The eternity of the world is the question of whether the world has a beginning in time or has existed from eternity. It was a concern for both ancient philosophers and the medieval theologians and medieval philosophers of the 13th century. The problem became a focus of a dispute in the 13th century, when some of the works of Aristotle, who believed in the eternity of the world, were rediscovered in the Latin West. This view conflicted with the view of the Catholic Church that the world had a beginning in time. The Aristotelian view was prohibited in the Condemnations of 1210–1277.
The ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle argued that the world must have existed from eternity in his Physics as follows. In Book I, he argues that everything that comes into existence does so from a substratum. Therefore, if the underlying matter of the universe came into existence, it would come into existence from a substratum. But the nature of matter is precisely to be the substratum from which other things arise. Consequently, the underlying matter of the universe could have come into existence only from an already existing matter exactly like itself; to assume that the underlying matter of the universe came into existence would require assuming that an underlying matter already existed. As this assumption is self-contradictory, Aristotle argued, matter must be eternal.
In Book VIII, his argument from motion is that if an absolute beginning of motion should be assumed, the object to undergo the first motion must either
Option A is self-contradictory because an object cannot move before it comes into existence, and the act of coming into existence is itself a "movement," so that the first movement requires a movement before it, that is, the act of coming into existence. Option B is also unsatisfactory for two reasons.
He concludes that motion is necessarily eternal.
Aristotle argued that a "vacuum" (that is, a place where there is no matter) is impossible. Material objects can come into existence only in place, that is, occupy space. Were something to come from nothing, "the place to be occupied by what comes into existence would previously have been occupied by a vacuum, inasmuch as no body existed." But a vacuum is impossible, and matter must be eternal.
The Greek philosopher Critolaus (c. 200-c. 118 BC)of Phaselis defended Aristotle's doctrine of the eternity of the world, and of the human race in general, against the Stoics. There is no observed change in the natural order of things; humankind recreates itself in the same manner according to the capacity given by Nature, and the various ills to which it is heir, though fatal to individuals, do not avail to modify the whole. Just as it is absurd to suppose that humans are merely earth-born, so the possibility of their ultimate destruction is inconceivable. The world, as the manifestation of eternal order, must itself be eternal.
The Neoplatonist philosopher Proclus (412 – 485 AD) advanced in his De Aeternitate Mundi (On the Eternity of the World) eighteen proofs for the eternity of the world, resting on the divinity of its creator.
John Philoponus in 529 wrote his critique Against Proclus On the Eternity of the World in which he systematically argued against every proposition put forward for the eternity of the world. The intellectual battle against eternalism became one of Philoponus’ major preoccupations and dominated several of his publications (some now lost) over the following decade.
Philoponus originated the argument now known as the Traversal of the infinite. If the existence of something requires that something else exist before it, then the first thing cannot come into existence without the thing before it existing. An infinite number cannot actually exist, nor be counted through or 'traversed', or be increased. Something cannot come into existence if this requires an infinite number of other things existing before it. Therefore, the world cannot be infinite.
The Aristotelian commentator Simplicius of Cilicia and contemporary of Philoponus argued against the Aristotelian view.Simplicius adhered to the Aristotelian doctrine of the eternity of the world and strongly opposed Philoponus, who asserted the beginning of the world through divine creation.
Philoponus' arguments for temporal finitism were severalfold. Contra Aristotlem has been lost, and is chiefly known through the citations used by Simplicius of Cilicia in his commentaries on Aristotle's Physics and De Caelo. Philoponus' refutation of Aristotle extended to six books, the first five addressing De Caelo and the sixth addressing Physics, and from comments on Philoponus made by Simplicius can be deduced to have been quite lengthy.
A full exposition of Philoponus' several arguments, as reported by Simplicius, can be found in Sorabji.One such argument was based upon Aristotle's own theorem that there were not multiple infinities, and ran as follows: If time were infinite, then as the universe continued in existence for another hour, the infinity of its age since creation at the end of that hour must be one hour greater than the infinity of its age since creation at the start of that hour. But since Aristotle holds that such treatments of infinity are impossible and ridiculous, the world cannot have existed for infinite time.
Philoponus's works were adopted by many; his first argument against an infinite past being the "argument from the impossibility of the existence of an actual infinite", which states:
This argument defines event as equal increments of time. Philoponus argues that the second premise is not controversial since the number of events prior to today would be an actual infinite without beginning if the universe is eternal. The first premise is defended by a reductio ad absurdum where Philoponus shows that actual infinites can not exist in the actual world because they would lead to contradictions albeit being a possible mathematical enterprise. Since an actual infinite in reality would create logical contradictions, it can not exist including the actual infinite set of past events. The second argument, the "argument from the impossibility of completing an actual infinite by successive addition", states:
The first statement states, correctly, that a finite (number) cannot be made into an infinite one by the finite addition of more finite numbers. The second skirts around this; the analogous idea in mathematics, that the (infinite) sequence of negative integers "..-3, -2, -1" may be extended by appending zero, then one, and so forth; is perfectly valid.
