

Strict materialists and plenty of other people think final causes are nonexistent and/or incoherent.  My posts on the topic follow below:

  1. Stuck in the Map Territory Gap – How can you tell whether a metaphysics is just a formalization of what you already know or a new structure to build on?
  2. Three Final Causes I Don’t Pray To – Even if I concede my existence is predicated on some First Mover or being that is Pure Act, does that entity have to look anything like a god?
  3. Futzing Around with Final Causes – Where is everyone getting this ‘inherent dignity of the body’ stuff from anyway?
  4. It’s Hard Out Here for a Platonist – If you’re going to take aim at a human-independent idea of math, there’s going to be a lot of collateral damage.
  5. The Perfection-Privation Problem – I get confused by the God-as-all-perfections- perfected idea


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