the reasonableness of the principle of sufficient reason

Dear Cybertruthseekers,

There has been some attempts to prove the principle of sufficient reason.

For instance, Wolff says if it is true that a thing can have no sufficient reason, then nothingness would be its sufficient reason. But nothingness cannot be anything, so it cannot be the sufficient reason of anything. Nothingness cannot account for anything.

However, to say that a thing has no reason DOES NOT amount to saying that nothing is its reason. Its reason is neither something, nor nothingness: there is just no reason and that’s all.

Jean Delanglade has tried to prove the principle in the following way: to say that existence is meaningful can account not only for the clearly meaningul aspects of experience, but also for the seemingly meaningless aspects of experience. However, to say that existence is meaningless does not account for the seemingly meaningul aspects of experience. Therefore, meaningulness has a better explanatory power. Therefore, it is more reasonable.

But Jean Delanglade is begging the question in asking us to account for experience: it is on account of the very principle of sufficient reason that we have to account for experience. We can’t prove this principle by applying it.

However, there is a better reason to subscribe to this principle. If we cast doubt on this principle, or if we go so far as to deny it, we would want to bring reasons for our stance. But the act of searching for reasons for our stance means that we acknowledge that reasons must be found. But why must reasons be found if the principle of sufficient reason is doubtful or false? We can’t provide any justification of our skepticism without applying the principle of sufficient reason, i.e. while dispensing with searching for reasons that support it. Reasons are required to deny Reason.

Therefore, he who doubts this principle cannot without contradiction bring any reason in defense of his stance.

Nice. Now by “sufficient reason”, do you mean the same thing as “moral certainty”?

I mean «what accounts for something».

This principle is involved in the a posteriori theistic proofs (cosmological and teleological). That’s why this topic is here­.

Just curious, but how does a lack of reason immediately become nothingness? Some might argue that the construct would look like:

Reason - Absence of reason

Sufficiency is always from a perspectival point. Suffiency of reason relies on perspective. Absense of reason, or insufficiency is simply a point of view.


Can a person get around your contradiction idea by setting up categories? That is, could I say that for the kinds of things we typically encounter in life- rocks, trees, people, etc, the principal of sufficient reason applies, but to this kind of thing here it does not. I ask because the Cosmological argument can be formed using a principal like this- the things we see in nature all require a cause, but there is this First Cause that does not, because it’s another sort of Thing altogether.

The principle of causality is narrower than and depends on the principle of sufficient reason. God has no cause, but has his sufficient reason within himself.

And we would know this from what point of perspective? God as all-inclusive is an article of faith in which sufficient reason is an irrelevancy.


What is the difference between 'sufficient reason within Himself' and no sufficient reason at all?

In God, existence is a requirement of his very nature. He is the ground of his very existence.

On the contrary, if he had no reason for his existence, his existence could not be accounted for by himself. His existence would not have to be accounted for, it would have no ground at all: it would be absurd.

This works as long as you accept a causal universe, and see “God” as a separate entity from that which is created, but it might unravel a bit in a processual universe…