A Variation on the First Way of St. Thomas Aquinas - Part 3 - End Notes

A Variation on the First Way of St. Thomas Aquinas - Part 2


  1. Certum est enim el sensu constat aliqua moveri in hoc mundo. S.T.,I\, q. 2, a. 3; Ottawa cd. Unless otherwise designated, all English translations in this article are my own.

  2. John Hick, Arguments For the Existence of God (New York: Herder and Herder, 1971) p. 40.

  3. See Isaac Newton, Optics, 111, 1, in Great Books of the Western World (Chicago-London-Toronto: Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1952) vol. 34, p. 540.

  4. Jacques Maritain, Approaches to God (New York: The Macmillan Company, 1967) p. 39.

  5. I have already touched on this problem elsewhere. See Dennis Bonnette, Aquinas' Proofs for God's Existence (The Hague: Martinus-Nijhoff, 1972) pp. 99-104.

  6. For a splendid example of this sort of effort by scientific materialism to explain the origin and development of the universe without recourse to a Supreme Being, see Hans Reichenbach, The Rise of Scientific Philosophy (Berkeley and Los Angeles: University of California Press, 1951) pp. 206-214.

  7. The term "atom" suffers an essential ambiguity. In its original Greek meaning, atoms were conceived as ultimate, indivisible, minute particles. The smug assumptions of nineteenth century reductionism which conceived the 92 elements of the periodic table as “atoms” in this Greek sense were forever shattered by the twentieth century discoveries of subatomic physics. Ever newer theories continue to emerge. Yet, whether the building units of physical reality be conceived as homogeneous material masses, centers of force, pure energy, particles, waves, or whatever, what is essential to our analysis is that they come to be either in themselves or in relation to one another. As long as change is present at the subatomic level, something new comes to be and the argument can proceed. For an analysis of various meristic theories, see Brother Benignus (Gerrity, Nature, Knowledge, and God (Milwaukee: The Bruce Publishing Company, 1947) pp. 112-114. See also, Reichenbach. op. cit., ch. 11, “Are There Atoms?,” pp. 166-190; William A. Wallace, From A Realist Point of View (Washington, D.C.: University Press of America, 1979), Essay IX, “Are Elementary Particles Real?,” pp. 187-199.

  1. See Aristotle Physics, IV, 4, 212a7-212al9; Meta., XI, 12, 1068M5-1069al5.

  2. The ultimate dynamic position is that of “process philosophy” which identifies being with becoming. For the most devastative critique of this anti-intellectual position ever written, see Reginald Garrigou-Lagrange, God: His Existence and His Nature, trans. Dom Bede Rose (St. Louis: B, Herder Book Co., 1939) pp. 164-181. See also, Joseph Dieska, “Teilhard de Chardin or Thomas Aquinas?,” Social Justice Review, March, 1967, Section #2, pp. 440-444; Joseph Dieska, “Philosophy in Catholic Higher Education,” Social Justice Review, October, 1967, p. 187.

  3. Victor Preller, Divine Science and the Science of God: A Reformulation of Thomas Aquinas (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 1967) p. 114.

  4. ...sicut baculus non movet nisi per hoc quod est motus a manu.” S.T., I, q. 2, a. 3; Ottawa ed.

  5. The English text here is taken from Preller, op. cit. p. 113, ...primum movens, scilicet pruiiciens, del secundo moventi. scilicet aeri vel aquae vel cuicumque tali corpori quod est natum movere corpus proiectum, ut possit movere et ut possit moveri:...statim cum primum movens, idest proiiciens, cessaverit moveri, et aer cessat moveri, sed adhuc movet. In VIII Phys., 22. n. 3; Marietti ed.

  6. ...remota autem causa, removetur effectus. S.T., I, q. 2, a. 3; Ottawa ed.; also, the corresponding Way of the Contra Gentiles reads, “...removing a cause, however, is to remove that of which it is a cause.” C.G., I, 13, #33.

  7. Movens et motum oportet esse simul…. C.G., I, 13; Leonine ed.

  8. See Bonnette, op. cit., pp. 75-79.

  9. As a matter of fact, according to Wallace, who cites several authorities to support his view, Newton himself did not propose his physical laws as absolute in themselves, but rather as being themselves a manifestation of the divine causality. See Wallace, op. cit., pp. 348-349.

  10. For an explanation of the distinction between perinoetic and dianoetic intellection, see Jacques Maritain, The Degrees of Knowledge (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1959) pp. 202-218.

  11. ...non potest aliquid reduci in actum nisi per aliquod ens in actu.... S.T., I, q. 2, a. 3; Ottawa ed.

  12. Newton himself is in explicit agreement with this philosophical conclusion. In his Optics, he writes, “The vis inertiae is a passive principle by which bodies persist in their motion or rest, receive motion in proportion to the force impressing it, and resist as much as they are resisted. By this principle alone there could never be any motion in the world. Some other principle was necessary for putting bodies into motion; and now they arc in motion, some other principle is necessary for conserving the motion.” Newton, loc. cit. Wallace writes, “The first law of motion and the concept of inertia that it involves state only partial truths. They are not verified of an entire physical reality, but rather abstract from efficient causality and its relation to compulsory motion. ...looking at the truth contained in the first law from the vantage point we have now attained, it can be seen that the former attains its full stature and most intelligent justification when understood as requiring the continued application of an extrinsic mover. ...Although it is not known to modern physicists, moreover, it was known to Newton, the father of their science, who knew better than they the limitations of the principles he first formulated.” Wallace, op. cit., pp. 363-364.