Avicenna argued that [ citation needed ] prior to a thing's coming into actual existence, its existence must have been 'possible.' Were its existence necessary, the thing would already have existed, and were its existence impossible, the thing would never exist. The possibility of the thing must therefore in some sense have its own existence. Possibility cannot exist in itself, but must reside within a subject. If an already existent matter must precede everything coming into existence, clearly nothing, including matter, can come into existence ex nihilo , that is, from absolute nothingness. An absolute beginning of the existence of matter is therefore impossible.
The Aristotelian commentator Averroes supported Aristotle's view, particularly in his work The Incoherence of the Incoherence (Tahafut al-tahafut), in which he defended Aristotelian philosophy against al-Ghazali's claims in The Incoherence of the Philosophers (Tahafut al-falasifa).
Averroes' contemporary Maimonides challenged Aristotle's assertion that "everything in existence comes from a substratum," on that basis that his reliance on induction and analogy is a fundamentally flawed means of explaining unobserved phenomenon. According to Maimonides, to argue that "because I have never observed something coming into existence without coming from a substratum it cannot occur" is equivalent to arguing that "because I cannot empirically observe eternity it does not exist."
Maimonides himself held that neither creation nor Aristotle's infinite time were provable, or at least that no proof was available. (According to scholars of his work, he didn't make a formal distinction between unprovability and the simple absence of proof.) However, some of Maimonides' Jewish successors, including Gersonides and Crescas, conversely held that the question was decidable, philosophically.
In the West, the 'Latin Averroists' were a group of philosophers writing in Paris in the middle of the thirteenth century, who included Siger of Brabant, Boethius of Dacia. They supported Aristotle's doctrine of the eternity of the world against conservative theologians such as John Pecham and Bonaventure. The conservative position is that the world can be logically proved to have begun in time, of which the classic exposition is Bonaventure's argument in the second book of his commentary on Peter Lombard's sentences, where he repeats Philoponus' case against a traversal of the infinite.[ citation needed ]
Thomas Aquinas, like Maimonides, argued against both the conservative theologians and the Averroists, claiming that neither the eternity nor the finite nature of the world could be proved by logical argument alone. According to Aquinas the possible eternity of the world and its creation would be contradictory if an efficient cause were precede its effect in duration or if non-existence precedes existence in duration. But an efficient cause, such as God, which instantaneously produces its effect would not necessarily precede its effect in duration. God can also be distinguished from a natural cause which produces its effect by motion, for a cause that produces motion must precede its effect. God could be an instantaneous and motionless creator, and could have created the world without preceding it in time. To Aquinas, that the world began was an article of faith.
The position of the Averroists was condemned by Stephen Tempier in 1277.[ citation needed ]
Giordano Bruno, famously, believed in eternity of the world (and this was one of the heretical beliefs for which he was burned at the stake).
A cosmological argument, in natural theology, is an argument which claims that the existence of God can be inferred from facts concerning causation, explanation, change, motion, contingency, dependency, or finitude with respect to the universe or some totality of objects. A cosmological argument can also sometimes be referred to as an argument from universal causation, an argument from first cause, the causal argument, or prime mover argument. Whichever term is employed, there are two basic variants of the argument, each with subtle yet important distinctions: in esse (essentiality), and in fieri (becoming).
The teleological argument is an argument for the existence of God or, more generally, that complex functionality in the natural world which looks designed is evidence of an intelligent creator.
Islamic philosophy is a development in philosophy that is characterised by coming from an Islamic tradition. Two terms traditionally used in the Islamic world are sometimes translated as philosophy—falsafa, which refers to philosophy as well as logic, mathematics, and physics; and Kalam, which refers to a rationalist form of Scholastic Islamic theology which includes the schools of Maturidiyah, Ashaira and Mu'tazila.
Early Islamic philosophy or classical Islamic philosophy is a period of intense philosophical development beginning in the 2nd century AH of the Islamic calendar and lasting until the 6th century AH. The period is known as the Islamic Golden Age, and the achievements of this period had a crucial influence in the development of modern philosophy and science. For Renaissance Europe, "Muslim maritime, agricultural, and technological innovations, as well as much East Asian technology via the Muslim world, made their way to western Europe in one of the largest technology transfers in world history.” This period starts with al-Kindi in the 9th century and ends with Averroes at the end of 12th century. The death of Averroes effectively marks the end of a particular discipline of Islamic philosophy usually called the Peripatetic Arabic School, and philosophical activity declined significantly in Western Islamic countries, namely in Islamic Spain and North Africa, though it persisted for much longer in the Eastern countries, in particular Persia and India where several schools of philosophy continued to flourish: Avicennism, Illuminationist philosophy, Mystical philosophy, and Transcendent theosophy.
Aristotelian theology and the scholastic view of God have been influential in Western intellectual history.
Melissus of Samos was the third and last member of the ancient school of Eleatic philosophy, whose other members included Zeno and Parmenides. Little is known about his life, except that he was the commander of the Samian fleet in the Samian War. Melissus’ contribution to philosophy was a treatise of systematic arguments supporting Eleatic philosophy. Like Parmenides, he argued that reality is ungenerated, indestructible, indivisible, changeless, and motionless. In addition, he sought to show that reality is wholly unlimited, and infinitely extended in all directions; and since existence is unlimited, it must also be one.
