>I don't think Aquinas's argument over whether angels can occupy the same >space should be seen as having much to do with religion - rather I see >it as Aristotlean thinking taken to extremes. The question he poses, >and answers, bears no reality to anything, neither to an atheist nor to >a theist. Only the most ardent Aristotlean is going to be interested.
I'm not sure about that. I think Aquinas's argument was a premature venture into Fermi and Bose-Einstein statistics.
One way to look at the argument is this: What makes one apple different from another apple, or one person different from another person is due to *physical* variations. Angels, being nonmaterial beings, don't have physical characteristics that would make one angel different from another. So the only way that we can distinguish angels is by location: there is one angel here, and another angel there. Now, suppose that two angels are in the *same* location: being nonmaterial, there is nothing to prevent them from squeezing into the same location, say the head of a pin.
But now, if they aren't distinguished by physical differences, and they are also not distinguished by location, then does it make sense to say that they are different angels?
Instead of angels, if you talk about electrons, then the answer to Aquinas's question is this: at most one electron can occupy the same state.