The Instigator
ShabShoral
Pro (for)
Losing
0 Points
The Contender
Insignifica
Con (against)
Winning
7 Points

An infinite substance exists and exists alone

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Post Voting Period
The voting period for this debate has ended.
after 1 vote the winner is...
Insignifica
Voting Style: Open Point System: Select Winner
Started: 11/5/2015 Category: Philosophy
Updated: 1 year ago Status: Post Voting Period
Viewed: 1,325 times Debate No: 82093
Debate Rounds (4)
Comments (50)
Votes (1)

 

ShabShoral

Pro

Terms are defined as they are defined by Spinoza in his "Ethics." I'm too lazy to link it again, so just google it.
Debate Round No. 1
ShabShoral

Pro

To preface this argument: Q.E.D.

The first thing to be established is the necessity of causes.

In any case wherein two contradictory states of affairs, x and not-x, are considered, the validity of one must preclude the validity of the other, as a result of the Law of Noncontradiction. As such, it cannot be said that both x and not-x are possible, since, if one is able to be actualized (the definition of possibility - something is never called possible when it cannot be actualized), and if that actualization conflicts with the actualization of another (in the sense that the actualization of the one makes it so that the other could never be simultaneously actualized), then it follows that, insofar as one is possible, caeteris paribus, the other is impossible.

Imagine the absurdity which would result from the denial of this principle: both x and not-x could actualize, and thus a contradiction would be possible. If it is said that both do not have to actualize for both to be possible, only that both arepotentially able to actualize up until the point where one does, then the question has to be asked: what reason would there be for one of the two potentialities to actualize instead of the other?

Consider x and not-x. Either these are equally possible, in which case there is no quality which makes one more conducive to actualization than the other, or there is, in fact, such a quality. In the first case, it is clear that the actualization of either would be contradictory to reason, for two futures which are identical in all qualities relevant to actualization must therefore be identically actualized - neither can be considered as being different than the other, so, if it holds that one has reason to be actualized, the other must as well, leading to a contradiction, and, likewise, if neither has reason to be actualized, then the claim that one will nevertheless actualize is the claim that two identicals can have different properties, which is a contradiction in terms.

The only possibility left, then, is that there is some quality present only in one that makes that one actualize while the other does not, and, if this disparity between the two exists, then it could never be said that both could actualize, since actualization will only come to that option which has the quality which leads to it being actualized. Therefore, it is clear that only one of two conflicting "possibilities" is actually possible, and this possibility is necessarily actualized due to some quality it posesses. The quality that leads to this actualization can be thought of as its cause, and, as has been shown, every possibility which has actualized must have a quality in this vein, and therefore every possibility which has actualized must have a cause or reason for its existence (The Principle of Sufficient Reason). The natural extension of this law is that everything which does not exist must have a reason for its nonexistence, and this reason can be conceived as a restriction. Something which does not exist does not exist because it is absent from "logical space" (the field of all possibilities) as a result of the fact that anything which can existmust exist (as realized earlier), and this absense must be a result of the conflict between the thing in question being caused and things which do exist, which can be expressed as there being something which is the case that makes it so that the nonexistent thing cannot be the case, and this restrictor is the "cause of nonexistence" of the nonexistent thing. Q.E.D.

Next, let us consider the nature of indistinguishable things. It is clear that, for one to maintain that multiple things are, in fact, distinct, those things must have unique qualities; things which are identical in every way cannot be said to be anything but one singular thing, for otherwise there would be distinctions without any basis for distinction, since there would be no qualities by which one could actually draw these distinctions from. Therefore, two separate things which are identical are inconceivable - they would have to be one and the same.

This can be applied to substances. Two substances which share exactly the same attributes can only be said to be synonymous. The implications of this become clear if one considers the existence of a substance with infinite attributes. Such a substance would preclude the separate existence of any other substance, since it would, in itself, contain all conceivable attributes, so no substance outside of itself could have any attribute unique to it alone - all attributes would already be contained in the infinite substance, and, as such, multiple substances are impossible when one is infinite, since none could be distinguished from the infinite substance, as they would all, at the outset, be equal with the corresponding attributes in the infinite set. The definition of a substance is "that of which a conception can be formed independently of any other conception," meaning that the fact that all substances would be subsumed within the one infinite substances makes those supposed substances not substances at all, but rather things solely conceived within the infinite substance, and without the independence substancehood requires.

An infinite substance, if it existed, must exist alone. Q.E.D.

