A Thomistic argument from reason or EAAN

In considering the way in which the will relates to the action of another, we get all the elements of a Thomistic argument from reason (or, a variant on Plantinga’s EAAN, though with nothing to say about evolution.)

Starting from the premise that the will moves itself, St. Thomas concludes it is moved by an exterior mover too:

[The will] moves itself, as stated above (Article 3), in so far as through willing the end it reduces itself to the act of willing the means. Now it cannot do this without the aid of counsel: for when a man wills to be healed, he begins to reflect how this can be attained, and through this reflection he comes to the conclusion that he can be healed by a physician: and this he wills. But since he did not always actually will to have health, he must, of necessity, have begun, through something moving him, to will to be healed. And if the will moved itself to will this, it must, of necessity, have done this with the aid of counsel following some previous volition. But this process could not go on to infinity. Wherefore we must, of necessity, suppose that the will advanced to its first movement in virtue of the instigation of some exterior mover, as Aristotle concludes in a chapter of the Eudemian Ethics (vii, 14).

ST 1-2. 9. 4 co.

Citing Quodlibet XXI, Cajetan gives an objection from Scotus: “The will and the presence of an apprehended object suffices for the act of the will, and so an exterior agent is not required.”  Said another way: why in the world is St. Thomas talking about counsel as mediating every exercise of human willing? Do you seek counsel before any act of willing?

Cajetan responds:

It’s one thing to talk about volition and another thing to talk about volition from the will applying itself to willing something. Volition is nothing but the action of the will as it wills; and it’s certain that the will and the object suffices for willing. But… [for the latter] the will with the object does not suffice, but there must be a will willing the end beforehand (praevolens). The reason is that to will doesn’t just bespeak willing, but also action or motion which, because it happens for an end, require the desire for an end, as was said…

The will, considered as a nature, acts for an end and so has an end set for it. But this end must be set by another will, that is, the will must work from a preestablished counsel and not from, say, an animal instinct or (a fortiori) from a “blind” natural urge. All of these sub-rational bases would, by definition, make the will the power of a brute animal or something even lower; and therefore make a human being a non-human being. Because the action of the will is human, its principles must be acts of counsel, that is, they must be the advice and voice of another intellect. To will something by nature (say, happiness) requires that nature itself be an action of a mind, and this is what all call God.

The same sort of argument might apply to the first principles of the intellect.

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