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The word love is commonly applied to the personal experience of feeling affection for some other individual(s) - regardless of whether that affection is of a romantic or of a filial sort or a sort of friendship. Most often, and for most people, the term love is reserved for an extraordinarily intense or exceptional attraction - again, whether of a romantic or of a filial sort or a sort of friendship. However, the term love is not restricted to signifying only an intensity of feeling. After all, love can persist (the term love can apply to situations or conditions) beyond the brevity which afflicts the intensity of human feeling. Indeed, the most intense instances of such a feeling could be distinguished as occasions of infatuation, and it can be said that, whatever love is or whatever love entails, a test for the genuineness of love is that love does not depend on the intensity of feeling had with infatuation.

In response to the first part of this blog series, TGL member Peter puts forth the possibility of love as little more than a veritable respite from the travails of life in an essentially Hobbesian world:

one might, in the case of specific loved individuals, be seen to suspend normal competitive, exploitative or aggressive behaviours (or just plain indifference) in favour of indulgent behaviour.

On the face of it, this "indulgent behaviour" would seem to "not depend on the intensity of feeling had with infatuation." But is such a behavior actually love?

If the world is most accurately described in terms of the competition between personal interests, in terms of a perpetual struggle of all against all, where each and every individual seeks to alleviate an existential insecurity, then that behavior which indulges as but a respite from the perpetual competitiveness that is the world amounts to no more than a type of recreation. Recreation is undoubtedly necessary for human well-being, but, whatever love is, love is not recreation. Is love even an indulgence?

As a feeling, love has been expressed in terms of marriage or friendship, but, in a world of individual insecurity where all are against all or where all are in competition with all, marriages and friendships can very well be born of a perceived need for alliances rather than from love. In that case, it is the indulgence of others - not the alliance with others - which serves to provide the self with respite and recreation. Alliances or social relationships are arguably necessary for human well-being, but, whatever love is, love is surely not an indulgence. So, is there a place for love in a world of perpetual struggle between personal interests? If love is not recreation and if love is not an indulgence, is love anything other than a delusion?

In a world populated by individuals who are acutely aware of being relatively weak and susceptible while also having personal interests (including self-survival), the attainment of power is the primary and most basic goal of virtually all individuals. This is essentially the world as described by Thomas Hobbes in his work, Leviathan. As Hannah Arendt notes in discussing Hobbes, "if man is actually driven by nothing but his individual interests, desire for power must be the fundamental passion of man." 1

Arendt goes on to note that:

Hobbes points out that in the struggle for power, as in their native capacities for power, all men are equal; for the equality of men is based on the fact that each has by nature enough power to kill another. Weakness can be compensated for by guile. Their equality as potential murderers places all men in the same insecurity, from which arises the need for a state. The
raison d'etre
of the state is the need for some security of the individual, who feels himself menaced by all his fellow-men.

In such a world, love might seem to be something like an indulgence; it might seem to be something like a luxury available only to those who have succeeded in attaining enough power to mitigate susceptibility to others. However, as Arendt also says, what Hobbes gives is "an almost complete picture, not of Man but of the bourgeois man". 3

While Hobbes's depiction of the world was derived with "unequaled magnificence of ... logic" from the standards according to which the relatively new (at the time) bourgeois class operated (politically), a depiction and standards which set the stage for a ready acceptance of Darwinism some two centuries later, the distinction between "Man" and "bourgeois man" serves to indicate that Hobbes is not so much presenting the world as it naturally is as he is presenting it as it has been made by men. In the Hobbesian world,

membership in any form of community is ... a temporary and limited affair which essentially does not change the solitary and private character of the individual (who has "no pleasure, but on the contrary a great deale of griefe in keeping company, where there is no power to overawe them all") or create permanent bonds between him and his fellow-men ... The Commonwealth is based on the delegation of power, and not of rights. It acquires a monopoly on killing and provides in exchange a conditional guarantee against being killed. Security is provided by the law, which is a direct emanation from the power monopoly of the state (and is not established by man according to human standards of right and wrong) ... to the state the individual also delegates his social responsibilities ... he asks the state to relieve him of the burden of caring for the poor precisely as he asks for protection against criminals.

Clearly, love - whatever it is and if it exists at all - is anything except a core issue for the Hobbesian world. In such a world, the individual has, as Hobbes said, "no pleasure", and, in this world, love could well be a misnomer for certain types of indulgence or recreation.

Since Hobbes's time, there have, of course, arisen movements - even philosophies - which rebel against the Hobbesian world created by man. However, these rebellions, amounting to no more than reactions, effectively leave the Hobbesian conceptual limits in place. This means that just as love is anything but a core issue for the thinking that pervades the Hobbesian way of seeing the world and engaging with the world, love has turned out to be just as irrelevant to the countermanding philosophies and ways of engaging the world which have been subsequently put forth.

In general, what these alternative philosophies seem to have most often reacted to is the centrality that individual self-interest has in the Hobbesian view of the world. As a consequence, what many of the most prominent later philosophies (especially the political philosophies) have emphasized is the notion that self-interest is to be denied, eradicated, and replaced by selflessness.

Now, selflessness is commonly associated with love. But, just what is selflessness supposed to be? And, whatever love is, is there a love other than self-love absent selflessness?

To be continued ...


1 Hannah Arendt, The Origins of Totalitarianism, (New York: Harcourt, 1976), p. 139.

2 Arendt, p. 140.

3 Arendt, p. 139.

4 Arendt, pp. 140-142.

Sharon Krishek's excellent article, "The Enactment of Love by Faith: On Kierkegaard's Distinction Between Love and Its Works" 1, begins by noting that:

Soren Kierkegaard, who was well attuned to the nuances of words, decided to call his important religious treatise on love
Works of Love
. This decision demands attention: Why
of love? What does he mean by
and what is the difference between love and
of love?

These are good questions, interesting questions; frankly, they are very important questions. But, there is something about love itself, which raises another question: Why is it that issues regarding love - the more in depth considerations regarding the place of love - seem today to have become most often a matter of religion rather than philosophy?

In the case of Kierkegaard's Works of Love, it is easy to see why it would be described as a "religious treatise" rather than a philosophical one. After all, Kierkegaard has countless references to God and Christ, frequently cites New Testament passages, and even includes in the subtitle to this work the description "Christian Reflections".

According to Kierkegaard, the form of exposition which he calls reflections

... do not presuppose the qualifying concepts as given and understood; therefore, they must not so much move, mollify, reassure, persuade as
and provoke men and sharpen thought ... [in contrast to reflections,] An edifying discourse about love presupposes that men know essentially what love is and seeks to win them to it, to
them. But this is in fact not the case. Therefore the "reflections" must first fetch them up out of the cellar, call to them, turn their comfortable way of thinking topsy-turvy with the dialectic of truth.