The only way, then, to support substance pluralism is to claim that an infinite substance does not exist. Quoting Proposition XI:

"Of everything whatsoever a cause or reason must be assigned, either for its existence, or for its non-existence--e.g., if a triangle exist, a reason or cause must be granted for its existence; if, on the contrary, it does not exist, a cause must also be granted, which prevents it from existing, or annuls its existence. This reason or cause must either be contained in the nature of the thing in question, or be external to it. For instance, the reason for the non-existence of a square circle is indicated in its nature, namely, because it would involve a contradiction. On the other hand, the existence of substance follows also solely from its nature, inasmuch as its nature involves existence."

It is clear that the definition of substance is not, in itself, self-contradictory, since, if this was so, no substance at all could exist, and this is absurd, since, as we must admit, "Cogito ergo sum" - something must exist in the first place. The only thing added to the broad definition of substance in this case is an infinitude of attributes, which is not contradictory in itself, for such an infinitude would preclude the existence of anything else, making it so that, for the cause of nonexistence to be the nature of the infinite substance, the infinite substance would not be nonexistent if not for itself (i.e. if not for its own existence negating itself), making it so that one would have to admit that it exists insofar as it negates itself, and, if it exists even to this miniscule degree, then, to this degree, nothing else exists besides it, so such an internal contradiction would, in effect, necessitate the nonexistence of reality as a whole. The nature of a thing can only preclude its existence if there is something outside of itself which it would contradict, since, if a wholly internal contradiction would be enough to stop a thing from existing, then there would be no restriction on its existence until it is already supposed to be existing. It is clear that, since the nature of an infinite substance makes it so that it must exist alone, any contradictions caused by its nature can only be caused by its contradicting itself and not anything outside of itself, and this state of contradiction would only exist if the substance itself existed. So much for a reason for nonexistence being drawn from within the substance.

One may, then, try to find such a reason from without. As has already been made plain, however, there would be no "without" in relation to an infinite substance, so there would be nothing outside of itself to restrict its existence. Even without this fact, the nature of a substance is to be completely independent, meaning that two subtances, even if they coexisted, could not have causal influence on each other, since such an influence would put one in the position of being dependent on the other, rendering that thing decidedly not a substance.

From these arguments, it follows, in fine, that there can be no reason for the nonexistence of an infinite substance, and, therefore, an infinite substance must exist, and, given the nature of an infinite substance, it must exist alone. Q.E.D.

Insignifica

Con

To preface this argument: S.T.F.U.




NON-EXISTENCE DOES NOT REQUIRE A CAUSE


I'm going to go ahead and agree with everything Pro said about the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR). It's all fine up until the part where he makes the following blatantly-false assertion -- "the natural extension of [the PSR] is that everything which does not exist must have a reason for its nonexistence". That is most certainly NOT the natural extension. To understand why, let's rephrase the PSR in the form of a conditional statement:


"If an object exists, then it must have a reason for its existence"


Basic knowledge of formal logic indicates that if the conditional statement is true, then the ONLY proposition whose truth is necessarily entailed is its contrapositive statement [http://math.stanford.edu...]. In this case, that would be: "If an object does not have a reason for its existence, then it does not exist"

However, Pro is attempting to assert that the statement's OPPOSITE is also necessarily true, which is simply not the case. Thus, one of the most crucial links in Pro's chain of reasoning is broken -- there is no reason to believe that Pro's alleged "natural extension" of the PSR is actually necessitated by the PSR at all.


But in addition to Pro's lack of warrant, we have positive reason to reject the idea of non-existence requiring a cause.

Pro defines a "cause" as a "quality which makes one more conducive to actualization". It is patently absurd to suggest that a non-existent object can possess a quality because qualities are only meaningful insofar as they relate to a subject; in other words, qualities are predicates, and predicates are contingent on the existence of the subject they describe. This is obviously problematic for Pro because, in the case of non-existent objects, the subject (by definition) does NOT exist, and is therefore incapable of having a predicate [http://www.thefreedictionary.com...].

Given that [causes = qualities = predicates], we can then apply the law of substitution to arrive at the obvious conclusion that non-existent objects are incapable of having causes (and thus cannot be caused into non-existence).


Pro's ontology of non-existence is deeply flawed. The more plausible (and prima facie obvious) explanation is that non-existence is the default state. It is existence which requires a cause in order to escape that default state, and Pro has yet to demonstrate such a cause for his "infinite substance". Just because it lacks a reason for non-existence doesn't automatically mean it exists. Remember the contrapositive of the PSR -- "If an object does not have a reason for its existence, then it does not exist". Burden of proof remains on Pro to demonstrate a positive reason for the existence of an infinite substance.



