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5/18/2017 3:29 am  #1

Here's my way of showing that the first mover is pure act

I think I've come up with an interesting way to show that the first mover is pure act. Now I'm a novice to Thomism so I may unknowingly have an obviously invalid argument. Here it goes:

I know some people will concede the point that Aquinas' First Way gets us to a being who is the source of all causal power, who actualizes all potentials without having to have a potential, relative to its own causal power, actualized. That is, they'll say that the being's causal power need not be actualized by a prior member but there may still be unactualized potentials irrelevant to its causal power. And perhaps these potentials can never be actualized, perhaps they're just there. But, nonetheless, they're still there which would be enough to rob the first mover of the status of being pure act.

Garrigou-Lagrange talks about the transition from potency to act (becoming) as something which involves a "union of diverse things." For instance, water which is room temperature becomes boiling. Now this is interesting because it means that potentials stand in contrary relation to actualized potentialsThat is, the potential for the water to be frozen, or to be lukewarm, or to be freezing, stands in contrary relation to the fact that it isn't any of those--it's actually boiling. And it's actually boiling because something already in act is actualizing its potential to be boiling, namely, a burner. So, a potential stands in contrary relation to an already actualized potential--e.g. potentially cold and actually hot, potentially dry and actually wet, potentially on the table and actually on the counter. The reason why they're contrary is that these potentials can't be in act at the same time (you can't have water be boiling alongside its actualized potential to be frozen).

This would entail that if the first mover had some potentials irrelevant to its unactualized causal power, then those potentials would stand in contrary relation to an already actualized potential. But if there exists an already actualized potential then there must be something which actualizes that potential. Therefore the first mover wouldn't really be the first mover since something exists outside of it which actualizes its potential. So we can conclude that the true first mover cannot have any potentials whatsoever--it must be pure act.


Last edited by RomanJoe (5/18/2017 1:26 pm)


5/19/2017 1:35 pm  #2

Re: Here's my way of showing that the first mover is pure act

Here's a more precise way of putting it. A potentiality is always grounded in an actuality. The potential for the water to be cold is grounded in the fact that it's actually hot, that is, its vibrating molecules have the potential to slow down. Now, if the "first mover" had some potentials, even if they were irrelevant to its purely actual causal power, such potentials would have to be grounded in an actuality. Now this actuality is either received from a prior member or it's purely actual. If the former, then we haven't arrived at the first mover yet. If the latter, then the pure actuality would be easily capable of actualizing the potential. Either way, you must eventually come to a purely actual first mover.

Please offer criticisms.

Last edited by RomanJoe (5/19/2017 9:37 pm)

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