Saturday, June 12, 2010

Ockham Quodlibet I.8

The question asks whether angels can be moved in a vacuum. Before deciding this, Ockham very sensibly says, we must first determine if a vacuum can exist. He says that it can. For imagine that God should annihilate or uncreate the Earth, while conserving everything in the heavens the way they are. Then there would be nothing where the Earth used to be, and then there would be a vacuum.

If you were to insist that natural laws would require an inrushing of stuff into the void in order to full and thus eliminate the vacuum, Ockham says that so long as this doesn't happen instantaneously (and motion never occurs instantaneously), there would be some period of time however short in which a vacuum was present.

So, given that there can be a vacuum, angels can move in it. There are some additional complications thrown into the question, of course, but they're not to thrilling. The next question is about the composition of the continuum and that should be more interesting.

1 comment:

Ocham said...

I've been reading Walter Burley this week - want to understand how his work is related to that of the early Scotus. Then stumbled on his view of Ockham, which was not very complimentary. He thought of Ockham as a real second rate philosopher/logician.

On the argument here, why couldn't everything stay is it is, but there be no 'where' the earth is? I suppose the laws of geometry could still apply, but couldn't it be that if you fell into the North Pole, you would fall straight out of the South Pole? Or have the bottom half of your body sticking out of the South Pole, with the rest of the North? I suppose that would screw up the laws of geometry. Yes it would. Suppose there was a huge iron band around the perimeter of the earth, and then you destroy the earth. If you could also destroy the space inside it, then it would still be 25,000 miles to go round the band, but every part of the band would touch the diametrically opposite part. Contradiction.

That is a long-winded way of saying: Ockham was right. Therefore Burley was wrong.