I was also going to argue that an infinite substance would be incoherent due to its contradicting attributes, but Pro seems to have pre-empted that, and it's worded way too confusingly for me to even try comprehending it, much less refuting it.

As for the remainder of Pro's case, I'm not sure why he included it, as the terms of the debate do not require me to advocate substance dualism. The resolution is a positive claim, so burden of proof is on Pro; all I have to do is refute his argument and demonstrate that Pro's burden has not been fulfilled. I believe I have accomplished that task.



Turn Pro's QED into DEQ and vote Con!
Debate Round No. 2
ShabShoral

Pro

My opponent's analysis of the PSR fails due to the fact that he does not capture half of the principle. The PSR does not merely state that everything which exists must have a cause, but that everything which has a cause must exist (quoting an unchallenged claim from round one: "anything which can exist must exist"). In this way, there are really two claims being made by the PSR:

"If an object exists, then it must have a reason for its existence"

"If an object has a reason for its existence, then it exists"

Alongside their contrapositives:

"If an object does not have a reason for its existence, then it does not exist"

"If an object does not exist, then it does not have a reason for its existence"

This is important because the latter contrapositive makes clear that no nonexistents have causes, and, thus, a necessary aspect of being nonexistent is being causeless.

From this, my case can be defended without much work. Quoting R1: "Something which does not exist does not exist because it is absent from "logical space" (the field of all possibilities)." It is obvious that if something is possible it must exist (as proven multiple times), so something which does not exist must not be possible. This entails that logical space


"Pro defines a "cause" as a "quality which makes one more conducive to actualization". It is patently absurd to suggest that a non-existent object can possess a quality because qualities are only meaningful insofar as they relate to a subject"

I have never claimed that nonexistents have causes. In fact, I spent my previous round dispelling that notion. I have said that nonexistents have causes of nonexistence, which can be conceptualized as the lack of causes, and, as such, are not positive qualities at all - they are negations of causes, so they need not be predicable of the subject. It is said that nonexistents "have" causes of nonexistence, not because such causes are qualities inherent in them, but rather because, as my opponent so helpfully points out, nonexistents cannot have causes of existence.

When I say that x has a cause of nonexistence, I merely mean that the state of affairs is such that x does not have a cause of existence, and the reason for this lack of a cause is what is important here, meaning that my opponent's argument is irrelevant, as the reason for a lack of a cause is something which exists independently of the nonexistent in question, and has causal effects on logical space, not on the nonexistent. I made a point to make this clear in my first round: causes of nonexistence must be restrictions on logical space, first and foremost. In other words, one must find the cause of causelessness, which is merely a direct application of the PSR to a lack of cause, and, since my opponent has already ceded that the PSR is valid, he must allow this.

"The more plausible (and prima facie obvious) explanation is that non-existence is the default state. It is existence which requires a cause in order to escape that default state"

Unsubstantiated.

"Pro has yet to demonstrate such a cause for his "infinite substance. Just because it lacks a reason for non-existence doesn't automatically mean it exists."

I have shown clearly that there is no way for there not to be such a cause. If there exists no possible reason for something not to exist, then that thing obviously has a cause, for a lack of a cause is a reason for something not to exist. I have eliminated the possibility that an infinite substance does not exist, and the only alternative left is that it must.

Let me clarify my argument: a cause of existence is merely an allowance for the actualization of a possibility, and a cause of nonexistence is the lack of such an allowance.

"Remember the contrapositive of the PSR -- "If an object does not have a reason for its existence, then it does not exist."

I plead that my opponent remember the second half of this contrapositive: "If an object does not exist, then it does not have a reason for its existence."

My argument, simply put, runs as follows:

P.1) If an object does not exist, then it does not have a reason for its existence

Justification: Contrapositive of the PSR which my opponent has admitted to accepting in full ("I'm going to go ahead and agree with everything Pro said about the Principle of Sufficient Reason (PSR)")

P.2) An infinite substance does not lack a reason for its existence

Justification: R1

C.) An infinite substance exists

Q.E.D.
Insignifica

Con

Pro loses this debate because he has essentially agreed with my ontology of non-existence.
He now clarifies that by "reason for non-existence", he really meant "lack of reason for existence".
In other words, he has turned this into a very simple dichotomy:

Either an infinite substance DOES have a positive reason for existence (and therefore exists), or it does NOT have a positive reason for existence (and therefore does not exist). No amount of word-play can get around it.

He also admits the truth of the PSR's first contrapositive:
"If an object does not have a reason for its existence, then it does not exist."