Of course, as an expository form, such reflections are precisely what is to be expected of philosophy, but, by his own reckoning and description, Kierkegaard undertakes Christian reflections - a "religious treatise" - and not a more generic philosophical consideration.

Maybe he does this because he has in mind, for whatever reason, a (culturally) Christian intended audience. Then again, maybe he does this because the language, the terminology made available to him from his Christian inheritance seems the language and tradition best suited for talk about love.

It is the possibility that Christian language might be what is best suited for discussion about love, its nature, and its importance that brings to the fore the sense that love is - if not philosophically irrelevant, then - philosophically insignificant and inconceivable as a core philosophical issue.

This is not to say that love has never been a philosophical topic. After all, there is discussion, for example, about eros and philia (which are commonly and properly regarded as types of love) at least as early Plato's Lysis and Symposium 3, which attained standing as the "traditional philosophical notion of love" 4 wherein

love results from the imperfection and privation of that which loves. One loves, in other words, what one does not possess ... Accordingly, that which is imperfect loves that which is perfect, and, that which is perfect ... neither loves nor desires.

Subsequently, Aristotle "likewise claimed that that which is less perfect (e.g., slaves, children, wives and ruled) should have more love for that which is more perfect (e.g., freeborn, parents, husbands, and rulers) than vice versa. The First Cause, then, is loved but does not love."

This association of love with imperfection was still very much prevalent towards the end of the Middle Ages when two Jewish philosophers, first Hasdai Crescas and then about one century later, Judah Abrabanel, asserted very much the opposite notion.

Crescas's work puts forth a God who "is primarily Goodness and Love" with that love "directed on the world, not Himself." Rejecting what he saw as the excessive intellectualism of philosophy, Crescas insisted that the "highest goal of man is not intellectual self-perfection but the love of God" and that "the deepest purpose of the revealed Law" was to effect just such a love. 5 Similarly, in his Dialoghi d'amore (“Dialogues of Love”), Abrabanel (or Abravanel, also known as Leone Ebreo) puts forth God as creating in love and man returning to God by love. 6

Whether or not Abrabanel's treatise was at all philosophically influential, that work was apparently very popular and widely read -- by non-Jews in particular. For their part, some Jews faulted Abrabanel for "rationalizing kabbalistic principles" and "for spending too much time on linguistic matters, such as riddles and eloquence", all apparently amounting to a "lack of ... esotericism". 7

Crescas's work, on the other hand, is reported to have influenced Nicholas of Cusa and Giordano Bruno as well as Spinoza, and, yet, it is anything but apparent that the shift away from the association of love with imperfection to the association with perfection has made love any more important as a topic for philosophical consideration. This could be a consequence of the association of love with perfection having been made in a context of religious thought, but love hardly seems to have developed as a core philosophical topic even in the philosophy of religion (although talk of love - at least frequent use of, or reference to, the term love - is common among more than just a few of the religious faithful).

One reason why an emphasis on love might not have developed in philosophy of religion is because the "rationalizing" identified with philosophy seems incapable of avoiding ending up as having discussed something other than love as it is experienced. For instance, Jean-Luc Marion has said that "We live with love as if we knew what it was about. But as soon as we try to define it, or at least approach it with concepts, it draws away from us." 8

Such a "draw[ing] away" could well explain the objections to philosophical "rationalizing" as inadequate - if not outright inappropriate - for considerations about love and its nature, and Marion's assertion about love ultimately having a "lack of definition" could well provide an explanation for why it is that not just philosophy in general but also philosophy of religion have, at best, kept love at the periphery of philosophical investigations. Philosophy seeks the definite and, so, tends to conduct itself in terms of the definite.

But, even if philosophy has become predominantly a process of analysis with a preference (actually probably more like a habit) for dealing with - or seeking out - only those matters which are readily definable or reducibly describable, even if philosophy is limited in how well it can deal with indefinite issues such as love, and even if philosophy has always been this way, that does not mean that there is not great value to be had by investigating love by means of philosophy. (In fact, it is probably only by making such a matter as love a core issue that philosophy can be rescued from the position of irrelevance in which it apparently has come to be held by most people.)

What is it that actually "draws away from us" when love is discussed or conceptualized?

Surely, it is not love itself. More likely, it is a particular feeling. After all, the most common, the most immediate experience usually referred to as "love" is an intense feeling, usually a feeling imbued with a passionate personal preference -- which itself might indicate a type of admiration, whether for beauty, talent, character, what have you. Of course, the fact of the matter is that it is only very occasionally that we experience that intense feeling which is usually taken as justifying our ascribing that feeling to love.

There is no doubt that were we to engage in a philosophical analysis of love during a time that we are intensely experiencing that feeling called "love", the feeling would surely dissipate. But, if there is any substance to love beyond that intense feeling, if love is anything other than just an occasional emotional intensity, then the only thing that actually "draws away from us" when we "approach [love] with concepts" would be our certainty that "we knew what love was about", our certainty that we know all there is to know about love and its importance.

It is very likely the case that most people think of love as pertaining predominantly (if not exclusively) to some person found to be exceptionally beloved, such as occurs in both erotic or romantic love and in friendship. It is certainly in such relationships that personal preference and personal passion are most acutely experienced. But, can love as nothing more than a personal preference - no matter how unusually intense - even conceivably be associated with notions about perfection?

Kierkegaard says that praise for love when love is considered as nothing more than personal preference - as nothing other than romantic love and friendship - belongs to the domain of "the poet" 9, and he notes that "[a]s the poet understands them, love and friendship contain no ethical task." 10 If this indeed is the case, then the love which is associated with the returning to God, with Godliness and goodness, or simply with the notion of perfection in general - with or without God - would have to be either a love entirely other than personal preferential love, or it would have to be a love which has aspects in addition to - it would have to be a love which goes beyond - the love reflective of personal preference.

Kierkegaard says that:

According to the secular or purely human point of view many different kinds of love are discernible ... With Christianity the opposite is the case. It recognizes only one kind of love, spiritual love ...

In her article, Krishek notes that for Kierkegaard,

The deepest layer and the ultimate origin of all love is God's love, which obviously transcends us but is also ... within us. Kierkegaard says little about the metaphysical character of this interesting aspect of love ... but it is clear that he takes love to be a fundamental entity (as it were): not a mere feeling ...

