Tuesday Discussion Review Feb 21 2012

The discussion today went great. One piece of short prose was read, and then we got on with the discussion. About eight people came and they all stayed throughout the event. Transcript can be found below.

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Intro Notes for Tues Feb 21 Philosophy and Literature

Topic: Avicenna on life-forms and the universe

Quotes taken from “Philosophy” by Stephen Law.

Avicenna (Ibn Sina) is a scientist and astronomer from Persia in 980-1037. He’s best known for his “Cannon of Medicine”.

He supported the cosmological argument for God’s existence known as the “Kalam argument”.

This argument “begins from the observation, gained from al-Farabi, that all things in the universe are possible beings, meaning that they might not have existed and have no inherent reason for existing.”

“The “essence” of such beings is said to be distinct from their “existence,” so the fact that they exist is not determined by what they are.”

“Therefore they must depend on something else for their existence, and must be caused to exist by something else.”

“However, this cannot be true of everything that exists, otherwise there would be an infinite regress and no ultimate ground for the existence of anything.”

“It follows that there must be a being whose existence is necessary, which is its own cause and sustains everything else in existence.”

Avicenna thought that being was Allah.

Avicenna follows the same idea as the Neo-platonists, in that all being emanates from God as its sustaining cause.”

“This implies that events and actions are predetermined, thus problematizing ideas of moral responsibility and divine justice.”

This isn’t intended to be a conversation about God, Gods, or any being as such. If possible, I’d like to replace the idea of God as whatever you want it to be.

A force, an energy, or even God if you’d prefer. View it how you like. However, I’d like to focus on the rest of the premises Avicenna comes to a conclusion about.

What do you think? I open the floor.