Second Way

The Second Way – The Ultimate Source of Immanent Activity

Thomas Aquinas continues his project of showing that the existence of God can be demonstrated by reason alone (without the aid of God revealing himself in Sacred Scriptures) by turning in the “Second Way” of Summa Theologiae Ia, 2, 3, to what he somewhat enigmatically calls “the nature of the efficient cause.”

The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause.

I. In the world of sense, we find there is an order of efficient causes.

As he did in the First Way’s use of act and potency to explain motion or change, Aquinas is appealing to another hallmark of Aristotelian philosophy, in this case the four causes, and specifically the agent or efficient cause. For Aristotle, as for Aquinas, every sensible, material thing is explained by identifying four causes: what it is made out of (the material cause), how that matter is arranged and shaped (the formal cause), the end or goal for which it made (the final cause) and the agent or efficient cause which shapes the matter for this purpose. No doubt, this causal analysis arose and is most easily seen in the case of artefacts: a chair, for example, is explained as wood arranged into a certain shape with a seat and legs for the goal of sitting, having been brought about by the agency of a carpenter. But Aristotle also saw that this analysis applies to organic substances: a dog, for example, is made of flesh and bones, organized (with various organs fit for various vital activities) and arranged by its formal principle (its soul) with the goal of growing to maturity, reproducing and chasing squirrels (among other things), the whole animal having been brought about by the agency of the parent dogs. The focus of the Second Way, then, is the causality exercised specifically by agent or efficient causes, what brings about (at least some) actuality present in the sensible world. As is often noted, the efficient cause is closest to what modern people generally mean by a cause.

The greatest obstacle to understanding his Second Way, though, is determining precisely what Aquinas means by “the nature of the efficient cause” and “an order of efficient causes,” and how the Second Way is distinct from the First and Third Ways. For all three make use of efficient causes: motion, i.e., accidental change, in the case of the First, or generation and corruption, i.e., substantial change, in the Third[1]. It seems unnecessary for Aquinas to use efficient causality in a general sense as the basis of a proof distinct from these two species of it.

In my treatment of the Five Ways in Context, I claimed that each way embodies and employs a distinct perspective on the physical world of which Aquinas pursues an ultimate explanation in God.

These particular five proofs are based on different aspects of reality that Aquinas believes are apparent to an intelligent observer, aspects whose ultimate explanation is God.  They begin with the observation of motion, efficient causality, contingent beings, grades of perfection and goal seeking behavior.  But more than simply considering these phenomena as effects, or things to be explained (explananda), each ‘way’ argues in terms of an intelligible character or ratio that is the proper domain of each proof. In a generic sense, particular substances in the physical, sensible world are the common starting point for each distinct proof. But Aquinas does not simply argue for an ultimate cause of all sensible material things taken as an undistinguished whole. Rather, he examines physical things (things in matter and motion) in terms of, or under the intelligibility of, different types of causality.

Motion/alteration (accidental change) (First Way) is clearly distinct from generation/corruption (substantial change) (Third Way) which are themselves clearly distinct from nobility/perfection in being (Fourth Way), which again are each distinct from end-directedness (Fifth Way). What is not clear is how motion/alteration on one hand, and generation/corruption are each distinct from efficient causality in general so as to be the basis of a distinct proof (Second Way), as both seem to be species of the latter. Indeed, several commentators are content to view the Second Way as a generalized version of arguments specified in the First and Third Way.[2]

To the extent that commentators see the need to clearly distinguish the First, Second and Third Ways, the most common view is to see the Second Way as focusing on the efficient causing of the existence of substances, i.e., their coming-to-be or generation, while the Third Way examines the continuation-in-being of possible beings as (efficiently) caused by necessary being(s). The reason for this seems to be that the Second Way contains the premise, “There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself; for so it would be prior to itself, which is impossible.”[3] Commentators take Aquinas’s use of ‘it would be prior to itself’ (esset prius seipso) to mean ‘existing prior to itself’ such that a thing would have to be a distinctly existing substance prior to itself in time, in order to bring itself into existence, which would, of course, be impossible. [4]

There are at least three reasons to resist this reading. First, if the Second Way were starting with the efficient causation of substances in being, the natural focus would be on their coming to be in time, as a father is begotten by his parents, and begets in turn his children. But this is just to envision a per accidens series of efficient causes, of which a later premise in the argument (III.b. “to take away the cause is to take away the effect”) is not true. The grandfather can die, without either the son or the granddaughter ceasing to be. What is needed for that premise to be useful is for the series of efficient causes to be ordered per se, i.e., as a series of essentially subordinated causes (which ordering will be further explained anon, as it was in my analysis of the First Way).  This per se ordering of efficient causes of being does not seem evident to the senses (what we find in the world of sense (invenimus enim in istis sensibilibus)), but requires adopting a metaphysical perspective.[5]