"There is a place in a person's
innermost being
; from this place flows the life of love" ... I suggest that we take ... the love "within us" [to be] first and foremost an elemental "power" (i.e., something essential to our human nature that drives us to act) ... Kierkegaard does not wish to elaborate on this power, on this hidden mystery. He says specifically: "in this little work we are continually dealing only with the works of love, and therefore not with God's love but with human love". Thus, while the first layer of love is God's love, which in its abiding power within us constitutes the second layer of love ... the third layer is the human
works of love
... the way in which love becomes manifested in the world. Each work enacts love and gives it shape: the hidden, primordial 'power of love' is actualized through the work of love.

Krishek also notes that Kierkegaard ends up using "'love' and 'works of love' synonymously (and therefore interchangeably)" 13 (as in the statement above when he insists on "dealing only with the works of love ... not with God's love but with human love"). He does this despite the distinctions he presents between the innate human love and the human works of love.

If it is possible for love to be a core philosophical issue, as distinguished from an exclusively religious or philosophy of religion issue, it is precisely the works of love, the manner in which love is to be best made manifest in the world which should be the philosophical concern.

Can this be accomplished? This is what I hope to investigate in forthcoming blog entries.

Continued here


1 Sharon Krishek, "The Enactment of Love by Faith: On Kierkegaard's Distinction Between Love and its Works", Faith and Philosophy, Vol. 27, No. 1, January 2010, pp. 3-21.

2 Soren Kierkegaard, Works of Love, trans. Howard and Edna Hong (New York: Harper & Row, 1962), p. 12.

3 see

4 see

5 see

6 see

7 see

8 see

9 Kierkegaard, p. 58.

10 Ibid., p. 64.

11 Ibid., p. 144.

12 Krishek, pp. 5-6.

13 Ibid., p. 4.

Ever since John McCain foisted her upon the American people, Sarah Palin has come to be regarded – rightly or wrongly, fairly or not - as more of a blurter than a thinker.

Last summer, Palin blurted her way into the middle of the national discussion concerning the legislation which had been proposed for overhauling the American health care system. Virtually without forewarning, Palin decided to bluntly, directly, and ever so publicly let the American people know an horrific truth she had realized about the health care changes that the Democrats intended to enact. She blurted:

The sick, the elderly, and the disabled … will have to stand in front of Obama’s “death panel” so his bureaucrats can decide, based on a subjective judgment of their “level of productivity in society,” whether [those sick, elderly, and disabled] are worthy of health care.

Proponents of the Democrats' plans to remake the American health care system were aghast. Most, such as political consultant Leo Jennings, simply dismissed2 Palin's remarks as “lies”. Dr. Sherwin B. Nuland, on the other hand, used a rather more circumspect tone when he reported and assured:

All of the provisions to be included in the final bill are not yet known, but one thing is certain: There is not a single statement in the voluminous number of pages under study that contains the slightest consideration, no matter its remoteness, of death panels, euthanasia, or any such fearsome concept.

In like manner, the Pulitzer Prize winning web site, PolitiFact4, assures everyone that, were Palin's pronouncement true, then they would

agree with Palin that such a system would be evil … We have read all 1,000-plus pages of the Democratic bill and examined versions in various committees. There is no panel in any version of the health care bills in Congress that judges a person's “level of productivity in society” to determine whether they are “worthy” of health care.

Nuland also picked up on the the morality matter inserted by Palin and noted by PolitiFact when he said:

At times, morality can be dismissed as a matter of personal conscience, no matter how widespread its acceptance. Ethics, on the other hand, arises from societal or group commitments to principia of behavior. A formulated code of ethical precepts--whether philosophical, legal, or religious--is a statement of commitment that the group has a right to insist upon from its members, even to the point of punishing breaches.

While Nuland's remark might be taken as displaying a fairly quick willingness to dismiss morality and personal conscience in favor of societal ethics, PolitiFact - being apparently less ready to accept even the possibility that the denial of medical treatments should ever be part of the “principia of behavior” - delves more deeply into the claim that health care judgments would or could be based upon “whether [certain patients] are worthy of health care.”

Although Palin's blurt most definitely did not make mention of the Comparative Effectiveness Research aspects of the health care legislation, for some reason PolitiFact wonders if Palin's remark were based upon her having “jumped to conclusions about the Obama administration's efforts to promote comparative effectiveness research.”And, just as quickly as it wonders about those hypothesized “jumped to conclusions”, PolitiFact proclaims that

Such research has nothing to do with evaluating patients for "worthiness." Rather, comparative effectiveness research finds out which treatments work better than others.

PolitiFact is correct that none of the health care legislation versions ever casts Comparative Effectiveness Research in terms of patient “worthiness”. And we can be sure that none of this sort of research is explicitly based upon the concept of patient “worthiness”, nor need it explicitly conclude with determinations of patient “worthiness”.

However, the fact of the matter is that Comparative Effectiveness Research most definitely is not limited to “find[ing] out which treatments work better than others.”

PolitiFact tries to make it appear that President Obama “and his budget director Peter Orszag” share the understanding about Comparative Effectiveness Research as put forth by PolitiFact wherein this research is intended

to make it easier for doctors, health care workers, insurance companies and patients to find out which treatments are the most effective, as determined by clinical studies and other research.

Putting aside for the moment the matter of just what “other research” in addition to “clinical studies” could conceivably be necessary or even helpful in determining “which treatments are the most effective”, it could well be that President Obama actually does equate Comparative Effectiveness Research with comparative clinical or therapeutic effectiveness research, but we have very good reason to believe that Peter Orszag's interest in what gets compared extends well beyond merely clinical matters.

Back in 2007, when Orszag was its Director, the Congressional Budget Office put out a paper5 about Comparative Effectiveness Research. In the very first sentence of the preface to that paper, Orszag says:

Rising costs for health care represent a central challenge both for the federal government and the private sector, but opportunities may exist to constrain costs in both sectors without adverse health consequences.

There is absolutely nothing in that statement which is in the least bit controversial. However, what that statement does make plainly clear from the very beginning is that, in a paper about Comparative Effectiveness Research, it is not only clinical effectiveness which is at issue or which will be considered. Even so, there would appear to be some comfort to be had from the indication of an interest not in cost containment alone but, rather, in cost containment “without adverse health consequences.”

The problem is that within a few short sentences the notion of “without adverse health consequences” begins to metamorphose. In that very same opening paragraph, Orszag says:

only a limited amount of evidence is available about which treatments work best for which patients and whether the added benefits of more-effective but more-expensive services are sufficient to warrant their added costs … generating better information about costs and benefits of different treatment options – through research on the comparative effectiveness of those options – could help reduce health care spending without adversely affecting health overall.

