Sunday, November 30, 2008

Could "energy" be the principle whose existence was intrinsic?

Could energy be the principle whose existence was intrinsic?

If we were to assume the conclusion of our opponents, that energy is an eternal entity, being eternal could not be a sufficient reason for this to be considered intrinsically existing.

If we wanted to admit only material principles, there would be at least three eternal principles: matter, energy, and space. Energy alone would not suffice.

The material principle in things could not suffice as a necessarily existent entity, as matter only exists as informed, being essentially potentiality to receive existence as a particular thing. The function of space is not clear. The reason to gravitate toward energy as the "efficient" principle of activity of matter in a void is necessary to some extent - why else would matter be moving instead of motionless?

"Energy," however, is a distinctly blurry concept in contemporary physics. It indicates any ability to do work, or activity in a material body. Derived from "energia," it can be related as a physical instantiation of the metaphysical "actuality."

Could energy itself be considered the principle which exists intrinsically and necessarily?

There are two issues: first, energy is an abstraction of many particular entities which possess energetic states. Energy is always found in a particular formed entity and as a state in a particular entity. In other words, it is not an existential explanation, per se. It requires a subject which has both formal and material characteristic before it can be an activity therein. As a consequence, energetic states are received and transmitted - they are not entities themselves if we were to refer to "energy" as the activity of a material body.

Second, this is a misplaced understanding of physical energy as an expression of actuality. Actuality as a metaphysical principle indicates existence in general, whereas physical actuality or activity is a subset of this general category. In a certain sense, "energy" would satisfy as a principle of actuality of material bodies, but it cannot satisfy for the existence of actuality as a whole - it can satisfy for their ability to do physical work, but does not account for their existence.

The most obvious way to illustrate this would be to consider again this question from the standpoint of the essence-existence argument:

If one were to suppose that this entity, "energy," was this necessary being whose essence was to exist, we would have to pluralize it only via three ways:
Formal differences, material differences, and reception in different instantiations

The first two are inadequate, as whatever would be a necessary being would be unable to be differentiated in those ways - it would have to retain the same essence without formal differentiation. In reality, energetic states inhere in formally different subjects as well as materially different ones. There is also no single, univocal sort of energetic state that could be said to be this unitary subject. Reception in different matter might seem to be the differentiation proper to this, as we might say that "energy" would constitute the various energy states. But again, then this would not be "energy" but various energetic subjects having received energy.

As a consequence, one might be tempted to see energy as received into various subjects from one subject of energy which is nothing other than pure actuality (in the existential, rather than physical sense). This would be precisely the way in which it would be possible to pluralize this "energy."

We would first have to abandon notions of physical energy and move to the level of existential actuality. Whether such an absolute subject of existential actuality exists, however, has not yet been proven. Given this distinction that is necessary between subjects which are formally constituted and yet receive "energy" or actuality from another, it becomes obvious that the energy states they have are not effect of "themselves" or what they are, but are instead "accidental" to their constitution. This leads one to posit that there need be an absolute subject of actuality, whose essence is "to exist" as pure act, in order to account for the extrinsic reception of the act of existing in various subjects. This would be to require the existence of God, understood as the necessarily existent being whose essence is nothing other than to exist. Only with this being the case could any entity - physical or otherwise - exist.

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