Ibn Sina Avicenna and the proofs for the nature of God
Avicenna • 980-1037 • Influence of Aristotle • Influence on Aquinas • The tension between anthropomorphic and philosophical understandings of God
Format for the Arguments • Set up the problem. • Often with definitions • Provide a demonstration. • This is a version of medieval disputation.
That there is a Necessary Being • All being is either contingent or necessary • A contingent being has a reason for being • A cause • If that contingent being’s reason is a contingent being, then that being also has a reason for being • A cause
That there is a Necessary Being, II • If there is only a chain of contingent beings, there is no being. • Nothing exists • [We know that things do exist.] • There must be a first being that has no reason • A first Cause • There must be a Necessary being • An uncaused being
Of the Unity of God • Notice that this argument is that necessary being is one. • This is an argument against the Christian understanding of a trinity
Of the Unity of God, II • If there are two (or three) necessary beings, they must be distinguishable • Distinctions are accidental (adjoined to something after its essence is established) or essential (part of what the thing is)
Of the Unity of God, III • If the things are distinguished by accidental characteristics • Each may have accidental characteristics, and so both are caused. • One may have an accidental characteristic, so that one is not a necessary being. • We are left with only one necessary being.
Of the Unity of God, IV • If the things are distinguished by essential characteristics • If the distinctions are in both, then both are compound and both are caused. Neither is a necessary being. • If the essential distinction is in one only, then it is compound and so caused. It is contingent and the other is necessary • God is Necessary and One.
God is without cause • Active cause—that from which a thing has its being • Final cause-that on account of which a thing has being • Material cause-that in which a thing has being • Formal cause—that through which a thing has being
God’s attributes • Their multiplicity does not destroy his unity (p. 67) • Can you explain this?
God’s knowledge • Self-thinking thought • God’s knowledge of his essence is his knowledge, his being known, and his knowing.