The Metaphysics of Theism

Print ISBN 9780199246533, 2001 pp. [76]-[80]

absurdities that bring down the other five; it also appears most likely to be suited to animals, which he has earlier described as apparently 'moved from within themselves (ex se mota)' (13.88), in which the part that does the moving is called the soul (or some more precisely identified faculty of the soul). In argument Gl, where Aquinas applies only the strict sense of 'self-mover', he denies that animals move themselves (13.88). In argument G2, on the other hand, he is ready, after the second stage we've just been examining, to consider animals as self-movers, broadly speaking. This way of considering animals occupies stage III, which is illuminated by stage II, the results of which might be summarized in this way.

Stage II begins by disclosing a fork in the argument. We're looking for a first mover of movable things, and it's already clear that such a thing can't be 'moved by something else that is extrinsic to it' (line 2). But we can't suppose at once that we're closing in on an immovable first mover, because 'if one were to consider which is the first cause of motion in the genus of movable things—that which moves itself, or something movable that is moved by something else—everyone would agree that it is probable that the first mover [among movable things] is a self-mover. For a cause that operates on its own is always prior to one that operates via something else' (In Phys. VIII: L9.1049). And so stage II goes on to examine a first self-mover as a possible alternative to the immovable first mover.

Considered as a self-mover, X has two complementary parts, of which one, X i , is X's intrinsic mover that moves X 2 , X's other complementary part. X's moving itself = X's being moved by itself = X 1 's moving X 2 ■ X can be considered a first self-mover if X moves something else, Y, as a result of X's moving itself, and if, in X's moving itself and thereby moving Y, X 1 itself is immovable considered just as a mover. You, presumably, count as a first self-mover on this analysis if, for instance, you pick up a pencil and put it down again just because you feel like it.

end p.76

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But as this analysis leads us to think of the self-movers we know at first hand, it shows us features of them that enable us to focus more clearly on the requisite characteristics of some self-mover that could, conceivably, count as the cosmic first mover we're seeking. On this basis we turn to stage III, the beginning of G2's a posteriori argument.

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