Second, Aquinas’s statement against self-causation does not require a reading focused on the causation of being. The priority at issue (nothing could be the efficient cause of itself, for then it would be prior to itself) can equally apply to motion or other simultaneous sustaining efficient causes, not only coming to be in time. It would be just as true for Aquinas to say, “There is no known case…” of a moving cause which “is found to be the efficient (moving) cause of itself; for so it would be (simultaneously, essentially and per se) prior to itself; which is impossible.” That is, it would be equally impossible that a turning cog could be the prior simultaneous moving cause of its own turning, as it would be for anything to be the temporally prior cause of its own manufacture or generation. So, this premise is no reason to suppose that the Second Way is concerned with the coming into being or generation of things, but it is perfectly compatible with the reading of it I will propose.

Finally, generation and corruption are explicitly given as the starting point of the Third Way. There Aquinas explains how we know there are possible beings: “We find in nature things that are possible to be and not to be, since they are found to be generated, and to corrupt.[6] And so, if coming into being of substances is the focus of the Second Way, this, again, would render either it or the Third Way redundant and superfluous.

Fortunately for us who believe there must be a particular type of causality that Aquinas had in mind in delineating a Second Way in contradistinction to his First and Third Way, motion/alteration (accidental change) and generation/corruption (substantial change) are not the only two types of efficient causality for Aquinas to build his arguments on. The proper effect Aquinas employs in the First Way is the most obvious sense of motion or physical change, and elsewhere he calls this kind of change transient alterations: the successive replacement of one accident by another. It includes physical displacement where an object’s position alters by occupying one place after another (what modern physics means by motion) as well as other material changes of accidents as when one color, shape, quantity, etc. succeeds another successively (through a certain duration of time). Aquinas, however, distinguishes these types of alterations from immanent immutations or actuations (also called ‘operations’) whereby cognitive faculties (sense and reason) and appetitive powers (sense desire and will) become actual. This kind of ‘alteration’ does not occur by one accident succeeding another over time, but all at once, with the accident being received or present formally (as opposed to materially). Aristotle in De Anima 2, 5 calls it “a preservation of that which is potential by something actual which is like it” and is different from alteration which is “the destruction of something by its contrary” (417b2-8)[7] (I reference this distinction in the essay “Cognition: Identity/Conformity” and “Cognition in General” where the focus is not on its causality, but formal identity. I also explore the distinction between sensation and intellection as immanent activities at some length in my book Unmixing the Intellect: Aristotle on Cognitive Powers and Bodily Organs) Aquinas describes this type of ‘alteration’ in these terms:

Now, immutation is of two kinds, one natural, the other spiritual. Natural immutation takes place by the form of the immuter being received according to its natural existence, into the thing immuted, as heat is received into the thing heated. Whereas spiritual immutation takes place by the form of the immuter being received, according to a spiritual mode of existence, into the thing immuted, as the form of color is received into the pupil which does not thereby become colored. Now, for the operation of the senses, a spiritual immutation is required, whereby an intention of the sensible form is effected in the sensile organ. Otherwise, if a natural immutation alone sufficed for the sense’s action, all natural bodies would feel when they undergo alteration.

ST I 78, 3.[8]

The Second Way, in fact, focuses on the efficient causality at work in operations or immanent activities (alteration of a different sort); this provides the distinctive ratio or type of causality that is the starting point and perspective on sensible, material reality for a Way distinct from the First and Third Ways.

There are three reasons that support reading the efficient causality that is the focus of the Second Way as pertaining to immanent alterations or operations within the soul, the first of which I have just outlined, namely that it gives the most coherent way to distinguish the Second Way from both the First and Third. In order for all three to focus on different types of efficient causality, cognitive/appetitive operation provides a type of efficient causality distinct from alterations or accidental change (motion) on the one hand, and substantial change (generation/corruption) on the other.

The second reason, it seems to me, is found in the First Way, where at a key point in that proof, Aquinas introduces the remaining line of reasoning with a conditional.

If that by which it (a moving thing) is put in motion be itself put in motion, then this also must needs be put in motion by another, and that by another again.