The first point to note is that according to Peter Orszag, President Obama's current budget director, Comparative Effectiveness Research need not be limited in scope to mere clinical effectiveness. This means that the PolitiFact assertion that this research is intended “to make it easier for doctors ... and patients to find out which treatments are the most effective” is neither necessarily nor obviously true inasmuch as that PolitiFact assertion is - at the very least - imprecise.

In fact, owing to its imprecision, the PolitiFact statement is, or can be, in effect, quite misleading – even if not intentionally so - certainly inasmuch as PolitiFact presents its conclusions without having taken explicit account of the fact that there can be a difference between comparative clinical effectiveness research and comparative cost effectiveness research, both of which can be components of - or combined as - Comparative Effectiveness Research.

It is certainly desirable for physicians making clinical judgments to have at their disposal information about which seem to be the most effective treatments for a given condition. Who would want it any other way? Who could possibly insist that it is in the best interest of patients for them to have physicians who are unaware of which are the most effective treatments?

What is not so clearly desirable is having physicians include cost-effectiveness information as part of their clinical judgment. Who would want a physician, after having determined what is likely to be the most clinically effective treatment, to then take account of cost, and then decide that because of cost he would present some other therapy as the most effective, the most clinically effective? Who could possibly insist that such a judgment has as its ultimate interest the health of the patient?

When Orszag says that Comparative Effectiveness Research might determine “whether the added benefits of more-effective but more-expensive services are sufficient to warrant their added costs”, can it reasonably be asserted that the ultimate interest of such research is the health of the patient? If the focus or the goal of such research is something other than the health of the patient, then just how useful, just how appropriate, just how relevant is such research to the clinician whose interest is supposed to be the health of the patient for whom he is caring?

To be continued ...


1 see

2 see

3 see

4 see

5 Research on the Comparative Effectiveness of Medical Treatments: Issues and Options for an Expanded Federal Role; see

On the Cosmological Argument, Part 5

Continued from


The Nature of Possibilities

Traditionally, possibilities are regarded as abstract things, where “abstract” is supposed to be a contrast to “physical”. Where “physical” by definition indicates the space-time context, the possibilities which constitute the singularity (the apparent first context) would, of course, not be physical. However, if there are possibilities which are somehow mind-independently constituent of the physical (context), then it hardly makes sense to insist that possibilities are always and everywhere abstract (where “abstract” indicates “non-physical”).

Are there mind-independent possibilities constituent of the physical?

Possibilities can well be constituent of the physical even if they are not – or might not ever be – constituent of physics, a study of the physical context formalized generally around the notion that “if you can't measure it, then it doesn't exist”20, or, at the very least, if it is not measurable, then it is not an issue with which physics is concerned, which is to say that, if it is not measurable, then it is a matter which physics ignores.

Of course, probabilities are intended to be a sort of possibilities measurement, but such probabilities fall within the physics domain as described above only when the initial state basis for the probability calculation is itself a measurable – meaning at least a presumably fully determinate - initial state.

Be that as it may, there are ways to begin considerations into the nature of the possibilities as constituent of the physical, even if these considerations do not fall within the arbitrarily restricted and resultant narrow bounds of formalized physics.

According to some quite conventional contemporary scientific (or science-based) cosmologies, regardless of whether such cosmologies are aspects of physics or of philosophy or whether they are science-philosophy hybrids, events are supposed to pertain to things or locations within space-time21, 22. Smith identifies or equates each event with “being a point” within space-time, but Smith may well be mistaken here, because, even if an inescapable - a necessary - characteristic of an event were that it has location within space-time, the fact is that an event is most commonly regarded as having some dimensionality within the physical context – meaning some space-time duration, but a point has no such dimensionality.

Based on previous parts of this discussion, if there were any events which are space-time points, then those events could well be akin to the possibilities constituent of the singularity inasmuch as events, via the non-dimensionality of these events, would be abstract things. If there were no way of distinguishing events and points, and if it were the case that, as Smith says, the “universe is … the set of events, each event being a point in a 4-dimensional space-time continuum”, then the universe is at its most basic level a set of abstract things.

In that case, not only would the source of the universe – the singularity – be a non-physical thing constituted by non-physical things (possibilities), but the universe itself would at its most basic level also be constituted by non-physical things.

But, if that is the case, then any distinction between the physical and the non-physical – if there is such an invariantly valid distinction - would have to rest with something that differentiates space-time points from events.

If events are not points, if events instead have some space-time dimensionality, some space-time duration or extension, and if the universe, the physical context, really were a sequential totality of all events with space-time dimensions, then, perhaps, the universe would not be actually or genuinely constituted at its most basic level by abstract things.


There could still be sensible reference to “points” as abstract (which is to say dimensionless and therefore non-physical) things, and these particular abstract things, these points, could even be distinguished from the presumably mind-independent abstract things such as the singularity or the possibilities constituent of the singularity. These dimensionless points within space-time could be concepts, which is to say that these points described as being within space-time would be mind-dependent abstract things.

In contradistinction to dimensionless points, events with space-time extensiveness would not necessarily be either abstract things or mind-dependent. However, realizing events as having space-time dimensionality in order for there to be a way out of having to conclude that the universe is constituted at its most basic level by mind-independent abstract things, depends on other factors pertaining to the nature of events.

To this point we have events as things which occur within space-time and which exhibit duration, extension, or dimensionality within space-time. This still leaves us with having to distinguish between events, and, in order to avoid having the universe constituted of mind-independent abstract things, the distinction between events would have to have some sort of mind-independent basis. This is to say that events – and the distinctions between events - would have to be something other than mere concepts.

We certainly conceive of events, but, just because we conceive of – or think in terms of – events, that does not mean that events are mere conceptions or concepts, abstract things or even always only mind-dependent. Nonetheless, in order for an event to be mind-independent, whatever is the basis we use to (conceptually) distinguish between events – which is to say whatever it is that defines or delimits events – has to be something about the universe which is mind-independent.

At first blush, the identification of an event as something having an extension within space-time suggests that an event need have both beginning and end. However, since (as discussed earlier) some cosmologies hold to there being no actual (singular) beginning to space-time, if space-time is the sequential totality of all events (having space-time extension), then at least some event(s) can be without beginning. This would then suggest that, regardless of whether or not a particular event has a beginning, each event must have a terminus in order to be identifiable as an event (as distinguished, at least semantically, from a process which need not similarly have an end).

How, then, is the terminus which delimits an event to be identified and characterized?

