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 Post subject: Difference between Aquinas's 1st and 2nd way
PostPosted: Mon Jun 22, 2020 7:55 am 
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Sons of Thunder
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What is the difference between the 1st and 2nd way in Aquinas 5 ways of proof of God? The standard oversimplified caricature version, the this-caused-this (which invites the who-made-God response) is so strongly ingrained in my head, sadly.

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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Aquinas's 1st and 2nd way
PostPosted: Tue Jun 23, 2020 1:48 am 
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:popcorn

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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Aquinas's 1st and 2nd way
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2020 6:51 pm 
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The first way explains how the causal basis of motion; the second way explains the causal basis of coming-into-existence. He doesn't give an example in the second way as the first, but I take it the same example applies just as well. Remember his hand-pushing-a-rock-pushing-a-stick (or my preferred more modern analogy of a fisherman winding a real which is retracting a string which is pulling a fish from the water), and recognize that this type of causal chain is different from the more commonly thought of causal chain in which event a happens which causes event b to happen (e.g., this ball hits that one, which causes it to hit that one, which causes it to fall into the pocket; or this domino falls on that one, which falls on that one, which falls on that one, and so on). If you keep this at the center of your thoughts, you'll have a much easier time following his arguments. In his type of causal chain, if you take away the hand (or, in my example, the fisherman), the rock immediately stops moving (or the fish stops being pulled up). In the other kind of chain, you can take away the first ball as soon as it hits the second, or take away the first domino just as soon as it falls, and the causal chain will continue. In short, Aquinas has those types of chains in mind in which causes are the intermediate or instrumental causes of a First Cause. Taken far enough, that First Cause has to be God.

So back to the two ways. Motion is just change, so if something is changing, it has to be being changed by something else, and so on. So the rock is changing insofar as it is moving. So what is changing it? The stick. The stick is moving the rock insofar as the stick is moving. So what's moving the stick? The hand. The hand is moving the stick, which is moving the rock, insofar as it (the hand) is moving. And so forth. Eventually, you must posit a Mover or Changer that is not itself moving or changing. On Aquinas' own metaphysical analysis, such a thing must be Pure Act and therefore must be God.

The second ways is, of course, similar, insofar as it is looking at these types of at-the-same-time-causal-chains (per se ordered series). The difference is, rather than look at the change or motion, he's looking at the brining-into-existence. Again, you need to understand a bit of Aristotelian analysis of change or generation, but the basic idea is that if something comes into existence, it must first stand in potency to that existence, and that potency is brought about by something in act. So a log stands in potentiality to being burned. Fire acts upon it, and brings into existence, or actualizes, that potentiality of burning. (That's why, on a deeper level, all of this is tied back into teleology or final causality -- there can be no efficient cause without a concurrent final cause.) The clay stands in potentiality to being shaped as a pot; that potentiality is acted upon by the hand, which itself, in the moment it is molding it, is in the appropriate shape. The rock stands in potentiality to be moved from here to there, and that potentiality is actualized, or brought into existence, by the stick that is itself moving from here to there. So the point is that everywhere you look, you see causal orders. Think on a scientific level of the potential energy a book has sitting at the top of the shelf. Here we can start tending a bit towards the third way, but the example holds. The book is being held up, that effect, is being brought into existence by the shelf; and that shelf is being held up, being brought into existence, by the bookcase, and so on. Take any of that away, and that potential energy immediately becomes kenetic (which could be analyzed in the same way, both in terms of the first and second way -- the first in terms of its motion or change, the second in terms of the causal effect being brought into existence).

What all of this ends up doing is telling us something about the nature of the First Cause. In the first way, we see that change in the world means there is some First Cause that is Immutable, an Unmoved Mover. In the second way, we see that the bringing of things into existence means there is some First Cause that is itself Uncaused, an Uncaused Cause. So this Uncaused Cause is also Immutable, or this Unmoved Mover is also Uncaused.

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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Aquinas's 1st and 2nd way
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2020 8:26 pm 
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So the second way says there must be someone to actualize the potential to come into existence, while the first way is about any other potential: am I understanding it correctly?

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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Aquinas's 1st and 2nd way
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:29 pm 
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To nit-pick, the first isn't "any other potentiality." Itsy about a specific potentiality: motion or change. You might be able to reasonably argue that the first way is a specific case of the second, singled out because it is "the most manifest" -- in some ways, it's less abstract.

In other words, motion is a specific change that can be analyzed with respect to it's efficient cause. The second way is looking at that idea of efficient causality and all per se ordered series of efficient causes.

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Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, "that all may be one. . . as we are one" (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God's sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself. ~ Pope Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes 24.3


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Aquinas's 1st and 2nd way
PostPosted: Wed Jun 24, 2020 9:51 pm 
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theJack wrote:
ToItsy about a specific potentiality: motion or change. .
Can there be any actualisation of potential that is not motion? I thought it was like a definition.


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In other words, motion is a specific change that can be analyzed with respect to it's efficient cause. The second way is looking at that idea of efficient causality and all per se ordered series of efficient causes
thank you

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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Aquinas's 1st and 2nd way
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 10:12 am 
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Jack3 wrote:
theJack wrote:
ToItsy about a specific potentiality: motion or change. .
Can there be any actualisation of potential that is not motion? I thought it was like a definition.

Sure. Generation, the coming-into-being of something. Or just about any change an angel (or the soul) undergoes. In our hylomorphic world, almost all change is analyzable with respect to motion. But almost all things are also analyzable in terms of material causation, for example,. If that doesn't mean that absolutely all effects have a material cause. Same with motion.

You may find it helpful to review Aquinas' discussion of the movement of angels here: https://www.newadvent.org/summa/1053.htm#article2

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Indeed, the Lord Jesus, when He prayed to the Father, "that all may be one. . . as we are one" (John 17:21-22) opened up vistas closed to human reason, for He implied a certain likeness between the union of the divine Persons, and the unity of God's sons in truth and charity. This likeness reveals that man, who is the only creature on earth which God willed for itself, cannot fully find himself except through a sincere gift of himself. ~ Pope Paul VI, Gaudium et Spes 24.3


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 Post subject: Re: Difference between Aquinas's 1st and 2nd way
PostPosted: Fri Jun 26, 2020 12:30 pm 
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Changing color is an example. A ripening apple changes color but doesn't move.

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