Modal transcendence

Modal Transcendence is the claim that the absolutely simple can be neither contingent or necessary.  Alternatively, cosmological arguments from contingency, generation, necessity, or possibility thus prove the existence of something neither contingent nor necessary.

Here’s some arguments for it:

1.) Both the contingent and necessary relate to some later time at which the contingent could be and the necessary must be. But nothing that relates to a later time is absolutely simple. One is tempted to use Leibniz’s law as the most economical proof of this.

2.) The act of creation considered actively is God. But this act cannot be either contingent or necessary. If necessary, then creation both is as necessary as God and is a servile or even unconscious act. If contingent, then God is a contingent being.

3.) The contingency of the world cannot arise either from the contingent or the necessary. This is clearest if these are understood as signified in propositions. The contingent cannot rest only on the contingent, for then there is no explanation of why it is what it is, and it cannot rest on the necessary for whatever arises from the necessary is necessary.

4.) If there is no tertium quid between the contingent and necessary, the procession of the Son and the Holy Spirit is either contingent or necessary. It cannot be necessary for these are the paradigm acts of intellection and will, both of which are understood as proceeding without necessity but as conscious and willed. But they cannot be contingent for then divinity is contingent.


  1. July 17, 2016 at 3:06 pm

    Just curious, when Aquinas refers to a “necessary” being, does he mean something different than what most contemporary analytic philosophers mean?

  2. Kristor said,

    July 18, 2016 at 1:58 pm

    Conjecture: Ergo, there is some tertium quid between the contingent and necessary. To wit: God is necessary with respect to all other beings (that are contingent upon him), but with respect to himself, he is neither necessary nor caused, and is therefore free and unconstrained. God is necessary to creatures, but not to himself.

%d bloggers like this: