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Monday, August 27, 2012

0240: Aquinas’ Five Ways and Aristotle (III)

Entry 0240: Aquinas’ Five Ways and Aristotle (III)

Concerning the sources of Aquinas’ Five Ways, Leo J. Elders comments that

“The Five Ways of St. Thomas are a summary and transposition into a unified structure and stringent form of more than sixteen hundred years of philosophical efforts to prove God's existence. St. Thomas himself was very much aware of the fact that he was using materials from philosophical tradition.”

More specifically, concerning the First Way, Elders remarks that

“In the First Way Aristotle’s analysis of motion which St. Thomas himself fully endorses is used … St. Thomas’ argument is directly dependent on Aristotle's demonstration of the existence of the First Unmoved Mover.”

Then, considering the First Unmoved Mover, Elders continues,

“It is surprising to see that after Aristotle the argument is seldom used. The idea of a First Mover at the outside of the universe may have held little attraction. The argument was perhaps disregarded by Christians because it was thought to be connected with the theory of an eternal world. However, it made its influence felt inasmuch as it contributed to the general admission of God's total immutability …”

Elder finally concludes his commentary on the sources of the First Way by saying that

“Thomas main sources were the texts in Aristotle’s Physics and Metaphysics.” (1)


(1) Leo J. Elders, The Philosophical Theology of St. Thomas Aquinas, (Leiden, The Netherlands: E. J. Brill, 1990), 90-91 and 95-96.