As I say in my analysis of the First Way, “Aquinas continues by considering only the case when the prior actuality causing motion is itself a motion or a process of change.” The fact that he introduces this as conditional seems to me to indicate that there is another proper actuality or type of causality that can produce motions (transient alterations) that is not itself a motion or process of change. I suggest that this other type of actuality and efficient causality would be immanent activities, and so it is the focus of another proof (the Second Way).

In his exposition of the First Way, John Wippel notes that initial opposition to the argument focused especially on rational agents as counterexamples that prevented ascribing a cause of all motion to God as First Immobile Mover.

Many of the objections against the argument [the First Way] have to do with its claim that whatever is moved is moved by something else. Already within Thomas’s century there were those who denied that this applies to all cases. Exceptions should be made, it was argued, and first and foremost for spiritual activities such as human volition. Not long after Thomas’s death Henry of Ghent maintained that a freely acting agent can reduce itself from a state of not acting to acting, or as he would eventually put it, from virtual act to formal act.

Wippel, p. 163

Wippel notes, however, that for Aquinas, acts of volition are no counterexample since these, too, must have God as their ultimate (efficient cause). According to ST I-II, q. 9, a. 4 (parallel in De Malo q. 6), Aquinas argues that “what first moves the will and the intellect must be something above them both, i.e., God.”[9] I would contend that Wippel’s analysis of acts of willing as conforming to the general principle that whatever is moved is moved by something else is, in fact, correct and in accord with Aquinas’ thought. Aquinas, however, in the First Way is only interested in motion that is the result of prior motions (transient alterations), and so, by means of his conditional clause, relegates the causal efficacy of volitional acts to a consideration that was beyond the scope of the First Way, namely the Second Way. It seems Wippel, too, recognizes that immanent activities go beyond the scope of the First Way.[10]

The final reason to believe that the Second Way has immanent activities or operations of the will as the kind of efficient causality as its focus is how Aquinas answers the Second Objection of this article, ST I, q. 2, a. 3. The objection contends that it is not necessary to posit God’s existence to account for the world since everything can be explained either by nature or by human volition.  Aquinas’s response with regard to nature clearly refers to the Fifth Way:

Since nature works for a determinate end under the direction of a higher agent, whatever is done by nature must needs be traced back to God, as to its first cause.[11]

But his response with regard to human volition anticipates his contention that God is necessary to explain the variability of acts of willing (cited by Wippel above, ST I-II, q. 9, a. 4 and De Malo q. 6).

So also whatever is done voluntarily must also be traced back to some higher cause other than human reason or will, since these can change or fail; for all things that are changeable and capable of defect must be traced back to an immovable and self-necessary first principle, as was shown in the body of the Article.[12]

In the body of the article, however, Aquinas has not shown that God, as a higher cause, immovable and self-necessary first principle is necessary to account for the change and failure of human reason or will, unless it is in the Second Way, understood as focusing on the actuality and causality of operations, as I have been arguing.

Having gotten a grasp of just what sort of efficient causality Aquinas has in mind, we can return to the argument of the Second Way.

The second way is from the nature of the efficient cause.

I. In the world of sense, we find there is an order of efficient causes.

Aquinas begins his Second Way with the observation that in the sensible world, in addition to motions caused by prior moving things (First Way), there is the efficient causality of the immanent activities of cognitive and appetitive powers of sensitive and intelligent creatures. ‘Self-moving’ causes act as efficient causes, and though their effects are not specified, they could include any kind of ‘change’: transient alteration, local motion, growth and diminution, or generation and corruption.

II. There is no case known (neither is it, indeed, possible) in which a thing is found to be the efficient cause of itself;

  • for so it would be prior to itself,
  • which is impossible.

When such a self-mover exercises efficient causality, it cannot be causing its own causative activity since it would have to be prior to itself. It could not be temporally prior to itself, to be sure, but neither could it be simultaneous bringing about its own activity by the very act that is supposedly being brought about. That is, the efficient causality of a self-mover cannot be metaphysically (synchronously) prior to its own efficient act, for then it would be engaged in an action that it is employing to cause that very act. This is clearly impossible. The implication here, as Aquinas made explicit in the First Way, is that such efficient causes (operations), must have a per se, essentially ordered cause outside and beyond themselves. The need for an extrinsic efficient cause of their causality is reinforced by his recognition that such operations are variable.[13]

III. Now in efficient causes it is not possible to go on to infinity,

a. because in all efficient causes following in order, the first is the cause of the intermediate cause, and the intermediate is the cause of the ultimate cause,

  • whether the intermediate cause be several,
  • or only one.