An event is most often defined by - its terminus is most often identified with – there being alternatives for what sequentially follows. This is to say that an event ends with there being alternative possibilities for what follows. (There might be sequences which end without there being any possibility for anything else to sequentially follow; this is to say that there might be sequences which terminate. Alternatively, and speaking in a more temporal fashion, given that events have space-time extension, events could be dynamic event-courses or event-segments or segment-courses or sequence-segments delimited either according to the possibilities for subsequent sequence alternatives or by an end without any possible following sequence. In either case, a termination to sequence possibilities does not preclude there being in the sequence possibilities which are event-termini.)

This is to say that events are defined, delimited, or characterized in terms of possibilities, and this, in turn, means that, in order for events to be mind-independent, possibilities must be mind-independent. This is to further say that mind-independent possibilities are not only the source of space-time, but mind-independent possibilities also constitute the physical, the universe, at its most basic level, regardless of whether events are abstract, dimensionless and, therefore, non-physical points or whether events are extended and exhibit space-time dimensionality. The “laws of physics” seem to provide a good description of regularities within space-time, but these descriptions, these “laws”, do not depend on an utter absence of mind-independent possibilities.

Of course, mind-independent possibilities and, thereby, events can be correctly denied if space-time is not at all constituted by mind-independent possibilities. In that case, space-time, the universe, would be wholly determinate and in that way distinct from its source, the singularity.

On the other hand, if mind-independent possibilities are constituent of space-time, then, even though there are no “laws of physics” that “connect the singularity to” the universe, there would seem to be at least mind-independent possibilities to connect the singularity to the manifest universe. Indeed, such possibilities need not just connect the singularity and the universe; such possibilities could be expected to persist into the universe. But, in any event, if there are possibilities constituent of space-time, the contrast between the physical and the abstract is not so great as conventional science would (like to) have it.

With regards to the Cosmological Argument and God, Robert C. Koons says, as has been previously noted, that “the result of the cosmological argument is quite useful to the project of natural theology”, but, in the case of the Cosmological Argument as discussed here, this means that whatever are the additional arguments necessary to make the case for theism, those arguments would seem to have to be related to the possibilities here discussed in terms of being mind-independent.

Does such mind-independence preclude there being God? No. But what has here been rendered as mind-independent possibilities can significantly affect the characteristics of the God which could be supported by other arguments for theism.


20 Casti, John L., 1989, Paradigm Lost, New York: William Morrow and Company, p. 463.

21 See

22 Smith, Quentin, “The Uncaused Beginning of the Universe”, Philosophy of Science (1988), Vol. 55, No. 1, pp. 39-57; also available at

On the Cosmological Argument, Part 4

Continued from


The Cosmology of Stephen Hawking

As discussed previously, the Hawking-Penrose theorems appear to be wholly compatible with there being a first context as per the Cosmological Argument, but Hawking's imaginary time-based “no boundary” condition for the space-time universe would seem to effectively do away with the Hawking-Penrose singularity which is something other than – or outside – the universe and is, thereby, consistent with the Cosmological Argument notion for a first context other than the universe itself.

The imaginary time, no boundary condition still posits a beginning to the space-time universe, but that beginning would seem to be a coming to be without there being any context other than the universe itself. Such a sort of beginning would effectively eviscerate the Cosmological Argument, because this type of beginning would have the universe as not only uncaused but also as coming to be without there being a sequentially prior context.

In fact, Stephen Hawking and James Hartle, authors of the Hartle-Hawking unconditional probability wave-function for the universe, have gone so far as to claim that, based on their model, the universe appeared uncaused and from nothing.

As it turns out, however, Hartle-Hawking does not appear to be consistent with that conclusion put forth by both Hartle and Hawking.

This is to say that even in light of Hartle-Hawking, the Cosmological Argument apparently succeeds. There is a first context in which the universe begins or comes to be. Furthermore, Hartle-Hawking provides a basis for describing or depicting something about at least one characteristic of this first context.

A brief foray into what has been be referred to as the Hartle-Hawking unconditional probability wave-function for the universe along with some consideration about the nature of events suggests an essential characteristic regarding the first contextinto which (or from which) the universe appeared. What is particularly interesting is that this characteristic of the Cosmological Argument first context might also be more substantially an aspect of space-time than the most conventional understandings about science can – or are willing to - accommodate.

According to Hartle-Hawking, there is a non-zero probability that the universe (space-time) came to be out of nothing. The problem with this claim is that it pertains as much to the nature of probabilities as it does to the alleged nature of the coming to be of the universe. All probabilities are possibilities, and, by their very nature, probabilities depend upon some sequentially prior state, condition, or context in order to provide for sequentially subsequent possibilities put forth in terms of probability. This is to say that the very claim of there being nothing prior makes the probability claim seem not only extremely dubious but even incoherent.

Much the same point is made by Graham Oppy14, who also quotes Hartle and Hawking as saying:

One can interpret the functional integral over all compact four geometries bounded by a given three geometry as giving the amplitude for that three-geometry to arise from a zero three-geometry, i.e. a single point. In other words, the ground state is the amplitude for the Universe to appear from nothing.

To this Hartle-Hawking claim, Oppy responds quite correctly, saying, “a single point is not nothing”. Quentin Smith seeks to counter Oppy by saying, in effect, that, this “single point” is most appropriately regarded as among the “timeless abstract objects ('mathematical spaces') rather than physical existents”15. Smith notes that in an attempt to rectify the problem of having apparently identified the single point with “nothing”, Hartle has subsequently written that “the 'nothing' is not realized as a physical state”, and Smith says that Hartle's and Hawking's “misleading statement about nothing being a physical state, a 'single point' should be omitted.” According to Smith, “Hawking also recently emphasizes that the universe 'would quite literally [come to exist] out of nothing: not just out of the vacuum, but out of absolutely nothing at all, because there is nothing outside the universe.'”

The fact is, however, that omitting Hartle's and Hawking's reference to “a single point” is not sufficient to produce a justification for the claim that the universe appears from “nothing”. All that Hartle and Hawking have done is insist: 1) that anything which “is not realized in a physical state” is “nothing”, and 2) that there are no physical states other than those which constitute the universe, but this still leaves the Hartle-Hawking model dependent upon an initial something – even if it is a strictly non-physical something - in order for there to be any non-zero probability at all.

Smith says that this initial something is an abstract something; Smith would likely call it an “abstract object”. Yet, the only way that such abstract things can be not just Hartle's “nothing” but also Hawking's “absolutely nothing” is via the notion that only physical states (and/or their constituents) are things. One could then quite correctly say that the Hartle-Hawking model itself is based on “absolutely nothing”, but the most correct expression of the conclusion that Hartle and Hawking could actually derive from their model (assuming that model is adequate and accurate) would be the statement that the universe comes to exist from no other, or no prior, physical state or physical thing.

