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The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act - Printable Version

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The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act - Scotus - 02-14-2013

I am planning to give a talk in my local parish on the proofs for the existence of God. I was planning to spend the bulk of the time on the First Way of St Thomas Aquinas i.e. the Argument from Motion. However, as I have been working out how to explain each step of the proof there seems (to me at least) in the assertion that the First Mover must be Pure Act. Certainly, it is clear that this Unmoved Mover is not moved by any other (as we would carry on with our infinite regress), but it does seem to me that there is a jump from proving that there is an Unmoved Mover to stating that this Mover is immovable. In the order of causes this being must be in act in such a way that it is has not been reduced to that act by any other being. But how can we prove that there is no potency in this being, even though these potencies might never be reduced to act?

If we can prove that this Unmoved Mover is Pure Act then it seems that we have failed to prove the existence of God by the evidence of motion in the world.


Re: The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act - Parmandur - 02-14-2013

(02-14-2013, 01:28 PM)Scotus Wrote: I am planning to give a talk in my local parish on the proofs for the existence of God. I was planning to spend the bulk of the time on the First Way of St Thomas Aquinas i.e. the Argument from Motion. However, as I have been working out how to explain each step of the proof there seems (to me at least) in the assertion that the First Mover must be Pure Act. Certainly, it is clear that this Unmoved Mover is not moved by any other (as we would carry on with our infinite regress), but it does seem to me that there is a jump from proving that there is an Unmoved Mover to stating that this Mover is immovable. In the order of causes this being must be in act in such a way that it is has not been reduced to that act by any other being. But how can we prove that there is no potency in this being, even though these potencies might never be reduced to act?

If we can prove that this Unmoved Mover is Pure Act then it seems that we have failed to prove the existence of God by the evidence of motion in the world.

These theoretical "dark matter" potencies aren't really potency, if they "might never be reduced to act."  Potency is the principle of change.  If something *can* be changed, it *will* be changed, in Aristotelian physics.

You have to understand, though, that this is not a proof, like A-squared + B-squared = C-squared, with QED and all that.  St. Thomas' "Ways" are not meant to work like that, they are not ironclad or meant to convince like math.


Re: The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act - TS Aquinas - 02-15-2013

(02-14-2013, 01:28 PM)Scotus Wrote: I am planning to give a talk in my local parish on the proofs for the existence of God. I was planning to spend the bulk of the time on the First Way of St Thomas Aquinas i.e. the Argument from Motion. However, as I have been working out how to explain each step of the proof there seems (to me at least) in the assertion that the First Mover must be Pure Act. Certainly, it is clear that this Unmoved Mover is not moved by any other (as we would carry on with our infinite regress), but it does seem to me that there is a jump from proving that there is an Unmoved Mover to stating that this Mover is immovable. In the order of causes this being must be in act in such a way that it is has not been reduced to that act by any other being. But how can we prove that there is no potency in this being, even though these potencies might never be reduced to act?

If we can prove that this Unmoved Mover is Pure Act then it seems that we have failed to prove the existence of God by the evidence of motion in the world.

This might help from his Conpendium,

"We clearly infer from this that God, who moves all things, must Himself be immovable. If He, being the first mover, were Himself moved, He would have to be moved either by Himself or by another. He cannot be moved by another, for then there would have to be some mover prior to Him, which is against the very idea of a first mover. If He is moved by Himself, this can be conceived in two ways: either that He is mover and moved according to the same respect, or that He is a mover according to one aspect of Him and is moved according to another aspect. The first of these alternatives is ruled out. For everything that is moved is, to that extent, in potency, and whatever moves is in act. Therefore if God is both mover and moved according to the same respect, He has to be in potency and in act according to the same respect, which is impossible. The second alternative is likewise out of the question. If one part were moving and another were moved, there would be no first mover Himself as such, but only by reason of that part of Him which moves. But what is per se is prior to that which is not per se. Hence there cannot be a first mover at all, if this perfection is attributed to a being by reason of a part of that being. Accordingly the first mover must be altogether immovable.

Among things that are moved and that also move, the following may also be considered. All motion is observed to proceed from something immobile, that is, from something that is not moved according to the particular species of motion in question, Thus we see that alterations and generations and corruptions occurring in lower bodies are reduced, as to their first mover, to a heavenly body that is not moved according to this species of motion, since it is incapable of being generated, and is incorruptible and unalterable. Therefore the first principle of all motion must be absolutely immobile.

