Now available from the Thomistic Institute Soundcloud is an audio version of the presentation I gave in June 2021 at the Third Annual Thomistic Philosophy and Natural Science Symposium, “Chance and Indeterminacy in the Natural World.”
The talk is entitled “Chance and Indeterminate Causes in the Cosmos.”
From the paper itself:
Chance is a necessary part of the order of things, given that contingent substances are replete with the contingent and the accidental. For this very reason, Aquinas argues, the would would be incomplete without chance. Strikingly, chance perfects the cosmos.
The Aristotelian-Thomistic cosmos is not a machine. Its history is no mere unfolding of what follows from a constellation of causes in some original position that renders time itself an otiose laundry list of events. What comes into being by chance is not the result of some event-platonism, where purely formal possibilities play out in the shadows of eternity once certain initial conditions are in place. Rather, the contingency of the cosmos is deep within the substances that constitute it. The indeterminacy of matter and the limited determinacy of form are the root reasons why chance exists, why contingent events need not have happened, and why the future is not perfectly determinate in “the now” of natural agents. This means that “the ‘sufficient reason’ of what happens in this world is not itself of this world; it is not ‘subjectified’ in the things. . . . No creature can be the[essential] cause of what is either [by chance] or fortuitous.” Chance within the cosmos ought to be understood as a sign of the divine beyond the cosmos.