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Thursday, February 27, 2020


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It seems to me, that the modal collapse argument can only arise when one does not acknowledge God's incomprehensibility. We can only comprehend that what is not God, i.e. the created world, and how this world depends upon God. But God and world are not parts of an overall system. This does not lead, however, into fideism. Cf. for this approach

But this contradicts the doctrine of divine simplicity one of the entailments of which is that God is identical to each of his intrinsic properties.

Perhaps I missed a step somewhere, but surely creating the universe is not an intrinsic property of God; the very description of the action requires referring to something that's extrinsic to God, and it seems like this extrinsic element is part and parcel of what is being described. Did I miss a step somewhere?


You are right to raise this objection. I was a little quick here. So let me say a bit more. At no time is God related to what he creates. If x stands in relation R to y, then both x and y exist, and in the same sense of 'exist.' Now creation is *ex nihilo,* which is to say that it is not the case that there is something existing independently of God out of which God creates. So God does not create by setting up an external relation to something that 'already' exists. And after the universe is brought into existence, it does not exist 'by its own power' but must be continuously (assuming that time is a continuum) sustained at each instant. So at no time is God related to what he creates. So God's creating of the universe -- even though it has a 'content,' namely, the nature of the universe created -- remains intrinsic to God.

Bob writes, >>We can only comprehend what is not God, i.e. the created world, and how this world depends upon God.<<

God cannot be com-prehended (totally understood by us), but surely, contrary to what Knauer says, he can be to some extent brought under our concepts. If that were not the case we would not know what were are talking about. 'God' conveys something that 'X' does not. Knauer says that God is that without whom nothing would exist. Saying that, Knauer susbsumes God under the concept *necessary condition.*


I would say that God in itself is TOTALLY beyond our comprehension (thank God!!!)."God" conveys that nothing could exist without him; but in recto we only comprehend the world that could not exist without him: The whole world is a unilateral and subsistent relation towards God (that might sound crazy). Hence, I would not say that Knauer subsumes God under the concept "necessary condition" (only in a analogical way). There are no overlapping concepts between world and God because God and world are not two "substances". Maybe the main point is: God and the world are not parts of an overall system, i.e. God is beyond EVERY possible system.

Dear Bob,

As an addendum: Unfortunately, Knauer did not write an lot in English; but if you know German, I would recommend you especially these articles (can be found on his website):

"Anselms Geschöpflichkeitsbeweis"

"Eine Alternative zu der Begriffsbildung 'Gott als die alles bestimmende Wirklichkeit'"


I would say that the relationship between God's Will and his acts of free choice are the same as (or at least similar to) the relationship between His Intellect and the propositions He knows: in the same way that God is identical to His Intellect, but not thereby identical to, for instance, the proposition "2+2=4", His Will is not identical to the choices He makes.

I suppose this is a rejection of your stipulated condition that God needs to be identical to his creating U: His act of creating U is simply the "content" of His Will in the same way that "2+2=4" is (one of) the content(s) of His Intellect.

Dear Bill,

Maybe this consideration may help you understand what I mean.

You seem to be assuming that a transitive action (like heating a kettle, or creating the world) generally speaking inheres in the agent. But this is hardly acceptable. If it were so, then every cause would have to have more effects than it has. It would, of course, have the effect of its action (such as the heat in the kettle); but in addition to that, its action (such as the active heating in the fire) would also have to be considered as its effect (whose else?). But then, an infinite regress is launched, because producing the heat in the kettle and producing an action of heating in the fire must be two distinct actions, since, because they have specifically distinct effects. So you already have the heat and two actions, which is three effects -- and so on.

This is why Aristotelians (mostly) concluded that an action cannot be located in the agent but in the patient. The heating of the kettle, for example, is not taking place in the fire, but in the kettle. It is the same thing really as the effect itself in fieri (and the respective passion as well). When an agent causes an effect outside itself, it does not thereby change itself. (It may be, or perhaps must be, changed by means of the reaction of the object -- e.g. the fire is cooled by the kettle. But here the kettle is the agent and the fire is the patient.)

Now on this general analysis of efficient causality it is not an exception but a rule that an agent is not itself changed precisely in virtue of causing. It is normal that to cause, or to act transitively, is to bring about a change outside oneself, exclusively. This is what causation is about: to make a change out there in the world.

The exception (on this level of analysis) in case of God is not with respect to his external causality, but with respect to his immanent actions (willing and cognizing). Whereas we are changed by willing this or that, God is not. But this has per se no bearing on the question of modal collapse.


Divine creation is ex nihilo, so creation is nothing like heating a kettle. It is more like my creating something in imagination, a fictional character C, let us say. Now is there any difference between my imagining C, and my not imagining C? I'd say yes, and that this difference is in me as a realization of a potency to imagine and my non-realization of this potency.

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