The Structure of G2

The being that argument G2 has in its sights is a sempiternal, transcendent ('separated'), absolutely unmoved, cosmic first mover—that is, a beginningless, everlasting, ultimate source of all end p.64


© Copyright Oxford University Press, 2006. All Rights Reserved change, a source that is itself necessarily unchangeable in any respect and extrinsic to everything it changes. With some justification, Aquinas considers himself entitled to identify such a being as God. But in view of all he does in the immediately following chapters of SCG to argue for such a being's possession of traditional divine attributes, we might think of G2 as, even in Aquinas's own view, only the first instalment of his argument for the existence of a being that theists would recognize as God.

Aquinas moves toward G2's conclusion in several stages.

28 I suppose this composite structure of G2 warrants his referring to it in the plural as 'lines of reasoning' and even 'demonstrations' in his final appraisal of it. Since the appraisal follows both G1 and G2, it's natural to interpret its plurals, praedictos processus (13.109) and especially praedictis demonstrationibus (13.111), as referring to both those arguments as wholes. But the two features picked out in the appraisal characterize only G2. See my discussion of Salamucha's view in sect. 3 above.

But, despite its complexity, G2 is unified by its focus on the concept of a mover, which should be understood through the first three stages of the argument as the efficient cause of whatever moving is ascribed to it.

G2's stage I (13.97-100) is intended to show the untenability of the position that every mover is moved by another mover, and to yield the preliminary conclusion that there is a first mover that is not moved by anything extrinsic to it. Stage II (13.101-2) begins with the acknowledgement that such a first mover might be a self-mover, a mover that is moved by something intrinsic to it, rather than an entirely immovable mover. Stage II then proceeds via an analysis of the concept of a self-mover to argue that introducing this concept only postpones the inevitable, since a self-mover's intrinsic mover must be immovable. Stage III (13.103-7) reconsiders self-movers, this time from the standpoint of empirical observation, and draws conclusions about the nature of anything that could count as a cosmic first self-mover. Stage IV (13.108), finally, is intended to show that even a cosmic first self-mover would presuppose a sempiternal, transcendent, immovable, absolutely first mover, 'which', Aquinas says, 'is God'.

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