Hartle-Hawking provides no reason to deny that the universe follows from the Hawking-Penrose singularity even if Hartle-Hawking provides some (even if merely a semantic) basis for saying that there is “no physical law that … connect the singularity to” the universe16. Accordingly, it may well be that the supposed nature of the singularity might provide some indication about just what characteristics can be expected of the thing upon which the Hartle-Hawking model is based.

As noted previously, the singularity can well be regarded as the intersection of “every past-directed spacetime path”; however, this intersection is only approached asymptotically17 via such a space-time regress inasmuch as the singularity, in addition to being this intersection, is also devoid of the laws of physics which constitute or describe space-time.

According to Hawking18, the singularity represents an actual break-down of “the classical concepts of space and time” which is to say the “laws of physics”; this break-down is regarded as mind-independently actual, because, as put forth, it is not a conceptual limitation resulting from ignorance. This means that, in essence, there are no restrictions on what can follow from the singularity19 and this is to say that the singularity is most correctly characterized as constituted by possibilities that are presumed to be mind-independent.

'On the Cosmological Argument' concludes with Part 5, 'The Nature of Possibilities'


14 Oppy, Graham, “On Some Alleged Consequences of 'The Hartle-Hawking Cosmology'”, Sophia, 36 (1997), 1, pp. 84-95; also available at

15 Smith, Quentin, “Why Stephen Hawking's Cosmology Precludes a Creator”, Philo, Volume 1, No. 1, 1998, pp. 75-94; also available at

16 Smith, Quentin, “Atheism, Theism, and Big Bang Cosmology”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, March 1991, Volume 69, No. 1, pp. 48-66; also available at

17 See

18 As noted by Smith in “Atheism, Theism, and Big Bang Cosmology”.

19 Smith, Quentin, “The Uncaused Beginning of the Universe”, Philosophy of Science (1988), Vol. 55, No. 1, pp. 39-57; also available at

On the Cosmological Argument, Part 3

Continued from


Causes and Contexts

Putting aside the issue of atemporal eternalism, at least for the moment and certainly for the sake of simplicity of expression, there is the matter pertaining to the Cosmological Argument regarding whether, despite there being a beginning as already discussed, any things come to be without being caused (or, to put it somewhat more atemporally this one time, whether things come into sequence without being in some way linked to anything which is sequentially prior).

In the paper, “A Big Bang Cosmological Argument for God's Nonexistence”6, Quentin Smith reports that “quantum mechanics has shown that many particles (virtual particles) begin to exist without being caused to do so.” Mark Vuletic, on the other hand, has described7 virtual particles as deriving “from uncertainties in energy”.

For the purposes of this discussion, it does not matter at all whether Smith's rendition regarding virtual particles as uncaused is in any sense correct.

After all, there is an entirely separate, more generally philosophical issue which pertains to the same matter of whether there is ever anything which comes to be without being caused, and that philosophical issue has to do with what is most commonly discussed in terms of whether there is such a thing as human “free will” (that discussion is actually more appropriately conducted in terms of the nature of “choice” as distinguished from “will”, but that distinction will not be taken up in this series).

A point of contention regarding this free will pertains to whether the claim that there is human free will amounts to a claim for breaks in a reality presumed to be (or commonly described as being) a wholly, uninterrupted causal, virtually mechanical sequence. If the human will manifests without having been wholly caused, then that manifestation would indicate the coming to be of something that is not caused, where “caused” is understood as indicating being entirely caused or wholly (pre)determined.

Of course, those who deny that human choice is wholly (pre)determined need not - and do not - deny that other things affect choice. In effect, other things are factors relevant to choice, and this is to say that, regardless of whether or not a choice is uncaused inasmuch as it is a break in an otherwise utterly causal or (pre)determined sequence, a choice is a thing which occurs within a context.

Likewise, whether or not the virtual particles referred to by Smith are uncaused, they, too, occur within a context.

From this it follows that, in terms of the Cosmological Argument, the uncaused first thing need not be the only uncaused thing in order for the argument to be successful. However, this uncaused first thing would differ from other uncaused things in that the first thing is in no way dependent on a context other than itself.

Accordingly, if it were the case that causes are nothing other than concepts, if causes are nothing other than mind-dependent things, if causes are mere products of minds used to describe the links between or the sequence of presumably mind-independent things, then what the Cosmological Argument points to instead of a first cause can be said to be a first context, a beginning context.

The Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy article on the Cosmological Argument8 summarizes a position apparently held by theoretical physicist, Stephen Hawking, which is relevant to the Cosmological Argument. That Stanford article notes that according to Hawking, “the finite universe has no space-time boundaries and hence lacks singularity and a beginning”.

On the face of it, this statement would seem to stand in direct and utter opposition to the Cosmological Argument notion that there is a beginning – what has to this point been put forth in terms of the beginning as a first context.

Then again, that statement would also seem to indicate that Hawking was denying that singularity which is so much a part of modern scientific cosmology, but he is, in fact, doing no such thing. Hawking's position as represented in the Stanford article is heavily dependent on distinctions between “imaginary time” and “real time”9 as well as on semantic distinctions such as explicated by Quentin Smith:

The universe is standardly defined as the set of events, each event being a point in a 4-dimensional space-time continuum ... But the singularity … is not in a 3-d space; it is in a space either of 0 dimensions (if it is just one point), 1 dimension (if it is a series of points constituting a line or line segment) or 2 dimensions (if it is a series of points comprising a surface-like space). Accordingly, the singularity … is not a part of the universe and
a fortiori
not the earliest part of the universe. Rather it is a
of the universe.

In other words, where the universe is space-time, the singularity is not part of that space-time; therefore, the singularity is not part of the space-time universe. Hence, this is one sense in which the universe “lacks singularity”.

Of course, being apart from the universe, the singularity as “source of the universe” is perfectly in keeping with the Cosmological Argument, even if that source is in some sense not the beginning of the universe.

How can a source not be a beginning?

One way in which it might be arguable that this source is not a beginning is by defining “beginning” so that it only has reference to space-time (where space-time entails the universe and all physical laws that are ever operative therein or descriptive thereof).

Since the singularity is not part of space-time, and since the laws operative within or descriptive of space-time are apparently absent from or inapplicable to the singularity, the singularity cannot be referred to as being within or as being part of space-time. Hence, the source which is the singularity is not a space-time beginning.

