Irish With A Tan

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An Argument For the Immaterial and the Soul

An argument for the existence of the immaterial since certain ideas are universals and matter can only be particular:

If all of reality is only material then universals couldn’t exist. Since if all that exists is matter then nothing can exist which does not share the property of matter. And matter can only be a particular thing. I use the example of friendship (universal) vs acts of friendship (particular). Matter cannot be friendship itself, but various acts of what we call friendship are material. 

We only call various particular acts of friendship by that name because they conform to a non particular idea. But matter isn’t non particular. So either we mean the various particular acts are friendship itself, or that the word friendship is meaningless since non particulars don’t exist. But who will say that the act of giving a gift is friendship itself? Or who will say friendship doesn’t actually refer to anything but is a word without meaning?

 Likewise if I am only my material brain then any perception would have to be of a particular material thing. But I can conceive of friendship which isn’t particular. Then a part of me that possess this idea must be more than my material brain. Since the material can only grasp what is likewise material. Since matter can only form particular material things. To grasp the idea of friendship is to form a non material universal thing, an abstraction.Therefore the mind that grasps the idea is immaterial.

Therefore at least two types of things exist, the material and immaterial. So far this is only matter and abstractions, ideas. However ultimate reality must have a single point of unity. There cannot be two ultimate principles. So either the material flows from the immaterial or the immaterial from the material.

It has already been shown that the material, particulars, cannot grasp their opposites. However the immaterial can in at least once sense grasp the material. The mind can think of matter. It can think of both universals (friendship) as well as particulars (acts of friendship). In other words the truth of the immaterial world cannot be contained by matter but the truth of matter is in some way contained by the immaterial.

However abstractions, ideas, don’t have the power to act, or to be acted on. They are not concrete objects. Matter however can be acted on. And matter must flow from something which isn’t matter that acts to make matter what it is. Since there can only be one ultimate principle. And since the reality or truth of abstractions can’t be contained or grasped by matter, matter cannot be ultimate, but neither can abstractions which have no power to act, or cause matter. 

This means there is another principle which is immaterial but not an abstraction, which has the power to act.
Since individuals can act, as well as grasp abstractions, then individuals must have a non material, non abstract part to themselves. This is what has traditionally been called; the soul. 

Side notes: The argument isn’t saying the abstractions/forms aren’t within the things (favouring Plato over Aristotle).

But even in that it is the forms which arrange the matter but not the matter grasping the forms as it were. 

A form can inhere in a matter as a particular but matter could never be a universal. 
So if universals exist then they can’t be material.

The argument is against the materialist. They’ll either have to reduce abstractions to matter or say they don’t exist.
I think perhaps it can all be boiled down to:

1) If two things are identical or the same, their properties are reducible.

The properties of universals are not reducible to matter.
Therefore universals are immaterial
2) If you think of a universal you are using a power which can form a non particular

Matter can only be or form particulars
Therefore the power is immaterial

As someone made the point, physics/matter pertains to quantity but not quality. All quality would have to he reduced to quantity (particulars) for naturalism to obtain.


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This entry was posted on November 1, 2016 by in Uncategorized.
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