I heard this several times in this forum. I was wondering if there is any proof for this. By sentient, I mean that the First Cause has Intellect and is conscious.
Depends on what you mean by proof
If a series of logical statement based on certain premises, both stated and unstated, that leads to that conclusion is proof, then sure.
If you mean actual testable demonstration, then no.
I am interested on this.
One form of First Cause is the multiverse, and the multiverse is not sentient. Other forms of First Cause, such as Vishnu, are sentient. Hence a First Cause may be sentient, but does not have to be sentient.
I won’t be following through on any demonstrations in this post, but to briefly touch on the subject, I can think of three ways off the top of my head to argue that the first cause can’t be unintelligent (and I will try to stick to the apophatic phrasing).
If the person already accepted that there must be a First Cause similar to what follows from the argument from motion, the argument from efficient causation, and the argument from contingency, then what I think is the most accessible way for people not already familiar with Aristotlean-Thomist philosophy would be a corollary argument using the Principle of Proportionate Causality (that what is in the effect is also in some way in the cause).
The second way that comes to mind would be independent of the cosmological arguments mentioned above. It would be an argument from abstraction, and as part of the argument it would have to first demonstrate that philosophical realism towards universals and/or abstract objects is true or most rational (as opposed to conceptualism or anti-realist/nominalist positions).
The last way would be Aquinas’ Fifth Way, his argument from teleology (not to be confused with popular arguments for Intelligent Design such as Paley’s). However, for the unfamiliar or skeptic it would probably take some additional time on the groundwork that is the foundation for the argument from teleology, as it’s the most foreign to the type of philosophy popular today.
In general there is only 2 types of cause
A natural cause (physical events that arise as a result of physical activity that is not behaving according to the direct interference of an intellect but is instead behaving according to it’s nature)
An intelligent cause (where the effect is ultimately the result of an intention or intelligent will).
The first cause is an intelligent cause because the act of causing something to exist that doesn’t naturally exist and sustaining it in existence cannot be a natural process (a progression of physical states that have an affect on the nature of it’s effects through it’s activity.) So the first cause must be determining it’s existence because the effect is existentially unnatural. But since the first cause is not a progression of natural processes, nothing is causing the first cause to do anything; and the only other type of cause it could be is an intelligent cause.
The effect that the first cause produces does not naturally exist because it is not a natural progression of parts intrinsic to the first cause. Therefore the existence of everything except the first cause must ultimately be the result of an intentional act since it is not the outcome of a natural process.
In other-words the creation of physical reality is not a natural event, but is instead a supernatural event and necessarily so.
The First Cause is not sentient, because the First Cause does not possess sense organs. Consciousness is a created derivative reality based on input from sense organs. So, the First Cause is also not conscious because the First Cause does not possess sense organs. However, the First Cause does possess a mind, because the First Cause has a mysterious decision making ability and is the storehouse of knowledge of all potential creations. The First Cause has an uncaused mind, which is not the same as a caused sentient consciousness. The uncaused mind of the First Cause is mysterious, but not a mindless mechanism. The First Cause must have intellect and will in order to decide what to make real and what not to make real out of the infinite possibilities for creation. Moreover, the First Cause must have the capacity to choose what the initial information for the Universe will be upon the first appearance of that information in the Big Bang. The mind of the First Cause is infinitely greater than any created sentient consciousness.
Did You Know?
You may have guessed that sentient has something to do with the senses. The initial spelling sent- or sens- is often a giveaway for such a meaning. A sentient being is one who perceives and responds to sensations of whatever kind - sight, hearing, touch, taste, or smell. Sentient ultimately comes from the Latin verb sentire, which means “to feel” and is related to the noun sensus, meaning “feeling” or “sense.” A few related English words are sentiment and sentimental, which have to do with emotions, and sensual, which relates to more physical sensations. [ https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/sentient ]
So, the LORD is not sentient in his divinity, though fully knowing. But in the Person of the Son, in whom the LORD created temporal being, God became sentient in His humanity, since the Son is fully the One God and became fully Human with his own body and soul, wherein He is indeed sentient, since the instant of his conception within his Mother Mary, and until now and will be in eternity with us.
Though ‘sentient’ may not be the correct term, I understand your question.