Because cognitive or volitional acts are not transient, or realized over time, they must act simultaneously and, if caused, be caused simultaneously, i.e., in an essentially subordinated or per se series. As Aquinas illustrated in the First Way with his example of a hand moving a stick (which might move a rock), the activity of the per se prior cause is simultaneous with its immediate effect, and also with all subsequent effects. So, if the series of causes is essentially subordinated, it does not matter if there is only one or many intermediate causes. Each intermediate cause in such a series is exercising its causality only in virtue of the first cause in the series, so it does not matter how many members the series has, in order for one to know that the causality exhibited depends simultaneously on the first cause of the series.

III. a. Now to take away the cause is to take away the effect.

Unlike per accidens series of causes (grandfather begetting father begetting daughter) where temporally prior causes can be eliminated without eliminating later effects, in per se, essentially ordered series, if one takes away the cause, one is thereby taking away the causality, i.e., the causal efficacy, which later (though simultaneous) causes exercise in virtue of being caused to act by the prior cause. Since there is only one causal activity to the series, and the intermediate member(s) are, as it were, transferring it, and absent the cause, no effect will be present.

III. c. Therefore, if there be no first cause among efficient causes, there will be no ultimate, nor any intermediate cause.

As with the hand, stick, rock, etc., so with a train: all the members of the series are pulled, and consequently pull what follows, (that is they exercise per se causality), because of the first cause (the train engine) whose motion or causality each train car transfers to its effect, i.e., the car that follows it. To take away the cause (the hand or the train engine) would be to take away the effect (the motion) of the whole series; without an engine, a train does not move regardless of how many cars make it up. And given the kind of efficient causality that is the focus of this argument, and given that the causality exercised by the immanent activities (cognitive or volitional operations) of sensible creatures must be part of a per se, essentially ordered series, no last effect would be present without a first cause, no matter how long the series is.

III. d. But if in efficient causes it is possible to go on to infinity, there will be no first efficient cause,

  • neither will there be an ultimate effect,
  • nor any intermediate efficient causes; all of which is plainly false.

Next, Aquinas considers whether the essentially ordered, per se, series that produces efficiently caused immanent activities could possibly be infinite, and argues it could not. For to be infinite is just to have no first member, and so no first cause. The last effect of the series – the efficient causality exhibited by ‘self-moving’ volitional or cognitive agents – has already been granted. The question is whether one should conclude that there is a first cause of the series, or whether this last effect might be without a causal beginning (simultaneous with the observed effects). Aquinas reasons that such a series cannot be infinite and beginningless, since by III.c, above, without a first cause there would be no last effect, which has already been granted. Just as no moving train can be composed of only an infinite number of train cars (with no train engine) so, the series we observe ending with self-movers cannot have an infinite number of per se causes without a first cause of the efficient causality they all must be exercising and, as it were, transferring.

IV. Therefore it is necessary to admit a first efficient cause,

Since we see an effect that can only be actually occurring by the efficacy of a first cause, and since this cannot happen from a series lacking a first cause, no matter how many members link the last effect to its source, there must be a source of the causality we observe here and now.


            We can now summarize Aquinas’s argument in the Second Way:

I. Efficient causes (self-movers) are active (with an immanent activity).

II. Nothing can be the efficient cause of its own causality.

  1. (No thing’s causality could be the prior cause of that very causality.)
  2. (The efficient causality of immanent activities must be caused, because they are variable.)

III. In a chain of per se or essentially subordinated causes, there would be no last effect (which there is) if something were not giving causal efficacy the whole chain (as first cause). 

  1. (If the chain of per se causes were infinite, there would be no first cause.)
  2. (Since there must be a first initiator of efficient causality in essentially subordinated causes, the chain cannot be infinite.)

IV. Therefore, there must be a First Efficient Cause of immanent activities which acts and causes the operations of ‘self-movers.’