Both of these concessions directly imply that nothing can exist without a positive reason for existence, which is just another way of saying that "non-existence is the default state, and a positive cause is necessary to escape it."
I'm not sure why Pro seems to take issue with this, as his own concessions lead straight to that conclusion.
Ignore his strange objection. It has clearly been established that non-existence is the default state.

I'm also not sure what Pro was aiming for in bringing up the PSR's second contrapositive, since it in no way contradicts anything I said, nor does it really do anything to support his argument.

This all just comes down to the second premise of Pro's syllogism:
"An infinite substance does not lack a reason for its existence"
Cancelling out the double-negative, that translates to -- "An infinite substance has a reason for its existence"

He claims that the justification for this can be found in his opening argument.
However, if we actually take a look at it, he only proved 2 things:

1. An infinite substance is not self-contradictory

2. There can be no external cause of the substance's non-existence

Neither of these even come close to a positive reason for the existence of an infinite substance.
Therefore, Pro has not affirmed his 2nd premise, his syllogism is not sound, and his burden of proof is not fulfilled.

I'll do the same thing Pro did and rephrase my round in the form of a syllogism.

P1. X exists if and only if it has a positive reason for existence
P2. An infinite substance does not have a positive reason for existence
C. An infinite substance does not exist

D.E.Q.
Debate Round No. 3
ShabShoral

Pro


“Pro loses this debate because he has essentially agreed with my ontology of non-existence.”


No link between this supposed acceptance and the negation of the resolution has been shown, and neither has proof of the acceptance at all been provided.


“He now clarifies that by "reason for non-existence", he really meant "lack of reason for existence"”


I didn’t “now clarify” that – the idea of a reason of nonexistence as being a lack of cause has been present since my opening round. Note that, even now, my opponent never offers an argument against this conception, instead attacking strawmen.


“Either an infinite substance DOES have a positive reason for existence (and therefore exists), or it does NOT have a positive reason for existence (and therefore does not exist). No amount of word-play can get around it.”


I agree – voters should keep this in mind when considering my argument. This works wholly in my favour.


“nothing can exist without a positive reason for existence, which is just another way of saying that "non-existence is the default state, and a positive cause is necessary to escape it."”


I have said from the start that every existent must have a cause, but there has never been any basis for discussion of a “default state,” nor has my opponent maintained its relevancy.


“It has clearly been established that non-existence is the default state.”


If by “clearly established” my opponent means “wildly asserted in one sentence,” then yes.


“I'm also not sure what Pro was aiming for in bringing up the PSR's second contrapositive, since it in no way contradicts anything I said, nor does it really do anything to support his argument.”


I’ve explained this directly in my syllogism – the dual contrapositives rule out any nonexistent which has a cause of existence. The sole contrapositive my opponent first offered only showed that things without causes do not exist – he did not show that things which do not exist do not have causes. The distinction is clear and my opponent has no reason to ignore it.



“Neither of these even come close to a positive reason for the existence of an infinite substance.


Therefore, Pro has not affirmed his 2nd premise, his syllogism is not sound, and his burden of proof is not fulfilled.”


This is completely and demonstrably false. My opponent completely ignores the fact that I showed that there can be neither an external nor internal cause of an infinite substance’s nonexistence, and instead only brings up the first part of my conclusion.


From Round 1 (COMPLETELY DROPPED):


This reason or cause [of nonexistence] must either be contained in the nature of the thing in question, or be external to it]


If I have shown that there is no cause of nonexistence external to an infinite substance (which my opponent has not challenged), and also that there is no such internal cause, then there can never be such a cause.


The proposition “X or Y” is false if both X and Y are false. If X and Y map to the existence of external and internal causes of nonexistence, and if both are false (as I have shown without any opposition), the proposition is necessarily false. This is undebatable.


Keep in mind that my opponent openly dropped my argument vs. internal contradiction:


I was also going to argue that an infinite substance would be incoherent due to its contradicting attributes, but Pro seems to have pre-empted that, and it's worded way too confusingly for me to even try comprehending it, much less refuting it.


My opponent’s P2. fails on this basis:


“P2. An infinite substance does not have a positive reason for existence”


I have shown, beyond doubt, from first principles, that the only alternative is impossible.


Q.E.D.



Q.E.D.



Q.E.D.



Q.E.D.




Insignifica

Con

D.E.Q

For the sake of clarity, I'm not going to use Pro's line-by-line rebuttal style.
Let's keep it simple and start with the main point that both Pro and I agree on:


Either an infinite substance DOES have a positive reason for existence (and therefore exists), or it does NOT have a positive reason for existence (and therefore does not exist).