But, again, even with acceptance of this sense of “beginning”, the first context which is the ultimate focus of the Cosmological Argument remains in place as something other than the space-time universe itself.

In addition, this first context is a beginning context for all other in sequence contexts so long as the other contexts and the things in those contexts are at all dependent upon that first context. And, since

[t]he solutions for the Hawking-Penrose theorems show, as Hawking notes, that “in the general case there will be a curvature singularity that will intersect every world line ...”

which is to say that

[t]he solutions for the Hawking-Penrose theorems … show that there is a singularity that intersects every past-directed spacetime path

it is quite clear that there is nothing about the Hawking position (at least as encapsulated by Hawking-Penrose) which contradicts – or is even slightly incompatible with - the first context as put forth by the Cosmological Argument.

But, what about the case of Hawking's “imaginary time” with which there “are no singularities”? Does that dispense with the first context as put forth by the Cosmological Argument?

The first thing to note is that, according to Hawking, with the “'no boundary' proposal” the

universe starts ... as a single point ... expanding with imaginary time ... to a maximum size ... and would [then] contract with increasing imaginary time to a single point. Even though the universe would have zero size at … these points … these points would not be singularities [inasmuch as] … The laws of science will hold at them.

Since, again according to Hawking13, there is no end-point which is or leads to the start of the sequence, there is at least a beginning (in the sense of a start) to the universe.

However, inasmuch as a beginning is a coming to be, what would then seem most pertinent to the Cosmological Argument is whether there has to be a First Context which is other than the (beginning of the) universe. This issue will be taken up with a consideration of the Hartle-Hawking theory.

Part 4 of 'On the Cosmological Argument' discusses more about 'The Cosmology of Stephen Hawking'


6 Smith, Quentin, “A Big Bang Cosmological Argument for God's Nonexistence”, Faith and Philosophy, April 1992, Volume 9, No. 2, pp. 217-237; also available at .

7 See .

8 See

9 The discussion here need not delve into Hawking's own distinctions between “imaginary time” and “real time” according to which it is only in reference to “imaginary time” that “there are no singularities or boundaries”. There is no need for this discussion because, as the subsequent discussion in this part indicates, even with the “no boundary” proposal, there actually is a beginning to the space-time universe.

10 Smith, Quentin, “The Uncaused Beginning of the Universe”, Philosophy of Science (1988), Vol. 55, No. 1, pp. 39-57; also available at

11 Smith, Quentin, “Atheism, Theism, and Big Bang Cosmology”, Australasian Journal of Philosophy, March 1991, Volume 69, No. 1, pp. 48-66; also available at

12 Hawking, Stephen, 1996, A Brief History of Time, New York: Bantam Books, pp. 142-143.

13 Ibid., p. 154.

On the Cosmological Argument, Part 2

Continued from


The Natures of Beginning and the Infinite

According to the Cosmological Argument, no thing comes to be without being caused by - or without being dependent on - some other thing(s), and this apparently rather innocuous understanding immediately leads to the considerations regarding whether there is such a thing as a beginning to the process of dependent things coming to be.

If there is such a beginning, then that beginning would only be a beginning if it were not dependent on any other things such that this beginning thing would be rightly described in terms of being without having come to be; it could, in a sense, be rightly described as having always been inasmuch as it is actual without ever having come to be.

In terms of causes, if all things which come to be do so only by being caused, then the beginning thing is properly described as being uncaused inasmuch as it is without having come to be. The beginning thing is the first thing; in terms of causes, it is the first cause, and it is an uncaused cause.

One objection to the argument regards whether there is any reason for thinking that there is a beginning, a first cause for all that comes to be.

What has come to be called the Kalam version of the Cosmological Argument attempts to overcome the possibility of a beginning-less infinite regress of caused things by presenting a case for why there is and can be no thing which is actually (as distinguished from potentially or merely conceptually) infinite.

In the case of the Kalam argument, what is being claimed is that it is time which is not infinite. This is to say that the Kalam argument is a temporal argument, but there is also what has been described as an atemporal aspect to the Cosmological Argument, a version of the argument which might succeed both in the case of there being no such thing as an actually infinite and in the case of there being some thing actually infinite. It just so happens that this atemporal version of the Cosmological Argument might also go a long way towards dealing with relatively modern (and purportedly scientifically based) objections against the notion that anything which comes to be only comes to be by having been caused.

However, since the Cosmological Argument initiates from the observation of things having come to be by being caused, and since the notion of things coming to be most naturally suggests a passage of time, it might at first seem as though the Cosmological Argument can only be a temporal argument. There is, however, a quite old philosophical tradition commonly called “eternalism” which has more recently been thought of as having garnered scientific support from relativity theory from which it follows that, according to Hermann Weyl, the totality of all events

, it does not

Or, to quote Einstein:

For those of us who are convinced physicists, the distinction between past, present, and future has no other meaning than that of an illusion ...

This is to say that according to eternalism the coming to be of things is a seeming or a mere appearance essentially born from the mistake of thinking about time as if it were separate from space. In accord with contemporary science, time is regarded to be just as much a physical thing – just as much a matter of physics - as is space, and time is effectively proposed as ultimately inseparable from space (or length, width, and depth) so that both time and space are most completely and accurately presented when discussed in terms of “space-time” rather than in terms of either just time or just space.

Basically, then, eternalism is atemporal in that the totality of all does not accumulate as a result of things coming to be or over time; rather than coming to be, the totality “simply is, it does not happen.” In effect, this is to say that, taking into account the time aspect for any constituent component of the totality, the totality of all time and space is never absent (even if parts are inaccessible) nor is totality incomplete.

The thing about this allegedly atemporal totality is that, even if it is a presumed to be an actual infinite, it is still regarded as ordered - which is to say that it exhibits sequence, even if that sequence is atemporal inasmuch as the sequence is never a matter of coming to be. So long as the sequence of totality does not lead to (or end at) its beginning, then this infinite could have an actual rather than an arbitrary beginning.

The point here that is relevant to the Cosmological Argument is that even if time (or space-time) were infinite, this condition in itself does not preclude there being a beginning to the ordering or the sequence of the infinite.

And, this would mean that, with the Cosmological Argument broadly understood as arguing that there is a beginning, a first something, then the only way of relying upon an actual infinite as a means of dispensing with the Cosmological Argument is to deny that the actual infinite is ordered or to deny that the end of the ordering does not lead to the beginning.

Of course, regardless of whether or not the first thing frequently referred to in the Cosmological Argument as the First Cause is itself actually a cause of the rest of the sequence which is the supposedly infinite totality, it would seem to be an inescapable conclusion that the first thing is uncaused.