The Kalam cosmological argument is a modern formulation of the cosmological argument for the existence of God. It is named after the Kalam from which its key ideas originated. William Lane Craig was principally responsible for giving new life to the argument, due to his The Kalām Cosmological Argument (1979), among other writings. The Kalam cosmological argument's premises surrounding causation and the beginning of the universe were discussed by various philosophers, the philosophical view of causation being a subject of David Hume's An Enquiry Concerning Human Understanding and the metaphysical arguments for a beginning of the universe being the subject of Kant's first antinomy.
This article covers the conversations between Arabic philosophy and Jewish philosophy, and mutual influence on each other in response to questions and challenges brought into wide circulation through Aristotelianism, Neo-platonism, and the Kalam, focusing especially on the period from 800–1400 CE.
The Physics is a named text, written in ancient Greek, collated from a collection of surviving manuscripts known as the Corpus Aristotelicum, attributed to the 4th-century BC philosopher Aristotle.
John Philoponus, also known as John the Grammarian or John of Alexandria, was a Byzantine Greek philologist, Aristotelian commentator, Christian theologian and an author of a considerable number of philosophical treatises and theological works. He was born in Alexandria. A rigorous, sometimes polemical writer and an original thinker who was controversial in his own time, John Philoponus broke from the Aristotelian–Neoplatonic tradition, questioning methodology and eventually leading to empiricism in the natural sciences. He was one of the first to propose a "theory of impetus" similar to the modern concept of inertia over Aristotelian dynamics.
The unmoved mover or prime mover is a concept advanced by Aristotle as a primary cause or "mover" of all the motion in the universe. As is implicit in the name, the unmoved mover moves other things, but is not itself moved by any prior action. In Book 12 of his Metaphysics, Aristotle describes the unmoved mover as being perfectly beautiful, indivisible, and contemplating only the perfect contemplation: self-contemplation. He equates this concept also with the active intellect. This Aristotelian concept had its roots in cosmological speculations of the earliest Greek pre-Socratic philosophers and became highly influential and widely drawn upon in medieval philosophy and theology. St. Thomas Aquinas, for example, elaborated on the unmoved mover in the Quinque viae.
Nous, or Greek νοῦς, sometimes equated to intellect or intelligence, is a concept from classical philosophy for the faculty of the human mind necessary for understanding what is true or real.
The Quinque viæ are five logical arguments for the existence of God summarized by the 13th-century Catholic philosopher and theologian St. Thomas Aquinas in his book Summa Theologica. Five ways of St. Thomas Aquinas for the existence of God managed to prove the existence of God through nature. They are:
The active intellect is a concept in classical and medieval philosophy. The term refers to the formal (morphe) aspect of the intellect (nous), in accordance with the theory of hylomorphism.
Jewish Kalam was an early medieval style of Jewish philosophy that evolved in response to Kalam in Islam, which in turn was a reaction against Aristotelianism.
Temporal finitism is the doctrine that time is finite in the past. The philosophy of Aristotle, expressed in such works as his Physics, held that although space was finite, with only void existing beyond the outermost sphere of the heavens, time was infinite. This caused problems for mediaeval Islamic, Jewish, and Christian philosophers who, primarily creationist, were unable to reconcile the Aristotelian conception of the eternal with the Genesis creation narrative.
The Kalām Cosmological Argument is a 1979 book by the philosopher William Lane Craig, in which the author offers a contemporary defense of the Kalām cosmological argument and argues for the existence of God, with an emphasis on the alleged metaphysical impossibility of an infinite regress of past events. First, Craig argues that the universe began to exist, using two philosophical and two scientific arguments. Second, Craig argues that whatever begins to exist has a cause that caused it to begin to exist. Finally, Craig argues that this cause is a personal creator who changelessly and independently willed the beginning of the universe.
Minima naturalia were theorized by Aristotle as the smallest parts into which a homogeneous natural substance could be divided and still retain its essential character. In this context, "nature" means formal nature. Thus, "natural minimum" may be taken to mean "formal minimum": the minimum amount of matter necessary to instantiate a certain form.
Philosophy of motion is a branch of philosophy concerned with exploring questions on the existence and nature of motion. The central questions of this study concern the epistemology and ontology of motion, whether motion exists as we perceive it, what is it, and, if it exists, how does it occur. The philosophy of motion is important in the study of theories of change in natural systems and is closely connected to studies of space and time in philosophy.
The Proof of the Truthful is a formal argument for proving the existence of God introduced by the Islamic philosopher Avicenna. Avicenna argued that there must be a "necessary existent", an entity that cannot not exist. The argument says that the entire set of contingent things must have a cause that is not contingent because otherwise it would be included in the set. Furthermore, through a series of arguments, he derived that the necessary existent must have attributes that he identified with God in Islam, including unity, simplicity, immateriality, intellect, power, generosity, and goodness.