... God’s essence cannot be other than His existence. In any being whose essence is distinct from its existence, what it is must be distinct from that whereby it is. For in virtue of a thing’s existence we say that it is, and in virtue of its essence we say what it is. This is why a definition that signifies an essence manifests what a thing is. In God, however, there is no distinction between what He is and that whereby He is, since there is no composition in Him, as has been shown. Therefore God’s essence is nothing else than His existence.

Likewise, we have proved that God is pure act without any admixture of potentiality. Accordingly His essence must be the ultimate act in Him; for any act that has a bearing on the ultimate act, is in potency to that ultimate act. But the ultimate act is existence itself, ipsum esse. For, since all motion is an issuing forth from potency to act, the ultimate act must be that toward which all motion tends; and since natural motion tends to what is naturally desired, the ultimate act must be that which all desire. This is existence. Consequently the divine essence, which is pure and ultimate act, must be existence itself, ipsum esse."

Also to consider, nothing can be both potential and actual in the same respect at the same time, what is actually hot is not at the same time potentially hot but potentially cold. Hence it is impossible for anything to be both, in the same respect and time (whether it be something part of an essential ordered series or an accidental ordered series), both that which is moved and moving.


Re: The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act - Scotus - 02-16-2013

(02-14-2013, 02:07 PM)Parmandur Wrote: You have to understand, though, that this is not a proof, like A-squared + B-squared = C-squared, with QED and all that.  St. Thomas' "Ways" are not meant to work like that, they are not ironclad or meant to convince like math.

I beg to differ! If I understand St Thomas rightly he is showing how the existence of God can also be the object of knowledge in addition to belief. Such knowledge is gained through a series of syllogisms that do not require leaps of faith or arguments from authority.


Re: The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act - GloriaPatri - 02-16-2013

I think what Parmandur was trying to get at is that the Pythagorean theorem that he mentioned is a mathematical necessity, it is not possible to formulate any counter-arguments against it. It is, however, possible to formulate counter-arguments agains the Five Ways. One may disagree as to whether or not they succeed in countering Aquinas' arguments, but the counter-arguments can still be made.


Re: The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act - Allan - 02-16-2013

:bubbles:


Re: The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act - SouthpawLink - 02-16-2013

Ahem:

"Reason can prove with certitude the existence of God and the infinity of His perfections" (Denz. 1622).

"Although reason was rendered weak and obscure by original sin, yet there remained in it sufficient clarity and power to lead us with certitude to a knowledge of the existence of God, to the revelation made to the Jews by Moses, and to Christians by our adorable Man-God" (Denz. 1627).

"Reason can prove with certitude the existence of God, the spirituality of the soul, the freedom of man" (Denz. 1650.).

http://onetruecatholicfaith.com/Roman-Catholic-Dogma.php?id=32&title=Denzinger+1600+-+1699&page=2

The teaching of the Catholic Church agrees with Scotus.

Moreover:
Dr. Ludwig Ott Wrote:God, our Creator and Lord, can be known with certainty, by the natural light of reason from created things. (De fide.)
The Existence of God can be proved by means of causality. (Sent. fidei proxima.)

http://jloughnan.tripod.com/dogma.htm

"If anyone shall have said that the one true God, our Creator and our Lord, cannot be known with certitude by those things which have been made, by the natural light of human reason: let him be anathema" (First Vatican Council, Sess III, can. 2/1: Denz. 1806; cf. D. 1785).


Re: The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act - Crusading Philologist - 02-16-2013

It doesn't seem that any of those quotations have anything to say about the correct way in which to interpret the five ways. One can agree with the assertions made in those quotations while still maintaining that St. Thomas did not intend the five ways to work like mathematical proofs.


Re: The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act - TS Aquinas - 02-17-2013

Hope you got your answer Scotus  :)


Re: The Unmoved Mover and Pure Act - SouthpawLink - 02-17-2013

(02-16-2013, 09:47 PM)Crusading Philologist Wrote: It doesn't seem that any of those quotations have anything to say about the correct way in which to interpret the five ways.  One can agree with the assertions made in those quotations while still maintaining that St. Thomas did not intend the five ways to work like mathematical proofs.

The point of my post was to show agreement with Scotus, that the existence of God can be an object of knowledge.

You've piqued my interest in how mathematical proofs work...