12.30.2010

Possible Being Is Caused Being

That which can possibly be need not actually be. In this way, possible being has a certain indifference towards both actual being and non-being. From this, we can see that possible being must necessarily be caused being. Remember that what something is is separate from whether or not it exists. If the definition of something is simply that it exists, we do not search for a cause of such a being, for it does not receive its existence from another but exists in itself. Possible being, since it is not a being such that its definition is that it exists, if it was it could not be possible being, must be caused by necessary being. From this, we see that necessary being is prior to possible being.

All material being is possible being since matter is, by nature, in potency towards some form or act. This composition of matter and form, potency and act, is just what material being is. All material being as such is being caused.   

3 comments:

  1. Greetings,

    In your view, does being possible entail also being temporally originated i.e., the existence of something being preceded by nonexistence?

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  2. I don't think so, at least not necessarily. If the world was eternal, it would still be a caused world, and therefore possible. Possible being, in this sense, means being whose existence is derived from another. This kind of possibility consists in the indeterminacy to actual being that all caused things possess. I would say that this possibility is indifferent to temporal duration.

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  3. I would concur. I was asking because in the context of the Islamic philosophical tradition, there had always been this debate between the philosophers and theologians about what the cause of the need for a cause is. The former, following Avicenna, held that it was possibility (or contingency) while the latter held that it was temporal origination.

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