  1. See Zeno’s argument as given in Aristotle’s Physics, VI, 9, 239b5-239b32. See also, Wesley C. Salmon, Space. Time, and Motion (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 1980) pp. 33-34. For a brief resume of Pythagorean pluralism and of Zeno's dialectical attacks upon it, see Frederick Copleston, A History of Philosophy (Westminister, Md.: The Newman Press, 1957) vol. I, Greece and Rome, pp. 29-37, 54-60.

  1. See Section #2 above. As was pointed out, the principle of inertia merely describes the tendency of a body in motion to remain in motion; it does not explain adequately how it is possible for the continuous manifestation of new aspects of being which motion constitutes to take place. See Etienne Gilson. The Elements of Christian Philosophy (New York and Toronto: The New American Library, 1960) pp. 72-73.

  2. See S.T., I, q. 75 a. 1, ob. 1. Indeed, nothing can give to another what it does not itself actually possess -- nor can it give it to itself, for the same reasons Aquinas offers to prove that nothing can reduce itself from potency to act. See C.G., I, 13, #9.

  3. ...removing the cause removes the effect.” S.T., I, q. 2, a. 3; Ottawa ed. See note 13 above.

  4. ...and as the lowest agent is found to be immediately active, thus the power of the first agent is found to be immediate to the producing of the effect. For the power of the lowest agent is not that it produced this effect of itself (ex se), but from the power of the proximate superior (agent), and it has this power by the power of a (yet) superior (agent), and thus the power of the supreme agent is found productive of the effects of itself, as if it were the immediate cause, as is evident in the principles of demonstration, of which the first is immediate." C.G., III, 70. Leonine ed.

  5. See Aristotle, Physics, I, 2, 185al3-15.

  6. See Aristotle, Physics, VIII, 5-10, 258b4-267b26.

  7. See Aristotle, Metaphysics. XII, 8, 1073al2-1074bl4. Note that Aristotle's criticism of the anthropomorphic character of pagan dieties belies any suggestion that he was defending polytheism merely to protect his personal welfare in a polytheistic state. See also, Aristotle, Physics, VIII, 6, 258bll, 259a6-13, 259b28-31; Copleston, ibid., pp. 315-316.

  8. S.T., I, q. 2, a. 3. See note 1 above.

  1. See Garrigou-Lagrange, op. cit., p. 262. That Aquinas does hold that spiritual motion exists is evident, as in the case of the will. See S.T., l-II, q. 9. a. 4.

  2. Aquinas makes clear the role of form in determining an agent’s ability to cause when he writes that “...the form, which is the first act, is for the sake of its operation, which is the second act.” “...ita forma, quae est actus primus, est propter suam operationem, quae est actus secundus... S.T., I, q. 105, a. 5; Ottawa ed.

  3. A universe without genuine causality, or with a causality not allowed its full effect, would be a universe unworthy of God.” Etienne Gilson, The Spirit of Mediaeval Philosophy (New York: Charles Scribner's Sons. 1940) p. 145. See also, C.G., III, 69.

  4. That however is properly said to be which itself has existence (esse), subsisting, as it were, in its own existence (esse). Whence, substances alone are properly and truly called beings. An accident, in truth, does not have existence (esse), but by it something exists, and for this reason it is called a being -- as whiteness is called a being because by it something is white.” S.T., I, q. 90, a. 2; Ottawa ed. See also, In VII Meta., 1, nn. 1248-1258; In XII Meta., l, nn. 2419, 2420-2422.

  5. Ibid.

  6. Aquinas writes, “...accidentis enim esse est inesse. S.T., I, q. 28, a. 2; Ottawa ed. See also, De Pot., q. 8, a. 2; Quodl., IX, q. 3, a. 1, ad. 2.

  7. Etienne Gilson seems to speak this way when he observes, "Accidents have no existence of their own to be added to that of the substance in order to complete it. They have no other existence than that of substance. For them, to exist is simply ‘to-exist-in-the-substance’ or, as it has been put, their being is to-be-in’.” Etienne Gilson, The Christian Philosophy of St. Thomas Aquinas (New York: Random House, 1956) p. 31. See also George P. Klubertanz, Introduction to the Philosophy of Being (New York: Appleton-Century-Crofts, 1955) pp. 231-232, n. 6; Leo Sweeney, A Metaphysics of Authentic Existentialism (Englewood Cliffs, N.Y.: Prentice-Hall, 1965) pp. 87-88, n. 44; James S. Albertson, "The Esse of Accidents According to St. Thomas," The Modern Schoolman, XXX (May, 1953) pp. 265-278. In support of this view, such texts as the following are frequently cited: “...accidents do not seem to be beings according as they are signified according to themselves, but only according as they are signified in connection to substance.” In VII Meta., 1, n. 1256. Marietti ed. See note 32 above.