            Thus, having established the reality of something – the ultimate cause of immanent activities of cognitional and volitional operations, Aquinas identifies it according to what he already knows as a Christian:

V. to which everyone gives the name of God.

            In looking for the explanation of efficient causality of immanent activities, Aquinas shows that there must be something which is its ultimate cause.  Aquinas, however, is a Christian theologian, and is writing a work for beginners in theology.  He does not think that this demonstration for the existence of the ultimate cause of the efficient causality of immanent activity definitively proves all that Christians believe about God.  He merely has shown that there must be some real thing to explain cognition and volition, and notes that a Christian will recognize in this cause part of what he means by God.  He incorporates this proof into his work of theology, not because he or his readers is uncertain whether there is a God, but because it illustrates a truth about the God he believes in, namely, that reason can demonstrate God’s existence based on the existence and nature of efficient causality. The non-Christian (or the Christian for that matter) might question whether the cause whose existence has been demonstrated is to be identified with God, but such a question does not affect whether the argument has shown that there is something there which explains why immanent activities exhibit efficient causality. Aquinas, in fact, spends the next twenty-four questions of the Summa Theologiae arguing on the basis of its effects that the attributes of this First Cause belong to God alone, the God in whom Aquinas places his Christian faith.

Last modified May 27, 2021


[1] See note 6 below. [Return to text]

[2] G. E. M. Anscombe and P. T. Geach, “Aquinas” in Three Philosophers (Basil Blackwell, 1961), p. 113: “The first two ‘ways’ differ only in that one relates to processes of change and the other to things’ coming to be; the further argument is quite parallel in each case.”

Christopher Martin, Thomas Aquinas: God and Explanations, Edinburgh University Press, 1997, p. 146: “[T]here is a good case for making out that the Second Way is a generalisation of the First. The First Way has to do with process of change, the Second Way has to do with efficient causality in general.” Martin nevertheless goes on to consider that the Second Way may seek to explain a thing’s being, in which case the first two ways would be distinguished from each other, for “[a] beginning of existence would thus fall under the Second Way, but not under the First Way.” In this, he sides with most contemporary expositors of the Second Way (see the following note).

John F. Wippel, “The Five Ways” in Thomas Aquinas: Contemporary Philosophical Essays edited by Brian Davies (Oxford, 2002), pp. 171-2, basically adopts an interpretation of efficient causality focused on being in the Second Way, but nevertheless sees it as also applicable to the First: “Although [Aquinas] does not spell out particular examples for us in this argument, he would undoubtedly include substantial changes (generation and corruption of substances) as well as various instances of motion taken strictly which we have discussed above in connection with the first way, i.e., alteration, local motion, increase and decrease.” [Return to text]

[3] nec tamen invenitur, nec est possibile, quod aliquid sit causa efficiens sui ipsius; quia sic esset prius seipso, quod est impossibile. [Return to text]

[4] William Lane Craig, The Cosmological Argument from Plato to Leibniz (Harper and Row, 1980), p. 176-7: “Gilson maintains that Aquinas in the second way is contemplating a series of agent causes which produce, not just change, but the very being of their effects.” … Craig notes, however, that “[t]he proof does not concern causes which produce being by conjoining essence and existence in some thing” [a reference to Aquinas’ “existential” argument in On Being and Essence (De Ente et Essentia), c. 4]. Craig rightly notes that, for Aquinas, celestial bodies are instrumental for the coming to be of terrestrial substances (as I believe Aquinas’s argument in the First Way requires). Craig thus continues, “The second way there presupposes the Aristotelian astronomical system. But the question here is whether there is something which is of value when the proof is divested of its medieval trappings. A sympathetic reformulation of Thomas’s second way might suggest, for example, that my existence now is dependent upon the temperature of the earth’s atmosphere, which in turn is dependent upon the distance of the earth’s orbit from the sun, which is dependent upon the mass of the sun, which is dependent upon the sun’s relation to other stars, which are dependent for their existence upon our galaxy, which is dependent for its existence upon surrounding galaxies, and so on and on into the recesses of the universe.” These examples for a sympathetic reformulation, though, seem to be in the order of material causality or a sustaining cause of being (the “existential proof” after all), not efficient causality, the stated focus of the Second Way.

Without noting the controversy, Brian Davies, The Thought of Thomas Aquinas, (Clarendon, 1993), p. 29 simply asserts, “According to the Second Way, there are causes in the world which bring it about that other things come to be.”

Edward Feser, Aquinas: A Beginner’s Guide, (Oneworld Publications, 2009), p. 86 concurs that Gilson is the source for reading the efficient causality of the Second Way in terms of causes of being, but, despite Craig’s counter-arguments, does see the “existential proof” as illuminating the argument: “A more plausible and interesting account of the difference between the arguments is provided by Etienne Gilson, who suggests that whereas the First Way is concerned to explain why things undergo change, the Second Way is intended to explain why they exist at all, where (as in the First Way) the causal influence of the first cause is not something that occurred merely at some point in the past, but which exists here and now. That is to say, just as the First Way is meant to show that no motion or change would occur here and now unless there were a first unmoved mover operating here and now, the Second Way is meant to show that nothing would even exist here and now unless there were a first uncaused cause sustaining things in being here and now. One way to understand this interpretation is in terms of an argument for God’s existence that Aquinas presents in chapter 4 of On Being and Essence, and which is sometimes called ‘the existential proof’ or ‘the existence argument.’” Because, as I will argue, the Second Way is not, in fact, concerned with the efficient causes of being, the ‘existential proof’ of De Ente, c. 4, is applicable to the Third Way. [Return to text]

