PHIL 20B Lecture 7: Lecture 7

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6 Feb 2017
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During a very tumultuous time
Wrote over 100 works, mostly in Arabic
Cannon of Medicine
al-Qanun fi al-Tibb
The Cure/Healing
The Salvation
al-Najat
Philosophical encyclopedias
Avicenna (980-1037)
Possible vs Necessary Existence
The proof that such a being exists
Avicenna's concept of God as the NE
Avicenna's Proof of a Necessary Existent (NE)
By which a statement can be true or false
Modes by which a thing can be or not be
Possible/contingency, necessity, and impossibility are modal concepts
"The necessarily existent is the existence that must be, whereas the possibly existent is the
existent in the one that has no 'must' about it in any way, whether in terms of existence or
nonexistence" -al-Najat, Metaphysics, 2.1 (CR 49)
Essence is to be a rational animal
Distinction between essence and existence
It could either exist or not exist
The possible existent is contingent
It requires an external cause in order to exist
Necessary in another: something makes it the case that it must exist
Distinction between necessary in itself and necessary in another
"Everything existing possibly in itself -- if indeed its existence has occurred -- exists necessarily
through another" (2.3; CR 49)
Possible vs Necessary Existence
Vs ontological argument
Unlike Anselm's, Avicenna's proof is a cosmological argument
The universe is F
The universe's being Frequires a cause
This cause is God
Rather than starting from the bare existence of God, starts from the basic fact(s) about the
universe, and a demand for an explanation of these facts
Cosmological argument:
Aristotle's "physical" proof = there is motion in the universe
Avicenna (and others in the Middle Ages) calls his proof a "metaphysical" proof, in contrast with
Aristotle's "physical" proof
Something exists
The Necessary Existent exists
Necessary in itself
Possible in itself
Whatever exists is either:
Proof:
Avicenna's Proof of a Necessary Existent
Lecture 7
Wednesday, February 1, 2017
12:34 PM
PHIL 20B Page 1
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