  8. According to Dewey, “...to know it (the true Being of the metaphysician) means to neglect its flux and alteration and discover some permanent form which limits the processes that alter in time. The acorn undergoes a series of changes; these are knowable only in reference to the fixed form of the oak which is the same in the entire oak species... Where such unifying and limiting eternal forms cannot be detected, there is mere aimless variation and fluctuation....” John Dewey, Reconstruction in Philosophy (New York: New American Library, 1952) pp. 97-98.

  1. Potency however, since it is receptive of act, must be proportioned to that act.”; “Potentia autem cum sit receptiva actus, oportet quod actui proportionetur.” S.T., I. q. 75, a. 5, ad. 1, Ottawa ed.

  2. See Francis E. McMahon, “The Esse of Accidents: a Discussion,” The Modern Schoolman, XXXI (1953-1954) pp. 125-130; Francis McMahon and Gerald Phelan, “The Esse of Accidents,” The New Scholasticism. XLIII (1969) pp. 143-148; Barry F. Brown, “Accidental Esse: A confirmation,” The New Scholasticism. XLIV (1970) pp. 133-152.

  3. Barry F. Brown, op. cit.. pp. 151-152

  4. Gerald Phelan, op. cit., p. 148.

  5. See Aristotle, Categories, Ia0-15b32.

  6. ...being (ens) is divided into ten predicaments, not univocally, as a genus (is divided) into species, but according to a diverse way of being (essendi). For the ways of being (essendi) are proportional to the ways of predicating. For in predicating something of something else, we say this to be (esse) that; and thus the ten genera of being are said of the ten predicaments.” In III Phys.. 5, n. 15; Marietti ed.

  1. ...an agent produces its like in accordance with the form by which it acts.” C.G., II, 46. Leonine ed. Also, “Since every agent acts insofar as it is in act, the mode of action must be according to the mode of the act of the thing itself; whence, something which is more hot in the act of heat causes more heat. Anything, therefore, whose act is determined to a genus, to a species, and to an accident must have its power determined to effects similar to the agent as such, because every agent produces its like.” C.G., II, 21. Leonine ed. Also, “...a being is in act through its form; it must be that operation follows its form.” C.G.. Ill, 97. Leonine ed.

  2. ...for if community was of the very notion of man. then in anything in which humanity is found, community would (also) be found.” De Ente, c. 4. n. 2. Marietti ed. Also, “...no essence is able to be understood without those (elements) which are parts of the essence.” De Ente, c. 4, n. 3. Marietti ed.

  3. As seen above in note 43, causality is limited by an agent’s nature. Now any given act of causality may be considered as a quality found in something, with respect to which Aquinas writes: “Everything which belongs to anything either is caused by the principles of its nature, as risibility in man. or else comes to it from some extrinsic principle, as light in the air from the influence of the sun.” De Ente, c. 5, n. 4. Marietti ed.

  4. Should the reader wish to pursue the question of infinite regress which often is raised in this context, he should first note that such a problem does not arise when one observes that limited being are as a class deficient with respect to the newness of existence which must needs be explained here. For a fuller treatment of this point as well as the problem of infinite regress itself, see Bonnette, op. cit., pp. 65-68, 80-126; see also, Joseph Bobik, Aquinas On Being and Essence (Notre Dame, Indiana: University of Notre Dame Press, 1965) pp. 175-182.

47 “Since therefore the divine existence (esse) is not existence (esse) received in something, but (God) Himself is His own subsistent existence (esse) as was shown above, it is manifest that God Himself is infinite and perfect.” S.T., I, q. 7, a. 1. Ottawa ed. Aquinas also notes in this same text that the ancient philosophers attributed infinitude to God
because “...they considered things to flow forth from the first principle infinitely.” This is consonant with the notion of the “Universal Donor of all new existence” referred to later in this paper.

  1. If therefore, there were many Gods, they would have to differ from each other. Something therefore would belong to one which did not belong to another. And if that in which (they differed) were a privation, (one of them) would not be absolutely perfect; if, however, that (in which they differed) were a perfection, the other of them would be without it. It is impossible, therefore, for there to exist many Gods.” S. T., I, q. 11, a. 3. Ottawa ed.

  2. In V Meta., 1, n.751. ...nomen Causa, importat influxum quemdam ad esse causati. Marietti ed.

  3. Ex hoc autem apparet quod Deus causa est omnibus operantibus ut operentur. Omne enim operans est aliquo modo causa essendi, vel secundum esse substantiale vel accidentale. Nihil autem est causa essendi, nisi in quantum agit in virtute dei, ut ostensum est (c. 66). Omne igitur operans operatur per virtutem Dei.” C.G., III, 67. Leonine ed.

  1. Deus autem solus est ens per essentiam suam. omnia autem alia sunt entia per participationem; nam in solo Deo esse est sua essentia. Esse igitur cujuslibet exsistentis est proprius effectus ejus, ita quod omne quod producit aliquid in esse hoc facit in quantum agit in virtute Dei. C.G., <

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