However, a potential problem for the Cosmological Argument rests in the possibility noted earlier in this part that modern science may give reason to believe that not everything which comes to be does so by having been caused. If there are uncaused things which come to be, then would it be sensible to assert that the First Cause actually causes the rest of the sequence which is the totality of all that ever is?

Part 3 of 'On the Cosmological Argument' will take up the matter of 'Causes and Contexts'


5 The Weyl and Einstein quotes are cited in “Quantum Theory and Our View of the World”, by Paul Feyerabend, published in Physics and Our Views of the World, Jan Hilgevoord, ed., Cambridge University Press, 1994.

On the Cosmological Argument, Part 11

Introduction and The Nature of Contingencies

Back in 1994, Quentin Smith reported2 that world-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking had “recently argued that there is 'no place for a creator', that God does not exist.”

Has Hawking ever so explicitly denied God? Or, is this Smith's own interpretation – possibly a misinterpretation - of what Hawking wrote?

Regardless, even if Hawking has explicitly “argued that … God does not exist”, is this denial supposed to be a fact of science? Or, is this yet another example of the hopelessly tiresome scientism which itself amounts to nothing more than a combined pseudo-scientific and pseudo-philosophical adulation for what the fawning scientism-ists allege to be the most rational and most productive of all disciplines, that field of endeavor called “science”?

The fact of the matter is that there is at least one philosophical argument commonly taken as being necessary for there to be a God which both science and scientism are yet to overcome – even in light of Hawking's work. That argument is the Cosmological Argument.

The Cosmological Argument in any of its forms3 is most often regarded as an argument in support of there having been a First Cause for all that was, is, and ever will be. Of course, it is in the very nature of being a first cause to be also uncaused. Being both first and uncaused, this First Cause seems especially suitable for what are taken to be some very basic notions about the God of Western theisms in particular, and this explains why, as an historical matter, the Cosmological Argument has come to be regarded primarily as an attempt at establishing the mind-independent reality or existence, the actuality of God.

Despite the now prevalent way of thinking about it as an argument for the existence of God, a successful Cosmological Argument, as conventionally explicated, goes no further than to demonstrate the need, the necessity for there having been what is most frequently referred to as a First Cause.

Of this First Cause, one may be inclined to say, “and this we call God”, but, since it goes no further than to establish a First Cause, the Cosmological Argument in and of itself does not establish the fact of existence for either a theistic or even a deistic God.

As Robert C. Koons notes in “A New Look at the Cosmological Argument”4:

Demonstrating the existence of a First Cause is of course not the same thing as demonstrating the existence of God as conceived, for example, in biblical theology. Nonetheless, the result of the cosmological argument is quite useful to the project of natural theology, providing very helpful support to a number of important arguments for theism.

What Koons refers to as the “result” of the Cosmological Argument is likely ordinarily identified with the conclusion of the argument. This identification of result with conclusion, the interchangeability of “result” and “conclusion”, would certainly be wholly appropriate were it the case that the entire content of the argument provided no basis whatsoever for objection or doubt.

It turns out, however, that there have been objections to the Cosmological Argument. Accordingly, the “result” of the Cosmological Argument is something other than, something broader than the conclusion, because, even if the argument succeeds despite any and all objections, the objections and the manner in which they are overcome serve to produce content or results in addition not only to the conclusion but also the premises.

This content or these additional results are important inasmuch as they become relevant to any and all other arguments which in any way rely upon or refer to the conclusion of a Cosmological Argument. In effect, the additional results or content born of overcome objections explicate or define the conclusion.

All forms of the Cosmological Argument proceed from the fact that something – whether the world, the universe, experience, what have you – is or exists, and the differences in the forms of this argument arise from differences in the manners employed for characterizing this something which is or exists.

In general, the most common forms of the Cosmological Argument concentrate on either the notion of causal qualities or the notion of contingency or some combination of both. All forms of the argument conclude with either an uncaused cause or something otherwise non-contingent as necessary to either the description or explanation for all that is, ever has been, or ever will be.

Accordingly, the objections to the Cosmological Argument pertain to the characterization of causality (including whether causes are mind-independent facts as distinguished from mind-generated concepts) as well as to the nature of contingency (and, thereby, certain versions of necessity). As a consequence of such objections, some versions of the Cosmological Argument also involve considerations about the nature of infinity.

In any event, it is clearly the case that the “result” of the Cosmological Argument involves more than just its conclusion regardless of the form of argument employed. As the assorted objections to the argument(s) make clear, the Cosmological Argument pertains not just to the conclusion of an uncaused cause or the necessity of an origin for reality other than the universe itself. Rather, the “result” of the Cosmological Argument – and, hence, the argument itself – primarily regards the most basic characteristics of the universe: cause and effect as well as contingency and necessity. This is to say that, in the case of a successful argument, the “results” go beyond the fact of the First Cause to indicate characteristics of this uncaused necessity which should, in turn, be taken into account by whatever are the other “important arguments for theism” which Koons has in mind.

The Cosmological Argument proceeds from the observation (or interpretation) that all things which come to be do so as the result (or as the effect) of having been caused by some other things. All caused things are regarded as being contingent at least inasmuch as their having come to be is dependent on other things.

Sometimes this contingency is expanded and described in terms of it being in some way possible that the caused things might not have come to be (or might not have come to be precisely as they are). This is to say that, in addition to a dependency for having come to be, contingency can also indicate the possibility of alternatives to the things which have come to be.

But, even with this type of contingency, all caused things remain dependent on other things in order for those caused things to have come to be.

It is not yet established that possible alternatives are themselves things that come to be without being dependent on some mind(s); this is to say that it is not yet established that possibilities are mind-independent things as distinguished from merely mind-dependent conceptions or conceivabilities. Since the Cosmological Argument, to be as broadly successful as possible, cannot – and, indeed, does not - presume that caused things are all dependent on minds, the contingency within the argument is, at least initially, most properly regarded in terms of dependency rather than in terms of alternatives.

At its most basic, contingency indicates dependence.

Part 2 of 'On the Cosmological Argument' will consider 'The Natures of Beginning and the Infinite'


1 This series of five blogs on the Cosmological Argument was born out of a forum discussion which can be found at , and these blogs are an example of one purpose of The Galilean Library: Providing an area for further development of the thoughts stimulated by the information and challenging interactions that come of participation in the discussion forum.

2 Smith, Quentin, “Stephen Hawking's Cosmology and Theism”, Analysis, Volume 54, No. 4, pp. 236-243; also available at .

3 See

4 See