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Thursday, October 4, 2018

Thomas Aquinas and the first mover


Photo source: Wikimedia Commons, Carlo Crivelli


Thomas Aquinas (1225-1274) was an Italian Catholic philosopher best known for his theory of the first mover. Historian Carl Becker said,


"We have, among innumerable other works, the Summa Theologica, surely one of the most amazing and stupendous products of the human mind... Never before or since has the wide world been so neatly boxed and compassed, so completely and confidently understood, every detail of it fitted, with such subtle and loving precision, into a consistent and convincing whole." (The Heavenly City of the Eighteenth-century Philosophers, 1932)


The rest of this post is some quotes from Aquinas .


First mover


"Whatever is in motion must be put in motion by another. If that by which it is put in motion be itself put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again. But this cannot go on to infinity, because then there would be no first mover, and, consequently, no other mover; seeing that subsequent movers move only inasmuch as they are put in motion by the first mover; as the staff moves only because it is put in motion by the hand. Therefore it is necessary to arrive at a first mover, put in motion by no other; and this everyone understands to be God." (Summa Theologica, 1265-1274)


"Creation is thus said to be a kind of change, according to the way of understanding, insofar as our intellect accepts one and the same thing as not existing before and afterwards existing." (Summa Theologica, 1265-1274)


God, will and good


"Now the object of the will, i.e., of man's appetite, is the universal good. This is to be found, not in any creature, but in God alone; because every creature has goodness by participation. Thus God alone can satisfy the will of a human being." (Summa Theologica, 1265-1274)


"The greatness of the human being consists in this: that it is capable of the universe." (De Veritate)


"Reason in man is rather like God in the world." (Opuscule II, De Regno)


"The image of God always abides in the soul, whether this image be obsolete and clouded over as to amount to almost nothing; or whether it be obscured or disfigured, as is the case with sinners; or whether it be clear and beautiful as is the case with the just." (Summa Theologica, 1265-1274)


" will observe that all things are arranged according to their degrees of beauty and excellence, and that the nearer they are to God, the more beautiful and better they are." (Sermons on the Apostles' Creed)