God acts by self manifestation:
God was a Hidden Treasure and he desired to be recognized, as the famous hadith tells us. In Rumi’s terms, God is saying, “I created the whole universe, and the goal of all of it is to make Myself manifest, sometimes through gentleness and sometimes through severity” ( Fih , p. 176; cf. Maṯnawi IV, ll. 3028-29). This pair of divine attributes reverberates throughout the universe and the human self, and the resulting homologies provide the key to Rumi’s dialectic. Gentleness always has the upper hand, because, as the hadith has it, “God’s mercy takes precedence over His wrath.” Nonetheless, light cannot be perceived without darkness and being cannot be grasped without nonbeing, so mercy demands wrath, gentleness uses severity for its own purposes, and roses surround their beauty with thorns. The interplay of gentleness and severity appears in the contrasting qualities of light and fire, angels and devils, intellect and ego, Adam and Iblis, saints and unbelievers, nearness and distance, union and separation, joy and heartache, sugar and vinegar, spring and autumn, day and night, faithfulness ( wafāʾ) and cruelty ( jafāʾ ), wine and dregs, intoxication and sobriety. Only love can harmonize all opposites and “make them one” (the literal sense of tawḥid ).
In short, Rumi sees all apparent existence as the Real Being showing itself as signs, forms, shadows, metaphors, manifestations, apparitions, things, creatures. All activity and rest, strife and harmony, war and peace, are forms displaying the Hidden Treasure. This implies that God is the source of evil as well as good. Given the precedence of mercy over wrath, what appears to us as evil can only be serving a greater good. Evil cannot be eliminated from the created world because that would be tantamount to destroying the world. Hence God appointed two sheriffs to keep the world going, remembrance of him ( ḏekr ), and heedlessness ( ḡaflat ). If either dominated, the world would disappear ( Fih , pp. 109, 206-7; Maṯnawi I, ll. 2064 ff.). One also needs to consider the infinite creativity of Being; a painter who cannot paint ugly pictures can hardly be called skillful ( Maṯnawi II, l. 2544). Moreover, the divine light in itself cannot appear to others, because it is far too intense to be perceived by created things, which are shadows and darkness ( Divān , l. 21967, l. 30842). “Light is the First Cause, and every secondary cause is its shadow” ( Divān , l. 525). Just as “you come to know light through light’s opposite” ( Maṯnawi I, l. 1134), so also “you will not know evil until you know good” ( Maṯnawi IV, l. 1345). There can be no right path without wrong paths, no pleasure without pain, no mercy without wrath.
The existence of all things beside God, are derivative and only relative.
Yes. First Cause is either conscious or unconscious. I was looking for an argument which proves that First Cause is conscious. An argument which proves that First Cause cannot be unconscious is fine too.
Great. Thanks for your time in advance.
Could you please elaborate? Internet is very poor for this proof. I am wondering what is the Principle Proportionate Causality is?
Could you please elaborate?
Aquinas simply states that natural Bodies’ act in a regular fashion to accomplish their end provides the evidence for the existence of an externally and higher intelligent being.
My objection is how you could prove that matter itself is not conscious. If we accept that matter is not blind, then it follows that matter itself is conscious so there is no need for an agent behind the scene. Otherwise, the motion toward an end is the result of blind motion so regardless there cannot exist an intelligence behind the scene, since no intelligence is needed to sustain the blind motion.
The audience Aquinas had in mind for the few sentences that sum up the fifth way in the Summa Theological were educated theologians and philosophers in Platonism and Aristotlean ism. There’s more to it, basically, and like I said it’s probably the argument with the line of thinking most foreign to everyday philosophy in the 21st century. Heck, even in the 16th century.
I hear your requests for elaboration. They’re fair. I’m not sure when I’ll have the time to dedicate serious thought to constructing the arguments.
Does the blind motion of matter which is simply the result of some simple properties indicate that there is a sustainer and the sustainer needs to be conscious? To me what you said
Matter seems to blindly follow laws of nature. The outcome of this motion leaded to life which seems that is toward survival. What is the need for an intelligence when motion is blind?
Mind of God doesn’t need sense organ to perceive everything. We already discuss these: Things are either conscious or unconscious. Could we please agree on this? There is no other scenario.
There is no mystery in here. No consciousness no decision.
Let’s first see your argument against what are stated?
How could God possibly know something if He is not conscious?
Evolution seems to be the answer to existence of higher beings.
Sentient does not mean conscious.
Sentient means sensing things via one’s physical senses and making conclusions about what one knows due to material and bodily sensation of which God has none since God is Spirit.
God’s knowing and Consciousness is not based on learning, since his knowing and Consciousness is eternal and unchanging.
So, you believe that God is conscious. Do you have any argument in this regard?
He declares his consciousness himself in many places: “I know the plans I have for you, declares the LORD, plans to prosper you and not to harm you, to give you a future and a hope.” This word from God was delivered by his messenger, Jeremiah. God himself is a very reliable witness as to his own “traits”.
I don’t know how you would think God were not conscious if you are his servant; how can one serve an unconscious thing as if the thing would then “know” it is being served (“worship” means “serve”).
God’s mind is uncaused and makes decisions. It’s a mystery. One can believe in the necessary reality of an uncaused mind while it remains a mystery. They are not mutually exclusive beliefs.