[5] Indeed, Wippel, p. 172, notes the non-intuitiveness of this metaphysical perspective. One can find, he says, “a more metaphysically grounded illustration of efficient causality at work” which “Thomas has developed … in c. 4 of his De ente et essentia. However, I hasten to add that this is not the kind of efficient causality that is immediately given to us in sense experience.” [Return to text]

[6] Invenimus enim in rebus quaedam quae sunt possibilia esse et non esse, cum quaedam inveniantur generari et corrumpi, et per consequens possibilia esse et non esse. [Return to text]

[7] See also, Thomas Aquinas, Commentary on Aristotle’s De Anima, (translated by Kenelm Fosters and Sylvester Humphries (Dumb Ox Books, 1994)), Book II, Lecture 24, nn. 551-555, pp. 171-3. [Return to text]

[8] Est autem duplex immutatio, una naturalis, et alia spiritualis. Naturalis quidem, secundum quod forma immutantis recipitur in immutato secundum esse naturale, sicut calor in calefacto. Spiritualis autem, secundum quod forma immutantis recipitur in immutato secundum esse spirituale; ut forma coloris in pupilla, quae non fit per hoc colorata. Ad operationem autem sensus requiritur immutatio spiritualis, per quam intentio formae sensibilis fiat in organo sensus. Alioquin, si sola immutatio naturalis sufficeret ad sentiendum, omnia corpora naturalia sentirent dum alterantur. [Return to text]

[9] [I]nsofar as the will is moved to exercise its act of willing, we must also hold that it is moved by some external principle. That which is at times an agent in act and at times an agent in potency must be moved to act by some mover. Such is true of the will. … Thomas concludes that the will proceeds to its first motion from an impulse (instinctus) given it by some external mover, and finds support for this in Aristotle’s Eudemian Ethics (VII, c. 14 (1248a 25-32)).

In his Disputed Questions de Malo, q. 6, Thomas develops much of the same thinking. …Thomas again concludes the will is moved to its first motion by something external or exterior to it. He goes on to tell us more about this externally caused impulse which first moves the will to act. This impulse cannot be provided by the heavenly body, since the will is grounded in reason (the intellect), which is not a corporeal power. He concludes, therefore, developing a remark made by Aristotle in his De bona fortuna (really taken from Bk VII of the Eudemian Ethics as he indicates in ST I-II q. 9), that what first moves the will and the intellect must be something above them both, i.e., God. Since God moves all things in accord with their nature as movable beings – for instance, light things upward and heavy tings downward – so does he move the will in accord with its condition or nature, that is to say, not in necessary fashion but as undetermined or freely. (165-6) [Return to text]

[10] In Thomas’s eyes “even free human activity does not violate his conviction that whatever is moved is moved by something else. At the same time, I would not recommend that one take human volition as the point of departure for Thomas’s argument from motion for God’s existence. This does not seem to be the kind of starting point he has in mind for his “more manifest” way, since some philosophical effort will be required to show that motion by something else is involved in volition. Moreover, the full appreciation of Thomas’s views concerning the interrelationship between divine causal activity (as the first moving cause) and free human activity presupposes that one has already demonstrated God’s existence and identified him as a creating, a conserving, and the first moving cause. (167) [Return to text]

[11] Ad secundum dicendum quod, cum natura propter determinatum finem operetur ex directione alicuius superioris agentis, necesse est ea quae a natura fiunt, etiam in Deum reducere, sicut in primam causam. [Return to text]

[12] Similiter etiam quae ex proposito fiunt, oportet reducere in aliquam altiorem causam, quae non sit ratio et voluntas humana, quia haec mutabilia sunt et defectibilia; oportet autem omnia mobilia et deficere possibilia reduci in aliquod primum principium immobile et per se necessarium, sicut ostensum est. [Return to text]

[13] ST I-II, q. 9, a. 4, De Malo q. 6 (see note 9 above), ST Ia, q. 2, a. 3 reply to objection 2 (see note 12 above). [Return to text]

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