Therefore, (following Pro's own modal reasoning) in order to win the debate, Pro must either show that...


-- an infinite substance has a positive reason for existence, or

-- it is impossible for an infinite substance to lack a positive reason for existence




Pro opted for the latter route, but he did not successfully affirm that.
Instead, he showed that it is impossible for an infinite substance to have a positive reason for non-existence.


Allow me to emphasize that there is a HUGE difference between...

a positive reason for non-existence

and

a lack of positive reason for existence


These are blatantly dissimilar concepts. A lack of positive reason for non-existence does not preclude the possibility of non-existence. Yet this is the only thing which Pro ended up demonstrating. On the other hand, a lack of lack of positive reason for existence (read: positive reason for existence) DOES preclude the possibility of non-existence via Law of Non-Contradiction. Pro did not successfully demonstrate this for an infinite substance.

This debate comes down to what Pro THINKS he has proven versus what he has ACTUALLY proven.



Consider Pro's statement:
"I showed that there can be neither an external nor internal cause of an infinite substance's nonexistence"

If we translate this in accordance with his R3 clarification we get:
"I showed that there can be neither an external nor internal lack of reason for an infinite substance's existence"

What exactly does this even mean? How can a "lack of cause" be external or internal? A "lack of cause" is non-existent, and therefore cannot have the quality [predicate] of being either externally-existent or internally-existent. In fact, it cannot be existent at all! Pro's statement literally only makes sense if it is referring to a positive reason for non-existence.


Moreover, just take a look at Pro's opening round. He argued that
-- there are no internal contradictions in the idea of an infinite substance
-- an infinite substance is everything, so there's no such thing as "external" in relation to it

An internal contradiction is not a "lack of reason". It is clearly a positive reason for non-existence.
The second point is a clever semantic trick which prohibits any outside entity from restricting the substance's existence. Again, this is refuting the possibility of an actually-existent positive reason for non-existence.



So, in conclusion, Pro did not even attempt to argue that a "lack of positive reason for existence" is impossible. Both of his proofs instead show that a positive reason for non-existence is impossible, which is irrelevant. We can concede both proofs, and he still wouldn't have fulfilled his burden because even if nothing is forcing the infinite substance into non-existence, it is still possible that the substance does not exist (since it doesn't necessarily fulfill the PSR's condition).

Ultimately, the only way to conclusively prove that the infinite substance cannot lack a positive reason for existence is... showing that it has a positive reason for existence. No amount of word-play can get around it.

Pro's burden of proof is not fulfilled.



Humble the pretentious Spinozian and VOTE CON !
Debate Round No. 4
50 comments have been posted on this debate. Showing 1 through 10 records.
Posted by ShabShoral 1 year ago
ShabShoral
q.e.d.
Posted by ShabShoral 1 year ago
ShabShoral
I don't have a problem with it. It's up to Insignifica, I suppose.
Posted by Ajabi 1 year ago
Ajabi
I can't focus enough to read this. I might read and vote tomorrow, and my rfd would could within two days. Is that okay? (My rfd would be at least a few hours after my vote, if thats okay, let me know)
Posted by Ajabi 1 year ago
Ajabi
This debate makes me want to vomit. Will vote within two days if people bother me a few times by reminding me. :P
Preferably on fb.
Posted by ShabShoral 1 year ago
ShabShoral
You're assuming certain qualities of logical space (e.g. the absence of certain things and the existence of causes of others) without, from a macro viewpoint, justifying those qualities. Causes must also be caused.
Posted by Insignifica 1 year ago
Insignifica
Yeah. The field of possibilities is the way it is because the possibilities which exist have causes. The possibilities which don't exist don't have to have a cause for their lack of cause...
Posted by ShabShoral 1 year ago
ShabShoral
I have never claimed that the PSR applies to nonexistents. I've claimed that it applies *to the field of possibilities.*

A field of possibilities which exists must have a reason for existing as it does. This reason *explains* why certain things exist and certain things do not. Logical space is analyzable in this manner.
Posted by Insignifica 1 year ago
Insignifica
What...
Posted by ShabShoral 1 year ago
ShabShoral
But it applies to *the world in which certain things do not exist.*
Posted by Insignifica 1 year ago
Insignifica
The PSR doesn't apply to it because non-existence doesn't exist...
1 votes has been placed for this debate.
Vote Placed by Cobalt 1 year ago
Cobalt
ShabShoralInsignifica
Who won the debate:-Vote Checkmark
Reasons for voting decision: RFD in comments.