Thomas Aquinas is famous for having made 5 arguments for the existence of God. The weirdest of them is arguably the Argument from Degrees.

To illustrate his point, he claimed, if I correctly understand him, that fire is a maximally hot thing and that fire is also the cause of all heat. What does he mean by that? How can possibly fire be maximally hot when obviously not all fires are equally hot? Some fires can melt steel, while others cannot. And obviously fire is not the cause of all heat as heat can be generated by friction.

Not to mention that we now know that a maximally hot thing, having the Planck Temperature, doesn't exist and has never existed in our universe. And that most of the heat in our universe comes from stars, which aren't fire. And that the centres of stars are way hotter than any fire. But Thomas Aquinas arguably couldn't have known those things.

  • One thing to keep in mind is that they used to think that lightning was a kind of fire (e.g. Dante, in the Paradiso, has lightning bolts as effluence from a Sphere of Fire). So Aquinas might be styled as unwittingly thinking something closer to truth than he otherwise sounds like (as if, by comparison, he had accidentally theorized that water was reducible to a combination of two more basic substances, or then per something like an epistemically lucky analytic a posteriori comprehension of water). Jun 24 at 0:15


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