The exercise I am doing is as follows: enter image description here enter image description here

The following are my questions:

  1. Why the exercise says that Samuel Clarke's argument "allow for the possibility of causal chains with no beginning"?

  2. I reconstruct Samuel Clarke's argument. Is there something wrong or missing?

(1) [Premise] Every object has an explanation for its existence.

(2) [Premise] All natural objects are dependent, and these objects can only exist if they are caused to exist by something else.

(3) [Definition] Nature is a totality which includes every natural object.

(4) [From (3)] Nature is an object.

(5) [From (1)] There is an explanation for nature's existence.

(6) [From (3), (4)] Nature cannot be the explanation for the existence of itself.

(7) [From (4), (5), (6)] There must be something outside nature. And this thing is the explanation for the existence of nature.

(8) [From (2), (3)] This thing must be independent, otherwise, this thing will be a member of nature.

(9) [From (8)] Something that is self-existent and outside nature must exist.

  1. How Hume objects Clarke's argument? I think that what Hume wants to argue is that it is nonsense to say a totality has a cause. I wonder whether I am correct.

  2. How to evaluate Hume's objection? I have no idea about this question.

Thank you very much!

  • IMO, your logical reconstruction of Clarke's argument is fine. The unwarranted step is clearly (4) : why "the collection of all dependent objects" must be a dependent object itself ? See Spinoza. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Sep 10 '19 at 7:25
  • And also your comemnt about Hume's objection looks fine to me : we have to search for causes of individual facts. The "totality of facts" is not "something more" than the individual facts to be accounted for. – Mauro ALLEGRANZA Sep 10 '19 at 7:27
  • I don't see any argument from Hume. He just states that Clark is wrong. To me it seems Clark is right and Hume is missing the point. Hume is right to say the totality can have no cause but Clarke is talking about Nature, not the totality. I assume Hume makes the mistake of seeing Nature (all dependent things) as the totality. But this is exactly what Clarke is denying. His argument is that dependent things cannot be the totality. – user20253 Sep 10 '19 at 11:19
  • But Clark's argument says that "With this in mind, consider the totality of dependent beings, a totality that includes every natural object. Call it nature. " Doesn't this sentence mean that "nature is a totality"? @PeterJ – CharlieLei Sep 10 '19 at 15:39
  • @CharlieLei - Well, it's hard to tell from the info given. Clark speaks of the 'totatility of dependent beings' but says the totality of phenomena includes an independent being. Thus for him the true totality is more than Nature, more than just natural objects, but includes a non-object. Thus Nature would be the totality of dependent phenomena but the totality of all would be more than this. This is how I would read his argument as it is sympathetic to his case. . . . – user20253 Sep 11 '19 at 12:14

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